A/N: Hello everyone. I promised my good friend, Linda, that I would write Madge's 21st birthday that I glossed over in the Epilogue. So here it is. Apologies because I know you guys all thought this story was complete. Now, it's really complete.
Happy Birthday, Linda!
Thank you, RoryFaller, for the beta.
Gale Celebrates Madge's 21st Birthday
"Madge? I'm home," I say walking in the door. Posy launches herself at me immediately. I catch her easily and hug her as I say, "How was school today?"
Posy pouts and angrily crosses her arms across her chest. Before she can answer, Rory walks in and says, "She got in trouble today for talking back to the teacher."
"Pose! You know better than to argue with adults…,"
"It wasn't her fault, Gale." Madge says from the kitchen. I walk in there and shift Posy a little in my arms so I can kiss Madge.
"Hi," she says smiling as soon as I release her lips.
I laugh and kiss her forehead. Madge blinks but continues, "I talked to her teacher. The work's too easy for Posy and she was just bored. I spoke to Johanna about adding enrichment to the curriculum for those children that need it, like Posy. Johanna spoke to Posy's teacher too."
I raise my eyebrow questioningly at Madge and she smiles sweetly and says, "I told Posy to not argue with adults because that is rude. And she won't do it anymore, will you, Pose?"
Posy shakes her head as she crosses her arms across her chest and says, "I won't, even if they're wrong."
I just shake my head at the two of them and go in the bedroom to change my clothes. When I come out, Rory, Vick and Posy are doing their homework quietly at our tiny dining table. I join Madge on the sofa and she sets her files aside so she can wrap her arms around me and lay her head on my chest. I put my arm around her and pull her close as I kiss the top of her head. I ask Madge, "You ready for tomorrow?"
Madge nods and I say, "I'm going in late tomorrow. I'll drop off the kids at school and take you to the train station."
"Ma's coming back tonight. She called a little while ago and she should be here soon. She said everything went beautifully in District 8. She signed a contract with one of the textile factories to make her clothes. Did she tell you that Annie is going to model some of her lines at next week's big fashion show?"
I laugh and say, "No, but that's perfect. I can't wait till she leaves Finnick home alone with a newborn and a two-year old."
Just then the doorbell rings and Vick rushes to the door knowing full well that it's probably Ma. She engulfs everyone in a hug and passes out little presents she brought for all of us from her business trip.
"Thank you, Madge. I wouldn't be able to do this without you and Gale."
Madge shrugs and says, "It's all your hard work. We didn't do much. You know we love to have Rory, Vick and Posy come stay with us."
She frowns and adds, "I know, but this one was a long trip. It took a while to tour all the factories, but I finally found one I liked. The manager, Henry Alti, runs that place really nicely."
I put my arm around Ma's shoulder and say, "Ma, HH Designs is going to be one of the most successful businesses one day. I know it. I'm really proud of you."
After dinner, when they all get ready to leave, Ma kisses Madge's forehead and says, "Good luck tomorrow, honey." Madge smiles at her.
"Why can't I stay here tonight too?" Posy asks.
Ma admonishes her immediately, "Pose, you just spent a whole week here. Don't you want to come home with me and spend some time with me?"
Posy hugs Madge as Madge says, "Let her stay. We'll drop her off at school in the morning."
Ma shakes her head and says, "I think she's more yours than mine." She turns to Posy and says, "Not tonight, Pose. Let Madge rest tonight. She has a big day tomorrow. When Madge and Gale come back from their trip then we're all going to District 4 together for a few days to celebrate Madge's birthday."
Posy starts protesting and Madge kneels down to her and whispers something in her ear. Posy looks up at me and I smile and nod; no doubt Madge has promised Posy she can sleep with us every night in District 4. Posy smiles immediately and hugs Madge as she kisses her cheek.
After they leave, I can feel waves of tension overtaking Madge's body. She moves towards the kitchen and I grab her hand and pull her to me. Madge wraps her arms around me and whispers, "Big day tomorrow!"
