Summary: Peeta attempts to befriend Katniss. What he doesn't know is that their friendship will cost him dearly. The events leading up to the iconic scene when Peeta gives Katniss burnt bread, and the consequences that follow it. Kinda AU.

Children Surrender

I'm terrified, lately, when I see Katniss at school. Since her dad died in the mine explosion, she's been looking frailer and frailer everyday.

There she is, just sitting by herself on the picnic table. This is the fourth day in a row that she hasn't brought food for lunch. I want to give her food so badly, but I know that she will think that I'm just pitying her. She would probably ask me, 'what does a wealthy town boy know about my condition?'

Truth is, I have never been in her position, but looking at her slowly deteriorate is driving me mad.

I'm eleven for goodness sakes! I should be able to do something for her! I grudgingly think to myself.

I've been watching this girl for some time, I swear I'm not a creeper, and I have never seen her this unhealthy in my life. I guess this is the outcome once a parent dies and the other becomes too broken to properly function.

A very quiet sniffle snaps my head in Katniss' direction.

Is Katniss crying? I wonder.

When i see her cough some, I now know that she just has a cold.

Who am I kidding? There is know way that Katniss Everdeen would cry.

I am now worried, though, about her coughing. It's still rather cold outside, and if her sickness gets worse she couldDie. It really isn't an uncommon thing for the residents in the Seam to die during the winter months; however, the thought of Katniss dying is too much. I have to do something.

But what can I do?

I decide that maybe if I become friends with her, she will then be more willing to accept help from me. I look around my table that is filled with my friends, and I realize I have no idea what the general conversation is about. This is the perfect time to leave.

"Scuse me, I'll be back in a bit," I excuse myself.

My friends wave their hands in my direction, too engrossed in their gossip to really understand that I'm leaving.

"Alrighty then," I say, "I'm just going to be over there. Yeah."

I take a few nervous steps towards where she is seated. As I get closer and closer, I force myself to appear more confident.

"Hi," I shyly call out. Note to self: find inner confidence.

But can anyone really blame me for my new-found shyness? This is, in fact, the one and only girl that I have been interested in since I was around five. Now, I will finally be making my first introduction to her. That's enough pressure to change my normally out going self to a more reserved personality.

She stares at me with those perfect gray eyes for a few seconds. I really hope it's not because she's in shock that some creeper townie is talking to her.

"Hi?" She says more as a question than as a greeting.

"Can I sit here?" I say a little bit more confidently. I know I'm pushing my luck, but she's talking to me - I will not pass this chance up.

"Sure," she says with a shrug of her shoulders.

"Thanks," I have now reverted back to being shy.

"Can I ask why you want to sit here?" She asks me.

"Well I'm pretty tired, and those crazy people are being to loud," I effortlessly lie.

"Hm," she mutters.

Katniss stares at me as if I have some ulterior motives which, I guess, i really do have. I don't really want her to know about them though, so I play into the part. I stretch my arms out, fake a yawn, and then lie my head on the table. A really yawn escapes from my lips, and I realize that I really am sleepy. Since I'm growing older, training at the bakery has become more and more intensive. I was at the bakery earlier this morning before school started, so I really do have a legitimate excuse for being sleepy.

I feel a light tap on my back, and when I look up I am flooded with joy. Katniss is looking down on my with a bag in her hand.

"You can use my school bag for a pillow if you want," she offers.

I could die happy now. I really could.

"Really?" I hope I don't sound too happy. "Thanks a lot."

Katniss carefully slides her school bag underneath my cheek before she takes her seat again.

"Night," I say to her.

"Night," she whispers back.

This scene plays itself out on repeat for the next couple of weeks, except I give Katniss stale bread. She only accepts it because I have her convinced that I'm trading it to use her book bag as a pillow. She never eats it in school. I'm beginning to suspect that she brings the food home for her sister. She still is a little cold to me, but I can tell that (with each passing day) she is becoming less guarded around me. My friends have started to ask questions about my intentions, or they poke fun at me. I don't care though. I've been staring at this girl's back for far too long to let my friends get in my way.

"Peeta?" I hear her softly say my name, "Are you awake?"

We're in our usual places. Me, face down on her bag. Katniss, sitting a little off to my side.

"Yeah?" I mumble into her bag.

"I'm glad to have met you."

That statement spreads joy and warmth throughout my body, and all I want to do is jump around in happiness; however, I cooly raise my head and look at her.

