He couldn't bear the idea of living without Katniss in his life. Reading her last letter he almost disregarded it entirely. - He wanted to give up his life as he had almost done in the games. But he clutched his love to his heart instead. He wept over her limp dead body.
"Don't leave me, please don't leave me... I need you... I need you Katniss. You need to be here by my side. I can't live without you." He cried over her body, though he knew she was gone.
She still looked alive with her pink blush coloring her cheeks, and her red lipstick stained lips. She appeared to be Sleeping Beauty, however her prince had kissed her and there was no spell to break. The spell of death cannot be broken.
Haymitch had coaxed him out of the room eventually. They took her from the room where she had taken her final breaths. He cried harder, as she was carried away. Her body was going to be preserved before the funeral that would take place in Twelve.
Haymitch led his disheveled companion into his own room. "You smell like death boy, take a shower." He said gruffly.
"She's dead" Peeta said, "She's really... Really dead..."
Haymitch sighed tiredly. The old man hadn't slept in, what felt like, days which Peeta had refused to move. Peeta got up and showered eventually. Haymitch changed as well and opened two bottles of heavy alcohol.
When Peeta came out of the bathroom Haymitch looked at the boy. He'd aged in just the few hours of a lost love. Haymitch sighed remembering that awful feeling of losing all you have. Haymitch offered him the bottle. Too weak to survive on his own Peeta agreed to the strong drink.
He took one large gulp at first, warmth filled him inside, but the pain was not pushed aside. He drank again but the more he drank the more pain he felt.
He took a seat on the bed, Haymitch was already unconscious and smelled of the putrid drink he had inhaled in two swift gulps.
Peeta drank the whole bottle and yet he still cried. His tears burned more than the drink hitting his stomach. She was in his hands, she was always there, in love with him. She had been blow away, he wanted to follow her. He wanted to die and be by her side.
He took another bottle and downed half of it. Wasn't drinking supposed to help? Because it clearly wasn't working.
"What are you doing?" He heard a sweet voice near him. He turned to see Katniss standing at the door.
"I am drunk" He said to himself placing his hand gingerly to his head. She was strikingly gorgeous, curls tumbled freely down her back, light illuminated her flawless face, she stood before him in a beautiful white gown.
She walked to him, "What are you doing?" She asked sitting next to him.
"Drinking" He said to her honestly.
"But the pain is not gone... Is it?" She asked locking her eyes to his.
He allowed tears to cascade down his face, "No" He responded, his voice so quiet and pain stricken, the noise he made sounded like a dying animal.
"Then put the drink down." She put her hand around his. At the touch of her hand he dropped the half full bottle so it shattered on the ground.
He looked into her illuminated features. "Why did you leave me?"
"I did no such thing. I'll always be here, I'll watch you live your life. I'll watch over you and I'll never truly leave you."
"But I can't hold you, or kiss you, or love you. I can't even see you" He cried hysterically.
She she took his shaking figure into her incredibly warm arms. "But you can still love me, you can love me by loving all people." She said to him, "You will receive my kisses if you stand out in the warm summer rains. For I'll be there just waiting for you, and each drop of rain will serve as a kiss. Whenever the wind blows strong I'll be there to wrap my arms around you." It did not help, these words she said were merely words his drunken mind wanted to hear.
"Why did you leave me?" He asked.
"Because my time was done here,"She stroked his face clear of tears, "Why did you disobey me?" She asked.
"I told you that the world needs your light and your hope, to guide it back to a good place. Why are you here, being a drunken fool, when all the world needs you? Are your losses so much greater than everyone else's that you can not give the time of day to anything other than tears?" Her words stung him as she spoke them.
"The pain is fresh, and new. I understand this. But you must recover. The world needs your light. The world needs your hope. More than I need your grief or tears. You still have so much, so many people to love. Yet you weep endlessly over one lost soul."
"I cry for my soul mate, for the one person I can't live without." He retaliated, even drunk his tongue was golden.
"But you are strong and you can live without me."
"No I can't" He looked up then into her lovely grey eyes. Into her sweet but bitter smile. He then noticed she glowed softly in the dark room. Not from the light of the room but it seemed, her own light.
"You can and you must." She said, her voice echoed to him now, his drunkenness was finally setting in.
"But I love you." He whispered letting his face fall into her chest.
"And I love you." She stroked his neck with a soft yet calloused hand. "With that love you shall forge a great fight. You shall lead all the world to peace. And I shall watch over you, with my love I will protect you."
He looked at her again, only this time he studied her, "Are you an Angel?" He asked, "My mother used to tell me about angels." His mind searched for the memory of a story about an Angel. But the drink made his head spin.
"I'm your Angel." She said with a smile, "Your Guardian Angel. My love will protect you, and I will always keep you safe."