I pull her chin up so she can look me in the eyes and say, "You are going to be great tomorrow." I bend down and slide an arm under her knees as I hoist her up in my arms. "Madge, your body is way too tense for you to argue your first case on your own tomorrow." I walk towards our bedroom with her in my arms.
Madge pushes herself up a little to kiss me as she says, "And you know just how to relieve that tension, don't you?"
Gale kisses me good luck at the train station and reminds me that he'll pick me up at the courthouse so we can leave straight from the Capitol. He hasn't told me anything other than that we're spending a few days in District 12 with my mom. I lean back in my seat on the train and review the notes in my files one more time.
Johanna picks me up at the train station in the Capitol. Even, her beautiful brown, silky shoulder-length hair and bruise-free skin don't hide the pain and anguish that continues to live in her heart. She hugs me tightly and says, "Madge, I'm really proud of you for taking on this task. These are the most important laws that need to be defined and no one's wanted to touch this issue. A few attorneys tried to work on it in the last couple of years, but everyone gave up because they couldn't handle the anguish and pain attached to these cases."
I wipe the few tears that escaped Jo's eyes and say, "It wasn't easy. I wouldn't have been able to do it without Gale's support. While reading the testimonials from people around the Districts and talking to some of the children, there were days sometimes when I couldn't even manage to get out of bed. Gale's love and support got me this far."
Jo hugs me again. I grab her hand and give her the same pep talk Gale gave me at the train station, "Come on, today is going to be a good day. We're going to show them just how badly children were treated under Snow's regime. And then we will define the laws to protect our children and ask for the harshest punishments possible to shield our most innocent."
Paylor had decided, after seeing some of the testimonials, that this needed to be closed door trial. I present the crimes against children under Snow's regime to the panel of High Court Judges. I let my tears fall along with everyone else's. There's not a dry eye in the court room. Lastly, I present my plans for the laws that should be defined to protect the children. I've asked for humane, but harsh punishments for crimes against children. I encourage Paylor and Dafin to run a country that will not tolerate hurting the most innocent of our population. Finally, I ask them to declare the old Reaping Day as Children's Day.
My first real case is a success. After suggesting minor changes to the laws, everything else is accepted. Paylor plans to go on National Television later tonight and announce the plans for the first Children's Day to be held in three days. As the others begin to file out of the courtroom, Corn catches me in a hug as he says, "Good job, Madge. I'm really proud of you. So many of us have wanted this, but no one had taken on this case yet."
He leaves his arm around my shoulders and we walk out together. Johanna and Gale rush to us immediately and Corn nods at both of them as we both smile at them. Johanna hugs me first and says, "Thank you, Madge. I can finally let the memories of my brother and sister rest in peace." I squeeze her back in understanding because I know that today is the day Johanna will begin the healing process.
As Johanna hugs Corn, Gale pulls me to him. He bends down to whisper in my ear, "I'm proud of you, Madge. I love you." He kisses me.
Johanna taps me on the shoulder and says, "We're still in public." Gale continues to kiss me as he, not so subtly, moves her finger off my shoulder.
"Ready to go," Gale asks me. I nod.
"You're still not telling anyone about your surprise for Madge's birthday?" Johanna asks Gale.
He shakes his head and says, "Nah. I want Madge to be the first to know. But, first we're spending a couple days with her mom in District 12."
Gale and I take a hovercraft to District 12 where mama and Haymitch pick us up. After dinner, when Haymitch leaves, I leave Gale and mama at home. I take a walk to my old house. They've cleared the debris but the structure of the house still stands – half charred. A new house was built for mama as the Mayor; she didn't want to stay here. But she bought this land because she hasn't been able to stay goodbye to daddy. Even though numerous memorials have been constructed, this is where I find the most peace and feel daddy's presence. We've been to District 12 a few times, but I haven't worked up the courage to walk inside the house. Like the other times, I take a seat on a rock, across the house, and stare at my old house. I expect my dad to walk out any moment; my eyes fill with tears as I wait in vain.
I smile as Gale's arm suddenly comes around my shoulders. "You still walk so quietly that I don't hear you."
He kisses my forehead and I sigh as I say, "I don't want to be here, but I can't stay away from this house either."
