Sorry it took so long to put this up. I was halfway through writing this chapter when my computer crashed. Then I couldn't recover the file -.-' Not only that but IGCSE has been taking over my life.
Anyway it's here and without further ado!
I remember the first time by father took me to the woods. I was eight. And I remember feeling so small amongst the tall trees. I felt like a pixie among trolls, a lone flower against tall weeds.
I had wanted to climb up a tree so badly.
I remember seeing a flock of birds flying overhead, and I had wanted to join them. To be a girl of the sky.
But I didn't listen to my father's cries for me to stop climbing, and I ended up slipping on a weak branch. The wind flew me to the ground that day.
I twisted my ankle and I got a bruised tailbone. My mother was furious.
But the pain that I experiences on that day, doesn't even compare to this.
Everything is so white. A white blanket of snow covering up something ugly and making it beautiful. A magical blanket.
But it still doesn't hide the growing red pool of blood beside my head.
I hear my name somewhere in the distance, being carried away by the wind.
Spots cloud my vision – a kaleidoscope of bright colours.
Then everything goes black.
I can't see. The brightness of the light is blinding me, burning holes through my skin.
But I know that voice. I've heard it sing so many times before. The way his rough voice miraculously turned soft when he sang.
And then suddenly, everything becomes clear. The white light has merged into a sea of gold and silver. A field of dandelions lie before me, encrusted in jewels.
But what really gets my attention is the man at the end of it. Unevenly cut, shaggy dark hair, with olive skin and grey eyes much like my own.
He opens his arms and welcomes me in. A warming feeling of security spreads through. Something that I've missed and have been lacking for years.
He places his hand on my hair and pulls back. A smile is on his face.
"You've grown so much. You look like your mother," he beams.
I don't care that he mentioned the woman that I loathe. I just care that he's here with me, now.
"I've missed you so much," I whisper.
He pulls me back into a tight hug again.
"I know Kat. I've missed you too."
I tighten my grip, afraid that he's going to disappear again.
"Why did you have to leave dad? I need you so much. Everything is falling apart."
He pulls away and looks at me with such fondness for his family that it's almost like he never left. He takes my hand and pulls me away. And that's when I realize something.
"Where are we?"
He stops, and looks at me with a soft expression. "Katniss…we're home. We're in District Twelve."
I wrinkle my nose and take a look around me. Houses without the familiar etching of coal dust, pathways without any cracks and the woods without a fence. The sun is shining bright, the meadow has grown, it isn't cold.
"But-" I start.
A hand is pulled up in my face. I snort.
"Katniss, this is a world with a Capitol that isn't corrupt."
I look around one more time. The birds are singing. I think I can hear a soft lullaby being sung from a distance.
"I don't want to go back, not to her," I turn and face him, "she's changed. The only thing left for me back there is Prim. But she doesn't need me, she has Rory, she has Gale and Hazelle and everything else."
A blank expression graces my father's face. He holds out his arm to me.
"Come with me."
It's warm. The feeling of heat rushes through me. The smell is familiar.
I look up.
My breath hitches in my throat. "The bakery…"
"You're not alone, Katniss."
There's a sudden urge inside me to laugh.
"Why did you take me here?"
He sighs and sits down on the pavement. I follow.
"You're not alone Katniss. You never were. There's someone who lives in there that cares so much for you."
I glance back at the bakery. It's faded yellow walls are now snow white, and the shutters are painted a soft blue, highlighting the intricately decorated cakes inside.
"And I think you know who it is?"
I look back at my father. His eyes are soft, but his face is in a knowing look.
"Yeah," I breathe, "I think I do."
He chuckles and turns his body to face mine. "So why won't you let him in?"
I look down at the pavement. My fingers begin to play with the hem of my shirt.
"Don't close your heart off, Katniss."
My father's words play like a ringtone in my ear. Over and over and over again like a tape recorder.
"But look at what it did to mom. It crushed her. It ruined her," I say.
My father sighs. I know that sigh. He used to use it when he was frustrated with Prim and I.
"I loved you mother. I still do and always will. And the time we had together, I wouldn't give it up for anything in the world.
"Katniss, please don't close this," he points to my heart, "off. It's one of the biggest mistakes you'll ever make."
I notice that the world has gone silent.
"But she seems so lost," I say.
He nods curtly and puts an arm around me. "Yes, she does. But sometimes you need to be lost to find the person to point you to the right direction."
"To find my way home?"
"To find your way home."
"Oh god. Katniss!"
"Wake up, please…"
The pounding in my head returns, a constant banging on the walls of my skull like the sound of drums. I want to open my eyes, but they feel so heavy, like a weight has been placed on them.
I want to open my eyes. Why can't I open my eyes?
