Chapter I

Every night dreams of death and dying, murder and sport, fill my mind till I wake up covered in a sheen of sweat and my voice raw from screaming. My family used to come to check on me but not anymore. They've all bought earplugs because they know there is nothing that can be done to wake me. They started shortly after I turned sixteen. Prim was twelve and my mind conjured up this horrific world where twenty four kids were taken every year to fight to the death till only one remained in a competition called the Hunger Games.

Four years later the dreams still plague me. At first mom and dad would question me but then they started asking if I should see a psychotherapist. I said no and lied telling them I probably watched to many horror movies, in reality I never watch them. But I'm not crazy, I'm not a potential serial killer, I'm not dreaming of my future victims because I've never seen any of them other than my family and Gale's before in my life but it is normal to dream of those who are close to you. No, my mind is just screwed up.

The dreams always start the same, Prim gets 'reaped' for the games and I take her place. Alongside a boy named Peeta Mellark, somehow we both won the Hunger Games, if you can call out living twenty-two other people who killed each other winning. Sometimes they stop there; sometimes we end up on a 'victory tour.' Sometimes it continues on to the next year to the 'Quarter Quell' and Peeta and I are again in the games but this time with new faces. We go in a second time all because our 'love' or the act didn't fool President Snow. Even though he is just a figment of my imagination the thought of Snow still sends shivers down my spine. If my mind is particularly bent on my suffering the dream will continue to a war and will end with Prim's death. Only once has it continued father than that to where I shot Alma Coin, who was going to be just as bad a ruler as Snow, at least that is what my dream says.

My best friend Gale has often been in my dreams as my best friend. He kissed me in the dream a few times, that part creeped me out. There is nothing like that between Gale and me. I tried to tell him about the dreams once, he looked at me like I was crazy and then quickly changed the subject. I've never brought it up again. We live in Seattle, in North America, specifically in the United States of America. We've lived here all my life and Gale has always been my next-door neighbor. Our dads are best friends, unlike in my dreams where they are dead. My sister and his little brother Rory most definitely have a thing for each other. But they are only sixteen so I hope they don't plan on acting on these feelings quite yet. I'm not ready for them to grow up.

Our dad's recently got a promotion in the mining company they work for so we are all moving to California. There are boxes scattered everywhere, some are full and some are empty and still waiting to be packed. We leave in a week to drive across the country. I'm glad that they got the promotions, our families could use the extra cash. Thankfully we aren't poor but we are still not rich. Gale will be going to university once we arrive to study business management. He's already been out of high school for four years and has been working at the same mining company as our dad's. He seems pretty excited to go to university though.

…:::One Week Later::…

The moving vans are all packed and I look around at the empty house with sad eyes. This has been my home for as long as I can remember, it's weird to be leaving it behind. My dad calls me from the car and I walk out of the house for the last time.

The drive is long and not exactly exciting but eventually we arrive. Our new house is right on the beach and Gale's is only a few houses down. Boxes are strewn about our new house; my mother has already started unpacking the kitchen. As a family we set about unpacking the house to the tune of my father's singing. My room is unpacked in a few hours and I head downstairs to help with the main floor, my dad is still singing and I can hear my mom's gentle laughter. Through a mirror already hung on the wall I can see they are dancing together in the kitchen. The unpacking is completely forgotten and they are totally immersed in each other. They met when my mom went away to college and they've been together and in love ever since.

A few days of dutiful unpacking and the house is free of boxes and everything is in its proper place. "Katniss!" Prim calls from somewhere in the house, "come to the beach with us!"

"Us?" I question, as she comes into my room.

"Yea the Hawthorne's and us. Please come Katniss." She pleads with her eyes. "Please." Even though she's sixteen it still works. I roll off my bed and change into my swimsuit. I wander down the stairs and outside where Prim is already waiting, tapping her foot. With towels and sunscreen in hand we meander down the beach to the Hawthorne's house. Gale, Rory and Vick are waiting outside; Posy is playing in the sand with Hazelle keeping a close eye on her.

"Prim! Katniss!" Posy calls out when she sees us. She runs down the sand till she reaches Prim who picks her up. Rory is already blushing and Prim hasn't even said two words to him yet. I suppose the sight of Prim in a bikini would do that, especially to Rory who is pretty shy. Posy scrambles back down to the ground when we reach the group.

