Disclaimer: I do not own THG

A Favor and a Friend

Madge carefully positioned the arrow against the string of the bow. A deep breath was taken as she pulled the string, her heart was pounding just like before. She pointed it at her target, the space above the line of the tree with him casually sitting under it, he was leaning back and she saw Gale smirking at her. With mischievous glint in his eyes, he pulled out an apple, took a bite, and placed it on top of his foolish head.

"…but if I fully trusted you, I would've placed an apple on his head." Katniss' words playing in her head, in loop, challenging her. Madge can't help it when she also imagined the voice mocking her. She was, afterall, pathetic at survival.

But she knew what it meant. Just like what Katniss had said. He trusted Madge. She already knew that. However, was Katniss right not to trust her completely?

She really hoped not.

The pounding in her chest increased. She couldn't count on her own trust in herself, for now. She's still working on that. Survival was not her forte but she was thriving on luck since Gale's name was pulled out of that bowl.

Haymitch as their mentor was an advantage for her, too. And Gale's nature was to protect the helpless, which a label that fits her perfectly. So, luck, she can work with.

But in an arena filled with past victors, will her luck continue?

"Shoot the arrow, princess!" Gale yelled.

Or will it run out?

She released the arrow and a gasp escaped her while she watched as the apple fell on the ground. His smile was still there and blood was trickling down between his eyes.

Katniss was right.

Because the arrow was now buried in his head.

She was waiting for someone to come out and tell that it was a joke but no one did. This was real. And Gale was dead. By her own hands.

'No,' she thought as she stood frozen in place, helpless and vulnerable.

Suddenly, a soft breeze came, rustling the grass and leaves and she felt its cold caress on her skin as she stared at the lifeless shell that once was her beloved. It was so peaceful, but it was also so wrong.

She caught a whiff of something brought on by the breeze that made her feel sick. Blood. Her own was now running cold. The breeze was getting stronger and so the smell of the blood. Then there was an unexpected scent that was mingling with that of the blood.

It was the smell of death.

"Congratulations, you're a real victor, now," the cold breeze whispered in her ear.

The booming sound of her knock echoed throughout the Seam but she didn't care. She could barely keep herself from screaming, releasing some of the fear running in her body, while terror was staking its claim on her heart.

"Please," she muttered each time her fist slammed into the wood.

"Who's there?" a stern voice asked.

Her voice was breaking but she managed to say, "I need help Katniss, please."

The door opened almost immediately, revealing Katniss who was wearing night clothes and a look of concern.

"What happened?" she asked as she led her inside the house.

"I need a huge favour," Madge said, trying hard to steady her voice, "Please, I need your help."

"You walked here in your night gown," Katniss said, ignoring what the victor just said and gave her a sweeping look, "And barefoot?"

"Yes, I did," she told the brunette, even though she didn't realise it until it was pointed out, "I need a favour, Katniss! Are you even listening to me?" That came out rather hysterical. But she was rather desperate at the moment to even care.

"Calm down, Madge," Katniss told her, grabbing her shoulder, "If you're going to ask a favour, biting my head off wouldn't help you."

"Don't fight," said Prim, who was watching them, anxiously. Mrs. Everdeen was standing beside the little girl, wearing the same worried look, "How about some tea?" she offered and didn't wait for a reply, she turned to her youngest daughter and said, "Come on, you can help me make them."

Prim nodded and took another look at Katniss and Madge before following her mother into the kitchen.

"He's dead," Madge said in urgent whisper as soon as they were left alone, "I shot him, you're right, Katniss, you're right!"

"What are you talking about?" asked Katniss.

"I missed," Madge was now openly weeping, "The apple fell. I shot him. There's so much blood, I could smell the blood!"

Katniss shook a little her and said, "Don't make me slap you, Undersee. Can you stop the waterworks for just a minute and tell me what happened in coherent sentences?"

Madge knew she wasn't making sense and she knew that her crying wasn't helping either. But her emotions had been bottled up for a while that she can't be anything but hysterical. She wiped her tears with the sleeve of her night gown and with a deep breath, she nodded.

Katniss led her to the small couch, as soon as they were seated she asked, "Okay, so, what happened? Who did you shot?"

