I do not own THG.
This chapter is dedicated to my wonderful beta, safe-always-real. Thank you Kerin!
He flips her over him so that she is now straddling him. "I want to see you ride me," he pants. She whimpers in response as she slowly guides his cock into her, relishing in the way he feels inside her. Placing her hands on his chest to gain balance, she starts to roll her hips against him. In return, his hands reach out to cup her ass. "Yes. Just like that, Regina," he encourages.
She throws her head back in ecstasy when his fingers find her clit, rubbing it with just the right pressure to send jolts of pleasure through her body. She can hardly concentrate on riding him anymore. Before long, she can feel it. She's almost there, the tension gathering at her core threatening to uncoil with just a few more strokes of his touch. She digs her nails into his chest. She tries to warn him. "Vincent, I—
"KATNISS!" a voice shouts in her ear. Katniss jumps a little at the sudden intrusion before swivelling her chair around to meet the voice's owner. Prim stands before her, a playful smile on her lips.
"Shit, Prim. You scared me," Katniss tells her sister. "You should've kno—
"I did knock, Katniss," Prim interrupts her. "But apparently you were so occupied that you didn't notice me, so I thought I'd let myself in," she smirks.
Katniss smiles. "Well, I'm not occupied now. Anything you want to tell me?" She adjusts herself slightly, rotating her chair a little more to the left, hoping it will keep Prim from seeing the contents on the screen.
"Dinner's almost ready. Daddy sent me upstairs to tell you. Watcha reading, Katniss?" she asks curiously. Prim tiptoes to get a better look, but Katniss is quicker. She stands up from her seat and stops her sister from coming any closer.
"Nothing interesting, really," she replies, frantically trying to make up something believable. She says the first thing that comes to her mind. "College entrance essays! I mean, I'm reading examples of college entrance essays."
"Wow, you're so hardworking, Katniss," Prim remarks, a look of awe on her face. "School has barely started and you're already reading college entrance essays!"
Katniss feels guilty. "Um, yes." She clears her throat. "You go ahead, Prim. I'll come down as soon as I'm done."
Only when her sister's footsteps fade down the stairs does Katniss feel reassured to go back to her desk. "College entrance essays." She laughs at her lame excuse as she reads through the rest of the smutty story.
College entrance essays indeed.
The strong smell of lamb wafts into her nose before Katniss even reaches the kitchen.
She recognizes the familiar and comforting smell, and is pleasantly surprised. Lamb stew. Her family is preparing dinner in the kitchen.
Prim bustles around the kitchen, taking three soup bowls from a cabinet before grabbing spoons from another drawer. She nudges the drawer closed with a swing of her hips, giggling at the sound of the utensils rattling together inside the drawer. Katniss can't help but smile at Prim's antics; she never knows why Prim finds this so entertaining, despite the fact that she has been doing it for years.
Her father is in another corner of the kitchen. Eric Everdeen stirs the pot of lamb stew, stopping to sample it with a small spoon. Apparently the stew is satisfactory, because Katniss sees him nod in approval. He gives it a few final stirs and switches off the stove.
Katniss hurries to put the trivets on the dining table. Her father sets down the pot of lamb stew and she inhales deeply. "It smells heavenly, Dad."
"Wait until you taste it," her father grins.
"Let's eat!" Prim starts ladling a bowl with stew. She gives it to her father, and then ladles a second bowl. Katniss notices that this bowl has a bigger serving than her father's.
"This is yours, Katniss. I know how much you love lamb stew," Prim winks. She slides the bowl in front of Katniss. "Shh, don't let Daddy know I gave you a bigger portion," she says in a loud voice that suggests quite otherwise.
"Hey! That's unfair," their father plays along. "I demand that I get a bigger serving! After all, I'm the one who cooked this."
The sisters laugh at their father's attempt to pout.
"Katniss, look! That's exactly what you look like when you pout," Prim teases.
Katniss rolls her eyes. "I don't pout, Prim. That's you. You and Dad look like twins when you pout."
