Katniss – Prologue

I smile at my reflection in the mirror and then immediately frown. I can see the lies behind my smile, the falseness of my happy expression, and wonder if anyone else can too. Well, duh, obviously they can. Otherwise, I wouldn't be in this whole damn mess. I never meant to be rebellious or inspire people to think anything of my actions. The berries I brought to my lips did not carry a deeper meaning to me other than I wanted this boy to live and I would risk my own life to save him. Though, that in itself seems to have a deeper meaning than I thought as well. I wanted Peeta Mellark to live but that did mean I was in love with him as the people of the Capitol thought but it also wasn't a big "fuck you" to the Capitol like the districts thought. Clearly, this whole berry thing had just been misinterpreted by everyone and at this point even I am not sure I could explain my thoughts at the time.

I (fake) smile brightly at the mirror again and realize this will have to do. I had become an excellent actress without knowing when or how it happened and I knew the only people who would really see the lie were the people who knew me the best and, of course, him. President Snow saw through the lies and threatened everything I had. So now I'm practicing smiling for when Peeta will propose on stage in the Capitol on the last stop of our victory tour. I suppose our star-crossed lover routine had to come to this inevitable conclusion when we were both allowed to live as co-victors of the 80th annual Hunger Games.

I know I should not see it as the prison sentence that I'm equating it with but I cannot stop thinking that this is not my choice; I did not get to choose to get married or even to whom. But Peeta is a great man, like Haymitch said, and it hurts me to think of him badly because I know he did not get to choose either, even if this is the choice he would have made.

When Peeta gets down on his knee, I give my best (fake) smile and even successfully bring (real) tears to my eyes. President Snow comes over to congratulate us, bringing me in for a hug. I try to hide my disgust but do not hide the question in my expression. "Is this enough? Will this save us?" I give my first real smile in a long time when Snow gives his head the slightest of nods and a knowing (vile) smile.

I go home happy. I feel guilty but the districts have calmed or have been beaten down enough that I am no longer considered a threat and my family and Peeta are safe. I smile brightly at my mother and sister as I get down from the train and Prim immediately rushes into my arms for a hug and then grabs my hand to look at my brand new engagement ring.

"It's so beautiful, Katniss!" Prim seems genuinely excited and it makes me dread my future a little less. Peeta will be good to Prim. Just like he is good to everyone. "I can't wait for the wedding!"

"It won't be for a while, little duck, we will wait till we are older so mother won't be upset." I smile up at my mother, thanking her in my mind for her rules on dating and marriage, but it disappears when mother's expression falls.

"Actually Katniss, the President called me and convinced me that a Capitol wedding after you mentor this year would be a wonderful time for the two of you to get married. Seventeen is not so young." I can feel my jaw hanging open, and quickly snap it shut.

"When I mentor? As in 6 months from now?" I can't believe what I am hearing. I knew I would have to do this, I knew I would have to marry Peeta but I thought I would at least have until we turned 18. President Snow is personally making this day come faster. The wedding must be another crush to whatever rebellious acts are going on.

"Yes, Katniss. It makes sense; you will all be in the Capitol anyways and why make you wait?" I gulp and look around. I catch Peeta's eyes and he looks as flustered as I feel. Snow must have told his family as well, to insure no delays. He nods in what looks like apology and herds his family away from the station.

Smiling again in the mirror in the Capitol, I still see the lies, the falseness. But this time I do not walk down to the stage, but down the aisle and only look into Peeta's blue eyes as I goes through the motions, all the while, (fake) smiling. It hurts when I see that his eyes are filled with a well hidden sadness, but then I realize it's probably just him seeing the fake behind my smiles. He is hurting because he thinks he is hurting me. Somehow that makes it all hurt worse.