This is an alternate ending to Mockingjay. I'm writing it mainly for myself, because I was unsettled in the manor the story was ended. I'm not changing any of the events, this occurs after Kantiss returns to District 12, it just lengthens what was there and adds a bit more about the rest of the characters. Before anyone's says it, I understand not everyone will agree with what I write, but this is how I imagine it. The italicized text is from the book. And PLEASE review! I want to know what everyone thinks!
[IMPORTANT NOTE] I never liked the name I picked out for the boy and just had a "Eureka moment" so I changed it in case anyone comes back and reads it and notices the change!
Excerpts from Mockingjay, all themes and characters are © Suzanne Collins
…we seal the pages with salt water and promises to live well to make their deaths count. Haymitch finally joins us, contributing twenty-three years of tributes he was force to mentor. Additions become smaller. An old memory that surfaces. A late primose preserved between the pages. Strange bits of happiness, like the photo of Finnick and Annie's newborn son.
The day I receive that picture is not one of my best, because the baby, rightly named Finn, has the same piercing green eyes as his father. I'm thankful I'm alone that day, because I need to mourn my friend in private.
I decide that on top of hunting, I'm going to expand on the primrose bushes Peeta planted and make a garden. I don't know how he knew, but he is there in the garden that morning, and we work in a silent but enjoyable companionship. I take a break, still not as strong as I once was, and sit on the windowsill watching him work. He stops too and helps himself to the pitcher of water Greasy Sae left out for us. There is so much I want to say, but I don't know how.
"She's dead," I blurt out before I can censor myself.
Peeta puts the pitcher down and strides over to me. "Yes," he says.
"Was it all for nothing? She died anyway." This is my most recent internal battle, and I need to hear it from his mouth.
Peeta seems unsure as to what he should do with his hands. At first I think he's going to reach out for me, but when they're half way up he sighs and rests them at his side. "No, Katniss. Because it would have just kept going. More Games, more children dying, more oppression. Nothing would have changed. It could even be worse."
"Worse than everyone we lost?"
This time he doesn't hesitate. He takes his hands and puts them on my shoulders, staring at me intensely with his blue eyes. "They died for this future. It doesn't seem like much yet, I know, but it will be. And if they knew what they helped do, they would tell you the same thing."
The sensation of his touch is immense, and I can barely take it. I search his face and see more of the boy I remember. I smile the best I can and excuse myself to clean up. I don't want him to see me break down.
The days following our conversation leave me depressed, unable to rid myself of the tearing feeling in my chest. I got the confirmation from Peeta that I wanted. Why isn't that enough? I sit in the kitchen day after day, neglecting my garden and my hunting, watching Greasy Sae work instead. Out the window I see Peeta come and go from his house several times, though I'm not sure why. Sure, parts of the town are slowly being restored, but that's not work he does. At least I don't think.
One morning he appears in the doorway with my favorite cheese bread. We exchange a few words and he excuses himself. I check the window, and sure enough I can see him walk towards town again. It turns into a routine. He comes over every morning with fresh bread. He says hello, gives me a smile and heads into town.
"Do you want to stay for breakfast?" I ask out of the blue one day.
Peeta looks surprised but helps himself to a seat and we eat eggs and bread together. We begin to talk, and after an hour I realize Greasy Sae has given us privacy. I'm not even sure when she left. We talk about the garden and he offers to help, mentioning the withered flowers. He asks how hunting has been, which makes me think he may be being fed information on my mood. I give him a shrug, and make a mental note to go hunting tomorrow morning. He tells me a bit about the people working on the town, and how a bunch of shops can be saved and restored. He begins to laugh as he tells me how Thom was working on the Justice building when his pants split in two. Instead of hiding, he just marched around with his underpants showing.
I laugh too, and it's the first time in a while. It's a foreign feeling, and my chest no longer feels so heavy. Before I know what I'm doing, I'm telling him the story about Finnick in his hospital gown, strutting in front of Boggs and me. As I laugh, I begin to cry.
"It's all right," Peeta promises. He takes a clean napkin and wipes my cheeks. "There were good memories too. It's okay to remember them."
We're closer to each other than we have been in a while, and his hand is on my leg. I look down and he begins to pull back, but I cover it with mine. We don't talk again; he just holds my hand and waits for my tears to subside. Before he leaves, he kisses me on the forehead.
The next morning, I eat breakfast alone, confused as to why Peeta never came with bread. I'm about to go hunting, when I run into him at the door. He's begging me to go into town with him.
