Promise To Keep
Disclaimer-I do not now, nor have I ever owned the Hunger Games. So there.
Completely annoying authors note:
So once upon a time I used to write fan fiction. I wrote exclusively for Buffy the Vampire Slayer for five years. At that time, I wrote the Granddaddy of the AU fics called Speedway. No vamps no Slayers, just rubbin' is racing. According to some people, it was a pretty good analogy for Vampirism. Go figure. Then, I lost my love for Spuffy and anything Buffy related and retired. LOL. But I dabbled in other fandoms, Tinman, Sky High, Hairspray (I profusely apologize to those following my unfinished fics. I suck, I know.) So, I really figured I'd never write another word of fan fiction ever again. Then I read the Hunger Games. And I saw the movies. More specifically I saw Catching Fire. And even though I could be his mother, I fell in love with Josh Hutcherson. Seriously a cutey. Then, after countless hours of reading the acres and acres of fantastic fiction here, I got a plot bunny. A….wait for it….AU! I wasn't going to start posting until I was completely finished, but I decided that since I'm almost about 80% done, I'd go ahead and start posting. I plan on posting once a week as I get the chapters typed up. I do not have a beta, so I apologize for any glaring errors in advance. You can follow me on tumblr, using my pen name. I'm not real active yet, but I'll post fic stuff there. So, if you made it this far, on with the show!
Summary-Young widow Katniss Hawthorne could take care of herself and she had no problem letting everyone know. She'd been running her farm, raised a sister, her daughter and kept her handyman from dying of alcohol poisoning in the five years since Gale had died. But when a series of 'accidents' that had been happening over the years turns sinister, Katniss finds baker boy Peeta Mellark stationed in her house. Older, stronger and oh so much more tempting, Katniss is going to have a tough time keeping her hands off, even as danger lurks in the dark.
And So it Starts…
The morning broke soft and warm as Katniss Everdeen-Hawthorne took her first sip of coffee. She was standing by the large double sink in her kitchen, watching as the sun crested the mountains in the distance. Her grey eyes took in the pinks and oranges as a rare smile tugged her lips. Too soon, a cherished sleepy giggle and the padding of slipper-covered feet would disrupt her quiet. But right now, this second was hers.
Katniss waited until the sun fully rose before swallowing the last of her first cup of coffee. She rinsed the mug, rested it on the counter next to the coffee pot to await the next pour. She hurried about now, knowing that if she didn't collect the eggs for breakfast now, her 'help' would break more than they gathered.
Silently, she crossed her kitchen to the tiny mudroom. She slipped on her boots, not bothering to tie them. She was just going right out to the small chicken coop adjacent to the house. As she stepped outside, she took a deep breath of the early fall air and smiled.
Katniss glanced around her yard, the coop to her right, the small garden to the left and the shed just beyond that. In the distance was her barn where her two horses resided. And Haymitch Abernathy.
It was a small, tidy place. Enough for her and her own. There were woods along the border that she hunted in. Not as much as she used to when she was a young newlywed who still new the bite of hunger. Or even before she'd welcomed her little helper into the world. And especially not as much as before she became just as young of a widow. But she still went out at least once every couple of weeks. More during deer season. The butcher in town paid a good price for venison.
The pungent smell of chicken s hit her nostrils when she stepped into the coop. Within ten minutes she was walking back out, the basket she carried from the mudroom filled with half a dozen eggs. Katniss let herself out of the coop, chuckling at the indignant clucks of the chickens. Her mind was a head of her, already in the kitchen, mentally pulling the fresh bacon from the pig they'd slaughtered last week from the fridge, sliding the bread Hazelle had brought from Mellark's Bakery the day before into the toaster.
So engrossed was she in mentally preparing their breakfast, she almost missed the colorful and long explosion of curse words coming from behind the garden shed.
"Haymitch?" Dread filled her as she moved towards the commotion. The sight that met her when she rounded the building made her stomach pitch violently and all thoughts of breakfast a thing of the past. "Shit."
