"Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring- quite often the hard way." Pamela Dugdale

Their relationship started with a scandal.

Peeta Mellark was barely two years old when his parents sat him down to tell him he was going to be a big brother soon. They explained to him how Mama was going to have a baby come spring.

"Baby?" he asked, touching Cary Mellark's stomach. She smiled and put her hand over his.

"Baby," she confirmed. "Mama's having a baby." He smiled a big toothy smile.

Bara Mellark crouched down before his wife and son and told him, "You're going to be a big brother now, Peeta." The boy nodded his head in excitement, taking his new role very seriously. "He or she is going to need you to be the best big brother in the world. Will you be the best big brother in the world?" Peeta nodded again, laughing when his father picked him up and tossed him in the air, telling him it was time for bed.

Peeta never realized how long it took for a baby to come, but he would look every morning in the cradle next to his crib for the baby and every morning the baby wouldn't be there.

"Soon," his father had told him, setting a plate of stale biscuits and water on a tray for Peeta's bed-ridden mother. "The baby should be here any day." And he was right.

Katniss Mellark was born two days later, and Peeta couldn't have been more thrilled. He wished his parents were as happy as he was though, because he noticed, being the perceptive child his mama claimed he was, that they fought more, and his father refused to hold baby Katniss whenever she fussed in her cradle. It confused him so much because she was the most perfect thing he had ever laid eyes on, and he wanted everyone to see that.

It occurred to him much later that his sister didn't look like him at all. She had dark tufts of hair where he had blonde like his mama and father. She had darker skin than he had, and her blue blue eyes from birth dimmed down to a steel grey. She was always so pretty, he thought, but their parents never seemed to notice.

Bara and Cary Mellark fought a lot after Katniss was born, and every night, when the yelling and the slamming of doors became too much, Peeta would climb out of his new big boy bed and slowly crawl over to her small cradle in the corner. She would always be awake, never one to cry, and she would always stare at him when he looked down upon her.

"Safe," he would whisper to her, grabbing her chubby little hand. "Nissy is safe."

It was as though she understood him because she would gurgle and smile, kicking the blankets off of her in delight.

Their mother left for the Seam with the coal miner when Peeta was five and Katniss was three. She cried for days when their father sat them down to tell them.

"When will Mama be back?" Katniss had cried when he told them Cary Mellark had left.

It had taken three years for Bara to truly start to warm up to the girl that was the outcome of his wife's affair with Sage Everdeen, the boy who could make the birds stop and listen, the boy who had truly won Cary's heart when they were school children.

"She's not coming back, Pumpernickel." It hurt him to look at her, a reminder of why his wife had left him and their family, but she was so much like Cary that Bara couldn't help but care for her. "Mama made her choice. Now it's just us." He gave his children a sad smile before standing up and heading back into the kitchen to start the day's order of bread.

Peeta was still in shock after his father left to go bake, but he knew he had to be the big brother Katniss needed. He had to be brave for her.

"Let's go play, Nissy," he insisted, pulling on hair teasingly. "I'll even let you win at Capture Bug."

Katniss looked up solemnly at her older brother, her face still wet with tears, her nose all runny, and shook her head. She didn't want to play Capture Bug today. She wanted her mama.

Peeta chewed on his lip for a second before agreeing to a tea party. That perked her interest and with her thumb in her mouth, Katniss got up from the chair and took his hand in hers.

Together they played throughout the day, never letting the other out of their sight because what if they left the other like Mama had left? Peeta and Katniss clung to each other closer than ever now, not being able to handle the thought of being alone.

So here is my first Hunger Games fanfic, and I will admit, I'm scared yet excited to hear your thoughts.

I thought I should mention the inspiration for this fic so no one gets confused later on.

This fic was inspired when I was watching The Hunger Games movie and the scene where Haymitch and Effie are arguing over how Katniss acted when she was getting her score. I thought the entire scene could easily be pulled off as a family (Haymitch as the dad, Effie as the mom, Katniss as the teenage daughter in trouble, and Peeta as the brother who just idly sits by and watches). Then this idea popped up while talking with a good friend from Tumblr, Caroline, who is a huge The Borgias fan, and if you're well familiar with that show, you can imagine what this fic will entitle. She encouraged me to write this, and here it is!

I do hope you give this fic a chance, and I hope to hear from all you lovely readers because reviews are precious and I love to hear what people think!