"I don't want to be safe if you're not by my side." He said.
"I shall remain by your side all the days of your life." She promised kissing his head. She moved him to laying on the bed, "Sleep, you're tired." She said. She kissed his lips so the warmth in his chest grew. Her lips were sweeter than any brandy.
"Will you stay with me?" He asked, a slur in his voice.
"Always." She promised, "I will always stay with you." She brushed his hair out of his eyes and lulled him to sleep.
She allowed sadness to hold her as his sleep became deep. She began to fade away, though she did not will it.
In the morning Peeta's head hated him immensely for the drink the night before. His stomach churned and burned more than it did when the drink entered him. His face was red and blotched from his hysterics.
Haymitch walked into the room already drinking for the new day. "Someone's never had a drink before" He said gesturing to the broken bottle and the vomit running down the bed. Funny, Peeta didn't remember waking up to throw up.
"Effie's flipping shit because she's convinced you're going to kill yourself." Haymitch said looking with concern at the boy.
"She told me not to" He said, "So I won't" Haymitch looked sympathetically at Peeta.
"Then I have one piece of advice for you... Grin and bear." Haymitch said. Peeta nodded and lethargically made his way to the bathroom to shower off the night.
He finally made an appearance around noon, to which Effie was thrilled. She gave her many condolences and tried to be cautious in everything she said.
He wasn't in the mood to appease her. She talked about things he certainly didn't want to hear.
"And tonight is our last day, Caesar is sure to be sympathetic."
"Wait what?" Peeta asked.
"Oh dear! I knew this would be a bad idea. They've requested one last interview." She said.
Suddenly he was no longer grieving, he was fuming. He got up abruptly and left. "Oh Peeta!" Effie called out to him but he went straight to his bed chambers. Where his true love had slipped out of his and life's grasp.
He laid out on the bed in anger. He just wanted to mourn in peace. Yet peace he could not find.
He heard banging on his door, but he did not move. He sat on his bed and drank in every detail, his room smelled of death. Her sweet death. He was filled with the agonizing memory of her final breaths again. She'd died on that bed, in his arms.
"How could Juliet have asked Romeo to live on when she was his life?" He asked himself. He read her letter again, he smelled the paper as it smelled of warm embers on a summer evening.
She said I love you twenty-one times directly in both of her letters. Each time he read the words she had written he felt like she was still with him. She would be in the next room over waiting for him to hold her.
When his tears blinded him too much he closed the letter. She was never his to hold. She was as brief as the setting sun, gone too quickly to keep, but so beautiful you can't fight the memory, or the want to keep it all to yourself.
"Peeta" He heard Haymitch knock swiftly.
"What?" He groaned.
"Your prep team is here." He said. Peeta wiped his raw eyes as best he could before opening the door. His entire team bawled their eyes out, talking about how tragic it all was, how he deserved better.
He wanted all of them dead. How dare they say he deserved better? Katniss was perfect. He cried then, thinking about how he had to use the word was to describe her. One thing was certain their love remained.
When Portia entered his room she held a sad smile, and her composure in tact. She put her hands on his shoulders, "One more, and then you can go home" She said.
"I know, I'll talk to them" She said.
Then Cinna appeared behind her, "May I?" He asked. His composure was in tact just as his counter part.
"Yes please." She said. "Peeta we thought you might want a piece of her with you tonight." She smiled.
Cinna walked up and smiled at him before fussing with his suit. On the right side of his suit he had pinned her Mockingjay pin.
"Now she is a free Mockingjay." Cinna said, "just know that"
Peeta nodded fighting back tears. "It's time" Portia said taking his hand. He nodded and followed her.
He was led into the privet interview room. Peeta liked that it was privet, no crowd to cry for him. "You ready kid?" Haymitch asked.
"I'll never be ready" He knew he'd never be okay again, being ready was far out of the question.
"Grin and bear" Haymitch nodded and let him on the set.
"Peeta, my condolences," Caesar said before the cameras were rolling. "Never has there ever been such a tragedy in all my years. We were all just devastated."
"Not as devastated as me" He said not meaning to sound rude, but not wanting Caesar to feel good about his apology.
The man nodded, "Let's get this started shall we?" He asked but did not wait for an answer. "Hello and welcome" He said after the intro, "I'm here with the now lone Victor of the Seventy-Fourth Hunger Games, Peeta Mellark" Wow did that sting.
"How are you holding Peeta?"
"I'm not holding up," He said bitterly and calmly, "I'm just here wondering why she was taken from me. It should have been me to die. Not her."
"Our hearts go out to you." Caesar said. "What are you going to do when you get home?"
