Disclaimer: I own nothing. Literally, nothing, nadda, zippo. Suzanne Collins owns everything. I just came up with an alternative spin with her characters. (Shrug)
Author's Note: Just a little idea I came up with. It's Alternate Universe and there will be OOC for many of the characters. I'm still working out some of the fine details, but I think I did a decent job (hopefully, lol).
Think of the setting as a little bit of Richie Rich environment and The Stepford Wives. I'll eventually include all the "main" characters, as well as several other minor characters. And the 'villain' of the story is probably not who you'd expect. Snow is a "good" guy (he's not going to be a front running player). Because it is Alternative, I do have a lot of parallel's to the books, but they're twisted. Because I placed Katniss in a very different environment, she's going to be slightly different than her core character. I'm trying to write her as close to the core character as possible, though.
I'm always open for ideas, critiques, and opinions. (Reviews make me smile… :}) And I do not have a beta, so I do try to go through the story as thoroughly as possible, so I do apologize for any mistakes.
Pairings: KAT/PEETA; GALE/KAT; DELLY/PEETA; FINNICK/ANNIE; MADGE/GALE; HAY/EFFIE; and a few minors, here and there.
Plot: Katniss Everdeen has been living a privileged life for the past six years. Her mother's cousin had taken them in after her father's death and she quickly learned she would never want for anything, every again. But, just because she had the means of luxury now, didn't mean she was going to turn into one of those girls, like Glimmer or Delly. She wasn't going to turn into a spoiled brat.
So she did everything she did before Uncle Haymitch plucked them from their simple home in Pennsylvania, and brought them to Panem, Maine to live in Carriage Point (the wealthy part of Panem). She went hiking, played softball, hung out with the guys, and didn't worry about trivial things like Tiffany's jewelry, Louis Vuitton Bags, and silly/stupid things like crushes and butterflies in the stomach. She just wasn't that kind of girl.
However, when an old, familiar face shows up to Panem, after being away at school, Katniss Everdeen gets a reality check. Because even though it's been ten years, Peeta Mellark has never looked so good. And, to top it off, he's funnier, sweeter, and more charismatic then she had remembered from their youth.
She's never been one to deal in the wheeling and dealing of feelings, but she may have too if she wants to keep the boy with the scar (the scar that she technically gave him). And it's not enough trying to live up to her grandfather's standards, maintain her friendships, and make sure the Cornucopia kid's win the softball championship this year, it seems that there's someone HIGHLY against Peeta's feelings towards her.
Pf… it'd be easier to go live in the woods.
The Story of a Scar
May 13th, 2006; Saturday
I stared at my mother as she sat in her old rocking chair staring out the window. I sighed and turned back to my sister who was placing her clothes in a large suitcase. I ran my hand over her blonde hair, giving her a small smile. She was so little.
"Oh, good, you girls are doing so wonderfully." I looked up at Effie Trinket, my 'uncle's' personal assistant. She was a petite woman with a hyper personality but a kind smile.
"I don't want to leave, Effie." I stated quietly, my hand dropping to my side. "This is our home. He wouldn't want us to leave." She gave me a sad look before moving and wrapping me against her side.
"I know, Katniss. I know. But it'll be better with your uncle. Your mother," her eyes drifted towards the big window in the living room. "She'll be happier with Haymitch. And you guys will never have to worry about anything, again."
It was true, Haymitch was rich. He worked for his uncle's, our 'grandfather's', company. Prim and I would never want for anything ever again.
Haymitch was my mother's favorite cousin and our father's best friend. He had been a part of our lives since forever. Of course he would swoop in when news of our mother's inability to care for us, after the accident, reached him.
"You'll have your own rooms, gardens, and you'll be attending the best prep school this side of the East Coast." Effie's voice was filled with promises and hopes.
I couldn't find an argument, so I leaned into her, wrapping my arms around her. I haven't been hugged, properly, since the morning my father had gone to work, never to return to us.
I closed my eyes as her arms tightened around me.