"Yeah, me too," I disappointingly, lamely say.

Come on Peeta! Now is your chance. Say something suave.

"Fortunately, my friends are loud which led me to you," I cheekily say.

Close enough, I guess…

"Yeah, thanks to them," I can sense her mood becoming much darker. "I just wanted to let you know thatThat you are one of my only friends. I want to tell you that because i don't know how much more time I have." As she speaks, her voice gets quieter and quieter until I can barely catch her final words.

"Huh?" I ask, unsure of what I had just heard.

"Nothing, nothing. Don't worry about it, Peeta." A small smile graces her face when she tells me this.

"Ok," this is all I can think of saying in this situation. I don't want to press her on anything.

It's been a week since my confusing conversation with Katniss, and everything seems to be fine. I just got off school, and now I am laboring in my family's bakery.

I see my mom walk over and inspect the bread that I am kneading. She looks at it with disdain, and then I feel hard jab at my left ear.

"Peeta Mellark! Are you trying to mess up on purpose? Is your goal to waste my hard-earned money?" She lectures me.

I cover the area where she hit me with my hand as I reply, "I'm sorry, mom. I thought this was how I was supposed to do it."

"Do not back talk me young man!," She yells, "And for goodness sakes! Wash your damn hand! How can you expect to sell bread to a costumer if it's dirtied from you touching your ear?"

I quickly scamper off, not in the mood for a beating. While I'm washing my hands, I hear my mom going off about how she saw some dirty mutt rummaging through our trash. All of sudden, she charges out of the bakery screaming. Curious, I tip toe to the window to see what has made her so upset.

I feel my knees go weak, my arms fall paralyzed, and my face fall numb. There she is. My friend whom I adore, cowering in fear of my mother. She's looking for food, I know that. I don't even think about my actions as I place two of our more expensive breads into the fire. I am picking up the freshly charred bread as my furious mother storms back into the bakery.

"Seam kids, honestly what is wrong with-" she stops mid-sentence when she notices the burnt loaves in my hands.

Instantly, she smacks me across the face, and slews a magnitude of curses at me.

"I-I'm sorry mother. They just f-fell," I say as I bow my head respectively.

"Feed it to the pig, you stupid creature! Why not? No one decent will buy burned bread!" She hollers.

"Y-yes! Yes, mom!" I obey.

I run out of the bakery, my eyes are immediately looking for Katniss' form. I spot her in a huddling heap, and I quickly rush over to her.

"You must be cold," I quickly whisper to her.

"Peeta!" She crossly whispers back. "What are you doing here? Your mom will be furious."

"I'll worry about her. Here, take these."

I shove the two warm loaves into her shivering hands, and before she can complain, I trot back into the bakery.

I see my mom standing by the oven, and I pray that she didn't see my little exchange. The way she looks at me tells me otherwise.

The rage on her face could fill a thousand hells.

"Peeta, you are costing me more than you're worth," she says in a terrifyingly calm voice. "I think it's time for you to learn a very valuable lesson."

Terror takes hold of my body. I now understand that I will never see tomorrow's sun rise.

Katniss, please survive.

Six Years Later

Katniss volunteered for the seventy-fourth Hunger Games. Experts and critics of the Hunger Games gave Katniss top marks and critique for her performance in the games. She was able to out smart many of her opponents for quite some time. When she dropped the trackerjacker hive on the careers, however, that did her in. She was incoherent from the venom that was injected into her veins, so when Cato raised his sword against her, she was defenseless. Katniss Everdeen, my beloved sister, died in my place.

A year has passed since her death, and because she was our main food collector, I had to sign up for a large amount of tesserae. Now, the quarter-quells have come around. I can see Effie Trinket, the messenger of death, approach the girls' glass bowl full of slips. She carefully picks a slip, and then she walks back over to her microphone.

"This year's girl tribute is," she announces in her capitol accent while she unfolds the slip, "well what do you know? Primrose Everdeen! By the stars, what are the chances?" And with an amused giggle, she motions for the peacekeepers to take me on stage.

A million thoughts are swirling around my head as I try to keep myself from hyperventilating, but there is one thought that is loud and clear.

Katniss died for nothing.

And that is the end. This story has been on my mind ever since i started writing on here. I decided that before I start finals, I'm going to post this. So I hope you enjoyed it. This was a little rushed, so it wasn't my best work. I might redo it sometime in the far off future, but I'm happy with it right now. Please review :)