|Everything It Takes
Author: Luthien's-Dream PM
Katniss did not attend The Reaping and missed the opportunity to volunteer as tribute in Prim's place. How far will she now go in order to save Prim's life? How much will Peeta give in the arena to protect the sister of the girl he loves? And would Gale defy the capitol to try to end the 74th hunger games? Katniss' POVRated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Katniss E. & Gale H. - Words: 3,191 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 4 - Published: 08-01-12 - id: 8381890
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Summary: Katniss did not attend the Reaping and missed the opportunity to volunteer as tribute in Prim's place. How far will she now go in order to save Prim's life? What will Peeta give in the arena to protect the sister of the girl he loves? And would Gale defy the capitol to try to end the 74th hunger games?
Everything It Takes
Gale and I pick our way back through the forest, winding through the trees with freshly caught fish hanging over our shoulders and our bags stuffed with strawberries and greens. The sun is getting high in the sky and it sends a rippling shadow over the forest floor as the leaves dapple the sunlight. It would almost be peaceful, walking here with Gale, my best friend, if it weren't for knowing what awaits us back home.
The 74th annual Hunger Games reaping is today. The Hunger Games are the capitols own cruel way of showing us that they have ultimate control over our lives. And that they can take away those lives just like that. It's not something I try to dwell on too much. Gale is the bitter one, who holds a hatred for the Capitol that runs deep into his bones. Often he talks about the oppression we live in, but only ever here, in the woods, where there are no peacekeepers to overhear or informants who would tell of his rebellious thoughts.
Earlier he suggested we could run away. Right now. Live in the woods, hunt to survive. That is partly why we are walking in this uneasy silence. Because it was a foolish notion and I expressed my thoughts perhaps a little too harshly. But how could he suggest that we run away, with my mother and my sister Prim to look after, Gale with his parents and two younger brothers; all these people that rely on us to provide for them. We could never leave them.
We wind up at the fence, its thick chain links and curls of barbed wire across the top are another symbol of our suppression by the capitol. They say it's to protect us from the predators in the woods but to me it had always felt more like we are the ones who have been penned in.
I am crouching down to crawl through the small gap under the fence that makes it possible for us to hunt here when Gale suddenly grabs the back of me.
"Stop Katniss." I stop immediately, used to responding to Gale when he warns me of danger. Almost immediately I understand why he's stopped me. The air is filled with a buzzing that I know means that the electricity has been switched on in the fence. Here in District 12 we rarely have electricity so most of the time the electric fence that surrounds the district is perfectly safe to touch. I shuffle back from the wire and stand back up.
"Great, what do we do now?"
"Wait I suppose." Gale replies. This is what we usually do if the fence is live when we try to get back through. Prim comes to check when I don't return home to save her and my mother from worry. But today is different. Today we must be at the reaping or the peacekeepers will come knocking and we'll be in all kinds of trouble when we eventually do get back. But there are still a few hours before the reaping starts so I guess there's no harm in waiting as the electricity never usually lasts for more than an hour.
We walk back several metres to where there is a tall tree we can use to hide from predators and to avoid being seen by any passers-by on the other side of the fence. However we are still close enough to hear the hum of the fence to know when it is switched back off. I sit next to Gale, resting my bag in the gap between my stomach and where my knees are propped up. My fingers pick at leaves as I try to think of something to say to take Gale's mind off the reaping. I know that is what he is thinking of as it is the only thing that fills my head right now. But I can't come up with any topic so we remain silent for a long time, the only noise being that of the forest and the monotonous fence.
"Look after them will you?" My head snaps up to see Gale, his face emotionless and his gaze fixed on the ground. "If it's my name they pick."
I could tell Gale that it won't be. That his name would not be picked amongst the thousands of other names. But I can't make a promise like that because both him and I would know it wouldn't be true. Gale has been taken tesserae for him and his family for the last seven years and since the entries are cumulative his name is entered 42 times. The odds are not in his favour. Nor are they in mine with my name entered 20 times.
"Yes. Of course. You would do the same for me." It's not a question, I know Gale would look after my mother and Prim if I was chosen. I would do the same for his family. Though I don't know how with only me hunting I would manage to fill all those hungry mouths. Still, I would have to try, for Gale.
He nods and without looking at me I feel his hand cover mine briefly, squeeze it tight, and let go. Thanks. I know he can't put into words what this means to him and I would be embarrassed if he even tried.
