A/N - ... AND... IT'S HERE PEOPLE! First off, I want to say my deepest and my sincere apologizes to my dear, faithful and overly wonderful readers who wait oh so patiently for a new Chapter. PLEASE accept my apology with this long delay. I have been spending some much needed time with my family this week, including a day at the beach that has resulted in me being miserably sunburnt (I'm a redhead... GRRR!). Now, It's HERE! YAY! There's not a whole lot of 'action' in this chapter but you do get to see Rory's first hunting trip AND the story behind the Hawthorn family. The conversation between Katniss and Hazel in this Chapter was inspired by the latest Catching Fire trailer. "Hope."

ABOUT THE REVIEWS: Whew! I LOVE hearing from ALL of you! There's a bit to many for me to write out but I read EACH one! Firework7- aww, that means SO much coming from a reader! If I was good enough to publish my own stories I would, but I'm terrible at making up story plots:(. cow luver- BAHAHAHA! I seriously LOLed! I know one of my "Guest" reviewers mentioned me writing a Darius/Katniss fanfic after this one... I MIGHT do that but again, just a might.

Again, PLEASE accept my apologizes for this long delay, I needed to spend time with my family. I'm sure you all understand:). Again, there's not a whole lot of drama in this chapter but this next one (Chpt. 24) will be F-I-L-L-E-D with DRAMA! Katniss in this chapter is being weighed by what Darius did and the new job offer, she's in a way avoiding mentioning either to Gale and it's beginning to take a toll on her. In the end of this Chpt, she's pretty mmuch scared that Gale will take their child and leave, so the next Chapter will be very important. Anywho, it WILL be up either this Saturday OR Sunday. Right now I'm shooting for an update every week, hopefully soon going back to two updates every week. PLEASE keep up with the Facebook page, it will help with delays ect and so on! Anywho, ENJOY and PLEASE, PLEASE review. I don't mean to plead but it lets me know that my readers are there and that you are liking it. Tell me whatcha think!? Much love - Macayla


Open.

My eyes. Is this really happening? It's a dream, it must be.

But it's not.

I begin to pull back, but his arms are tightly wrapped around my waist, dragging our bodies closer together until their touching. Finally I muster up all my strength and push him away from me, breaking his lips from mine.

"Darius!" I shout, coursed with rage.

He begins to laugh somewhat, finding the situation rather amusing.

"Hey look, I'm sorry." He answers, putting his hands up in defense but keeping his damn grin.

A grin at the fact that he kissed me. I bring my fingers up to my lips, at disbelief they met another mans besides Gale. It's the first time another man/boy has kissed me besides my own husband.

Darius just kissed me.

I swallow hard at those words. What does it mean? That he kissed me? Was it harmless or meant something? Did I like it?

Absolutely not!

But why for a split second did I get a warm, pleasant sensation that only Gale has ever given me? No. I don't like Darius, no matter what his feelings are toward me. I am Gale's and he is mine, anything else is unthinkable. I love Gale besides the matter. But why am I having to tell myself this? I sigh loudly at the site of a still grinning Darius.

"Look, I am sorry." He repeats after I don't answer. "Now, you can get off you're high horse my kisses usually leave on girls and we can get this line back up or you can go ahead and kiss me again?" He adds, slightly winking.

Saying I want to slap the shit out of him would be too little of a word for what I want to do to him. Darius has always been a… 'ladies man' (As Madge told me once), but I've never found him attracting. All of a sudden I'm struck with an old memory, involving Prim, at least two years ago-

I had to make a stop by the Hob one afternoon after school, having no option but to bring an eleven year old Prim with me. We were leaving when we ran into Darius, getting off from his shift. He talked to us, mostly me and cracked a few of his regularly not-so-funny jokes. After we left, Prim told me that he 'acts' like he likes me. I completely ignored her, realizing she was only eleven and knew nothing about boys, not that I did either though.

"Did you forget I'm married!?" I shout at him, anger bubbling over me before I'm aware.

