Midnight Necklace chapter 12

The rain

We went hunting. Haymitch and I left before dawn and the woods were magnificent. Haymitch got poison ivy on his leg. We brought Peeta squirrels.

"I don't remember him." Peeta announced as we ate that night. His face was troubled.

"Who?" I asked.

"I don't remember that man on the phone. He said he found my father and brother. I don't even know their names. I don't remember anything before now, but I paint things. I looked, I don't paint anyone who is my father."

"Peeta it was the treatment." Haymitch explains.

"No. I am not really Peeta am I? I am something else." He says distantly.

"You are Peeta, or at least all I have left of him."

"If I loved her. Why do I try to kill her?" Peeta asks for the third time this week.

"Because she ate all your cheese buns." Haymitch snaps. "What difference does it make? It isn't your fault Peeta! If I had done my job, kept my promise, this would have never happened! You love her and want to kill her because I failed you both. That's what I do! I fail!" Haymitch stomps out of the house.

I follow him, quietly, keeping out of his site. He heads to the woods and I follow. He takes a path I know, but rarely ever would go down. Gale had brought me here long ago. There is a tree down there that I hate. Before Thread had a gallows built in town, there had been a tree. It was called the Dule tree. It was the Hanging Tree. It is the tree from Peeta's Paintings. Haymitch stops here. He stares at the tree for a long time. He sings softly in his deep voice.

I listen fascinated; he knows stanzas I have never heard. He doesn't know I am watching and he bellows the song as if it is a joy to him.

Are you are you coming to the tree

**Terrible fruit dancing jigs in the breeze

strange things did happen there...

**=(only line that changes)

**Lusting after angels, as his heart stops beat

**They won't ever, ever, ever let us be

**A deathly ball, beats a one two three

**Toasting our love in eternity

As he began yet another round I join him. He turns and stops singing, looking annoyed at my presence.

"Where did you learn all those extra versus?" I asked him.

He looks back at the tree. "I wrote a verse for every friend I have lost to this tree. They banned it a long time ago. You don't know how it warmed me when you sang it that day long ago. There are one hundred sixty six verses so far Katniss. When I add to that number, I want someone to burn this tree down."

"Haymitch what do you mean? Nobody is going to hang you." I say confused.

"I am sorry sweetheart. I am dieing. Liver cancer. The real reason we don't drink. It is going to be terrible and I am not doing it. As soon as your mother feels I am unable to continue to care for you, she intends to place you elsewhere. She will have you ripped from my arms and there is little I can do, other than hope they shoot me as it occurs. I won't have anything to bother with Katniss. So I will rest here, awaiting your arrival. I should have joined them long ago." He sits down in the grass, nearly invisible in the deep meadow weeds.

"Haymitch? You're scaring me."

"Come sit with me Katniss. I think we should talk." I sit next to him in the tall grass. He smiles at me and his voice is so gentle as he explains himself to me. He isn't leaving me any room for disagreement. He is only helping me understand, not allowing me to think I could change his mind. "I need you to know that I have made this decision. I don't want you to wonder. I don't want you to be sad or think it was your fault." He says looking at me as if he is memorizing me.

"I am going with you." I say filled with peace at the idea.

"Sweetheart, no. You can't go with me. I don't think you understand what I am telling you." He sighs with frustration. "There is nobody for me except you and Peeta. What I am sentenced to will be slow and very painful. I intend to wait until I know it is time and then I am going to join my friends on this tree."

"I do understand. I am going with you. I will go this minute if you say Haymitch. I have nobody but you and Peeta. What do you think an institution will do for me? They have taken everything Hay. They took my childhood. They took my heart. They took my mind. They took my body. They took my freedom. They took my whole life. I found another one. You and Peeta and our messy strange love, that has become all we each have. My mother has become the capital Haymitch. She took my memories. She is taking the tiny bit of joy in life I find in your arms. So what do I get to look forward to this time? Same as you said happened last time? Slow painful death at some guard's hand? I am done Haymitch. I am going with you." I am not arguing or justifying myself, I am simply telling him I agree.

