Last chapter, and I so glad to finally upload it. Did I mention how awesome you readers are? Thanks for the reviews and happy reading!
Somehow I already knew.
Not everybody was coming back to District 12 with me. I don't really feel sad about it. I'm completely aware that things will never be the same as before. Since my sister's name was called in that Reaping, my life has changed drastically. I guess it's not wrong to miss what life was like before- everything being so simple- but I wouldn't have gone through the Games and came to really know and love people, like Haymitch, Finnick, Johanna, Cinna, Peeta… I wouldn't have been there to stop Snow, or become a mother.
I sit in a window seat on the hovercraft with Hope bundled in a yellow blanket in my arms. She's been asleep for most of the ride, and I'm grateful for that. Peeta is slumped in the seat next to me, half asleep. We both usually don't sleep very well, and so being up to take care of a newborn isn't so much of a change. Even so, we're both tired, and he's taking advantage of the time of peace before Hope needs attention again.
The only other person we know accompanying us back to Twelve is Haymitch. He's asleep in a seat across from us, head back, slightly snoring. Now that I think of it, I don't think I've ever seen him asleep without a knife in his hand, and usually he stays awake to avoid nightmares and to drink.
He says the reason he's coming back to Twelve is because he supposed to be watching Peeta and I. Our new president, Paylor, thought it just as a precaution. So we're not super healthy and happy for them to completely trust us on our own. The other reason I think Haymitch is here is because he wouldn't fit too well in the Capitol. I don't think he would be able to stand it, anyway. He belongs in Twelve.
"Katniss, you know I'd wish for us to stay together. You're my sister. I'm sorry we're not going with you," Prim says. Her blue eyes look at me, full of emotion again.
I pull her into hug. "It's okay Prim. I'm just happy to know that you'll be safe. You're needed in District Four, and so I don't want anything to stop you from becoming a doctor. I know you're going to be a wonderful doctor."
She breaks away and wipes an eye to stop it from shedding tears. "I'll miss you so much… and Hope. We'll visit you whenever we can…"
"Of course," I say lightly. "When Hope is a little older we can visit you and Mother in Four. We'll see each other often, okay? We can talk on the phone too. And If I don't see you, I'll call you when Hope says her first word and all that stuff."
Prim smiles. My mother walks over to us with the baby in her arms. She hands me Hope, and then kisses me on the cheek. "I'm very confident that you'll take care of Hope wonderfully, without me. And if you're just not sure about something, then give me a call, alright?" I nod. She smiles and clears her throat to prevent it from breaking. "Good-bye Katniss. I love you."
"I love you too," I reply. My mother kisses Hope on her little head, and then that's when we're told the Hovercraft is ready to take off. I look to my mother and my sister and then turn to the Hovercraft. As I walk up the ramp with Peeta, I look back slightly and see Johanna leaning against a wall. She smirks and gives me a wave. I smile in return and then enter the craft.
My mother did try to convince me to go to Four with them, but I was fully intent on raising Hope where I was raised. District 12 is home to me and Peeta. There are some problems in Twelve that need fixing, like all the destroyed buildings from aftermath of the bombing, but I couldn't really call any other place home.
As for Gale, he couldn't make it. He's being sent to District 2, but not for a leadership role, yet. He's on a sort of probation in Two, and he can't leave anywhere to any of the other districts without an official approval from Paylor. He's talents aren't going to be wasted, as Paylor was interested in putting him in some kind of role in the new military. There are no more Peacekeepers. The military is only for defense, so they say.
I turn my head to look out the window. I see the familiar forest that surrounds the district. The hovercraft shifts slowly to the right, and we begin to descend. "We're home, Hope." I say in high-pitched whisper.
In the town square, familiar and new people are reconstructing the shops. The whipping posts are gone and the Justice Building is being repaired. I walk with Hope on my chest, shielding her from all the dust and dirt in the air. Peeta walks along side me carrying a bag with both of our belongings. Haymitch hazily walks next to us. We're just completely silent, observing everything as we walk. When we pass the street of the bakery, we stop for a second. Peeta becomes solemn, and I put my free hand on his shoulder. He smiles sadly at me, and then caresses Hope's head peeking out of the blanket and he genuinely smiles.
Peeta and I depart from Haymitch and go to our separate homes in Victor Village. It is surprisingly odd how they are still standing with the bombing. Could they have thought of still having the Hunger Games? I don't let the thought linger too long, because what's important right now is just getting this place to be home. We're staying at Peeta's, because I feel that if I want to start off new, then I'll start it with a new place. He also has a room unused that we have designated for Hope's nursery. We enter the home, and even though it has been deserted for so long, I can still sense the familiarity of it. The place feels like Peeta.
