A/N: So, because I am a broke college student, I can't get anything for my boyfriend for Valentine's Day. So, instead, I have decided to do the Lover100 LJ challenge-100 love themed oneshots. I got him all into THG to begin with, so even though I won't be done with 100 by February, he'll still have a bunch of Katniss/Peeta. This probably won't keep to a schedule like Dark on Fire is, however.
Love you, Rane.
This prompt is "Lush".
I can't believe it.
Well, I don't want to believe it. But I can tell, even without her mother telling me what happened. It shows in her bloodshot eyes, the sag of her body, and the stink of it—not only on her breath, but it's as if white liquor is seeping through her very pores.
How could she? How could she sit there with him, and take up his habits, as if it's no big deal at all? I slam the empty bottles on the table, and by the time I walk out of there, the blind fury of it all is making me shake all over.
As the door slams behind me, I hear Haymitch say something to Katniss about "self righteous people" and I let out a small, bitter laugh.
If only he knew the reason for my anger.
If only he knew.
By the time the cameras are gone and I am deposited in my brand new house in the Victor's Village, I am a wreck.
'She has no idea,' I think bitterly, as my hands grasp the unfamiliar doorknob.
Has no idea how deeply she has hurt me, or how numb I've felt, since I've found that all of the kisses, all of the gestures of love she had showered on me were merely an act. I don't show it, of course. There are people to please, appearances to keep up. But when I get the chance, I avoid her. It's all I can do—everything else is excruciating.
The house, as I expected, is empty. Well, it has been furnished, but it is devoid of anything that would bring warmth. No people, no personal effects. I sink into a soft armchair by a roaring fire—someone has tended to it carefully, in anticipation of my arrival—but I still feel frozen to the bone.
That's when I decide.
I have no doubt that Haymitch is passed out; he had been drinking like a fish from the moment we stepped off the tribute train, and I doubt he has had some sort of revelation and magically stopped in the time between then and now. I have watched him drink too many times to count, and oftentimes I've wondered why. What it is he's trying to forget, to erase forever in his mind.
Or something else?
It sounds nice, though, forgetting. Going somewhere beyond pain, beyond the numbness I dream in and out of. Does it soothe the nightmares, I wonder?
I wouldn't know, really.
I've had wine before, but only during our treatment as tributes before the Games. Our family may be better off than those in the Seam, but most of our money went towards supplies for the bakery; my mother never let us waste it on frivolities like wine.
I slip out of the house undetected; with winter beginning to approach the howl of the wind hides any sounds I make as I still struggle to adjust to my new prosthetic leg. I peek in Haymitch's filthy window, and my earlier assumption is correct—he is face down on his kitchen tale, a bottle clutched in one hand, a knife in the other. It is only a few paces to his front door, and it is unlocked. I would have thought he'd keep everything under lock and key, terrified of unseen ghosts—he has to sleep with that knife for a reason—but perhaps he is simply too drunk to remember or care.
I wrinkle my nose at the smell; Haymitch has never been tidy but his house is covered in years of grime, dusty, and miscellaneous filth that I don't even want to think about. I try and walk as quietly as I can, pausing every two steps or so to listen, and make sure he has not woken from his inebriated slumber. He has not, and I make a clean get away, rushing out of his foul house with a single, full bottle of the white liquor.
I wait until I'm back in my own, in the same chair by the same fire, to break the seal. I have become all too familiar with the harsh scent of it thanks to Haymitch, but I know nothing of the taste. I raise the bottle to my lips and am about to gulp it when I realize something—drinks require a toast, right? And who better than to toast the person who dragged my emotions into tatters?
"This is for you, Katniss," I say, my voice cracking on her name.
The drink burns so powerfully that for a split second it threatens to make a reappearance. I sputter and cough; fractions of curses in between hacking sounds. How Haymitch can down this like its water will remain a complete mystery.
That, however, does not stop me.
I tip the bottle upwards, a sip for each time she kissed me during the Games.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…
My head begins to buzz, my limbs getting heavier.
Eight, nine, ten…
It's not working. I'm not forgetting. Every time I close my eyes I still see her face, the rare smile, feel her touch, burning in the half daze of the cave. The bottle is half empty and my sluggish thoughts rebel—'Up the ante' they cry. So I do.
Two sips per kiss.
Two sips for every time I've thought of her, every time I stupidly imagined living a life with her.
The former could drain the whole bottle and then some, but I take my time—maybe for the better, maybe for the worse. I expected tears at some point, and sure enough they do make their appearance. But what I don't expect is the intensity of every emotion. Melancholy mixed with happiness—bitter when I think of the outcome, but tatters of the original happiness of the moment still cling to each memory.
And then there is the anger.
I don't even know what sets me off, what particular memory or thought kick starts the rage. But once it begins, I cannot stop it. It consumes me, the unfairness of it all. I want to blame her, I really do, but a single, baser shred of me, the shred that still loves her—and probably always will—does not allow me to do so.
So instead, I curse at nothing, and everything. At the Games, at the reaping, at President Snow, at my parents, Gale, the tributes, Haymitch, but each time I try to bring the words 'Katniss Everdeen' to my list of scum and villainy, I lose my words.
That's when I begin to throw things. Knock the knickknacks off the fireplace mantel. Books, bound in leather, shiny and new, are thrown to the floor. Dishes in cupboards, vases; a sip for each item I destroy into a thousand broken pieces.
And finally when the cursed, blessed, tormented bottle is completely drained I throw that too, watching it shatter. But it's not enough. It will never be enough.
I am on my knees, blood seeping from my hands when I place them on the floor, decimated by the crystalline pieces of glass.
"Kat-Kat—Katniss," I pant, bile rising in my throat.
I want to say that I hate her. That I will never forgive her for what she did to me.
Instead, all I can do is retch, curling my fist into a ball and watching as the spatters mix with the remains of the white liquor.
It can be never be enough.