Don't own the Hunger Games. Wish I had been that brilliant…
There is only one good thing about reaping day. It is the one day a year I don't have to get up early, I think as I roll over in bed and see the sun streaming in through my window. It's eight o'clock now, which is considered to be pretty early to my friends. But to me, waking up this late is a luxury not to be overlooked. As the children of bakers, my brothers and I work bakers' hours. Which means we normally wake up when our parents do, at four in the morning, even on school days.
I look to the other side of the room and see that my brother, Lucern, is still sleeping soundly. Well, not really soundly, as he snores like a chainsaw, but I know he won't be waking up for at least two more hours. Lucern is the laziest human being on the planet; if he could sleep until ten or eleven every day he would in a heartbeat. He has basically nothing to worry about, anyway. It's his last year of being eligible for reaping, and his name is only in that big pot once.
I don't really have to worry about being reaped, either. Nine times out of ten, both male and female candidates from District 12 are kids from the Seam. Most of them have taken out tesserae several years in a row to help out their families, whereas my brothers and I have plenty of grain and oil. We may eat stale bread at most every meal, but it's definitely worth not enhancing our troubles of being chosen to compete in the games.
As much as I would like to walk into the kitchen in my pajamas, after all it is my one day off, I know my mother would flip out if myself or either of my brothers walked around looking "no better than any of those Seam kids." So I change into my typical reaping day outfit: the same slacks my brothers wore before they outgrew them, and a white button down shirt. Then I make my bed, once again to avoid a verbal, possible physical, punishment from my mother, before I go down the hall to the family kitchen.
There's no one in here, which is something I like. We live above the bakery, so it's not like we have a ton of space. I share my room with a guy who prefers to lay in bed and nap during whatever free time he has, and if I'm not working downstairs with my parents, we're all, basically, up here either in the kitchen or living room. Alone time here is rare. It was even more rare before my oldest brother, Thyler, got married to Hailey Lonesmith, and moved in with her. As part of the merchant class here in 12, it's difficult to move "up the social latter" as there aren't many people here that have a higher social status. Mayor Undersee and a handful of others, including Mr. Lonesmith, who oversees production of over half of the coal mines here.
I take out a few stale rolls of bread and a glass of water before sitting at the table. My family kitchen is preferable to the bakery kitchen downstairs, as I associate it with memories of joking around with my brothers, cooking a meal with my father, having a family dinner. Downstairs is where I frost cakes and make cookies that I'm not allowed to eat, where I make a mistake and get hit with whatever my mother has handy. A rolling pin, a spoon, a whisk, and, on the occasion she has nothing to hit with or throw, her hand.
By this point, I'm eating my second of the three rolls I grabbed, and I'm leaning back in my chair with my ankles crossed. As soon as I hear footsteps coming up the stairs, I assume it's my mother, and I hastily sit up straight and sit properly at the table, only to relax when I see that it's my father.
"Good morning, dad." I use this as my greeting, but I know that my dad has already been up for hours. Even on reaping day, he's up at the usual time, making trades and going about informal business.
He smiles, but doesn't say anything back. My dad, while unquestionably the warmer, more affectionate parent, isn't a man of many words. We're in a comfortable silence as I finish my bread and water and he patters around the kitchen. In most of my friends' families, their mothers are the ones who do the kitchen pattering. But in my house, the kitchen is our father's domain. My mom works in the bakery downstairs, but that was all a matter of circumstance; she works in the bakery because she married the baker. Even when it comes to meals, my dad gladly takes on the task.
I stand and wash my glass as my father puts a tea kettle on the stove, saying his first words of the morning. "Got any plans with your friends for after the reaping?" I shake my head, and he says, "I traded with the Hawthorne boy this morning, got a good squirrel to make stew with. I'm planning on a pretty big dinner tonight; Thyler and Hailey are coming over. I was wondering if you'd like to help."
