November 7th, 1:23 am

"Good luck, Gale," Madge whispers, voice almost lost in the pouring rain. He can barely see her in the dark and maybe it's better that way.

If he could, he might never leave.

November 6th, 10:00 am

"Major Hawthorne, sir," comes Madge's voice, drifting through the chaos around him. The room's a disaster, people running every which way, talking, arguing and even though he's no longer listening, he can still hear the not-so-faint sounds of Lieutenant Colonel Abernathy blasting him through the phone. Madge stands by the edge of his desk, paper in hand and even though she shows no signs, he knows she can hear Abernathy as well as he can.

"Is this a bad time, sir?" she asks, voice calm and without the curiosity he can see in her eyes. He doesn't answer right away, takes in the blue of those eyes but Abernathy seems to have caught on to the fact that Gale hasn't been listening, starts shouting even louder. Gale scoops up the phone, holds it slightly away from his ear.

"I'm very sorry sir," he interrupts, "but something urgent's come up. I'm going to have to call you back, sir." He hangs up before Abernathy can stop him and looks back up at Madge, still as cool and professional as always.

"So, what do you have for me Lieutenant? And it better be good, or Abernathy'll have my head."

There's something in Madge's face, something he can't quite place.

"It is sir, trust me."

(he always has)

November 6th, 11:42 am

"This better be good, Hawthorne," Abernathy all but barks and Gale pulls up Madge's report.

"It will be sir, I promise," he begins and Abernathy lets out a 'hmpf' as he settles back in his chair, arms folded tight. Gale clears his throat, every nerve humming.

"Lieutenant Undersee, one of the members of my staff responsible for decrypting General Snow's communications, has managed to crack his code."

"Impossible," Colonel Lyme insists before he can continue, "we've been working on it for years and no one's been able to get anything out of it."

"Lieutenant Undersee is the best, ma'am, and I can assure you, she has cracked Snow's code. But more importantly, she's managed to uncover a time when he'll be moving between safe houses as well as the security measures in place to protect him. This could be, not only our best, but our only chance to take him out for good."

There's nothing but silence after he's said it and Gale can feel his heart hammering in his chest. Years of war, years of chasing that monster Snow and finally, finally, they had him.

"And when, exactly, is this move taking place?" Lieutenant General Boggs finally asks, voice cautious.

"Two o'clock in the morning, November seventh, sir."

November 6th, 1:18 pm

"I still don't like it," Abernathy growls, "it seems too good to be true. What're the odds we not only crack his code, but manage to get a hold of the details for a perfect opportunity to take the bastard out?"

"I'm well aware that this could be some sort of trap, but we can't afford to pass up this opportunity. This may well be our only chance to take Snow out and end this war once and for all," Boggs replies, voice grave.

"I agree, sir, but shouldn't we be sending more men? If it is a trap, our small force will surely be overwhelmed," Colonel Paylor points out. Boggs nods.

"True, but we have no idea how many men Snow will have lying in wait if it is a trap. Sending in the minimal amount of people necessary to accomplish the objective minimizes our loses if it is a set up. It's the best choice we have in the current circumstances."

"Of course sir, but if it is a trap, we'll be condemning some of our best soldiers to death," Paylor says and Abernathy nods in agreement.

"I'd bet the farm Snow 's the one that leaked that info," he nearly snarls and Boggs sits down heavily, sighs tiredly.

"You're right of course, you both are. But we can't let this chance pass us by, we have to take it no matter the risks," Boggs says softly.

Abernathy and Paylor share a look but don't say anything else, because honestly, what could they say?

He's right, they don't have a choice.

Which is probably just what Snow wants.

November 6th, 2:02 pm

"Twelve hours from now, Snow could be dead and the war finally over," Gale murmurs in almost awe. Madge nods against his chest, her fingers tightening on his shirt.

"You'll be careful," she almost orders and he pulls her closer, presses his cheek to the top of her head.

"I'll be fine. I've got Katniss watching my back and you to come home to. Nothing's going to happen to me, promise." Madge pulls away slightly and looks up at him, cups his cheek in her hand.

"I'll be holding you to that Major, after all, you promised you'd marry me when this war's over." She tries to sound strict and unaffected but there are tears in her eyes and fear in the quiver of her lips.

"I always keep my word, you can count on that."

And then he kisses her, tastes her desperation on his tongue and never, ever wants to let go.

November 7th, 12:04 am

"Sounds like a set-up to me," Katniss tells him as they suit up and Gale frowns.