"Well, I have to go in that direction anyway…" I say cautiously. I can't remember the last time he was this upbeat.
True to his word, there are people working on shops as we walk by. I haven't been in town for weeks, and I'm astonished at how much has been done to it. Some of the shops were already gutted of their old interior, and a few already refinished.
"Close your eyes," Peeta asks, and he's too excited for me to say no.
We walk a few yards farther down and he turns me. "Okay, open them."
It's the bakery. The windows are new and I can see the display and the counter inside have been rebuilt. I look at Peeta, because all though this is wonderful, he still seems awfully giddy. He points above us.
It's one of Peeta's paintings, but in the form of a sign. The words are in perfect script with beautifully painted primroses cascading down both sides.
I'm speechless. None of the stores were ever allowed to be named, and that's when I see not just this sign, but another, and another. The stores aren't even finished yet, but it shows the determination and hope the people have. Two stores down there's a simple wooden sign hanging over what was once a secondhand store. The Hob.
"That's for Greasy Sae," Peeta says. He's standing close to me now, and his hand is carefully placed on my back. I like it, and lean into him a bit more. "She'll probably keep you busy in those woods."
I take in the rest of my surroundings, and turn around to see the beginning of foundations for new houses. There are plows out passed them, making room for even more growth. Off in the distance is where the factory that will produce medicine will be. For the first time, I see more than bad memories. I see the future everyone else has believed in for a while now.
"Well, I'll leave you to your hunting," Peeta says, quietly. I don't know why he seems sad, until I realize I haven't said a word about the sign.
I turn to him and his hand wraps around my waist. Looking up I finally find him. I see the boy with the bread. I thought the Capitol had taken him from me too, but they hadn't. I put my arms around his neck and smile for real. Not fake, not forced.
He pulls me in even closer and without question he leans down and kisses me. Something stirs in me slightly as the kisses continue and I soak up his warmth, his kindness, and his love. When he pulls away I bury my head in the crook of his neck.
Laying in bed later on that night I find myself unable to sleep, and not because of the nightmares. I slip out of bed and put my robe over my pajamas. Somehow I find my shoes. I patter across the street in the pitch dark and find myself on his front steps. I knock.
"Katniss?" Peeta answers, still half asleep. "What's wrong?"
I don't know what to say, I only know how I feel which doesn't seem to have any words that go with it. He reaches for my hand and I give it to him. He leads me to his room, takes off my robe, and tucks me into bed with him. I'm once again, safe in his arms.
That night when I feel that thing again, the hunger that overtook me on the beach, I know this would have happened anyway. That what I need to survive is not Gale's fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that.
So after, when he whispers, "You love me. Real or not real?"
I tell him, "Real."
Days pass by too quickly, and as the anniversary of the rebellion grows closer, I keep myself extra busy. Between hunting and helping Greasy Sae with The Hob, I am doing a good job of it, until Haymitch comes knocking on my door.
Haymitch is always around, sometimes drunk, sometimes not. Today, he is as sober as I had seen him since we returned. I bring him into the living room where Peeta is sketching in his book, and I can already tell this isn't a social call.
"Talked to Plutarch," he says nonchalantly. "There's this thing going on at the Capitol. We're asked to attend."
My mind goes wild with memories, some only nightmares, but those lines have blurred so much I can't always tell the difference. Peeta comes and sits next to me with an arm around my shoulders.
"It's important for you, Katniss," Haymitch says. "You'll want to be there." I think he and Peeta exchange a look, but I'm not sure.
A part of me does want to go, because in the last year I have found hope here in District 12, and I want to see what's changed outside of our town. Then there are the demons I left behind, and I'm terrified to face them.
"As long as I don't need to be styled," I say, trying to sound serious, but Peeta and Haymitch both laugh.
I'm on a hovercraft a week later, with the few hundred residents of 12 waving us off. I can't help but smile as I see an aerial view of the city. Most of the shops are up and running, and new houses dot the landscape. Even the meadow has grown back over. The ashes of our past are all but erased.
I'm impatient in the plane, clutching my dress, which is protected in its bag. Although I refuse to have too much done to me, I did agree to bring one of my nice dresses for the dinner. My knee is bouncing up and down and it isn't until Peeta rests his hand on my back and begins to rub it, that I can relax at all.
