Epilogue part one So Much Stronger Than Man
These past months have been the best I have yet lived. My fiancé and I have grown together and a stronger bond than before has formed.
Finnick and Annie found their way to the bakery and have informed us that they will be here for the wedding.
Everything has been put together so nicely, I know Prim will love it. I know mother will love being a mother-in-law and of course eventually a grandmother. Father knows just how much I love Peeta... I'm sure he's thrilled for us.
We all wait anxiously at the docks to welcome my family. Grandfather has opted to spend his day at the court-house and the church to finalize everything, and to give my father time before meeting face to face.
The boat has been in dock and started unloading. My Peeta squeezes my hand and I know he's excited for me.
I first see Mama and Prim who make haste to my side. "Mama" I whisper in her ear when her arms wrap around me.
"Oh my sweet child." She rocks me back and forth. "My Katniss."
"Katniss" Prim hold my waist, "I've missed you."
"I've missed you both greatly." Father comes next with his business face on. "Papa" I sigh as he nears.
"Come child we are going home."
"To America back to New Jersey."
"I am home here, Papa."
"Do not protest me Katniss."
"Did you not receive my last letter?" He does not answer when I beg the question, "Papa, in my last letter I said I was staying here in London."
"You are to come with your mother, your sister, and I home." He grabs my wrist and pulls me.
"But Papa I'm getting married"
"You shall do no such thing until I have given consent."
"But Papa I love him!" I shout.
"Do not argue with me daughter! You shall not marry for I am your Father and you live by my word"
"Grandfather has given his permission-"
"Do not mention that man young lady! Now come, be obedient and speak not against me."
"I shall not speak against you and I shall not fight your words. This is final, if you shall not allow my marriage I'll elope!" I wrangle free of his gasp.
"You shall do no such thing!"
"Mama, please tell me you did not come here to rip me from my love, and take me back to the colonies which have condemned me to die."
"We did not dear." Mama takes my hands in hers to comfort me.
"Do not caudle her, Sarah. This disobedience must be addressed. She must come away with us!"
"Jonathan please you are causing a scene. What has gotten into you?"
"She is still under our care and as her father it is my job to raise her right."
"You have raised me right Papa, but if you do not consent this wedding then I shall make myself a wife with only gods consent."
"Daughter! Listen well, if you do so wish to marry this man within the week then you shall have no family, and will be shunned by us forevermore."
"Papa-" Prim speaks but stops herself short.
"Primrose, silence. Katniss the choice is yours the boy or your family."
"The choice is yours."
I look at the dock beneath my feet in silence before asking, "Why did you lie to us Papa?"
"Why did you lie to Mama, Prim, and I? Why did you not tell us you went to university? Or that your father was a parliamentarian?"
"Is that what, the wretched man told you?" Papa asks me.
"Answer me father"
"You have uttered too many words my child and have yet delivered no answer."
"Do not pester me father until you have answered my questions!"
"Stop this!" Mama says, "Jonathan you have let the sea get to your head, travel has made you weary husband. Let us retire to our lodgings for the night. Rest regain our right minds and come to speak again tomorrow."
I do not stay after this. I run far away shoving my way through the Tuesday market place. I run into the surrounding forests before I see the hills that near grandfathers estate.
I am distraught when I fall to my knees and cry.
I hear no words but rather the sound of ground that seeps with rain water being compact further into the ground.
"Oh my! A fool I've made of myself this day." I say as My Peeta takes me in his arms.
"You have not made a fool of yourself."
"Yes I have, in not answering my father, in disobeying. Oh, what a fool I am."
"The woman I love is no fool." He turns my face to see him, "The woman I love is the girl on fire. The girl who faces adversity with bravery and hope." He finishes his thoughts sadly, "And with that hope I do indeed wish you to find another husband that your father will love as a son."
"No Peeta, you are my love. I shall not abandon you when faced with my family. You shall be my family, and as the lord proclaims one must never stray from their husband you will find me to never stray."
"Katniss please. I know what it's like to lose your family. I do not wish you to go through the same."
"I would choose you if the world would shun me. I would choose you if the world would stop turning. It is to you my dearest devotion lies."
"You speak in scattered speech. You must think carefully about your words, love."
"I do not care! If my father does not wish our union I shall not please him. I have been a humble servant of the lord, and as such I will fill his world with love. My love for you Peeta."
