So, I can't believe we've finally made it! I have to say, that I am normally the queen of procrastination, so I've never finished a story before. But this time I was determined to finish it, and I have! I hope you have all enjoyed reading, and that this final chapter does not disappoint, even though it is a lot shorter than the rest because it's sort of an epilogue :')
And also, I'd like to dedicate this chapter to my friend Dora, without her, I wouldn't have completed the story.
Disclaimer: Of course I am not Suzanne Collins!
I feel as though I'm floating. As though I'm in a dream. As though I know where I am, and this is how things have always been. But I know that this isn't. The world around me is a misty fog but the airs light, not heavy. What's happened? Is it that fog again? The fog that got the better of me in the arena?
I squirm and try to break free. To run away from the fog. Nothings stopping me, so why can't I escape it? I look down at myself and realise I'm wearing the same dress I wore on the reaping day. The thin, white cotton flows smoothly against me as a light breeze blows past.
Where am I? I try to remember everything. I try. But my last memories are of being pulled off the stupid girl on fire by some sort of force. So why am I here? Have the games finished already?
Then from out of the fog, a figure begins to emerge. It walks slowly towards me at first, but then quickens its pace. I can't quite make out who it is and I squint to try and get a better view of their face.
"Hello?" I say, hoping to get some reply. But there is none. The figure keeps walking towards me, and stops a few metres in front of me. I take in the person. They're wearing a simple shirt and tie, and I know it's a boy. They're dressed in reaping outfits. The boys face begins to blur in to focus and I recognise it immediately. The boy from three.
"A-re you-" I begin to say, but then a thought occurs to me. The boy from three is dead. Why is he here?
When the realisation dawns on me, I'm not alarmed. I feel entirely at peace. The boy from three is dead. And so am I.
"Clove, welcome," He says, in the same nasal voice he used in the arena. I have to resist letting out a snicker at the dramatic fashion in which he says it.
"Am I dead?" I say, curiosity getting the better of me.
"Yes Clove. You are dead," I wish he'd stop saying my name, I think.
"So the games are over then?" I know the answer already, but somehow, I feel confirmation will make it more real.
The boy nods. "Follow me," He says, and begins to walk off in another direction. I follow him, and gradually the fog thins, until it has completely disappeared. When I emerge I'm not stood at a set of pearly gates, or a snarling pit of fire, but in a forest. The trees are still around me, and the Mockingjay's still sing, but somehow, I know everything is alright. Everything is peaceful.
Another boy appears from behind one of the trees. The light dawns on his face and I see how young he is. He must be only twelve or thirteen maybe. Then I recognise his face. The boy from nine.
I'm speechless. What am I supposed to say? I'm not sure any apology will cover it. Oh, I'm sorry for killing you; can we kiss and make up? No. That will definitely not cover it.
"I-I," I begin to stutter, but the boy shakes his head and waves my words away with his hand.
"It was going to happen anyway," He says. Then I hear the words I've longed to hear. The words which truly mean it's okay. The words that release the pools of guilt that have been bubbling in my stomach for so long. He says, "I forgive you," And then he leaves.
I'm stood with the boy from three behind me, in the middle of a clearing in the woods. The sun begins to break through the trees, light scattering everywhere.
"This is where I leave you," Says the boy from three, "Have fun!"
He smiles in a way that's so unlike him and for the first time I see the teenager in him. There's no scared look in his eyes, and the constant look of concentration has left his face. Because that's all we really are in the end, teenagers.
"Wait, where do I go now?" I ask, not wanting to be left without any idea of what to do.
"Go wherever you want, go find whoever you want. You're free," He says, and then he disappears in to the trees. I'm free. The thought echoes through my mind but it still doesn't seem real to me. Am I really, finally free of the hunger games? If so, then my desperate struggle to cling on to life now seems pathetic to me. Why would I want to stay on earth, when I could be here, free of it all?
His other words go through my mind. He said find whoever you want. Who do I want to find? A warm feeling begins to stir in my stomach as I wrack through my memories. Then the eyes appear. The eyes that feel like home to me. The boys face becomes clearer in my mind, until I can put a name to it. Marvel. That's who I have to find.
A grin spreads across my face as I realise I can see him again. I can see Marvel again! I just have to find him.
The clearing looks familiar to me. The way the light breaks through the trees and the way the air smells fresh. Then it clicks. This is the place where Marvel died. Except it can't be, because I'm dead.
I have to find him. How do I find him though? It would be impractical to physically go looking for him. After all, nothing is physical here. Everything's happening inside my head. No, I can't do that. The only way to find him would be to think of him.
I close my eyes and imagine Marvels face. I remember the feeling that arose in me every time I saw his face. I remember his smile and I remember his eyes. I remember the way he told me he loved me and I allow the feeling the fill me up. It makes me feel whole.
I open my eyes and there he is. Stood in front of me. That goofy smile on his face, his eyes still filled with kindness. Then I can't contain it any longer. I run over to him as fast as I can and he puts his arms out. He encases me in a hug and I wrap my arms around him. I take in the feel of him and allow myself to relax. It's okay. I've found him again.
"Hello," He says, smiling as we break apart.
"Hello," I repeat his words and a laugh escapes me.
"What took you so long?" He grins.
"Everything," Is all I say, because I don't want to explain all the things that happened after he was gone. Not yet anyway. Not quite yet.
He smiles and leans down to kiss me. When our lips meet, my heart starts to race again, and all the human emotions flood back to me. He wraps his arms around my waist and my chest feels warm. I know now I have made the right decision. I'm with Marvel again and nothing else matters.
We break apart and he slips his hand in to mine. I know now that the clearing was never the end of anything; it was always the start of something new. I will stay close to Marvel, now and forever. Nothing else will ever matter. We're still human.
So, we're finished! Thanks to everyone who's helped me through this, including all of my lovely readers, including the ones that are just reading and lurking in the shadows ahaha! So yeah, thank you, and I hope you've enjoyed reading this as much as I've enjoyed writing it.