Slowly, other refugees from District 12 find their way home, lost lambs to the fold. Names, faces I never thought I'd see again. Greasy Sae, Thom. Peeta and I, we realize we've been rebuilding for them. For the survivors. For their children.
Peeta bakes bread to feed first tens, then hundreds. Standing before windows wide, he sketches a new, sprawling town, purposefully drawing outside once restrictive lines. With chalk, he resurrects a town hall without a whipping post, a bakery to feed anyone, a market. Plans for a school where children will be taught the right lessons.
As one, the townspeople help craft his visions into reality. Even Haymitch helps, standing tall and proud, no longer in the grip of his former demons. Slowly, District 12 is reborn, rising from its ashes.
When life begins anew, when chimneys spew and babies wail and the surrounding earth sprouts green, we can no longer call this place, this home, by a number. I want to call it Sorrow, for that's how I feel. But Peeta wants Seed. The genesis of new life.
At the christening ceremony, the townspeople unanimously vote for the future rather than the past. For the first time, they don't follow the Girl on Fire. There is merriment on the streets of Seed.
"You and your tongue," I chide Peeta later. "You were always the persuasive one."
"And you were always the one," he says back, serious. Then, not so much. "Also, don't pretend that you don't love my tongue."
Even now, he makes me blush.
Years pass, and even Prim comes back, now a woman, holding hands with a fellow Healer from District 4. District 12 has not been the same without a Healer Everdeen.
I'm unable to have children. Prim's not sure, but she guesses that it was the tracker jacker venom. Me, him, both, we don't know. Peeta quietly mourns, but I understand.
This world is not a place for children.
When Prim announces that she's expecting, our attention shifts from my private burden to her joyous one. When he arrives, her tow-headed boy looks like just the type to throw burnt bread to a starving girl.
Of course, in this world—the world we've made—we'll never know if he would.