A/N: This is a re-working of my and Libby's previous fanfic. There are less errors, no A/Ns past this one and the ending chapter one, and many error fixes and minor changes. Please enjoy and R&R!
Full Summary: A total re-write of the series, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have won the Hunger Games, making history! But as Katniss returns home, after telling Peeta their love story was a lie, she finds both the two men in her life are facing their own dilemmas. To top it off, uprisings in the districts, rumors of a rebellion, and the Quarter Quell will be in less than a year. Can Katniss set aside her problems to focus on how much Panem actually needs her? And if she does, what can one girl possibly do to start the revolution of the Panem Government?
Disclaimer: Libby and I do not own nor claim to own anything in this story with the exception of a few original characters.
Sequels: Songbird & War Games
Chapter 1. Homecoming
Katniss Everdeen watched nervously from her window as the train came to a stop in District 12. She continued to avoid Peeta's gaze as she had the majority of the ride for fear of the disapproval in his eyes. She slowly got to her feet when she felt the train stop and headed wordlessly to the door.
Despite the waves of mixed and negative emotions streaming through him, Peeta somehow managed to force a convincing smile before standing. He knew full well the cameras are already filming outside to broadcast his and Katniss's arrival home. He had to keep up the act that he was happy, no matter how much of a lie that was. He pushed on until he was standing right beside Katniss. Without hesitation or thinking to even ask permission, he reached down and grabbed her hand. It was time to put on another show for their audience. It was time for another scene in the play starring the star-crossed lovers.
Katniss glanced at their hands and then up at Peeta's face for the briefest of seconds. She squeezed his hand once in acknowledgement. Following his example, she put on one of the biggest smiles she could muster and, forcing a bounce into her step, pushed out onto the street with Peeta.
She couldn't wait to greet her family.
Gale, less so.
The instant the doors were pushed open and the two Victors stepped out, a roar of applause quickly followed. A crowd as large as those at the Reapings stood at a safe distance from the train. In the front lines, of course, were lines of paparazzi and film crews trying to capture every second of the scene.
Without missing a beat, Peeta's grin widened as he began to wave. He tugged on Katniss's hand and began to run towards everybody happily, pulling her behind him but not roughly. Katniss burst out into the girly giggles that were showcased during the interviews before the Hunger Games and skipped quickly after Peeta, waving to the camera crews. She forced the sadness and weariness from her body and pretended to be completely in love with Peeta, even while searching the crowd imperceptibly for a certain dark haired hunter boy.
Both Katniss and Peeta's gazes into the crowd were quickly by a camera lense. On cue, the female reporter, who was obviously from the Capitol due to her yellow skin and metallic silver lipstick, stepped into the shot as well, shoving a microphone in front of Katniss's face. "Katniss Everdeen, how does it feel now that Panem's favorite love duo is finally back home? You sure made history back in your games, how about a few words on that?"
Katniss smiled at the reporter and leaned her head gently on Peeta's shoulder, feeling drained and just wanting to run home to Prim and her mother. She squeezed Peeta's hand and smiled lovingly at him, even though her heart was breaking even further.
"I think we're just happy to be home and to continue our lives and relationship surrounded by family and love. I certainly never went into the Games wanting to make history and I know Peeta feels the same, but I'm just happy we're both still here and alive, but thank you just the same."
The reporter smiled and opened her mouth again to ask another question but a different voice called out before she could start.
All the cameras immediately turned as a small flash of blonde pushed itself through the crowd and ran towards her. The little girl dove forward passed the reporter with her left arm extended towards Katniss, a confused and hissing cat cradled in her right.
Katniss immediately let go of Peeta's hand as soon as she heard Prim's little voice. She lunged forward and pulled her through some of the remaining spectators, holding her tightly against her chest and ignoring Buttercup. Prim held her sister as tightly as she could, like she would blow away if she let her go.
Everyone seemed to forget Peeta as the cameras pointed towards the reunion.
"You really came home! You really kept your promise!"
Katniss smiled down at her little sister and tucked some of Prim's hair behind her ear. Her eyes were wet with tears but she held them back in front of the cameras and planted a kiss on Prim's forehead, a genuine smile on her face now. "Of course I did, little duck. I would never lie to you, you know that."
The sisters hugged and the youngest continued to sob for what felt like hours. Apparently, the film crews felt the reunion had been taking too long as well. When Katniss glanced up again, they had all turned to Peeta, who answered all he was questioned with in his usual forced-friendly demeanor.
Katniss smiled, relieved that the cameras were gone and pressed her face against her blond hair. Prim giggled before pushing her head back against Katniss's chest and hugging her tightly. At some point during the scene, Buttercup had escaped Prim's grip so the little girl was free to hug her sister with both arms.