"I wish everyone would stop saying that," he grumbles, has felt worse and worse about the mission the closer it gets. It does seem suspicious, convenient and he doesn't want to lead these soldiers to their deaths, doesn't want to die himself.

"I could be wrong," Katniss offers, but she doesn't sound overly convinced. Gale doesn't answer, keeps his eyes on his boots as he tightens them. He can feel Katniss watching him but he doesn't look up and finally she sighs.

"It would be nice though, for this all to be over. I'd love to go home, love not to worry about being killed every day."

"Yeah," Gale agrees, can't help thinking of home and the family he hasn't seen in years.

"When are you and Madge planning to get married?" Katniss asks and Gale's head jerks up, nearly gives himself whip lash.

"What?" he sputters, looks nervously around the room but no one else seems to have heard.

"I know you think it's a secret Gale, but everyone can see it," Katniss scoffs and Gale frowns.

"I don't know what you're talking about Captain," he answers, returns to focusing on his gear.

"Of course not, sir. Lieutenant Undersee must have been referring to her marriage to a different Gale Hawthorne when she asked me to be her maid of honour. My mistake, sir."

Katniss is gone before he can answer, off to chat up Mellark and Gale stares at her, wonders why Madge told her without letting him know. They agreed they had to keep it secret, couldn't risk letting anyone know and Madge had even made him promise not to tell Katniss, the one person he trusted more than anyone else in the world. And now Madge herself had gone and squealed.

What the hell?

November 7th, 1:19 am

"I have a report for you sir, from Lieutenant Colonel Abernathy," Madge says, shows no sign that she sees him as anything other than a commanding officer.

"Thank you Lieutenant," he replies, keeps his tone neutral before turning to Katniss. "Captain Everdeen, get the men in position and wait for my signal to begin the operation. Lieutenant, if you'll follow me." He leads Madge a little ways away, where no one can see or hear them.

"General Boggs said that once we left we'd be on our own. I can't imagine Abernathy went against orders and sent you here."

"He didn't," she admits, "I just wanted to see you again, before everything goes down." He wants to be annoyed or angry but he isn't, is happy he gets the chance for one last goodbye, in case things go wrong.

"I love you," she tells him, sincerity bleeding into every word. Her tone's urgent too, like she needs him to believe it, is afraid he might not.

"I love you too," he says, kisses her for what might be last time. She clings to him and even though it's raining, he somehow knows that the wetness on her cheeks are tears.

November 7th, 1:23 am

"Good luck, Gale," Madge whispers, voice almost lost in the pouring rain. He can barely see her in the dark and maybe it's better that way.

If he could, he might never leave.

November 7th, 1:56 am

"Alright, Snow will be arriving any minute. You each have your targets. Take them out and let's finish this war, once and for all."

November 7th, 2:01 am

Snow never appears.

Instead, Gale hears his men and women die over their radios, is himself ambushed from behind.

It was a set-up, a trap and they fell right into it.

But this is worse, he realizes, as he tries to fight off his attackers, because somehow they knew exactly how many people there'd be on this mission, knew exactly where they'd be positioned.

We've been betrayed he thinks just before the enemy knocks him unconscious.

November 7th, 2:21 am

"Gale, Gale wake up," he hears and he furrows his brow. Madge? But why is she here? Fuck…they must have caught her on her way back from saying goodbye…

It takes all his willpower to open his eyes but he does, sees Madge kneeling beside him in the mud. She cradles his head and he can tell she's crying even in the downpour and the dark.

"They want to bring you in for questioning," she begins and he closes his eyes. He knows what that means, knows it means torture, knows Snow's men are sadists. He won't give them anything but it doesn't matter, they'd make him suffer even if he did, do it more for the pleasure than the information.

"I'm not going to let them," Madge continues, voice soft in his ear.

"Wha…" he tries to asks and wonders what she means, wonders where the men who attacked him are, wonders why they brought Madge to him, but no one else.

"I love you," Madge swears and it's only when he feels the cold steel of her gun against his skin that he understands.

we've been betrayed


He doesn't have a last thought, just a broken heart he'll carry to his grave.

November 6th, 5:37 am

"Come on Major, up and at 'em," Madge says, tugging off his covers. He groans and reaches for her, drags her back down to bed.

"We'll be late," she points out as he buries his face in her neck.

"Mmmrph," he responds against her skin and she laughs, tickles his stomach.

"Come on, the last thing we need is a lecture from Abernathy."

He groans again but releases her and rolls onto his back. Madge sits up and turns back to face him, eyes bright.

"And who knows, today could be the day the war ends. Wouldn't want to miss that, would you?" she questions with a smile.

No, he definitely wouldn't want to miss that.