"I'm so sorry, Katniss."
I know that voice. A choked up, raspy version of it.
Another choke and I feel a drop of water land on my face.
Warmth soon spreads through my body again, a tingly sensation is on my face, with the smell of cinnamon and icing.
Suddenly, I have the energy to make my lips part and my eyes open.
There's a blurring image of gold and white. I blink once. Twice. Thrice.
I see Peeta, with red rimmed blue eyes and ice encrusted blonde hair. His lips are as blue as his eyes. He's so pale in the snow and in this light, it almost appears as though he's glowing.
"Katniss," he breathes, "I am so sorry!"
He puts a hand over his mouth and chokes with new tears running down his face. My chest it tightening up, and I can't feel my toes.
"Peeta…how'd….how'd you get here?"
He wipes a tear away with the sleeve of his coat.
"I…I couldn't leave you here. So…so I climbed down," he explains.
I stare at him. The snow is battering against my skin. And I still can't feel my toes.
"What happened? Where are we? Peeta, where are we?"
He leans down, and for a moment, I can feel his breath on me. But all he does is place his only coat around me. It's warm.
"I think you fell. But we're still down here, on a ledge at the bottom of the cliff. I'll get us out of here, but only after the blizzard blows over. It's too dangerous to try and climb now."
"Peeta," I wince, "everything hurts."
He makes a pained expression on his face, kind of like how my father used to make when he saw the patients that my mother used to treat.
"I'm so sorry Katniss."
He inhales through clenched teeth, "Because if I hadn't wanted to go into the woods in the first place, then you wouldn't have offered."
"Ever think that I wanted to take you?" I say.
The pounding of my head increases in every passing minute.
He looks at me with an unreadable emotion on his face. His eyes search mine, and I find myself locked into a gaze with him.
I shake my head. He turns away from me.
"I don't know how long the blizzard is going to last. We can't go anywhere," he says.
I sigh slowly, "I know."
After I say that, he tightens the coat around my body and engulfs me in his arms.
I wonder why I feel safe there.
A croaked voice awakens me from my sleep.
"Katniss, the blizzard's over. Come on, we need to get out of here."
I groan softly. My banging in the back of my head is accompanied with ringing.
I clamp my hands over my head and tug. I want it to stop! Why doesn't the ringing stop!
A whimper comes from my lips, and there's a burning sensation inside my mouth. I must've been gnawing my cheek again.
"Katniss," Peeta says, "Katniss come on, stay awake, do not close your eyes!"
I shake my head. I want it to go away. Please let the ringing go away.
I feel the cold disappear from underneath my body, and soon I'm on Peeta's back.
"Hold on," he whispers.
I take away my hands from my head reluctantly and wrap my arms around his neck and my legs around his waist.
A slow grunt sounds from his throat as he carries both of us up again. When I open my eyes for a brief second, I can see that he's holding on to overgrown tree roots and pockets of rocks. There's callouses forming on his hands and small drops of blood on the snow.
Beneath me, I can see the puddle of blood standing out from the snow white blanket of the ledge below.
The cliff isn't vertical, but more like a uniform line of rocks.
My neck is stiff from the dried blood, and the ringing and the banging still won't stop.
A constant beat of four drums.
When we reach the top, Peeta is heaving and he feels so cold.
He places me on the ground for a brief moment, and picks me up once again the way that my father always used to pick up my mother.
"I'm taking you home."
I look at him, and see that his lips are set into full determination. His face is so white that it nearly matches the snow, and his lips are so blue like the afternoon sky in the summer. Small chips of ice have formed on the strands of his golden hair, and his eyelashes have completely frozen.
From the way that he is carrying me, I can feel that the shirt he was wearing underneath the coat that he gave me is relatively thin, most likely a hand-me down from one of his brothers.
I'm not big, in fact, I consider myself relatively small, especially since its winter when food is scarce. But I can imagine that it's getting considerably agonizing to carry me without a coat and trudge through snow.
And I can't let him see what I have to go through at home.
The sun is setting, but the sky is still covered in clouds. The district is grey today.
With my shaking hand, I grab his shirt. He stops suddenly and looks down at me.
"No," I breathe, "take me to Haymitch."
I can see the puzzled look on his face, but he agrees and changes direction without further complaint.
Truth is, I haven't worked for Haymitch for a very long time, but he's given me a home away from home, which says something since I feel like I don't have a home anymore. He's given me a job, which is a priceless opportunity. I've known him for a long time, and I'm talked to him occasionally. But apart from the fact that he was my father's friend, there was never really anything to talk about.
Why he agreed to hire me almost without a fight, is beyond me.
Just another star that I can't fathom into a constellation.
Haymitch's house is near, about half a mile west of the fence.
