Thank you all so so much for your reviews! They mean a lot to me and never fail to make me smile. You guys just say such nice things!
Mooglez: I'm glad someone appreciated Gale kicking down the door. As I was writing that, I thought 'this is probably ridicules fanservice and I just don't care. I want him to kick that damn door down.' We'll see Gale's angry side plenty, because he does have a temper. I can't have him get angry at Cray though because getting angry at the head peacekeeper could get him into huge kinds of trouble, leaving his family without the main provider. While Gale does have a major temper, I think his concern for his family is about the only thing that could keep it in check.
zwergilein: While a Katniss/Maura fight would be entertaining, I can't really do it. In order for that to happen, Katniss would have to admit that she's some kind of jealous of Maura, which would require admitting she has feelings for Gale. Katniss is just not that self aware.
bohobo: You're back! I'm super jealous you got to go to Thailand. I hope it was awesome. And I totally agree Gale would be a super, super hot dad. Oh, and I thought of a way to work in your Katniss taking care of shirtless Gale suggestion. It'll be a few chapters, but when you said that, I was like "oh-oh I can do that! I've got that!"
Anyway, hope you all enjoy!
Katniss concentrates on Gale's words and eventually comes to the conclusion that she probably isn't quite fine, but that doesn't make her any less concerned about Prim.
"But is she-
"Shhh, Catnip, it's okay."
Gale kneels down on the floor across from her.
"Her fever broke last night, remember? She's a little weak, but she's going to be fine. I'll keep an eye on her, I promise."
Through the haze of her own fever, it takes her a little while to process what Gale's saying, but it sinks in eventually. Prim is okay and Gale is going to watch over her. Relieved, Katniss shuts her eyes and leans her head back against the wall.
Gale places a hand on her forehead and Katniss trembles slightly at the cool touch. He keeps his hand there for a moment before he removes it and she actually hears his teeth grate as he clenches his jaw. He stands up again and proceeds to pace around their living room. Katniss tries to keep track of his steps, but the effort makes her dizzy. She doesn't even realize he's standing in front of her again until he says,
"I'm going to be right back, okay Catnip?"
She nods and hears the sound of his feet moving father away. When he shuts the door behind him, she shivers. She curls her legs into her chest and rests her head on her knees. She would like to lie in bed, but the prospect of moving seems too daunting. Eventually, she settles for lying down against the wall curled up tightly on her side.
Katniss wouldn't have thought she'd be able to sleep that way, but she must because the voices in her house startle her.
"I worried this would happen."
"I know, me too."
"And where is their mother?"
"Lying in bed and staring at the ceiling while her daughters die."
"What? It's true."
Katniss has no trouble placing Gale's voice, but it takes her a moment to identify Hazelle.
"I'm going to try talking to her. Fix Katniss some tea."
She hears Gale move into the kitchen and suppresses a groan at the thought of more damn tea. It tastes terrible. But Gale is relentless when he returns with it, and she's halfway done with her second glass when Hazelle interrupts.
"Unbelievable!" Katniss hears a door slam as she stomps towards them. "She didn't say a word! Not a word! It's-I-it's unconscionable! Her children are sick! Her house is filthy! She doesn't even know if they're eating, because she's certainly not feeding them! And I tell her all this and-and nothing. Just nothing."
"I told you."
"Oh hush. I need to think."
Hazelle takes over pacing the room, letting out an indignant huff periodically.
"Well," she says at last. "I don't see another way…I just-I can't…this can't keep going…"
Katniss hears Gale put the tea mug down beside her and stand up.
"They're going to stay with us. If she isn't going to take care of them, we will. We'll even take care of her."
"Okay," Gale says slowly. "How are we going to-
"Sh, I'm still thinking."
Gale makes a grumble of discontent, but then falls silent.
"Alright, we're going to move you boys into the living room for now. Katniss needs her own room so this doesn't spread. I don't want anyone besides us anywhere near her. Prim and her mother can sleep in my room."
"You're gong to need to move Mrs. Everdeen's mattress into my bedroom. You'll also need to move Vick and Rory's bed into the living room. I don't know if your bed will fit. Maybe-"
"It's fine. I'll sleep on the couch and we'll put Katniss on my bed."
"We'll do no such thing. We'd have to burn your mattress after she'd slept on it. I'm not taking any chances with this fever. You can put your mattress against the wall and move in the one Prim's been using."
"Alright, I'll get started. You're going to stay here with Katniss, right?"
