Perhaps she is like a ghost now, after all only half of her is there in District 12. The other half is pinned to Katniss in the form of a gold Mockingjay pin. K/M
Hello, hello can you hear me?
I can be your china doll
If you wanna see me fall
Your love is deadly
Tell me life is beautiful
They all think I have it all
I'm nothing without you
- Without you, Lana Del Rey
What they want.
Soft music flows from the trinket box, and the tiny figure spins around again.
Madge Undersee plays with it idly, fingertips brushing the tarnished silver as she avoids getting dressed.
She doesn't want to meet all those Capitol reporters downstairs and talk about her relationship with Katniss Everdeen. Lovely Katniss with her beautiful eyes and flawless skin and steely demeanour who volunteered for her sister Primrose. Katniss Everdeen, the courageous Girl on Fire fighting for her life in the 74th Hunger Games.
Madge's heart throbs in synch with the burning behind her eyelids as salty tears threaten to spill down her cheeks. She reclines back on her bed, twisting the lever again and closing her eyes to the delicate chords that chime, echoing around her room and weaving its way into memories that are too bittersweet.
Her Mother expects her to be the perfectly demure, socially adept daughter downstairs in front of all those Capitol people. Her own Mother with the excruciating headaches orchestrated from her sister's death in the Games those same people created. Her own Mother doesn't even dare to not turn up and put on a show.
Just like Peeta admitting he liked Katniss.
Just a show.
And Katniss played her part, so now Madge must do her duty as well. Pale and soundless as a ghost, Madge drifts to her wardrobe after placing the jewellery box so delicately down on her dresser. Perhaps she is like a ghost now, after all only half of her is there in District 12. The other half is pinned to Katniss in the form of a gold Mockingjay pin.
They first meet when they're a few years old at school. Katniss wears a scowl painted on thick and Madge with her hair ribbons streaming behind her is sat on a bench trying to fend off the children that mill around her in droves. When she doesn't talk to them, mouth pursed they go off tittering under their breath and Madge lets out a sigh, the panic easing from her veins slightly. She has expectations at home she does not deserve the same at school. Everyone is in groups and it makes her slightly dizzy imagining their critical eyes staring at her. So she heads to the only other girl sitting along. The girl with plaits in her hair looks at her for a moment before returning to her meal with gusto. Madge notices how scrawny the girl is and slides an apple across the table towards her from her own lunch. The girl looks at her, scowl deepening and Madge is suddenly afraid she's done the wrong thing.
"I don't like apples." Madge murmurs, picking at her nails before remembering that's not what a lady does. She sits up straighter. "I like strawberries."
The scabby kneed girl smiles tentatively at Madge. "Thanks… I owe you one."
"You don't own me anything." Madge shakes her head. "It was just a gift."
"Thanks." The girl says unsurely. "I'm Katniss Everdeen."
"Madge Undersee." The girl murmurs, biting on her bottom lip as she waits for it to start. But Katniss doesn't mention her being the Mayor's daughter, instead she goes back to eating her lunch.
The next day when Madge wanders over to her again a few strawberries lay for her in exchange for the apple.
Their friendship was unconventional to say the least, the Mayor's daughter being friends with a girl from the Seam. Madge's parents weren't happy with that, but for once Madge could ignore them. It felt good.
Madge's mouth twists into a smile as she remembers all the sun-filled days with Katniss, trekking through the woods. It was cheesy to admit it but to Madge Katniss was her sunshine in her stormy life.
Katniss let out a quick burst of laughter before stopping, eyes wide.
Madge giggled at her surprise.
"You should laugh more." She smiled, lazily treading water with her feet.
The lake was refreshing cool in the hot summers day and like a private haven for the two of them. When Katniss had suggested to her friend they hike someplace she'd shown nobody else Madge had been ridiculously over-enthusiastic about it. Shucking off her precious dresses for another threadbare one, one of Katniss's sparse items stuffed in the back of a cupboard and rewashed almost every day to stop the coal dust from settling. The faded linen was completely different from Madge's usual silk and satin and Madge loved it. It smelt of Katniss and Madge sniffed, feeling ridiculous as she tilted her head back to get more sun rays.
Katniss was leant against a rock eating her namesake and had laughed when Madge has spat it out and declared she didn't like Katniss.
"If you didn't like me why did you come?" She proposed with a wicked glint in her eyes, grin teasing her.
"I find you Katniss Everdeen very likable. Katniss plant though-" Madge pulled a face at the roots laid beside her. "You know you're my only friend Katniss."
