My mother and I walk to the place where the reaping takes place. I see Effie. Her wig this year is bright green, and she's wearing a skin tight purple jumpsuit. I join Peeta in the eighteen year-old section. Ever since we lost the war it's been tragic. I've had a fear they would rig the reaping to where I'd be in the Games. Peeta holds me close to him as we wait for the names to be called.
"Welcome to the seventy sixth annual Hunger Games!" Effie calls out. "Ladies first!" She says. I can barely hear her as a name gets called. I can tell that by the way Peeta tightens his grip around me it was mine. He lets me go, and I make my way through all the people that are my age. I see Effie hold back laughter as she helps me up.
"Okay. Let's move on." She says. I look at Peeta as she digs her hand in the ball. I close my eyes as she opens the paper. "Reen Bonegee." She says. Then I hear him, Peeta calls out the words I knew he was going to.
"I volunteer as tribute." He says. He pushes his way through all the people in his way. He runs up the stairs. We shake hands, and Effie leads us back to the train entrance. As soon as Effie leaves us alone Peeta pulls me into his arms. I feel so safe, but I know we'll both be dead soon. I can't even act happy. I feel myself start to cry as Haymitch enters the room. Peeta and I neither one have anyone to say goodbye to.
"Why did you do that, Peeta?" Haymitch asks him, and he's drunk, as usual.
"Because I need to protect Katniss." He answers, and I look at him like he's crazy. He does know that we'll be forced to kill each other in the arena.
"Peeta, if I was the only one in there we could both live." I tell him. He ignores me, and plants a kiss on my cheek. I walk out of the room, and down the hallway. I can hear someone following me. "Peeta, I don't want to hear it." I tell him. I still feel angry about the whole volunteering thing.
"Katniss, I don't think your weak, I just love you. You need to understand that I want to protect you." He tells me, and wraps his arms around me. I pull away from him, and storm into my room. I lock the door behind me. I hear Peeta knocking on my door. I don't answer it, but I know he'll keep going until I do. I walk over to the door, and put my ear against it. I can hear him mumbling something. I put my hand on the door knob. I unlock it, and see the handle move. For a minute I think I'm going to cry. I can't be forced to kill Peeta. We love each other.
"Peeta, if we make it in this thing, we'll be forced to kill each other." I tell him as he joins me on my bed.
"Katniss-" He starts, but I interrupt him with a kiss. I can't remember the last time I kissed him. Ever since he got hijacked by the Capitol I've only kissed him once. "Katniss, I'm sorry. When I volunteered, I was only thinking about saving you." He tells me, and I hear Effie coming.
"Come on you two! We need to get you to the Remake Center!" Effie calls. Peeta takes my hand in his, and we walk out of my room, and off the train. In the Remake Center Flavius and Octavia are the only ones there. I don't say anything, because I'm afraid something bad has happened to Venia. They look over me, and something tells me they don't want to do much. Flavius takes my hand, and Octavia takes my other. They start to paint my nails a dark brown. Probably part of my costume.
"Venia can take it from here." Flavius says.
"You mean, Venia replaced Cinna?" I ask.
"Yep. And Golligio replaced Portia." He tells me. I think about Peeta. As Flavius walks out the door, and Venia enters I feel like our costumes will be silly.
"So, what are you going to do, Venia?" I ask her. And she smiles. I know it will be stupid, or something weird. Maybe even crazy.
"I want to enforce your love for each other." She says. I don't know what she means.
"We're suppost to wear something to represent our district." I tell her, and she lifts the corners of her mouth, and smiles.
"I'm going to use a little something I learned from Cinna. A simple flame." She tells me. I allow myself to smile. It must be something like the first year. When we had the flaming capes and unitards.
"I still don't see how that would represent our district." I say, and then a smile creeps onto her lips, and I think I know what she's thinking.
Peeta and I stand on a chariot pulled by coal black horses. Before we go out on the Avenue of the Tributes, Peeta takes my hand in his. I'm wearing a long coal black dress, and a flaming headband. Peeta is wearing a black suit, and we both have a heartshaped flame overtop of our real ones. As we go out onto the avenue, I smile and wave to the crowd.
The crowd goes wild as Peeta plants a kiss on my cheek. I keep hoping that Venia put so much make-up on me that you can't see me blushing. After we get off the chariot, Peeta and I say we want to have dinner alone. We go up to our place on the roof, and see the Capitol playing the past Hunger Games.
"Katniss, they'll be playing ours next." Peeta tells me, and I get up, and start to run down the stairs, but Peeta's voice stops me. "Katniss, you're not the only person who feels like their owned." He tells me. This only makes me angry. I turn around, and find myself looking into Peeta's eyes.
"Peeta, you volunteered-" I start, but he interrupts me.
"Because I love you." He tells me. I feel the tears coming on. I feel Peeta's lips suddenly pressed against mine. I feel his arms wrapped around me. I feel the warmth in my chest.
When we finally break apart, I find my eyes staring into his blue ones. He wipes the tear off my cheek, and puts his hand on the back of my head, and I bury it into his shirt. I feel his lips on my neck, and he strokes my hair. When he finally lets me go. I run down the stairs, and into my room. I don't even bother to close the door behind me. I see Peeta run into my room, and I try to hide, but he's already seen me.
"Katniss, what's wrong?" He asks me, I don't want to answer so I run to him, and cry into his shoulder. "Shh, Katniss it's alright." He tells me, but I know what I'm feeling isn't. I'm going to be forced to kill Peeta. I just can't, though. Maybe in the end I can get Peeta to kill me, so I won't have to be scared annymore.
"Peeta, this isn't okay. We're going to be forced to kill each other. I can't kill you!" I tell him, and he wraps me in his arms. I should be taking him for advantage, in the arena we won't be able to love each other forever. I feel more tears coming, and I try to hold them back, but I can't. I run onto the bed, and wait for Peeta to come and comfort me, but he just swallows hard, and leaves. I run after him, and see he already is in his room, with the door locked and shut. I knock on the door, and hear his voice.
"Go away, Katniss. I don't wanna talk to you." He commands me. I start to cry harder than I ever have before. The boy I love, doesn't really love me.
"Fine, I guess you don't care about me as much as I thought you did." I tell him, and I hear him leap off the bed, and he opens the door. His eyes show something between anger and sorrow. I stare straight into them. "Do you?" I ask him.
"Katniss, nothing will not make me love you, or not care about you." He tells me. And I know this isn't true.
"That's not true, Peeta. The Capitol made you hate me. The Capitol made me hate you. Not anymore, because I love you. I know you love me, just not as much as I thought," I tell him.
"Katniss, I never will love you any less than I always have, and that person you met a year ago. I'm sorry. They didn't do that to me, I did." He says.
"Peeta." I say.
"I really did. I keep hating myself for it." He says. I want to tell him that he can hate himself, but I never will. I just can't, though. I can never look at him the same way now that he told me that. I can never see him just as the boy with the bread. He isn't anymore. He's finally mine, and now I'll just lose him. I've kept him alive for all this time, and now he'll just die. It's because of me, I know. If he hadn't tossed me the bread, he would still live, and have a wonderful family, because I'd be gone, dead, I wouldn't be his problem, I wouldn't be anyone's problem.
"Peeta, that's what they wanted you to think. That you did it. But I'm the reason that it happened. If you hadn't tossed me that bread, I'd be dead, gone. I wouldn't be a problem, I wouldn't be your problem, I wouldn't be the Capitol's problem. You wouldn't have to die, you wouldn't be here." I tell him.
"No, Katniss. If you would've died, then I couldn't have lived with myself. I love you." He tells me.
"You wouldn't if I had died when I was eleven." I tell him, and I know he has nothing to say.
"Katniss, I did the right thing, and I'll do the right thing for you, too if I die." He tells me, and then I feel myself about to pour out thousands of tears.
"I need you Peeta, I really need you." I tell him, and he shakes his head, and pulls me into his arms. "Stay with me." I tell him. I pull away, and stare into his eyes, I see him smile, and I do, too.
"Always." He says, and kisses me. I pull him into my room, and jump on the bed. This time I motion for him to join me. He comes, and we both lie there. Smiling and staring into the other's eyes. He pulls my head down on his chest like he did in the arena. I fall asleep, as he brushes the hair off of my forehead.
In the morning an avox comes in, and wakes us. She hands Peeta a note, and he looks at me and back to the note. I look over his shoulder, but I still can't see it. "What does it say?" I ask him, curiously. I keep on getting mixed up with what's real, and what's not. I wonder if it's a dream, but I don't think it is.
"It says in the arena, I have to protect you at all costs. It's from Haymitch and Effie." He tells me. I want to go into Haymitch's room, and yell at him. Instead I put my head on his shoulder and cry.
"Peeta, you don't have to protect me at all costs." I tell him.
"Yes I do, Katniss. I was going to anyways." He tells me, and then I jump off the bed, and walk down the hall to the dining room. I see Haymitch and Effie.
"Why do you care if I die, Haymitch? Peeta doesn't have to protect me if he doesn't want to." I yell at him. Peeta's standing next to me, and he has the same look in his eye as I do.
"Because, you are still the Mockingjay." Hearing the name again, I start to plunge toward him, but Peeta grabs my arm and pulls me back.
"I am not the Mockingjay anymore. I won't be your Mockingjay." I yell at him. I turn and look at Peeta, "I won't let you get away from me, not this time." I tell him. If the Capitol were to figure out I was still the Mockingjay, they would take Peeta, and permanently hijack him.
"Katniss-" He starts, but I interrupt him.
"Not this time, Peeta. I let you go too easily last time. Never again." I tell him.
In the Training Center, Peeta and I listen to the same speech we've heard two times before. We both stay together no matter what, even if he tries to wander off. The Careers this year are especially cocky. The boy from 1 is really scrawny, but he is a good archer, the girl from 2 is especially strong, and is talented with spears. I head over to the knot-tying station, and practice weaving nets. Peeta tries to persuade me to show the Careers my archery skills, but I just object.
