Disclaimer: I own nothing except the plot... I don't even own the title!
A/N: And now here we are at the very end of Angels On the Moon. It's my first ever completed multi-chapter story and I'm actually kind of proud of it. This chapter, in my opinion, is the saddest.
I decided to make this canon number one because I felt like it would be more tragic that way, and number two because I didn't want to make this story an AU one. (Although I feel like there is a two percent chance that Madge could have lived, like any other good Madge/Gale shipper, of course.)
I'm sorry this took so long, but really... I think that I just wanted to drag this out! How sad is that?
Angels On the Moon
It isn't so much falling in love as it is being pushed into it. At least this is what it feels like to Madge when she thinks about it later.
In fact that's how the whole thing starts, a push.
Madge, being a loner at heart, had been playing by herself one day at recess during their primary classes when all of a sudden three boy came over to her and surrounded her. They were obviously boys from the Seam, although when asked later to reveal who they were exactly Madge had no idea who their names were, with their dark, mussed hair and wrinkled shirts, a world away from Madge's perfectly pressed skirt and neatly plaited hair.
They had began taunting her, calling her a 'townie' and telling her that she was ugly and stupid and all sorts of things that Madge had never heard herself referred as. To a five year old hurtful words can seem like the end of the world, especially when you have never heard yourself being called those things. Tears quickly filled her eyes and one made its wet path down her red cheek.
One of them pushes her down and they all laugh. That's when he comes, her savior, her hero, and he asked them, "What are you all doing."
Immediately they clam up and the bravest among them, the one that had pushed her down, finally decides to say, "Nothin'."
That was when it struck her how handsome he was. He had been seven at the time and even then his gray eyes were large and expressive, his hair, so like her tormenters in its color and even texture, but his was neatly combed and it was obvious that his clothes were worn but clean and well taken care of.
That moment was when she had fallen just the slightest bit in love with him. A fraction of her heart, small enough so that she didn't notice that it was gone until it was far too late, had gone and he had taken it with him.
"It didn't look like nothing to me," Gale had sneered. "In fact it looked like you were making fun of a girl. You're all stupid if the only people that you can pick on are girls. I bet if I wrestled all three of you at once I'd win."
"Nu-UH," the group of boys had protested, all at the same time like a trio of persecutors.
"I bet so. Meet me today at the back of the school over by the big oak tree. Then we'll really see who's tougher."
The boys all run to go tell their friends about the fight, the one where they're going to win, and they forget all about poor Madge who is still laying on the ground trying not to draw attention to herself.
Gale doesn't even bother to help her up, he's just not that sort of boy, but he does spare her a last look. He looks like he's going to tell her something, but she's a girl and if he talked to her he'd definitely get made fun of for being a sissy so he doesn't say anything at all.
Madge is pretty sure that he doesn't even remember that scene years later, but Madge can't ever forget it. In the years after that he always does something, it usually doesn't have a thing to do with her but that's okay,that causes her to give him pieces of her heart and he doesn't know it.
Sometimes Madge laughs at herself, surely it's pathetic and kind of sad for someone to be stuck on a boy for years and not be able to bring herself to talk to him, but he can't help it. Once she gets older she tries and tries to make herself build a bridge and get over it, but she never can.
When he and Katniss become friends (or, if the rumors are true, more than friends) she has to admit that it hurts, because she can see his eyes searching for hers during school the exact same way that hers look for his, but she chooses just to punish herself anyway.
The funny thing is, he seems to believe that she actually likes strawberries. In fact, she loathes those red fruits who are a member of the rose family. (Madge had done plenty of research about those seedy berries in the few books that they had at home when Gale started bringing them around, so she knew what she was talking about.)
Her mother wasn't fond of them and her father would eat a few and then be done with them, he couldn't eat too many at once. In fact, the only reason that her father spent money on such an extravagance was because Madge asked him to. She asked for so little, and in fact eating strawberries seemed to make her happy, so he bought them.
He had no idea that the only reason that she enjoyed them was because of the boy who sold them, the boy that Madge had loved since the beginning of forever. Her parents both thought that she loved them and every single week Madge had to smile and eat them hurriedly in front of her parents so they'd continue buying more.
Madge had a system for eating strawberries, especially the big ones. The first bite she saw the way that Gale looked at Katniss, a bitter reminder of how she was things that Madge never could, or would, be. She'd fight a grimace and instead chatter happily to her parents, making sure that they saw her eating them.