Darius' face squints, making his red eyebrows rise a little higher then usual. The grin though fades, making an even face. He shakes his head slightly, dropping my gaze.

"Look Katniss, I said I was sorry. I forgot you're not like other girls." He says, finishing by meeting my gaze yet again. I hear the front door open from the house, I ignore it as my anger outweighs me.

"And what's that supposed to mean!?" I spit out, crossing my arms angrily.

"Nothing, just that your so…" He stutters-

"I'm what, Darius!?" I shout, my anger growing.

"Pure, Katniss! I've kissed a lot of married women and I guess I forgot that you're not like them-" He answers, afterwards smiling wide at something behind me. I turn around to the sight of a grinning Rory,

"Hey Rory!" Darius says, cutting his own previous words off.

Rory wears his usual, 'good mood grin', indicating he must not have seen or heard about the kiss… thank God. Rory and Darius make small talk, about the wrestling team while I attempt to hang the line back up, not thinking about the kiss.

Not thinking about the kiss.

After a few attempts I finally manage to hang the line back up by using an old wooden ladder from the backyard, re-hanging some of the clothes and sheets back. I rejoin Rory as Darius is making his way back down the Seam road, waving goodbye to the both of us. I sheepishly return it.

Not thinking of the kiss.

"So, is it time to go hunting!?" Rory asks me, filled with utter excitement.

To give him an honest answer, no. But getting an hour or two extra start won't hurt, especially not with a new hunter such as Rory. Am I nervous to take Rory hunting with me? Slightly yes. My first hunting trip with my father nearly scared me to death, but I was also a 'girl'.

"Yeah, just got to change." I answer, walking back towards the house with the basket in hand. "Can't go hunting in a skirt." I add, opening the front door and stepping inside, placing the basket on the kitchen counter.

Hazel's bent over the stove, no doubt working on that pie. Vick, Rhoda and Prim are doing their homework at the table and I can see Posy telling Gale something that must be funny in the living room, by the sound of light laughter, from the both of them. I smile, taking in the pleasant feeling my home has to give off.

Not thinking of the kiss.

I hurry upstairs, changing from my work clothes and into a pair of old jeans and a long sleeved black shirt, lacing my boots up. As I'm braiding my hair in the small, cracked mirror I realize how hungry I am, unusual for my normal self.

Cravings.

I can tell because chopped rabbit would be amazing right now. I close my eyes, almost tasting the pleasant, warm sensation it leaves in my mouth, getting almost dizzy at just the thought of the smell. My eyes fly back open, my stomach not agreeing with the thought.

I momentarily push the thought aside and meet Rory at the front door. He's wearing old, tattered clothes I rarely see him wear but I can't be more struck at the sight of him. Rory couldn't look more like Gale, already almost matching my height and 'big built' for his eleven year old posture, and handsome just like his brother to add to it all. I smile at him, grabbing my game bag from the table and giving Gale a quick goodbye kiss, and Posy too. (Since she stuck her head in between us.)

Not thinking of the kiss.

I alert Hazel that we'll be back after dinner, noting that dusk hunting trips can take well into the night. I promise to have him back by bed time though, of course Rory objects but he doesn't question his mother. We say our goodbyes, quickly heading down the Seam road.

"Sorry we have to go at dusk, it's more fun in the morn-"

"Katniss, I saw that kiss." He says, completely cutting my words off as we begin passing the rows of homes.

I stop walking, feeling somewhat parallelized, most likely making the stupidest choice. Looking into Rory's face doesn't help with getting an answer to his sentence. I haven't even thought of telling anyone about it, not even my own husband pathetically. How do I respond? That I didn't kiss him? Should I even have to talk about this to an eleven year old little boy?-

"I know you didn't kiss him." He adds after several seconds of silence, twitching the corners of his lips in sadness. "Don't blame yourself. But you need to tell Gale, he'd be mad if you didn't."

The words that escape Rory's mouth sounds nothing like himself, his usual joking, happy attitude ceases for the moment and time being. I feel a warmth that only my father ever gave me, indicating the words are meant to me by him. I smile wide at Rory, feeling somewhat embarrassed that I called him a 'little boy', when indeed he's much like Prim, wise beyond his years.

