This story is an idea I've been toying with for a while. It's AU, and a tad OOC. It's my first AU and I hope it's somewhat enjoyable, and constructive criticism would be appreciated. Also, I may be in need of a beta, so if anyone is interested please let me know. The first part of this story is technically a prologue, and it's very long. I would have split it into multiple chapters but I decided to just add breaks instead. The italics are a little intro before delving into the history of what has happened in Katniss' life. I apologize for any errors in grammar or typing I may have missed. Hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading.
The sound of snoring permeates from all around her, but she stays awake, too nervous for sleep. In her hand she holds her redemption, in the form of a two and a half year old photograph, a letter, and an address. She clings to these three things, fearing that if she sets them down she'll lose them, and she has already lost too much.
Across from where she sits, her sister stirs, the lurch of the train they are on jarring her from her slumber. She gives a half smile to the blonde girl.
"Morning sleepyhead" She playfully whispers.
"Morning. Did you sleep any?" She shakes her head no, knowing what will come next out of her sister's mouth.
"Katniss it will be fine. Everything's going to be okay now." Katniss sighs and looks to the pieces of paper she holds in her hands.
"I hope you're right Prim." She pauses, and seeing the look of concern in the blue eyes across from her she adds; "Once this is over I'll be able to relax. I promise."
Prim smiles a small smile, and as the train comes to a stop, she reaches across the space in between them to grab Katniss's free hand.
"Once this is over, your life can really begin."
She had been 14 the year her father had died, the year everything collectively went to shit. Her life had been a happy one, until one night, suddenly, it wasn't. A drunk driver ran a red light and turned her entire world upside down. Her mother had (for lack of a better term) gone crazy as a result of her father's death. It had begun slowly at first, with crippling depression, causing the loss of her job. So, in order to feed her family, Katniss had taken a job bagging groceries at the local supermarket. Between school and a full time job Katniss was exhausted, but she managed to keep everyone fed and the bills not covered by her Father's life insurance paid. Besides Prim, the only bright spot in her life had been her best friend since childhood, Peeta Mellark.
Katniss and Peeta had grown up together, and knew everything about each other as a result. It hadn't been until a few months after her father died, when she had been feeling so empty, so alone and so unwanted that Katniss had realized what Peeta could be for her, as well as what he already was. He was her hope. He was the dandelion in the spring after a long winter, he was the only person who could make her feel alive again, make her feel not so empty.
When she had first acted on her feelings, Peeta had been tentative, and she was afraid – so afraid – he would reject her. Instead, he confessed his love for her, and told her that if she was serious about this – about them – he would be anything and everything she could ever want and need. She had laughed at his declaration, and told him that's what he had always been to her – everything – and for the rest of her life she knew she would never forget the smile that had enveloped his face at her words. They were young for such serious declarations, but life had made the two of them much older and wiser and jaded than any two 15 year olds deserved to be.
It had taken a few months for them to become physical with each other, but their relationship and their love held so much passion that it was a natural progression. It was around that time – when things had finally started to get better – that her mother got worse.
Ever since her father's death, Katniss and her mother barely communicated outside of necessity. Her mother wasn't the one putting food on the table, wasn't the one checking Prim's homework, cleaning the house or taking care of Prim when she was sick – it was all left to Katniss. It wasn't that she minded taking care of Prim, she truly would do anything for her younger sister, it was that she resented Prim having to grow up father and mother- less. She hated Caroline Everdeen for that, and had no need for her because of it.
So when her mother began appearing downstairs again more and more, instead of being elated like Prim, Katniss was wary. Her mother would sit watching, never helping, as Prim and Katniss went about their days. Her eyes were soft as she watched Prim, but hard when she watched Katniss, and pure anger radiated from them when she watched Katniss and Peeta together. Katniss knew her mother could sense the change in she and Peeta's relationship, even though they kept everything to a minimum under her mother's glare, but to be truthful she didn't care what her mother thought of them. It wasn't until a warm spring night in April that Katniss wished she had kept her relationship with Peeta a secret from her Mother.
Prim was away at a sleep over, her mother upstairs all day, and Katniss and Peeta had just finished dinner. They had only been intimate a few times, and Katniss had noticed how much she had begun to crave his touch. The air that hung between them that night was heavy, filled with anticipation, every touch electrifying, and Katniss knew he wanted her as badly as she wanted him. Taking his hand, she had led him to her room (which thankfully was downstairs), and closed the door behind them before kissing him in a way she couldn't imagine kissing anyone else. Peeta slid his hands down her backside, kissing her back and matching her passion, before picking her up and carrying her to the bed. They were still learning each other's bodies, where to touch, where to kiss, but they fit together so well, and being clumsy in sex is to be expected when you're just starting out. All Katniss knew was that when Peeta was moving inside of her, his eyes looking into hers, nothing else in the world mattered. She felt whole, she felt loved, and she knew it was the same for him.
After, when they lay together naked, and intertwined beneath the sheets, Peeta murmuring things to her that made her blush; Katniss could feel a shift in the outside world. Something wasn't right. She lay for a moment, trying to decipher the change in atmosphere, when the door to her bedroom flew open, interrupting the tranquil peace behind it. Her mother stood in the doorway, half – crazed, eyes wild, rage rolling off of her, vicious words spewing out of her mouth. Katniss had never seen her mother like this, didn't know what to even make of it, and she was shocked into silence. It wasn't until she felt Peeta dressing her (she hadn't even realized she was out of bed) and carrying her out of the room that she snapped out of her shocked and hazy state. As Peeta led her out of the house she could hear her mother, throwing glasses and screaming things like "Fucking whore" along with other awful obscenities. Caroline Everdeen had snapped.
The following week had been icy around the house, Katniss and her mother spitting hateful words to each other, Prim hiding in her room, and Katniss rarely getting to see Peeta except at school.
"I wish she would go back to the way she was before, as pathetic as she was." Katniss said to Peeta one night after they had made love. "I honestly don't know which is worse, this hate fueled monster or the lifeless sack she was before it."
Peeta kissed her forehead, and tightened his grip around her.
"You'll just have to endure it. You're the strongest person I know and she's just trying to break you with her words, but when you turn 18, you, me, and Prim will get away from her. I promise."
Katniss smiled into his chest, because once again Peeta was filling her with hope and promises she knew he would keep. She had left him the next morning happy and full of thoughts of a better future, but it wasn't meant to be.
When Katniss arrived at her house to see men in uniforms packing boxes into a moving truck, she had initially been confused. That was, until she saw her mother, standing smug and cross armed in the driveway. It was then Katniss understood. Caroline and Katniss had never had a great relationship, never understood each other, and after her father's death it had grown into pure hatred; and if Caroline's happiness had been stripped from her, then no one else could have any either.
Katniss sat in the car later, unsure of where they were going, but fully and completely aware of what was being left behind. It wasn't until two months later – living on the other side of the country, home schooled by her mother, and in near complete isolation, that Katniss had a reason to smile, a reason to be happy. Once again (albeit unknowingly) Peeta had given Katniss reason to fight and hope for a better future. She knew she could get Prim and herself out of their new hellish existence and back where they belonged, and it was because of Peeta that her fight was reignited. Because even on the other side of the country, with no way to contact him, she knew he loved her. Because sometimes a love like that is all you need. But the biggest reason she had - the one that filled her simultaneously with longing, rage, fear, passion, love and hope – was that she was pregnant.
She was pregnant with Peeta's baby.