“You’re an Avox, aren’t you? I can tell by the way you swallow. There were two Avoxes with me in prison. Darius and Lavinia, but the guards mostly called them the redheads. They’d been our servants in the Training Center, so they arrested them, too. I watched them being tortured to death. She was lucky. They used too much voltage and her heart stopped right off. It took days to finish him off. Beating, cutting off parts. They kept asking him questions, but he couldn’t speak, he just made these horrible animal sounds. They didn’t want information, you know? They wanted me to see it.”
On the night of Peeta’s death Katniss could sense the end coming near. She’d tried to prepare herself after they found out the condition he was in. That night as Peeta lay on his death bed they said their last goodbyes. Katniss fell into a deep depression, similar to her mother’s. Haymitch had sobered up and took care of the kids when she stared blankly at the walls for hours on end. Peeta was buried in the meadow where their children had once played. One night Katniss stumbled out of the house in a fit of rage. She had woken up and couldn’t accept this reality. When she made her way to the burial site she just fell on her knees and screamed at the ground. “You said you’d stay with me! You promised me always!” Katniss fell asleep whispering those 6 letters that meant so much more to her. “Always.”
(..) Before he can talk, I stop his lips with a kiss. I feel that thing again. The thing i only felt once before. In the cave last year. This time, there’s nothing but us to interrupt us. And after a few attemps. Peeta gives up on talking. The sensation inside grows warmer and spreads out from my chest, down my body, out along my arms and legs, to the tips of my being. Instead of satisfying me, the kisses have the opposite effect, of making my need greater. I though i was an expert on hunger, bit this is an entirely new kind.
no one else could make me sadder,
but no one else could lift me high above
“I don’t know how to say it exactly. Only…I want to die as myself. Does that make any sense?” he asks. I shake my head. How could he die as anyone but himself? “I don’t want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I’m not.”
I bite my lip, feeling inferior. While I’ve been ruminating on the availability of trees, Peeta has been struggling with how to maintain his identity. His purity of self. “Do you mean you won’t kill anyone?” I ask.
“No, when the time comes, I’m sure I’ll kill just like everybody else. I can’t go down without a fight. Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games,” says Peeta.
“I just need to see that you’re okay.” He didn’t expect me to show up at his door, not after his episode and he ran out, shaken. Impulse ruled out any thoughts of caution, though the doctor says I should be cautious. But impulse and my stubbornness keeps me standing there. We’ve been through too much together, regardless of what’s changed between us, we can at least call each other friends. Although to me, it feels much more complex than ‘friends.’ “I’ve got your back. You know that right?” He nods. It’s like an unspoken promise that strengthens my words from before: that’s what we do. Protect each other.
No matter what I do, I’m hurting someone…
Peeta paints me in our meadow. My hair flows freely in the wind and his brow is creased in concentration. The remains of our district remain peaceful and the only sounds to be heard are those of nature. As he paints, a mockingjay repeats the four note melody Rue and I exchanged in the arena years ago, acting as a reminder of the loved ones we lost during the war.
Katniss & Peeta’s toasting ceremony.
They’re alone; silent. The fire crackles beside them, the heat almost too much. They take turns holding their bread above the flames, letting the heat warm the bread. Peeta smears butter over the slices, and they eat in silence, hands clasped, reverent over the ties they’ve just formed. I love you he whispers, so much.
“I could love you again” Katniss’ POV (midlogue)
Inviting him to join my daily trips to the woods has become an ordinary event. More often than not we find ourselves by the small cabin beside the lake, which was left surprisingly unscathed after the war. He asks me questions, some of which I’m not yet ready to answer. The topic of my past life in District Twelve proves to be a sore one because I find myself in tears when trying to formulate an answer. It’s not until a chilly autumn evening in the cabin that he brings up our relationship. “Katniss,” he pauses as if unsure of his words. “You and me, what was it like before the war?” The question catches me off guard, since his return to twelve we’ve never ventured past friendship. He’s sitting patiently beside me, eyes mesmerized by the burning coals of our campfire when I answer, “Well, you used to love me a lot. We protected each other from almost everything and spent most of our time together in the arenas.” I stop because I don’t trust myself to say more. We stay silent as he ponders my reply. It’s a while before he turns to me and says, “I think I could love you again”. So, when he leans towards me and his lips meet mine, I don’t resist. Though I still miss the old Peeta, the one who loved me unconditionally, I can’t help but feel a strange new sensation as he kisses me now. He’ll never be able to care for me with the same intensity he did before, but now we stand on mutual ground. Neither one loving more or less, accepting flaws and weaknesess, and comforting each other when the horrific memories of our past threaten to resurface.
“I remember the first time I saw you. Your hair was in two braids instead of one. And I remember when you sang in the music assembly, the teacher said ‘Who knows The Valley Song?’ and your hand shot straight up. After that I… I watched you go on home every day… Every day.”
Every day feels like a war. A war of wills; the will to get out of bed, to keep moving. The will for small talk and easy conversation. Which I didn’t usually bother to take part in. But I do what the doctor says, going through the motions. And eventually there comes hope, and the warmth I’ve found again with Peeta. So, slowly, we grow back together. We’re ruined, tainted, damaged, and broken. It’s still a struggle, but we carry on all the same.