Her skin was like the most fragile porcelain he'd ever seen. It hardly looked like it belonged to a human.
But it must belong to a human, because here she was. She'd saved him. And that led to a partnership. And a partnership led to her constant questioning of what they were doing. Why they were headed forward in such a deadset manner. Why they were going forward and forward and not turning or looking for anyone.
But because he offered no answers, she eventually stopped asking.
She's coughing, the thick smell of poison filling her senses, her face pressed into the flowers. She'd been on patrol while he slept, and she'd been jumped.
The weaponless non-career tribute, probably from one of the higher-numbered districts, hadn't had very many choices. But the terrain was enough to kill a person. All he had to do was hold her into the flowers long enough for her to breathe their toxic sweet smell.
"Maysilee, I thought I told you-" a whisper started in, but the second he realized that the form in the darkness was not, in fact, his allied partner...let's just say it didn't take long to jump the other tribute, a moment of blind panic and confusion setting in. The pair rolled and grappled along the ground, the blonde managing to stand, managing to lean against something and keep herself up, but unable to move. Unable to help. Frozen in fear and panic. Absolutely frozen.
But that was fine. Her ally managed to pull his knife on the other and it was all over. In a few quick slashes, bloody and messy, the blood coating the handle of the knife, causing it to slip in his grasp and cut his palm. But there was no time to care about that. He just kept stabbing until the cannon fired.
"We have to get out of here, quickly as we can. The retrieval will give away our-"
But the blonde was swaying, the poison in her system making her dizzy and lightheaded. "Haymi-" she managed to say, before she was back on the ground with a thud.
It was dark. The world was blackness and silence...no. There was a light rustle. Someone was present, and yet they were so quiet you would think them not to be present. She jolted up, just to be elbowed in the chest, the wind knocked out of her as she fell to her back again.
"Shhh, don't say anything, Mays."
Blue eyes stared up through the darkness, and finally she could make out the slightly familiar frame of the boy she'd come to know, recently. "I told you not to call me-" she started softly, before he elbowed her again and she went back to being quiet and painfully still.
The rustle came again, and then again. Closer and closer until the form was just a few feet from them. Large and golden, with the distinct tail of a squirrel.
They wanted to remain still and unnoticed by the predator, or they'd both be dead.
It felt like hours passed between that last elbow in the chest and when, in the soft glow of dawn, Seam gray eyes looked down at the more delicate figure, reaching out a rough, bruised hand and giving her an oddly reassuring pat on the head.
"It's gone. You should drink some water."
Her brows were furrowed and she tried to think more clearly.
"It hasn't rained in days. If we use up the last of our water, we'll be-"
"You vomited after you took it upon yourself to roll around in the flower bed." he stated, trying to remain as flat about it as possible. "If you don't get something back in your system, you'll be dead."
He didn't want to face the fact that he'd been worried, only 15 minutes ago, that he would lose her. That the thought had actually occurred to him, if only for a moment, that he didn't want to be without a companion. Sure, he knew. Somewhere deep down, he realized that they would have to part at some point.
But he wasn't going to allow it to be so soon. Not while they were still allies.
"I..." she stuttered out, softly, then finally accepted, digging through their small amount of supplies and finding the emptiest canister they had, managing to exercise enough self restraint not to finish it off. "Th...thank you."
"You're my partner, in a sense." he said, but then went quiet. "We have to keep moving."
"Do you ever get tired of the feeling that everyone can see and hear everything we do or say?" she whispered, their bodies pressed together for warmth. They had started to prefer this method of talking, when they had anything of worth to say. Gave more security. Made you feel less like the viewers at home got to peer into every action. Hang onto every word.
And it seemed innocent, in this downpour.
"Awful arrogant to think that they're watching us all the time. I mean, you're cute but..." he responded with a smirk. A few weeks ago, this humor would've truly bothered her. But right now, she found it oddly comforting, and she even managed a smile.
"Well, the pickings are getting a bit slim."
There was silence between the two of them for a moment, and then.
