A/N: This is an edited version of the original post. I added a few things, not much, and went in and fixed the grammatical and spelling errors.
This story is about Haymitch and Katniss if Peeta had died in the 74th games. Dark themes, but a happy ending.
Disclaimer: I do not own The Hunger Games Trilogy or its characters.
When the Games Change
Written by kmac13
Original Post: 2/13/2012
Edited Post: 6/25/2012
I have loved her for almost all of her life. I have watched her grow and become the person she is now. For most of her life I have been in the background, the shadows. I was friends with her father, one of my only friends left after my games. Well him and the boy's (Gale) dad. I remember visiting with her father and her one afternoon while her mother was away. (Her mother never liked me, even before the games but she hated me more after the games. Probably because I lived and her best friend Maysilee died.) I was sitting there with her father talking about how bad things were getting in the Seam, the death rate from starvation was going up and the mining accidents were also increasing, when all of a sudden this fiery, little girl, maybe 4, comes running in and starts yelling about how stupid the Capital is. She was so mad because she wanted to go outside of the fence, but couldn't and she didn't think it was fair that she had to be trapped in the district for 'no good reason other than President Snow was a mean person'. I remember laughing so hard I nearly choked and thinking she is her father's daughter.
She was always so happy when it was just her and her father. I would see them sneak off into the woods and I could hear them sing, the birds stopped to listen when they sang. She was perfect even then. Now I know what you are think, I'm a major pervert, but I can tell you my love for her has changed from that of an adoring uncle (even though I didn't spend much time with her and wasn't related) to the love I have for her now, which is an undying passion.
Later after "the accident" that killed her father and the boy's father, she became hard. She really hadn't met the boy yet, but they would soon meet. Her mother failed her; she left, not physically but emotionally. She became the parent to both her mother and her sister. I watched as she started to hunt and even when she met the boy. I watched as she would haggle with the people of the Hob. I did what I could do in my own ways. I knew she would not accept charity or help for no reason. So I paid off the peacekeepers to let her hunt. I would give a little extra to the people I saw her trade with so they would be more generous with her. I noticed that she always had a big haul and a knowing scowl on her face as she came into the Hob. Despite my efforts to help her, she really didn't need much of it. The people loved her, like they loved her father, but I think they loved her more. They knew she was special.
After she had just turned 15 and being one of the better fed in the Seam (which isn't saying much as she was still underweight), boys and men alike, really started taking notice. She was beautiful, always was, always will be. Her body was lean and muscular, but with curves, I guess she got that from her mother, that and her height, she was short. She was very petite but no one would doubt that she could take down even the most deadly of men. She had long dark hair, olive skin and clear gray eyes. She was perfect.
I watched as the boy really started taking notice, him being a looker himself could've had any girl he wanted Seam or Town alike. I watched as the men in the Hob started flirting with her during their trades. I watched as Darius would try and convince her of his spectacular kissing abilities. I watched as she would come and go from school and even the Town boys, especially the baker's youngest, would stare at her in awe. I know I sound like a complete creep, watching her all the time, but when you have nothing left to live for except to make sure she survives, you watch to make sure she actually does.
When Cray, the head peacekeeper came to me to get his payoff for the month he asked if she herself was for sale, I nearly killed him. She was just fifteen! How could he even think that! When he saw my anger seething from me, he asked if she was just for me. I punched him. When he got up he looked at me in shock about to say something when I said, "I'm just keeping up my promise to her father if anything should happen to him to watch after her." With that he left and never asked again. Greasy Sae asked me once why I am always watching her and paying off the peacekeepers when I barely looked or talked to any other soul. I just looked at her not wanting to answer, not wanting to say that she is perfect and that I love her. Instead I just rolled my eyes at Greasy Sae and ignored the questions.
She never noticed any of the attention of the boys and men who adored her; she was oblivious to it all. I guess when all you think about is survival, love doesn't factor in much.
She still had no clue that he loved her as more than a best friend. There were bets placed on when she would finally figure it, when they would marry, when the first child would come, how many children. Betting on these two kids was almost as popular as betting on the games and reaping.
The Reaping and the 74th Hunger Games
I was late and drunk when I showed up to the Reaping. Effie was mad, so I did the only thing I could do to make her madder, I hugged her. It was funny. Her wig started to topple over and she was trying her best to make it not so noticeable and keep it on without being embarrassed. Through my drunken haze I was worried for Katniss. I didn't want her to experience the same horrors I had, but I knew if she did go in she would win. Effie and her annoying Capitol accent went on with her show. She went to the girls' glass bowl and called out, "Primrose Everdeen".
All of District 12 fell silent except for one shout. "No Prim, No." I see her running up and blocking her sister. "I volunteer, I volunteer as tribute." Shit! Damn, girl! Effie was completely shocked and had no idea what to do, since this NEVER happened in our district. Family bonds just didn't run deep enough I guess. But since Katniss was like Prim's mother I guess she had the instinct to protect her young, since that's all she has been doing since her father died.
The Mayor told Effie it didn't matter and to let the girl up. I could see he was upset with this choice of Tribute, but was trying to act like she was all the others from the past, just another child being sent off to die. The Mayor knew Katniss since she would trade berries with him like her father did, but also because Katniss was his daughter's, Madge I think, only friend, if you could even call them that really.
Prim is holding on to Katniss crying and screaming for her not to go when the boy comes up and pulls her off and says something to Katniss. You can see she is trying to hold it together and to anyone else she looks like stone, but it's her grey Seam eyes that show the slightest bit of wavering. She makes it up and I am so angry at the Capitol. I go up to her put my arm around her shoulder and tell everyone, "I like this one. She's got…spunk! More than any of you." I am looking at the audience in the Capitol. I am looking at Snow. I must be drunker than I thought because I fall off the makeshift stage. I don't hear who the boy is. I am rushed away. I am just hoping it's not "the boy". I figured he would want to volunteer if anything just to protect her, but Sae had told me a while ago that she had overheard them discuss the possibility since they both had so many slips. She told me they promised each other to take care of the other one's family. So I hope he remembers this and didn't do anything foolish.
When I get on the train I run to my room and start drinking even more. I am so sick and angry that this perfect girl is being taken to the games. A shudder runs through me. I remember though that she has a chance with all of her skills. That makes me shudder again because life out of the arena is even worse. When I finally make my way to dinner I see her sitting there eating like she hasn't eaten before, which I am sure she hasn't ever eaten much. The boy tribute is across from her. I notice he is staring at her like a fool in love and I know we are in trouble. I recognize him as the youngest of the baker's boys. He's the only other boy out side of The Boy to look at her with as much love. The other boys and men who look at her do so with lust, not like those two though.
After they finish eating we go to watch the recaps of the reaping. When I see all of the tributes, but one little twelve year old from District 11, are so much bigger than her I get sick all over the floor and her and the boy drag me to my room to clean me up. The baker's boy, Peeta I think, tells her to leave and that he will clean me up. While he is cleaning me up he starts to talk to me.
"Whatever happens during the games promise me you will always put her first." Like I would put anyone else first, I think. "Why am I even bothering talking to you now? You probably won't even remember this conversation." No, I will. "When I think of all the time I have I have wasted loving her from afar and now the only time I have to talk to her, she is going to die in the games with me." He is almost crying as he continues. "I just want her to live and be happy…I don't care about myself. I will do everything I can in the arena to make sure she lives. YOU have to do anything in YOUR power outside of the arena to make sure she lives." He finishes with that and gets me into my bed and leaves.
The next morning during breakfast she asks me for my advice in the arena, my response was to stay alive. They didn't think it was so funny. It's not but it's all I got. He throws the glass out of my hands and I punch him. Not so much for the wasting of my drink but for loving her, when I can't. She takes a knife and jams it right between my fingers and my bottle. It startles me.
"So I've got a couple of fighters this year." I say. I knew she was but I just hadn't realized I was still drunk and would be able to do so much more for her if I stayed sober. "I'll stay sober enough to help you but you have to do everything I say, not arguments" I continue. They both agree and I give them a rundown of what to expect today.
Once they have gone to the remake center I make my way to the mentors' and victors' lounge. We really can't do much, sponsor wise, until after tonight's opening acts. I take a seat next to my friend Chaff. If people think I'm a drunk what do they think of him…he's about to pass out already and we have all just gotten here. He offers me a drink I take one but only sip it. "What's gotten into you?" he asks.
"Nothing, just promised these damn kids to stay sober enough." I reply. He gives me a once over then puts his head down and passes out.
I leave him to see what Finnick Odair and Johanna Mason are up to. Johanna is a mentor this year, but Finnick never is. He has too many "meetings" to go to to even have time to mentor. When I walk up Johanna is threatening to rip him apart as usual. I just start to laugh. They both turn around and Finnick gives me his best smirk. "So the girl from your district has a lot of spunk?" He asks.
I eye him and respond with a sneer, "Who is asking?"
"Just a curious victor who knows a certain look when he sees it" He adds with a wink.
Johanna now gets into the mix by looking a Finnick and asking, "How come she's the only Tribute you remember Finnick? I asked you about your own and you couldn't even tell me their hair color."
He looks down real quick then says, "I just was shocked by dear old Haymitch's reaction to a little girl."
"Sure you were" Johanna replies rolling her eyes.
"What are implying?" He asks defensively.
"You know exactly what I am saying! Or have you finally gotten too much water in your ears fish brains?"
At this point I am just sitting here laughing at how jealous Johanna seems and how embarrassed Finnick seems for being caught. "Alright kids" I say, "enough fighting over my tribute, there will plenty of time for that later." We eat and get caught up on the rest of our year. When its time to go to the city circle for the opening ceremonies I stand with Johanna and Finnick. Chaff is still passed out at the bar.
All of the districts start coming out in the parade with the usual outfits and responses. The career districts, 1, 2, and 4, all come out with such loud cheers as always. And, as always, they are dressed provocatively. I look at Finnick who seems bored and doesn't even look at or respond in anyway to the tributes from his district. Johanna is making crude comments about the outfits and the tributes alike. "What? With all the money the first four district get you'd think someone would think to buy those damn kids some clothes." Johanna scoffs.
When we see District 12 come into view, I nearly had a heart attack. MY beautiful girl was on fire! She looked amazing. She was smiling and acting it up for the crowd and they loved her, just like everyone else who sees her. I know she is nervous and that would be the only reason for her strange outgoing behavior. She is holding Bread Boy's hand and waving and smiling and blowing kisses to the crowd. I glance over at Finnick who is absolutely mesmerized by her beauty, I don't even think he knew there was a boy tribute next to her and for once Johanna was speechless.
When I say goodbye to head back to the training center, Finnick can't even look at me and Johanna says, "Well you may have a mentor partner next year after all." I hate that idea, because I don't want her to be ruined like I am or worse like Finnick, but I also don't want her to die. Once I get back to the Training center, to our floor, we eat dinner with Effie and the two stylists. Everyone is gushing about how they did. After dinner we all sit and watch the recaps. Katniss, for some reason sits next to me with her knees pushed up against her chest holding her arms around them. She almost looks nervous. After we review what just happened only two hours ago and everyone has said their good nights, we all head to bed. It has been a long day.
In the morning, while we are all at breakfast, I ask the kids if they wanted to train separately or together. They both just look at me and shrug. I tell them that I think they should stick together like glue; it will throw the other tributes off. Next I ask what they are good at. I know what Katniss is good at, but I can't give that away. Katniss says, "Well I'm pretty okay with a bow and arrow and am decent with a knife and snares." Yeah, if she thinks what she does with a bow and arrow is pretty okay I would like to see her definition of amazing is.
At this point, Peeta buts in, "Don't listen to her she is amazing with the bow and arrow, whenever she sells squirrels to my dad, they are always shot through the eyes perfectly. I on the other hand have no skills required for the games, unless the arena is going to be a kitchen this year."
At that she is now a little confused and angry that someone has just defended her honor. She starts in, "What about you? You are so strong! You can carry those huge bags of flour like they are nothing and you can wrestle." Directing her attention to me, "He came in second place, only after his older brother."
Peeta scoffs, "You can't wrestle someone to death."
At this point I am getting annoyed with how they have kept tabs on each other and are defending each other's talents. So I pipe in, "Hand to hand combat is always part of the games, you get a hold of a knife and you could do some damage." Why am I helping him? Don't I want her to win? Well if what he said on the train is true then helping him would ensure her winning. "Okay so here is how you will do training. Do not do anything that will show off your strengths, Katniss for you that is bow and arrow, Peeta for you hand to hand combat and heavy lifting. You will want to save these for you individual sessions with the gamemakers. Stay by each other's sides at all times. Do I make myself clear?" They both nod in agreement. "Now get to the elevator, Effie is waiting to take you down to training and you know how she hates to be late."
They both walk off. I can tell Katniss is slightly confused about having to stay with each other, but I think she is happy not to be completely alone. Bread Boy can fill the hole she has now that "the boy" can't be here to help watch her back.
While the kids are off at training I am doing my very best to get sponsors. It is easier this year since people actually want to sponsor her. After she gets an 11 for her training score it gets even easier people everywhere are just handing me money. Bread Boy is getting plenty of sponsors too, but Katniss though, people just want to her.
On the morning of the interview training, Peeta wakes up early and is slightly shocked to see me already up and eating. He gets his food and sits down. "So, how are you holding up?" I ask.