Katniss doesn't bother to open her eyes, but she can hear Gale's footsteps tread down the hall. Hazelle gets to the ground in front of her.
"Hello dear," she reaches out and puts a hand on Katniss's forehead. "We're going to get you better. Let's start with a cold compress."
Hazelle gets up and returns a few minutes later with a cold washcloth that she presses to Katniss's forehead. Katniss mumbles feeble protests because it's so cold and she was freezing already, but Hazelle shushes her gently and begins to whisper soothingly. She tells Katniss what a wonderful big sister she is, how she had taken such good care of Prim, and how she always takes good care of her family. Though she's still achy and miserable, Katniss feels a warmth that has nothing to do with fever as she listens to Hazelle. The warmth seems to spread through her chest and wash away her anxiety until she almost doesn't care how sick she is. She lets out a contented breath and drifts to sleep.
A few hours later, Katniss wakes up thinking she's floating in the woods. She's off the ground and she smells the orange, pine and Gale-smell that's always with her in the woods. It's only when she shifts and opens her eyes that she realizes she's in Gale's arms getting carried through the Seam. Startled, she twists around and tries to speak.
They stop moving. He looks down at her, eyes wide with concern.
"Where we going?" She forces the words out even though her throat aches.
"To my house. Your family's going to stay with us while we get you better. Okay?"
She nods and buries her head into his chest.
"Don't worry anymore, I've got you."
She feels the slight brush of his lips against the top of her head and then they're moving again. When they get to the house, Hazelle opens the door for them and Gale takes her into his room. He lowers her gently onto the bed and adjusts the pillow behind her head.
She shifts, trying to get more support for her neck. Gale reaches behind her and plumps up the pillow. She gives him a small smile and he brushes her hair out of her face.
"You have a fever."
"Can I have a blanket?"
"No Catnip. We don't want you any hotter."
Katniss is so tired of being cold. Of aching. She's so miserable she wants to cry. Gale's eyes crinkle with worry as he watches her.
"Okay, maybe we can get you a light sheet."
He gets up and returns a few minutes later with the sheet, which he gently drapes over her and tucks beneath her chin.
"Good, now I want you to get some rest, and in a few hours we'll drink more tea."
Gale shifts in his chair and Katniss feels herself getting apprehensive. She's not sure why, but she doesn't want him to leave. Gale tilts his head to the side and studies her face for a moment before he gives her a gentle smile. Then he scoots the chair closer to the bed and rubs her shoulder.
"Okay," he says and she knows he won't leave her.
During the next few days, Katniss finds it more and more difficult to keep track of where she is or who is with her. Her body continues to ache and drinking tea becomes more painful. The shivering eventually stops and it becomes harder and harder to do things like turn her head or smile at Gale.
Eventually, she thinks she's in the woods with her father, or at home playing with Prim. Things are slightly strange in this dreamland. Her father will suddenly morph into Gale in the woods. Prim will shift into Hazelle or her mother.
Sometimes Katniss thinks she hears snatches of conversations that aren't part of her dreams.
"I'm not going to school. I'm not leaving her."
"She's not going to get better just because you stay home, Gale."
Sometimes the voices tell her she has to get better, though Katniss isn't sure what she's supposed to get better at. Hunting? Isn't she already bringing back enough food? But the voices persist.
"Come on Catnip, you've got to get better. I-I need-just please, Catnip, please."
"Katniss, you have to get well. You have to. Don't leave me and mom."
One day she wakes up and she can't remember where she is. She's exhausted and can barely keep her eyes open. When she does open them, the people around her are completely unfamiliar. There's a warm liquid being pressed to her lips, but it's bitter. She tries to move her head away, but that's just too tiring and eventually she lets her mouth hang open. She barely notices the voices or the feeling of liquid dripping down her chin, but she's still relieved when all the commotion stops and she's left to rest in peace.
But they bother her again soon. Her mouth gets opened, something dropped in, and just before she gags, water gets poured down her throat. This happens a second time, and then a third.
When Katniss wakes up next, the fog in her mind has cleared. She's drenched in sweat and confused by her surroundings. These aren't her sheets and that isn't her room. Something has been going on, but it's not coming to her right away. She starts getting frantic, but then she sees Prim in the chair next to her bed and Gale slumped against the wall nearby.
Her voice cracks from lack of use.
Prim starts and nearly falls out of the chair. Gale jerks and bangs his head into the wall.
