Disclaimer: Hunger Games – not mine. I don't think I could have written something so completely awesome, so I'm just playing with the characters
Title: It's What We Do
I watch her as she walks in. Katniss. Or what is left of her. She almost looks as she did before.. the last time I saw her, if it weren't for her eyes. They were the same grey they'd always been, but nothing in them are the same. Laying in the burn unit, recovering once again, hearing the hushed whispers around me of the girl on fire, how she was mute, and that she was like a ghost haunting the halls, my mind had been full of thoughts of her.
Some were the bright shiny ones I've come to recognize as a result of the hackerjackers. Her face a mask of hate and cruelty. And the ones that shined in their own way breaking their way through. Her face on the recap of the Games when they'd announced that two could walk away from it, the way she called out my name involuntarily. The memory of her lips on mine, that she had drugged me and risked her own death. Did she love me? I'm sure. Not even with Gale having told me so, when we were on the fake mission to kill President Snow, am I sure of it.
"No you won her over. Gave up everything for her. Maybe that's the only way to convince her you love her."
She sits beside me, and the thought runs through me. She looks fragile. She has never looked that way to me, not in any memory, shiny or otherwise. But she does, and I want nothing more than to reach out to grab her hand. Mine, must have twitched involuntarily because she looks at it, her eyes raising upward from it, to my forehead, not quite catching my eyes, and I couldn't bare to look into the eyes that look so.. shattered.
What have we done to her?
President Coin begins to speak. A final symbolic Hunger Games? I can feel my temper rising, the glittering memories fraying the edges of my sanity, but I am strong enough now to push them away if only a little. This is too important. It may start off symbolic, but I knew.. it wouldn't end with one, it would continue, and all this suffering, would have been for nothing. It would be the same world rising up to replace the one we burned down.
When she asks for our votes, I can't contain it any longer.
"No! I vote no, of course! We can't have another Hunger Games!" Johanna and Enobaria's responses don't surprise me at all. Anne votes no, but Finnick is not here, and the comment brings a flash of pain to her eyes.
And then the vote is three to two with only Katniss and Haymitch left to vote. I almost let out a breath of relief, of course I should have done the math. They would never condone this. Katniss who had volunteered for her sister.. Prim.. who has died anyway. Haymitch who has mentored and seen so many fail.
I want Katniss to look at me, I tell myself I won't look away. And she is silent, staring at the rose, the tension building in the room, before she speaks.
"I vote yes.. for Prim." For a moment I feel shock, a cold wave, replaced soon by fury, and wasn't it proof of my recovering that I didn't snap and try to kill her? FOR PRIM? This wasn't what Prim would have wanted!
"Haymitch! You're going to say no, right? You can't condone this! This is crazy," I was furious and because I wouldn't yell at Katniss who seemed so far from us, that she probably wouldn't even hear, I yell at him. But he is watching Katniss instead calculatingly, the look one I'd seen before the Games. They have always understood each other best. And he says yes.
There was no more talking after that, except for Katniss passing the glass with the rose to Coin. Snow looks feeble and I can't stop the hate in my heart for him. Those memories are not shiny in any sense of the word. He is perhaps the first and only person I have ever hated in my right mind.
I look to Katniss who in that moment has lost that fragility. She stands poised, holding her bow, grasping the arrow, setting it, but it's moving, it's too high, and then it releases, and President Coin is dead. No one breathes for a moment, I swear that the whole world must have held still. She has killed the new president, the one who would have remade the world, not in a different cast, but the flip side of the other. I am moving even as she looks down to her bow and say something too softly for me to hear, and then she raises her left arm, the one with the pill, and twists her neck, and my hand is around her arm, her teeth sinking into it. The pain of it barely registers, nothing compares to the pain in me for having so misunderstood her, for believing she would have let the world burn?
She looks up and I can't look away. I won't look away, not this time, not like all the times before. Why did I fear her reactions before? In school I never wanted to be caught, and recently I didn't want to see that look of pain in her eyes when she looked at me, that made me feel as if I was more broken than could be repaired. But now, looking into hers I can see perhaps she's more broken than I ever was.
"Let me go!" she snarls at me, trying to make me release her, but she's weaker than she was and I can hold her easily. She's asking for me to let her die.
"Because that's what you and I do, Protect each other."
"Don't let him take you from me"
"Stay with me"
"I can't" I say, I can't let her go, not where I can't know I can follow. I would protect her, even from herself, and if I had promised than it was only fair that she stayed with me too. But they were pulling her away from me, my hand closing on material that gave way, the violet pill falling and destroyed.
Then she's fighting, trapped. And she's screaming for Gale, but no answer comes though I know he is there. And then she's gone, taken away, and I don't know what to do. Haymitch comes up behind me, his hand upon my arm. I shrug it off.
"You knew." I say, my voice flat remembering that he had called her Mockingjay, not Katniss.
"I assumed." He says in that careless fashion, "You would have too, but you've always been a little slow on the uptake." They come and lead us away.
I don't realize til later that when she said 'For Prim' that she must have meant Coin's death. Gale comes and tells me that she blames him, perhaps only partially, but it's enough to end what may never have happened anyway. His voice and face don't give it away, but eyes, a color so close to Katniss's shows a deep anguish. It as if he is saying 'She is yours, or not yours, or not anyones, but she will never be mine' We do not talk after that.
