Hello lovely readers! I know it has been a while since I've posted anything, so hopefully I didn't do too awful of a job on this. Cato and Clove are still stuck in my head and I hope I did them justice!
She was done with Cato. This was the last straw. She knew they were getting too close to one another, that she should be focusing on improving her skills with hand-to-hand combat (always a weakness). He was done distracting her. She would not let him do so again.
She was not quite sure how he crept up on her. It just happened one day. On Tuesday he had been another name-less face in the gym. On Wednesday he had been paired with her for a fight. On Thursday he sat next to her at lunch without explanation. On Friday they trained together after-hours. By the next week it was a routine. Eat together, train together. There was no defining moment to solidify their friendship. No event that stuck out in her mind. They were just fighting together. Helping the other improve.
And one day she had not been fast enough. An older boy's mace had torn through her uniform's thin material and nicked her ribs. She was humiliated. No one drew her blood in a practice fight, no one was that capable. No, a silly mistake she made caused the injury, not the broad boy's skill. She scampered to her room without being treated and lay on her bed playing the fight over in her mind. The blood slowly seeped through her shirt and onto the off-white linen sheets without her caring. What happened was uncharacteristic and she was lost in thought trying to figure out what had caused him to have the upper hand, even if only for a second. She skipped lunch and instead watched the blood slowly start to clot.
This was not like the other scars she wore with pride. No this one had to be covered up. A scar of shame. She easily should have won the fight. She did too, the boy was flat on his back not five seconds after she felt the sharp pain on her skin. But this time she did not feel victorious.
Cato made his way to their usual corner table only to find it unoccupied. Clove always got there before him and he only waited a minute before deciding something was up. He abandoned his lunch and searched the empty gym and bathrooms before deciding to search for her in the dorms of the training gym. He knew she lived on the East wing of the building as that was the direction she disappeared in after their nighty training sessions together.
He walked down the hallway looking for any evidence as to which room might be hers. Many of the doors were decorated with signs or pictures identifying that the girl who lived in a certain room was not the one he was looking for. He reached the end of the hallway and knew without a doubt that this was the room Clove occupied. The door was devoid of any decoration save for a single tip of a knife that had clearly been thrown violently from within the room and become edged in the door as it went clear through the wood. Cato found the door unlocked and stepped inside her room before he got caught for being in the girl's section of the dorms. He fully expected to have to dodge a knife that she was sure to throw at any intruders but instead found her sitting half-upright in bed staring at him as though she expected him to come.
His eyes were quickly drawn to the red that stained her sheets. Without a question he approached her and lifted up her shirt to see the shallow injury. He knew Clove well enough to know that this cut was not enough to put her out for the day. He had inflicted much worse on her during one of their fights and she had snarled and continued fighting not once complaining. As if she ever would.
He pulled the first aid kit from under her bed that was kept in all rooms and wondered why she had not bothered to fix it up herself. He cleaned the cut and slathered some infection-preventing cream on top before reaching for a gauze wrap. Her hand stopped his as she acknowledged his presence for the first time since he entered her room. "Don't cover it up." She breathed. He sat down next to her on the hard mattress and waited. Clove would eventually work up what she wanted to say to him and he knew better than to try to pry it out of her.
She twisted her hands in the freshly red sheets before turning her attention to the boy on her bed. Her eyes traced the scars she had left on his body as well as those he had earned from other fights. "I'm beatable." She said. And if he hadn't watched her mouth form the words he would have sworn he imagined her slight falter.
He doubted that anyone had ever seen this side of Clove before. Her arrogance was gone, the glint in her eyes diminished. She didn't look fierce and deadly. She suddenly seemed very small.
She recounted the practice fight and Cato slowly realized that before today, he was the only one who had ever left a mark on her. She ended her story mid-sentence, pausing before closing her hand over his wrist and saying, "We're not invincible Cato."
He understood. She sees him on the same level as herself. He alone has the ability to pin her to the ground, to drag his sword across her shoulder blades just enough to tell her that he has won. She had never been bested by anyone other than him.
For the first time he saw her lips for more than just the part of her face that contorted into a sneer, that spit angry words at him. He noticed how dangerously close they were to his, how she had leaned into him so he could hear her careful words. He closed the short distance between them and caught her lips with his. She tensed up and he quickly detached himself from her. Her eyes sparked with confusion as he hastily stood up. They stared at each other as the tension in the room wavered with each moment. Cato cleared his throat before backing out of her room, leaving as quickly as he had come.
He hovered outside of their usual practice room, doubting that she would come after the day's events but hoping none the less. Exactly on time, she rounded the corner and walked past Cato into the unused classroom. Neither one made any comment recognizing what had happened between them which, quite frankly, suited them both just fine.
However, at the end of their particularly grueling session, Clove followed Cato down the West wing of the dorms. His heart pounded with anticipation as he snuck her into his room and locked the handle behind them. She pounced with all the ferocity of an offensive move back in the gym and slammed his back against the door before harshly pressing her lips to his. Cato responded with enthusiasm and lifted her up so she could wrap her legs around his waist. Between kisses she panted, "This is just kissing. It doesn't mean anything." and Cato would have agreed to anything so long as she didn't stop kissing him.
And so it continued, during their practice sessions, in one another's rooms, in an empty hallway during lunch. "Nothing more," she would say as if to convince herself that the attraction was purely physical. "Nothing more."
But then one evening, almost a year after that fateful day, she found herself on-top of Cato during one of their fights. Knife pressed against his neck, her hair pulling free from her ponytail from the exertion, and he said it. "You're beautiful."
Just like after that first kiss, her body tensed up. No. He should not be saying that to her. Beautiful was too strong of a word. Where had that come from? They were just training partners. That was all. They weren't supposed to care about each other. How could they when he was going to the games in less than a year?
Anger welled up inside of her as she dropped her knife and pulled Cato up by the front of his shirt. "Don't." She hissed, low and threatening. "Clove..." He tried, his voice far to soft and sensitive for her liking. "No. This, whatever this is, this has to end." Clove spit. Before he could respond she was half-way across the room, hurriedly grabbing her jacket, and then out the door. Cato fell back onto the mat, why did he always have to ruin things? Whenever he was getting her to open up he would just push too far.
Clove rushed back to the dorms and was in her room with the door closed soundly behind her in under a minute. How had she let this happen? What was the one thing she promised herself? Not to get attached to anyone. To see everyone as enemies, competition. A small part of her brain nagged that not everyone was bad, that you don't have to shut everyone out, but then she remembered that look in Cato's eyes. The flutter she felt in her heart when he told her she was beautiful. She shouldn't be feeling this way. No, she wouldn't let it happen. She would stop training with Cato, stop talking with him, stop sneaking up to his room after hours. He means nothing to her. She doesn't need him. She doesn't need anyone. She repeats this to herself over and over, as if by saying it enough times it will be true, that she will start to believe it.
But then she hears the knock on her door and the sound of the handle slowly turning. The scary thought dawns on her that if she really wanted him to stay away, she would have locked the door.
Alright, good or bad, rain or shine, I would love to hear what you think! Thanks to all the readers who have been patiently waiting for me to post something new, I'm sorry I've been on such a long hiatus and I hope this didn't disappoint too much. A special shout out to BelieveInDream who is an excellent writer, motivator, and friend. If it wasn't for your endless support of my writing, I probably wouldn't even log into fanfiction. Thanks girl.