Prim springs up from the chair and leaps onto the bed, burying her face in Katniss's chest. Katniss sighs, soaking in the familiar scent and feeling of Prim, healthy, safe Prim. She takes deep breaths, keeping Prim close as she recalls what she can remember of the last few days. She recalls Prim's fever breaking, Gale coming over the next day, Gale carrying her to his home…Gale and Hazelle giving her tea, Gale talking to her…
A familiar hand rests on her forehead and Katniss looks up at Gale. He looks terrible, with bloodshot eyes, unkempt hair, and deeper frown lines.
"Hardly any fever."
His voice is hoarse.
"Catnip, do you know where you are?"
She can see both worry and guarded hope in his eyes, and it makes her heart constrict. She wishes she could reach up and smooth the worry lines off his face.
"I'm at your house, Gale. You brought me here because I was sick."
He lets out a long, shaky breath.
"Okay, okay-I'll-I'll be right back."
Then he turns abruptly and strides out of the room. Katniss frowns after him, but Prim just sighs.
"He's probably going to go cry again."
Katniss feels so incredibly uncomfortable at the thought that she practically itches.
"You had us all so scared," Prim says, her voice shaking. She lets a little sob escape her and Katniss struggles to sit up and hug her properly.
"I-I'm s-sorry," Prim cries. "Don't move. You n-need to rest. I'm b-being silly."
"Shh," Katniss says. "It's not silly. I cried for ages when your fever broke."
Prim smiles and wipes the corners of her eyes.
"I should get back in the chair before Hazelle comes in. She'll get mad if she sees me laying all over you. It was only yesterday that she decided I had recovered enough to see you."
Katniss smiles, thanking the universe yet again for Hazelle Hawthorne.
Gale returns just after Prim's settled herself back in the chair. His face and hair look slightly damp and he's carrying a glass of water.
"Let's sit you up so you can drink this," he says, coming behind her and easing her up against the headboard. He holds the water towards her lips, but Katniss tries to grab it out of his hands. He needs to know she's going to be okay now.
"I can do it," she says, stretching her hands toward the glass.
He hands it to her and Katniss shakily maneuvers it to her lips. It's pathetic how difficult she's finding this.
"Catnip, I can-
"Stop fussing," she snaps. But she feels instantly ashamed, where would she be if Gale hadn't fussed? That's really no way to treat him after he-wait, was he laughing at her?
Katniss's remorse fades immediately, because sure enough, Gale's mouth is twitching and his eyes are twinkling.
"Ah, how I've missed that irritable tone," he turns to Prim and says, "She's back."
And then they're both practically howling with laughter and Katniss can't decide if she should be offended, or indignant, or…happy. Because it occurs to her that it had probably been days since they laughed.
They're almost done laughing at her when Hazelle comes in.
"Your fever broke," she beams at Katniss. She comes over and smoothes Katniss' hair. Up close Katniss can see Hazelle's eyes are shining and suddenly she is overcome by just how heavily her health must have weighed on them. Her throat starts to close and her eyes are stinging, but before she loses her composure, Hazelle is shooing everyone out of the room, saying they all need rest.
"We're all so happy you're better dear," Hazelle says, laying a light blanket over Katniss. "Now get some rest, and we'll be in to check on you in a few hours."
"Thanks," Katniss whispers.
"Of course, dear."
When Katniss wakes up again, everyone except Hazelle and Posy are at school. Hazelle brings Katniss a small breakfast and fixes her a bath. Katniss is somewhat embarrassed that she needs Hazelle's help to get out of bed and stumble into the bathtub. She can barely stand on her own and it takes her forever to dry herself off and dress again. Hazelle has taken away her clothes and left Katniss one of her own nightgowns to put on.
By the time she's finished, Hazelle has put a fresh set of sheets on Gale's mattress and helps Katniss to lie down there.
"We'll have Gale move the old mattress and put this one on the frame when he gets home," Hazelle says. "But I'm getting rid of your clothes, sheets, and the mattress."
Katniss winces at the cost of replacing all that.
"I know," Hazelle says with a sigh. "But, that fever is contagious and it's just not worth the risk."
She tucks a blanket around Katniss and goes to make another cup of tea. As she disappears, Katniss feels her stomach drop. She had been thinking about the cost of replacing her things, when something else occurred to her. What about the cost of the medicine? She had barely been able to buy any for Prim. If she had gotten medicine, it must have been bought with the Hawthorne's money. But that's impossible. Gale wouldn't have. He wouldn't have taken his family's savings to buy her medicine. Not when that money could have bought all kinds of things for Rory, Vick, and Posy. Wasn't it enough that he was feeding and caring for her family right now? He wouldn't have done more. He just wouldn't have. Her stomach is churning just thinking about it.