"My thoughts exactly, sweetheart." Haymitch Abernathy said before taking a swig from his ever-present flask. Her silver grey eyes met the icy blue of his briefly before going back to the horror tacked to the back of her shed.
Blood, dark and thick and already attracting flies slid to the ground from the massacred body of the cat. By the coloring of the pelt, what she could make out, it was one of the mousers from the barn and not her sister Primrose's favorite, Buttercup.
"Someone has a boner for you." Haymitch said, shaking his head in disgust. The greasy tendrils of his dirty brown hair danced around his shoulders with the movement.
"Can't prove its him." Katniss said to the unspoken accusation.
"Don't have to prove it. I know what I know. And I know this handiwork."
Katniss nodded then sighted. "I'm going to call Cray. Then get Posy to school. When he's got what he needs, clean this up."
"Whatever you say, sweetheart."
She spared him another glance, then left him to his muttering. A bone crushing fatigue stole over her, hunching her shoulders and pulling her dark brows together in a frown. Things had been happening for years. Since before her husband died. A tractor with flat tires, livestock let out of pens were just a few of the things that had happened. Trees felled across their long driveway. Little things. Annoying things. Things that happened so far apart it had been impossible to notice a pattern. Until the last year, that is. When the accidents had been happening more and more.
Gale would curse their luck for whatever had broken and moved on. Katniss had been perfectly happy to let him. Fewer arguments that way. Then Coriolanus Snow drove up their dusty driveway and made them an offer they shouldn't refuse.
Katniss let herself back into the house and put the eggs on the butcher-block island in the middle of the kitchen. A large entry way spread out to the living room. A separate door led to the small dining room they rarely used. A short hall led back to the hall bath and bedrooms.
The house had been in such bad shape when they'd bought it. She'd thought Gale had lost his mind when he brought her here for the first time. The old, single story farmhouse had been little better than a shack. Not much more than the Seam houses they had grown up in.
"It'll be ours, Catnip. Our own little palace."
Her parents had just died. A drunk driver had pushed them off the road, killing her father instantly. Her mother had woken up once; long enough to find out her husband was gone. Then she gently slipped away herself. Katniss wasn't sure that her mother hadn't willed herself to die. Her crippling grief at losing the foundation of her world had to be pushed away. She had a sister to raise. Prim had been fourteen at the time, and she had to be the priority.
That was one of the reasons she had finally accepted Gale's insistence that they were meant to be and agreed to marry him. Prim needed a family and Katniss loved Gale. She'd just never thought that she would get married. Her parent's dying changed all that.
It had taken the first five years of their marriage to complete their 'palace'. It had also taken him that long to convince her that she did indeed want children. Once she'd made the decision, she became pregnant almost immediately.
Posy had been a mere three days old when Snow's long black car had made that first trek down their driveway. His offer to buy had been met with a firm no. She'd been just over a year when he'd come back to offer Katniss his condolences. His man Thread had been leering at her as she held her whimpering child. It was all she could do not to call the cops and have them escorted off her property. As it were, Peeta Mellark told them to leave for her.
It was tragic that she'd lost both her parents and her husband to car accidents. Her parents because of a drunk driver and Gale because of his temper. She'd never get over her guilt that she was the reason he'd been so angry when he'd left the house that night.
"Good morning!" The front door opened and a female voice lilted through the house.
Shit, Katniss thought as she watched her mother in law walk into the kitchen.
"Morning Hazelle," Katniss snagged her cell phone off the counter and held it. She'd have to tell Hazelle about the cat after she called Cray. "Can you get Posy for me? I have to make a quick call."
Hazelle smiled and agreed quickly. Katniss dialed the Panem Sheriff's Department and was connected with Cray immediately. She'd been talking to him an awful lot lately. It didn't take her long to fill him in.
"Thanks, Cray." Katniss hung up just as the joyful yell filled the room.
"Hey sleepy head." Posy threw herself against her mother's legs; her dark curls an unruly mass around her face. She looked up at Katniss with eyes as grey as summer storm clouds, a wide smile on her kewpie doll mouth.