"Thanks, squirrel." I answer, putting my arm around him and leading him down the remaining road.

"Oh, but if he does that again, just let me know. I'll set him straight." He adds, winking as we approach the meadow fence.

I laugh, knowing Rory couldn't be serious too long.

Not thinking of the kiss.

XX

"I've just got to get my bow." I say to him as we begin to approach the tree line of the woods.

I find the hollow log I always leave my bow and arrows in and retrieve them, slinging my quiver over my back and my bow to my side. I sense Rory's eyes on my bow as I do so, an expression of amazement written across it.

"Do you think you could make me one? Now that I'm hunting?" Rory asks me, giddiness showing.

I think back to the two times I attempted my skills at bow making. It took me nearly a year to make both of them, and they each couldn't shoot further then several yards. I ended up selling one for a fair price in the Hob and I gave the other to Gale. My arrow making skills are better though.

"I can try Rory, but I'm not good at it." I answer, sighing at the thought of extra work and effort as I quietly pull out an arrow and place it on my bow strings.

"It's okay, I understand if not." He replies, somewhat pointing to my stomach. "How… is all that…the baby?" He says, waving with his words. I hold in my laugh for the moment.

"I'm fine. Just hungry…" I answer, pulling my chin up as though I can smell the chopped rabbit. My stomach quickly disagrees with my thoughts yet again.

"Well, you are feeding… two." He says, scowling almost at the end. I laugh briefly but manage to wade it off for the moment again.

"Here, take Gale's knife." I simply reply in answer, pulling the black, long knife out from the log.

He accepts it, looking at it as though he struck gold.

"Come on." I say, nodding with my head towards the woods. "Just be light of your feet and quiet." I begin to speak, keeping my voice low as we creep into the woods. "We will check the snares by the lake but you never know what you'll come across from here to there." I add.

Rory follows directly behind me, stopping when he thinks I hear something. He's nearly as quiet as Gale, not quite, but closely. I begin our track to the lake, watching my steps and surroundings as I go. We get there quickly, finding two squirrels and two rabbits tangled in the wires.

Rabbit.

I'm overly tempted to cook one here and now, sharing some with Rory but I know I can't. It would be selfish. I sigh loudly, showing Rory how to untangle the dead animals from the small wires. Also teaching him how to reset the snares, the best I know how to myself. He catches on quick, being better then myself, nearly as good as Gale.

"You're a natural." I speak, just as Rory sets his first snare by himself. He smiles widely in return.

For the remaining of the evening hours we hunt and gather. I teach Rory how to shoot my bow some and of course, he's good at it. This time better then Gale was. We collect an extra two squirrels, a trapped beaver from the lake and three water birds within our first hour. Rory becomes a natural at everything I teach him. I decide quickly I may be having two hunting partners now…

Just shy of complete dusk, Rory and I decide on a break. Finding a spot under an old, large tree by the lake and starting a small, fire. I take the rabbit out of my game bag, letting my craving overtake me as it becomes stronger and stronger. I start to skin it, sliding my knife just under its fluffy, furry pelt when I begin to gag at the small sight of blood.

Damn pregnancy!

Rory watches as I close my eyes, dropping my knife to the ground, still holding the rabbit though.

"Do you want me to do it?" I hear Rory ask through the darkness of my eyelids.

I shake my head 'no' in reply. Skinning dead game is something that I actually don't need to teach Rory, Gale taught him years ago, always being able to aid Gale and I in this area. Vick is just starting to learn, and surprisingly Posy already knows some for her young age. Prim would never come around a dead animal, I always put my game away quickly in front of her.

"Are you sure?" I hear Rory ask again, breaking me of my own thoughts.

