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your happiness is all that matters to me

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Gale watched his trap, eying it with sharp eyes.

Suddenly, the bushes rustled and a squirrel dashed out, trapping itself in his trap.

Gale stood up. Success! In days of having no food at all, he finally found him and his family something to eat.

That's when the bushes rustled.

Gale froze and lied down in his hiding place, trying to avoid any movement as he tried to hide his body while looking down from his spot.

Out of the bushes came a small girl, her dark hair braided down her back, olive grey eyes staring inquisitively at the trap. She looked about eleven or twelve, it was hard to tell, and she clutched a small wooden bow and a makeshift quiver filled with arrows.

Gale relaxed and tiptoed down the tree branch, eying the girl. She didn't look really intimidating but after seeing Johanna Mason act weak and defenseless in the 71st Hunger Games, he wasn't taking any chances.

When the girl reached for the trap, presumably trying to take the squirrel from the trap, he decided to make his appearance.

"Hey!"

The girl froze to her spot and almost just as fast, she had nocked an arrow and pointed it at him. Gale raised an eyebrow. "You don't have to steal kid," he chided as the girl's grip on the arrow loosened. "...was cheating the trap," the girl muttered. "What?" Gale asked her, stepping closer as the girl stepped away. He sighed. "I can't hear you!"

"I said I was checking the trap for how to catch stuff without making a goddamn noise!" The girl irritatingly.

"You got spunk, kid, for an eleven-year-old. Speaking of eleven-year-olds, what is one doing out here in the woods?" Gale raised an eyebrow.

"Don't call me kid." The girl scowled. "Also, your eyebrows are trying to escape," she pointed out.

It was Gale's turn to scowl. "What should I call you then?"

The girl muttered, shifting uneasily.

"Well, Catnip, didn't your parents told you not to steal?"

"I told you I was checking the damn trap! And my name's Katniss!" The girl hissed.

"Well, I'm sorry you didn't make it clear enough, Katniss. Wanna hunt?"

(And here starts the forbidden love of Gale Hawthorne for Katniss Everdeen.)
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When Katniss began to stumble forward and was running towards Prim, Gale surged forward, knowing that Katniss was determined not to give her sister over to the Games.

She swiftly sweeps her arms as Prim dazedly bounds for the steps up the stage and pushes Prim behind her. "I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!" She yelled in a clear, loud voice.

Effie Trinket looks surprised. "Oh, I believe we have a volunteer!" she purred as she watched Prim grab for Katniss, her cries of 'NO!' growing louder every minute until Gale swooped in, and grabbed Prim at the waist, carrying her.

"I believe that was quite a dramatic turn of events for District Twelve. Let us welcome this courageous woman, up the stage, dear," Effie clicks her tongue as Katniss blindly went up the stage. "What is your name?"

"Katniss. Katniss Everdeen." She answered mechanically, and Gale could see her struggle to contain her tears and anger inside. "I'd bet that was your sister right? Let's give a big hand for District Twelve's very first volunteer!" Effie gave the small district a big smile.

Instead of applause, District Twelve's residents slowly summoned the courage to place three fingers on their lips and raised them upward in salute for Katniss' brave sacrifice.

Gale's grey eyes stared into Katniss' own as he gave her the salute.

(He knew Katniss would come home; what he hadn't expected was the turn of events.)
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Katniss came home. Gale knew she would.

But what surprised Gale was that she had changed. He thought they were just 'pretending' but since he had discovered that Katniss screamed for Peeta in bed, he broke apart.

Gritting his teeth, he struck his pickaxe hard on the rock in front of him, cracking it open.

He sighed as he picked up the coal. It wasn't Katniss' fault she screamed for Peeta. Peeta was her anchor during the Games. The Games were to blame.
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Katniss stood up, wiping her tears and clutching her bottle of white liquor. Without a word, she made her way out of Haymitch's house and crossed the road to get to her house. Her mind was splitting and aching at the possibilities waiting for her at the Quarter Quell.

She weakly opened the door to her home she just won (her eyes turned into slits; she had ALREADY won) before staggering into well-muscled arms.

Tears filled her eyes. Before she knew it, her dam broke.

"I can't go back there, Gale!" she begged him, clutching his hand tightly as she fell forward into his chest and cried. Katniss, the girl on fire, was wavering.

Gale's arms snaked around her waist and pulled her close, holding her securely as she cried, tears cascading down her face. He hugged her tighter toh im, smelling the liquor on her. But he didn't care. He just held her in his arms and time passed for what seemed like hours until Katniss stopped crying and managed to choke out a sentence.

"Tell me I'm not going back there, Gale. Not going back to the Games," Her gray eyes burned into his own, as she held on to him for support, looking at him as if he had the power to make everything happen. "I..." Gale stopped and buried his face in her hair. "You're not," He murmured into her hair, caressing Katniss' back gently as she relaxed, looking relieved as she sagged, leaning on him for support.

The empty wine bottle slipped from her grasp and shattered into bits.

When Katniss slipped from his grasp and fell unconscious, she took the spark of hope from Gale and extinguished it: the spark of hope that they could be together at last, shattering his dreams and his heart.

(Katniss simply did not know; he knew she wouldn't understand either.)
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"I'll get it," the blonde guy muttered, getting the door, his lips curling downward in a frown as he saw who was at the door. "Oh, it's you."

"Yes, it's me. Can we talk?"

"About?"

"About Katniss."

Peeta ran a hand through his hair before sighing. "Is this about the Games?"

"Yes. Sort of."

"How about midnight? Alley beside my house?"