"You don't have to carry this burden alone anymore, Katniss. Haymitch and I are here. We're going to make it better." She moved so that she was squatted down, her hazel eyes meeting my gray eyes. "You're a strong, amazing girl. Haymitch will make sure you and Prim are always taken care of."
"Promise?" I whispered. My mother had shut down and whatever little savings we had dwindled to nothing. I didn't know how I was going to keep us alive.
Hazel eyes held mine for a long moment. It was as if she wanted me to fully understand the next few words out of her mouth.
May 26th, 2012; Saturday
"Katniss Marie Everdeen! If you're not down here in two minutes, so help me god! I'm sending Darius up there to throw you over his shoulder and I'll have you pull the car!" I can't help but laugh to myself as Effie's exasperated voice echoes from the bottom of the stairs.
I'm standing in front of my mirror finishing the last few steps of braiding my hair. My body is being hugged by a dark green dress, which fits like a skin, right up until my waist when it flows like water to an inch above my knees. A white ribbon around my waist and white sandals complimented the dark color, as well as my olive skin.
I hated dresses.
Scrunching my nose I grab the cropped white cardigan from the foot of my unmade bed. Without another thought in my mind I'm flying out of my room, soaring down the massive staircase.
I freeze directly into front of Effie. She's wearing a navy blue skirt suit, with a white ruffled blouse. Her blonde hair is fluffed up in curls, her hazel eyes giving me a look, but never the less, a smile graces her lips.
"You're impossible." She mumbles, walking in her higher than high heels towards the front door. "Prim has been dressed and waiting in the car for almost twenty minutes." Her accent, which I'm not sure where it's really from, slips out. Twenty minutes.
"Well, I had to look perfect. I know how important these little get togethers are for grandfather and Haymitch." She nudges my back as we cross the front porch, the small pebbles that litter the marbled driveway crunch under our shoes.
"It'll be fine, it's a family picnic." I roll my eyes, causing Darius, our driver, to chuckle as he opens the door for me. I slide in giving him a gracious smile.
My sister, Prim, has her blonde hair loose and held back with a blue headband. She's wearing a flowing blue skirt, that matches her eyes, and a white blouse that has ruffles, much like Effie's. It makes her look older than twelve, but not by much.
"You look pretty." I state, nudging her knee. She lifts her eyes from her book and gives me a large smile.
She loves these little get togethers. Probably because a lot of her friends' parents work for our grandfather and they're young enough not to be bothered with the politics.
At seventeen, I'm constantly being clucked around by my grandfather's assistant, Ms. Coin, to befriend the right kids.
Don't get me wrong, I love Haymitch. He had filled a void that had been left after my father passed. He would never be my father, and lord knows he never tried to be, but he gave me something my mother had still yet to accomplish; safety and comfort.
Our grandfather, or rather Coriolanus Snow, was not related to us by blood. He was from the other side of Haymitch's family. He was nice enough and I had known him just as long as I knew Haymitch. He was always around for holidays with big gifts and warm hugs. As I got older, though, I learned that Snow was a little more than just a kind old grandfather figure. He was a vicious business man, who wheeled and dealed to make sure no one was above him and everything fell under his power.
This, I mean, was whatever. His house was twice the size of Haymitch's. Money was an issue for no one. Not Snow, not Haymitch, and now by association, not Prim or myself.
However, after spending a few afternoons with Haymitch at the company, my idealization of a gentle grandfather were tarnished.
"Now, remember. Manners." Effie's head is turned, her eyes staring at me intensely. I resist the urge to roll my eyes. "There will be LOTS of important people there. Your grandfather and uncle expect you to be on your best behavior." Her eyes are on me, but a shift in her mind produces a small smile on her lips. "I heard that they're trying to get the Mellark's to finally merge with the company."
Prim shrugs slightly, but my attention is caught.
"The Mellark's? They're going to be there?" I can hear a hesitation in my voice, which upsets me. Prim gives me a look.
