Why is it that every time I write that I'm NOT going to write a sequel – I do? ROFL I was determined not to do it when I'd finished The Wedding. I was really happy about how I'd ended it, and I thought that if I were to write a sequel, I'd have to get into a very complicated political plot, and I didn't want to do that.
But guess what - that's what I'm going to do after all…
So here we go! I'm pretty nervous about doing it, but the potential and the challenge were just irresistible. There were several people who reviewed or PMed and asked for more (you know who you are!), and you managed to get me curious about what would happen. So I guess I have to write it to find out myself what happens!
If you haven't read The Wedding before, I strongly suggest that you do so now. For those of you that haven't - what's happened so far is that instead of being reaped for the Quarter Quell, Katniss and Peeta were forced to get married as soon as they turned 18. On the morning of their wedding, Snow told Katniss that she had still not convinced him that her feelings for Peeta were real, and said that they must consummate their marriage on their wedding night. If they didn't, Prim would be reaped in the upcoming 76th Hunger Games, and both Peeta and Katniss would be sold to the highest paying sponsors the next morning. So, well, what could they do? They finally did the dirty deed!
This fic starts just where I left off – at breakfast on the morning after Katniss and Peeta got married, which in the Capitol is a social event and essentially a part of the wedding festivities. Here are the last couple of paragraphs, just to refresh your memory:
And then, looking at the other victors around the table, I realize that Snow has made a mistake - again. Yesterday, he wanted to control us, to break us. What he's done instead, is bind us more closely together. Not just Peeta and me, but all the victors. In the two of us - in Peeta's goodness, and in my purity and resilience - they have found something to unite them. That's what the other districts see in us.
We are defiant. Peeta and I played their game in the arena, yet we bent the rules, and we got out alive. Together. Yesterday, we were again forced to play Snow's game, but we emerge stronger than we were before.
And I know that something starts here, today. I can feel it in the air. See it in the glances the other victors send us. We have shown them that the Capitol can be outsmarted in their own vicious game.
Peeta's hand is still holding mine underneath the table. His fingers are warm and strong around mine, I give them a small squeeze.
And I know this is only the beginning.
Chapter one: A breakfast to remember
There's a fire burning inside me. It was lit by Peeta.
But it was also lit by the Hunger Games. By the closed, gaunt, hungry faces I saw on our Victory Tour of the districts. By the other victors, seeing how many of them simply haven't been able to live a normal life after the Games. Broken, drugged, sold, destroyed. By seeing the contrast between the starving children in the districts and the revolting extravagance of the Capitol.
It was also lit by Snow. I will never forget what he made us do. I will never forgive.
But then I look across the table, at Prim. My beloved Prim, looking far too pretty - and far too mature. She's 14 already. When did she stop being a little girl?
She's still of reaping age. She will be for years.
And I know that Snow has the upper hand. As long as he can use our families against us, he is in effect holding us hostage. I send a stolen look to Peeta, who's chatting with my mother and Prim. Peeta is just so… amiable. He knows exactly how to make people feel at ease. He's even made my mother loosen up.
I think about the things he did to me last night, about what he did to me with his tongue and his hands and his cock, and I'm a bit surprised that he has the nerve to talk to my mother as if nothing's happened.
"I've never had a son, Peeta," she tells him, "but I'm so happy to have one now, and I really can't wait for you to be part of our family." She really means it, I realize. Our family, torn and broken and incomplete. That's quite something to be a part of. Not to mention that she's fallen for Peeta – not fallen as in fallen in love, but she's fallen for his irresistible charm. I've got to give it to him, he's great with people.
"Mrs Mellark has never had a daughter before, either," Prim says, looking over at Peeta's mother, who's sitting a few places down from her by the table. "Won't it be wonderful to have a daughter, Mrs Mellark?"
I have to bite my lip to keep a sarcastic remark back, and Peeta's mother looks like she's eaten a lemon. "Certainly," she answers, but her voice is cold and hard. Even Peeta can't think of anything to say to smooth it over, and there's an uncomfortable silence around the table.
I can feel that Snow looks at me with his snake-like eyes, the only thing in the room that's colder than Mrs Mellark's voice as she talks about me. "It certainly was an amazing wedding," Snow says, and for a second I wonder where he's going with this. Snow never says anything to smooth things over, he doesn't say anything just to say it. There is always a purpose, a hidden meaning. "That was quite a performance yesterday, Mr and Mrs Mellark." I freeze at his words, as does Peeta.
