Sorry it's taken so long to add this. I hope you enjoy it, it's pretty boring because it's the first chapter. I have to get you up to date on everyone. I hope you find that everyone's lives are realistic to what would've happened after In A Faraway Place. So, without further ado…
'There Lived A Boy and A Girl!'
"Mom!" Xander groans as I fix his hair once more. He's five years old, Audree's eleven, and the newest member of our family, Runyon, was three. Peeta and I aren't even thirty.
We're going back to the Capitol for the first time since the Revolution ended. Everyone's going to be there; Johanna, her husband Niles, and her kids. Annie, Finnick, and their kids. Haymitch and Effie. Beetee and Wiress. Everyone. They'll be meeting Xander and Runyon for the first time and they haven't seen Audree since she was just a baby. I was nervous, which is why I was fixing Xander's hair for the eightieth time.
"Everything's going to be fine, Katniss," Peeta assures me. "The Capitol isn't a scary place anymore. Paylor's a good president."
"Yeah, Mom," Audree says. "We learned about her in school last week."
Audree knows some of what happened eleven years ago. Of course she doesn't know it all, but when they started teaching her about it in school, we told her that we were the Mockingjays and that when she gets older she'll understand it better. She also knows that she played a part in the revolution, but we won't be telling her that for a long, long time.
"Mom, Runyon hit me again!" Xander complains.
Peeta rolls his eyes and picks up Runyon. "Why're you always causing trouble, buddy?" Runyon giggles.
"Mom, was Runyon really necessary?" asks Audree.
"Audree!" I scold. "Don't talk that way about your brother."
"It's true," Audree mutters. "Everything was perfectly fine without brothers."
"So now you're saying I wasn't necessary too?" Xander says.
"Do you even know what that means?" Audree says.
"No, but it can't be good if you got in trouble for it," Xander replies.
"I didn't get in trouble," Audree counters.
"Your both going to get in trouble if you don't stop fighting," I say.
"But Mom!" they both say at the same time. I knew I should've left them with Prim. She's twenty-four now, and in a serious relationship with Rory, Gale's middle brother. I knew that would happen – even before Peeta and I were together, Rory and Prim would flirt with each other. I'm okay with the relationship. It means I can keep track of the Hawthorne family easier. Gale married Madge and they have a daughter. Vick is dating Blye. I really should've seen that coming. I mean, Blye's eighteen and Vick's twenty. They've been best friends since the final Games. It's still weird, though. Like having your daughter date your son. And Posy Hawthorne is still in school. Hazelle still lives in 12 with Rory, Vick, and Posy. Gale lives nearby.
"Why don't we play the quiet game?" I say. "The person who's quietest the longest gets to have their own room when we get to the hotel."
"I'm a girl, I should get my own room anyway!" Audree says.
"And you just lost!" Peeta says. "Now it's down to Xander and Runyon. My money's on Xander."
"Dad!" Runyon laughs.
"And Xander wins!" Peeta says.
"That was the dumbest game ever," Audree mutters. Lately, she's been having a major attitude towards everyone. I knew that she was an eleven year old girl and they tend to have attitudes, but we'd never had a problem with Audree before. She'd always liked to help with Xander and she loved to entertain Runyon. I'm hoping it's just a phase.
Xander's . . . hard to explain. He has my hair, but the similarity between the two of us stops there. He's just like Peeta. He's always smiling and rarely gets angry. When he is angry, it's normally towards Audree and occasionally towards Runyon. He's very sensitive. Just little comments hurt his feelings, which Audree knows all too well. She's very good at hurting his feelings.
Runyon has dark hair and gray eyes, like me, but he has Peeta's build. Even for three, he's much larger than Xander or Audree were. He's very talkative and outgoing, like his father, but he's very much like me. If he doesn't see the point in something, he won't partake in it. This is incredibly annoying when trying to get him to eat healthy food. He loves the woods – I took him out there once just last month when I needed to check the snares and nobody was around to watch him. He was absolutely enthralled and made me promise to take him the next week.
Peeta hasn't changed a bit, although he doesn't look as boyish as he once did. He's an amazing father to our children. Xander and Runyon idolize him. He runs the bakery in town, just as he would've if the Games had never happened. It's become sort of a family bisuness – Audree works if she needs extra money and Xander wants to, but he's too young. Even I work, sometimes. If all the kids are taken care of and I don't have any hunting to do. Peeta's mother had a heart attack two years ago and she passed away. I can't say I was upset, but Peeta seemed a little shaken. His father, after it happened, moved to the Capitol to teach at baking to apprentices at the new university. Peeta's oldest brother, Dave, married a girl from 1 and his middle brother, Mikal, married a girl from 11. They live in those districts and we see them rarely.
"Are we going to see your father while we're here?" I ask. Runyon's finally fallen asleep and Audree's immersed herself in the TV. Xander's playing on a gaming device Beetee so kindly gave to him on his most recent birthday. The thing makes obnoxious noises and is probably burning Xander's brain out.
Peeta looks over to me. "I don't know," he shrugs. "Maybe. We'll see if we have time."
"The kids would love to see him," I say.
"Probably," Peeta says. "I just haven't seen him in so long. I don't know if he wants to see me."
"Why wouldn't he want to see you?" I ask.
"It's a reminder," he says. "Of my mother. All three of us are. I talked to Dave last week. They live within an hour of each other and they haven't seen each other in months."
"Peeta, no," I say. "Your father wants to see you."
He shrugs. "You know who I'm excited to see?" he says. "Niles. The last time we saw him, he looked like he was ready to kick Johanna into next week."
Wouldn't you be ready to kick Johanna into next week if you were married to her?" I say.
"She's one of your best friends!" Peeta laughs.
"Exactly," I say. "Friends. We live many districts away. I can't strangle someone through a phone."
"Thankfully," Peeta says. "I'm looking forward to seeing Finnick and Annie, too."
"I'm looking forward to seeing Finnick," I say.
"Katniss," Peeta says. "It's been eleven years."
"Doesn't make what she did any better," I say.
"No, but she's apologized so many times," he says. "She can barely remember it. We were all so screwed up back in those days – we all did things we regret."
"Like threatening my mother?" I say.
Peeta laughs. "Yes, threatening the mother of the girl you love is always wise, isn't it?"
"She came around," I laugh.
"A month later!"
"Better than never," I say.
"Is that it?" asks Audree, pointing out the window.
I turn to look. My stomach twists and I can feel my heart in my throat. The last time I was here, I was retrieving my daughter from hell. And now I'm going to a party to see all my old friends.
"Yes, that's it," I say quietly. "The Capitol."
"It's amazing!" Xander says.
"That's not a word I would use to describe it, buddy," Peeta says softly.
"What word would you use, Dad?" Xander asks.