Authors note: I hope you enjoy this story as much as I have writing it.
The beautiful song inspiring this story is by Nina Simone, Wild Is the Wind (Live at Town Hall).
The characters in this story are from the wonderful Hunger Games Trilogy owned by the talented and extraordinary Suzanne Collins.
I never knew a day of celebration could have such a dark and empty side to it. Sitting here, watching Finnick and Annie holding one another, dancing, smiling, touching and kissing makes me feel like screaming.
What did they ever do to deserve this? For Finnick to sell himself and for Annie to go mad. Today might be a day of celebration, but every soul in this room is haunted by the darkness that surrounds the air. The knowledge that we may not succeed in our battle against the Capitol. That all the deaths, the pain and suffering may be for nothing.
Sometimes I wonder, maybe the Hunger Games were the lesser of evils. Let Snow have our children; let him and the Capitol watch them die. Let them win and eliminate all hope. Let us be pieces in their destructive game.
The citizens of district 12 and 13 are holding hands, dancing and smiling. A temporary distraction from all the evil that surrounds us.
I notice the old sitting and watching the young with tearful eyes. They know that this happiness is a mere veil over the weeks of misery to follow and a mask for all the destruction they have seen in their lifetime.
"Come Katniss, let's dance," says Prim with a heartbreaking smile. I shake my head; I have already danced enough to last me for a lifetime. That's when I notice Prim looking passed me with a look I can't quite figure out. I follow her gaze to see Peeta enter the room cautiously led by guards. The citizens make way for him, his loud heavy steps echoing.
"I'm glad he was able to come," Prim says resting her small hand on my trembling one.
Peeta scans the room. Everyone seems to be staring at him. They can't help it; he is the reason why they had survived the Capitol's latest assault on District 13. He is a Victor. He is the boy that could move Panem with his words. The boy that tried to kill their Mockingjay.
One by one the citizens look away, afraid they might become the target of his next assault. The real reason may have been the fact that they were not willing to let this night get ruined by his tragic presence.
I see the guards instruct Peeta to sit at the table furthest from mine and I catch his eyes scanning the room. When it lands on mine, my hand tightens around my sisters but I look right back into his.
The band resumes, playing beautiful music that reminded me of that day in the Capitol where I shared my first dance with Peeta. The dance that Effie had taught us, slow and dreamlike. I close my eyes and picture that sweet moment where his hands held mine with ease, without suspicion. Where I trusted him and he trusted me.
Finnick and Annie take to the center of the dance floor, as do others. Young and old pair off to share a dance. Most have never danced to music like this, but soon they all realize that it doesn't take much to master the dance. To stand close and trust your partner and to sway to the music as if nothing else mattered.
Nothing else matters, not tonight.
I scan the room and see Gale sharing a dance with his mother Hazelle. He is smiling. He is happy. I can't recall the last time he was happy.
Children are sitting quietly next to their mother and farther who share a smile. They know this rebellion must succeed; that they will do anything and everything to provide a life for their child. A life filled with moments like today, where darkness is lifted and happiness seems attainable. No one wants the night to end.
A few still dance and listen to a middle aged woman singing songs about love. Songs from the time before Panem. Songs that leave a sense of despair in my heart. Songs that were passed down through generations of lovers, never wanting to let go of a time where people were free, truly free and happiness and safety were taken for granted.
That is when I find myself moving. Careful steps, one by one I move forward. I let go of Prim's delicate hand, and slowly walk towards the one person in the room that breaks me. A path clears as citizen's watch, the fool walking towards her past. The past that I desperately cling onto and refuse to let go.
Peeta's eyes are hollow, cold and filled with emptiness. I refuse to look away as I move across the room towards whatever is left of the boy with the bread. The guards stomp towards me to block my path, but Haymitch stops the two and clears my way.
I stop in front of Peeta and extend my hand.
Love me, Love me,
Say you do
Let me fly away with you
Peeta hesitates but takes my hand which shakes under the once familiar touch. I take the lead and slowly walk him to the center of the room where citizens seem to have lost the ability to move.
I turn to face him, and slowly take his hands and rest them on my waist.
For my love is like the wind
And wild is the wind
I close my eyes and open them to look into his. I realize how foggy and tired his blue eyes have become, no longer bright and radiant like in the past.
I look down and hesitate before I place my hand on his chest and hold his gaze. We slowly sway to the music barely moving.
Give me more than one caress
Satisfy this hungriness
Let the wind blow through your heart
Wild is the wind
I move my hand from his chest to his neck and feel his body tense under my touch. I can't blame him; he is dancing with a mutt after all. I decide not to let anyone destroy it. I'm surprised by this miraculous steadiness and sanity that he and I possess in this moment and treasure it.
I touch the back of his neck with my now fragile and bony fingers, playing with his hair. As we sway to the music, I notice I have slowly pulled myself closer to Peeta, or maybe he has moved closer to me.
I don't care either way.
You touch me
I hear the sound of mandolins
You kiss me
I move my hand to his cheeks and touch the outline of his face with my thumb lingering on his lips. The lips that once touched mine so gently. All those kisses I took for granted come flooding through my mind. The kiss that was burning hot from his fever in the cave, the kiss full of fur, snowflakes and lipstick before the Victory Tour, and the kiss that made me want more, the one on the beach that was interrupted by a lightening.
With your kiss, my life begins
I wonder if mine would too.
I lean in and gently press my lips onto his. I wonder if he will lose it, if he will reach for my neck and put me out of my misery. I open my eyes slowly pulling away from Peeta's lips which now barely touch mine. His eyes are closed. I pull back as he opens his eyes to hold my gaze and bites the corner of his lower lips.
You're spring to me
All things to me
You're life itself
Like a leaf clings to a tree
Oh, my darling, cling to me
His right hand leaves my lower back and touches my braid. That's when I see a tear. It rolls down his face and he jolts his hand from my braid to touch the tear.
With that I am left standing alone. Peeta storms out of the room and slams the door behind him as the guards rush after him.
For we're creatures of the wind
And wild is the wind
The song ends and I am alone again, lonelier than I have ever felt. The entire district witness to my heartbreak.