Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, story, or have any ownership of the Hunger Games
a/n: A new AU. First off, I'm not abandoning the "and it runs through my veins" series. That one is really intricate and every now and then I find myself in a bind on how to get from A to B. That, and I am currently writing over ten AUs at the same time. And this one I started just last week but have a good amount planned out. It started out simple, with my friend telling me to write a high school au in the same line of a 90's romcom teen movie. I always seem to write sad and angst, so I thought that this would be fun. As I figured out the plot it's veering a bit from just strictly romcom times, but that is the simple heart of this. So every chapter is going to have cheesy 90s/80s lyrics. Because cheesy songs from the 90s and 80s are the best and it's fun to set them to Katniss and Peeta.
writing blog can be found hotpiewrotehotpie-tumblr-com (. instead of -)
Rated M for language and future chapters
The title "Lovefool" comes from the song by the band The Cardigans.
love me love me, say that you love me
fool me fool me, go on and fool me
love me love me, pretend that you love me
leave me leave me, just say that you need me
I can't care about anything but you
lovefool | the cardigans
I may have been a little eager in my decision, in all of my decisions regarding, well, this, but the fact of the matter is that eleven years later I sit with the same resolve in my mind. A little eager, a little too windswept in the song of love, but my heart was in the right place at five years old. My heart is in the right place at sixteen years old.
As if a visual to the thought is needed, she walks into the lunchroom.
Through the eleven years that I have known her, it seems as if I was watching the evolution of a quiet beauty in humanity. Her dark hair a couple years ago started having lighter hues that could be picked up in the sunlight, where she liked most to spend her time, but overall it was so dark it seemed black. Freckles like a starmap scattered across her nose in subtle fade ins and fade outs, and I often over the years found myself in a daydream where I count them. She walks in a graceful step, quiet, and no one seems to notice her.
I notice her.
Although, I think I have been rather obvious about that fact. I sometimes feel embarressed by how much I notice her, how much I noticed of her, but eleven years is a long time to be in love with someone.
It only makes matters worse that I'm not sure she even knows my name.
Over the years I have thought up various situations where I'd find a reason to talk to her. Being in the same school district, oppurtunities are like weeds sometimes. There always seemed to be a problem in my plans. My Achilles Heel.
I am a goddamn coward.
I couldn't talk to her, couldn't, because I'd mess it all up. Somehow. She would laugh at me, but maybe that would be worth it because her laugh is something of a beauty in itself. Worse than laughing at me, she'd probably look at me with no recognition. I am, have always been, just some classmate of hers that sometimes is in her class over the years.
We have interacted once, but if she remembers that it'd be the worst reaction of all. I would not be a thing to laugh at or to not even recognize. I'd be a reminder of the worst days of her life.
Not exactly a romantic thing to swoon about.
I'm brought out of my daydream of her as she sits down at her lunch table and the occupants of my lunch table comes back into focus. They're all talking about... something... and I see Katniss nod a quiet hello to her friend Madge Undersee. The boisterous Johanna Mason comes in, taking a seat right next to Katniss and she clearly does not enjoy the proximity when Johanna slings her arm around her shoulder as a greeting. The fourth of the group, and other senior with Johanna, is Gale Hawthorne, sitting across.
I look again at my table, completely packed. Teeming with laughter and hoots and each and every one of us with the perfect blue eyes and blond hair signal that means we're well off in this school. I catch Delly's eye who sits across from me and although she is actively part of the conversation, she allows her one eyebrow to raise slightly at me in question.
Shit. I have got to be more careful with my whole unrequited love business. I didn't want to tell anyone, and I didn't even tell Delly. Not that I was, or am, embarrassed about my heart, or Katniss. Never. Although most of my classmates, friends even, that I sit next to just right now, would see it as staying a secret because of how bad it'd look for me.
There isn't much difference, between us on one side of the train tracks and the people on the other (as my classmates would refer to as the wrong side). A couple more dollars, different looks. Apparently that means everything though.
But after burning for someone for eleven years, people are bound to catch. Luckily for me, one that did was Delly. She asked me at thirteen, whether it was Katniss or Madge that I tried to sneak glances at during lunchtime and recess. I considered playing dumb. I considered lying and saying it was Madge, like I had before. Out of my mouth came the answer came simply: Katniss. She just smiled and said "I knew it." Apparently she saw me during our gym class that year looking at Katniss, our science class the year before. This year, it's history, english, math, and lunch (although Delly can only see me seeing her during lunch and history).