"Nonsense. Everyone says I look like Mum…" Prim falters at the last word. "…my…" The atmosphere at the dining table has gone from light-hearted to uneasy at the slightest mention of their mother. Nobody says a word. Katniss eyes her father warily. His face is blank.
Prim fakes a cough. "Better start eating now, the stew is getting cold," she says nervously.
The next fifteen minutes or so are filled with the occasional clinking of spoon against bowl, slurping noises and the sound of Prim chewing her meat.
Her father decides to break the silence. "How is school so far, Primmy?"
Prim looks up, shocked. She swallows whatever food inside her mouth before replying. "Primmy? Daddy, I'm fourteen, not four. I'm a freshman already!" She states proudly. "You don't go around calling Katniss 'Katty', do you? Call me Prim, okay?"
She doesn't wait for her father to answer. She continues to chirp on. "Oh, high school is fun! Everyone is so wonderful and friendly to me. I've made lots of friends!" She turns to Katniss. "I don't understand why you say high school is a horrible place."
Katniss shrugs unimpressively. "I'm only speaking from experience. It's just the beginning. You just wait until the excitement down, and then you'll see."
"You're wrong," Prim says simply.
Kind Prim. Sweet Prim. Always so trusting and ever the optimist. 'I really hope I'm wrong', Katniss thinks. 'I really hope your high school experience will be better and more enjoyable than mine. I really hope you find true friends who will stick with you no matter what. I really hope you find a nice guy that won't treat you like trash, even though I can't see why anyone would do that to you.' She doesn't say these things out loud, of course. Katniss isn't one who says mushy things openly, unlike Prim.
Instead, she tells her father, "this stew is really good, Dad. It tastes even better than the last one. Are you using a new recipe?"
"Yep, thanks to Effie! She knows lamb stew is your favorite dish, so she emailed me this recipe she got from The Caesar Flickerman Show. She'll be glad to know that you like it."
Katniss' expression turns stony at the mention of Effie's name. "Effie? You're still keeping in touch with that woman?" she asks, feeling displeased.
She hopes her father will say no; that Effie sent him an email by mistake, or whatever stupid reasons that woman always gives, in her equally stupid-sounding voice. Her father doesn't reply, but judging from the way he refuses to meet her gaze and the slight scraping noises his prosthetic leg makes against the tiled kitchen floor, Katniss already knows the answer.
Suddenly, she doesn't find the lamb stew so tasty anymore.
Katniss sprawls on her bed, stomach down, when a soft ding from her laptop notifies her that she has an incoming email.
It's from , telling her that an author she'd put on her to-watch list, PaintMeWithWords, has a new story.
It's a continuation of the book, The Girl on Fire, by Cinna M, with this fanfiction depicting the main characters, Regina and Vincent, with children of their own. The story leaves Katniss with so many emotions that she has to stop and pull herself together for a few minutes. She wants to leave a review telling PaintMeWithWords how much the fanfiction could be considered a part of the actual story and that it captured the essence of the main characters so well as parents, but she can't find the right words to say so. She's never been able to express herself properly. So, Katniss chooses to write a simple comment: Another wonderful story from you, love it!
Not long after, she receives a reply of her review:
Thanks for the review! Glad you loved my story. Did I mention that you're the first person to review both of my stories? Haha.
'Well, now you did. What are you trying to imply?' she wonders suspiciously. She types her response: I'm not hardcore stalking you or anything, if that's what you mean.
She refreshes the page to see his reply:
No, no! That's not what I meant. I'm just grateful that you took your time to read and review my stories. I apologize if I didn't make myself clear. :)
'Oh.' Katniss feels bad for jumping to conclusions. No, I'm sorry, she types. I'm not good at interpreting what people mean sometimes. Both of your stories are really good. She adds the last sentence to try to compensate for her misunderstanding.
It's okay! And thanks for the compliment. I've been on this site for less than two months, so it's great to hear that people like my work!
Katniss responds: Let me give you a late welcome then. I've been around for... four or five months? Anyway the TGOF fan base is still small at the moment and we could really use more talented people like you in the fandom.
She gets her reply:
Me? Talented? Oh thanks! As a matter of fact, I already have ideas for my third fanfic. I'm going to plot it out when I have the time.