"So, how is Lover Boy?" The girl from 2 asks Peeta. Then I recognize her, she is Clove's sister. She is a foot shorter, and is especially identical in looks. The thought of Peeta being called Lover Boy again aganizes me. It'll probably catch on. I walk over to where their standing, and grab Peeta's arm.
"Peeta, don't let her treat you like that! Your bigger and stronger." I tell him, but he just shakes his head. I don't know what else to say. I just stare into his eyes, they show hurt. I don't know what its from, the thought of being called Lover Boy, or me acting like his mother. "Sorry." I say.
"It's okay-" He starts, but then he grabs my hand, and sqeezes it tight. I feel his forehead, and he doesn't have a fever.
"Peeta, are you alright?" I ask him. He doesn't answer. Oh, no! Being called Lover Boy gave him a flashback. I think to myself. "Peeta?" I ask him. He shudders, and then releases his grip on my hand. "Are you okay?" I ask him. He takes me in for a hug.
"Katniss, I had a flashback from the hijacking." He tells me. Maybe it wasn't Lover Boy. Maybe it was me.
"You haven't had one in forever! What made it happen?" I ask him.
"I don't know, just stay with me, okay." He tells me.
"I will." I say, and help him up. I see all the Careers laughing at us. I wish I could shoot them all with an arrow, but I can't. I have an idea, though. "Peeta, show them how strong you are. They think your weak, but you're not." I command him. He shakes his head no. "Why not?" I ask.
"It's your turn to prove yourself to them." He tells me, and hands me a bow and arrow.
"Thanks." I say, and take the bow and arrow. I aim for the the dummy farthest from me, and aim straight for its heart. I release the string, and the dummy starts to leak stuffing. I turn to Peeta and find he's gone. I look around the gym, and see him standing at the spear throwing station. He gestures for me to join him in line. I smile, and put the bow down. I run over to join him.
It's the day for individual training with the Gamemakers. I get to impress Plutarch Heavensbee. This'll be so much fun. I watch as all the other tributes go in, then I look at Peeta. I still haven't decided what to do. I'll probably just shoot again. I don't know what Peeta will do. "Have you decided yet?" I ask him.
"Yeah, have you?" He asks me.
"Yes, I'm just going to shoot again. What are you going to do?" I ask him.
"Throw things, throw a spear." He tells me. I laugh, Peeta can get a high score if he can prove how strong he is.
"You'll do good." I tell him. They finally call him in, and before he goes I kiss his cheek. I see him smile, and I smile back. "You do good." I tell him. I wait for about thirty minutes before they let me in. I get up, and walk in. I take a bow and say my name and district, "Katniss Everdeen. District 12." I aim for the target farthest from me. I shoot it straight in the middle. I look over at the Gamemakers, and see many of them smile.
"You are excused, Miss Everdeen." Says one of them. I walk out, and find Peeta waiting for me.
"What are you doing here, Peeta?" I ask him. I thought he'd already be back on our floor.
"I wanted to go up with you." He tells me, I take his hand, and we walk over to the elevator. He presses the button with 12 on it, and wraps me up in a hug. When we get back up, we go and sit down on the couch. I rest my head on Peeta's shoulder. He wraps his arms around me. All the Careers pick up an 8-10, and all the others get something from a 5-7. This year's tributes are good. Peeta gets a 9, and I get a 10. I smile at Peeta, and he smiles at me.
"Good job, Peeta." Haymitch tells him. Peeta and I walk to my room hand in hand. I pull him in, and we lie down on my bed.
"Good job, Peeta." I tell him as I dose off.
When I wake up, its 9 am, and Peeta isn't there. I get up, and knock on his door. No one answers. I check the roof, and there he is. His face buried in his hands. I walk over, and put my hand on his shoulder. He looks up at me, and sighs. I smile, even though I know something's wrong.
"What's wrong, Peeta?" I ask him, and he just gets up, and leaves. I follow him down the stairs, and into the dining room. "Peeta?" I ask him, but he won't say anything. I watch him swallow. He takes so much effort. I realize why he won't talk to me. Someone turned the boy with the bread into an avox.
"Peeta!" I scream as I wake up. I look next to me, Peeta's there, awake. I give a sigh of relief, and give him a huge hug.
"Katniss, what's wrong?" He asks me. I don't answer, I just stay there wrapped in his arms. Crying into his shoulder. "Katniss, are you okay?" He asks me again.
"I thought they made you into an avox!" I tell him. He tightens his grip around me.
"Well, they didn't. Was it a nightmare?" He asks me. I shake my head no. "Really, Katniss?" He asks me. Then I laugh.
"Yes, it was. A really bad one. I thought I could never hear your voice again." I tell him. He releases me, and we walk down the hall. Last year we got a note saying we had the day off.
"Where's Effie and Haymitch?" He asks me, and I shrug. I look around, and see a note on the couch. Peeta sees it, too. He walks over, and reads it. He looks up at me, and smiles. I smile back, and walk over to look at the note, but he grabs it in close to his chest.
"What?" I ask him. He takes my hand, and spins me around. He scoops me up, and I wrap my hands around his neck. "So, Peeta, what did that note say?" I ask him. He leans into me, and puts his lips close to mine. He drops his eyes, like Finnick did to me with the sugar cube. He smiles, and presses his forehead against mine.
"What do you think it said?" He asks me.
"I don't know, that's why I asked you." I tell him.
"To the roof, your highness." He says, dropping me. He bows like he would to a princess. I laugh, and kiss his cheek.
"After you, my handsome prince." I say, and we both start laughing. He takes my hand and leads me to the roof. We order a bunch of food like last year, and take a couple blankets up. I take a piece of the pineapple, and plop it into my mouth. "Wait, Peeta, if I'm the princess, shouldn't you feed me?" I ask him, and he laughs. He tucks a piece of hair behind my ear.
"What would you like?" He asks me, gesturing to the food. I look him in the eyes, and smile.
"I think you know what I want." I tell him, and wrap my arms around his neck. He leans into me, and we stay locked together until we have to go out for air. I smile at him, last year this would've been pretend, but now it's not.
"That was it right?" He asks me. I laugh a little.
"Of course. So what are you going to say at the interview tomorrow." I ask him.
"Well, I know I'm gonna die in this thing, and until I do, I guess I'll set my mind on saving you." He tells me.
"Peeta, I promise, I won't let you die." I tell him, and the laughter of everything creeps out of me.
"Katniss, you have to let me die. You have to. That's why they have these things, to teach people a lesson." He tells me. "One of us has to die, they have to have their victor." He says, repeating what he did two years ago. I run down the steps, and into my room. I lock the door behind me. I don't hear Peeta come down. I go lie down on the bed, and fall asleep.
Three hours later I wake up, and go outside. I look on the roof, and Peeta sits there, his head buried in his hands. "Peeta, no!" I call out, and run to him. I push his head up out of his hands. "Are you alright, what did they do to you?" I ask him. I see the confusion in his eyes. He puts his hand on my cheek. I hold onto it to make sure it stays there.
"Katniss, I'm fine. Wait, is this how it happened? Your dream where I became an avox." He asks me.
"Yes, now come here so I can hug you to death." I tell him. He hops up, and I wrap my arms around his neck, and he holds me in his arms. We stay there for about thirty minutes. I don't want to let go of him, but I think it's time I do. "Peeta, why were you crying?" I ask him.
"Because I can't lose you, and you can't lose me. But one of us has to die in order for these things to work." He tells me.
"Peeta, why do they have to work?" I ask him. He stares at me. I watch as the sun slowly sets. "Come on, we need to go to sleep." I tell him. We walk down the stairs, and we both go into my room. Peeta wraps me in his arms as we drift off into a world of nightmares and confusion.
"Come on, Katniss! Let us work with you!" Venia yells at me. They decided to put me a yellow, sleeveless gown that sparkles at the bottom. They put so much red lipstick on me, I almost looked like a clown. They put my hair in long curls with sparkly streaks of gold in them. I'm wearing sparkling red heels that almost look like they could be on fire, and they've done my eyes in a simple red to make it look more simple.
"I did, didn't I!" I tell them. I walk out of my room at the same time Peeta does. For a minute we just stare at each other. Then I find myself in his arms. I stay there for about two minutes, and then we break apart. We lock our arms in the same position we did last year. He's in a suit fit for a prince, it's a dark velvet red, with a flame embroidery on the edge of his pants. As we enter our spot in the line I see all eyes lock on us. I see the tribute girl from 1 go out on stage. Then the boy, and then I black out.
Luckily, Peeta caught me before I hit the ground. "Katniss, are you alright?" He asks me, his hands on my cheeks feeling for a fever.
"Yes, I'm fine." I say, and I hear a faint laugh come out of myself. I look at the other tributes, and see they are not there. I'm on next.
"Now, for the girl on fire, Katniss Everdeen!" Ceaser Flickerman says. I walk out on stage. I see the crowd, and look for Venia. "So, Katniss, what was it that your were thinking when Peeta volunteered as the male tribute for 12?" He asks me.
"I was thinking that, the boy with the bread, is going to be with me for the third year. I honestly could barely think at all I was so stunned." I tell him.
"What did you feel like two years ago when Peeta declared his love for you?" He asks me. I don't know how to respond. Two years ago I hated Peeta for saying that. I had pushed him against an urn, and broken both of his hands. How do I say anything? I know I love Peeta now, so what do I say about then?
"I was amazed he even knew who I was. I thought he just knew me because of the reaping." I lie. I was never good at lying, but I have to try now. I see Ceaser smile. I look at Haymitch out in the crowd, and he sighs with relief. I've said the right thing. Now it's Peeta's turn to make everyone in Panem on his side, or should I say our side.
"Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire!" Ceaser says, as he takes my hand and turns me around. I leave the stage, and join Effie and Haymitch. I don't even want to watch Peeta, I want to meet him over here, and cry into his shoulder. "So, Peeta, when you heard Katniss' name called at the reaping, what were you thinking?" Ceaser asks him.
"I knew if my name wasn't going to be called, I was going to volunteer, for her." He tells Ceaser. I allow myself to smile, he knows if he would've been called up, and not me, I would've volunteered.
