Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games or any characters mentioned in this story!
Note: Spoilers in the A/N, so if you haven't read Catching Fire don't read it the authors note!
I stare at Peeta as realization sets in. I will kill him, or he will kill me. One of us has to die. I will kill Peeta, the boy with the bread.
I load my bow, but when I look up Peeta already has his knife out. I am surprised when he throws it into the lake. All my respect for him leaves when he jumps me. As he wrestles around on top of me, I can feel his hands on my body, like they're searching for something. I know what it is when he stands up. In his hand are the berries.
"Peeta!" I yell, but he just smiles at me. "Please, let me go," I could not believe I was volunteering myself to die, in his place.
"I can't let that happen Katniss, I love you too much," Peeta pauses, "at least you can move on, but I've been in love with you forever, which is far too long to move on. No Katniss, it's me, I'm the one that dies today." Peeta walks to me and places his hand on my face. "One last kiss, Katniss?" He asks, his voice is a whisper, I can barely hear it.
I am so close to crying, but I won't, not when they can see me. I try to keep my face like stone, but Peeta sees the tears in my eyes and stares at them.
"Let them fall," he mouths, but I shake my head at him. He hugs me now, and whispers in my ear, "They won't see them now."
I let them go, only a few, but enough for him to understand that I would miss him, that I appreciated him.
"I love you," I whisper into his shoulder, it's the least I can do to let him die knowing that I love him, even though I mean it in a completely different way. He lets me go and again caresses my face with his hand.
"I know," he says and leans down and kisses me. "I love you, you know that right?" He asks. I nod and he steps back from me, but I still hold his hand.
"You could wait, today doesn't have to be the last day," I say, but he just shakes his head at me.
"You saw the wolves, just think about what else they can do to us, we can't live here forever Katniss." He's right, I know, but it's so hard to process that Peeta will no longer be there.
"I wish one of us had died before they played this trick," I mutter to the ground.
"Well, it didn't happen, so now one of us must die, and it's going to be me." Peeta shouldn't have to die, he is the caring one out of the two of us. He is the one with friends, and he is the one who understands people, Peeta shouldn't have to die.
If only I weren't so selfish, I would take his place, but I am selfish and I don't want to die. Gale and Prim are at home waiting for me, probably watching right now hoping I let him do it. Of course I'll let him do it! I'm too afraid to die and I'm too afraid to let him die. I want to scream.
"Peeta, I," but that is all I can say. I hold his hand still, in vain I give it a gentle squeeze.
"I know, it's difficult for me too," Peeta pauses, "Tell my family what you know I'd want you to say." Cryptic as this is I understand, I know exactly what Peeta would say to them; that they were right, I am the survivor not him, but not because I survive because I sacrifice what's close to me for selfish reasons. Here I go again…
"I will," I say and he smiles, the lovely smile that made us capture the hearts of the audience.
"I figured you would, I'm dying after all." I think he's trying to be funny, but I don't laugh. "Don't be serious right now, Katniss, just let me see you happy for my last few minutes."
"I wish I could freeze this moment," I say.
"Me too." He looks at me and his eyebrow twitches.
"We can have it until sunset," I say, I don't want to let him go yet.
"Sunset," He agrees. Sunset will be in a couple hours, but that's long enough for goodbye. Peeta and I walk into the shade and sit down.
"As friends, Peeta, I want us to be friends right now," I say.
"Stop objectifying me, Katniss," He says, but I know he's joking. The smile on his face gives him away.
"That's my specialty," I say smiling.
"Wish it wasn't, but there's no use changing you."
"That's true, there's not enough time anyway." I say and immediately regret it. Why? Why do I say things that will only bring us back to reality, that isn't what I wanted.
"Yeah," Peeta says; he isn't looking at me anymore, he's looking at the sun.
"So, I wonder what kind of bread they'll eat at the celebration ceremonies."
"Probably something with your face on it, the face of Katniss! Winner of the 74th Hunger Games!" He laughs as he says it.
"I don't think I want people eating my face," I say, the second non-serious thing I've said since the announcement, I have to try hard for Peeta's sake.
"I just wish I could eat all the food in the world before sunset," He says, and I get an idea. I kiss him, long and hard and then stop. I lean into him and put my mouth by his ear, I cup my hands around it so they can't see.
"Now wait, you never know what might come floating down from the sky," I say, and I hug him. It doesn't take to long for the silver parachute to come down. Inside is a feast, including the stew we both loved so much.
Peeta eats a muffin first, but my bowl is filled with the stew. We eat everything, the muffins, the rolls, the stew, the cookies…everything. I'm happy Peeta got at least one wish granted.