I think what it would be like if we were both chosen. How would I kill Gale? How could I kill Gale? How could he kill me? Would he? The arena is brutal and there is no room for friendship in it but right now I am thankful for Gale's comfort, for his warmth beside me. I try to push thoughts of the reaping out of my mind, there is no sense in worrying about something that comes down to chance.
I don't know how long we sit there for but the buzz never ends and the sun is creeping further and further across the sky. Both of us are getting restless about it.
"Gale. We have to get back." The reaping will be starting in less than an hour probably.
"I know." He shifts position and stares out at the meadow beyond. "But how? Touch that fence and the odds definitely won't be in our favour." He jokes, doing an impression of the capitol accent.
I laugh but then sober; "If we aren't the other side of that fence before the reaping begins there'll be hell to pay."
"What do you suggest? Tunnelling under? That fence goes deep Katniss."
I purse my lips in thought and turn around looking at the fence. The branches of this tree don't reach close enough but if we could find a tree whose branches are strong enough to take our weight and reach over the top of the fence we could jump over. Gale seems to read my mind.
"Don't be stupid Katniss, the fence is way too high. You could really hurt yourself landing from that height."
"Well unless you can come up with a better plan I don't see what option we have." I snap back at him and start climbing down. With an exasperated sigh Gale follows me and I know he doesn't have a better idea.
We move quickly along close to the fence searching for a tree that would do the job. After about a kilometre we spot one; a tall oak with a branch that hangs a fair bit over the top of the wire. I start to climb but Gale stops me.
"Let me go first, I'll catch you once I'm down."
"If you don't break the branch with your weight first!" I joke back. Whilst being considerably taller than me Gale is hardly a heavyweight; no one who grows up in the Seam is ever particularly well built.
Gale edges along the branch, testing it first to see if it will hold his weight before shimmying further along. When he reaches past the fence line he lowers himself down until he's hanging by his hands. He gentIy tosses our bags and the fish which he has taken from me to the ground a few metres off from where he will land. I hold my breath and I'm sure he does too as he drops. He lets out a short cry as he lands on his feet but he bends his knees and rolls to absorb the shock. Still, I'm sure by the way he gets gingerly to his feet that he's damaged at least one ankle.
I'm already halfway across the branch by the time Gale looks back up at me and is positioning himself beneath me. "Don't be stupid Gale, I'll only kick you in the face, move out of the way."
But he refuses and there's no time to waste with petty arguments so I follow his lead; lower myself down and let go. The fall is relatively quick and I feel my foot scrap past what is probably Gale's shoulder before his arms wrap round me and pull me down on top of him; his body helping to absorb some of the shock of my own fall. He gasps and I've winded him as his back slammed into the ground.
I push myself off of him, apologising profusely but trying hard not to say I told you so. "Are you alright?" I ask once he has his breath back. I hold out my hand and pull him to his feet, noticing him wince as he puts weight on his ankle again. "Is it broken?"
Gale shakes his head, "Just twisted I think. Come on, we need to get back." Picking up our bags again and slinging them over his shoulder we set off at a jog through the meadow.
Although we start at a decent pace I can see that Gale is struggling. His pace, usually far quicker than mine when we have to sprint, was slowing and he was making less of an attempt to disguise the pain he was in each time his left foot hit the ground.
"We should stop, you need to rest."
"We don't have time. The Reaping will be beginning any minute now."
"It's not far to go." I offer him my shoulder, "Here lean on me." His face shows that he's offended – stubborn male pride. "Well at least let me take the bags!" I demand and wrench them off his shoulder. He lets me carry them and we continue at a far slower speed than I would have liked. I try estimating the time by the position of the sun and find that it is far too close to the time that the reaping starts.
Eventually we reach The Seam where both Gale and I live. A quick look around and tells us that everyone is already at the reaping. I bite back a curse wondering what excuse we would give the Peacekeepers for our lateness.
I think about my mother and Prim getting ready for the reaping without me, wondering where I am. We dress up for the reaping, you see if we are chosen as tribute it is important to make a good first impression. My own clothes are covered in dirt and even my hair is in a tangle and falling out of its braid. But we're late as it is and I don't think appearance matters now, we just have to get there.
I imagine Prim walking through the square all on her own. This is her first reaping. She had nightmares last night about it I know as she went to sleep curled up in my mother's bed with that squash faced cat of hers. I feel terrible for not being there, for not holding her hand and reminding her that the chances of her getting picked are remote. Her name is only entered once.
