I do not claim ownership to The Hunger Games trilogy.
The news had come unexpectedly.
A shock really, no one would have ever imagined such a thing happening to someone so young.
'Why her? Why…'
Katniss massaged her temples tiredly, ignoring her mother who was pacing the hall of the funeral home, wringing her fingers in anxiety.
The past week had been tough on both with the news of her baby sister's untimely death, the questions and pain that followed, and the rush of arranging a funeral neither of them had ever dreamed of having to organize. At the tender age of sixteen, the last thing either of them would have expected was for their darling Primrose to be suddenly snatched from life.
Katniss had been finishing up the first term of her third year studying at the University of Panem. Her mother had insisted she attend, stating that it would be better for her future and job opportunities if she earned a degree. The only reason Katniss had agreed was through the gentle pleading of her younger sister who argued that, despite their mother's inability to understand her wrongs in life, she should listen to the older woman's advice.
"You can't work the register at Bargain Books forever."
The soft humor in her sister's tone had pushed Katniss to submit her application and do all the paper work for financial aid. The only reason she had taken on the job was to help provide for their family after their father's accident at the oil rig, far away from where they had lived. When news of the accident had reached them her mother basically fell off the face of the earth, devastated by the loss of the man that she loved.
Katniss's blood still boiled at the thought of the pile of unpaid bills stacking up on the kitchen table as her mother wallowed in her own misery. As soon as her sixteenth birthday had come around she swapped up the first job she could, taking responsibility for the three of them until her mother snapped out of her funk.
"She was heartbroken Katniss, you shouldn't blame her."
Yet she had. Prim had still been quite young at the time but it was through her careful attention that their mother was more or less able to get back to life, finding a job as a pharmacy technician and pulling what was left of their family back together.
Of course she had been reluctant to leave Prim at the hands of her mother but she also knew that they both spoke the truth. She didn't want the only thing to be proud of in her own life to have been working the counter of the shabby bookstore for twenty straight years.
So she packed up her things, told Prim she would call every night and shook her mother's hand before taking off in to the world of higher education.
Looking back now, she wondered if her staying would have made a difference.
She had been awake by chance that night, chewing idly on the end of her pencil as she poured over the textbook on her lap. She was a little on edge about this exam coming up and, despite countless hours of preparation, Katniss had still felt completely unprepared. Her phone had come to life and, eyes still on the book, she brought it to her ear.
"Katniss?" Her mother would never be awake at this time, her eyes snapped up.
"Mom? What's wrong?" She could hear her mother's strangled sob.
"Something's happened to Prim."
The earth had stood still then. Katniss could suddenly sympathize with her mother, hearing that the one person who was more important to Katniss than even her own life was compromised made nothing matter.
She ran out of her apartment and sped down the highway, not caring for laws as she raced to see for herself. The smell of sterility hit her hard as she pushed through to the emergency room where her mother sat with her head in her hands.
Gale was standing beside her mother, his right arm supported by a sling that went around his neck. When she spotted him, standing and alive, albeit looking grim, a rage she could not explain filled her. Katniss launched herself at him.
"Why?" She breathed, pinning him against the wall. She couldn't help the tears streaming down her face.
Her mother had told her that it had been an accident. Gale had volunteered to drive Prim home from her ballet recital since their mother had had to work late. He had always been a kind and friendly presence in their life. He only lived three doors down from them and their fathers had worked and perished together on the rig.
It had been raining.
It wasn't his fault.
But it was.
The grey eyes that mirrored her own told her he felt guilty, told her he felt the pain she felt but she couldn't stop.
"Why do you get to live?"
She hadn't spoken to him since then.
"Miss?" A timid looking woman tapped on Katniss's shoulders, bringing her out of her revere. She looked up, grey eyes rimmed with red from the strain of keeping herself more or less composed. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but… We need you to approve of her before we can proceed to the ceremony."
"I'm sorry…?" The woman bit her lip nervously as realization hit her. She turned over to her mother who was now crumpled in a chair, weeping openly in to a tissue. She sighed. "Alright."
They made their way through the hall, footsteps muffled by the thick dark carpet. Katniss had worn a simple dark dress the reached a little farther than her knees. Prim had always bothered her about wearing more feminine things so she thought it appropriate for the occasion. Her hair was carefully plaited and strewn over her shoulder, her fingers fiddled mindlessly as she felt their approach come nearer.
The woman stepped aside from her before a large, dark, wooden door. "I'll allow you a moment. I'll wait for you here."
Katniss nodded, stepping through and hearing the soft click as the door closed quietly behind her.
Her breath caught when she spotted the simple casket at the end of the room. A floral scent was thick in the air and she could feel a wave of nausea hit her. She clutched her chest and leaned back against the door.
She was not ready for this.
Yet there was no denying it. She shouldn't stall. Willing her legs forward she went on, inching closer and closer to what was her sister's corpse.
There before her lay her precious sister, as beautiful as she ever was. Her blond hair maid up in a similar plait to Katniss's, pale hands clasped together before her chest. She was an angel in slumber, expression serene and wonderfully at peace.
But she was not asleep.
Katniss would never be able to watch as her sister's eyes fluttered open or that wonderful smile that spread across her features whenever she came home from school. She would never again hear Prim's voice talking adamantly over the phone of what had happened in school that day or at dance class. She would never hear the sweet chime of her sister's laugh or watch her grow in to the beautiful flower she had already started to become.
Her Primrose was gone, lost to the deep sleep of forever. There would be no amount of rousing that could ever wake her up.
Deep sadness enveloped her and she felt helpless.
She strode away, told the woman waiting behind the door all was well, and steeled herself for what was to come.
No words could describe how heavy her heart felt. She had wandered away almost immediately after everyone's departure for the cemetery, unable to face any more condolences or pitying smiles. Her mother was a grown woman and she decided it better to leave her to her own devices as she moved away from the crowd.
"You done saying your goodbyes?" She stopped short, turning to see a familiar dark haired figure come out from behind one of the marble pillars that adorned the funeral home's façade. Facing Gale was the last thing she wanted right now.
"Where have you been hiding?" Was all she could muster, sounding more harsh than she had intended. He said nothing, turning away from her and clearing his throat. She sighed. "Gale…"
"I understand why you feel this way." He said suddenly. "I would have given anything to trade-"
"Gale, shut up." His mouth snapped closed. "I'm sorry I said that… the other day. I was just… I'm just upset right now. It's not your fault." He relaxed a little, and it wasn't until he had that she realized how much tension he must have been holding on to.
"Katniss…" The way he was looking at her made her uncomfortable and what came out of his mouth next did little for her nerves. "Katniss, you have to know that I love you. A great deal. I would have done anything to have made Prim safe…" She held up a hand.
"I can't do this." He looked hurt then but she plowed on. "I need to get away and… I can't do this."
She turned on her heels and sped off.
She didn't want to feel any of this, she didn't want to deal with any of it.
With her sister gone, the only thing Katniss felt like doing was running away.
A/N: I've never written in this fandome, it's a little embarassing. Here it goes. Thank you.