The second bite was the occasional grunt that she could get from Gale whenever she tried very hard to have a conversation with him, so hard in fact that she would talk overly much, even though Madge had never been one for a dragged out and forced conversation. She would have loved to have him talk to her back, or to even smile at her once, but he never did. Even those sounds from the back of his throat had been a victory to her, a victory in a war that Gale did not even know existed.
And the third bite reminds her of his face that day that he saved her. And that one last bite is the reason that she even buys them to begin with. It's like a bait and he's the hook. She's powerless against the fisherman called fate.
Madge had never seen a whipping before, but she knew that certainly not all of them had to be this painful to watch. Of course the moaning would always be hard to listen to, and the insane glint in the punisher's eye would never be exciting to look at, but she knew that not all of them would make her react the same way.
She wanted to throw up. The only thing that Gale had done was kill one turkey, one, for his family so that they could actually eat something for dinner that night and go to sleep with a full stomach, unlike the other children in the Seam who died of starvation by the tenfold, and here they were acting as if he had just killed a person, or worse.
Each strike of the whip hitting his skin felt like one was hitting her as well. It was an exquisite pain, one that Madge had never felt before, and she had no idea what to do with this sensation. She had never felt it before because had never seen someone that she loved get injured before other than the occasional burn.
As soon as Katniss had come into the scene, brave Katniss who was the only one that had the guts to get over to him and get in between Gale and the piece of leather that was shredding his back. Madge should have been the one to do that, but she was never has brave as Katniss.
Maybe if Madge was more like Katniss, maybe if she was as brave and as beautiful as the Victor that seemed to have stole his heart that way that Madge never could, Gale would love her. But Madge would never ever be like Katniss, and she knew it.
But Madge was determined to help him, just like Katniss did. She just had no idea how. Her mind whirled with all sorts of scenarios that included Madge doing something brave to help him, but they all ended up not being rational or just not being possible.
Then an idea struck her. And that was all it took.
As sad as it was, Madge Undersee was willing to do anything to help Gale Hawthorne.
Madge took off her shoes when she came up to the door of her house. With any luck her mother would be sleeping right now, the medicine that she so dearly cherished tended to do that to people, and she wouldn't see Madge's treachery.
If her mother ever found out Madge would probably be forbidden to see the light of day ever again. The medicine meant more to Madge's mother than Madge did, and probably more than her husband as well. Sometimes Madge felt as though the medicine, that dangerous liquid in a small vial that looked so unassuming, was the only thing that connected her mother to the world.
Her mother practically swam in the stuff, she drowned herself in it trying to get away from a world that had taken away her sister, a sister that she had thought that she had hated but realized far too late that she loved instead.
Personally Madge hated the medication and wished that she could just smash all the bottles, no matter how expensive they were. Maybe then her mother would love and appreciate her, the way that other mothers seemed to do to their daughters. Maybe if her mother had less of it she would have to come back down to earth.
With this thought in her mind Madge shoved three glass vials in a box and then into her bag, grabbed her coat and scarf, simultaneously trying to put them on and get out the door, and ran like hell towards Victor's Village.
The wind was bitterly fierce as Madge walked back to her house, no longer having any reason to run. She considered it to be her punishment for doing something that in her house, if her parents ever caught wind of her crime that is, would result in a far more severe punishment.
Madge stuck her numb hands into her pocket, and she realized that that had not helped one bit. She opened the door quietly and unwrapped herself. She placed her wet things on the floor in closet, feeling guilty about the mess that Rose would find them in tomorrow, and shut the door.
She hadn't even noticed when she saw her mother on the other side.
For once her mother's curled hair was not perfectly done and clipped like it normally was. It was wild and stood up from odd angles all over her head. Her light blue eyes, not the eyes that Madge had inherited, were wide and full of pain.
Madge jumped when she saw her mother, but her mother didn't speak. She knows, Madge thought desperately and for several heartbeats neither of them spoke. They just continued looking at each other, mother against daughter, both of them hurling accusations at each other with their silence and the look in their eyes.
Then, finally, her mother opened her mouth, closed it, and then opened it again. "You're her made over again," she said finally, and Madge felt so confused at the pain that became even more evident in her mother's eyes as she said this.
"What?" Madge couldn't help but ask. She had been expect her mother to tell her something about stealing her medicine, about how horrible of a daughter she was and didn't Madge know how much she need that clear liquid, or about how why didn't Madge understand and how could she do that to her own mother.
"My sister, Maysilee," her mother answered, and Madge sucked in a breath in between her teeth because no one ever talked about her mother's sister who had died in the Hunger Games. Madge was lucky to even know her name. "You look just like her, you know. And you have so many of her little habits and quirks too. It's amazing, the way you seem to channel her even though you never knew her. And now I really know for sure, you are just like her. She would have done the exact same thing for the Seam boy she loved too."
