Always and Forever

The Life Saver

Madge is in hysterics when we arrive with her unconscious husband. Annie holds her steadily while the rest of us carry Gale inside of their small hut and lay him down.

“We’re going to need something with which to clean the wound on his head then some type of clean bandages to wrap it up with.” Finnick directs. Annie nods and ducks back outside leaving me to be with Madge. She is as wild as ever, sobbing uncontrollably while never taking her wide eyes off of Gale. I keep her in one corner of the shelter while Finnick and Peeta get her husband comfortable and wait for Annie to return. She does, just a few minutes later, with an armful of scraps from that old dress that she washed in the sea and some medicine from Colette. Colette had helped us bring Gale inside then after making sure we didn’t need any of her help, went back to her own shelter.

Peeta comes over to sit next to Madge and I while Finnick and Annie clean the blood away from Gale’s injury. Then she wraps the strips of fabric around his head. Madge has quieted down some and so we let her go lie next to Gale. Now all that we can do is wait for him to wake up. She kisses his head then snuggles down beside his unconscious form and closes her eyes; the occasional hiccup is the only sound there is. We say good-bye even though she doesn’t seem to acknowledge any of us and all make our way back to our respective huts.

“You think he’ll be okay?” I ask Finn and Annie before we part ways.

“We can only hope.” Finnick whispers.

“But he’s strong, I’m sure he’ll pull through.” Annie encourages. I give her a small and thankful smile before linking my arm with Peeta’s and heading to our own shelter. I can barely spot Colette’s small form through the trees, sitting outside of her little hut just like nothing unusual happened. She waves to us and we wave back then just a few steps later we duck inside to our little home. The first thing I notice is the pile of fruit in one corner, all stacked nicely and ready to be eaten.

“Wow you sure were successful.” I say and Peeta nods. “Yeah, we’re not sure how long it’ll be before the fruit is gone so we’re trying to get as much as we can while we still have it.”

“That’s smart.”

“Where is your catch?” He asks, looking around the small room. “I left it in the kitchen, I still need to clean the animals though, want to help?”

Peeta grimaces when I ask this. I just laugh and push away the piece of fabric dividing the bedroom from our little open aired kitchen.

During one of our explorations of the island we found another half buried iron pot and everyone insisted that Peeta and I take it. It’s been nice to make stews and soups in it with our limited kinds of meat and few herbs, but at least we don’t go hungry. Two weeks ago I went with the girls to pick fruit and the guys stayed here and built a few benches so that we have something proper to sit on when we eat. It is pretty much just a flattened and smooth log but looks nice in our kitchen. Besides they didn’t exactly have many tools to work with. Finnick found a really nice long piece of wood and after many days of diligent work mostly with his knife, he smoothed it out and even carved their names into it along with decorative fish, shells and other designs that seem to remind them of District 4. When Finnick was finish he placed it at the head of their make shift bed like a head bored, everyone was pretty impressed. Every little chance I get I try and make our shelter feel more like a real home. It’s kind of difficult since we don’t have much to work with, but we do our best. Colette has probably done the best on hers since she had a lot of provisions off of the ship brought with her.

Madge is finally warming up to her and I even see them talking once in a while. I think that she still doesn’t trust her 100% but it’s a start. Colette has definitely seemed to have proven herself worthy.

Settling down onto our little two person wooden bench, I pick up my knife and skinning materials, then grab one of the two rabbits off of the ground. I also notice that 4 fish are lying on some kind of a tarp in the shade to keep cool. Finnick must have dropped them off before going on his walk with Annie. I am quite surprised that we don’t seem to attract animals with all the fresh meat we keep around. Maybe the animals around here are just as scared of us as we are of them, except the tiger of course.

When both rabbits are skinned and gutted and the meat is chopped into bite sized pieces, I throw them into the pot with the fresh water and a handful of leaves that Gale and I found during our hunt. Annie has talked about starting a garden but we don’t exactly have any seeds to plant. I have to admit though that some carrots or potatoes in our stew would make it much more delicious. I’m not sure what grows here exactly but maybe we’ll find some seeds along with the things of the previous occupants of the island.

“How’s it going?” I look up from my work to see Peeta standing in the doorway.

“All done.” I say, pointing to the pot. “I’ll just cover it until we want to eat dinner.”

“Sounds good.” He smiles and comes to sit down next to me on the log bench.

