AN: Sorry for not updating for a while. Thanks for reading and reviewing this story. I hope you're still interested with this.

Chapter 12

She tried to push the conversation with her mother out of her head while walking about town, checking off things from her 'to-do' list and trying not to make eye contact to the people she passed by. Getting stared at she's getting used to but looking at people in the eye, still need a bit of a practice.

She just couldn't do it, looking people in the eye, without getting uncomfortable, that's why talking to shop owners were a real trial for her. So, she always pretend to look around while telling the week's order but if she absolutely must face them, Madge always looked at their ears. Which made some of them rubbed their ears every three seconds the whole time she was talking to them.

They must really think she's weird but because she's the mayor's daughter, they act like it was nothing. That's why it's really hard to put faith in people and trust that they were sincere because of the way their society work.

"I'll send your order right away, miss," the grocer said, while she pretended to be very fascinated at a cabbage.

"Oh, thank you," said Madge, glancing at the old man, "Well, I better go. I have a bit of things to buy left on my list." With a quick smile, she exited the shop and let out a sigh of relief.

Another one down and one more to go.

Last stop, the bakery.

It's always the last thing on her list because the delivery was always done the next morning. Her step was speeding up, eager to finish her errand, go back home and spend the day in her room, alone and away from their lively visitors.

She was almost at the bakery when she's been captured.

By a giggling captor with two little arms. She looked down and saw a cute little thing called Posy Hawthorne.

"I caught you this time, Miss Madge!" the little girl screamed in delight, "And with just my hands!"

"You did, huh?" Madge said, grinning, "Good job, Posy."

The youngest Hawthorne released her and gave her the sweetest smile, which Madge returned. She looked around hoping to find the young girl's brothers. She found two of them.

"There you are, Posy," said Rory, who was looking intently at his baby sister, "Mom told us to not bother people, remember?"

"I remember, but Miss Madge is not like other people," his sister said, "Gale's going to marry her."

If she was drinking, she would've choked at Posy's declaration. So in lieu of water, she had choked on her spit that had her coughing hard and, not to mention, there's also a burning feeling in her cheeks. The children didn't seem to care because they were carrying on with their conversation.

"They're marrying?" Vick asked Rory, who was shaking his head.

"She's going to be very pretty!" Posy said, ignoring the way Rory was scowling at her, "They're going to marry!"

The little girl was full of certainty when she said it that Madge was afraid she's going to disappoint her and, by the look at his face, Vick. Only Rory seemed apprehensive. Good for him.

"If Gale marries her, she'll live in the seam," said Rory, glancing at Madge, which reminded her of Gale, "I don't think the mayor would want that."

"But she and Gale are going out," Vick said, "Mom said so." As if going out equals to an engagement. These kids!

"Yes, and they're going to have many babies!" Posy was nodding her head fervently. Oh golly, babies, already? Madge had to do something.

"Oookay," she stepped in the middle of the siblings and, as cheery as possible, and added, "How about we stop this conversation before Posy started planning those babies' wedding?"

Madge entered the bakery, the Hawthorne siblings behind her. They declined her offer to buy each of them cookies, she should've known better, so then she told them that she's going to buy Posy a price for 'catching' her. She'd buy three and she's sure the little girl would share.

The mayor's daughter was pretty pleased with herself when she thought of that pretty harmless suggestion until Posy asked, "What was Gale's price for catching you?" and Rory answered for Madge.

"A trip to the slag heap," he said under his breath, only it was loud enough to be heard by Madge. And by the baker's lovely wife, who was filling the racks with freshly baked breads, unfortunately. She's got a bit of a reputation. People called her something akin to a female dog.

"I find it hard to understand why the mayor tolerates you going out with that seam brat," Mrs. Mellark told her, not bothering to conceal her disdain. Peeta's mother approached her, glaring at the three kids, who are now hiding behind her and Madge thought how right those people were.

"Good morning, Mrs. Mellark," she said, "I'm here to give you the order for tomorrow's delivery."

"Next thing you know, you're married to that boy and living in that seam filth," the older lady went on as if Madge didn't utter a word, "Always pregnant with filthy kids that you can't feed. That will be your future if you keep seeing that boy." She then gave another glare at the innocent children hiding behind Madge's skirt, "He even had you babysitting now. And where is he, I wonder? Those kind wasn't reliable. He's probably off with another chit, if you ask me."

"Well, nobody did and you still give your unwanted opinion," Madge said, forcing to maintain a polite tone, "Thank you for your…concern. Although, I thought that that concern would be better directed at a more worthy recipient. Like your son, perhaps?"

It was low using Peeta like that but Madge didn't see any flicker of emotion from his mother that made her felt outrage on his behalf. She didn't know Peeta that well but he's the nicest guy in their year.

"I've never…" Mrs. Mellark said, indignantly, "See, there? That boy's rudeness and impudence already rubbing on you. Good for nothing trash. Whatever is the mayor's thinking allowing filth in his house?"

"He's thinking that Gale's an honest and responsible guy, that he'll treat me well and respect me, " said Madge, raising her voice slightly, "And he's definitely nicer than you, he might be rude but at least he's straightforward about it unlike you, who's insulting him when he's not here to defend himself and in front of his much younger siblings he cares about so much. "

"Now, see here, Miss Undersee –"

"That's enough," the baker interrupted his wife, he was standing behind the counter a tray of baked goods in his hands, "Leave the kids alone and busy yourself with the inventory upstairs."

Without another word and as much as a glance at them, the baker's wife walked out of the room. Madge was actually surprised that she did without a protest but they heard loud stomping and the slamming after Mrs. Mellark left.

