Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games or any of its characters.

Chapter 24

Gale steps outside my room while I change. I open my wardrobe to be met by a single dress hanging off one of the doors. It's white, with one wide strap, and is covered in a thin layer of white lace, which is in a flower pattern.

I decide to leave my legs bare, and slip the dress on, moving to my dressing table so that I can see it in the mirror.

"Gale?" I call, my eyes not leaving the mirror. My father ordered this dress specially for the party tonight; every little detail had to be perfect, and that included what his daughter was wearing. Not that I objected. "Will you zip me up?"

Gale opens the door slowly, and warily pokes his head round it, checking that I'm decent. Once he's realised that I've already got dressed, he opens the door properly and crosses the room. He places one hand on my waist, and uses the other to zip up my dress slowly. He then slides both hands round my waist and pulls me against him in a backwards hug.

"You look really, really nice." Gale whispers in my ear, resting his head on my shoulder and looking at me in the mirror. I smile at him and try to pretend that I'm not blushing. Gale smiles back and then lets me go so that I can put my shoes on.

I walk back over to the wardrobe, and lean down to pick up a box which had been pushed towards the back. I go and sit on the bed and open it, to reveal a cream pair of shoes. Not just any shoes – these were high heels, something imported from the Capitol. Apparently it was a big thing there to wear these kind of shoes right now, and although I usually made a point of not following any of their ridiculous trends, when my father had offered me these I couldn't say no.

I slip them on and stand up slowly, wobbling slightly as I do so. Gale catches my arm to steady me, and I smile gratefully at him. These were only two and a half inch high heels, but I was having a hard time standing up properly. I had heard that in the Capitol, some people wore six-inch high heels, which I couldn't even begin to understand.

"What are those?" Gale exclaims, staring at my feet. I laugh and he laughs too, pulling me into a tight hug, and a quick kiss.

I'm still smiling when we break apart, and I grab my hairbrush and run it through my hair quickly. Gale and I walk down the stairs with him holding my arm so that I can put my weight on him, so that there was less of a chance that I was going to fall over in my shoes.

Toby comes out of the kitchen and upon seeing me does a fake, dramatic gasp and pretends to swoon.

"Who are you, and what have you done with Madge?" He exclaims in a silly, falsetto voice. I laugh and go to elbow him, but end up stumbling in the shoes. I blush madly and straighten quickly, embarrassed that I was so clumsy in them. I mean, I knew I wasn't used to them, but this was bad, even for me.

Gale's still smiling when I turn around, a pretend frown plastered to my face. Toby goes back into the kitchen, still chuckling to himself. Gale leans in and kisses me, or rather, kisses my frown, as I hold it firmly in place. It wavers as Gale plants kiss after kiss on my lips, and I finally give in to a smile. His grin tells me all too well how pleased he is that Toby wound me up.

He pulls me into a tight hug and whispers in my ear,

"I have to go, Madge."

My smile disappears, and I hold him tighter against me.

"But…" I say sadly. I know that he's right, the guests would start arriving soon, and my father had said no to Gale being present at the party. And seeing as tonight meant so much to him, I wasn't going to protest.

"I'm sorry, Madge." Gale nuzzles his face against mine until he finds my lips, and gives me a long, slow, kiss. I sigh against his lips when he breaks away, and he opens the door.

Outside, the sky is a dusky pink. I didn't realise how late it was; I usher Gale out and kiss him once again, as quickly as I can possibly bear.

"Bye, Gale." I say sadly, holding onto one of his hands as he begins to walk away.

"Bye, Madge. Have fun tonight." He replies, giving me a small smile, and squeezing my hand tightly before walking away. I wished that I could stay and watch him walk away, but I realise that it would probably be a good idea to help Toby and my father with the last preparations.

As I enter the kitchen, Toby thrusts some food at me and orders me to start laying it out on a tray. I obediently begin, mulling over tonight's plans in my head as Toby and I prepare the food in comfortable silence, both of us wrapped up in our own thoughts.

Katniss would be here tonight, as would Peeta. That worried me slightly; did Katniss know about my relationship with Gale? How could she? Would Gale tell her without telling me? I dismiss this thought immediately. Gale wouldn't do that. But still, despite the fact that apparently neither of them have feelings for each other, the whole town had expected them to end up getting married, whether it would be for convenience or love. I didn't know if people still thought this; I didn't know how many people knew about me and Gale.

My father interrupts my thoughts by stepping into the kitchen and clearing his throat, breaking the silence so abruptly that it makes me jump, so much so that I almost drop the food.

