A/N: This is an edited version of the original post. I added a few things, not much, and went in and fixed the grammatical and spelling errors.

This story is just a feel good, happy story for Gale and Katniss, because let's be honest they deserve to have something come easier for them for once even in a made up world.

Disclaimer: I do not own The Hunger Games Trilogy or its characters.

A Different Life

Written by kmac13

Original post 2/18/2012

Repost- edited 6/11/2012

Gale's POV

I can't believe I haven't seen her hunting before, this scrawny little twelve year old standing in front of me. I recognize her; she was also getting a medal for her father's death, like mine, only six months earlier. But here she is bending down, looking at my snares, a full bag of game and a bow slung over her shoulder. I don't really think she means harm but is just curious about them.

"You know stealing is punishable by death." I say to her smirking.

She jumps up, a little startled her eyes growing wide, "I wasn't. I was just trying to figure out your snares." She replies weakly.

"What's your name?" I ask her.

"Catnip" She replies barely audible.

"Catnip?" I ask, my eyebrow rising in disbelief, that's a funny name.

"Katniss." She states a little louder, well that isn't much better of a name.

"So, how is your bag so full if you don't use snares?" I ask.

"I shoot them with my bow and arrow." She says proudly. Wow! This little wisp of a girl shot all of that? She doesn't even look strong enough to hold up the bow let alone pull the string back tight enough to actual shoot the arrow.

"How did you learn to shoot and where did you get the bow?" I inquire. She's breaking more rules than I am. Not only is she outside of the fence and poaching but she has an actual weapon. Nobody, aside from peacekeepers, is supposed to have a weapon.

"My father made the bow and arrows and he taught me before the accident in the mines." She responds almost sadly, looking down at her feet digging into the dirt.

"That's where I remember seeing you, in the Justice Building." I state a little too excitedly. She looks up and quirks her eyebrow at my tone then nods slightly.

"How do you get your snares to work? Mine always turn out terribly." She asks, kind of pouting. It's sort of cute how she seems jealous of my snares.

I don't know why the next thing I say even comes out of my mouth, it is so unlike me. "I could teach you some time, if you could teach me how to use a bow."

She looks up at me skeptically, narrowing her eyes trying to see if I'm being honest, before she says, "deal." holding out her hand.

I take her small, but strong hand, "My name is Gale, in case you were wondering."

"Oh, yeah, Hi." She responds sheepishly.

When I get home I have a smile on my face, but I don't really know why. My mom notices before I can wipe it off my face and asks, "So, who's the girl Gale?"

"What? What do you mean?" I ask a little confused as to why that would be her first conclusion to my smiling.

"The girl who has finally made my sulky son smile.", she says with a knowing smirk splayed across her face.

"Uh… there's no girl mom." I try to say convincingly, but obviously failing. There is no girl in the way she means, but there is a girl, sort of.

"Ok whatever you say Gale. Go get your brothers ready for dinner." She says still smiling like she knows everything. Damn! How do moms know things before you do?

I go out to the woods the next two days, but don't see her. On the third day I see her waiting on a rock, near where my snares from the previous day were set up. "Hey Catnip," I call, "I was starting to think you weren't going to show up."

She turns to me with a scowl on her face from the nickname I am supposing, "Hey Gale, I had enough food for my family and I needed to fix this extra bow so you would be able to use it. My bow would be too small for you. Plus we both can't use the same bow at the same time." She finishes with a slight smile. There is definitely something special about this girl. She's nothing like the other girls at school who only care about themselves, she doesn't know me, but she fixed up her extra bow for me to use. How many other girls would do that?

"Oh," I say, "Well should you start or I start?"

"You can teach me snares first then I will show you how to shoot." She says. I nod in agreement. Before long I am showing her some of the easier snares and she is actually pretty good, even if she gets frustrated when I have to correct her or show her again. After we have a few traps set she shows me how to use the bow. First she demonstrates and she takes out three squirrels, all in the eye, in a matter of minutes. She is good. The way she holds herself when she is getting ready to use the bow is almost regal; she stands tall with her feet planted on the ground and her head high and shoulders back. Just by looking at her you know this is her natural habitat. She was made to be out here hunting. Then she shows me how to use the bow and lets me practice. I am okay, but the bow will definitely take a lot more practice just so I can shoot an animal. It's almost embarrassing at how poorly I do at it, but she just keeps showing me and encouraging me.

We talk a little about our families, neither one of us is really used to talking or trusting another person, but I kind of enjoy the company. The conversation at times is short and uncomfortable, but the silence is natural and completely comfortable, it's like we say more without the noise of our stunted conversations. By the end of the day we go back around and collect the animals from the snares, four in all, and she has killed three squirrels, two rabbits and a wild dog. She sees that I did not catch as many animals as she killed and looks at her bag then mine for a few moments in deep contemplation. "Gale," she starts, "Since it's just my mom and sister and I and you have a bigger family why don't you take the two rabbits and I can sell the wild dog to Greasy Sae and we can split the profit?" She is hesitant, not knowing if she over stepped her bounds and only looking up at me through her dark lashes. Wow, I did not see that one coming. My first instinct is to be angry that she doesn't think I can take care of my family on my own. I am older than her; if she can provide for her family then I sure as hell can too. Then, I look at her and she isn't looking at me like she doesn't think I am capable but looking at me as she thinks it is the right thing to do, not wanting anyone to starve when there is no need to.

"You mean like we will hunt together from now on and split our shares evenly, no matter who gets more, so both families can thrive?" I ask hoping this is what she meant. I enjoyed our day together and this makes the task of providing for the family a whole lot less daunting.

"Yes exactly, like partners." She replies a wisp of a smile showing.

"Okay, do you want me to go to the Hob with you…you know to carry the dog since it's big?" I offer.

"If you want, I have had to carry them before, but the help would be nice." She says looking at me almost gratefully for offering. We collect some greens and berries for our families as well before we leave the forest. How does she remember what is safe and what isn't? She is almost like a book for plants. When we walk into the Hob together Greasy Sae looks us over, "Well it's about time you two outlaws met." We both give her a quizzical look, so she continues, "Well both of you are out in those woods so much, just like your daddies, and since you two are the only ones who venture out, well, I just assumed you would have met sooner."

Katniss just laughs at her and the sound is melodic, "You know Greasy Sae the woods are big." That makes me laugh too. Wait. What? I Gale Hawthorne just laughed. Even Greasy Sae is giving me a funny look. "What can we get for a dog?" Katniss asks. She has on a serious face which on any other twelve year old girl would look silly, but once you see what she can do with a bow and arrow its intimidating.

"How's about two cups of soup for you each and four gold coins?" Katniss thinks for a minute looking like she might say no. Either she thinks she can get better, which I have never even dreamed of getting that much or she is pulling the old ladies strings.

Finally Katniss responds, "It's a good deal to me if my partner here agrees." She looks over at me and I nod. We sit and eat our soup and split the coins, two each. I think this partnership will work out very well, even if she is a little girl.

When I get home after the Hob and I have four rabbits, two from Katniss and two from my snares, and two squirrels, my mom and Rory give me a funny look. "So how did you manage six animals, Gale? Did you not go to the Hob?" Rory asks.

"I went to the Hob I also have two gold coins, a bag of greens and some nice fresh blueberries." I say as I finish unloading the bag. Now they are both glaring at me. I have never brought home this much, plus the greens and berries, they are suspicious. "I have a partner now to makes it easier." I shrug as I say this to symbolize it's now big deal. Then my mom's eyes go wide. Damn it the only other person who hunts is Katniss and I think she knows it. Damn it, Damn it, Damn it! I can see her putting two and two together. The smile and the bigger haul and Katniss being the only other hunter.

