A/N: This idea hit me after I finished Mockingjay. Now Katniss has two kids – a boy and a girl. She knows that she'll have to explain to them eventually. She knows she'll have nightmares pretty much forever. So I started imagining how it would play out as the kids slowly learned more and more about Hunger Games.
The daughter I named Rose after Prim/Primrose. The son I named Fin after Finnick. I thought Katniss would want to make their memories live on, and inevitably, her daughter would remind her of Prim.
Updates here are sporadic and not guaranteed, but if you're interested, please review so I know someone liked it! Advice and suggestions for future chapters are encouraged, but no flames. I'm well aware that, so far, this isn't my most well-written work, but the POV character here is Rose, who is very young, and therefore she doesn't have the most proper grammar or elaborate vocabulary. Nevertheless, I hope this strikes a chord with you!
Summary (may be changed later): "The Games left Mommy in pieces. But I'm her daughter. It's my job to put her back together." A series of one-shots surrounding Katniss' daughter, Rose. Post-Mockingjay.
It's my birthday tomorrow, so naturally, I'm reluctant to close my eyes when Daddy puts me to bed.
"You can't keep me here in your room forever," he teases, pushing a stray strand of my dark hair out of my face with one hand.
I grab his arm playfully. "Yes, I can!" I say.
"Well, I guess..." Daddy makes a confused face, scratching his head. "If you really don't want birthday cake tomorrow..."
I sigh. That does it.
"Okay. You can go… I guess."
Daddy smiles. He gives me a big hug. He tucks me into bed, pulls the sheets over me, warm and soft. "Goodnight, Rose."
I shake my head and sit up fast. "No," I say. "Sing me a lullaby."
Daddy nods stiffly. "Okay. Which one?"
"The one about the meadow," I tell him, jumping up and down a little bit under the sheets. "I love the meadow!"
Daddy's mouth tightens into a tight line. His shiny blue eyes darken behind his blond bangs. His voice gets all serious. "Are you sure?"
"Yes!" I cheer. "Please, Daddy? Please?"
Daddy sighs. He kneels down beside my bed and closes his eyes. He begins to sing.
Deep in the meadow, under the willow...
A bed of grass, a soft green pillow...
Lay down your head, and close your sleepy eyes...
I jokingly shoot up to a sitting position, making my eyes wide as saucers. I giggle, shaking with laughter.
Daddy shushes me, one hand raised for silence. "Come on, Rose. I know you're excited, but you have to sleep."
I cross my arms. "I don't want to."
"Then I guess you'll be too tired to eat cake."
I groan. Why does he always go back to the cake? That's really not fair, but I guess he wins. "Fine," I say. I lean back, resting my head against my fluffy pillow. "Keep singing."
Daddy nods. He continues right where he left off.
And when again they open, the sun will rise…
I close my eyes. The song drifts through my mind. Daddy keeps singing.
Here it's safe, here it's warm…
Here the daisies guard you from every harm…
I hear the door creak open ever so slightly, but I've closed my eyes, just for a minute (I'm not going to sleep! Not all night!), and I don't feel like looking up. Anyway, I know it's Mommy. I hear her sink softly down next to Daddy with a low, tired sigh of "Hey, Peeta." His answering "Shh…" cuts her off. He sings the next line, but this time, Mommy sings with him. Their voices are so pretty together!
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true…
I barely hear the last line before falling asleep.
Here is the place where I love you.
Two o'clock in the morning. I jump wide awake in bed, startled out of sleep. My heart is racing a mile a minute.
In the next room, I can hear Mommy screaming.
Oh, no. Daddy thought she was getting better. She hasn't done this in a week. I guess even Daddy doesn't know everything.
The screaming gets louder. I slide out of bed and untangle the sheets. I glance at the other bed, where Fin is. He's sound asleep, blond curls in his face, gray eyes closed. It's amazing that Mommy didn't wake him yet, but hey, he's littler than me. He's always so sleepy! Probably because he spends all day causing trouble, I think. Oh, well. It's probably better that he's sleeping.
Carefully, quietly, I walk past him and out the door, towards the kitchen. Maybe some cold water will clear my head so I can sleep, too.
Mommy is still screaming. I wonder why Daddy hasn't woken her yet. Then I remember. It's my birthday. Daddy is making a cake for me. He's at the bakery. He can't help Mommy tonight.
I should be asleep. I shouldn't even be out of bed. But I'll never sleep if she keeps this up. I have to help. I'm her daughter. And today, I'm eight years old! I'm big enough to do something, right?
I finish my glass of water. Now, to check on the little troublemaker… I peep back into my room to get a look at Fin, but he's still out cold. That's good, I guess. But it's so quiet in the house in the middle of the night. It's lonely.
Mommy is screaming even louder. It scares me a little bit, but I tiptoe over to her room and crack open the door. It squeaks really loud, but as far as I can tell, Fin doesn't stir. I don't hear him get up.
I slip into Mommy's dark room. It's scary at night. Long shadows stretch up the walls. The bed looms like a hungry monster, but I creep up alongside it and check on Mommy. I've never seen her when she screams. Daddy says I should stay out, go to sleep, let him wake her. But Daddy's not here.
