Elena Mellark's breath hitches in her throat. She takes a sharp intake of breath as she watches her youngest son be escorted up onto the podium where Effie Trinket and the Everdeen girl stand.
She can hear the quiet sobs of her husband beside her. He had always favoured Peeta.
The crowd's silence is deafening and it unnerves her. Her heart leaps from her chest as Effie Trinket forces this year's tributes – her son – to shake hands.
The citizens of District Twelve disperse from the Justice Building, shocked and shaken from the events of this year's reaping. How could it be? How could this year be so evil, as to send a loyal sister and the kind baker's son off to their deaths?
But they already had their bets.
And they weren't expecting the baker's son to come back.
And to be honest, neither did Elena Mellark.
She knew the Everdeen girl. Oh, she knew her very well. She was a survivor, and everyone knew it.
But her boy, he couldn't even hurt a fly.
When her second oldest son came forth to meet with his parents and oldest brother, he had a pale and ashen face suggesting that he was scared and sorry.
Why hadn't he volunteered? Why couldn't he be as brave as the other girl?
It was simply because he was a coward. And he already knew that his brother didn't stand a chance, much less him. Though, he was the toughest one of the three brothers.
Shame loomed over the Mellark family as they made their way to the Justice Building, preparing themselves for a very hard and final goodbye.
The family was escorted by Peacekeepers to the room that held their youngest boy, and the four of them could feel the tension in the air.
They saw Delly Cartwright come out in tears, she was a very good family friend of the Mellark's; - and if she was in tears, there was no doubt that they would be too.
When they got inside, Elena Mellark took the liberty to admire the setting of the room. It was elegant, it was rich and it was nothing that the citizens of Twelve could ever afford.
She stood in the corner while her two sons bombarded her youngest with strong hugs and strong faces, refusing to show weakness. Although it was evident in their faces that there was shame etched in them.
Peeta had tears streaking his face when his father came up to him, he gave him a long and firm hug while seemingly whispering something in his ear.
Elena Mellark could not fathom what her husband was saying to Peeta. Although she did catch the words "honourable," "Everdeen," "love," and "brave."
It was no secret of the boy's infatuation with the girl, for the Mellark's surely did know about it. And Elena Mellark was no exception.
The only reason that she resented her youngest son more than the rest was because of this simple fact. He reminded her too much of her husband – naïve, lovesick, kind and generous. And as far as she knew, that would get you know where in life.
And look where he is now, he was too busy praying that the Everdeen girl didn't get picked that he forgot to pray for himself! And now, with no training whatsoever, he is going into the Hunger Games and is surely not coming out alive. Because he's too kind to kill.
He may be strong. But he's no soldier.
She squirmed in her place in the corner of the room, tracing her fingers through the plush velvet that accents the chairs. Oh, how she wished for a life like this.
But she knew that she wouldn't get one.
And for once she envied the Seam family. The Seam trash would not be that anymore once their eldest daughter claims the crown of victor.
Oh there was no doubt about it! There was no doubt at all that Katniss Everdeen would win the Games. She was strong-willed, brave, cunning! And she knew loss at its finest.
There was no way that she would let anything get in the way of seeing her family again. And she wouldn't lose at any cost.
Her son, however, would go down without a fight. He would only fight to save the girl that he loves and she wouldn't even take a second look at him.
While looking at her son, Elena Mellark actually took the time to imagine a life living in the Victor's Village, with the grand furniture, beautiful garden and all the money that she could ever wish for! The clothes that she could by, the respect that she could attain! But that was all but a dream.
She wasn't oblivious to the fact that she was known as the 'Town Witch.' Naturally everyone knew about her antics to how she treated her sons. But everyone knew that she was particularly worse to Peeta.
No one knew the Mellark secret.
But the truth was that there was supposed to be another Mellark child – a fourth one.
It was supposed to be a girl, something that Elena had always wanted. She wanted a daughter so she could marry her off to a rich merchant family.
But the pregnancy was short-lived.
For when she was giving birth to Peeta, she in fact received complications from giving birth to him.
She thought nothing of it until she got a miscarriage because of those complications.
So Elena Mellark did what she did best – put the blame on someone else.
That, along with his infatuation with the Everdeen girl, built up over the years and she always took her anger out on him.
Every mishap and every bad thing that happened to the Mellark's was Peeta's fault.
It was Peeta. It was always Peeta.
Though she had to admire her son to a certain extent. He had grown up to be just like his father, he had never let his mother's hatred for him get in the way of anything.
He was loyal, brave and courageous.
And Elena Mellark hated him for it.
Why? Why must he be so good? Why couldn't he just turn out broken? Just like she was.
She resented him for it.
But now, seeing him so broken with tears streaming down his face broke her heart. She just wouldn't admit it.
It was this that would break him.
