Hey guys! I know it hasn't been that long, but I couldn't wait. So welcome to my new friends and welcome back to those of you who I know. But to those of you who I don't, here is a little recap that was incredibly hard to write since so much has been going on.
Lo and Behold was after Catching Fire, and Peeta was obviously not captured. During that first story, Gale was killed and Cinna & the prep team were charged with being the Capitol spies. Now, in Gravity, Snow was defeated and Kat & Peeta were able to go home, and they got married two weeks before the beginning of this story. Previously they had thought that they couldn't have children, so that remains a mystery for now. Annie and Finnick also play a bigger part of the story with their baby son Jace. Shortly before "Gravity" ended, strange packages had made themselves known within District 12, sent by the mysterious "Agency". And, um…let's see… Oh yeah. The list of OC's introduced in the last two stories:
Ivy Sawyer: Little redheaded girl Katniss and Peeta met in the town square, and became fond of because she helped them hold together by being the missing link, as Peeta and Katniss may not be able to have children themselves.
Caroline Sawyer: Ivy's single mother, tired and working hard.
Aden Sawyer: Boy about Prim's age that Katniss met in District 13, as he was selling baby clothes. He died of a heart condition not a week after Kat met him, and became known as the mysterious brown-haired boy.
Lucia Bennet: Caroline's grandmother, Ivy's great-grandmother. Nice old lady who loves to feed anyone who steps foot in her house. About the age of the Easter Island heads.
Mr. Webb: The local tailor. As Caroline's boss, he's nice enough, but has the tendency to interrupt and be a little over-enthusiastic about his work.
Benj Erik: One of the only people in District 12 to raise cows. His foot got crushed and he was sent to the hospital under the care of Primrose. When he healed enough to be released, he got a job at the bakery with Peeta. He's from District 1, gorgeous, highly flirtatious and somewhat reckless.
Anna-Mae Rull: The other baker employed at Peeta's bakery. A timid, small girl of 22 from District 11. She was the baker's daughter there until her parents and her fiancée died in the bombing. From D13 she moved to D12 to get a job, and remains as shy and quiet as ever.
I hope that was pretty explanatory, but remember, if you have any questions at all, send it in your review. I don't bite. Much. Enjoy this first chapter, and hope to see you in the many to come!
This chapter is dedicated to my lovely friend Adnan for making sure I don't screw this story up. Bwahaha.
"This must be a record." Peeta sighed, shaking his head at my work of art.
It really wasn't supposed to be a work of art. It was our early lunch, but as always, it was less than adequate.
Putting my hands on my hips, I scowled at him. "You're going to eat it and you're going to like it."
Peeta shook his head again.
According to him, pancakes were not meant to be scrambled, but it seemed perfectly fine and edible to me. But of course, he took the spatula from me and began on a fresh batch.
"Picky…" I scoffed, sitting at the table.
It was a beautiful May morning on the 28th, warm but not hot, sunny but not blinding. Nightmares had woke me up an hour ago, thrashing around to the images of Primrose getting mauled by mutts. It sent me crying into Peeta's chest for a good fifteen minutes before he invited my little sister over to reassure me she was not eaten. So Prim was sitting next to me at the table, looking awkwardly amused at my hopeless cooking skills.
She giggled at my upset scowl. "He has a point, Katniss."
I scowled even more.
Today was a normal Tuesday. Prim and Mother had to go to work at the hospital, as usual. Annie and Finnick were out in town running errands with Jace, and Caroline doesn't work today so she's supposed to bring Ivy over near lunchtime. Secretly, I looked forwards seeing the sweet little girl today. Ivy, with her fiery red hair and stubborn toddler demeanor, she filled in the missing space in my heart. I loved her as if she was my own.
My own… Automatically, at that thought, I put my hand down to my stomach and frowned. Several thoughts filled my head, but none felt the importance to surface. With luck, I would have one of my own, but I wasn't sure, and neither was Peeta. There was some doubt, but the thought of not being able to have children made me upset, so I pushed that particular theory away.
Primrose noticed. She blinked her pretty blue eyes curiously at me, but when I shook my head, she shrugged and didn't say anything.
When breakfast was over, Peeta and I said goodbye to Prim and she left with our mother into town for work.
