Disclaimer: Anthing you recognize, such as characters, I do not own. I don't own the images used in the cover, either, though I did put it together to make the overall cover image. So no suing, please. :) This disclaimer pretains to all the chapters in this story.
"Ow." I rub the back of my head as I sit up, offering a hand to the person I crashed into. My heart jumps. It's Peeta Mellark. "S-sorry," I stutter as we both stand up. Students push past us, hurrying to leave the building, and I have to put a hand on the wall to keep myself from being shoved over.
"It's all right," Peeta answers evenly, stooping to gather up my fallen books. We're both silent for a few seconds as we collect my textbooks and folders, and when I accept the stack, I catch him looking at me like he wants to say something. At last he just asks, "Are you all right?"
"Fine," I answer automatically. No need to mention the rapidly forming bruise on my head. Before I know it, my feet have carried me to my locker and Peeta Mellark is nowhere to be seen. Good. He brings back too many memories. Good ones and bad ones.
I methodically unload my unneeded supplies into my locker, then shove the rest into my pack and head outside to collect Prim. As usual, she's waiting by the apple tree out front.
"Hey, Prim," I greet her, giving her a small smile.
She slips her small hand into mine and giggles, "Hi, Katniss. Guess what we learned today?"
We begin walking towards home. Heat rolls off the coal-stained streets and I'm reminded that summer is just a few weeks away. Prim chatters and I listen. This is how it usually is on our walk home. I'm not inclined to talk overly much, like most girls my age.
When we get home, I sit Prim down at the kitchen table and go check on my mother. Once I'm sure she's up and about, I reach into my pack for my homework. My fingers graze an unfamiliar shape. What's this? Frowning, I pull out a small leather notebook. It's not mine. I've never seen it before. Written on the front cover in small, careful handwriting are two words: Peeta Mellark.
I must have accidentally taken it when we bumped into each other. Curious, I flip the page and examine the first drawing. A tree. Next is a line of rooftops. Then the school. I'm about to shut the notebook when a sketch catches my eye. I stare at it blankly. Maybe I'm mistaken. But, no, I'm sure. It's me. Sitting at my desk, pencil in hand but eyes on the window. Why is Peeta Mellark drawing me?
I turn the pages past drawings of a cat, the fence, someone who looks like he might be Peeta's brother. There I am again. In this drawing, my back is turned, but the braid gives me away. That, and the fact that Prim is standing next to me, holding my hand. I look up at the real Prim, who sits across from me, happily scribbling on her homework. Then I look back down at the drawing. It's remarkable how much it looks like her.
I know I shouldn't, but my curiosity gets the better of me. I look over the rest of the drawings, most of which are of places in District Twelve, or people I don't know. But I appear every few pages. In a tree, at the bakery's back door with a squirrel in my hand, in the school hallway, and even in the forest. I am certain that Peeta Mellark has never seen me in the forest. He must know I hunts, because I often trade with his father, but I can't even imagine Peeta venturing past the fence. So how did he capture the woods with such detail?
On the last marked page, about halfway through the notebook, is a partially-finished drawing of, predictably, me. I recognize the long-sleeved shirt with the hole in the elbow that I'm wearing at this very moment.
"That's very good," Prim comments, and I jump. She has appeared at my shoulder. "Who drew it?"
"Peeta Mellark," I answer quietly, still half in shock.
"The baker's son?"
I nod. Prim eases the notebook out of my hands and gives it a quick flip-through. She stops at yet another drawing of me, this time kneeling down to talk to her, and says, "How did you get it?"
"I bumped into him at school. I guess I must have picked this up along with my books," I answer.
Prim finally looks up and gives me a teasing smile. "He must really like you."
"Prim," I say in exasperation. "Of course he doesn't. He's from the town and I'm from the Seam, remember?" But, I'm remembering something else. Burnt bread.
Prim doesn't look convinced. "Oh. Well, okay." She goes back to her homework and I bury the notebook- sketchbook- in my pack again. I'll have to give it back to him tomorrow. Oh, God, how am I going to do that?