Under the Tuscan Sun


"-but Katniss, I don't think you know how hard it was for Rory to book! It was that hard that he could only reserve a single placement – but he is so sweet, Katniss. He gave me the ticket instead!"

Katniss stared at her nineteen year old sister, her long blonde hair curling down to the small of her back. Her large, cherubic-blue eyes glimmered with hope as she waved the single ticket in front of her older sister.

"Prim, Rory bought it for you, meaning that you should go." Looking up from her crossword with a sigh, Katniss's response was gentle but resolute. She missed Prim's glare when she immediately glanced down at the seven letter puzzle she was currently deciphering. 'A province in Italy famous for arguably 'sweet' bread known as 'Fiandolone'.'

Prim, her not-so-little duck, had grown to be quite a stubborn young lady – especially when she thought she was right. Indeed, the angelic blonde may still be the most kindest, fairest, compassionate, loving and patient woman on the planet, but when she was she was set on something, she would fight for it tooth and nail.

Well, metaphorically anyway…

Prim huffed impatiently. Katniss was obviously not listening to her explanation of the problem she was facing. How could she go when she had her first Twelve Oaks Charity function ball to host? The local hospital that she used to volunteer at when she was young desperately needed an overall upgrade. There weren't enough beds to go around, nor were the facilities suited to a medium sized hospital – and don't get her started on the complete lack of a medicinal lab and proper, designated wards. No, it was Prim's duty to help raise funds and awareness for the debilitated hospital.

It may have also helped when she took into account the fact that twenty-four year old Peeta Mellarco was the member of the famous family that would be in charge of instructing Katniss how to cook authentic Italian cuisine…

What was she thinking? Katniss wasn't ever swayed by the opposite sex. When her sister first met Gale, Prim was sure that Katniss would end up with him. Strong, brave, handsome, down-to-earth and in love with the outdoors – that about summed up Gale. When Prim caught Gale kissing a blushing Katniss on the lips, she could already predict the type of bridesmaid dress she would wear – cut, colour and style. Sadly, Prim was yanked from her wedding fantasies prematurely (but two months after the stumbled-upon kiss) when Katniss was replaced with a girl called Joanna.

Joanna, who liked to be called Jo instead, had shiny, straight dark hair that just touched her narrow shoulders. She was surprisingly wiry for her petite size, and she only ever smiled when she was with Gale or teasing Katniss.

What admittedly surprised Prim the most out of the whole situation was the fact that both Gale and Katniss seemed happier with the new arrangement, but that is perhaps another story for another time.

"Katniss, please just do this for me! I can't just throw out a ticket to attend a Mellarco baking course!" Prim pulled the crossword book away from her older sister when she realised that the brunette was ignoring her. Katniss rolled her eyes and folded her arms across her chest, arching an eyebrow as if to say 'please continue, dear sister.'

"Do you know how many people would kill to be in your position right now – and I mean kill, Katniss." Prim beseeched. Katniss's expression did not change.

"Mellarco, Katniss." Prim paused, searching her older sister's face once more. "Mellarco." She repeated for emphasis.

Katniss huffed, rubbing the back of her hand against her eye tiredly. "Prim, I just can't next week – it's very late notice – and it's almost peak season back at the camp! I can't just leave when Gale needs the most help!" She implored.

Prim ignored her protests, softly but firmly gripping her sister's wrists to keep her from getting up from her position on the recliner. "Katniss, you and Gale own Twelve Oak's Adventure Camp. You have more than sixty employees that are paid to help keep the business running, and yet lately, you've been drowning in a pool of paperwork instead of actually –"

"- I've realised that it is my duty to deal with more than the odd legal document or the half-yearly finance report. Is that so big of a –"

Prim ignored her sister's interruption, silencing her with a look. Sighing, she leaned forward and tucked a strand of Katniss's hair behind her ear. "Dad would've wanted you to do what you love most – being out there in the forest, showing the kids how to climb a tree or watching the older ones grudgingly smile as they hear Haymitch's drunken stories about his past conquests." Prim paused, eyes serious. "It's not your fault he died in a car crash on his way to the camp, Katniss." She said quietly. The brunette sister jerked her face away from the blonde, eyes betraying her as they began to sting with unshed tears.

"It's been a whole year, Katniss," Prim forced out, "-Although you were in no way at fault, I understand that you believe otherwise. So, for the sake of those who love you…forgive yourself." Prim pretended to ignore her sister's shaky intake of breath, as well as her refusal to face her.

"Katniss…he would've wanted you to continue on with your life. He loved Twelve Oaks just as much as you did." Prim paused awkwardly. Prim never truly understood her father and sister's love for the forest that surrounded the camp. From as early as she could remember, Katniss and her father had been exploring that forest, coming home with fresh hunt, beautiful flowers and twigs in their hair. Apart from the time spent with her, Prim only ever saw Katniss properly smile when she was getting ready to leave for a trip to the woods. Even when her sister grew older, attaining an attractive, willowy figure, the local boys' attention did not make Katniss giggle and bat her eyes like the other girls – if anything, it made her scowl and hiss until none of the boys ever looked her way again.

Although Prim did not understand why the forest was so incredibly special, she knew that it made Katniss happy – and the thing was, she missed her sister's smile. Her older sister refused to go any holiday, refused to take any break. Her work became her job, and her camp became a business. Sure, the cabin windows may be completely mark free, the door hinges silent, the breakeven point surpassed by more than the initial yearly earnings in but five and a half months – but no longer did the famous Katniss – a superhero in many children's eyes - take part in any activities outside of head office. She barely visited the outskirts of the forest herself, anymore…

Prim's gaze softened. "I know you're not very interested in cooking, and neither are you interested in a break right now," she continued before Katniss could interrupt, " – but Gale and I think it's best that you do take two or three weeks off so that you can relax and give yourself time to think." Prim finished.

Katniss stared at her, biting her lip. "Gale really said that?" She questioned.

Prim nodded. "He's just as much a brother to you as I am your sister, and family watches out for one another."

Katniss grinned weakly, shaking her head and wishing that she could cut the hurt and guilt out of her heart and fill the void with her younger sister's onslaught of love and compassion – something that she was giving so freely, so willingly – and yet something that Katniss's heart simply could not accept right then and there. Because of her weakness, her little duck felt like it was her responsibility to look after Katniss where it should be Katniss looking after Prim. The brunette felt like hitting her head against a wall repeatedly.

She wouldn't be a burden on her family for any longer. She would take these two weeks to work through everything she had going on inside her and resort her life. Worse comes to worst, she would lie about attending the baking course or whatever it was called, instead spending some time reading a stack of self-help novels…which then would be immediately burnt and replaced with a bit of site exploration.

Katniss groaned, tiredly holding out her open palm to Prim.

"Where am I going and who exactly am I learning to cook from?"

Silence.

"…really, Katniss?"

Katniss nodded once.

Prim's answering squeal made her sister's ear throb quite painfully.

"Oh my goodness, you're going to have so much fun – and it's Mellarco, Katniss! Mellarco!"

The girl who felt as if her head was on fire sunk deeper into the couch, biting back another groan. "I still don't know who this Mellarco guy is…" She muttered under her breath.


To be continued.

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