I finally give in, shoving the rabbit in his direction. I feel the weight leave my hand, and the sound of him picking up my knife. After a few brief minutes I can hear him messing with the fire. I open my eyes to the feeling of the nausea quickly disappearing now. We wait in silence as the thing cooks, listening closely for any passing game. A bird flies by and I manage to shoot it, in one shot. Rory goes to retrieve it, coming back and adding it to my game bag. He cleans my arrow of the blood before giving it back to me… thank God.

Rory hands my some of the rabbit ,which I gladly accept, letting the delicious, fatty juices run down my chin. I hold back my smile at the pure delight.

"Have you ah, found a home for that…girl? Rhoda?" Rory asks me after he takes a large bite of his helping.

I stop chewing the bite in my mouth, realizing the answer is no. I'm still responsible for this girl who I barley know. Who story I don't even know.

"Not yet." I answer quickly, swallowing the large bite in my mouth.

"I ah, my mom has been, thinking about it too." He replies.

I look over to him, abandoning the site of my food and instead at his face. He stares at his food, jaw just slightly tightened.

"She has?" I ask, letting my curiosity take over.

"Yeah. She's thinking about taking her with us, I guess." Rory answers, finally meeting my gaze.

It wouldn't surprise me, this kind of hospitality coming from someone such as Hazel, sweet, caring, nurturing and nice. But the look Rory shows me tells me otherwise, that he isn't completely onboard with the whole idea.

"Well, that would be fun." I reply, trying to cheer the factor up for him.

"For perment Katniss. I guess 'adopt' her." He says, dropping our gaze and focusing on his food again.

Now I could understand why Rory would feel this way. Having a new little sister might not be as fun as it sounds, not after a while. And not a new 'baby' sister, but instead a new sister, a new person living with them.

"Well Rory, maybe it will be a good thing. Think positive." I reply, doing my best at something I do worst. Comforting. Words.

He smiles sadly in return, taking another bite of his food. After he doesn't speak I do the same. Thinking of the words that Rory said.

XX

"I had so much fun, thanks!" Rory says to me as we approach the house, walking the porch stairs. The windows are slightly brightened as the sun has completely disappeared, candles obviously lit inside.

"No problem. Glad you had fun." I reply, opening the front door to the sound of everyone in the living room and the TV on. The smell of something sweet hangs in the air.

Pie.

My stomach instantly craves it, sending my head almost dizzy.

"We are in here, dears." I hear Hazel shout from the living room.

I set my game bag down, following Rory into the living room where everyone sits, including my mother, in front of the old battered television that only works at the Capitols conveyance. A woman is on the screen, no doubt a Capitol woman, decked out in outrageous appeal. Another Capitol woman sits with her, wearing just as outrageous clothing-

"So what are your thoughts about this years Victor Tour with Victor Cato?" One of the Capitol ladies ask.

Immediately I want to step across everyone and turn the damn TV off from talking about the damn games. I'm surprised Gale hasn't yet, knowing he always feels the same way about the games as I do.

"Oh it's going to be splendid! I can't wait!" The other woman answers in her ridiculously Capitol accent.

The woman instantly looks familiar. It's our game escort, Effie Trinket. I roll my eyes at her appearance and answer. Even though she's our escort, District 12, she still gorges over the other popular Districts.

"Well that includes our program for tonight. And don't forget! The 74th annual Victor Tour with our very own Victor, Cato will be October 17th!" The Capitol reporter sports cheerfully. "Stay tuned for a special, interview with our very own game interviewer, Caesar Flickermen!".

The TV immediately clicks off after the woman's words, turning the screen back to darkness.

"That woman… she's offal strange. Isn't she?" Hazel says, no doubt talking about Effie Trinket.

"A real piece of art!" Rory jokes next to me.

I join the room in laughter. Rory is right. Anyone from the Capitol does look like a life-like art. With their crazy colored clothing, make-up and some even skin color. Just the sight of them grosses me out. Even the children don't have an option. It's the only positive living in a District… you're not considered a 'freak'.

"So, how'd it go?" Gale asks once the laughing quiet's some.

