Right Beside Each Other
5: Grandpa, Grandma, & Baby Mockingjay
Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games! Everything belongs to Suzanne Collins.
A/N: Well, here's chapter five, as promised! Hope you guys enjoy it :)
I run through the trees as fast as my legs can take me. I hear an agonizing cry, and I know in my heart that it's coming from my baby, my son or daughter. I desperately follow the sound of my child's wails. As I continue to run, the cries ring louder in my ears, and I begin to cry in distress and torment. Tears fill my eyes, temporarily restricting me from seeing what's in front of me. As a result, my foot gets caught in a cluster of vines on the ground, and I fall on my face. Dirt gets into my eyes and mouth, but that doesn't stop me from rising from the ground and continuing to run. My baby is still out there somewhere, probably in danger. Nothing will stop me from finding my little boy or girl.
Eventually, I come to a clearing, and in front of me is the lake. I gaze in every direction as far as my teary eyes can see, but my baby is nowhere in sight. The cries have stopped. The only sound I hear is coming from the mockingjays in the trees, but there's something eerie and gloomy about their song.
Then I see him. Across the lake. Cradling my little baby in his arms.
My heart stops, and I feel sick to my stomach, as if I'm about to vomit. I watch as Snow gently rocks my baby back and forth with a sinister grin plastered on his face. I'm so angry that I want to kill him with my bare hands, but I don't want to move in fear that Snow will hurt my baby.
He looks up at me. Although he's far away, I can see the dark, evil look in his eyes. "You thought that I was gone for good," he says menacingly, still swaying my baby softly. "You thought that after I died, everything would be good. Everything would get better."
Snow shifts the baby from one arm to the other, and I think that I'm finally going to get a glimpse of my child's face. I expect to see a head full of brown hair and deep blue eyes just like Peeta's, but instead, I realize that there's nothing in Snow's arms except a white baby blanket. My eyes widen in horror. There's no baby.
Snow chuckles ominously. "You see, Katniss, I will always exist. I'm always in your head, your nightmares, and your fears. You will never get rid of me. You may be the girl on fire, but I'll always be able to put out your spark."
Then, all I can do is scream when a lifeless, limp baby appears floating face down in the lake.
"Katniss! Wake up!" I hear Peeta yell. "Katniss!"
My eyes snap open as I awake with a start, panting. I'm drenched in cold sweat. Peeta's hovering over me, distraught. I sigh in relief as I realize that I'm not in the woods, not at the lake, and not with Snow. I'm in a room with four white walls and a white ceiling, connected to about ten different machines.
"Why am I in the hospital, Peeta?" I ask, clueless.
He sits down in an uncomfortable-looking plastic chair beside my bed, which is also white. That doesn't surprise me. I watch as he runs a hand through his hair. "You lost consciousness while you were out hunting this morning."
At first, I don't believe Peeta. I've never been hurt while out hunting before, but as I process his words, it all starts coming back to me. My aching legs. My parched throat. Getting lost. Falling to the ground. Darkness.
I glance at Peeta out of the corner of my eye. He looks awfully worried. Then I remember our baby. My whole body stiffens as I stare at him, my eyes wide with panic. "Did something happen to the baby, Peeta?" I choke out.
He rubs his hands together uneasily. "Dr. Keene is still running some tests," he answers solemnly. "I don't know yet."
My heart drops in my chest. I'll never be able to forgive myself if something is wrong with the baby and it's my fault. Peeta has been waiting for us to have a baby for years. If it turns out that something's happened to the baby due to my accident, he'll surely hate me. Come to think of it, I'll probably hate myself, too.
I begin to sob uncontrollably at the thought that I've harmed my baby. Peeta doesn't say anything. He simply crawls into the bed next to me and wraps me in his strong arms. That doesn't stop me from shaking. I cry until my eyes hurt while Peeta strokes my hair and kisses my forehead. We lay there together for a while, possibly a hour or two, praying, hoping that our baby is okay.
After I've stopped crying, Peeta gets up. "I'm gonna go down to the cafeteria to get something to drink. Do you want anything?" I shake my head, and he leaves.
When he's gone, my lips quiver as I gently place my hands on my stomach. Maybe since the baby's still so small, nothing happened to it, I think to myself. Maybe it's okay.
Then I think about my horrid nightmare. What if something did happen to the baby? This is all my fault. I shouldn't have gone hunting. What kind of person goes out hunting when they're pregnant? I shouldn't have been so naïve and stupid.