"Gale," Madge muttered and, before Katniss could say anything, proceeded to tell her about the dream.

"It was so real, Katniss," she said, burying her head in her hands, the terror she felt upon waking up had significantly lessened after she told her that horrifying dream but it was still there.

Madge should have been used to it. But it was the first time that she had a dream where she killed someone and it wasn't just anybody.

"Earlier you were talking about a favour," Katniss finally said, "What is it? What do you want from me? To be honest, I can't think of anything that I can help you with other than what we're already doing for the past few days."

"I don't know," Madge shook his head, which was still in her hands, "I woke up and my first thought was I need your help."

"With what?" said Katniss, "Even if we train day and night until the Reaping, I can't guarantee that what happened in your nightmare won't happen in the arena."

"I don't know," said Madge, helplessly, she looked at Katniss and told her, "I thought I'll be less of a liability if I learned a skill to protect him and myself. I thought I could, at least, be able to defend myself so he won't have to. I thought a lot of things, I expected a lot from myself and when I thought I was making progress, my subconscious reminded me that my progress was a 'one-step-forward-two-step-back' thing.

"How can I ever repay my life debt with the way things are? I haven't even thanked Gale and Haymitch for letting me live. Maybe I should just step off the plate, which would have been a lot helpful!"

Katniss didn't say anything, she just looked away. Madge did too.

Two girls sitting in silence was what Mrs. Everdeen and Prim saw when they brought out the tea they made.

"We'll be in the bedroom," Mrs. Everdeen said, after she handed each girl a cup on a saucer, apologizing for their lack of coffee table as she did.

Madge looked up to thank her for the tea and saw something in her eyes. Was it pity? She hoped not.

Mrs. Everdeen gave her a warm smile then led a reluctant Prim out of the room.

"But you wouldn't be doing anyone a favour if you did," Katniss said, as soon as her mother and sister left, "At the very least, not Abernathy or Gale."

Madge turned to Katniss and saw her staring at the cup in her hand.

"I wanted to be useful this time around," Madge told her.

"You wanted to die this time around," Katniss corrected her.

Madge slowly looked down at her own cup, she could see the steam rising and she could smell the herb used. It was calming. And with the same calmness, she told Katniss, "I don't have a choice."

"Because you love him," Madge was slightly surprised by her statement, there wasn't a hint of doubt in Katniss' voice.

"Am I that obvious?" said Madge, a playful tone laced her words that made Katniss smile a little.

"Not really," Katniss told her, "You only want to die for him. That itself was a giveaway."

"But I could be doing it because I owe him."

"What's the difference?" Katniss said, shrugging, "Owing and loving someone, people can get confused so why not say its love and call it a day. Or not. "

"Whichever it was, I still could end up hurting him," said Madge, quietly.

"Don't dwell on things that have not happened yet!" said Katniss, "Really Undersee, you're starting to get on my nerves."

Madge was getting on her own nerves as well. Her insecurities were getting the better of her and it was infuriating because she knew that. As the Reaping day was approaching, she seemed to get more and more panicky. And here she was imposing on the Everdeens in the middle of the night. Without her shoes on.

She took a sip of tea, the warmth washing away the remaining fear from her skin. Although her heart was still filled with the terror her nightmare had brought.

A sigh escaped her lips as she surveyed the small room. It was plain and shabby, the typical Seam look. There's only the couch they were sitting on, the Capitol issue television, a small fireplace and a stool.

She would willingly live there if it means she could live.

Another sip and a sigh, she began wondering why she was still there. She came to ask a favour that was moot. She didn't know why she thought of Katniss the moment she woke up but that led her to the Everdeens' doorstep.

"I kissed him," Katniss suddenly said, cutting through her musing, and Madge turned to look at her, hoping the dread she was feeling wasn't that obvious. Maybe it was Peeta, she was referring to.

"Gale," Madge heart sank after Katniss say his name and then proceeded to answer an unasked question, "It was after you guys came back."

"Why are you telling me this?" Madge said, frustrated. She had spent weeks in trying to suppress any thought of Katniss and Gale, together.