"Haymitch, if we...if we die out here...what's one thing in your life that you'd regret never doing? One thing above everything else, that you've always wanted to do. One thing."
"You first." he said, turning his head away to look up, opening his mouth to catch the sweet droplets of water. He hoped their canisters and the small plastic-lined hole they'd devised were getting full.
She had to situate herself so she could still whisper. "Having a family. Seeing my sister have a family, seeing everyone I love grow up." she responded, without a second thought.
So simplistic, but in an oddly innocent way. Undeniably pure. Not the kind of person who belonged trapped in a poisonous paradise surrounded by monsters and blood-thirsty Careers. Not the kind of person who belonged pressed against him, wet and shaking with the bitter cold.
Shelter for the night was absolutely out of the question.
"And you?" she asked, teeth chattering lightly.
"Mmm..." he thought about it for a moment, and then scooted the small thermal blanket they had up over their heads. Supposedly for more warmth. But he, instead, gave her a small, soft peck on the lips. "Now I've kissed a respectable lady." he laughed. "I would have no regrets."
It was a lie. But at least it made her smile.
"I don't want it to come down to just you and I." she said, her eyes threatening to spill with tears.
He didn't really say anything. Wasn't really sure how to respond.
She was right, wasn't she?
"And I would rather you not have to see whoever kills me, kill me. Or...vice versa. After everything." she turned around.
How dramatic this must look on TV.
That was the best he could manage? Alright?
And just like that, she had turned. She was walking. Walking right out of his life, out of his-
"OH GOD PLEASE! HAYMIT-" the words cut into a high pitched scream, the sounds of the struggle weren't very loud. The struggle wasn't very fierce, after all.
White horror crossed his entire being as he witnessed it. The mass of pink and crimson fluttering off into the sky, the delicate porcelain doll laying on the ground in a pool of scarlet, absolutely brilliant near her beautiful pale skin, sticking to her hair. It was everywhere.
"May...Maysil..." he couldn't even bring himself to yell, just cry out scratchily and run to her. Run faster and faster until he was down, kneeling in the leaking bits of blood and flesh, her neck totally marred by the beasts.
But she managed to smile up at him, her blue eyes starting to go hazy and vacant. He face even paler than normal, her hands shaking as she reached up and brushed his cheek, moving a hand back down to hold onto her own neck, as if holding it tightly enough will help her hold herself together. Will stop her from falling apart.
But it won't. The porcelain is shattered. Her bruised, battered, emaciated figure still seems beautiful. Still seems delicate. Still seems impossibly untainted.
"Hay...Haym...Hay...H..." she sputters out, blood gushing from her wound as she tries, the pressure from trying to speak being far too much. She manages to lift her hand from her neck again and brush her pointer finger along his lips, as if asking a question. Or perhaps telling him something.
If only he knew what! If only she could tell him!
"Maysilee...Maysilee please..." he manages to whisper, somehow registering that she's still trying to say his name, the noises a garbled mix of 'Hay' and a soft T noise. It feels like forever and yet it's as if it's only an instant. It's eternity in one second. He doesn't have enough time to rock her or shush her or tell her that it's going to be alright. A million things cross his mind, a million things he should do. But all he can manage is to hold her hand. Is to rest her there, wanting never to have to let go. His one companion. His only friend in this unforgiving landscape.
And then, the moment is gone. She looks up with him, manages one last, impossibly sad smile, and the sound of a cannon rocks the ground.
Here lies Maysilee Donner.
She died trying to say something to someone that should've meant absolutely nothing to her.
He woke with a start to the high, ridiculous voice urging him to watch the television. That Katniss and Peeta were doing so very, very good!
He had no idea how he managed to fall asleep in the middle of all the commotion. No idea how he managed to doze, even for a second.
But he could still feel her blood thick on his hands, feel her hair as he held her for one last time, taste the salt of a singular tear that he'd allowed to escape.
But, perhaps more hauntingly than anything, he could still hear that last, strangled cry that she'd tried to let out as she was being attacked.
He would never forget that sound. The sound of breaking porcelain.