A/N: Hi! My first fic! I was really disappointed that SC didn't elaborate on whatever Madge and Gale had going on during the beginning of Catching Fire, so I decided this was where I come in...this is my version of what really happened with Madge and Gale, starting with the day she brought him the morphling. Please review, this is my first story and I need to know if it's good enough to keep going.
The title of this story comes from the song Breakable by Ingrid Michaelson, "And we are just breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys".
Disclaimer: I don't own any characters or events that you recognize from the Hunger Games trilogy. I'm not Suzanne Collins, but a girl can wish, right?
My favorite thing about the winter is the snow. For a few short months, the ugliness of our district is hidden beneath a blanket of pure white. In parts of the Seam where the layer of coal dust ground into the earth is especially thick, the snow takes on a gray pallor, but the part of town where I live is perfect.
I wake up around noon most days in the winter, because we have winter recess for a month. But the bright light reflecting off of the snow sneaks through my bedroom curtains around nine and forces my eyes open. I try to go back to sleep, but after fifteen minutes, I abandon the idea and sit up. I stretch my arms above my head, flex my toes and work the crick out of my neck.
I place my icy feet on the carpet and slowly get to my feet. It takes all of my strength to shuffle my legs across the floor to my wardrobe, where I pull on fresh clothes and an extra pair of socks. I run a comb through my blond tangles and smooth a heap of peach scented lotion onto my chapped hands.
It's nearly ten when I make my way downstairs. Pauline, our housekeeper, places a stack of pancakes before me and I devour them before she's finished brewing a pot of coffee, my father's favorite morning treat. "Thanks Pauline," I mumble through a mouthful of pancake and grab two mugs from the cupboard. I fill one with coffee for Daddy and the other with scalding water and a couple of tea leaves for my mother.
I place the beverages on a metal tray along with two pain pills and a vial of morphling. Mother will definitely need the pills, and depending on how she's doing today, she might need a shot of morphling to take the edge off. Just as I reach for the doorknob to the master bedroom, Daddy walks out. He quietly closes the door so we're both in the hallway, grabs his coffee off the tray and smiles down at me. "Have a nice day, Madge. Take good care of your mother for me, okay?"
"Of course I will, Daddy," I reply with a grin. We both know I'd never leave Mother to face her headaches alone.
"They say there's a blizzard coming, so please stay safe. The telephone numbers are on the bedside table along with the house key and some money," he tells me. I giggle.
"I know, Daddy. We go over this every day. We'll be fine, I promise."
"I'll be at the Justice Building if there's an emergency,"
"Come on, Daddy, you'll be late."
"Stay safe, Madge," he raises his eyebrows at me, as if he's challenging me to obey him.
"Always. When should we expect you home tonight?"
"I have a meeting with the new Head Peacekeeper at eight tonight, so expect me close to ten. I'm going to give Pauline the rest of the day off because of the blizzard. So you'll be by yourself with Mother. You're sure you can handle it?"
"Of course I can, Daddy. Go on now," I give him a reassuring smile and he gives me a kiss on the forehead.
"You don't answer the door for strangers, lock up, and don't answer the telephone. Be good darling," he takes a sip of his coffee and walks downstairs. Shortly after, I hear the door close. I open the door to my parents' bedroom and walk in. Mother is piled under blankets sleeping peacefully. The curtains are closed and the lights are off, effectively blocking out the real world.
I rouse her and give her the pills and her mug of tea. She says she's feeling okay today, and she doesn't need the morphling. I tell her I want to go into town to get some things before the snow starts, she agrees and hands me the key and money from the table beside her.
"Margaret. You stay safe now, alright?" she whispers as I'm walking out. I crinkle my nose ans wonder why my parents are so worried about my safety today. I know how to take care of my mother and I've been in town during snowfall numerous times.
I put on my heaviest jacket and my thickest scarf. My boots are getting too small for me and pinch my toes, but the alternative is a pair of black tennis shoes, which will no doubt be ruined within minutes in this weather.
With the money tucked in my pocket, I begin the mile walk into the town square. I plan on stopping off at the butcher to get some fresh meat, but a bloodcurdling scream stops me dead in my tracks halfway into town. Not a second later I see a young woman, the source of the scream, running from the center of town towards the Seam, hanging onto the infant in her arms as if her life depended on it.
Margaret Undersee, daughter of the mayor, says run home and don't look back. Madge Undersee, curious teenager whose life lacks excitement, says find out what's happening in the square. Curious Madge wins, and I rush the rest of the way into the square. I push my way through the large flock of people gathered in front the whipping post.
My heart sinks to my feet when I manage to shove my way to the front and see who's playing victim today. Gale Hawthorne. Oh God, not him. Please, let it be someone else. Please don't let it be someone I know. Please, oh please, oh please. My brain straightens itself out and comprehends what's going on right as the whip hits the young man's bare backside. I squeal as a splash of blood sprinkles the red-haired Peacekeeper standing behind the man with the whip. Darius, I think his name is.
I look away as the whip comes down again and feel hot tears welling in my eyes. Someone taps me on the shoulder and I spin around. It's Leevy, one of Katniss's neighbors in the Seam. I met her only once when Katniss gave me a tour of the Seam, but I see her in the school hallways often.
"Madge, are you alright? You look green," she whispers. It takes all of my strength to swallow the lump in my throat and nod.
"W-what happened?" I mumble through chattering teeth. She explains that Gale was found with a turkey and sentenced to a whipping for poaching. She was in the square when it happened and watched from the beginning. She tells me that when I got to the square, he had taken nineteen lashes. While we were talking, the number soared to twenty eight.