"So that's the one who made you smile?" Mom says almost mocking me. If she wasn't my mother I'd be mad.

"No!" I says hard. She just smiles and turns back to her laundry. Rory is now pestering use about my partner and when can he meet him and is he my age. Mom isn't helping at all. She keeps saying things like, "Yes Gale's partner is close in age" or "I'm sure you've seen his partner around. You have a class with his partner's younger sibling." I storm off to my room. Instead of being happy we have more food and some money, she is taunting me about liking a girl. A little scrawny girl. Who I don't even like!

***************** Six Months Later ******************

After another six months have passed, Katniss and I have become great friends, actual best friends. She spends time at my house with her little sister Prim. I think she likes to get away from her house as her mom still hasn't moved willingly on her own without Katniss forcing her. Luckily my mom doesn't make her jokes around Katniss or the other kids, that's just for her and me.

Katniss and I move like one being now in the woods. I never thought I would ever be this close to someone who wasn't family, but yet here I am almost fifteen years old and am almost one in being with a scrawny, little twelve year old. She seems to being growing and changing some though. I guess the not starving all the time is helping her look less like a skeleton and more like a girl. I have started noticing girls more myself, when I have time. I, being a good looking boy, get lots of stares from the girls, both Town and Seam. Whenever I'm not with Katniss or my family, I have started taking advantage of these advances, but always somewhere where I know nobody would notice or find. With these girls it's just more of I can get it so why not? Katniss and I and our "kids", (yes, I know it's strange to refer to your younger siblings as kids, but they are really, with as much as Katniss and I do to support our families, these kids are no longer just our brothers and sisters they have morphed into our own children and at some point we both started to care about the other's family like it was our own) walk to and from school every day together. Some how amongst the stares and "girl" talk at school I get, Katniss doesn't either notice or care, probably a mixture of both as she is too preoccupied with surviving.

She has it worse than me. At least my mother is still functioning. Katniss's mom is still useless, but she at least gets herself up now which is better than it was before. The other girls at school stay away from Katniss, I guess it's because she is so aloof and well, sullen. They are all scared of her too, she doesn't smile much unless with Prim or I. I don't think Katniss minds though; she's not one to let others in or even feign interest in what others care about. I have noticed that the Mayor's daughter has started to sit with her at lunch though. They don't really talk, but I guess just the feel of not sitting alone is enough for the both of them.

*************Three and a half years later*************

Gale's POV

It's been three and a half years since I first met Katniss and she has blossomed into something new, almost over night. She is still very small, but she has taken on some very noticeable new curves. The other boys are noticing too and don't even pretend to fake like they haven't. It would be hard not to notice Katniss though. She has perfect olive skin that looks like it feels as soft and smooth as cream, long wavy dark brown hair that looks like silk and the most piercing grey eyes I have ever seen. Her actual bone structure I more delicate like her mother's but her coloring and personality and really everything else is more like her father's from what I have learned.

I have started trying to be with Katniss as much as possible everywhere, I think she may be getting a little annoyed, but I don't want the other boys looking at her like they are undressing her with their eyes and thinking they can get away with it. Okay, so I'm being a little stalker-ish, but I can't quite help it. Mother is always making slight comments about my relationship with Katniss, she wants to have a "talk" with me later today, but I'm just not sure what it will be about. When I get home from dropping Katniss at her home after the Hob, my mom tells me to sit down at the kitchen table.

"Gale, you spend a lot of time with Katniss." She starts and I stay silent, not sure where this is leading. "How do you feel about her?" This question catches me off guard for a moment. How do I feel about Katniss? What does she mean by this question? Katniss is my best and really only friend. She is my partner. She is my family. But she is very beautiful, I must admit. And not beautiful in my sister is beautiful to me way.

"I don't know. She's my best friend and my partner." I say lamely. My mother nods and then thinks for a minute. She is trying to form her words carefully.

"Katniss is beautiful don't you think?" She finally states/ asks. Can she read my thoughts?

"Yes." I answer.

"Gale whatever you decide is up to you, but know that Katniss is part of our family whether a piece of paper says it or not." She states firmly, "Please, be careful with her. I don't think she has even allowed her self to think of life beyond now. Please don't ruin anything with you other 'affairs'." With that she gets up and walks into her room to check on Posy, my sister. I think I know what she is saying. She is telling me to keep it in my pants until Katniss realizes that she can be happy too. How does she know about the other girls? I thought I was doing a god job at hiding them. If she knows then maybe Katniss knows too. That is not what I want. I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach just thinking about Katniss knowing about the other girls, about the times at the slag heap.

I am walking Katniss to her class and as usual she and I are getting plenty of stares from the opposite sex. I have listened to my mother's advice and have completely ignored all of the advances I have been getting. I have been in a few fights though in the past few months. When Katniss asks why I am fighting I just tell her that they made fun of one of the "kids" and she just nods proudly. Family is something Katniss holds dear, nothing comes between that. Really I'm fighting because of the things boys in school have been saying about Katniss. The last fight I got into was with a Town kid, Jace, he is in my grade. He was talking to a few other Town boys and was betting them that he could bed Katniss by the end of the week. I lost my temper and would have killed him if I wasn't pulled off and held back. Let's just say he didn't bed Katniss. I am also getting annoyed with the baker's youngest son. He has always been one to stare at Katniss but lately it has gotten so obvious and just sickening.

Everyone thinks that we are together now and even at the Hob there are bets going around about when we'll finally really be together or when we'll get married. It's funny I feel like I am the last to know about my feelings for Katniss, but actually I think she is the last to know.

I refuse to leave Katniss's side at the Hob too. Darius, one of the nicer peacekeepers in our district, has been flirting with her. She of course doesn't realize it's flirting. She is completely oblivious when it comes to human interactions or communication. He is always playing with the end of her braid as he tries to get her to trade some game for one of his famous kisses. Gag me! Who actually falls for that kind of crap? It takes all I have not to kill him. I know he is just teasing her. Greasy Sae told me it was actually more to get at me than her, since she seemed oblivious to it anyway. She always just rolls her eyes and says some horribly sarcastic comment; only she could get away with being so brash with a peacekeeper and live to tell about it. Sometimes I think she is the reason we are allowed to keep hunting, it's because everyone loves her, even the peacekeepers. That and we keep them fed. As all these events unfold and as I find myself staring more at her during our hunting than at the game, I am beginning to realize I am in love with Katniss Everdeen. I have always loved her, but I guess now I realize it is more than just love, I am in love. I can't even begin to picture my life, my future without her.

************ Reaping Day ************

Gale's POV

It's the day of the Reaping. It only happens once every five years, but it is still horrible. Every five years four tributes, two boys and two girls, from each district are selected to participate in the hunger games. The Capitol pits all these tributes against each other to kill one another until only one survives. District Twelve only has one victor, Haymitch Abernathy, he is a disgusting drunk. I have seen him stare at Katniss at the Hob from time to time.

It is my second and last reaping and Katniss's first and last one. It is also my brother, Rory's, and Katniss's Sister, Prim's, first reaping. They will have another one when they turn seventeen as well. This will be the last time Katniss and I will be able to protect them though if they get chosen, we would volunteer for our siblings in a heartbeat.