"I'm not sure." He said honestly, "I never even thought I'd have to live without her." He heard her voice in the back of his mind I shall watch over you, with my love I will protect you. "But she only asked one thing of me."
"What was that?"
"To not kill myself" He laughed a bit. "She tried to tell me she loved me before she died." He said.
"True love ladies and gentlemen. That is true love." Peeta looked up and saw tears brimming in Caesars eyes.
"She tried to tell me everything would be okay in time. But I'm not sure if that will happen. I'm not sure that love is something you can just forget about." Caesar nodded, "I'll never forget her, she made me promise. But I could never forget her anyway..."
"She was certainly extraordinary. Volunteering for her sister like that and then saving you. She will not be forgotten."
Peeta knew that was a lie, The Capitol would forget her, they would because she was just another piece in the games.
"She's here." He said gesturing to her pin.
"I'm sure she is." Caesar said in a zoned out fashion.
"I'm sorry" Peeta said as the floodgates opened. He couldn't fight it off, "She was just... Everything."
Caesar let a tear fall too, but did not say a word.
"I just wish she were here. That I had known she was sick so I could have loved her more. So I could have held her while she was still mine to hold onto. Maybe if I had known I wouldn't have fallen so hard when she left." He stopped himself before saying, "I held her while she died."
"I'm sure she wouldn't have wanted it any other way."
"I'm sure she would have preferred to live" He laughed, "Or maybe not. Maybe she was truly done here on Earth, maybe she wanted to die."
"But I'm sure she didn't want to leave you." Caesar assured him. He nodded.
"She loved me... She said she always will love me." There was that whisper again I'll always love you. I'll always be with you. Always.
"I'm sure where ever she is now, she's still loving you."
"I think she's still here. I like believe she's sitting next to me, holding my hand and laughing at how ridiculous I look when I cry. She would laugh" He was smiling too.
Then Caesar couldn't take it anymore. "Thanks for joining us tonight folks goodnight." He wiped his face and left.
I'm still here. He heard as he was led to the train station. He was going home, but a place without her, seemed like no home of his.
The train began to move and he heard a whisper in the back of his mind, Whenever the wind blows strong I'll be there to wrap my arms around you.
He went into a sprint to the back car of the train. He thrust the back door open and soon the harsh wind whipped across his face. The warmth from the setting sun filled his heart with an aching empty feeling.
I hope when you see the colors of the sunrise and sunset you'll remember the kisses we shared and how much light you gave my life.
His tears were whipped off his face by the wind, as if she were wiping away his tears. His hair was tousled as if she were running her fingers through it. And for that time she was holding him, the sound of the wind running along the door frame was her ringing laughter.
She was there, and she was real.
When he opened his eyes he looked up into the dark empty sky. The moon was not out and it seemed like there was nothing there at all. Until he heard her voice.
I hope when the stars come out at night you will remember how crossed ours truly were.
And there the stars appeared before his eyes. They danced across the empty sky, twinkling in all delight.
Our stars remain crossed. That is the damned truth about stars, they enjoy screwing us over in ways we never knew we could be screwed.
Stars like showing us pictures of folklore, when in reality they have watched us do silly things for romance, and they know we will never reach our goals. Yet they still watch us. They watch us break in more ways than one and they laugh at our foolish ideas. They watch us make fools of our pitiful selves all in the name of love.
The stars played a sick twisted game with our hearts Peeta. They watched us fight and fight until we thought we'd won. But we have not won, and we have no hope at ever winning.
He suddenly hated the stars. He hated their dance it was like they were mocking him and his tears. Most of all he hated the promise they brought of a new day. How could he live without her?
She believed in him, but he did not.
"Peeta" He heard Effie's voice break the barrier between his thoughts and the world. Normally she would say something along the lines of, Close that door this instant! But she was in mourning as well.
"Dinner is ready in the dinning cart whenever you're ready." He nodded to her, and she left. He then realized he was not the only one mourning her. What about her family? Her mother and Prim? Gale?
They would all be mourning just as he was. He closed the door of the train and felt instantly chilled. He walked lethargically through the train and found his way to his bed chamber.
There he slithered into his bed, even through the covers he was freezing. His shaking body fell into a shortly lived sleep. His nightmares were no longer nightmares, because they had become his real life. He had lost her.
But only she knew he hadn't fully lost her. She watched him sleep and since his window was opened she could smooth his hair out of his eyes with the wind. She warmed him until his sleep ended and she had to fade away.
When he returned to Twelve and to his home he sat on his bed and held his head in his hands.
His father journeyed to his room. "Peeta?" He asked. He did not look up, but he wept effortlessly into his hands. "Peeta" His father said again, he sat by his son, "The pain won't go away." He said knowingly, "When her mother married her father... I just knew. The pain wouldn't go away. The pain doesn't go away but you have to find new joy."