So Snow does know. He probably has seen the footage of us personally. By "yesterday", he doesn't mean the wedding day – he means last night - how we consummated our marriage, has he himself put it. "It was really heartwarming, to see you two so much in love. Madly in love, as they say."
I finally manage to bring up the courage to look at him, he's sitting on the opposite side of the table, two chairs down from my mother.
The warning is crystal clear.
Keep it up. We're watching you.
Peeta's knuckles are white as he's gripping around the glass of orange juice, for a second I'm afraid the glass will break. "Yesterday was a dream come true," Peeta says, putting the glass down on the table, saving it from destruction. Yet the clunk it makes is a bit too loud. He suddenly turns to me, his eyes are nearly black. I can see how he's trying very hard to control his anger. He knows what's at stake.
The kiss takes me by complete surprise. My first reaction is to resist because it's so sudden and unexpected, but his strong hands don't allow me to move away from him. There is something almost vicious about the kiss – it's a shockingly indiscreet public display of affection, considering we're talking about Peeta, but I allow his probing tongue to invade my mouth. I can feel the anger, I can almost taste it.
Even this morning, Snow's mocking us, calling what happened between us last night a performance.
It would be so easy to get lost in his kiss, but I have to try to smooth things over. There is too much at stake, it's too dangerous. I'm also very much aware of the fact that my sister is watching. And my mother. Not to mention his mother… And the rest of his family.
There is too much at stake here. They are all so vulnerable. And Peeta and I are vulnerable because of them.
I break the kiss with a laugh, pretending to sound innocent, embarrassed and happy like I imagine a blushing bride on the morning after her wedding is supposed to be, when her husband displays to the world just what he did to her the night before. Did he really read Effie's stupid book? I wonder. I break our kiss. "Peeta, love… Not with everyone here…." I try to sound like one of those airheads in Capitol soap operas. I feel disgusted with myself, but this is a show, too.
I have to play my part.
I meet his eyes, and the anger is still there. My hand gives his shoulder a warning squeeze.
Get it together.
"Sorry, Katniss, but you know… Hard to resist," he answers. Saying something like that in public is so unlike him, but he's back in the act. Our display of public affection is also playing it right up the Capitol alley.
Finnick Odair's impossibly sea green eyes are twinkling at me from across the table, he's sitting just between my mother and Snow. Finnick has always been one of Snow's favorites, and one of the most profiled victors in Panem history.
"So, where are you going on honeymoon?" Effie says, and I silently thank her for coming to our rescue, whether it was deliberate or not.
"We're actually not going on honeymoon," I tell her, and Effie squeals. Going on honeymoon is another one of those stupid Capitol rituals – where newlyweds go to an exotic holiday destination to have wild and complicated sex for two weeks before they return home and their lives of domestic boredom begin. This is of course something which is totally unheard of in District 12, where you can't leave the district at all without a permit, which you won't get, and besides, the groom always has to go work in the mines the day after the wedding, anyway. "Honeymoon" is simply a word that doesn't exist in the District 12 vocabulary.
"We considered it, but then found that we just really want to be home, together with the people we love," Peeta tells her, and I can tell he's truly back on track.
The reality is that our honeymoon had apparently already been booked, though obviously not by us it was somewhere by the beach in District four. The TV crew had even been booked, the publicity plan was ready. But suddenly, just a few days before the wedding, the honeymoon was cancelled, and no one would tell us why. Not that we minded, we just wanted to go home as soon as possible anyway, but there was something not quite right about it.
"That's really too bad," Effie says apologetically, and then goes on to tell everyone excitedly about all her three honeymoons. I sigh a small sigh of relief. I can always count on Effie to talk about nothing forever, keeping everyone occupied and avoiding sensitive subjects.
Our train back to District 12 leaves in the afternoon, and I just can't wait to get on it. I'm exhausted. I hate this place.
Effie keeps everyone talking about honeymoons, rude servants and how terrible salt water is for her hair for the rest of the meal. Bless her. She gets into a heated discussion with Johanna about the virtues of salt water versus fresh water, which is quite entertaining for a while. Between the two of them, they manage to keep everyone busy enough to stay off potentially embarrassing or dangerous subjects.
