I let out a gasp. I never expected Gale to turn up at my front door. I don't actually know if I like his presence or not. I mean, hr ignored me for two years and didn't even say goodbye, and it was he who designed those bombs that killed her. Oh, no, now I'm thinking about her. But I can't cry, not now. I grab Peeta's arm so the grief will be easier to handle. It helps. Finally, Gale speaks up.
"So, how have you been eh, Catnip?" he says, with a little startled face. What he sees right now is me standing next to a shirtless Peeta in my nightgown. It has to look a little suspicious. I decide that I'm still a little angry with him when I say "Why are you here?" and try to sound unfriendly. When I do, I feel satisfied with myself. Peeta puts his arm around my waist, I bet he feels the tension in the air. Now we really look like a couple to Gale. Good. I don't want him to get his hopes up, I belong to Peeta. Forever. But I still love Gale enough to not feel comfortable with hurting him, so I don't go any further.
"I came here to apologize, ok? To sort things out. Could I talk to you alone? I was thinking about going to the woods." he shoots a glance at Peeta but then looks at me again. I look at Peeta as if to ask if it's ok. He nods. I look at Gale with a meaning look.
"I'll come, on one condition. Don't mention her name. I will break down if you do." I say. Gale understands.
"I'll go get dressed." I tell Gale.
"I'll come too." Peeta says. We walk upstairs together.
"Are you sure you're ok about this? I mean, with me going to the woods all alone with Gale?" I ask him, a little uncertain.
"I trust you. I know you won't do anything. I have some shopping to do in town anyways. But promise me one thing. If he does anything, run home. And I have one condition." he says, coming closer with every sentence.
"ok, I promise. And what's the one condition?" I say, raising my eyebrows. Then, before he can answer, I kiss him hard on the lips. We kiss for maybe 20 seconds, and then I break away. "I love you, Peeta." I say, resting my forehead on his. Then I hear someone clearing his throat on the stairs. We both look there and see Gale. He looks hurt. Oh, no, he saw it all. He even heard me telling Peeta that I love him. I wouldn't be sad about anyone else seeing it, but Gale is still in love with me, I know he is, and I want to hurt him as little as possible.
"I just wondered if I could use the bathroom." Gale says, looking at Peeta angrily.
"Um.. sure, the second door to the left." Peeta answers and pulls me up to the bedroom to get dressed. "You know, Katniss, I think we should try not to be madly in love while he is around, I mean, we still have plenty of time for that." he says.
"Yeah, I think so too. But we have to be enough in love for him not to get his hopes up. If he thinks I'm available, he will definitely go for it." I say, blushing a little.
"Yeah, well, I don't think he will after what he just saw.But yeah, I think you're right. We should get dressed now before something happens. By the way, you got the condition right. And I love you too." he says, smiling at the last part. I smile too, and give him a quick peck on his cheek before getting my hunting gear. We get dressed in silence. Peeta wears a dark green T-shirt and jeans, and I'm wearing comfortable pants, a simple black shirt and my father's old leather jacket. I braid my hair in my everyday braid, and brush my teeth. Peeta does that too. I mean, except the braiding. We go downstairs together.
"Well, now your starting to look like yourself, Catnip! Are you ready to go?" he asks, his expression still looks a little bit hurt.
"Yeah, I guess...?" I say, looking at Peeta. I give him another peck, but this time on his lips. There goes the limit. I won't go any further with Gal around. "Bye." I tell him.
"Bye." he replies, and gives me a smile. I feel like I almost faint at the smile. I look at Gale. He now looks very hurt and looks down at the floor. I walk out the door. Before it closes, I see that Gale shoot a killing gaze at Peeta. I can't believe he is angry with Peeta. It was me who said that I loved him in front of Gale ten minutes ago, and it was me who pecked Peeta on the lips. He just gave me a smile. But yeah, of course, Gale is in love with me, so naturally he has to be jealous of Peeta.
