"That in gold clasps locks in the golden story;

So shall you share all that he doth possess,

By having him making yourself no less."

1.3, 92-94 Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare

A blustering wind sweeps over Elara, lifting wisps of hair from the carefully braided updo that Cashmere had spent the better part of the afternoon on. As the auburn strands are pushed into her eyes, the gust picks up the hem of her dress and it flies forward. It bandies against her legs for a few fierce moments before fluttering back down in layers of gauzy chiffon. She feels like the air that breezes into her; as light and buoyant as the clouds. In the dark of night, with the stars blaring through the heavens with such candor, her white dress glows.

And then there is him. If she glows, then so does he. Elara doesn't think she's ever seen him as perfect as he is now, if only because he's about to be completely and utterly hers.

He smiles when he sees her, and she smiles back. She doesn't spare a glance at Cashmere and Amelia as they idle nearby, nor to the man who will be presiding over the small ceremony. She can look nowhere but forward; nowhere but at him.

When he reaches for her hand, she clutches him so tightly that it's almost as if she's afraid to let him go, as if she thinks he'll disappear on her. He wants to tell her that that's nonsense. He's had plenty of opportunities to do just that over the course of eight long years. He hasn't been able to let her go then, and he sure as hell isn't about to let her go now. He's waited for this moment for so long that his heart is full to bursting. With what, he can't say. Love and hope, nervousness, excitement – it all bundles together inside him with such force that he can't form any words at all. Instead, he just pulls her to his side and twists his fingers into hers.

"You look gorgeous," he tells her, and grins.

Elara grins too and squeezes his hand. In a shaky tone, she whispers, "I'm nervous. I don't know why."

There's no reason to be. This gathering is intimate. They might as well be alone on the edge of the world itself. The city is behind them, with all its lights and all its noise. Ahead is the vast expanse of the desert and the brilliance of the universe as it slowly reveals itself to them in the final rays of the setting sun. Dusk is falling hard, alighting the sky with a range of color that almost doesn't seem real. It is like she's standing in the middle of a dream. She thinks that, perhaps, she is. This has been her dream for years.

Gloss swallows. He murmurs, "I am too, but I do know why."

She turns to him to ask, "Tell me?"

He smiles and shrugs, "It's because I'm still wondering if this is a dream and I'm about to find out that none of it is real. That the war never happened and that you're still in District 5…that you'll always be out of my reach."

Elara feels her eyes fill with tears, which she blinks away before they can appear. She's cried too much lately. She doesn't want to anymore. And yet – his words somehow mirror her own feelings perfectly, and she thinks that perhaps that's why she's nervous too. She's so accustomed to never being able to have all of him that suddenly, the prospect seems impossible and nerve-wracking.

She exhales and breathes, "It's not a dream, though. It's real."

At this, Gloss smiles. His eyes crinkle at the edges, and for a moment she thinks that his eyes look a bit watery too, until he sighs and reaches up to smooth down a wispy strand of her hair. As he puts it back into place, he says, "Let's go."

She takes a breath and nods, and together they walk to where the judge is standing. It truly is a rudimentary scene. There are no decorations to liven the space up. No strands of fairy lights or flowers. There isn't even a podium for the judge. Besides the dresses that Cashmere and Amelia are wearing as they stand on either side of the man, it would be impossible to tell that this is even a wedding scene at all.

She's pretty sure that this isn't usually how they do things in District 1, where the culture is so luxurious and wealthy. Gloss had told her to plan out whatever she wanted, but the truth is that she doesn't want anything but him. Planning out an elaborate wedding and spending an inordinate amount of money of it all counteracts the simplicity of her true desires. She's wanted him for too long to waste time with such things. And besides –

As the sun fades into the distance and the stars come out at full force into the night sky, with such brilliance that it takes her very breath away, Elara thinks that she doesn't need anything else. Nature itself paves the way for them, blessing this night with a beauty that goes beyond anything she's ever seen.

And it keeps blessing them, as if it is making up for all the times that Fate had bandied them about, turning them in circles. All the times that they've wondered if it's all worth it – if love itself is worth it – or if they should just give up and carry on in opposite directions.

Maybe that's the way Fate operates. Maybe it curves the road on purpose, so that you can't see the other end of it until you get there. Maybe it means to test you, to decide if you deserve all the blessings that it wants to give you. To figure out if you're strong enough to walk past the obstacles that it sends into your path. It doesn't want you to fail; it wants to make the final outcome worthwhile.

