TITLE: The Next Morning
AUTHOR: Susan / apckrfan
DISTRIBUTION: My site, AO3, FanFiction.net, LiveJournal, Yahoo Groups. Anyone else, please just tell me where it's at.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any characters they are Margaret Mitchell's. No profit is made on this fic.
SUMMARY: A little ficlet about the first night in their home as husband and wife
CHARACTERS/PAIRING: Rhett Butler & Scarlett O'Hara
DATE STARTED: February 2000
STATUS: Complete
FEEDBACK: Please, I can't write better without it.

Rhett woke early the next morning; Scarlett lay sleeping next to him on his bed. Their first night in their home had come and gone, and they had spent it together. Rhett didn't care what happened from this point forward, he could live with the knowledge that she had stayed with him for a long time. Whether it was out of habit after sharing the same quarters while on their honeymoon, he would never know.

He placed his robe and slippers on and went for a walk. He walked through the second floor, examining the four guestrooms. Finally, he had something to call his own. Of course, it wasn't exclusively his, Scarlett lived here too, but after 20 years of living in hotels and barren apartments that he rented simply to provide a roof over his head in the towns he frequented most, it was nice to have someplace to call home. He had always lived rather frugally, despite his monetary means. His one luxury had always been clothes, of course, but clothes cost little in comparison with the things he was purchasing now. It almost made it more special to create the whole place in its entirety. Sure, they both had some belongings, but basically the house was furnished from floor to ceiling with things that they had picked out. He eyed some of the items in the room, rolling his eyes at the taste Scarlett had. If it killed him, he was going to make her understand there was more to an item than how much it cost. Of course, he hadn't suffered the hardships she had during the war, so he sat quietly by as his home got filled with tacky and gaudy items. Content so long as the few items he wanted were in their rightful places.

He descended the massive staircase quietly, not wanting to disturb anyone. Since no one was awake, he entered the kitchen and sliced off a couple pieces of the fresh bread. He was no stranger to fixing his own meals, and certainly wasn't going to let the fact he had servants stop him from getting himself some bread and butter. Still hungry after the bread he sat at the kitchen table, watching the sun come up through the windows, startled to hear someone enter the room. Assuming it was Mammy, Lily, or one of the other servants, he didn't turn right away until he felt a touch on his shoulder. Looking up he was surprised to see Scarlett standing at his side. While the robe she wore covered her fully revealing nothing inappropriate, he couldn't help but let his eyes scan the outline of her figure and his mind wander to what she looked like underneath that robe.

He smiled up at her. That fiery temper of hers had proven to make for rather fiery lovemaking as well, which he had known from the moment he saw her three long years ago, and why he had tried for so long to bed her. He certainly wasn't counting on his attempts to seduce her resulting in his ending up as her husband, but he was admittedly glad it was he who had stolen Scarlett O'Hara's hand in marriage. He knew he could never lay claims to having stolen her heart. His smiled must have betrayed his thoughts

"Rhett Butler, get your mind out of the gutter. You shouldn't be having thoughts like that in our kitchen," Scarlett said.

Rhett laughed wickedly as he placed his arm around her waist, bringing her to his lap.

"But, the key, my darling Scarlett, is that it is our kitchen. There's nothing wicked about me imaging what my wife looks like under her bedclothes. I rather enjoy the picture I have of you etched in my mind from the night of our wedding," he kissed her softly, as his hand reached up to open the front of her robe slightly.

Overcome with the desire to touch her, he cleared his throat suddenly realizing the kitchen was not the place for his behavior, at least not when someone could walk through the door at any moment. He stood, placing her feet on the floor gently with a kiss.

"Can I get you some breakfast, Scarlett? I'm afraid I didn't go to any great lengths to make myself breakfast, just some bread and butter but I was thinking of making some eggs. I know you're used to having someone prepare your meals for you, but I'm no stranger to a kitchen."

She accepted the invitation for breakfast. He pulled a chair out for her to sit in while he fried some eggs, which he set in front of her when they were done.

"I told you if you married me, we'd live like royalty. Fried eggs for breakfast. What more could one ask for?"

