Title: If You Burn
Summary: …I'll burn with you. / Series of unrelated oneshots featuring Cinna/Katniss.
Overall Rating: T
Chapter Title: Dancing Lessons
Pairings/Characters: Cinna/Katniss, Katniss/Peeta. Portia. Effie.
Rating: K+, I guess. Maybe T? I don't know.
Warnings: Possible OOCness. SPOILERS for Hunger Games and the first section of Catching Fire.
Notes: It's mentioned once in Catching Fire that Effie showed Katniss and Peeta some popular Capitol dances on their Victory Tour. I figure she might've had a little help from the stylists.
Disclaimer: Suzanne Collins owns the Hunger Games trilogy. I am not Suzanne Collins.
If You Burn
One – Dancing Lessons
He watches the way the skirt of her dress flutters around her legs as dances. It's not a dance that's familiar to him, which might explain why Effie is glowering at her. She's supposed to be learning Capitol dances; that's why Cinna is here, after all. He and Portia have been recruited to teach the star-crossed lovers the steps.
He knows that Portia will soon announce their presence, but for now he is content to watch Katniss whirl, her eyes closed, seemingly unaware of anything but whatever rhythm she hears in her head. He has never seen her face so unguarded, except in sleep. It warms his heart to see her having fun for once, despite Snow's menacing shadow looming over them all.
Peeta, who has been staring at his beloved, entranced, notices the stylists standing in the doorway. He greets them, shattering whatever spell Katniss is under. She immediately stiffens, boredom replacing the expression of blissful freedom that she wore just moments ago.
Portia slips over to Peeta's side and directs him on where to place his hands. Cinna smiles at Katniss and tilts his head as if to say, Shall we?
He teaches her the steps, Portia and Peeta dancing a few feet away, Effie sitting in a chair in the corner and making remarks like No, no, Katniss, you're supposed spin on the third beat, not the fourth, and Peeta, I know it must be hard with that artificial leg, but try to be a little more graceful, okay?
Half an hour later, after they have mastered the most popular waltz in the Capitol, Effie has the young victors practice together. Cinna watches how Peeta places his hand on his partner's waist tenderly, how Katniss relaxes a little bit at his touch and shifts closer to him, and wonders why it makes him feel so hollow inside.
Soon, but not soon enough for Cinna, Effie declares that they should move on to another dance. Peeta returns Katniss to her dance instructor and then rejoins Portia. The hollow feeling dissolves.
And this is how it goes for the next few days. Cinna teaches Katniss, Katniss lets Peeta hold her close, and something eats away at Cinna from the inside until his Girl on Fire is back in his arms.
The day before they arrive in the Capitol, Katniss and Peeta learn the last dance on Effie's list. As usual, Katniss masters the steps long before Peeta does. Effie is right, it's harder for him with his artificial leg.
Cinna glances at his fellow stylist and her struggling student. They're not even halfway through the dance. Effie is totally focused on them, trilling out orders and suggestions that probably don't help at all. Cinna turns back to Katniss to tell her that they're going to take a break like they always do when they finish first, and finds her watching him. Her eyes are unreadable as she offers to teach him a District 12 dance. He accepts, pretending that he's not absolutely stunned.
She shows him the steps and he's amazed by how much more animated the dance is compared to the ones from the Capitol. He copies Katniss' movements and suddenly understands how this dance could transform a wary girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders into the light-hearted one he saw whirling when he entered the room on the first day.
When he's learned all the steps, they go through them once together. Then she moves to sit beside Effie, but he stops her by placing a gentle hand on her arm. He frees her hair from her hair tie and combs his fingers through the silken locks until her braid has come completely undone.
Katniss peers up at him in surprise. He smiles at her and says, Twirl for me.
So she does, she twirls and twirls and twirls, her arms in the air, her long black hair swinging all over the place, and he simply cannot take his eyes off her. Eventually, she trips on the edge of the carpet and he darts forward and grabs her elbows to steady her. She stumbles into him, looking so dizzy that for a moment he's worried she might throw up.
Instead, she throws her head her head back and laughs—a real laugh, not that fake little giggle she gave during her pre-Games interview—and the sound is so carefree that he just has to laugh with her. When they stop to catch their breath, he finds that one of his hands has migrated to her shoulder and the other has found her waist. She looks every bit as comfortable with his touch as she is with Peeta's.
His hand moves from her shoulder to cup her chin, and he's sure he didn't tell it to do that, so it's really not his fault. And when his gaze drops to her lips, he's sure that's not his fault, either, because clearly his eyes have a mind of their own.
He wonders what Katniss would do if he kissed her right now. He wants to. He's going to. And, okay, maybe that's his fault.
He has barely even started leaning in when he hears Portia clear her throat behind him. Katniss' cheeks burn. Cinna lets his hands fall to his sides as he steps away from her.
For the rest of the lesson, Peeta looks from Katniss, who won't meet his eyes, to Cinna, who is staring out the window of the train, silently berating himself.
He knows better than this. Knows that he can never have anything more with her than what they already have. And what they have is an easy friendship where Katniss graciously ignores his longing glances. Cinna doubts that, between Peeta and Gale, she has ever even looked twice at him that way. Besides, even if she did feel something for him, she has to keep up the star-crossed lovers act or else everyone she loves will suffer.
He knows all of that.
But still, he wonders.
Author's Note: So this was basically sheer fluff. Some of the oneshots will be like this, others might be pure angst. Mostly I'm just trying to get used to writing Cinna's character. How am I doing so far?