"Let's just dump the bags here and we can collect them afterwards." I suggest. On a normal day we would head off to the Hob – a black market for food and other goods we have illegally obtained. But today there will be no one there. We hide the fish and the other food we have gathered underneath some shrubs growing behind a low wall and quickly travelled towards the square. I can hear the voice of Effie, her high pitched Capitol accent carrying across town. So the reaping ceremony must have already started. Still hanging onto the hope that we could somehow sneak in unnoticed into the crowd and pretend we have been there all along we creep closer.
There comes a sudden silence and we hear no one talking through the microphone, no noise from the crowd. Wondering what is happening we reached the edge of a building closest the square. Effie's voice rang out again but I couldn't work out what she was saying through the walls. Together Gale and I crept round the side of the building and looked out across the crowd towards the stage. The sun is not in the right direction and from this distance the stage is in shadow but I can just about see two dark silhouettes in the centre of the stage. The two tributes had already been chosen.
Relief washes over me. We have not been picked: we have been spared for another year. Then my palms begin to sweat and I feel a chill run through me. What if they had called mine or Gale's name and we had not been there? What if they had then decided to pick a different name? What would happen to us now? What would the people of District 12 think of us? The families of the children who had been chosen in our place? It is a shame I could never bear.
Gale presses his hand on my back and ushers me forwards. There are no peacekeepers pinning people in at the back as this is where the adults and young children of the district stood – those who are immune from the reaping.
We spotted Greasy Sae at the back and tapped her on the shoulder so that we could squeeze past her and get through the crowd to the front, where we were meant to be stood, organized into our age groups. As she turns and sees us an expression passes over her face. Not surprise, or shock at seeing us here. Not anger as it would be if either of our names had been called and someone else had then been chosen to take our place. I couldn't read it and puzzled Gale and I continued to make our way through the crowd.
Suddenly I see her, a few rows in front of us; my mother. I whisper her name and she turns around.
That is when I know. The arms of people next to her are draped around her shoulders. Her face is white, her expression so hollow. It was the same as the day of the explosion in the mine. The day that my father was killed.
My head snaps to the stage and that's when I finally see who is standing there. Prim. It was Prim. My little sister. Whose name is only entered once because I would not allow her to take tesserae. My knees gave way and I felt Gale grab hold of me to stop me from falling over.
Effie's voice is ringing out over the square again but I hardly hear it , "So here we are, our two tributes! Primrose Everdeen and Peeta Mellark! I wish both of you a happy Hunger Games and may the odds be ever in your favour!" Peacekeepers usher the two of them across the stage to the mayor's house before I manage to find my voice again.
"No! No!" I scream and hardly have to push through the crowd as they part for me. "Prim!" She turns to look at me and I see her face full of fear. She looks so young. By this time I am at the front of the crowd near the stage. "No! I volunteer! I volunteer as Tribute!"
Effie Trinket laughs, "Well I do admire your enthusiasm but I'm afraid you're a little late. The time for volunteering has been and gone. Still, there's always next year. Don't worry; you can still have your moment of fame." She winks at me. Is this woman for real? That is my sister!
"You can't!" I practically leapt up at the stage before I felt several hands grab me and pull me back down. "No! You have to let me! I volunteer!" There hasn't been a volunteer in 12 for as long as I can remember. I don't know the precedent for one but they have to let me. They cannot put prim in the Hunger Games.
I struggle against the peacekeepers surrounding me as they try to keep me down.
"Katniss!" I hear Prim's voice cry out for me. Gale's too as I think he is trying to stop me from doing something stupid. He need not bother, I am no match for the swarm of peacekeepers holding me back. If I my bow here now I think I would shoot them all. These people who would watch my sister be killed. Who will not let me take her place.
"Prim." I managed to choke out as I felt the first peacekeeper land a blow on me with his baton, "Prim, don't worry. Don't be scared. I will never let them hurt you." And that is the last thing I remember as suddenly I am lost in a world of pain as blows are raining down on me from all angles. There is a sharp pain in the back of my skull and then I black out.
AN: This is my first HG fic so please be kind with your reviews although I welcome all constructive criticism! I know many fics have been done with Prim entering the HG instead of Katniss but hopefully this is a bit different as it's from Katniss' POV (at least I haven't read any like this so far!)
Also I apologise for any mistakes in tense or grammar or spelling. I don't have a beta – any one offering though would be really welcome ;)
Thanks for reading and don't forget to…