This is another aspect to my father that separates him from my mother. In my mom's mind, if she wants us to do something, like help her make dinner, then she doesn't even have to ask if we have plans, because she automatically assumes we reserve our time for her even on our days off. Of course, if she asked myself or my brothers, we would help her with whatever she wanted. It's just nice to be asked. "Yeah, sounds like a plan."
My mother calls for my father from the next room over, and before he goes, he whispers to me, "Since we're having a nice supper, perhaps you'd like to make your way downstairs and bake some fresh bread for tonight, while your mother is too busy knitting to keep her watchful eye on the bakery. I have it on good authority she'll be knitting for at least an hour or two." With a wink and a good natured slap on my shoulder, he goes to find my mom.
Glad to have something to do, I go downstairs and tie on an apron. My father and I do have many differences. We both have the blond hair and blue eyes typical of 12's merchant class, but mine my hair and eyes are shades lighter than his. I'm talkative and I enjoy meeting new people and keeping company with my friends. My father is reserved and tends to shy away from people. But the one thing that connects us is our love for baking. My brothers both work here, and have for as long as we can remember, but they do it because they have to. Because of family obligation, to stay out of the mines, and to stay away from poverty and starvation. I enjoy the work, and would like to work here even if I didn't have to.
Due to many years of practice and experience, the bread dough is made, shaped, and in the oven in very little time. While it bakes, I make little designs out of the excess flour that's still on the wooden board. I love frosting the cakes more than anything, and that's mostly because I have artistic freedom. Even my mom agrees that my cakes, and the designs on them, are second to none.
By the time the bread is done, and cool enough for me to take upstairs, it's ten o'clock. I was exactly correct in my assumption that Lucern wouldn't be getting out of bed until now. He's sitting in the kitchen, his elbow on the table, chin resting in his palm. He gives me a sleepy grin as I enter, "Hey Peeta. Is that fresh bread? I wonder what mother would make of that… tsk tsk."
I put the bread in the back of a drawer that holds our spices, one that only my father and I go into, then turn around to face my brother, "I wonder what mom would make of you still being in your sleep clothes, with your elbow on the table."
At the same time we both heighten our tones so they're practically shrill, "You pig! What manners are these? Certainly not the ones I raised you with!"
We both chuckle until we hear our mother coming down the hall and we make our faces stern. I stand up completely so I'm not leaning on the counter and my brother straightens up in his chair, letting both arms fall to his sides, just in time for her to be standing in the doorway. She's angry, which isn't a surprise, and, luckily for me, her anger is directed at my brother. "Lucern! Your bed is unmade, your side of your bedroom is a mess! What manners are there? Certainly not the ones I raised you with!"
When mother is angry about something, it's an unspoken command that you remedy whatever it is that's she's angry about before she has to ask you. Lucern stands, and I can see that there's a hope in his eyes that mother doesn't realize he's still in his pajamas. He has no such luck, as she whacks him on the shoulder as he passes her and she screams down the hallway at him, "And change out of those clothes! You weren't raised in the Seam, so don't act like it!"
As we hear the bedroom door close, my mom walks father into the kitchen, sniffing, "What is that smell? Did you make fresh bread, Peeta? That's such an incredible waste!"
Even though I did so on my father's orders, I know better than to say that, "No, ma'am. I just re-heated some rolls from last night."
She looks at me with her measuring eyes and I smile back at her. Thank goodness I've learned to lie over the years. Finally, she nods, and mutters something about having all sons and no daughters. Pigs. The lot of us. Since she's not directing any conversation my way, I know I'm allowed to leave the room. Her voice stops me when I reach the doorway, "Peeta, make sure you comb your hair before the reaping. I don't want my sons all looking like ragamuffins."
I nod, "I will, mom." Before I make my way down the hall, into my bedroom.
Lucern jumps, as he hasn't made his bed or picked anything up. He hasn't even changed out of his pajamas, yet. When he sees that it's me, he calms. "Only you. You gave me a scare for a moment."
I shut the door behind me and walk over to sit on the edge of my bed. "Why don't you just take care of what she wants done, then you won't have to live in temporary fear?"
