Disclaimer: I own nothing that you recognise. Everything belongs to Suzanne Collins, and her brilliant, brilliant mind. I only hope that one day, someone will be writing that disclaimer about my own work.
Nb. Before I begin this, I need to clarify with you guys one thing. I ship Peeta/Katniss (Peeniss, tee hee) as hard (oh god, the puns!) as the best of them. This is not a story with a happy ending for Gale and Katniss. If that's what you're looking for, this is the wrong place to try and find it.
Got me? Excellent. Let's move on.
Now, as I've mentioned to many people in the past, despite my being a Peeniss shipper (there really is no way to write that without getting a giggle from me), I've always been interested in the character of Gale. And while I worship Suzanne Collins as a god, I always felt that I would have loved to learn more about him as a character. In order for me to explore this, I began to search this fandom for this fic (because I felt, surely someone must have written it). I was unable to find one, and therefore, decided to write my own. (If I just missed it because I'm blind, please let me know. I'm really not trying to tread on anyone's toes here).
So here it is.
Each chapter will be a (roughly 700 word) story about Gales feelings in the important parts of The Hunger Games (the 74th Hunger Games, to be more precise), except for this one, which is an introduction. I guess I'll split them up into Parts, as was done in the book. I am not trying to retell the story, so I'll leave most of the narrative about Katniss specifically out. I'm really looking more at the way Gale reacts to watching it.
"I wonder what Gale made of the incident for a moment and then I push the whole thing out of my mind, because for some reason Gale and Peeta do not coexist well together in my thoughts." –Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games, page 238,
Gale Hawthorne wasn't one to watch the games.
He supposed, rather bitterly, that they actually found it enjoyable in the Capitol. Maybe even in the classier of Districts (one, two, three—maybe even four). Everyone knew the reality of the games out in the distant districts. They knew that the Capitol, to add to the grief and fury of the districts who were forced to sacrifice two of their children every year, made them watch it as a game just to make their message clear.
The districts had no power. If the Capitol was able to steal two children every year and broadcast it for the whole of Panem to see, then how could they?
So, Gale refused. He would not watch it. Not the children who had gone—it got harder every year, when he began to really recognise the faces of those who had gone. He was getting older—the odds were always more likely to go to an older child.
He recognised their absence far more acutely.
It was a rebellion that few knew about, if you could even call it that. While you were expected to want to watch the games, there were only a few sessions that were absolutely compulsory. The Reaping was one of them.
But the Capitol couldn't ask every citizen of the country to abandon their work and their families just to watch their friends being murdered, could they? After all, if that happened, the Capitol would lose the imports that they gained from the districts. And where would they be without their coal?
So, Gale did not watch the games.
Instead, he would steal outside the fence with Catnip. They used to spend hours out there when the broadcasts were on. Katniss had once tried to being Prim with her, hoping to spare her younger sister of the horrors of the game. The young girl was too young to be in the Reaping, but she had eyes—and everyone saw the terror in watching children killing other children to survive.
"She doesn't need that on her conscience," Katniss had told him once, while plaiting Prim's hair in the courtyard. It was a day far away from the Reaping—maybe months. The last games were over, and they had a blissful few weeks to try and forget about their position on the bottom of the food chain.
Still, Prim refused. She feared the forest more than she feared the television screen. And besides, Prim would always argue. Someone needed to stay home and look after their mother. Gale would never tell Katniss, but he was glad that Prim didn't come. In same way, he viewed the forest as their escape—the place where it was just the two of them. Gale and Catnip. Catnip and Gale.
It wasn't that he wanted Prim to have to endure watching the games, he decided. It was just that having her with them would change the place—and he liked it just the way it was.
He didn't really know what it was that made him feel that way—but it was how he felt, and he kind of liked the feeling.
Because when it was just him and Katniss in the forest, he could forget about those forty-two pieces of paper that might condemn him this year.
He knows she feels the same way. Catnip, that is. Katniss Everdeen. She's his best friend, and he finds comfort from it in the same way she does. They have both lost their father's—and having each other is a welcome relief. They were more than just friends. There was something more important than just having a friend.
They had someone to count on, in each other. They had allies.
He thinks, one night, that maybe she's the most important person in his life. Maybe, if he really had to, he could run away with her and just be content with that. Content having her at his side. That night, he'd shaken the thought from his head, ashamed for disregarding his family and hers in such a way.
But sometimes, he wonders. What if...?
Gale Hawthorne will have to watch the games this year. How could he not?
Word count: On the dot 700 word, (SO not including my colossal introduction authors note. I'm surprised you had the energy to get this far).
A/N: Reviewers get Peeta Mallark (or Gale, if that what they want) covered in icing sugar and strawberries (AND NOTHING ELSE.)
K, maybe not. But, feel free to take that fantasy and do with it what you will.
Seriously though folks. Thoughts? Queries? Comments? Don't favourite or alert without reviewing! I'll know if you do!
Next: The Reaping