Not her slaps, not her punishments or harsh words – but the fear of losing the love of his life.
She knew that he had thoroughly accepted that he was going to die, and she knew that he was crying because he was afraid that Katniss was going to die as well.
When her husband let go of Peeta he was in tears, sobbing his heart out.
But Elena didn't budge. She did not make one move towards her son. Instead she looked at him and narrowed her eyes.
"She's a survivor, that one."
She knew that it was a heartless thing to say, but it was the only way that she knew how to treat her son.
She had never treated him with love, it was a foreign concept to her. And that moment wasn't any different. Truth is that she wanted to show him affection…but she didn't know how.
So she left the room without a second glance at her youngest son.
The house was empty that night.
It was quiet.
It was dead.
And no one dared to speak.
The next evening, however, was the day of the Opening Ceremonies. And there was no doubt in the Square that District Twelve was going to be the laughing stock of Panem…again.
But the crowd was silenced when this year's tributes came out on fire.
Even Elena Mellark couldn't hide the fact that she thought the Seam girl looked radiant.
She even thought her youngest son looked extraordinary. Though he was nothing compared to the girl standing beside him.
Both District Twelve and the Capitol were in cheers, and the District had never seen its people so happy before. Because maybe there was a sliver of a chance that one of them would make it out alive.
All bets of Katniss being the victor had disappeared when everyone got a glimpse of the District Two boy, but now the bets returned because by the reaction of the crowd, it looked like District Twelve would get sponsors this year.
Another hush fell over the crowd, and when Elena Mellark saw it, she knew that it was the reason why this had happened.
The two tributes…holding hands.
Never before had someone seen this, usually both tributes would face away from each other, refusing to speak because they accepted that one of them was going to die.
So what were they playing at here?
Katniss didn't seem to be paying that much attention to Peeta, only flitting her eyes over at him once or twice. But Peeta…my, oh my, had his eyes trained on her the entire time. With such a strong emotion evident in his eyes.
The District never ceased to talk about the tributes who were on fire during the upcoming days. There was no news so far on how training was going, but today was the day of the scores, and everyone was itching to see how the girl on fire did.
Even Elena Mellark.
The Mellark family knew that no one was necessarily focusing on her son, but she was, and so were the rest of her family.
And when that eight came up on the screen she couldn't hide the gasp that escaped her lips.
She had never thought that her son would do that well. District Twelve usually scores in the five range, they were lucky if they got a seven.
But the biggest shock came when an eleven flashed next to the Everdeen girl's face.
What could she have possibly done?
The entire household was silent, for they could not believe that a District Twelve tribute had received this record.
Her two remaining sons, who were shocked by their brother's score, now looked pale in amazement.
And Elena Mellark could only think of one thing – she doubted her youngest son.
"I swore I would."
Elena Mellark had to admire Katniss Everdeen's determination to get home to her sister. But she knew that if she succeeded, that she would lose her son in the process.
She tried to ignore the voices of her sons that were commenting on how beautiful and extraordinary Katniss looked. But even Elena couldn't deny it, for Katniss Everdeen did look as radiant as the sun.
When her son came up she was shocked as to how calm and laid back he was, she was expecting him to be in tears or to be trembling. But no, he was as charming as ever.
Elena raised her eyebrow, she never knew that her son was good with words, or perhaps she never noticed because she was too busy concentrating on his flaws rather than his achievements.
And for that she felt shameful.
Peeta proceeded to discuss with Caesar Flickerman about the variety of breads from different Districts and the what not. It wasn't a very memorable interview in her opinion.
That is…until he dropped the bombshell.
She felt her mouth gape open as the power to speak left her capabilities.
"Nice going little brother!"
"Damn, Peeta's got guts!"
She agreed with her two sons but she still couldn't believe that he had done that. The interview finished and the television set flashed back to black and the room was filled with a mixture of emotions.
And Elena's mouth was still open.
But even with the shock still coursing through her veins, she wasn't paralyzed from what was going on around her.
And she heard the slightest whisper.
"Good job, son."
And the gong sounds.
The forest was a vibrant green, with the golden Cornucopia perched in the middle of a meadow beside a glistening lake.
Soon, however, the green meadow transformed into a sea of blood.
Elena squinted her eyes in the hopes of seeing Peeta alive and kicking, and she squeezed her husband's hand once she found him approaching the Careers.
"What the hell does he think he's doing?" Elena Mellark hisses.
"Protecting the girl," her husband responds.
"Does he have any idea how that will affect his sponsors? How bad that will make us look?"
He shakes his head, "He doesn't care. He knows that he won't make it out alive anyway."
She sighs, "I know he won't."
As the Games went on, her admiration for her youngest son blossomed. He had stayed up all night under the tree where Katniss was injured, he had saved her and received a deep cut to the thigh in the process.