The sun is just beginning to set while we sit there in our three-walled kitchen, side by side, not speaking, just enjoying the silence. A comfortable cool breeze floats in through the window and open wall, ruffling the kitchen/bedroom divider.

Peeta slings his arm loosely around my waist, drawing me closer to him. I sigh contentedly and lay my head on his shoulder. We stay like this for a little while until it is almost completely dark outside. It doesn’t exactly get pitch black at night here on our island, which is nice.

The silence is interrupted by a low rumble in Peeta’s stomach.

“Are you hungry?” I ask laughing lightheartedly.

“I guess so.” He replies with a bashful smile.

“Well let’s get the fire started, the rabbit shouldn’t take too long to cook. If you can’t wait we could have some fruit first.”

“Nah, it’s okay. I’ll be fine.” He assures me. Then placing a soft kiss on my lips he heads outside to the side of our shelter and begins preparing a fire in the little fire pit. We have a little bit of extra roof on the side, just no walls, so that if it rains or something we can still sit outside with a dry fire. Peeta keeps a pile of sticks next to the house so that we never run out of fuel for our fire.

I carry the pot filled with meat, herbs and water and set it on the ground while Peeta lights the fire. Another thing that Colette had in her pack was an enormous amount of waterproof matches with which she generously shared with all of us. So far we haven’t had to try and make a fire with rocks.

We let the fire burn and create coals for a little bit before hooking the pot above it and leaving it to cook. Peeta and I lean back comfortably against the log walls and just watch the fire crackle happily, only getting up to occasionally stir the yummy smelling stew.

“Wouldn’t this taste even better with some potatoes or even tomatoes?” He asks, rubbing his stomach.

“Or fresh rolls from the bakery!” I add, almost drooling as I think of it.

“We can just pretend that we are eating those things while we eat the stew, it might help it taste better.” Peeta suggests.

“I doubt it.” I reply laughing.

Soon the water is boiling and after poking to meat with a fork and deeming it tender enough to eat I get up and retrieve two bowls and spoons. With the bigger ladle Peeta scoops up the water meat stew for both of us then we sit back again on the ground and against the shelter wall, shoulder to shoulder. After letting the contents of my bowl cool off a little in the evening air we dig in, not bothering to savor the juicy meat but just devouring it as fast as we can get it down our throats.

“You know we should probably eat at least two of the fish tonight so they don’t go bad or attract and unwanted visitors.” Peeta mentions while scraping out the rest of his stew and spooning himself another bowl.

“That’s a smart idea, and we could walk the leftovers over to Colette just in case she doesn’t have any tonight.”

“You’re sweet.” Peeta smiles and kisses my nose. I blush slightly in the moonlight and move inside for the fish. I pick up two of them, already gutted, and stab them each with a sharp-ended stick. Handing one to Peeta who has already finished his second bowl of stew, and keeping one for myself, we move the pot to the side and slowly rotate our fish over the burning red, hot coals.

About ten minutes later our fish are ready to eat, so we set them in our empty bowls and begin eating again.

“I knew I smelled food cooking over here.” Peeta and I both look up, our mouths full.

Peeta swallows first, “Hi Colette! Why don’t you join us?”

Colette smiles, “Thanks.”

“There is extra stew in the pot and two fish just inside the door if you’re hungry.” I tell her.

“Well I wouldn’t have been lured over if I wasn’t hungry!” She chuckles and retrieves the fish and our extra plate. I hand her my stick and she spears her meal then holds it over the coals.

“What have you been up to?” Peeta asks, trying to make polite conversation.

“Oh not much.” The young woman replies with a shrug. “Just sitting around.”

“Well you are welcome over here whenever you’d like.” Peeta smiles. I groan inwardly and glare at him although I’m pretty sure he doesn't notice. I like Colette but I don’t really want her invading in on our privacy whenever she wants to.

“Thanks guys. But I wouldn’t want to impose.” She says quietly, keeping her eyes on the rotating fish.

“Oh you wouldn’t be imposing.” Peeta assures her. This time he catches my glare and seems to understand the meaning of it. “I mean not like every day, but if you are feeling lonely then just come on over.” I decide that this is a little better and give Peeta a smile.

Colette’s meal is soon cooked to perfection so while she eats the fish, Peeta and I share a mango for dessert. It's almost a blessing that I didn't have much variety in what I ate when I was little because eating rabbit and mangos everyday could have gotten old pretty quick. Thankfully I still enjoy the food every time I eat it.