"What do you think, Peet?"
I wince at the nickname Peet in my mind. Peet, not Peeta. It's one more letter, one more syllable. I hate when people call me it, and yet never say anything about it. I guess if people want to call me Peet instead of Peeta, they can. I don't even know why I dislike it so much, I just do. I should just let it go, it's really a rather stupid thing to get worked up over.
And then I realize that they are asking me something. Asking me my input on god knows what because I've been stuck in my own little Katniss-is-the-only-thing-that-exists world like the lovesick puppy I am, instead of interacting like a normal human being with everyone. I glance at Delly quick in panic, and she mouths "football," with a roll of her eyes.
Easy enough. They're talking about our school's football team, which most of the people I'm sitting with either play or cheer for. I used to play, but can't anymore. But I still keep up with it. I am basically obligated to.
I direct my answer to Kerrick, who asked for my opinion just before. "Undefeated, definitely." The table cheers in agreement, and I mouth a silent thank you to Delly. She rolls her eyes at me again, and I do it back to her in spite. Teenage girls think that they own the right to rolling eyes and every now and then I feel the need to reassure her that they don't.
We continue on with lunch, and I try to actively participate in the conversation, not allowing my eyes to wander over to that round table of four on the other side of the room. I make sure to not let myself get lost in my head again, in case they ask me my opinion like before. Talk mainly stays to the party that Colton was throwing this weekend at his house because his parents are away.
Madge comes to my locker after lunch as I gather my sketchbook and assignment for my art class. "Another kid asked me today if you have the hots for me."
I scoff. Madge is a good person, a semi-friend, and someone I am eternally grateful for. She is also the other person besides Delly that noticed my preoccupation and questioned me about it. She approached me years ago, truly, while we still had recess. She noticed before Delly. Which I guess isn't that odd; she sat nearby the recieving end of it all, it was probably easier to pick out. That, and the fact that gossiping girl whispered to her that they think that a certain Peeta Mellark liked her. She asked me then about this whole thing as well, and I let her know that my sneaking glances were at Katniss.
After I told her she giggled and nodded, as if she knew all along. Maybe she did. "So are you going to tell her?"
I looked at her in shock. "Tell her? You can't be serious."
"She's not mean like people say, Peeta."
"I never said she was."
"Then why don't you tell her?"
"I will, alright? When I'm ready. I will."
We were quiet, and then she asked me one more question. "People are going to keep telling me about you. Asking me if you like me. Do you want me to tell them yes?"
I still feel indebted to he. Madge willingly plays the role as the unobtainable object of my affection. The questions about it don't come as much as they used to, the gossip mill needing different stories than just the plain pining of Peeta Mellark for someone he can't have. We're both from the same area of town in general, but in reality the difference between my standings and hers are actually more different than even mine and Katniss'. Her parents are loaded, old money from across seas, and her father was even Knighted a while ago. So while some Baker could never end up with a Sir's daughter, it is more acceptable for him to wish for that then for some girl from the other side of the Tracks.
I slightly hate myself for all of this, and for giving into it. For playing these games that high school lay out for us instead of just saying "fuck it" and liking who I like openly. Then again, the standings are only a part of it. My mother's another part. My cowardice, like I said before, is the biggest.
"What'd you tell them this time?" I ask, shoving back my English books for my second sketchbook. I have my assignment one, and I have my personal one. And I cannot be without my personal one.
"I told Carrie that you were on my lawn last night throwing rocks at my window and I ignored you."
I close the locker with a quiet laugh as we both make our way to art. "Damn, Undersee. You're breaking my heart with your inability to fall for my charm."
"What can I say? You shouldn't have fallen for someone so high up."
Or rather, someone (seen as) so down low. I think in my mind how much easier it would be if all those years ago I fell in love with someone like Madge, or anyone really. I can't put someone else truly in the spot that Katniss is in, not even for a 'what if,' but sometimes, sometimes, I wish I could. Maybe I would feel like I could approach the person then. Maybe I would be able to tell them.
She talks again when I don't answer. "It's almost been a decade since you told me that you'd tell her, Peeta."
I shake my head. "It's been six years, not ten. Don't use your rounding rules on me. And don't say decade, it puts into words how pathetic I am."
"You're not pathetic. I'm just saying that at the rate you're going we'll graduate before you tell her. What, do you plan on telling her at our ten year renuion? I wasn't planning on going but I might now."
