This story needs some serious TLC which I cannot give it. There's a few embarrassing author's notes (because I started writing this story two years ago and I was entirely different back then) and the writing needs to be improved upon. It gets better as you move in. Regardless, I'd like to do things to this story but, unfortunately, do not have the time. All original documents have been removed from the site, too, so it's not a simple case of going back over the chapters and editing them.
Anyway, enjoy this story - or, try to. (I wrote this, so I'm ever the critic!) Thank you so much for over 300, 000 views! It blew my mind when I saw.
The world outside is dour, as everything seems now; bleak, horrid, worthless... I, in turn, feel worthless. A Hunger Games Victor - as if I deserve such a title. I didn't do a lot; Peeta fought for me, mostly. He kept me alive and made sure I won. How can I accept this role when he should be Victor? He would have been, too, had he not been pulled down into those mutts. I couldn't even find it in me to kill him. I just watched. Watched and wept and hated as he was ripped apart by errant teeth, created by the Capitol for their own sick amusement.
I wonder how much more disgusted I can feel before I truly lose myself?
It's raining now. The downpour is gentle but each slash is fierce, and I feel the sound of it engrave deep in my heart. So I tap the window, trying to drown it out, then trace a trickling raindrop when it doesn't work.
In no less than ten minutes, I will have to get up on Caesar's stage and talk about how happy I am that I won. How devastated I am that Peeta died.
Oh, God. Peeta. Peeta should be doing this; he's a good voice - a voice of reason and justice - and he should be the voice, the face of the Hunger Games. Yet he's not. I am.
And he is dead.
I tell myself this everyday; I am alive, and he is dead. He will not come back. I've been told that, because of my mental disorientation, it's healthy to start with the small things and accept them, then accept the large. I do it now because I can feel this foggy headache of tension building in my temples and I close my eyes. My palm presses up against the windowpane.
My name is Katniss Everdeen. I am in the Capitol. I have a sister called Prim who is alive and I have a mother who broke when my dad died. We fended for ourselves. Gale is waiting for me in District 12. I will go back to him - to them. I survived the Hunger Games, so Peeta is dead. I have killed people. Peeta has not. I am alive. Peeta is not. I do not want to be alive.
The knock at the door is what pulls me from my reverie, I know it's not my Prep Team or Cinna for they have already been unleashed upon me; they had cooed and fawned and told me how amazing I was, before summoning Cinna. He, on the other hand, told me he was sorry. He told me he was glad I was alive. He did not tell me he was happy, or that he was proud of me. I'm glad; he had no reason to be proud. I'm not.
"This will help you to make a statement," he had said, zipping up my dress. "Look at yourself."
I did. I saw a girl with long hair and stained diamond eyes, staring into a lengthy mirror at herself in a dark gown. It was such a beautiful dress - laced with a low neckline and lone sleeves - but as I stared back at myself, I couldn't find it in me to care much at all. I felt blank. I looked it, too. I am sure I still do.
The dress, however, did speak for me. I said what I couldn't. These Games have scarred me, it said, and I am not longer sweet and sugary.
When I look over to the door, I see Effie Trinket skipping inside as she titters at me. "We're going to be late!" she says, pursing her golden lips - the colour of my Mockingjay pin. "We must leave, Katniss! Chop, chop. Casear is waiting."
I accept this, pushing myself to my feet although I'm a little unsteady in the black heels I have been forced into wearing. I haven't worn a pair since before the Games - a mere two weeks ago, although it feels like a lifetime - and never wore them before. I'm out of practise. Wobbly.
When I reach Effie, she pulls me outside and tugs shut the door. Then, I'm being pulled down the corridor, away from the private lounge I had been hiding in before being thrust in the spotlight; in a few moments, I will be interviewed by Caesar. And I'm not sure if I can fake a smile. Maybe he'll ask me about Peeta - about how I feel. That will be okay because I won't have to lie.
I am filled with sorrow at the loss of the Boy with the Bread.
"Now," Effie says, and I hurriedly match her pace; she's still gripping me by the forearm, "Haymitch is already there - drunk, unfortunately." She stirs in irritation at mention of my mentor but I would expect no less of him.
"Okay," I say simply. I stumble over for a moment because of the heels.
Effie, with a glance at me, sighs. "Oh, do try to look happy, dear! You won the Games! Smile and wave and answer with whatever pops into your mind - like you did last time, remember? That was wonderful, darling."
I nod. Of course I remember. How could I not? The fiery dress, the awkward replies... I will probably be the same today.
"Cinna is there, too, of course. He apologises for rushing out; he had some sort of business to attend to with your Prep Team, I believe."
