Author's Note: This is just an idea I had, so I'm trying it out. Hopefully it isn't too bad. Not entirely book-compliant. Post-war.


It is five years after the war, when everyone who survived has settled down. Most of the people have gotten themselves a new house as their old ones have been destroyed by the initial bombing, and many of them turn out to be larger than their original ones. District Twelve was designed to accommodate around eight thousand people, so there is a lot space to spare for the roughly one thousand inhabitants. The District has also developed a new system to provide for itself without outside help, and the barrier between the Town and the Seam is no more. Katniss and Peeta have been married for some time now, and are enjoying a reasonably nice life in the Victor's Village, only occasionally troubled by old nightmares.

Gale is visiting his family today, and of course the entire Hawthorne family is excited. For some reason, even if he has a whole week off, he never stays long, usually only one or two days. So when the doorbell rings, it's no surprise to see the entire family rush over to him.

He excuses himself from all the hugs by saying he has to go unpacking, and heading to the room where he will stay in for two days. After five minutes, Rory goes to check in on him, only to see his bags lying untouched on the ground and the owner staring at something out of the window.

"What are you looking at?" Rory follows his gaze to see the location where the Mayor Undersee's house once stood.

"Nothing. I'll just go to have lunch with all of you, okay?"

Rory agrees, and he doesn't spare a thought about his brother's odd behavior throughout the whole ordeal.

The third time he catches him looking out the window Rory decides he can stand this no longer. So he drags his twenty-three-years-old brother to the bedroom they share and orders Gale to tell him what is going on.

"Why do you keep staring at that place?"

"That place is once —"

"— Mayor Undersee's house. So what?"

Gale turns to him and sighs before saying, "His daughter Madge and I . . . we're friends."

"Just friends?" asks Rory, smirking.

"Okay, fine. I like her." Seeing Rory's look he says, "Love her. But not the point. She's dead and she'll never know that I love her. Her death had a huge impact on me. It's partly why I can't stay long."

"What's the other reason?" asks Rory, his interest aroused.

"Not telling."

Rory is really curious now, but knowing Gale, he understands that he'll never know unless Gale wants him to. "Okay fine. Why do you like her?"

"She's nice and kind usually, but she could hold her own in an argument if she had to. And she's really good at playing the piano, too. And — well you wouldn't understand if you haven't loved anyone yet." He faces Rory and asks, "So, have you?"

Rory chooses not to answer and instead says, "And whenever you're with her you feel all happy and feel as if you're floating? And ever since she died your life is all empty and feels as if you have no purpose? Oh, and if you ever found out whoever killed her you would personally make sure that he or she would die a horrible death?"

Gale stares at him, shock evident on his face. "T-that's exactly what I was thinking . . . How . . . ?"

"Nothing really." Rory shrugs. "That's just what I feel."

"So you have loved someone before." Gale looks at his brother and asks, "Who?"

"Prim."

"Primrose Everdeen?"

"Yes. She was killed in the war though." Something flashes across Gale's face, but before Rory identify it, it's gone, leaving an impassive face.

"Oh. I'm sorry." Gale tries to smile consolingly, but anyone can tell that it's forced.

Rory doesn't push it, though and instead says, "So you loved —"

"Love," Gale corrects.

"Love Madge. I love Prim. They both died in the war, taken out by bombs. None of us told her that we love her. Both had blonde hair. Both had a talent for musical instruments. We're more alike than you think we are, you know."

Gale grins, and this time, it isn't forced. "More alike than you think."

Throughout the rest of the day, they share some kind of connection. They have always been the closest out of the four siblings, except maybe for Posy, but now there is no competition. They are caught smiling at nothing in particular, dreaming about another day in another world, where both Madge and Prim are alive, enjoying the day in District Twelve.

After dinner, Rory goes back to his bedroom, to see Gale sitting on his newly set up bed, seemingly brooding about something, muttering under his breath. Rory tries to be quiet so as to not disturb his brother, but years of hunting have made him more aware of his surroundings than the average person. He catches sight of Rory and stops his mumbling at once. Rory opens his mouth to speak but Gale beats him to it.

He takes a deep breath and says, "The other reason why I rarely visit." Rory should have been excited to hear it, but hearing his tone makes him wonder if he really wants to know his brother's secret. Gale continues, "I've been debating whether I should tell you or not. I've succeeded in keeping it hidden for so long, and I really don't want my efforts to be wasted, but . . . well, you deserve the truth. It concerns you too. I'm just going to say it. Try not to hate me so much because of it, okay?"

"Uh, sure?" Rory tries to catch Gale's eye, to figure out what is going on, but he stubbornly refuses to look at him.

"Primrose Everdeen. The bombs that took her out. I designed them."

"What?! " Rory can't believe what he is hearing.