I do my best to avert my eyes, but it's like that expression Daddy uses, "watching an accident." I have no idea what exactly it means, but I think it means you try not to watch but you can't help but stare. I look down for a second and when I look up, the Peacekeeper with the orange hair is in a slump on the ground.
The contrast of the warm teardrop on my icy cheek is unbearable, and I ferociously wipe it away before any more tears break away. I look at the man with the whip and I don't recognize him. I process who he is when I can't find Cray in the group of officers on stage. The new Head Peacekeeper that Daddy mentioned this morning.
If this is what happens for being caught with a turkey, no wonder why Mother and Daddy made such a scene about my safety this morning. I decide it's best to leave, but as I'm about to move, Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch shove their way to the front. I can't hear what they say, but I can see and hear the whip make contact with Katniss's face. I hear some shouting from Haymitch and before I know it, the new Head is coiling his whip and walking away, the other Peacekeepers trailing behind him like ducklings.
The crowd quickly disperses and I see two miners rush forward to help get Gale to a healer, most likely Mrs. Everdeen. My suspicions are confirmed when I hear Katniss speaking to a miner who I've seen several times before. Thom I think. Maybe it was Bristel, I can't be sure. I'm not going to lie, every miner looks alike to me. I see Katniss' friend Leevy running for the Seam like there's no tomorrow, hair whipping in the wind behind her. I decide this is as good time as ever to get home and do something about this. My brain switches to auto-pilot and before I know it, I'm running for my home faster than Leevy.
I don't bother to take off my snowy boots when I burst through the door to my house. Pauline has the day off, so she won't be here to yell at me to take them off before I wake mother with my clambering. I blink a few times to let my eyes adjust to being inside before bolting upstairs. I run into the bathroom and pull open the third drawer, where my father keeps all of Mother's medicine.
I rifle through the drawers, looking for duplicate pill bottles, pain killers, anything I can bring to Gale. The racket I'm making doesn't occur to me until I look up and see a pale, frail looking Mother standing over me.
"What in the heavens are you doing, child?" she asks me quietly. I haven't seen Mother out of bed in weeks, and the sight alone is enough to make me emotional, added to the spectacle I just saw in town, I'm ready to crawl under a rock and bawl my eyes out.
"I went into town and there was a w-w-whipping," my voice cracks and my eyes brim with tears. "I know him, Momma. The boy who was whipped. His name is Gale and he sells me and Daddy strawberries. I need to help, I know whatever Mrs. Everdeen has won't do much for him. I saw how hard the whip came down and how many times. I have to help..." my voice trails off and I don't wait for her response before I turn back to the drawer.
I hear her footsteps head down the hallway and assume she is going back to bed, too furious with me to dignify my plea with a response. However, she returns a moment later with a cardboard box. She places it on the counter in front of me a quietly closes the drawer. She gives me a kiss on the cheek and says, "Give this to the boy. Go now, and be quick before the snow starts."
I glance into the box and see a decent amount of morphling vials. I look up at her, and she just nods. "It's alright, I have plenty stored away. He needs this more than I do. Go now, Margaret, before the storm gets to bee too bad." I don't waste a minute. I give her a peck on the cheek and dash down the stairs and out the door. I can feel the wind picking up as I make haste towards Victor's Village.
I reach out for the brass door knocker, my knuckles a nasty red color from the biting cold. I rap the knocker against the door three times and wait a minute. Nothing. I look to my right and see a tiny white button, the doorbell. In Twelve, only the homes in the Victor's Village and in the Official's Village have doorbells. They cost a pretty penny to have, they require fixing often, and they are therefore seen as a luxury that many town residents don't mind going without. In the Seam, they would never think about hooking up a bell to their doors when every single person in Twelve has two perfectly good hands to knock with. Well, except for Ripper, but let's not count her.
I press the little button thrice, and then a fourth for good measure. When the door swings open, Haymitch, Peeta, Katniss, Prim, Mrs. Everdeen, and Gale's mother stand on the other side. Katniss steps forward. I push the box of morphling into her hands. The box is damp with melted snow and my hands are shaking from the cold.
"Use these for your friend," I say. Katniss opens the box and peeks inside. Her eyebrows crease in confusion and her eyes dart up at me. "They're my mother's," I explain. "She said I could take them. Use them, please."
Without waiting for a response, I run back into the storm. I hear Katniss's mother call out to me but I don't stop. Knowing Mrs. E, she'll invite me in for a cup of tea and offer me a guest room until the storm blows over. However, I know that tea is in the kitchen, and I've got a pretty good hunch that a certain tall, dark miner is in the kitchen too, getting the flesh on his back reconstructed. He's probably unconscious, but I want to be as far away from him as I can be…I've felt the bile creeping in the back of my throat all day, and I know that one look at him could open the floodgates.
I use the back of my bare hand to wipe the snot from my nose as I keep running. My first thought: how could I forget to wear gloves? My second thought: my mother would scold me if she saw! My third thought: I'm not worried about being a lady right now. I'm worried about getting through my front door before I loose my fingers to frost bite.
With that thought floating in the air, I pick up the pace. I don't stop until I see my street. I sprint the last hundred feet to my front door and throw it open with a sigh. I rip off my boots and make a beeline for the kitchen. I fix myself a cup of tea and hold the mug tight in an attempt to thaw my hands. As I take the last sip in the mug, my eyelids begin to droop. I miraculously make it to my bed before the excitement of the day catches up to me and sleep pulls me under.
A/N: Review please! Constructive criticism is absolutely welcome, I just need to know what you think! Should I keep going?