Every year starting from when you turn twelve and ending when you turn eighteen your name is put in the large glass bowl. Theoretically, if you aren't starving, your name would only be in there seven times by the time you turn eighteen, but if you have to take out tessera, which is like a levering of your life for food for you and your family, you have to add your name in more. You can take tessera from the time you turn twelve until you are eighteen and you can take it out for your family as well. You receive enough grain, oil and sugar to last one person for a year. My name is in forty-two times and Katniss's name is in twenty-two times. Rory and Prim are only entered once, we made sure none of our siblings took tessera.

I left my house even earlier than normal. I wanted to get a couple of squirrels to trade for bread from the baker before Katniss showed up in an hour. I got two, not nearly as nice as her kills, but still fairly clean. I took them to the Baker's back door and knocked gently. The youngest boy, Peeta I think, answered and he just glared at me, he is the one who is always staring at Katniss, I think he may be jealous. "Is your dad around to trade?" I ask.

"Uh, yeah, let me go get him." Peeta responded. A few minutes later the Baker came out. He always looks so happy and friendly, but today he has a bit of sadness in him too. I hold up the two squirrels and give him a questioning look.

"Well they aren't as nice as the girl gets them," He states. I see Peeta behind him flinch when he mentions the girl.

"Yeah I know she is the best." I say probably too enthusiastically. The Baker looks at me for a second then heads back inside. When he comes back out he has a loaf of hot bread wrapped up. "I can't possibly take all that fresh bread for just two squirrels." I argue, I am not a charity case.

"Don't be silly, go share it with Katniss." He says her name in a whisper. I just nod and leave, if it's for Katniss I will take it. We always get better deals because of her. I stick a clean arrow through the loaf to make it look like I shot a loaf of bread waiting for her to show up. I make it back to our rock, our meeting place just a minute before she shows up.

"Hey Catnip." I call.

"Hey Gale" She says back and I can hear the quiet fear in her voice.

"Look what I shot." I say with a big smile on my face. Her face lights up. I love it when she smiles like that. She only smiles like that out here, with me.

"How'd you get that?" She asks.

"Oh I came out here early and got two squirrels and traded with the Baker. I guess he was feeling generous today. He did mention that they weren't as nicely killed as yours are." I give her a grin and a wink. She just laughs and takes out some cheese wrapped in basil leaves.

"From Prim." She hands it to me.

"Thank you Prim." I say laughing. We enjoy our bread with the goat cheese and some blueberries from the bush behind our rock. Suddenly as we are sitting here fear hits me. I haven't been this scared for anything, but the thought of her being taken to that place, to the Capitol; to suffer anymore than they have already made her suffer makes me so mad. I try to get myself to calm down. She only has to do this once, but I know she isn't thinking about herself she is thinking about her sister. I think about running away with her and starting a life free from the Capitol and its rules all the time, but today I feel an urgency to actual do it.

"We could do it, you know, run away." I say trying not to show how scared I really am.

"What?" She looks at me, surprise and anger flashing through her steely grey eyes.

"Run away, just the two of us, we could live off the land and be free." I try to explain to her.

"Yeah that would be nice if we didn't have all these kids." She scoffs. "Plus we wouldn't get more than five miles before a hovercraft would come to get us." She's right, I know she's right, but I wish she wasn't. I wish she could see it's more than just running away. It's starting a life together.

We go and hunt for a while and once we have enough we head back home. Neither of us really feels like going to trade at the Hob today. When we get back into the district and start to go our separate ways to our own houses, I look back at her, "Wear something pretty." I call out. She just rolls her eyes and laughs. I love to hear her laugh.

At the reaping I see Katniss wearing a blue dress and her hair in an intricate braid; her mother most have done it. She does look pretty just like I told her. I feel pride swell in my chest at the thought of her looking pretty for me. She is getting Prim settled into the twelve year old area while I am doing the same for Rory. We meet in the middle and I walk her to her section with the other sixteen year olds. I squeeze her shoulder and try to give her a reassuring smile. As I walk to my area and stand, I pray for four things; that Katniss, Rory, Prim and I don't get chosen.

Effie Trinkett our district chaperone comes up after the Mayor gave his speech about the history of Panem. "Happy Hunger Games!" Effie squeals in her Capitol accent. "And may odds be ever in your favor! Now Ladies first!" She reaches in the glass bowl with the girl's names on it and pulls out two slips. Please don't be Katniss or Prim I pray. "Juline Pravhun and Organa Semu" As the two girls come up I let out a sigh of relief. It wasn't them. I look back and smile a real smile at Katniss. "Okay now on to the gentlemen!" Effie continues. She pulls two names out of the boy's glass bowl and teeters her way back to the microphone. "Jace Branson and Xader Crof" I let go of the breath I didn't know I was holding. Katniss and I are done. I am so excited I start to run over to meet Katniss who is already looking for Prim and Rory.

Peeta's POV

I am so happy that no one I know was called for the reaping and now I am in the clear. I let out a sigh of relief. I am also so happy that Katniss wasn't called. After seeing Gale, God I hate him, this morning, I had decided that if neither Katniss nor I was reaped I would talk to her. I start to look for her. When I finally get a glimpse of her and am starting to walk towards her, I notice Gale, did I mention I hate him and I am not one to hate others, running towards her. I start to pick up my pace; I have to talk to her, what am I going to say though? Stupid Peeta, as usual you didn't think this through. I can just see it now, "Oh hello Katniss, yes well your probably don't know me but I have been in love with you since we were five and I don't know if you remember me giving you the burnt bread when we were eleven either but I love you." Yeah smooth, I'm sure the most beautifully intimidating girl in school will just swoon. Plus what would she want with a boy who bakes and decorates cakes and cookies when she could have Gale who can hunt and actually provide for her. I would be disowned by my mother and would loose everything if I was with her so she would have to continue to survive not live.

All of a sudden I am shocked out of my trance as I see the two most reserved people in the whole school suddenly collide into each other. Gale picks Katniss up and spins her around they are both smiling, then I hear it, "Katniss Everdeen…. I am in love with you." Did Gale really just announce that in front of the whole district? It's not like everyone else didn't already know, but apparently she wasn't filled in. She looks shocked. She is trying to hide the shock in her eyes but he sees it too. Good maybe I still have a chance, a small one, but still a chance.

Katniss's POV

Did Gale really just say that? How do I feel? I haven't ever really thought about the future or boys or romance or anything. I definitely know Gales not my big brother, just by some of the fleeting and very few thoughts I've had, but love? Oh God I hope I didn't hurt his feelings. He knows I'm hesitant about those sorts of feelings and marriage and kids. I've been raising a kid since I was eleven. And then the games. And what if I met someone and fell in love and they died in the mines like my dad? And then I abandoned my kids like my mom? Why did he do this now? In front of all these people? What am I going to do? Well I don't think I can say or even feel those feelings and words yet, but maybe I can show him I'm not repelled by him. I lean up on my toes and kiss him. At first he is as shocked as I was, am, but then he wraps his arms around my waist and pulls me in closer all the while deepening the kiss. I feel like there are a hundred eyes on me but soon they melt into the background and I feel a fire burning in my stomach. I wrap my arms around his neck and my hands into his hair. His tongue gently slides along my mouth asking for permission and I open my mouth allowing him to enter. When we finally break away for air we are both panting and I can feel the crimson blush on my face.