Was that why the sudden coldness from him after they came back from the Capitol? Katniss had kissed him and Madge's kisses couldn't compare.

It shouldn't bother Madge because at that time, she had convinced herself that it was only a crush. Then a smile formed on his lips as soon he saw the dark haired girl. A smile he had never given Madge. But when she felt that sharp pain in her chest when he almost run to get to Katniss as soon as they step off the train, she knew convincing herself had became a challenge.

Fortunately, he caught himself before he did something drastic, like sweeping Katniss off her feet and giving her a kiss. There were cameras around them and he was supposed to be in love with Madge.

"It's not easy watching him, all mushy with you or something," said Katniss, "I thought I'm losing him and I was beginning to wonder if I felt something for him."

"You don't have to tell me," Madge said, almost pleading, "I know how he felt about you."

"You do?" Katniss said, her eyebrows scrunching together, "Did he tell you? Because I don't think he knew how he felt about me, at all."

"He didn't have to tell me, it was obvious."

Katniss' eyes narrowed then she sighed, "I kissed him because I want to know how I feel about him. I was so jealous of you but there's also…um… I was confused."

"Are you still confused?" Madge forced herself to ask. To be honest, she rather not talk about anything about Gale and Katniss but her curiosity and that lingering hope made her do it.

"No," Katniss answered, a smile was on her face, "It was a desperate kiss for both of us but it cleared our confusion."

"What—," a hard knock on the door interrupted Madge.

"Katniss open the door!" Gale's muffled voice said, urgently.

Katniss set her saucer on the couch and quickly went to the door. Madge did the same, only she remained seated. She watched as Katniss open the door to reveal a very anxious looking Gale.

He was alive.

He was here.

And he was real.

"Please don't tell me Abernathy's on his way, too," Katniss said, her arms folded, "Am I going to have every victor banging on our door tonight?"

"Is Madge still here, then?"

Katniss gestured at the couch and when Gale saw Madge, he let out a huge sigh of relief.

"There you are," he said, letting himself in, "I've been running around all over the district, evading night patrols, and wondering how the hell did you not get caught?"

"How did you know I'm here?" Madge said, standing up, suppressing the urge to throw her arms around him.

"I didn't," he said, stopping in front of her, "I've been over at the Mayor's house, too. Mellark managed to convince me that he was not hiding you."

"Peeta?" said Katniss, who was still by the door. Gale glanced at her and the told Madge, "Haymitch saw you ran out of you house and woke me up to run after you. Only, I have no idea where you might be. He told me to try the Mayor's house."

"He's a friend."

"I know," he told Madge, "That's why I went there. And he's the one who suggested checking Katniss' house."

"I had a nightmare," she muttered.

"And you ran to the Seam?" he said, shaking his head, "I'm living across the street, you couldn't come to me?"

Madge just shook her head, avoiding his eyes.

"Okay, then come on," he said, reaching for her hand, tugging it softly and turning his back on her, she could hear disappointment in his voice. There's nothing she could do about it other than follow him silently.

"She didn't have any shoes on," Katniss said, leaning on the door frame, watching the two victors as they walk past her.

Gale stopped abruptly and quickly looked at Madge's bare feet. He took a deep breath and Madge could tell his patience was dwindling. She gave Katniss a glare and the brunette retuned it with a smile. When she turned to look at Gale, he was already crouching, motioning her to hop on his back.

With reddening cheeks, Madge obliged.

They bid Katniss goodbye and as they slowly walking away, it suddenly dawned on Madge what was the real favour she wanted to ask of Katniss. She looked back and saw Katniss still on the doorstep, still watching them.

Allies weren't just made in the arena.

Madge knew it wasn't really a favour but if Katniss agree to it, it'd be like gaining another friend after a horrible nightmare.

AN: Sorry this took forever to update but I have so many excuses so little time. lol. I'll give you the main ecu..er..reason though: Writer's block.

And when I managed to get my writing mojo back, I was giving away everything in this chapter so yeah, I was stuck. I had to reroute things and stuff [read: plot]. I'm struggling with character development too but it's all good now. (Thanks goodness.)

Let me know what you think! :)

Thanks for reading!