"Gramma woke me up." Posy told her, her voice full of giggles.
"I know. I sent her in to see why my early bird wasn't looking for her worm yet."
Posy giggled and rubbed her face on Katniss' t-shirt clad stomach. Hazelle gave Katniss a look that told the younger women that she knew who Katniss had called. Katniss sighed and looked back down at her daughter.
"Go get dressed and I'll be there in a minute to braid your hair. How about some toast and applesauce for breakfast?"
"Yummy!" Posy declared, kissing her mothers stomach before taking off down the hall.
Katniss chuckled as she reached for the bread and a slicing knife. She could have them slice it at the bakery, but she preferred to do it herself.
"Katniss," Hazelle was leaning in the spot Katniss had been in less than an hour ago, looking out the window. "Why is Haymitch just standing by the garden shed?"
"He's waiting for Cray," Katniss moved to the counter where the toaster was and dropped the bread in.
"What happened?" Hazelle's voice was tense. She turned her storm grey eyes- the same eyes she shared with her son and granddaughter- to her daughter in law.
"One of the mousers had an accident." Katniss pulled applesauce and milk out of the fridge, then the butter. Posy didn't like jam on her toast.
"An accident?" It was obvious she didn't believe the younger woman.
"Yes." Katniss answered stubbornly. She jumped at the sound of Hazelle's hand slapping hard against the counter. The outburst nearly had her spilling the milk as she tried to pour it into Posy's favorite Hello Kitty cup.
"Dammit." Katniss looked at Hazelle and stifled her sigh at the tears shining in the older woman's eyes. "You should just sell him this place and move you and Posy back to town." Hazelle was assuming it was Snow tormenting them. Katniss wasn't so sure. She knew what Haymitch thought. And she hated to admit that the old drunk was probably onto something.
"I can't do that. This is our home. This is what Gale wanted for us." Katniss recited her defense for staying put one more time. This conversation happened at least every other visit from Hazelle.
"He wouldn't want you to die for it!" Hazelle insisted. Again.
"Look, Hazelle, we're all right. Its just some stupid pranks. After five years you'd think they'd get the point that we won't be scared off. We have Haymitch. I'll get a dog. A big one. We'll be fine."
"Vick or Rory…"
"Are in school." Katniss reminded her. "They don't need to take any time off to babysit us. Their education is too important." Both of her brothers-in-law were currently enrolled at the University of Maryland, living a proper college life in the dorms. Away from their tiny town of Panem. Vick was going to be a doctor. Rory a lawyer. She wouldn't disrupt that.
"Your lives are more important. Sure, its just a flat tire and a dead cat," Hazelle's distaste was written all over her weathered face. "What if it escalates? Whoever it is, is eviscerating animals. That never ends well." Hazelle reached out and gripped her daughter-in-laws hand, her Seam grey eyes boring into Katniss'. "And Haymitch? Pfht. Don't even get me started."
"Mommy? I'm ready." Posy called, saving Katniss from the rest of Hazelle's lecture.
"Coming." Katniss set her daughter's breakfast at her place at the kitchen table. She looked at the worried face of the woman that had been as much of a mother to her as her own had been and sighed. "Look, Hazelle. I'll be careful. Now after Posy eats her breakfast, can you run her to school? I have to wait for Cray."
"Of course," Hazelle waved a hand to indicate it was no problem. "But, Katniss…"
"Hazelle, please." Katniss left it at the slight shake of her head telling the older woman to drop it.
"Mommy, you didn't come." Posy reentered the kitchen, her kewpie mouth pulled into a pout. With a last look at Hazelle, Katniss gently directed her daughter to the table.
"I'm sorry baby. Come eat. I'll braid while you do that. Gramma is going to take you to school, ok?"
With the subject temporarily closed, Hazelle sipped the coffee she'd poured and watched Katniss braid her granddaughter's hair.
a/n pt 2. shorter
Please review. Been a long time since I've attempted to write anything and I'm nervous. See you next week! Lisa/Jypz