Hello! So I know this might not be a good idea writing two stories alongside each other, but what can I say? Thanks to the miserable British weather I've spent far too much time indoors lately and this is the result!
I hope you enjoy
Disclaimer – I do not own anything.
"War, war, war." Scarlett huffed, as she smoothed her skirts over her knees. "All this talk of war has spoilt every party this spring and I'm bored to death of it. Besides, there isn't going to be any war."
"No war? Why of course there is Scarlett. Didn't you hear about" she cut off the rest of Brent's sentence with a dismissive wave.
"If you boys even mention the war one more time then I shall go inside." Scarlett threatened.
"But Scarlett, don't you think it's exciting?"
Scarlett stood up from her place in between Brent and Stu and started making her way back to the house, thoroughly fed up with war talk.
"Oh wait, Scarlett. Please don't go inside, we'll talk about something else, won't we Brent?"
"Of course! Will you stay, Scarlett?"
"Well, alright. As long as we talk about something else. something exciting."
"Exciting? You mean like the barbeque at Twelve Oaks tomorrow?"
"Yes, let's talk about the party" Scarlett said happily and sat back down.
"Can you guess what we heard the other day?" Stu asked.
A smile spread over her face at the prospect of gossip. "No, tell me!" she demanded.
"Ashley is announcing his engagement to his cousin Melanie Hamilton." Brent said.
"Oh." Just a year ago, Scarlett knew she would have been devastated by this news. Now, well, she didn't really care. She clearly remembered the time when she had gotten over her infatuation with Ashley.
Scarlett was angry. Why, just the other day Ashley had said that he was going to call on her and what did she get? A measly letter. She pulled the scrap of paper towards her and reread it for what must have been the 10th time.
I am sorry that I won't get a chance to come and see you today as my cousin Melanie is visiting from Atlanta. I'm sure you understand. Melanie remembers you from her last visit and so I hope you can spare some time to call on us at Twelve Oaks as I'm sure she would love to renew your acquaintance.
Screwing up the letter into a little ball, Scarlett threw it at the wall. It was bad enough that Ashley had chosen Melanie's company over hers, but to request that she befriend that whey-faced ninny? No, she didn't understand at all.
Closing the door behind her, she picked up the letter from where she'd left it and smoothed it out. She narrowed her eyes as she reread it. Why, it almost sounded like Ashley preferred Melanie to her. Oh it just wasn't fair. Hadn't he told her just the other week that she was the most extraordinary girl he'd ever met? Melanie was quiet and mousey, from what Scarlett could remember. Ashley could be so boring sometimes Scarlett thought angrily. Him and his love for books and how he would quote poetry and prose whilst Scarlett would admire the sound of his voice and the way his golden hair shone in the sun, but couldn't for the life of her understand why he would choose to study books and music over shooting and riding with the other country boys.
Scarlett thought about how aghast and disapproving Ashley would be if he knew some of the things that she did and wished that he was more fun, like Brent and Stu who were always messing around and didn't care if she chose to go riding and swimming over sewing or reading poetry.
Scarlett froze. Never since she had fallen in love with Ashley had she wished he be anything other than himself. When he had ridden towards her on his horse that day two years ago, she had fallen utterly in love with him. He was her golden knight. Handsome and clever and Scarlett was amazed that she hadn't seen how boring he was. With that sudden realisation, Scarlett sat, stunned, looking at the letter, but not seeing the elegant words, feeling like a fool for not having noticed.
She woke up the next morning, feeling refreshed and infinitely happier than yesterday, for at some point in the night, Ashley Wilkes had ceased to become the centre of her universe and, Scarlett thought as she threw Ashley's note in the fire, Melanie Hamilton was welcome to him.
End of flashback
"Oh? That's all you have to say?" Brent asked
"Well, everybody knows the Wilkes always marry their cousins, don't they?" Scarlett stated blandly. Whilst she no longer loved Ashley, it had annoyed her for weeks that she had been pushed aside for mousey Melanie Hamilton of all people.