"I'll get the dishes." Peeta's eyes were twinkling as he offered to take up the chore, but I took the opportunity to be alone with him. It had been over a week since our "honeymoon" had ended, and there was plenty of things to do since we'd been in our own little world for eight days. Practically all of every day since the 20th, we were with someone at all times, whether it was with Mother and Prim helping them rearrange the flowerbeds in their front yard, or with Finnick or Annie as they made little preparations to stay the extra two weeks they'd planned. But most of the time was spent with Ivy. Once she caught us, it took a good three hours to shake her and Caroline, her mother, off. Not to mention the fact that Peeta and I still had to make time for our jobs of hunting and baking.
Today was a do-nothing day.
"Have you heard from District 13 lately?" I asked Peeta while wiping a piece of fine white china. District 13 was our primary source of news, and strange things have been going on lately.
Peeta wiped a bit of soap off his chin with his shoulder and frowned. "Not since Saturday. But yesterday when I came late to the bakery, Benj had some odd news."
There was no doubt he did. Benjamin Erik, being from District 1, was incredibly handsome, dangerously flirtatious, and somewhat reckless. Despite being an excellent baker, he gets in trouble with Peeta about every other day. So this "odd news" he came up with didn't surprise me until I heard it.
"See," Peeta was frowning, a deep crease appearing between his eyebrows, and he paused the dishes. "He said a package had came. Appeared on our doorstep and was apparently there before opening. Guess who sent it?"
I groaned. This was getting out of hand. I knew who it was from—or at least, who it claimed to be from. No one knew who the Agency was, but they'd been dropping off packages all around Panem. On poor people's doorstops appeared food and cloth; behind shops appeared materials and items, supporting them through hard times. In fact, this "Agency" was the only thing keeping most stores open right now. As far as I had been concerned, Peeta's bakery wasn't struggling, but yet there it was.
Peeta rubbed his forehead. "It's nice having a new supply of flour and yeast, but it's overly suspicious and most definitely dangerous."
Creasing my brows as well, I nodded. "Mayor Channe should do something about it. For all we know, the food items could have been poisoned."
"No one in their right mind would ever turn down food, you know that."
I did. That's what's worrying me. "The Agency" had an advantage over us, and a very powerful one. The worst part was that it seemed harmless. When people started trusting mysterious, unmarked boxes on their doorsteps, they would get into the habit of never even wondering before opening them. They could easily be bombs or something.
It was like Peeta read my mind. He sighed and continued scrubbing stubborn food off of a plate. "No one would bomb us, Katniss. All the districts are working together to survive, it's pointless to bomb one another."
I nodded, still cynical.
The subject was changed soon after I dropped it.
"I was wanting to go into town today," Peeta said, drying his hands on a towel. "We're out of grain. And we can stop by the Justice Building on the way to see if there's anything new from District 13."
That in itself was tempting, just to see the news. I gave in and tried to smile at him. "Alright."
He grinned widely at me, displaying his brilliant white teeth and twinkling blue eyes. I loved his crooked smile and the way he ruffled my hair even though he knew I was annoyed by it.
"It's the twenty-eighth today, isn't it?" From behind, he wrapped his arms around my waist and pressed his lips on my neck, exposed from a white nightdress.
I nodded, leaning my head back on his shoulder. "I know what you're thinking."
On the thirtieth (give or take a day) we'd figure out whether or not I was pregnant. I've never been off by more than a day, but most of the time I was on time. If June hit and I still hadn't gotten my period, there will definitely be a celebration. But not with anyone except Peeta and I. That would be…weird. Like an "I-skipped-my-period" party, which was a lot less tempting.
Peeta laughed, and I laughed with, even though we were probably laughing for different reasons.
"I'm still worried, though." I admitted to him, wrapping my arms around his own arms around my waist. "Do you think it's too early?"
Pregnancy at 18-years-old was early. It wasn't even a question. But every time I made that argument, Peeta would say that it was perfectly okay since our life spans were a great deal shorter than the average person in, say, District 2.
"Of course not." He just kissed me on the cheek and untangled his arms from around me. "I'm going to go take a shower. Don't burn the house down."
"Wouldn't dream of it." I felt myself smiling after him, exasperated but adoring.
Half an hour later, Peeta came out of the bathroom shaking water from his sandy blond hair. I had finished my shower ten minutes ago, and found it amusing that he showers longer than me as I braided my hair down my back.
"You look nice." He observed, blinking appreciatively at my typical, boring outfit. As always, he was exaggerating my looks.
