So, I literally just finished reading The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. Literally. I thought they were about vampires (?) but it turned out to be, well, amazing. I totally fell in love with Peeta (who needs Gale, anyway?) and thought he was the best. So, here's my attempt at fanfic, and hopefully it's not horrible. I've written Twilight fanfic before, but this is completely different. Thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!
Disclaimer: Peeta, Katniss, and The Hunger Games are the work of the extremely brilliant Suzanne Collins. They're in no way mine. Maybe this plot's not even mine, since it's not the most original. This is just what happens after Mockingjay, told in my words.
©HomeschoolGirl 2012, or at least this actual post is. The characters, not so much. But anyway, please don't use this as your own. Thanks!
There's a time when you eventually admit to yourself that you're the only thing holding you back. That it's your fault you're not truly happy. That you might never be, but you could try. It's been that way since Prim died.
The day Peeta shows up with primroses is the day things change. As I stand there, looking at him in the yard, our eyes challenge each other. My chin raises a fraction of an inch. I might look horrible, but I take pride in it. Which seems stupid.
"You're back," I say.
Our exchange is short. He reminds me I need to call Dr. Aurelius. I don't think I want much to do with him, but I pick up the phone the next time it rings.
I see him again the next day, standing outside his house, running his fingers through his hair. My breath comes out in quick spurts while I watch. I wonder if he might still feel it. The love that I still hold onto, if even a bit feebly.
I find myself walking down the stairs, out the door. A few more steps and I'm standing in front of him, hands clasped in front of me.
"I want to thank you for planting the primroses."
He narrows his eyes. "You should've helped."
Why does it cut me so deeply to know that his hostility toward me has returned? I swallow, struggling to find the right words, not wanting to upset him.
"Perhaps-" Too formal. "You're right, I should have. But I couldn't bring my self to. I'm still not…whole."
I see it. My sister. Going up in flames. The parachutes. The hope on the kids' faces as they strained their arms to take them. Gale's fault-
I stop there, not wanting to remember. It hurts too much. It makes life less livable. And it's always pretty horrible as is.
Peeta's eyes have taken on this strange, glassy look, and I wonder if the memories are coming back to him, too.
"You used to love me, real or not real?" He suddenly asks, whipping his head to look at me. For a second, I can't answer. My lips are slightly parted.
Used. That's the word that stalls me. Because it's still there. Even now, I have to pinch myself to keep from lunging at him. Rejection would be worse than not giving it a try at all. So I don't.
"Real," I whisper at last.
He nods, as if confirming something. "And I used to love you?"
He reaches forward to touch my cheek. The movement is so sudden, I stop breathing. His amazing blue eyes bore into mine.
"Let's give this another try. Our friendship. You and me, we can help each other out. Deal?"
For a second, I feel hope. It rises in my throat and clouds my vision. Yes, oh, yes. I'd want nothing more. But then I push the feeling away. The problem with hope is how fickle it is. One day it's there, the next it's not.
"We could try," I say at last. That seems to satisfy him.
"Good. I'll…talk to you later."
"Okay," I say, turning. It takes every ounce of strength I have to walk away from him. By the time I'm back in my bedroom, I collapse on the sheets, curl up into a ball, and will sleep to take me away into a happier world.
But as I close my eyes, I realize that's a mistake. I have nightmares, and they're so much worse when I'm not able to differentiate between what's real and not…kind of like the game Peeta plays with me.
As I slip into unconsciousness, I brace myself for the bloodbath to come.
It's exactly one week later I'm out, watering the primroses, and see Haymitch with the geese. They walk behind him in a gaggle of feathers and quacks, and I motion for him to come talk to me. When he strides over, they follow.
I point to the geese, which are working themselves into quite a frenzy. They must like to keep on the move.
"Oh, that," Haymitch says, scratching the back of his neck. There's something different about him. It takes me a second to realize his breath no longer reeks of alcohol.
"These are to keep me busy until the next train comes in," he says at last, and I understand. Of course. They're just a distraction.
"What are you going to do with them?"