"But the girl you loved didn't die in your arms." Peeta replied. "You could still see her, and at the very least she was happy."
"Come to work, we need another set of hands. It might get your mind off of things."
"Tomorrow we'll be saying goodbye to her. It won't be off of my mind." He said but agreed to go anyway.
He spent the day in silence trying to focus on anything but her. But she was the only thing on his mind.
The next day he did not need to wake up. He didn't sleep. He showered and dressed. Her Mockingjay pin clipped to his tailored suit.
His father showed up to take him to the funeral. It was being filmed for all of Panem to see.
She'd have hated it, she hated sentimental ceremonies. However Peeta felt that this ceremony was not for her, it was for closure, and meant for everyone else.
His father acted as his rock when they reached the meadow. A few yards from the forest her body lay, asleep. She wasn't dead just sleeping.
"That was her mothers." His father whispered to him. A pure white dress that hung over her feet covered her. They put makeup on her face so she looked alive. Her bare arms were pale with death though, and too cold to still have blood coursing through her veins.
Mrs. Everdeen was weeping over her daughter's body. Prim stood by looking away from her sister. They were the only two.
"Maybell" Peeta's father placed his hand gingerly on Mrs. Everdeen's shoulder.
She looked up with dry eyes, "Hello Barley" She took his hand in hers. She looked down at her daughter. "I'm sure her father was delighted to see her again."
"I'm sure." Mr. Mellark nodded sympathetically.
"I won't cry for her, she asked me not to a long time ago." Mrs. Everdeen said as it seemed everyone was waiting for a meltdown.
"Because tears are not meant to be used openly. Tears are something to be spent in solitude. They are meant to be special if only they are not used to often." She smiled and stood up. "My daughter was a wonderful young woman. And I am very proud of her."
Peeta did not cry either but looked around Mrs. Everdeen, "Prim?" He asked.
"Peeta..." She was crying. But that was to be expected. She took a step toward him. "It was like I woke up and she was gone."
Mrs. Everdeen held her youngest, "Now young lady, you know Katniss doesn't want you crying." She kissed the little girls head, "She wants you and I to live. She wants us to thrive. We won't let her down right?" The little girl nodded but still sobbed.
Peeta looked down at the girl he had loved with all his being, that was the gown she was wearing when she came to him. That night when he'd been drunk.
She'd promised him she'd always be there. Now where was she? He went and held her cold hands in his. "Katniss, if you're still here... I still love you" He whispered close to her, "I always will."
He swore when the trees rustled he heard the word 'always'. However, he didn't want to assume anything.
"I miss her mom" Prim wept into her mother's breast.
"I do too Prim." Her mother stroked the little girl's hair down. Peeta's father held a strong gaze towards the sky and took Peeta in a strong embrace when he stood erect.
The Hawthorns were the next to arrive. Little Posy ran up and jumped over to Katniss.
"She's pretty mommy," She said to her mother. She tried to climb up to see her better.
"Posy get down from there." Hazel scolded and held up the little girl.
"She's just asleepin like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White." The little girl said, "Gale are you gonna kiss her awake?"
Peeta laughed at the little girl's smiling face. Rory and Vick, however, were crying and averting their eyes from the dead body.
"Posy you know it took a hundred years for the prince to find Sleeping Beauty." Gale claimed lifting the girl from his mother's arms.
"Yeah but this is Katniss, she doesn't have that much time to sleep." Posy said with a roll of her eyes.
"She's not going to wake up Posy" Gale said in a strained tone.
"Well, then she's gonna miss supper. And mama says it's gonna get cold so she should have a blanket." Peeta again laughed at the little girl.
"Okay Posy. I'll get her a blanket later." Gale caved.
"Maybell I'm so sorry this happened." Hazel hugged Mrs. Everdeen. "She was so young."
"No she is so old" Mrs. Everdeen laughed, "I didn't think I'd be so blessed to have her live sixteen years. She is just as perfect as I could have hoped."
Gale looked over to Peeta and placed Posy lightly on the ground, "She really did love you. You realize that?"
"Yes" Peeta answered.
"I could have never given her what you gave. I tried. I kissed her once. But she said it made her feel uncomfortable. I guess she didn't want to get to attached." Gale looked at Peeta for an answer.
"That would make sense." He nodded.
"She was the greatest. She really was." Gale's eyes were watering as he laid his eyes on his beloved dead friend.
"Yes" Peeta said wiping tears from his cheeks. Gale seemed to have a moment with his dead best friend. He whispered something to her and kissed her forehead like a brother would have.
Gale didn't stay with her long after his little moment with her, but he went to the children and comforted them. He looked so grown up, like a father. Katniss was his last thread of childhood, now he comforted the two boys, Posy, and Prim in his arms.
