Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games or any of the characters from the book; I am only writing this story for fun.
A/N: RoryFaller asked me to write a story where Gale and Peeta are friends and challenge each other to woo Madge and Katniss, respectively. So this is my take on it.
Background: Everything is as the book mentions...I've just switched Peeta's and Katniss' lives. So Peeta Everdeen has dark hair, olive skin, gray eyes and lives in the seam with his mom and sister, Prim. Katniss Mellark is the town baker's daughter; she has blonde hair and blue eyes.
Main Characters: Gale Hawthorne, Madge Undersee, Peeta Everdeen, Katniss Mellark
Summary: AU - Katniss' and Peeta's lives are switched. Peeta and Gale live in the seam and are hunting partners/best friends. Katniss is the baker's daughter. Madge is still the Mayor's privileged, proper daughter. Story starts during the 73rd Hunger Games. Who will get reaped for the 74th games and how will this switch and the dynamics of these four change the games?
"Nice shot; I think your shooting skills have surpassed mine already," Peeta said grinning at his best friend.
Playfully, Gale shoved him and replied, "They've been better than yours since the first day I picked up this bow."
"Careful there, Hawthorne, I'll take my dad's bow back and then all you'll have left are your snares."
Peeta offered bread to his friend and Gale raised an eyebrow as he said, "You've already been by the bakery?"
Peeta flushed and replied, "Couldn't help it. I had to see her; she looks beautiful in the morning." Gale rolled his eyes at his best friend. He'd known Peeta for a little over three years; both their fathers had died in the same mining accident. Though Peeta was two years younger than Gale, he was a great hunting partner. Peeta taught Gale how to shoot with a bow and arrows; Gale taught Peeta how to set snares. Since the day they met in the woods, they'd worked together to provide for both their families. Peeta only had his mother and younger sister, Prim. Gale had his mother and three younger siblings.
It wasn't easy, but together they made it work with their illegal hunting, trading in the Hob and the tesserae they both took out. In the last reaping, Peeta had his name in the ball sixteen times and Gale had his twenty-six times. They had both been relieved to not have their names picked.
Unfortunately, Effie Trinket drew the names of two scrawny kids from the seam and they'd both been killed the first day of the games. Though the games were still going on, no one in District Twelve watched too carefully anymore.
Peeta and Gale were both very handsome with their tall imposing figures, dark hair, olive color skin and mysterious gray eyes. They were both strong yet gentle as could be especially with their younger sisters, Prim and Posy. Both boys were the talk of District Twelve among all the girls – Town and Seam. Gale's life was a revolving door of girls. He had never fallen in love with anyone and he'd never done much more than kissing a girl either. He'd taken plenty of girls to the slag heap for kissing and some petting. Before his dad died, he'd told Gale to respect the girls in his life. His dad had explained to him that a true physical relationship should only be had with someone he loved.
Not having access to any birth control, accidental pregnancy terrified him; he didn't need more mouths to feed. Posy was the light of his eyes and she was only three years old. Gale couldn't possibly imagine taking any more away from her than their circumstances already had. He'd devoted his life to his family. He didn't think he'd ever fall in love or get married.
In this regard, Peeta Everdeen was different from Gale. Like Gale, Peeta had also devoted his life to his family, but he'd already fallen in love with a girl. A few months after Peeta's dad died, just before he had met Gale, Peeta had met Katniss Mellark, the town baker's spoiled daughter. Katniss had two older brothers that doted on her and a charm where she talked herself out of any situation. Katniss intimidated most boys. They knew her brothers would beat up anyone that even came near her. Even without her brothers, Katniss was pretty intimidating on her own. She had curves in all the right places and with her blonde hair and blue eyes she was beautiful. She was smart, stubborn and very out-spoken.
Katniss might have been one of the girls in Gale's life if his best friend wasn't already in love with her. Peeta was not intimidated by her brothers; he was just intimidated by her. There was something of how Katniss had saved Peeta and his family from starving by throwing him some burnt bread. Gale couldn't imagine the stuck-up, I-am-a-perfect-townie doing anything nice for someone in the Seam, but Peeta swore it happened.
"What was she doing today…baking or lifting?" Gale asked with a raised eyebrow. He knew Peeta loved to talk about Katniss and this was a small happiness he could give his best friend, even if he didn't understand the obsession.
Peeta sat and leaned back on a tree as he dreamily answered, "She was lifting the heavy bags of flours. Her blue eyes were bright and her hair was falling out of the ponytail."