That's great, I look forward to reading it. She clicks the send button.
Katniss plops back on her bed, recalling the series of events that had led her to join . Katniss was on one of her monthly visits to the local bookstore. Normally she would just stroll through the shelves, checking out new novels and noting down the ones that caught her attention, so that she could borrow them from Madge. Madge usually had a copy of almost every new book, which was not surprising considering her mother was a freelance journalist who reviewed books for newspapers and magazines. Katniss was about to leave with nothing but her list when it started to rain heavily. She cursed herself for not bringing an umbrella, but was secretly pleased that she had an excuse to spend more time in the bookstore. She went exploring in aisles that she didn't walk through in her regular visits. Katniss was surprised when she found an unlabelled shelf with all sorts of books that were not categorized. The lowest rack of the shelf was empty except for two lonely, identical books. The cover was plain; a mixture of orange and red as the background. The Girl on Fire, the title read in black bold letters. On the lower right of the cover was the name of the author, in a similar font but smaller sized. 'Cinna M'. The book was thick; Katniss estimated it to be around 700-800 pages.
One of the novels was not wrapped, perhaps to serve as a browsing copy. She picked it up. Despite the many books she had read, Katniss had never heard of the author before. She was intrigued. She brushed the slightly dusty back cover and read the synopsis. A story set in a dystopic future where children kill each other for entertainment? Katniss raised her eyebrows sceptically. That was sick and depressing. Who would read that? She was a reader who preferred roses and sunshine and happy endings in stories. Past experiences had led her to believe that there were no happy endings in real life. She wanted to immerse herself into a story with happy settings; where everyone was healthy and no one died from illness, where the bad guys were defeated, where the star-crossed lovers got to be together at last, where everyone lived happily ever after. As cliché as it sounded, she got to escape, albeit temporarily, into another world where real life problems didn't plague her.
She put the book back on the shelf, shaking her head to herself. 'Dystopias are definitely not a happy place. Sorry.'
She looked out the glass display window to check the weather outside; the rain didn't look like it was going to stop anytime soon. She looked back to the book.
Katniss sighed. "Oh, whatever," she grunted, squatting to retrieve the novel. "I'm only reading this until the rain stops. And then I'll leave," she convinced herself.
The rain did stop, eventually. But Katniss did not notice. She read on and on. Ninety pages later, she looked up from the book.
"Crap," she cursed, checking her watch. "I'd better go now." She looked at the book, debating her next action.
She gave a huff of resolution. "This Cinna M better give me a happy ending," she muttered to herself as she walked towards the cashier to pay for the book.
She devoured the book in less than two days. It was unlike anything she had read before. It was refreshing to read something so different, Katniss secretly admitted to herself. The story was indeed depressing; it touched so many sensitive issues that Katniss almost wanted to stop reading it, but she just couldn't. The deaths of major characters tore at her heart. The book redeemed itself a little, in her opinion, when the female character finally realized and admitted her love for the male character in the end.
Katniss turned to the next page, half-expecting another page depicting their possibly-married lives and perhaps-even though she didn't have high hopes for it given how Regina was so strongly against creating life in such a bleak world-that there would be mentions of them having children. That would be the perfect ending.
She couldn't help but feel disappointed when she was faced with a blank page. She wasn't satisfied with the ending. Sure, there had been closure, but it wasn't enough! She wanted to know what had happened to Regina and Vincent. She wanted to know the fate of the other surviving characters as well. Cinna M just glossed over everything at the end of the story. She spent many nights thinking in her bed, making up scenarios based on her own what-ifs. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore. She couldn't be the only one who was unsatisfied with the ending. She searched the internet to find like-minded people. And that's how she stumbled upon . The initial relief she felt when she found out that she wasn't the only one morphed into something stronger-was it excitement- as she browsed through stories written by fans of the book. There were less than 200 stories when she first checked, but she felt content reading them, especially the ones about Regina and Vincent tying the knot and starting a family.