"Fine I guess." He responds. I give him a knowing yet somewhat harsh look. "Do you remember what I told you on the train while I was cleaning you up?" He asks hesitantly.
"Yes." I say with a quizzical look. What is he trying to get at?
"I think I want to do today's interview training alone. I have an idea to help Katniss and let her know my true feelings at the same time." He states somewhat asking.
"Alright Bread Boy if that is what you want." I reply.
We stop talking as soon as Katniss comes in and sits down. "Don't stop talking on my behalf, I can eat and listen to our game plan at the same time." She says dryly.
"Today you are each going to spend half your time with me learning how to interview and half your time with Effie learning how to walk and be all proper." I start.
"Great let's get started now." She replies half sarcastically. I think she may despise me.
"Peeta has asked that for this you train separately." I say. She just looks at him as if his nice guy act has been all that, an act.
"Fine by me." she states and gets up to leave quickly. I take the boy first since maybe his strategy will help me with hers.
"So Bread Boy what is this plan you have?" I ask a little impatiently. I'm not used to being this sober for this many days or awake this early.
"Well…" He starts with a nervous smile, "I was thinking, you know how Katniss isn't really all Capitol friendly?" I nod in agreement. "Well I was thinking that maybe, since this will be my last chance to tell her how I feel and I want her to have as many sponsors as possible, that maybe I tell all of Panem my feelings during the interview. Is there anyways we can lead the conversation with Caesar Flickerman that way?" Damn this kid is smarter than I have been giving him credit for. I think about what he has just said for a few minutes before I answer.
"Are you sure this is what you want? You know she is not a trusting person and she is just going to think this is some angle you and I cooked up? Once you are in the arena you are going to have to do something to get her to trust you. The interview questions with Caesar are the easy part he just wants an interesting show and this will prove to make it that." He nods in assent and then we practice for a little bit on how he wants to word it for best dramatic effect.
I would like to say Katniss's time went easily and she was personable, but I guess me and the Capitol only bring out her oh so pleasant personality of a surly, growling, sullen child. I think at one point I was so fed up I started drinking and told her she had the personality of a dead slug. She was too much like me. If she wasn't the petite, wafe of a girl that she is she could easily get sponsors with her attitude. God, she can be so stubborn. Doesn't she see all I want to do is help her win so she can go back to her family?
After the interviews people just want her even more. Bread Boy is really doing everything he can. Katniss was somehow personable enough, but after bread boy announced his feelings it was all over. Katniss thinks this is all ridiculous. She thinks I am a mean old drunk who will let her die in the arena and that Peeta is making a fool of her. I know the truth. Peeta knows his half of the truth. We just let her think what she wants.
Right before the games start while I'm settling into my mentor's room, at the viewing center, someone knocks on my door. Thinking its Chaff or Finnick or Johanna I yell for them to come in. When I walk into the front I see President Snow in all of his snake like, white haired, horrendous smell qualities. "Haymitch, it's been a long time. May we have a chat?" He asks. I nod my head in assent. "Haymitch I have good news for you this year. Katniss will win." He says in his evil cheery way, he is up to some thing. I look at him skeptically so he continues, "I have been watching her and she is just what we need in a victor, plus the people adore her. I will have her tortured of course in the arena and even let her and Peeta live to be the last ones. I will then enjoy watching him die." I just sit there looking at him shocked.
Finally my brain kicks back on, "Why?"
"Because Mr. Abernathy she will bring in the money." He winks at that and walks away. I sit there stunned for a few moments, I can't believe I am going to try and help her live, when I know the life she will have after. It makes me shudder every time I think about it. If I could kill Snow with my bare hands right now I would, no regrets. I don't care if the hang me or burn me alive, the thought of her being used like Finnick makes me sick. I can't even have a drink, because it makes me too sick.
Before the games start, District One and Two's mentors have come to see me, both warning me of their male tributes desire to torture poor, pure Katniss once they get their hands on her. I understood what they meant. In past years when there has been a particularly pretty girl, if a male tribute gets her (and this is edited out before the public sees it, but you can buy it at a high cost) she is often raped several times before finally being killed. The girl tributes are as equally vicious, but they don't care so much about her purity as they are jealous of her and her attention.
Finnick, when he is not previously engaged, comes and watches with me. He watches me spend my own money to send her burn cream even though we had enough sponsor money. He sees how she and I communicate. He sees how all of my attention is on her and her alone. Only a few times do I check that Peeta is still alive. I do everything I can. Finnick is no better, though; he just watches her holding his own breath half the time. He is like every other man, who the hell am I kidding person (men, women, and children alike fall for her) who sees her. He is entrapped in the beauty that is her. Not just her outside beauty, which is more than enough to do it, but also her inner spirit. It is a fire that sets sparks in your soul, as Cinna put it.
When she gets the sleeping syrup for Peeta so she can go to the feast Finnick looks at me with questioning eyes. "When did you send that? I go to the bathroom for five fucking minutes and you're sending her to her death? You haven't slept or taken you eyes off of her. Now you want her to die!" he is shouting at me by the end.
"I didn't send it." Is all I get out before I realize Snow sent it. We have Beetee (one of the three district three mentors, as their district is technology, they typically don't do well in the games, but they are masters at out smarting the Capitol's bugging systems.) check the room for bugs. He finds none in the bathroom. I take Finnick to the bathroom and explain what Snow said to me before the games. "Stay here and watch her for me." I command. I left to go talk to Snow.
When I find him it is almost like he is expecting me. "I will do anything for you not to hurt her, use her, like you do Finnick when she gets out of the games. I know you know she will do whatever you force her so she can protect her family. Please I will do anything."
Snow just chuckles and says, "It is too late, you had your chance. You gave up your whole family and girlfriend because you wouldn't be used, but you're willing to be used by me now for this child? It is a pity for such an old man like you to be hopelessly in love with some girl, even if she is on fire."
With that I walk out seething. He was right. I wouldn't protect the people I loved back then, but now I will do it without a seconds thought for a girl who hates me. When I get back to my room I see her on the ground of their cave bleeding from her head. "What the hell happened?" I am yelling.
"She went to the feast and Clove got a hold of her and wrestled her to the ground and shoved a knife in her forehead. Before Clove could do anymore damage, Thresh pulled her off and smashed her head in with a rock. He was mad that she was mocking Rue, the little girl from Eleven. Then when he got to Katniss he asked her why Clove and her were talking about Rue and she explained how her and Rue were allies and how she sang her to sleep and put flowers on her body and that their district sent her bread. He said he would let her go this time, but now they were even." Finnick spit out so quickly he was hyperventilating by the end.
I guess he was nervous that I would somehow blame him and kill him. I was mad as hell that she would be so stupid to go to the feast, but I knew that she would want to make sure she did everything she could to save Bread Boy. I could tell she was starting to fall for him. We went into the bathroom and I told him what had happened with Snow and when she comes out he has to help me explain it to her. He agrees sadly but a little too eagerly as well. I think the kid thinks he may get a shot with the girl on fire. I see how he looks at her, the same way all men look at her with desire.
There are only three of them left now, MY girl, Bread Boy and Cato. When Cato is being killed by the mutts and she sends an arrow through his heart as a mercy killing I fall just that much more in love with her, so do Bread Boy and Finnick and I think the rest of Panem. When they take back the previous rule you can see the fear in her eyes. When they decide they can't kill each other, you can almost see the light bulb that goes off in her eyes. By now there is quite a large crowd gathered in my room, mentors, victors, stylists and even Effie. Katniss takes the bag of berries out and holds some in her hand and gives Peeta some too, he takes them in his hand without even another thought. They hold hands and are about to eat them when a very large snake comes up to Peeta and bites him then slithers away. She notices him collapse but also notices he hasn't had any berries. Before he dies he tells her he loves her and to live her life and be happy so he can die happy. She cries. The bomb sounds and she is announced the victor. I cry.
I am in her room and so is Finnick when she finally wakes up. She is beautiful. You wouldn't even be able to tell she had survived the hunger games or years of hunting. She hugs me so tight I don't know what to think at first then she curls up into my lap. After a while I pull her away and tell her that Finnick and I need to talk to her about what is going to happen now. She looks at Finnick, I think she recognizes him, but she has an annoyed what is the Capital's pretty boy doing here face on. It's funny how I know her very thoughts. She doesn't move just continues to sit in my lap.
"Wouldn't you prefer a chair of your own as this is a delicate conversation?" Finnick asks cautiously.
"No." She says flatly.
"Sweetheart, you may feel weird sitting on me for this conversation." I agree with Finnick I do not want her to think I am just another dirty old man. Which I am, but she doesn't need to know that. She reluctantly gets into a third chair.
"Fine. What is it that I need my own chair? Haven't I dealt with enough?" She states more than asks.
I start, "Sweetheart, President Snow has requested a meeting with you as soon as you get up. He wants to offer you something." Offer right, demand, blackmail, threaten.
"Katniss, I know you must think I am some Capital pretty boy" Finnick starts "but President Snow made me this same…offer." He looks at me and shakes his head at the word offer.
"He is going to make it very clear that he owns you and if you ever don't do as he says he will kill all those that you love. He is going to sell you. And if you say no by the time you get home those you love will be gone. Do you understand?" He finishes.
She starts to look like the world has ended. "I'm just 16. I thought once you won the games, you would at least get to live your own life." She whispers, dumbfounded by this new information.
"That's when it started for me too. Even though I won when I was 14 they waited until I was 16 to start selling me. If Haymitch hadn't explained I would have lost everyone I love just like him. Johanna didn't believe us and she lost everyone too." Finnick responds shaking his head. I can see the tears welling up in her eyes. But she won't let them fall. She is so strong and proud.
"Maybe when you get home you should ask someone who loves you to do it with you at least so it's not so horrible. If you need me call me and I will be there for you in any way I can." Finnick ends with this and leaves. Yeah, I'm sure…anyway possible. I know I shouldn't be jealous, she would be better with him than me, but I can't help but mad a little mad at the cocky Fish Boy.
When she gets back from her meeting with Snow she just looks at me and nods. In that nod it tells me she is owned just like Finnick. After all of the post games crowning and interview and a few Capitol parties, where she met all of the existing victors, she really seemed to click with Beetee and Finnick and Johanna (well somewhat with Johanna it's hard to read with them) we head back to District 12. On our way home I stop being so grouchy and drunk and she just sticks by my side, but she doesn't say much, but she never did to begin with so it's nothing new. We grow close and by the time we get home we have a friendship. The train ride back is hard for her. She has nightmares every night. Effie tries to give her sleep medicine, but it doesn't help she wakes the whole train with her screams. I go into her room every night when she starts screaming wake her slightly and just sit by her bed stroking her hair until she falls back asleep.
On the last night on the train, before she heads to bed she turns around and asks, "Why don't you just come with me now so I won't wake the whole train in a few hours?" I smile at her and follow her to her room. When she lies down I go for my usual chair and sit down. "Will you lie next to me?" She asks looking so sweet and innocent.
I sigh and shake my head, my dark hair falling around my face. "Okay Sweetheart if that will make you happy."
"Why did Finnick tell me you only watched me during the games? You liked Peeta more than me. You sent me to the feast so I could cure him." Damn Finnick. I knew I shouldn't have let him dance with her at the banquet.
"Ummm…Sweetheart… this isn't something we can discuss here. I'll fill you in when we get home okay?" I hope she understood what I'm saying… everything Capitol is bugged.
"Oh Okay. Goodnight and thanks."
When we get back home and step off the train there is a huge celebration going on. Everyone both Town and Seam were here to welcome her back. Even Peeta's father. After she hugged Prim and her mother and her "Cousin" The Boy and his family, I guess Snow didn't want anyone to find out she had a boyfriend or something, The Baker came up and gave her a hug. He told her thank you for trying to save his boy's life time and again and never giving up on him, allowing him to be happy in his final days. I think he knew his son's feelings for her and could see that he was in love and happy just being with her in his last moments. All Katniss did was apologize for not killing herself before the snake got to him. He looked at her and smiled and said his boy would have never allowed it; he loved her too much since they were small children. She just smiled at him with tears threatening to fall out of her eyes.
After the media left and her family got settled into their new house which was right next door to mine, Katniss and I went for a walk. I explained everything Peeta and Snow had said, but I left out how I loved her. When I was done explaining she just looked at me with teary skeptical eyes and hugged me. When she pulled away I asked, "So are you going to get your 'cousin' to help you before your new duties begin?"
She sighed, "No, I don't think he would. He's been acting weird around me lately."
I chuckled, "Because he has been in love with you for at least the last two years sweetheart."
She looked up completely surprised, "Love?"
"You have no idea what effect you have on people sweetheart." With that we went back to our houses in silence.
When we were about to go our separate ways she turned to me and smiled, "Should I … with my 'cousin'?"
"It's up to you sweetheart, but you better decide quickly." Then I added "Do you love him?"
"Yes, but not like that, I've never allowed those thoughts and if he loves me the way you mean it then when he hears about my meetings it will just break his heart more if I led him to believe I wanted more. I don't think I will use him like that, it's not right."
"Who will you use then?"
"Well it will either be you or Finnick since you two are the only other two males I know and trust." She says with a nervous laugh. I just smile and shake my head, that damn girl.
