Finnick is introduced next chapter! This is the introduction so it may seem a little boring for you but stick around! It gets better next chapter. Oh, and I hope you enjoy my story. :)
The world outside is drab. Always drab, always washed, always empty. Everything seems that way now. Everything always seems bleak and horrid and worthless and I, in turn, feel worthless. A Hunger Games Victor - as if I deserve such a title. I didn't do much; Peeta fought for me. Peeta kept me alive. Peeta made sure I won. How can I accept this role when he should be the victor? He would have been the victor had he not been pulled down - down into those mutts. I couldn't even find it in me to kill him. I just watched. I just watched and wept and hated.
I wonder how much more disgusted I can get before I truly lose myself?
It's raining now. Gently, yet in fierce slashes. I tap the window with my nail, then trace a trickling rain drop. 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 devasted I am that Peeta died.
Oh, God. Peeta. Peeta should be doing this. Peeta is 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. He will not come back. I've been told that, because of my mental disorientation, it's healthy to start with 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 hand presses up against the cold window pane.
My name is Katniss Everdeen. I survived the Hunger Games. 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. Peeta is dead. I will survive. I have killed people. Peeta has not. I am alive. I do not want to be alive.
I don't feel that it helps.
The knock at the door is what pulls me from my reverie. I know it is not my Prep Team or Cinna, because I have already been through that; they had cooed and fawned over me, told me how amazing I was, before summoning Cinna. He told me he was sorry. Told me he was glad I lived. He did not tell me he was happy for me, or that he was proud of me. I'm glad; he has no reason to be proud. I'm not.
"This will help you 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 blankly into a lengthy mirror at herself in a dark gown. It was beautiful - it is beautiful - truly. With a low neckline and long, lace sleeves, the dress reaches down just past my knees in an elegant sweep, piled with thin layers of varying lengths of the darkest plum. There are ebony patches in the dress - some of the bottom layers are, mainly - and I find myself liking it. It speaks for me. These Games have scarred me, it says, and I am not longer sweet and sugary. I am a different Katniss.
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. Caesar is waiting."
I accept this and push myself up, a little unsteady in the black heels I'm wearing since the Games. I haven't worn them for a while now and I hadn't really ever worn them before I arrived in the Capitol; these things take time. When I reach her she pulls me outside and tugs shut the door. Then I'm being pulled down the corridor, away from the private lounge in a few moments I will be interviewed by Caesar. And I'm not sure if I can fake a smile. Maybe he'll just ask me about Peeta. About how I feel. That will be okay. I won't have to lie then.
I am filled with sorrow at the loss of the boy with the bread.
"Now," Effie says as I hurriedly match her pace; she's still gripping me by my forearm, "Haymitch is already there. Drunk, unfortunately." She stirs in her irritation at my mentor but I would expect no less.
"Okay," I say simply. I stumble over for a moment because of the heels.
Effie glances at me and 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."
I nod. Of course I remember. How could I not? The fiery dress, the awkward, nervous replies. I will probably be the same today.
"Cinna is there, too, of course. He apologizes 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 again. "That's fine."
We are there now. I stand backstage, listening to the deafening crowd and watching the blur of lights. I briefly wonder if I'll black out but don't let it worry me for long. I doubt it will matter if I do.
"Oh, Katniss," Effie pats at my cheeks, trying to lift them. 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 but 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. Maybe that's what forces my lips to press up into a smile - or maybe it's a grimace. I don't know. 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 up out of his chair and smiles broadly at me, letting out a loose laugh through his gleaming teeth. He's okay, Caesar. At least.
The roar of the crowd combined with the buzzing of my thoughts and strobe lights has my head spinning and my vision, for a second, streams 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. My hearing is muffled.
My name is Katniss Everdeen. I survived the Hunger Games. I am currently sat down being interviewed by Caesar Flickerman, who is trying to see how I feel about my victory. I do 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 starts. 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 deeply, 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. The Capitol fireballs. "As long as I don't burn to death, I'm okay," I say. This gets the audience chuckling as if I'm their little, dancing monkey. I'm not your puppet!