"We were all so worried and missed you so much! Mom, Buttercup, Lady, Gale, everybody!" she began, more tears streaming down her cheeks.
She pulled back slightly and looked down at her, letting one or two tears escape now that they were a little more private.
"Where is . . . where is everyone? I couldn't see through all the lights and the people. I'm sure Peeta is better with the camera people anyway. I'm glad you got to me first though, duck." She punctuated this with another tight, suffocating hug.
Prim returned the hug quickly, but her voice dropped half an octave. "Mom's in the crowd, waiting for us. I brought Buttercup but I think he got mad he was getting crushed in the hug . . . ."
"You know Buttercup didn't want to be near me anyway." Katniss stood up a little taller to look in the crowd. "And Gale?"
Prim finally let go of Katniss so the elder sister could stand up right to look around. In the crowd, many of the usual faces were there - their mother could be seen in the back of the crowd, Greasey Sae, Darius, even Gale's mother Hazelle and his younger siblings are among the crowd.
But no Gale.
Prim stayed suspiciously silent.
Katniss felt her excited smile slowly slipping off her face into nothingness. She fell off her toes onto her feet and looked at Prim, her brows furrowed. She opened her mouth for a moment before shutting it and taking Prim's hand, forcing the hurt and pain back down. "Come on, Prim. Let's sneak away and go see Mom, okay?"
"Don't be mad at him," she mumbled as she squeezed Katniss' hand a little. "I'm sure he wanted to come, Katniss."
'No, I'm sure he didn't,' Katniss thought and just forced an even bigger smile. She didn't answer her sister and began dashing toward their mother.
"Katniss," Prim began to call up to her, but her tiny voice overpowered by the mountains of praise the citizens of District 12 were shouting towards her. A few pats on the back and ruffling of her hair later, Mrs. Everdeen walked over to the two. She seemed to have lost quite a few pounds since Katniss last saw her, but she looked overall well and even smiled a little.
Katniss plastered on her smile at all the citizens and then at her mother. She hugged her, although not with as much enthusiasm as she did with Prim. "Mom. I missed you guys."
Her mother returned the hug. "We all missed you too. Thank you for coming back to us, Katniss." Her shook as she spoke. Her words were cautious and wary, like she was still afraid there was a chance Katniss wasn't coming back.
"I'll always come back, Mom. You don't have to worry about that."
Even as she tried to soothe her mother, Katniss's eyes flitted around the crowd for familiar dark hair. She finally looked back at her mother and smiled reassuringly.
From behind her, Hazelle walked up with her youngest three - Rory, Vick, and Posy. "Katniss, congratulations!" Gale's mother cried as she hugged the girl, planting a small and happy kiss on her cheek as she did. "You did so well!"
Katniss smiled and hugged her back before ruffling Rory, Vick, and Posy's hair. "Thanks, Hazelle. I guess I tried my hardest and that's all I can say. How have... all of you been?" She smiled in what she hoped what an enthusiastic way, but it just came off rather confused and upset at this point.
Hazelle, not being a very suspicious woman, smiled right back at her. "We've been managing. You don't need to worry about us, though. Gale's been taking care of everything while you were gone."
Katniss's eyes snapped to Hazelle at his name, but she smiled all the same. She focused really hard to sound nonchalant. "Gale? What's he been up to? And where is he?"
"Oh, you know," she shrugged and waved her off. "He's been up to his usual-"
"He should be out of work soon to see you do, Katniss!" the middle child, Vick, spat out. He instantly gained him a stern look from his mother. Realizing he messed up, the child immediately put his hands over his mouth and widened his eyes.
Katniss was finally fed up. Her arms crossed so tightly they grew sore. "If he's angry at me, you can tell me. Everyone's been dancing around the issue. Just tell me! I just survived the damn Hunger Games! I think I can handle the truth."
Everyone remained silent and looked among each other. But it was Prim who squeezed Katniss's hand again and spoke first. "Gale had to work. He got a job at the coal mines."
Katniss chewed on her lip angrily and just looked away from Prim and everyone else, slightly embarrassed but refusing to show it. "Yeah."
"We didn't want to tell you because of dad," she mumbled a little, almost guilty like.
Katniss nodded, pushing her dark hair as well as the worry off her face. "I understand. I'm sorry. I just... I just expected him to be here."
"Like Vick said, I'm certain he'll be at the party tonight!" Hazelle smiled, trying her hardest to cheer Katniss up. "Come on now, you're a victor! Let's start off towards the feast."
She smiled and nodded. "Thanks, Hazelle. Let's go."
She wound her arm around Prim's shoulder and started off toward the feast, her mind reeling. The last thing she wanted right now was to be around anyone; she just wanted to go and yell at Gale Hawthorne for working in the coal mine when he promised he wouldn't and then punch him for missing her homecoming.