Title: From the Ashes
Characters: Katniss/Haymitch; Katniss/Peeta
Summary: What could possibly be more dangerous for Katniss Everdeen than The Hunger Games?
Author's Note: Katniss' P.O.V. The final chapter. Enjoy.
Nine months is nowhere near long enough when you're as unprepared for this kind of thing as Haymitch and I are. While I'm grateful that the rest of the world has butted out of my life and I'm not being filmed 24 hours a day, I feel like my own little world is still spinning out of control. There's too much to figure out…and just not enough hours in the day.
During those first few weeks back in District 12, Haymitch and I avoided having any serious conversations involving the future, mostly because we had no idea where either of us stood on the issues and we were both too cowardly to say what we really wanted. We did, however, have an unspoken understanding that we were in this together. And not because we had to be, but because we wanted to be.
I spent most of my days hunting; trying to reclaim the peace and solitude I once found in my meadow and use the time to start dealing with everything that has happened over the last two years. I don't know how much progress I really made at first, the thought of everything and everyone shut me down completely and I spent most of the time screaming and crying from the pain it caused. By the time I returned in the evenings—generally with no kills—I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. Though I knew Haymitch was in tune with me enough to read me, he never pressed me to talk about it. Instead, he'd try and make me laugh with his biting, sarcastic humor. It almost always worked, and by the time we went to bed at night, I always felt better.
I don't know what Haymitch did during the day, but I know he tried to find ways to occupy his time that didn't involve drinking. Much of the time he wasn't successful, but he was never as falling-down-drunk as he was when I'd first met him, so I had to give him some measure of credit for trying.
I remember the first time it really became clear to me that Haymitch was trying to find a sustainable way to provide for us since it wasn't likely we would receive the same benefits that we had as Victors of the Hunger Games. I had slept in one morning, having been up most of the night with nausea from the pregnancy, and found Haymitch sitting next to me on the edge of the bed, grinning in a way that never bodes well from him.
"What?" I'd asked warily.
"There's something I want to show you." He paused, his eyes full of mirth. "If you can find it within yourself to get out of bed today."
I had glared at him with no real malice, as I got up and let him lead me downstairs. I looked around at the unchanged living room. "Well?"
"It's outside. Put your shoes on and close your eyes."
I had grumbled to him about how I hated surprises, mostly just grouchy because I was still tired and not feeling 100%, but I humored him nonetheless. Haymitch led me outside and around to the side of the house, being careful to guide me so that I didn't run into anything or trip.
"Okay…open your eyes." He sounded like he was about to spontaneously combust from his excitement and I couldn't image what on earth would get him this giddy other than a good stiff drink. When I opened my eyes, I was faced with a pen full of geese.
"Geese? Haymitch…what the hell?"
"What's wrong with geese?" He asked, looking injured by my perceived rejection of his flock. "They lay eggs, don't they? We can sell the eggs. We can use the eggs. We can eat the eggs. Maybe it won't make us rich enough to live in the Capitol, but it'll be enough for our needs here."
My eyes had filled with tears as I realized this was his way of trying to plan for our future—a future we still hadn't really talked about. I remember the near heartbroken look on his face when I'd started crying.
"I'm sorry. It was a stupid idea. Who raises geese… I'll sell them and think of something else, Katniss."
"No…I'm not crying because I'm upset, you idiot. I'm crying because you're wonderful and it's brilliant and I love you."
Haymitch rolled his eyes dramatically at me, but pulled me into a fierce hug, muttering "Women…" quietly and receiving a slug on the arm for it.
After that moment, we had started to slowly ease into discussions about the future. We decided that, since I pretty much stayed with Haymitch every night that we would officially move in together and I would let someone else move into my house. That wasn't a difficult decision in any way, shape, or form, as I had no intention of ever living there again. I couldn't. Not without Prim.
Haymitch had asked what I intended to do when the baby was born—if I would try to find some work or if I wanted to stay home. The thought of being stuck in the house was stifling and reminded me of being stuck underground in 13, but what could I do as far as a job? I could hunt, yes, but was I really any good at anything else? Haymitch had suggested that I really think about it, that he would support anything I decided I wanted to do or not do, and if all I wanted to do after the baby was born was tuck myself away in the woods and hunt, that I had better at least bring supper home because you could only cook eggs so many ways.
Then came the biggest decision of all.
"What are you going to call it?" Haymitch had asked, laying behind me and gently rubbing my abdomen to help calm my nausea.
"It's a baby, Haymitch…not an 'it.'" I'd bit back with a little more venom than was probably necessary.
"No? Really?" The sarcasm is there, indicating his annoyance at my snappy retort. "And I thought it was going to be a litter of kittens. Guess I should return the tiny saucer I bought for the milk."
"Oh, shut up." I grumbled as I put my hand over his and held it still, seriously thinking about his question. "If it's a girl…Prim."
"And if it's a boy?" He had asked in a soft voice as he pressed a soft kiss against my shoulder.
"What was your brother's name?"
I heard Haymitch swallow behind me, and when he spoke, his voice shook with emotion. "Lysander."
"Then if it's a boy, I want to name him Lysander."
We hadn't verbally said anything else for the rest of the night, but there was so much said in the way he had held me.
When it had gotten too hard for me to go to the woods to hunt, I spent most of the days watching the town slowly being rebuilt and talking with Greasy Sae and several other people from the Hob who had survived the fires and had come back to reclaim their homes. I always offered for Haymitch to come with me, but he had always waved me away and told me to get out of his hair. I hadn't thought much of it, truth be told. I certainly wasn't the kind of person who felt I needed to be around Haymitch every minute of every day to feel complete, and I knew he wasn't the type to pine away whenever I wasn't near. I knew he had his new flock to tend to, so it didn't matter what else he did when I wasn't there.