"You must choose your family, you must return to the colonies."
"Only in my nightmares, will I ever return to the colonies where my hell was founded. I hope that only in my nightmares I will return to the place that set me ablaze, and that when I awake you will be there to stop the fiery steeds of dark dreams. You'll hold me and whisper comfort. My only wishes for this earth have you in them."
He holds me to his chest, "I shall not tear your family-"
"You are my family. You will be all I'll need. I'll provide for you as a good wife should. I will run the household and the finances and bear you many children. But I shall only be a good wife to you my love. For if any other man tries to take my hand in matrimony they shall only know a shrew."
He chuckles at this, "A shrew my dear?"
"Yes a shrew! I'd scream and fight his hand. I would never wish for children unless they were yours. Do not condemn another man to my wrath" I laugh lightly.
"You must think this through."
"I shall not shun you my husband. I would rather burn on a thousand stakes than be torn away from you." I nestle my head back into his chest.
"Speak no more. You have said enough now. Wait until day break to speak of this again." He says gliding his hand through my hair.
He holds me here until the wind becomes to strong for either of us to bear. He takes me back to grandfathers estate which is hardly half a mile away.
My personal maid takes me upstairs while the others try and convince Peeta to stay.
My maid is quite very short of tongue but is none the less kind. She is rather beautiful with lovely red hair that shines in the moon.
"Mistress, I've already run a warm bath for you. Will you wish to dine with your family or in the study?"
"The study thank you." I say solemnly.
"Is there something the matter?"
"It is nothing worth the trouble."
"Do you need someone to listen?" I think about this and in that time she has decided to stay.
"My father has demanded I return to America and not marry." She nods as she pulls out a new dress for me. "Please tell me, did you know my father before this?"
"Indeed I have" She says.
"Pray, tell me what he holds against my grandfather."
"I cannot. The master must tell you in his own time."
"Please tell me something, anything." I beg her.
"... Your father was always kind, he held everyone but his father in the highest regard. He always hated his father for a personal reason that your grandfather must elaborate upon."
"... I will choose Peeta" I say to her when I slip into the steaming tub. "I love him, and I will stay here."
"It is your choice Mistress, however I would think twice about staying away from your family. Lord knows history repeats itself. And lord knows we do not need more repeating of misunderstanding and hate in this household."
"Misunderstanding and hate?"
"The hatred shared by your father and grandfather has gone on for generations. The Everdeen men are always so stubborn and so bold. They always reprimand their fathers." With that she smooths down her skirt and heads towards the door. "I'll be preparing your clothes Mistress, please do not ask of me anymore information. Please... Wait until the master returns."
"Thank you" I say as she leaves. That night I spend in the study and wait for grandfathers return. I wait in anxiety, reading hardly distracts me and so I just stare at the pages of books in a sorrowful grief.
"Katniss?" I hear grandfather enter. "Is the gossip I've heard true?"
"Oh yes it has spread like the plague. My son has threatened to disown you if you are to marry on Saturday."
"It is true grandfather, he spoke of my disobedience openly and demanded I return home. Nay, I said, I would not go with him. He gave me a choice of my love or my family. I cannot choose grandfather I cannot.
"What has gotten him this way? He acted so strangely, so unlike my Papa."
"My son has always been this way Katniss. It cannot be helped."
"Oh grandfather, I cannot pick between my Peeta and my family. Why would he force such a question onto me?"
Grandfather did not look at me directly, "Part of that, my dear, might be because of me."
"What do you mean?"
"Your father is a very difficult man."
"Do not ask me. I do not know." Grandfather says quickly. "Katniss, you must make this decision based on what you have been raised to believe not by anyone else's opinion."
"Katniss, I trust your judgment" He says before leaving me. I stare at the ground for the longest time. I need my Peeta to live, I need his love. But I have always had my family.
"Oh lord in heaven help me." I whisper.
"Mistress." I look to see my maid.
"Please I must know what dispute lays between my father and grandfather."
She looks at me sympathetically, "Come, I may not utter a word but I shall show you what has happened these generations."
She leads me through the house to the lowest room in the estate. She walks to a far corner to lift a bed sheet off a piece of furniture. She lifts the dusty floor board to reveal a plethora of books and letters bound together.
