A/N: Hello to anybody reading this! This is a new fanfiction that I (PeetaMellarkLove) am co-writing with the lovely, amazing, fantastic The Dramatic Sneeze.
Ever wondered what happened to Mr. Mellark and Mrs. Everdeen when they were young? Were they ever friends? Maybe more than friends? The purpose of this fic is to tell you their story.
Please give it a chance. R&R, but please don't forget the reviewing part! CC helps us to become better authors and all other reviews encourage us to keep on writing! Almost any review is welcome, signed or anonymous, just no flames please!
Also please check out The Dramatic Sneeze's HG fanfic called Toxicity (IT'S AWESOME) and PeetaMellarkLove's The Victors' Return.
"Cassia, wake up! You're going to be late for school!" my mother yells, banging on the door of my bedroom.
"Mhmm… getting up, getting up," I answer back groggily, rubbing my eyes with the back of my hand. I unwillingly draw back the warm, blue comforter of my bed and manage to pull myself upright. The cool spring air that's wafting in from the open window crawls across my skin and leaves tiny goose bumps all over me. I take a look outside and see that the sun is slowly creeping over the tops of the mountains that divide us and District Eleven.
I smile at the picturesque scene and watch as the sun slowly lights up the sky. Its golden rays illuminate the warm, pinkish tones, making it seem like the sky is blushing. Its colors are vivid and beautiful, looking as though the sky was a blank canvas and an artist painted it with watercolors.
I watch the rising sun for a few more minutes and then decide to get ready for school. Thankfully, this is my last year of school. Next year there will be no homework, no teachers, or no boring lectures to sit through. I can't wait for it; I am definitely looking forward to my freedom.
I quickly glance at the old analog clock on my cluttered bedside table and see that it's seven thirty in the morning; I might be late for school again. If I hurry, I can still make it out of the house in time to stop by Rye's house and walk with him to school. He always makes the walk a bit more enjoyable.
I leave behind the beautiful sunrise and walk into the hallway bathroom. After turning on the shower, I strip down and pull my hair out of its band, letting it fall loose. It drapes over my shoulders long and thick, forming a golden curtain.
When the temperature is perfect, I step in and let the warm water wash over me. The sound of the water droplets bouncing off of the tub lulls me into a daze. I let my eyes fall shut for a second as I feel the knots in my back loosening and my tense muscles relaxing.
I shiver as the last of the chill in my body leaves and I feel thankful for the hot water. My family is one of the few in the area that has hot water at our disposal. Not that I'm saying we waste our water, I'm just grateful for it.
Unlike so many others in District Twelve, my family lives above the poverty line. We have a profitable apothecary shop in town to get us by. Unfortunately, the majority of kids at school just happen to live below the line. I see these kids wherever I go, watch them walk in the school's hallways with their empty, haunted eyes and hollow cheeks. They look so pale and thin, never having nearly the amount of food that my family has. When I pass them in the hall, sometimes they stare at me with glares so cold, I can hardly help but feel frozen on the spot. The kids from the Seam don't take very kindly to me or the other kids who live in town. Occasionally, I feel guilty for being so much better off than them and it pulls at my heartstrings to know that I can't to do anything to help. It's the reason I want to be a healer when I'm out of school.
I'm reluctant to shut off the hot water once I've washed my hair, but I force myself to reach out and turn the valve. Sighing, I step out, grab my towel that's hanging on the towel rack, and wrap it around my body. I wipe the fogged vanity mirror with the back of my hand and snatch up the brush lying on the counter. I quickly run it through my gold locks; when my hair is brushed out, I rush back to my bedroom to change.
I glance at my clock again to check the time.
Seven fifty three! I grimace. School starts at eight forty five; I have to stop by Rye's house and then the walk to school takes at least fifteen minutes. I open the door of my closet, yanking my school uniform off its hanger. I hastily pull on the maroon, plaid skirt and fitted white polo shirt and then glance at my reflection in the full-length mirror on the wall.
It's good enough. I sigh, knowing that I could look even better with more time and effort.
Rushing down the stairs and into the kitchen, I grab the piece of buttered toast that sits on the table. I can eat it on the way to Rye's.
"Bye, Mom, I'll see you later!" I shout into the house, hoping that wherever she is, my mother can hear it.