"In the arena this year, what will be your main goal?" Ceaser asks him. Why would Ceaser ask him that? Everyone knows what he'll do. What I'll try to tell him isn't okay.
"I'm set on protecting Katniss. I'll do whatever I can to keep her alive." He tells Ceaser. I walk back, and hit my head on the wall.
Peeta runs over to me before I can fall. "Katniss, are you okay, are you hurt?" He asks me, but my head hurts to much to answer. He feels my forehead, I can tell by the look on his face I'm burning up. "We need to get her to bed." He says. He holds my hand, and helps me to the elevator.
"Peeta, my head." I manage to get out. I almost faint, but he catches me before I do. He kisses my forehead as we reach our floor. He helps me to my room, and lays me down on the bed. He is about to go, but I grab his hand. "Peeta, please, stay." I command him. He lies down next to me, and wraps his arms around me.
I think this is the first night before the Games that I've actually gotten any sleep. I know I'll have nightmares, though. I cuddle up to Peeta, and he tightens his grip on me. I just want to cry into his shoulder, but I know I can't. Tomorrow I'll be on live television, with Peeta.
"Katniss, it's alright. I'm alright. It was just a nightmare." Peeta calms me. I had another one of my avox dreams. Except in this one Peeta was my servant, and I could never speak to him unless to command him.
"Peeta, it seemed so real, though." I tell him, trying to hold back my tears. Peeta lets me go, and puts his hands on my shoulders.
"Katniss, it's alright. They didn't make me an avox. I'm right here. With you." He tells me. I throw myself back on the bed. I fall right asleep. "Katniss, it's time to get up." Peeta wakes me. His hands are on my shoulders, so he must have been shaking me. "Rise and shine, Katniss." He says. He helps me up, and takes me to the elevator.
"Peeta, I'm sorry. I should've never brought out those berries, we should've just-" I start, but Peeta takes me in his arms, and presses his lips against mine. I feel a tear come out of my eye. Peeta lets go of me, and wipes it away. More and more keep pouring out. Peeta and I are seperated onto different hovercrafts that will take us to the Games. I look around me. No one's there. I see a big screen a few feet in front of me. I grab a remote on the nearby table, and turn it on. I see Peeta standing there, looking as confused as I did a few minutes ago. "Peeta, can you hear me?" I ask him. He jerks his head in front of him.
"Katniss?" He asks. I smile gently and press my hand against the screen. Smiling he does the same to me. This year the outfits for the Games are exactly the same as they were two years ago. The special jackets, the same pants and shirts. I don't dare wear my mockingjay pin. It was the symbol of the rebellion. Instead I wear the pearl Peeta gave me that Venia made into a special necklace.
"They must have known you were the only person I wanted to see before the Games." I tell him.
"Same here." He says. I here the countdown start. I drop the corners of my mouth, and walk over to the tube. Peeta must have done the same. I turn around and look at the screen. I see Peeta looking at me, I blow him a kiss.
"See you soon." I tell him. He smiles and waves goodbye. I turn the screen off, and throw the remote down. It shatters into thousands of pieces. I step into the tube, and it starts to raise me up. I look around me. We're in absolutely nothing but forest. I look around, and see that there is fresh water everywhere. This must be a joke, this is perfect for me. Exactly like the first one I was in. Fresh game, and then I look in the Cornucopia. A bow and arrows sit right at the edge. I look around for Peeta, he's standing on one right beside me. I can't take my eyes off him. Then final five seconds. Five, four, three, two, one.
I jump off of the platform, and run over to where Peeta's standing He jumps down, and hugs me. I run over to the edge of the Cornucopia. I grab the bow and arrows, and manage to get a few spears near it. I escape right in time, I look around the trees, and see Peeta waiting for me behind one. I run over and give him the spears. He looks at me with a confused look, like he wasn't expecting it. "Peeta, I had to get you something to fight with." I tell him. He just looks at me and smiles. We walk around, and try to find some shelter. So far I don't see anything, but Peeta grabs my arm, and leads me toward something.
"I think I found a good place to hide over here." Peeta tells me. He points to a group of trees. I don't know if its hollow, or if it has trees in the middle, too. I walk over, and peek inside. It's like our own little home inside. I gesture for him to join me. He walks over, and sees the inside. "Did I do good?" He asks me. I laugh a little.
"Perfect, now I'm going to go hunt. You better come with me." I tell him. I really don't think he's weak, but he shouldn't stay alone, it's dangerous.
"Now that I know which berries are especially poisonous, can I pick some?" He asks me. I laugh and nod. We use the whistle we did a couple years ago. I just hope he won't go out of range. I manage to shoot three rabbits, and two squirrels. That's enough food to last us the rest of the week. I run back to where we met up. Peeta's not back yet. I head the way I saw him go, and call his name in a whisper.
"Peeta?" I say in a hushed tone. Then I hear a branch crack behind me. I aim my bow straight to where it came from.
"Looking for Lover Boy?" Clove's sister asks me. I turn around and see her standing there.
"Where is he?" I ask her, about to shoot.
"I don't think you want to kill me if you ever want to see your precious boyfriend again." She warns me, I put down my bow.
"What do you mean?" I ask her. She runs away, and I follow her. I knew that this would've backfired. Now the Careers have him, and they'll probably kill him. I see they're camping below a tree. The scrawny boy from 1 is guarding Peeta over on the other side. I run around the back of the tree. They don't have two people guarding him. He still has his spears. I run over, and grab his arm. We run and run. So far I don't hear anyone coming.
"What do you think you're doing?" He asks me.
"Shh. They could find us." I command him.
"Katniss. They'll realize you took me any minute. They'll come after you, and kill you." He tells me.
"Yes, and you'll win if I die. I won't let you defend me anymore." I tell him.
"Katniss-" He starts, but I stop him with a kiss. When we finally break apart, he gets up and runs away.
"Peeta!" I call after him. He keeps running and running from me. He won't even stop to catch his breath. I hear Claudius Templesmith's voice boom over the arena.
"The tributes from the same district may not kill each other." He says. I run to try and find Peeta. I go back to the trees. This seems wrong. The Capitol should hate me. I was the Mockingjay.
I walk around calling Peeta's name. He must be mad at me. Then I see someone. They're up in a tree. It couldn't be Peeta could it? "Peeta?" I ask them. They look straight at me. Their blue eyes scan me. I smile, it is Peeta. He must have used some of his spears to help him climb the tree. "How did you get up there?" I ask him. He points to the back of the tree. I run back there. It's almost like stairs.
"Well what are you waiting for? Get up here, quick." He tells me. If Peeta and I both make it, then we can both live. I walk up the "stairs", and join Peeta in the tree. He found a vine, and tied himself in with it. As soon as I get up there, Peeta takes me in his arms, and we both dose off.
"Peeta!" I scream, and wake up. Why do I keep having these dreams? I even know I'm in the arena. Peeta really can't become an avox here. I look beside me. He isn't there. I jump out of the tree, and run around calling his name. I look on trees, and I still don't see him. He's so good at camoflauge. I look by the river. "Peeta, where are you?" I ask him, but don't get an answer.
"Katniss, down here." Peeta says. I hear his cry of pain. I run down the river. There he is covered in mud, and Clove's sister is beating on him.
"Let. Him. Go." I say slowly. I point my arrow straight at her, and shoot her straight in the heart. She dies instantly. I run over to Peeta, and grab his hand. "What did Mini-Clove do to you?" I ask him. He laughs a little, but I cover his mouth. It'll only make it worse if he laughs.
"You killed her before she really did anything." He tells me.
"Peeta, I saw her beat you. What did she really do?" I ask him.
"She cut my arm." He tells me. I lean down and kiss his forehead to feel for a fever. I press my lips together. I feel a tear come down my cheek, and it lands in Peeta's hand. He puts his hand on my cheek. I push it back down.
"You shouldn't move that arm." I tell him. He smiles, and lays it on my lap. It isn't a bad cut, but it is bleeding badly.
"You're worth it." He tells me. I feel myself blush. I help him up, and he puts his injured arm around my shoulder, and I put my hand under his other arm. We walk until we find another shelter place. It's a cave like the first year. I know exactly what the Gamemakers' strategies are this year. They are going to remind me of everything that happened the first year. I can't help it anymore. I have a breakdown. Peeta grabs my hand, and squeezes it tight like he did in the Training Center.
"Peeta, are you alright?" I ask him. He looks up at me with clouded eyes. I start to breath heavy. I walk backwards. I climb out of the cave, and run as fast I can with Peeta right at my tracks. I stop, and then he stops. He holds his hands out to try and strangle me. I look around, and know all cameras must be on us. All of us are alive but five kids. This year's team of tributes are really good. I grab his hands that are held out. I look him straight in the eyes. "Peeta, come back. Peeta!" I say. I lean in and kiss him. He puts his hand on the back of my head. I wrap my arms around his neck. He lets me go, and smiles.
"I think I'm back." He tells me. I can't help but laugh. He stops me with a kiss. I feel that warmth in my chest again.
"Now don't go away again, or I may just have to kiss you to death." I warn him. He smiles at me. "Come on, Lover Boy. Let's get back to the cave." I tell him. We walk back hand in hand. I look at the sky. Twelve cannons blasted today. Seven of us left.Then I hear it. The jabberjays. My mother. She's all I have left back home. I run back to the cave with Peeta. He covers my ears with hands, and I put my hands overtop of his hands. He can't be hurt by the jabberjays. He has no one left, but me. I can't hear him, but he mouths something. I give him a confused look, and he releases his hands off my ears. The jabberjays stopped.
"I love you, you know that, right?" He asks me. I smile. "You love me. Real or Not Real?" He asks me.
"Real. You've saved my life. I couldn't survive without you." I tell him. He leans in and kisses me. I try to talk, but he kisses me before I even get one word in. Then we hear Claudius Templesmith's voice.
"The tributes may fight freely, even if they are from the same district. All tributes can kill each other." He booms. Peeta ignores it, and leans in to kiss me. I put my hand on his chest.