Her trial commences with her absent, understandingly so as it doesn't appear as if she could stand for long amounts of time, let alone defend herself. I watch her over the months that she is in that small room. I have asked several times to be allowed to visit, but none allow it. My condition worsens, the intense emotions of helplessness and anger feeding the hallucinations and fake memories. But then the doctor comes and he tells me that if I want to be of any help to Katniss, I should try to be a help to myself first. And so my therapy sessions begin.
My daily routine goes something like this. Wake up, shower, eat, watch Katniss, eat lunch, be updated on Katniss' trial, therapy, watch Katniss, dinner, and sleep. One day she begins to sing and it breaks my heart. I remember seeing her on the vid, singing to a small girl, Prim. . no not Prim, Rue. The girl I never knew before Katniss spoke of her. I ask Haymitch. He tells me "Real." She sings and sings, and I remember the first time I heard her. A voice to that would make the mockingjays fall silent.
As the trial slowly comes to an end, it looks promising, she has been spun as a lunatic and the vids of her in her small room give great credence to this. And when they start to wean her off of the pills, and she notices, she stops everything. There is no singing, no staring out the window, only lying on her bed. She stops even attempting to survive, because what she has done up until now in captivity is not living.
I want to go with her and Haymitch but they refuse. I watch the hovercraft leave, Dr. Aurelius by my side. "Soon," he says, and I want to shout at him that soon is not enough, and there's only a glimmer of a shiny memory trying to catch my attention.
Katniss does not return his calls, he tells me. A swift shot of panic laces through me, before he continues saying that Haymitch and Greasy Sae are looking after her. Alive then and I want her to wait for me. I tried calling once, maybe I knew she wouldn't pick up which is why I dared to try. It rang and rang. But no answer.
Then it's my turn to leave, and I know I will never return to this place. District 12 is home, whether or not it looked like it any longer. My memory is for the most part intact, there are certain things even now that dance around the edge of my mind, elusive, that I will never grasp and remember. I have moments where I become ungrounded, and I have to anchor myself, but those moments are becoming further and fewer between.
When I arrive, I know what I have to do to show her , if not tell her. I go to the woods. There, I wonder what it was that Katniss and Gale saw in it. It only reminded me of the forests in the Games, and a shiver ran down my spine, and I do what I came there to do. I collect five of them. Primrose bushes. One for Prim, One for Rue, One for all those loved and lost, and lastly One for myself and One for Katniss. We are not the same people we are, the people we used to be might as well be dead too.
It was while I was digging, that I hear footsteps, running and then halting quickly. She is not the same girl as the one in the room, nor is she the one before she shot Coin, or even before the Games. She is someone I know and someone I don't know all at the same time.
"You're back," she says, and I explain that Dr. Aurelius wouldn't let me leave until yesterday and that she needs to speak to him. The truth is, he could pretend forever that he is treating her. But the other truth is, I want her to talk with him, to get better. I frown as I look at her, wondering what I should say next, but she becomes defensive, and I almost think of it as good, because it's more emotion than I've heard of her portraying lately.
I tell her that I dug them up for her, for Primrose. I do not tell her that it wasn't only for her little sister. She looks at the bushes and anger flashes across her face, fury so deep that I'm almost seeing a not real memory of her. But she does not yell, a look of realization across her features, and she gives me a nod, hurrying away. Not from me, but from herself. I wished I could follow her.
I hear later from Greasy Sae that she seems to be doing better, and I try not to blush when she gives me a knowing look. And then Katniss comes to me, looking so much better that I want to hold her to me, but of course I don't, and she asks if I would please help her keep her memories. I paint and draw, and illustrate, and she writes. We play games, that are not games, of 'real or not real.' And she may not know it, but while it helps her release some of her pain, it helps me to remember.
I begin to bake again, and she begins to hunt again, and it's almost like the old times, but of course it isn't. It is different and we are different, but we grow closer with each passing day. She does not touch me when the flashbacks come to me, but lets me anchor myself in something solid that can't be hurt. I hold her through her nightmares when she can't hold even herself together. We are broken, but we are broken together. I like to think sometimes that all our shattered pieces are enough to make one whole, and that it's enough.
When we make love for the first time I know that my love is more than I can remember, but still Gale's words come back to me.
"Katniss will pick whoever she thinks she can't survive without." And I have to ask her, because to not do so will only lead to doubt and ruin.
"You love me. Real or not real?"
There is no pause as she tells me, "Real," and kisses me gently, sweetly on a burn scar just above my chest.
And perhaps she could survive without me, she could survive without anyone, but she couldn't live. I love her and she loves me, and that's not a shiny thing, but a glowing growing thing. Real.
Author's note: I felt compelled to write this, it wouldn't leave me alone! I kept thinking of that one moment in Mockingjay when she tells Peeta to let her go. What ran through his mind? This piece of fanfiction for me was somewhat cathartic; I had so many mixed emotions after finishing the books. Anyway I hope you enjoyed. I know there are grammar mistakes, some are on purpose, some are not. I am not a professional writer, so please don't expect professional writing.