I would suggest rereading before reading the final chapter. (If you've been with me since the beginning.) I had a lot of difficulty remembering. I reread from chapter 31, but it's up to you.
Thanks for waiting, guys. Here's a very weird ending, imo. It was how I intended for it to end in essence, but it ended up still a bit strange. I apologize. It's 2am and it's finished very poorly but you know what? You've waited long enough. Thank you for that.
(For those who lost hope: you guys suck! :( but here's your SUPERWEIRD ending anyway.)
I sit at lunch with Gale, Katniss, Johanna, and the Odairs when, simultaneously, our communicuffs beep. I look down at my wrist and see two words on mine: "COMMAND. NOW." I look at the wrist beside mine—Katniss' wrist—and notice that the message is exactly the same. She meets my eyes and raises her eyebrows. I shrug. But, actually, I think I might know what Coin wants to tell us.
"I guess that means I don't get to finish," says Johanna glumly. "Shame. This is one of Thirteen's nicer meals."
We take what we can of our lunches and go down to Command, where we find Rue waiting. I study her anxious expression, how her foot taps, how she bites her lip. I glance at Katniss, who's watching Rue and looking as worried as I feel. Rue's been like that a lot lately; it's not just whatever news Coin has for us. Boggs is standing at the head of the table, drumming his fingers on the table.
"So, Boggs," says Johanna, plopping into a chair opposite Rue and putting her legs up on the table. "What's the news?"
"I'm not sure if I can tell you myself," says Boggs, in such an unsure way that I look up in surprise. Boggs doesn't usually sound like that.
"Where's the president?" asks Annie, sitting down next to Johanna. Finnick stands behind her, hands on her shoulders.
Boggs looks to the door. "Coming."
All of us sit together in silence while we wait for Coin; it's a tantalizing few minutes before the doors open rather slowly, and Coin walks through—rather slowly. The sound of her feet tapping the floor echoes throughout the room. Her expression is a bit gaunt, a bit confused. I exchange more looks with Katniss and Gale. This is not the usual, either; although Coin doesn't quite demand attention and isn't quite noisy, she's still not as timid as this.
"Is something wrong?" Rue asks quietly.
"No," says Coin, sounding... surprised. "The opposite."
Katniss frowns. "What's happened, then?"
"President Snow is dead."
All of us are unsure how to respond. Then, we burst into questions. How do we know for sure? Since when? How did he die? Was he killed? Who killed him? What happens now?
Coin holds up a hand. "Wait. I don't know who killed him or how he died. I just know that he is dead."
Then, I press my lips together, smiling tightly. This wasn't quite the news I expected, but still... I take a deep breath and announce:
"I think I know who killed him, actually."
I rode a train into the Capitol. I wore a disguise—with Peeta's help, of course—and I barely made it through security, but I did it.
The cabin I rode in was empty for a lot of the beginning of the trip, except for one other woman: a rebel, who I knew from growing up around the soldiers. She was high up in the rankings—enough to lead the rebels in one of the Districts, I'm just not sure which. As she looked out the window, I studied her. She was younger than I expected a woman with high authority to be. There were lines around her eyes; her mouth was a hard line when she was thinking, which was for a lot of the first part of the train ride.
Her one bag had her name on it. I did a double-take, thinking it said Lira, but actually, it read 'Liza'. When I looked up again, she was looking at me. Smiling a bit abashedly, I explained, "Um, I just thought you had the same name as I do. I'm Lira Hunt."
Liza smiled. "Oh. I'm Liza Paylor."
"Oh!" I said. "That's your name. You looked familiar."
She nodded. "Your parents were great soldiers. Even better people."
My smile faltered a bit but remained. "Thanks."
"Hmm..." Liza looked at me curiously. "I'm surprised you're allowed out of Thirteen. I heard..."
"You heard correctly," I said quickly.
"Sneaking out?" said Liza with a devilish smile. "Don't worry. I won't tell anyone."
"It's not that," I said. "They'll have to know sooner or later. Why are you going to the Capitol?"
Liza gave me a careful look. "I'll tell you if you tell me," she replied.
I hesitated. She seemed good enough. She seemed trustworthy enough. Her smile was, at any rate, quite genuine-looking. "Well." I looked up at her. "You go first?"
She laughed. "I'm on top secret rebel business, but since you were—are—a rebel, it's probably safe to tell you about it. I was told to come to the Capitol and gather up the rebels who are still there... we're hopefully setting up a plan about what's going to happen to the Capitol and its residents after we win... I'm hoping a number of rebel leaders from the districts will... show up."