I just rolled my eyes at him and tried averting my eyes as he dressed behind me. He had this crazy sense that I would be perfectly okay dressing and undressing in front of him now that we were married and he made fun of me every time I didn't look. It was almost like he was trying to make me look at him, as if that would be equivalent of permission for him to look at me. It was all confusing, so I just never looked.
"Are we going to the Justice Building first or should we pick up the grain before?" Peeta grabbed a black shirt from inside the wardrobe and yanked it over his hard chest.
"Either one. You're the one who wanted to go into town in the first place." I finished the braid and shrugged at him.
"Have a lovely day, you two." The tiny, wrinkled old lady bid Peeta and I farewell as we walked out of the shop with 2 ten-pound bags of grain in our arms. I kept mine in my left and Peeta kept his in his right we could hold hands, letting them swing back and forth between us with the merry air of District 12.
"To the Justice Building, then?" Peeta veered down an adjacent road towards the town square.
It was beautiful this time of year, all bright and fresh and warm, with people jostling around the shops busily. We took our time walking, and when we got to the Justice Building, Peeta opened the door for me.
The large foyer was somewhat familiar to us then. There was plush carpet and a comfortable atmosphere. The front desk, which was some odd twenty feet to our left, was watched by a middle-aged lady, Mayor Channe's secretary. She peered at us over her spectacles as we approached, and smiled a tired smile.
"Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. Mellark," she said kindly.
We had stopped trying to get her to not call us so formally. But being called 'Mrs. Mellark' made me kind of happy.
"Good morning," Peeta said good-naturedly, and his eyes trailed over to the rack of papers on the wall next to us. On the top, painted in semi-crude-looking letters, was "District 13 News". Whatever that has been going on, and D13 knows about, is on those papers, labeled by dates. Out of habit, we drifted over there and pulled the latest newsletter from the rack and went over to go sit down on the chairs in the corner to read, with the sacks of grain on the floor next to us.
At the top, it was saying stuff about the product deterioration in all of the districts. It talked about the death toll on a steady incline due to lack of food (District 11 had poor harvests that year). But in bold letters, on the inside of a box on the bottom of the page, was a short article about The Agency. A "mysterious organization winning the hearts and mouths of hungry district citizens, saving the lives of thousands". An interview with a head official there in District 13 said that, despite suspicion, the Agency was the current savior of Panem's people and everyone should be grateful to these anonymous heroes while it lasts.
Peeta frowned deeply when he read this. "I'm not too sure about this. Do you think…?"
"District 13 is trying to cover something up?" I suggested.
"No, that's not what I'm sensing. More like…" He sighed, flipping the page. "I don't know. M—" Peeta stopped, momentarily stunned by something he read on the other page. I leaned over quickly to see.
I looked at where Peeta was pointing to on the yellowed page, and there, in comical black letters, said, "RISING NUMBER OF MISSING PERSONS BRINGS THERORIES TO TABLE".
"…Starting May 13th, mysterious disappearances have jolted several District 13 authorities awake, but until last night at the monthly council meeting, no one thought twice. 'Disappearances are not unusual,' states head security Bartolomu Wite when asked about the issue. 'When someone leaves the face of this earth, it is usually reported as death automatically. But when you look at the charts of those missing peoples, one has to question things'.
"District 13 president Alma Coin was presented by Wite earlier with an interesting theory. Yesterday night they held their council two days early and sat with the head of the criminal department, Hann Anders, to look at the record of each person that has vanished all in the same two-week stretch. Livia Faare was among the six people absent. Faare was from District 2 and had won the 55th Hunger Games. She married 3 years after and had a child, Trace, who—after miraculously winning the 72nd Games—vanished along with his mother.
"'This is no coincidence,' Anders said. "And, looking further into the records, found a similar pattern. The two Faare victors had been the first missing from District 2, and then it was Vanessa Plaite from District 4, and after that a victor from 7 and then 8. In numerical order, these people went missing. And they were all previous Hunger Games victors.' When President Coin was presented with this notion, she was astounded, and agreed with Anders.
"Are these disappearing victors merely coincidences? Will we see them home safely, or is it a lost cause? If it is not just a twist of fate, then who is behind these kidnappings? As the numbers climb to the higher districts, we advise everyone to be on high alert, just in case this is a mass abduction. To the people of District 11 and 12—especially to our Twelve victors, Katniss and Peeta Mellark—stay safe and aware of everything going on. This might not end as well as we would hope."