His house is old and unkempt. He's known as the town drunk. But Peeta does not bother with knocking before barging inside.
On the way over, I battled keeping my eyes open. And it's getting harder with each passing moment.
I can hear Haymitch spluttering drunken words at Peeta.
"Who are you?"
"Why does Katherine look like that?"
"Katherine, Katniss, same thing."
"I am not drunk!"
It's warm in his house. There must be a fire that's been set alight somewhere.
I grab onto Peeta's shirt once again.
"Prim," I whisper, "get Prim."
He sets me down on a soft couch and brushes a strand of hair away from my face. I can feel his breath against my skin.
"Where is she?"
"Okay Loverboy, go get her sister will you? Injured people and me do not go well," Haymitch chimes, "oh, and take this will you? You'll freeze to death."
There's only a faint sound of a door closing before the darkness claims me again.
When I wake, a sigh of relief fills my ears.
"Katniss! Thank god you're okay!"
That voice can only belong to one person – Prim.
"Prim," I breathe, "Prim!"
I begin to sit up, but a sharp shooting pain attacks me.
"Take it easy will you?" she whispers.
I settle back down. I grin softly back at her.
"How bad is it, little duck?"
She purses her lips. "Want me to lie or tell the truth?"
"No sugarcoating please."
She bends down and retrieves a cloth. She soaks it in a basin filled with hot water that I had not noticed before.
"Few bumps and bruises, you got lucky. You would have frozen to death if Peeta had not given you his coat," she begins to wipe my forehead with the hot cloth, "your skull wasn't cracked. But your cuts were deep. I needed to stich you up."
"But, wouldn't I have bled to death if something wasn't put on it immediately?"
She nods, "Yes, you would have. Peeta tore off a part of his shirt and wrapped it around your head. He had to keep changing the bandages while you were down there though, your head wouldn't stop bleeding.
"Katniss, you owe your life to him."
A pang of guilt hits me. I owe him my life…again.
"You should have seen him when he got to Rory's. He was frantic. He looked like he was about to pass out from the cold."
I shuffle slightly on the bed. "Where is he now?"
Prim nudges her head slightly, "Haymitch put you in the guest room. Said he'd keep you here until you were recovered, he's gone out to the apothecary to get me some more herbs for you.
"Peeta, however, he wouldn't leave until you woke up, so he's outside in the living room. I had to bandage his hands up after I had you sorted, though."
I look at the door. "Can I see him?"
She nods her head. "Yeah, I'll go get him."
She stands and opens the door, but before she closes it, she looks back at me with a knowing look in her blue eyes.
"Oh, and Katniss, don't be so blind."
I'm left baffled when she leaves.
A couple minutes later, Peeta walks through the door.
He looks better, his face isn't as pale, and his eyes don't look so sad anymore.
"Peeta…" I start.
"You first," he says.
I look at him.
"I don't really know how to start. I'm not very good with saying something. But…thank you."
Peeta fiddles with his fingers and starts alternating balance on his feet.
"Katniss…I…it was all I could do. It really was nothing."
Suddenly, anger begins to boil inside of me.
"Nothing?" I scream, "Nothing?! You saved my life! Again! And I hate you so much for it! Why Peeta, why must you be so good? What have I ever done to you to make you do all this for me? I just don't understand…"
Pain seems to flicker off his eyes, and suddenly I'm afraid that I've hurt him.
"I…I don't actually hate you. I could never hate you. I guess, I just hate myself because whatever I do, I can never be as good as a person as you."
Peeta's eyes begin to soften, and he takes the seat by my bed.
"Katniss, we're not perfect. I'm not perfect, not by a mile. I've done things in life that have been in my favour, that are selfish. But that's who we are.
"We don't have to have a great upbringing, or great financial wealth to be happy and to be a good person. People who have one don't usually have the other.
But our faults make us who we are. And you are fine just the way you are. We need help something and that's okay, because sometimes we need a hand to hold to get over the bridge."
I blink at him. "But you risked your life for me. What have I ever done to deserve that?"
"Katniss, I'd risk so much more than that."
He brushes strands of hair away from my face once again. And along with his touch, comes a fluttering feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Just as about he's taking his hand away, I grab it.
I hold his hand against my cheek for the longest time before I whisper, "Stay with me?"
His reply is so quiet that I can barely hear the "Always."
Very aware it's been over a month. Words cannot express how sorry I am. But IGCSE is wow. Can't imagine the IB. But if things don't connect, sorry, it's been so long that I've forgotten what I previously wrote. I'm rereading everything after this is posted.
But it's fall break. And I've finally got time. Who knows? Maybe a few chapters will come? :D
Anyway, thank you for your patience, my sincerest apologies. I love you all!
Reviews are my best friend. - Deception's Call.