higher ground.
gale & primrose
( history keeps pulling me down )
:: author's note: i apologize for my absence. i've been lacking inspiration. but i love gale, so. this happened. sorry if it's a little rough; it's been a while. the title is from leave my body by florence + the machine.
thanks much to Kristina (koalakoala) for the beta :) ::
disclaimer: i don't own.

A fine layer of dust settles on his shoes as he steps off the train. He sets down his bag and lets his eyes rest somewhere on the horizon. The bustling noises of District 2 finally reach his ears, and his eyelids fall shut.

Home, sweet home.

His first night there, he dreams of fire; of flames licking at his shoes as he herds a girl with hair the color of cornsilk under a fence to safety. The dream shifts and suddenly the girl is being burned alive, her golden hair turned black by fiery explosions of his making.

He wakes in a cold sweat that does not match the heat of his dream. He presses his face into the downy softness of his pillow and the tears finally come.

He dresses for work slowly the next morning, hands shaking as they loop the tie around his neck. He looks up into the mirror and does not recognize the face staring coldly back. Hollow cheeks, empty eyes, darkdark circles. He sighs and runs his hands through his hair, smoothing it down best he can.

Have a good day, she might tell him, flashing a smile that's all teeth and no insincerity.

He closes his eyes and all he sees are blue eyes wide with terror.

His job doesn't have a name, but it's big and it's fancy and it pays a hell of a lot more than the one he had in the mines back [home] in District 12.

His office is big and it makes him feel small.

You would have loved the view, he thinks.

Miles and miles away, there is a broken girl on the floor, crying out for her dead sister.

She comes to him every night. He thinks that this has to be what going crazy feels like, it must be.

Gale, she whispers in his dreams. Why, Gale? Why?

It was an accident! he screams. I never meant to!

Her eyes are always cold and unforgiving, and he thinks that's what hurts him the most.

It was always Katniss, he thinks. Always her, and no one else.

Then why are you here? He asks the little blonde girl sitting across from him in this nightmare.

She ponders this for a moment, chewing on her lip. Guilt does funny things to a person, she eventually says.

There is a girl who sits at the front desk in the building where he works. Her name is Maeve, and, okay, yeah, she's pretty. He asks her to dinner and she says yes.

He orders katniss tubers on his date with her and pretends he doesn't feel one bit guilty.

"I want to know everything about you," Maeve says one night, leaning across the table, long auburn hair spilling out across the white cloth covering the wood.

He laughs, because he knows that if she did, she wouldn't even be here with him right now.

After exactly three dates, he kisses her on his doorstep, her hair soft between his fingers as he slides his hand across the side of her neck. She's the one to pull away first, breathing softly, "Thank you." She smiles up at him, blue eyes shining and—

"Thank you," Prim says, clutching Buttercup to her, blinking up at him with the biggest eyes he's ever seen, which are positively glowing even in the dank lighting of the cave. He smiles and ruffles her hair fondly.

"Just don't go running off anymore, okay? I won't always be there to protect you."

Maeve's cold fingers on his arm shake him from the haze. "You okay, Gale?"

He just smirks and tells her, "I'm fine. And you're welcome," before pulling her to him again.

"It'll be okay, Gale." He turns to look at her, the lighting from the television casting strange shadows on her face. She nods fiercely at him, looking resolute, and for a moment, he catches a glimpse of Katniss in the fire in her eyes. She turns to the television, where Katniss and Peeta are trekking through the woods on their way to the lake, to go kill that last career and end this. "After this, we won't have to worry anymore."

He has been lying to her for days, he thinks. No, I don't think Katniss actually meant that. Yes, of course she's doing alright wherever she is. Yes, I know that she's going to come home.

"Yeah," he agrees. "It'll be okay, Prim."

He knows in his heart of hearts that it won't, but he doesn't say so. For her.

In the morning, he wakes slowly, like normal people usually do.

[not at all like he's been waking up for the past couple of weeks.]

He sees a flower on his nightstand with a note attached. He groggily reaches for it and unfolds the slip of paper tied to the stem.


You kept muttering something about primroses in your sleep last night. I found one next to your porch on my way out this morning and decided to come back and put it here for you. See you at work later.


He fingers the delicate flower carefully, as though it might dissolve into dust if he should clutch it too tightly.

There's an audible sigh when he realizes what he has to do.

District 12 is a graveyard.

[well, not literally, but you know.]

He stands in the doorway of the train for several seconds, wondering that if he were to step down, he would melt into ash like the others. He's surprised that he's still in one piece once his boot hits the pavement.

Much of the town is still in ruin. He thinks that he should probably feel relief at being home at last, but all he feels is fear.

Well, it's now or never.

He steels himself and starts forward into the square.

As he passes by the Victor's Village, he stops abruptly. Her house is visible from where he stands, and he wonders. He wonders if it would be a good idea to...

Prim would have wanted me to, he reasons with himself. As his boots crunch against the gravel of the front walk, he smiles. Who would have thought you'd make me braver?

He stands in front of her door for a good five minutes, steeling himself and debating whether or not this is actually worth it. By the time he raises his hand to knock, the knob turns and he is face to face with Katniss.

She gasps and braces one hand on the doorframe. "Gale," she breathes.

His smirk is lopsided when he says, "You look like you've seen a ghost."

Her eyes are cold when she says, "Who's to say you aren't one?"

And he doesn't flinch, not one bit.

(but his heart might have cracked a little.)

Following the directions Katniss has given him, he treks through the woods, step as silent as ever.

I made a promise, he thinks as he ducks under a fallen tree. A promise to look after her family. And I intend to keep it.

The walk to Prim's grave takes well over an hour. By the time he's gotten there he's sweaty and out of breath. He drops onto his knees in front of her graveand sets down a bundle of wildflowers. He closes his eyes.

I'm sorry.

It might just be his imagination, but he thinks the sound of the wind whistling through the tree branches sounds an awful lot like forgiveness.