"Supposing we win." I still notice that she's being careful about how she says things. It's clear she doesn't quite trust me. I'm glad. I'm not sure I trust me at this moment. My hands begin shaking in my lap again. I grit my teeth and press them into my legs, trying to make them stop.
"Coin likes to think optimistically." Liza smiled.
"What about the president? Coin's going to take over, probably, huh?" I asked bitterly.
Liza nodded slowly. "Supposedly... that's what everybody seems to believe but there's been no consensus."
I raised my eyebrows. "Really?"
"Certainly," said Liza.
"Who else would be president, though?" I asked doubtfully.
Liza shrugged. "I don't know; one of the other rebel leaders, I guess."
"'Other' rebel leaders?" I repeated. "Why not you?"
"I could—I could never!" Liza was almost laughing. "I couldn't imagine ruling, over Coin. That's ridiculous. I would never be able to."
I gave her a doubtful look, but I didn't say much more. We conversed about lighter topics on the way into the Capitol.
On the way out, I ask whereabouts she will be if I want to see her after I'm done in the Capitol. She tells me.
I was greeted with fear and confusion as I strolled through the Capitol, straight to the president's house.
"Miss Hunt!" said the guard at the door, alarmed. "We weren't expecting you."
"The president is," I said coolly. "Let me through." I apprehend him with a cold glare.
It is enough to let me in. I am not the only one who understands that my brain isn't quite doing its job at the moment. Oh, well. They know who to blame. The guard opens the door, and I rush in before he can change his mind. I know the way to the president's office; it is situated farthest from the entrance, naturally.
"President," I greet.
Snow looks at me, raising a brow. He speaks slowly, confusedly, "Lira. We weren't expecting you..."
I give him a smile. "You know, I like hearing that from you; I feel like I'm the first person to ever pull one over President Snow. But, of course, I'm not alone in my plan so I can't take all the credit."
It suddenly dawns on him. "You..."
"Finish your sentences," I say sharply, my heart racing. I draw the gun and point it at him. My head spins. I don't know what I'm doing anymore. I don't know who I am, who's on my side, who I trust, who I belong to. Frankly, I'm a bit unsafe and unhinged at the moment.
"Lira," says the president. The coolness is back. He is poised, relaxed. He knows I couldn't kill him. My hand shakes.
But I have to. He is responsible. All of this is his fault. I think of Rue. Her brother. Each of the tributes she fought. All the tributes I knew. I think of Thirteen, and my friends, and my family. My parents.
Me. Selfish, perhaps...
"No," he says, "I know you will kill me. There is no way it will end any differently."
"I will do what I want, and you have no say in it," I snarl. My finger leans onto the trigger. I swallow tightly and aim for his head.
"I want to say something first—"
"You don't deserve any final words," I say, taking a step forward and bringing the space between his temple and the barrel to a mere foot.
I stare at him, right into his eyes. My eyes burn with potential tears. Sure enough, they come, but I choke through it. I bite my lip, glare at him through my tears, and it occurs to me how much I hate him. How much I want to shoot him, hold the gun between his eyes, and make him regret everything he's done. I want him to look at me and beg for mercy and know how much it hurts.
I see a bead of sweat roll down his said temple. He looks at me. Then he smiles. And then he's laughing. He shakes his head. "Fine. Do it. Kill me!"
It looks like I'm not the only nutjob around here.
I choke back a sob and fire.
I spin around. I'm sweating like crazy, and all I really want is to go home, but I'm not done here. I'm walking around the residential district of the Capitol, where Liza told me she would be if she needed me. She is the one who calls for me, as she runs along the sidewalk.
"Liza." I say it like an exhale.
"You look like you just..." Liza looks at me with a curious smile. Then she shakes her head. "Leaving already?"
I catch my reflection in the glass of the building beside us. I do look a bit crazy. My eyes are huge, my hair's a mess. "Uh—well, I was looking for you, actually."
"Yeah?" She doesn't look very surprised, considering I asked her where she'd be.
"Yes. I, um, I wanted to know if you were still... going to that meeting."
She hesitates. "Yes... I grabbed a bite to eat first from one of the rebels."
"I need you to get them to decide who's going to be the president after Snow," I say urgently. An image flashes of me barking at the guards, telling them the president wants to be left alone. Yes, the president, slumped in a puddle of his blood. I'm sure he wants to be left alone. I shake it off.
