Hope you all enjoy. =D
Peeta Mellark Ruined My Life:
Hmm. Something smells good.
Following my nose into the kitchen, I find Madge busily preparing for another dinner with the Mellarks. Mindlessly turning over chicken fillets in flour. Completely defenseless.
When I wrap my arms around her, she jumps, sprinkling us with flour. While it's about as enjoyable as it sounds, I much prefer this white covering to the black soot that seemed to form a permanent layer on my skin during my time in District Twelve's mines.
"Gale!" she yells, startled. Turning around and hitting me ineffectually with her fists, she laughs and covers me with more flour. "You scared me!"
"I know." I grin down at the future mother of my children, who proceeds to swipe at my nose with a flour-covered finger. Then, with all the dignity of a powdered donut, Madge turns her attention back to the chicken, driving home her outrage at my behavior with a loud "Hmph."
I ignore it and bury my nose in her neck, using my fingers to make sure my access is unencumbered by hair and clothes.
"Smells good. Like angel food cake," I murmur.
"Probably because I'm baking one in the oven."
She attempts to prepare more of the fillets, but she's not very successful because I don't let go. She tries batting my hands away, but I'm too quick for her.
"You know what goes with angel food cake?" I ask against the shell of her ear.
I hear Madge swallow, and she croaks out, "No, but I'm sure you'll tell me."
Madge finally stops struggling and braces herself against the kitchen counter. "The gift that keeps on giving."
Speaking of gifts that keep on giving, my fingers find their way to the hem of her shirt, darting just under the material to trace circles on her stomach. "There's more where that came from."
Madge giggles, squirming a little, but not moving away from me. "You keep doing that," she says.
"Touching my stomach. Why?"
Huh? I hadn't really noticed, though now that she mentions it, I'm not surprised. In the two months that have passed since I saw those baby clothes in the closet I often catch myself thinking about what our kids will look like. Black hair and blue eyes? Maybe blond hair with gray eyes. A small army of Hawthornes that will pick on Mellark's brats. If he's even capable of having any.
"What do you think about us having a baby?" I ask.
Madge turns around with a smile on her face, which all too soon turns into a frown. "Gale, Katniss and Peeta are going to be here in less than an hour. The food isn't ready, I'm covered in flour, I still haven't changed, and-"
I chuckle, probably finding the frazzled hand-wringing of my wife more amusing than I should. "I didn't mean now."
Madge blinks. "Oh." Her forehead is creased, indicating that her mind is preoccupied with other things. Like, "You don't think we're too young?"
"Why would I? My parents already had me by this age." I think.
"You've never really mentioned it before."
"Not true. I asked you about it that one day, in the closet."
Madge purses her lips, trying to recall that time. I can tell the instant she remembers it, because her cheeks are suddenly stained pink. "What's brought this on so suddenly?"
"I saw the baby clothes in the chest."
"Gale, those clothes-" and then she stops and gasps. "What all did you see in there? Besides the music from Cole?"
I shrug, trying to dim the smile threatening to overtake my face. "Maybe a letter." That day I had vowed to return and read the note she'd written for me. And I had. Quite a few times.
My answer earns me a few more hits with flour-covered fists. "I can't believe you!"
"Any plans on finally giving it to me?"
"Gale, I-I-I..." she splutters.
She scowls, then turns around and throws the chicken fillets down on a baking sheet. Stomping around and slamming drawers open and shut, she pulls out the oven mitts, retrieves the cake and exchanges it for the chicken. After she's washed her hands and her her outburst has subsided a little, I pick her up and carry her to our bedroom. I don't like her around scalding pots and pans when she's angry with me. Plus, she needs to change.
She's as still as a stone in my arms. "No need to be embarrassed," I say.
"I'm not speaking to you."
"It's a nice letter. Very well written. Best letter I've ever read." This seems to placate her. Somewhat.
"For the record, those clothes aren't for me. They're for Katniss," she says.
Good thing I'm near the bed because I mishandle Madge, fumbling her inelegantly onto the mattress.
"Katniss is pregnant. I wasn't supposed to tell you, since they were waiting for the first trimester to be over before announcing it to everyone. They were going to tell you tonight."
