It is ten years from the end of the war.
Annie looks across from me, a concerned look on her face. She's one of the few people I can trust about this now that – that Peeta absolutely can't know about this, and I don't think Haymitch or anyone else will take this the way I want them to. It had only been at her insistence and the fact that I'd looked like I was brooding that I told her what was wrong.
"Are you absolutely sure?" Annie's voice is fragile, as if the slightest wrong note can break it. As if she's scared. And she has every right to be. Nobody deserves to have this knowledge heaped upon them.
"Absolutely," I manage to croak out. "I went to District 5 last week. They had me take a test. And it's true." I pause. "Tea?" I offer. "Would you like anything to eat or drink?"
She shakes her head.
"Oh, Katniss," she says. "Why? How would you tell him?"
"I – I don't know, Annie," I reply uncertainly. "He doesn't even know I've ever even met with Gale ever since the end of the war. How can I tell him about–" I glance out the window, seeing Elise dancing in the yard. "—the truth?"
Annie looks down, hiding those pretty sea green eyes that Finnick so loved. "Does Gale know?"
This one I am sure of. "No." I glance at Elise again; this time she's chasing Brandon around the field. "He thinks her eyes are Peeta's." When in reality they're not. Peeta knows perfectly well those aren't his eyes; they were my mother's. My mother's and Prim's. "And of course I didn't tell him. I haven't told anyone: not my mother, not Johanna, not Haymitch, not Peeta."
A ghost of a smile lingers on Annie's lips. "When was the last time you two met?"
I shrug. "Not since I met him in 2 that day."
I remember that day eight years ago, the last time I met Gale. I was accompanying Johanna on a business trip to 2 to meet with some people from the newly-rebuilt Nut, and we decided to stay overnight for one reason or another. The two of us had been eating dinner in a quaint little café somewhere, when Gale came in, alone. Johanna and I recognized him immediately, of course, but she'd been the one to call him over to our table. After some small talk I'd made my mistake: I offered to walk him back to his place "to catch up some more," as I'd put it. He was, after all, my oldest friend.
And that was when it happened. Johanna had gone on ahead to the hotel, and I…
What Peeta doesn't know is why they aren't his eyes, but he doesn't comment because he finds it adorable that his daughter inherited her grandmother's eyes. When Elise was growing up, everyone would comment on how she looked so much like me. She could have passed for a much younger me, Peeta had noted, except for the fact that she never inherited her mother's gray eyes. She got blue.
"Prim had lovely eyes," Annie comments, and I realize that she, like me, is staring at Elise. "I – I guess you should count yourself lucky that…"
That what? Gale's eyes are gray, like mine. The two of us have the same skin tone and hair color. If Elise had inherited anything from him everyone would have chalked it up to me.
But that's the thing. She could have, and nobody would have known.
"I'm Elise's mother," I breathe out so suddenly that Annie looks at me in surprise. "And Gale's her father, and Peeta doesn't know." It feels a little better to get that off my chest. "It happened when I was in 2 for business, and Gale and I met again; and…"I trail off and shoot her an apologetic look. "I feel so unfaithful."
"What about Brandon?" Annie asks tentatively.
"Definitely Peeta's," I reply. "Trust me, I haven't met with Gale once – or even talked to him – since that day."
Annie sighs and winces uncomfortably. "I think you should tell Peeta, Katniss."
I gape at her. "Why?"
She looks at me straight in the eye. "Because you're going to have to tell him anyway, Katniss. And it's going to be much harder for little Elise once she gets older and finds all this out just then. And it would be better to continue living a lie for the next years, right?"
I grimace. Annie has a point. This has been playing out smoothly so far, but someone, something, could throw a wrench in the machinery and everything could go horribly wrong. My family could end up hating me; the people I tried so hard to protect. The best thing I could do for Peeta and Elise is to say the words myself.
"And–" Annie looks away again. "I think…that's what I would have done."
All of a sudden I feel angry. Why should Peeta care if Elise is his or not? It's not like we're married – he's the one who didn't want the marriage, not me. It's not like I have to stay happily in love with him forever and ever and ever. I have rights to chose!
Annie looks unperturbed. "Katniss. You must tell him. Them. It will be better in the long run."
I sigh inwardly. Annie's right. She may be unstable at the worst of times, but when she's not off the deep end she can give the best advice.
"Fine," I reply. "I'll tell them."
And of course since I have just wonderful luck, that is when Peeta comes home, resplendent in a suit and holding a briefcase, followed by a giggling Elise and Brandon.
"Hi, Katniss. Hey, Annie." He sets the briefcase down before kissing me on the cheek and gives Annie a nod in greeting. She shoots me a look.
"Peeta," I say, looking into his surprised blue eyes, "Can I talk to you? Alone?"
A/N: Yes, I'm ending it there because I'm a horrible person. Also I might take this down because I'm unhappy with the overall feel of it. It's just like they're pandering around describing how the hell Elise happened for precisely 1013 words.
So this is my new literary obsession, The Hunger Games. And this is just a little thing that's been running around my head ever since I read the epilogue for Mockingjay. I'll admit my liking Gale more than Peeta contributed, but hey. This is totally random and should not be taken seriously. I doubt it even fits with the canon.
Are Prim's eyes even blue? I only remember them being described as "light." D:
But whatever. I haven't uploaded anything in forever and a weird little thing is better than nothing, right?
The Hunger Games is by the lovely Suzanne Collins and in no way do I own anything.