Caesar 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 by the voluptuousness 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 unamused as I am.
This is sick. This is all sick.
"Like Rue," Caesar says softly. "She's gone. That scene was very touching."
My throat suddenly constricts and I keep staring at Cinna but I'm startled and I know it shows. My eyes hurt. Have they always hurt, or is it tears? I don't know. I never know, do I? I'm so lost. I'm hopeless. I'm useless! My eyes, my hands, my ears... they're all working overboard. This is why I don't know; and my chest is thumping, too! Useless. Useless, useless, useless.
I choose to stay silent, though my fist tightens into a firmer ball.
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?" he asks. "It seemed to us that she reminded you very much of your sister."
Something seems desperate to escape the cage of my body. My veins are uncomfortable and my heart is rapid; something stirs and ebbs 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! She is not - was never - an object! "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 and then clapping breaks out in the studio. Caesar calms them after a moment. "I see. And you felt... obligated?"
"No!" I look back out to the audience. "I wanted to!"
"And what about Peeta?" Caesar asks.
My muscles spasm then freeze. My teeth clench. Sensation after sensation thunders through my body - emotion after emotion. My hard eyes meet his. "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 pretense: "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 me. I survived the-
"Because I couldn't," I snap, eyes pinging open. They are filled with tears. "I couldn't kill the same person who kept me alive so long ago. I couldn't!"
"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 wont. He wont. He never will. They need their damn show to be perfect and revealing and-
I blink, looking up. "What?"
The audience laugh meakly. 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. Maybe I should have. Maybe I regret it more than I'll admit - but I couldn't kill him. Never."
The studio is dead silent. I see tissues.
"He wouldn't be able to kill me either," I continue. "We loved each other too much."
The silence remains until everyone has got their tissues. Then, the sobs explode. "Oh, Peeta!" this, "oh, Katniss!" that. "What a tradgedy!" "How could this be so?" "The doomed lovers from District 12!" "If only, if only."
If only is pointless. Peeta is dead. I am alive. We had no romance in the first place - but Peeta saved my life. I liked Peeta. Peeta loved me.
My name is Katniss Everdeen. I live in-
"Thank you, Katniss. Truly, thank you." Caesar takes one of my hands and squeezes it, smiling sympathetically because he's a little choked up. "Now, shall we look at the best scenes in your Game?" he asks.
My eyes meet Cinna's. He knows what I am thinking. No, I am thinking. No, because the horror still breathes in me. 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 amount of tiles. Well, they obviously don't but I am not sure how much longer I can count them for. It is too much effort. So, we'll settle on an infinite amount seeming as it is time I get out of this shower. I will catch hypothermia if I don't. So, I turn it off and step outside, the cool air instantly swarming me. Not that it does anything for my numb skin, of course; I simply rub myself dry with a towel. It's because of this that I notice my hands and feet are badly pruned. I wonder how long I was in there.
Long enough for smoldering water to turn into ice.
Slowly, I pull on a thick, white dressing-gown and feel it's heat absorb me. My hands tie the cords around my waist subconsciously; I don't want to think, anyway. I have been thinking for far to long.
Stepping into my bedroom, I hope to pass out into a heavy and eternal sleep - but Cinna is there, sitting on my bed, and he stands as I enter. I wonder how long he's been sat here.
"You did well," Cinna says. He walks forward envelops me in his arms and the second he does, my head flops onto 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 forest. "Haymitch?" I ask.
"Asleep," Cinna says. "He waited but you've been in there for a while."
My eyes flicker to him. "How long?" I ask. I trace one of the trees.
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. I watch the wind rustle the trees of the forest 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.
I rephrase the question. "Why?" I ask instead.
Meeting me dead in the eye, any trace of emotion vanishes from Cinna's face as he says, "Whatever the President has to say, it wont be good." Solemn. That is how he looks. Solemn. "And you will not like it."