Repaid

"You don't forget the face of the person who was your last hope." Katniss

Epilogue

When I reach the walk leading to the back of the house I am soaked from the heavy snow and feeling both numb and wind-burned. Every bit of me is trembling. The jog to the Victors' Village chased away the nausea and now my stomach cramps from hunger. I awkwardly maneuver the steps which are covered in snow halfway up my shins and don't bother to brush myself off before going in.

I lock the door behind me.

The kitchen is cold and dark. I step out of my boots, nearly skidding on the puddle I've brought in, and gingerly wind my way to the stove. There's still some coal in the bucket and I use a small shovel-full to heat the room. My father refused to use an electric oven since his district's major industry is coal mining. I like the smell of it. Satisfied, I light a few candles, preferring the soft glow to the bright glare of electric lights.

My wool coat drips on the floor where I hang it on a peg. The boots I move by the stove to dry out. I thaw my hands and feet for a minute or two, gasping softly when the white-hot tingling begins.

Light-headed, I give up trying to warm myself and start scavenging. In the old refrigerator I find some leftover slices of chicken, which I don't bother to heat up. I take the entire platter out and slowly pick at some of the smaller pieces while I lean against the counter. The meat stays down. Then I find a carrot and peel it until the peelings make me think of Gale's back. Ugh. So, I stop and put it back in the fridge. There's bread from the Mellark's bakery in the pantry. I slice myself a generous piece and slather it in butter and honey. When I begin to feel full around the corners I make myself drink a glass of milk.

My hunger is taken care of, but the chill hasn't gone away and my hair drips down my back. I put the kettle on for some herbal tea and try to dry out while I wait, dragging a chair over so I can put my feet up.

The stillness is uncomfortable, though. At least the mindless eating and moving about served as a distraction, but now, I'm not sure what to do with myself. Go to bed? Everything feels so surreal and a wisp of doubt grows in my mind. Have I done the wisest thing? What will happen next? I wish Mr. Abernathy had a phone…although, he's probably still with the Everdeens and Gale. Besides, one never knows who else might be listening.

My chin is resting on my chest when there is a knock at the kitchen door. Startled, my eyes flutter open and I nearly fall out of my seat. The kettle begins to whistle, as well, and I feel disoriented.

Another insistent knock.

I get up. Apparently I am not the only fool in the district running about tonight. And then I pause…who would come here at this hour? And why?

I bite my lip as panic surges in my stomach. First things first – I remove the kettle from the heat. Be reasonable, I think to myself. I haven't actually done anything illegal…well, not that Thread would know about yet, anyway. If someone official, say a Peacekeeper, wanted admittance to this house, then he would probably come to the front door and not the back. And he probably wouldn't knock twice before showing himself in.

I feel a bit better, then, about slipping back the lock and opening the door. Cold air rushes is and the candles flicker. A tall, middle-aged woman with coal black hair stands on the stoop. Snow is caked in her hair and her clothes are worn and wet.

She looks familiar, something about the mouth and eyes.

"Madge Undersee?" she asks.

"Yes?" I reply.

"I was just coming back from the Everdeens when I saw your light on…and…" she hesitates, "I'm Hazelle Hawthorne. May I come in?"

Finis

AN: Doi! That's a terrible place to stop. Well, this story arc is over. But, you can probably guess what Hazelle came to talk about. SC doesn't give us any indication that Gale found out who his benefactress was, but I would be very surprised if his mother didn't ask about those details. And she was in the room when they talked about Madge. Anyway, I'm on to the next piece and hopefully some romance. (Sorry, K/G shippers.) I'm not really one to write chapter stories, but for some reason my muse is on overdrive for these two and material just keeps presenting itself, so we'll see.

Thank you all for reading, and especially to the anonymous reviewers that I wasn't able to reply to!