"Sorry about that," he said and Madge wondered how many times had he apologized on her behalf because she couldn't see the wife apologizing to anyone, "I can blame Peeta's situation but she's always been like that."

Madge was taken aback by the baker's sudden jovial tone, he almost sounded like Peeta. Her anger lessened a bit.

"Here," she said, walking over to the counter and handing the list of order for the bakery, "And I'm sorry, too. About what just happen. And about Peeta."

Mr. Mellark took the slip and said, "That's okay. Peeta is Peeta, you know. If he could survive, he would."

"I understand," she said, even though she didn't.

But she noticed that he sounded resigned as he said those words, unlike Mrs. Everdeen and Prim who were still hopeful. Then she remembered the day of the Reaping, how he stood in front of her while she waited for her turn to talk to Katniss, a cookie in his hand. He had looked resigned then, too.

The baker glanced at the kids and then asked her, "Are you friends with Katniss, too?"


"Would you mind giving her sister and mother something for me?"

"Sure," she said, curious. The baker went over a rack of freshly baked bread and took one loaf.

He put it in a brown paper bag and handed it to her, saying, "I promised your friend."

It didn't make sense to Madge how the baker was acting and what he's doing. There's a change of rules in the games but nobody in their right mind would buy it. Except maybe the hopeful loved ones and Mr. Mellark was far from a hopeful loved one. That itself didn't make sense, too. His son was relatively fine now, if she was the baker she would be very hopeful about her son's survival.

Madge felt sad for Peeta, even his parents weren't rooting for him.

Suddenly, the thought of being alone didn't sound good as it had been that morning. She was about to turn and usher the siblings out of the bakery when she suddenly remember something.

They were walking to the seam when Madge gave each of the siblings a cookie. The three were quiet since the bakery and she thought it would cheer them up and make them forget about Mrs. Mellark's insults.

"Why do we have a cookie, too?" asked Vick, staring at the treat in his hands.

"Is this a pity gift?" Rory said, suspiciously that made him looked like his big brother. Madge smiled at that and said, "No, I won't ever give you something out of pity, it's a prize, like Posy's." Said girl was holding Madge's hand, happily nibbling her cookie.

"A prize? What for?" Rory was giving her another Gale look, this time with his eyebrows scrunched together.

"For surviving the baker's wife," she said, grinning, "It's worth getting a prize, right?"

"Yeah, she's a real meanie," Posy said, nodding her head fervently.

"She's horrible," said Vick, frowning, "We're not that dirty, right? Ma's good at cleaning clothes."

"Of course not, you're very neat," Madge said, regretting that she had insisted on them going with her at the bakery, "She say things even when it's not true just to hurt you. It's not right but she's a mean person. You don't listen to mean people. That's what my mom told me."

"So, you're not marrying Gale?" said Posy, and she looked like she was on the verge of crying, "The baker's wife said you'd marry him but you said she's not telling the truth." Oh, boy. Vick was also looking at her, the quiet boy was still frowning. This was going to be hard.

"Well, Posy, I'm just sixteen," she started, "I can't think of my future until I'm eighteen… and if I ever survive till eighteen… I see myself marrying in my mid twenties… So… if Gale still likes me… and I still like him… we'll get married," she cringed at the lie, "Maybe. Not sure. But not impossible either." There. Not exactly lying.

Good thing someone noticed her struggle and created a diversion.

"How about those?" Rory was looking at the loaves in her arm. So did his two younger siblings. Thank goodness for children's short attention span.

"What about them?"

"One's for the Everdeens, right?" he said, "I heard the baker asked you to bring it to them. What about the other?"

"A prize for your mom," she said simply, a grin was on her lips. She's been thinking of a way to explain why she's giving their family a loaf of bread without making it like it was out of pity. It wasn't, by the way. Madge figured since she decided to forgo her plan for the day and to hide at the Hawthornes, if Gale let her, she should at least bring a gift seeing as she had invite herself to their home.

"What for?" Vick and Rory asked at the same time.

Madge chuckled at a certain memory from the previous evening and said, "She 'saved' me even though she's not around."

"What about Gale?" asked Posy, the little girl had a one track mind.

"What about him?" Madge asked, even though she knew where that would lead.

"What's his prize for catching you?"

"Well, who said it's not the other way around?" said Madge, grinning, "I caught him." Which was technically true, he caught her in mid fall but they hit the tree and he landed on her, so, one could say she caught him. If one was grasping straw that is. And she's definitely was.

"And what was your prize?" Vick asked.

What's her prize? It was an easy question. Even though the accident had given her an inconvenient pretend relationship, it also given her a chance to know her only friend's family.

"You," she said, "I met you and I'd like to think we're friends now."

Vick and Posy was smiling at her answer. They gave her a hug, which she would've returned if she wasn't holding something. Rory seemed to like her answer as well. His ears turned red not unlike his older brother.

The three seam kids and the mayor's daughter walked together in the middle of the seam. For the first time, she didn't mind the stares. She wasn't even aware of them. The siblings drowned everything around her while she listened and sometimes joined their happy chatter. She couldn't help but think how lucky Gale was. She was enjoying the company, immensely.

And to think she planned to spend her day alone in her room and thought it was the best thing ever.

AN: Also, remember to log out always, okay? Even if you're using your personal computer. Because someone might decide to be nice and supportive and review your story. And use your computer to do so.

What I'm trying to say was, someone tried to be supportive and reviewed this story using my laptop and I don't log out so she reviewed as me. Using my account. lol. And I don't know how to delete it. XD