Peeta's return snaps me out of my thoughts. He quietly sits down in the chair and takes small sips of his coffee.
My fingers fiddle with the hem of my hospital gown. "Did you tell—?"
"Haymitch?" Peeta finishes. "Yeah, he's on his way."
"What about my mother?" I ask.
"Yes. I called her while you were asleep," Peeta says. "I didn't say anything about the baby. I just told her that you had a hunting accident."
At that moment, Haymitch walks into the room, looking more sober than I've ever seen him before. "Hey, sweetheart," he says as he takes a seat beside Peeta. I think I actually hear genuine concern in his voice. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm okay," I answer. "My head just hurts a little."
"You hit your head pretty hard," Peeta explains. "Thankfully Dr. Keene already confirmed that you don't have a concussion."
"What happened to you out there, sweetheart?" Haymitch asks quizzically. "Nothing like this has ever happened to you before."
The real answer to his question is that my fatigue due to the pregnancy got the best of me, but I can't tell Haymitch that. Peeta and I still haven't told anyone about the baby except for Ian. Before I can come up with another answer, Dr. Keene enters the room.
"Hi, Katniss," he says to me as he flips through some papers in a folder. "Glad to see you're awake. How do you feel?"
"I'm alright. I have a headache though," I say wearily.
"Well that's not a surprise. You hit your head so hard that I'm amazed you don't have a concussion. I'll go get some pain reliever for you," Dr. Keene states. "I just wanted to let you guys know that the baby is perfectly okay. I think your loss of consciousness was a result of your body getting accustomed to all the changes that come along with being pregnant. As long as you get plenty of rest and take things easy, you and your baby will be just fine. You can be discharged tomorrow morning."
Both Peeta and I let out a giant sigh of relief. I'm so overjoyed by Dr. Keene's good news that I forget that Haymitch is still in the room.
"So," Haymitch starts slowly, "that's why you were throwing up."
I look at him, and for the first time since I've known him, I see hurt in Haymitch's eyes. He probably thinks that we've been keeping the pregnancy a secret from him on purpose.
"Haymitch, Peeta and I were going to tell you," I say reassuringly. "We haven't told anyone yet. We didn't feel like we were ready for everyone to know."
"So…you guys are really having a baby?" Haymitch asks.
Peeta and I exchange a small smile. "Yes," Peeta answers firmly. "We're having a baby."
"Wow…congrats," Haymitch says, stunned. "You two must be really excited."
"Yeah, we are," I say happily. "I just wish you wouldn't have found out this way. Peeta and I really wanted to tell you ourselves."
"As long as you guys and the baby are okay, I'm happy," Haymitch says with a smile, which neither Peeta nor I see often.
"I'm glad you're okay with us having a baby," Peeta says, and I furrow my eyebrows.
Haymitch also seems confused. "Why?" he asks. It's not like Haymitch's opinion on Peeta and I starting a family would've changed our minds about having a baby anyway.
Peeta gives both me and Haymitch an amusing glance. "Because you're going to be like a grandfather to our baby. After all, Katniss and I look up to you as if you were our dad."
Haymitch never gets emotional, but I know that the gleam in his eyes is from the tears that he's trying to hold back. It's almost enough to make me cry, especially since Peeta is right. We both feel that Haymitch is like a father to us.
"Grandpa Haymitch," I giggle, trying to lighten the mood. "It has a nice ring to it."
Haymitch chuckles. "I never thought that you two would ever have kids, but I'm sure you'll be great parents."
"And I'm sure you'll be an amazing grandfather," I assure him.
Peeta nods. "Why don't we all have dinner together tomorrow night to celebrate?"
"We almost always have dinner together, smarty pants," Haymitch scoffs.
"Yeah, I know," Peeta says, rolling his eyes. "But do we almost always have meatloaf—your favorite?"
Haymitch licks his lips jokingly, causing Peeta and I to laugh. "I'll be there," he answers.
After talking with us for a few more minutes, Haymitch says goodbye and heads home around eleven. Peeta says that he wants to stay at the hospital with me for the night, but I know he must be exhausted. He has dark circles under his eyes and yawns every few seconds.
"Peeta, you should go home and get some sleep," I tell him. "I'll be fine by myself."
"No," he says before yawning again. "I want to stay here with you in case you need anything."
