real_or_notreal: (Alone in Victor Ville)
[personal profile] real_or_notreal
He'd started out on her front steps and meant to sit there until she came home.

First Mrs. Everdeen spotted him and invited him in. She'd left him alone when he'd brushed her off well-meaning enough saying he would rather wait there.

Then Prim had come home from school, asking him what he was doing after looking for the missing basket of bread or cookies he always had. She'd accepted it when he'd said he was waiting for Katniss with a long second of staring at him.

Peeta never came by, even with bread or cookies, when Katniss was home.







He'd thought they'd both leave him alone until half an hour passed, with still no Katniss, and Prim reappeared. Her tiny hands tucked into her little brand new Capitol coat, hood up, and sat down next to him. Little effusive face, commenting on how it was silly he was going to sit there, with the snow piling in his hair, when no one knew how long it might be.

Somewhere between Prim's asking, as no one ever actually said no to Prim Everdeen and that he was here to talk about Rue, he ended up in inside. Tensely sitting at the end of a couch in the sitting room, with a pot of tea brought to him between patients who appeared.

Date: 2010-12-11 06:12 pm (UTC)
whowasonfire: (Default)
From: [personal profile] whowasonfire
When Katniss arrives home, carrying a bundle of goods from the Hob, Prim meets her at the door.

That happened a lot when Katniss first got home; Prim and their mother couldn't seem to hover enough, to remind themselves that Katniss was home and alive and theirs again, and at first she couldn't get enough of them, either.

(That's still half true; Katniss will never be able to get enough of her little sister.)

But recently she's needed more breathing space, and they've begun to believe again that the Capitol won't whisk her away when they're not looking, and a semblance of the dynamic of before had come back. So Prim meeting her at the door is becoming more unusual again, and she asks right away,

"Is everything okay?"

"Peeta's here," Prim says. "He wants to talk to you."

Katniss stares at her. "Did he say why?"

Prim shakes her head. "He doesn't look angry," she offers.

Not in front of you, Katniss thinks. No one looks angry in front of Prim if they can help it.

"Okay, well. I'd better go see him, then." Katniss takes off her jacket and gives the bundle to Prim, and goes to the sitting room. She takes a breath to steel herself, then steps inside.

"Peeta," she says, pleased to hear her voice would out reasonably steady. Milliways, she decides. He must be here about Milliways. That's the only thing that's changed recently enough that he would be willing to talk to her.

No matter how much she wants it to be something else. (Already the boy with the bread is slipping away.)

Date: 2010-12-11 06:45 pm (UTC)
whowasonfire: (Default)
From: [personal profile] whowasonfire
She sees the way he stiffens up as she says his name, and she bites her lip. It's not a surprise, and she knows it won't change any time soon, but she'd still hoped for a few seconds - well. Never mind. She knows better.

She closes the door, but stays standing near it - more, she has to admit, for her own comfort than his.

"What's going on?" Her voice remains cool and circumspect, more or less matching his.

Date: 2010-12-11 07:13 pm (UTC)
whowasonfire: (Default)
From: [personal profile] whowasonfire
That doesn't make any sense.

She doesn't understand a single word in that sentence.

(Or, judging by the way she starts to turn pale, maybe she does.)

". . . What?"

Date: 2010-12-11 07:27 pm (UTC)
whowasonfire: (victor)
From: [personal profile] whowasonfire
As his words begin to sink in, to sort themselves out and find meaning in her head, Katniss reaches behind her for the doorknob. Not to leave, but to steady herself.

The dead can come to Milliways. She knows that. She's had a nightmare or two about that, Glimmer covered in slime and Cato with his face chewed off.

But she hasn't let herself think about -



"The flowers," she says, faintly.

(More than a piece in their Games.)

Date: 2010-12-11 07:41 pm (UTC)
whowasonfire: (victor)
From: [personal profile] whowasonfire
She notices his movement, but doesn't really register it. Her gaze is frozen ahead, somewhere between him and the floor.

Rue.

She blinks against sudden tears, her body reacting ahead of her mind.

"Is - is she okay?" she manages.

What a stupid question. Of course she's not okay. She's dead.

Date: 2010-12-11 08:00 pm (UTC)
whowasonfire: (victor)
From: [personal profile] whowasonfire
Katniss swallows as he steps closer, and suddenly, more than ever, she wants it to be like it was before. On the chariot, clinging to his hand; in the cave, wrapped up together in the sleeping bag. Drawing on his strength when her own threatens to desert her.

But it's not like that now, because of her, and just because he's closer doesn't mean he wants to touch her, so she clutches the doorknob harder instead.

This time, his words make sense immediately, in all their horrific implications. Everything.

The net. The spear.

She doesn't speak.

