Hello and thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy this latest chapter and thank you so much to those of you who have taken the time to review, you are all amazing!
I do not own The Hunger Games nor its characters.
We both stand there, motionless, yet full of hate. He hates everyone and I only have a few exceptions, although even they have a tendency to irritate me.
He doesn't know that I'm looking at him, of course, but he knows that there are eyes on him every second of every day. Katniss has been in 2 for almost two weeks and every day I've been coming here in the hope that some of the old Peeta will begin to surface again but I'm disappointed every time.
The people responsible for Peeta's recovery have sent in Delly another four times since her first visit and, even though he hasn't attacked her, I'm amazed that she keeps going back. He can have a conversation with her but it quickly turns nasty and he always ends up calling her vile and vicious things that she doesn't deserve.
I break my eyes away from his and give up for another day. This isn't getting any easier.
I go back to my compartment and two minutes later there's a knock on the door. I open it to find Vieve who walks in without invitation and kisses me on the lips.
"How was he?" She asks, sitting on my bed.
"No different," I reply and join her.
"Maybe you should take a break, visiting him every day isn't going to make you feel any better."
"I know but I can't give up on him yet. I know he would do the same for me." And even though I've put him and Katniss through hell I'm certain that my words are true.
"No, Vieve! You don't know him like I do!"
"But I know you and I can see that it's getting too much. I think you need to reduce the amount that you're helping them up in Command."
"May I remind you that I've been fighting almost my whole life for this to happen, it's why I lost you in the first place. I didn't make that sacrifice for nothing."
"But I'm here now," she says, standing up. She strokes the side of my face that even after all of these years still feels comfortingly familiar. "I couldn't bear to lose you."
"Because it's always about you, isn't it?" I spit and knock her hand away. I stand up before she has a chance to reply and march out of the compartment.
I don't know where I'm going but I'm worried that if I stay with Vieve I'm going to say or do something else that I regret. I just wish that I could make her understand! She has kids, surely she wouldn't give up on them so easily? There was a time when she wanted to be a part of this rebellion just as much as I did. I can't stop now, not when we're on the brink of invading the Capitol.
The one thing I hate about 13 is there are so few places to go, you can't just walk to Town or in to the meadow. You either go to your compartment, the dining hall or your place of work and that's it all day every day.
I could go to Command and see how Katniss is doing but I'm sure that Plutarch will call me if there's any news. I know that she's helping in the plan to take down a mountain that they've nicknamed 'The Nut', which houses a lot of the Capitol's military equipment.
Instead I choose to walk aimlessly along the many corridors until I see a beaming Finnick and Annie walking towards me, hand in hand.
"Haymitch!" Finnick shouts, "I've got big news for you!"
"Oh yeah?" I say.
"Yeah, Annie has agreed to be my wife."
A huge grin soon forms across my face and without thinking I've pulled them both in to a hug as I congratulate them.
"That's fantastic news," I say, pulling away from two very shocked individuals.
"Thank you," says Annie.
"We're just off to tell Plutarch. I'm sure he's going to wet his pants," says Finnick.
"I have no doubt. I'm really happy for you both. No one deserves it more," I say and then I'm the one who's left in shock as Annie leans in and kisses me on the cheek.
"You're a good man, Haymitch. You've done so much for us," says Annie.
I don't think that's true. I know I told Plutarch to flood the dam in Annie's games but I doubt Finnick told her that, he tries not to talk about it too much with her. Even so, this fragile woman has actually left me speechless for once.
"Come on," says Finnick. "I can't have you kissing strange men now that you're my fiancée."
Annie blushes as Finnick leads her down the corridor and I can honestly say that I've never felt so happy for a couple. Apart from Drake and Herma, they were two people who were always meant to be together.
News quickly spreads of the wedding and everyone spends the day congratulating Finnick and Annie on their engagement, even though a lot of the teenage girls seem to be fighting back tears. Even in 13 he was adored!
The next day I head back to the observation room to find a group of medics hopelessly discussing what their next move should be with Peeta. Of course, no one says anything that hasn't been said before.
Prim has been there the whole time, keeping silent on the premise that she's there to learn but I'm sure she's just keeping an eye on Peeta for Katniss. After an hour she tries to quieten the room so that she can speak but no one pays her any attention.
"Hey," I eventually shout. "There is a young lady here who is trying to say something!"
Everyone shuts up and turns their attention to Prim.
"Thank you, Haymitch," says Prim. "I was just wondering if we could 'reverse hijiack' Peeta."