Thankfully, students are allowed to wear whichever shoes they please, so I slip on my favorite pair of black ballet flats and then head out the door.
As I pass by the Mellark Bakery I can see Rye's mother hanging clothes on a string tied between the wall and a nearby tree. Their home and bakery are all in one building, with the store on the lower level and the living quarters on the second floor. Mrs. Mellark lazily hangs up a shirt that immediately falls to the ground after she lets go. She stares at it for a moment and then rolls her eyes, not bothering to pick it up. I never liked his mother; she always had this sort of bitterness about her. Bitterness and laziness.
"Excuse me, Mrs. Mellark?" I call out to the woman, who looks up at me with bored eyes. "Is Rye about ready?"
She looks at me for a moment and then shrugs carelessly, immediately returning to her work. I sigh in frustration as I march into the Bakery.
At least she's not having another fit of rage, I think, sighing again. Mrs. Mellark may be incredibly depressing, but she has quite the temper. On more than one occasion I have seen Rye come into school with a welt on his cheekbone.
The warm aura of the ovens engulfs me the moment I enter. I breathe in the scent of fresh bread and briefly close my eyes in contentment.
"Morning, Ms. Hawethorne," Mr. Mellark greets me cheerfully as he kneads a glob of dough on the counter. I smile at the sight of him, covered to the elbows in flour and hair unsightly. He grins at me, his lake-like, blue-green eyes creasing at the corners. You can tell by the glimmer in his eyes that he is a wise, kind-hearted man. Personally, I like Mr. Mellark much more than his sullen wife; my feelings towards him are a complete, polar opposite than those I have for his spouse.
"Good morning, Mr. Mellark." I smile. "Is Rye ready?"
He smiles at me and nods his head in the general direction of my friend's bedroom. I nod my own head in thanks and silently climb the stairs up to the second floor and stalk towards his door, which lingers open a crack. I quietly push it open halfway and poke my head inside. Rye stands in front of the full-length mirror next to his dresser, staring at himself with an almost puzzled look on his face.
He wears his everyday school uniform, a simple white button down shirt with our school logo over his heart, and beige slacks. He is supposed to wear a dark red sweater vest over his shirt but he refuses to do so. In fact, his specific words were that by the time he even considered wearing that vest, Panem would be underwater. He always wears a silver ring on his finger and I have yet to find out why he does this. His black shoes are shined to perfection and his hair falls messily over his forehead. His deep blue eyes remind me of an ice crevice; the snow hides it from the naked eye but when you accidentally step on it, you don't have a prayer of seeing the surface again.
"Enjoying the view?" He jumps at my voice and spins around to face me, body tensed. He immediately relaxes and gives a small sigh of relief when he sees my face poking through the door. Rye flashes me a smile as he slings his book bag over one shoulder.
"Yes, actually. As it turns out, I'm a pretty good looking guy." I laugh as we exit his room and clumsily stomp down the stairs. Mr. Mellark, who is just putting a pan of dough into the oven, waves us goodbye as we leave the Bakery. Mrs. Mellark barely glances at us as we stroll down the street toward our school.
I wake up to the sound of my alarm clock beeping loudly on the nightstand beside by bed. The blue digital numbers display seven forty five in the morning. I reach my arm out and slam my palm against the snooze button, effectively silencing the noise.
For a brief moment, I let my eyes drift shut, but force them open again. If I fall asleep, I will never wake up; and besides, Cassia will be here soon so we can walk to school together.
Cassia Hawethorne… The name casts a smile upon my lips. I imagine her smiling face, and I grin even wider than before.
That girl has changed me, turned me into nothing but a confused, lovesick boy. She is always on my mind; she's my first thought when I wake in the morning and my last thought when I sleep at night.
This morning is no different.
Rolling over onto my back, I push the thin blankets off of me. I run my hand across my forehead and find that it's covered in a light sheen of sweat. The same goes for the rest of my body; my bare chest, arms, and legs glisten with it. The earliest of the sun's morning rays peek in through cracks of the blinds that cover my window.
I yawn widely, sucking in the hot humid air. My tiny room – which could barely pass as a coat closet – is located upstairs, right above the ovens in the kitchen, making it the hottest room in the house. The constant heat from the ovens makes my room hot, even during the winter. Of course, I'm used to it, seeing as I've had this room for all my life, but it's still uncomfortable.
