Disclaimer: I do not own "The Hunger Games" nor do I own the main characters. They all belong to Suzanne Collins.
I'm sitting high up in a tree in the arena, having just barely outrun 3 of the Careers as they chased me through the dense woods. Currently they are walking around below me looking for where I could've gone, when he walks through the trees. I try to get Peeta's attention, to get him to run, but it's too late. The District 1 tribute has already jumped him and is raising his knife to slice open his throat. "NO!" I scream with tears running down my face and sit straight up. It is only now that I realize I'm in my bed in Victor's Village in District 12 and not the woods in the arena for the Hunger Games. Breathing heavily I try to calm myself down, "It was only a dream." I whisper to myself as I try to untangle my sheets and wipe the sweat from my forehead. It is just after dawn and I can tell that I will in no way be able to go back to sleep now, so I decide to get up and go hunting. It's been a few weeks since the end of the war and I've been sent back to District 12, having served my purpose as the Mockingjay figure. Peeta has recently moved back here, as well as Haymitch. Peeta is still not completely himself and I try to give him his space, knowing that he is not always sure about me and if I'm bad or good. I strap on my boots and braid my long brown hair and head for the door.
As I step out onto my front porch I see a small loaf of bread with the melted cheese on top, knowing that Peeta must've left it there for me. He must be having a good day today for him to have done this. Occasionally we'll take a walk around the ruins of the District or we'll work on our book together when he's feeling good, but it hurts a little that he's not the same old Peeta and things aren't as easy as they used to be, but he is trying. It's just a slow process. Grateful, I pick up the loaf and head for the woods. Once I've reached my spot and dig out my bow and sheath of arrows, even though it's not technically against the law to hunt anymore I don't feel right if they aren't in the same place after so many years, I nibble on the bread and listen for any game that might be nearby. A few hours later I decide to head back home with a few rabbits and squirrels in my game bag. Hunting isn't as necessary now for food as it was before, but after eating this way for so long it's sometimes what I really crave. I decide I can leave a couple of squirrels on Peeta's doorstep, they were his father's favorite and I know he enjoyed them as well. I was just going to leave them there, same as he left the bread for me, but decide that I would just go ahead and knock on the door. I wait for a few seconds, closer and closer to chickening out as the seconds tick by when the door opens.
"Katniss," Peeta sounds as though he's surprised. I don't know why he would be, I'm the only one that would be knocking on his door aside from Haymitch, but he's probably holed up in his house somewhere drunk as a skunk as usual.
"Hi" I say, trying to remember why I decided to come over here in the first place.
He opens the door a little wider, "Come on in, I'm just baking. Don't mind having some company." he says and I step into his house. I immediately smell the delicious fumes of freshly baked bread as I step through the door and he leads me toward the kitchen.
"It smells great in here. Thanks for the bread this morning." I say as I take a seat at the kitchen table. "I've brought you some squirrels. I remembered they were your dad's favorite and thought you might like some."
"Yeah, thanks. That bread, with the melted cheese, that is your favorite, right?" he asks.
I nod my head, "Right. It was a great breakfast while I was hunting. So how're you feeling today?"
"Pretty good," he says as he turns back to the loaf of bread he had been kneading before I knocked on his door. "Haymitch stopped by last night and tried to help me with some questions I had. It's helped me today, I think. Sometimes there are just things that are really confusing."
I purse my lips and try to hold in the choice words I have about the Capitol and the things they had done to him. The things they had filled his head with, all of the lies that made him hate me. I didn't realize how much I actually cared for him until he couldn't remember any of the good things that had happened between us. "That's understandable," I say after a moment. "You went through a lot. I know it's hard, but you're doing great."
He grimaces, "Thanks." A few moments of silence pass as he continues to work on his loaf of bread. Then, the sound of the new anthem is heard playing on the television in the next room.
"Must be another announcement from Paylor." I say and stand to go watch and see what's going on. The announcement is just a general address to the people of Panem about the continued peace efforts throughout the country and the new officials being appointed in the Capitol. Everything seems to be going pretty well over the past few weeks. It seems like everything could be balancing out pretty soon and life could be improving drastically from what we have all been used to our whole lives. "Is it anything important?" Peeta calls from the kitchen.
"Not really," I call back. "Just a general statement of how things are going right now. Nothing too big." I lean back into the sofa and let out a yawn. My restless night of sleep is starting to catch up to me. Before I know it I've slipped off to sleep and only realize it when I jolt awake from another nightmare. This one involving the entire replay of Rue's and Prim's deaths. I wipe the beads of sweat off my brow and try to calm myself once more when I hear the heavy footsteps running into the sitting room. "Katniss? Are you ok?" Peeta asks, concerned.