"Reverse hijack?" One of the medics says before guffawing.
"Yes," says Prim, undeterred. "If the Capitol made him hate Katniss by showing him images of her and injecting him with tracker jacker venom couldn't we do the same thing but with a calming drug like morphling or something similar?"
The medics ponder this for a while, jotting things down and talking amongst themselves.
"I don't see why it isn't worth a go," says one of the medics.
"It's going to be hard, though. The Capitol have done a pretty good job on him," says another.
Everyone agrees and I can see Prim's optimistic expression quickly disappear. I know what she's trying to do. Katniss risked her life for her sister and Prim feels she has to pay her back tenfold.
"What's the worst that can happen, then?" I say, "I think we should at least try it."
Eventually they all agree and later that afternoon one of the medics hooks Peeta up to a morphling drip while playing him the cave scene from his first Games. Katniss is telling him about how she bought Prim's goat and he's starting to thrash around and tightly grip the chair. The medic pushes a button, causing a large dose of morphling to run in to his system and the thrashing stops.
"Wh…what is this?" He says, slurring his words. "Who…I know her! I think…"
"Extreme confusion," mumbles one of the medics as they scribble on their pads.
I relay the information to Katniss later on that evening after Plutarch has desperately tried to cheer up but I probably shouldn't have bothered. Extreme confusion isn't exactly the news she wants to hear. I don't even bother to tell her about Finnick and Annie.
Plutarch informs me that they're sending Beetee, Gale and Boggs out to 2 to see if they can finally solve the problem that is the Nut. Meanwhile, I spend the evening by myself again, I'm still not in the mood to see Vieve.
The following day the medics are still keen to push on with Prim's idea, suggesting that we use images of Katniss that Peeta hasn't seen.
"That's going to be difficult," I say, "They're whole relationship has been played out on the cameras."
"Yes," says Plutarch, who has come down from Command to see our little experiment. "But he hasn't seen all of the footage we've shot while he was in the Capitol."
He presses play on one of the screens and Katniss begins to sing an old song called 'The Hanging Tree.' They shot it when she went back to 12 but it was never broadcast in the Capitol.
For some reason I can feel tears threatening to form as I watch her sing. I haven't heard that song for so long, my mother didn't like me singing it because it's about a man telling his lover to meet him so that they can kill themselves. As horrible as it is it just reminds of a time long before I was thrust in to the world of the Hunger Games, a time when Layle was only a baby and my father's drinking was our biggest problem. It wasn't an easy life but not for one moment did I doubt how loved I was by my family.
I clear my throat and pause the footage. "Sounds like a plan," I say. "We may as well get on with it."
The medics descend upon Peeta once more and attach him to the morphling drip, despite him screaming awful things at them.
Clara enters with Prim, worried that they've missed something but we assure them that they haven't. We all drift towards the two way mirror and look on, hopefully.
The medics play the footage and confusion quickly spreads across his face. Before he can react any further the medics administer the morphling and simply wait until the video ends.
"Does this remind you of anything, Peeta?" Says one of the female medics a little too enthusiastically.
"Yes," says Peeta, dreamily. "I was very young…six or seven, maybe, when I heard it. I remember waiting."
"Waiting?" Says the medic.
Peeta nods. "I remember waiting to see if the birds would stop singing…Mr Everdeen. He sang the song. And the birds would stop."
"Thank you, Peeta." She disconnects the drip and wheels it out.
I look at Clara and Prim, who have been holding hands the entire time, and the mixed expressions on their faces. I can see traces of hope as well as pain. I'm sure hearing about Cliff brings back all sorts of memories, both good and bad.
"This is definitely progress," says the medic when she returns. "This is the first time he has had some sort of connection to Katniss without breaking down."
Before anyone can respond Plutarch's communicuff starts to buzz, he looks at it and tells me that I have to go with him to Command straight away. Once we arrive Coin wastes no time in telling us that Gale has come up with a plan to blow up the Nut and they're going to see it through in a matter of hours. My job is to talk to Katniss through her earpiece in case a propo opportunity arises.
"What do you mean they're going to blow it up? Aren't there workers in there?" I say.
"Yes," replies Coin, "But it is the best plan we have to ensure that all of Two's ties with the Capitol are cut."
"And Katniss is okay with this?"
"Soldier Everdeen has given her consent to help, yes."
Not without a push, I'm sure. I just hope she hasn't agreed to this in some stupid hope of winning Gale over.