Again, I nod. He had already told me this. "Okay," I reply. "That's fine."
We are there now. I stand backstage, listening to the deafening crowd and watching the blur of the lights. I briefly wonder if I'll black out but don't let it worry me for long, although I doubt it will matter if I do.
"Oh, Katniss!" Effie pats at my cheeks, trying to lift them but stops when I swat her hands away. "Do try to-"
"-To smile," I say. "Yes, Effie, I understand. It's fine, okay?"
Effie's sigh is heaving and resigned by she doesn't get a chance to speak before I'm called to the stage. Instead, she only shoots me a thumbs up, grimacing at my misery.
I feel sorry for Effie. Perhaps that is why my lips press upward and into a pained smile which, admittedly, feels more like a grimace. I'm not certain. Either way, this is not her fault; she doesn't know better. I should try and understand and act okay for her sake because she wants it.
What about what I want? What about what Peeta wants - wanted?
The thoughts are trampled out by the blinding lights as I walk on the show. I watch as Caesar pushes himself out of his chair and smiles broadly at me, letting out a loose laugh through his gleaming teeth. He's okay, Caesar, as Capitolites go. At least.
The roar of the crowd combined with the buzzing of my thoughts and the strobe lighting has my head spinning. My vision, for a second, stream white - but then I am holding Caesar's hand as he introduces me and after, we plonk down in the seats. My head is still spinning. My vision goes out of focus, then back in, whilst my hearing remains muffled.
My name is Katniss Everdeen. I am currently sat down being interviewed by Caesar Flickerman, who is trying to see how I feel about surviving the Hunger Games. Killing all those people... I don't not feel it is a victory. Prim is waiting for me. I must get home. I must do this. I will be okay.
"So, Katniss," Caesar stars. He sits back comfortably in his chair and shuffles, folding one leg over the other "You're looking beautiful - radiant, even! Any chance the girl on fire is wearing her flames tonight?"
I desperately search the crowd and spot Cinna. Just seeing him makes me breathe a little deeper, in and out, and relax. I even smile slightly - and then, Cinna shakes his head as an indication to the answer.
"No, no fire," I reply, my straying eyes locking back on Caesar. "Not tonight."
"Well, I'd say it's a shame," he says, "but after your encounter with fire in the arena, I imagine you're fairly pleased."
Yes, the fireballs... "As long as I don't burn to death, I'm fine," I say. This gets the audience chuckling and I feel resentment rise violently inside of me, lurching like vomit.
Caesar, too, chuckles deeply. "Right you are," he says. "So, how do you feel about winning the Games?"
"Alive," I answer flatly. "Unlike some people."
For some reason, this elicits another laugh out of the audience and one of my hands tightens into a fist by my side, hidden in the folds of my dress. I find Cinna in the crowd again because I know he's not laughing; he only meets my eyes and shakes his head discretely, about as amused as I am.
This is sick. This is all sick.
"Like Rue," Caesar says sofly. "She's gone. That scene was very touching."
Between my suddenly constricting throat and tingling eyes, I register the word scene, and my anger flares because it wasn't a play. That wasn't rehearsed. She died. She died, and you all watched as - as a twelve-year-old was murdered, slipped from this world, then had her only friend in that damn arena sob over her lifeless body.
It's sick. Sick, this is sick. All sick...
My eyes are hurting. My throat is beginning to feel numb. My eyes, my hands, my ears, my feet... they're all working overboard, straining and jumping like my pulse. Whether I choose to do so, or whether I simply cannot speak, I stay silent.
My name is Katniss Everdeen. I live in District 12 with my mum and my sister and my best friend is called Gale. I survived the Hunger Games. I a-
"What were you feeling in that moment?" Caesar asks. "It seemed to us that she reminded you very much of your sister, Primrose."
Something seems desperate to escape the cage of my body. My veins are uncomfortable and my heart is rapid; something ebbs and stirs frantically in my chest. "Yes," I say quietly. "Prim..."
"Primrose Everdeen." Caesar nods thoughtfully. "To think, you'll see her soon! Is that why you sung to Rue? Why you decorated her in flowers?"
Decorated! Like an object. Like she's not a human.
"No," I say, fiercely. My eyes snap back to Caesar's like an elastic band. "I did it because she deserved it; because she was too young to die; because her family deserved it."
It's silent for a moment, then the clapping breaks out. Caesar calms the audiences once more.
"I see," he says. "And you felt... obligated?"
"No!" I look back out to the audience. "I wanted to!"
"And what about Peeta?" Caesar asks.
I freeze. Then my muscles spasm and my teeth clench, emotions tracing tracks along the inside of my skin. My eyes feel tighter, too - harder. "What about him?"
