Chapter Seven


"What's going on here?" demands a furious voice. I pull away from Peeta to see a very large someone in the doorway. The light from the hallway throws his face into shadow, but I know who it is anyway.

"What?" I ask. "Why are you here? It's like four in the morning."

Gale doesn't listen to me. He just keeps coming. He reaches out and plucks me from the bed like I weigh nothing. He pushes me aside, into a bedside table. I feel a bruise beginning to rise on my hip. Peeta gives a noise of outrage.

"You could've hurt her, Gale," he says icily. "Don't ever do that again."

"I could've hurt her? You idiot. If you think I'm going to let you touch her, kiss her like that, then you're more stupid than I thought you were!" Gale shouts.

"Stop it!" I snap. "I kissed him, alright Gale? I love him. Stop shouting. You'll wake up the whole district!"

"Stay out of it, Katniss, this isn't about you," snarls Gale. Peeta and I stare at him incredulously.

"You're joking, right?" asks Peeta. "Of course it's about her. If she wasn't here, you wouldn't be either."

Even though Peeta hasn't said anything offensive, Gale rushes at him with a roar. The two of them slam into the wall, creating a noise that could wake the dead. Peeta kicks Gale in the chest, and Gale retaliates with a punch to the jaw. I rush between them.

"Stop it, now," I command. They stop, but their eyes glare daggers at each other. Or rather, Gale glares. Peeta looks angry, but slightly remorseful. I turn to Gale. "Don't you ever attack him again, do you hear me? He didn't do anything to you," I say.

"Of course he did," Gale spits. "That's why you're here with him and not me."

"What about my choice?" I cry. "I chose him, Gale. He didn't take me. I chose this!"

"Don't pretend like he had nothing to do with it!" Gale shouts. "He fought for you just as hard as I did!"

I know he did. Peeta did fight for me-literally. In the arenas, he fought for my life. "Gale, let me ask you a question," I say, fully aware that what I'm about to ask will result in a more violent explosion. "Why do you think I should choose you?
Peeta visibly stiffens, and Gale looks surprised. "I know you, Catnip," he says, trying hard not to sound angry. He fails miserably. "I love you."

"I love her too, and you're not the only person who knows her," Peeta says in irritation. For some reason, that is the last straw for Gale, who has apparently lost his mind. He shoves me aside and throws himself at Peeta, who is still injured and weak from his time in the Capitol. Gale takes him down and pins him to the floor. He wraps his huge hands around Peeta's throat. I reach for my bow and pull out an arrow.

I focus on a very specific point. I aim carefully. I pull my arm back. And then I fire.

The arrow whizzes past Gale's nose. He looks at me, stunned, and Peeta clocks him in the head with his fist. Gale hits him across the head, and Peeta finally manages to break his grip and fight back.

Before I can do much more, a horde of District Thirteen guards rush through my door, accompanied by Haymitch, Plutarch, and Finnick. They all have to join in to subdue Gale and Peeta, who seem determined to kill each other. Then, to my horror, the guards force both of them to their knees and handcuff their hands behind their backs.

"That's enough," says Haymitch. "He looks furious. "Look at you! Two perfectly respectable, decent men brawling like a couple of jealous schoolboys! It's ridiculous." He turns his gaze to me. "Go back to sleep, sweetheart. It looks like I'm going to have to have a cozy chat with your young men here."

"This isn't necessary," I say. "I trust them both." Although I'm really not sure if I trust Gale anymore. At least Peeta was acting only in self-defense.

Plutarch shakes his head. "You're the Mockingjay," he says. "You could've gotten hurt. This'll probably earn them both a couple of days in the prison cell, at the very least. We can't afford this kind of violence in District Thirteen."

No matter how I protest, they don't listen. They simply haul the two of them to their feet and herd them out the door. I go to follow, but Haymitch stops me. "Don't go after them," he says. "You're not going to like what you see."

I frown. "What do you mean?"

"He glances down the hall, then steps in and shuts the door. "I mean that District Thirteen isn't so much different than the Capitol. You can't trust them, Katniss. I've no doubt that Peeta and Gale will be severely punished- and not in ways you haven't seen before."

I think of the lash scars on Gales back, of the bruises and scars that Peeta now carries from his time in the Capitol. My skin turns to ice as I realize that we're in exactly the same position as we were in District Twelve.

A/N: I know this one's a bit short, but it came to a natural end here. Bit of a cliffhanger, eh? I can't help it. I'm a little addicted to them.