I had enough of this conversation. "I'll talk to her, I will. It's just–"
"Blondie!" A crass voice rings out as footsteps hurry over to us. "And... other blondie." It's Johanna of course. Who knows both of our names. But apparently calling us by our namesakes wouldn't belittle us as much as she wants us to be. Her smile is wicked. "Whatcha talkin' about?"
"Nothing important, Jo. Just walking to art and talking about our assignment."
I easily slip into the excuse with a groan. "Perspective drawing of a room with at least four objects in varying distances within it. Might have to just have me in the corner bashing my head into the wall to let our teacher know what I think about it."
Johanna's laugh is too loud to be real. "Yeah, Blondie, sure. Well continue your secret conversation." She raises her eyebrow at me, which I return to show her I'm not intimidated.
Which, I totally am.
She chuckles again. "Have fun with Brainless," and leaves.
"Why did she call you Brainless?" I don't think I would ever understand being friends with Johanna Mason. Her endearing names for people are crude. She is lewd to the point of overdoing it and likes to be callous. I have a feeling that deep inside, probably, there's a caring person, but I think it's just a bit too deep for me to try and be friends with.
"She doesn't call me Brainless. That's what she calls Katniss."
My heart leaps a bit, like it usually does at her name but not for the same reason. Was Johanna trying to tell me something, using that nickname and raising her eyebrow at me? Did she know we were talking about Katniss?
Fuck. I decide that I hate the entire female gender and their ability to see through me as if I have written upon my forehead that I'm in love with Katniss Everdeen.
"Let's just get to art," I tell her, and we make our way. We sit next to each other in the class, a conversation coming and going between us. That's how it always is with me and her, with me and most people really. People view me as one of the more popular kids, when in reality it's not exactly the most true. I have a large set of people I eat lunch with, a smaller group that I will spend time with outside of class, and that's about it. I have a ton of people – like Madge – who I'll sit next to in whatever class we have together. And in that class, it's like we're the best of friends. We'll talk or laugh, even if it's on and off it almost feels genuine. We bond over our hate (or love, like in art) of the subject, and the bond is even stronger if the teacher is mean and goes out of their way to single on of us out. We become a united front of teenage angst and sometimes, during that hour of class, I would wonder if I truly was developing a new friendship. But the moment the bell rings it's as if a spell is broken and our friendship facade is done and we act as if we don't exist to one another anymore.
Ah. High school.
The rest of the day passes in a blur, but then again my days always seem to pass as such. I'm at a weird time in my life where time seems both at once too fast and unendingly slow and at the end it feels like a whirlwind. Something feels like it happened ten seconds ago and yet at the same time a week seemed to stretch between then and now. Maybe it's just the growing stages of life. I don't know. All I know is how adults tell me how fast time goes past and it scares me to think it'll go faster.
As I walk to my brother's car I pull my hood up of my sweatshirt to block the rain coming down. The scar across my leg aches, my whole leg aches, like the weather always brings about. I try to mask the limp and am quite successful with it. And I do a pretty good job. It's been two years, but I know that the doctors told me the pain and aches will come and go for most if not all of the rest of my life. Something to look forward to.
I lean against the car and wait for the other high schooled Mellark, my brother Jakob, trying to think dry in hopes that it'll work out in my favor. It doesn't. I'm soaked to the bone and now my slight ache of a leg is burning. I look towards the front of the school to see if I can catch sight of the bastard that I'm related to. No sign. I hope I don't catch a cold on top of all of this. I sigh to myself angrily, not in the mood for my brother's antics for the day. Jakob and I get along well enough, but when we are in school we are to not know each other. He's one of the most popular of the Senior class, not only with friends but also into sports, good grades, and known as both a nice guy and a comedian. His girlfriend is gorgeous and they are very much in love. If someone was to paint the perfect high school picture, it'd be his face.
I'm popular enough, and well liked. My damaged leg took me out of my sports that I used to do. I like art and reading, which seems to be an odd idea that most people give me blank stares about. My fixation on just one being has made me not successful in the ladies department. To my brother, I'm lacking. I resent him a bit for it, I guess. About how he doesn't try to defend me if I trip because my leg gives out or how he never tried to help me freshman year find a class. But I guess it's whatever, and to be expected. We were never that close, except for maybe when we were really young, at a time I can't remember. We have a companionship at home nowadays for the simple fact that we live together and work at the bakery together. It seems more forced than our learned ignorance of each other at school became. When the oldest, Cole, moved out for college two years ago giving us our own rooms as I made my way to high school, a lot changed. Momentarily that year flashes before my eyes, or, to be more specific, one specific week of it. I grimace at just the memory; it's a good thing I have my own room, I definitely decide; every now and then I need isolation to deal with everything that happened and everything that is happening.
