AN: Hey everybody:) thanks for all the lovely reviews, and especially for all the supportive ones, I appreciate it so much, you guys rock. So here's Katniss' latest chapter, with the extra special surprise I mentioned before:) hope you guys like it! As always, enjoy, and review if you please.
"Here I am, a rabbit-hearted girl
Frozen in the headlights
It seems I've made the final sacrifice
We raise it up, this offering
We raise it up
This is a gift, it comes with a price
Who is the lamb and who is the knife?
Midas is king and he holds me so tight
And turns me to gold in the sunlight
I look around, but I can't find you (raise it up)
If only I could see your face (raise it up)
Instead of rushing towards the skyline (raise it up)
I wish that I could just be brave
I must become a lion-hearted girl
Ready for a fight
Before I make the final sacrifice…"
-Florence + the Machine
"Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)"
Katniss darts through the woods, praying the knife Clove threw to her (at her) wouldn't dislodge. The sixty seconds on the platform had felt like a lifetime, but the amount of time it took for her to get to the backpack, fight with the boy, and run into the woods, had felt like eons. Katniss spots a blur of color out of the corner of her eyes, but before she can react, they collide.
She lands with a heavy thud and scrambles backwards, reaching for the knife and wishing for the bow and arrows from the Cornucopia. She sags and releases the handle when she sees that it's Marissa. The other girl gives her a tentative smile and Katniss returns it. Without a word, the other girl stands and darts off into the woods.
Katniss stands and goes the opposite direction; it's better this way. No allies, no one to care about, (no one to cry over when they die, no one to stab in the back).
She keeps running and running until she's finally feels that she's far enough away and then she drops to her knees. She heaves for air carefully, trying to keep from looking too desperate, in case anyone is watching. When she finally catches her breath, she pulls of the backpack—colored an unfortunate shade of orange, and finally pulls out the knife. She smiles faintly at its serrated blade, and sets it aside to examine the contents of the backpack.
A sleeping bag, crackers, dried beef strips, a bottle of iodine, sunglasses, a coil of wire, a box of matches, and an incredibly dry water container. The contents are decidedly useful, and maddeningly simplistic. And would it have hurt them to fill the water bottle? With a sigh, Katniss begins to repack the bag absentmindedly. She's trying not to think about Clove and Cato and Peeta and wondering if they're alive or dead, but she does anyway, and it only makes her feel sick to her stomach.
She knows Cato and Clove know what they're doing, they've trained for this all their lives after all, but she knows how quickly someone can die in the bloodbath, years of watching has taught her that it only takes a well-placed blow to take even a Career of Clove or Cato's caliber down. But despite Peeta's size and strength, he is a kind person at heart. She doesn't know if he has the capability to do what needs to be done to survive the games.
She knows it would be simpler if Peeta is already dead, it would bring Cato one step closer to winning after all, but she can't bring herself to wish him dead. So she settles for not thinking about it at all.
Just then the cannons start. The bloodbath is over. Katniss glances at the afternoon sun distractedly as she begins to count them. One…two…three…six…nine…eleven. Eleven dead in all. Katniss struggles against the tightness in her chest, reassuring herself that Cato and Clove have probably killed a good majority of the fallen tributes. She tells herself that it's a good thing and that they only did what they had to do, but suddenly her chest feels hollow.
She knows they aren't bad people, and that she will do the same when the time comes, and somewhere in the Capitol, people will cheer for her just as they cheered for them. But she can't change how she was raised any more than they can, and everything in her is screaming at the injustice of the slaughtering of innocent children.
She does not blame Cato or Clove. She blames the Capitol. They're just as much victims of the Capitol's crimes as the children they slaughter. They are also children, in the end. Just as she is a child. And yet all she can do is wish that things were different.
When she manages to rein in the hollowness in her chest, she realizes that she is not alone. She scrambles to her feet and stares at the sight before her, heart pounding. With blood splattered in her golden hair, a sword gripped in her bloodied knuckles, the bow and arrows thrown carelessly over the pack strapped to her back, and a manic grin pulling at her full lips, Glimmer is the very image of a victorious Career. Before Katniss can react, the other girl pulls the bow and sheath of arrows from her body and drops them at Katniss' feet. Katniss continues to stare.
"Hey, Kitty Kat," Glimmer greets sweetly, smiling again, this time more subdued, and less manic. "So I was thinking, how 'bout you and I team up? We'd be quite the team," the taller girl practically purrs, tossing her blood matted hair over her shoulder.
"Are you crazy?" Katniss blurts out unceremoniously. Glimmer rolls her eyes.
"Kitty, we've been over this before, duh, I'm fucking wacked, but once again, that's beside the point. We'd make a fucking badass team," the blonde explains with a frightening level of excitement. Katniss just looks at her.