Peeta took a seat. Madge Undersee was the next to arrive. Her father was expected to give a speech so of course they'd arrive quickly.
Madge put something in Katniss's hand before sitting next to Peeta. "Hello Peeta, how are you?"
"Terrible and you?" He said forwardly.
"Awful." She responded, "... I'll miss her. She was good."
"She was more than good." He said. Then he saw tears dotting her features.
"Yes... She was my friend." Madge sighed shakily.
"Where is your mother?" He asked innocently.
"She was... Ill." Madge twisted her hands before speaking, "That's something my mother doesn't understand about death. People who are suffering and hurting beyond words are released from their suffering... That some people who die, are allowed the right to walk free of their ailments." Madge stopped talking and looked Peeta in the eye. "She was hurting, she said so. Now she's not."
He nodded slowly processing her words. "She died in your arms. My mother says the last person to see you alive is the person you protect when you die. I'm sure she's with you."
He took her hand as she was now crying harder. "She'd be glad you're here."
She nodded quickly and left his side. She went and sat next to Gale. Of all people. Gale. He took her in his arms. Peeta thought they were cute together. He was strong and she was not, they fit.
Like he fit with Katniss. She was strong he was not. "Why did you leave me?" He asked silently. "I don't understand."
Mrs. Everdeen sat between him and Prim. Hazel on Prim's side and the rest of the Hawthorn family filled up the row. Madge being held by Gale on the end.
People filed into chairs after looking at the Everdeen girl. The gave condolences to the family and friends.
During the traditional burial ceremony Peeta tried not to look at her, he wanted to savor the images he had of her. He did not want to remember her dead, cold body. He wanted to remember the beautiful living girl. The girl he'd held at night, the girl he'd kissed, and loved.
The girl he now realized he didn't know at all. The girl who had always been sick, but he still loved her all the same.
That's where he hated himself. He still loved her so much, yet there was nothing left to love but a memory, a false memory.
"Why did you leave me?" He asked in a hushed begging tone. There was no answer but the wind rustled the trees and blew her dress so she look like she was flying. Her hair flowed so freely and easily as if she were simply flying. His Mockingjay, his girl on fire. His one true love. She was free and flying.
Almost immediately after the ceremony had finished. He left. Unable to bear the heavy sadness this place of peace used to bring him.
He ran home and cried. He cried so hard he stumbled and fell to the ground. He laid on the ground in a heaping mess of emotion of a while. How long he wasn't sure. However he knew he had to get up and walk again.
He searched his home desperate for a distraction. He reached the room he'd set up for painting and began to work. For six and a half hours he remained perched in front of his canvas. Painting until his canvas could hold no more paint.
When he stepped back, there she was. Laying in the field of flowers. Awake, smiling, and looking at him with a beautiful fiery gaze. Just as he remembered it, when she asked him what he wanted most.
It wasn't as perfect as the real thing... Had been. He cupped his face and cried into his hands, the hands that had let her slip away.
Frustrated at himself and her, he stormed out of the room. He collapsed in front of the open window where the stars twinkled away, The stars played a sick twisted game with our hearts Peeta. They watched us fight and fight until we thought we'd won. But we have not won, and we have no hope at ever winning.
He was sickened by the very thought of stars. The stars and their eternal crossedness had killed his love. The damned stars killed his heart.
"Why did you leave me?" He asked again before passing out from exhaustion.
Angels aren't supposed to cry. Katniss knew how close to impossible it was for an Angel to cry, but seeing him so broken made her wish she could.
She brushed his hair back across his forehead, "I told you I'd never leave you." She said.
He looked so peaceful in the light of the half lit moon. His hair glowed, his pale face lit perfectly. He simply looked more like an Angel than she.
She wanted to give him some peace of mind, something, anything. She settled for the one thing she could give him, a memory. But which one. Which memory?
What could be his best memory on this Earth?
She smiled to herself when she came up with her answer. She laid her hands on his back and rubbed his cold skin to give him the fond day she began to recall.
His dreams took him back in time. He stood out side stubbornly refusing to go inside the school-house. His father - having raised three stubborn boys already- expertly knew how to persuade him.
However, Peeta proved persistent. "I won't go!" He folded his arms as if to say that was final.
The baker laughed at his son and looked longingly forward. "You know Peeta... You don't know what may happen if you stay with me."
"I don't care!" He insisted.
The baker sighed and reached eye level with his son, "I'll tell you a little secret then. Would you like that?"
Peeta nodded quickly.
"Do you see that little girl over there, the one in the braids." He scanned the crowd and let his eyes rest upon a little girl in a red dress.