When we finally touch down I'm bombarded with familiar faces. Plutarch is the first one I see, with Paylor and two guards behind her. There are squeals of excitement somewhere farther back, and suddenly Venia, Octavia, and Flavius are running in my direction and embrace me all at once.
"Oh, oh, give me the dress! We'll get everything ready! See you soon!" They take my dress with them, and flutter off.
We're shown to our rooms, but Peeta doesn't even bother going into his. We don't sleep without each other…well, at least I don't sleep without him. He can tell I'm beginning to get stressed and attempts to comfort me, holding me close and giving me soft but constant kisses in between sweet words. It's over all too soon when we're interrupted by my prep team who are not at all sorry for walking in on an intimate moment.
"Excellent choice," Flavius says, hanging my blue dress up. "I'm glad we've had some influence on you."
I know the routine too well. Beauty Base Zero. I am no longer a tribute or a symbol for the rebellion, but because they love what they do so much, I sit through the torture once again.
"At least you shave now," Octavia says, in what I believe is meant to be a compliment. I blush, though they don't notice. I'm glad we're in the bathroom, away from Peeta. Before I never had a razor, and even if I did I probably would have never used it. But now it's different, because of Peeta. I actually prefer it.
After I'm done in the bathroom I'm whisked into the room as Peeta sits smugly on the bed enjoying my makeover way too much. That is, until Venia yanks him up and forces him into a haircut. Suddenly, she's straddling him in order to get him to sit still while she plucks his eyebrows. Now it's my turn to give him a taunting smile. After he has on his suit, Peeta is chased out of the room, because they want him to be surprised to see me. I hear him grumble something about seeing me everyday, but they ignore him.
When they finish I can't help but admire their work. They even manage to cover up my burn scars. "Thank you all. Again," I say as a young boy escorts me down the hall.
It is probably very impolite of me, but I can't help but to study how the boy swallows. When I realize he isn't an Avox I begin small talk. His name is Cray and he hopes to work in this very building one day. Right now he's going to school and helping out Plutarch in communications. No more servants. I put a check box next to it in my mental list.
Cray opens a door to a huge room. I try to place where I am, but it looks so remarkably different from the mansion I was in a year ago that I can't. I see Peeta standing with Haymitch, who is as cleaned up as Haymitch can be. They both smile when they see me, but it's Peeta who meets me at the door.
"Beautiful, as always," he says, taking my hand and kissing it.
I notice that most of the room has gone quiet and dozens of eyes are following me as Peeta leads me back towards Haymitch. I wonder what they had been told. Am I still considered insane? Did they even know I'm alive? I had never bothered to ask what rumors were going around.
People come up to greet me. Some I'm sure are complete strangers, but others I recognize. They thank me a million times over, because to them I'm still their mockingjay. I forget how closed off I have been from the outside world, and I startle at the mockingjay pin almost all of the men are wearing.
Beetee comes up and gives me a hug. He immediately begins telling us a very long list of things he's planning for the future of Panem. His words are soon lost in the background when I see the form that appears in the doorway.
I drop Peeta's hand and step away from the crowd Beetee has gathered. I'm suddenly back in my old life, one that seems too surreal to have ever existed in the first place. Hunting, the Hob, eating stew with Greasy Sae, selling strawberries to the mayor, enjoying each other's company.
I'm frozen in place, so he has to walk to me. We're feet a part when he stops. "Hey Catnip," he says, and I think I hear his voice choke up a little bit.
"Hi," I answer, figuring that's safe, because beyond that I'm at a loss for words. Thankfully Haymitch and Peeta come interrupt our awkwardness.
Gale asks about 12 and how rebuilding is going, how many people have returned. I'm only half listening to the conversation as I study his face.
It's so much the same, but so different. He eats regularly now, of course, so he's now much more muscular than before. His grey eyes still match mine perfectly, even his haircut is the same, but there's something that I can't place…
Plutarch interrupts my thoughts and asks for everyone's attention. He gives a short speech, which I barely hear, and introduces President Paylor. I manage to pull it together in time to clap with everyone else. She doesn't waste any time and signals someone to project images onto the big blank wall behind her. It's a map of the country.
"A lot has been going on, and it couldn't have been done without your help. More has gotten done in the last year than I ever thought possible, and it's only motivated movement here. It's Secretary Gale Hawthorne who originally suggested our next implementation. One more step away from the old days." Did she say Secretary Gale Hawthorne? I look at my old friend, but he's paying too close attention to the speech. Last I had heard he was working for District 2. Why hadn't someone told me?