"Are you alright dear?" Hazelle asks. She comes and sits down on the floor with a cup of tea in her hand. Katniss has to ask. She's terrified of the answer, but not knowing will kill her.
"How did I get well?"
Hazelle sighs. She clearly knows perfectly well why Katniss is asking this question.
"After a few days, it was clear the teas weren't working. You were going to die if we didn't get you that medicine."
Katniss feels her breakfast threatening to make a reappearance.
"You-you bought it?"
"We couldn't," Hazelle shakes her head. "Gale and I had just bought Vick a pair of boots. The ones Gale and Rory had worn were too torn up. So, we didn't have enough saved. Gale and I went through the house and we gathered up all the things we didn't need. A lamp, some clothes, some jewelry-
"Jewelry?" Katniss chokes. Women from the Seam only have one piece of jewelry: wedding rings. Gale had always said he would die before he let Hazelle pawn off her wedding ring, so if she had done it to get Katniss medicine then, then-
"I still have it."
Hazelle flashes her left hand.
"Gale wouldn't take it at first, but we both knew the others things wouldn't add up to enough. He said he'd find a way to make the trades, but I made him bring it just in case."
"But if you still have it, then how…"
Katniss' mind is working in overdrive. People at the Hob like Gale, but not enough to give him thirty coins for some used clothes and a beaten up lamp.
"Haymitch Abernathy," Hazelle shakes her head, as though still in disbelief herself. "After Gale had gotten everything he could without selling the ring, he was talking to Sae. Probably just trying to get someone to reassure him it was okay to sell it. Which it was."
Katniss opens her mouth to object. It was certainly not okay. Not even close. But Hazelle looks at her and shushes her.
"Half the women around here don't have them anyway, but Gale's always been funny about it. Apparently you are too," she shakes her head. "Anyway, Haymitch overheard and said he'd give Gale the money if Gale worked off the debt by painting and repairing his fence."
Katniss feels her mouth drop open.
"Gale said he didn't accept right away, thought it was charity. But Haymitch convinced him that he was going to have to hire someone anyway, so it might as well be Gale. He's going to start on Saturday."
"I should do it," Katniss said. "It's the least I can-
"Nonsense. Gale might let you help when you get better, but you're not going to be in any shape to repair a fence on Saturday."
Katniss can't really argue with that, so she just sits back, leaning against the wall and letting the information sink in. It was crazy everything the Hawthornes had done. Gale was going to sell his mother's wedding ring, the last piece of his father that Hazelle had left. And it wasn't just Gale. Hazelle wanted him to do it. Katniss feels tears prick up in the back of her eyes.
"Hazelle, I-I don't know what-I- thank you."
"You don't have to thank me."
"B-but you took care of me and you were going to-
"Do you know who delivered my first three children?" Hazelle isn't angry, but her stare has a certain fierceness that Katniss has only seen when Gale's at his most serious.
"Your mother did. We paid her next to nothing. And even though she was sick when Posy came around, I wouldn't have known how to deliver Posy if she hadn't taught me with the first three. Your mother gave me my children. As far as I'm concerned, I could care for you for a lifetime and still be in her debt."
Katniss has no idea what to say, but Hazelle just continues.
"And even if that weren't the case, you're like family Katniss. We would all be hurt if something happened to you, but Gale…he would…"
Hazelle shakes her head.
"We're always going to take care of you, Katniss. And your family too. Always."
Katniss struggles to collect her thoughts and voice some of the enormous gratitude she feels, but her throat seems to have closed. Hazelle just smiles at her and says,
"Now get some rest, dear."
She gets up and leaves the room, shutting the door gently behind her. Katniss stares at the ceiling, trying to get some kind of grip on the dizzying array of emotions she's experiencing.
The fact that her mother's past actions might have helped save her leaves Katniss with a strange mixture of guilt, resentment, and frustration. She ought to be grateful, but she isn't. Katniss didn't see how she could be grateful for her mother's actions years ago when she had so recently left Prim to die. Was she supposed to just forget that because her mother used to take care of people?