She held two hands, that of a woman and a man. She had really long hair to be able to have not one but two braids.
"Yeah!" He said.
"Well I was going to marry her mother." The little boy looked at his father in disbelief as he told him the story of the little girl's mother. The first school bell rang, "Now go, on Peeta." His father urged him. Without looking back he ran through the school gates.
The little girl still held onto both of her parents hands. He felt a surge of courage as he ran over to her.
"What's your name?" He asked.
She looked at him curiously "Katniss" She said. He liked the sound of her name, and the dreamy tone of the five-year olds voice.
"I'm Peeta" He declared, but suddenly loosing his nerve he ran back to his group of immediate friends. That day in music class when her hand shot straight up and she sang for everyone in class. He almost literally felt her take his heart away. He was a goner.
He began to stir and Katniss knew the night was almost over. She kissed her sweet Peeta's head as she faded away.
Peeta was sore and stiff upon waking up, from sleeping on the window sill all night. His head throbbed from all the thinking, and the cold night air wrapping around his head hadn't been much help either.
He thought back to the wonderful dream he had. He realized quickly, however, that he did not want dreams. He wanted moments, the simple joy that little things could bring.
Her slight chuckle at things she wasn't supposed to find funny, her eyelashes brushing his cheeks when she woke up. He wanted to see her blush again, her innocence was one of the most endearing things about her.
He got up anyway, as he found himself doing many times in the next few months. Getting up from wonderful dreams only to face harsh reality.
Though he worked, his life was empty. Not entirely meaningless, as he worked at the bakery, and his brother just had a little girl with his wife. He was asked to baby-sit some nights, as his brother referred to him as the baby whisperer.
Peeta had been asked to do just this one cold winter night. The night before the Quarter Quell announcement would be made.
The baby's name was Ginger, named this because of the spice used in the bread her mother couldn't get enough of when she was pregnant.
Peeta held Ginger and rocked her gently as snow fell softly on her window. The baby giggled at the sight of the little white flurries.
"That's snow Ginger" Peeta smiled as his niece tried to grab at it. "I always thought it was lovely too." He took her and sat down to bottle feed her.
She fussed as usual, but she always fed when he told her about the girl on fire. Her eyes would gleam in delight at the tale of a love struck boy and a brave beautiful girl. It was the only way he knew of to get her to eat without making a mess.
The little girl would marvel at the truest love before falling asleep at the end of the tale. He laid her in the little crib just as his brother and sister-in-law entered the home.
"Hey Peeta" His brother greeted.
"Seriously how do you not make a mess?" His sister-in-law asked looking around the kitchen.
He shrugged and smiled as the two parents looked at their baby. Something he would never get to have. Just then the television snapped on in the other room.
The three of them gave nervous glances as they headed into the living room. The television at his brother's was cracked down the middle, but in this weather they wouldn't go to the town center.
"Due to high demand" President Snow declared, "We shall read the Quell early." The Capitol crowd cheered. Peeta grit his teeth, as his brother put a hand on his shoulder.
"This year's Quarter Quell. Is-... Oh my" Snow had a sly grin on his face, "To show that no one is safe from the punishment of the Districts, the Victors shall be in the reaping pool." He laughed then, "But we couldn't possible do that. District Twelve has no female Victor."
Peeta's fits clenched, "So we'll just have to come up with something, I suppose. Goodnight everyone."
Peeta felt his jaw clamp down on his cheek, tears burned his eyes. His knuckles were turning white in his anger. "The bastard." He said under his breath. He turned to storm out but his sister-in-law stood in his way.
"Peeta" She sighed. She looked so sad, but that had no effect on Peeta's boiling rage. She moved out of his way, when she saw the utter fury in his eyes.
She let him leave, and though he trudged through thick snowfall, he did not cool down in the slightest.
He slammed his door closed, he threw the first thing he laid his sights on across the room. He enjoyed the sound of shattering pottery. He picked up flower pots and other ceramics to throw. His skin ripped open as chunks of pottery flew across the room but why should he care? No one else did.
He picked up a vase and turned around to throw it, however a glowing figure stood before him.
"No" She whispered. His bloodied hand released the vase so it shattered on the ground. She stepped up on her toes to look directly into his eyes. She melted the anger away and replaced it with a sweet sorrow.
He ran his hands through her hair, touched her soft face. He needed to know if she was really there, and frighteningly enough, she was, "I thought you left." He sobbed into her shoulder.
"I promised you always. I promise you now and forever. I'll remain by your side." She hushed him.
"But you're dead" He said to her though immensely comforted by her touch.
"Only to most, but to you, I remain alive. In your memory." Her eyelashes tickled his cheeks as if she were real.
"I don't want your memory. I want you" He cried. She touched his tears making them disappear.
