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Rainy Season (Secret Santa for BONGO- Hunger Games)


Dusty15

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A little 'slice of life' in District 12, set between the first and second book of the Hunger Games series. A Secret Santa fic for Bongo featuring two of her favourite HG characters- Gale and Peeta.

Enjoy! :)

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Life in District 12 can be particularly harsh, especially come late autumn when the temperatures drop and the wind through the hills can be so biting I've taken to wearing my scarf up over half of my face. It rains frequently with big, fat droplets of freezing water pelting the village. Mother has seen a parade of illness these past weeks, with adults and youths alike struggling with colds and coughs and all sorts of maladies that seem to multiply in damp, cold weather.

I've been spared illness so far, even with all the sufferers visiting our kitchen. And our home in the Victor's Village is much warmed and drier than any of the shacks in the village. I spend most of my time out of the house anyhow, hunting in the woods with Gale or trading in the Hob. And of course, I see Peeta, though our relationship has been strained since the end of the Games. Things are different with Gale too, of course, but out in the woods hunting things are simpler and less conversation is needed. Gale and I exist in a comfortable silence, whereas with Peeta I'm constantly forced to talk things out.

Either way, nothing has been the same since the Games. Everything feels tense and I constantly feel like I'm being watched. And truthfully, I probably am.

I'm supposed to spend time with Peeta today, but I'd rather be out in the woods. Still, if I'm not seen visiting Peeta frequently, the Capital will become suspicious.

Peeta lives alone for the most part. His family kept their bakery, despite his prize money, and they tend to stay on the premises there rather than in his cottage in the Victor's Village. Peeta's relationship with his family is so different from my own, and they've never relied on him the way Mother and Prim do on me.

I knock on Peeta's door and wait for him to answer. Even from the front stoop I can smell freshly baked bread.

Peeta finally opens the door after a few moments of me shivering in the drizzling rain. He has a heavy sweater on and the large hearth in the living room is lit with a roaring fire. I shut the door behind me and join him in the pair of matching armchairs across from the fire.

“How're you?” I ask.

“Fine, thanks,” he replies. His eyes look tired and his voice sounds deeper than normal. “Do you want some tea or something?”

“Just water is fine,” I tell him. He goes off to fetch drinks while I stare at the fire, fiddling with the fringe on my scarf. He returns carrying a tray with my water and a mug of tea for himself. A loaf of warm nut bread is in the middle with a pat of butter melting over top. I feel my stomach grumble from the smell alone.

Peeta hands me my water glass and sets down the tray, cupping his mug of tea with both hands to take a sip.

“The bread smells really good,” I tell him, eagerly tearing off a piece to eat. He smiles and shrugs.

“Baking keeps me busy, I guess. Something to do to help not think about...well you know...all of it.”

I nod. Maybe baking for Peeta is like the woods are for me.

“How are your mother and Prim?” Peeta asks.

“Oh, they're good,” I tell him. “I think it's hard for Prim to be living out here instead of nearer to her friends, but the house is an improvement, obviously. It's still strange to live somewhere so big.”

“I know,” Peeta replies. “I barely go in half the rooms. I didn't even ask for furniture for the study...what would I even do in there?”

I shrug and chew my bit of bread. Peeta sips at his tea, but he keeps stopping to clear his throat. I tear off another chunk of bread and offer it to him, but he refuses with a sniffle.

He's awfully quiet today and I'm in no mood to make idle conversation, so we sit mostly in silence with only the sounds of my chewing and Peeta's increasingly frequent sniffling.

“Do you need a handkerchief?” I ask after the sniffles have reached such an irritating level of frequency. I dig a slightly dirt-smudged cloth from my pocket.

“No, thank you, I have one,” Peeta says, taking a substantially cleaner cloth from his pocket and folding it over his nose, giving a very soft and restrained blow. It seems to trigger a tickle in his nose, because he wrinkles it irritably and pitches forward with a congested-sounded sneeze.

Hehh'TSH-GsHHTT!

“Bless you,” I offer. I wonder if he's caught the illness spreading through the village. The last thing I wanted today was to be surrounded by more cold-stricken noses.

“Thanks,” he says. “Sorry. Must've got a tickle.”

“Or the flu,” I say. “Mother's been swamped with cases all week.”

“I think I'm alright,” Peeta says. “Just an itch.”

As he says this, a cough slips past his lips and betrays him by turning to a small fit which he releases into the crook of his arm.

I don't press the subject. Peeta being sick reminds me too much of the Games, when we were in the caves and I was sure I was going to lose him.

“Maybe it is a cold,” Peeta admits.

I sip my water and don't reply.

“Anyway, I'm fine. It's probably just 'cause it's so damp and – ehh...nhh'GSHEXTT!

He sneeze again, congested and gurgling, into his arm. When he opens his eyes after the sneeze, he gives his head a small, irritated shake and rubs at his nose.

“Bless you,” I say again. Peeta blows his nose as I sink back in the chair, wishing I could disappear. Part of me wants to feel sorry for him, to take care of him and nurse him to health. The other part want to run away and pretend I don't feel anything for him because, maybe, it's just easier that way.

We talk idly, interrupted by Peeta's frequent coughs, until we've finished our drinks and settle into silence in front of the fire again.