How is that Mellark steals every single one of my ideas? It's like he purposefully sets out to best me at everything. I can picture him, bumbling around his bakery, cooking up plans to ruin my life. Be an incredibly romantic goober, so Gale looks like an insensitive boor in comparison. Check. Get married and settle down before Gale does, even though he was engaged before I was. Check. Impregnate Katniss so I can have bragging rights about being a father first. Check.
I'm startled out of my thoughts by Madge's laughter. "You look like you just got sprayed by a skunk."
I might as well have been, but I try to contort my face into a look of apathy. It must not work, because Madge is laughing harder. "I don't understand why you insist on making everything a competition with Peeta. It's not as if you both can't become fathers."
That's not the point! I wanted to do it first.
I hear Madge sigh as she pushes herself off the bed. She wraps her arms around my waist and stares up at me, eyes shining with laughter. "Not that I should be encouraging this, but if it makes you feel any better, there's a possibility we might have twins."
"Really?" I say, intrigued.
"Yeah, my mom was a twin. It's supposed to skip a generation, so maybe if we're lucky we'll have twins too."
And just like that, I forget all about Mellark. It's ridiculous, really, though I'll never admit that to anyone. Who cares what he does? Madge just agreed to having a child, possibly twins, with me.
"So we're going to do this? Start a family?" I ask, just to verify.
Madge nods her head. Rising on her tiptoes, she wraps her arms around the back of my neck, pulling me down to press her lips softly to mine. At least it starts off that way. I think by now it's obvious I'm not the most patient of people.
"Gale...Gale," she says, the urgency growing in her voice each time she says my name. "They're going to be here any minute. We can't."
"Katniss and Peeta will just have to take a raincheck."
Madge pushes me away, but just barely. "Go change. You're covered in flour handprints."
Her mouth is set stubbornly. No attempt of mine will sway her. Dutifully, though resentfully, I comply. And like the good boy that I am I leave the room so Madge can change in peace.
"Gale," she calls from the bedroom, "Can you take the chicken out of the oven and turn it off?"
"Yeah," I answer, going into kitchen. I've just pulled out the food when I hear a heavy tread outside the front door, announcing that Mellark and Katniss have arrived. Well, that or a herd of goats. It's hard to tell the difference.
The doorbell rings and Madge rushes in, putting on some earrings. "Gale, please be nice to Peeta. Remember, this isn't a competition."
"When am I not nice?" I ask.
Her answer is nothing more than one raised eyebrow. "Be good," she says, then flings the door open. "Hi!"
Madge hugs Katniss as soon as they cross the threshold. Mellark lifts his chin in greeting. "Hey."
We stand there, waiting for our wives to break their embrace. When Katniss and Madge disengage from their hug, Madge gestures toward the kitchen table. "Have a seat," she says. All the plates and silverware are set out, courtesy of me. I had taken some of my mom's earlier suggestions under advisement. Turns out, Madge actually did want help around the house.
Dinner is a slightly nauseating affair. The food is great, but I can't enjoy it as much as I should. Three guesses as to why.
They say that when a woman is pregnant, she's supposed to glow, but it's actually Mellark that is beaming like a ray of sunshine. A ray of sunshine that is constantly worried about Katniss. For a guy who has survived two Hunger Games, torture from the Capitol, and courtship with Katniss, you'd expect him to be a tough guy, not an oversensitive sap. I think if he could he would chew up Katniss's food and feed it to her. Like a mother bird. When Madge is pregnant, I just hope that I retain some measure of my manliness. How does Katniss stand it? She might roll her eyes once or twice, but you can tell she really isn't all that bothered by it.
Somehow, I make it through dinner. They still haven't made their announcement, and it's time for dessert. I stand up and help Madge serve the angel food cake topped with whipped cream and strawberries.
After the plates have been doled out, we dig in.
"This is delicious, Madge," Peeta says, as Katniss and I echo the sentiment.
"I'm glad you like it." She catches my eye, then says, "Though you'll have to thank Gale for the strawberries. He got me some plants for the backyard."
I clear my throat, finding it suddenly difficult to swallow my food. "It was nothing."
Madge leans against me, tucking her hand in my elbow. "He even planted them in the middle of the night, so he could surprise me when I woke up."
The surprise in Peeta's eyes is plain to see. That's right, Mellark. You're not the only one who can make amazingly thoughtful and romantic gestures.
Katniss sighs, and Peeta looks at her worriedly. "Is something wrong?" he asks.