I roll out of bed, grab my towel hanging from a hook on the door and head to bathroom to shower.
I'm looking at my reflection in the mirror mounted on my bedroom wall, deep in thought. My blue eyes look inquisitive as I study myself.
A beam of white light streaming in from the window casts over my hand and I look at the ring positioned there. It glints in the sun, throwing little reflections onto the ceiling.
I remember the day that my father gave it to me.
"What's it for, Dad?" I had asked. I was only fourteen at the time.
"Well, Rye, It's a purity ring. You're getting older and I want you to promise me one thing. Stay pure until after marriage," my dad said, pressing the brilliant silver band into my palm.
At first, wearing it was a little embarrassing, but the older I got, the more sense it made to me. My first time should be special and the girl had to be the one. Now I know that I've found her. It's just the matter of her finding love in me.
I look back at the mirror. My brown hair falls in soft waves over my forehead, my robin's egg blue eyes stare straight back at me. I must be somewhat good-looking because girls at school whisper when I pass them in the halls, and I'm pretty sure that I'm a nice guy.
I stare at myself, not in vain but because I'm searching for something… an answer.
I guess she just doesn't see me the way that I see her. My face falls a little when I think of this.
But who wouldn't be crazy about that girl? She's amazing. Beautiful, smart, caring… there are an infinite number of reasons that I'm in love with her; if I tried to make a list of every single good thing about her, it would probably reach from earth to the sun.
She's brave and fearless, rolling with every punch the world throws at her. I've dated other girls before, but none of them can even compare with Cassia. Unlike any other girl I've dated, Cassia is real – down to earth, as some would put it.
Her goodness seems to change the air around me, making me want to be a better person too.
"Enjoying the view?" a soft, innocent voice pipes from a few feet behind me. I jump slightly in surprise and whip around to see the perfectly chiseled face that I love so dearly. Cassia smiles innocently at me, and I return it as I sling my schoolbag over my shoulder.
"Yes, actually. As it turns out, I'm a pretty good looking guy." Her warm, childlike laugh fills my tiny room and widens my smile. I hope she never loses that laugh. My father waves at us as we exit the bakery, but my mother doesn't even glance our way. If I had to choose one parent over the other, it would definitely be my dad.
My mom is always very morose and careless. And when she isn't this way, there is a vein popping out of her head in anger. I sigh, but keep on walking.
Our routine walk to school takes us through the nicer part of District Twelve. Here, the houses are bigger and much grander compared to those in the Seam. The richest house owners in the district have luscious gardens and freshly cut lawns to boast about.
We pass through a small meadow filled with wildlife. Wildflowers edge the paved walkway and birds chirp overhead. The sun is rising higher and higher in the sky and the droplets of dew on the grass sparkle like a million diamonds.
Cassia abruptly stops walking and shuts her eyes. "Isn't this just beautiful, Rye?" She sighs dreamily and throws her head back carelessly. Her flowing, golden waves blow in the soft breeze and golden rays of sun make her angular face glow. The way she looks right now makes my heart stop.
Yeah, you are, I think. I want to say it out loud, but I know not to. Instead, I give an approving grunt.
She opens her eyes again and turns to look at me. "Wanna have a race, Rye?" she asks.
I raise one of my eyebrows at her. "Seriously?"
Cassia nods her head and smiles. "Come on, I'll race you to school. Don't be a chicken!" She teasingly starts flapping her arms like a bird and makes loud clucking noises.
"Fine, but just don't make me pay any medical bills." I joke. She looks at me, puzzled. I roll my eyes and say, "Oh, for when you choke on my dust."
She laughs, drawing a line in the dirt with her shoe. We line up side by side, using a tree as our starting point.
"Oh, is that what you think is going to happen?" She smiles confidently. I nod. "You couldn't be more wrong, my friend."
"Oh sure, sure." I shrug as we both take sprinting stances. "But no." She rolls her eyes at me and then fixes them on a point about a hundred yards away.
"On your mark," she announces, giving me a sideways glance.
"Get set," I say with equal verve.
And then we take off. Usually, I hate running. I'm not particularly good at it either. But I look at Cassia running beside me and my hatred towards the sport dissolves. Because I don't run when I am with her… I fly.
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-- PeetaMellarkLove and The Dramatic Sneeze.
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