He chuckles. "Set them free, keep them as pets, eat them. Who cares what I do? Just so long as they keep me from thinking about…it…then we're on pretty good terms."
I smile at him expectantly and he takes that as his cue to move on, throwing a halfhearted wave to me as he goes. Within a few seconds, he's made it to his house, and he ushers the geese in. They seem to understand. A moment later the door clicks behind him. I'm alone once more.
Then, just like that, Peeta is suddenly there. He carries a watering can. We don't speak as we water the primroses. Just him being beside me says enough.
"Sometimes," he says suddenly, and I stop, looking at him. I don't speak, waiting for him to go on.
"Sometimes my mind goes to a dark place, Katniss. A place where you're the enemy, and Snow is good…and it's so wrong. I'm getting better. I'm understanding what's right and wrong about the scenario. And when it happens, I try to conjure up good memories. Your face as you tick off all my favorite things, as you talk about Prim, when you smile. But they're so hard to find. Sometimes I think you being there when that happens would help pull me out, and other times I feel like I'd hurt you. And I know I still care when the thought of me putting my hands on you sickens me. That's what usually helps the most-thinking about what a monster I am. Knowing you'd never deserve my hands on you, not in a million years."
That feels like a double meaning to me. I blush just thinking about it. When did my mind get so dirty? Am I that starved for Peeta's affection?
I blush when I realize he's waiting for me to say something. I sigh shakily, forcing a smile, reaching out to lightly touch his arm.
"Whatever it takes, Peeta."
For a moment I fear I've said the wrong thing, because he just stares, but then I'm in his arms and I realize how much I've missed his embrace. Hesitantly, I begin to hug him back, and we just stand there.
Over across the lot, Haymitch's curtains twitch, and I know he's watching us.
"Peeta," I whisper. "I've missed you."
"You too, Katniss," he replies quickly, pressing his cheek to the top of my head. "You can't even imagine…but I need to be sure that I'm in control of myself. You matter, more than anything."
His words warm me, straight to my core. Peeta's always been good with words. Me…not so much.
So I don't say anything. I just hold onto him for dear life.
We begin to relax into a more normal routine. Haymitch keeps his geese, even when the train comes in, and he seems to grow fonder of them each day. Peeta begins baking again, even showing me how, but I'm horrible. I try to teach him how to hunt, but we've been through that before, and it's a mess. But fun.
"If you think about it," Peeta says, as we lay on our backs in the woods after a failed hunting trip, "our roles are kind of reversed. The woman's supposed to be good at baking and cooking, but that's me. And the man's duty is to hunt and feed his family."
I roll my eyes. "Gender stereotypes are extremely overrated."
He looks at me, folding his hand across his stomach solemnly. "I hear you sometimes, Katniss. At night. You scream."
I close my eyes, struggling to shut out the world. "Only when things are very bad."
He pauses before asking, "What do you dream about?"
I lick my lips. "They're not really…dreams. They're nightmares. Mostly about Prim, and the day she died. I see her, going up in flames. But it's even worse than real life, dreaming about it. Each time, I try to save her. But right before my hands touch her, she's always gone."
He sighs. "I dream in memories. Things that used to happen. They're not shiny, not like the hallucinations. I see you in the cave, doctoring my leg. I see you lean forward to kiss me. I see you saying my name. I see a beach, and us, and we're lying on the beach. You lean forward and we kiss and, unlike the other times, we don't pull away. The dream always cuts off before anything else happens." He sighs, looking at me with longing. My heart is hammering in my chest.
"That last one…did it really happen?"
"Yes," I manage to croak out.
He leans forward, his lips quivering an inch from mine, before he seems to change his mind and roll away instead, facing away from me.
"Katniss, go away."
I'm so surprised by the abrupt change in his attitude I can't speak, can't move. I just lay there, watching as he trembles. Hallucinating, I'm sure.
"Katniss, just go. Get out of here. I don't want to see you."
Each word is a knife in my chest. I stand up, on the brink of tears, gathering my bows and backpack in one swift motion.
He doesn't speak as I stalk off, fists clenched at my sides. I almost wait for him to call out to me, hesitating on the edge of the woods. But he doesn't.