I felt my throat close off with immediate worry as I finished the article. The newsletter was trembling slight in Peeta's hands, I noted, but his face was almost completely expressionless.
"Peeta," For some reason, I felt the need to whisper. "Do you think they're right?"
The muscles in his jaws tightened visibly, and his blue eyes flicked nervously over to me. "I hope not. I really do." One of his hands left the damaged paper to close around mine. "We need to go show your mother. Doesn't she work today?"
I stood up with him, feeling my shoulders still quivering with worry. "Yes, but her hours got cut back on Tuesdays and Fridays. She gets off at two."
It was one-thirty. She'd probably be back home in an hour.
Peeta was still eyeing me as we walked out the door, accidentally forgetting to say goodbye to the secretary. "You look really shook up, Katniss. Don't worry, okay?" He wrapped his arm around my waist reassuringly, and I felt him kiss me on the top of my head. "I'll make sure you're safe."
The simple sweetness of that nearly made me forget what I was fretting about in the first place, but the crumpled paper in my hand reminded me constantly. "I know you will. It's just so…awful."
He shook his head. "I know…"
"Grab an egg out of the refrigerator for me, will you?" Peeta asked, hands full and busy.
We were in the kitchen, the aroma of baking cookies filling the house with immeasurable deliciousness. Peeta was busy stirring a thick paste better (that needed eggs apparently), and I was looking at the pictures on the top of the fridge with interest.
Upon his request, I took out an egg and passed it to him, where it was cracked open and stirred in.
Things had been slightly tense and wary since we'd gotten home. Peeta seemed extra-fidgety, keeping one eye on me the entire time. Though we tried to discuss the news from today as little as possible, there was no avoiding it. In fact, we were making these cookies to take over to Mother's house when we go to ask her if she knew about it. I was silently watching the clock for when she was supposed to arrive.
Peeta motioned me over. "Taste this," He offered me a bit of the creamy brown batter.
I stuck it in my mouth and made a noise of pleasure. "Perfect. When is the other batch going to be done?"
"About fifteen seconds."
I shooed him aside so I could pull them out of the oven using two thick mitts. They were puffy and golden-brown and send the most amazing smell wafting all around the house. I wanted so bad to eat one, but knowing I'd just get burned and a scolding from Peeta, I set them nicely on a large plate.
As the second (and last) batch was cooking, Peeta came over to me and slipped his arms around my waist fondly. "How are you doing?"
Fine, obviously, but saying that would just be annoying to him. I knew what he meant, though. I rolled my eyes up to the ceiling, and then allowed him a small smile. "I feel perfectly adequate."
He leaned close to me, resting his forehead on mine. I could feel his breath very gently on my mouth, and I knew he was smiling, even through my closed eyes. I could feel his thumbs brush against my stomach from where they were on my hips. "And how is Peeta Jr. doing?"
I flicked him on the chest. "He's not there yet. And stop calling him that."
Peeta's laugh vibrated his chest. "What do you mean he's not there yet? Don't be such a pessimist."
It wasn't my complete pessimism that made me say that. It was that if I wasn't pregnant, I'd know on the thirtieth. And that was still in two days.
I ignored Peeta's comment and kissed him lightly on the lips. "Don't let the cookies burn."
He rolled his eyes.
All of the treats were gathered and 2:45 hit, and so Peeta and I set out the fifty feet it took to get to the front door of my mother's house where her and Primrose, my lovely little sister, lived. It was quite a large house for just the two of them, but it suited them just fine. A large, luscious garden sprang from the earth behind the house, leafy tendrils sprouting every which way. And not to mention all of the hundreds of multi-colored flowers around their house. It seemed alive with use and warmth of girlish care.
Peeta went first up the wooden steps and gave the door a customary knock, though it wasn't really for us to bother with that.
The door opened, and Mother was standing in the doorway. When she saw us, her smile grew wide and wrinkly. "You caught me just in time. Come in, come in."
The paper folded in my pocket felt like it weighed a ton.
Inside, the house was as big as ours. The spacious living room was where we walked in first, seeing the door to the kitchen to our left, and the group of couches to our right, the tall staircase directly in front of us. And sneaking past the bottom of the stairs was the curve of the hallway, where it leads to more bedrooms.