Gale looks at him one last time. "I killed her." And he's gone, swinging the door shut behind him, leaving Rory in a state of utter shock and confusion.


One year later . . .

"Hey mom! We've got mail! It's from . . . Gale?" shouts Vick.

"Gale?" asks Hazelle, her voice a mixture of puzzlement and wonder. He hasn't sent anything since his last visit over a year ago, when he suddenly cut short his visit.

"Yes, him. At least that's what it says. Unless it's a trick or something, yes it's him," answers Vick.

Hazelle runs over to grab the letter from her son's hand, and hurries back to the house to announce the news, followed closely by Vick.

"Rory, Posy!" The people in the room turn to stare at her.

She smiles. "Gale sent us a letter. He says that he has time off from work, and that he could visit us if we want."

"Of course yes! We haven't seen him for ages!" exclaims Posy, while Vick nods in agreement. They turn to their brother.

"No," Rory replies harshly.

"What do you mean?" asks Hazelle. Rory has always jumped at a chance to see his brother, since him having time to visit his family is a rare occurrence.

"I mean no. I do not want to see him."

Posy opens her mouth to speak, but Hazelle silences her with a look. She understands that he doesn't want his siblings to bombard him with questions, and if that happens, he probably won't say anything at all. He is so like his father sometimes.

She walks over to him and says quietly so the others won't overhear, "Come with me. And tell me everything."

She can tell that he doesn't want to but still he goes after her, albeit a bit reluctantly. After telling Posy that they'll be gone for a while, Hazelle brings Rory to the only place where they can be alone without breaking the law. Which means the Meadow.

You'd have thought, since it is now a graveyard, it would be all dark and gloomy and people would avoid it if they can, unless they want to pay respect to the dead. In truth, it is a place where children can play and people can relax. After all, the dead would have wanted the survivors to be happy.

Hazelle settles down on the ground and gestures to the place beside her, telling Rory to do the same. He does so, after a while.

She turns to her son and asks, "What is going on? Why don't you want to see your brother?"

"He's not my brother anymore. Not after what he did in the war."

She is taken aback by the answer, but simply says, "What exactly did he do in the war?"

"He killed Prim. And all those innocent people. Yes, they are Capitol children, but did they deserve it? No. Just because they were raised in the Capitol, does not mean they are evil. Capitol people can be good. They didn't even have a choice of surrendering or not. And all those rebel medics. He probably wasn't aiming for them, but he designed them knowing it would wipe out many innocent lives. I thought we were better than Snow. Shows how much I actually know, huh? Katniss was right. He changed so much in District Thirteen. He wasn't the nicest person at first, but now he's just cruel. No wonder she avoids him nowadays. He killed Prim."

Hazelle listens intently, and suddenly smiles. "What is Prim to you?"

"W-what?"

"What does she mean to you?"

Rory thinks for a moment. "Well, she's my friend. Best friend, maybe. Ever since Katniss introduced us. Also we're in the same grade, and have most classes together, so sometimes we help each other out with homework."

"And in District Thirteen?"

He shrugs. "Well, we still had to learn, right? But she rarely attends, usually focusing on helping the patients. I guess, that's when I started to fall for her. Because she's so kind and caring and all that." He feels pretty uncomfortable saying this to his mother, and fidgets a lot while talking, but he still does it anyway.

"Gale likes Madge. Loves Madge."

"Yeah, I know, he told me. How did you know?"

She rolls her eyes. "I'm his mother, you know. I can tell these things."

"Oh . . . right." He doesn't quite understand, but who is he to argue?

"Well, she died. That's why he changed. Like how you seclude yourself from others after Prim died."

"Yeah, but he still had Katniss. He loves her too."

"Not in the same way. He just convinced himself that, because he has more chance of ending up with Katniss, even with Peeta vying for her, than with Madge, the mayor's daughter."

"Can't argue with that."

Hazelle laughs, before continuing in a more serious voice, "He didn't even get to tell Madge that he loved her. And it's because of the Capitol that she died. This only made him hate the Capitol more. He was blinded by his fury. Prim's death, it wasn't really his fault. He was aiming for the Capitol children, not her. She was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. No, it wasn't right of him to do that, but at least you know why he did it. You should understand. He killed Prim, and now because you're angry, you're blind to the bigger picture. Just like him. You two are more alike than you think. You both lost someone you loved to the war. Think about what I said, okay? I best be going now and finish dinner." Then she gets up and leaves.

Rory follows soon after. He is the first to rush to greet Gale when he arrives by train a week later.


Author's Note: So, what did you think? All feedback is welcome! Also, on a different note, how are you all dealing with the coronavirus pandemic? Hopefully you're OK, and no one close to you has contracted the disease yet. Keep your fingers crossed, everyone!