"Mother, how did you...?" Madge started, but she couldn't bring herself to finish the question. This was her mother, and most mothers knew that sort of thing about their daughters. Just not Madge's mother.
"How did I know?" Her mother smiled softly. "I've seen the way that you looked at him. And I saw the expression on your face today when he was getting whipped on the square. I needed to go to the apothecary," she added at Madge's confused expression. "And then you left the door open when you ran outside, you know, and I saw the missing bottles."
"I'm sorry," was the only thing that Madge could think to say, and she was sorry for more than just the bottles that she had stolen. She was also sorry for being the sister that her mother wanted most in the world to forget. Maybe that was the reason that she could barely stand to look at Madge, the pain was just so much.
"It just seemed like something that she would have done, that for a moment I felt stunned. I know she would have done it for Haymitch in a heartbeat." Her mother tightened her lips at that, seemingly saying too much.
"Haymitch? Haymitch Abernathy?" Madge couldn't help but asking, repeating the victor's name over and over again in her head. She couldn't imagine why anyone, even in her own family, would ever love him of all people. Maybe he had been different when he was a boy, but still.
Her mother laughed at her incredulous expression. "Yes, she loved him very much, and I never knew how he felt about her." But then memories that Madge had no knowledge of swam over her mother's eyes and stayed there, drowning them in only more anguish.
"I have to go, but I want you to know that I don't blame you for stealing them," her mother called as she walked off, right before she began to sob.
Madge had never much thought of how the world was going to end, but she knew that now there was no escaping the fact that there wasn't going to be the world of District Twelve anymore.
She could hear the people screaming outside, she felt the floor rumbling beneath her feet, but she still did not start to panic. Her heart beating furiously in her chest she gave the whole world an expression of serenity.
She knew that she was going to die.
This fact was so painfully obvious that it slapped her straight in the face, but she did not want to let it bother her. Madge joined her parents on the couch, and she gripped her mother's hand tightly with her own. Her mother was not crying either, showing a surprising amount of strength as she stared death straight in the face.
Her father suddenly engulfed the two people that he loved most in the world into his arms and for a moment Madge couldn't breathe, but then he let her go. There were no words for this, and Madge had no urge to fill up the silence. Rose and Nettie, their only two and most trusted servants, stayed with them behind the couch silently clutching each other, tears streaming down their faces.
It was a peaceful way to die, Madge thought, if you just tuned out the terrified screams from outside.
There was a pounding at the door and everyone in the white house looked at each other in confusion when it stopped until the banging started up again. Madge silently got up and opened the door, wondering who in the world would think that it would be a good time to call.
The person standing at the door was Gale. Madge's heart made its way up from her chest to her throat, the way that it always did when she saw him. His dark eyes were flashing, and his face was unreadable. He was completely covered in soot and Madge had no inkling about what he could possibly doing at her house right at that very moment. Didn't he have a family to attend to?
"Well, are you coming or not?" he asked furiously, holding out his hand. It was extremely clear, at least to Madge, that he had not want to come and save her. Someone, most likely his mother, who knew about the medicine that she had give Gale, had made him come and get her, and it was not a good feeling.
Her eyes teared up as she thought about how much it would have meant to her if he had come because he had wanted to and not because he had to. His hand was still extended and she could tell that he was growing impatient as the whole world shook beneath them.
Thoughtlessly, completely and totally without restraint, Madge lunged herself at him and kissed his mouth. It was her first kiss, and while it had been practically taken by force it still felt just as good as she imagined it would if it happened with Gale Hawthorne.
He stared at her bewildered as she closed the door without another word.
And then Madge walked back to her family and waited to die, feeling totally and utterly complete for the first time in her life.
Sometimes Madge Undersee still crosses his mind. He remembers random things about her sometimes, especially that bitter feeling that she often produced. She was the mayor's daughter, and therefore one of the wealthiest people in their entire District, so of course he was bitter about the fact that she essentially had everything while he had nothing.
She had short dark blonde hair and dark blue eyes, he remembers that vividly. He had saved her from some bullies when they were kids because he had never been one to sit there and watch when someone got treated unfairly (this, of course, was before he was bitter). He sold her strawberries. And she had kissed him on that nightmare-ish day when his whole world ended. After the war he had wondered about that- had she really been that desperate?- when he knew that Katniss had been lost forever. He can never find an answer, though, and so he stopped trying to find one.
She most likely never knew his whole name anyway. After all, he was just the boy with the strawberries.