His hand comes to my cheek. He leans down and kisses me reverently and gently, as if we are making a demon pact.

"Haymitch she doesn't have any cameras here" I say and kiss him hard, demanding.

"Oh God sweetheart. You have no idea how hard it has been for me. Wanting you and knowing you didn't even remember me on a good day. Sometimes I give up and I temp you to just end me. If you decide to kill me this time, I don't think I am going to even try to stop you again. I am yours." He lays on top of me, his weight on me in the grass. I know he's not supposed to touch me, but I also know he is already lost to me, so it doesn't matter now.

We lay in the grass sweating in the heat, unconcerned that we will be discovered. The deep shade of this tree protects my skin from the sun. The location protects our privacy. Who would make love under a hanging tree?

I spoke on the phone to Gale again and he and I talked about people we had lost. We even talked about Finnick Odair and how Peeta had been in district four when Annie had sailed to the sea. It was nice. I brought up Prim and told him I didn't ever blame him. I told him it was my fault for starting the war in the first place. He laughed. "Didn't you know Catnip? You didn't start it. Haymitch and Heavensbee and Johanna Mason. We all showed up late to the party. And before them, our fathers."

It was a fun conversation and Haymitch and he talked back and forth for a long time. Peeta sat listening. Peeta looks so lost I put my arms around him and he leans toward me resting his head on my stomach. "Katniss. They have stolen us all. We are gone. I have been dead haven't I?"

I kissed his head and hushed him. He said things that didn't make any sense. I remembered loving him. I remembered the boy with the bread even though this is just the zombie pieces they had not taken. I realize that we can't leave him alone.

The storm rolls, announcing itself with heat lighting and terrible wind. Haymitch has to sedate Peeta. The second quell storm was still in Peeta somewhere and he is terrified of storms. We barely have him tucked into bed when the electricity goes out. Haymitch brings us a candle. He opens a window letting some of the cool air into the house, the candle winnows to the current.

Haymitch keeps looking at me and smiling. "You know sweetheart, if the electricity is off, so are the cameras?" His eyebrows bounce suggestively.

On the couch. On the staircase. In the kitchen. Finally we make our way upstairs, like two naughty children whose parents are not home. Except the parents came home early and we didn't notice them. Haymitch and I were blissful. and for two people who had lost so much in the world, it was too precious to end.

Haymitch brings us cold drinks and as he hands me mine he turns to look at the camera. The red dot is glowing. He stands there frozen. He goes to the wall switch and flicks it. The lights blaze. He flicks them back off and leans into the wall as if in pain. "Well, that is disappointing." He says sitting defeated on the bed.

"Do you think that it….?"

"I imagine we can count on It." He says quietly. "I am sorry, sweetheart."

"Well. If they have already seen. Lets kill the camera and make it worth it." I grin. "Hay I am here tonight and we may never have another. I may slip. You may get sick before I get back. We deserve to have something."

Tears swell in his eyes. "I can pretty much guarantee we will be torn apart within the next few days. I will never see you again."

I won't cry. I refuse. "Then what are you doing over there."

"I will get the camera." He says, but I tug him back into the bed.

"Let the sick bastards watch. It's their shame they want to, not ours." Somehow knowing this was goodbye gave me a tranquil hope I had lost along the way. All the bad things in my life were over and all I had to do was give and receive all the love I had left in this world.

We fixed a huge breakfast the next morning. Peeta baked. All was right in our world. It was afternoon when we got the call. Incoming.

Haymitch and I looked at each other and smiled. We explained to Peeta. I tied the ropes. Peeta took his last loaves out of the oven. Haymitch pulled a bottle from way back in his cabinet. We took a huge basket, a blanket, and we sang as we walked happily though the new paint and sawdust scented town. This was not a sad moment for us. Others had taken everything from us all. We had outlasted the pain, but not survived it. The fact anyone still had the right to take the only thing that gave me comfort, from me, meant I had fought for nothing. Peeta died and lived on at the whims of evil for no purpose. The fact that the man who had given so many freedom, couldn't be trusted to care for one crazy girl and one mutt boy, or have those he loved with him in sickness, proved he had wasted his time suffering for the dead. The dead were free.