"No, Katniss, I'm not leaving you," he says firmly. "Today…was probably one of the scariest days of my life. When I got home from work and couldn't find you, I was really worried that something had happened to you. Then, when I found you in the woods, I was so scared of…of losing you. Or the baby. Or both of you. I couldn't bear to think that the two people that I love the most in the world would be taken away from me."
I'm on the verge of tears. I feel so incredibly guilty. How could I have done this to Peeta? How could I have put our baby's life in danger like this? Even though the baby is okay, I still hate myself for having potentially put my baby's life at risk. Seeing Peeta so hurt and scared breaks my heart, and knowing that I'm the reason behind his pain makes me feel even worse.
"I'm so sorry, Peeta," I say quietly, trying to choke back a sob.
"Don't be sorry, Katniss," Peeta whispers to me as he reaches for my hand. He plants a soft kiss on it. "None of this was your fault."
"It is my fault," I say. "I've been feeling fatigued for weeks now. I should've known that I didn't have enough strength or energy to hunt. I should've known that going hunting was a risk."
"Katniss, it was an accident," Peeta says soothingly. "It's nobody's fault."
"Oh, God," I whine, burying my face in my hands. "I'm already a horrible mother."
"Katniss, don't you dare say that," Peeta states indignantly. "It was an accident, alright? Our child is going to have the best mother he or she could ever want."
"How can you say that?" I ask him, tears threatening to fall from my tired eyes. "You heard Dr. Keene. It's a miracle that the baby and I weren't hurt any worse. I love our child so much already that I don't know what I'd do if something happened."
"Exactly," Peeta says simply.
"What? What are you talking about?" I say, puzzled.
Peeta scoots his chair closer to my hospital bed and takes both of my hands into his. "I know that you're going to be an incredible mother because you love our baby."
"Doesn't every mother?" I scoff. "What makes me so special?"
Peeta stares intently into my eyes. "When you love, Katniss, you love unconditionally, passionately, and indefinitely. You don't truly love many people, and you don't let very many people love you. But when you do, you give everything up for the person you love, and our child is going to be so lucky to have you as their mother."
Peeta never ceases to amaze me with his way with words. "I love you," is the only thing that I can manage to get out at that moment.
"I love you, too," Peeta says before leaving a sweet kiss on my lips.
Even he says that better than I do.
After my release from the hospital the next day, Peeta and I head home to get some much needed sleep. Neither Peeta nor I were able to get comfortable enough in my hospital bed to get more than two hours of sleep last night. I know he's drained, and so am I. Besides, Dr. Keene ordered me to get lots of rest over the weekend if I still wanted to start helping Marjorie on Monday. Peeta has left Ian in charge of the bakery for the next two days so that he can stay home and take care of me. I usually don't like it when Peeta does everything for me, but since I don't want to let Marjorie down, I'm going to have to accept his help.
We get home around ten and fall asleep as soon as we climb into bed. I don't know how long Peeta sleeps for, but at one point during our nap, I feel him get up and quietly head downstairs. When I awake a few hours later, the light pouring into our bedroom from the window paints the walls a deep orange, indicating that the sun is setting. As I get out of bed, I hear Peeta and Haymitch discussing downstairs. It must be dinnertime already. I can't believe that I slept for such a long time, but I feel refreshed and energized, so I can't complain. I shuffle to the bathroom and wash my face before I join Peeta and Haymitch downstairs.
"Mhmm, smells good," I say as I enter the kitchen. Peeta is setting the meatloaf on the dining table while Haymitch is taking huge gulps of liquor out of a glass bottle.
"Hey, sweetheart," Haymitch utters, more interested in the food than in me, or anybody else, as always.
"I was just about to go wake you up," Peeta says before giving me a soft kiss. "Feeling better?"
"Much better," I reply. "How long did you sleep for?"
"I slept until about four. Oh, and I called your mother to let her know that you were okay," Peeta answers. "Then I got started with dinner."
"And now it's time to eat," Haymitch blurts out impatiently.
Peeta and I let out a giggle before sitting down with Haymitch at the dinner table. We enjoy the succulent meatloaf along with a side of fresh steamed vegetables and roasted potatoes. Haymitch clears his plate in minutes, and the fact that he's eating well eases the worry that Peeta and I had been feeling since the day before our anniversary. For dessert, we have some lemon tarts topped with fresh fruit. After all three of us have finished our meal, Haymitch leans back in his chair and takes another swallow of liquor.
"Glad you made it through dinner without having to puke," Haymitch says to me teasingly.
