Sorry I didn't update last week. I'm going to change the update times to every other Sunday as that seems to be how I'm going at the minute. If you get an extra one then count yourself lucky ;)
I defiantly won't be able to update next weekend as I'm going away to see some friends but I should be able to update the week after.
Also I have my English Functional Skills exam this week so I am really looking forward to that(!)
I was nearly crying when I wrote this chapter so you might want to get a few tissues ready! ;(
And get ready for the longest chapter so far 3,670 words including A/N
Disclaimer – I do not own The Hunger Games, a lot more characters would be alive if I did ;)
I can feel myself waking up but refuse to accept the fact and decide to try to go back to sleep. After about half an hour of just refusing to open my eyes and getting absolutely no where regarding sleep I decide just to open them.
It's amazing how much more the world means when you open your eyes. We take our sight for granted. Before I could only hear Peetas steady heartbeat next to my ear. Only feel his breath against my neck as he made adorable little snoring type sounds.
But now I can see the morning light casting its first rays through the curtains and across the room. I lift my head up of Peetas chest and try to untangle myself from Peetas protective grasp. After a few attempts – which ended in his grasp around me getting even tighter – I give up and prop myself up on my elbow.
Over the past few months I have come to the conclusion that everyone looks younger when they're asleep. On the rare morning that I have woken up before Peeta and watched him as he sleeps…sometimes with nightmares…sometimes without…he looks like the boy who threw me the bread six years ago.
His blond hair covers half his face and I find myself reaching out and brushing it out of his eyes. His eyes that when they are open are home to the brightest blue orbs. But now, in sleep, you can only make out the longest blond eyelashes that first caught my attention before the quell.
I still have no idea how they don't tangle up.
His face also catches my eye. When he's awake you often find his face in a look of concentration. Concentrating on a painting. Concentrating on baking. Concentrating on a book. But when he's sleeping his face is more relaxed.
That's if he isn't having a nightmare.
I am torn out of my thoughts by Effie's majestic, joyful voice alerting me to the start of a new day.
"Up, up, up, it's going to be a big, big, big day," she chirps from behind the door. I groan and flop back onto Peetas chest. Wishing I could stay here in this nice big warm cosy bed forever.
But I know Effie will be back soon. I look at the bedside table to have a sneak peak at the schedule to find we have to be prepped this morning, followed by a lunch with the other victors then a bloody interview.
Lunch is the only thing I'm looking forward to and Peetas not even making it.
"You know if you could kill someone every time you frown like that I don't think there would be anyone left on the planet," I turn to face Peeta startled by his voice only to find his eyes are still closed?
"How do you know I'm frowning? You can't even see me," I ask him. Does he really know me that well?
"There is a very magical thing called 'the ability to open and close your eyes," Peeta states, his eyes now half open, trying to act all superior but failing badly as he still sounds like he's half asleep.
"Effie came, you need to get up," I tell him, trying to change the subject. Just because he failed at acting superior, doesn't mean to say he didn't just make me look like a complete idiot for not thinking about him actually closing his eyes after he had opened them.
"I know, I know, how do you think I woke up?" he asks me raising his eyebrows.
"How am I supposed to know? Get in the shower already before Effie comes back," I tell him shoving him out of the bed.
"I'm going," he mumbles, "Wouldn't want to make Effie's schedule run late, we're already two point three eight seconds late," he adds, the sarcasm in his voice extremely evident.
A few minutes later I hear the water go on in the shower and decide it's time I got out of bed. I drag myself up and fling the curtains open. I have to say the view from Peetas room is not the best. A car park…nearly empty with a building at the far side of it.
But anything's better than that mansion.
I must have been standing at the window for longer than I thought because I'm brought out of my thoughts by a discreet cough behind me. I turn to find Peeta staring at me. He's obviously just got out of the shower as he has a towel round his waist and his hair is dripping wet.
"You alright? You looked a bit lost there," he asks me and I have no idea why but I suddenly feel the urge to cry. I run up to him and wrap my arms tightly around his waist burying my head in his chest.
"Katniss, what wrong?" Peetas voice is filled with concern and I lift my head to meet his eyes.
"I don't know," I mumble "I don't like crying," I bury my head back in his chest.
"I don't like you crying either, is anything bothering you?" he tilts my head up again with his fingers forcing me to look at him.
"We need to go to the mansion," I tell him "I need to see it for myself as soon as I can. I can't put it off anymore its killing me."
"As soon as we've been 'prepped' we'll go. We're having lunch there anyway. I can ask Effie if she can arrange for our prep teams to come earlier if you want?"
"Yes please, I need to get in the shower now," I tell him, drying my eyes with the back of my hand and untangling myself from Peetas embrace. I hate crying. Especially when I'm with other people, even Peeta. I start to walk towards the bathroom but Peeta catches my wrist and forces me to turn round.
"Don't worry Katniss, if you need to cry then cry. I'm not going to leave you," he tells me, nearly making me cry again.
"I know, same for you," I smile and make my way over to the bathroom, knowing that what Haymitch said was not right.
