DISCLAIMER: I do NOT own the Hunger Games. I just finished Mockingjay, and it needs a big, old warning sign smack dab on the cover, saying that it will be heart-wrenching and an overall emotional experience. The epilogue was perfect. I hope to see the movie tomorrow, but in the meantime, I need to get this out of my system.
I can't sleep again. It isn't because the covers are too hot or too cold. The lack or surplus of blankets never made me sleep badly. It was what crept into my mind while I slept. The images, the sights, the sounds. The burning, the fighting, roses. I don't want to experience that, so I just lay numbly in bed. Peeta next to me is sleeping. It's a calm sleep that suits him. It quickly becomes disrupted when the high pitched squeal of a baby fills the night air. He groans and sits up. I do the same.
Peeta groans a bit as he wipes his face with his hand. He looks at me and says, "He likes to wake us up as soon as we manage sleep, huh?"
I shrug. "I wasn't asleep."
I get up quickly, though my bones ache as I do so. My mind doesn't like sleep; my sore body wants it desperately. I don't give in to my body. My mind is smarter than my body.
I grab a robe that's sitting on a chair and put it on as I walk around the bed to the door leading to another bedroom. I purposely avoid Peeta's face as he says, "Why weren't you asleep?"
I pretend to shrug him off as I enter the room. There is a wooden cradle. It reminds me of Prim's cradle that we kept under a cupboard. Inside is a little bundle of white sheets encased over a little boy, with blond hair. Like Peeta. Like Prim. Everything reminds me of everyone who's dead. No longer there. Prim. Boggs. Madge. Cinna. Finnick. Rue. All the tributes. My dad.
I shake my head, as if to rid myself of memories. I gently bend down, making my ribs ache a touch more, and pick up the tiny bundle. Wrapping the blankets more tightly around the little boy, I hear Peeta enter the room. He repeats, "Why weren't you asleep?"
A perfectly normal question to a different person. A person who didn't fight in a rebellion, a person who didn't lose so many people. A person who wasn't the Mockingjay.
I turn to face him. He has one hand on the door frame, holding himself up. His left leg is nothing but a medium long stub. His prosthetic is laying by the dresser that's next to the bed. He doesn't like to wear it in bed. Sometimes, even with its attachments, it falls off. It's a bit annoying to find it in the twists of blankets in the morning. He looks tired, but still gentle as he looks at my eyes.
I look away, down at our son. He yawns. I smile, ever so slightly, and look up to meet Peeta's eyes.
"I was waiting for him to call me again," I say, trying to sound matter of fact. I fail, of course. I'm usually good at lying. I'm not good at lying at three in the morning.
"You know that's not the reason," he points out. I know. He can see through my lie. He doesn't need to point it out. "Nightmares?"
I give my head a little shrug. Of course, he's right, but he doesn't need to know he is.
"Of course it is," he says, not in a mean way, more like in a "I knew it" way.
"Yeah," I say after a minute. It seems silly for me to have nightmares. I'm a mother. I'm getting older, like my mother. Not as old, but around the same age she was when my dad died. I wonder if I look as old as I feel, because I feel old. And silly, to have let nightmares still creep in after all these years.
A few minutes pass, my eyes looking back and forth between our son and my husband. He looks directly back, his eyes soft. I look back to the baby when he says, "I think he is asleep."
I nod slowly. His eyes are shut, his breathing even. I bend down and give him a feathery kiss on the forehead. He gave a tiny little yawn. I smile. I'm forever glad that he will never have to grow up in fear of the Capitol, of Reaping Day, of the Hunger Games. Those bloody thirsty, gory and damaging games. So glad that he won't live in fear.
I gently lay him back down in his cradle, flicking back his blonde hair to reveal his closed eyes. I tuck the blankets around him once more and give the cradle a little kick, just to make it start its motions.
I turn back to see Peeta gone. I go into our bedroom to see him on our bed, looking down at the ground. It didn't take a scientist to see that he was thinking about something. Old memories, new things, I don't know. I cross over to my side of the bed, the left side, slide off the robe and let it fall on the floor, and just as I sigh and attempt to pull the covers over me, he turns to me and says gently, "Remember what we used to do?"
I crack a tiny smile as I lie to face him, my head propped up on my fist, my elbow digging deep into my pillow. "We used to do a lot of things. Kiss in caves, do interviews, bring down the government. You know, the usual stuff. What were you thinking of?"
"How, back in the train, when you used to have nightmares, I held you. You slept after that. You didn't thrash or scream anymore," he says matter of factly, gently.
I remember that. His presence was and is always comforting. Something warm, protective, something that would never leave. Just sleeping in the same bed now has some of the same effect, but not the same amount. I felt safer in his arms.
I say, "I didn't?" because I don't know what to say.
He answers by getting under the blankets and motions for me to turn around. I smile as I turn and he wraps his strong, worn arms around me. It calms me, and I realize that I was tense, and now I just melted into his embrace.
"Better?" was the only word that I could make out, for my eyelids were falling and I was on the brink of unconsciousness. I make a tiny nod, feel him relax as well, and we both fall asleep.
The nightmares never came to plague my sleep or my life again. I have Peeta instead.
I'll never recover from Mockingjay, it left a permanent mark on me. I hope you liked it, and please, review!