I can't believe my best friend is avoiding me because he is in love with me. It would make things so much easier if I at least loved him back in that way, but it's the same problem I had with Peeta I grew to trust and love Peeta in the arena but I was never in love with him. I do love one man like that, but it probably isn't right since he is old enough to be my father. Ugh! Why can't I stop thinking about Haymitch! Well since most of my meetings will probably be with older men, maybe I should just be with him. I at least know he would be nice to me. But then it may make our friendship awkward. Maybe Finnick then. We are almost to our houses now I need to get his opinion.
"Should I … with my "cousin"?"
"It's up to you sweetheart, but you better decide quickly." Then he added "Do you love him?"
"Yes, but not like that, I've never allowed those thoughts and if he loves me the way you mean it then when he hears about my meetings it will just break his heart more if I led him to believe I wanted more. I don't think I will use him like that, it's not right."
"Who will you use then?"
"Well it will either be you or Finnick since you two are the only other two males I know and trust." Did I just see a surprised look of hope in Haymitch's eyes? No. He can only see me as this little kid he has to watch over. I will ask him for Finnick's number tomorrow. Tonight I need to talk to Gale.
When I get to his house he is just walking home from the mines. I really wish he would let me take care of him and his family so he doesn't have to work in the mines, but he has too much pride. Like me, I guess. When he sees me he gets a goofy happy smile on his face and rushes over to me and grabs me in his arms and starts spinning me. When he puts me down he asks, "So what do I owe the honor of the great victor Catnip?"
"I think we need to talk." I start. He is now frowning a bit nervously.
"Can I get cleaned up and eat first? You can stay and hang out with the kids. I know they want to see you."
"Okay." I smile at him. His house is like a second home and his mother is more of a mother to me than my own was for many years after father died. I talk with Hazelle and the kids. Posy has gotten so big. When Gale finishes he leads me outside and we walk to the meadow and sit under a tree. I'm not sure how to let him down without hurting our friendship. The last guy who loved me was killed so I never had to let him down.
"Well" Gale starts, "What did you want to talk about?" I bite my lip nervously.
" Gale, I'm not sure what to say, I have noticed you have been acting strange around me lately and some people have told me some things that might explain it, but I need to know if it's true before I go any further."
"Okay, what do you need to know?"
Here goes nothing. "Are you in love with me?"
"Yes, for two years now." He states very matter a factly.
"Oh." I sigh looking down at my hands and then he turns to me lifts my chin and kisses me. At first I don't respond but then I kiss back slightly. When we pull away he has that same stupid grin on his face and I feel sick. It was a great kiss more fiery than Peeta's but still not love, at least for me. I look at him and he is about to kiss me again when I stop him. "Gale, I'm sorry and I know this will ruin our friendship, but in a month I have a feeling it will be ruined anyway... I love you but only as my best friend and that's all it can ever be. I need to tell you some things so you are not crushed or shocked when it comes out. Can you stand to be my friend until I at least finish telling you?" I ask cautiously. He looks confused and hurts but replies with a nod of his head. I then go onto tell him everything with Snow and what Haymitch and Finnick had said. He looks down for a minute then up at me. Staring into my eyes, his gray Seam eyes just like mine are so angry. I think he may try to kill me. He just stares at me for another minute.
"What? So now you will be the girl Finnick Odair and you are okay with this?" Hate seething from every word.
"NO! I am not okay with this! I have to do this to keep Prim and my mother and you safe! Don't you see if I don't you all will die?"
"I would rather be dead than live in a world where any old man who pays enough can have you." He spits at me.
"Please don't say that…I know it is the most horrible thing, but if I can come home and at least have Prim and you to help keep me strong then it won't be a waste." Tears are about to fly out of my eyes. He looks down at me and sighs, still angry but sees what I am saying.
"Catnip even if you don't realize it now, one day you will love me the way I love you and I will not trade our friendship for my hurt feelings. You will always have me." With that he kisses the top my head and hugs me. I run away tears freely falling from my eyes, the first I have shed since the games when Peeta and Rue died.
I run to Haymitch's house and just walk in. Tears running down my face, shaking, he runs up and grabs hold of me just as I am collapsing on the ground. He leads me to the couch and I curl up in his lap like I did when I came to after the games. This feel so right, sitting with him holding me. He told me about trying to bargain with Snow so I wouldn't have to live this. And for that I will always love him. Mother despises him because she lost her friend in the same game, Madge's aunt, and because she thinks he's always drunk. He isn't, he just acts that way so people will leave him alone. Don't get me wrong he drinks to forget but not as much as people think or he would leave them to believe.
"What's wrong Sweetheart?" He asks. I tell him about Gale. When I talk about the kiss and my thoughts on Gale's kiss verses Peeta's kisses he tenses up a little and his grey Seam eyes have a hint of anger? Pain? What? He actually looks like what I would expect Gale to look like in 25 years. Tall, dark hair, grey eyes, olive skin, strong jaw except Gale won't have the 25 years of drinking damage just the coal mines damage. When I finally finish talking he looks at me and smirks.
"Why is it the only two people who have ever been in love with me want to die?" I ask.
He just starts howling in laughter and rolls his eyes, "You really don't know the effect you have on people do you, Sweetheart?" I don't really understand what he is talking about, Peeta said the same thing to me in the games, and I didn't understand it then either. After a while I ask him for Finnick's phone number to help me with my math problem. That is code, so nobody picks up what we are talking about. Actually, since we call Finnick Sea Sae (Sea because he lives in District Four by the sea and Sae because Greasy Sae is a good cover for everything since she knows everything. It's just enough to confuse someone else) I don't think anybody in their right mind would think we are sane. He just looks at me and asks if I am sure, which I'm not. I would rather it be him.
"Well I would be happy if you could help me with my math problem." I say shyly, blushing, looking anywhere but him. He doesn't say anything at first. Instead he grabs my hand and we go for a walk.
"For Christ's sake Sweetheart, why would you say that?"
"Say what?" I ask innocently, "Oh that I would be happy for it to be you?"
"Yes that!" he snarls.
"Well because I would. I don't know. I like you. I feel safe with you."
"Oh give me a break! How could you ever like me? I'm a worthless drunk who is as old as your mother. Plus you have young boys like your "cousin" and Finnick who would jump at the chance."
"So" I say defiantly
"What is wrong with you? Maybe! But I still don't understand. Call Finnick tomorrow."
"Okay" Then I smile at him and turn to go home.
It's been three weeks since our talk and whenever I tried to bring it up he and Finnick just ignore me. Aren't they the ones who told me I should go ahead and do it? I am so aggravated. I leave in a few hours with Haymitch to go on the Victory Tour. When we get to the Capital I will be sold. In one Week! And they are both sitting there not wanting to help! Plus it doesn't help that I almost gave into Gale. Last week he came begging me that he wouldn't go on a possessive killing streak, if I would just let him be my first. He knew I wanted it to be with someone I knew, but I couldn't with him. It just wouldn't be right leading him on in a way.
My nightmares are bad so I have decided sleeping is not an option but for a few hours in the woods. My mom and Prim were getting too worried about me waking every night screaming and I couldn't explain that I didn't think I was ever going to stop having nightmares. I couldn't explain that they weren't just from the games, but from dad and my future. The only thing that keeps me going is the fact that they are safe for the time being and fed. My mom and Gale are always questioning me about the dark circles under me eyes. I just shrug and say I am sleeping so I don't know why I would have them. The only times I feel at peace are when I am hunting in the woods or when I am sitting in Haymitch's house.
I think I may have a heart attack. My Sweetheart wants to be with me for her first time and will settle for Finnick if I won't. She refuses the boy, because she doesn't want to hurt him because she's not in love and he is. Little does she know that I am in love and Finnick is infatuated. Sure he still loves his crazy Annie but I think it's more platonic like a little sister. Katniss keeps bringing it up. I think she is nervous. I don't blame her, but Finnick told me to hold out he is trying to convince Snow of something. He doesn't want to tell me until he knows if it will work or not. Since we have been home from the games Katniss comes over at night quite a bit. She has horrible nightmares and keep her mother and Prim awake so instead of burdening them she comes and sleeps next to me on the couch. Not all the time but a few times a week. We sleep on the couch just in case her mom ever finds out she's not at home and comes looking. It wouldn't look right for her almost 17 year old daughter to be in a bed with a 41 year old man. The couch just looks like we were watching TV and fell asleep, nothing scandalous.
Right before we are supposed to leave I get a call from Finnick who tells me he will tell me the plan when we get to Four. On the train Effie and Cinna won't leave Katniss alone for even one minute. I can tell she is getting annoyed, mainly because she knows what's coming. She loves Cinna and is learning to tolerate Effie. Katniss and I have a lot of fun at Effie's expense. We sleep together in bed at night so they think her nightmares are gone and we are always careful to be the last ones to bed and the first one out of bed. The districts pass with little bother. It seems though that when she held out those berries, before the snake got Peeta, she has put a spark into the people to get a little rebellion going. Not just with the berries, though, the way she sang and had a burial service of types for Rue or the mercy killing of Cato. She won the games, but didn't play them the way Snow had wanted, he is now kicking himself for making her become the victor. Snow isn't happy and has asked me to make sure she kills the rebellion. Too bad I'm apart of it and so is Cinna and most of the other victors and of course the new head game maker. Katniss is our Mockingjay our symbol, but she has no idea, not really. She had seen about an uprising in District 8 when she was over at the Mayor's house, but she has no idea that she was the spark that led to the fire.
When we get to four Finnick and I go for a walk while Katniss is being made up.
"Well what's this plan of yours fish boy?"
"Snow agreed that I could be with Katniss first!"
"What? How did you pull that off?"
"Promise of publicity. If people see Katniss and I out together they will go even more crazy for her and up her price."
"Johanna is wrong it's not just salt water floating around in that head of yours. You actually have a brain up there don't you fish boy."
"Well… I was thinking we can make sure the room is bug free and then you can come with us and let her decide." Is he kidding me? I mean come on. He has been thinking about this since the day he saw her and now he wants to let her choose me? What is his angle?
"No, she is much better suited for someone at least closer to her age not someone who is old enough to be her parent." He is now rolling his eyes and gives and exasperated sighs.
"Well I think you are missing the point here dear Haymitch, she loves you. Not like a parent or a mentor or even a friend. I hear the way she talks about you, I can tell it in her voice and in her eyes when she sees you. When she came to after her games, she clung to YOU. She didn't want to move from your body. And don't you tell me you don't love her. I knew from the moment she volunteered that you were absolutely crazy for her. It only confirmed it when you spent the whole games sober and staring at her and spending your own money when you had plenty of sponsor money." Damn Fish Boy! When did he get so smart?
"Fine, I am in love with her but what would she want with me? She will choose you, but we'll see."
"Well she should be ready for the party now, let's go see if I can at least flirt my way into her thoughts." Damn cocky Fish Boy.
Throughout the party Katniss only left my side when she was asked to dance and whenever someone was too grabby with her Finnick or I would cut in. She looks beautiful as ever, but Snow must be really trying to show off her assets because the clothes he made Cinna design for her make her look attractive, while keeping with the fire theme, in a new way almost womanly not so much a kid like she should be dressed.
When we get to the Capital Finnick is the one to escort her to the Party. She looks relieved but slightly disappointed. Finnick and her flirted all night with the cameras and when the party ends he will lead to their room, where I am now waiting.
All throughout the Capital party Finnick and I are inseparable. We flirt with everyone and everything, just like we had practiced. He seems so sincere with his affections, almost like he isn't playing it up like I am trying to do. I can see the eyes of all my prospective buyers watching me with anticipation. I know at least four of them have already bought their time with me while I'm in the Capital this visit. President Snow asks me to dance just after Haymitch left. I guess he didn't want a scene with Haymitch. I don't want to dance with this man, this evil being. Even if he wasn't so evil the smell of roses and blood would do it so I would never want to be near him. I keep trying to hold in my gags.
While we are dancing he whispers in my ear, "Tonight, my Dear Miss Everdeen is a gift from me to you." I look at him but don't respond. He continues, "I am giving you Finnick, but the rest of your engagements will be a sort of personal hell for you." I gasp. How evil can one man be? The song ends and as we part ways he adds, "And Miss Everdeen I will be watching you." I shudder.
When I make my way back to Finnick he gives me a smile but his eyes are worried. "So I smell you have been near Snow" Johanna Mason who walks up behind me states. Ugh! How can one person ruin so many lives? Haymitch explained that what happened to him happened to Johanna because she refused. Now she is just a sociopath, but I think I like her.
After the party Finnick and I get in a car and our driven back to our hotel room for the night. We don't say much, there's not much that can be said, especially in a Capital car. When we get up to the room before he opens the door Finnick stops and turns with his famous Finnick smile and a glint of playfulness in his eyes and says, "I have a surprise for you, Lovely. First though I want to make sure it's worth it." With that he leans down and kisses me. At first I am shocked; I don't know why though, I'm supposed to be sleeping with him for my first time tonight. Finally I kiss back. His kisses are wonderful very exciting almost a rush, but much more practiced than Peeta's and Gale's. There is something else there too a bit of eagerness, of hunger in his kiss too. It's strange, but I didn't think the Great Finnick Odair would ever want something, well other than Annie.
When we pull away, there is lust in his eyes and a sliver of hope. I'm not really sure what it means. What I do know is that Finnick must really be a good friend or his feelings for me go deeper than I thought. He is probably endangering himself and Annie by trying to make sure the first time I am bought it is with someone who will be gentle. I'm not too sure how I feel about these realizations and I don't think I want to find out tonight. I don't want to ruin anything.