"And you just watched her lift those heavy bags and not help her. What kind of man are you?"
"A fifteen-year old who's afraid to mess it up with the girl of his dreams," Peeta answered.
Gale shook his head at his best friend and picked up his game bag to make his way to the Hob. They had a good haul today; they had three squirrels, a rabbit, several fish and three buckets full of strawberries.
After they dropped off some of the game and strawberries at each of their houses and traded at the Hob, they only had one bucket of strawberries left in the bag. Peeta and Gale walked through the town square towards the Mayor's house.
Peeta stopped when he saw Katniss just outside the bakery. It was a perfect summer day and Katniss Mellark stood outside the bakery with her arms stretched, eyes closed and face up towards the sun as if she was soaking up the sun. Peeta grinned and mumbled, "Beautiful," under his breath.
Gale sighed and said, "Look, I'm tired of this. You're fifteen years old; you're not a child anymore. Be a man and go talk to her. If you don't, I will."
Peeta's eyes widened and he said, "You wouldn't?"
Gale shrugged his shoulders and said, "Yes, I would. I think I'll go tell her now that you are in love with her."
"Gale, no! You can't. Please?" Peeta said panicked, grabbing Gale's t-shirt. Gale laughed and Peeta narrowed his eyes at his best friend and stalked off.
Gale caught up to him still laughing and said, "She's just a girl. She won't bite you. You just go up to her and tell her she's beautiful. Then you ask her if she wants to go for a walk with you. Take her to the slag heap, kiss her and there you have it."
"Well we can't all be smooth like the infamous Gale Hawthorne, now can we?" Peeta asked sarcastically.
Gale shrugged, "Getting a girl to say yes is easy."
Peeta narrowed his eyes once again and asked, "Any girl?"
Gale shrugged arrogantly and said, "Any girl. Want me to try it out on Katniss Mellark?"
They'd reached the Mayor's house by then and Peeta knocked on the back door. "Don't you dare try out any of your charm on Katniss?"
Just then the Mayor's daughter, Madge Undersee, opened the door and smiled pleasantly at Peeta. Her eyes shifted to Gale and her smile fell. Gale rolled his eyes at the privileged Mayor's daughter with her pretty blue dress that matched her eyes and the ribbon that held some of her golden hair up perfectly.
Peeta cleared his throat as he saw Madge and Gale engaged in a glaring competition. Madge turned to him with pink cheeks and he asked, "Strawberries?"
She smiled, nodded and took out some coins from her pocket. Madge politely said, "Thank you, Peeta. The ones you brought last time were delicious."
"Gale picked the strawberries. He knows how to pick the sweetest ones. You should thank him." Peeta replied smoothly. It was amazing he could talk so easily to all girls except Katniss.
Gale glared at his friend and said, "It's time to go."
Madge's face closed off as she set her lips in a grim straight line. She quickly said, "Thank you, Peeta," and turned to go back into her house without even acknowledging Gale.
Peeta turned and smiled broadly. "What?" Gale questioned irritably.
"Get her to take a walk to the slag heap with you and then I'll admit you are the man…the King of the Slag Heap."
"I don't need to prove anything to you and I do not want to take a walk to the slag heap or anywhere else with the District's princess," Gale replied.
Peeta shrugged good-naturedly and said, "Here I thought Gale Hawthorne could get any girl to fall for him. I thought you were a man who could talk to any girl. No big deal. I get it. Deep down you're still just a boy."
"Am not." Gale rolled his eyes at Peeta and said, "You know Katniss would be a real challenge. Princess over there would be too easy; she wouldn't be any kind of real challenge…"
Peeta smiled and said, "Well, then why don't you show me how easy Madge would be. See I think Madge would be more challenging than Katniss. Madge hates you. You're not afraid of losing are you?" Peeta knew Gale was just trying to rile him up about Katniss, but he wasn't going to take the bait.
"Hawthornes don't lose! You're on, but if I'm going to woo the princess then you're going to have to woo the baker," Gale declared.
"We're just talking about you. This bet has nothing to do with me and Katniss."
Gale shrugged and said, "It's up to you. Either you can woo Mellark or I'll show you how to do it by taking her to the slag heap myself."
Peeta's eyes widened and he said, "No! I'll do it." Gale laughed at the fear in his friend's eyes. What have I gotten myself into? Undersee, really? Why can't I just walk away from a challenge?
A/N:I know this is short, but I just wanted to set up the story and you already know I can't stay with the short chapters for long. What do you think...any interest in this AU...should I continue?