"Alright then."
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Peeta impatiently tapped his foot. Where was that guy?

Almost immediately, someone appeared out of the shadows of the dark alley they agreed. Peeta jumped back as the other snorted. "You're late," Peeta snapped at him as the other chuckled. "What do you want?"

The other one stopped laughing and took a few moments to gather his composure. "Sorry," he waved his hand nonchalantly. "I just want your reassurance that Katniss stays safe in the Games," he stated.

"We both are trying to keep her alive. I'm not letting her die in the Games," Peeta replied dryly, before turning around, ready to leave.

The other grabbed Peeta's wrist. "Promise me she'll be alive," he insisted. Peeta yanked his wrist away, rubbing the spot where the other's hand had latched tightly on. "She'll be alive! That's my goal for the rest of the Games," the blonde hissed.

They both stood there in awkward silence before the other cleared his throat. "Just do me a favor," Peeta raised an eyebrow. "What?"

"I want you to give this to Katniss." The other fumbled and searched his pockets before uncovering a large gold locket. "Family heirloom. Show this to her in the Games." he said shortly, shoving it into Peeta's hands.

Peeta lifted it and the light from the end of the alley bounced off it, making it softly shine in the darkness. He looked at the other one. "How come you never sold it for money?"

"I was reserving it for Katniss..." he said shyly, looking down. "It's a family tradition. My mother got it from my dad, then Katniss came along and then..." he helplessly gestured before trailing off.

When it was clear that there was nothing left to say, the two departed ways and Gale sighed in relief.

(That relief will turn into regret.)
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Gale smiled at the screen as Peeta opened the locket, revealing the sight of a smiling Prim, her mom smiling and...

Gale's own smile faltered before smiling bigger. Somehow, Peeta found a picture of him smiling and programmed it inside the locket.

Katniss clasped it happily in her hand, thanking Peeta.

He didn't get the credit he deserved but he would do anything. Anything to make his Katniss happy.

(But his happiness wouldn't last forever.)
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When Katniss came to him, bow in one hand and wearing the Mockingjay suit, Gale knew he was in trouble.

"WHAT THE HECK, GALE!" She roared at him furiously.

Gale looked thoroughly confused. "Why?"

"WHY DID YOU DROP THE FRIGGIN' BOMB ON PRIM?" Katniss threw her hands up in the air.

"Prim..." His heart dropped to his stomach. His slim chance of being together with Katniss, that unstable wooden beam, had finally broken. He had worked hard to rebuild it, to rebuild Katniss' love, friendship, and time back. But, because of ignoring Katniss' anguished cries and warnings, he had dropped the bombs with Prim inside the fifteen-meter (let's say there's a limit on every bomb they dropped) radius.

He felt his dam trying to break. He pushed it down. He was not going to show how vulnerable and weak he was to Katniss.

He stared back at Katniss with such intensity. "Prim was there. I couldn't stop the bombs from dropping even if I tried," he defensively replied.

"YOU COULD'VE LISTENED TO MY WARNINGS!" She yelled.

"I WASN'T THERE!" He bellowed back.

"YOU WERE IN CHARGE OF DROPPING THE BOMBS!" She yelled back. "YOU FIRED THE BOMBS WITH ME STILL INSIDE OF THE DROP ZONE WITH A FELLOW REBEL BUT DID YOU LISTEN TO ME? NO!" She shouted angrily, tears making their way down her face.

Gale reached out to wipe it away, to tell her sorry, to forget him. But she pushed his arm away. "Forget it," she snarled.

Gale's eyes hardened. "Fine," he said breezily. "Give me back the locket then."

Katniss looked taken back for a moment. "The locket?"

"MY family heirloom. Give. It. To. Me." Gale emphasized each word, fury overtaking him, as he stretched out his hand.

"This is from Peeta," she hissed, clutching it to her chest, dropping the bow beside her.

"That came from me. Now give it back!" Gale reached over and sharply pulled it out of Katniss' grip hard and pocketing it. Katniss picked her bow up and threw it at Gale in fury. "Give me back MY locket!"

"THAT locket goes to the lucky girl," he muttered, avoiding the bow effortlessly.

Katniss stopped in her tracks, jaw-dropping. "What?"

"IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FOR YOU!" Gale screamed angrily. "But y-you turned yourself over to that baker's brat!" He spat. "It's not yours anymore," he added walking away.

(And he knew he made a big mistake; he was just too much of a coward to admit it.)
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The rebellion was won and he was supposed to be happy. Happy to be free from the Capitol's hold. Free from the hardships.

Instead, Gale felt down.

He was heavily celebrated for his participation and his huge role in the rebellion.

But whenever he saw Katniss' blank stare at his direction, he felt failure.

And he hated how he always catches Peeta with Katniss.
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"Deep in the meadow, under the willow
A bed of grass, a soft green pillow
Lay down your head, and close your sleepy eyes
And when again they open, the sun will rise.

Here it's safe, here it's warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.

Deep in the meadow, hidden far away
A cloak of leaves, A moonbeam ray,
Forget your woes and let your troubles lay
And when again it's morning, they'll wash away.

Here it's safe, here it's warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you."

Hidden in the forest's thick foliage, Gale Hawthorne stared at Katniss and Peeta's happy family. He had long since accepted this.

He slowly took out the golden locket from his pocket and opened it. Instead of Katniss' mother and Prim, it contained only two people smiling, Katniss and Gale.

As long as Katniss is happy, it's worth the pain. He thought painfully.

Gale sighed before taking off, shutting the locket close with a snap as he disappeared back in the woods.