He seems to consider this, though I know he's really not, as this is a conversation we have almost daily, "Nah. I'll be fine. You up for a game of cards?"
So that's how we kill our time until the reaping. At one, Lucern finally changes out of his pajamas, we both comb our hair at the command of mother, then we walk together as a family to the square. Mother and father stop at the roped off area, meeting up with Thyler and Hailey. Thyler greets both me and Lucern with a smile, and a slap on the shoulder. His encouragement to us is, "Hey, at least this is Lucern's last year, and Peeta, you'll be done in two more. Nothing to worry about, yeah?"
We keep walking, until we reach the front, where I stop and stand with my friends from school, and Lucern walks to the front, where the other eighteen-year-old men stand. My friends and I goof around a bit, and make plans to hang out tomorrow. We talk, and our group grows as more and more people start to come.
Though the divide isn't actually spoken about, our group is separated in half. Where I stand with my friends, we are the merchants. The kids from the Seam stand with us in the same group, but all stand together, slightly away. It isn't just my group; it's every group. The twelve-year-olds right up through the eighteen year-olds. All of our groups represent District 12, in a way. The merchant kids and the Seam kids all live in one district, but, generally, that's where the similarities end. My friends ignore the Seams and they ignore us.
I look up at those who are arriving now, at just past one. I can't decide if that was a good decision or not, as I see Katniss Everdeen walk in, accompanied by Gale Hawthorne. My stomach tightens and gets that strange, but awfully pleasant warm feeling, the same way it does whenever I see her. But she and Hawthorne together is an image I see all too often for my taste. I have nothing personally against him. I can't even dislike him for being so close with Katniss. I can't admit that they're dating – my mind refuses to acknowledge the fact that everyone already knows. I don't know why. It's not like I've ever had the courage to even have a conversation with the girl.
I follow my Katniss Guideline, which states that I'm allowed to ogle her for about a minute before I reach a stalker capacity. So I watch her, trying to ignore the fact that she's talking to Hawthorne, until she reaches the group of sixteen year old girls, across from where I'm standing, and I order myself to look away.
I continue talking with my friends as the crowd gets bigger and bigger, and finally all of the attention is on the temporary stage. Silence falls as Mayor Undersee starts his same old speech. Panem was created through the destruction of certain places in North America. The Capitol was at the center of thirteen districts, everything was good, then came the Dark Days where the districts fought against the Capitol. District 13 was destroyed, the rest were subdued, and the Hunger Games were instituted. At the end he reads off the very short list of previous District 12 Hunger Games winners.
Haymitch Abernathy is all there is surviving, and he stumbles onto the stage, making a fool of himself. He's drunk, just as he is every other day of his life here in 12. Effie Trinket is clearly put off by him, as he tried to hug her. Mayor Undersee is clearly embarrassed, and he urges Effie to get going. She does, and she starts with the girls, which is the same as always.
I think the same cursory prayer that I do every year. I silently ask that my friends, Amica and Pallie, be spared. I throw in Delly Cartwright, too, as we aren't really good friends now but we used to be, and she's just too good to be chosen. And, as always, I wish that Katniss will be fine.
I know I should worry more for the girls that I hang out with, that I actually talk to, but I am now and always have been more worried about Katniss during the reaping. It's because I know she has tesserae, and I know her name must be in the girl's glass ball fifteen or twenty times. It's likely she doesn't even know my name, and yet I worry for her during the reaping. I tell myself the same thing as every year: she may have tesserae, but the odds that she'll be the one chosen are still slim compared to the thousand or so other girl's names.
Effie pulls out a slip and reads off, "Primrose Everdeen!"
A/N: Review and tell me how you think I did please I just finished the Hunger Games books and I couldn't stop myself from writing it in Peeta's point of view.
Pretty much every chapter is going to end where it ends in the book, except for the ones where Katniss isn't with Peeta at the end of a chapter. Then my creative license takes hold.