It was nearing sundown one evening when I'd left Greasy Sae's with a dish of fresh stew for Haymitch. He was waiting on the porch for me, sitting on the steps while he worked a piece of wood with his knife. I had laughed as I looked at him—barefoot, shirtsleeves rolled up over his forearms, and wrinkled trousers: Classic Haymitch, the epitome of a complete slouch.
His lips had curved up into a slight smirk as he'd looked passed the wood at me. "That depends."
"Whether or not it looks like what it's supposed to."
I looked hard at the piece in his hand, but had no idea what it was supposed to be. "What is it?"
He held it in his hand but it looked like an uneven lump.
"I will…take your word for it."
He looked at it critically for a minute. "Well…it will look like one when I finish."
I smirked at him, bemused, for a long minute before he got to his feet and brushed wood chips from his pants. He held his hand out to me. "Come on, there's something I want to show you."
"What is it?"
"Just something I've been working on for a while." When he closed the door behind me, he had told me to close my eyes.
"Damn it, Haymitch! I told you I hate surprises."
"Relax, sweetheart, this one doesn't involve wildlife this time."
I scoffed and rolled my eyes, but again I let him lead me—upstairs this time. When we stopped, I heard the door to his second bedroom creak open and he gently ushered me into the room with his hands on my shoulders.
His lips were right next to my ear when he whispered, "Open your eyes."
The sight that greeted me was beyond my wildest dreams. It was a nursery. Everything looked so new and beautiful, except for the crib. It looked handcrafted. It was the first thing in the room that I touched, running my hand over the smooth surface.
"Do you like it?" He asks, still standing back to give me a chance to take it in.
"It's beautiful…where did you get it?" I asked, referring to the crib.
"I made it." He tells me, somewhat sheepishly. I think of his lumpy goose and cover my mouth before I can laugh. "I told you, the end product would be better."
"Haymitch…this is…amazing." I look at the mobile hanging above the crib, and push it with my finger watching it slowly spin.
"Your mother's helped me with a lot of it." He confessed. "I thought since we can't really get a lot of things here, she could help pick out a few things that could be for a boy or a girl, and that way the baby doesn't have to start with nothing like we did."
His thoughtfulness and determination to give our child a better life than either of us had makes me feel sick with love for him. Sometimes it's so hard to reconcile this side of Haymitch with his caustic sarcasm, and I never know whether to laugh or cry in these moments. Something he'd told me long ago seems to filter into my mind: "You could live a hundred lifetimes and not deserve him, you know?"
Oh, Haymitch…how wrong you were. It's you I don't deserve. I slowly moved towards him, wrapping my arms around his neck and pulling him to the most meaningful kiss I have ever shared with him.
The last 2 months of my pregnancy feel like a nightmare. I'm as big as a house and can never get comfortable no matter which position I'm in. Half the time I find myself wishing the damn baby would just go ahead and sever my spinal cord for me so that the pain would stop, but of course I'm not that lucky. It's hard to eat and keep anything down, but Haymitch does his best to keep me fed and hydrated.
The doctor in 12 comes by on a daily basis to check on me, but he's concerned about my blood pressure and how long I still have before the due date. Though he thinks he's out of earshot, I can hear him telling Haymitch that we should considering going to the Capitol for the duration of my pregnancy.
"She'll have better care. And better medications to ease the pain and lower her blood pressure."
When Haymitch starts packing our bags, I know he's not going to consult me on this, and—for once—that's fine with me.
After a week of bed rest in the hospital, I'm going stir crazy. Haymitch stays with me day in and day out, but his presence is starting to irritate me, so I tell him to bug off for a while and stop hovering over me. The doctors are dosing me up with pain medication that isn't as strong as morphling, but feels just as good, so I end up sleeping off most of my boredom.
It's 2 weeks before I'm due when the contractions begin. The doctors tell me that some women experience 'false alarms' around this time but when my water breaks, there's no doubting that the baby is on the way.
It takes 43 hours to deliver Primrose Mica Everdeen-Abernathy—43 excruciating hours in which I exhaust my repertoire of profanities, mostly directed at Haymitch as he stands there reminding me to breathe. Breathe my ass. You try pushing something the size of a watermelon through something the size of a lemon and tell me how easy it is to breathe.
Haymitch looks white as a ghost as they whisk baby Prim away to clean her off and swaddle her, and I'm still gripping his hand so tight that I'm sure he's lost all circulation in his fingers.
When the nurse finally places my daughter in my arms, the world around us disappears and suddenly the two people with me are the most important things in my life. My family… Haymitch and Prim. Haymitch is looking at her with a look of awe and I shift her towards him.
"Take her." I say gently.
He shakes his head. "I've never held one before. I don't want to drop her."
I roll my eyes. "You won't. Come on; make a cradle with your arms." I remember the way my mother taught me how to hold my sister after she'd been born. Haymitch hesitantly follows my instructions and I place Prim in his arms. He's stiff and uncertain, but then Prim opens her eyes to look up at him and I see him nearly melt under her spell.
As I watch him holding our daughter, I think about my dream—about the future us watching Prim play in the field of flowers as we hold hands—and I can't help but feel that this is the way it was always supposed to be. I never really loved Peeta…not the way I love Haymitch.
"Haymitch…" I wait until he's looking at me. "Do you remember when I told you I didn't want to marry you?"
His eyes are boring into mine, but he doesn't answer. He doesn't need to.
"I've changed my mind."
When he leans in to kiss me, I feel truly happy for the first time in years.