"They're a very prestigious family." Effie nods, her attention more on Prim. "They own the shipment plant; your grandfather has been trying to merge with them for years. Katniss was close with their son, Peeta."
Close was an understatement. From birth to about age seven, my mother would take me, and eventually Prim, to Haymitch's every summer. The Mellark's lived a few acres away from Snow and we would all play together while Haymitch, Snow, and Mrs. Mellark worked. They had three sons, Mark, Rye, and Peeta. Peeta was only a few months older than I was. My mother and Mr. Mellark were apparently friends when they were younger.
So, every summer when my father went overseas to do some kind of construction project, my mother would bask in the laps of luxury (that she had given up when she married our father, a simple humble man) and spend time with Haymitch and her old friends.
Peeta and I had become best friends; apparently inseparable, even from birth, for the entire summer. He was sweet and kind, nothing like his brothers. He held my hand, pulled out chairs, and was always playing with my hair.
I was seven when it had happened.
I had wandered off into the woods that lay past Snow's grounds. I'm a curious girl. Peeta had just turned eight and had followed me, grasping my hand as we weaved between the trees, keeping close to the stream. I'm not a hundred percent sure exactly what happened, but there was a fox or a wolf. It jumped out at me, from across the water, off a large boulder. I had screamed.
Peeta had found a branch, slamming it into the dog like creature, scaring it off after several minutes of him shouting and the dog creature growling. I laid on the ground, petrified, watching as the dog bounded off and Peeta fell to the ground, panting. There was blood on his leg.
Between my past and current screams and his earlier shouts, his brothers had found us, and plucked us right out of the woods to my mother and his father's feet. I had been unharmed, except for a few scratches, but Peeta had to go to the hospital, his leg deeply injured from the dog creature's sharp nails; maybe it was teeth.
All I truly remember was crying hysterically and promising him I wouldn't leave his side, ever.
As I sense Prim and Effie's eyes on me, I'm shaken from my thoughts. I scowl, crossing my arms and slouching against the leather of the car.
Prim looks away, a small smile on her face, but Effie just rolls her eyes.
I'm leaning against the railing of the gazebo that sits to the side yard of our grandfather's estate. He always uses the side yard for these types of parties, only daring to use the backyard for his barbecues, because of the massive pool and various lounge chairs.
The green of the grass is glittery against the late May sun. The weather isn't too hot, making the shade from the various umbrella tables cool and fresh. My eyes are glancing over the various employees, teenagers, and children that are scattered over the vast greenery.
My best friend, and the girl I normally hang out with at these events, Madge, is currently talking and flirting with Rye Mellark and one of our friends from school, Cato. She's giggling and gently brushing her hand over Rye's shoulder. My eyes had searched for Peeta the moment we got to the side yard, but I still hadn't spotted him.
"Well, well, well, I see we're being our ever anti-social self today." I smile before I even turn my head.
Haymitch comes to lean next to me, a tall glass of rum and ice in his hands. He pops his lips, his gray eyes (that mirror mine) sweep across the yard in one big swoop, before falling back to me.
"Should have left your hair down. It would have made looking the part of a girl believable." I give him an annoyed look, but I can't help dropping my eyes and smiling.
"I haven't seen grandfather at all for this little soirée."
"Yeah, he's been entertaining the Mellark's, giving them and their CEO a tour of the grounds and the house. Their sons seem to be behaved enough." He takes a large sip of his drink. "You know them."
"I remember them, a little." It has been the better part of ten years. "I saw Rye, but not the other two."
"Mark has been flirting with Snow's secretaries." Haymitch points to the far left of the yard where a group of young women are giggling with a tall, muscular boy with sandy brown/blonde hair. "I think Peeta might be with his parents. I heard he's been doing the most with furthering his education and getting ready to take on the shipment plant."
I eye Haymitch. "I wouldn't have imagined Peeta taking on that kind of role."
"He's a very charismatic and ambitious boy. I saw him a few weeks ago at a meeting between his father and Snow." Haymitch nods his head approvingly. "Doesn't shock me, really, he has always shown great character."