When he finally opens the door I am absolutely floored.
WOW! I just kissed the girl on fire and was she ever! Maybe since she kissed me back she will choose me instead of the drunk. Don't get me wrong I do love the drunk, but I want Katniss. What is wrong with me? I'm Finnick Odair I am not used to wanting, I am wanted never wanting. I feel slightly ashamed because then I think of Annie. Beautiful, sweet Annie. She is so innocent. Maybe that's the problem Katniss reminds me of Annie in her innocence but is at least cognizant. Yes that is probably it. No matter how much I love Annie she will never be fully aware of anything this means she can never be mine fully. It's like loving a sibling who is much younger than you.
When I finally open the door and she walks in and sees him I know my small sliver of hope is gone. I see it in her eyes the way I see it in his. I just wish they would see it in each other. I flash a big toothy smile, "Well I told you I had a surprise!" She looks at us confused, happy and slightly embarrassed. Something is turning in her mind. Before she can ask I already know she thinks we both are going to sleep with her night. Now I see a little fear, the first real fear I've ever seen in her gray eyes. "No, no, no I say. We are giving you the choice of which one would make this better for you." I say before she runs away.
She looks at me relieved. Then back at the drunk. She smirks and looks at me with a fake confidence, "What makes you think I have to choose?" Haymitch and I start laughing.
"Sweetheart, I will not share a woman again with Fish Boy there?" I say while still laughing at her question. She is almost too much. She looks at us with a nervous smile. I don't think she really wants to choose, but she needs to choose something in life, even if it is two crappy choices, because she won't have any more after tonight. "Well don't just stand there staring, Sweetheart, make your choice."
"I choose you." She says in her quiet little voice. She is looking at me then blushes and looks down to the floor.
Finnick goes over to her and gives her a kiss and winks at me and is about to walk out the door when he turns and asks, "Why?"
She looks up scared and sheepishly says, "Because I love him" under her breathe.
"That's what I thought girl on fire." He gives her a smile and walks out the door. He almost looks defeated.
I on the other hand am in complete shock. She. Loves. Me. "What? How?" Is all I manage to get out.
"Because you make me feel right. You are what I need." She says with a little more confidence.
"But who am I kidding; I will only be a child in your eyes. A stupid little girl you have to watch over. Nothing more than a duty or chore." She looks like she is about to cry as she walks towards the bathroom.
I reach out and grab her hand. "You are what I have loved since you were small. That love has changed of course. But I can say without any doubt in my mind you are not a duty or chore or a little girl anymore. I love you Katniss." I pull her into me and kiss her with everything I have to try and prove to her my words are real. She kisses back with the same need and want I have. As we deepen our kiss our hands look for each other. Her arms are up around my neck and her hands in my hair. I pull her hips toward me so there is nothing between us, but our clothes, as I wrap my arms around her waist. We break away for a minute to catch our breaths. I look into those smokey gray eyes of hers and I melt. I pull her up, my hands on her ass and her legs wrapped around my waist. Her arms are around my neck. We continue our kiss and when we pull away again for air she looks at me a little scared and I ask, "What are you thinking about Sweetheart?"
"Umm… I'm not really sure what to do. I've never done this before you know?" I chuckle sit her down in my lap and her eyes widen as she sits on top of me, feeling my want for her.
"I think you are doing just fine." I say with a smirk. She blushes.
"Will you lead me?" She ask and with that we are kissing again. After a few moments of feeling each other over our clothes she starts to unbutton my shirt. When she finishes and she slides it off of me she sits back and looks at me. Her hands are lightly grazing over my chest down my back and around my stomach. I suck in as she gets closer to my pant line. She notices and smirks. She knows now the power she holds and she enjoys it. She starts kissing me again down my jaw, neck and chest. Moans coming out of me with every wet kiss she places. It feels like where ever her mouth has touched my skin is burning. It is the most alive I have felt in years.
When she finally makes her way back to my mouth she lets out a satisfied moan and whispers into the kiss, "I love you."
I whisper back, "I love you too, Sweetheart."
She stands up and starts to unzip her dress. As I realize what she is doing I stand and help her. Once unzipped, the dress falls to the floor. She is perfect. Quickly she starts to undo my belt buckle and then my pants. Once we have shed our clothes, I pull her back up into my arms with her legs wrapped around my waist and her arms around my neck we crash into the bed kissing and like she said, everything feels right.
For this being her first time, her natural instincts are good. She can sense when I like something and feels the power she has and will do it again. She tries different things to get a reaction out of me and I can see her thinking and calculating her moves as if her whole mission in this is to please me. Before we are done exploring each other, I move her on top of me and tell her this will hurt a bit. I lift up her hips and place her directly above me. As she starts to slowly slide down, I can see her wince in pain. She is trying so hard to not let me see this. When I am finally inside of her she just sits there a minute trying to get used to the feeling of me inside her. God she is so tight! Eventually she starts to move. I guide her hips with my hands and once we have a good rhythm I release my hands from her hips and start to grasp at the rest of her body while I am kissing every inch of skin I can reach. I move one hand down to her thigh and I can feel her about to release, when she does I grab her thigh quickly and flip her onto her back so I am now on top of her I can feel her building again as we both pant heavily. Sweat coming off of us making our bodies glisten. She is releasing again and I do this time too. I fall onto her being careful not to crush her small frame. She is shaking from the experience.
"You alright Sweetheart?" I ask. She doesn't answer, still trying to catch her breath. Finally she has calmed down enough to respond.
"So you have been holding this out on me for weeks now?" She says teasingly, but there is also seriousness in her tone as well. I just have to laugh. She is just perfect.
I kiss her gently and then leave a trail of kisses to her ear and whisper, "I love you, Sweetheart."
We made love three times before we fell asleep in each others arms. I still can't believe she chose me. Not just tonight but to love. I am so happy and have emotions I haven't felt in 26 years. Not since before my own games.
Finnick came to get us in the morning just as he had promised, in the same clothes from last night so they could make the "walk of shame" for the Capitol. I slipped out the back entrance so no one would suspect a thing. It's only now do I realize that the rest of the trip will be torture. How am I going to be able to just sit back at our floor and not do anything for her? Hopefully Fish Boy with all of his wonderful ideas will have an option. Back on our floor of the training center, that's where victors stay when on official Capitol business, the TV is on and I see Fish Boy kissing MY girl outside of the training center. Keep your cool Haymitch, it's all an act. He is the one who came up with this idea so her first time wouldn't be with some horrid old man, well other than me.
When she makes her way up to our floor I am waiting trying to stay calm, but I am so angry at Snow and the Capitol right now. She sees I'm angry and looks at me alarmed. "What's wrong Haymitch?" She asks. I take her to the windy roof and when we get up there I kiss her and wrap her in my arms. "Haymitch… what is the matter? Why do you look like you could kill?"
"Oh, well how would you like to turn on the TV and see me kiss Finnick?" I snap, I'm not really mad at her, I just don't know what else to do.
"I would like that very much." She says while laughing, God she has a beautiful laugh.
"Not what I meant! I am just so damn pissed that the one night I have had happiness in 26 Capitol filled years, it's ruined by the fact that THEY own us." I'm yelling now. She doesn't even back away.
With one small tear in her eye she looks at me and takes my hand, "We can have our happiness, but I will always do whatever I have to, to protect the ones I love." She then kisses me. I know then that this will start to kill her slowly like it's meant to, but I will always be by her side to make sure she at least has love and support.
That evening Cinna comes to fix her up. Finnick comes to give her pointers and instructions. When she comes out she looks gorgeous and virginal. Her face is showing resolve while her eyes are slightly scared. I walk over to her and hug her. I give her a kiss on her head and tell her I'll be waiting up. With that she gives me a sorrowful smile and walks out to meet her first real buyer.
Cinna and Finnick both stay for a while to keep me sane. Finnick has to leave because he has a buyer himself and tells me that Johanna will be up to take his place. Cinna, Finnick, Johanna, and a few other victors and a certain gamemaker alike are all part of a rebellion that has been trying to take place, but nothing ever happened to light a spark in the people…until Katniss that is. Now she is the Mockingjay.
"How are you holding up?" Cinna asks with knowing eyes.
"Fine." I grunt.
"I know you love her, I could tell during the reaping." He says.
"What? No I was just drunk." What the hell? Was I THAT obvious? I mean first Finnick and now Cinna both saw it. What did everyone else see?
"No you weren't. You were in pain. I can tell she feels the same way. She never looked at Peeta the way she looks at you."
"I don't know." I sigh as I truly don't have anything to say. Just then the elevator doors open and we can hear Johanna making her way into the room.
"I hear we have to baby-sit Drunkard here until the girl on fire gets back, so he won't go all crazy and kill someone…else." She says while looking between Cinna and I. She is a certifiable nut-job. I'm surprised the Capital hasn't killed her yet. It's not like they can control her anymore than they can control me.
"I am doing this for Prim and Gale." That is the mantra I repeat over and over in my head as I attend another Capitol party with this light purple man, my first buyer. He looks to be about 60 and has white puffy hair and light purple skin. He is dowsed in some sot of cologne; it reminds me of burning rubber. As I am drug all over this party with this man who keeps eyeing me like a piece of meat and introducing me to other people who are all so pleased to meet me and so envious of my "date" for being one of the first to take me out, I can't help but feel sick. I do all the things Finnick told and the man seems to be very pleased.
Before we leave the party I see Finnick there with his "date". He looks over at me smiles and gives me a wink. For some reason this relaxes me. I follow my "date" to his room where he invites me in for a drink. I accept only because Finnick said it would help take the edge off. Luckily I don't have to spend the night. I guess after 3 in the morning I turn into a pumpkin and can go back home.
President Snow was right though, this was going to be a personal hell. I look over by the bed and see whips and knives and chains and something else. Is that a lighter with metal rods? I look at the man scared, but trying to keep it under control. He tells me to go to the bathroom and change; he already has an outfit for me. It is a black leather bustier and black leather panties with a whole. I change quickly and finish my drink. He tells me to lie on the bed and proceeds to chain me up then starts whipping me, burning me almost like he is branding me and cutting me while he is thrusting into me with such force I think I may break. I don't cry though. I try not to let the pain show on my face and this seems to bother him so he becomes more violent. By the time he is through I am bleeding and bruised and can barely walk. I get back into my dress from before and am driven back to the training center. Blood coming out of my cuts and whelps. I am sore and black and blue and have horrendous burn marks from my branding yet refuse to let Snow think he has broken me.
When I walk in I see Cinna and Johanna and Finnick and Haymitch all sitting around like they are waiting for me. When Cinna notices me walk in he lets out a slight gasp and rushes to me. "Katniss! What happened?" he asks.
"What does it look like happened, just a normal Snowy picnic." I reply sarcastically.
"Oh My God!" I hear Johanna yelp. "These are the times I am almost happy to have no one." She gives me a smile of respect. Haymitch is just staring at me fuming and seething and Finnick just gives me a knowing smile.
Cinna looks me in the eyes curiously, "You haven't been crying or screaming. There is no sign of red blotches or red eyes." He states. I glare at him and he realizes, I won't let Snow break me. He comes to hug me but I back away. I can't stand to be touched right now my body is killing me. Haymitch has collapsed back on the couch drinking and tears are coming out of his eyes. I walk over to him take his drink and chug the rest. He looks at me and very quietly tells me he loves me. With that I grab his hand even though mine are bloody and swollen and pull him to my room. He washes me and cleans out my cuts and puts a cream all over my body that Cinna had brought in to heal me of all my inflictions overnight.
We lie in bed, my head on his chest and he is running his hands through my hair. We don't speak, we just rest. The next three nights go the same before we can leave the Capital. Cinna takes pictures of me before I leave and when I get back, I guess as evidence if anyone ever needed it. I can't see why they ever would though. I can't wait to get on the train and head home. Haymitch sleeps with me in his arms every night on the train, much to everyone else's dismay. We haven't really spoken other than a few "I love you's" and a couple "Does that hurt?" while he is trying to help my wounds.
I am so mad and sad at the same time. I want to be black out drunk, but know I need to stay sober for her. She is amazing. Every night has been the same thing, yet she has not cried once. She is much stronger than anyone thinks. I know she is making sure Snow knows he's not going to break her. I had Cinna take before and after pictures after the first night. I wanted them as evidence. Every night is the same though she leaves and so does Finnick then Cinna, Johanna and I stay and wait for them to arrive. Finnick always arrives before her and you can see the heartbreak in his eyes along with admiration for her stoic strength. He really admires her for not letting Snow see her broken, even back at the training center she doesn't show the pain I know she should. Johanna has the same look of admiration, which is hard to get from her. Cinna has the same look as Finnick. I on the other hand only have rage, not at her, but at the Capitol, at Snow.
I am so happy when we get on the train and are on our way home. Effie is being a nightmare. She is so mad and doesn't understand what a grown man would be doing in bed with that child. I tell her she has no idea what is going on, but for some reason I decide to tell her in the one place in the train that isn't bugged, her room. I guess the Capitol isn't worried about her undying allegiance. I show her the pictures, but I leave out the part about mine and Katniss's feelings. She calms down and seems so sad for Katniss. She had no idea, but I convince her to leave Katniss alone, let her recuperate. She agrees and does everything she can to keep everyone else out of our hair as well.