Prim and Rory and the rest of our families and most of District Twelve are just staring at us. Gale takes my hand, still smiling; he does have a wonderful smile, and leads me back to his house with our families in tow. When we get to his house Prim and Rory are asking us questions a mile a minute. "When did this happen?", "Are you gonna get married?", "Are you dating?", "Is this why you spend so much time alone in the woods?" The questions keep coming and Gale is just sitting there laughing and I have my head down in embarrassment. Finally our mother's tell the kids to go outside and play.

"So," Hazelle, Gale's mother starts, "When did this happen?" She has a smile on her face; I don't think she hates the idea.

"Just now. You saw it as good as I could." I say a little defensively.

"Yeah, I just was so happy that Katniss and I are done and that no one I love was reaped, I just couldn't contain my feelings any longer." Gale added, still smiling.

"I see." Says my mother. Her and Hazelle share a look back and forth. They both seem pretty calm about all of this.

I grab Gale's hand, "Can we please be excused?" I ask politely. I need to talk to Gale. I need to figure out how I feel and what he is thinking. Both mothers nod in agreement. As we walk out the door I see our mothers hug. I guess they really like this. Prim comes running up to me with a giant smile on her face when we walk outside.

"I am so happy for you Katniss" She says to me. Rory has a look on his face as he looks at Gale that says "it's about time." We leave the kids and head to our place.

When we get there we sit in silence for a moment before I speak. "Gale?"

"Yes Catnip."

"I don't really know how to do this." I start, "I mean I don't know how I'm feeling. I don't know what you are wanting, expecting or feeling."

"I figured as much, when I saw the shock on your face. I figured you were going to slap me and run off and never speak to me again, but you didn't you kissed me." He says now grinning like a fool.

"Well I didn't want you to think I didn't like you." I say looking down.

"But you don't know if you are in love with me like I am you." He asks sadly.

"I just… I have never thought about it. With anyone. I definitely don't see you as a brother, but I haven't even allowed myself for one moment to consider love or marriage or children with anyone." I stop and sigh. Looking into his eyes I continue, "If I were to consider those things though," I am nervous, why am I saying these things? I mean them yes and I mean the next words out of me as well, but my whole body just wants to run away and never look back. Gale is looking at me hopefully waiting for me to finish now, "You are the only one I would consider them with." I finally get out. I am shaking all of these emotions; I'm not used to it. I can hunt and kill and fight and survive, but I have never let myself feel, especially with another person, other than for Prim. Gale takes my face in his hands, forcing me to look into his eyes, "Catnip, I will wait for you to figure it out, I've been waiting for years now as it is, but more specifically I've been really waiting for the last six months." I look into his eyes and I see all the love he has for me. I can't contain it any more. It starts out as one, then two and before I know it I am crying. I haven't allowed myself to cry since the day my father died, not one tear and a boy tells me he loves me and I start bawling like a baby.

Gale's POV

"Catnip, don't cry. I'm here. I'll do everything I can to protect you and make you feel safe." I say as I pull her into me. She is shaking; I hadn't realized how much she just shoved deep down into herself.

Suddenly she jerks up, looks me in the eyes and says, "I will only let myself for even one second consider a future with you if you can swear to me you will never; not even for one second step into the mines to work." As I realize what she is saying, she isn't saying 'no', I start to smile just a little bit. She doesn't want to loose me like we did our fathers. She won't let herself feel those feelings if there is a possibility of them being ripped away from her.

"But how will I be able to take care of us and our families if I do not work in the mines in a few months?" I ask her. Hoping, praying she may have plan.

"I have an idea, I was going to suggest it when you did finally have to start working in the mines, but since all of this, I will just tell you now." I am looking at her a little confused so she continues. "Well you know Cray (the head peacekeeper) likes turkey and Darius likes almost any fresh meat we bring and we are both very skilled with certain things and between my mother and Prim, they have a lot of knowledge about medicines and I have some too. Well I was thinking maybe we could strike a deal with the peacekeeper to allow us to continue to hunt in the woods without fear of being caught and killed or whipped. And then maybe we could set up our own little shop in the Hob." she finish, out of breath. That is not too bad of an idea, but what kind of a deal will they want us to make to insure our safety?

"Okay, let's see." Is all I manage to get out. She sighs a little; I think just to get out the last of the emotions before she puts back on her mask for the rest of the world. But I can't stop smiling. She will be with me.

That night when I get back to my house, my mother is looking at me. "Well?" she asks. "What did she say?"

"She said she would consider loving me as long as I never work in the mines." I tell her honestly. I don't know why I am being so honest with Katniss's and my conversation, but I think my mom will be able to help. After our last conversation about Katniss, I am beginning to think she likes her more than me. I can see the look of understanding in her eyes as she thinks about what I just said.

"Well then we will make sure neither of you work in the mines. I have an idea, but I need to ask Katniss's mother a favor first, before I can divulge my plan to you." Mother says, with a look of determination. I give her a questioning look, but then shrug and figure she will tell me when she is ready.

"Katniss has a plan too." I tell her without even thinking.

"Oh," She looks intrigued, but not surprised, "What is it?"

"She wants to make a deal with the peacekeepers to let us hunt and set up a booth in the Hob." I say. I see mother thinking this over.

"That is a good plan; I think it will work well with my plan as well." She says with a smirk.

"Goodnight Gale, I will talk to you tomorrow."

"Goodnight Mom." And with that I go into my room I share with my brothers. Rory is still awake, I guess waiting on me, and Vick is snoring in a deep sleep.

"What are you doing still awake?" I ask Rory.

"Just wanted to know what my brother, who shares no emotions most of the time, was thinking when he publicly confessed his blatantly obvious feelings for an even more emotional recluse, while also breaking every single girl's and boy's heart in the whole of District Twelve?" Rory states a little sarcastically. Wait, what does he mean, breaking every single girl's and boy's hearts?

"Well I wasn't thinking much; just I was actually so relieved that the people I love didn't get chosen. And what do you mean about breaking hearts?" I say a little defensively.

He rolls his eyes, "Oh come off of it Gale. Just because you and Katniss choose not to notice the affections of like every other freaking kid in our school doesn't mean they aren't there. The Baker's kid, I thought he was going to cry, he had been walking up to Katniss at the same time you were running to her. And don't get me started on all the looks you two were getting. They were something mixed between daggers and disappointment." For only being twelve he was very observant, just like Prim, they can read people better than anyone I know. But what does he mean about the Baker's kid? I know he likes Katniss, everyone but Katniss, knows he does, but enough to cry? And why was he walking toward her? Now I'm getting mad. I need to stop thinking. I let out a small chuckle at Rory's thoughts and roll my eyes at him.

"You have quite the imagination Rory. Get some sleep." I tell him and then roll over on my bed and try to fall asleep, but today just keeps running through my mind. I have to find a way not to go into the mines. I just have to.

The next day, I head to the woods to meet Katniss to hunt. Since we have no school today or the rest of the week for that matter, the Capitol decided that since this is the week leading up to the hunger games we all should stay home and watch the footage of the tributes as they prepare to die, we decided to hunt everyday to make sure we had enough and maybe make some extra too. When I get to our spot, I notice a note stuck to the rock:

Gale,

Getting a head start.

Katniss

Short and to the point just like her, I laugh to myself. While she is off, I go around checking all the snares and finding to my surprise a pretty good haul; five rabbits, three squirrels and a bobcat. I then decide to go collect as many berries as I can and some greens. A few hours later I go back to our spot and see Katniss heading there too from the opposite direction. A smile comes to my face as I see her. When she notices me a small smiles comes to her face too.

"Hey Catnip."