Katniss rolls onto her side and kicks at her blanket. She doesn't want to think about her mother anymore. She knows her mother delivered Gale, Rory and Vick, but her mother delivered lots of children in the Seam and their mothers wouldn't have done what Hazelle did. Could she really like Katniss that much? She only knows her through Gale.
Katniss' mind stops whirring the moment she thinks his name. It was Gale. This happened because of Gale. Hazelle cares about her because Gale cares about her, which means Gale must care about her an awful lot. Katniss sort of already knew that, but now she really knows it. And it leaves her feeling both safe and terrified. Safe because Gale has her back, even when they're not hunting. Terrified because she isn't sure she really deserves that kind of loyalty.
She especially doesn't deserve it because she can't even begin to make this up to Gale. Even if she could afford to give him all her kills, it still wouldn't repay him for saving her life and caring for Prim. How do you pay someone back for that? She supposes she could save his life in return, but when is that ever going to happen? Maybe they'll get attacked by a bobcat while hunting and Katniss can save him. She knows there's got to be something wrong with her because now she's half hoping for a bobcat attack. Groaning, she rolls onto her stomach and buries her face in the pillow. She's had it with her own mind. She's going to sleep.
When Katniss wakes up again, Prim and Rory are sitting on the floor near her mattress. They're working quietly on their homework, occasionally whispering to each other.
Prim is thrilled when she sees that Katniss is awake. She feels her forehead and fusses with her blankets, somewhat put out that Katniss doesn't really need anything more from her. Katniss doesn't mind the fussing from Prim. She knows her sister probably hated being forced to recover quietly while Katniss's fever raged. If it makes Prim feel better, than Katniss can put up with being babied.
Rory grins at Katniss and she knows he can tell she's indulging Prim. Once Prim has settled down at the edge of the mattress, Katniss asks Rory how he's been doing, because she's really quite ready to stop being the center of attention.
"Busy, but good," he says. "Gale let me check the snare line by myself a few times while you were sick. He was so busy pulling his hair out of over you that he forgot to freak out about me being in the woods alone. So thanks for that."
Katniss laughs. She's always thought Gale's paranoia about Rory being alone in the woods was well-intentioned, but misplaced. She had been younger than Rory when she was in the woods alone, and she'd told Gale as much before. But Gale always said her situation was necessary, but not ideal. As far as Gale was concerned, Rory going into the woods alone was an unnecessary danger. But Katniss thought it was good for him. How was Rory going to learn to tread quietly and listen to his instincts if he was never alone and really forced to do so?
"Glad I could help," she says. "I've told him to let you out there more."
"I know. He got mad at me once and told me to stop recruiting you to my cause."
Katniss laughs because she can just imagine the words coming out of Gale's mouth as he grumbled around the house and slammed things unnecessarily.
"Maybe he'll be better now that you've gone and survived a few times," Katniss says.
"Nope, nope I won't. It was a momentary lapse in judgment."
Everyone in the room starts because Gale had appeared silently and is leaning against the doorframe. He's trying his best to glare at them, but his eyes are twinkling.
"You got lucky Rory, I'm not letting up that easy. And you," he points a finger at Katniss. "Stop encouraging him. You haven't even been conscious twenty-four hours and you're already causing me trouble."
Gale takes off his hunting jacket and hangs it on the doorknob. He ruffles Prim's hair and sits down beside her on the edge of the mattress.
"I see you're doing well enough, Catnip."
"Yeah, still weak though. It's pathetic."
"You'll get back to yourself soon enough," he shrugs.
Now that he's closer, Katniss takes a moment to study his face. His eyes aren't bloodshot anymore, but the dark circles are still there. She thinks he may even look thinner than he was before she got ill. He's probably been working himself to exhaustion trying to keep everyone fed and look after her. The now-familiar feeling of guilt washes over Katniss again. She needs to say something to him. Give him some kind of thank you, but she can't with Rory and Prim there. It will be hard enough to say it to just Gale.
Gale watches her carefully and she meets his eyes. He wants time alone with her too.
"So Catnip, think you're feeling up to sitting out on the porch?" he asks. "We'll bundle you in blankets and let you get some fresh air."
"Do you really think that's a good idea?" Prim asks.
"Don't worry Little Duck. I'll only stay out a bit, but I've been cooped up inside for too long."
"How about I make her drink tea while she's out there?" Gale asks. "Will that work, doctor?"
Prim's lips twitch and she tries to keep her expression serious.
"I suppose I can agree to that," she says. "I'll go fix the tea."
