DISCLAIMER: I do not own the title (The Hunger Games) or any of the characters related to it. The book and characters all belong to SUZANNE COLLINS.
Hey, I just want to say thanks if you're reading this... also please REVIEW! :-) This is my first story and I really hope you all like it!
Edit - Hi again, so I decided to do a major re-editing of this whole story, since there are a few things I would like to change (but nothing really too major, mostly just writing style). I appreciate all of you who have read it and left reviews; it was a really awesome experience for my first story! Feel free to re-read it, and tell me if you like the changes I make!
(I will mark the chapters I have re-edited with *)
*CHAPTER 1: RECALLING THE GAMES
A robin perches on the windowsill, bellowing the first tones of my morning, and I groggily sit up. I rub my eyes, searching the empty bed beside me. For a second, I am taken back to that fateful morning so many years ago. The morning of my very first reaping.
Over the years, I have learned something – it is hard to forget. It is hard to push away memories when you are constantly reliving them over and over in your nightmares. And there are many things I would be happy to forget.
My very first Hunger Games, where I almost gave up my own life. The brutal Quarter Quell, which cruelly thrust previous victors back into the arena, taking away the lives of almost all my fellow tributes. The list could go on and on.
I count off the names of all the lost souls. Finnick is gone. The sweet, flirty boy from District 4 is no more. A tear rolls down my cheek as I whisper the last name.
I, Katniss Everdeen-Mellark, had watched as my sister was burned to ashes. Her screams still pierce my ears, the image of her flaming body dancing behind my eyelids even when I am awake.
My body slowly starts to crumple and descend toward the mattress, until I am lying with my face pressed up against the sheets, trying to stifle the sobs that are coming. Tears form small puddles and make the soft fabric cling to my face, and I try to stop.
I need to be brave. Not just for Peeta, but for my children as well.
I sigh. I really need to get up.
"Katniss?" Peeta whispers. He slowly makes his way to the bed, and I hear the creak and groan of each protesting floorboard as he painfully closes the distance between us.
"Sweetheart," he murmurs, stroking my hair. He pulls me into his chest and I sob more freely, throwing my arms around his strong neck.
"I'm sorry!" I manage to say, between hysterical crying.
"Shh, Katniss, you have nothing to apologize for," he replies, pulling me closer. He rocks me back and forth for a while, and then my lips find their way to his.
At first, his eyes scrunch up from the salty taste of my tears, and then our lips start to move in their familiar pattern, fitting together the way they always have.
After a moment, a soft knock sounds on our door. Peeta and I stop, and I furiously scrub my face with my sleeves.
A small voice comes from the other side, "Mommy, Daddy?"
"Come in," Peeta and I say simultaneously.
Tiny, padded footsteps slowly form a rhythm as my daughter makes her way into our room. She crawls into my lap, and I kiss the top of her head.
"Good morning, my precious Rue," I say.
Yes, Rue is her name. She is not yet old enough to know of her namesake – the brave little girl from District 11 who had been my ally in my first Hunger Games. She had died in my arms as I sung her the lullaby my children hear every night.
"Good morning!" she greets brightly as Peeta kisses her nose.
"Let's go eat some breakfast, ok?" Peeta says, taking her hand and leading her out of the room. I am grateful for him giving me time alone.
After they leave, I take a quick shower and change into my usual pants and shirt. I tug on my father's leather boots and braid my hair down my back.
I look at myself in the mirror. My steely gray eyes stare back at me. Though time and grief have changed me in irreversible ways, I am still Katniss Everdeen… just with an extra name attached.
When Peeta and I got married, it was no fancy event. I had insisted on keeping "Everdeen," but agreed to add "Mellark" to the end. It was held at our house, with Haymitch as the Pastor and my mother and Greasy Sae as our only guests. I'm sure Peeta's family would have come as well, had they not perished in the bombings. I shake my head, trying to clear the image of Capitol planes dropping bombs on District 12 and setting my home on fire.
Of course, there was one more seat that should have been filled. One more face that I would have loved to see that day.
It was a face that was once as familiar as the one I see in the mirror now. It was also a face that I haven't seen in over twenty years.