"Shh, I'm here and I always will be." She said to him, "The world needs your light."
"But my world needs your light." He said desperately.
"Then let me give you some light to savor." She said and kissed him. Her kiss was just as he remembered, the scent of dying embers on a summer night. Soft and light, as the glow surrounding her white gown. Beautiful. She was beautiful. "Love always" She said to him, "And the world will be safe in your light."
That would be all he'd remember when the morning came. He'd lost a good amount blood and out of exhaustion collapsed in her arms. She carried him to his bed and healed his wounds.
She crawled up beside him and wrapped her arms around his neck. "I'm sorry" She whispered, "That this is as far as my affection can go for you. But I love you. I love you. I love you." She remained with him until the sound of the front door swinging open crashed around her ears. She had to leave and so she did.
"Boy!" Haymitch growled from downstairs stepping on broken shards of pottery.
"What?" Peeta shouted back down.
His mentor makes his way up the stairs through his incredible hangover, "Your place is almost as disgusting as mine." Haymitch staggered to sit on Peeta's bed. "Seriously, get a maid."
"Why are you here?" Peeta asked briskly.
"I uh... Heard you screaming, and a lot of shit breaking. I tried to come over last night but you know... Alcohol and all."
Peeta looked at him curiously, "You don't have to pretend to care." Peeta said.
"I'm no good at pretending boy." Haymitch said roughly. Peeta had never thought for a second Haymitch cared about him. Then he looked at his hands, no cuts nothing remaining of last night.
"Boy you hear me out right now. There's something happening, something big. We need you to keep your head in the game."
"I can't explain yet, just keep your head clear." Haymitch said pulling a flask out of his pocket and downing the thing whole. Peeta almost threw up at the sight of the stuff. "I don't care how hard it is for you. Keep your head clear."
The new Quarter Quell would not be directed at the victors and instead would be directed at young children ages five to eleven. Which was cruel even for Capitol standards.
District Twelve had been lucky this reaping, well sort of. Two eleven year olds.
They didn't talk, they only had conversations with one another and those were through eye contact.
Peeta had the chance to meet other Victors all of whom had some form of comfort to offer him. Finnick had become a friend of his, since Peeta and him shared a similar love story. Only Annie, Finnick's true love, wasn't threatened with disease. She was threatened with insanity.
The day of the Games arrived quickly. Haymitch appeared in the control room with not one but two bottles of whiskey.
"I'll be needing it." He sighed. Peeta didn't question it.
The children all appeared in the arena. Each child stood upright and eyed one another carefully.
As the count down began Peeta realized no one was surveying the area. The children just looked at one another. They didn't seem afraid, they seemed ... All knowing.
When the gong sounded and the games began no one moved. The first to take a step was the girl from Twelve. Her district partner joined her and slowly the other children did as well.
They gathered at the mouth of the Cornucopia. The girl from One picked up a knife and nodded to the girl from Twelve.
Each child picked up a weapon until all of them held one.
"What are they doing?" Peeta asked, but none of the Victors could answer him.
"Making history." He heard a whisper in his ear. He recognized the voice immediately, "They are adding to the fire." She said again.
"Twenty four" The girl from Twelve said positioning her weapon on herself.
"Twenty three" Her district partner said after. And down the row they went counting down. Some voices quivered, some were sure and steady.
The eight year old from Six looked intently at her weapon. The only five-year old from Five had tears stream down his face.
The eleven year old from One looked so intently at Twelve's girl, Peeta wondered how certain the boy was of what he was doing.
"One" The boy said, and altogether the children died.
"We've got to go!" Haymitch stood up and dragged Peeta away. All the Victors ran to the roof of the training center where a hovercraft was waiting for them.
Peeta, still in a state of shock, climbed in but stood around blankly watching the other Victors work. Well, minus Haymitch who was cleaning out his second bottle of whiskey from the nerves.
"Peeta." He heard a soft voice come up next to him, "We need you. Peeta." It was Annie not Katniss. She led him away from the main control center.
"Peeta, we need you." She said again.
"For what?" She explained how they needed a role played, how they need a face for the Rebellion. "Will you do it?"
He looked at his hands and wanted to cry, "You want to use my sob story don't you?"
"If it were up to me, I wouldn't be asking you." Annie said.
So he did, he became a figure-head, for Annie and all the people still alive. Every night he dreamed of Katniss, and every night Katniss laid by his side for protection.
He stood for the hope of the people. Katniss watched her love stand tall, using his light as she'd always known he would.
He was not happy though, he felt useless. He felt weak even in his training. He wanted to fight, though Katniss wished he wouldn't.
He'd finally gotten his way, and was sent to the Capitol with a small team of elite fighters. Finnick was by his side in this group.