It's nearing sunset now, and I am wrapped in Peeta's arms. The time is quickly approaching and the last thing I want to do is to let him go.
"It's time Katniss," Peeta says and I nod. "I love you, I'm happy I got to spend some time with you before I died."
"I love you to Peeta," I say, again I know that it's not the same way, but who needs to clarify? Peeta will be gone soon. Peeta kisses me and then hugs me, I don't let him go.
"I'm doing it now," He says and I feel one of his arms leave my back. "In they go." I hear him chewing, and I squeeze him harder.
"Goodbye, Boy with the Bread," I whisper to him.
"Goodbye Girl on Fire," He whispers back. It doesn't take long for his body to go slack in my arms, when it does we fall to the ground. I hold him, not a single tear running down my face, only anger. If it wasn't for the Capitol this would never have happened.
I know they won't collect him until I move away, but I can't bring myself to do it yet. Instead I stare at his face, his beautiful, boyish face. He looks so serenely happy right now, so full of peace. This was the best way he could've died in the arena, I realize. It's better than be strangled, or stabbed to death, or having your head bashed in by a rock. I remember Cato then, the screams so full of anguish. At least Peeta wasn't mauled until I had the mercy to put him out of his misery.
He died in my arms, happily dwelling in the lie I fed him to survive; I can't regret it though, his death would've been more awful if he had died knowing I didn't love him, knowing it was all an act.
I put him down on the ground, and arrange him nicely, I wish I had the flowers I had for Rue. Instead I clean off al the dirt and grime, I make him pretty. I kiss his forehead and then walk away. The hover craft appears quickly and takes him away, and I am announced winner.
I step off of the train and into District 12, it doesn't take long for Prim to come rushing at me, with my mother following closely. I hug Prim I hold her and I never want to let go, I never want to lose her, but I do let go. She smiles at me and I smile at her. Then my mother hugs me, and I let her. I hug her back, I almost enjoy her embrace.
Gale isn't around, it makes me sad. I hoped he would be there, because if there was one person I wanted to see, it was him, but he's not here. In my search for him I spot Peeta's parents in the crowd and I walk over to them.
"Hello," I say and they nod. "Come, let's talk, I have some things to say to you." They nod again and we leave the crowded square.
I don't say anything until we are all seated comfortably in their bakery. Even then it takes me a bit, I know what to say, I just wish I didn't have to. I wish I could guarantee the words would come without tears. I wish I could remain stoic and not be sympathetic towards them, but I am. I am so sorry for them.
"Peeta was an excellent partner," I say, "I'll miss him very much." His parents nodded. "You were right, though, I survived." I say to his mother. "But I think he wanted you to know that it wasn't because he didn't have the skill to survive, that he died, but because Peeta is selfless, he'll do anything for someone he loves." I realize I'm talking about him as if he's still alive. "He would've done anything for someone he loves," I correct myself.
"Thank you," his father says.
"You're welcome, I wish I could say more, but Peeta doesn't need more. He is an exceptional person, and the actions he does out of love speak more for him than I ever could," I'm doing it again, but I don't care. Peeta is as much alive in me as he is dead.
I don't let them respond, I just leave. I walk to my new house slowly, wishing I could avoid it. I don't want to live next to Haymitch, I'd rather live where I always had.
When I walk inside the huge house no one is there. I yell for my mother and Prim, but no one answers. I walk around exploring, and I happen upon Gale asleep on my couch. Clearly he had been waiting for me here, but I don't know why, he could've come to the square. I touch his shoulder and he bolts upright.
"Katniss," He says, I nod to him and wait for him to continue, but he doesn't.
"Hey Gale," I say instead.
"I'm sorry, for Peeta."
"So is everyone," for some reason I don't want to share Peeta with Gale, I want my memories of him to be mine and mine alone.
"You never cried after he died," He says.
"Did you love him?"
"No, but-" I stop because Gale cut's me off.
"I understand Katniss, I'm glad you came back." He hugs me.
"Me too," I whisper into his shoulder.
"You can cry now," He says, and I do. I was wrong, I would share with Gale everything about Peeta, I would tell him everything. Because Gale was someone who wouldn't feel sorry for me when he went home, he wouldn't tell others how sad I was. He would laugh with me, he would make fun of me, he would say well done to the "Boy with the Bread."
A/N: Thanks to all who read. I just wanted you to know that I hated that Peeta gets taken while knowing the truth about Katniss. I wish he couldn've died in ignorance like this and spared me all the sorrow I felt for him, and the hatred I felt for Katniss. Anways thanks again for reading please comment and give me your thoughts, I accept constructive criticism!