"Why? We had pretty much agreed that Coin—"
"No!" I interrupt. She is taken aback. I soften my tone. "It can't be Coin. You and I both know it can't be Coin."
She presses her lips together and nods. "I guess not."
"It has to be someone from the districts, who knows the problem the districts have been facing and knows how to fix it," I say, taking deep breaths. I'm a murderer. I'm a crazy murderer. Gale's not going to want anything to do with me anymore... Who am I kidding? I can't go back...
But I have to. I have to apologize...
"Lira? Are you okay?"
"Sorry," I say, shaking my head. "I'm just out of it. Still... a bit shaken."
"Putting it lightly!" she says. "I was saying, I'll talk to them about it. I'll make sure it happens. How can I tell you how it goes, after the meeting?"
"I'll be in Thirteen. You can call me there."
I force a smile. "Good luck, Liza. Thanks for your help."
"Good luck to you, too."
"Lira killed him?" says Gale, astonished.
"I... I think so," I say. "I didn't tell her to kill him, but I told her... she ought to punish him for what he's done to her brain. I didn't think she would assassinate him."
"Lira is not emotionally stable, Soldier Mellark," says Coin sharply. "You had no right to do that, nor to convince her to slip past security. She's not fit to be out in the world."
"You have no right to treat her like she's nothing less than human because of something that wasn't her fault—not to mention, she risked her life under your direction. She was and is brilliant. Underneath that layer of madness is the Lira we all know and love," I say firmly.
Gale looks at me, a small hint of a smile on his face. "You know this for sure?"
"I do. I've seen it. And she's very confused," I say, looking at Boggs, too. He looks proud. "Although who wouldn't be? I knew she wouldn't be well enough, cooped up here, treated like a specimen and a prisoner. She needed to figure out how to make herself better, to take that first step into remembering who she is."
"I think Peeta did the right thing," says Katniss firmly, taking my hand.
I smile down at her.
"And Lira needs it," Katniss adds. "I don't judge her for killing Snow. I would have wanted to. I still want to."
Finnick nods. "I don't judge her either."
I know Gale doesn't. I know that he, like Katniss, would have done exactly what Lira did if they were given the opportunity, and they would have done it without hesitation.
Coin looks at all of us, smiles, and nods. "You know what? You are all right. And now, I suppose... I'm president of Panem." I frown. This is not what I intended.
As if on cue, the doors to Command slide open.
"I wouldn't count on that."
"Lira!" gasps Annie. We all spin around to look at her.
She looks very disheveled, but her eyes shine with a bit of madness... but even the old Lira had a bit of mischief in her eyes that bordered on crazy. She's not totally all right, but I think she's very much on her way.
Coin's eyes narrow. "What do you mean?"
"I met a rebel leader on the way in and out of the Capitol," she says. "Apparently there's no consensus about you being president after Snow..." Lira can't bring herself to say "dies", apparently. I suddenly regret my suggestion. It must have been terrifying for her... I wonder what she did to kill him.
"What?" says Coin in a low voice.
"I just received the call. Our new president's name is Commander Liza Paylor," she says proudly. "I personally think she'll be very good."
Coin's eyes widen. "Why, I ought to..."
Suddenly, there is a loud thump, and Coin looks momentarily in shock before slumping forward. Gale stands behind her, his fist raised. He looks at Lira, smiles weakly, and rushes to her. Lira, not much to my surprise, hugs him back with some tentativeness. But she relaxes and squeezes him tight.
"I'm proud of you," he whispers. "And I missed you."
"I missed you, too," she chokes. She pulls back, suddenly, and looks at Rue. We all do.
Rue's now standing, staring at Lira with wide eyes. She stands a few feet away from us, looking as small and innocent and scared as ever.
"I'm so sorry," Lira says through her tears.
Rue shakes her head and hugs her. "I'm so sorry, too."
I look at Katniss. We share a smile. I look at the other people in the room—Johanna, Finnick, Annie, Gale, Boggs—and shake my head in disbelief.
"This isn't how I thought it would end," admits Johanna. She looks between us and gives us a very un-Johanna-like smile. "But whatever. I'm glad it ended at all."
Katniss puts her arm around Johanna and then the other arm around me. She looks up at me. "We'll be okay." She says it like she's trying to convince herself of it.
I nod. I draw Gale in with my other arm, putting it around his shoulders. Soon, we're all in a very awkward hug, Coin still lying at our feet. The process will be slow and hard, and sometimes it might even be painful, but she's right.
I take a deep breath. "Yeah. We'll be okay."