"Peeta, stop. We can't do this anymore. We were allies for long enough. It's time to stop." I tell him. I get up, and run out of the cave. He follows after me. I command myself not to cry. Think back to the way you felt when he declared his love for you to all of Panem, I command myself. "Peeta, go away! I hate you, Peeta! I hate you!" I yell at him. I see water form in his eyes. We run away from each other. I cry, too. I don't hate Peeta. I need to go and tell him that. I run the way I saw him go. I hear a panting voice.
"I should've never told anyone that I loved her. Kept it a secret to myself. I knew she'd never love me." It's Peeta's I'm sure. I tiptoe closer to it. "Katniss?" He asks me. I jump out of my hiding place, and watch myself release an arrow on Peeta.
"What did I just do?" I ask myself. I run over to Peeta. I check for his pulse. I put my head to his chest like I used to in the first Games. I hear something, but barely. "Peeta, I'm so sorry. I don't hate you, I could never hate you. I swear, this wasn't me who shot you, I didn't-" I tell him, but he pulls me down for a long kiss. He doesn't let me go even when I know he's losing his breath, too. I end up having to pull away from him.
"No, Katniss, I just want to spend my last few minutes with my lips against yours." He says.
"Peeta I won't let you die. Nothing can make me let you go. Nothing! I love you." I tell him.
"I thought you said you hated me." He reminds me.
"I didn't mean it." I tell him.
"Yes you did, Katniss. I know it. That's why you-" Then he leans his head back against the tree.
"Peeta, come on, Peeta! Come back! Peeta!" I yell at him. Then I remember something Finnick did to get his heart pumping again. I close his nose so his mouth opens up a little bit. I lean down, and start to breath air into his lungs. His chest is moving up and down. I pull away, and smile. He's breathing on his own. I help him up. "Peeta, can you hear me?" I ask him.
"Katniss? Why did you do that, you should've let me die, you should've moved on." He tells me.
"No, I couldn't. Now go, it's about time for these Games to end. There are three tributes left, four got killed after the rule change. The boy from 3, and us are all that's left. We can't be allies anymore." I tell him. He leans in and gives me one last kiss. He pulls away from me, and I look into his eyes. "Peeta, no. We can't do this anymore." I tell him. He helps me up, and we run away from each other. I wish I could've told him the truth. I wish I could've told him I loved him one last time. Then I hear a cannon. I look up to the sky, and see the boy from 3's picture.
I run to the Cornucopia. I look around, and see Peeta running after me. I grab his hands. I cry into his shoulder. I feel the edge of a blade go into my back, then it creeps out.
"I wish I didn't love you." He tells me. I know why, if he didn't love me, we wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be here. He wouldn't either. Then I remember something. His hijacking. If I could find something to make him like that again. I take his face in my hands, and tell him the words I know aren't true.
"Peeta, you don't love me." I tell him, I see his eyes getting clouded again. It's working.
"You gonna kill me?" He asks, and I shake my head no. Then I do the only thing I can think of. I lean in, and kiss the boy with the bread one last time. I feel myself crying. Peeta takes his spear, and jabs it into my back. I fall to the ground, but Peeta is still kissing me. I pull away from him, and see his eyes are still clouded. I grab his hands, and tell him who I am, and who he really is. His eyes become blue again. "Katniss, no. Why did you that? Now your going to die." He assures me.
"If you really loved me, then I'd think you'd still be kissing me." I tell him. He leans down, and kisses me. He takes my head in his hands.
"I must not then, I killed you." He tells me, but he didn't. He didn't kill me, the person the Capitol made him did.
"You didn't. The Capitol did. I love you." I tell him, then I close my eyes, and press my lips against his. He takes one of my arrows, and stabs it in his stomach. We both lie down on the green grass, and he lays my head on his chest. Wraps his arms around me. And we both wait for our deaths.
"Katniss, now we'll both die. This isn't what the Capitol wants." He tells me. Looking up at the sky. I see a hovercraft drop a ladder down. Peeta struggles to help me up, but manages to. He scoops me up in his arms, and helps me on to the ladder. I just stand there kissing him, waiting to be in the hovercraft. They take us to the rooms where we go, and remake us to perfect health.
When they finally let me out, I find myself in a navy blue dress that goes just below my knees. I find my hair parted on the side, and in two low pigtails. I look in the mirror, and see I have on a peach colored lipgloss, and my nails are done in a soft baby blue. My eyelids just show their natrual color. I've never seen myself look so pretty. I walk out of my room, and see Peeta, Haymitch, and Effie. I run to Peeta, and he wraps me in his arms. He lets me go, and I take him in. A black shirt, and blue jeans. He's wearing a navy blue jacket. His hair is all loose and flouncy. It's not gelled back like it was the first year. He looks so handsome. I think he grew an inch, because he seems taller. We don't say anything. I push his sleeve up, and look at his arm. The scar isn't gone. He smiles at me. I look into his eyes. I run away from him. I look back, and see him look at Haymitch and Effie, and back at me.
"Katniss, wait! Katniss!" He calls after me. I stop in my tracks. I turn around and look at him.
"Why would you keep it?" I ask him. He shouldn't have kept the scar, it'll only keep reminding him of these Games.
"It's a memory, Katniss. Of the time you saved my life." He tells me. I see it as a reminder of these games, He puts his hands on my arms, and then runs them down to my hands. He presses one against his lips like he did in the cave two years before. I allow myself a smile. He puts his hand to my cheek. "Just calm down. They were probably going to remove it anyways." He assures me.
"It's fine, I was overreacting." I tell him. He smiles, and we walk hand in hand back to Haymitch and Effie.
I step onto the platform, and it rises me up. I look across the stage, and Peeta's not there. I sit down on the chair alone. Scanning the audience for Peeta. I feel so lonely. Peeta's arms not around me feels alien. Peeta not next to me feels alien. I hear footsteps on the wooden stage. I think it's just Ceaser Flickerman.
"Boo." They say to me in a calm voice. I look up, and laugh. He takes my hand in his, and he twirls me around, making just the edge of my dress spin up. He holds me close to him for just a minute, and we both sit down on the loveseat. I curl up next to Peeta, and we gaze at each other lovingly. I don't think it could be more obvious we love each other. Ceaser sits down on his usual chair, and they play the Games. They don't show much of us in the beginning, but about two-thirds through they start to show us a lot. In the part where I sceam I hate you at Peeta. We both stare at the other on the screen. I see a tear form in his eye, and one forms in mine. He pulls me in closer to him, and whispers in my ear, "You did hate me, didn't you?" He asks me. I look myself in the eye on the screen, it does almost look like I mean it.
"No." I assure him. He looks me in the eye, and he must see the sympathy.
"Okay. I believe you." I smile, and kiss his cheek. The ending only shows him attemting suicide. We get up, and go back to the train. We stay in my room, huddled up together for the whole ride. I look up at him, and we both lean in at the same time. We break apart, and fall back on the bed. I stare into his eyes, and laugh. He frowns like I'm doing all the wrong things.
"What's wrong?" I ask him. He ignores me, and kisses me again. I pull away from him. "Peeta, what's wrong?" I ask him, and sit up on the bed. Then I see the clouds forming in his eyes.
"You." He tells me. I breath one heavy breath and jump off up the bed. I turn my head a little, and see him bang his head against the wall. He knows he said the wrong thing. I turn around, and run back to the bed. I push him against the wall. He stairs me in the eyes for a minute, and then drops his gaze.
"What did you do with him?" I ask him.
"What do you mean?" He asks me. I just shake my head, and jump off the bed. He chases after me, calling my name. I look up at him and see his eyes aren't cloudy anymore.
"Peeta, I thought you were hijacked again." I tell him. He takes my arm, and pulls me back closer to him. He looks me in the eyes. I start to lean in to him, but his words stop me.
"Katniss, I'm right here. What's wrong?" He asks me.
"Katniss, wait!" He tells me as I try to run away. "Please, wait." He commands me. I stop in my tracks, and turn my head a little. If I turn around, I'll just find myself in his arms. He wouldn't let me go until I'd kiss him. I just stay there. My head still turned a little. "Turn around. I want to see your eyes." He commands me again. I turn around, and wrap my arms around his neck. He stays there waiting for me to pull away.
"I'm listening." I tell him. He looks into my eyes.
"I love you, you know that, right? I'm still me, I promise I won't go anywhere again. I'll just keep you right here in my arms, doing whatever it is you want me to do. I swear it on my life, I really love you." He assures me. I see a tear form in his eye. I reach my hand out to wipe it away, and he catches it and puts it against his lips. I smile, and he uses his free hand to stroke my hair.
"Okay then, kiss me." I command him, he releases my hand, and leans down to kiss me. He scoops me up, and puts me down on the bed. He breaks away from me and puts his hand on my cheek. I smile into his eyes. In a few months we'll go on the victory tour. I remember the last one Snow threatened me. I guess since we failed to kill him, he will again, too.
"I was going to do that anyways." He tells me, and I laugh. Maybe these Games changed him as much as they did me, too. I take his hand, and scoot over closer too him. I put my head on his shoulder. I think I fall asleep because Peeta has to kiss me in order to wake me up. "Katniss, why did they let us both live?" He asks me. I wonder. Plutarch Heavensbee comes into my mind. He would still be head gamemaker.
"I was the Mockingjay, and Plutarch is still head gamemaker. Maybe he remembered how much they risked to save you, and thought he might as well let us both live." I tell him. He nods his head. I get up off the bed and look out the window. We're back at home now, and everyone is cheering. We never have to be in these things again. We'll both be nineteen next year. I look at Peeta, and smile. "Peeta, we never have to do this again!" I exclaim. I run over to him, and even though he has a fake leg, he picks me up, and spins me around. I'm laughing the whole time. He puts me down, and kisses me. We only break apart to gasp for air. When he lets me go, neither of us can stop laughing.
"We're finally done." He breaths. I run out of the room with Peeta at my heels. We hug each other as we see our district. We wave and smile, I look over and see Delly and my mother. We run off the train, and I run to my mother. She embraces me, and plants a kiss on my forehead. I look over at Peeta and frown, he has no one to say anything to. Delly must see it, too, because she runs over and hugs him. I laugh, and join them. He kisses the top of my head, and releases us. "I need to take you home." He tells me. He takes my hand, and doesn't let go until we reach my house. He wraps me in his arms.