"Yes, and apparently it's going to be announced at the ball tomorrow night. You will dance with us Scarlett, won't you?" Stu asked.
"Well, I'm afraid my dance card is already full. You couldn't expect me to wait around for you and risk being a wall flower all night, could you?" Scarlett replied, her eyes dancing.
"Oh Scarlett, you, a wallflower? Never." Stu laughed as he grabbed her right hand and Brent grabbed her left.
"Now, you promise, to dance with us. Brent, then me, then Brent then me. You understand?" Stu said eagerly, gesturing between him and his twin.
"Well I suppose I could manage that" Scarlett said, sighing heavily, as though doing so would be a chore, before flashing a smile and fluttering her eyelashes at both of her beaux.
"Excellent! Now, did we tell you how we got expelled again?"
The next day...
Upon arriving at Twelve Oaks, Scarlett was her most charming self, determined to have a good time. After greeting John Wilkes and India, Scarlett made her way into the house, pleased with the amount of attention she was receiving from the gentlemen in the room. She looked pretty and she knew it.
"Scarlett!" Scarlett turned to see Ashley hurrying down the stairs to greet her.
"Ashley, what a fabulous day for a barbecue, don't you agree?" Scarlett asked. Following her epiphany last year, Scarlett had not treated Ashley any different. Just because she no longer loved him, it didn't mean that she couldn't make him regret picking Melanie over her. She was Scarlett O'Hara and wanting to be the centre of attention had long since become second nature to her.
"Indeed it is." He agreed and smiled warmly, before a young woman Scarlett instantly recognised approached them.
"Scarlett, I'd like you to meet my cousin Melanie" Ashley said. Scarlett plastered a smile on her face and held out her hand.
"Melanie, it's been too long." She said sweetly.
"Oh Scarlett, I'm surprised you even remember me. I was so disappointed when you took ill last year when I visited" Melanie said softly.
"Yes, it was rather unfortunate wasn't it?" Scarlett said, remembering how she had faked a weeklong headache as an excuse not to have to see Ashley and Melanie and no doubt pretend to be interested in whatever book they were reading.
"Oh, Scarlett, do you remember my brother, Charlie?" Scarlett spun round to see him standing behind her.
"Why, Charles Hamilton. I do declare you must have come all the way from Atlanta just to break my poor little country girl's heart" Scarlett flirted, extending her hand, which he took eagerly.
"Oh Miss O'Hara, I…uh…It's lovely to see you again." He mumbled, blushing a rather unattractive shade of tomato, Scarlett thought but pleased at the effect she had on him.
"Now, I want to eat barbecue with you later Mr Hamilton, so don't you go promising any other girl that you'll sit with them or I'll be mighty jealous!"
"I won't Miss O'Hara, I promise." He agreed, already besotted. Scarlett secretly thought he resembled a baby calf and withdrew her hand before smiling at the trio and making her way up the stairs, swaying her hips from side to side, knowing it made her skirts swing in a very attractive manner.
"Good morning Miss O'Hara" Scarlett turned to see Frank Kennedy walking down the stairs.
"Why Frank Kennedy, is that a new set of whiskers? They look awfully dashing!" she said, fluttering her eyelashes.
"You will sit with me at the barbecue won't you?" she asked sweetly, as she watched Suellen approach.
"I'll try Miss O'Hara!" he stuttered before being almost dragged away by her sister. A smirk settled on her face, knowing that Suellen was suitably annoyed. As if I couldn't get a better beau than that old maid in britches" she muttered to herself.
"Scarlett!" looking up, she saw the twins rushing down the stairs.
"We've been waiting for you to arrive."
"Yes, you will eat barbecue with us, won't you?" Brent asked
"Of course I will. There's nobody else I would rather sit with. Besides, I wore this old dress especially for you both. I know how much you like it." Scarlett had specifically chosen to wear her green and white muslin dress, knowing that the low-cut front and short sleeves would attract the majority of the gentlemen at the barbeque, despite Mammy's protestations that it was "Jus' not proper to be showin' yo' bosom before 3 o'clock in de afternoon."