Rory walks over to where Gale still sits in the chair, filling him up on ever detail about hunting. I smile, realizing Rory is indeed good at hunting, indicating he will make a fine man one day. A supportive man for some future woman. I hold in my laugh(but not my smile) at the thought of Gale's words before… Rory and Prim together.

I shake my head of the thought and walk back into the kitchen, the sound of light foot fall behind me. The small voice's behind me makes evident it's Hazel and my mother. I turn back around once I'm in the kitchen. My mother looks revelatory better then just yesterday, or this morning. Her hair is back to it's neat little braid down the back of her neck and fresh clothes.

"Look's like Rory had a blast?" Hazel speaks, setting the empty pie plates on the counter.

I answer that he did, mentioning he was a natural born hunter, much like his brother. She smiles and simply replies, 'good'.

"I must be going Hazel, a case of the measles broke out at the Robertson's." She says, waving a quick goodbye as she heads to the door.

She shuts it quietly, not paying my any mind, barley glancing at me. Hazel catches this but doesn't say anything, Only speaking about the leftover dinner for Rory and I.

A few minutes later I sit with Rory at the dinner table. Eating a small helping of squirrel bean soup yet again. Everything is quiet except the sound of Hazel putting everything to bed, including Prim and Rhoda.

"I'll start on making you a bow soon." I speak, trying to end the every growing silence between us. Meaning my words though.

"You don't have to Katniss, I know you have a lot of other things to worry about." He answers, scraping the last bit of soup from his bowl.

At Rory's words I realize he is right, I do have a lot of other things to worry about, including work. His words trigger the memory of word eirler, when Principle Maddox offered me the Assistant Principle job at the school. I know I need to talk to Gale about this…. Among other things….

"Tucked and snuggled!" Hazel exclaims, taking a seat across from me and beside Rory. "Hurry up dear, bedtime." She adds, nudging her son's shoulder.

We sit in silence as Rory finishes before me, eating his slice of pie and placing his dirty dishes in the sink. He bids me a 'goodnight' and 'thank you' before retreating up the stairs, yawning loudly.

"I hope he didn't give you any trouble in the woods?" Hazel asks me, an eyebrow raised.

I can't help but think of the future image of Gale and I, asking others how our son or daughter was behaved to someone else. While I find my own answer to her question I take in her image. Her black hair braided into a bun at the back of her head, her grey eyes stand out brightly among her small features. You can tell she's from the Seam but the only odd difference are the light freckles dotted across her nose and cheeks. She looks rather youthful for her age, despite her busy and hectic schedule. She wears an iconic plain, yellow dress. I've never seen her in anything other then a dress.

"He was fine… of course." I answer, breaking myself of my thoughts and stares. I've always admired for the way she takes care of herself, again despite her busy life and four children (more like three now).

"Good!" She says, sighing loudly as she places her folded arms on the table.

She looks beyond me, no doubt at Gale who sits in the living room behind us. She wears a tight smile on her full lips. After a second she turns her attention and gaze back to me, striking up conversation at the fact that they will be moving in next door within the next few days.

"… I was thinking about taking Rhoda with me, at least for right now. I know you and Gale need time together before the baby, sweetheart." She says, smiling sweetly after her words.

Would I be alright with Rhoda living with Hazel and the kids, absolutely. She needs family, not Gale and I who have our own problems to sort right now, but she needs a mother, siblings to help her cope with the lose of her father. There's no telling what happened to her own mother, she needs Hazel more then myself.

"I think Rhoda would love that… living with you." I answer, swallowing my last bite of pie loudly.

"Me too!" She responds, shaking her head slightly at her words. "I think you and Gale could take fine care of her but again, you need some time together alone before my little grandchild comes!" She exclaims, letting a quiet squeal escape her lips after her words.

I smile in reply, unsure of how to answer her response. Of course I need, and want, that alone time with my own husband before my own child makes an appearance. I'm flooded with the memory again of the job offer, the kiss from Darius….

"That time together is very important." Hazel speaks, breaking me of my thoughts completely… thankfully. "Gale's father and I were married around your age. We knew immediately we wanted to have a baby-"

I brace myself for the story she's about to tell, but somehow I find myself listening intently to every word, every detail she expresses.

