Disclaimer: I own no part of THG.

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Laughing

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Primrose Melanie Everdeen enters the world laughing.

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Primrose Melanie Everdeen enters the world laughing. There are no screams in her birth, except from her mother, Isla Everdeen. There is no one else in the room except for Katniss and the two of them, mother and newest child. Really, it's a wonder four-year-old Katniss even is there. Everyone knows she hates the sight of blood. One person in particular, who comes into the room at that very moment.

"Daddy!"

Katniss' screams echo throughout the house, earning a chuckle from her father. "Hello, Kat." He smiles, picking her up easily and spinning her around lightly. "Shh," Isla laughs, Primrose now wrapped in soft, threadbare blankets. Isla stands, handing the newborn to her husband. The grin he sports almost splits his whole face in half, it seems. "What are we gonna name her, Daddy?" Katniss murmurs, standing on tiptoe to glance at Prim.

"Primrose." He says matter-of-factly, nodding. "Primrose Melanie Everdeen."

And suddenly, the name just fits. (And it seems like the whole world slides into place after it.)

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It seems like the whole world falls when Katniss and Prim's father dies, eight years later. Prim starts to laugh as they string the medal around Katniss' neck, earning strange looks from the few attending.

Later, when the walk home, an exhausted Katniss asks Prim why she laughed, exactly. "Because," Prim leans into Katniss, as if she's telling her an extremely important secret, "sometimes, instead of crying, you just have to laugh." The words replay in Katniss' minds for days after. They just won't leave her alone.

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And neither will Gale, after the two meet that fateful day in the forest.

"Hey, Catnip," he'll call, tugging good-naturedly on the end of her braid. She roll her eyes, tugging her bow closer to her body reflexively. "Hi, Gale." She murmurs, smile playing at her lips. "We should hunt, ya know." He grins, arching his body forward and racing off with an over-the-shoulder laugh of, "Race you!"

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Prim's almost shaking out of her shoes by the time the reach the Square. It's not even her reaping, it's Katniss'. "Hey." Katniss stops, tucking Prim's chin under her hand softly.

"I'll be okay." She murmurs, kissing her sister's forehead lightly. Prim nods, tears prickling at her eyes. "I just don't wanna loose you." She whispers, throwing her arms around her sister's neck and hugging her. For Prim, this may be the last time she sees her sister.

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But it's not.

Prim gasps with relief from her mother's side as the female tribute in the Seventy-Third Hunger Games is called. It is a Seam girl, Marren Asher. Sure, it means another death. But it's not her sister, and that's all Prim knows. Katniss is safe for another year.

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(But she's not.)

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Prim has horrible nightmares the night before the reaping of the Seventy-Fourth Games. Her father's picture enters her head more than once throughout the night. Her heart is constricting, tighter and tighter like there's a rope around it, squeezing the life painfully out of her.

She awakes with a gasp, Katniss' own bed suddenly much more inviting.

Crawling into the small bed next to her sister, she snuggles against her, whispering a single word. "Sing?" Katniss nods, her voice hesitant at first then strong, even though she barely rises above a whisper.

When she is done, Prim starts to laugh. "What?" Katniss asks, after Prim's laughter is quiet.

"Remember what I told you, after the medal ceremony?" Katniss is puzzled only for a moment, but nods. "The laughing instead of crying." This time, Prim nods.

"Well, I hope you laugh a lot today, little duck," Katniss whispers, and then she's out the door.

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"Primrose Everdeen!" The name rings out clearly among the small population of Twelve.

As Prim walks up to the stage, Prim starts to laugh. Katniss is too shell-shocked to laugh with her. "Good job, little duck," she whispers, squeezing her eyes shut.

She doesn't even hear the boy's name.

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When the interviews come, Katniss and her mother are at the Hawthorne's.

Everyone is packed in, uncomfortably so. Rory and Vick are unnaturally well-behaved, everyone's eyes seemingly glued to the television. The first interview hits the stage, a sparkling blonde bombshell with a name of Glimmer; Rory's eyes run shamelessly over her, as she's dressed in an extremely unpractical transparent gown.

Her interview goes by, typical Career from One. The other interviews drag by, until finally, finally, they get to Twelve.

A small gasp is heard from the room as Prim walks out on stage, Caesar announcing her as 'the angel of Panem'. Her hair is in small, beautiful braids, primroses entwined into her hair. She is radiant, as beautiful as the flower for which she is named. Her dress is lovely, actual primrose petals falling onto the stage as she walks.

Katniss has never felt more alive. Prim is surely going to have many sponsors, from the way this is unfurling. And all of Prim's interview, Katniss is laughing.