“I should go,” I say, watching the dancing flames. “I promised Gale I'd go hunting today.”

“You should be more careful, Katniss,” Peeta warns. “They'll be watching. I don't think sneaking out beyond the fence is the wisest thing you can do. I'm surprised Gale is still asking you to go. I'd think he'd want to protect you...heh...ehh'tsgHTT!

“Bless you,” I say distractedly. I'm angry now. How dare Peeta suggest Gale wants to put me in danger? “Don't be stupid, Peeta. Gale isn't forcing me to go. I like it. Besides, he needs to hunt for his family. And he needs my help.”

“I'm just saying be careful,” Peeta says from behind his handkerchief as he wipes his nose. “I'll visit later.”

I stand, brushing bread crumbs from my pants.

“Bye. I'll see you around.”

Peeta walks me to the door and lets me out. As I cross the rain-soaked road between our houses, I know if I turn back I'll see him watching in the lit window. I don't turn around.

In my house I get my worn hunting jacket and adjust my scarf over my face before heading back out towards the border of District 12.

Gale is waiting, sheltered under a tree, equally bundled up in leather and wool. He doesn't raise his head when I arrive at his side.

“Gale?”

“Mhm?” he replies. His gloved hands are steepled in a shield over his nose.

“Ready?”

“Yeah, Katnip, let's go.”

He breathes a puff of warm air into his hands before removing them, revealing a very chapped and red looking nose.

“You sick?” I ask. I already know the answer.

“A cold,” Gale admits. “I feel like shit, but we need dinner for tonight. C'mon.”

I follow him under the wire fence and out into the woods. As soon as we reach our normal path, I spot a grouse in the bushes and raise my bow, but Gale starts to cough as soon as we stop moving. The sound is hoarse and thick, like they must hurt. His face reddens as he holds a gloved hand to his puffing mouth.

“I can catch something on my own,” I say. “Go on home.”

“No,” he says, clearing his throat as the coughs end. “I'm fine.”

I raise an eyebrow in his direction but don't press the subject further.

We walk through the damp, dark forest in search of more game. Gale's usual sure-footed gait is slow and noisy today, not to mention his constant soft sniffles. I hope we come across some slow-witted animal who will allow us to get close even with Gale announcing our approach.

Nhh'GSHXT!!

Gale sneezes, muffled and wet into his sleeve.

“I really don't think we'll find anything if you keep sniffling and sneezing,” I say under my breath, glaring daggers at Gale. He frowns and shrugs.

“We can check the traps. Might have some squirrel.”

With a sigh, I sling my bow over my shoulder and trudge onward towards our snares, praying silently that we'll have at least one small kill.

My prayers are answered in the form of a young hare, trapped by the foot in one of Gale's vine snares. I cut the snare free with my knife and toss the stiff body to Gale, who ties the prize off on his rucksack so it dangles freely as we walk.

The rest of the snares are still empty.

“We should head back. It looks like rain again and I don't think my mother would be pleased to have to treat us both for a chill.”

Gale squints up at the sky and nods.

“I suppose. I still think if we waited we could get a deer.”

“And how are we to carry it back?” I ask. “And there's no way we'd get within a mile of one. Not with the noise you're making today. Let's go.”

We head back to the perimeter of the District, slipping under the fence and back towards town.

“Peeta has a cold too,” I say as we walk by the Hob.

“Does he now?” Gale replies with a sniffle. “Better be careful or you'll catch it too.”

I give Gale a light shove.

“No,” I say. “I had tea there this morning and left. I'd rather be out hunting.”

“And the Capital would rather you stay in that pretty little house of yours down in the Victor's Village,” Gale says. “So get on home and look in on Peeta.”

“You can come too,” I tell him. “Mother will make you some medicines.”

“A bit of stew will do me fine,” he says, holding up our snared prize as he turns towards the path that leads to his house. “See you around, Katnip.”

I watch him go as a steady drizzle of rain begins to fall. As I walk into the Victor's Village, I look across at Peeta's house where a lamp burns brightly in the front room. I turn into my own house and shut the door behind me, shedding my damp jacket and muddy boots.

In the kitchen, I can smell mother's tonics cooking on the stove- the sweet and bitter smells of mint, eucalyptus, ginger, and anise. Perhaps I'll make a few deliveries of them later tonight, I think. For now, I go in search of Prim to take my mind off things.

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This present might not have been for me but ohmygosh this was amazing and perfect! Are you going to continue it?!?! Your writing is amazing and spot on for the fandom and I absolutely love this! Thank you! :)

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This is absolutely fabulous. I love Katniss because of her understatedness in the book, that she doesn't just throw out her emotions to make her an easy character both to write and read. And you captured that perfectly, the two sides she is forced to show, and how she fights her feelings every step of the way.

And the sneezes? So yummy.

Thank you so much for my Christmas gift!

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Both hot males with colds?! My, my you are spoiling us HungerGames fans!.:3 . Really though, this is amazing ! :) . I love it<3 .

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Glad you enjoyed it, Bongo :) I wish I could have explored it a little more in depth...perhaps I'll revisit it later for more! But I'm happy I could capture Katniss' narrative style...I think it's interesting to write from the PoV of someone who is rather guarded about how she really feels.

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