**Under the chin hang the Thirteen beads *

We made our run for freedom without a backward glance. We indulge in our final feast among friends. The clearing is filled with friends. I saw Finnick who held up his son smiling, Annie at his side. Cinna stood nearby, grin on his face as if he couldn't wait to tell me a secret. The movement caught my eye first. His head shuffled through the crowd. My father broke ranks and holding Prim's hand, they took their place, waiting on us to arrive. Prim waved at me unable to contain her excitement. Haymitch looks at me and grins, " looks like you will be meeting my mother in a few minutes." Peeta watched another person standing across the veil. His head tilted as he looked at the shining version of himself, waiting to be whole again.

Haymitch sings the last verse, our song. He has written all the verses for them. They will wonder why, I imagine, unable to see the shame they brought us. They will say things they forgot to say while we were alive. They will murmur words that could have mattered, if they had bothered to say them while we were part of the world. None of it will matter to us now. We know those who loved us, and those who didn't can play their game of pretend. We are beyond pretending now. We have finally found our rescue from the hunger games.

Are you, are you, comin to the tree,

Midnight necklace for the world to see,

Strange things did happen here,

And now we're finally free

Come to this place of joy, they called the hanging tree.

Congessman Gale Hawthorne delivered the eulogy as they lay to rest the last three victors of district twelve. The triple services brought an end to the era in some ways, Hawthorn said, but he refused comment on what could have lead to the tragic discovery. The three were found hanging from an old gallows tree last week. The sad discovery made just hours before Doctor Rowan Everdeen arrived to try to intervene on what she had described as an abusive situation between the older mentor and his two young victors. Paintings made by the renowned artist, Peeta Mellark, may have foretold of the unspeakable future and the gulf of sorrow they had survived. The collection in it's entirety will find permanent display at the Gallery of Hunger games memorabilia, set to open to record crowds early next month. In other news Dr Everdeen announces her engagement to her childhood sweetheart, Herb Mellark, the father of Peeta. The two felt the announcement would show that even in the most tragic moments of life, hope can exist….

"Burn in hell Doc." Gale says clicking the television off and returning to his papers. He couldn't read the damned letters again, but here he was scanning them, wanting to feel close to her. He clicked the video player on. It was a security tape. Doc Everdeen had included it in her petition for guardianship and her charges she'd filed against Haymitch Abernathy.

The last night they had, the cameras had run with battery back up. He didn't watch them to be aroused. He watched them because his Catnip was there. It soothed him to know she'd found joy in the old bastards arms. Once he wanted to be the one who brought it, but in some ways, he had. He didn't feel guilty that his call to them, warned them and drove them to what they did. He felt like he'd done her the greatest kindness he could imagine. Haymitch had been her lover. The only one she ever knew at least by choice.

Gale had run Haymitch's file. For a time, he had been almost convinced that Katniss could only be in danger from Haymitch. He had a nickname among the other capital whores of his day. He was known as The Marquee. He had a file that was almost as thick as Finnick's. Both had been used by the capitol. Haymitch was a shocking revelation. He glanced again at the man's specialties, and then played the tape.

The tape showed a person who was madly in love with a much younger woman and worshiped her. The file spoke of the monster they had made him. Gale was on a quest. He had known for some time that Katniss wasn't as crazy as the Doc claimed. Gale knew what they did to the Mutt version of Peeta just to keep him under control. He was surprised to discover that Peeta had not been the only one tortured. Katniss, had been as well, right under his nose at Coin's order.

Catnip had not left him. She had not lost her mind. She had not lost her fire. Coin had had her extinguished. Always sedated, then constantly confused, how had he missed it?

