"I won't do anything to you, I promise."
Primrose backs up against a tree, but she doesn't run away.
"I don't have any weapons. In fact, I don't have anything." I spread my hands out and do a spin. "See? I'm perfectly safe."
I'm not sure why I'm doing this and not running, myself. Maybe it's because she's seen me already. Maybe it's because she's just a little girl like Rue and no threat to me. It doesn't matter. She's not running away either, is she? And she has more of a reason to. I should get things done without questioning the motives.
No way I'm approaching her just like this, though. She might stab me with a stick or something. "I think it's better if you calm down a bit. Where's Mr Mellark?"
Her face stays tense as she lets out a whisper. "It's Peeta."
The way her face tenses tells me that the question isn't exactly calming her down. But I continue with the question anyway, out of curiosity. "So where's Peeta?"
She gives me a look that is clearly questioning what the hell I'm doing, but she answers. "He died."
I'm a little surprised, although I should have expected something like that from her. Well, I suppose I should feel happy for a big contestant to die; but I'm really starting to feel bad seeing Primrose's reaction.
Since I'm already going far enough to talk to her (and I know I'm not going to be able to kill her, stupid empathy) I might as well get her to feel better. "You'll be fine, though." I move closer tentatively as she seems to calm down. "Really, everything's alright." I put my right hand on her shoulder. She grabs it and for a moment I think I'm about to die to the hands of a 12-year-old girl but she just holds on very tightly.
She stays still for a while which gives me time to think. No point complaining about empathy, I'm not going to kill her, which means I'm stuck with her. Or maybe I can abandon her, but I don't think she'd pose any threat – she's small and quiet and a possible distraction for people chasing me. She is another mouth to feed, but she doesn't look malnourished at all right now. Maybe it's just that she's smaller and needs less energy. Maybe she has some special technique about gathering food I could learn. I guess she'd also solve my "bored" problem. Everything indicates that she is okay to be with.
It's just the idea that she'll have to die in front of me if I want to win that chills me.
She seems to be back to normal by now (or as one could get at the moment), so I say, "Standing around the Cornucopia isn't safe. Let's move away." I can think about the food later. I remember myself thinking how I was lucky to get this far without bumping into anyone while being so near the Careers.
I decide to lead her back to the tree; the food is still easily accessible (distance wise) and we're pretty well concealed. She doesn't say anything and holds onto my arm the whole way which was slightly annoying but who cares, she's 12.
She climbs up quite nimbly for someone her size. Probably even better than me. I follow her up to the top after glancing around for other possible tributes. We're sitting next to each other on two branches approximately the same level with our legs hanging down when my stomach grumbles.
I probably should be checking how the Careers get the food right now, but I'm really curious about Primrose, and plus, what she knows might help with the food problem.
"So Primrose-" I start but stop instantly due to her looking startled. "Uh, what's wrong?"
She shakes her head lightly. "No one ever calls me… Primrose. Everyone calls me Prim." She turns her head to me. "What do I call you? I forgot… don't know your name."
Good news. My plan on being unnoticed worked. But a little part of me is mad at her for not paying attention to me. So "What do you want to call me?" comes out of my mouth in a slightly disdainful and sarcastic way.
I don't think she hears the words because she's just startled again. I guess she doesn't think anything that isn't dead serious is appropriate for this situation. "Come on, lighten up," I say cheerfully. "Give me a nickname."
She smiles lightly. "Is it okay if I call you… uh, Foxface? That's… what I called you in my head."
I chuckle at the name. I guess normal people would be offended but I think it sounds cool, alliteration and all. "That's nice." Her face goes confused again as if trying to detect sarcasm in my statement. I add quickly, "No seriously, call me that. I like it."
She smiles again, more sincerely this time. "Okay, Foxface."
We sit in silence for a bit before I realise she's not going to speak. Well, I should've realised by now that she doesn't seem like the talkative type anyway.