"Peeta, these Games did do one good thing for us." I tell him. Realizing the only reason we're here.
"What? These Games didn't do anything good for us." He assures me, but I know he's wrong.
"They brought us together." I tell him. He smiles at me, and kisses me.
"See you in the morning, Katniss." He says to me. I walk inside, and fall asleep on the couch. When I wake up in the morning, I walk across the street, and knock on Peeta's door. When he doesn't answer, I grow worried. I put my ear against the door, and hear two voices.
Peeta and Delly.
I feel myself start to cry as I make out what Delly is saying. "Peeta, you don't really love her, do you?" She asks him.
"Of course I do, Delly, she's my everything. I love her." He corrects her, and I smile.
"Why, Peeta? You could've had me instead. You chose her. Big mistake." She says. I don't hear any talking. I peek through the window, and see my worst fear. Delly and Peeta kissing. He doesn't pull away, and tell her to stop. He just stays there, kissing her. After he said he loved me. He lied, he loves Delly. They break apart, and Delly keeps smiling, their foreheads pressed together. I start to cry, I really love Peeta, but he lied to me. Delly approaches the front door, and I run back to my house. Peeta must see me running because he runs after me.
"You kissed her!" I yell at him. Tears now pouring out of my eyes.
"Katniss-" He starts, but I interrupt him.
"You lied to me." I tell him. He grabs my hand, and pulls me into him. "Leave me alone!" I say pulling away from him.
"I love you. She kissed me, no matter what you saw." He corrects me.
"Then why did you smile when she pulled away?" I ask him.
"I don't know, but-" He starts, but I interrupt him again.
"I will never forgive you for this! Just run back to your girlfriend!" I yell at him.
"I'm looking at her." He tells her.
"No, you aren't. I thought you loved me. I thought you cared about me enough, to, to not even do that. You lied to me." I tell him.
"Katniss, no!" He yells at me. I ignore him, and run back to my house. I find a sharp knife, and just about jab it into my heart. Then Peeta runs through the door, and takes the knife out of my hand. "I could never let you do that." He assures me. I look him in the eyes, and see nothing but sorry. He really didn't mean it. I lean forward, and kiss him. He sits down on the couch next to me, and won't pull away until I do. After about a minute I have to pull away.
"I love you." I tell him. He pulls me into a hug, and I bury my head into his shirt.
"I love you, too." He tells me. I start to cry harder. "Shh. Katniss, I'm sorry. I was distracted. I wasn't smiling." He assures me.
"Sure, but it doesn't matter, I love you. That's all that matters." I tell him. He lets me go, and I smile at him. We both laugh. I fall back, and Peeta rubs my feet. I hear a knock at the door.
"I'll get it." He tells me. He jumps up, and peers through the window. He turns around, and I can tell by the look on his face it's not good. He runs back to me, and whispers into my ear, "Run." I jump up, and we both run up into my room. He pushes a chair in front of the door, and locks it. He looks out the window. I go to look out, but he puts his hand on my shoulder. "I knew it, he'd come after me." He whispers.
"Who is it?" I ask him. He takes my hand, and leads me back to my bed. He leans in, and kisses me. I guess he thinks this is how we'll pass the time hiding. We break apart, and press our foreheads together. He puts his hand on my cheek. "Peeta, really, who is it?" I ask him. He jumps up, and looks out the window.
"Katniss, don't move." He commands me. After he leaves, I tiptoe off the bed, and look out the window.
I keep watching him pound on the door. He looks up in my bedroom window, and I quickly close the curtains. He must have seen me, because he starts to yell. He must have come after Peeta. To get revenge on him. I guess for me picking him over Gale. I don't know how come he walked all the way over here from the Seam. He pounds even harder on the door. I open the door, and run down the stairs. Peeta is just about to open the door, when he sees me.
"What are you doing?" He asks me. I run in front of the door, and try to block it best as I can.
"Let me in!" Gale yells impatiently. Peeta scoops me up, and carries me back upstairs as quickly as he can. Then he rushes back down the stairs, and opens the door. I start to pant as I see Peeta step outside. He says something. I pop my window open, so I can hear them. Still all I hear is mumbling, then I see Gale slam Peeta against the house. I'm about to scream, and start crying. I open the window a little more, and stick my left ear out. I can just make out what their staying.
"I swear, Gale, she's alright!" Peeta yells at Gale.
"Then let me see her." Gale commands.
"Why do you want to see her?" Peeta asks him. Gale's face gets so angry, it turns red.
"To prove I'm better than you!" He yells. He slams Peeta's head against the house, and I run out the door, and down the stairs. I stick my head out the door, and wince. I realize how bloody Peeta's head is. He glances over at me, and motions for me to come out.
"Gale, stop!" I yell at him. He lets Peeta go, and I run to him. I take his hand. "Are you okay, Peeta?" I ask him. He just kisses my cheek. I turn to Gale. He's laughing through this whole thing. "How could you do this to me? How could you do this to him? I love him, Gale. What did you have to gain?" I say walking towards him. He stops laughing, and only grins.
"You, Katniss. I love you." He tells me.
"I don't care." I tell him. I walk over to Peeta, and help him up. He's limping, so it's hard to get him back to the house.
"You could've had me, but you chose him, Katniss. Just don't talk to me." Gale commands me.
"I wouldn't have chose you for anything." I tell him, and slam the door. I help Peeta to the couch, and he lays down. I snuggle up closer to him, and we fall asleep. When I wake up, I find everything is missing, but the couch. I shake Peeta to wake him up, and when he sees what happened he to points at the door. I see a note taped to it. I jump up, and read it. I warned you once. Now you payed. My deed has been done. -Gale
I can't believe Gale did this. He vandelized our house, and took almost everything. I hate him, and I always will. He might have been my best friend, but I can never forgive him for this. His deed has been done all right. He's done. First he almost killed Peeta, and then this. It's a new level of low. I walk over to Peeta, and find he's sitting up, his arms ready for me. I cry into his shoulder, and he presses his lips against my neck. He strokes my hair. I pull away, so I can look him in the eyes.
"I love you, too, by the way." He tells me, and I giggle a little. He leans in, and kisses me. When we break apart, I look up into the corner of the room. A camera. I tap Peeta's shoulder, and point to the camera. He jumps up, and tries to get to the camera. I run up to my room, and grab the chair. Gale only robbed our living room. I give it to Peeta, and he gets up on it. He looks down at me, and I hand him a knife. He jabs it into the camera, and it breaks into a million pieces. We both laugh, and he pulls me up there with him. He leans into me, and we share another kiss. He puts his hands on my cheeks, and kisses my forehead. I hear another knock at the door. Do I dare get it? Peeta jumps off, and helps me off. He walks over to the door, and I run up to my room. I look out the window.
I run down the stairs, and see his eyes on me. I shake my head no, and he walks over to me. I smile when he plants a kiss on my cheek. "I'll get it, and you hide." I tell him, and he nods. Now it's my turn to get saved. He tiptoes up the stairs, and I wait for him to be in my room before I answer the door. I go over, and open the door. Delly smiles, just like she usually would.
"Where's Peeta?" She asks me. No laughter, or smiling in her eyes.
"I don't know. He hasn't come over today." I lie to her. The smile drops from her face.
"I know he's here, Katniss. And I need to talk to him." She tells me.
"I can deliver a message." I suggest, and she frowns.
"Fine, just tell him Delly stopped by, and wanted. . . to tell him something." She lies. I nod, and wave good-bye. I run up to my room, and knock on the door. Peeta opens it, and smiles.
"Who was it?" He asks me. I point to the window. He glances out, and sighs. I put my lips close to his, and drop my eyes. When he kisses me, I feel so safe. Like nothing can hurt me. When we break apart, he makes me sit on his lap, and we both fall asleep. His arms around me, and my head on his shoulder. I wake up to a surprising kiss, and see it's morning. I smile as I see Peeta's face slide into view. "Good morning, Katniss." He tells me. I get up off the bed, and Peeta slides his hand into mine. I brush the hair off his forehead with my free hand.
"I need to go to the store, do you want to come?" I ask him. He nods, and we leave. I go to the market, and pick up some bandages and candy. The summer isn't that bad here. It isn't too warm, and I have Peeta to make it all alright. When we get home, I feed him a few pieces of candy, and then he falls asleep.
I love watching him sleep. He looks so peaceful. It makes me feel like he won't ever be in danger, but I know that's not true. He'll be in danger again someday, I just hope it won't be terrible. I hope I'll never get him in trouble, or put him in danger. If that happens, I may just have to result leaving him for the rest of my life. I do love him, but I couldn't bare to put him in danger. I couldn't do it, I could never be the Mockingjay again. When it's about one'o'clock in the afternoon, I wake Peeta up. He sits up, and smiles at me. He studies the look on my face for a minute, and then kisses my cheek. He must know what I was thinking.
"Katniss, do you think we can like life a little more now that we never have to be in the Games again?" He asks me, and I nod. He takes my hand, and we walk down our street. I see Delly heading toward us. I drop Peeta's hand, and run back to my house. I look out of my window, and see Delly talking to Peeta. I don't what she's saying, but I can tell by the look on her face she's trying to talk him out of loving me. I want to run outside, and take Peeta's hand, and pull him in here. She leans in, but he steps back, and I smile. I run outside, and take his hand. We exchange loving glances as Delly watches us. We walk back to his house, and go inside. It's been a while since I've been in here. He takes me up to his room, and lies me down on the bed. He goes downstairs to get me some bread. When he comes back up, we make up a game where we throw the bread in the other's mouth.
"Peeta, why do you love me?" I ask him, I'm really just trying to talk, but it sounds like I'm telling him to love me. I know he does, but it didn't sound nice. He looks me in the eye, and laughs.
"I don't know how I couldn't. I mean, you're beautiful, you're smart, you're kind. You're perfect to me. I love you. I mean, you know that, right?" He asks me. I know he can see me blushing, because he leans in to kiss me. When we break apart, he gives me a light kiss on the forehead. I smile, and look into his eyes. Something's wrong. They don't look quite right.