Looking at the car, I see a piece of paper with my name in my brother's shitty handwriting waiting for me. I groan; already knowing what the note will tell me as I punch in the four digit lock combination on the pad underneath the front door handle. I wonder if my brother's indifference is bordering on hatred today and he knew the weather as he decided such.
I am not wrong. The letter is short, and tells me that he's staying after with some club or another. He can't drive me. So I either have to find another ride home, walk home, or wait two hours for the late bus that will take another hour to get home due to all the stops it takes.
This sucks. I'm feeling particularly pouty at all this and know that I'm being overly grouchy. I don't care. My leg hurts. I know that my family knows that the weather makes it ache, but they don't really understand how it is. Days like this I wish I just lost the damn thing and had to deal with the occaisional phantom limb feelings rather than this dull ache. It's just so prominant and unrelenting that I'm not sure if there is a slower kind of torture the ninth circle of Hell could come up with.
Most people are gone from the parking lot, having rushed out as quick as possible. I sigh again and stuff my hands in my pockets, starting to limp back over to the main entrance of the school. Usually I'd just walk but the rain casted that out. Looks like I'll be hanging out in the library until the late bus comes around.
"Blondie, over here!" A voice rings out when I'm in the middle of the parking lot en route. I turn to the voice and see Johanna Mason at her old sedan waving me down.
I'm confused, but slowly trek my way over there, trying to hide my limp. "Alright, old man. Limp on over here, that's right." I want to just spit on the ground and turn but I don't. She's Katniss' friend, I think, and well, I think I've already established that I'm a fool when it comes to her. Eventually I stand in front of her. "About time. You need a ride?"
Instantly, I'm on guard. A ride? I am not friends with Johanna Mason. She is a senior, in my brother's grade. My brother and her sure as hell aren't friends. I'm pretty sure she despises my brother, and always has since she moved her. A memory raced through my mind of when I was still in grade school and how my brother came home sporting a black eye that he got from some stupid new girl. No, the two of them never got along. And yet, here she is, asking if I need a ride.
I've stayed silent too long. "I know you can talk, Blondie."
"Why would you give me a ride?"
"Because you're limping and obviously been stranded by your considerate brother. Come on." The passenger door is opened and she makes her way to the driver's side and gets in without looking at me again. I pause for a minute before I finally sit down. If anything, I won't have to deal with waiting for the bus or walk. Plus, I'm sure my brother will get in a fluster if he hears who drove me home (he will), flustered because Johanna Mason is doing a better job at looking out for me than he is.
The radio blares automatically but Johanna turns it down as if she wants to talk. The song is loud and full of noise, and I can just imagine them all in their flannel shirts. The lead singer sounds like she has some anger issues, as well as daddy issues, but I'm not surprised. Johanna would be the one to listen to music by girls angry at their fathers, or whatever it is they blare on about.
As we pull out of the parking lot in silence beside the music, we pass two braided figures. One is smaller, with two blonde braids while the other, taller, has one dark brown one. The Everdeen sisters are walking home in the rain, more in the trees that edge the school and following the trees to the tracks and past them, into the Seam where there will be more trees and more coverage. I try to not keep my eyes locked on her.
"I was lying."
I am not expecting her voice, so I jump a bit. "What?" I'm trying to go through what she told me today and what she could have lied about.
"I'm not driving you to be a good person. I have some bones to pick with you Mellark." I groan, suddenly wanting to take my seatbelt off and just dive out of the car. That will be better than the questions I'm going to be grilled, I'm sure. That will be better than any more time with Johanna.
I stay seated though, and my eyes don't move from staring straight in front of me. "Ask away."
"How long have you wanted to bone Katniss Everdeen?"
I'm not drinking anything but I feel as if I'm spluttering and it's rushing out of my nose. What the fuck? My hand goes to my seatbelt button, as if I really am about to unlock myself from it and just jump out of this car. I might be.
She just snickers and keeps driving. "I did say I have bones to pick. Alright, let me find a better way to appease to your gentleman side. How long have you longed to court Katniss Everdeen?"
