I am experimenting with the idea of FinnickxKatniss (that was a lie. I am OBSESSED). I love Everdair stories and figured to try one of my own. So please tell me what you think since I don't know how I feel about this idea just yet.
Caesar grasps his hand in mine, "Katniss my dear, how are you?"
"Alive," the crowd erupts in laughter and I try to smile. How can they laugh? They just watched 23 children slaughter each other. Disgusted, I try and focus on Caesar, I just need to get through this interview, then this all ends. I can go home to Prim, Gale, the Seam.
"Katniss," he squeezes my hand, "why don't we talk about your fallen lover, Peeta Mellark. How are you feeling?"
The crowd gives me a sympathetic cry, my own sob stuck in the back of my throat. "Sometimes..." I look to Cinna, remembering his words to be myself. Taking a slow breath, I focus on Caesar, "sometimes, I just want to cry when I realize he isn't here with me. Other times I am angry that he isn't sitting here speaking with you instead of me, Caesar." I let out a small laugh, "I wish he was here. He would love to be here with you Caesar, he always enjoyed speaking with you."
"I enjoyed his company as well. We wish you well, Katniss." Caesar squeezes my hand one last time, "now let's watch the highlights of the Games!" He turns his attention to the screen before us along with the crowd.
I wonder how I look to Panem when they cut to me watching the highlights, am I frozen with terror? I think to the Victors before me, some proud of what they see, but most stunned. So shocked at those images that they just can't motivate themselves to evoke any emotion. This year, they tell the story of lovers, they show Peeta and I throughout the Games.
I see myself running from the flames, my fight with the careers, the havoc I created by using the Tracker Jacker nest, and then Rue. Sweet, innocent, small, Rue. I watch our alliance unfold, every moment we spent together. I watch her die, I can't even cry, I am so numb from these Games. I get to watch myself sing to Rue, I get to sing every verse and every note. After a while I feel like I am watching someone else's Games not my own. The only thing they skipped is when I laid Rue in the flowers. Of course they did, I have found more ways than one to upset the Capitol throughout my Games. First volunteering for Prim and my District's silent applause, snubbing the Capitol in the face, telling them that this is wrong. We do not agree. My resistance seems to continue in every action after that moment. I try not to focus on what I know will come next in these Hunger Games.
I should have been paying closer attention. They saw us with the berries, they knew what we would do. If it had worked, I wouldn't be facing this interview alone, Peeta would be here. Why wasn't I alert? My bottom lip quivers, fight Katniss! I lift my chin and let the tears settle back into my eyes. I can't let them see me cry, I focus on the highlights of the Games.
I toss my bow and arrows to the ground. Mistake #1. I watch us lift the berries to our mouths, our quiet count to three, Peeta and I staring at each other. Mistake #2. I watch the dogs come back. They were silent this time, not snarling like they were before. They appeared, I think literally, from the ground. It wouldn't be beyond the Game-makers to do something like that. Peeta gives me one look before standing in front of me, confusion written upon my face. Mistake #3. Even in his last moments he was determined to protect me. They tore at his throat before I could pick my bow and arrows from the ground.
It takes all my strength not to cry when I watch Peeta die in front of me.
When President Snow sets the crown over my head, his smile seems warm and happy, but his eyes are dark, treacherous. I will pay for whatever damage I have done with the stunts I pulled, I will not get away with snubbing the Capitol. I cannot escape. Something uneasy settles into my stomach, I have created an enemy, a very very dangerous one.
When I see Haymitch and pull myself into his arms, I don't even try to hold in my emotions. Haymitch has become family to me, he kept me alive, he tried to keep Peeta alive. He is my fellow Victor. In some ways, Haymitch is a misfit and dysfunctional father, but a parent nonetheless. "It's alright, Sweetheart." It isn't sarcastic or condescending, I think he hurts for Peeta too.
I take a step back and wipe my eyes, "thank you Haymitch. For everything you have done."
He waves me away and opens a small bottle of some kind of spirit. "We should get you to the Banquet."