Caesar continues in a softer, more sympathetic tone. "Did you look after Peeta because you wanted to?"
"Yes," I breathe. Then I remember the pretence: "I loved him."
Everyone visibly sinks in their seats and their hearts drop with them. "But you didn't kill him," Caesar states. "You didn't kill him to save him from the mutts."
My eyes squeeze shut. My breathing falters.
My name is Katniss Everdeen. I come from District 12-
I come from District 12 and I have a family waiting for-
"Because I couldn't," I snap, my eyes pinging open. They are filled with tears. "I couldn't kill the same person who kept me alive so long ago!"
"Oh, the bread, yes," Caesar nods. "That was heart-stopping, in that cave. Truly beautiful."
I feel myself stiffen because he's not going to move on. He won't. He won't. He never will. They need their damn show to be perfect and revealing-
I blink, looking up. "What?"
The audience laugh meekly. Just from the sound, I know I will not like the question. They are in suspense. They are sad. I will not like the question.
"I asked if that was the only reason you couldn't kill Peeta."
"I loved him," I answer again. I only feel numb now. "I couldn't. It is selfish but I couldn't. I couldn't kill him. Maybe it would have been merciful to do so, and maybe I should have. Maybe I regret it more than I'll admit - but I couldn't kill him. Never."
The studio is silent. Eyes shine. They are waiting for me to continue, but I will not.
"Thank you, Katniss," Caesar says, taking one of my hands and squeezing it sympathetically. "Truly. Now, shall we look at the best scenes from your Games?!"
There is an uproar at this, every shouting in excitement, though it is lost to my ears as my eyes meet Cinna's. He knows what I am thinking: no, I am thinking. No, because the horror still breathes in me, embedded like moss. I can feel the lives of the people I have killed dangling on my heartstrings. I can feel my memories of that horrid place like poison in my lungs. I do not want to see my Game. I do not want to relive it. Peeta is dead. I am alive. I am the Victor.
Bathrooms, I decide, have an infinite number of tiles. Of course, this is false. Mostly everything in the Capitol is. Were I paying even the slightest bit of attention to my mindless counting of tiles, I would know there is just over 70 tiles on the ceiling. I don't, however, because it is too much effort, which is why I settle on an infinite amount as I pull myself out of the shower. I will catch hypothermia if I don't.
Once I am out, I realise that my hands and feet are very badly pruned and that my skin is numb. Briefly, I wonder how long I was on there. Long enough for smouldering water to turn ice cold.
Dressed in only a dressing-gown, I step into my bedroom, hoping to pass out into sleep - but Cinna is there, sitting on my bed, and he stands as I enter. I wonder how long he's been sat there.
"You did well," Cinna says. He walks forward and envelops me in his arms and the second he does, my head flops on to his shoulder.
"My emotions got the better of me," I refute. "I did not do well."
Cinna pulls back and clips his hands firmly on my shoulders. "You hid it," he says, staring firmly into my eyes. "You told the truth. Trust me, Katniss, you did well."
We pause for a moment and then I look away, raking a hand up into my hair. I face the animated wall of my room - currently, the woods. "Haymitch?" I ask.
"Asleep," Cinna says. "He waited but you've been in there for a while."
"How long?" I ask.
Cinna looks indifferent. "Two hours."
"And you waited?"
"For you?" Cinna walks up to me and grasps my hand. "Yes."
There's a silence for a moment. I know Cinna wants to apologise and I do, too, but I'm not sure what for. We've already apologised, though. We've already said what there is to be said. Instead, we simply hug each other - tightly, warmly, firmly - and watch the wind rustle the trees of the woods and wish, desperately, to be there. If only. If only. If only.
If only is pointless.
I miss Gale. I miss Prim. I miss Rue. I miss my mother. I miss my father. I miss Hazelle. I miss Peeta - I really miss Peeta. And even, in some ways, I miss Haymitch.
"Oh, Katniss." Cinna pulls away, eyebrows knotting together. "I almost forgot to tell you; Effie Trinket came by and told me that President snow has requested to meet with you in his garden tomorrow morning. She'll guide you there." He pauses for a moment as it sinks in. I do not know how to react, and I don't. "I'm sorry."
I frown. "For what?" I ask. He hasn't done anything wrong.
It immediately becomes apparent, however, that Cinna isn't apologising for something he's done. He's feeling sorry for me. So, I rephrase the question.
"Why?" is what I ask instead.
Meeting me dead in the eye, any trace of emotion vanishes from Cinna's face as he says, "Whatever the President had to say, it won't be good." Solemn. That is how he looks. Solmn. "And you will not like it."