Madge had never gotten on with boys, and girls thought Madge too quiet, not girly enough. Not Katniss though, never Katniss.
"There's no other right?" Katniss said seriously. "I know you get annoyed when I hunt with Gale… you talk to Delly don't you?"
"Everyone likes Delly." Madge says practically. "She's one of the few people that will talk to me, yes."
"I thought being the Mayor's daughter meant everyone would want to talk to you."
"They think I'm a snob. You know they do Katniss."
Katniss cracked open an eyelid to look at her. "You're not."
Madge couldn't stop the warm glow that spread through her as Katniss put all her worries to bed swiftly. "You look much more comfortable in my old dress then your others."
"I am." Madge admitted, willing her cheeks not to flush.
Madge runs her hand down the red dress. They wanted a theme for District 12 and the Girl on Fire, but Madge can never come close to comparing how Katniss looked in that chariot, in the interview.
Silk and taffeta, the heels on the carpet floor below. She looks in the mirror unhappily, sees her colourless face and chapped lips. Slightly pink eyes. She ignores her harrowing reflection and instead focuses on her favourite bottle of perfume.
Strawberry scented, and Madge sucks in a big breath as more memories assault her.
Katniss leant over to pick the tiny ripe fruits and Madge obligingly held the basket out for her. Katniss dropped the scarlet fruits in and they rolled to a stop. Madge's mouth watered; her Father may buy them but Madge is the fondest of the small berries in the household. The sun is bright for once and shines on them both, illuminating Madge's hair into a halo of gold and showcasing Katniss' smooth skin and shiny hair.
Katniss placed one of them in her mouth and another into Madge's hand and Madge picked it up, bit into it. Tangy and sweet, the indescribable taste of summer erupting on her taste buds.
She let out a moan, chewing eagerly.
"They're so nice." She told Katniss who nodded, a hint of a smile flickering on her lips at Madge's notable pleasure.
"Oh." Katniss said awkwardly. "You've got a bit-" She pointed in the general area of her mouth and Madge, cheeks on fire slapped her hand to the side of her mouth and rubbed.
"No- ah- here-" Katniss brushed gentle fingers on the corner of her cheek.
"Thanks." Madge whispered throatily, a beat too late and Katniss's eyes flickered up to meet hers.
Time hung suspended in the air between them, seconds seeming like eternity as their breath mingled, Madge slowly moving in closer, Katniss shifting slightly.
Her lips tasted like strawberries.
The shower is cold and makes Madge shiver, goosebumps rising on her skin as she washes at her hair, scrubbing it half-heartedly. Don't her parents understand that she doesn't care?
All everyone knows her as is the snobby Mayor's daughter who is richer then the rest of them, who has special dinners with silver cutlery and fine china. Don't they know that Madge wishes the positions were reversed? So she could feel like something more then a china doll brought out for entertainment. So delicate but slowly breaking as the only constant, none depressing thing in her life Katniss slips further away. Madge wonders if Katniss dies she will also. A break clean through the middle of her heart, splitting it in two.
They comforted each other when they cried.
It wasn't often, and Katniss preferred to grit her teeth in anger, eyes smouldering and only slightly teary, not weep into her arms like Madge did to her.
But when the parties and expectations were too much and Mrs Everdeen retreated into her own world and Prim needed more food their arms would encircle each other.
Katniss would tell Madge that if she needed a break stay with her for a while. Madge would bring an exuberant picnic, one of the few perks of being rich and they would invite Prim to have a feast. Laughing and dining with cold clean water and small potatoes and ham. Trifle dessert, cream running down their chins as they chatted and giggled.
When Prim fell asleep Katniss and Madge would talk late into the night, hands slipped into each others naturally.
A kiss would be shared, chaste and innocent (although the time the Mayor wanted Madge to quit her piano lessons because of her Mother's headaches the kissing got more heated).
Madge would walk back home feeling the weight in her chest lightened, and Katniss would watch from the window until she fell asleep satisfied everything was okay until next time.
She looks at the tiny needle of Morphling and wonders what it would be like to get rid of all these feelings and just drift. Get rid of all the hurt that's beginning to be unbearable.
But then she's reminded of her Mother and her headaches and gets out of the bathroom before she ends up doing something she'll regret.
"Are you crazy?" Katniss yells and Madge lets a few tears drip down her cheeks. Self-pity, self-disgust, annoyance and relief.
"Just leave me alone."
"I'm not leaving you." Katniss says firmly, putting an arm around her and stroking her hair. "Madge why would you-" She shakes her head.
