a few months later
Her smile was wide when she moved her tassels, officially marking her as a graduate. Madge finished her post-graduate study a few weeks back, right on time to graduate in late spring. The crowd applauded, and her smile grew wider as she caught three men waving vigorously at her. Haymitch, her father, and Gale. Her chest welled up with warmth, seeing the three people she loved most on earth were here. Watching and witnessing her about to begin another adventure. She was already applying on a job in District Twelve's hospital, and she couldn't wait to start. Gale had a job already, working as a personal trainer in a local gym as well as the newly-hired additional coach for District Twelve's High School athletic team. Their life really was felt like it's about to begin unlike how it did before.
When the ceremony ended, she was enveloped in a massive hug by all of them, three grown-up men squeezing her in the middle she couldn't help but laugh. Then each took turns on kissing her forehead, though Gale opted to give a peck on her lips instead in the last second, causing her to blush scarlet while her father and Haymitch pretended to not notice. Gale merely smirked.
"So, now how about we celebrate?" Haymitch asked. He was actually sober this day Madge couldn't be more grateful for this.
"I bought some exclusive wines from a friend, you folks are gonna love it."
Figured. She rolled her eyes, but gratitude flashed in her eyes as she hugged her uncle. "Sure, why don't you guys go to the car and let me change and fetch my bag first? This freaking graduation gown is hideous."
"I'll go with you," Gale offered. She shrugged. "Fine."
There was some waving and Haymitch shouting something like, "I beg you to be quick, Madgey!"
That old man.
In no time, she was out of her graduation gown. Gale was still waiting patiently outside, smiling when she emerged. He had seen her without her graduation gown, a long-sleeved white cotton dress that reached her knee and a tall black suede boots, but he still took her in as if seeing her for the first time. "Can't wait to see you in a real white wedding gown," he winked.
Madge blushed. Their wedding was half and a month away, and Gale hadn't stopped teasing her about that. At the same time: making her blush non-stop 24/7.
They kept chatting about it, the wedding, and Madge's mind wandered to how her wedding would really turn out like. But her daydream was interrupted and she froze when she saw someone who's standing right in their way. A familiar figure, brown hair - too familiar he used to come often to her nightmares.
"What is it, Madge?" Gale asked, noticing her stopping dead on her track. The figure walked closer, and Gale finally turned to take a look at what held her up.
The guy had brown hair, pretty much as tall as Gale, but didn't hold the same confidence. In fact, he looked nervous. Absolutely nervous.
Curtly, he nodded. "Hi, Madge." He then caught the flash of diamond on her ring finger, and a wistful smile appeared on his face. "Oh, so you're engaged.."
He then turned to Gale, seemingly acknowledging him at last. "You must be the lucky man. Congratulations."
Gale had a suspicion on who this guy was, but he didn't want it to be true. "Who are you?"
The wistful smile made its way to his face again. "I don't know if she ever mentioned me, but, I'm Marvel."
It was like a ton of bricks had been dropped out of the sky on him. Quickly, he pushed Madge to stand behind him, an enraged expression replaced his prior calm one.
"What in the world are you doing here?"
Didn't seem to be surprised by his sudden change of demeanor, Marvel threw his hands up. "I just want to talk."
Hearing that, Gale growled. "You fucking hurt her then dare to bring your sorry ass to talk to her? Go to hell!"
The guy in front of him cringed. But he saw Madge peering from Gale's shoulder, a smile graced his lips softly.
"I know I did. But I-"
He paused, hesitant. But then he took a deep breath, and looked at Gale in the eye as he talked. "I got out of prison a few months back, but I'm still in rehab right now. And I met someone-"
"Pardon me but I don't want to hear your life story." Gale growled, and was about to leave when a hand rested on his arm. Madge's. "Hear him out," she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
Gale sighed, but gestured for Marvel to go on. A grateful smile stretched across Marvel's face.
"I was diagnosed that I suffer a possessive personal disorder or some sort of it. So the police sent me to a rehab facility right after I got out. Then I met this girl... She suffers from a stress disorder, a severe one. Her ex-boyfriend did something-" he paused again, the pain on telling the story evident in his eyes. Yet in a split second he had started to speak again.