I am not sure how I will survive this Victory Banquet, people have already been rushing to take a picture with me or shake my hand. My cheeks are burning, I don't know how I can handle another awful smile. As I step into the Presiden'ts mansion that sickening feeling climbs back in, how will I survive tonight in the home of a man who so clearly wants me dead? Effie leads me to a few people who apparently are prominent in the Capitol, when I am suddenly introduced to sponsors who are fighitng for a few seconds with their Victor, just to take a picture or shake my hand.
After a few hours, I begin to reach for the roving glass of wine being passed around, I'm not sure how much more of this I can handle. I have never been one for any type of alcohol, but at this moment I need the relaxation. My feet are throbbing from the shoes I am standing in, my cheeks literally on fire from the forced smiles and fake laughs, I locate a platter of red wine and excuse myself from the burly man commenting on my bravery in the arena. I make my way to the Avox holding my only salvation for this Victory Banquet. I slip it into my hands and stand in a corner nursing the glass slowly, enjoying every sip of silence I have.
"Katniss." I stifle a groan and look up into a pair of sea-green shining eyes. "I don't believe we have been properly introduced."
"I am Finnick, the Finnick Odair."
The Finnick Odair. "Well it's nice to meet you." I keep my disposition pleasant. I have heard of Finnick Odair, a lover for a brief second who disappears without so much as a goodbye. Capitol girls swoon over him and I assume every other girl he encounters as well.
"It gets tiring doesn't it?"
"I can't possibly know what you mean." I take another sip of wine.
"You don't have to pretend," he crunches something in his mouth, "sugar cube?"
"Sugar cube? It's simple you want one or you don't. So do you?"
"Too bad, you are missing out..." He runs the fabric of my dress between his fingers and looks me over, "you know you can make out like a bandit here in the Capitol, jewels, money, anything you could dream of."
I roll my eyes, how dare he even try and insinuate that I have an interest in selling myself to the Capitol and it's grotesque and exorbitant lifestyle. "No thanks, I have more than I will ever need. What do you spend all of your money on anyway?"
"Oh, no. I haven't dealt in anything as common as money in years. You see, Katniss, I use a much less common form of payment." Finnick lowers his voice, "secrets. Would you have any secrets worth my time, Girl on Fire?"
"No, it seems everyone knows my secrets before I know them myself."
"Sadly, I think that is true. I think you and I will become good friends, Katniss."
"What makes you think that?" I try not to snap at him, but it makes it hard when he keeps moving closer to me.
"Because we are Victor's, Katniss. We are the only other allies left. You see, these people aren't our friends, they will try to be, but they won't understand. Your friends back home, well they won't treat you the same way."
I stare at him, Gale wouldn't treat me any differently, Prim would treat me just the same, so would my mother, Darius, Madge. All of them would continue to treat me as they did before. Finnick smiles, "you didn't believe things wouldn't change, did you?" My silence seems answer enough, "Oh, Katniss, the things we have done has changed us. In case you didn't notice, you are not the same person you were before. What makes you think they will look at you the same way if you don't even see yourself the same way? Here." Finnick presses a folded napkin into my hand, "consider me an ally, Katniss. Many of the Victor's don't take the new kid under their wing, but I think that you are something special."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing, nothing at all. You just intrigue me is all, but then again, who isn't intrigued by fire." Finnick flashes me a smile and saunters off to a group of Capitol women who shriek at the sight of his face. I set my glass down and make my way to the group of sponsors I know are searching for me, I open the napkin to see a number scribbled across it. I crumple it up and get ready to toss it in the trash, but I stop myself and slip it into the pocket of my dress. I don't trust Finnick, I decide, as a matter of fact he is much too flirtatious for my liking. However, he made a valid point, I am not one of the poor and starving people of District 12 anymore, I am a Victor. The dynamics of my life have changed, and while I don't want to reach out to anyone but Haymitch, I might need the assistance of someone else like me. Finnick Odair, so far is the only person I can call.