"That's because, though you lost your dad, Rose and Karl here, you also have a lot of good memories here. You want to walk through?" Gale asks just like he always does when we come here.
I shake my head and stand up, "Someday; not today though." I pull Gale's hand so he'll stand up and he has a thoughtful look in his eyes. Before I can ask, he smiles and kisses my head as we make our way back to mama's new house.
Last night as I tried to convince Madge to visit Peeta, she convinced me to go to my old hunting spots. We've both avoided the Victor's Village and my hunting spots to avoid Katniss. I heed my own advice as I leave Madge warm and comfortable in the bed and head out early in the morning, like I used to.
I wonder if Katniss still hunts; I hope she doesn't. Katniss refuses to acknowledge anything Madge did for her. We haven't seen her since the day we got married; I'm still mad at the words she used against Madge. Without any thought, my feet carry me to the spot where Katniss and I used to store our bows. I wonder if my bow is still there. As I come around the bend to the tree, I startle seeing Katniss sitting under the tree in hunting boots and her dad's leather jacket that I saved for her.
She looks up surprised as her eyes hold mine. Katniss smiles slightly and says, "You always just seem to materialize out of nowhere."
Katniss holds my gaze as she walks towards me slowly. She stops just inches from me, closes her eyes and whispers, "Not real." Before I can even say anything she turns around and runs away.
I'm at a loss, I don't know if I should catch up to her or let her leave. I let her leave as I walk my old snare run not thinking about anything in particular.
When I get home, I see Madge on the swing on the back porch wrapped in a blanket. I smile, shed my jacket and climb in with her as she lifts the blanket to let me in. Madge squeals as my cold hands wrap around her warm body.
"Gale, you're freezing."
"Warm me up," I say kissing her neck and pulling her closer. She shivers as her warm back comes into contact with my cold chest even through the thick fabric of my shirt and her night gown. I laugh as she scowls. I hug Madge closer and tell her about my encounter with Katniss.
Madge turns a little in my arms. She puts her hand on my cheek as she says, "I'm sorry I ruined your friendship with Ka…,"
I cut her off with a kiss. "No! She ruined that friendship." Before Madge can say anything else, I capture her lips in one of those kisses that always make her lose her train of thought.
When I release her lips, Madge rests her forehead on mine and says, "I love you."
"I love you too, my princess!" Madge turns around in my arms again and rests her head back on my chest. I pull her closer and we both doze off on the swing.
"Madge, did you…," her mom asks walking out the door and then stops as she sees us asleep. We both startle awake and she apologizes for waking us.
"It's okay, mama. We need to get moving anyway. I want to go see Peeta today. What were you saying?" Madge says disentangling herself from my arms, legs and the blanket.
"I was wondering if you saw Katniss come by. She was supposed to be here a half hour ago to check in."
Madge frowns and looks at me worried as she says, "Do you think she came and saw us sleeping out here?"
I shrug my shoulders so Madge continues, "We should be more careful here in District 12." My fists clench and I hate that Katniss makes Madge feel guilty. I'm not a prize that belonged to Katniss…that Madge could have stolen from her. I fell in love with Madge.
Controlling the anger in my voice, I say, "Madge, that's ridiculous. We're married. And we're not flaunting our love or happiness in anyone's face. This is just who we are. We fall asleep on the swing on our porch all the time. This is your mom's house; you're supposed to be carefree – not careful – here."
Madge begins to protest again and her mom cuts her off as she says, "Gale's right, honey."
Madge still has a frown on her face. I put my finger under her chin to lift it up and say, "Hey, I want you to keep your chin up and head held high as you walk through the District. Remember who you are and everything you've accomplished…everything you stand for, Madge Undersee Hawthorne. You fought the rebellion, you've been to law school, and you fight every day for human rights. You're a wonderful daughter, sister, and…,"
Madge finally smiles as she says, "Married to the sexiest, most loving, most indulging, the best man in the world."
I smile and say, "That's my girl. And don't forget you're still the Mayor's spoiled brat princess." I wink at her and she giggles.