From the stolen looks Johanna sends me, I know it's not a coincidence. She's trying to help me out, and I feel so grateful that she's going to these lengths - talking to Effie, who I know she detests - to help me. I think Effie is doing the same thing, too, even though I don't think she's talked to Johanna about it in advance. Effie does love attention, that's true, but this is much, even for her.
Finnick is one of the first to leave the table, he's waving a white envelope in the air, winking and saying he has some business to attend to.
I feel sick.
Before he leaves, he comes over to Peeta and me, telling us goodbye in case he doesn't have time to catch us before our train leaves in the afternoon. He first shakes hands with Peeta, and then he gives me a kiss on each cheek, each of them lasting just a little bit too long. After the second one, he looks down at the curve of my neck, and he… smells me. He closes his eyes and takes in my scent, like I'm a beautiful flower. "Mmmmm, you smell nice, Katniss," he says in that seductive voice of his. "You smell like you're… Ripe. Finally." I freeze. What on earth is he talking about?
He laughs when he sees that I don't understand. "What I mean is that you smell like, well, sex, Katniss. You were always so pure, but… You're not quite as pure this morning as you were yesterday, are you?" I blush furiously, I can't believe he'll say something like this in front of everyone – not to mention our mothers.
"Finnick!" I hiss, and Peeta seems to have choked on something.
"I don't know what you did to her yesterday, Peetaboy, but it seems to have worked. Just give me a call if you need some advice, okay? I know how to make them purr like kittens in bed." He winks at me, and then leaves with a huge grin on his face.
I'm close to tears, and Peeta just looks stunned.
Prim looks as red as I certainly am as well, but my mother isn't, she just observes me closely with a slightly puzzled look in her eyes. I know she's thinking about the conversation we had yesterday, putting two and two together. She looks… worried.
My mother is a lot of things, but she's not stupid. She knows that something is up, but she doesn't know what exactly is going on. There are a lot of things about the Capitol that she doesn't know about – such as how victors are treated. She believes in the lies we were all told: That victors are being treated nearly like royalty, living the rest of their lives in luxury.
Reality, however, is quite different. I have to try to keep these things away from her, but I don't know if I can. Peeta's mother looks both angry and embarrassed, and his two brothers are openly laughing, the only two persons in the room who are.
"Well, it's time for me to leave this party as well," Johanna says, and I guess I shouldn't be surprised when she suddenly opens the zipper of her dress, which falls to the floor – and underneath it she is, of course, stark naked. "Are you two coming?" To my great surprise, Peeta actually follows her, after briefly thanking everyone for attending our wedding and also this breakfast, making a lame excuse about us having to pack our things before our train leaves. All we have is one overnight bag each, so needing several hours to pack is clearly excessive. What Peeta is in effect doing, is running away from this breakfast, which has been nothing but embarrassing and awkward. Although following a naked Johanna seems inappropriate, it is definitely better than staying, even though we are perhaps rude - but who cares about Capitol standards of rudeness? So what if they think we just can't wait to be on our own to make love again?
I couldn't care less.
Our families follow us, too, I guess we weren't the only ones who found breakfast unbearable.
I have no idea how Peeta manages to talk to Johanna when she's stark naked save for her gold pumps, but he does, like nothing's happened. How can he ignore her breasts that are practically in his face like that? It's not the first time she's pulled this stunt on us – on me – and I am mortified, every time. And Peeta's mother does not look happy about it at all, especially not when Johanna and Peeta, happily chatting away about baking, are walking towards the elevator together. I glance unhappily at Johanna's ass, which is, well... Perfect, really.
As we wait for the elevator, Mrs Mellark – the other Mrs Mellark, I suddenly realize that I am also Mrs Mellark now, and the thought makes me queasy - hisses: "Have you no shame?" to Johanna.
Johanna just laughs and says: "No!" after which there is nothing left to say. Mrs Mellark's mouth opens and closes like a fish on land, but not a single word comes out, which is a definite improvement.
Johanna gets off on the fourth floor, but just before she gets off, she whispers, nearly inaudibly, to Peeta and me: "Be careful, you two." She turns around to look at us before the elevator doors close. She's still only wearing her gold pumps with the impossibly high heels, but there is nothing funny or embarrassing about the warning in her eyes.
She knows something.
Why does everyone around here seem to know something we don't? Everything is a maze of secrets. Secrets my mother can't know about. Secrets no one is letting me in on.
Secrets that could potentially kill me. Or Prim. Or Peeta.
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