We walk to the fence without saying anything, but when we have passes it and been hidden by the trees, he confronts me.
"So, you and bread boy, eh?"
"He has a name. And yes, me and him." I say.
" I guess I was still hoping, I mean, it has only gone 2 years. Who knew, maybe he hadn't coped from the hijacking. I had to give it a shot." he says, looking at the ground.
"So you lied about the apologizing thing? You're only here to see if I'm available?" I say, snorting and looking away.
"No, I would have left already if that was the only reason, wouldn't I? Besides, it's not too late yet. I know you still have feelings for me." Gale says, raising his eyebrows. I almost throw up at these words.
"HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT! HOW DARE YOU COME BACK AFTER 2 YEARS OF NOTHING AND TRY TO STEAL ME FROM THE MAN I LOVE! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU JUST SAID THAT!" I remember my promise to Peeta and try to leave, but Gale grabs my arm.
"I'm sorry, Catnip, I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry. I can see how much you love him, and I know that you will never feel that way for me, but I can't help myself. I am in love too, you know." I snort. And that person is me. Right. Great. "I want to tell you how sorry I am for her death, Katniss, I really do." He must be serious. He used my real name. "Ever since I went to District 2 I regretted going there. I should at least have said goodbye. I realized, that if I really wanted you to be mine I should've gone to 12 with you after they released you. I regretted that I left so early. I knew that the baker's chances to get you had increased by now, but I still hoped. Now, when I have witnessed your love for each other, I have finally started to let go. I will go back to 2, and try find a wife. But my love for you hasn't faded. And I want you to know that I will always be there for you if you need me. I want you to know that I never expected your sister to die because of something I'd designed, it was Coin who sent the rescuing crew there. I was very sad about her death, because she was my best friends sister, and I had taken care of her while you were in the arena. I don't expect you to forgive me, but I would love to have my hunting partner and best friend back." he finally says.
I am speechless. That was an apology of a kind I haven't heard in a while. I consider forgiving him. I think I have been angry enough with him already.
"I missed you, Gale. Why did you leave me?" I say.
"I'm sorry Katniss. But I'll make it up to you. If you forgive me, I'll come and visit once in a while. We can go hunting. Be friends again. I'll try not to be jealous of bread bo... I mean Peeta. If I find myself a girl, I think I can get over it. Partly, at least. But I will always love you." he says finally.
"Gale, I forgive you. You have shown enough regret for me to do that." I say with a low voice. He pulls me into a hug. I don't hug him back.
"How long will you stay in 12?" I ask.
"I was thinking about staying for about a week, I still have some duties to do in 2. But I'll come and visit soon, I promise." he says reassuringly. "I'll take you back to your house now, it's getting dark." he continues. I remember that Peeta said he had some 'shopping' to do in town, and start wondering what that might be. Me and Gale walk in silence. It feels like the old times, before I went to the games. When we reach the fence, Gale speaks up. "Well see ya later then eh, Catnip?" he starts to sound like his old self.
"Yeah, I guess." I say with a small smile. "Are you staying with Hazelle and the kids? I'm sure they'd love to see you."
"Yeah, that's what I was thinking."
We go through the gate that has been installed in the fence so that people can walk in and out as they want. Paylor got it installed as a thanks for my actions during the rebellion. Me and Gale part. I feel relived to be friends with him again, but I can't wait to see Peeta. I'm not used to being away from him this long. As I reach the victors village, I start running. I don't stop until I reach the door of Peeta's house. I moved here when I couldn't bear the memories of her. I rush into the living room, and find Peeta sitting on the couch. When he sees me, he gets up, takes me in his arms and spins me around. When he puts me down, he kisses me, I let out a little moan of satisfaction. When he hears this, he kisses me even harder and we fall down on the couch, my arms around his neck and his around my waist. When we finally break away from the kiss, gasping for air, he says. "I missed you so much."