Within the hour I'm connected to a nervous Katniss and sitting in front of a screen that shows me exactly what is going on in 2. Katniss waits on top of the Justice Building and simply watches as the explosions happen. The Capitol hovercrafts descend but it's too late.
The Nut immediately begins to fall with smoke clouds and debris flying off it in all directions so that I can barely see Katniss.
"Katniss? Katniss!" I shout. "Katniss, are you there?"
"Get inside. Just in case the Capitol tries to retaliate with what's left of its air force."
"Yes," she answers, coldly, and begins to head to the entrance of the building with the rest of the soldiers.
I can hear her talking to Boggs, worried about the people inside. They didn't bomb one of the entrance tunnels but they're not going to help get anyone out.
"Katniss," I eventually say when I sense that she's on the brink of screaming.
"Still here," she says.
"Interesting turn of events with Peeta this afternoon. Thought you'd want to know. We showed him that clip of you singing 'The Hanging Tree.' It was never aired, so the Capitol couldn't use it when he was being hijacked. He says he recognized the song."
"He couldn't, Haymitch. He never heard me sing that song."
"Not you. Your father. He heard him singing it one day when he came to trade at the bakery. Peeta was small, probably six or seven, but he remembered it because he was specially listening to see if the birds stopped singing. Guess they did."
We don't talk for hours while we wait for the fighting to stop and when it does Coin informs me that we need Katniss to make a speech, it's propo time and we also need the rest of 2 to surrender. Despite me continuously telling her that Katniss can't do speeches she ignores my protests and orders Cressida to attach a mic to Katniss that will broadcast her across all of the district.
As Cressida pins a microphone to her, she immediately asks what's going on.
"I know you're not going to like this, but we need you to make a speech," I say.
"I'll feed it to you, line by line. You'll just have to repeat what I say. Look, there's no sign of life from that mountain. We've won, but the fighting's continuing. So we thought if you went out on the steps of the Justice Building and laid it out—told everybody that the Nut's defeated, that the Capitol's presence in District Two is finished—you might be able to get the rest of their forces to surrender."
"I can't even see their forces."
"That's what the mic's for. You'll be broadcast, both your voice through their emergency audio system, and your image wherever people have access to a screen."
"You could save a lot of lives, Katniss," I say, reluctantly.
"All right. I'll give it a try," .
"Let's make this quick. You're too exposed." I don't have time to write anything down so I'm just going to have to wing it and hope that she can pull this off. "People of District Two, this is Katniss Everdeen speaking to you from the steps of your Justice Building, where we have-"
When I realise that she's stopped speaking my eyes look to the screen to see that two trains have pulled up from the Nut, one of which is on fire. A man with burns falls on to the floor and Katniss is running towards the rebels.
"Stop!" She shouts. "Hold your fire! Stop!" She kneels down to help the man but his gun moves towards her head.
"Freeze," I whisper, terrified about what's going to happen next.
"Give me one reason I shouldn't shoot you," says the man.
"I can't," says Katniss. "I can't. That's the problem, isn't it?" She lowers her bow. "We blew up your mine. You burned my district to the ground. We've got every reason to kill each other. So do it. Make the Capitol happy. I'm done killing their slaves for them."
"I'm not their slave," says the man.
"I am. That's why I killed Cato…and he killed Thresh…and he killed Clove…and she tried to kill me. It just goes around and around, and who wins? Not us. Not the districts. Always the Capitol. But I'm tired of being a piece in their Games."
"Keep talking. Tell them about watching the mountain go down," I say. This is when Katniss is at her best, when she truly feels something about what she sees.
"When I saw that mountain fall tonight, I thought…they've done it again. Got me to kill you—the people in the districts. But why did I do it? District Twelve and District Two have no fight except the one the Capitol gave us. And why are you fighting with the rebels on the rooftops? With Lyme, who was your victor? With people who were your neighbors, maybe even your family?"
"I don't know."
She slowly stands up and turns to face the many guns pointed at her. "And you up there? I come from a mining town. Since when do miners condemn other miners to that kind of death, and then stand by to kill whoever manages to crawl from the rubble?"
"Who is the enemy?" I whisper.
"These people," she points around the square, "Are not your enemy! The rebels are not your enemy! We all have one enemy, and it's the Capitol! This is our chance to put an end to their power, but we need every district person to do it! Please! Join us!"
We all wait, breaths held and chests tight. Nothing happens. And then, without warning, a bullet is fired at Katniss.