madge & gale
( existing in an alternate reality)
disclaimer: not mine.
When her name is called, a wave of fear washes over her, and she feels like she's drowning in it.
When his name is called, he's not surprised.
Her mother can't even make it to the Justice Building to say goodbye. Her father comes and sits with her for the entire allotted hour, which is against the rules, but the Peacekeepers aren't about to burst in and tell the mayor what he can and can't do.
They're quiet for the most part. Right before the hour's up, she whispers, "Daddy, I love you."
He kisses her hands and says, "I love you, too."
He promises himself that he's not going to cry, which he doesn't think is going to be too hard, right up until he sees sweet, little Posy's tear stained cheeks. He almost loses it, until he reminds himself that his crying won't help the situation at all. So he just scoops his little sister up into his arms, kisses her forehead and wipes away her tears with his shirtsleeve. Vick and Rory come around to hug him, and his mother wraps her arms around them all.
"Don't worry, it'll be alright," he assures them confidently as he buries his face in his mom's shoulder.
He swallows the bitter feeling in his throat and tries his hardest to believe what he's saying.
Katniss comes next. He opens his arms and she walks into them without hesitation.
"Come back, okay?"
He looks down at her and tries not to cry again, because she looks ohsohopeful and ohsodetermined and he knowsknowsknows that he's ohsodoomed.
The train is extravagant, filled with plush cushions and downy carpet and richrich food. He laughs bitterly, thinking, Well at least we can die in comfort.
They never talk to each other. Each silently regards the other, but they never speak. Once, though, after dinner on the train, he does.
"It's nothing you're not used to anyway, right?"
Her steps falter, she turns her head and barely whispers, "Right."
His stylist fawns over him, going on and on about his wonderfully fit body. "You'll do very nicely!" She coos.
He thinks it's funny how she overlooks how skinny he is.
"You're the mayor's daughter, right?"
"Ah. That's why you look so much more healthy than the tributes I've gotten before. You know, I've been dressing the District 12 tributes for over ten years, now."
She can't seem to muster any words when she's around her stylist. She scares her, with her swirling glitter tattoos, fluorescent green hair, and freakishly large, lavender eyes.
"Listen, darling, how do you feel about nudity?"
Thankfully, the stylist (neither tribute bothers to remember her name) ditched the nudity idea and went for the classic miner outfits, complete with headlamps on hard, black plastic helmets.
He's not sure why, but he thinks that she doesn't look half bad in her costume.
She ignores how hot her cheeks get when she catches him staring at her.
Haymitch yells at her, profanities falling effortlessly from his alcohol-tainted lips as he (loudly) asks Why Did You Do That and What Were You Thinking and How Could You Have Only Gotten A Five in Training and Do You Want To Go Home In A Coffin?
She shakes her head soundlessly and sighs as the older man leaves the room, grumbling something about needing some more wine.
Gale reaches out, squeezes her hand once, quickly, and is gone.
She's already there when he climbs the last step to the roof, and he almost turns around and leaves, but she looks so lonely standing there by herself, he decides against it and crosses over to her in long, silent strides.
She jumps when he settles his arms on the railing next to her. "Oh! I didn't hear you coming."
He shrugs. "I've always been good at that."
She snorts and he raises an eyebrow at her. "There's not much that you're not good at, Mr. I Got A Ten In Training." He rolls his eyes. "Besides," she continues as she pulls her robe tighter around herself, "You and I both know that you have what it takes to win this. Unlike myself."
He's quiet for a moment as he sorts his thoughts. "You're not hopeless, you know," he says after a minute.
He thinks she might have smiled.
Although their outfits for the Opening Ceremony were terrible, their clothes for the interviews aren't nearly as bad. In fact, they can almost be classified as good.
The costumes are simple, with his consisting of a charcoal colored suit and hers of a long dress the same color, and she'll never admit it, but when she first catches sight of him her breath hitches a little and she swears he's never looked better.
And he'll never admit it, but he swears the same thing of her.
They meet again on the roof after the interviews. They talk about meaningless things, like the weather and the Capitol people and food. It doesn't make very much sense, but nothing has made a lot of sense as of late, and they both decide to ignore it.
Eventually home comes up, and she gets quiet when she talks about her mom. "She's really sick. She has been ever since my aunt got picked for the last Quarter Quell." She gives a nervous kind of breathy chuckle and says, "I never got to say goodbye to her."
She looks so sad and hopeless and pained, and he thinks that's why he kisses her.
And she's been in love with him for as long as she can remember, so she's pretty sure that's why she kisses him back.
She's scared, more scared than she's everever been in her entire life. When the platform starts to rise, she contemplates stepping off early, giving herself a quick death.
But as soon as her eyes adjust to the bright sunlight she catches sight of him, and he gives her that quirky sideways smile. She smiles back and crouches down, getting ready to jump off as soon as the gong sounds.
She does okay for the first few days. She managed to pick up a backpack containing some food from the Cornucopia, so she doesn't go hungry.
She still refuses to kill anybody.
He's already killed three tributes.
They run into each other on the fourth day. She draws her knife and he draws his sword. They stare at each other for a few silent, tense moments before putting their weapons away and walking towards each other.
Wordlessly, they've become allies.
They keep to the woods, mostly, near the river. He hunts and she gathers. At night they share his sleeping bag and take turns keeping watch from a tree.
They hardly ever talk. They both know there's no point in it anymore.
A boy from District 11 catches up with them. He tackles Gale and gets the upper hand. Madge doesn't take the time to think and she grabs her knife, jumps on the monstrous boy's back, and slits his throat.
After the hovercraft picks him up, she sits in the river and cries. He slides his arm around her shoulders and stays with her.
They make it to the top eight, and she knows for sure that they need to split up now, but he hasn't said anything about it yet, and she doesn't have enough bravery to leave herself.
And she knows that she's setting herself up for something terrible, but she ignores the nagging thought and tells him stoically, "Let's keep moving."
It's the top six now, and she finally wracks up enough nerve to say, "Maybe it's time we split up."
He looks at her incredulously and says, "Why?"
She sighs. "Because I can't kill you."
He knows this already, but he doesn't say so, because it just hurts so much hearing her say it. Because even though he thought he was in love with Katniss, he thinks he feels something for this girl in front of him too, the mayor's daughter from District 12.
He grabs her hand, leans forward and kisses her cheek. Then she gathers up her things and leaves without another word.
She's just walked out of his line of sight when he hears her scream.
He bursts into the clearing just in time to see the arrow pierce her stomach.
He lunges forward and in a mere moment the girl who shot the arrow is dead.
He rushes to Madge, who is feebly trying to reach for her knife. "No, it's me, it's Gale," he assures her. He takes in the injury and something inside him breaks.
She sees the look in his eyes and knows. "Can you tell my parents..."
He puts his finger on her lips. "Stop," he says quietly. "Save your strength."
He grabs her hand and sits with her as the life fades from her pretty, blue eyes.
And it's Haymitch and Maysilee all over again, except this time he thinks it's worse, because he's not sure that Haymitch loved Maysilee like he thinks he loves Madge.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the winner of the 74th Hunger Games, Gale Hawthorne, tribute of District 12!
It's a hollow victory.