AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you so much for the previous reviews and follows, and especially to the ones that actually came back for the full chapter. To be clear, I've not abandoned you, I've abandoned what I wrote previously and sort of started again. Hope this makes up for the couple of months or so of absolute non-productivity and laziness.
At the anonymous Omg, she's a prostitute.
Home is empty when I arrive.
It's not District 12 but it's grown to become home in its own way. There's no soft vanilla scent that lingers in the air from Mother's perfume she saved from town. Or the layer of coat dust mixed with Lady's hair coating the pale marble floor of the penthouse. There's not even Lady, or Mother, or even Prim. There's only me. And Peeta.
My head is spinning and I'm worried I'll topple over soon so I feel my way towards the kitchen bench and sit. I'm growing so weak, I tell myself, close to crying. You can't show your weakness in the Captiol, not with all these roses and cameras around you. You have to be cautious but I feel myself deteriorating. I can't think of anything from the past without feeling anxious and sick. But there's nowhere to avoid it here with all the portraits and memories. There's no more Haymitch, as well. I'd forgotten but remembered now.
Being home after what I came back from, and thinking of all the difference four years can make whelms me. My nails claw at my face, leaving deep marks down to my chin. My heartbeat quickens like the sprint of a deer after the hunter has begun the hunt. There's nothing in my stomach to even escape, so only bile launches up my throat, burning its sides, and spills onto the kitchen bench. Some of it sticks onto the palm of my hands. I can't breathe or understand the thoughts rushing through my mind because the only urge I can think of is to scrub. I stare at my foreign arms and legs with panic rising within me, restricting my dry throat and tightening my chest. All I can see are flashes from tonight of coloured lips and bejewelled hands and all I can feel is the touch of them all over me. I need to wash it all off my skin. I don't want to have to remember it.
My bare feet pound across the floor with an urgency towards the bathroom on the opposite side of the house, racing to pound faster than my heartbeat. The slickness of the marble floor take advantage of my bare feet and I fall on my side to the ground. A sharp pain thunders through my jawbone and I groan in frustration. It's only been four years, I cry to myself, this isn't me. I survived the Hunger Games, why am I like this? I grab hold of the surrounding furniture and pull myself back up.
Walking is easier, I won't fall from walking so I walk the remainder of the way to the bathroom. I switch the shower tap on with a button, then, shredding out of the ostentatious clothing I'd been given to wear in the evening, I surrender to the bathtub, unhurriedly filling with scolding, clean water and scrub until my skin is raw. It's here, alone in the bathroom with no dignity to speak of, where I let myself cry the remains of tonight away because surely Snow will have more lined up tomorrow.
Sitting under the hammering waterfall of the shower, the tendrils of panic finally leave my body. A thick brush lies beside me with a flanks of dead skin cells tangled to the bristles. I watch as the water surrounding me is sucked into the drain in wide swirls. Looking upon my body, all I see is red. Angry, red scratches turning my entire body raw. I bite my bottom lip and feel shame replace my disgust. It'd been over a fortnight since I last felt the need to scrub. Your pathetic Katniss, I tell myself numbly, absolutely pathetic.
Tucking a strand of slick hair away, I step out of the bathtub naked and dry myself with fluffy, white towels. I can't stand to feel so vulnerable without a stitch of clothing on so I rush to pull on undergarments as fast as my hands will allow. I move cautiously towards the wall-length mirror in my underwear to review the damage from tonight. The reflection isn't pleasant. I count the blooming bruises in my head. Thirteen – rather fitting; one strike for each of the thirteen Districts I abandoned.
I turn away in shame and leave the room, numb and ready for sleep.
A hush falls over the enormous room and a pale man on a stage clears his throat. He looks important and I try pay attention but I can't see his face. He begins speaking but it all comes out as a slur. I move closer but I still can't hear him. Then I realize it's because it's all being drowned away by the blazing fire outside. The glass windows begins melting and the walls blackening. I scream at everyone to run, "We're going to die, run! Run!"
..The rebellion has come to an end with the Capitol rising out of the rubble gleaming and stronger than ever…
A hand cups my shoulder and it's Haymitch, he's telling me to shut up. "No, there's a fire. We have to run! There's a fire, Haymitch!" I shout at him with wild eyes. He's not reacting, no one is. They're all sitting seriously, facing the pale stranger – the man speaking – but I still can't hear him. "Haymitch, we have to go." I shake him so hard it makes me dizzy. No, wait. He's shaking me.
…This is not without loss or suffering, however…
He won't listen. I look frantically around for help and see mother cradling Prim. No, they can't be here, I think in denial and I run to them, fearing the worst if they don't leave now. But then there's Peeta and he's stopping me, blocking my way. I tell him to move, he can't keep me from getting to Prim, but he doesn't budge. I push him to the ground but there he is again, blocking my way, looking at me with a pitiful, pained expression.
…The punishments for our victors and rebels will be different this time…
"Katniss, you can't help them anymore." He says and it repeats in my head. "Katniss, you can't help them anymore." Tears are rimming my eyes and I'm getting angry. Angry at him, even though I don't know what he means. I tell him to leave me alone and push him out of the way. This time he doesn't come back so I run to Prim.
…The rebels shall burn but the Victors shall survive, just as they always have…
I can almost reach her. My fingers are stretching out, they're about to reac– the scene dissolves and Prim is gone. Then a horrible scream is heard around the room and I can't breathe. She's screaming. Prim's screaming. And now I'm screaming because I can see her. "Someone help her, she's on fire!" I cry to the entire room but they still don't listen. They've all turned and are now watching her die.
…Because death is honourable and death is easy, the few chosen shall linger behind and live the entirety of their lives in penance for their atrocious crimes…
Alongside her is mother. I lunge forward to try help but guards are holding me back. I kick, scream and squirm to be released but their grip is iron strong. They're not guards, it's Peeta and Haymitch. They won't let go. My body slumps and I look at back at Prim and mother, defeated, with tears in my eyes – and then I see them all. There's so many.
…While the remaining shall perish in flames that sparked the rebellion to be remembered no longer. For their contributing efforts for the Rebels in the rebellion have been the direct causes of many deaths within our home Capitol…
Johanna. Beetee. Plutarch. Effie. Paylor. Venia. Octavia. Flavius. Enobaria Everything fades to black…
Consciousness takes me with a start, and I'm gasping for breath and crying. I'm crying so much but I don't care the slightest because my mind is occupied by the overwhelming feeling of pain in the pit of my stomach and chest. "They're all gone because you didn't help them!" I shriek at myself.
I push the thick covers off my overheated body and hurry back to the ensuite. Haymitch had warned me not to use it too often, but this was a special occasion. I allowed myself this one night to be blissfully released. I head straight to fifth drawer under the left sink. An array of coloured tin boxes containing all sorts of basic medicine are exposed, I search through the pile, growing desperate when I can't find the single white container. My fingers fumble around the back until they finally seize a lone bottle in the corner, hidden from view. My hands begin shaking in anticipation and I have to restrain myself from pouring the entire contents of the large bottle across the table. There'd surely be the unlucky one that rolled astray only to found later by others. I grimace at the thought of Peeta finding the tiny syringe. The pain is brief and is quickly replaced by the cool sensation of numbness. For the first time in a long time, I truly smile in perfect bliss.
Maybe, review? I hear it's free. And constructive criticism wouldn't hurt.