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Prim, her sweet little flower, has a seven in training.

Katniss has no idea what she's done, but breathes out a sigh of relief as she sees the score. Prim may have a chance, after all. And then she scolds herself her even thinking that. Of course she does. Of course Prim does.

Then, she excuses herself to her room to cry. If Prim is a flower, she'll surely wilt.

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The first day of the Games come, Katniss rising at an even earlier time than usual. All eyes are glued to the screen , the cameras sliding around from face to face. They show the Careers first, faces set in concentration. (Gale thinks he's the only one who notices how Cato's eyes stay on Clove for a moment too long.)

The countdown echoes out, Prim bursting off her plate at the sound of the gong. Katniss, and Gale, too, laugh in disbelief as Prim, Prim, who hates the blood of animals and everything else, races into the forest.

They're guilty, now, that they never even tried to teach her how to shoot.

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The first two days are uneventful, Prim living off the land. It is only the third day that something happens.

Rue, now Prim's ally, looks up from her work of picking berries, eyes wide with terror, as Prim's were when Rue fled out of the bushes, when they first became allies. She hears the Careers not far off, laughing and talking, as if things were normal. "Prim!" Rue calls in a whisper, fleeing back to their thicket as fast as her thin legs can carry her.

Prim looks up sleepily from her small, warm space, mind cloudy with sleep. "What?" She mumbles, yawning softly. "Hide." Rue's whisper is panicked, the tone of it echoing into Katniss' mind. Prim suddenly understands and flees, footsteps soft and silent against the forest floor. Rue follows, berries forgotten.

It's a close call, extremely too close for Katniss' liking.

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The next day, the Careers come back to their space.

It has long since been deserted, Prim and Rue safe up in a tree. Rue's berries are there, still, though, and Marvel picks one up, bursting it open. The insides are blood red. But Glimmer is stupid, and shrugs, picking it up and biting into it. "I don't see what's so ba-" She dies before the words are off her lips.

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(And up in their tree, Prim is trying to quiet Rue's wails of, "I killed her, Prim!" Prim's never been good at lying, so she nods. "You did, Rue. You did." Rue, twelve-year-old Rue, is a murderer.)

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Rue is killed the next day by Marvel, who is spitting with anger. "You killed her, you little brat. You killed her!" This time, it's Marvel who's wailing.

Rue, in her last moments, is still a child. She sticks out her tongue, laughing just the tiniest bit, and says, "You deserved it."

Marvel kills himself not a moment later, when her words sink in.

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Prim is practically grateful as Cato and Clove find her, five days later. She's been trying to remember what her father taught her, what her father taught Katniss, really, when she pauses in her work of searching for herbs.

There's laughter suddenly, behind her, then seemingly all around her. They've found her. She turns, arms outstretched, wide open. "Hello, little one," Clove purrs, eyes narrowed slightly, her lips in a slight pout. "Have you lost your mommy, you poor little thing?" Prim knows the word has two meanings.

She's shaking, now, then screaming. She turns, searching hopelessly for a camera, so she can address Katniss a final time. "Laugh, don't cry. I love you." She sobs, as Cato and Clove strike at the same time. She can only think that the resemblance is quite eerie, that they remind her almost of Gale and Katniss, perfectly in sync. This is Primrose Melanie Everdeen's last thought.

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(She doesn't laugh as she dies.)

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Katniss is sobbing at home, Prim's words echoing in her ears. 'Laugh, don't cry. I love you.' Ironically enough, she thinks she might never laugh again in her lifetime. She tries, just to see, and chokes on the laughter. Thank God, she thinks, and slumps against Gale.

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Cato and Clove are the last two left. Katniss hates them for it.

Gale knows, he knows what's going to happen, as they fight and snarl and dig their fingers into each nook and cranny they can find. "Cover your eyes," he whispers to Katniss, his girl, as Cato picks up his sword, towering over Clove's suddenly too-small frame.

Her eyes are too big, enlarged in terror. "I'm sorry." Cato whispers as he runs her through, tears leaking down his face. She nods, slumping against the cold metal. "I know." She whispers back, his sword sticking out of her chest as she dies. ('What about Prim,' Katniss thinks, 'are you sorry about her, too?')

Moments later, Cato lifts his head and screams. They have to sedate him as he thrashes, snarling like he was only moments before.

Gale knows he'll only realize what he's done when he wakes up. He goes stone cold as a single, melodious bought of laughter echoes throughout the arena. It's Cato's.

Apparently he took Prim's advice.

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fin.

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