Katniss gradually realized that she strongly supported the idea of Regina and Vincent together. She couldn't bear the idea of one of them being without the other; she just couldn't afford to think like that. She loved reading fanfiction involving her favorite couple. Nowadays she visited the site frequently to check for new stories and anxiously waited for each new chapter of unfinished stories.
The sound of Prim closing the door to her room brings Katniss out of her reverie. Katniss rolls herself to the side of the bed where she grabs her favorite book from the nightstand. She flips open her copy of The Girl on Fire, the book being read so many times it would've become easily battered if not for her meticulous wrapping. She turns to the last page, her favorite page of the entire book, and rereads the last passage.
Madge approaches her in the school hallway the next day. "Hey, Katniss."
"Madge. Finished reading your book yet?" Katniss asks her best friend. She unlocks her locker and begins to stuff in textbooks from her backpack.
"Not yet. I'm still at the part where they eloped and are about to 'do it' for the first time," Madge laughs, as she makes air quotes with her fingers. Katniss laughs with her. "Make sure you give me explicit details about the 'deflowering' process." She does the same air quote as Madge and both of them laugh even harder.
They turn their heads to the source of the voice. Delly Cartwright is running towards them from the other end of the hallway. Finnick Odair and Peeta Mellark amble behind her, deep in discussion. Delly's face is mixed with annoyance and relief, her blonde ponytail swishing along as she reaches Madge and Katniss.
"Madge," Delly repeats, flashing a bright smile. She seems to be a little breathless after her short run. She turns to Katniss. "Um, hi Katniss!" she adds a little apprehensively, after a second thought. Katniss notices that Delly's smile has faded a bit. She returns a curt nod to the girl.
"Boys will be boys," Delly complains to Madge, who looks amused. "They've been talking non-stop about cars the whole morning!" Delly turns her head to shoot the approaching boys a dirty look. By now, both boys have stopped their discussion.
"What's with that look, Delly? You look constipated," Finnick jokes. Peeta laughs. Katniss has a sudden, weird fluttering in her stomach.
"You're not ignoring me anymore? Why, thank you!" Delly retorts sarcastically.
Before Finnick could reply, a bunch of young girls, possibly freshmen, pass them. They erupt into fits of giggles when they see Finnick and Peeta. Katniss hears a bit of their conversation. "the taller one", "green eyes", "blond hottie", and "so good looking". Finnick notices the attention and gives the girls a wink, following by his classic 'hot guy' smile. The girls giggle even harder. Katniss rolls her eyes at the scene before her. Peeta only blushes and runs his fingers through his hair. Katniss feels that weird sensation again. Did I eat something bad for breakfast?
The bell rings, signifying the start of the first class of the day. Everyone rushes to get into their respective classrooms. Today's first period is History. Lucky for them, the classroom is near Katniss's locker. "You go ahead," she tells Madge, who is waiting for her. "I still need to get something."
Madge nods and enters the classroom with Delly and Finnick. Peeta follows behind them, but he accidentally drops one of his books and pencil case. He bends down to collect them. Katniss gathers all the things she needs and slams her locker door shut. As she gets nearer to Peeta, she wonders if she should wait for him. This is awkward. Should I wait for him? I don't know. I mean, I'm not even that close to him!
As if realizing her internal debate, Peeta chooses to stand up at the exact moment she reaches him. Katniss lets out a breath of relief. Both of them start walking together. However, the door is only wide enough to let one person in at a time. "After you," Katniss hears him say softly. She gives a small grunt of thanks, feeling awkward. Her stomach flips funnily. 'Stupid granola bars', she mutters under her breath.
History for first period is the worst thing ever. Katniss can hardly pay attention to the lesson. She surveys her classmates from her seat at the back of the class. Very few people seem to be paying attention, but the teacher doesn't seem to mind at all. Madge is reading her novel under the desk, her lips curving into a small smile as her eyes dart across the page. Katniss guesses that she's at the 'deflowering' part now. Two seats away, Finnick is throwing paper balls at Delly, who seems unperturbed as she listens earnestly from the front row. His actions earn silent laughs from his neighbors.