When we get off the train there is a crowd there to greet her. She is holding my hand and looking tired. I see her mother and Prim running to greet her. At the sight of Prim she lets go of my hand and rushes to hug her. She winces a little at the pain, some of her bruises, sore muscles and a few burns are still there. Not terribly visible, but the pain must be deep. Prim has gotten bigger she is more curvy than Katniss, I guess because she takes after her mother and Katniss has always made sure she was fed better. She is also now as tall as Katniss; that she got from her father. Katniss got only her mother's height and some curves, nothing else. Soon her "cousins" are coming to greet her and she winces slightly when they hug her. Gale is the only one to notice and he raises his eyebrow at me. I just shake my head. I'll let her tell him if she wants to.
During the welcome back feast in the town, people started gossiping about the news reports from the Capitol about the different "dates" Katniss went on. I can tell most of the people from the Town are looking down on her thinking she is nothing more than Seam trash. Only the baker seems to stand up for her and Darius the peacekeeper. The people from the Hob and the Seam seem to know better. They know Katniss. When we return home my house is immaculate. I look at Katniss and she says, "It is a surprise. I had Gale's mother, Hazelle, cleanup while we were gone and had Beetee check for pests." (Pests or bugs are in all of the victor village houses and around the districts. If you're nice enough Beetee will come and make sure they malfunction.) She says with a smile. I look at her and pull her into me and whisper into her hair how much I love her. I can feel her smile against my chest. Her mother is glaring at us now. "Katniss, darling I think we should say goodnight to Mr. Abernathy, I'm sure he has things he would like to do other than watch after you." Katniss's mother calls.
"Okay Mother, whatever you say." With that she quickly and discretely kisses my chest and goes to her own house.
Later that night I hear my door open. Katniss comes in and comes over to the couch, where she takes my hand without saying a word and pulls me up and leads me to our bedroom. I know I say our bedroom, but as much time as she sleeps in it is our bedroom even before the tour. When we get to the room she turns to me and looks at the ground, "Haymitch will you ever want me again after the things I had to do to keep my family safe?" she asks this in such a quiet timid voice I could barely hear her.
"Of course. How could I not? You are so much braver and stronger than I was." She looks at me so I continue "You did what you had to, to save your family and you did it without letting Snow think he had broken you. I didn't. I thought I could fight Snow and everything would be fine. Within two weeks everyone I loved was gone. The same thing happened with Johanna. You, you and Finnick you don't let Snow he has won. You play his sick game and still stand strong just so the people you love can continue living." She blinks away the first tear I have seen since before the Victory Tour. I wouldn't have thought any less of her if she had cried every night when she would get back to our floor, but she didn't and it only made me think more of her, if that's possible.
With that she ran into my arms, "I love you Haymitch…I just wish I could explain to my mother and maybe I could move in with you. I can't sleep there because I don't want to wake them with my nightmares and you help keep them away. Plus I love you and feel so lonely over there. My mom and Prim are looking at me differently even more than after the games. They have lost their respect in me." I will find away to make that at least better.
The next day while Katniss was out hunting I went over to her house. I had the pictures in my hand and sat her mother down to have a talk.
"Look, I know you have never liked me, but there are some things you need to hear and accept. No fighting. No yelling. No cursing the powers that be. Do you understand?" She looks back at me with terror and hatred in her eyes, but she nods in assent. So I continue. "There are things you heard about while Katniss was in the Capital, yes?"
"Yes, how could you let her? Aren't you at least supposed to pretend you care? You pretend enough here?"
"I do care more than I think you realize. I didn't let her do anything. She did them to protect you and Prim and that 'cousin' of hers." She has a wide eyed look in her pale blue eyes now with complete terror as what I am saying is sinking in.
"But who would make such a young girl? Oh God! What has happened?" She is on the verge of another break down. I grab her and force her to look at me now.
"You have to stay here with Prim, you have to stop looking at Katniss with those eyes that say 'I know what you have done'. And if I show you something you have to promise to never let her know I said anything to you. She is already humiliated enough and will continue to be until she is too old. She will need her family's unconditional support. Do you understand?"
She sigh, "Yes. I do. I feel so stupid to think Katniss would be like that. I was just so afraid she had turned into another Finnick Odair."
I looked at her with disgust. "You have no idea how much she has turned into Finnick and if I were you I would be worshiping the ground they both walked on." She gives me an astonished look, then I think she realizes Finnick is in the same boat as her daughter. "These are pictures of your daughter before she left on her 'dates' and when she came back. There were four real 'dates' but I only had Cinna take pictures after the first one when I realized how bad it was. The 'date' with Finnick was a favor he did her so her first time wouldn't be like these times." I leave out that I was her first, I'm already pretty sure I am scarring the woman even more no need to add salt to the wounds. I show her the pictures and she weeps.
After a while she stops and looks at me with apologetic eye, "I am so sorry if I made your homecoming and living worse by shunning you. I had no idea these were the things that happened." I just nod. I take the pictures back and go back to my house.
When I get home from hunting, my mother is waiting for me. She gets up slowly with a look of joy and sorrow and pride in her eyes and gently hugs me. Which is fine since my body still aches. Then without a word she fixes me lunch and tells me about her new apothecary store. She tells me about what I missed the two weeks I was gone. About Gale, Hazelle, Posy, Vick and Rory. She tells me about the crush Prim and Rory have on each other. She is returning to my mom, no more judgment in her eyes.
That night when I head back over to Haymitch's house, I sneak in as quietly as possible and lightly lay a kiss on his lips. He jumps up with a start. Panicked at first then when he realizes it's just me he smiles then pulls me on top of him. I whisper, "Thank you" in his ear and he just looks at me skeptically.
"For what?" he asks.
"For whatever you did to make my mom stop judging me." I say with a slight smile. He pulls me in for a kiss and we make love. For me I don't associate what the people in the Capital did to what Haymitch and I do. That was torture this is pleasure and if I am only allowed one pleasure, I am happy this is it.
Just before we fall asleep he whispers, "I love you Sweetheart."
And I say "Me too" and we fall asleep contentedly. Good thing I normally am out of the house before anyone wakes up because this was the first time I have ever slept in and they would have noticed I wasn't there otherwise.
Gale comes to see me after the mines the next day. He has so many emotions in his eyes. I am not quite sure what he is thinking or why he is here. I am just glad he is.
"Hey Catnip" He says very friendly, like old times.
"Hey Gale" I say slightly tired still from my trip to the Capitol. He goes to give me a hug, but when he hugs, he hugs a little too hard and I accidentally cry out in pain. He gives me a sorrowful look.
"What's the matter? Are you hurt? Did I hurt you?" He is slightly panicked now.
"No, just some left over things from my recent trip." I say hoping he doesn't ask anymore questions.
"Katniss, What aren't you telling me?" I had forgotten how well he knows me and can almost read my mind.
"Nothing, look it's really nothing. Do you want something to eat or drink?" I ask trying to change the subject. His mood has changed though, he is getting angry. But he accepts the offer of food and drink and we sit at the kitchen table while he eats.
"I guess I shouldn't ask about the 'dates' in the Capitol?" He asks.
"Gale," I start, "I don't want or need you to have another reason to hate me or want to stir up trouble. I am doing everything I can to protect you and my family. All I will tell you is that I did not let them see break. Ever. Not until I got home did I show any emotion to it." I look at him and narrow my eyes. He looks like he has something to say, but whatever it is, he decides against it.
"Do you want to go hunting on Sunday morning?" He asks and I agree to meet him at our spot. Soon he leaves and I go to shower and then head to Haymitch's. When I get over there, before I even walk in, I hear voices arguing. I stoop below the window and glance in. I see Gale and Haymitch screaming at each other. I start to listen very carefully.
The Boy comes over after I see him leave Katniss's house. He looks mad. He pounds on my door and when I go to open it he is already yelling accusations at me.
"Why the hell did you let her do that? She is in physical pain and I can she is tired from stress. What the hell happened?" He is screaming.
"Nice to see you too, oh yes, why don't you just come in and start screaming at me about things you knew about!" I yell back. He looks back at me almost taken aback that I had yelled back at him or had known he knew. He tries to calm down some.
"What happened to her?" He says still seething but trying to keep it in line.
"What do you think happened?" I reply
"I think they physically hurt her even though I can't see any marks on her face or hands. Its winter so she is wearing winter clothes so I can't see if she is hurt somewhere or what is hurting her. She winced when everyone hugged her when she got off the train and when I hugged her when I saw her now she let out a yelp. I just don't know. I just want so badly to take her and run away." I feel pity for the boy. He is hopelessly in love with her and she just isn't and she has too much pride to tell anyone what happened to her. I guess she is afraid if she speaks out then Snow will go after her family and then all of this would be pointless.
"Look boy," I continue trying to be calm and seeing this from his point of view, not one of a victor but as a loved one. For some reason telling him is harder than telling her mother. "I am going to show you something, and if you don't at least try to keep your cool, I will make sure you know nothing again. Do you understand?" He nods in agreement. So I show him the pictures the before and after ones. He looks like he is in physical pain and can feel each of the marks as if they are on his own body.
"How could you let them do this to her?" He asks doing his best to stay calm.
"I tried to get Snow to let me take her place, I tried really. I went to him and begged. He just laughed at me. I wouldn't do it when I was first a victor. I didn't have her or Finnick Odair's courage. I thought I could scoff at the Capitol and tell them "no" and everything would be fine. That they would just go away and give up. But they didn't and within two weeks of my return, my whole family and girlfriend were killed. So when I went into Snow to beg him to let me take her place he just laughed at me." I say dejectedly.
"Why would someone do this to her?"
"Because the people in the Capitol are cruel." I state this very matter-a-factly. He looks at me like a beaten down puppy.
"Is there anything I can do?" He asks.
"Just be there for her when she needs it. And keep the fire in your eyes and heart, I see great things for you later on." I pat him on the back and walk him to the door. When I opened it we saw Katniss standing there looking mad as hell and hurt. She started to yell at us.
"What the hell is wrong with you two? YOU!" She looks at me like she could kill. "Why would you show those pictures to him? They are embarrassing, I didn't want him to see me beaten! And YOU!" She is now facing the boy. "Where do you get off blaming him? He has done nothing but be there for me!"
"I'm so sorry Catnip," Gale starts, "I just wanted to know why you were so hurt and why nobody was protecting you and you had to protect everyone else. And you wouldn't talk to me. I knew you were hiding something but you wouldn't tell me and all I want to do is help you." She is calming some and he can see it. He goes to walk past her and out the door, he leans down and gives her a kiss on the cheek and says bye.
"Well what's your excuse?" She hisses at me, "How many people have you shown the most embarrassing thing I have to?" She feels betrayed, but I was only doing it to make her life easier with her family and friend.
"I'm so sorry Sweetheart," I give her my most sincere face before I continue, "I didn't mean to embarrass you. That was not my intention at all. I just showed your mother and Gale and Peeta's father when he came by and wanted to know why his son's love was being sold in the Capitol, he is far more savvy than I gave him credit for. I didn't mean to hurt or betray you, I just wanted your time at home to be better for you without people looking at you like you were trash, because you are not trash you are the world to me." She sighs then walks in the door and leans into me chest. I kiss the top of her head and run my fingers through her hair as she just stood there shaking from all the energy and emotions spent.
In bed that night she turned her head slightly and asks, "Why do they come to you and yell at you about what I have to do?"
"Because Sweetheart, they think I should be protecting you and they are angry with me that I don't do more for you."
"You did! You did more for me than they know. You talked to Snow. You sacrificed yourself for me. You were there for me without any judgments, which is more than any of them can say." I just chuckle and thank her for her kind words. She really has no idea what I have done for her even before the games, but I will never tell her and hurt the pride she feels at the fact she was able to provide for her family. And she has no idea what I will continue to do for her, if I am able. As if she has taken all that in, she looks at me so seriously, "Why didn't you just let me die in the arena? Some else would have been better at this. Maybe they would have less to protect or loose."
"Sweetheart, before the games even started Snow had already decided his victor. Even if I tried to kill you, it wouldn't have worked, He has other plans. I am so sorry you are so hurt though." I sigh as I feel as though I will never be enough.
She looks at me again with a slight smile, "Haymitch, even though I think it would be easier sometimes, I wouldn't trade it for what I get to have with you, even if it can never be fully free from burden."
"I love you Sweetheart." I smile into her hair.
"I love you too." She hums as she falls to sleep.
The Quarter Quell Announcement
I am sitting at Haymitch's when the Quarter Quell announcement starts. President Snow starts by saying, "For the third quarter quell to show the rebels even the strongest amongst them cannot take down the Capital, there will only be one tribute from the existing pool of victors."
"What the hell?" I am screaming. Haymitch is just sitting there looking dumbfounded and well like he could kill the world. I go to the kitchen and grab some white liquor. I get two glasses and pour the liquid in both to the top then take them and the remainder of the bottle to where Haymitch still sits. I hand him his glass and then start drinking mine down, it burns but its helping. Haymitch just takes his and drinks it all back in one big gulp. By now the phone is ringing but neither of us moves. I pour another drink in both glasses and we just sit and drink, not sure what to do. Finally we fall asleep in each others arms.