"Hey Gale. What'd you get?" I grin and show her everything I got. She seems very pleased.

"I showed you mine, now you show me yours." I say jokingly. She opens her pack and I can't believe it. She has gotten twenty fish, eight squirrels, four rabbits, two turkeys, a gallon of berries and a gallon of Katniss tubers. She sees the shock in my face. "How long have you been out here?" I ask in disbelief that she could get all of that in only the short amount of time I had been out here.

"Since a little before dawn. I have something else too, but I couldn't carry it too far so I hid it in the bushes over there, care to help?" She says with a smirk. I follow her and can't believe my eyes. She got a buck. A large buck at that. People might think that I would be jealous of a girl who pretty much out hunts me, but with Katniss I feel nothing but pure pride. We take our haul back to my house and drop the bags off before we take the deer and some squirrels and berries to town. We bring the deer to the pelts man, who gives us a lot for the pelts and antlers. He skins it right there so we can take the rest to the butcher. The butcher also pays top price for the dear and gives us some venison steaks. After that we head to the bakery where we also do well when we trade the squirrels. I notice, Peeta, staring at her longingly and I am getting so angry, Katniss senses my anger and gives me a questioning look. I just shake my head. The Baker also notices and turns to see his sons giving goo-goo eyes to the reason they get to eat meat.

The Baker then looks at me. "Us Mellarks can't help but fall for those Everdeens." He says this with a little chuckle and a sad look. "But they always choose the miner." He shakes his head, but still has a smile on his face. He looks at Katniss who seems confused, "I see you shot these today, much cleaner than yesterdays," he gives me a wink, "how do you get it right through the eye every time?"

Katniss blushes a little at the complement "Practice." She says politely. Katniss looks up at me, "I am going to see if the Mayor wants the berries. I'll meet you back at your house." She states, I think she wants to get away from the confusion of what the baker said. I nod and she leaves quickly.

I look back at the baker. "What did you mean?" I ask.

He turns to make sure his son has stopped being quite so interested and starts to walk out the back door and shuts it. He gives a long, hard sigh. "I was in love with Katniss's mother when we were younger. She and I were supposed to get married, but then she met her father one day while he was trading some herbs he collected. Well, she fell for him the moment he walked in the apothecary singing." He sighs again, "I lost the love of my life to him. And now Peeta will too." I give a slightly angry quizzical look and he continues. "It was the first day of school for Peeta and Katniss and while we were standing outside waiting I pointed her out and told him I was supposed to marry that little girl's mother, but that she ran off with a coal miner instead. My innocent little boy looked up at me and asked why and I said because when he sings even the birds stop to listen. Well, when he came home that afternoon he pulled me aside and said he was going to marry Katniss. He had heard her sing and he was a goner just like her mother."

I knew the feeling; I had heard Katniss sing once when Prim was sick. I was taken from my memory when the baker started to talk again. "When he was eleven, a month or so after the accident, Peeta burnt some bread after seeing Katniss look like she was going to die. His mother beat him severely for burning the bread and he took it out to her. Shortly after we received two squirrels, both shot in the eye. I guess she needed that bread to make it through so she could figure out how to survive again. She has never said a word to me, I think she has too much pride." He looks at me sadly, "Take care of her, let her know happiness." With that he pats me on the shoulder and turns to go back into the bakery.

As I turn to walk home I notice Peeta standing outside near the front waiting for me. I glare at him. How dare he love Katniss, he hadn't even spoke to her. But then I think how grateful I am that he helped her and my glare fades to a stare.

"I would have eventually talked to her you know." He states. Defeated blue eyes staring at me intently.

"But you didn't." I state back.

"I was about to, before you ran up to her."

"What makes you think she would have even spoken to you? She really doesn't like talking to others."

"I don't know, I just had to try."

"Oh." I have a mixture of anger and pity for this kid.

"Who am I kidding I never had a shot. Just forget about what my dad and I have said today. I will try to stop staring at her." With that he turned, head low shoulders slumped blonde shaggy hair falling forward towards his face, and walked back into the bakery. I felt bad for the kid, but not bad enough to hand over the only person I will ever love.

I head back to my house to meet Katniss so we can take the rest of the game to the Hob. I don't really want to try and talk to Cray or Darius today. I want to see what my mom's plan is first. When we walk into the Hob everyone turned to look at us and some were even cheering. Katniss is mad. She hates that everyone was looking at her, if only she realized everyone was always looking at her. She quickly does our trades and we get out of there before she explodes on them.

I drop Katniss back at her house with her share of our earnings and I head back home, anxious to see what my mom had planned.

"Hey mom?" I call as I walk in the front door. She is already sitting at the table waiting for me with a large grin on her face. "What's going on?" I ask.

"My plan is in action." She says.

"And what is that plan?" I ask impatiently.

"Okay, so I talked to Mrs. Everdeen today about seeing if you could get a job helping either the pelts guy or the butcher, since she knows them well, they were friends in school. She has agreed to go talk to them. She doesn't like the idea of either of you in the mines. With one of their backing you will definitely be able to strike a deal with the peacekeepers." My mom is a genius! I get up and hug her. She is a little shocked at first I normally only show displays of affection on Posy, my little sister, or Prim, who is also like my little sister. I rough house with my brothers and will hug my mom on occasion, sometimes I will put an arm around Katniss but nothing like the last two days. I leave my mom and run to Katniss's house to tell her the plan. She is just as excited, but is trying hard not to show it. I don't think she wants to get her hopes up. Her mom is out; I presume talking to hopefully one of my future employers. She comes back shortly and has an actual smile of relief on her face. Mrs. Everdeen does not smile often so this has to be good news.

"Katniss, Gale," She starts as she is sitting down across from us, "I want you to promise to wait until Katniss finishes school to become anymore serious than just dating." She looks at me a little sternly. We both nod that we will wait. It's only another year and a few months really. Not long. She continues, "I have talked to both the Orge, the pelts guy, and Rone, the butcher. They have agreed that your hunting skills will be a great assets to their business, more so than they already are. They will talk to the peacekeepers about a deal to assure your ability to hunt daily, and bring them the meat and skins. You will be allowed to save some for yourselves as well and Rone has agreed to supply you with some lesser quality meat as part of your pay. Gale will start, if the deal goes through, when he is done with school in a few months. Katniss will help when she can until she graduates and then that will also be her job. Prim and I will start to sell the medicines we make and the goat milk and cheese from Lady out of the house." When she finishes all of us looked relieved. No mines.

******** A year and a half later ********

Katniss's POV

I have just finished school and have been working full time with Gale as a hunter. The Peacekeepers have been great to us, along with Orge and Rone, and neither of our families is ever hungry. Gale and I have been dating and I have to say it has been nice to allow myself this happiness that I never had even allowed the thought of before the reaping. Gale had explained to me about the baker and his younger son, Peeta, what happened the day I went to the Mayor's house. After that I decided to thank Peeta and but also let him know there was no chance of us ever being and us. He has been dating the Shoe Merchant's daughter Delly. He seems content and has stopped staring at me all the time, he still does some of the time though. Earlier, while we were working, Gale had told me wear something pretty tonight for dinner. Both my mother and Prim are already dressed and are just waiting on me. I put on the same thing I wore a year and a half ago to the reaping and am doing my hair in the same intricate braid. I'm a little nervous, I think something is going on and has been for the past few weeks. People just smile at me, but won't tell me what is going on.

"Are you ready?" Prim calls.

"Yea," I yell back as I start to walk into the room.