"It hurts to feel Katniss you know that."
"It's better to feel hurt then nothing Madge. My Mother and your Mother, they feel nothing and it destroys them. Don't let it destroy you. Your fierceness is your best quality."
Lips traced across her jawbone, her cheeks, her nose.
Tears well in Madge's eyes as she tugs the dress off the hanger, slips it over her head and looks in the mirror with self-loathing. The dress is utterly shapeless and has too many ruffles to look remotely good on someone like her. She adds a few bracelets and rings, ties a ribbon in her hair with trembling hands trying to cling to clear-headed and not descend into feelings of grief and waves of despair. Why can't Katniss be here now? She is the only one that can boost her self-esteem at times like these.
She isn't surprised she has no admirers and Katniss has many, especially Gale Hawthorne.
"You know… there's rumours going around about you and Gale." Madge isn't sure how to start the subject so just blurts it out before she can stop it. Her eyes flick down to watch her feet self-consciously.
"Oh really?" Katniss murmured distractedly, watching Prim walk towards them across the school yard.
"Yeah." Madge shrugs with painful nonchalance. "They say you're a couple."
A smile spreads on Katniss's face but Madge isn't sure if it's because of the rumour or Prim coming closer.
"Katniss." Prim beams. "Hi Madge."
"Hi Prim; did you have a good day?" Madge smiles as Prim starts to talk energetically. Katniss meets Madge's eyes and smiles.
"I want you Madge, not Gale." Katniss whispers in her ear. "Nobody else but you."
And Madge decides sometimes with the right people attention can be a good thing. Attention that doesn't make her feel so ugly and worthless, make her be quiet out of fear she says something wrong. This attention makes her heart sing and her lips pull into a wide smile as she comes home to a million expectations.
With Katniss by her side she can face anything.
But Katniss isn't here now.
Her hands glide over the contents of the jewellery box, the tune now making her head ache dully with want and need. Her Mother's trinkets from another life long dead line the tiny box. Gold and silver and pearls. Expensive on the surface and hollow on the inside, like her. Born to look good, be good and nothing else. Ignored by most men (her Father) and cooed over by women who want her (for her son to wed and share.) She picks up a small brooch and her mind instantly flies to a similar object.
"Only one of us comes out." Katniss's solemn eyes bored into hers.
"Please try Katniss." Tears leaked out of Madge's eyes as she clutched her hands. "Take this. Will you wear it as your token?" She unclasped her pin and pressed it into her hand, kissed her cheek.
"Yes." Katniss said instantly. "Madge-"
"Something to remember me by." Madge choked and Katniss held her close, sighing into her ear as her hand brushed her hair back comfortingly.
"I won't forget you Madge." Katniss murmured. "How could I?"
She kissed her, slow and soft and heartbreakingly sweet. A bitter goodbye.
"I'll see you soon." Madge's voice wobbled and Katniss nodded jerkily, swallowing convulsively to get rid of the lump forming in her throat.
Madge isn't sure if she imagines the 'I love you' whispered to her back as she shuts the door Gale impatiently opens, shooting her a dark glare. But she likes to think it was real and all the way home she repeats it under her breath like a spell. If she says it enough times Katniss will come back to her.
Love can conquer all right?
She leaves her memories in the darkness of her room as she flicks off the light, taking a deep breathe in a chest tight with anxiety.
She shakily descends downstairs, hand grasping the banister so hard the knuckles turn white.
"Ahh Madge darling!"
"Miss Undersee you look beautiful!"
"Stunning, a little on the large side but you know the camera always sheds pounds. There, there dear don't cry!"
Madge didn't think she was fat; maybe she should rethink that.
"Of course you're just upset about Katniss. Now come sit here- there next to your parents. In the middle, wait your hair's not right-"
Tugging, twisting. Erasing all the flaws. Plastic smile stretched tight over fake skin.
Madge takes a deep breath.
"Katniss Everdeen is my best friend. She's… the best person you could ever meet."
And her mouth spills half lies, emitting the love and the kisses and the kinship because that's not what the perfect daughter of the Mayor should be like. It's not what the Capitol people want to hear, they just want to know about the star-crossed lovers on TV.
They want to know Madge's feelings about the whole thing, about Peeta's confession and Katniss nursing him to health in that tiny cave.
They don't want to know her blood boils and her heart aches and she feels so guilty for being angry at Peeta who's clearly dying from blood poisoning.
They don't want her to know she wishes Katniss was kissing her instead.
So she tells them exactly what they want to hear.