"We sure do Scarlett." Stu agreed
"You know, I was awake all last night trying to work out which one of you two is the handsomest." Scarlett said, before hearing her name being called, yet again, but this time by the only female friend she had. Smiling prettily at the twins, Scarlett hurried up the stairs to see Cathleen, and glancing down at the congregation of people in the hall, her eyes immediately fell on a tall black haired man at the foot of the stairs, who in turn was staring back at her. Reaching Cathleen, she hooked her arm through her friend's and turned to see if he was still looking at her. He was. His eyes slowly raked over her body, as though mentally undressing her with his eyes. Scarlet was too shocked to be offended and when his eyes met hers, she merely raised an eyebrow and offered him a small smirk, which he returned.
"Scarlett, do you know who that is?" Cathleen whispered.
"Who?" Scarlett asked, curious and slightly ashamed at how she had just acted, hoping that Cathleen had not noticed.
"That man by the stairs." Cathleen nodded towards the black haired man.
"Oh him. He looks as though he knows what I look like without my shimmy on!" she whispered back.
"Scarlett! That's Rhett Butler, from Charleston. My dear, he's not received. Not even by his own family!"
"Not received?" Scarlett had never met anyone who wasn't received before and was intrigued. "Why ever not?"
"He took a girl out in a buggy one day and he didn't bring her back until late and then," she paused for dramatic effect, "he refused to marry her!" Cathleen said, scandalised.
"He didn't? What happened? Did she have a baby?" Scarlett whispered.
"No, she didn't, but he shot her brother when he called him out. Apparently he said that he'd rather die himself than be forced to marry.
"He did?!" Scarlett gasped. Looking back to see that he had turned away and was now in conversation with Mr Fontaine. She knew she should be horrified and upset, like Cathleen was, but to her dismay, she only found the story exciting and wonderfully scandalous.
Throughout the barbecue, Scarlett was in her element. She was by far the most popular girl there she noted happily, as was proved by the dozen or so young men who had sought her company and were sitting around her.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Honey Wilkes, glaring at her. Scarlett tossed her hair over her shoulder. It wasn't her fault that Charles Hamilton had preferred her company over that of the girl he was courting. Indeed, she had caught the attention of most men at the barbecue much to the annoyance and anger of the other young ladies.
Scarlett also spotted Ashley and Melanie walking arm in arm through the grounds, but failed to notice the longing looks directed at her from her former love.
Later that day, the girls had retired upstairs for a nap before the ball and all but Scarlett were sleeping. Glancing round, Scarlett rolled over onto her stomach and frowned at the pillow, as if it were to blame for her lack of tiredness. She detested being stuck upstairs whilst the men took their cigars and brandy. How anyone could fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon was a mystery to her. If only she had something to do. Her mind made up, she slowly swung her legs off the bed, trying not to disturb the other girls and dressed quickly before slipping out of the room and onto the landing. Hurrying down the stairs, she saw no one around so she ran lightly towards the library, where she knew Honey Wilkes kept her collection of fashion books and magazines. She just reached out for the handle, when she heard her name. Spinning round, she saw Ashley behind her.
"Scarlett? Why aren't you resting with the other girls?" he asked, but before she could reply he shook his head and stepped past her into the library and gestured for Scarlett to follow.
"This is quite fortunate actually, as I had wanted to speak with you urgently" Ashley said, shutting the door behind them.
"You did?" Scarlett asked, curious.
"Yes. You see Scarlett, I can't do it." he said quickly, clasping his hands together nervously.
"Can't do what Ashley."
"I can't marry Melanie." Scarlett's eyes widened in shock. Whatever she had been expecting him to say, it wasn't that. She looked to see if he was joking, but he looked even more deadly serious than normal.
"For goodness sake Ashley, why ever not?" she questioned, bewildered at the turn of events.
"Because I'm in love with you." He said.
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