Author's Note: The characters in this story are from the wonderful Hunger Games Trilogy owned by the talented and extraordinary Suzanne Collins.
Please note that this story includes original character to allow for a unique story. I am personally getting tired of post Mockingja, pre-epiloge fanfictions and wanted to write a story that gave room for creativity while staying true to the special and complicated dynamic between Peeta and Katniss.
Please leave me a review as they are greatly appreciated.
"It's your first year Prim they're not going to pick you," I reassured my sister planting a kiss on her forehead. I was sure of it; the odds were in her favor. I on the other hand, not so much. You see, for us Seam kids, signing up for tesserae is a necessity. My name was in the reaping bowl twenty times this year; Gale's, forty two times. So long as I was alive, I was never going to let Prim sign up for them. It was my job to protect my family, not hers.
I began to dress in my mother's blue dress from when she was a young merchant girl. She had laid it out for me as I had outgrown my previous reaping dress. My mother smiled at me while pinning my hair back in an elegant braid. She was now just an empty hollow shell of a woman who one was my mother. She checked out the day my father died.
I stand in line along with the other sixteen year old girls. I find it rather comical. All of us girls and boys lined up like lambs with our hair brushed, in our most 'lavish' clothing, trying our very best to look presentable for the cameras that point at us, waiting to capture the reaction of the one boy and girl who will be given their death sentence.
Effie Trinket wobbles her way onto the podium setup in front of the justice building. What on earth was wrong with her shoes? I think to myself. Her high platform shoes seem to be missing the heel; she is leaning forward and sticking out her bottom to balance on the front of her feet. I bet she was following the newest and trendiest fashion of the Capitol. What a joke.
She taps on the microphone and clears her throat before she beings her speech. About the war, the rebellion, how ungrateful the districts were to the Capitol and the creation of the Hunger Games and its significance. I look over at Gale and mouth 'Blah blah blah,' while rolling my eyes. Gale suppresses his laughter and gives me a smile while shaking his head.
The girls around me tense when I see Effie approaching the reaping bowl. I tense as well and take deep breaths to calm my nerves. "Ladies first," I feel my heart pounding so hard and fast like it is reminding me that I am still alive, at least for now. I watch Effie approach the microphone and she reads the name.
My knees buckle and I start to tremble. The girl next to me, a merchant girl looks to me and down at her hand that I have subconsciously grabbed and was squeezing. I watch Prim slowly emerge from the row of the twelve-year old girls and tuck her shirt tail in at the back, taking small confident steps to the podium.
"Prim," I scream, pushing my way to the dirt path between the boys and the girls guarded by the peacekeepers. The peacekeepers surround me in what seems like seconds and are pulling me back. One even pokes me with the barrel of his gun, just to remind me that my life was worth nothing and killing me this very instant would be his pleasure.
Assuming that I had volunteered myself, I push passed the peacekeepers and sprint towards Prim, embracing her like it was going to be my last.
"What a surprising turn of events," Effie declares. "Come on up my darling, don't be shy." She motions the volunteer to the podium. That's when it hits me, I hadn't volunteered; someone else had. "What is your name young lady," Effie asks.
The silence that fills the district astonishing.
Why on earth had Avalyn volunteered for my sister? The answer was clear to everyone. I also knew why she had volunteered, she was staring right at him.
I was promptly escorted by the peacekeepers along with Prim to where my mother stood frozen. Suddenly my mother placed her three fingers to her lips and extended her hand to salute Avalyn. Her action had saved Prim. This is the first time I realize my mother is still alive. I look away from my mother to see half the district salute her, the other half, mostly merchants did not.
Effie Trinket was clearly not pleased. She quickly reached into the boys bowl and picked out a name. Before I could even think of Gale and his odds, Effie announces the other tribute of District 12.
I feel a relief. Gale is safe, safe for good. This was his last reaping as he will be nineteen soon. A smile crosses my face as my eyes meet Gale's only to realize what had just happened.
Peeta Mellark had been chosen.
I watch Peeta stand next to Avalyn looking empty and defeated. You see, he had already accepted his fate, just as Avalyn had. The boy with the bread was going to die.
We decide to visit Avalyn. After all we had to thank her for her sacrifice. The entire district knew why she had volunteered, but the three of us knew of perhaps the other more serious reason she had decided to present herself to death rather than wait for it to come to her.
Avalyn was the most beautiful girl in our district, in fact, she was breathtaking. The way her long, straight black hair contrasted with her piercing green eyes was something that only a higher divine being could take credit for. She had olive skin like mine, a natural characteristic of us Seam kids. She was slightly taller than me, her body toned yet feminine. I had caught just about every man in our district gawking at her, including Gale.
She was sitting by the window in the small room which was rather barren. Avalyn turned around and smiled, she really was beautiful.
"Avalyn… I just want to say," Prim began but was immediately overcome by emotions and began sobbing.
"Don't be crazy," Avalyn says raising her eyebrows "I was going to volunteer for whoever that was chosen this year," she smiles "Plus, you have some serious growing up to do little lady." She winks at Prim patting her head. Prim wraps her arms around her waist, hugging Avalyn.
"How are you feeling," my mother asks. "I feel a lot weaker these days but, I'll manage." Avalyn replies, carelessly combing her hair with her fingers. She spins around and grabs a paper bag and hands it to Prim. "This is for you little lady," she smiles "Well, Mr. Mellark brought it for me but I don't like sweets." The peacekeeper knocks on the door giving us the two minute warning.
"Are you going to say something to him?" she asks me.
"No." I respond. "Are you going to say goodbye to him?"
"He never came by."
Outside the justice building we are greeted by Mr. Mellark and his family. My mother embraces Mr. Mellark as he breaks down in her arm and begins sobbing.
I had never seen a man cry, and never expected Mr. Mellark to cry. The friendly baker who loved the squirrels I hunted, the man who my mom once loved. He was broken. Peeta's brothers were crying too, unable to contain his anger one began punching the side of the building, bruising his knuckles.
Peeta's mother looked pale. She was light skinned already but she looked especially pale today, like she was drained of blood and her eyes hollow. I wondered if this woman was beginning to realize she was losing her kind son. The one she beat when he burned bread for me to save my life.
I feel a warm hand on my shoulder "Katniss," Mr. Mellark says slowly turning me to face him. "Peeta wanted me to give you this," he says handing me a white envelope. "He wants you to open it if he…" chocking on his words he touches my face with his hand. I watch more tears flow down his face.
"He wants you to read it when he dies," Mrs. Mellark barks. "What a useless dumb son I have raised, he writes a letter to a Seam girl…" she begins to sob uncontrollably. I had never seen such a thing. She was screaming at me while pulling her hair and stomping the ground with her feet. She began screaming louder and punching her husband's chest and arm as he held her to his chest. She seemed to disappear behind his strong embrace and began cried like a little child.
I press the letter to my chest.
Now I am sobbing too.
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