After the initial shock wore off we decided we should start training, like the Careers. We get up every day and train. When Gale can he helps us, he teaches us about snares better and will also help us with our knife skills. He says mine are almost perfect now. We work out everyday and I have pretty much just moved myself into Haymitch's house. Since we work out so much and I sleep there now (no one has said anything yet) I just decided to keep my clothes there as well. We have also been much more showing of our affections. Not so much in front of Gale, but we hold hands in public and he will kiss my head or cheek or hug me in public too. It is hard for me because I have never been good with affection, private or public, but with Haymitch it just feels right. People have noticed, but no one seems to talk about it. We get glances, but I guess people think it's just a close mentor victor relationship so I don't crack up.
Quarter Quell Reaping
Well there are only two choices of which victors can go into the arena, me or my love. Since the announcement we have been told that there will be no volunteering allowed. I finally came out of my trance a few days after the announcement and was on the phone with Plutarch, who has assured me my name won't be called. "Why the hell not?" I yell over the phone. "What Snow and you just want to watch her suffer even more at the hands of the Capitol?" I know she would suffer probably more if she had to mentor me, partly because she would die watching me die and because Snow would make sure she was busy with other engagements as well.
Plutarch just chuckles, "In do time I will let you, not now." I know he is up to something and it probably has something to do with the rebellion. Katniss and I stand there, the only two in the tribute area, waiting for freaking Effie Trinkett to just get on with it. I am holding Katniss, openly in public. We started showing more affection after the announcement, since who the hell cares anymore. We only have a little time left together so we may as well live it the way we want.
Her mother finally confronted us about it, but doesn't seem too opposed. Yeah at first she threatened my life, but then Katniss took her away and I guess explained what was going on. Her "cousin" just glares at me. Katniss has had four more trips to the Capital since the Tour. I accompany her there and each time is the same.
So we stand here and I know which name is going to be drawn and all I can think about is the perfect creature in my arms who has had to deal with so much in the last year and will be sent back into the games.
"Good Afternoon, District Twelve!" God Effie's voice is grating. "Happy Quarter Quell! This year's reaping is going to be different since there are only two names and only one can be chosen, we only have one bowl." I know that both of the slips say Katniss Everdeen.
"And our Tribute for the third Quarter Quell is… Katniss Everdeen!" Katniss lets go of me and starts to walk up. I follow her as I am now the mentor, again. "Let's give our wonderful Katniss a round of applause." Nobody does. Just like in her last reaping, everyone holds of the District Twelve sign of goodbye. Even the people from the Town think it is wrong to keep torturing her.
I guess Peeta's dad did a number on them. He had been so angry after his wife had started or continued to spread the rumors from the Capital about Katniss. He came to me and asked how I could let this happen. That's when I took him for a walk and showed him a few of the pictures I had as evidence. I guess he put two and two together because he didn't even ask for an explanation. He just left. Whenever he sees Katniss he always runs up to her and hugs her and asks if she would like anything special from the bakery. I know Katniss feels weird about it; she feels responsible for his son's death and thinks she should have just killed herself so Peeta could live. I tell her she had no choice it was already made for her and that Peeta wouldn't have been the same without her. She always just nods but looks so sad. Sometimes I think she would be more at peace if I had just let her die in the arena, I would be distraught, but she may at least have had some peace. Snow wasn't going to allow this though. I think his torture of her is also some how aimed at me too.
The Mayor goes over the Treaty of Treason just like every year and then Katniss is escorted to the Justice Building to say her farewells while Effie and I go to the Train and wait. Katniss has no fear in her eyes; she is again a stone wall, she will not let Snow think he has won.
When I am escorted to say my goodbyes, I am put in the same room as last year and wait for a few moments until my mom and Prim come in. Prim runs to me and pulls me into a strong hug. She is now a little taller than me and much meatier, but still my beautiful little sister who always looks so full of life. I on the other hand am a wisp of a girl; much stronger than her, but you'd never know it by looking at me and am full of death. I am almost a shell of a person. She is crying even though she knew it was a fifty-fifty shot. She makes me promise again that I will come home and I do. Mother looks at me and just hugs, no words need to be spoken this year. Gale comes in next he looks at me for a moment and the picks me up into a hug and tells me he knows I will make it home again. I just give him a reassuring smile and ask him to keep an eye on Prim. He agrees. After, I am taken to the train where Haymitch and Effie are waiting for me. I keep a stone face so no one will know I am scared. Once we get on the train Haymitch and I go to our room.
"How you holding up, Sweetheart?"
"Okay considering I just got out and have to go back in a year later."
"I know it sucks, but look at it this way, you have a much better chance than most of the other victors who have already become drunks and morphling addicts." He smirks.
"I'm going to shower" And as I turn to head to the bathroom, I turn back and give him my best seductive face, "You want to join?" I end with a wink. Before I can even turn back he is already undressed and is working on me. We have a very enjoyable shower and I think some of the other guest on the train may be worried I am having a nightmare because when we finish and are almost dressed Effie knocks on the door and tells me to wake up for dinner. I blush. Haymitch just chuckles and kisses my neck. The rest of the trip goes like this Haymitch and I enjoying each other and everyone else looking the other way. We watch the recaps of the reapings and I am pleased and scared when I see Beetee, Finnick, Johanna and Chaff are all tributes too. How can I kill these people, but I know I must to make it home.
When we arrive in the Capital, cameras are on me the second the train doors open. I put back on my stone face and am directed to the remake center where Cinna and my prep team are waiting. Because I have been back to the Capital so much since my last games that putting me back to beauty base zero only takes an hour. The prep team leaves and Cinna comes in and we have lunch and catch up. We don't talk about anything too personal as we don't want anyone in the Capitol to get too much information.
"Are you even going to ask what your costume will be this time?" He asks knowing I will just wear what I'm told.
"Well since I know you designed it I know it will be amazing." I say with a slight smile. He gets the bag and opens it. Inside is a dress that looks so sheer I am nervous. It looks like fire at the bottom and smoke rising up through my body. He helps me in it and makes me keep my eyes closed as he makes last minute alterations and does my hair and make-up. When he tells me to open my eyes, I look like I am standing in a fire. The dress is so sheer it doesn't look like I am wearing anything at all, just that I am the fire. In actuality I'm covered fairly well. My hair has some gray streaks and all Cinna did make-up wise was make my gray eyes pop. I look gorgeous. He takes my arm and as he is leading me out to where the chariots await he whispers in my ear, "Girl on Fire, more like Girl is the Fire." He then smiles at me and we go out.
Holy Shit! She looks amazing! Is she even wearing any clothes? I realize I am now staring and drooling, like a freaking school boy. I have to quickly look somewhere else. In the Capitol I can't let the public know our feelings, it's too dangerous.
"Well…?" She asks as she spins with a smirk on her face. She knows me all too well because she knows the thoughts that were just running through my mind.
"You've been standing too close to the fireplace Sweetheart." I reply, "I think you finally caught on." I wink. Soon it is time for her to get in her chariot. This year is different for her, last year she had Peeta there to hold her hand, now she is on her own. She looks confident and has the Finnick seductive look she has picked up for survival. As the chariots go on I can hear the crowds reactions, but when her chariot pulls out every person in the capital goes insane. I see her on the big screens that are all around the Capitol, she is acting just like Finnick. It is funny how well she has adopted his mannerism for survival. She has a flirting smile and waves and blows kisses to the audience. She knows how to play them. I head back to the Training Center to wait for her.
Once we get back from our parade I see Katniss standing by her horse petting its mane. I had heard the crowd when she came out even before I saw her. When she showed up on the big screens around the City Center, I about fell out of my chariot. She took my breath away. The other victor/ tributes, especially the women, were looking jealous like they would kill her just for being her, even without the arena. I walk up to her; I can't keep my eyes off of her.
"I called you guys after the Quell announcement" I say in her ear from behind. She doesn't tense so I know she knew I was coming.
She turns and gives me a smile, "I know. I just didn't feel like talking about how I would have to kill you." God she knows how drive a person crazy. She looks at my outfit, which is really just a strategically placed golden net, "I like your outfit can I borrow it sometime?" She says this sarcastically and seductively, I don't know how she pulls it off. Damn, is her dress really see through or am I just wishing?
"Well…" I go to start pulling it off, "You can borrow it now if you'd like?" I give her a smile and she just places her hands on me.
"That definitely won't be necessary… Haymitch would kill you and then there would be one less person I would have to kill." About this time Johanna comes walking over.
"Well if it isn't earth, water and fire…now all we need is wind." Johanna is dressed like a tree. We all walk back to the Training Center and once we get inside Johanna takes off her tree costume in the lobby, "Ugh! I couldn't stand to be in it any more! I hate my stylist! I swear she is trying to suffocate me with trees!" Katniss and I just laugh at her we are used to seeing her walk around in public naked, it helps keep up her crazy act, well not much of an act but all the same. When the elevator stops at Johanna's floor, she starts to step out and asks, "So Finnick you going to go back down to YOUR floor after you make sure the girl on fire is safe or are you just going to stay up there all night make goo-goo eyes at her?" She gets off and I just blush.
Katniss is looking at me with a smirk on her face, "I guess the great Finnick Odair finally thinks someone other than himself is desirable."
"Well we are the same, two Capital sex slaves. If I was going to find someone else attractive I would hope they could at least be of my caliber." I say somewhat jokingly. She doesn't take offence to it which is nice. I remember when I first saw her during her games and seeing her blush when she was cleaning Bread Boy, thinking she was so pure and innocent. I guess a year as the most popular sex slave can take that away quickly. I have to say out of all the others they have tried this with she seems to be like me, she won't let them break her. They broke Johanna, but only after she refused and they took everyone from her. The games made Annie crazy so they really couldn't do much else to her. All the others victors ended up being morphling addicts or extreme alcoholics. She, like me, does it for love and won't let Snow know if he's broken her.
When we get off the elevator I see Haymitch standing there waiting for his precious girl. He looks nervous, but relaxed at the same time. I think he knows something. I guess he will fill me in later.
"Thanks for escorting her back Fish boy" He sneers "I think she would have been fine by herself if you had gotten off on your floor. What you just missed my personality so much you had to come see me?"
"Of course!" I respond mockingly, "I had to see how my favorite drunk was, since you don't seem to be taking calls recently."
"Well WE had better things to do than talk to boys about fish."
"So I've gathered. Like talk about ways to hook one right?" I say with a laugh and then we all start to laugh at how this life just sucks.
"Well Fish Boy you can look but don't you dare touch in the arena, you understand?"
"I would only dream of it." I respond with a wink.
With this Katniss turns and starts to walk away, "I'm going to take a shower boys, when I get back for dinner the negotiations on me better be done." She says with a sly smile. We both watch her walk away with the same stupid grins on our faces.
When she's out of sight Haymitch looks at, "In 9 hours meet behind a bee haven for a tutorial in the art of winning. And bring the tree. I've already informed nuts and volts and a few rotten drunks." We have to talk in some type of code. Translation: Meet at 7 at Plutarch's for a rundown on the rebellion and tell Johanna, the others will be there. He leaves Katniss out of it because she works much better when she doesn't have to think about anything else but survival.
"Well we are all here like you asked, Plutarch, now tell us you're mastermind plan." I bark. A little annoyed I had to stop holding Katniss to be here.
"WE, Haymitch, are going to rescue those victors from the arena, especially Katniss. And it is everyone here's job to make sure she is safe from the career districts and those not on our side. She will probably not want to make any alliances since her last two were killed in front of her. So Finnick you will have to do something to make sure she knows she can trust you and that's what Haymitch wants her to do. She and Haymitch had a remarkable way of communicating, the last games was riveting."
"Okay, we can work on that, but how will we get her be with the rest of them?"
"Well I will show her the chink in the new force field in the training center." Says Beetee. Yes this will gain her interest.
"Well she is the reason I had it put in, I don't need to fall into anymore punch bowls." Plutarch says will laughing.
Ignoring his interjection, Johanna states, "I will stick with Volts here and make sure she get him so she knows I'm good too."
"The rest of you just stay far enough away so she doesn't see you as an immediate threat or starts to get suspicious that something is going on." I finish.
"The only thing I will tell you about the arena is that there will be one tree that will be hit by lighting every twelve hours. I will make sure there is enough wire for you, Beetee, to be able to electrify the force field. Make sure you all stay somewhat close as we will not have enough time to grab you if you are too far apart and make sure you take the trackers out of your arms." Plutarch concludes and we all leave to go back to the Training Center in different directions of course.
The rest of the time before the games goes fast and without too much incident. Since Katniss and I started training before the games with her "cousin" and training wasn't mandatory, we all just spent our time hanging out. Katniss had learned a few new skills during training she honed her knife skills, learned how to use a trident and spear and tie knots, thanks to Finnick (damn Fish Boy putting his hands on her any chance he gets), and explored the edible plant section.
When it was her time to show the gamemakers what she could do she tied up a dummy with a noose and using red berry paint wrote Seneca Crane to look like blood then she shot an arrow through the noose and it unraveled and the dummy fell to the ground she left before being dismissed…again. Sometimes I think she just wants to piss people off for the fun of it, without thinking of the consequences. I wonder what her score will be this time. When we were watching the scores we saw that most of the other younger victors got around 7 or 8 Finnick got a 10, but Katniss got a 12! She got a perfect score. That is going to make it tougher this time around as the other victors, for the most part stayed the same or went down.
During the interview Katniss shined, she was sarcastic but sincere, sexy yet sweet like a child all at the same time. But that is her, perfect.