Date: 2010-12-11 08:29 pm (UTC)
whowasonfire: (out of the Games)
From: [personal profile] whowasonfire
Katniss reaches for his hand without even having to think about it, clutching it tightly the way she had Rue's, in the arena. (Like a lifeline, like it was her dying instead of Rue. Like she could make it stop if she held on hard enough.)

From there, barrier broken - however temporary that might be - it's the most natural thing in the world to step into his arms and bury her face against his shoulder.

Because regardless of whatever else there might be between them, keeping them apart, they have two things in common that no one else does. No one in District Twelve, no one even in Panem. They are both victors, and they have both been to Milliways. Peeta is the only one who can understand what she's feeling right now, and if he's offering support, all she can do is take it.

Date: 2010-12-11 08:49 pm (UTC)
whowasonfire: (the most dangerous part)
From: [personal profile] whowasonfire
Her first selfish thought: No. I can't.

She's never felt guilty about not getting to Rue in time to save her. In any other situation, the guilt would eat her alive, but in the Games, it's different. If she'd been faster, if she'd decided to go looking five minutes sooner, yes, she could have saved Rue. But for how long? Alliances in the arena end. They have to. Sometimes even the honorable allies, the ones who never intended on betrayal, are cornered, by the Gamemakers or by circumstance, into killing each other.

And none of the deaths in the arena are the fault of the tributes. It's the Capitol that's to blame.

So she doesn't feel guilty about Rue, and she doesn't think Rue would blame her.

But the thought of seeing Rue terrifies her anyway.

Her arms tighten a little around Peeta.

Date: 2010-12-11 09:03 pm (UTC)
whowasonfire: (victor)
From: [personal profile] whowasonfire
She does understand, all of Peeta's reasons and a few of her own.

It isn't fair of her, to put herself before Rue. Rue is the one who died. She should have whatever she wants to have.

But Katniss doesn't have to be fair right now, and in all honesty, being fair has never been one of her strong points anyway.

(Just ask Peeta.)

She nods against Peeta's shoulder.

Date: 2010-12-11 09:20 pm (UTC)
whowasonfire: (Default)
From: [personal profile] whowasonfire
Katniss thinks of the young mockingjay she'd passed, walking away from Rue for the last time, and how it had sung Rue's song. The song that meant Rue was safe.

"Good and safe," she says softly, imagining the scene Peeta is describing. Milliways isn't perfect, but it's better than Panem. And she can't think of anything that isn't better than the arena.

And even death can only happen once.

Date: 2010-12-11 11:32 pm (UTC)
whowasonfire: (Default)
From: [personal profile] whowasonfire
"No worse than anywhere else." Her voice is muffled against his shoulder, she realizes. She takes a deep breath, trying to pull herself together, and tilts her head back to look up at him.



Oh.

She'd forgotten, somehow (made herself forget), how they fit together when they stand like this.

Date: 2010-12-11 11:58 pm (UTC)
whowasonfire: (Default)
From: [personal profile] whowasonfire
She can see the look in his eyes, too, and it's a sharp reminder:

This is also unfair of her. And she's been unfair to Peeta enough to last a lifetime.

Carefully, she disentangles herself and steps back.

Date: 2010-12-12 12:40 am (UTC)
whowasonfire: (into the arena)
From: [personal profile] whowasonfire
This should be as simple as not feeling guilt about Rue: it's all on the Capitol. They cornered her into doing what she had to do. It's not her fault that Peeta wasn't just playing.

But

("It was all for the Games. How you acted."

"Not all of it."

"Then how much?"


She still doesn't know.)

it's not that simple.

"Thank you," she says, her voice again mirroring his. She takes the paper, not touching him. Her arm brushes the doorknob as she withdraws her hand, reminding her that she's still standing in front of the door.

She steps aside, so he can leave when he chooses.

Date: 2010-12-12 01:16 am (UTC)
whowasonfire: (out of the Games)
From: [personal profile] whowasonfire
Katniss half-turns to watch him leave, then changes her mind. She listens instead. When she hears the front door close, she closes the sitting room door and makes her way to the sofa, where she sits, pulling her knees up against her chest and wrapping her arms around them.

Her mind is a jumble of Rue and Peeta and I'm sorry and not my fault, and she doesn't know what to think. She tucks the paper carefully into a pocket and rests her cheek on her knee.

After a little while, a minute or maybe an hour, the door opens. She looks up, but it's just Prim, looking at her with concern. She must have seen Peeta's face as he left.

Katniss opens her mouth to say something before she remembers - this isn't something she can tell Prim, not without her little sister thinking them both crazy. Prim worries about her enough as it is.

So all she says is,

"It's okay. I'm okay, Rue."

It's not the first time she's done that - the similarity between the two younger girls was what first drew Katniss to Rue, even before the arena - but this time she doesn't notice the mistake.

(Prim does, but she doesn't say anything.)

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real_or_notreal: (Default)
Peeta Mellark | Victor of the 74th Hunger Games

August 2015

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