On one of the suede couches was my little sister, Primrose. She had her legs tucked underneath her, and she was bent over a packet of papers with a pen, frowning in concentration. When she heard us come in, her head lifted up and she grinned. Setting down the papers, she hopped off the couch and came over to us.
"Hey, guys." Prim's smile made dimples appear on her cheeks.
I gave her a brief hug, out of habit, but my attention was drawn back to Mother.
"Is there anything wrong?" My mother was putting away the tray of cookies, but we could still hear her from in the kitchen.
Peeta put his arm comfortingly around me, and we kind of shuffled after Mother. I wasn't sure what to tell her, mostly because my family was the kind of family who—unless 100% proven otherwise—think that no one can do any wrong now that the Capitol is gone. How was I going to explain this?
All four of us sat around the table and helped ourselves to cookies, but I noticed neither Peeta nor I ate ours.
Swallowing, I pulled the paper out of my pocket and set it on the table surface in front of me. "Have you read the District 13 news today?"
The jovial smile on my mother's face disappeared. It was most certainly not good news, whatever we wanted to tell her. She reached out and took the paper from us.
"It's the second page."
Primrose went over by her mother and read over her shoulder. And slowly, as they read, creases appeared in their foreheads with frowns. My little sister's eyes widened a fraction in fright, and she looked up at me.
"Does this mean what I think it means?" she asked.
I lowered my head, but thankfully, Peeta caught the waver and saved me.
"We don't know yet, but it really shook us up when we read it." He glanced over at me and gave my hand a reassuring squeeze.
Mother looked highly worried as she gave the paper back. "…If that really is the case, it stands to reason that going out alone isn't the wisest idea anymore until this is resolved."
I didn't say that to my mother, though. I just let all of us sit in silence, absorbing the news we received.
Later that day, I was standing in my room, looking at a painting on the wall. It was a very good one of me and Ivy. The first time I realized how much I absolutely loved that little girl. It was a good day.
"How are you feeling?" Peeta appeared behind me and put his arms halfway around my waist. "You don't look very well."
"I'm fine," I told him, pulling away from his arms not unkindly. "Just deep in thought. I'll be right back." I was deep in thought, that wasn't a lie. But I didn't feel very "fine". In fact, I felt the opposite. Deep inside me, something told me that Peeta and I wouldn't have very much longer together before something happened. No idea what, but it put me on edge. Don't be stupid. Nothing is going to happen. He won't let it.
I grabbed a nightgown from the wardrobe and slipped into the bathroom to change for the night. Dinner was threatening to make a reappearance, which would be horrible, but I managed to keep it down for now. Shivering quietly, I removed my clothes and slipped on the gown. It was heavy and warm, reminding me of way back a couple months ago…
A lump rose in my throat, painful. This was really freaking me out. I was uncharacteristically paranoid as I shuffled back into the bedroom, where Peeta was attempting to pick up the room.
He glanced up, saw me, and knew that look on my face. "Katniss,"
I didn't even want to hear it. I put my arms around his waist and buried my face in his chest. "Do you really think that what everyone is saying is true?"
Thankfully, no tears were threatening to pour down my face at that moment.
Peeta put his arms around me as well, pressing his cheek to the top of my head. "Even if it is, I won't let anything happen to you. I keep telling you. Do you not believe me?"
I believe you, I wanted to tell him. But it wasn't me that I was worried about.
Swallowing, I drew away and crawled under the covers of our bed. I felt so fragile, vulnerable. It wasn't the best feeling, honestly. I couldn't even look up at him when Peeta came and laid next to me.
"Smile for me, okay?" He put his arms around me again, trying to cover my weak emotions with his own loving ones.
I could feel his adoration through the tenderness of his fingers in my hair and his lips on my cheeks. My body was curled away from him, but his arms were around me in a comforting cocoon shape. I wanted his warmth to drown away my frightened feelings. Visions of war and death littered my mind and I turned around to press my face against his shoulder.
"Sleep well, Katniss." He let out a drowsy sigh, tightening his arms. "Don't worry. I'll take care of you—the both of you." His finger grazed my stomach.
The both of us… I liked that.
I let my Peeta pull me under, his arms and heart cradling me away from all the bad dreams.
Sorry about the ending, there, guys. I got a sudden brain fart. It was horrible. Anyway, please review. If you love me. Hope you liked the first chapter of the THIRD STORY. Woop woop. :3