My heart is racing like crazy. My stomach feels a little sick. The screaming is getting louder and louder, and it's really dark, and I'm scared, and I know I should be asleep… but I have to help! Mommy needs me. I'm afraid to look, but somehow I do. I climb up the side of the bed and look.
I've never seen anything so awful.
She's tangled up in the sheets, clawing at the blanket with her fingernails. Her hair is a mess. Her face is all sweaty. The neck of her PJs is practically choking her, but her mouth is open in a wail that won't end.
"Mommy?" I whisper, between her screams. She doesn't answer. I try again, a little louder this time. "Mommy?"
"Prim!" she yells – a name I've never heard in my life; I wonder what it means? – and Mommy jerks up, her legs still knotted in the mess of sheets, her gray Seam eyes flying wide. I've never seen her so scared. She stares into space for a minute, panting, still clawing the bed. Then she pulls away from the sheets and turns her head. She sees me.
I realize I'm shivering. "Are you okay, Mommy?" I ask, trying to keep my voice steady.
She's frozen for a moment, but then she sighs. "Why are you awake, Rose?" she says. "Tomorrow's your birthday... Did you have a nightmare?"
I shake my head. My arms have goosebumps. "Y-Y-You were s-screaming."
Mommy gets down from the bed. "Oh, Rose..." She puts her hands on my shoulders, looks right into my eyes. "Did I scare you? And don't lie."
I hesitate. Then I nod – a very small nod.
"I'm so sorry," Mommy says. "I'm okay, sweetie. You can go back to sleep. I'll be okay."
She doesn't look okay.
She looks like she just saw something very, very bad. Something scary.
She gives me a hug, anyway. Her arms move like they're wooden. It feels... wrong. I lean into her hug, wishing it felt normal, wishing Mommy was okay, wishing she didn't scream, and she rubs my back gently with one hand. It's warm. She's as warm as when she gets back from hunting. I rest my head against her shoulder. "Why do you scream in your sleep?" I say.
Mommy sounds sadder than ever when she answers. "Because I never really wake up."
"What do you mean?" I ask.
Mommy swallows. Her eyes look dead. "Did I ever tell you why I named you 'Rose'?"
I shake my head. "Uh... no."
Mommy takes a deep breath. Her voice is very, very quiet when she says, "I used to have a little sister." She sits down on the bed. I sit down next to her.
"What was her name?" I ask.
"Primrose. But we just called her Prim," she tells me. "Her name was really 'Primrose.' That's why I named you 'Rose.'"
I smile. "Primrose is a pretty name." I pause for a moment, thinking hard. My head hurts from thinking while I'm tired. If Mommy has a sister… "Why don't you have a little sister now?"
Mommy sighs. She bites her lip until it bleeds a little, bright red. I can hear her start breathing hard, like after we've been playing tag in the woods and she says I need a break, Rose.
She won't look right at me, but I know she's talking to me. There's no one else awake. "Do you remember learning about the Hunger Games in school?"
"Uh-huh," I say.
"I helped stop the bad guys. To end the games. So that no one would get hurt anymore."
I raise my eyebrows. "Cool! Did your sister stop the bad guys, too?"
There's a long silence.
I stop talking. My eyes wander around the dark room.
Mommy's voice is hard as stone when she says, "My sister died, Rose."
"What? No!" I shout, backing away so fast, I slam into the wall. I raise my right hand and ball it into a fist. "No! She was a good guy, wasn't she?"
Mommy takes a sharp breath. "Yes. She was a very good sister."
I cross my arms and glare at Mommy. I'm really mad now. "Then why did she die?"
Mommy stares into space. She looks like me when I'm sick, or after I wake up from a nightmare. No, that's not it. She looks like she's still in the nightmare. Like she'll never wake up.
"Prim died because life isn't fair."
I stare at the floor. "Oh," I say. I can't find the right words; it's all just plain awful. Mommy and I just sit there for a while, and we don't say anything at all.
Eventually, I break the silence. "How big was she?" I ask.
I look up. "Yeah."
Mommy swallows. "She was thirteen."
"Is that big?" I ask.
"Is that little?"
"Then what is it?"
Mommy takes a big breath. "Too young to die."
I lower my head. I can't make myself look up. I've never seen Mommy so serious and sad. I don't like that I can't see her little sister. I don't like that her little sister is dead.
"That's not fair," I say. I stare at the floor. I stare at my feet. "That's really sad."
Mommy nods. "That's why I was screaming, Rose. I miss my sister." She coughs, hard. Her voice breaks. "I dream about her a lot."
"Almost every day."
I take a big breath. "I'm sorry, Mommy."
She smiles, but I can see a drop of something wet on her cheek.
"Are you crying, Mommy?"
She sighs. "No."
"Yes, you are."
"No, I'm not," she says, but her voice is rising. Another tear streaks her face.
"You're crying, Mommy."
And she is. But she never lets me see it.
"Go to sleep, Rose," she tells me. Her voice is firm, and I know I have to listen. But first, I give her a big hug. Then I let go. It's hard, but I do. I let go and leave the room. I close the squeaky door. I tiptoe back to bed.
But behind the closed door, I can hear Mommy sobbing the name of her dead little sister.