".. We tried and tried to have a baby and had no luck. It took a toll on us, not being able to have something between us that we both wanted so badly." She says, a sad smile appearing on her tired face. "We tried for three years and still nothing. Just shy of our fourth year of marriage it finally happened!" Her saddened smile fades and a cheerful expression replaces it. "Nine months later we had a little Gale keeping us up every night. Every night!" I smile at her words. "All worth it! All worth it though hon!" She assures me. "He was about one when we decided we wanted another, that we'd keep our children safe from the games, from starvation no matter what it meant we had to do. Well… I'm sure you can guess what happened?" She says, raising an eyebrow yet again at me.

"You couldn't get pregnant again." I answer, somehow letting the words slip before I can stop them.

"Yes. And this time, it was worse. A marriage, a toddler and the effects of not being able to get pregnant weighed so heavily on both our shoulders. It takes a hard beating to a marriage Katniss." She explains. "Another four years passed, Gale was starting school. It dawned on us that it has indeed been four years of trying and trying… it just wasn't going to happen again." Her sadden smile makes another appearance on her face. "We both agreed that night that we wouldn't 'try' anymore, we wouldn't expect it to happen. We had Gale and he made us happy, and that was final, this was our family."

She sights loudly and I watch as she shifts in her chair. I realize now at the age cap between the Hawthorn children, and now I understand why there is that gap.

"It was on Gale's eighth birthday, therefore four more years… roughly." She adds quickly. "That I found out I was pregnant again!" Her smile again fades into a cheerful one, brightly enough to cause one to form on my face yet again. "Nine months later?"

"Rory." I say through my smile, unable to stop myself again.

"Oh it was great! We were so happy and even Gale was excited. He happy at being a big brother!" Her smile courses through my with warmth.

The smile brought onto my own face isn't forced, in any nature. I know that Hazel's word are true, there's nothing Gale loves more then his family, especially his brothers and Posy.

Hazel goes on to tell me about Vick's coming. When Rory was three, they added Vick to their family with wide acceptance. She blinks a few times rapidly before finishing the story-

"… And then, Vick was only a few months old when we knew we had better start trying if we were going to have another one before Gale called us 'old'." We both laugh in unison. "Four and half years later we found out I was pregnant, again!" I smile widely. "Everything was going fine, I was within days of her coming when-"

Her expression changes from being cheerful, giddy… grateful to a dark, uneasy look. Her grey eyes begin to fill with a liquid I'm much to filmier with, tears. I oddly hold back my own. She takes a deep, loud breath in before speaking again. I feel as though I should say something, that she doesn't have to finish the story but something tells me not to, that I need to hear this.

"It was hard." She sighs again, filling the room with a darkness.

She remains quiet for several moments, eyeing a piece of wood sticking up from the falling apart table we sit at.

"How did you do it?" I find myself asking her, realizing I shouldn't have. But something tells me to-

She looks up to me, a tear silently falling from her eye. Her grey eyes sparkling brightly among the dimly lit table. The candle reflects off of her face, making her eyes glisten even more.

"Hope."

She simply says, her smile changes briefly to a more… satisfied smile. The word hangs in the quiet, unmoving air. She had hope. But for what? She must read my confused expression.

"Hope that things could go on, that things weren't doomed because I had lost my husband and my baby was due any day. Hope that I could tell my children everything was going to be alright, no matter how bad our lose was."

She smiles widely, grabbing my hand from across the table.

"So she came. Bright and early the next day. Your mother was much to busy with the injured miners, among her own grief." She says, pausing for a second to see if it offended me in anyway. It didn't. "It was a fourteen year old Gale and our old, elderly, sweet neighbor at the time who got her out. Among the pain and grief there was something called?" She looks at me, as thought to answer.

"Hope." I find myself saying.

"Yes, hope. When I saw that my baby was a girl I was remembered an old thing that my husband said, when he found out we were having Pos. 'I'll die before I see us have a girl'."