"Oh, Sweetie, you look so beautiful." My mother cries.

"Wow!" is all Prim can exclaim. I am blushing now. I have never thought of myself as a beautiful girl. I don't look like my mother or Prim or the other Town girls. I have a very Seam look.

"Let's go." I tell them, but I don't know where we are going. I turn around and give them a questioning look. They both giggle and my mother takes the lead. At first I thought we would be heading to Gale's house, but we turn a corner and there in front of a newly built Seam house stood Gale and his family in their nicest clothes. I am panicking. What is going on? Why are we at a new empty house? Why are we all dressed up?

Sensing my uneasiness, Hazelle, Gale's mom a second mother to me as well, comes over and gently pulls me aside by the elbow. "Did Gale not ask you anything?" She asks.

"No." I say looking down, "He just said to wear something pretty." She glares daggers at her son who just give a sheepish look.

"Okay. If at any point you are not ready for this commitment to beginning, please say something or give me a look. I don't know why my boy just wants to surprise you so much. He gets that from his father." She says. I'm still confused, but then it starts to click, the newly built house, commitment, family all gathered, and the kicker; a man from the Justice Building comes walking towards us. I am having a full blown panic attack now. I love Gale, yes, but I figured we would talk about this before we actually did this. He is looking at me now, worried. His grey eyes searching mine for some confirmation that he did good and I'm not going to turn and run. I take a few more deep breaths in and finally feel like I am coming back down. I love Gale and this is what we have been headed towards.

I give him a small smile and we make our way to each other. He gets down on one knee in front of the house, "Katniss Everdeen, I have known for a long time now that I want, need to spend the rest of my life making you happy. Will you do me the honor of marrying me tonight, in our house?" He looks up at me with such love and devotion in his eyes that I am momentarily immobilized.

I knew this was coming, I'm still stunned. I search his strong and determined grey eyes for any doubt, but there is none. "How… I mean our house? When? How?" I ask confused, normally they assign you a house when you want to get married, but this house is newly built.

"I have been building it little by little since I got out of school. I wanted our house to be made of love not just materials." He said.

I smile, "Yes, yes I will marry you."

With that he lifts me up and spins me around kissing me. When he puts me down we walk to our families and the man from the Justice Building. Gale picks me up and carries me into our house and the rest of our group follows after a few minutes. The man from the Justice Building makes us quickly sign some papers that would signify we were married for official purposes. We light the fire and he pulls out the most wonderful looking loaf of bread. We sit in front of the fire as he splits the bread and hands half to me.

Then Gale begins, "Catnip, I will do every and anything in my power to make you feel as happy and complete as you make me feel. I know we have had hard lives and had to grow up and be adults well before our time and I know that until recently you never even thought of being married, but I want to stay with you for the rest of our very long lives." He smirks, now that we are free from working in the mines we will have a longer life, and continues, "I love you. I love your strength, determination, honesty and fire that is in you. Please do me the honor of letting me be your husband?" I nod trying me best not to cry in front of everyone, he sees this and takes a small ring out of his pocket and places it on my finger. I recognize it as his mother's ring.

Now it is my turn, "Gale, I didn't ever think I would have this in my life. You are the only one who I could have this with and I am incredibly lucky. You are a good man. A good provider and the best friend I could ever ask for. Will you let me be your wife?" I finish, but I don't have a ring, I start to panic again. If we had discussed it I could have gotten him a ring too. Suddenly my mother is placing a ring in my hand, my father's ring. I look up at her, she is crying and I smile at her. Gale nods his agreement to my question and I place my father's ring on his hand. We take our halves of the loaf of bread and place them in the fire for a minute and pull them out and feed it to each other. When we are finished, we kiss to seal the marriage. Everyone is crying and clapping behind us.

Once the man from the Justice Building leaves, friends start to come over with food. There is music and dancing and eating. It is a big celebration. Soon The Baker and Peeta come in with a cake. I can't believe how beautiful the cake is and thank them when they set it in front of Gale and I. Peeta has a defeated, but happy look in his eye.

Peeta's POV

I can't believe she actually married him, well I can believe it, but I was hoping she wouldn't. She looks so happy and when her mother came into the shop to see about getting a cake, my father had refused her money, saying he would be honored to have us make the cake for the two people who kept a district fed. He is right. They had made it so meat and other nourishments are not so out of reach. Sure there are still starving families in the Seam, but nowhere near as many as there used to be. All because they loved each other. I am happy for her because she is happy, but I will end up like my father; married to Delly because that is what is expected. I like Delly, but I'm not in love with her like I am Katniss. I have gotten better at hiding my feelings though. I know that Katniss's kids are going to be the best looking people in all of District Twelve. Both Katniss and Gale are admired not only for what they do for our district but also because they are just two strikingly strong and beautiful people. As Katniss and Gale are thanking us for the cake, I just nod politely. I hear my dad, "It's nothing, not after all you two do to help keep our district fed better." He is so proud that he and I made their cake. My mother was not happy that we were, he had to sleep on the couch for a week. As I turn to leave I take one more look at Katniss, she really does look lovely and happy. I let out a sigh as my father holds onto my shoulder and we walk back to town.

Gale's POV

Once all of the guests have left and we are cleaning up our home, Katniss turns to me and kisses me quickly. "Well I guess while you finish this up, I better go back to my house and get my belongings." She says.

"This is your house," I remind her, "And no worry Prim has been sneaking most of your belongings out for the past week and whatever was shared I bought you new. I think you only have a few things left, you can get those in the morning." I say smiling at her.

She looks up at me, "And how did you know I would agree to all this?" she asks jokingly.

"Because how could you say no, Mrs. Hawthorne." I joke back.

She laughs that beautifully melodic laugh of hers, "I guess you are right, I couldn't."

With that the house is clean enough and I take her hand and lead her to the back bedroom, our bedroom. She is nervous, I can tell, even though this isn't our first time. Our first time was magical; it was in the woods like it was meant to be. The only place either of us truly feels at home or at peace. We had stayed too late and the gate was on so we had to find some shelter and wait till morning. We went to the old shack by the lake, where we kept some supplies. At first we were just talking, but soon we were kissing and then we were searching each other's bodies. Finally, the clothes started coming off. She hesitated at first, then with a look of love and determination, she nodded for us to continue. I loved hearing her say my name when she would moan because I was giving her pleasure, just the thought of me giving her pleasure was enough for me, but actually doing it sent me through the roof. After that time we agreed we would wait to do it again, since we didn't want any children without us being married, that was six months ago. It has been a long six months. Every time I see her I remember this and just want to do it again. To feel her writhe beneath me, to hear my name fall from her plump pink lips as if a heavenly chorus were singing it out. Like I said the images can't be erased and come on so vividly and are on continuous replay in my mind, making this the longest six months of my life. I thought all the time before that, waiting to be with her was hard, but actually knowing it and not having it is much worse.