My attention is caught by Hope's sudden movement. She mumbles quietly and opens her eyes. "Well, good morning, baby," I say sweetly. It's actually after noon, but I say it anyway.
Peeta puts the bag down and walks over. Her eyes look to me then to Peeta. "Hi Hope," he coos. "You're in your new home now. You're going to like it here in District 12."
Her blue eyes look in different directions, like she's taking in her new environment. Then, out of nowhere she begins to cry. "You think she doesn't like it?" he asks lightly.
"She just woke up. She's probably just hungry," I say.
"Ha, yeah," he says as he throws the bag over his shoulder. I go to the couch and sit with crying Hope. Placing her under the blanket and moving my shirt up, I hold her gently while she feeds. The crying ceases and I lean back. My head drops to the side, because right now I'm just so tired. I close my eyes just for a minute, and then Hope stops feeding and moves around. I'm glad one of us was able to sleep on the way here.
Peeta comes from upstairs and comes into the living room. "Why don't you go rest, and I'll take Hope?" he says. "The bed is made. You take a break now, since I did on the hovercraft."
"Peeta, you barely slept on the hovercraft," I reply. "You're probably tired-"
"Not as much as you, so I'll just watch Hope while you rest, and then later we'll go see how Haymitch is doing with moving in." He smiles in a funny way, so I won't refute anymore.
"Alright," I say. I hand him Hope, and then make my way to the stairs. I turn back halfway up to look at them: My new husband and daughter.
"Go rest," he insists. "I got father-daughter time." I open my mouth to say something, but I stop and nothing comes out. He looks at me, warily. "What is it?"
I shake my head. "Nothing," I say. "I just love you."
He smiles sort of shyly. "I love you too, Katniss. Now go to sleep."
I smile in return and head to the bedroom. And when I lay down, I think how uncomfortable, yet comfortable I feel here. The room is strange to me, but it's like I've been here before. I fluff the pillow and lay on my side. I remove my wedding ring with the pearl and go to sleep.
Peeta and I go to Haymitch's house with Hope. The mess has been here since we left for the Quarter Quell. It's absolutely grotesque- as Effie would say. Haymitch watches Hope while me and Peeta clean up- to the best of our ability, anyway- and make supper. Peeta is making bread while I'm placed on vegetable-cutting duty. That's all I'm allowed to do, because I'm not much a cook.
Haymitch comes into the kitchen with Hope. "Almost done there?"
"The bread is done, but the stew is still in work," says Peeta.
"Well then, I guess Ho-pe and I will just have a drink for the wait." I eye Haymitch suspiciously as he takes out a glass. "Keep your calm there, Sweetheart. I'm just getting water for myself." I don't break my glare till I see the label of the bottle he's pouring: water.
"I would never drink on baby-sitting duty." It sounds slightly sarcastic.
"You better not, or may have to pull out that knife trick again," I say.
"You'll only be cutting those vegetables today," he says smirking. "How about Ho-pe? Taught her any knife tricks yet? How to use a bow?"
"She's 2 months," says Peeta.
"Are you going too? The sooner the better."
"When she needs to learn that stuff," I say, trying to suppress my grin from Haymitch's nonsense.
"It's done," Peeta says suddenly.
We fill bowls with stew and Peeta uses the knife to cut the bread into slices. I place Hope in a carrier thing we got from the Capitol and cover her to her chest with the blanket. Knowing her though, she won't go to sleep just yet. I kiss her forehead and then go to get my bowl. I sit next Peeta and begin to dip pieces of bread into my stew.
"Have you learned nothing from Effie?" Haymitch says.
"I'm very knowledgeable of table manners, I just choose not use them," I reply.
"Tsk, Tsk," he mumbles, but he goes on to eating with his elbows on the table and his napkin under his bowl.
"I wonder how Effie is doing," Peeta says.
"Last I heard, she was doing business in the Capitol, still living in her fancy apartment," says Haymtich. "That reminds me…" Haymtich gets up from his chair and leaves the room. I look to Peeta questionably, but he just shrugs. Haymtich returns later with something so brightly pink I have to blink my eyes to adjust to the brightness.
Peeta laughs. "I'm guessing it's from Effie?"
"It was her good-bye present for you two. She told me to give this to you, because she always so freaking busy, busy, busy," Haymitch mocks.
He hands Peeta the little bright pink dress for Hope. Its ruffle sleeves and pink dots are obvious picks of Effie's. All I can think is how people in town would react seeing Hope dressed in that. "Well, she picked it out of love," I say.