This team made their way into the belly of the beast, penetrating the Capitol's defense. They'd trudged through thick and thin, done unthinkable and unspeakable things to get where they were.
They were so close to the one thing they all wanted, the end of the war. The death of Snow would be an extra bonus for most. Finnick had been promised Snow's blood, Johanna had been promised Snow's heart, and Peeta had been promised vengeance.
As the group made their way under ground they heard heavy footed soldiers running. "They've found us out" Finnick warned, "Come on!"
They ran as far and fast as they could before encountering the only escape available to them.
Finnick and Peeta remained to shoot at their enemy, but their enemy was not Peacekeepers as they'd expected. Mutts replaced humans, lizard mutts with threateningly large teeth, and crazy blood lust in their eyes.
"You first" Finnick said to Peeta, gesturing to the ladder.
"You have something to lose." Peeta said to Finnick. "Go."
Finnick was apprehensive to retreat, "Right behind me!" Finnick called, but Peeta stood his ground shooting. The bullets didn't matter to these mutts. They still pursued the lone Victor.
"Peeta!" Finnick shouted, "Climb!"
But Peeta couldn't move, he stood in a paralyzed awe. Because she was there, Katniss was there. Right next to him, she smelled like the warm embers on a summer night, and wore a smile of pure bliss.
He felt the Lizard attack, biting down hard on his shoulder. Peeta cried out in pain, only to feel the soothing hand of his love hushing his cry.
"Peeta!" Finnick called down in a panic.
One of the Lizards ripped off Peeta's fake leg, while another gnawed at his arm.
"Katniss." He panted. She smiled sweetly at him brushing his hair out of his eyes.
"I'm here, as I have always been." She kissed him then, "Until the very end."
"Peeta!" Finnick called one last time. Peeta screamed as a Lizard ripped open his stomach.
"Deep in the meadow under the willow, a bed of grass a soft green pillow. Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true, here is the place where I love you." She sang to him.
Peeta started to cry hearing her beautiful voice. She was right there with him, and they could finally be together.
"Nightlock." Peeta could hear Finnick's whisper.
"You're safe." Katniss whispered to Peeta.
"Nightlock." Finnick whispered in tears.
"Stay with me." She said.
The war was over, Finnick narrowly escaped with his life, and was able to go back to Annie. Though there were many casualties and each was extremely devastating. No death was more sorrowful than Peeta's death, All of Panem wept for their symbol of the rebellion.
However, no one was more destroyed over Peeta's death than Finnick. (Though Haymitch came in a close second for that spot.)
So much so when his son was born that same year Annie suggested they name him Peeta. Finnick hurriedly agreed though a simple name would never amount to how much he owed the boy with the bread.
Gale went on to marry a long time friend, Madge Undersee. Together they had a little girl whom they both named after a friend and a true hero. Katniss.
The girl on fire, who even to death tried to keep everyone else safe from harm. Gale and Madge owed everything they had to Katniss, without her spark they could never be happy.
Prim stayed close to her mother as the years passed by, her sister's death aged her past her years. No matter what, Mrs. Everdeen did not cry ever again.
So many people owed their lives to the lovers. When the first election came up Paylor did not use propaganda like her rival Coin. She simply had one video play over and over, "A girl who could have so easily been saved by the Capitol's medicine died in the arms of her lover. We are that girl and new leadership could be that medicine. Coin is the Capitol keeping her from staying alive. Will we die? Or will we rise?"
When Paylor won they set up a memorial for the games. Another memorial was made just for the brave tributes of the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games. And one special memorial for the lovers of Panem. The lovers who started the spark and led the world to freedom, the lovers who remain in the backs of every citizens mind.
But neither Katniss nor Peeta cared much about the debt owed to them by the nation. For they were free to lay entwined in one another's arms. Though life had been cruel to our two lovers, in death they could truly begin to live.
Some say that on the day set aside for the lovers, the Mockingjays start singing the Meadow song to pay homage for their courage.
Others claim there grows a patch of dandelions where the lovers laid in the grass the day that train broke down briefly. Where she asked him what he wanted most.
There is but one thing we know to be true, when the Capitol recovered Peeta's mangled body they cremated him. At the end of the war, the newly elected President Paylor had given Haymitch the remains of his Victor.
Haymitch didn't hesitate, he brought the ashes to a newly built District Twelve, and laid the ashes over Katniss's grave. He hadn't taken a sip of liquor for the rest of his days.
Though this is a sad tale, take heart, for their love is strong. Love can not be severed by death. Love is everlasting.
Peeta Odair and Katniss Hawthorn married, and they too believe in love's everlasting life. As they will tell their children, on the night of their union they heard the sweet harmony of two deceased voices.
"To love another person is to see the face of god."