In our bedroom, I had laid out Katniss flowers on our bed and lit some candles. She was surprised and gave me a seductive smile. I grabbed her waist and pulled her into me, I slowly lifted her up and kissed her. She wrapped her arms around my neck and I lifted her so her legs could wrap around my waist. My hands were going up the back of her thighs under her dress. She moved her arms and started unbuttoning my shirt. I walked us over to the bed and sat down with her on my lap. She slowly pulls off my shirt and starts kissing down my neck and along my chest her hands running lightly over my upper body. I let out a moan and I knew I was in trouble. She had a mischievous look in her eyes. I think she likes to bring me pleasure almost as much as I like to bring her. I started to unzip her dress and pull it off her shoulders and down her arms letting it collect around her waist. She could tell I needed her through my pants. She stood up off of my lap and the dress fell to the ground. I stood up looking her up and down as love and lust mixed in my eyes, desire clouding my brain making my breath catch when she unbuckled my belt and started to take off my pants. We were left only in our underwear when I couldn't take it anymore. I grabbed her up in my arms and spun her into bed. I was on top of her, she lifted her head up and put her arms around my neck and we started kissing again. Soon we were making love in our bed on our wedding night. She is perfect. When we were exhausted and couldn't continue any more she lay in my arms, her head on my chest and her naked body against mine. "I love you Catnip." I whispered into her hair.

I could feel her smile into my chest, "I love you too." She quietly responded and then kissed my chest. It was a perfect night. We wake up early in the morning as usual, but since this is our day off, we decided to stay in bed for a while longer. When we do get up we eat a late breakfast or early lunch. When we finish with our meal and finish cleaning we are standing in our kitchen and I decided that I couldn't be this close to her and not touch, I have spent too many years doing that and now I don't have to. I walk up to her and lift her on the counter and start to kiss her with more passion than I thought possible. She replies with just as much passion. We start to take off our clothes, when the door opens. "Hello? Katniss? Gale?" A small voice calls, it's Prim. We need to remember to lock the door.

"Umm hold on Prim." I call. Katniss is red and is trying to get her clothes back on and smooth down her hair. She jumps down off the counter. And walks towards the front door. I am dressed now, but I just like to watch Katniss walk so I follow behind a few seconds later.

"Hey Prim," Katniss starts, "What are you doing here?" She didn't say it in a rude way, more of a curious way. Prim looks at us and I thinks she knows she just interrupted something.

"I was just bringing over the last of your belongings." Replied Prim, "Well I must be going, I, um, hope you are having fun on your day off." She is giggling now.

"Bye Prim." We both say.

Once the door is shut and locked, I say, "So where were we?"

Katniss blushes a little, "Well I was half naked sitting on the kitchen counter and you were half naked kissing me." She finishes with a wink. Then she takes off down the hall.

I chase after her and grab her from behind around the waist lifting her up so she can't go anywhere, "I've got you now. You can't go anywhere." I say playfully.

"I wasn't planning on it." She says backs and we both laugh a little. I pull her into my arms bridal style and carry her to our bed. We stay there until really early the next morning when we get up to go to work.

After we leave the woods and have more than enough for our jobs and a little for our families, we drop two rabbits and some greens at her mom's house and four rabbits and greens at my mom's house. At both houses we got the same greeting, hugs and kisses and congratulations. Once we leave there we head to Orge, the pelts guy and skin the animals, he pays us and we take the meat of the animals to the butcher. We help cut up the meat and section it off for sell. We get some meat to take home and some money. Both places congratulated us and even threw in an extra coin as a wedding gift. When we got home we started a stew from the meat from the butcher's and some greens. All I can think is that our life is perfect.

About six months goes on like this and each day is wonderful. I wake up again, this has been happening almost everyday for the past two weeks, to the sounds of Katniss in the bathroom throwing up. I walk in quietly and squat down to her and rub her back. When she finishes she cleans out her mouth and goes to sit on the bed, she is on the verge of crying.

"Catnip, what's wrong? What doesn't feel good? Are you sick? Should you go see your mother?"

"I don't know what's wrong; it's been like this for two weeks now. I don't necessarily feel ill. After we are done with work today I will go see my mother." She lets out a deep sigh.

After we were done with our jobs, Katniss went to see her mother. I had asked if she wanted me to go with her, but she said no for me to go home and start dinner. On my way home I was stopped by a Town girl, she looks familiar, of course to me all girls look the same except for Katniss, but I think I had seen her with Peeta.

"Hi Gale," she starts, "Look I know you don't know me but my name is Delly, I have been dating Peeta for sometime now and his father said to come see you. I am having a hard time getting him to notice me like he used to Katniss. I don't think he has stopped noticing her, but tries so hard for her and my sake to hide it. When I asked his father why he doesn't see me as more than just someone to date his dad refused to answer but said that maybe you could help me." She talks fast and I don't know what to tell her, this is very awkward.

"Well I'm not sure what I can do for you." I tell her, "I'm not close with Peeta at all. I know he loved my wife, but I thought he had let that go."

"Oh, so it is true then, he loved Katniss." The way she says Katniss's name sent a chill down my spine. "Can you tell me why he loves her so?" She asks venomously.

"His father told me it was because when she sings even the birds stop to listen, which is true." I say this thinking of her singing. She has started singing more; I think it means she is happy.

"Oh," she has a sad look in her eye, "Well how do I compete with some stupid ideal? He has only spoken to her maybe once, it's not like she is known as some great conversationalist so I can't think it was more than maybe five words tops. I know I'm not as exotic looking as her. I look like he does, I'm from the Town just like him. I know I can't sing and make the stupid birds shut up. What can I do?" She rants madly.

"Look I don't know, but I need to go now, I'm expecting my wife home very soon."

I start to walk away, when she calls out, "Why do you love her?"

That is a long answer. There are so many reasons, reasons no body but me would know about her. "Because she is my world." I turn back around and head home.

I am just finishing the stew and letting it sit to boil when Katniss comes home. "Gale?" She says in a frazzled voice. I quickly make my way to the front room where she is just walking in. The look on her face stops me dead in my tracks. She is shaking so hard and tears are starting to well up in her eyes. Just before she collapses on the ground I run and catch her in my arms and bring her to the couch. I pull her up into my lap, her head on my shoulder.

"What's wrong Katniss? What is it? It can't be this bad."

"I can't do this. I won't be good at this. I'm not ready." She is mumbling to her self. What does she mean? Soon Prim is running in the door she left open with a giant smile on her face that changes into a frown when she sees Katniss.

"Katniss what's the matter?" Prim asks, "Wasn't it good news? Mother and I are both very excited! Gale aren't you excited too?" Prim asks looking at me. I give her a quizzical look.

"Katniss, have you told him yet?" Prim tries to scold, but she is too sweet.

"When? I just got home and you are already here?" Katniss shouts. Prim looks taken aback, but gently puts her hand on her sisters arm.

"I think Gale will be happy," She starts with a small reassuring smile, "Katniss you can do this. You did a great job with me at a much younger age." I am still confused.

"Will one of you please tell me what is wrong with my wife?" I half yell. I am getting frustrated.

Katniss looks up at me and sighs, "Gale, I'm…I mean we're going to have…" She gets cut off my family and her mom are coming into the house all smiles and saying congratulations, until they see a visibly shaking Katniss. Now I'm just mad. Why is everyone else excited and my wife is shaking. She's pregnant! She never wanted kids and even though she changed her mind on marriage I don't think she changed her mind on kids. Everyone needs to leave now. I need to confirm this. I sit Katniss on the couch and I stand.

"Everyone out now. I will come and get you later." I shout. They all look at me a little confused but leave. I turn to kneel down by Katniss. "Katniss finish what you were saying." I say sternly.

"Oh, Gale, I am so sorry, we're…going to have a baby." With that she starts to cry. I am so happy. I know she is scared but I also know my wife will be an amazing mother. She already was one at the age of eleven. She took over as parent to her sister and Prim knows it.

"Katniss, look at me." I wait for her to look at me, "Catnip, you have already been an amazing mother to Prim, she knows it. There is no need to be scared. We can do this, with as much practice as we've had, no one could be better at this." I smile at her. She has stopped crying but is still shaking.