"Peeta?" I ask him. He nods his head, and puts his hand on my cheek. I put my hand on top of it to make sure it stays there, but I can't stop staring into his eyes. "Are you alright?" I ask him, and he nods. He won't speak to me. "Peeta, I know something's wrong." I tell him, and he shakes his head no. "Then say something." I command him. Then I realize something. He's not staring at me, he's looking out the window. I turn my head, to follow his gaze, but he holds on so tight I can't.
"Katniss, run." He commands me, I jump up, and run out the door, and down the hall. I wait for Peeta to follow me, but he doesn't. I run back into my room, and shake his shoulder.
"Peeta, come on!" I grab his hand, and he reluctantly pulls it away. "What's wrong?" I ask him, but he keeps staring. I look out the window, and see what he's staring at.
President Snow and his white rose.
"Katniss, go. If he's here, he's after me. Not you. Now go!" He yells at me, but I just stand there.
"What if he's here to hijack you again?" I ask him. I feel myself start to cry. Peeta gets off the bed, and takes my hands in his. "I can't lose you again." I tell him. He leans in to kiss me. When we break apart, he drops my hands, and brushes the hair off my forehead.
"You won't lose me, Katniss. I promise." He says as I hear a knock on the door. He looks me in the eyes, and I run down the stairs. Peeta is right at my tracks. I turn around to face him.
"I love you." I tell him. He kisses my forehead, and points to the back door. I run out, and to my house. I keep watching President Snow. When Peeta answers the door, he walks in without invitation. I sneak out, and walk up to the front door. I press my ear against it.
"As you know, we let you both live. Do you know why?" He asks Peeta.
"No." Peeta answers him.
"The districts. They wanted the star-crossed lovers of District 12 to stay together, so we gave them what they wanted, you and Katniss." He tells him.
"Thanks, I guess." He says, and I can't help but smile.
"Do you know where Katniss is?" He asks him.
"No. She hasn't come over today. She might be mad at me." He lies, and I wince.
"Okay then, I'm done here. Oh, and Peeta, when you see her, please pass the message on." President Snow tells him. I run around to the back as I hear him approach the door. When I'm absolutely sure he's left I knock on the back door. Peeta doesn't hesitate to know it's me. He wraps me in a hug, and strokes my hair.
"How much of that did you hear?" He asks me.
"All of it. So he is looking for me." I tell him.
"No, he just told me to tell you what he said. Do you want something to eat?" He asks me, and I nod. He walks over to the kitchen, and gets some beautifully decorated cookies. He sits them down on a table, and takes my hand in both of his. He takes a cookie, and feeds it to me. I laugh, he's so sweet. I walk over to the couch, and motion for him to join me. He comes over, and I cuddle up close to him. After a while, I grow very tired.
"I'm so tired. I need to go back home." I tell him.
"No, just stay here. It'll be better when your here to help me." He tells me. He scoops me up, and carries me up the stairs. I lean in, and kiss him. When we break apart, I lean my head on his shoulder. He sits down on the bed, with me still in his lap. He covers me up with the soft blanket. I realize I'm still wearing the blue dress I wore for the interview. I get off of Peeta's lap, and lean down to use his arm as a pillow. He smiles, and kisses my head. "Good night, Katniss." He tells me, and I fall asleep.
"Peeta, I swear, it seemed so real!" I tell him, as he comforts me. I keep crying into his shoulder, while his hands are holding mine.
"Katniss, it's alright. I'm right here. I'm not an avox." He assures me. I pull my head out of his shirt, and look him in the eye.
"You were an avox I swear." I tell him. He drops my hands, and puts his on my cheeks. I drop my gaze, and look out the window.
"Katniss, calm down." He tells me. He takes my hair out of the pigtails, and brushes it out with his fingers. He pulls me in close to him, and I start to cry again. He pulls the blanket up around us. I want to go home, and change back into my hunting clothes, but I know it would hurt Peeta if I left. "Okay, now how about you go home, and take a hot shower, and I'll stay over here waiting." He suggests, and I smile. He walks me over to my house, and lets me free at the door. I go inside, and walk up to my room to get some hunting clothes. I walk into the bathroom, and take off my dress. I set the settings on the shower, and jump in. When I get out, I quickly change into my hunting clothes, and braid my hair back.
"Peeta, are you there?" I ask him, as I knock on the door. He opens it, and pulls me in. We press our foreheads together. He takes me over to the couch, and gets some bread from the kitchen.
"Freshly baked, just for you." He tells me, and I smile. He splits it in half, and gives me one. I have to eat the bread slowly, because it's so fresh. When I'm done, Peeta takes my hands, and pulls me off the couch. I wrap my arms around his neck, and he pulls me in close to him. I put my head on his chest, and we turn around in circles, just like we did on the last victory tour. We do this for an hour in complete silence, then he scoops me up, and we both start laughing.
"I wonder where we'd be if I hadn't volunteered for Prim in the reaping." I tell Peeta, and I know that if she'd had made it, she could've helped Peeta more than I had. "You probably wouldn't have to have a fake leg." I admit. He drops me, and puts his hands on my shoulders.
"I would, there is nothing you could've done. Nothing she could've done." He assures me. I know this isn't true, though. I look in Peeta's eyes, and see real concern. I sit back down on the couch. He sits down with me, and wraps his arms around me. I put my head down on his shoulder. I slowly dose off into a world of nightmares. While I'm asleep I see figures of Prim, dying, and my mother getting killed. Then worst of all, Peeta. How Gale had beaten him up, his head bloody. I start to cry in my sleep. Then I feel pressure on my stomach. It hurts badly, but this isn't a dream. It's real. I suddenly flash awake, but don't see anything. I look beside me, and see Peeta sitting there.
"Peeta, are you okay?" I ask him, and he nods. I scoot over closer to him, and lean in for a kiss. I see him smile when we break apart. I smile back, and kiss his cheek. "I don't know how many times I saw you die in my nightmares." I tell him, and he looks over at me.
"Katniss what happened? What made you change your mind about me after I was hijacked?" He asks me. I stare down at my feet.
"You did, the thought of losing you hit me, and I couldn't stand it. I knew I loved you more than anyone in the world. I couldn't live without you. You were all I really had, no one else really loved me like you did. When you were hijacked, I really hated you, for seeing me for who I am. But it all changed, it all changed when I kissed you. I really did love you. Not as a friend, as someone who could be mine, forever. I loved you then and I love you now." I tell him. He lets out a faint, breathy laugh. And leans in to kiss me. He doesn't break away for a while. Maybe he was waiting for me to.
The mine explosion. It happened again. My worst fear, another mine explosion. I don't know why it happened. It shouldn't have. All I know is Gale was killed. I don't miss him. I mean, he was my best friend, but friend or not, he tried to kill the boy I love. I could never forgive him for that. It wasn't reasonable. He was untolerable. Peeta and I sit on the couch in my house. He's stroking my long dark hair, I have my head on his shoulder. My undone hair is flowing down his arm. I'm growing tired, and if we don't start talking soon I'll explode. Not hearing Peeta's voice makes me feel like he's not even there sometimes.
"Peeta, I'm tired." I say, and he scoops me up in his arms. He carries me up to my room and sits me down on my bed. When he's just about to leave I take his hand and he falls onto my bed. He lays down next to me and pulls me into his arms. Peet and I doze off quickly, I feel safe, like nothing can hurt me. Then the nightmares hit. Peeta's clouded eyes. Gale beating him against the house. I call his name as I wake up.
"Katniss, are you alright?" Peeta asks me and I nod. I fall into his arms and he strokes my hair and whispers words into my ear. I fall asleep quickly. In the morning Peeta takes me to his house and we lay down on the couch. My head on his chest listening to his steady heartbeat. His hand stroking my long hair as we both talk on and on about different things. "Do you miss him, Katniss? Gale?" Peeta asks me and I look up at him in surprise.
"I mean he was my best friend. . . but I couldn't miss him. He nearly killed you, and that doesn't go over well." I tell him and he laughs. He props me up so I'm sitting on his lap. He tucks a loose strand of hair behind my ear and leans in until his lips are almost touching mine.
"I know you do, Katniss. I don't care if you do or not. Just don't lie to me." He commands me and I lean in a little more. Our lips aren't touching quite yet, but if someone was to make me jump they would.
"I really don't. You're the one I love, and since I love you, and he almost killed you. I could never love him." I assure him and he leans in to kiss me. When we break apart I brush the hair out of his eyes and smile. Wait, something isn't right. He feels hot. "Peeta, you feel hot. You need some cold cloth." I tell him and he gives me a confused look.
"I feel fine. So it isn't the flu. What is it?" He asks me and I know immediatly. I look at the marks running up his neck. Blood poisoning, as soon as I realize it I faint.
Chapter Twenty One
"Katniss wake up, come on wake up." Peeta tells me. I realize he's holding me in his lap. My head is on his shoulder from where I fainted.
"Blood poisoning." I remember now. Now why does he have it? He looks at me in surprise. He lifts me off the couch and takes me up to his room. He lays down on the bed with me, but I can't say anything. I wonder what my mother would do with him? I start to cry into his shoulder. He strokes my hair and I can't count how many times he says I love you into my ear. When he lets me go I start to cry even harder. I tell him to stay put, and I go to get my mother.
"What is it, honey?" She asks me and I feel myself start to cry again.
"Peeta. You have to come help him. He'll die any day if you don't find a way to help him. It's blood poisoning. I don't know how or why. Just help him. I love him. You have to do this for me. For him." I tell her and she nods. She runs out the door with me and I take her to his house. He's in the same position he was when I left him. I test his cheek again for a fever, and find him burning hot again. My mother tells me to go get some cold water. I run downstairs amd wet a cloth down with cold water and run back upstairs. I hand it to my mother and she puts it on his forehead.
"Katniss, come here. I have to tell you something." Peeta tells me and I walk over to him. I sit on the edge of the bed, and put my ear down to his lips. He swallows hard. "I don't know what she can do. We need the medicine from the Capitol. I swear I saw something like it at the market before." He assures me and I smile. I jump off the bed and run down to the market. In the medicine section I see a small tube with a needle sticking out of it. I run over and read the label. Blood poisoning medicine. I grab the bottle and run over to the counter.