"No," she answers brusquely. Even if I hadn't known Katniss for years, I would be able to tell she's lying.
Suddenly things are tense. I suppose it's up to me to change the topic of conversation. "So Mellark, written any poetry lately?" I ask. Innocently.
Katniss stabs at her food. "No."
Peeta almost chokes on his dessert, but doesn't say anything. Madge kicks me under the table.
"If you want, Katniss, you can take some strawberries home with you," she offers politely.
Katniss looks up at Madge, her gray eyes looking unusually glassy. "Thank you. That would be almost as good as having my own strawberry patch in our backyard." And then, she bursts into tears and runs out of the house, slamming the door behind her.
Peeta immediately stands to his feet, and his napkin flutters to the floor. He looks as gobsmacked as the rest of us. Then he lets out an uncomfortable laugh. "Thanks, Gale. I think you and your strawberries have officially ruined my life."
"No problem," I say, smiling affably, until Madge kicks me under the table. Again. Still, it's not enough to diminish the sense of satisfaction welling deep inside me.
"I'm sure Katniss will be alright, Peeta. She's probably just had a very emotional day," Madge says.
Peeta nods, but doesn't say anything. In my magnanimity, I decide to take pity on him. "I can show you where to find some strawberry plants."
"Uh...sure" he eloquently says. "I should probably, uh..." he motions towards the front door, then hurries after Katniss.
As soon as the door shuts behind him, I burst out laughing. Madge just shakes her head and warns, "When Katniss returns to normal, she's going to punish you for doing that."
"It was worth it. Besides, she's got another, what? Five or six months before their baby's born? She'll forget by then." I say, then proceed to thoroughly relish my dessert.
"I don't think so. She still hasn't fully forgiven Haymitch for showing up drunk at her wedding and that was nearly a year ago."
"What I did hardly compares."
"Katniss is cranky on a good day. Factor in her pregnancy, and I'd be worried."
I snort. "That's because you're a worry wart. What's the worst she can do?"
"I don't want to find out...And when she comes after you, I won't defend you. You haven't let one dinner with them pass without mentioning that poem in some way. It's probably why he stopped writing things for her," Madge says, frowning in disapproval.
I just did the entire world a service, and this is the thanks I get.
"You should probably warn Rory about Katniss's new emotional state. I'd hate to lose my brother-in-law."
Ah, yes, Rory, who lucked out and is now dating Prim. Well, he's a big boy. I'll let him learn this on his own.
"And another thing, Gale, when they come back, they'll most likely be telling us about the baby. You have to act surprised."
"I don't see what the big deal is."
"I wasn't supposed to tell you, and I don't want to make Katniss cry again."
Come to think of it, neither do I. It's weird seeing her all emotional like that.
"Now promise me you'll act surprised," she says, pulling away my dessert plate just as I was about to spear another piece.
"Yeah, yeah, act surprised. Got it." I look at my dessert expectantly, and Madge pushes the plate towards me.
A few bites in, I begin to ponder. "Do you think you'll be that emotional when you're pregnant."
"Oh, I'm sure I'll be worse," Madge laughs. "I'll cry unless you write me poetry."
I grimace, but am rescued from providing a response when the front door opens. Somehow Peeta has managed to bring Katniss back, and she shuffles in, looking sheepish.
"Sorry about that," she mumbles. "I don't know what came over me."
"Don't even mention it," Madge says politely.
"I suppose this is as good a time as any to let you know that I'm pregnant."
Act surprised, I hear Madge say somewhere inside my head. I raise my eyebrows a fraction of an inch. "Well, that explains the recent outburst," I say wryly. "Hormones."
Katniss nods while Mellark grins goofily, a twinkle in his suddenly bright blue eyes. I stifle a laugh. He's going to cry.
"And Katniss has twice as many hormones," he says excitedly, wrapping his arms around her waist from behind.
"Why's that?" Madge asks.
"We're having twins!"
A/N: Thanks for reading! Also, I would like it to be known that Gale's view of Peeta is not mine. Peeta is my favorite character in the whole series, and I view him as one of the best male Young Adult fiction characters ever created. He is my unicorn and ray of sunshine and piece of cheesecake and every other good thing I can possibly think of, and if he and Katniss don't end up together, I will be so bummed.