"This is your lineage, and as you must know we must stop a cycle before it begins." I run to her and help gather them out of the hole. There must be dozens of these. "They are rightfully yours Mistress."
I take them up to the study and spend all night reading through my family history.
This cycle had started ten generations ago starting with a son who became a seaman instead of a farmer. He was shunned by his family.
The next son became a herder, and was also shunned by his family. So on and so forth letters of hate and spite sent back and forth between family members.
All of these disputes led to disownment of a child. All but one, my grandfather never disowned my father.
And my father left his goodbye letter with these.
He explained that he had found these letters and diaries. He talked about keeping up the tradition, said he would rather die than join the slave trade.
Grandfather sold slaves. At this I am shocked. I stare at the pages and try to make sense of the words written but they cannot make sense.
Who is the liar? Who bore false witness to me? Grandfather couldn't have said these things to me.
"Katniss?" I a woken from my trance to realize it is mid day.
"Mama" I stand up.
"My child... Your father, he has made it so. Since you have not come to call." Mother has tears in her eyes and must wipe them away before speaking further, "He has decided to disown you."
"Mama" I sigh with tears of my own, "Please Mama, you can't"
"I must be a good wife to your father. I must obey him, my child." As she cries she turns away from me.
"Mama, don't go." I beg, "Please Mama."
"I hope someday when your father has passed... I will see you again."
"Mama! Please!" I follow behind her, "Mama,"
"I love you Katniss. I pray we will meet again. And I pray for you to have a happy life with your husband. I pray you will bear many children and live to see your grandchildren." I try to hold on to my mother but I know she cannot. I am shunned from her life until my father's death.
"I love you Mama" I say before she walks out of the house and out of my life. And I fear she may be walking out forever. "God please let this feud end with me. Give me strength to end this fray."
I run to my room and close the door to my chambers, there I weep and weep while the rain pours down. Though I know it does not pour for me, and that it pours for the Earth, I feel nature is trying to tell me to wash away the past. It is telling me to refresh my life with new rains.
But I know that one does not lose their family and not grieve. I know one thing. I have my Peeta, my love, my life. Now he must be enough for me.
So many questions formed and none of them answered. Was grandfather a parliamentarian or a slave trader? Is my grandfather lying or my father? Is this the work of fate? Is this destiny at work?
"Mistress, please. You must get up."
"I do not wish to move." I mumble.
"Please it is Wednesday evening. In three nights you will be a bride."
"I don't wish to move. I have not slept since the night before last."
"You must Mistress, the Master has called for you to dine with him and his company." I must ask grandfather of my fathers behavior.
I comply and bathe. My maid dresses me in a fine icy blue dress for me to meet the wives of his company.
I wonder who will attend. I wonder if any of them have sold people's lives away.
When the dinner is over and I have reached my limit of small talk with older women, they leave.
"Grandfather... I must ask you something"
"My father left you one last letter before leaving." His kind expression fades into fear, "I found it... Who has told me false truths?"
"...Neither Katniss" He says after a long pause. "The story between your father and I... Is complicated."
"I will listen."
"Then please follow me." He takes me to the sitting room and orders tea for us both. "Neither your father nor I have lied to you Katniss. I did sell slaves, and I do not feel guilt. Your father has always considered this cruel. That I took my profession so seriously.
"He told me the Negroes were people and not property. Some of the school children would ridicule and taunt him. I never would have forced him into the slave trade, he always assumed I would.
"I cared not what he did just so long as he was successful. He became a shoe maker! In the colonies! Even though he was no puritan. Even though he was not pure himself.
"That boy of mine could lie like no other but I'm sure the colonies beat that right out of him. You must not believe me but it is true. He did go to university, I always provided for him but he wanted none of it."
"But grandfather you lied to me, you told me you were in parliament."
"I was, my slave trade became so successful I was asked to represent the economic branch in parliament. I was able to quit the slave trade and become a full-time politician. However once your father left, many things went wrong. My wife became unfaithful to me before her death. I became bombarded with illness and after seven years in parliament had to retire.
"Just know this Katniss, your father is stubborn and rash." I look at my hands in thought. He kisses my head as he leaves the room "Goodnight my dear."
With that I to retire to my bed chambers. I lay in bed and think. Two days from now I will be a bride, I have only my grandfather, and a family feud that must end with me.
I think now is a good place to stop. You ready for the last chapter? Huh? Are you? I am!