The gasps across the room draw my focus back and the image on the wall as changed. It's a new map. Well, the same outline, but new all the same. Where once District 12 was labeled, now says Appalachia. It's the same with the others, even 13, which reads Atlantis.
"We will no longer have districts. Although we will all be a part of the Republic of Panem, our cities will no longer hold the stereotypes of their past." When she stops the room begins to roar in cheers. I can't help but notice a camera crew, and know that this is being broadcast to the entire country.
Peeta puts his arms around me, and Haymitch pats Gale on the back. It's a big deal. I steal a glance at Gale who is standing tall and proud, and I finally see what that change really is.
He was suffocated in the world we lived in before my Games, before the rebellion. He wanted out, wanted change, and that's what's so different. I just happened to stumble into the rebellion by complete and utter accident. He had dreams, and they are coming true as we stand here listening to more good news. I wiggle away from Peeta and hug him. The rebellion did different things to us. And although it ruined me, I love him enough to be happy for him. Happy that his dreams came true, even at expense of my nightmares. Gale's arms encircle me and he squeezes me tightly.
"Thank you," he says in my ear. I just nod because I'm afraid I'll begin to cry. I'm sure there's enough left between us to save our friendship, and standing in his embrace I can almost transport myself back three years ago, where I'm hunting in the woods with my partner. My best friend.
Paylor continues to explain how each city will deal directly with each other when it comes to sales of specialty goods, as well as the Capitol, which will be now be called Washington, after the very first capitol of our country over a thousand years ago. She explains that they have been gathering intel from each city, and begins to announce nominations for the new governors. Men and woman begin to take the stage, and I continue to clap.
"Appalachia, Peeta Mellark," Paylor says, her eyes fixed on me. My jaw drops and I looked at Peeta, who isn't as surprised as I thought he should be as he walks to the front of the room.
I elbow Haymitch. "Did you know?"
Haymitch throws back his drink and smirks. "There were rumors going around."
"We feel that the citizens will be pleased with our choices. But of course, they will need a majority vote to become official."
There's more applause, but this time I can't clap along. I take Gale's hand and squeeze it, covering my mouth with the other to keep in the sobs. But they are happy tears that fall down my face now, because I always thought it should have been Peeta rather than me. He smiles at me and winks. I smile through my tears and blow him a kiss.
Gale lowers his voice to a whisper and leans into me. "He was the right choice, Catnip."
The food is brought out, and we eat. We laugh. We talk about the future. The music begins and Peeta pulls me onto the dance floor. I notice for the first time what Paylor pinned onto his suit. It's my mockingjay, emblazoned onto a gold pendant. Behind the bird are the mountains of 12 – of Appalachia – and in small script around the edge, The People's Republic of Panem.
The party is led outside sometime later, and my heart begins to race when I realize I'm standing on the balcony over City Circle. Flashes of explosions, fire, and my duck-tailed little sister blind my eyes. I can feel my throat constrict and my heart go heavy again. Gale and Peeta are on both sides of me, trying to keep me standing the best they can.
"This," Haymitch says, "is why you're here."
I look around us and see the rest of the Capitol's citizens have gathered and spread out in all directions. There are people hanging out windows and children on their parent's shoulders. In the middle of the circle there's an enormous obstruction rising a good twenty-five feet in the air, covered with a sheet. Plutarch and Paylor walk out to the circle and stand at the base of whatever it is in front of us.
"A little birdie told me a memorial scrapbook of sorts had been started by a very important person among us. This story spread faster than wildfire, and we were inundated with mail from all corners of Panem. We quickly realized this would not fit in any type of book, and had to set our sights a little higher." Plutarch looks directly at me. "So this is for you, Katniss, our mockingjay. For never forgetting what our freedom cost us."
The sheet falls and the crowd cheers. It's a slender pyramid, and all three sides are glowing screens. I'm staring at a moving collage of faces, names, and mementos. A picture of Rue floats by; she's smiling and sitting high in a tree with an entire orchard behind her. Then there's Cinna, who is showing off one of his designs. For everyone person I lost, there are a hundred more faces I don't even know, but I cry for them too. It's my not just my book, but one for everyone. Something we can all share. Out of the corner of my eye I see a screen has been set up behind us for the crowd to see, and the camera is fixed on me.
"What do you say, girl on fire?" Haymitch asks. "Can you manage it one more time?"