"But what if they are reaped? I thought I was going to die worrying about my sister. What am I going to do with my own kid?" She asks. I sigh and look at her lovingly.

"They will be lucky, they will only have their name in there for their age not tessera, plus if my math is right, they will only have to go through the drawing once." I know it's scary I know how scared I was for Rory. "Plus," I continue, "We will teach them everything we know so they will be able to survive just in case."

She has stopped shaking and seems to at least be taking all of this in. I hold her and whisper in her ear, "I love you and am so happy to have one perfect little thing that is a mixture of us and our love to come into this world." She relaxes. That night our families come over and give their congratulations and eat dinner with us. Katniss is still wary of the idea, but she is at least not crying and shaking anymore.

A few months later, a noticeably pregnant Katniss and I are leaving the butcher's which is right next to the bakery, when we see Peeta come out. He looks at Katniss and me, then walks over to us.

"Hi Peeta." Katniss says.

"Hi Katniss, Gale." Peeta returns the greeting, but is staring at my wife. All of a sudden he looks at me and he has anger in his eyes. "Gale can I speak to you alone for a moment?" He asks. I look at Katniss and she nods that I may. Peeta and I walk a little ways away from Katniss who is heading back inside the butcher shop.

"She's pregnant?" He asks incredulously.

"Yea, we're having a baby." I say a little gloatingly.

"What did you say to Delly a few months back? She has been acting weird. I know she went and talked to you." He said still angry.

"First of all your dad for some reason told her to come see me. And second of all she wouldn't have needed to come see me if you would stop being in love with my wife." Peeta takes a step back.

"I didn't think she knew. I just can't help it. You can't help who you fall in love with." Peeta says quietly. I look at him anger and pity mixed together.

"Well you need to help it. Unless you want to end up alone and angry because you didn't get the girl of your dreams." I snap, "You have what seems like a normal Town girl who loves you and wanted to know what she could do to be more like Katniss so she could make you love her. But it's impossible for her to try and be like Katniss, there is no one else like her we both know it. You just need to get over it." I am almost yelling at him. My fists are clenched. He is just as angry as me. His fists are clenched his jaw is hard, his blue eyes are ice.

"Why did you have to be more than a friend to her? Why did you have to marry the only girl I have ever thought of? Why did you have to get her pregnant?" He is screaming and there is now a crowd of people, including Katniss and his family and Delly, watching, shocked.

"I married the girl I love. I'm having a child that was created because of our love. I know you stay away because you want her to be happy, which is very nice of you, but you are hurting yourself by not letting go of a dream." I say this as calmly and harshly as I can to make a point and to keep Katniss calm. I turn to walk away when he grabs my arm, Katniss notices and rushes in between us, but Peeta doesn't notice and hits her, a hit that was meant for me.

The Baker yanks his son and starts screaming, I have never seen that gentle man be angry even at his own witch of a wife, "What the hell is wrong with you boy? Out of all my boys I thought you were going to be like me, kind and gentle, not like your mother, filled with hate."

Meanwhile Katniss is on the ground and I am holding her asking for someone to go get her mother, the butcher does, and Delly has run off crying. There is still a large crowd and now Peeta is yelling at his father, "I didn't want to end up like you! Marrying someone I don't love because I can't have who I love. I am so tired of sitting by watching him have the woman I love and can do nothing about! I decided to do something about it!"

His dad bellows back, "What hit her? Good job I'm sure she is going to come running into your arms now." He has a look of such shame on his face. I feel bad for the Baker.

Katniss's mom has arrived and is looking at her. She is just going to have a bump and bruise on her head as he was aiming for my chin. The baker comes over to us and is apologizing for his son's behavior and tells us anything we need ever to please come see him. He looks at Katniss's mom with the same longing look that Peeta gives Katniss and she just nods her head and gives a slight smile. I decided that I would carry Katniss home as I didn't want her to become dizzy and fall. I get Katniss home and lay her in bed with an ice pack on her head. Her mother is still with us, she is waiting in the living room.

"Gale?" Her mother asks. "Why did Peeta hit Katniss? Out of all of Rheichmen's kids, I thought he was the most like him. Never able to hurt a fly."

"Peeta thinks he is in love with Katniss, has been, according to his father, since he was five. I guess he didn't want to live like his father anymore and just watch the woman he loves live a happy life with another man. He was trying to hit me but Katniss got in the way at the last second."

"Oh, I didn't know. My poor too beautiful for her own good Katniss. Did she even know?"

"Yeah I told her when we started dating. She just laughed and gave me a strange look. She later thanked him for the bread from when they were eleven and let him down that there was no shot for them."

"Oh, Okay. Well if anything changes or she needs me, come and get me." Her mother hugged me good bye.

When Katniss woke up the next morning her head still hurt luckily it was our day off so we just stayed at home and I waited on her.

Katniss continued to hunt into her seventh month of pregnancy. She didn't gain much and barely looked seven months along. Her mother said everything was fine with the baby; it was just small, like Katniss. When she quit being able to hunt she stayed in town and worked at both the butcher shop and the pelt shop doing whatever odds and ends they needed help with. We fixed up the nursery in our house with some old baby furniture from when Posy was a baby and my mother and her mother sewed some baby clothes and blankets.

Peeta had since tried to apologize to Katniss, but she just ignored him. Somehow he convinced Delly to marry him and they are planning a small toasting in the next few weeks. I still trade with the Baker; he tells me all these things. I think more to ease my own mind.

Katniss is due any day now. I am so excited, she is nervous though. When she gets scared I just tell her that things happen in life, good and bad, and we will make the best of it like we always have, together.

Epilogue

Third Person

Gale and Katniss have been married for seven years now. They have two children; their oldest who is six is a boy he looks just like a perfect mix of his grandfathers, Katniss and Gale's fathers. The youngest is a four year old girl, who to Gale and everyone else, looks exactly like Katniss. Gale and Katniss are happy. They don't fear for their lives in the mines. They have good work and are teaching their children how to feed a district and themselves. They still worry about the hunger games, but they know they will be able to handle whatever life throws at them together. They can be seen laughing and smiling always as a family.

Prim actually ended up marrying Gale's brother Rory. Gales and Rory joke that those damn Everdeen girls are up to magic to be able to get two Hawthorne boys. They tease Vick that they are sorry there are only two of them; he will have to pick someone else. Prim is expecting her first child and is much bigger than Katniss was at seven months. Hazelle jokes that it is definitely a Hawthorne. Mrs. Everdeen moved in with Hazelle, Vick and Posy and gave her house to Rory and Prim. Prim and Ms. Everdeen run and apothecary out of the Prim's house. Rory works with Gale and Katniss.

Peeta and Delly have been married for six years. They respect each other and have two boys and a third baby on the way. Peeta still loves Katniss, but like his father stays away. His father eventually forgave him for that day, so did Delly. Delly actually likes Katniss and will talk to her when they are both in the town together. Katniss thinks Delly is a very nice girl, but sometimes is way too chatty and cheerful, but she is still always polite.

For Katniss and Gale life turned out better than either had thought or even dreamed when they were two Seam kids fighting for survival of their families. Although they never went into the hunger games, their life was sometimes like that. Having to constantly fight just to make it to the next day and fight again. Their adolescence was hard, but they are making sure their children will never have to fear fighting to survive and will be able to do it with no problem. Both of their children have that fire in their grey eyes that says they will forever fight for the ones they love.