Hunger Games Fic: To Wish Impossible Things
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Jan. 11th, 2013 | 02:32 pm
music: Never Had - Oscar Isaac
Title: To Wish Impossible Things
Fandom: The Hunger Games
Characters Madge Undersee, Peeta Mellark
Summary: Sometimes it's easy to slip back into some semblance of what they used to be—to pretend there aren't weeks in between where they have no idea what's going on with one another. Sometimes it's enough, to have at least some piece of him. And sometimes it's really not. Madge/Peeta friendship. Set pre-series. Oneshot.
It's 10 p.m. on an autumn night when she hears her name being whispered through her window.
Calm as ever, Madge doesn't even flinch. She merely sets her book down on the nightstand and rises from her bed to peer outside. Peeta's blue eyes blink back at her, and she moves sideways to unlock the glass door leading to her balcony.
"I swear this used to be easier," he greets, grinning as he nods towards the old tree outside her window he had just climbed up.
Her eyes land on his broad shoulders, his muscle toned from years of tossing around heaps of flour, and knows he must be joking.
"You're up late," he says, his worn boots eliciting a soft squeak from the floorboards as he steps into her bedroom.
"As are you," she replies.
She acknowledges him in return with a soft smile, glancing at the boy in front of her. His is a face that hasn't frequented her home in a while, but she doesn't let her surprise show.
"Good news," he declares, watching her shut the door against the nighttime breeze with a gentle push. "Dad's getting better at dodging flying rolling pins."
Though his demeanor is light, there's this tension in his body language that tells her something is wrong. She can still read him so well, no matter how good he is at covering it up. But his tone is casual, so she mirrors it.
"Bad news?" she asks, sitting back down on her pale yellow duvet. "There's always bad news," she adds.
She had meant it to be a conversational response, but the words don't sit right with her after.
He takes a seat at the foot of her bed and glances at the tiny embroidered flowers in the fabric before looking back up at her.
"Bad news, I guess, is…" His hand unconsciously plays with a stray thread, twisting it idly between his fingertips. "I'm not."
When he turns his head, she gets a better look at him under the lamplight. A fresh bruise peppers his skin and without another word she's up on her feet to retrieve some ice and ointment for the welt rising on his cheek. He sighs; his intention wasn't to make her worry, but knows by now that telling her she doesn't need to do this won't change her plans.
When she returns, he's back out on her balcony, his legs dangling over the edge as he stares out at the darkened sky.
She drops down next to him, her small frame scooting between two pillars before she tilts his chin towards her. Keeping her movement ginger, she rests the ice wrapped in a kitchen cloth gently atop his wound. She tries not to think of how no matter how long it's been since they've had a real conversation, this will probably always feel routine.
She briefly wonders if he goes to his school friends with bruises, but dismisses that thought as well.
He thanks her and replaces her hand with his over the cloth and she turns forward, gazing at what the schoolyard kids would call her kingdom. There's this soft, scattered orange light emanating from every other home still lit up this time of night.
She thinks of the resentful murmurs cast her way. The mayor's daughter, never having to worry about starvation. They assume she never thinks of the children in the homes of their district who go to bed hungry and wake up the same, but that doesn't mean it's true. Her heart aches with a kind of helpless guilt you can't help but drown in.
"Everything looks so tiny from up here," he murmurs, and his words draw her in like a net. "When we were kids…it felt like nothing bad could touch us."
The way his face falters then in the half-light makes her shiver, but she tells herself it's just the wind. She almost reaches her hand out to cover his but she doesn't know if that's something she can still do.
"You okay?" she asks instead, knowing he isn't.
"Great. I'm great."
He offers her a smile that even reaches his eyes and it's so convincing she releases this little frustrated sigh and turns away. He laughs a little and she copies this too, though neither really finds it funny. "What about you?"
"What about me?"
The way he utters her name gives her the feeling she should already know the answer to his question. He withdraws the makeshift icepack from his swelled face.
"How come I never see you anymore?"
She doesn't say anything. Somehow answering with how his mother hates her or his popularity carried him away or that she's losing a piece of her mother every day or him simply not needing her anymore do not seem like good responses at the time. As tempting as it was to release those thoughts into the moonlight, he has too good, too wounded a heart to deserve that kind of response from her now.
"You're seeing me right now."
