A/N: So sorry it's taken me so long to post my next chapter!
I promise more chapters will be coming this week! Please R&R!
"Get out now, and don't come back"
Those words kept ringing through my head. Was it a dream? Had I just simply imagined that my mother had said those words to me? No, it definitely happened—right after I told her I was pregnant with my best friends child.
Now I'm standing here on the street with what little belongings I have in my arms, with nowhere to go.
"Catnip, you can stay at my house, until we figure out what to do next" Gale was trying to be helpful, but in my mind it only made me feel even more helpless that Gale would have to offer me a place to sleep in his already cramped house. The Hawthorne's had no room for me, Gale shares a bed with his two younger brothers and his mother sleeps on the only other pallet they have with Gales little sister Posy.
So I guess I'll have to figure out something else. I guess there's Madge Undersee, but were not really that close of friends, she would think something was up if I just showed up at her house with everything I own and ask for a sleepover. Not that she wouldn't let me in, but because I don't want her feeling sorry for me. No, I don't want anyone to know. Not that I got kicked out of my house, and especially not because I'm pregnant.
"No, it's ok really. I'll just sleep in the woods until I figure out my next move. I mean it's not like I haven't ever spent the night there before or anything." Gales brows furrowed together in thought for a moment.
"Catnip, I don't th-" Oh no. He isn't talking me out of anything this time, I won't be a burden on his family, or anyone else. I'm Katniss Everdeen. If I can take care of my entire family I'm sure I can take care of myself for a while.
"No Gale, it's what I want. Besides it'll give me a chance to start hunting really early tomorrow."
"Well then I'm coming with you, there's no sense in you spending the night in the woods all alone. Plus your pregnant now Katniss you have more than just you to think about, you have to be more careful, I really think you should wait 'till I can come with you in the woods to go ok?"
I sighed in defeat, how could I say no to Gale? I knew just from the look in his eyes he wasn't trying to undermine my ability to take care of myself. This is his child too, and he loves it already, even if it is coming under extenuating circumstances. So its settled then, Gale and I are going to stay in the woods until I can figure out where to stay. We'll still go to the Hob every day and trade, just like we would if everything was normal.
Gale walked me to the fence, he hesitated a moment before saying "Catnip, hold up. Um I have to run back and do some errands really quick I forgot about, will you meet me in our usual spot in about an hour?" Gale was up to something, he wouldn't look me in the eye. In all the years I've known Gale he's always been able to look me dead in the eye and tell me anything, even if he thinks the truth will hurt me. Something about him not being able to do that made me feel afraid. I mean we weren't officially dating or anything, what if Gale has someone else that he's seeing? What if he got married to someone and had children with them? Would that leave me to raise our child by myself? I felt myself start to panic. It's almost as if Gale sensed what I was thinking because he took my hands in his.
"Catnip" This time it was me who couldn't look him in the eye. How could I be so foolish to believe that Gale would want to be in a relationship with me? I was just another girl that he had sex with, I know I wasn't his first because we've talked about it before. The baby was just an added bonus, seeing as how bad he wanted children. That's when it hit me. I love Gale Hawthorne, with everything I have. And the thought of losing him to someone else, it terrifies me.
"Catnip, look at me" Gale took his hand and placed it under my chin, making my eyes meet his. "don't worry Catnip, it's not what you think. You may not have figured it out by now, but your it for me, your all I need." Looking in his eyes I knew he was telling the truth, although I was still a little hurt at him for keeping secrets from me.
"Can't I come with you?"
"Nope sorry partner, this adventure is a solo one." For some reason Gales unwillingness to share his secret with me made me mad. Pregnancy hormones, I kept trying to remind myself that normally I wouldn't feel this way, it was just because I was pregnant and my hormones were going crazy. But even that didn't help, so without another word I stormed off, under the fence and through the woods. I could hear Gale calling for me, but I didn't stop or even look back. Good. Let him feel bad for keeping secrets.
3 Hours Later:
"Catnip, really I'm sorry for whatever I did to make you so mad". This was the 12th time Gale had apologized to me since he got in the woods about two hours ago. By now I had calmed down and honestly felt really bad about storming off on Gale earlier.
"Ugh, Gale I hate this!" I felt the first of my tears silently slide down my cheek. Everything that had happened in the past two days was finally starting to catch up with me. Gale rushed to my side and wrapped his strong arms around me and pulled me into his chest. I breathed in the familiar scent of my best friend, and it brought me comfort. Gale kept planting kisses in my hair while I was crying. I think seeing me cry like this scares Gale, he's only ever seen me cry once. But those tears weren't tears of sadness, but tears of anger. I felt like it was my fault that Prim went to bed crying because her stomach was paining from hunger, I should have caught more food that day but a bad storm set in and I had to get home.
Finally when I had stopped crying Gale pulled me from his chest and smiled at me.
"Come on Catnip, let's go catch some dinner". I smiled at him, Gale knew if anything could get my mind off of my problems it was hunting. When I hunt, my mind quiets down, and I become in tune with my surroundings. Today I was more determined than ever to lose myself in the woods, and it paid off. Together between Gales snares and my bow we got two rabbits and a three squirrels. More than we had gotten in a long time, since before everything happened between us.
My stomach hadn't grown much yet, just barely a small little bulge between my hip bones, which Gale noticed earlier while we were hunting. You would have thought he had just been told he was rich or something, because the look on his face is one I don't think I've ever seen. However, my appetite is a whole different story. I would never tell anyone be`cause I know they would completely do without food if they thought I needed it for the baby. But tonight, we didn't plan on going back to the Seam, we didn't plan on going to the Hob until late tomorrow afternoon. Plenty of time to catch more food, if you ask me.