"How much is this?" I ask immediatly. The person at the counter smiles as they recognize me. I stand there anxiously waiting for an answer.
"You take it, my charge. Victor." He says and I smile. I run to Peeta's house and when I get to his room, I jab the needle in his arm. He winces and I lay down next to him. He takes me in his arms and whispers words I can barely hear into my ear. I cry harder and harder each time he does. He leans in to kiss me. I feel the stirring in my chest, and then he breaks away from me. I look on his arm and see the red streaks are going away. I smile and kiss him again.
"It's working. You're almost all better." I say to him after we break apart. He pulls me in close to him and I fall asleep quickly. I instantly fall into aa world of nightmares. Peeta's neck streaked red with the blood poisoning. How big the mine explosion was. The horror that Prim faced when she was bombed to death. These things make me shudder more and more each minute. Peeta wakes me up in the morning, and when I see his face he looks angry. "What's wrong?" I ask, and he leans in and kisses me. When we break apart I realize it isn't anger, just his sickness.
"I got a little better, but the fever went up a couple of degrees. That's what your mother told me." He says and I nod. I test his cheek, and my mother is right. His tempature is going nowhere but up. He tells me to put my head on his shoulder, and I do as he says. He wraps his arms around me, and I fall asleep, even though I just woke up.
Chapter Twenty Two
When I wake up I find Peeta right there beside me, holding out a glass of water. I feel overly hot. Why do I have such a high fever? I look at my arm, and don't see any red streaks, so surely it isn't blood poisoning. I accept the glass of water and drink thirstily. Peeta pulls the covers up around me and smiles. He kisses my cheek and tells me to go back to sleep. I really don't need to, though. I feel well rested. He lays down next to me and strokes my hair. I know this is to make me feel calm. I test his cheek for a fever and see he doesn't have one. I smile again and he laughs.
"How long was I asleep?" I ask him.
"About a day. All my blood poisoning is gone, but from sleeping so long you got a little fever. It'll go down in a day or two your mother said." Peeta assures me and I smile. I cuddle up next to him and fall asleep again. This time I have the avox nightmare. This time I actually see them doing the opperation on him. They are all whispering words I can't make out. They ask him to say his last words, and he chooses the words I knew he would.
"I love you, Katniss." He says, and then they start the bloody opperation. One of them laughs and laughs at him wincing and others call him names. I want to yell at them to stop, to do this to me instead, but it's just a dream. One points me out in between laughs.
"Oh, boy, why do you love her, she's the only reason we're doing this to you." He says and then I wince. I watch as Peeta's face goes red in anger, but he is permantelly mute. I will have him as my avox now. I can never hear his soothing words rock me to sleep. He'll be an attendant to the people in the Capitol. Now I see him serving me, and in my dream I cry. I don't command him to do anything, I just watch his every move. After a while I follow him, and see where his room is. I jump in before he can shut the door. His head jerks around as he turns to look at me. I run to him and he hugs me. I pull away and lean in to kiss him. It feels a little different, though.
Then I wake up and scream his name. I look next to me and find Peeta sitting there, staring at me. I can't help it, I burst into a thousand tears and collapse into his arms. He just strokes my hair, and whispers words into my ear. I can't hear them, though. I just sit there in his arms wondering about my dream.
"Katniss, what did you see this time?" He asks me and I can't answer because I'm crying so hard. He lets me go and wipes my tear away, but that only makes me cry harder. He leans in and kisses me to stop the crying. I wrap my arms around his neck, and we break apart. My eyes are still a little watery, but the crying stopped. He runs his hands down my arms until they meet my hands. I lean in a little more until our foreheads touch. I laugh a faint, breathy laugh, and smile. He smiles back at me, too.
"I saw everything, the operation, the serving. Except this I followed you back to where you stayed, and we kissed. It was so different. Next time I'll see more, though. I just hope you never have to really do this. Wait, I wanted to ask you something, too." I tell him and he nods and scoots over closer to me.
"I'm listening." He assures me and I nod.
"What would your last words be to me if you were taken away to become an avox?" I ask him and he looks at me confused.
"You should know, Katniss. I love you, that's what I'd say. I love you. What would your last words be to me?" He asks me and I scoot over a little more to where our lips are almost touching.
"I love you, Peeta. No matter what the Capitol does to me, or even to you, I'll always love you." I tell him and he starts to cry. I lean in and kiss him. He shudders a little bit, and then puts his hands around my neck and they almost lock, but I jump up. His eyes are clouded. I start to breathe heavy and cry. "Peeta, no! No, not again! Peeta, you're a baker, a tribute, a victor, I love you, and you love me. No matter what the Capitol made you think. I'm not a mutt, I swear. I didn't kill your family. The Capitol did. I love you, I really do! I love you, I love you, I love you! Please, Peeta come back! We are not enemies, we're lovers." I tell him and he shakes his head.
"No we aren't. I am not in love with you. I hate you. You killed everyone in my district, you mutt! And now I'm going to kill you!" He yells at me. I press my lips together and take his hands.
"Peeta, I swear I love you. I swear it on, on my life, on my mother's life. On, on, Haymitch's life. I swear! I really love you, and you really love me. I am not a mutt. I'm a human, like you! The Capitol didn't make me!" I assure him and he nods.
"You may love me, but I could never love you. Wait, where's Delly? Did you kill her, too? I need to talk to her." He says, and I shake my head no.
"I didn't kill her. I'll take you to her." I say, and he follows me out the door. I take him down to Delly's house and have him knock on her door. I run back and hide behind a tree.
"Hi Delly." He says and steps a little closer to her, and I start to cry. This is worse than a dream, this is reality. Peeta is already slipping away from me.
"Hey, Peeta. So Katniss did deliver my message." She says and takes his hands. He takes one and presses it against his lips and I wince. He drops her hand and leans in. This time it's worse. Knowing Peeta really kissed Delly. I start to cry and run back to my house. I jump on the couch and cry as hard as I can. I hear a knock on my door, but am reluctant to get it. I don't want to talk to Peeta, he can stay hijacked forever. I don't care anymore.
"Who is it?" I ask and I don't hear Peeta's voice.
"Haymitch. Open up." I get up and answer the door. He steps in without invitation, and looks me in the eyes. "Katniss, I thought you loved him. Why did you let him get away?" He asks me and I know he's talking about Peeta.
"He wouldn't listen. He loves Delly now, and he's happy. That's what I want. I want him to be happy." I tell him and he nods.
"He won't be when he figures out what he really did to you. He'll hate himself forever, you know that. We need to help him. Now." He commands me and I nod. I walk over to Peeta's house and gently knock on the door, when he answers it he breathes one heavy breath.
"What do you want?" He asks me and I start to cry.
"I want Peeta back, where is he? I need him here with me. Not you, please, Peeta, come back! I need you, I love you! Please, I want you here with me. Now. Peeta please. You need to know who I am, and who you are." I tell him and he smiles. I can't stop crying, no matter what he does. I have to have him back. I really need him. Now Gale's words haunt me. What he had said to Peeta a year ago. I know it's true now. I can't survive without him. "I can't survive without you." I tell him and he leans in. He wraps his arms around me and puts his hand on the back of my head.
"Katniss, I'm so sorry. Please forgive me. I love you, too. I don't love Delly. I don't know what-" I lean in and kiss him, stopping his words. I can't ever let him go away now. He can never get away from me now. I have to make that promise to him. He needs to know that I feel that way about him. He knows I love him, but he doesn't know exactly why I do. He needs to know what really made me change my mind. Why I need him now more than ever. More than I did on the beach.
"Peeta, you need to know." Is all I can manage. He puts his hand on my cheek, and leans in a little more. He smiles at my confusion, but as of right now nothing could stop my crying. Nothing as of right now could make my love for him more true.
"What do I need to know, Katniss?" I shudder at the words and I don't know why. I take a step back and am about to run back to my house, but then I remember his grip on me. I pull away and run to my house. Who am I kidding? I can't say it to him right here, especially not with Haymitch watching us. Peeta runs after me, but I'm already inside. He doesn't even knock, he just opens the door and joins me on the couch.
"You need to know why I love you. You already told me why you love me. Now I need to tell you. I love you because you saved me, you healed me, you helped me. You don't take anything away from me. You give something to me. You're my life." I tell him and he laughs. I lean in and kiss him, and when we break apart, he just looks at me. His eyes are blue again, not clouded. I bury my face in his shirt, and cry. He strokes my hair, brushing his fingers through it.
"Katniss, I know you love me. That's all I want to know. I love you, too." I take my head out of his shirt, and reach up to touch his cheek. I lean in to kiss him, but his words stop me. "We need to get some sleep. We'll have a long day tomorrow explaining this to Delly." I laugh at the remark. Delly is so in love with Peeta that she'd probably kill me to get him. But if she did, Peeta would hate her. We walk up to my room, and lay down on the bed. I rest my head on his chest and he protectively wraps me in his arms. I doze off quickly, but soon enter the world of nightmares awaiting me.
Chapter Twenty Three
I watch as Peeta and I are in the arena, his blue eyes are confused and hurt. I await silently for the cannon to boom to signal one of our deaths. A dark shadow comes up overtop of us, and drops down claws. Something like it uses to collect dead tributes' bodies. I get up and stare at the shiny hovercraft, but soon realize who it's after. Not me, but Peeta. He's standing there staring at me, and I look him in the eyes. He takes my hand and pulls me in close to him. The claw comes to grab him away from me. To do the unspeakable to him, but I won't let go.
"Katniss, you have to let go, you have to move on. Please do it, for me. I love you, now let go." I release my grip on his hand and watch him fly into the sky. The hovercraft's doors close and I fall to my knees as I watch the last person I love be taken away from me. I keep yelling his name, but he'll never come back. Another hovercraft appears, and drops a ladder down. I jump on and climb my way up, I'm taken to an office where they force me to sit and watch Peeta's bloddy operation.