"Her ex did something similar to what I did to Madge, and at first I can't stop thinking of what sin I've done, if she suffers the same thing, and I can't stop blaming myself. I tried to make it up by being her friend, taking care of her whenever I could, but I know it's just not enough. Then I heard someone said a graduation was going to take place soon, and I decided it's time for me to face you again. Because by miracle you'd still be here. I care for this girl, you know, and I cared for you too once before all hell broke loose, and I wanted to make sure you're okay. That you don't suffer the same thing like this girl do."
He straightened his back, and moved his gaze and locked it with hers. "Now that I can see you're okay, at least I can leave with a little relief."
He noticed Gale was about to snap, so he held up his hand. "And I came to apologize too. What I did was far from cool, it was a complete mistake. A girl like you deserves someone better, and I hope you've found it in him."
He smiled to Gale, a warm smile that made the addressed one feel a little guilty for lashing out on him. Keyword: a little.
Madge still didn't answer, her frozen state was still wouldn't be budged. Marvel sighed. "I know I don't even deserve even a slightest bit of your forgiveness, but I had to say it. I'm sorry. I wish I could turn back time so I didn't have to hurt you and-"
Marvel pursed his lips, a conflicting thoughts seemed to be taking place inside him, but a determination was obvious in his eyes. "That's just it. I'm sorry. I promise I won't disturb you ever again. I'll be gone for good this time."
He then tipped an imaginary hat, another smile graced his features. "I wish you the best for your wedding, by the way. Truly, I'm happy for you."
With another nod to Gale, he turned around and walked away.
"Marvel?" She found herself croaking, her voice hoarse as if her throat had suddenly gone dry.
He stopped, and turned.. "What's her name?" She asked softly it was almost inaudible.
A sad smile graced Marvel's features as his gaze then transfixed to somewhere off the distance behind her. "Clove," he breathed. Then he straightened his shoulders and looked back up at her, a grim smile still etched on his face. "Her name's Clove."
She nodded. The name sounded lovely. "You'd be a good boyfriend." The words came tumbling out of her mouth before she could even think of it. Beside her, Gale's brows shot up high on his forehead. Noticing the discomfort, Marvel laughed bitterly. "Yeah, I would. If I didn't have this damn disorder and kept being the person I was when we're first together, right?"
It was a surprise that he knew what she was thinking. But it's true. He was right. After all, Marvel was her friend too. He knew her inside and out. That was the Marvel she fell in love with, whom was not the same with the one who hurt her. If only he would just keep being the first version of him, Madge wasn't really sure if she would still end up with Gale or not.
You would, her mind scolded her. Whatever twist and turn her life would take, it didn't matter. At the end, there's always Gale who would be waiting for her.
And as she watched Marvel wave and walk away, she couldn't help feeling this sudden burst of relief. This was it. Finally she could close the old chapter of her life entirely, unattached, without constantly being pulled to look back. Marvel's part was officially over. It's time to open up a new page, and write down a new part. Gale's.
As if sensing she's thinking about him, Gale's hands snaked around her waist, pulling her flush against his chest. His chen rested on the top of her head, and she smiled. The contentment she felt whenever Gale did just this was inevitable.
"You alright?" He asked, always the same old constantly-worrying Gale.
She nodded, her smile remained still. "Better than alright. I'm glad he came."
Gale didn't answer, but his body language told her enough. Slowly, she turned around in his arms, looking up to his stormy grey eyes. He's staring at the distance where Marvel had disappeared to, his brows arched toward the middle of his forehead. "Do you still love him?" He asked quietly, unsure of why he even asked this such thing.
But Madge somehow knew why. Even someone like Gale could have his own insecurities. In reply, she tightened her arms around his middle, pressing her ear and listened to his beating hard. He's anxious, she could tell.
"He was my first love. I wouldn't stop caring for him even if I tried. Same like you with Katniss. You're no longer in love with her, but still, you had feelings for her once. First love never really go away, you know."
He inhaled shakily, unconsciously drawing her closer. Neither of them cared that people were starting to stare. A young man in suit and young woman with a huge bag in hand tangled with each other in the middle of the plain sight. The only mattered was each other, and the stare or whisper from anyone around them wouldn't be enough to pull them out of their own little world.
"Besides," she continued. "The Marvel who hurt me is different from the one I fell in love with."
