Forgive and Forget

Chapter 3

Two weeks later and Gale had hardly left the house. On his one trip down the road he had been unfortunate enough to pass a flower and herb stall selling rosemary, paprika and, among other things, katniss root. Gale had broken down, right there in the middle of the street. It had taken four ex-soldiers and a couple of builders to carry him home, kicking and screaming all the way.

Gale did not scream at Peeta. He did not scream at her. He screamed at himself. Before the reaping he could have told her his feelings. After, he couldn't find the words. Now it was too late.

She would never know.

Or would she. Had she known all along? Gale doubted it.

As usual, the television had automatically switched itself on, tuning into ONE just in time for the news.

"Hello," began Beetee, his eyes showing no sign of the tears he shed at Katniss' funeral. "Welcome to the six o'clock news. Our main story features the Odair fishing company in District Four which has just reopened after a small fire caused damage to the-"

Gale pressed the OFF button of the remote and sat down on the sofa. It appeared that his housekeeper had visited earlier this afternoon - the smell of furniture polish coated the air and there were fresh flowers on the table.

They were primroses.

On her very first day he had ordered the housekeeper to never bring those into the house. Why would she have..?

It was then that he saw it. Beneath the flowers, hidden away so that Gale may not have seen it if he hadn't been staring intently at them, he noticed the a small snow-white envelope. His name was written on his.

His old, wrinkled hands moved across the table and picked it up. Surprisingly, it was hand-written, a rare sight considering most people had a computer now. Gale couldn't even remember the last time he had been sent a letter.

On the reverse were seventeen post-marks. He could see the symbol for District Four - a trident - and Eleven - an apple tree. In the left hand corner was a stamp from Twelve, showing a fire, and there were two from the Captiol - one Mockingjay in the centre and one on the right-hand side. The letter had been everywhere so it was almost certainly months old. Who could have sent it?

With his frail hands, Gale pulled on the seal, ripping the paper slightly and pulled out the letter.

Dear Gale,

My dear friend. So many times over these long years have I begun to write to you but been unable to find the words to set down on paper. Now, I fear I am reaching the end but find that I cannot leave without speaking to you one final time.

I hope you like the flowers. They have been preserved in a chemical to prevent them from ever wilting and the tips of their petals have been dipped in a liquid made from nightlock and katniss root.

Perhaps you don't want to speak to me. That would be understandable. Once you were my best friend but for the last forty or so years I have ignored you entirely. How are you, Gale? I hope that things have turned out as well for you as they have done for me. I shall not bore you with tiresome details of my life but I hope that maybe I will one day find a reply to this letter at my door with many details about your family.

Time is flying now and I fear that I will leave too many things unsaid. Logic assures me that we will never meet face to face again but I never did listen to logic and I hope that you still don't either. You and I have lived together in poverty and in rebellion, though war and through peace and I know I would not have survived for this long without the knowledge, strength and hope that you have bestowed on me.

My time is ending, Gale, yet I do not fear the end, for I know that there are people waiting for me on the other side. I pray that I will see you again, if not in this life then in the next.

I pray each day to see your face for one final time but know deep inside that I never will. I want you to know that I have forgiven you. I don't and never have blamed you for the loss of my sister and only wish that you hadn't blamed yourself. Then maybe these last years would have been so greatly different. Your are forgiven, my love.

You always taught me never to say goodbye so I will instead bid you farewell.

All my devotion, love and forgiveness,

Catnip

The letter was dated a month ago. This may have been the last thing she had written before she had died, when she had left the house in the middle of the night to write it in their forest.

Gale shed a single tear.

He closed his eyes.

They never opened again.

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