"But why?" Katniss asks at last. "I mean, you're a Career, why do you want to team up with me?" she elaborates. Glimmer rolls her eyes and cocks her hip to the side, propping her sword hand on her hip. Katniss shivers when she sees the dried blood on the steel of the blade.
"Lemme tell you something, Girl on Fire, you got the highest training score in like the history of forever. Everyone wants to team up with you, I'm just the only one who was smart enough to pull it off," Glimmer finishes with a one-shouldered shrug.
Katniss carefully bends down and takes up the bow and arrows. She stands holding them reverently. (In the back of her mind she contemplates putting an arrow through her head. She restrains herself, barely.) She tightens her fingers around the grip on the bow and finally looks the older girl right in the eye.
"How did you know?" she questions quietly, still not agreeing to team up with her. This is the girl, after all, who somehow knew about her and Cato. She's also a Career, for goodness sake. She can't be trusted.
"I saw you eyeing it at the Cornucopia, made a split second decision and grabbed it. Figured it could be my white flag," Glimmer shrugs. "Look, I know you don't have any reason to trust me, but I really do want to be your ally. You seem very resourceful, and to be honest, I'm pretty sure all the Careers hate me, like a lot," she finishes wryly.
Katniss examines the blonde silently before asking the question that's been bugging her since the other girl's interview. "Do you really love your sister that much? Or was that just an act to gain sponsors."
Glimmer shifts uncomfortably, clearly caught off guard by Katniss' question. Finally she answers in an unusually soft voice. "Yes." She clears her throat. "I mean, she was the only thing in my life that was pure, untainted," she admits softly. Katniss nods in understanding.
"Okay," Katniss responds. Glimmer's head snaps up. "We can be allies." The Career begins to smile but Katniss cuts her off. "But I still don't trust you! And this alliance ends when I say it does. And we're not going to kill each other. When I tell you, you're going to just walk away, all right?" Katniss demands, holding her voice strong, and staring the green-eyed girl directly in the eye. She nods excitedly.
"Absolutely, right!" she agrees enthusiastically. She holds out her hand and Katniss reluctantly shakes it. "So what do we do first?" Glimmer questions eagerly.
Katniss raises her eyebrow but speaks anyway. "We need to find water, and a good tree to spend the night in, I hope you can climb, Glim," Katniss responds dryly. Glimmer gives her half a smile.
"My sister calls me that," she whispers. Katniss' eyes widen.
"Sorry, I won't do it again," Katniss promises. Glimmer shakes her head.
"No, it's okay, I don't mind when you call me it," she says almost shyly. Katniss nods awkwardly.
"Right, well let's go look for some water," Katniss says with a gesture for the other girl to follow. Glimmer sheathes her blade and follows behind her. Katniss fights against shuddering or turning to watch the Career and instead focuses on looking for signs of water, like mud or moss growing nearby. She will not let herself be frightened by the other girl.
It starts to get dark, and Katniss and Glimmer must accept that they won't be able to find water this night. Instead, Katniss shows Glimmer how to set a snare, and then they share some of the food Glimmer brought from the Cornucopia, apples and cheese and rich, dark bread.
When they're moderately full, Katniss goes about picking a tree for them to camp in. Glimmer looks slightly uneasy, but does not argue when Katniss declares a sturdy willow their best bet. Katniss scampers up with startling ease and then patiently instructs Glimmer on where to place her hands and feet. When she's settled on a thick branch below the dark-haired girl, Glimmer breathes a sigh of relief.
"You make that look so much easier than it is," she sighs, straddling the branch. Katniss gives her a small smile.
"I take that as a compliment," Katniss yawns, pawing at the dried blood on her face with a grimace. She'd really like to find some water.
"Good, because it was one," Glimmer says with a smile in her voice. Katniss refuses to admit that she's already growing kind of fond of her strange ally. It wouldn't do either of them any good.
"I'll take first watch," she says instead. Glimmer hums her assent and then the anthem begins to play. Both girls adjust their positions to see the seal of the Capitol on the sky. When the pictures begin to flash in the sky, Katniss holds her breath.
The girl from three is shown, and Katniss lets out the breath. Cato and Clove are still alive. The boy from four is shown and Glimmer hums happily, which Katniss assumes means that the blonde is the one who killed him. Next is the boy from five, and Katniss allows herself half a second to be relieved that Marissa has made it through the first day.
Both from six and seven. The boy from eight. Both from nine (Glimmer hums at both pictures and Katniss holds back a gag, she's changed her mind, she hates her again). The last picture to be shown is the girl from ten. Glimmer hums again. The night sky fades black. There is a long, unbearable silence.
"So four, that must be a pretty impressive starting number," Katniss bites out. Glimmer lets out a hollow laugh from bellow.
