A/N: Eventually I expect this will be a series of short one-shots about the Hawthorne family, from miscellaneous events in The Hunger Games canon.
Disclaimer - The Hunger Games and all these characters belong to Suzanne Collins.
Hazelle hurries through the snowy streets of district 12, hunched against the cold wind and wet snow. She's dreaded this day since Gale first went into the woods, wondering when the risks he takes for their family would finally catch up to him. She asks herself yet again what she could have done, how she could have protected her boy. But she's always known she can't keep him safe, not from the Capitol. She wishes she could, and hates that she can't. She has no power in this world.
Only minutes ago it was another typical night in the Seam. Hazelle was folding laundry, as usual, when there was a pounding on the door. When she answered it, she was surprised to see the girl named Levy, looking wind-blown and wild-eyed.
"Yes, honey?" Hazelle had asked, wondering if the girl was looking for Gale.
Levy had answered breathlessly, "Mrs. Hawthorne. You have to go. It's Gale. He's hurt. Katniss is taking him to her mom. In the Victor's Village."
"Is he okay? What happened?" Hazelle was instantly gripped by fear.
"He was whipped. Like, a lot. There's a new Head Peacekeeper, caught him with a turkey. I don't know, the Victors, they stopped it. But, he didn't look good. He was all bloody and passed out. They're taking him to her mom. You need to go there. Like, now. "
Luckily the kids didn't hear the exchange, thanks to the howling wind. Levy had offered to stay with them. Hazelle stumbled through quick instructions and a hurried thanks, told the children she'll be back late and to pay attention to Levy. Then she pulled on her winter coat and gloves and rushed out the door, into a barrage of heavy wet snowflakes.
Now, as she nears the Everdeen's home in the Victor's Village, she braces herself for what she might face inside. How bad would it be? Her poor boy, what sort of cruel world was this that he received such punishment for keeping his family fed? In this moment, Hazelle feels both her son's hatred for the Capitol and her fear for him whenever he let it show.
She knows he is lucky to be alive, especially if he was caught with evidence of hunting by a new head Peacekeeper. Still she wonders, would her son never get a break? He'd had to grow up so fast, unfairly expected to shoulder so much responsibility for his young siblings. It had been bad enough with Katniss going into the games. Hazelle was glad Katniss had made it home, really she was, but seeing her son fall apart watching her with Peeta was a new torture inflicted on her family.
When she reaches the Everdeen's home - a mansion compared to the houses in the Seam - she races up the steps and through the door without stopping to knock or be let in. She follows the voices straight into the room where Gale is laying face down on the table, his back in shreds, Mrs. Everdeen hovering over him, working quietly. Hardly aware of her own movement, Hazelle heads straight to a stool by the table and sits, reaching for her son's limp hand. Her thoughts are for Gale and Gale alone. She squeezes his hand to her lips and prays with every drop of energy left in her for him - for him to survive this, for his pain to be eased, for him to feel her love for him.
When a moan escapes his chapped lips, her brow knits at the knowledge he is coming to and the pain he will feel. She strokes his hair, silently comforting him as best she can. As Mrs. Everdeen and Prim look over their options for medicine, Katniss' outburst causes Gale to stir further. Hazelle's heart weeps for him, but she just sits, stroking his hand and running light fingers over his hair. The others leave the room, but Hazelle stays, unable or unwilling to leave her son's side.
When the doorbell rings, Hazelle doesn't even place the sound. It's not that she's unaware of doorbells, she rings them at her clients homes all the time. But her thoughts are focused entirely on Gale, and his pain which is worsening.
His teeth are clenched and sweat is glistening on his forehead by the time Mrs. Everdeen comes back into the kitchen, followed by Haymitch who is muttering about a crazy girl. Mrs. Everdeen immediately draws something from a vial and injects it into Gale's arm. The effect is immediate. Hazelle breathes more easily, mirroring her son. She leans back and for the first time since she walked in the door, truly wakes up to her surroundings. From the talk around her, Hazelle registers that the medicine was brought by the mayor's daughter, the one who bought the strawberries.
The Undersee girl, Margaret wasn't it? She wasn't surprised by the friendship between the girl and Katniss. She remembered how inseparable Katniss' mom and the Donner girls had been when they were young, back before the last Quell. Somehow it made sense that their daughters would somehow find each other, despite how different the girls were. To Gale, on the other hand, it was practically a crime for Katniss to be friends with - what did he call her? The district princess, a spoiled townie. Gale has been particularly sensitive about the friendship since the games, since Katniss became a part of the privileged class. Hazelle could only imagine how difficult things were for Katniss, but she saw every day how painful it was for Gale, who'd lost his Catnip and and there was nothing he could do about it. She let his rants against the privileged class slide. And now here Margaret was in the middle of the night, bringing him medicine in the middle of a snowstorm.
Hazelle feels tears prick her eyes, grateful for the good people helping her son. Her boy, who is resting peacefully now, under Mrs. Everdeens careful ministrations. It was one thing Hazelle simply couldn't help about her son. He didn't think much of Mrs. Everdeen either, the woman now saving his skin, literally. It saddened her to be reminded of her son's prejudices against people from town, at this moment when they were the very ones probably saving his life.
Hazelle chokes down some of the bread and stew that Prim hands her. Finally, she knows she must go home. She hates to leave Gale, but at least he is in less pain now, and she knows he's in good hands. Reluctantly, she takes her leave, and steps out into the deep night and swirling snow.