Whipping Post

Katniss screamed in pain.

Before she knew it, Gale was in front of the new peacekeeper, whip in hand, a gun on his face.

Neither moved, measuring one another.

The crowd watched the standoff, intrigued and concerned. They knew Katniss Everdeen. She's a survivor. Were they thinking if she'll survive this, too? Was that why they were here?

Not far from Gale was an unconscious peacekeeper while another of his colleague tried reasoning with the new one. It seemed to work. The new peacekeeper lowered his gun, pulled the whip out of Gale's hand and walked away.

As soon as he turned, Gale rushed to where Katniss was and untied her.

Haymitch was suddenly there too, helping him.

Weren't they just walking to the town center, talking about the possibility of an escape? Or the possibility of finding out what's beyond District 12?

But now, he'll never leave. He will stay.

To fight and start something he really wanted.

For her and with her.

While she watched.

Like how she just watched Katniss being saved from the whipping, and now, being carried off to the Victor Village by Gale. Haymitch was by his side, making sure they both won't fall over.

Then there's Madge. Left standing in the square, too shock to move, as the people began to disperse.

She's not the only one, though.

Not far from her was the Mayor's son, a determined look on his face. He glanced at her, gave her a quick nod and before she could return it, he walked away in a rush.

"Madge?" She turned and saw Rory standing beside her, looking concerned, "Is she going to be okay?"

"I honestly don't know," she said, taking a deep breath, looking at the direction of her new home. She felt the frosty air and shivered, remembering of the weather forecast her father had told her that morning.

"Prim must be worried," said Rory, anxiously, "She said Katniss was just going to sell the turkey. I was just there."

She put her arm around the boy and comforted him. She had to do something, "You know what? You go and get the Everdeens. You're right, they must be worried. Bring them to your house, there might be a blizzard coming." The boy nodded and took off to the Seam.

After a few more deep breaths, she finally started to Gale's house.

It was bad.

Her flesh had been shredded. She was on her stomach on the kitchen table, her face clearly shows her pain. She was moaning and groaning every five seconds. Gale had lashed out at everybody, especially at Hazelle, even when he knew his mother had done everything to help Katniss.

Haymitch already started drinking.

Katniss' mother and sister was there, and good thing too because the blizzard she told Rory about, came. At least with them there, all Katniss would have to worry about was getting better.

While everyone settled in for the night, Gale never left Katniss' side. Haymitch was dozing off in the living room, too drunk to go home. The kids and the moms were sleeping upstairs.

Hazelle had given her a blanket and was told to take the sofa. She didn't. Instead, Madge found a spot in the hallways, on the floor leaning against the wall, just outside the kitchen.

She closed her eyes and Katniss tortured groan echoed in the hallway along with Gale's voice, soothing and comforting. Like those nights in the train, as he chased the nightmares away.

With her eyes closed, Madge could just pretend.


She quickly sat up, clutching the blanket to her chest where her heart was pounding hard. She still could feel it. She's still alive.

Then another pounding sound startled her.

She heared Haymitch groaned, "There's a blizzard for chrissake! Can't they leave us alone?"

"Who could that be?" she said, slowly getting up. She heard chair being dragged from the kitchen and before she could look, Gale darted out the kitchen and quickly went to the door.

Madge followed him.

Haymitch was already there, bottle in hand and scratching his stomach, and was about to reach for the knob but Gale beat him to it. The drunken Victor just settled to lean against the wall and took a swig off the bottle.

Now, both of them were blocking her view.

"What are you doing here?" she heard Gale asked, gruffly. Was he going to lash out at unsuspecting people now?

Then she heard an urgent, "Give it to her, it's my mother's. Please, it will help."

She knew that voice, rarely, but it was familiar, "Peeta?" She moved for a closer look but Gale had already slammed the door closed. When he turned, there's a small box in his hand.

"Crazy kid," Haymitch commented, "I didn't realise they knew each other."

"We sell them strawberries," Gale said curtly, examining the box. He might sound angry but she saw relief in his face when he opened the box.

Haymitch peeked at it too and whistled, "That one must have quite a taste for strawberry."

"Shut your mouth, Haymitch," he said, snapping the lid on and went back to the kitchen.

Haymitch then turned to her, "See what you're going to live with, Princess? I'll call the wedding off if I we're you."

It was an attempt to make light of what happened but they both knew it sucked but it never stop her from replying, smiling weakly, "There's going to be a wedding, Haymitch. I'm just not sure if it will ever be mine."

Peeta Mellark had delivered a box of morphling.

An expensive drug. Really expensive.

Peeta told them, it was his mother's. However, Madge can't help wondering if it was freely given or was nicked.

But that wasn't in Gale's mind, she's sure of that, as he roused his mother so she can give a dose to Katniss.

It wasn't expensive for nothing. The stuff works wonders, there's a significant change in Katniss' facial expression after the shot. So did in Gale's.

And somehow, she too felt relief.

They had breakfast in the living room that morning. Haymitch was nowhere to be found and Gale didn't join them. His mother tried to coax him to eat first but was unsuccessful. Even little Posy was ignored.

But still, she went to try.

"Gale, you have to eat," she said, as soon as she entered the kitchen, he was sitting beside the table where Katniss was. He was still holding her hand. He must have not let her go through the night. Maybe once, when Peeta showed up but after that? She didn't think so.

"I'm not hungry," he said, not looking at her.

"Then how about sleep?" she suggested instead, "You've been up all night, Katniss is doing well. You should rest."

"I've been resting," he's still not looking at her, and added, wearily, "Just go away, Madge."

And she did.

She went to the hallway and retrieved the blanket she used the other night when she slept on the floor. When she glanced back, she saw Gale resting his head on his arms on the table, his hand still clutching Katniss'.

Madge slowly walked to them, careful not to wake him, and put the blanket on his shoulders.

As she walked out of the house, she knew she had to admit it.

She was jealous.

While she was worried for Katniss, she was also missing the boy who gave her comfort when the nightmares came. The boy who she believed to be her friend. The boy who hadn't looked at her since they saw Katniss in that post.

When did pretend become real?

And with admission of jealousy, came the admission of love. She had fallen in love with him, he wasn't just an ally to her anymore. But he'll never return whatever love she felt.

She was the Capitol's choice for him. Not his.

She reached her own house in the Victor's Village, mechanically made her way to her bedroom and lay on the bed. She was tired. Her back was aching. So was her chest. The tears came next and she was sobbing.

Gale had saved Katniss from her whipping post while Madge was tied to hers, again.

She knew, from that moment on, she had to face every blow of the whip alone.

AN: So, no longer a Oneshot! Yay! But seriously, this is going to be a very angsty(?) fic.

Chapter 2 almost done. I'll post the second chapter on Saturday or even earlier. :)

UPDATE: Sorry but the next chapter is still in progress. It's supposed to be a flash back chapter but I had to start over because I'd be giving away too much info in that chapter alone. Really sorry, still learning how to properly write a story.