“Oh, now I remember the real reason I came over.” Colette pipes up a little bit later.

“You mean it wasn’t for the food?” I ask jokingly.

“Well that was what gave me the motivation.”

Peeta laughs, “So, what did bring you our way?”

“Well,” She begins, “The other day I went for a long walk, just sort of checking out the place and I came across an old shelter. It was pretty well camouflaged and broken down so that’s probably why no one ever found it before. I literally stumbled upon it.”

“What did you find?” Peeta asks eagerly.

“I’m getting to that. So I dug through some of the fallen branches and found absolutely nothing.” Peeta’s face falls and I almost laugh.

“But I thought you found something?” I say, a little annoyed at this game she seems to be playing with us.

“I didn’t find anything at first.” She explains, and when neither of us speaks, she continues, “But then as I was walking I came over some loose dirt that didn’t look like the other dirt. It looked like it had been pulled up then patted down again. So after finding a sharp rock I began digging. After I had gone about a foot deep I hit wood. It took a few hours to pull it out but I did.”

“What was it?” Peeta asks excitedly.

“Well, at first it just looked like a wooden box, but then with the sharp rock I tore the boards away and inside was just a regular backpack.”

“Wow.” I breathe, eager for her to continue with her story.

“It was a big pack and very full.” Then she reaches down behind her and brings up a large pack. Now that I think of it, I didn’t even notice it with her when she arrived. Probably because of the darkness and the dark color of the backpack.

“What’s inside?” Peeta wonders out loud.

“I took out some of the stuff for my own use, an extra blanket and some kitchen supplies but brought the rest over here to see if any of you could use it.” Colette says, placing the pack in the middle of our semi-circle. Peeta immediately opens it and starts pulling things out for us to examine.

There is one more blanket, a little rope, another knife, and surprisingly, a small bundle of baby clothes. Whoever had hid it there must have had a child with them. What are the odds of that? I wonder if they survived.

“Oh Annie and Madge will be so happy!” I exclaim, holding up a little pair of pants and shirt.

“That’s what I thought.” Colette smiles and Peeta brings out the next item. It is a see through plastic bag with a bunch of tiny things inside.

“What are they?” I ask no one in particular.

“Seeds, for planting.” Colette tells us.

“No way! That’s great. Now we can have a garden!” I cry joyously. Maybe the people who hid the backpack meant to come back for it but never got the chance. Hopefully they found a way to get off this island.

“It will be nice to have some added vegetables to our diet.” Colette agrees. There isn’t much else in the pack, we do find a small first aid kit that should be quite handy, maybe there is something inside that could help Gale get better quicker.

“Thanks so much for bringing this over and sharing with us.” I tell Colette sincerely.

“Well what was I going to do with baby clothes?” She laughs. “And I don’t know the first thing about planting a garden.”

“Well thank you nonetheless.” Peeta says smiling.

“No problem.”

Just then there is a crunching of leaves nearby and before we can get any weapons Annie bursts onto our camp.

“Annie, what is it?” Peeta asks, quickly standing up.

“It’s Gale, he woke up for a few minutes an hour ago but now he has a really high fever and looks really bad. He just moans and thrashes around, Madge is going crazy, again.” She says all of this in one breath.

“We’re right behind you.” Peeta assures her and after throwing the contents back inside the pack, but bringing the first aid kit along with an extra blanket, we hurry off after Annie.

Finnick is already inside the hut trying desperately to calm Madge down, but currently it doesn’t seem to be doing much good. He looks very much relieved to see us and immediately hands Madge over to me. I’d rather try and help my friend but instead of grumbling I grasp Madge’s shoulders and lead her outside into the fresh night air.

“Is he going to die?” Madge whimpers into my shoulder. I hold her tightly, “He’s going to fine Madge. And you need to be strong for him, and for your baby.” She nods and begins wiping her tear stained face with the end of her nightshirt. Apparently she wears Gale’s t-shirt to bed just like I do, and I have to say that she looks about 16. We sit on the ground together at the edge of the trees, Madge with her knees drawn up to her chest and me stretched out with my arms under my head.