Silence passes over us for the next several minutes. I sigh as I look over to Madge. Her head is thrown back, laughing as Cato gestures and makes different expressions. He's obviously telling one of his riveting stories about going camping with his father in Washington. He's always the hero that defended the family from a bear or a jaguar.
"Prim has been the sole entertainment for the younger boys." Haymitch points with his glass to Prim and a large group of boys and girls. They're playing a game of tag, I think. "You could be popular if you tried just a little bit." I scoff. "I'm just saying, sweetheart; there are a lot of eligible bachelors here."
His smile grows the size of his face as I elbow him and shake my head.
"I don't think you'd be able to part with me, Uncle Haymitch." I rarely use uncle with him, unless I have a purpose.
"Touché, it would be a hard separation. But think of the rec-room I could have upstairs if I marry you off to one of these boys." He laughs.
"You think you're going to actually get up the nerve to ask Effie to dance tonight?" I ask to distract him from the talk of boys. My eyes fall on the hyper, petite woman across the lawn. It was no secret to anyone, but her possibly, that Haymitch had some form of feelings for her.
"You know I can't." His tone is dry, no longer teasing and airy.
"She's good for you. And I like her." When she wasn't scolding me or trying to get me to straighten my posture with a book on my head.
"My uncle wouldn't approve the match." I see him lift the glass from the corner of my eye.
"You're like forty, I don't think grandfather has a say." I have a feeling he has a say with me and Prim. He controlled Haymitch's money, which I have to regretfully acknowledge, controls our way of life.
It was Haymitch's turn to scoff. "You'd be surprised how far a man would go to make sure his wishes are granted, Katniss." Gray crashed with gray. "You'd be surprised."
And then he finished the rest of the glass with one long sip.
I love the breeze that settled across the night air. It blew through my hair, giving my lungs a burst of coolness. The music was drifting through the curtained doors that led to the ballroom, which were a good twenty feet from where I stood at the deck's railing.
I hated how stuffy the rooms always got during these parties.
Most of the families had gone home, but Snow made sure that the entertainment was still available past the hours of dinner. Prim had fallen asleep less than an hour ago, almost all her friends were gone for the night. Effie had tried to usher us out, but Snow insisted that we stay and continue enjoying the festivities.
The door opened, allowing the music to disturb the sweet silence of the breeze and the air. I knew it was neither Effie nor Haymitch, so I figured it was Madge or Cato. They had probably wanted to say good bye before they dragged their parents home.
"Hey Katniss." The voice is soft. There's a comforting tone to it that fills my chest with warmth. It's neither Madge nor Cato's voice though. It's completely unfamiliar to me.
I spin around, staring at the boy not ten feet from me. His hands are shoved in the pockets of his black dress pants that are accented by a baby blue button shirt, the sleeves rolled to his elbows. The shirt compliments his eyes, two bright blue crystal orbs, which sparkle in the dim light of the deck. His blonde hair is brushed back, a few strands falling over his face in a charming manner. Full lips are tugged in a half smirk that gives my stomach butterflies.
I mentally slap myself. I was not that type of girl. Butterflies? I think not.
I clear my throat, my arms crossing over my chest defensively. "Do I know you?"
He chuckles, moving closer to me. I watch as he pauses about a foot from me and hikes his pant leg up. Across his calf, wrapping to his ankle, there's a scar from what I can only assume was once a deep gash.
My eyes study the scar for a hard moment, before rising to crash with his blue orbs in recognition.
"Oh my god! Peeta!" My hand flies to mouth, unsure of where the high pitch tone had even come from.
My eyes move from his, examining his face, his strong neck, the curve of his muscles against the cotton of his shirt. He's tall and fit, with an air of aloofness over him.
Peeta Mellark had grown up.
His half smirk turns into a full blown smile, his cheeks reddening as his eyes drop to the ground.
"Hey, Katniss." His voice is still soft. Vague memories of him always being slightly soft spoken around the adults, race to the front of my mind. "It's been so long, you look beautiful."