Peeta looks at the time. "It looks like we better get going. It's getting late and we got to go do something."
"Leaving so soon for doing what?"
"It's none of your business, Haymitch," I say. Then he raises an eyebrow and gets this weird look, and I feel I know what he's thinking. "No! Shut up," I say.
"I didn't say anything, Sweetheart."
Peeta collects the bowls in the sink and then grabs the baby carrier. "Well, see you later Haymitch."
"Yeah, good night," he says.
We walk out and I glad it's dark outside, cause I don't want Haymitch or Peeta seeing my face right now, which I feel is slightly red. Stupid Haymitch.
I carry the pink dress in one hand and unlock the door to the house with the other. We step inside and turn on a light.
"We should probably tuck in Hope while she's asleep," says Peeta.
I gently take Hope out of the carrier. "Come on Hope," I whisper. I walk up the stairs and into the bedroom. Since we don't have a crib yet, I take the extra pillows and form a sort of a square in the middle of the bed, so that Hope would sleep between us. I place her in the little barrier, but then she begins to open her eyes. She begins to cry and so I have to pick her up. I dress her in her pj's and then begin to rock her. She was fed not so long ago, so I try rocking her to sleep. I start humming, and then I begin to sing softly. Hope becomes silent and looks around for my voice. I continue to sing and she calms down. I place her in her spot, keeping in song so she doesn't cry. Eventually she relaxes and I think she's fallen asleep.
"She can not only silence mockingjays with her voice, but small children too."
I turn to see him in the doorway. "Standing there long?"
"No, not really, but the only time I hear you sing is when you're with Hope," he says. "I'm fine with that." He walks in closer and kisses me. "You ready?"
"Yeah," I say. "Let's do it before Hope wakes up."
I take his hand and we walk back downstairs into the kitchen. Peeta takes a loaf of bread from the oven. We let it cool and then cut two pieces from it.
We are married. Soon after Hope was born, I told my mother of our engagement. We were taken to a Justice Building to make our marriage legal, with my family and Johanna, Annie, and Beetee, Delly, and others as witnesses. So we are legally married, but we aren't truly married till the bread toasting. I told Peeta we should wait till got to District 12. He agreed, saying it was better if we did it in our home, with our fireplace. It makes it special. And so two months later, we are going to have our toasting.
"Wait, I have to get something," I say. I run upstairs and get into our bag with the stuff we brought from the Capitol. I come back to the kitchen with an arrow. I put a piece of bread on the head. Peeta takes the bread and we walk to the living room, where the fireplace is. Peeta has already started it, and we can see the flames create shadows of us on the walls, holding hands.
I give Peeta the arrow with bread. He smiles at me and then puts it in the fire. He lets it toast brown.
"Katniss Everdeen, I have been in love with you for most of my life. I remember the moment I fell in love with you, and I'm glad I still have it. I saved your life, but you saved mine. I vow that I'll always love you, and protect you, and never leave your side in difficult times. I know I love you with all my soul, and I'm sorry for when I didn't believe it. I love you for giving me a daughter, and I want to live the rest of my life with you."
I can't seem to stop my eyes from watering, but his are too. I swallow and take the arrow. I place the bread in the fire and let it toast.
"Peeta Mellark, you have always been the kind-hearted person, who I should of realized was the one. Back then, I should have known I loved you and I vow that I'll always love you, protect you, and never leave your side in difficult times. We've been through so much together, and I have no doubt that we can get through whatever is in the future. I love you with all my soul and you truly make me happy. I'm happy we have a daughter, and I can't wait be called your wife and live the rest of my life with you."
I hold my voice to keep it from breaking. We exchange bread and I take a small bite out of it as he does. He steps closer and puts his hands on my back. We tilt our heads till our lips meet, and hold each other closer. We break apart, our faces just inches away.
"I love you so much," he says.
"I love you," I say smiling.
A quick peck, and then we extinguish the fire. We walk upstairs and start changing into our sleepwear. We both quietly get into bed, being careful not to wake Hope. We face each other, looking toward our baby sleeping so peacefully, that I could say it's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.
"Good night Hope," I say softly.
"We love you," Peeta adds.
During the night, we only had to wake up once. It's not very often, and fortunately, it doesn't take her long to calm down; Peeta says it's my singing. The next time I wake up, I find Hope awake, mumbling. "Good morning baby," I say. I pick her up and notice Peeta is missing. I get up from bed with Hope. The bathroom appears empty. "Come on, Hope. Let's go find your daddy."
