One crown. One house. One Victor. From the moment we won the Games, the Capitol regarded Peeta and I as being two parts of one whole.
I guess I should have seen the marriage coming.
When we got back from the Games, Effie showed us the house we were awarded in Victor's Village. Unfortunately, because the custom dictated that each game can only have one Victor, no more than one new house had been built in the village in honor of the 74th Victors of the Hunger Games. I guess the Capitol had expected Peeta and I to share the house, just as we shared the crown and the winnings. However, after my confession on the train ride home, neither of us wanted to do so much as look the other in the eye, so the house remained empty.
Shortly after the camera crews left, Peeta and I went back to our homes in our respective parts of the district, and we hadn't said a word to each other since. I assumed that once the Games were over, we could go back to the way our lives were before they took place; before we had been formally introduced. So I didn't make an effort to talk to Peeta, and he stayed away from my part of town as well.
At least until the Victory Tour, that is.
Once the Victory Tour began we had to resume our artificial romance once again. But I knew it was only a small hurdle we had to pass, and the demand to see us in public would surely diminish once a new Victor had been announced.
Of course, we would still have to meet every year to mentor tributes, but hopefully, Haymitch would offer to mentor in Peeta's place. Mentoring tributes was definitely not something Peeta would do, seeing as how his moral compass was ever so keen, and Haymitch was far more experienced.
As for me, I was trying hard to convince myself that I would do everything in my power to train whatever unfortunate child selected as the girl tribute for district twelve to become the next Victor. Of course, becoming a Victor was not a fate I wished anyone else to have to endure, since I now realized the severity of being confined to a life where you are essentially doomed to lead others to their death, but it was certainly the better choice compared to dying in the arena.
I vowed I would teach all my tributes every bit of knowledge I had acquired in all my years as a hunter, as well as through my experience in the games, and equip them with the right tools necessary for them to have a standing chance at survival in the Games. I owed them at least that much. That way they might actually have some hope for their future, however dismal it may be.
I would never give up on them the way Haymitch did with me and Peeta, even before he had met us. I wouldn't ignore them and then suddenly use them to put on a romantic show to impress the audience. I would give them more advice than to simply stay alive. I vowed to care more about their lives than Haymitch ever seemed to care about ours.
Despite this attempt at having a positive outlook, the idea still scared me. The notion of having to face my dreaded fate of becoming a mentor, someone who would ultimately lead innocent children to fight in a brutal game where their demise was all but certain, instilled a fear in me that was so strong it would turn my insides upside down. I tried to remind myself that I still had many months before that reality was instated, so I tried to push it from my mind, as well as all other things related to the Capitol—such as Peeta for one.
I didn't know how to act around him anymore, because, well, the act had fallen apart. I knew what my place was once the cameras reappeared; I was to be as loving and sentimental as the crowds would require. But dealing with Peeta off-camera is what scared me the most. He seemed awfully hurt by my revelation on the train, and I couldn't bear causing him any more pain. So I just stayed away, out of the fear that I may say something else that would hurt him even more.
Besides, I wasn't entirely sure that the cameras were ever really gone. The tour bus might have surveillance cameras that we couldn't even see, much like there had been in the arena during the Games. The Capitol could be watching our every move, documenting any split second interaction that could be deemed worthy of suspicion. I was so conflicted as to how I was supposed to act around him, that I just avoided him altogether.