Katniss glares at Gale. Prim may be satisfied, but Katniss never wants to drink willow bark tea again, ever.
"Thanks for that," she grumbles.
He's completely unrepentant, but she can't say that really surprises her.
He extends his hand and she uses it to help pull herself out of bed and get standing. Gale keeps ahold of her hand and puts his other hand on the small of her back. She wants to bat him away, but she needs the extra support when she first stands. Eventually she feels firmly planted on the floor and Gale lets her go.
He takes the blankets from the mattress and wraps them around Katniss, lightly rubbing her shoulders. A few minutes later, Prim returns with the tea and they're ready to begin the journey to the porch.
Katniss recalled just how difficult it was to walk with Hazelle to the bathroom, but she was hoping she'd do a bit better this time around. Unfortunately, she has no such luck. They're barely down the hall when she starts getting winded. Gale opens his mouth, on the verge of offering help, but shuts it again when she glares at him. He rolls his eyes, but lets her stumble slowly out to the front porch.
But when she goes to sit down, she feels her legs starting to collapse. Gale loops an arm around her waist and lowers them both to the porch steps. She's too out of breath to snap at him, even when he hands her the cup of tea.
Katniss chokes down a few sips as she decides how to begin her thank you .
The sun is starting to dip low in the sky, leaving a strip of orange above the tree line. It's a bit chilly outside, but warm enough that children are still playing outside.
"So you bought me medicine," Katniss says at last.
"In a manner of speaking."
"Please don't Catnip."
The tiredness in his voice startles her.
"Don't what?" She tries not to sound hurt. "Don't thank you?"
"Oh," Gale scuffs his boot in the dirt below them. "I-I thought you were going to tell me I shouldn't have done it."
Well, he shouldn't have, but Katniss is awfully glad he did.
"I…" she tries to explain. "Thank you, Gale. I don't know how to repay-
"Stop," he shakes his head. "That's exactly what I don't want. This whole paying me back thing has got to stop. I know you're upset about the money-
"That's not it!"
Katniss didn't realize until he said it, but it's not the money that's upsetting her. Gale studies her, but remains silent as Katniss tries to figure out what exactly is upsetting her. Once she has, she tries to gather up the courage to say it.
"It's just that we're partners, friends, right?"
"Exactly, which is why-
She looks at him and he falls silent.
"It's-it's not…even anymore. You've given so much and I…I haven't offered anything in return."
She bites her lip and looks away from him, wishing he wouldn't realize how humiliated she is.
"That's not true."
There's no trace of a lie in the way he says it. Katniss stares at him, trying to figure out how he could possibly disagree with her.
"Maybe you didn't buy a medicine, but it's not about that," Gale looks straight at her for a moment, but then drops his gaze and stares at his boots. "You have my back. You-you understand how things are. It-I-it's just you, okay? I know I'm doing a shit job explaining this, but can you just trust me when I say you do offer something?"
Katniss frowns. She's not sure that she can. It's not because she thinks he's lying to her, she just can't understand what she's brought to the table lately other than problems.
"At the end of the day, are you really friends with me because I bought you that medicine?"
"We were friends before that."
"Well why? What had I done then?"
"I don't know, lots of things."
"Which ones made us friends?"
"I don't know," she searches her mind, trying to explain why she's friends with Gale. It's more complicated than she would have thought. She can list a bunch of things he's done for her, but none of that really explains why she feels so close to him. "I don't know-just everything. Just you."
"Exactly. It's the same for me. It's not a tally of good deeds, Catnip. You're not someone I keep score with."
Katniss considers this. There are very few people with whom she doesn't keep score, but she supposes Gale is one of those people. She'd help him just because he's Gale. So, perhaps it's alright if he's the same with her.
"Okay," she says at last.
They don't need to say anything else after that. She finishes her tea and he helps her up. And when he puts an arm around her as they make their way back inside, she doesn't resist. And he doesn't protest when she says she wants to help with Haymitch's fence, when she's fully recovered that is.
Unfortunately, it may take me a couple weeks to update again. I'm very sorry about that, but I'm in the process of moving and visiting with someone who will be leaving the country soon. I will update, promise, but it'll be a bit of a wait. In the mean time, I've created a tumblr page. I'll post previews of the chapter as I write and hot pictures of Gale. I'll also recommend other stories that I've really enjoyed. Not the same as an update, but hopefully still some fun. The link is on my profile since the site automatically deletes links. But my tumblr user name is MaryAnn1819, so that should make it easy enough to find.