He found out from another file what had happened to Katniss while she had been 'on trial'. When the conspirators had discovered Haymitch Abernathy was on their trail, they send four paid professional assassins. Katniss had killed two of them and maimed another. That was his Katniss. Gale had the delight of interviewing that survivor personally. Strange what one crazy girl locked away in district twelve and unable to brush her teeth could tell you when she was asked. Gale wished he had gone hunting with her one last time. He could have saved her perhaps. Instead, he'd been distracted by his true path.

Had made 11 trips back to district 12 to visit her. She knew something. She could see something in her state, because she could give him information that he could obtain no other place. They say she talked with the dead. She had identified the unidentifiable as she had dug through the ashes of district twelve. They followed her with a camera once and she had spoken to people, sometimes even arguing, but mostly she had begged forgiveness. She had not shuffled along digging randomly. She had infallibly bent to a place in the blackened soot and gently uncovered remains.

Gale smiled at the girl on the screen. "I will always love you Catnip. I found him for you. I have the real Snow located. I am going to make him pay for a long time Katniss. They want me to run for president. It is just a game really, I already am. I am going to be in that office soon. Then I am going to make them pay my love. I am going to make them all pay for as long as I live. Thanks to this amazing beverage, that could be an eternity."

Gale smiled and poured the tiny shot glass full of the poison. It was scented deceptively, but he knew it's secrets. The smell of roses assaulted him just before he downed the liquid. The curse of his losses ran through him as he began to cough and smile.

President Gale Hawthorne addressed a crowd today, giving a sentimental look at the life of Katniss Everdeen. He has often made reference to her tragic loss, but he promised her faith in the world lives on in …

"Mrs. Mellark, how kind of you to join me. How is your new husband?" The president said with his dead gray eyes and his simpering smile.

"I didn't feel it was an invitation so much as an order…Mr. President. What did you want to discuss." Doctor Rowan Mellark said, sitting stiffly before the boy she'd always thought would one day be part of her family. He had changed. There was a lingering odor around him of blood and roses.

"I want to discuss our past, my dear. I was always meant to be here you know. Your first husband along with my father had quite the scheme figured out. They were hung for it of course, but you knew all along didn't you. You knew the mine accident was a lie. My problem is that, I was meant to have someone by my side. Someone who, in the end, you took from me. You killed my Katniss. You sent her to the Dole Tree as surely as you sent my father."

"And you killed my Prim." She argues softly.

"Tragically, I did." He admits with no guilt. He smiles softly at her flinch. "I always thought we were friends. To bad that was never really the case. You have lied to me and I must say, I don't think I can forgive you for it."

Are you …..are you…comin to the tree

I have come to THE END you see,

Strange things have come along

And stranger they may be

When you get a look at the enemy…..


Ok I am hoping this explained with out OVER explaining.

(An old American long-drop hangman's knot has thirteen turns on the noose - for the thirteen beads of the song stanza Haymitch had written -it is not the same as the more humane, less gruesome knots used elsewhere or the noose used for a short drop…the extra turns on a long drop noose are to keep the top knot from slipping from the force of the drop tension….I refuse to explain angel lust -you'll have to look that one up on your own)

If you have questions - I will answer or I will edit for clarity -I know it's very dark -that's kinda what I do - but there is always a happy ending in my darkness -lol yeah there are actually puns, within puns to that statement. (they are hidden in my writing as well)

Thank you all for reading. Please check out my other stories -

THE LIE, (no Lemons but in progress and it is getting darker-Haymitch and Katniss in the quell - no rebel save)

WHERE THE WAVES MEET THE SKY, (Finnick remembers Mags – no lemons)

HAYMITCH THE HORRIBLE (Haymitch pulls a mean joke on Finn and boy does it cost him- very mature subject) and

THE MOCKINGJAY AND THE CHAMELEON (Lots of lemons, lemon aid and lemon pie -Ganiss, Hayniss, Finniss, and Peeniss -somthin for everyone!)

Thank you all for you're reviews…and just so you know -lol there are five times as many hits on the chapter -'Playing possum' as any of the rest of this story -lol. It seems Hayniss is not as offensive to some of you as your reviews would reflect…..grin. Just had to share…..Love and hugs (In a non-creepy way) Howlynn