She laughed, her laughter starting to come more frequently he noticed. Perhaps she was getting more comfortable in her role as his wife, as anyone's wife. They had been married three months, back in Clayton County for two weeks now. There had been no social functions for them to attend, so her position as wife hadn't come into play yet. Of course, Rhett didn't care whether she danced with all the men of Clayton County at the party they were going to that night at the Calvert's. He loved her no matter what she did. That much he knew, and he would stand by her no matter what the old peahens, as Scarlett called them, said. They finished their eggs with some discussion of the party later that day, who would be there, and who would not be there. Scarlett wondered what she had to wear that no one had seen previously. He laughed at her, as if she didn't have a closet full of frocks that no one but him had seen before.

"Oh, but of course, you're right, Rhett. I just want everyone to be pea green with envy tonight. At the fact I married you, that we're married to each other, and the fact that we're richer than the king and queen of England."

Rhett held up his hand as he cut her mid-thought. "Now, don't get too far ahead of yourself there. I don't think I've ever claimed to be richer than the king and queen of England." He laughed. "Though you'll never know, will you. At least not until I die and leave you everything."

She laughed, her green eyes filled with amusement as well, "You're a skunk, Rhett Butler. I don't know why I ever agreed to marry you."

He stood.

"So you keep saying, Mrs. Butler. Said skunk is going to go for a tour of the grounds for a while this morning. We need to start thinking about crops and what not, Scarlett. This plantation isn't going to build itself you know."

He kissed her cheek, and went upstairs to change into riding attire. He silently hoped that perhaps she'd surprise him and offer to join him, but when he returned to the kitchen she was going over something with the cook for the following day's dinner menu. He walked toward her, standing close behind her as he gently grasped her arms. She turned her face toward him, allowing him to kiss her cheek and then he left the kitchen heading outside toward the stables.

He spent a couple of hours outdoors, trying to get a feel for what they could do with all the land that they had available to them. Cotton, of course. But there were so many other options. He didn't want to spend the rest of his life harvesting cotton. He wanted to think of something that would make him a healthy profit no matter what cotton prices did.

He returned from his ride, bathed and saw that Manigo had his new black tuxedo set out for him. "Manigo, you know how I hate these functions. Why is it again I got married? All it means is I now have to attend these things."

Manigo helped him into the tuxedo and replied, "Well, sir, I reckon it's cuz you love Mrs. Butler."

Rhett laughed and said, "Indeed, Manigo. That is the reason most people marry."

Rhett fastened his emerald cuff links. They had been a "gift" Scarlett had picked out for him on their honeymoon. He had laughed when she suggested their purchase, but her reasoning that he would almost always have something to match what she wore made a reasonable amount of sense when she presented it that way. She almost always wore green; you could almost set your clock by it. In fact, even his cravat was a dark green for that evening, under the assumption she would wear a gown of green. She had some gowns made of different colors of course, but green was made for Scarlett O'Hara to wear and she knew it.

Manigo finished helping him dress, using his gloved hand to brush the lint off the back of Rhett's jacket.

"Thank you, Manigo. You always make sure I leave the house looking like a proper gentleman, you can't help how I act when I leave it." Rhett laughed and made his way down the hall, past the massive staircase to Scarlett's room and knocked on her door. Being told she was still dressing, he opened the door ajar, "We'll be late if you don't hurry, my dear. You don't want to be late for your first appearance as Mrs. Butler. I'll be waiting in the parlor downstairs when you're ready," he said and shut the door behind him gently.

He made his way down the staircase to the parlor. He poured himself some brandy from the crystal decanter and sat in front of the fire, his back to the entryway. After a few minutes he heard someone descend the staircase and walk toward the room. "Mrs. Butler, I presume," he said as he turned to face the person. He smiled brightly as he stood to admire her.

She wore his favorite dress, he silently wondered if she had done it for him. It was a floor length, green velvet gown, which gathered in front in an upside down V from the waist to the floor. This material was a lighter colored green silk. The bodice was off the shoulder, cut low enough to almost be inappropriate. The sleeves were short, and she donned long, white gloves. Her hair was off her neck in an ornate braid. Simple emerald ear bobs and an emerald drop necklace, which accentuated her cleavage even more, was the only jewelry she wore. They were all she needed.

"I don't know if it's my head you're trying to turn, but you've certainly succeeded if that was your goal." He stood and offered her his arm and they departed for the party, which was well underway by the time they arrived.

