bluedragonstorm requested Gale/Harry with the prompt "forest".

She's gone she's gone she's gone she's gone—

Of the many things that Gale Hawthorne could be thinking, only one tiny phrase, consisting of only two words, were stuck in his mind. Every time it went through his mind he could feel himself becoming angrier and he could feel his heart breaking just a little bit more, and a hopeless feeling seemed to overwhelm him.

It had been days since he last travelled into the forest, instead deciding to keep his eyes glued to the TV that showed the Hunger Games playing and his friend fighting and the one from the same District who was supposed to protect her! instead fighting with their mutual enemies. Or not so, for that Mellark kid anymore. He had allied himself with them and chosen a dangerous path, especially if he managed to win – which Gale doubted.

They were nothing against Katniss, even when she was without her bow.

One day it became too hard to handle. Watching her be bitten by all those tracker jackers, even if she had technically wrought it upon herself, and hearing her scream at nothing was too painful to watch. It was the same for everyone else, especially Prim, and Gale was sure that they were just trying to show District 12 that their seemingly unstoppable wonder girl was nothing more than human and that she would be destroyed.

(Or maybe he was just being a cynic. It was hard not to be, when you were watching your best friend being attacked day after day.)

The forest, the one that brought up so many memories of slightly happier times of hunting and dears and catnip and damn you, gale! was now his only escape. So he went there, leaving a concerned family behind who didn't know what to say and a father of another Tribute that had given her biscuits for the journey (Gale could only thank him with a nod, too caught up in her leaving and oh god, what if she dies, what if I lose her why didn't I volunteer myself as well).

The forest. It was green and empty and quiet without her but the birds seemed to fill the silence and the sound of his footsteps crushing the ground beneath him wasn't comforting at all.

It was only when another pair of footsteps joined his, quieter and almost light in their steps, that he saw it fit to quiet himself and hide behind a thick tree trunk, holding his breath so that the noise wouldn't echo and he wouldn't be heard. As much as the Peacekeepers were lax, if someone was wandering around here, they wouldn't take well to someone hiding there.

The footsteps stopped, and someone said point me as though they had a purpose and like it would help them.

It was only when he heard the softness of the voice and how young they sounded that Gale peeked his head around the corner of the trunk, and what he saw wasn't a Peacekeeper but a boy with messy black hair and green, green eyes that almost blended in with the leaves that surrounded him.

So Gale stepped out from behind the trunk, asked harshly, "Who are you?" And he would do anything to protect his home, even if this boy looked like he would break any moment.

"I could ask you the same thing," the boy replied defiantly, back straightening up and hand tightening on the polished stick that he held in hand. Even with his confident demeanour, he looked lost, and Gale could see a traveller who didn't know where they were going from miles away. There didn't seem to be anything suspicious about him, but Gale had become disillusioned a long time ago. Even the smallest of people could bring the most harm.

"Just answer my question!" Although he had nothing to back up the threatening tone of his voice, Gale couldn't help it because he didn't know what this guy was here for.

"Harry Potter," was the snapped back answer, pink lips pursing in displeasure at the fact that he had given in so quickly. There was a cut on his cheek and blood splattered in different places and when the hunter finally took this in, his suspicions rose, but there was also concern of what if this guy was injured and then no answers will be forthcoming-

"Why are you here?"

"I don't know," He sounded genuinely confused, frustrated about his obliviousness and lost, so lost. "I was— I was fighting, and then someone knocked me out or something, or through a veil, and I've been wandering around this damn forest trying to find a way out for the past five hours."

That sounded even more suspicious, but the fighting—no one from the Capitol did that, and maybe this kid was actually okay.

"Gale Hawthorne," the hunter introduced shortly. "You're in the forests of District 12."

A stunned look passed over Harry's features, and then in a confused tone, he asked, "District what?" And someone didn't actually know about the Districts?

"There are twelve Districts. This is the twelfth one. Where the hell have you been for the past hundred years, kid?" It felt weird, calling him kid when they were probably close in age, but it just seemed a little bit fitting, to set them apart and to make himself feel better about the fact that someone young was fighting as well.

"In England. Not these District places you're prattling on about."

Gale knew the kid was more lost than they had both initially thought.

(And as he looked into panicking green eyes, he thought that maybe he was just a little bit lost as well, except in a very different way.)

a/n: apologies for both the lateness and this not being completely harry/gale slash. it's pre-relationship though, so i hope that works as well? thank you for sending in the prompt anyway, bluedragonstorm!

i should have more chapters of this up soon. although i've got mock exams coming up soon, i've got a sudden writing muse that won't leave me alone. i hope everyone enjoyed this chapter and i'll see you again next time!