The Arrangement

Summary: There are no Hunger Games, but there is still struggle for survival. Katniss Everdeen has always struggled to survive. Her father died and her mother owed a debt to the town mayor. In order to pay that debt, Mrs. Everdeen agreed to give her daughter up to settle the debt. Mr. Mellark demands that Katniss marry his son, Peeta Mellark. Peeta has been in love with the beautiful Katniss Everdeen his entire life. Can he win her heart and make her fall in love with him too in spite of the circumstances?

Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games or any of the characters. This fanfiction is for entertainment purposes only. Enjoy.

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Chapter 1: Katniss's POV

I could never understand my mother. She was a silly, frivolous woman. My father gave her everything she could have ever wanted and it was never enough for her. Never. My father was a wonderful man who took great care of my sister, Prim, and me. We worshipped the ground he walked on. Idolized him.

I still remember what I was doing when the Peacekeeper came to our door. I still couldn't believe it. I had been sixteen years old and I had to hear that my father had been murdered. The murderer was never apprehended. Now, at the age of eighteen, I still vividly remember identifying his body. I remember comforting my sister. I remember my mom not being there. She was always out with friends. Never was she home grieving with us. She went about her daily life. She had always been cold and selfish. But now that our father was gone it seemed worse. We had lost our loving, stable parent and I became a parent that day to Prim. I took care of her and made sure she was safe, happy, and secure.

My mother spent all the money we were given to compensate for the death of our father. She borrowed from Mr. Mellark, the wealthy mayor of District 12. Mr. Mellark did not strike me as a cruel man, but there was something in his manner that seemed off to me. His wife was never around and his eldest sons were cruel and hateful to all they met. His youngest son, Peeta, was nineteen. He was the only person in the Mellark family who had ever been kind to me. If I hadn't been so busy caring for Prim and making sure my mother behaved herself to a degree, Peeta and I probably would have become friends.

I was always a loner in school. It got worse after my father's death of course, but I was always a loner. Peeta was a popular kid and could have talked with anyone he wanted to, he was the mayor's son and all. However, he always sat at my lunch table with me at lunch. We never said much, but he always sat there with me. I still to this day don't know why he took any pity on me at all. He was a kind person and now that I was done with school there were times that I missed him as loathe as I was to admit it.

I worked with my friend Gale in the fields. We would plant the vegetables and fruit. We would tend to them through the growing season. Then we would help with the harvest. Gale had been my friend for many years. Our fathers had been close friends for a long time. That changed two weeks before my father's murder for some reason. The peacekeepers were suspicious at first, but I refused to believe that Mr. Hawthorne hurt my father. Gale and I had been friends since we were little. He was five years older than I was. He was now 23 and he treated me like a bratty little sister. It was nice sometimes to have someone taking care of me at times as a little sister and not having to be an adult all of the time.

I returned home from work a little later that evening and I hurried home to find my mother waiting for me. This never happened. "What do you want?" I asked her not bothering with a polite tone.

"Katniss, I have made a mistake. A big mistake and I need your help to fix it. Will you help me?"

I cannot even imagine what she has done now. "Why should I help you?"

Her next words make me sit up and take notice. "Because if you don't it will affect Prim."

"Tell me." I say immediately. We sit down at the table together and she tries to hold my hand. I pull my hand out of her hand.

"As you know, I have been struggling with money for a long time. I have debts that I cannot pay back, Katniss. If I don't settle this debt they will take our house."

My heart drops and I start to panic. They can't take the house. What will we do? Where will we go? In my panic, I remember that she said she needed my help. "What can I do, mom? Can we keep the house?"

She nods and I feel relief in the pit of my stomach. "Yes, Katniss, we can keep the house if you agree to the terms."

Terms? Now I am confused. "What terms? What are you talking about?"

She takes a deep breath and at least has the courtesy to look down. "I owe Mr. Mellark a great deal of money. He is willing to forgive all my debt and pay us monthly until Prim is 18."

"That's very generous of him, mother." I say these words and yet I know it is not generosity. She has given up something.

"Yes, it is Katniss, but he gets something in return."

"What, mom? What did you promise him?"

"In exchange for forgiving the debt, you would have to agree to marry Mr. Mellark's son, Peeta Mellark."

Tell me what you think. Do you love it? Hate it? I would like to continue if I have some interest in the story. Let me know!