"So, boy, any last words?" A doctor in nothing but white asks him, and I mouth the words "I love you." to him. He nods and smiles one last time.
"I love you, Katniss." He says and his words make me cry. The doctor start to drill in his mouth and I scream his name louder and louder each time. He can't become an avox, I can't have him as one. I need him, to be there for me, and to protect me when I feel in danger.
"Peeta! No, please stop! What did he do?" I ask them, and they laugh making me angry. I know exactly what he did, he fell in love with me, and if he hadn't, he would still be able to talk, to laugh. To comfort me when I'm sad, like I am now. I watch as they use a knife with the sharpest blade I've ever seen to cut the remains of his tounge off. I scream his name again, and his eyes roll in my direction. I see the pain and the hurt, and I know I have the same look in my eyes. I shake my head, and cry hard again. I run up to the glass and press my hand against it. They let him up off the bed, and he runs over to me. They raise the glass, and I hug him one last time. He looks me in the eyes and mouths the words, I love you.
"Now boy, let's get you assigned to a place to work." I take his hand, and won't let go. I won't let him go this time. I lean in and kiss him, but he can't do anything. He stands there with my lips pressed against his, and then I break away.
"If he's an avox, then I'm one, too. He's innocent. I swear. But if he's an avox then I'll be one, too." I say, not regretting a single word. Peeta puts his hand on my cheek and shakes his head. I nod, and kiss him one last time. One of the Peacekeepers pushes me into a room, and I change into nothing but a light hospital nightgown. I walk out into the room where they did Peeta's operation, and lay down on the couch.
The pain of the drill is unspeakable as he makes the hole in my tounge. Peeta's been sat down behind the glass, and he's mouthing my name over and over. After they are finished drilling, they take the same knife they used, and cut my tounge off. It feels sharp and metalic, but I don't cry. I sit there, waiting for Peeta to come to me. They use a suction tube to suck the rest of the blood out of my mouth, and I jump up, and run over to the glass. They raise the glass up, and I run to Peeta and he kisses me, over and over. As a thank-you, as a symbol, as an I love you.
"Wait!" I scream as I wake up, and find Peeta awake next to me. We're both panting so hard, we know the other had a nightmare. "You, you were, were an avox, and, and I watched the operartion. Then they made me into an avox, and I could never hear you again. All you did was, was, you couldn't do anything. What happened?" I ask him, realizing he's panting just as hard as I am.
"We were in the arena again, and I watched Cato kill you. I don't know why him, but I stood there, I didn't do anything. It seemed so real, so vivid. I thought I lost you forever. I thought I'd have to die, too. I'd have no other reason to live. I'm just glad you're not dead, you're here with me. You're mine forever." He reaches out to touch my cheek and I nod. I am his, and I'm happy. That's what he wants for me. He wants me to be happy. I know this, and I want him to be happy, too. That's all I want.
"I don't care what happens to me, as long as you're-" I start, but he interrupts me.
"I won't be happy unless you're here with me. I love you." He says and I start to cry again. He takes my face in his hands and looks me in the eyes.
"You could be happy without me. You could find a way." He shakes his head, and puts his lips close to my ear, as if he wanted to tell me a secret.
"Stop it, stop it right now. I couldn't be happy without you at all. Never, ever, I would never forgive myself if you died. Never. Now run." He commands me, and I turn my head, so his lips barely brush against mine as I jerk around. I see Delly watching us, with something in her hands. Peeta grabs my hand and pulls me off the bed. We run down the stairs, and to the basement. He wraps me up in some of my mother's old clothes. A plain white sleeveless dress, some black shoes, and I undo my hair so it's down. It's so wavy and pretty down after I braid it, and when I look in the mirror I look like a different person. I think that's what he was going for.
"What are we going to do? If she sees us sneak out she'll know it's you." I tell him and he nods.
"I know, but you look like a different person, so maybe she'll think you're someone your not." He tells me and I smile. He nods, and smiles back at me. "Keep smiling, it makes you look even more extroidinary." He tells me and I blush.
"Wait, my hair, she'll definantly know it's me if she sees it." He nods at what I say. He looks around for something good to use. He picks up some some bleach, and mixes it with water. I close my eyes, and he takes it and uses it to lighten my hair a little. It doesn't look blond, like Peeta's, more golden. He brushes my hair out, and has me look in the mirror. I look almost like I could be from town. Peeta takes me in his arms and puts his chin down on my hair. I smile and laugh, and he picks me up and twirls me around. Even though my eyes are gray, I look like a girl from the town.
"Now, instead of Katniss Everdeen. . ." He starts, and I nod. I can't use my real name, then she'd definantly know it was me. I'm trying to hide from her, not exploit myself. "I know, the redheaded avox. We can call you Lavinia. She wouldn't know then." I smile and nod.
"So as of right now you're in love with a girl named Lavinia from town, instead of Katniss Everdeen?" I ask him and he laughs. He scoops me and playfully taps my nose with his finger. We walk out of my house the backway, and he looks around the corner to make sure she won't realize we ran over to his house. He puts me down, and takes my hand. We run over to his house without her knowing. He opens the front door for me, and leans in to kiss me. We stay together long enough for Delly to notice. She puts a smile on her face and comes over to greet us.
"Peeta, whatever happened to Katniss?" She asks happily, and I want to yell at her, but that would be revealing myself.
"Well, I just don't know. She wasn't really happy with me, and I met Lavinia, and I just fell for her." He says and I blush. He wraps his arms around me, and I lay my head down on his shoulder. Delly acts all happy, but I know she's dying inside.
"Well, then I guess the Capitol doesn't need me to do my job anymore." She says, a little too quietly, but loud enough I can hear her.
"What are you talking about?" I ask her, and she shrugs her shoulders.
"Delly, are you saying you were trying to draw me away from Katniss. Is she some mutt or something?" He asks, obviously talking about me and Lavinia.
"No, I didn't say that, but are you a mutt, Lavinia?" She asks, a triumphant grin on her face.
"I'm not a mutt, Peeta. I swear. I'm not a mutt." He takes my face in his hands and nods. He leans in to kiss me, and won't break away until Delly is gone. When we break apart, I laugh. Peeta would never take anyone else but me, Delly should know that. We walk in his house and wash the bleach out of my hair. I braid it back, wet, but stay in the clothes Peeta put me in. He says I look too amazing in the dress. We walk to the town hand in hand, and to the market. I look around to make sure Delly isn't there, but she's sitting on a bench, reading a book. I pull Peeta back into a burrow of trees before Delly can see us.
"What, Katniss, what?" He asks quickly.
"It's Delly, she'll see us if we don't hide." I tell him and he leans in to kiss me. When we break apart, I look out from behind one of the trees, and see Delly is gone. "Come on, Peeta. We can go get something now." I tell him and he laughs. He takes my hand and entwines his fingers in mine. I look over and see the cashier staring at us. Did Delly tell people about Peeta and I not being lovers anymore, and about the pretend Lavinia? Peeta ignores him, but I can't. I drop his hand and take a few steps ahead of him. I look back at him and see the confusion in his eyes. I hurry back to whisper something in his ear. "Delly, she must've told people about Lavinia." He looks at me and shakes his head.
"So, if they see us together, they'll think we're just friends, or we made up." He tells me. I know it isn't true, Delly was sent from the Capitol on a mission to get rid of me. So when Peeta told her he was in love with Lavinia. . .
"Peeta, that's why Delly was trying to talk you out of loving me. President Snow must have visited her, too, and told her to get rid of our love for each other. That's what she was doing the whole time. If she figures out you were lying, then she'll kill me, or something. She'll torture you. She probably even knows how to get you hijacked again." I tell him, and he nods. He takes my hand and leads me back to Victor's Village. We walk into one of the empty houses and sit down on the floor with me on his lap.
"You know there is nothing she could do or say to make me not love you. I do, and you know that." He tells me and I nod, even though what he's saying isn't true. If she can get hold of him long enough, then she can convince him to be hijacked again.
"I can't lose you again, Peeta. She'll hijack you if she figures out! Snow probably showed her how, or told her the right words to use." I tell him and he shakes his head. I lay my head on his shoulder, and wait for him to say something, but he doesn't. He stays there looking down at me. And I don't know how, but I can feel someone watching us. I take my head off his shoulder, and walk over to the window. There Delly is, spying on us, like I knew she would. She would never believe him that he fell in love with someone that isn't me. I walk out of the living room, and down the stairs. I walk out the front door to reveal myself to her.
"I knew it, how stupid do you'd think I'd be? I'm smart enough to know what you'd do. That's why President Snow is using me. To get you two away from each other." I wince at what she says, and turn around. I feel a gun held up to my head, and I know that it's a Peacekeeper.
"Go ahead, do it, just leave him alone." I tell them, and they release the gun from my head. I give a sigh of relief, and walk back inside. I turn around and see Delly laughing. A triumphant smile on her face. I shake my head, and close the door. Peeta's standing there, panting. A knife in his hands, as if he were still in the arena. I walk over to him and take the knife out of his frozen fingers. "Peeta, are you okay?" I ask him and he returns to reality.
"They could've killed you! Why did you stand there, why didn't you run?" He asks me, his hands are on my shoulders, and tears are pouring out of his eyes.
"They would've killed both of us, they can take my life, but not yours." I tell him.
"They will take my life if they kill you. You are my life, Katniss! If they kill you, I have no one to live for, nothing to live for! How do you not know that by now. You have to learn that I love you, that I won't have anyone to live my life for if you die. I'd just end up killing myself, or I'd be like your mother, and I'd go into a coma. You have to understand that I love you, you need to realize it!" He yells at me, and tears are now pouring out of my eyes, too.
"I didn't know you really felt that way. I guess I'm that way, too. If you die, then I die. I could never not love you, never. Even when I was the Mockingjay I loved you. Even when I doubted you, even when you made me feel impossible. I loved you. Through all of it. Through everything. I even loved you in that first arena, I just didn't know it. I love you, more than anyone. I trust you with my life. You're my everything. You're my life." He pulls me in his arms, and I start to cry even harder. I rest my head on his shoulder, and his lips brush against my neck. I'm dreading the second when he'll let me go.