It's my turn to blush. I drop my arms, balancing on my toes. "Thank you."
What the hell is wrong with me? I'm sounding and acting like Madge when she's around a cute, or what she thinks is cute, boy.
I mentally kick myself; straightening my shoulders, I cross my arms once again. "You never visited; I've been living with Haymitch for six years."
Honestly, I don't feel that this choice of subject matter helps whatever I thought I was going for.
"I know." His smile slips away; his eyes capturing and holding mine. "I'm very sorry about your father. He was a good man. My father thought very highly of him." I'm not very on the ball with emotions, but I can see specks of guilt written on his face. "I wanted to call you or write, or something. I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you."
I'm pretty sure he's going to start crying, so I don't remind him that we pretty much stopped talking after my father got a different job and we no longer visited Haymitch in the summer. I definitely do not bring up the fact that communication is a two way street, and the emails and letters had stopped coming from my end as well.
"It's ok. I mean," I shrug, halfheartedly. I wasn't sure what to say, how to diffuse the situation. I wasn't even sure if there was anything to diffuse. I was impossible in social situations; generally, I took my cues from others.
"I would have visited." His hands had returned to his pockets, his eyes moving from my face to take in the darken scenery behind me. "Rye and I were away at school, in California. It's a very prestigious academy that has a reputation in producing the next generation of world leaders." His voice is no longer soft, but rather playful. He rolls his eyes, shaking his head. "We've even spent the summers over there to learn the ropes of how to run a prosperous company. My mother is actively making sure one of us will hold up to her expectations."
Haymitch's words from earlier enter my mind as my arms once again lower, just like my defenses. If I remember correctly, his mother was a bit of a witch.
"How's that working out for you?" I tease, bouncing on my heels.
Peeta smiles and grimaces at the same time. He takes in a sharp breath, making it dramatic. "Not as well as she wants, really."
I can't help the laugh that escapes my throat. It was the way he said it and his expression; it was priceless.
A minute passes before I can contain my laughter, his smile beaming across his face.
"I heard you were to be the golden boy, the next in command with the shipping plant." I wipe a stray tear from my eye.
Peeta scoffs. "Only because Mark and Rye have no interest, whatsoever. I wish they did, my mother and I have never really been on great terms."
"Haymitch said that you were charming and charismatic; the perfect candidate." So, ok, a little creative license is implemented. But I knew there was always a bit of sibling rivalry with Peeta and his brothers. And if they were falling behind, Peeta had no right to dust his own ambitious nature under the carpet.
"Haymitch is decent person." Peeta chuckles. "My dad says I have a knack for moving a crowd."
"I don't doubt it." There's a tug to my lips and I'm giving him one of my brightest smiles.
His cheeks are once again rosy.
"I'll be home this summer, though. I graduated early so my father decided I deserved a break."
"You graduated? Peeta, that's like, awesome!" I throw myself at him in a hug.
Now, just to set the record straight, I don't hug people. I don't like touching people, I don't like people touching me, and I have a tendency to hold people at arm's length. So, when it registers in my mind that my arms are around Peeta's neck and his arms are loosely around me, it's safe to say that I fling myself backwards, almost falling over the railing of the deck.
Thank goodness for me, Peeta is not only charismatic but also has excellent reflexes.
"Whoa, are you ok?" His voice is once again soft, which once again fills me with warmth.
Oh, I'm just fine. I'm just trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with me.
I straighten myself, nodding my head. "I'm fine; I think I'm just tired."
"Well, I'll walk you inside." He gives me a tight smile. "Out of curiosity, do you think it'd be ok if we, maybe, hung out this summer?"
I can't help the smile that finds my lips, nor do I miss his tight smile transforming into the half smirk.
"I would love to hang out with you this summer." I sound like a moron.
Peeta nods his head, his half smirk giving him an irresistible charm. He sticks out his elbow, which I take, and we both walk towards the house.
I take note that I'm going to have to beat myself senseless for acting like a complete and utter buffoon.