What was even more shocking was when he was apologizing to his family when he was trying to walk to the stream.
Tears were streaming down his face as he clutched his thigh in agony.
"I'm sorry Ryan for breaking your favourite toy when we were younger."
Another cry of pain.
"I'm sorry Barlee for ratting you out to mom about your relationship."
"I'm sorry dad for not being brave enough to follow and get what I wanted."
"And I-I'm sorry mom for being a screw up. I'm sorry that I couldn't be the son that you wanted and I'm sorry that I couldn't be perfect. An –"
And he collapses by the river.
"A-and I forgive you."
Elena's heart tears out in shame in seeing her youngest son bleeding and dying by the river.
But the cannon never came.
Katniss' voice rings out across her vicinity in the arena as she cries out Peeta's name. The rules have been altered and this has never been done before. It's another aspect that's been put in the record books.
When Katniss screamed out Peeta's name she let herself believe that maybe the girl did fall in love with her son. But she knew that Katniss had a heart of stone and that the only person that she truly loved was her sister.
It was impossible that she would fall in love with her son.
They were much too opposite.
She had too much fire in her. And though Peeta was kind and patient, she doubted whether he was strong enough to tame that flame.
But at the same time that Katniss shouted out Peeta's name, the screen divided into two and it showed Peeta whispering something at the same time.
No. Elena Mellark was not convinced one bit by Katniss Everdeen.
The kisses that she gave her son were forced and that much was obvious.
And it made her resent the young archer more that she already had.
Her son was oblivious to that fact though. He relished in the fact that his lover was finally coming around, was finally warming up to him.
He didn't bother reading through the lines.
And Elena knew that Peeta's strongest trait was going to be his downfall – kindness.
Maybe she was wrong about Katniss Everdeen.
Because the girl could have killed her son right there and then when the rules were changed. But no, she actually looked like she was mortified about killed the boy.
Elena had to admit to herself though, with that one kiss in the cave she was almost convinced that the star-crossed lovers of District Twelve was real. Almost.
But she would have never guessed that Peeta would make it into the final two.
And even more so that he would have to face off with the girl that he loved.
It was then that Elena Mellark began to resent the Capitol. How could they play with both of them like that? Granted, it should have been obvious what they were going to do from the minute that they changed the rules.
They don't care about the star-crossed lovers. All they want is a good show. And that is exactly what they are going to get.
But they certainly didn't expect this.
"Stop! Stop! Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to present the victors of the Seventy-fourth Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark! I give you- the tributes of District Twelve!"
She could feel a blanket of disbelief cloud through the District.
She couldn't believe it.
Her son. Peeta Mellark. A victor.
She had expected him to be happy.
But when he stepped off the train hand-in-hand with Katniss Everdeen that was all he was.
She was not stupid. She may have looked over her son on countless occasions but she knew when he was putting on a façade. And he was definitely putting one on now.
But she couldn't fathom why he would be upset.
And then she saw his eyes drift over to the other hunter – Gale Hawthorne – and Elena Mellark knew instantly.
She had played him like she had suspected.
But when the rest of her family were congratulating her son, she couldn't bear to look at him. She felt so guilty for what she had brought upon him before he was reaped. Her heart was tearing whenever she looked at him.
Even more so when he found out that he lost his leg.
It was then that Elena Mellark never touched Peeta again.
She refused to accept his offer to stay with him in his house at the Victor's Village. She could not bear seeing his broken face every day and she could not take anything more away from him – she had already taken too much and it was eating her alive. She needed to leave him alone.
And even more so, she wanted nothing more of the Capitol after seeing how much they affected her son.
She had seen darkness. She had seen how heartless the world can be.
And Peeta was above all that. He represented everything good in the world. Peeta…Peeta was life.
And she knew that when he volunteered for Haymitch in the Quarter Quell.
In that moment she knew that he was everything that a mother would ever want. Brave. Strong. Loyal. Loving. Courageous.
She knew that he would do great things even if people won't see it. The evidence was on the TV screens.
Elena Mellark would not take him for granted again.
And when he was captured by the Capitol she couldn't keep her cry of terror in.
Even more so when the first bomb shook the District.
But inside she knew that the rebellion was in good hands.
For they had chosen two people who were not afraid of greatness. And she knew that her son would prevail, she knew that he would not crack under their evil hands.
But she would never know the extent of the damage. None of them would.
But despite that, Peeta was no longer a boy and Elena knew that. He was a man who had greatness thrust upon him.
I've always wanted to know how the Mellark family dealt with Peeta being in the Games – especially his mother. So I made my own little one shot. I know that Peeta's mother is supposed to be cruel but I portrayed her as a confused and jealous person for which she probably was. And I hope that you accept my portrayal of her.
Anway, reviews are appreciated! I'd love to know what you think about this! :3