Great, I must've cried out again. How embarassing. "Yeah, just dozed off. Just a nightmare." I try to shrug it off, but I'm still a little shakey. He sits down on the other end of the couch. Not too close. Not as close as I selfishly want him to be.
"Oh ok." He looks down for a moment, thinking, then looks back at me with a furrowed brow. "I used to sleep with you to help you not have nightmares after the first Hunger Games. Real or not real?"
I grimace, remembering the sort of game that was made up during the war to help Peeta figure out which of his memories were true and which were complete and utter lies. "Real." I say, slightly blushing.
He nods his head for a moment. "I'm sorry I don't do that anymore."
"It's ok. I'm fine really. I don't have them that much anymore, honestly." I say, even though I can tell he can see right through my lies.
"Don't lie to me Katniss. I know, I can tell. I want to help you like that again, I just don't think that right now is the right time. I'm afraid that I'll wake up one morning and be having one of those days and see you lying next to me and try to kill you again or something." He says and shudders at the thought of the few times he has tried to kill me thanks to the lies that have been fed to him.
"I know Peeta. Really, I don't expect anything like that from you." I say trying to reassure him and help him not be so hard on himself.
"I think spending time with you though really helps me sort out the bad stuff. The more I'm with you and see how good you really are I can remember everything a little bit better."
"Well, then maybe we shouldn't avoid each other so much." I say trying to lighten the suddenly heavy moment. "We can try to do more stuff together if you really think you're up for it." I hope I'm up for it... I think to myself. It's always hard on me when we have a good day like this, then the next day he hates me again. The emotional rollercoaster is extremely tough for all parties involved.
"Yeah, I think that'd be good," he agrees, then thinks for a moment. "Do you think that maybe I could go hunting with you sometime? Maybe it could help?" He asks.
I nod my head. "Sure," trying to sound encouraging, knowing that if he does go hunting with me I won't be doing much of it due to his heavy footfalls scaring off most of the game within our general area. "Maybe I could give you some lessons. Want to try tomorrow morning?" I ask as I stand to leave.
"Yeah," he says with a ghost of the old Peeta smile on his face as he walks me to the door. "I'd like that."
"Ok, it's a date." I say, then immediately regret my choice of words, mentally shooting myself. Closing my eyes I try to backtrack, "I mean, yeah sounds good."
He gives a light chuckle, "Ok, sounds good." He replies and I can tell he's taunting me a little with slight shift of his eyebrows.
I shake me head, knowing that I'm going to go home and relive this awkward moment for the rest of the day, "I'll see you tomorrow morning."
"Alright. Bye Katniss." He says.
"Bye," I say as I walk away. When I get to my door across the street, I turn to look back at his door and see he's still watching me. He lifts his hand with a slight wave and I return the gesture and enter my house. Once the door is closed I lean against it and try to not get my hopes up too much in anticipation for the next day. While there were signs that the old Peeta is still somewhere inside him today, you can never know what side of him you'll get tomorrow. I spend the rest of my day working on my families book and retire to bed early. With my rigorous nights of sleep it's hard to really get a restful nights sleep at all, so I'm constantly tired and always go to bed early, even though I'll wake up from a nightmare every few hours in the night. The next morning I wake at the same time, right after dawn, covered in another sheen of sweat. I decide to try to shake it off and take a quick shower and get dressed for this morning's hunt. I have a few butterflies in my stomach, knowing that today could change a lot of things between me and Peeta, but I try to keep a level head. As I'm walking down the stairs I hear a knock at the door. Wow, he's eager today, I think to myself as I go to answer it.
When I open my door I know that the shock is written all over my face when I see that it's not Peeta as I expected, but instead a different, but still familiar face. "Gale," I whisper.
A/N: Thank you so much for reading my first "Hunger Games" fan fiction. This story just kinda came to me last night while I was lying in bed after just having finished the books for the first time the day before. I hope to continue it on and make it into a story that sets up the epilogue at the end of "Mockingjay." I have a few ideas for where I want this story to go, but it could change. Some of the details I may get incorrectly from time to time, so I will go ahead and ask for forgiveness on a few of those things now. I hope you enjoyed this first chapter. Let me know in the reviews if you like it and if I should continue. I'm a little rusty in my writing, so please go easy on me with your criticism. Thanks again for reading!