I roll my eyes. "I can say the same for you, you know," I reply. "It's a miracle that you don't go around throwing up all over the place with all the alcohol that you drink."
Haymitch doesn't respond, but simply ignores me with a wave of his hand. "So," he says, clearly changing the subject because he knows I'm right, "you've told old grandpa here about the baby. When are you two planning to tell grandma?"
Peeta and I exchange a glance. We still haven't gotten around to talking about when we should tell everyone about the baby, but I honestly don't want to wait any longer. Now that Haymitch knows and is excited about being a grandfather, I can't wait to tell my mother, Marjorie, and everybody else that we're expecting.
"I think it's time to start telling everyone," I offer, looking at Peeta to see what he thinks.
Peeta nods. "Me too," he replies with a soft smile.
"Well why don't you two call Katniss's mother right now?" Haymitch suggests. "There's no point in postponing it any longer."
Peeta glances at me. "Do you want to do it now, Katniss?" he asks.
Suddenly, I get an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Although I really want to tell her, I have no idea how my mother will react to the news. I don't think she'll be upset or angry, but I always used to say how much I never wanted children before the Games ended. Will she be surprised? Stunned?
"Katniss?" Peeta says, bringing me back to my senses.
I nod. "Yes," I say, grinning. "Let's call her now. She should be out of work by this time."
Peeta gets up to grab the phone. I wring my hands together in anticipation. My mother has come to mean so much to me in the past few years. I just hope she'll be happy about the baby. I wouldn't want something like this to drive another wedge in between us.
Peeta sits down again beside me and hands me the phone. I dial the familiar number and hold the phone up to my ear as it begins to ring. I don't think I've ever felt so nervous before in my life, but as I listen to the phone ring, I realize that it's a good kind of nervous.
My mother eventually answers. "Hello?" she says. Her voice sounds tired and weary.
"Hi, Mom. It's me, Katniss," I say, twirling the end of my braid around my finger.
"Oh, honey, how are you? It's so good to hear your voice. Peeta called yesterday and told me that you had had an accident. I was so worried."
"I'm fine now," I answer. "How are you? You sound worn out."
"I just got home from work," she replies. "They had me in the emergency room today. It was very stressful. But other than that, I'm fine."
"That's great," I say. I glimpse at Peeta, who gives me a 'You need to tell her' kind of look. I sigh. "So…Mom, I called you because Peeta and I have something to tell you."
"What is it, sweetie?" she asks.
Peeta motions for me to go on. I take a deep breath before saying, "I'm pregnant."
There's a short pause before my mother's voice blares through the phone. It's so loud that I have to pull it away from my ear.
"Oh my goodness! Are you serious? You guys are having a baby? Oh, this is wonderful! Absolutely wonderful! How many weeks along are you, dear? Do you know the sex yet? Oh my goodness, I'm going to be a grandmother!"
Peeta, Haymitch, and I all laugh at her obviously joyous reaction. "Yes, Mom, I'm serious," I answer happily. "I'm almost at seven weeks…no, we don't."
"Katniss, this is incredible. I'm so happy for you and Peeta."
"Thanks, Mom," I say with a smile. "I'll talk to you soon, okay?"
"Alright. Give Peeta my congratulations," she says happily. "I love you."
"Love you too. Bye."
When I hang up the phone, Haymitch is staring at me with a silly grin on his face. "See? That wasn't so bad."
Peeta puts an arm around my shoulders and nods. "She seems really excited."
"She's ecstatic," I say, resting my head on Peeta's shoulder.
Haymitch chuckles. "Now that you can cross Grandma and Grandpa off of your list, who're you planning to tell next?"
"Probably Marjorie. She needs to know since I'll be working with her for the next few months," I answer.
"Have you two thought about what's gonna happen when all of Panem hears about the pregnancy?" Haymitch questions, catching me and Peeta off guard.
"What?" I blurt out. "What do you mean?"
"Oh, come on, sweetheart. The Rebellion might have happened years ago, but no one has forgotten about you two. Once word gets around about the baby, all of Panem will know about it in a matter of days."
I blink a few times, shocked. "I hadn't even thought about that," I say.
Haymitch takes a gulp of liquor before saying, "All the districts will be excited to hear that there's a baby Mockingjay on the way. Better get ready for lots of interviews."
I swallow nervously. Interviews?
Where's Effie when you need her?
A/N: Please review! Your comments really make my day! :)