She wraps her sweater closer around as a light wind picks up. Her eyes remain straight ahead.
"You know that's not what I mean. Sometimes, you just…"
He fails to finish the sentence, but she gains the immovable feeling the word 'disappear' was about to drift from his mouth.
She's quiet for a long time and she wishes he'd let it go, but he knows her and knows that her silence can mean a variety of things. So he continues the conversation anyway.
"I only really see you around with…"
"Katniss," he echoes, and she can tell by the way he breathes her name that his heart is as taken as ever.
A smile tugs at the corner of her mouth and she finds herself shifting a little to face him, her arm lightly brushing his. "And even then, you don't really…what?" He trails off once he catches sight of the look she's fixed on him.
"Are you ever going to speak to her?"
He makes a face and her subdued smile only grows.
"I can put in a good word, if you'd like. Or you could just keep staring at her. I'm sure that's fine too. And by 'fine', I do mean—"
"You're changing the subject."
"So are you!" she whispers—which, in hindsight, wasn't much of a whisper at all.
The laugh that bubbled out of her then seemed like a foreign sensation, but it warmed her slightly in the chill air and she didn't hate how it felt.
"Oh, c'mon, I never see you." He adopts a light and teasing tone, but she knows it's a serious statement. "You know, sometimes it feels like we're not friends anymore."
He nudges her and his smile is so charming though, that she almost believes it's all a joke. He leans toward her now, his hand stroking his imaginary blue beard in his best impersonation of Caesar Flickerman. "Tell me Madge, do you hate me?"
When he flashes her his best wry grin, there's no question as to why people like being around him.
"Well, you're sitting next to me and I've yet to call for help or snap one of these branches off to bludgeon you with, so…"
She turns away from him and revels in his subsequent laughter, staring back at the homes of their district. Another light shuts off in the Seam.
She realizes there's so much she can say in that moment, but she doesn't tell him that her mother is dying, she doesn't tell him she misses him. She leaves it all unsaid.
Madge thinks of his flock of friends that enjoy his company, but don't really know him. She wonders if you can still be lonely this way. But then she thinks of family parties, the feeling of being surrounded by strangers and already knows the answer to that.
"I should probably get home," he's saying now, and she shakes herself from her thoughts. "I'm keeping you up."
She doesn't protest or acknowledge the disappointment that creeps into her system. What she does is tries to press some extra medicine into his hand to take with him, but he declines. They know his mother wouldn't exactly be ecstatic if she saw him with it. Small house, no secrets. She used to wish Peeta could just live in one of the spare bedrooms here. The only thing they're filled with is silence.
She leads him to the back door and wraps her arms around him in a brief hug. Sometimes it's easy to slip back into some semblance of what they used to be—to pretend there aren't weeks in between where they have no idea what's going on with one another. Sometimes it's enough, to have at least some piece of him. And sometimes it's really not.
And it's then it hits her how much she wants him to stay. How much she just wants to be around him. How much she wishes they were still 5-year-olds building blanket forts and creating shadow puppets with their fingers against the wall. And just how much she wants to live in any time before her mother got sick and his didn't want her around and before they forgot how to be there for one another.
With a small smile he bade her good night and turned to leave, but before he could get a yard from the door, she hears her voice reach out to him once again.
"Peeta, to answer your question from before…" She's not quite sure why her words come out nervously, nor is she sure what compelled her to keep speaking in the first place. "Sometimes it's just comfortable..."
Her voice is quiet and he turns back to her as if to really hear her, and she feels the need to clarify. "Being alone."
And it's mostly her truth. It's supposed to be easier to be alone, counting on no one but your own company. Because mothers stayed sick, fathers stayed busy, and peers made assumptions and asked questions she did not want to give any answers to.
Yet somehow when she says it aloud to him, it doesn't sound as logical as it did in her head.
As he nods gently in response, his face says what he's too polite to: Do you really believe that?
She watches him go, tracing his path through the dirt and the small scattered line of trees towards his home.
I have to, she thought in his wake.
But said nothing.
Author's Note: So. I'm sitting on a ridiculous amount of Underlark I've written, but I'm kind of at a total loss as to how I can organize it all into one multi-chapter, so I'm going to keep posting oneshots when I can for now. Though I'm still hoping I can find a way to piece together this particular storyline. We shall see.
Thanks for reading! Reviews are love.