I shake my head. It was one thing telling Madge because there were rumors involving her about it all. It made sense that Delly figured it out because she was practically my sister. But Johanna...no. All she is is a senior that feels no loyalty to me, who definitely has at least some kind of communication with Katniss. I don't know if she has any loyalties but if she did it'd be to Katniss. This could only end badly.
"Why are you even asking me this?"
"Curiosity is burning through me about it all. I know that's what you and Madge were talking about. I've heard the rumors, Blondie. Of how in love you are with Madge and how you try and profess your love in different ways but she is only your friend. You have to cover up your lies better than you are. I was with Madge one night when she started the next week saying that you tried to climb the tree by her window only to fall on your ass. I wish you kinda did though; that would've been a good laugh. Although you probably would've hurt your leg even more."
I stay silent.
"So? How long? You kind of owe me an answer, you know, since I'm driving you home." I curse the damn rain, my damn brother, and my damn self once more. Today couldn't get any worse.
"Since I first saw her. Five years old. Let's just drop the subject now."
"Is she the reaon why you always cold shoulder your dates?" Another silence, which Johanna laughs in. "I don't even care but I heard some girls in the lockers room about it. She really wanted to kiss you, to get another date, probably eventually have your babies. She said you bowed to her. Did you bow to her after a first date, in which she was expecting a kiss?"
More silence brought on an even louder howling laugter from Johanna. It got old really fast. "What the hell do you think you're doing, saving yourself for her?"
"My house is third on the left, thanks Johanna."
She slows down, but only right at the beginning of the street. We still have a ways to go. I groan.
"You're saving yourself for her!"
I fight the panic and shake my head. It's not the real truth, really, but it's a bit too close for me to feel comfortable. I haven't talked to anyone about this. "I'm not saving myself for her, Johanna. I just haven't felt a spark with any girl, and how can I be with them like that when I can't even feel the spark? It should be there."
"I don't know what kind of spark you're talking about but let me inform you it doesn't exist. Kisses don't spark, fucking doesn't spark. Fucking feels good though. Listen, those girls in the bathroom...just tell me and maybe I'll help you out and get you some."
We got to my house, and I scramble to open the door. "Alright, thanks for the ride Johanna. See ya."
I know she's going to say one last thing to me but I resolve to not turn back. "Peeta!" She calls, and I pause. She used my name. Not Blondie, not some ruthless joke. I groan a bit at how I lied to myself, how I'm going to listen to another thing that Johanna Mason is going to say, and I make my way over towards her.
"Invite me to your friend's house party."
I blink. What? "What?"
"Yeah yeah I got that I just–" I scratched the back of my neck. Colton's house party that they were talking about at lunch and I'm expected to go. I am expected to get invites out to thousands since he wants a "big party." I looked at Johanna skeptically. "You wanna go?"
She makes a face. "Not really, but cheap beer is cheap beer. Plus I may have a couple of friends that may be interested in going in case I get an invite to it or something."
It isn't fair. I get her game now. I invite her, she invites Katniss. "Why would you do that?" I ask quietly, and I hope she doesn't hear me.
She does. "I'm trying to help you out here. I like the idea of you becoming less pure. Your radiant pure sheet is wrapped so tightly around you and it's starting to piss me off. Plus I want to see how you handle yourself once you find out who Katniss Everdeen really is." I have a feeling that Johanna Mason believes that it's just a simple crush that is wrapped all in lust that I have for Katniss. That even though I told her that it's been since I first saw her, she doesn't truly believe me. Johanna seems like a person that doesn't believe in love, doesn't think it exists, and doesn't think someone could feel such a deep feeling such as that.
I take a deep breath and swallow my thoughts that are telling me that this is a bad idea. Everything can go wrong. Everything will go wrong. But I've been in love with the same girl for over eleven years and only once during that did I try a couple of times to get her to notice me. "Sure," I say as brave as possible. "You want to come to Colton's on friday? Free shitty beer and blasting music."
"Well if you insist." She turns up the radio and I tell her it starts at eleven and that it's the house at the crook of the street edging the lake. I watch as she guns her car off my street and make my way up to my house's front door, limping. It's still raining. I sigh as I walk in, and shut the door quickly. Today is Thursday, tomorrow friday, and then the party that evening. I run my hand through my hair, the raindrops falling as I brush them out. I groan.
This could only end badly.