Gale sighed, finally releasing her. He took her hand in his, and together the started to walk down the path where Haymitch and Matthew would be waiting for them. "So why are you glad that he came, again?"
This was what she was waiting for. To explain. To lay out all there was, letting him know why without hurting him nor push him over the edge of insecurities. "His coming here to see me officially closes his chapter in my life. To severe ties. It's not that I haven't done that before, but it's like he'd never gone away. He was always there, constantly haunting at the back of my mind."
She inhaled, then continued. "There were some times at first when I thought of how it would be like when he's finally free again. What if he looked for me? What if he wanted a revenge? A vengeance? But now that he's finally showed himself, laying out all his intentions and making it clear that he wants nothing but the best for me… it feels like it's me that has been finally freed."
Gale replies her with nothing much of a glance but a nod of understanding. His gaze remained trained ahead, and Madge sighed. She stopped, crossing her arms stubbornly as Gale finally looked at her.
"What is it with you?"
He shrugged. "Nothing."
This time, his grey orbs seemed to be stormy as he walked in an eerily slow pace over to her, his tall figure towering her petite one. "He hurt you, Madge. He was your walking nightmare but you forgave him that easily after all the pain he's caused you. I was there the whole time, waiting for you to heal, to be able to love again, but then he was there and you were all but hostile to him like I expected you to. So pardon me if I'm not as an easy-forgiving type like you are."
Madge understood what Gale was saying, but that didn't mean she could just chase after Marvel and take back her forgiveness.
He gawked at her. "Okay?"
She nodded. "Okay. Please, I don't want to fight. We're different, you and I. I get it. You won't forgive him anytime soon, and I totally understand that. I'm sorry that I'm not much of a satisfaction to you, but I think I'm mature enough to decide what's best for myself. So let's just forget about this right here, and come on, my father and uncle are waiting."
His brows shot up high to his forehead as he stared at his fiancé. Madge rolled her eyes. "Do you really want to fight? I honestly don't, but if you do want that I could throw some snarky remarks at you and please your wish."
Gale shook his head, completely amazed at this girl who seemed to never falter in to mesmerize him. With a subtle hint of smile, he offered her his arm where she looped hers through gratefully.
They continued their path down to the parking lot where her family, and soon-also-to-be-his were waiting for them. Faintly they heard Haymitch, judging by his figure that seemed to be waving at them and shouting something about, "You damned young generation get over here fast!"
Next to him, Madge laughed, a tinkling sound of laugh that breezed through his ears like a melody. She released his arm, and ran over to where her father and uncle stood by the car. When he was closer, he noticed how she was telling the old men about who stalled them, and though her father's and uncle's face were as white as sheet, she was glowing.
And he wondered why he didn't see that before. Or even why did he even mad at her. After all, she was his fiancé, why would he be jealous with her ex? She wouldn't say yes to his million-dollar question or flaunt her ring in a way that stated her pure delight if she was still in love with the guy. Though he doubted guy hurt her, and although she kind of forgave him, it's not like she wanted to go back to him. If the shiny ring on her finger was not enough for a proof, he should have been able to mention one by one, all the things that proved her his.
Her lit-up blue eyes that shone when she saw him.
Her bright smile when he was around.
Her sincere care-free laughter when he made her laugh.
All of his letters she kept safely under her bed back in Twelve.
The sheet of music where he wrote the composition they worked together, all those time ago in the meadow.
Her love for him that now evident through everything she did.
-excitement she possessed all the time she talked about their wedding with her friends.
All his anger vanished right after he think of them all, and how he thought that he couldn't be luckier than he already was.
A/N: That's it.
It ends right there.
I have no idea whether I want to cry or- oh screw me. Most important thing, though:
Thank you! For all of you who have been here the whole time, reading (and even reviewing) from the very first time, or you guys who happened to come across this recently, doesn't matter; thank you so much! It's been a wonderful eleven-months-minus-three-days, writing for you guys. And despite that some of you might or might never have dropped a review, is it too much to ask that I want to know what you think of this story for the last time?
I want to thank each of you but you guys are so many I'm afraid I'll miss some of you (because a forgetful person like me most likely will), so if you want to talk about some stuff with me, feel free to drop a review and I'll thank you all personally soon!
P.s. This might be the end of Begin Again, but hopefully we could still talk through my other on-going story!