***Part Five***

Scarlett had no idea how long she had been riding. In the back of her mind she was aware of the fact that she had been gone for quite some time and had not announced to anyone that she was leaving. She had stopped to let the horse rest, surprised to find that she had stopped in front of the cemetery.

"Melanie. Bonnie," she murmured, feeling tears form in her eyes. Was it coincidence that she had ended up here in a moment of trouble, a moment of weakness? She doubted it was and found herself walking toward her daughter's final resting spot. Her eyes rested on Charles' headstone as well as Frank's and a wave of guilt washed through her.

Charles should have married Honey and Frank should have married Suellen. She knew that now even though she would not have done anything differently if the same situations were presented to her. She did not like to think of herself as an opportunist, but she knew she did not fall too far from the tree by that name.

She knelt on the ground, running her hand along the area Bonnie was laid to rest. The flowers Rhett had placed on the grave just two days ago were already starting to wilt and whither away. They took turns laying flowers on her grave, sometimes they went together but every week there was something on her grave without fail.

Rhett and Scarlett had had come so far in the past year. They had talked openly about Bonnie, their parents, Ashley, and many other things. Scarlett had realized that Rhett was an even better friend once she realized she loved him. She had always known he could be a confidante, she had always been able to tell him things she could never have told anyone else. The one topic they had both strayed away from, though, was Belle. She was a subject Scarlett preferred not to think about and obviously Rhett took his cue from Scarlett and did not talk about her.

Scarlett knew next to nothing about the woman except that Belle Watling had seemed to take great pleasure in knowing Scarlett O'Hara, the belle of three counties had not been able to hang on to Rhett. Scarlett knew that Belle contributed to the medical facilities during the War and helped Ashley, Dr. Meade and the other men who had made it out of Shantytown alive the night Frank was killed. Scarlett never quite understood why Belle did it, Rhett had not accompanied the men.

She had not wanted any of her children, she could not claim to have done right by either Wade or Ella at least up until recently. But they at least knew their mother was there and would do whatever it took to see that they were fed. She had loved Bonnie in a way that was foreign to Scarlett, but it had not been enough to prevent tragedy from continuing to taint her life. The past year had been going so well, too well, Scarlett should have known something would happen to throw everything off balance once again. At least no one had to die, always in the past things seemed to start or end with someone dying. Of course, Rhett's son indicated that Belle might be dying, so once again death was part of the equation.

"I'm sick of death," she said, her tears coating the coarse, dry grass of Bonnie's grave. The soldiers she saw lying sick just waiting for death's angel to visit them still haunted her sometimes. She did not know how many times she had dreamt of being surrounded by a mass of soldiers with eyes showing signs they were already dead whispering her name, pleading with her to try and save them. It was either that or the dream she had for years of her searching in the fog for something or someone that was never revealed to her. Though that particular dream had lessened in frequency so much so that she could not even recall the last time she had had it.

Scarlett thought that upon Belle's dying she might actually be free of her, but even if Belle was on her deathbed she would have succeeded one last time in coming between Rhett and Scarlett. The woman would die knowing that Rhett had left Scarlett to go to her. Maybe it was a ploy, an attempt by Belle to get Rhett alone with her.

"I won't let her do it," she said determined. It had been years since Scarlett had done any serious nursing, beyond taking care of those at Tara who had injured themselves while picking cotton or other minor things that she could tend to without bothering Doctor Fontaine. "We might just send the poor woman to an early grave from shock," she said with a giggle to Bonnie.

She stood from Bonnie's gravesite and glanced at the sky as she brushed some fallen wisps of hair at her forehead out of the way with the back of her hand. It was not too late, perhaps she had not been gone for as long as she thought. It had been so long since she had let her anger and temper get the best of her. Her mother would disapprove of the vindictive thoughts Scarlett was having. Her father, on the other hand, would more than likely tell Scarlett to stand up for what she believed in. Her father had been right on about Scarlett needing a man who thought like she did, he was more than likely right about more things than Scarlett had really thought to give him credit for before now. She did acknowledge she was far more like Gerald O'Hara than she was Ellen Robillard.

"Let's just go find out what your daddy is doing," she said with a wide smile, proud of herself for thinking things through and not turning to her brandy as she had in the past.

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