"I have a lot of rage," she says simply. Katniss doesn't respond. Eventually the other girl's breathing evens out and she is asleep. Katniss rolls her eyes at the other girl's arrogance. So certain that Katniss would never do something as dishonorable as killing her in her sleep, the blonde sleeps with ease. (It never crosses Katniss' mind that it isn't an act of arrogance, but pure and simple trust.)
A couple hours later, Katniss whispers the other girl's name into the dark, and she is awake within seconds. Glimmer assures her that she is truly awake and Katniss tries her best to relax enough to rest. She falls in and out of consciousness for an hour or two before she sits bolt right up as a twig snaps, breaking the relative silence of the night. Without a word, Katniss drops from her branch and lands next to Glimmer silently. The other girl already has her sword drawn. Katniss draws her bow and notches an arrow and scans the darkness.
The rustling continues, and then a spark interrupts the darkness. Eventually flames erupt and Glimmer and Katniss exchange a disbelieving glance. Katniss can just barely make out the messy brown curls of the district eight girl. Glimmer begins to hiss expletives directed at the girl into her ear, and Katniss has to clamp her hand over her mouth to get her to stop. Meanwhile, the district eight girl begins to doze almost immediately.
When Glimmer gives her an exasperated look, she releases her. Glimmer leans in until Katniss can smell the spicy scent of her skin mixed with the coppery smell of blood and whispers right into her ear. "Just let me kill the dumb bitch, or she's going to get us killed," she hisses. Katniss is about to agree when she hears the stomping of multiple boots. In a panic, she shoves Glimmer up, pointing towards her previous perch.
Without a word, the older girl climbs up as quietly as possible, and then Katniss follows in perfect silence. They tuck themselves against the trunk of the tree, their bodies pressed together with Glimmer leaning back against the trunk. Katniss can feel the echoing thunder of the other girl's heart, and it calms her to know that even a Career can feel fear in the games. Katniss' balance is precarious at best, so Glimmer wraps her arms around the smaller girl to steady her without comment.
The rest of the Careers march into view and Katniss buries her face into Glimmer's neck before she can see what they do to the girl. Glimmer rubs soothing circles on her lower back, and does not say a word against her unwillingness to watch the girl die.
When it's over, and the Careers move almost directly under them, Katniss still does not dare to move, afraid any movement might attract their attention. Cato and Clove will have a hard time getting out of killing her with Marvel and the district four girl with them.
"I haven't heard a cannon," Cato declares loudly. Katniss doesn't have to look to know it's him, she knows his voice better than her own, after all.
"Are you sure she's really dead?" Clove snide voice questions mockingly. Another girl huffs, clearly the district four Career.
"Yes, I'm sure, I stuck her myself!" she screeches impatiently.
"Yeah well, clearly you didn't do a very good job," another male voices announces flatly. Probably the district one boy.
"Guys, we're wasting time! I'll take care of it myself," an eerily familiar male voice says firmly.
"Is that…" Katniss breathes against Glimmer's neck.
"Yes…" she breathes back. What is Peeta doing with the Career pack?
Down below, the Careers have begun to argue the usefulness of having Peeta on their side. Surprisingly, Cato and Clove are firmly on team Peeta, while the district one male and district four female are opposed. Katniss can't help but wonder why Cato and Clove are so intent on keeping Peeta with them. A cannon booms and puts it out of her mind for the moment.
Peeta returns and the Careers move on. When they can no longer hear them, Katniss raises her head from Glimmer's neck and scoots back so the other girl can move back down to her perch.
Once she's settled Katniss gets comfortable again too.
"Go to sleep, Kitty Kat, I'll wake you up before dawn," Glimmer calls up in a soft voice.
"All right," Katniss responds, trying to get comfortable. She manages a couple more hours of restless sleep before Glimmer wakes her.
They descend the tree in relative silence, only broken when Katniss corrects Glimmer's footing. When they reach the ground, Katniss leads Glimmer to check on their snares, and Glimmer lets out a small laugh of delight when she sees the rabbit hanging from one.
Katniss smiles and then quickly shows her how to remove the skin and entrails. When it's gutted, Glimmer suggests using the still warm fire from the unfortunate district eight tribute to cook it. Katniss agrees and they stir the coals until it glows warmer. The fashion a spit and then discuss which direction they want to go while it cooks.
By the time they settle on a direction, the rabbit is done. Glimmer kicks dirt over the coals and they take off, each eating a leg with the rest in Katniss' pack. Hopefully, they'll find water soon.
AN: All righty then, the next chapter will be from Cato's POV again, and I hope ya'll liked this one. To all of you taking exams/finished exams/starting exams, best of luck, my lovelies, and congrats to the finished, like myself:) And a Happy Holidays, to all!