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Gale Hawthorne stood at the reaping waiting for Effie Trinket to call out the name of the tributes that would represent District 12 in the Hunger Games.
"Ladies first," she said in her infuriating Captitol accent.
She reached into the bowl and pulled out one slip of paper.
Please don't be her, Gale thought desperately, please don't be Katniss. Please. All he could do was hope.
Gale froze, he had not even thought about Prim. He didn't know what to do. He loved Prim, she was like a little sister to him. He couldn't imagine sweet, innocent little Prim Everdeen in the Hunger Games. She wouldn't survive one day.
All too soon, Katniss is screaming, "Prim! Prim!"
Poor Katniss, she was being forced to watch these sick people lead her little sister to her inevitable death.
And then Katniss shouted something that Gale hadn't even thought of. She shouted something that made his insides crawl up, and made his eyes widen in fear and shock.
She shouted, "I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!"
Gale didn't think that District 12 had ever had a volunteer before. And there Katniss was, doing just that.
Gale pried Prim off of Katniss, to whom she was clinging.
"Up you go Catnip," he managed to say, hoping to sound like he wasn't breaking down on the inside.
Effie Trinket kept talking and talking, but Gale wasn't listening. He was in love with Katniss - he had been trying to look for a way to tell her so. And now she was being taken to an arena where it was kill or be killed.
But that's what the Capitol wants, he thought bitterly, to tear people away from each other. To ruin families and friendships and love. All for their own entertainment.
He heard Effie announcing the boy tribute. He almost half-hoped it was him so that he could go and protect her. Gale chuckled at the thought. Being sent to his own death wouldn't make watching Katniss's any easier.
"Peeta Mellark," was announced as the male tribute from District 12. Gale wished Peeta didn't have to go. He didn't know him too well, but he knew that he was the baker's son and a good person.
But Gale couldn't hope for everyone to win. All he could do was hope and pray that by some miracle Katniss would be the Victor. He knew she has what it takes. Maybe if she knew that too she might be able to pull through.
All he could do was hope. And he feared it wouldn't be enough.
The Games were finally over. Gale sighed in relief that Katniss was alive.
She was alive. Alive!
Alive . . . but in love with Peeta Mellark.
He had had to sit through every romantic moment that they shared and had had to see the look in both sets of eyes and know that they were in love.
He resented both of them for it. Especially Peeta. But Peeta wasn't a bad guy, Gale supposed. Just in love with the same girl that he was.
But still, at least she was alive. There had been a very slim chance that she would come out alive. He could still tell her how he felt. Maybe he could still change her mind.
Because he loved her. He had known for a while now.
He loved her. And he wasn't giving up.
All he could do was hope.
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