Title: The Act Of Madness
Author: The Artful Dodger / dodger_sister
Fandom: The Hunger Games
Category: Angst, Drama, Gen
Characters/Pairing: Gale, Madge, Primrose with Mrs. Everdeen, Ripper & Greasy Sae.
Warnings: It’s The Hunger Games so…that. Talk of death, violence, muttations.
Spoilers: The Hunger Games (Book #1).
Summary: Gale watches it unfold on the screen and he knows what it means for them. What it means for them all.
Word Count: 1,253 words.
Date Written: 03/08/2012
Disclaimer: The Hunger Games was written by Suzanne Collins. Not me. I wrote this story, for fun, not profit.
Feedback: Bring it. dodger_sister / TheArtofDodger@comcast.net
Author's Notes: I wrote this story between reading The Hunger Games’ book 1 & 2. I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would have meant for Katniss’ family if she had eaten the berries. I needed to see Gale’s side of this and I desperately needed the cathartic release that writing this fic brought to me. The BFF highly recommended I get it out of me before continuing on with the other books because, as she said, ‘Shits about to happen.’ These books make me so emotional that honestly, I even tear up at my own damn fic. Also, the viewing method of The Games is slightly different than the movie here, because it was written before that came out.
Dedication: To liptonrm, for telling me over and over to read these books until one day I finally listened to her and my life was ruined. She’s a ruiner. Thanks!
Gale watched as much of The Hunger Games with Katniss’ family as he could. His own mother, Hazelle, had refused to watch at all. Sometimes Rory would come with him, and though Gale hated it, he knew if Rory was old enough for The Reaping, then he was old enough to watch The Games.
It was impossible to watch all of The Games, but whenever anything of great importance happened, the channel was happy enough to replay it more times than anyone cared for, often with a slow motion adapter that allowed the viewer to see every gruesome detail. It was the one time a year that the citizens of District 12 were happy to have near to empty stomachs, the images replaying on every screen the Capitol had available to them, spread out across the town square and the businesses like a plague of locust, running and rerunning the images that were near impossible to escape.
Madge had graciously offered them her house to watch The Games whenever they desired. Her home was comfortable, she always had little plates of food setting out and the doors were always open. Madge never came to watch in any of the public places, because though she was well-liked enough by most, this time of year it was hard to forget she was the mayor’s daughter, especially by those whose children signed up for tessare.
Opening her home to them meant she didn’t have to watch alone.
Prim liked it there, at the mayor’s house, and there were always extra rooms where she could escape to, if she needed. Often Gale would escape with her and they’d sit side by side in silence.
Gale never knew what to say anyways.
Sometimes Prim would fall asleep and Gale would cover her with a blanket and watch her sleep. She looked so much younger when she was resting, far too young to have her named called at The Reaping. He wondered if Katniss ever did this - watched her little sister sleep and wonder about how she was going to give her a future.
Gale knew her well enough to know she did.
Whenever Gale would sleep, he always woke the same way, with the sound of Katniss’ desperate, frantic voice in his head.
“Don’t let them starve.”
Over and over until Gale thought it would be the only thing he could ever remember her saying to him.
Despite the fact that Primrose liked Madge’s house so much, Katniss’ mother did not. She said she felt like she was imposing, but Gale thought the truth was that being in the mayor’s house while her eldest daughter was fighting for her life in the wild was too much for her to bear.
So most days, they found themselves watching the day’s run of clips at the community hall, where the majority of the town gathered. The Everdeens had two chairs up front and no one ever sat in them.
This is where they were on that long dark night, when the muttations chased Katniss and Peeta up The Horn and tore into Cato on the ground.
“They couldn’t even give them dignity in their resting,” Ripper said, when the true origins of the muttations became known.
As they watched it play out on the screen, Gale felt relieved that at least Katniss couldn’t see what was happening on the ground, though he had no doubt she could hear Cato’s screams and pleas for release. The cameras, on the other hand, had no trouble getting a good view of Cato and they jumped back and forth between Katniss and Peeta on The Horn and Cato on the ground.
It was then, not long into the horrific scene, when Madge came into the hall. Gale didn’t miss the few whispered remarks directed at her and he was sure Madge hadn’t missed them either.
“You shouldn’t be here,” he said, though not unkindly. He could tell by her face that she had been crying and, knowing her parents, probably watching alone.
“I came to get Primrose,” she said. “She doesn’t need to see this.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Prim told them both without ever looking away from the screen.
Gale knew better than to argue with the girl, so instead he stood up, gave Madge his chair. She took his hand and he let her.
They were all still there, when morning came and finally, finally Cato’s suffering was ended. No one cheered. Instead a collective sigh of relief flooded the room and Katniss’ mother began to openly weep.
It was finally over.
Except, of course, it wasn’t and Gale realized too late how stupid they had all been to trust The Capitol and The Gamemakers for even a second. He had dared to hope, because he needed her to come back to him.
He held his breath waiting for Katniss’ family to realize what was happening, waiting for Katniss herself to realize it.
Watching Peeta and Katniss’ little relationship play out on screen had made Gale feel like he was burning from the inside out, yet he was never really able to blame Peeta for it anymore than he could blame Katniss. He had even felt relieved when he thought they might both come home. But now, all he could think was that he hoped Katniss realized it first, that she got the upper hand and had a chance to strike before Peeta figured it out, before his moment of hesitation was over.
In a fair fight, Katniss didn’t stand a chance against the boy.
She had to strike and she had to do it now. Even if it meant she would come back a different girl, someone so less recognizable than the girl Gale spent his days with in the woods.
He supposed it was too late for that anyways.
And then, after what felt like days, Katniss pulled out the berries and he knew, knew she had gone mad. It was the only explanation - utter insanity.
It felt like no one in the whole community hall was breathing. Madge hid her face in Gale’s shoulder.
And then someone was tugging on him, pulling him down and whispering, harsh and hot into his ear.
“They’ll come for her family. They’ll kill them, Gale. They’ll kill them.”
Gale felt his heart stop, felt the world itself turn upside down and spin, faster and slower at once.
He looked into the face of his informant, into Greasy Sae’s wide terrified eyes. “Go,” she said. “Go.”
“My family,” and it was a whisper but it sounded loud and raw to his ears.
“I’ll get them.”
Gale stepped forward, saw Madge move in front of him and grab Katniss’ mother by the shoulder. A thought hit him then and he turned back to Greasy Sae but she was gone, having slipped out already into the street.
Ripper was there now and it was no longer a whisper when Gale said, “Peeta’s family.” Ripper was gone before Gale could blink.
Katniss’ desperate face was on the television and her expression looked so much like the day she had said goodbye to Gale, the day she had pleaded with him, “Don’t let them starve,” that Gale felt his legs nearly give out beneath him.
“Go,” he said. “Go now.”
Mrs. Everdeen began wailing, even as Madge shoved her towards the door. When he threw Primrose over his shoulder, she never took her eyes off the screen.
Gale carried her out and he never looked back.