I am shaking as I am lifted to the surface. I just watched Cinna be taken and beaten and I was locked in the tube. It's bright out and shiny. I look around a bit confused then it registers. It's a freaking ocean! Thank God I can swim. As soon as the buzzer sounds I am in the water swimming to the cornucopia. I don't care if it's best for me to go the other direction, I need a weapon. I see a gold bow and quiver and grab them along with a belt of knives. I have my bow at the ready and am getting ready to look at the other side to see if there is anything but weapons when I see him coming at me. He is smiling at me when he says, "Good thing we're allies right?" I pause just for a second when I see the guy from two gaining on Finnick with a knife I tell Finnick to duck and shoot an arrow into two's heart. He falls. It's the first cannon of the games.
"Right!" I respond impatiently.
"Duck!" He yells and he throws his trident at the guy from five who was coming behind me. The second cannon sounds. We look around for another minute and decide we have all the weapons either of us needs. I'm not sure how long this little alliance will last, but I know it's what Haymitch wants since Finnick is wearing Haymitch's Mockingjay bracelet. We swim to the shore where there is a jungle just past a beach. We start running in. When we finally stop I tell him I will go up a tree and see what we're dealing with. I scurry up to the top within a minute and am looking out; I see the cornucopia and there are already 5 dead, that's almost half of us. But I do not see any fresh water source. When I come down soon after Finnick is smiling at me,
"So see anything useful girl on fire?"
"No. 5 are dead so that's good I suppose, they really want these games to end quickly. There is no fresh water source that I could see. I'm going to hunt, since they didn't give us food at the cornucopia either." With that I take off and immediately find a small rodent scurrying up a tree I get it right in the eye, when I grab it I notice its mouth is went and search within a short radius for water, nothing. I bring it back to Finnick where I skin it and prepare it to eat. I notice the chink in the force field and since I don't want to start a fire, as not to bring attention to us, I chop up the meat and throw it at the force field.
Finnick looks at me surprised, "How did you know?"
"I saw the chink. Beetee had pointed them out to me in the training center." I say. He just laughs and we eat. We continue to walk along the perimeter of the force field, still searching for water. We finally decide to set up camp, when a small silver box and white parachute fall to the ground. Inside is a spile. I remember using these with my dad sometimes to get syrup out of the trees. Then it dawns on me we can probably get water out of the trees as well.
"Weave us some cups." I tell Finnick and he carefully and quickly does. When he finishes he follows me. I have the spile in the tree and just got water to pour out slowly. I take one of the bowls and put it under to collect the water.
Finnick is watching amazed, "You really were born to survive?" He states in wonder.
"Well we all can't have cushy District four lives, now can we?" I say back a bit sarcastically. After we have had our fill of water I remove the spile and we head back to our camp. Finnick takes the first watch and I fall asleep fast dreaming about the people I've killed. Without Haymitch's arms around me the nightmares are worse. Soon I hear Finnick hushing me back to sleep. He has me propped up in his lap my head on his chest. He is running his hand my hair and telling me everything will be alright.
Once I'm fully conscious I pull away, "I'll watch now, you sleep." I say. He just looks at me with a little sorrow but nods his head in agreement. He has only been asleep for an hour when I see a fog rolling in. I shout at him to wake up and run. We grab all of our stuff and take off quickly. It takes a while until we get to the beach and some of the fog has touched us leaving slight burns and numbness where it touched. I run into the water to wash it off and as I feel the poison leave my body I sigh. Finnick follows me and soon we are both feeling better. My original outer layer of clothes was so thin the fog destroyed it. I am now in only a thin, tight, white tank top and short white shorts. Finnick is only in the short white shorts. I feel very vulnerable but it's better than nothing at all.
We are sitting at the edge of the water when another silver box and parachute drops. Haymitch must see me itching because he sends a green cream that calms the itch immediately. "Here" handing Finnick the cream, "It helps the itching."
"Thanks. I guess our combined sponsors can really get us some good stuff." He winks at me and smiles. I just roll my eyes.
We are getting some oysters out of the water and getting ready to eat when I see Johanna and someone else I can't quite make out walking up. I immediately grab my bow and aim. "Stop!" I hear Finnick yell "They're with us. It's Johanna and Beetee."
"Oh!" I hold my bow down to my side. When they come up they are covered in blood but don't seem to have any visible marks.
"Well I brought Beetee to you, so I guess now can we be allies?" Johanna asks annoyed.
"Yeah, I guess but we are all that's left, I think" I respond nervously, "Did anyone else die?"
"Yes two more died district 10 and 8." Beetee responds coolly, he must have known them. "So we are pretty much all that's left." He ends.
"Well unless you don't count the arena as the enemy then you are right." Johanna looks at me peevishly.
"I have a plan" Beetee pipes in, "There is a tree that has been struck by lightening twice in twelve hours now. If we can get back to it and some how electrocute the areas around it we may be able to stop some of the other tortures." This sounds like a plan. So when we head toward the tree and I get hit in the head hard I think they are turning against me. Then Johanna is on top of me cutting into my arm. Soon I'm left alone… I think. I start running towards the tree to find Finnick and Beetee; I figure they must have all run off because they know Johanna is a sociopath. When I get to the tree I see Beetee passed out holding a knife with some wire wrapped around it. I know the lightening will come soon and then I see the chink in the force field. I take the wire from the knife tie it to my arrow and very painfully load the bow. Right when the lightening strikes the tree I shoot my arrow at the force field. When it hits there is an explosion and I get knocked back, before I pass out I hear Finnick calling my name
I don't know how such a young girl can figure out these solutions and what people want from her so quickly but she does and not a minute too soon. We are able to get her, Beetee, Johanna and Finnick out. Unfortunately Chaff was taken by the Capital. He won't talk so I'm not worried. She is still unconscious and we have her body recovering like when you go back to the Capitol after the games, so she won't have a huge scar where Johanna cut into her skin. They all went under the treatment. Johanna, Finnick, Beetee, Plutarch and my self are sitting around a table outside of her room talking about what happened in Twelve. Suddenly we hear a scream and I know she has woken up. I go into her room and she is shaking. "Sweetheart?" I ask, "You are safe I have you." I am holding her now. I hope she knows it's me.
"Did I win?" She asks, "Did I kill them all?"
"No Sweetheart, no you didn't, we got you out. Why don't you get dressed and eat and then we can explain what happened." I tell her. I want other people around when we tell her this was all planned. She may kill me. A few minutes later she comes out to the table, sits down and I hand her a plate of food.
"Well?" She looks at all of us with her eyebrow raised. We tell her about the Rebellion, District Thirteen and finally District Twelve. For the first two she seems to understand. I can tell she isn't happy that she is the Mockingjay, the symbol for the rebellion, the reason it's started. She feels used, just like she did in the Capitol. But she at least feels like it's for something good so she may not kill us all before we get to District Thirteen. It's when we tell her about District Twelve when she has her meltdown. She isn't crying but there is a savage panic in her eyes, like all she has done is a waste, because they ended up dead anyway.
"Did anyone survive? Mother? Prim? Gale?"
"Yes." I tell her, "I was able to get in touch with Gale in time to get as many people out as possible. They are in Thirteen now.
"How about Peeta's family?" She asks somewhat hesitantly.
"Gale was able to convince his father and brothers, but his mother refused to leave with some Seam trash, her words not mine." She seems to calm some, but there is still a lot of pain and what looks like guilt in her eyes. I hope she isn't blaming herself for the bombing and innocent people's deaths.
"Oh. Okay. Can I see it?" she asks shyly after a few minutes.
I look at Plutarch who agrees a quick visit will be okay. When we reach Twelve it looks obliterated. The only thing that still stands is our houses in the Victor's Village. She runs in and grabs a couple of bags of clothes, her hunting gear, a photo of her family, a family plant book, her sisters cat and some bottles of alcohol. She comes back onto the hovership and looks like she at least feels triumphant, like she at least got a few things to ease her mind. She didn't go to the Seam, she wouldn't even know where to start to look for her and the boy's houses, it is completely flat.
When we land in Thirteen her family and "cousins" and what's left of Peeta's family are waiting for her. They rush her with hugs and kisses. Her "cousin" picks her up and spins her around in a hug, which pisses me off, then he grabs her face and kisses her, which makes me see red. I hold it together as I see her push him off. She looks pissed too. He just walks away, head low. I think he was hoping since now that they are "free" she would fall for him, that maybe she was just holding out because she didn't want him to get hurt by Snow.
President Coin, the leader of District Thirteen shows us around. When we get done with our tour Katniss takes my hand and asks, "Can we go to sleep?"
I look at her, "Well I don't think your mother will want you sleeping in my room as you are only seventeen."
"So, didn't stop us before when I was only sixteen." She says defiantly. I sigh and shake my head no. "Fine maybe Finnick will sleep next to me then!" She hisses at me. I am angry now. I grab her arm and hold it tightly. I know I'm hurting her because I can see the wince in her eyes.
"Don't even try and play games with me Sweetheart. You will go sleep in your room with your mother and Prim. If you still want to stay in my room after tonight YOU will tell your mother." I let go of her slightly flinging her from me.
She turns to me pissed now. "You're one to talk about playing game! I have always just been a pawn for you and this rebellion. You don't love me. You just wanted me close so you could control me like Snow! At least Snow was up front about what he wanted me to do. HE never played this sick game of making me fall in love, then ripping it away!" With that she runs away down the hall. I feel sick. She is right to some extent. I kept her in the dark, but my feelings were real and still are.
I look for her at dinner, but don't see her. I look for her at breakfast but still no sign of her. By the time dinner rolls around again I'm pissed and worried, she has never gone this long without talking to me. Even in the games she always found ways to communicate with me.
"Have you seen Katniss?" I ask the table her family and the Hawthorne family sits.
"No." Says Gale. He stares at me coldly as if I'd taken his only means of surviving.
"She didn't go back to your room?" This time I direct my question to her mother and Prim.
"I haven't seen her since you guys landed." Prim answers and her mother just nods in agreement with Prim. I look around the dinning hall and notice Finnick is missing too. So I head to his room. He is being held near the hospital, in a special section, since he is not considered completely sane. When we got here we learned that Snow had bombed the hospital Annie was staying at and that she was gone. When I get to his room I walk in and see them sitting on the floor her drinking, him tying knots, neither saying a word. I clear my throat, but only Finnick looks up. Then he just gives me an evil sneer and puts his arm around Katniss and she falls into him.
"What the hell Fish Boy?" I am yelling now.
"How could you do that to her?" He yells back.
"Do what? To who?" I ask trying to see what he knows. He looks down at Katniss then back at me.
"How could you use her like that; make her fall in love with you then take it way? She said you didn't even argue that it wasn't true. If you won't treat her right I know I will. I know what my feelings for her are."
"What about Annie? Huh? I thought you were in love with her and she was the only one for you?" I know it's a low blow but I'm out to kill. I couldn't argue she ran away. He gets up now.
"Leave Annie out of this! You know I loved her with all my heart! You also know that love never went deeper than that of a sibling, much like Katniss loves Prim! You know Annie and I never had that sort of relationship, she was too sick." I start to force myself to calm down. I know I took it too far. I knew all of those things.
"I'm sorry, but when I saw you with MY girl, well I just lost it. I shouldn't have mentioned Annie." He is still upset but sits back down on the floor with Katniss, who has yet to say a word. He kisses the top of her head and whispers something in her ear. She shakes her head no.
"Please leave she wants nothing more to do with you." He says sadly.
"I can't!" I demand, "She never gave me the chance to argue. My feelings for her are real, nothing matters more to me than her. She is my world. Yes I may have been wrong in not telling her about the rebellion, but at the time I felt like she would be safest not knowing, incase it didn't work. They would figure out she didn't know anything and maybe let her go. Katniss I love you."
She looks up at me tears in her eyes, "Then why won't you let me stay with you?" she asks quietly.
"Because I was trying to do right by you and your family. What would they think?"
"I don't care what they think! I need you and I think my mom finally understood that before I left for the games, hence why she let me somewhat move into your house. Plus I haven't been a child since my father died, she can't tell me what to do because she wasn't there to be the parent to Prim and me, I was." I guess I never really thought of it that way.
"Alright Sweetheart, if that is what you really want who am I to argue. You can stay with me as long as you like, forever if I get a say." She looks at me a little hesitant and then rushes into my arms. Finnick just stares longingly at her and I know he wishes it was him instead of me, but longingly stares are much better than the death stares her "cousin" gives me.
Our days go on with her living with me. I attend planning meeting while she, Johanna, Finnick and Gale go through training. Beetee and Gale also work on weapons. Every night though, she is in my arms.
Haymitch stays behind at the bases so he can plan, but he is always in Katniss's ear. Katniss does propos with Finnick and Johanna while they are out fighting. President Coin originally wanted them to be staged but they all quickly agreed Katniss doesn't do well staged. She has too much passion to fake it. When they go to storm the Capital a bomb just like the one Gale and Beetee designed is going off and in the middle of it is Prim trying to help the other hurt Capitol children who were hurt during the first round. Katniss runs to her to try and save her but Finnick and Johanna hold her down as they see it is useless at that point. She is already engulfed in flames, head to toe. They shield Katniss's eyes so she can't see what is happening. Katniss is in shock and hasn't spoken in two weeks she lays in a large closet in her room in the President's mansion. Haymitch just watches her, sits in silence with her, and never pushes. He will update her on the things happening like how when President Snow's trial is done she will be his executioner. Or that she has visitors, usually, Johanna and Finnick, Gale has stopped by a few times, but Haymitch doesn't mention this as he knows it will just make things worse for Katniss.