As Madge leaves for Peeta's house, her head held high, I ask her mom if I can take Madge away a day earlier. I don't know if District 12 will ever be home again, right now it just stresses Madge out unnecessarily.
"Gale, I know we're headed towards the waterfall, can I take off the blind-fold?" I ask Gale as I hug him tightly. Though riding on a motorcycle, wrapped around Gale, with a blindfold makes adrenaline, not blood, run wildly through my veins.
"Have patience. There's more to the surprise than just a visit to the waterfall," Gale replies.
Finally he stops and helps me off the bike; I can hear the waterfall already. Gale comes up behind me and wraps his arms around my waist. He kisses the spot behind my ear where I'm most ticklish as he whispers, "I love you, Madge. Happy 21st Birthday!" Gale finishes removing my blindfold.
The waterfall, just as I remember it, is directly in front of us and to the right just steps away is a little stone cabin, octagonal in shape like the one we had come across a few years ago. But that one wasn't this close to the waterfall. Though this cabin is similar, it is also different. I look back at him awed.
Gale takes my hand and says, "Come on," as he pulls me towards the cabin. There's a big bow on the door. I look at him confused and he points up with his finger. My eyes follow up to the tip of his finger to a stone bar above the door that says, "The Hawthornes," on it.
I look at him surprised and confused; he gives me one of his heart stopping, I-love-you-more-than-anything-else smiles as he says, "THIS is your birthday present, silly."
I scream and hug him tight as I say, "A cabin near the waterfall, just like we wanted."
He squeezes me back and says, "A cabin and a waterfall."
I push back and look at him confused again. Gale laughs and says, "Remember, what we wanted? A little house, surrounded by the woods, near a waterfall? Well it'd be pretty hard to have that in the metropolitan District 2."
"Gale, I don't understand."
Gale laughs again and says, "I bought three acres of this land which includes the waterfall. And I had this cabin constructed here for us. I know we can't live out here, but I thought we could vacation out here. I know we don't have a lot of money right now, we'll probably have to live in the apartment for a few more years, but…,"
I kiss Gale and squeeze him hard as I say, "You are the best husband. I love you."
Gale surprises me again by quickly hoisting me into his arms and says, "Open the door, Mrs. Hawthorne."
I turn the knob and push the door open. Gale doesn't set me down; he walks through the cabin that consists of a kitchen, den, small dining room and three bedrooms. "One for all our daughters, the other for all our sons and this is ours," he says walking into the last room.
Uh-oh, how many kids does he want? "It's perfect! I don't know how to thank you for this wonderful gift."
Gale sets me down on the bed and says, "Oh don't worry, I'll think of some way for you to thank me."
When I wake up, I see that Gale's not in bed. I wrap the thick, white blanket from our bed around myself and walk out to see Gale standing by the door watching the sun cast its first rays on the waterfall. He turns around and smiles as he sees me. I engulf him in my blanket as I say, "You'll get cold."
Gale laughs and says, "Well, someone ripped all my clothes off me last night, remember? Look there's another button all the way out here."
Gale laughs and kisses me as he says, "You're so cute when you get embarrassed. I loved every second of it. You can rip off my clothes anytime."
"Gale!" I say embarrassed. He just laughs and pulls me on the porch swing. He wraps the thick blanket around us as he settles me in between his legs. We watch the sunrise together.
"Gale, we should call Ma and tell her and the kids to come here instead of all of us going to District 4," I say.
Gale smiles and says, "Already taken care of, darling. I never booked us a vacation to District 4. I called Ma and told her to come here with the kids. They'll be here in two days. We'll go swimming, hunting, hiking. Rory and Vick can help me build a fire pit out here. And I want to put a rope swing over there so we can jump into the water."
I turn in his arms a little and say, "That sounds heavenly. You think of everything. I love you." Gale kisses me in response.
I play with the light dusting of hair on his chest as I seductively ask, "So what are we going to do for the next two days if we're saving swimming, hunting and hiking till they get here?"
Gale swallows visibly and in the next moment his face lights up with a sly smile; his hands pull me closer to him as he says, "Start filling the rooms in there."
A/N: What do you think?