I could live more than a thousand lifetimes and never deserve him.
I'd forgotten how bad this prepping stuff was. At least me and Peeta got to be prepped at the same time as there is only one prep team left from the games which was mine.
After this morning's little…well whatever you wanted to call it Peeta managed to convince Effie to get us prepped earlier. It wasn't that hard actually; I could have probably done it. It turns out that my prep team needs to prep all of the victors so the earlier they start the better.
But on the bright side at least I can now prove to Peeta that my prep schedule thing is ten times worse than his. He's done in what seems like ten minutes and its only Flavius whose prepping him. However I have Octavia and Venia and then Flavius prepping me and it still takes about ten times longer as Peeta.
In addition to that I actually have to be prepped which ultimately means I have to have my hair ripped out of every inch of my body. Be submerged in countless baths filled with countless ointments which make my skin burn, sting, itch and feel soft all at the same time.
By the time they've finally finished I feel like a chicken that's been plucked, stuffed and prepared to go into the oven. What's more is Peetas looking at me like he's amazed that I didn't rip their heads off.
Sure enough as soon as we get out of the room and bid my prep team goodbye Peeta voices his thought.
"How do you cope with them? Is it like that every time? You take ages! I was half expecting you to rip their heads off!" he says, keeping his voice down in case they were listening.
Yup, I really know him too well.
"You get used to it after a while, yes it's like that every time and I know I take ages. Now will you agree that my prep is worse than yours?" I whisper back, answering all of his questions in one breath.
"Yeah, just a bit," he replies taking my hand and leading us back towards our room.
Once we get back an uneasy atmosphere settles around us. At half past twelve we have to be in the president's mansion where Paylor has kindly let us have one of the rooms for lunch. The only problem is, is that its ten o'clock already. We have two and a half hours to get ready and face the mansion.
"Do you want to get ready for lunch and then…make our way over to…the mansion?" I ask Peeta, my voice bordering on a stutter.
Peeta walks over and gives me a hug, "Whatever you want to do. What are you wearing? Effie hasn't said anything about it?"
"I'm sure we'll be able to find something suitable in here somewhere. We're in the Capitol after all," I say whilst I detangle myself from his arms and walk over to the wardrobe.
Ten minutes later me and Peeta are dressed. Peeta in a pair of jeans and a shirt with the sleeves rolled up and me in a pair of jeans with a skinny jumper. I also put the necklace that Peeta gave me for my birthday on – I notice Peetas lips quirk up in a smile when I pick it up from the bedside table. He offers to put it on for me and I let him. Taking time to relax back into Peetas chest. Trying to pick up the courage I need to go outside.
I don't know how long we stand in that room for. My back flush against Peetas chest. Listening to each other breathing. I watch the sun outside the window and eventually, with no words spoken, we move and walk over to the door. Peetas arm automatically goes to my waist and I lean into his shoulder.
We make our way over to the elevator and pass Haymitch on the way. He gives us an encouraging nod. It's Haymitch, he knows exactly where we're going.
He also knows that we don't really want to talk at the moment. Well especially not me. I just want to turn around, run back to our room, curl up next to Peeta and go to sleep.
I don't really get why I'm so afraid. I guess it's because I've finally, kind of made peace with Prims death and I don't want to reopen those scars that I've worked so hard to heal.
But I guess you can't heal if you haven't faced whatever haunts you. It's that thought that helps me to walk out of the elevator and into the lobby. I need to see it for myself. I can't hide from it forever.
Plus I've got Peeta by my side to help me through it. I will help him if he has an episode and he will help me if I break down. It's the main thing that is encouraging me to do this.
The lobby is quite quiet; I look over at the person at the reception desk to see she is concentrating on some sort of machine in front of her. No idea what it is and I'm not even going to ask as this is the Capitol and it could be anything.
I mean in a place where people dye their skin green it could literally be anything.
We reach the door and Peeta looks at me as if he's trying to debate whether or not to open the door – tinted glass ensuring that at this current moment we cannot see out.
Two things are stopping him, one we are sure to be bombarded with people the minute we step out and two…well you already know that.
Getting bored with my inner turmoil and not wanting to waste any more time wondering if I'm doing the right thing I reach out with the hand that is not cutting off the circulation in Peetas hand and open the door.
Immediately I am hit with the blinding light of the mid-morning sun. The sound of a normal city fills my ears and I squint to focus the image of the outside world.
The Capitol looks exactly as it did the other morning. Nothing has changed at all. Thankfully the Capitol people seem so absorbed in their own daily lives that they don't notice me and Peeta walk out of the door.
I'm grateful for that. The last thing I need is people putting me off. I look up at Peeta to find his face is trained on the one building I haven't laid my eyes on yet…the president's mansion.
But judging by the way he's now cutting off the circulation in my hand, he's having just as hard a time as me.
I go to hug him, to pull him out of whatever twisted memory that has inhabited his brain but Peeta stops me. I look up at his eyes to find they aren't black. They aren't even cloudy. What's bothering him then?