"You look wonderful, Madge." He says. When he sees my shoes, he raises his eyebrows a little, but says nothing. He ordered them, so I assumed he knew already what they looked like, but I guess he wasn't expecting them to be so high.

"Thank you, father. You look very nice." I reply politely, wishing that I didn't feel so awkward around him still. I thought our conversation with Gale would have brought us a bit closer, but it didn't feel like that right now. I decided to put this down to being nervous for the party, and reassured myself that things between my father and I would get better soon.

My father grunts in some form of reply and leaves the room again, and going into the hallway to make some final preparations of some kind. By now we have finished laying out the food, and I go to the sink to wash my hands. Toby joins me and I smile at him.

"You look nervous, Madge." He says, stating the obvious. Even as I dry my hands on a nearby towel, I can feel them starting to become slippery with sweat.

"Oh, I don't know, just that around fifty important people will be stuffed into our house in a matter of minutes," I say casually, "that I must greet and impress, and act as the mayor's respectable daughter." I manage a weak smile as I say this.

Toby chuckles and pulls me into a brief hug.

"You'll be fine, Madge. Honestly, you've done this before." He says reassuringly. I sigh and look away, and a look of confusion sweeps across his face for a second.

"Is there something else?" He asks.

"Well…" I begin slowly, staring at my hands, which I am twisting and untwisting together, fidgeting. "I used to be… Sort of friends with Katniss at school, but now, everything's different. I don't know if she'll still want to be friends with me, now that she's famous."

"I doubt the Games will have changed that, Madge. Katniss wouldn't do that; you and I both know that she's very strong, emotionally. I must say, though… The Games can change people, and I would be surprised if Katniss hasn't in some way. It may be unnoticeable and it may not, but you can't go through something like that and not be a different person when you come home." Toby says quietly. I sigh and nod, not really knowing how else to reply, and leave the room to go into the hallway, to greet the guests at the door.

"Madge?" A familiar voice calls to me. I turn around quickly, surprised, and almost drop the platter of food that I'm holding. A waiter quickly grabs it – my father hired some from another district to help with the party – and takes it from me with a polite smile. I try not to blush too much from embarrassment as I search for the person who called my name in the mass of people surrounding me, and spot Katniss waving at me from a corner of the room. She's there with Peeta, and I smile meekly atthem both before heading over, pushing my way through the ridiculously outfitted Capitol people.

"Hi, Katniss." I say shyly. It was difficult to wrap my head around seeing her here, after seeing her on the television only a few days ago. Katniss may still be my friend, but now, she was a killer. I didn't want to see her in a negative light, and I certainly didn't right now, but it had still changed things.

"Hey, Madge." She says, sounding slightly shy herself. Peeta smiles at me and extends his hand, a very formal gesture which takes me by surprise. I shake his hand, which is warm, his skin rough.

"How are... things?" She asks, unsure of what to say. The awkwardness between us rapidly grows with each second.

"Good," I say. What else could I say? I'm dating your best friend who everyone thought you were going to marry, but now you're with Peeta? No. So I just said 'good'.

Katniss nods and smiles at me, and I smile back. There's a lot of smiling going here. I didn't want to ask how things were with her, I thought it might make the situation even more uncomfortable, if that were possible.

"I should go serve some more food," I say, making one of the lamest excuses I could come up with. I can tell from Katniss's facial expression that she knows I'm just wanting to escape from the conversation, but she carefully composes herself and says "alright. Bye, Madge."

"Bye, Katniss." I say awkwardly, before I make my escape. I shove people aside as politely as I can, making my way to the kitchen, which is currently empty, with every surface covered in platters of very rich-looking food.

I lean against a counter and let out a loud groan. I didn't mean to be rude, I just couldn't stand the awkward silence any longer. I had no idea if she knew about me and Gale – was the conversation awkward because she knew, or was it simply because of the time apart we've spent from each other, and all that's happened? Or was it just me and my stupid mouth?

I sigh and grab a tray before heading out into the room again, gritting my teeth and forming a fake, but reasonably realistic smile on my face.

Okay, I know this is super late, but school has just taken up all my time. I'll try and update as much as possible, although work will be my priority. I'll try and do an update every weekend from now on, and when I'm less busy, maybe on chapter on a Saturday and one chapter on a Sunday. But for now, one a week. Let me know how you think Madge and Gale should tell Katniss about them! (Or if you'd prefer, tell me how Katniss should tell them that she already knows). Your advice and reviews always make me smile.

Read and Review!