Madge eventually falls asleep so I leave her and go to get Peeta so that he can carry the sleeping girl to bed. He does so, and once Madge is settled on Finnick and Annie’s bed, we hurry back to check on Gale. He doesn’t seem to get any better, just groans quietly, his head rolling back and forth on the pillow of blankets we made him. His face is shear with sweat but he continues to shiver uncontrollably.

“We need more blankets.” I hear Annie say.

“I’ll get some.” I volunteer without really realizing that I did, and hurry outside. I run all the way to our hut and grab all of our blankets then hurry back. The curtains covering a window whole on either side of their house are opened to let in fresh air and all of the blankets are piled on top and around Gale to try and warm him.

“What did you find in the first-aid kit?” I ask.

Annie answers, “A roll of bandages, we already used some to wrap up his head again. There were Band-Aids and some kind of cream for burns and poisonous plants. Also we found a little bottle of pills, but no one knows what they are.”

“May I see them?” I ask and Annie nods, handing me a small plastic bottle with no label. I unscrew the cap and dump a few of the capsules into my hand.

“Annie!” I cry.

“What is it? What are they?” She asks excitedly.

“They are fever reducer pills. My mother has them!”

“Good job Kat, we should be able to save him now.” Finnick says and wets his rag again, dabbing Gale’s hot forehead.

“We have some fresh drinking water back at our place, you’d better get some.” Annie tells me and I hurry to do it. I bring the water back and the guys place the pill back on Gale’s tongue, then pour the water down his throat until he has swallowed it.

“Let’s hope this works.” Peeta says, sitting back.

“All we can do is wait now.” Finnick sighs and stands up. “I’ll bring Madge back over and the rest of us can get some sleep.”

“I can stay here.” I say, not really wanting to leave Gale.

“No Kat, you need your rest too.” Peeta says firmly but gently. I just nod, not having enough energy to protest.

“I’ll sleep right outside and let you all know when he wakes up.” Colette announces with an air of finality in her voice that no one feels the need to contradict.

“We’ll be over first thing in the morning, if not sooner.” Peeta promises. Taking my hand he leads me back outside.

Finnick heads back over to his place to retrieve Annie, Peeta and I walk to our hut to get some rest. I slip out of my clothes and pull Peeta’s t-shirt over my head. I then remember that we don’t have any blankets that Gale has them all, so I just lay down on the leaves and try to get comfortable. Once Peeta is changed he picks something up off the ground.

“I brought over one of the blankets that weren’t being used.” He says. “Didn’t think you’d want to sleep on the bare ground.” I smile up at him and stand up so that he can lay the old navy blanket over the leaves. Thankfully it is warm enough so that we don’t need one to have over top of us and we can just cuddle together. Peeta is always warm so when I am snuggled up to him it’s almost like a heated blanket.

“Sleep well.” He whispers, kissing my forehead before lying back and closing his eyes. Despite my friend being very sick I fall asleep almost immediately, listening to Peeta’s steady breathing and the beat of us heart.

4 Hours Later~2am

“Hey, guys! Wake up!” I groan and open my eyes. It is still quite dark outside and Peeta is asleep beside me.

“Who’s there?” I call out quietly.

“It’s Finnick.” A voice is heard from outside.

“Come in.” I say, just loud enough for him to hear me.

A few seconds later Finnick enters and I shake Peeta awake.

“What is it? Is it Gale?” I ask, suddenly very worried.

“Yeah. I just wanted to let you both know that his fever just broke and he is now sleeping soundly. He’s out of danger.”

Peeta and I both let out an audible sigh of relief.

“Oh good.” I say. “Thanks for telling us.”

“No problem. Now Annie is waiting for me to go to bed so I’ll see you two in the morning.”

“Thanks again Finn.” Peeta says smiling. Finnick just smiles back and scurries off just as fast as he came. Peeta and I lay back down and he whispers, “You saved him, you know that?”

“Yeah, I guess I helped in the process.”

“If you hadn’t known what those pills were we could have lost him!”

“I don’t know about that.” I reply, my cheeks heating up. I hate compliments.

“You’re a hero Kat.”

“It’s what friends do.” I justify.

“Well you’re my hero.” He whispers.

“Isn’t the girl supposed to say that?” I ask with a smile.

“You’re ruining the moment.” He says with a chuckle. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Lifting my head I lean down and kiss his lips softly.

“Good night.” He whispers and I snuggle once again next to him. And tonight, I actually fall asleep with a smile on my face.

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