"Katniss, look," he whispers lifting my chin with two fingers and guiding it to the direction of the mansion.
What I see is enough to make anyone cry. But especially those people who lost someone on that dreadful day. On the dreadful days of entire the war. Not just the day of the surrender.
The area at the front of the mansion, the circular expanse of area that was the place that where Prim took her final breaths is a garden.
A memorial garden, covering the whole area. I push through the crowd, the same way I did on that day. Only this time there is no one for me to save. I need to see what has been saved. If anything has been saved?
I stop in front of the gates, waiting for the blast that does not come. Waiting for the balls of fire to fly across the gates, turning me into a burning mess of crazed thoughts. Frantically looking for my sister. But it does not come.
I feel Peetas presence beside me before I see him. How I know it is him I do not know. It could be anyone, but somehow I know it is not. As I have become somewhat un-functional Peeta opens the gates and guides me through them. His hand on my back, resting round my waist when I am safely inside.
There aren't a lot of people here. The people who are here are quiet, their facial expressions looking very mournful, their body language radiating solitude. A few acknowledge me with a nod but I'm thankful that they don't make any more moves toward me.
We're all on the same page here. We all need to be left in our own little bubbles.
Now that I don't have to worry about anyone jumping out at me I look around, taking in my surroundings. Hedges are lined up around the circumference of the garden, touching the walls that are covered in ivy with flowers woven into it. Patches of flowers – every colour imaginable are placed in front of the hedges on grass verges. Then there's a light brick path that follows the line of the hedges, branching off at about five different points all leading to a massive memorial statue in the middle of the garden. The sections in between the paths holds more grass but this grass is adorned with flowers, all different heights, bushes covered in tiny buds, flowers with large heads, small patches flowers about the size of my fist lining the edge.
Then in the centre of it all the statue. Peeta leads me to it and I'm astounded at the size of it. It's nearly taller than the walls surrounding the garden. When I get a closer look I realise why. Every single person that died or went missing during the war has their name engraved on it. I bring my hand up to my necklace, feeling the cool stone resting against my skin. I can't help compare it to my necklace which is more like a portable statue. Everyone on this necklace will be on the memorial, okay well not my father as he died before the war, but everyone else will be. I walk up to the memorial and rest my hand on the smooth, marble surface unaware that Peeta is no longer beside me.
I have no idea how long I stand there for, it could be weeks for all a care, I am overcome with memories, Prim laughing. Prim smiling. Prim and myself giggling over something that never makes an appearance. Prim waking up from a nightmare and me comforting her just as Peeta does to me now. Prim asking me to sing, just as Rue did. Prim dying, the last words she ever said still on her lips…
"Katniss," Peetas words bring me out of my memories. I blink a few times to bring the world back into focus, when I do I see Peetas looking at me, he's trying to look calm but I can see in his eyes he's worried about me.
This is the part of the conversation where he would probably say "You okay?" but considering the situation we are in at the moment there is no point in even asking that question because he already knows the answer.
"I found where she is," he tells me and I let him guide me over to the part of the memorial where Prims name is. We reach the other side of the memorial and Peeta bends down, I copy him kneeling down on the path, dust covering my knees, Peeta points at the name and whilst I try and work through my thoughts I am aware of Peeta pulling my into his lap as my fingers trace the outline of her name.
Why? Why her? She wasn't even fourteen yet. She hadn't even started to live her life properly. She never got to experience the freedom of this world now. She never got to fall in love. Get married. Have kids. Watch them grow up. One person is to blame.
Me. I didn't protect her. I didn't protect her like I should have done. It was me.
But then there's the other part of me that tells myself I didn't. Peetas told me it wasn't me. Haymitch told me it wasn't me. Even my mother has told me it wasn't me, not in words but in a different way, for accepting me back into my life.
It was Snow. It was all Snow. All of this is his fault. But he's dead. He died. Thankfully his death was still painful. Trampled by the crowd or chocking on his own blood. Either way, not every nice.
I have no idea how long we sit there. On the floor, oblivious to the world around us. Lost in thoughts. No words spoken. Not even when the tears fall freely from my face. Peeta knows I don't want comfort. The only comfort I need is the fact that he is here with me and I know he won't leave me.
Eventually we get up and make our way over to the mansion. Ready to put on the jolly faces that the other victors will be wearing. Ready to take part in the laughing and joking around.
But none of us will feel like that. We all have scars. Scars that will never heal. We can't make them go away. We just have to accept them.
We have to accept that we've changed and we will never be the same.
It's just impossible.
Poor Katniss, she never gets a break that girl does she?!
Anyway she has finally seen the mansion for herself and now feels more calm about the whole situation.
I was going to do the lunch and the interviews in this chapter as well but it was getting really long so I decided to do that next chapter. Lunch will definitely be in the next chapter but the interviews might be in the one after that.
Anyway, thank you all for reading. Maybe a little review? You don't have to write much even just a smiley face?
NormyMellark99 xxx :)