They paid their respects to her parents and for the rest of the evening Rhett hardly saw Scarlett other than when she felt guilty and acquiesced and allowed him a dance or two. Between Cathleen Calvert wanting to catch up on gossip with Scarlett and of course wanting to hear about the honeymoon and the men, after they realized she was still taking requests for her dance card, asking for dances she barely had time to breath. Rhett himself kept busy talking with Ashley, Scarlett's father, and the other men who were present. All of whom, Rhett was quite certain, were trying to figure out just exactly how it was Rhett had won Scarlett's heart. Little did they know he really had nothing to do with the process. Scarlett, for whatever reason, decided to accept his proposal. He honestly had not been truly sincere in asking, going under the assumption she would say no. He wanted to impress her and sweep her off her feet, sure. Remind her exactly what it was he could offer her that the likes of Cade Calvert and Brent or Stuart Tarleton wouldn't have even thought to offer her. He doubted they had a romantic bone in their body.

Rhett breathed a sigh of relief when Scarlett indicated she was ready to go home. It was two in the morning by Rhett's pocket watch. The ride home was quiet, Rhett not knowing what to say. Despite his thinking that it wouldn't bother him to see Scarlett dance with other men, it had immensely. He had but two dances with her, his own wife, in the entire six hours they were there. She hadn't even sought him out when the musicians announced the last song of the evening. Upon their return home, Rhett stopped in the parlor for a brandy while Scarlett went up to change out of her gown. He wasn't sure what exactly he was feeling. He poured the brandy back into the decanter, opting instead for some bourbon. He downed it quickly, pouring himself another. Damn her for being so attractive anyway. Yet he knew, of course, it was that very thing that had brought them together to begin with. Despite it all, he knew that no one could make her happy the way he could regardless of whether or not she was willing to accept it. And as much as he hated to admit it, he couldn't picture his life without Scarlett O'Hara-Butler in it.

Scarlett came downstairs after she had changed into her bedclothes and joined him in the parlor in front of the fire. She sat amid the silence for a moment or two and sensing his mood asked, "What's wrong, Rhett? You haven't said a word to me since we left the Calvert's."

She sat in the chair next to him, not on the free spot on the couch next to him he noticed. It seemed for every moment like that morning when he thought she was starting to realize she did indeed love him, there was one like this where he found himself wondering if she did love him at all or if it was just something he allowed himself to imagine.

He downed the second bourbon, "Nothing, Scarlett. Just finding myself a little jealous actually."

She laughed wickedly, "You, Rhett? Jealous? That's a laugh if I've ever heard one. In fact, I'd say that's one of the funniest things I've ever heard you say."

Rhett looked from the bottom of his glass to her, his gaze finally stopping on the fire. "It's true, Scarlett. Things in Europe were different. None of those men knew you. None of them were your suitors once upon a time. It was easy for me to let them dance with you, and know they were envious of the fact it was my bed you were ending up in that night. I couldn't help as I stood there talking to your father, Mr. Wilkes, Ashley, and Cade Calvert tonight, watching the longing in the two young lads' eyes. I realize Mr. Calvert isn't on real familiar terms with you, and I understand Ashley was never really a suitor. Still, I can't help but realize there are things about you that they know that I'll never know. I suddenly found myself not happy with the fact we were in Clayton County."

"Why, Rhett, of course there are things about me you'll never know, but there are things about me Ashley doesn't know either. Nor any other man but you for that matter. I certainly never shared a bed with anyone before you, Capt. Butler. Or isn't that good enough for you. I should think it would be your biggest triumph. Knowing that you have shared your bed with Scarlett O'Hara and they have not."

Scarlett rolled her eyes at him, obviously annoyed. She had looked wonderful that evening, and while he had complimented her accordingly at the beginning of the evening he hadn't said anything kind about her or her appearance since they had left Emerald Heights for the party.

Rhett laughed. "Of course, you're right, Scarlett."

He placed his glass on the table next to him, stood and walked behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders. "Why don't we go upstairs and let me enjoy the experience of having that knowledge once more, Mrs. Butler." He brought his lips to hers as she turned her head to look up at him. His hand gently moving the fabric of her robe as he kissed her exposed neck.

"Oh, Rhett, don't you think of anything else." She whispered in his ear, enjoying the feel of his lips on her neck and his hand caressing her lightly covered body.

"Not with you as my wife, Scarlett. How could a man in my position think of anything else?"

He took her hand as she stood from the chair, placing his arm around her waist.

"You distract me, Scarlett. What can I say?"

They walked upstairs together, Scarlett's two hands holding his hand as she followed him to his room. He shut the door behind them, undressed and as he went to put out the lantern noticed she had removed her robe. He smiled as he got into bed, once again thinking whether she realized it or not, she was happy.

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