Holy crap it's been a long time! I'm so sorry! Between writing for my original plot, planning a wedding and a vacation, I have just had no time. I'm so sorry everyone and promise that updates will be coming up more often, I swear! I hope I haven't lost too many of you yet, so I hope you enjoy the following! The song for this one is the Sam Tsui cover of Applause, it can be found on youtube. Enjoy!
I pace my confines slowly, I can hear Leta crying next to my cell, Mellark trying hard to comfort the scared infant. This breaks my heart, knowing that this is the man I'm leaving my precious baby girl in the hands of.
It's not that I don't trust Mellark, no I think he'll be a fantastic dad.
Scratch that. I know that Mellark will be the best dad that little girl could ever ask for.
It's the jealousy eating at me, tearing me apart on the inside. That's what has me most regretful and agitated now as I pause, resting my forehead on the walls.
I'll be gone tonight, buried deep in the ground or scattered in the winds, but I won't ever get to see anymore of Leta's firsts.
No first steps.
No first words.
No first smiles.
I got to see her first breath, but apparently that's the only one I'm destined to see.
I bite back a lump in my throat, threatening to cause me to choke.
The baby's innocent cries fill my ears, the helplessness of my situation washes over me like the river's surface from when I went on my first hunt.
I was barely five years old the first time my dad dragged me out into the woods. The food had run out once again and we couldn't borrow from anyone else in town. We weren't the only one's struggling, Mr. Everdeen had mentioned there was nothing left in his house for his family. With daughters so young, my father refused to let him risk his own life going out into the woods, begged him to wait a little longer and instead, he and I would go fetch the food for our families.
"You know, I've been in worse binds than this." I call with a heavy sigh, sinking to my knees. The memories of that day wash over me, good and bad.
"Are you talking about when you were whipped?" Peeta pipes up after a few moments of silence, obviously surprised I'd be talking with him. "I'm sorry, but I don't think Katniss, Haymitch and I can use our celebrity to save you from this fate."
"I'm not asking you do that… Once I'm dead this whole thing will be over anyway, why prolong the healing of this wound?"
"Your death isn't going to bring peace, trust me. Katniss will see to Snow's death personally I can almost guarantee."
"Oh, I don't doubt that for a single second, but this gives her something to focus on, not just the whole war at once. This gives you the martyr you'll both need to keep fighting and to never give up because let's be fair, she you didn't know those Tributes as well as she's known me. Or Cray. Or really anyone else back home. Sure you two had your friends and innocents, but that's not the same as when I'm killed by Snow." I argue, trying not to lose sight of why I had started this conversation.
"What are you getting at Hawthorne?"
"Just hear me out, OK?" I breathe, closing my eyes. "My first hunting trip my dad told me it was the most important one I'd ever go on. Katniss' dad was terrified, Katniss was very ill, so frail and he was sure death wasn't far behind and her mom was so starved herself that she didn't have anything in her to be able to tend to infant Prim. My own mother was struggling to take care of new born Rory and myself when there was no food or even broth to put in our bellies, just a small cup of pine needle tea to try and tease our stomachs into thinking it had nutrients enough in it.
"We trekked all morning through those trees, seeing no sign or deer, not the flush of a bird, not even the squeak of a mouse. We were exhausted and by dusk, we had resigned ourselves to accept that we would return home with arms empty and to broke hearts. My father stopped me and looked deep in my eyes and apologized over and over again for failing us all. I didn't know why he would say it to me, but I hugged him and tried to console him." I whisper, closing my eyes and picturing it all so clearly.
"I've failed your mother, you, Rory, the Everdeen's, I've failed you all. When you all needed me the most, I wasn't able to provide and now that little girl you tease about the plaid dress will probably die very soon." My father's voice chokes as he fights back his own tears. The haunted look in his eyes burns into my very soul and I know in that second, I'll never forget that look…
"My father held his head low, a defeated man, and begun to walk me back to the fence. You've never been outside of the District in the winter so you'd have troubling picturing it, but there's a fast moving river that runs through the main part where the majority of the large animals live in. It's so deep that when it freezes it never freezes completely, but my father said it was frozen enough to walk on safely. I had no reason to doubt the man, I trusted him so completely…" My voice trails off softly, trying not to falter but the memory cuts deep and sharp like the experience itself.
"What does it have to do with everything happening?" Peeta groans, obviously growing impatient with my short jaunt down memory lane.
"That day, I thought I was going to die."
"You fell through the ice, didn't you?"
"I did… I fell through a thin spot covered by snow…" I shiver, closing my eyes and letting all the pain and fear sweep over and through me as they did in those seconds. "I wasn't under long, but it seemed like forever. I hadn't caught my breath and it had rushed out in a scream when I'd slipped under. I banged on the ice desperately and something in my young mind told me it was truly the end so soon… My father however, he was quicker than even that raging river. He ran ahead and broke the ice, able to grab me out before I went very far. I was the luckiest boy in all of Panem that day, I could have been so much worse off."
"You were deathly ill…" A soft voice whispers from outside.
"Katniss?" Peeta and I both ask, confused.
I rush to the door, looking through the small barred window and see Katniss in the cell across from us. "Snow ordered me down here a while ago, but I was listening to you too closely to make a noise." She apologizes, gripping her bars.
"What's going on?" Peeta demands, but she shakes her head.
"It doesn't matter… When you fell through the ice Gale, you got so sick. You were shivering, your breath shallow and barely audible as your father laid you on my parent's bed beside me. I remember watching as my mother rushed to try and strip you from your soaked clothing as your mother tried to force white whisky down your throat to try and warm you. My parents bed was right by the fire, but you kept shaking…"
"My father started yelling it was all his fault and your father had to take him outside. I couldn't warm myself, no matter how many blankets our moms put on me."
"Gale, I know where this is going, but I don't think it's going to be the same." She whispers defeatedly.
"What? What the hell is he talking about Katniss? He's been going on and on about this story, but it feels pointless." Peeta huffs.
"He thinks that since he cheated death before, and while he has countless times, he can do it this time. He was literally on death's door, his heart barely beat and his breath was so low and slow that it was hardly noticeable. He pulled through at the last moment because of a trick my mom pulled with some herbs, but that won't happen again."
"Catnip…" I plead softly, urging to see my side and just relax.
"There is no trick. There is no special tea to make this all go away. Gale, accept it." She snaps before I hear her throw herself on her bed.
Even Peeta shuffles even and I know that's the end of the discussion. I hang my head and take in a deep breath, stumbling to my cot.
For a second I had hope. For a second I had a prayer. Now, I have nothing.
I'm going to die.
Snow is in fact going to kill me, Mellark and Katniss will be free and I'll never see my daughter again…
A lone tear slips from my eye before I punch the wall.
I don't want to go out in this fashion, I don't want to give Snow such satisfaction as me rolling over like a submissive dog. I'll do anything else he wants, but I won't have my life sacrificed as a power play between him and Katniss, that's not the way I will go out.
Bitterness and anger bubble up inside of me and I leap back to my feet. I grab the pad of paper Snow gave me to write down any last thoughts or confessions, something he could twist and turn into positive propaganda.
I scribble a short note on it and pass it to the Peacekeeper outside my cell. He nods and grunts something I don't understand and he turns to leave.
"I'm not giving up that easily… You bring shame to Twelve is you do to Mellarks…" I sneer before laying back down and waiting for Snow's response.
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