The five of us set off down the beach to the more public swimming area. Prim, being the extrovert she is, probably already wants to make new friends. Prim saunters ahead with Rory close behind, I think I spot some drool on his lip. Vick, being thirteen years old complains about the long walk and anything else he can think of to complain about. The public beach is actually very crowded for a Thursday afternoon. Then again school hasn't started yet so I guess this is the last week before they are once again trapped in the institution of school.

We set down our towels and Prim, Rory and Vick immediately head for the water. I lie down and bring out the book I brought with me. Gale sits beside me and watches our siblings as they swim around. I can't seem to focus on my book so I set it down and let my eyes scan the crowd. I notice that plenty of girls are staring openly at Gale; I guess he is pretty attractive but it's weird to think of him that way. He doesn't seem to notice.

After sitting there for about an hour I sit up and look out towards the water. Where our siblings were previously is now just empty water. "Hey Gale where'd Prim and the boys go?"

"They got out and decided to take a walk to get ice cream. I think you were asleep at that point though Catnip." That would explain why I don't recall it. "Oh there they come now." He nods down the beach and I can see Prim's blonde head bobbing down the sand. I turn my attention back to Gale.

"You ready to start school Gale?" I raise my eyebrows at him. He is gazing over my head obviously distracted, a slightly concerned look on his face.

"Yea I guess." He shrugs. Still paying attention to something behind me.

"We're back." Prim's cheerful voice floats behind me. "This is Rue. Rue this is my sister Katniss and Gale." My head whips up violently and my eyes connect with the chocolate brown eyes set on an ebony face. Behind my sunglasses my eyes go wide and I struggle to keep my mouth from gaping open and a small scream from escaping my throat. My mind is racing as I stare into one of many faces that have haunted my nightmares. "Katniss." Prim's voice breaks through the haze of nightmare memories.

"Sorry." I mumble. "Hi Rue. Nice to meet you."

"Likewise." She smiles and all I can see is her dying in my nightmares. It can't be that weird to dream about someone you've never met before, my mind rationalizes. I shake my head as the group of teens walks away.

"You alright Catnip?" Gale looks at me eyebrows raised.

"Yea, I'm fine Gale." I brush it off. Thankful that he used to tease me about what a bad liar I was so I learned how to lie better. In truth I am still thrown off from encountering Rue. I feel the need to cry just seeing her and I can't explain why. I rub my temples trying to relieve the growing headache.

"Do you want to go for a walk Catnip?" He looks worried.

"Yea why not." We stand up and wave at the group in the water.

"Are you sure your alright? You seem… out of it." He looks down at me.

"Yea I just have a bit of a headache. It must be from the sun. I should probably head inside soon." We walk past the lifeguard tower and I hear a whistle blow above me. A young woman with auburn hair and bright green eyes leans over the tower and yells cautions to a group of rowdy teenagers somewhere in the water. This time my mouth cannot help but fall open and a gasp chokes out. Annie Cresta.

"Seriously Catnip you don't look so great." Gale says looking at me intently.

"Yea I'm going to head home and lie down." I really hope the sun is causing weird illusions.

"Do you need me to walk you home?" He asks.

"No you need to keep an eye on the hooligans. I'll be fine Gale." I give him a quick wave and glance quickly up at the lifeguard tower but see no one, and then I turn and begin walking back to where our stuff is. I grab my towel and my book and then walk down the beach towards where my new home is.

My towel is slung over my shoulder and my book tucked under my arm. That way my hands are free to rubs furiously at my temples trying to make sense of what or who I think I just saw as well as to rid my head of this horrible headache. I must have sunstroke. That is the only logical way to explain seeing people from my nightmares who I have never seen before. All this thinking leaves me completely distracted and I am not looking where I am going. In the middle of my desperate reasoning my body crashes head on into a solid object. My butt collides with the ground and the rest of my upper body follows suit.

I groan but make no move to get up. I'll let my head stop spinning before I open my eyes. "Are you ok?" A warm voice, full of concern, sounds from somewhere above me. Recognition burns in my mind and it spins even faster than before. I feel my upper body being lifted into a seated position but my eyes remain shut. My mind is desperately begging that I did not hear whom I think I just heard. I doubt my mind can handle anymore today. After a sufficient amount of time I open my eyes, only to be met with a toned and golden torso, I gulp audibly. Before my mind can tell me it's a bad idea, my eyes slide upwards until they meet a pair of the bluest eyes I have ever seen, at least in real life, because I have seen these eyes before.