If that is the case, then Elara thinks that it is most definitely worthwhile. Everything about this night is as perfect as she could have imagined, even when –

"Where are you taking me?" she laughs, once the vows are said and they have a small celebration at Cashmere's house. They only stay for an hour or so before Gloss is pulling her out of the building and down the steps.

"I told you already, Elara," Gloss says impatiently, grinning as he turns to her and pulls her into his arms. She laughs as the world spins for a brief moment before flattening out again, and she sees that he's taking her to a car that hadn't been there before. As he walks towards it with her in his arms, he says, "I've picked out a great place and I intend on keeping you there for at least three weeks."

Elara laughs again and repeats, "Three weeks? It better be good if you want me to stay for that long."

Gloss though, he just smirks widely and says, "By the time tonight is over, you'll never want to leave."

She snickers and leans in to kiss his cheek as he reaches the car, and against his skin she playfully teases, "You'll forgive me if I make you live up to those words."

He hums, sets her down, and opens the car door with a smirk.

"Get in, Winston."

She laughs.

"I will."

And – well, his words prove to be true, but then again, she already knew they would. Here on the edge of the desert, Fate's gleaming silver doors have been opened to them at last.

The End

Thank you to everyone who has enjoyed this story, especially those of you who have been with me from the very first chapter. Gloss and Elara's story has been a rocky road, and now I am happy to bring it to the close that I've envisioned for them. This is the end for Gloss and Elara. I won't be writing any more for them. I feel as though everything that needed to be said has been said. If you enjoyed this story and my writing, please feel free to follow me. I have many more stories that I'd like to publish here, including other Hunger Games ideas that I hope to work on in the future.

Because this story was loosely based off of Romeo and Juliet, I thought it would be fun to write some sonnets for the chapter titles. If you are interested, I have included the poem as it was meant to be read, in all of its mock-Shakespearean glory:

Sonnet 1

My love, you are an arid summer storm;

In cloudless blue, the roughness of a gale;

In gentle skies, a fury misinformed;

A tempest trapped in a preserving squall.

You are a bolt of lightning in a snare,

That burns the brighter with each pass of time;

Within your eyes, a seething moonlit prayer,

Which seeks to bolster all it holds divine.

Your clash is like a symphony of sound

Which, even as it plays into the night,

Each silvered note the very stars astound,

And makes me burn; my very soul made bright.

If you are a storm, then let me say this:

I am a cloud that ventures into it.

Sonnet 2

You are an open ocean swept aside;

An endless sea whose depth cannot be found.

This stormy tempest perforates the skies,

And measured in these limitations, bound:

It can't be seen with eyes or marked with touch,

Though mortal souls do wildly exert;

Its depth is far too short, and yet too much

To find the center of thy sunken earth;

Nor calmed with any word that's known to man,

This wave that breaches heaven's gleaming doors;

Nor made less vast, or vaster by demand,

But, angered, it is built up all the more.

For in this storm that sets my ship astray,

I've lost the north star's guiding silver ray.

Sonnet 3

If Fate be cruel then I will mark it down,

For mortal minds make mountains out of pain,

And often in their pity do they sound

The grumbled cries of their own shifted blame.

Then shall I paint a picture of my love,

That might explain the cruelty of fate?

I'll start with bad and end on good, thereof,

In hopes of summarizing this strange state.

This love is like a tangled untrod path,

Whose gates lay open to Love's boundless fleet,

And blind fools set upon this perfumed track

Not knowing of its endless quality.

This love is like a wistful bitterness

That hangs upon my shoulders like a weight,

In nighttime hours its gentle blooms do sprout;

By day, it seems to propagate this hate.

This love is both a curse and prayer in one;

Its fatal arrows bleed my soul, and yet

With every show of love that you perform,

I am the fool who ventures through that gate.

In sinking into Love's eternal care,

It lifts me up while making me despair.

Sonnet 4

I must speak not, for silence knowledge owns,

And yet my lips seek out this tender kiss;

The quiet tide of stillness so renown

Is made of thorns that not so gently prick.

I know not what eternity is like,

Or what it is to keep you in my arms;

Our love is like a poem said in night,

And rarely sees the tender press of dawn;

Or speculates with any certain prose

A softer twist of fate; a beggar's plea,

That might make this love easier to hold

And vault it into immortality.

And yet if you were on the farthest shore

I would be less, for having you makes more.

Thank you all once more for reading, commenting, and enjoying the story.

Much love, Crashing Petals