Katniss lets her gaze wander around the rest of the classroom, before settling on Peeta. He appears to be taking notes, writing furiously in his notebook. After some time, Katniss realizes that he can't be jotting down notes; he's hardly glanced at the whiteboard at all. She continues to observe him. Once a while he stops writing and glances upwards at the ceiling for a moment, before continuing to write. Her eyes travel to his blond hair; it looks so soft, she wonders if it would feel the same under her touch. She looks at her own hair, tied into a braid. It's brown and coarse, and split ends can be seen at the tip. In short, it is nothing like his hair. She feels jealous of Peeta Mellark. 'Something is wrong with you. You're jealous of a boy?' she asks herself incredulously.
Katniss tells herself to stop and tries her best to pay attention for the rest of the lesson.
Peeta catches her staring at him when they leave the classroom. He offers her a small smile. She blinks. Her stomach does that annoying flip again.
'Damn it.' She runs into the bathroom and locks herself in a cubicle.
"It's definitely those granola bars. Bet they're expired. Ugh."
She makes a mental note to tell Prim to throw them away when the bathroom door swings open. Tap tap tap tap. Katniss can make out two sets of high heels.
"…such a romantic book!" one voice says.
"I know, right? Oh, how I wish Greg was real!" another voice sighs dramatically.
Katniss recognises both of them. The first voice belongs to Clove Stallings, and the second voice is Glenda Bargee, more commonly known as 'Glimmer'. They are Panem High School's resident bitches.
Katniss flushes the toilet and exits the cubicle. From the reflection of the mirror, she sees Clove fixing her fake eyelashes. Glimmer stands beside her, raving about the book she is holding. "It's like, the best book ever written!" she gushes to her friend.
Katniss sneaks a glance at the cover to confirm her suspicion. 'Yep, she's talking about that book again.'
The book had been touted as the best erotic fiction of the year. Madge and Katniss had almost died laughing while reading the sex scenes. It was that horrible. Unlike other women, they didn't find the main male character attractive either. They made a vow to never touch, let alone read it again.
Katniss washes her hands at the sink, trying her best to conceal her laughter.
"The love scenes are so beautifully written," Glimmer continues. "I just…" She gives another one of her dramatic sighs.
Please, I've read better smut online.
"Sometimes I just wish Cato would act more like Greg, you know?" Glimmer has a look of adoration when she refers to the male character. She looks at Clove expectantly for a reply.
That's when Katniss loses it. She accidentally lets out a snort, which she quickly disguises as a cough. Glimmer notices, unfortunately. "What are you laughing at?" she snaps. Katniss ignores her and proceeds to wipe her hands dry. Glimmer takes a few steps towards her.
Glimmer is one of those people who can't tell the difference between 'your' and 'you're', 'its' and 'it's' and 'there' and 'their'. Katniss looks at her clutching the book. Glimmer has been carrying it around for a few days, flaunting it like a new accessory. She tells anyone who will listen, yapping away about how she is reading the latest 'it' book, where on normal days she openly mocks and ridicules anyone reading a book.
"I've seen you before," Glimmer continues when Katniss doesn't say anything. "You're that loner bookworm girl from our year."
'Whoa, pretty big words coming from you, Glimmer.'
"What's so funny, huh? You think your silly fairy tales are better than this book?" She waves the novel in Katniss' face. "You think you're so pure and better than the rest of us just because you don't read these kinds of books? You're such a prude. Do you even know what sex is?"
Katniss snorts at the ridiculousness of the question.
"Fucking prude," Clove joins her friend, her fake eyelashes finally in place. "Let's go, Glimmer. We don't need to waste our time talking to idiots like her."
Glimmer follows Clove out of the bathroom. When she reaches the door, she swivels her head around. Flashing Katniss a sugary, fake smile, she mouths the word 'prude' before exiting.
Katniss stares at the spot where Glimmer stood. Then she checks her reflection in the mirror. A small chuckle escapes her lips.
'Prude? You have no idea, do you?'
AN: This was originally intended as an one-shot for Prompts in Panem's Day 5 submission, but ideas began to grow and before you know it...tadaa! A multi-chaptered fic! Haha.
Thanks for reading! :)