I wipe my tears away, look right into the camera, and wave, causing them to cheer louder than before. And their cheers mean so much to me, because no matter how broken I am now, they still see the girl I once was. And as the weight lifts off of my chest, a cascade of primroses fall down the memorial screen looking almost lifelike, and following them a picture of Prim. Maybe a year ago I would have run to find a closet, but now I hold my three fingers of my left hand to my lips and extend them outwards. The goodbye I never got to say.
I am emotionally drained when we return to our room well after midnight, and I practically fall into bed after stripping off my constricting dress. I lay looking up at the ceiling, waiting for Peeta to join me, but feel him watching me instead.
"What?" I turn towards him, confused.
He crawls into bed and wraps me up in his arms. "Marry me?"
It is such a simple question, and I feel it deserves an equally simple answer.
I'm aware of the ruckus downstairs, the excitement that has spread from the children to me. I browse through my closet to make sure there isn't anything else I want to bring, and of course I can't help but see my wedding dress. I hold the fabric between my fingers and smile.
Our wedding was perfect. The dress was simple and nothing like the monstrosities of satin and tulle I had been forced into the first time around. I hoped Cinna would have approved. Although our wedding had been announced across the country, no thanks to Plutarch, the wedding itself remained small, made up of the people who meant the most to us.
My mother was there of course, and Haymitch, Effie, and my prep team. Annie brought Finn, now a toddler, who I couldn't look at for too long without thinking of his father and feeling a hole in my chest. Johanna came too. I hadn't seen her since I was forced back to 12, years before. Even so, the bond between us was still there. Gale gave me away, and although a fuss was made, Peeta insisted on making the cake.
It was the happiest I had ever been, that first night with my husband, until over a decade later when we welcomed our daughter, Madge, soon followed by our son, Sage, named after my father. And they are the ones downstairs yelling at me that we are going to miss the train.
The train station is busy, as it always is. Some people are getting on the same passenger train we are taking, as young boys unload supplies from a freighter. Everyone is free to travel between cities now, and more cities are beginning to pop up as pioneers discover new sources of food and resources.
Madge bounces the entire train ride, and thankfully Sage sleeps. We are making a stop in Georgia before moving onto Augustine, one of the new areas of Panem, which is mainly for travelers to enjoy the ocean and beach. I haven't seen a beach since the one in the Quarter Quell, and it is a memory I want replaced.
My mother boards the train in Georgia, formerly District 11, which she has called home for many years now. She says she enjoys the nice weather year round, and keeps busy in the hospital. We visit often, but she cannot bring herself to visit us. She may be older now, but she's strong. Stronger than I ever thought possible. Madge and Sage both smother her in kisses before we settle down for the trip to Augustine.
As soon as the train doors open I can smell the saltwater in the breeze. We barely have a chance to drop our bags off in the house we are staying at, before chasing after the children who have spotted the beach.
The ocean is remarkable, and nothing like the one in the arena. It goes on forever until it cuts off at the horizon, but according to what I've read, it goes beyond even that. I take off my shoes and dig my toes into the white sand as the children play in the surf. The wind picks up again and I'm sprayed with seawater. I think of Finnick and his trident. I look up to the strange trees that I'm told are called palms, and wonder what Rue would think of them.
I know I worry too much still, and that Peeta can see it in my face. Madge is already asking about the Quell Rebellion and the Capitol Reign, and we answer her as carefully as possible. It's only a matter of time before Sage begins asking as well. And as they grow older they'll learn more. They'll begin to ask about the nightmares that still plague me decades later. They'll learn what really happened, and how involved their parents were. But we will take out the book we made, and show them what the people we lost meant to us. We'll show them they will never be forgotten.
Peeta comes over and kisses my head as we watch my mother make up a game with the children to avoid the waves. Games. It only means fun to them, though I know otherwise. I know how dangerous games can be. The thought brings me back to a sixteen year old girl, who upon entering an arena, unknowingly changed the history of mankind. And as I stand here with my family and see a world I never thought possible, an odd sense of finality overcomes me. It may have taken me twenty-five years, but a part of me has finally found peace.
"You're happy. Real or not real?" Peeta asks.
Although I may not be happy in the conventional sense of the word, I am sure that this is the closest thing to happiness that I will ever feel.
"Real," I reply, as I join my children in their game.
And there it is, the little story I made up for myself. I hope I caught most of the typos and grammatical errors, and also present tense was not easy for me to write in, so I apologize if you see any past tense in there. I would love to know what you think, good or bad…as long as it's worded nicely