A few notes before I begin. I read the Hunger Games years ago now, and fell in love. I didn't want to write anything for the Hunger Games so as not to tarnish its glory. True story, bro. But now I am, and not because I've fallen out of love, but because I can't seem to find what I'm looking for in a HG P/K story here.
For the purpose of this story, I have moved forward slightly the age at which Katniss receives (or in this case, doesn't) the bread from Peeta. Katniss is 14 rather than 11 (if I understand the timeline correctly/remember it).
Head Peacekeeper Cray was a heavy drinker, and was hated in District 12. This had nothing to do with the stigma of being Head Peacekeeper. We hated him for soliciting prostitution from the impoverished, starving women of the Seam.
My mother had looked on sadly when I asked her, as a child, why there were ladies by his door. Queuing up, like they did for the Reaping. She had not explained, but I came to understand, as I grew, what the ladies went there for. They went there to sell what they had left, the love they should only give to a loved one. But now she was so far gone from me I couldn't ask her – would she still love me if I volunteered?
No matter. She was gone, and Papa was gone, too. It was me, and Prim, my sickly little Primrose. Her once-bright hair had become lifeless and stringy. I didn't catch my own reflection often enough to know if I looked much better. Prim was becoming ill; coughing a tiny hacking cough that she had not enough sense to hide from me as I hid mine from her. The nights were getting colder. The bed we shared seemed to hold no warmth. I'd stopped feeding Mother a while ago: is that cruel? I gave her what I could, I could never starve her like that- but she seemed to continue on in a way that Prim and I could not. Prim and I had not eaten in a week. Mother had not eaten in two.
We were starving to death.
I'd run out of things to sell for food. I couldn't resort to begging. I wracked my weary brain, light from lack of food, for any idea. I was walking. When was I walking? The bakery wasn't open: it was late. The window, usually filled with delicacies, was empty. They couldn't have sold it all.
The bins. Did I really think before delving into them, looking for anything, anything at all? A heavy blow dashed me to the floor.
"Get out of here, you Seam brat! No good vermin!" She screamed. Mrs Baker. Mrs Mellark.
I scrambled up, running from the scene. I tripped over a loose paving stone, and flew across them, scraping my palms and my knees and landing in the dirt. I thought I could not get up. My entire body seemed ready to die, here, now. It was raining. Droplets of water crept through my clothes and danced across my neck. I had mud in my mouth, from somewhere. I spat. I heaved myself up.
Peeta Mellark was in my class in school. He stood at the window, staring out at me. He had bread in his hands. He could afford to eat, afford to live. He could eat bread and live.
I turned away in disgust, and as I trudged away, I heard his mother screaming at him. Probably about the Seam brat.
This was my final chance to find another option, any thing, any small sliver of hope in the darkness. But there was no light.
There was no light until I passed his door, and saw it opening for him to survey the women, shivering and wet, being passed over, until he picked his girl for the night.
Once I'd reached home and stood, staring at the shivering form of Prim, I resigned myself to selling the one thing I had hoped I would never have to. Myself.