So I decide to go back to what I was going to say. "Well, basically, the plan is to just sit by and let those buff Careers kill themselves off. We can easily survive just by gathering plants the and stealing from the Careers' food pile."
Some little part of me is screaming at myself – if that even makes sense – for just telling her everything like this, but… I made the decision to have her with me in the first place, and that didn't make much sense either.
"That's nice." Her voice is soft and sweet, like an angel. Maybe this is why. People seem to empathise with little girls rather than… say, an adult man. I don't even really get why. Whatever. I'm getting bored of these inward thoughts.
"So, Primro- I mean Prim, what is it like in Twelve?"
"…Well, nothing much, really. We just mine coal. We eat… we eat normal things. Tessera grain and oil."
I'm a little annoyed about the fact that what she said didn't solve my boredom at all, but then suppress it because that's just selfish. "Is that all? You don't help in your industry or anything?" I say in a casual voice.
"We're not allowed in the coal mines until we're eighteen. We just go to school. What about you?"
"Me? Well, our industry is power. We don't help that much either; it's quite dangerous, handling electricity. But I've learnt about sciences which is emphasised in school there; even the non-power related biology. It helped me make some random decisions which might have turned out to be useful. Still, I helped my brother occasionally…" I break off from my ramble upon the mention of my brother.
"You have a brother? I wish I had one, too. Not that I don't like my sister, but a house full of girls is quite boring…"
"What about your father?" I say immediately, glad to stop talking about siblings.
Her eyes flicker to the side for a moment. "He got killed in a mine accident. No, you don't need to apologise," She adds as I open my mouth. "It was five years ago. I've been over it for a long time."
"Just like my mother, then. Except she died last year, because she got ill and we didn't have enough food to make her well…"
She seems like she's going to apologise, then stops herself as if she realised that would be hypocritical.
I try and steer the topic away from any sensitive areas (again). "Anyway, so your Mum mines for both of you?"
"No, not-" She stops for a moment. "Well, yes, technically. She just doesn't do the industry's job, that's all."
I can tell that she's hiding something, and for the first time since I've met Prim I remember that we're being monitored ever so closely by Capitol eyes, and that we won't be able to speak just anything we want here.
I sigh. I was feeling quite happy with her just here and chatting without much worry. And now I'm reminded about the Capitol and the Games and that we can die easily if things go wrong.
"Don't worry," I answer quickly as she looks as if she's afraid of having offended me. "It's just that I remembered something; we can't steal the food easily as you think." She seems surprised again at the sudden topic change, but she doesn't comment on it. Good, our personalities don't seem to clash, which is another nice thing about her.
"It's not just that someone might see us," I explain further, "The District Three boy has done something with the mines around their food pile and it'll be hard to reach."
Her eyes widen slightly. "Then we should just rely on berries. It'll be too dangerous."
"No, it won't be enough food. Didn't Peeta get some food for you from the pile, as well? The fruits here won't have enough energy to keep us going for long, especially since we need to be very careful in the arena. We have to get food from the Careers. Don't worry, though, they'll have to be able to access their own food as well, so we'll just have to copy them."
I like how we're already working together even though we didn't clearly make an alliance or anything. And we haven't even met for half an hour.
Suddenly, she averts her eyes for a bit, and blurts out, "How do I know you're not going to kill me in my sleep?"
What? I would never! I'm about to throw a string of insults at her when I realise her fear is justified. I mean, would people really be so nice to a 12-year-old girl when they're participating in the Hunger Games?
It's clearly not enough to console her. I start to get frustrated again. "Look, if I really wanted you dead I would have killed you by now. I'm not strong for my age, but I have three years of growth over you. And even if I weren't strong enough for you, I'd just run away if I wanted you dead. Really, don't you think the chances of survival would be higher with two people?"
She looks convinced, but she still says in a small voice, as if her instinct is still not to trust me, "But… how do I know you're not lying about that?"
My voice softens. "I'm not. I promise."