She sighs loudly again after her words. I repeat them to myself. Mr. Hawthorn obviously meant it jokingly, joking that they'd never have a girl. Could this be why Gale wants a girl so bad? Because he's so much like his own father?

"You'll never know how much Gale loves you." Hazel says in more of a random way, eyeing him behind me in the living room again.

My smile turns sadden at Hazel words. Of course Gale loves me, and I'm sitting here, hiding these things from him. 'Your not hiding Katniss, you just haven't found the time yet.', I hear in my head but it's a lie. I could have told him when I got home from hunting, before I went hunting… right now. I find my hands making fists in my lap, thankfully obstructed from Hazel's view.

"Do you know what Gale told me, while you were gone earlier?" Hazel asks, she doesn't wait for an answer though before she continues- "That he couldn't picture having a baby when anyone else, that he's overjoyed it's with you. He's got his heart set on a girl, doesn't he?" She asks, raising that eyebrow again.

I smile for an answer but my fists on my lap on get tighter, turning my knuckles white.

"Just like his father." She says, shaking her head. "He told me he wants the baby to look just like you. Beautiful, in every way." She says, smiling. "Now sweetheart, you need to get some sleep, it's late!" She adds, standing up from her chair and gathering my empty bowl and plate.

I quickly help her with washing the few remaining dishes in silence, the sound of light rain filling in where words are absent. Though my head is not absent with them though, the words of Gale hang heavily in my head-

"Beautiful, in every way."

XX

I run up the stairs quickly and shut the bathroom door tightly behind me. As I'm washing I find silent tears escaping my eyes, dropping into the water at my feet. I place both my hands over my face, asking myself why I'm crying.

Hormones.

But no. I'm crying because of the weight of the day. The weight of not telling Gale these things over fear. But what fear? What am I so scared of in telling Gale this? That he won't believe me about the kiss? That he'll be mad at me? I grit my teeth overly tight at these questions that flood my mind, threatening to drown my in my own pool of doubt and worry. It only drags me deeper as I finish washing. I step out to look into the full length mirror in the bathroom, my naked, wet, skinny figure appears. My wet hair plastered to my shoulders and back. I eye particularly my stomach, realizing it will grow… soon. Realizing I'm not beautiful, in any type of way. But Gale must see something, something I can't see myself.

And I'm lying to this man.

I quickly pull on my nightgown, brushing my teeth much to hard. I fly down the stairs and into the living room slash bedroom where I know Gale waits. I find him soundly asleep in the chair, clutching one of the pregnancy books. I would laugh if I wasn't drowning in my own sea of sadness, but I am. I walk over to him, carefully pulling the open book from his loose grasp, planting a soft kiss on his forehead.

"I love you." I find myself saying, even though he can't hear me.

I take the book over to where Hazel must have set up my bed much earlier. I snuggle down in the blankets, bringing the lone candle on the end table over to me, setting it above the book for light. I look at the page that Gale was opened up to-

"Being a Father to a Daughter"

A small article is written in this book about this topic. I find my teeth clenching again, but I ignore it. I ignore reading the article was well, only focusing at the quote that it written at the bottom-

"A father is always making his baby into a little woman. And when she is a woman he turns her back again"

My face squints at the odd quote, the quote that I don't quite understand. I sigh, closing the book and blowing out the candle, replacing both on the end table. I bury myself under the covers, pulling them nearly over my head.

That night I fall sleep to a dream where Gale plays with our daughter in the meadow, but I'm not there. I'm gone . . . . . . . .


Chapter 24 Preview: What will this dream mean anything to Katniss? Will she find the strength and courage to tell Gale these things that are burying her with burden? How will life 'readjust' when Hazel, Rhoda and the children move back out? What will take place when Katniss attends this 'odd' meeting of sorts for Prim? Will she accept this new job offer? What will happen when she faces Darius again? And what how will Katniss react when she's forced to face the grieving family of Thom? Lots of Questions! And lots of answers! All will be revelved Saturday!