"So Catnip. How much of this should we keep and eat, and how much do we try to keep good until tomorrow?" I thought about it for a minute, and I knew my answer was selfish, that there were people starving in the Seam, dying every day. But tonight was a night for Gale and I.
"All of it, Gale" He looked confused. "Cook all the food, we're having a feast tonight." Gale only smiled at me, a genuine smile, before pulling two knives out of his game bag and handing one to me. I grabbed a squirrel and started cutting into it, when it hit me. I dropped the dead animal and ran a few yards away to a rock, and threw up. When Gale realized what was going on he was quickly by my side, holding my braid and rubbing small circles in my back.
"What are you doing?" I was so embarrassed that he saw me like that.
"I'm helping you Catnip. I'm trying to be supportive, did I do something wrong?" he looked worried now.
"No, you're doing everything perfect, I just don't want you to see me like that. It's embarrassing." He chuckled at me, although I don't see anything funny about this situation.
"Katniss, this is normal. I was there when my mom had to go through all this stuff remember? Plus this is OUR baby, I want to be involved and help you in any and every way I can." Gale is going to be an amazing father, I just hope I'm going to be a good mom. I mean it's not like this is something I planned for.
I gave him a small smile as I started walking back to the fire Gale had built when my sick spell came, but before I could get there I was hit with a wave of dizziness, I stumbled a little bit and it looked like the forest was spinning. Gale's arms flew out to steady me as he helped me walk back and sit by the fire, I tried to protest but all he would say is "no I'll take care of dinner, you sit."
I lay back onto the ground. Today really is the perfect day—the sun is shining, and the breeze is blowing. I close my eyes and listen to the birds chirp. My father told me once that they were mocking jays, and if you sang to them they would sing back to you. I've never tried it out, but I went ahead and sang a little tune. It took a few moments before the forest was alive with my song, I opened my eyes and looked at Gale, he was shaking his head smiling. I closed my eyes again and drifted off to sleep to the sound of the mocking jays singing.
I wake to Gale shaking my shoulder telling me he's sorry to wake me up but the food is ready. He wouldn't have woken me up, but he's worried about me, he thinks I'm not eating enough to keep myself and our baby healthy. That's still so weird for me to say—our baby. But I love this baby already, even though the thought of it scares me to death.
The smell of the food is tantalizing, and Gale and I both eat until we can't stuff ourselves any fuller. Then Gale asks me if I want to take a walk with him. We walk for a pretty long time and I'm starting to get impatient.
"Gale where the hell are you taking me?" He doesn't say anything for a few minutes, like he's trying to decide if he should tell me.
"Look and see for yourself Catnip. Surprise" I look around and its absolutely beautiful. There's tons of rocks filled with moss, a small stream running steadily through them. There are tons of trees here, and there's a ledge where a rock hangs out considerably. Then I realize what he's done. He's found the perfect spot for us to stay. I turn around and I am suddenly aware of Gale's body right next to mine. These hormones are really working overtime. I remember the first time I was with Gale with perfect clarity, like it was yesterday. And suddenly my body wants more.
"Gale" I say in a voice that sounds more like a plea than anything. He looked at me, and immediately understood what I was asking from him. And he was willing to comply.
"Catnip, are you sure?" I could tell it took all the self-control he had to pause to ask me. With one swift nod of my head Gale has me picked up off my feet, my legs wrap around his waist as we both kiss each other with hunger and ferocity. He gently placed my back on a soft spot of moss and pulled back so his eyes could rake over my body. And he attacked me with kisses again, going down to my neck and back up to my lips.
Unlike last time this one felt right, it was what both of us wanted and needed. It was perfect. Before the walk back to get our game bags and some wood to make a fire Gale pulled me over to a spot near the stream where patches of wildflowers grow. He looked nervous, and he had a death grip on my hand.
We got to a spot surrounded by flowers of yellow, cornflower blue, pink and red. Gale looked at me, with a serious look on his eyes.
"Katniss, I know none of this is what you wanted. But I think it happened for a reason and even though I never had the courage to say it before, I love you. And I have for a really long time. I'm the happiest man on the earth that you're the one who's having my baby. And I just—Katniss I would be so hononred" He sank down to one knee "if you would be my wife" He pulled out a small simple gold band, to anyone who wasn't from the seam it would have seemed like an old piece of junk jewelry, but I recognized this. It was his mother's wedding ring.
Then I realized he was waiting for me to answer. I mean I love Gale, and having a family with him is something I hadn't considered before. But I know it wouldn't be so bad. Gale could give me a life, and love.
"Yes" I breathed.
"Yes?" I nodded my head. He slipped the ring on my finger and to my surprise it was a perfect fit. Just another sign that this is all meant to be Katniss. Gale jumped up off the ground and placed light kisses on my hair, cheeks, lips and forehead. Then he leaned down and kissed me with a kiss so full of passion, and happiness, that it almost knocked me off my feet.
So tomorrow we'll go talk to the peacekeepers and tell them when we want to do the toasting. Then Gale and I will be assigned a small shack in the Seam where we will raise our children. It isn't what I had planned on for my life, but now that I have it, it's perfect.
I keep admiring my ring on my finger on our walk back. Gale has my other hand clasped tightly in his and we're walking back to get our game bags and bows so we could head back to our spot for the night. And that's when I heard it, a snap—followed by a screech, and then my whole world went black.