Epilogue: Never Alone
"Katniss, we have to talk to her" Peeta said kindly, though with a slight sense of force. He was pacing.
"No we don't." I said, arms crossed, sitting at the foot of our bed. Yes, our bed. Quite strange, isn't it? It still is for me. He officially moved in with me shortly after we realized how much we truly needed each other. And of course that we loved each other too. I'm not quite sure why we chose to live in my house, aside from the fact that he had already turned his into a bakery. We could have lived above it. And sometimes I wish we had because I often have glimpses of the past where I see my mother and Prim walking about the house. Not ghosts. No, just old memories. They often scare me, but at times, they comfort me as well.
"Katniss," he sat next to me, "she starts fifth grade tomorrow. We had all summer to tell her, but now is our last shot. She can't find out from school. It wouldn't be fair."
"She already knows, Peeta. She has to." My eyes dart towards him accusingly. "She notices. She notices that her mother wakes up screaming from nightmares more than she does. She notices that her father has the leave the room sometimes so he doesn't hurt anyone. She notices the only family we have is a drunk neighbor that raises geese, a strangely colored woman who comes to visit more than her own grandmother, and…Gale, who visits less than that. She notices. She knows."
He put his arm around me lovingly. "She might notice, but she doesn't know why. And I think it's time we tell her. She's old enough to understand."
"I'm not old enough to understand." I say, trying to remain angry but it sparks a smile as I look at Peeta's eyes. He smiles right back. "Maybe Haymitch should tell her", I whisper.
"She loves Haymitch as much as any of us, it's true. But it has come from us. He can come over, though, if you want. It might make it easier."
I nod and he goes to the phone in our bedroom to make the call. I sit, worried. How can I tell my daughter about the horrible world we used to live in? How can I scare her like that? But how could I not warn her before she finds out tomorrow? She will likely see a picture of us in her history book, Victors of the 74th Hunger Games. I could never let her find out like that; so, my only option is to tell her now, as much as I dread it.
"He's coming", Peeta's voice says from somewhere far away. He walks over to me and kisses me full on the mouth, the only thing that could wake me from my trance. I kiss him back ever so lovingly, to let him know we are in this together, as we have been since he first gave me that bread. For a minute, it feels like we won't stop kissing, but I know Peeta. As much as he loves me, he always puts our kids first, just as I would and do. And I love him for that. He takes my hand and we steady each other, just as we did in the chariot at the first Hunger Games and we walk downstairs to our daughter. She is, of course, sitting at the television. Since the end of the Games, the television has reverted back to an entertainment device, full of plenty of channels and television shows. Peeta and I never got into it, but of course, the television came with the house and our daughter deeply loves it. We sit in the living room with her and wait for Haymitch. As he comes in, shooting greetings to all, it is the only thing that unglues her from the television.
"Uncle Haymitch!" She runs to give him a hug.
"Hi there lovely! Where is your brother?"
"Well he was sleeping. But I'm sure he's awake now." I said snarkly, but still smiling.
"And there's your ever famous charm." He winks at me. He knows how hard this is for me. After all, we are very alike. He turns off the television and Peeta motions for everyone to sit.
She looks at us quizzically. Peeta nods to me, assuredly.
"Honey" I said slowly. I looked into her big blue eyes and all I could see was Prim. She reminded me so much of my dear sister. My eyes started to water but I held back the tears. "We have something to talk to you about"
"Ok mom, what's up" she said, looking from one of us to the other.
"Remember how your dad has to leave the room sometimes, upset, and your mom wakes up in the middle of the night, scared?" Haymitch cuts in kindly.
"Yes. My friends' parents don't usually do that" she responded, slowly, still confused.
"Your right, honey. That's because we are all different."
"Our country of Panem has a very, er, dark and scary history and your dad, Uncle Haymitch, Aunt Effie, Grandma, and even, Johanna…Uncle Gale…do you remember them…and I, we are all a part of it."
"I remember them. And what do you mean?"
"Well, there was a really terrible war about a hundred years ago and a lot of people died and then, when President Snow…" my skin crawled, still, as I said this name, "…took power, he started the Hunger Games…"
We explained it all. How we all fought and we all survived and how upset they were at Peeta and I and how we got sent back in and the war after that. We explained it all. And it felt like it took hours. We all cried a little bit as we relived the horror of our lives. I could tell that Haymitch deeply wanted a drink but, as we don't keep liquor in the house, he had to deal. She listened. She was a real trouper. I was proud of her. She didn't cry one bit. She teared a little when she heard about how they hurt her dad and how her aunt died and her grandma was so sad. But she held on. She is my daughter with flecks of Prim. And she held my hand and squeezed it here and there. She is Peeta's daughter, always trying to take care of me. She gave us all big hugs after it was over.
"I understand. Thank you for telling me. But that's cool! I get to tell my class that my parents are the last winners of the Hunger Games!..."
Peeta stopped her, "Please don't tell your brother just yet. He is too young to understand." Peeta grabbed my other hand and looked into my eyes and smiled slightly.
She stopped for a second to look at us. "Mom, Dad, you really love each other, don't you?" Her eyes were glistening with pride.
We looked at each other and then looked back at her. But it was Haymitch who answered, "Yes, they do. And they always have. And…I love them even more." I smiled at Haymitch and took his other hand. He was proud of us too. And even if his family was killed by the Capitol many years ago, he had us now and he seemed pretty content with that. We didn't need anyone else. We had everyone we love right here. "But yes, dear, it is very cool they your parents were the last winners of the Hunger Games. And I got to be there mentors." He smiled at us, kindly.
Then, as if something had just dawned on her, she looked at all of us, questioning. "Wait so does this mean that Aunt Effie and Uncle Haymitch aren't really my aunt and uncle?"
We all have to laugh at this one. I kiss her on the forehead. "They are in every way that counts". I look at Haymitch who has his hand on his heart and we exchange another smile. We sent her off to bed knowing that everything will be ok.
In a few years, we do this again with our son. Only Effie is present too. She makes more visits because, like us, she realizes she has no one left. She eventually considers moving here, to twelve, despite her utter hatred for this district. She loves us. Also, when we tell him, there are less tears and less nervousness. Also less fear. We are no longer afraid of telling our story. Even though we are not happy we killed children and so forth, we know that, without any of that horror, we wouldn't have each other and we certainly wouldn't have the two children that the four of us love ever so much. My mother rarely visits. I know the pain this district has caused her and me, but I have risen above it. I see my sister every day in the flowers that still grow outside our house and in my daughter. I heard that Gale is married and I am happy that he found someone. Annie's kids are growing, as we exchange pictures often. Beetee has continued his work and I cannot understand what he is doing. Johanna visits often but she too has finally found someone who loves her in spite of her scares. We have all changed since the Games, that much is evident. But there are parts of us that will always remain, like my night terrors, Haymitch's drinking, Effie's crazy hair, and Peeta's troubles. And Peeta. I know that Peeta's lips, arms, and hands with always be there to hold me, keep me steady, and give me love for as long as we both shall live. Now when I wake up, the other side of the bed is always warm and comforting. Never again will I be alone.
-Fin! The End! Thank you so much for reading! Special s/o to guest reviewer volleyball1020 who gave me a great review! I hope you liked this last chapter. This is definitely my favorite chapter. Hope you all are having a wonderful Holiday! Thanks for all your love and support xoxox