After President Snow's trial, Katniss's prep team is brought in with an outfit Cinna had designed for this day. Actually, he had designed an outfit for every occasion for her for the next ten years before he was killed. They coax her out because she is going to kill Snow today. She knows Snow didn't set off the bombs that is was President Coin, but she hasn't said anything. When she is ready Gale comes to get her. He brings her bow and one arrow. For the first time in two weeks she speaks, "Was it your bomb?" she asks Gale choking on the words.
"We don't know, Beetee and me, well we think so, but what does it matter? You will always blame me. I know now that I have lost you as even my friend for good." He says this sadly. "Come on. You have a meeting before the execution, you too Haymitch" he calls back, "all living victors are requested."
When they enter the meeting room they see all the victors sitting around a table. President Coin starts to speak, "I have decided that the Capitol children should be put through the hunger games. I will give all of you a vote, which ever side wins out is what we will go with." The vote starts Beetee and Finnick say no. Johanna says yes. President Coin looks at Katniss, "and what does our Mockingjay say?"
"That just leaves you Haymitch." Coin continues
"I'm with my Mockingjay." He responds. Finnick and Beetee look upset and are asking how the three of them can be so cruel. Haymitch will always back up his girl, he can read her mind and already knows what she is planning, but he can't let the others know. Coin grins like she has won.
When it is time for Katniss to play her part, they bring her up to the balcony. President Coin is giving a speech and telling everyone about the new hunger games for the Capitol children. As this happens, Katniss loads and steadies her bow and then aims it at an almost dead Snow, when President Coin starts her part about the Mockingjay finally putting the Capitol to rest, Katniss lifts and tilts the arrow, letting it fly straight into the throat of President Coin. She falls off the balcony and dies, Snow soon joins her as he is laughing and choking on his own blood and tongue. He trips and falls down over the balcony as well dieing. Katniss is taken into custody. She tries to get her nightlock, but it is knocked out of her hand by Finnick who sees what she is trying to do. She screams for Gale to kill her, but he just walks away. She is sent to stay in solitary confinement in her old training center room. She refuses food and medicine. She lays in the bed almost unmoving for about a week, when she become delirious and starts to sing. It's hard at first then she gets her voice back.
After four weeks locked up, Haymitch comes to get her. When he opens the door she is barely alive but still singing under her breath. He takes her into the shower and cleans her. She still has yet to acknowledge him. Then he changes her clothes and carries her into the hovercraft. Inside the hovercraft sits Finnick, Johanna, Plutarch, Katniss and Haymitch. Plutarch tells her about her trial and how she is confined to district twelve for two years unless it is to see her doctor in the Capitol. She will be getting weekly calls which she will have to answer if she wishes to stay in district twelve. He tells her that she is being let go as she was not mentally sound after everything she has gone through, therefore cannot be held liable for her actions. He tells her that Haymitch is her guardian for the next two years. All she does is nod that she understands. Plutarch begs her to be on his new singing competition show but she just continually shakes her head no. Haymitch steps in and tell Plutarch to drop it. Plutarch gets off the hovercraft in district three.
The hovercraft takes the four of them to district twelve. When they get off and head towards home, Katniss looks at the three of them then asks, "Haymitch why are you my guardian? Where is my mom?"
He looks at her lovingly, "She said she couldn't handle coming back too many memories. She is going to live in district four and work in the new hospital."
"Oh." After a few minutes, "And Gale?"
"He got a military job in district two."
"Why are they here?" She points to Finnick and Johanna; it's not that she minded it just seemed odd. They understood.
"They have no one to go home to; they didn't want to live alone. They wanted to come with us. They will be living in your house, if that's okay and you can live in mine with me."
"Oh." That's the last thing she said for the rest of the night. Greasy Sae came over to cook dinner and they all talked, except Katniss who would nod or shake her head in response. That night after everyone had left their house; Katniss took Haymitch's hand and led him upstairs to their bed. She took off all her clothes and kissed him. It was their first real kiss since leaving district thirteen. He pulled her close and she started taking off his clothes as well. He stopped her hands and looked into her eye, "Are you sure this is what you want Sweetheart?" He asked. She looked at him with such fire in her eyes that he knew the answer. She continues to take off his clothes while he kissed down her neck. Once he was rid of his clothes too, he lifted her up and carried her to their bed. He gently laid her down and they made love all night. Before they fell asleep, Katniss asked, "Why would you take guardianship over me when even my own mother wouldn't? I know you have just as many painful memories here as she does. Plus you could have gone anywhere you wanted."
"Sweetheart, I took guardianship over you because you are my whole world, you are where I want to be. Yes it's true I do have painful memories here, but more recently, I have the happiest memories here too, because of you. Once the guardianship thing runs out, I want to marry, if you will have me?"
"Of course I will have you. I love you too." He kissed the top of her head and they fell asleep.
Months went by like this, Katniss wouldn't do anything or speak during the day to other people, but at night she would love Haymitch. She rarely spoke anymore, even to him; she let her actions towards him show how she felt. He understood. She started drinking some with him during the day to ease the pain of her memories. She would refuse phone calls except the mandatory ones from her doctor. Her mother called once. Gale called once a month and wrote letters too. She never took his calls or even opened his letters. She let Haymitch handle all of her correspondence. Sometimes she would go off into the woods for days at a time and Haymitch and Finnick would go out looking for her. She was finally broken. It broke both men's heart to watch her never cry, but always gone somewhere else as if she just left her body. Haymitch knew though at night she would come back to him and a small part of her would be back in her eyes as she looked at him lovingly. After about eight months she finally snapped out of her trance and when she woke up, showered her self, got dressed and went down to breakfast, the whole table of her friends just looked at her in shock. Then she spoke, "So what do we have planned for today?"
"Sweetheart?" Haymitch inquired, "You are dressed and talking."
"Yes it appears I am." She said with a small smile.
"Thank God!" Johanna starts, "I thought we were going to have to lock you up in some loony bin, but these two soft hearts wouldn't let me.
"Well what do you want to do?" Finnick asks with a smile, ignoring Johanna's comment.
"I think I want to go swimming." She replied. They all looked at her astonished, where could they go swimming in district twelve. She sensed their hesitation and told them to just get ready and meet her back here in twenty minutes. Haymitch was the first to come back into the kitchen.
"Sweetheart, where are we going? There isn't any place to swim in district twelve and you know you can't leave the district unless you are going to see your doctor. Are you sick do I need to take you to the doctor?"
"No Haymitch I'm fine. This morning I talked to Prim and Rue. They told me not to let them die in vain, that by me shutting down, I was wasting their deaths. I get it now. We are going to my favorite secret spot. My dad used to take me there all the time before the "accident"."
"Okay well do you need me to get anything else to brings, I have on my swim clothes under my normal ones, and a towel."
"Nope I have everything we need in these bags." She had her bow and sheath and her game bag and a bag with a blanket, towels and some other food. Haymitch grabbed the full bag off her shoulder and carried it for her. Johanna and Finnick walk in just in time to leave.
"What so we are trusting loony bin over here to take us somewhere we don't know with a bow and arrows?" She says this to the men as if they should be thinking the same thing. They both look at her then Katniss.
"Just trust her, she did lead a freaking revolution and freed us all from not one but two sadistic leaders." Finnick responded. Johanna huffed and rolled her eyes. She trusted Katniss like she trusted herself, which was very little, but more than anything else at the same time. Katniss took the lead and the three others followed. Finally they passed the meadow and went into the woods. Katniss turned around and told them to stay at the edge real quick while she ran up a tree. In about ten minutes Katniss had killed three squirrel and a rabbit, all shot right through the eye.
When she climbed back down and collected her game the other three were standing there dumbfounded at her skill. "Well I see you haven't lost your abilities, Sweetheart." Haymitch finally said.
"How the hell did you do that?" Johanna gawked at her.
"Well if I hadn't seen a preview of this in the quarter quell I wouldn't believe it." Finnick smirked.
"I thought you would like some meat for our lunch." Katniss said with a prideful smile. She actually looked at peace and happy out in the woods and the others saw it. They started walking this time Johanna and her in the front and the two men in the back.
"So…" Johanna started nervously, "Can you teach me how to hunt?" She finally asked.
"Sure, but are you sure you can trust to be alone with a loony bin like myself in the woods?" Katniss retorted teasingly.
"As much as you can trust a sociopath like me in the woods." Johanna said while holding in a laugh. The two girls laughed and were soon talking like they were old friends, which with all they have been through in the last two years they really were.
"So what do you think brought her back?" Finnick asked Haymitch.
"I don't know, but it is so good to see her alive again. Don't get me wrong I loved our nights and showers, but sometimes she was dead." Haymitch replied. "But don't get any ideas fish boy, she is mine still, you can't have her."
"Wouldn't dream of stealing her only happiness, you know we can hear you guys at night right?" Finnick said while laughing. Haymitch was blushing some now but was smiling at the thought that someone else knew he brought that perfect girl pleasure, even when she wasn't all there.
When they made it to the clearing their eyes went wide. She was standing in the middle of the clearing; there was a beautiful lake on one side and a small, old, one room house on the other side. She laid out the blanket and food and then went into the house and started a fire and then put the change of clothes and towels in there. When she stepped out she was in her bathing suite. "So are you three just going to stand there and gawk at my beauty or are you going to change and come swimming with me while I wait for the fire to get right before I cook us some lunch?" She said in her seductively sarcastic tone. With that Johanna was stripping right there in the clearing, leaving a trail of clothes behind her. Finnick was next and Haymitch followed shortly. That day was the first day they all started to really live again.
It's been three years since the war. Katniss and Haymitch got married the day the guardianship ran out. They are pregnant with their first child and for the first time in both of their miserable lives they are without a doubt happy. Johanna and Finnick got married a year after returning and are also expecting their first child. The baker and his sons came back to the district and rebuilt the bakery. The baker had tried to have a relationship with Katniss's mother in District Thirteen and after the war, but she was the shell of a woman he knew long ago. She was so filled with sadness and hate that he didn't even recognize her. When he had asked her once why she didn't take care of Katniss after the war she just looked at him and said she had no other daughter, this hurt him greatly especially after all the things Katniss had done since her father died to insure her and her mother's safety, he couldn't look at her anymore and decided to return home. Greasy Sae has rebuilt the Hob only now it's not illegal and more like a market place. She comes by Haymitch and Katniss's house twice a week for dinner with the four victors and occasionally the baker comes too. The fence to the woods was given a door so people could come and go as they pleased. Most people don't go outside the district just because they are scared. Katniss hunts almost everyday she brings meats and greens to Sae and drops some squirrel off to the baker, before taking the rest of the meat home to Haymitch and Johanna and Finnick.
She had started to teach them all how to hunt, but the only one who had her stealth was Johanna and the two pregnant women knew they wouldn't be able to hunt for much longer, so they taught the two men snares. Finnick was a natural and so they are quite content that they will be able to keep eating fresh game even when the two women are unable to hunt it. For the most part the four of them eat dinner together almost every night. The new government still pays them just to live, so none of them has a real need for money, but they all help out in the rebuilding of the district when they can. They live as normal of lives as they can and have little to fear. They all still have their nightmares, but they are getting better. Johanna and Katniss have become like sisters, each one replacing a small place in their heart for their families. They are all each other, the four of them, really has to call family.
Gale continues to live in district two and writes to Katniss every week. At first he was telling her how sorry he was and that he still loved her, but Haymitch saw to it that that stopped as it would only make her upset. She has started responding to his letters, at first just to tell him to stop and that she is with Haymitch, but he didn't stop. So now they write back and forth she only responds once a month, he still writes weekly. Haymitch doesn't mind. He sees it as healing for her. Her mother nearly had a stroke when Katniss actually married Haymitch, she did not attend the toasting and Katniss has not spoken to her since. Katniss doesn't really feel any loss over her mother, because she hasn't had one since the day her father died. Haymitch called once to tell her she would be a grandma, but she went a yelling spree and hung up. Later she wrote a very mean letter to Katniss blaming her for Prim's death and telling her she should have married Gale. Katniss never read the letter but Haymitch did and he burned it. He hated how weak her mother was and knew Katniss had inherited everything she is from her father, which Haymitch loved, because he probably wouldn't have fallen for that girl and she definitely wouldn't have sparked a revolution if she was anything like her mother.
Katniss's only fear right now is one day having to tell her child that it's mother and father and "aunt and uncle" are all killers. She fears the child will shun them and won't understand. Haymitch tells her they have years yet to worry about it. And this fact helps calm her some. He tells her that once the child hears the stories and studies the history in school, the child will have to feel nothing but pride in its mother. He wants the child to look and be everything she is. Peeta was her dandelion when she was eleven, offering her hope with the bread. Gale was her partner always backing her up and protecting her before the games. They were true equals then, everything was split and they were all each other had. But he changed during her games and more in the war. He was no longer thinking about others, he was thinking about revenge. She knew he wouldn't have ever let Prim go into the bomb and that he would rather die than hurt her, but he was full of fire just like her and when you have too much fire explosions happen. Haymitch was the very thing she needs. He is a rock that helps steady her but never pushes her one way or another. He can be hard and stubborn, just like her, but he can be cool and comforting. He is her world just like she is his and soon they will have something that will always be theirs.