I walk down the hallway with Hope on my hip. I hear noises in farthest room, so I quietly walk to the door. I open it more, and find Peeta sitting on the floor, still in his sleep wear, and paint in spots all over him.
"Look Hope, we found your daddy."
Peeta turns around quickly. "I didn't hear you guys come in."
"Never underestimate a hunter's stealth. Hope has it too," I say.
"Right, well I guess this where I shout surprise," he says.
I laugh and look around the room. The ceiling on the room is a sky blue, and the walls are a soft green. "It's wonderful. It's like being outside."
"I was going for the meadow, but that's the main idea." He smiles. "I have something else to show you." I tilt my head, warily. "I'll take Hope and you go turn over that picture frame over there," he says.
So I let him take Hope and walk over to the picture frame in the corner. Peeta walks behind me. "It's a surprise for your mommy," he says to Hope. Hope smiles, as if she knows what's going on. I pick the frame up and turn it over. My first reaction is a stifled laugh, and then my eyes water.
Stop with the watering.
"It's beautiful, Peeta." I try to stop my voice from breaking. I am amazed how good his art is. He captures the memory so perfectly. "Is this what you have been drawing in Thirteen?"
He nods, and bounces Hope on his hip. "Delly, saved it for me while I was gone."
"We'll hang it right above Hope's crib," I say still trying to compose my tears of happiness. Peeta walks over and kisses me, standing sideways so he doesn't squeeze Hope between us. We break apart and then I immediately find a nail and walk to a spot on the wall where I envision Hope's crib to be. After slamming the nail in with the handle of a brush, I place the frame on the nail, and straighten it out. I walk back, stand with Peeta, and continue to gaze at the drawing.
There's a little girl with a braid down her back and grey eyes, picking a dandelion from the grass in a school yard.
Our first spring together in Twelve, brings more people. After the destruction of the bombing is cleaned up, people take the deceased victims and bury them in the meadow. Stores and homes are being rebuilt, which attracts new and old residents. District Twelve's economy is now mostly based on farming. With all the land, they're thriving. There are still coal mines, but shifts, wages, and safety have been improved. When the bakery was being rebuilt, Peeta gladly went to volunteer. I pretty much stay home with Hope, but I despise being called a housewife, even though I may consider myself being one. When I get the time, and somebody takes care of Hope for me, I go hunting. It's not for survival anymore, so I usually give my game to Greasy Sae or a family who helps out with the reconstruction. Haymitch got some geese.
Hope's first word was "happy". Peeta and I were both there to witness it, and I called Prim soon after. I send her Peeta's drawings of Hope. They're like pictures that show how much she's grown, because he draws her about every week. I decided one night to write to Gale. I talked to Peeta about it, and he thought it was a good idea. I wrote to him about what is going in Twelve, and how we're doing. I think I write a lot about Hope. I ask him to write how he's doing, and I send one of the drawings of Hope, because he's never seen her.
I wonder if he still remembers saying that we'll have different lives without each other. Yes, we have different lives, but I still know he's there.
I do feel sad sometimes. I think about everybody who's been lost, but I don't imagine going into a period of just being depressed. The nightmares come and go, but I'm always relieved in waking up. Peeta still has those flashbacks. They don't occur often- they're rare- but that's when I have to leave the room with Hope. Yes, I'm still upset for what the Capitol did to us, but I don't let it take over my life. Bad things are going to happen, but the good always outweighs the bad. You can count all the good things in a day in ratio with the bad, and it always comes out good.
For instance, much later when I found out I was pregnant again, I was terrified. But the joy on Peeta's face, and the love this second child brings outweighs whatever I can conjure in my mind to keep me afraid. And if it wasn't for this hope, I probably wouldn't be so happy right now.
So many lines I could have ended it with, but I went with this one. Finally, they had their bread toasting and Peeta showed her the drawing. Thanks for your suggestions for that. I find Katniss feeling uncomfortable, funny, so I had to put that there. I wanted a sort of good reason that Prim and her mother weren't coming back to 12. You could think her mother didn't want to go back to 12 because she couldn't face it, but Prim wants to become a doctor. Gale is not going spend life in jail, which should be a relief. I loved the part when they visit Haymitch.
Second story is up, titled Reviving Ashes. I want to repeat that it's not a sequel to this story even though it takes place after Mockingjay. It should follow what really happened after the book cause it's a pre-epilogue thing. Take look at it if your interested. Anyway, thanks for being there through the whole story and I'd love some departing comments on the story. Have an awesome day!(^_^)