The next morning, Effie knocks on my door with her usual vibe saying, “wake up, there’s a big big big day ahead!” I get up, and very quickly shower. I want to be in the dining room with Haymitch before Katniss is there because we are telling her that I have asked to be coached seperatley. When I finally do make it to the dining room, Haymitch and Effie are there with their plates already full. I move quickly to get my own breakfast and sit down.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Haymitch asks again. “You can still get out right now. We havn’t told her.” I nod my head. There is no way I’m backing out now. This is the best plan we’ve got to get Katniss home.
author’s note- So I would like to apologize for completley neglecting my Peeta Pov story. I have had a bunch going on, and I started a gale’s pov called “through his eyes” and forgot about it. So here is the next chapter, and I promise to never go this long without posting again.
As soon as I’m back on my floor, I’m bombarded with questions from Portia and Effie until Haymitch steps in to push them back to let me have some space.
“So, what score do you think you will get?” asks Haymitch.
“Honestly?” I ask, remembering the way no one was paying attention to me. Haymitch nods, and suddenly gets very serious. “I don’t even think they were paying attention to me. My score could range from 2 to 10.” He nods.
“They never pay attention to my tributes. They’re always tired and bored by the time 12 gets there, and they know most of the time we’re not even that good.” The elevator door opens, and Katniss runs out as soon as she can squeeze herself through the door. “Katniss,” Haymitch says, ready to question her, but she just runs past us all and goes straight to her room. We can hear her crying, and I suddenly have the urge to comfort her. I just want to go straight to her room and talk hug her and protect her, but I can’t do that. She can’t know. But I can console her. I can find out what happened, and possibly help her.
“I’ll go talk to her.” Haymitch smiles and nods. He’s obviously picked up on my feelings for her. Sometimes he makes me so angry, but I know he is mine and Katniss’ only hope in the games. I lightly knock on her door, but all I hear is more crying. So, I knock harder.
“Go away Haymitch!” She screams. Haymitch?
“This isn’t Haymitch. I just want to talk about what happened.” No reply. Did she even hear me? Forget it. Effie will get her for dinner. I can see her then. I walk back to the main room with Effie, Portia, Cinna, and Haymitch.
“Did she come around?” Haymitch asks, and I’m about to answer him, but I look at his face and see a a constant sarcastic smirk. I scowl in his direction, and go back to my room. I don’t know how long I’m in there, and I don’t even remember what I was thinking about, Effie comes and knocks on the door, calling me to dinner.
“Is Katniss out of her room yet?” I ask Effie when I come outside my door. She shakes her head no.
“I’m going to try to get her to come to dinner.” I nod, and go to the dining room where everyone except Effie and Katniss is waiting on me. I sit down, and the adults start to make small talk. I just sit quietly and try to hear everything that might protain to me. Katniss walks in and takes the seat across from me. I look at her a couple times, but she just keeps her head down. The adults start talking again. Something about the weather. When I look back up, Katniss has started looking at me. I raise my eyes in a question sense, as if to saywhat happened?She just shakes her head.
“Okay, so enough small talk. Just how bad were you today?”
Knowing Katniss doesn’t want to talk, I jump in immediatley. Not caring whether I did good or not. It won’t matter. I don’t plan on coming home anyway. “I don’t know that it mattered. By the time I showed up, no one even bothered to look at me.” I think back to my demonstration, and I think I remember someone singing. They were drunk. “They were singing some kind of drinking song, I think. So, I threw around some heavy objects until they told me I could go.” I look at Katniss, and it seems that she has relaxed a little.
“And you, sweetheart?” Asks Haymitch.
“I shot an arrow at the gamemakers.” She says. It takes me a moment to process what she just said. She said it so nonchalantly that I didn’t even realize how bad that could be for a moment. Everyone else has stopped eating.
“You what?” asks effie.
“I shot an arrow at them. Not exactly at them. In their direction. It’s like Peeta said, I was shooting and they were ignoring me and I just… I just lost my head, so I shot an apple out of their stupid roast pig’s mouth.”
“And what did they say,” Cinna asks, obviously a little worried about the answer she is about to give.
“Nothing. or I don’t know. I walked out after that.”
“Without being dismismissed?” Effie’s voice has reached a high pitch level that could hurt a dog’s ears.
“I dismissed myself,” she says.
“Well that’s that,” says Haymitch who continues to butter his role.
“Do you think they will arrest me?” Katniss asks, worried.
“Doubt it. Be a pain to replace you at this stage,” says Haymitch.
“What about my family? Will they punish them?” So that’s what all the tears were about. I knew Katniss wouldn’t cry unless there was a serious reason, and Katniss values her familly above everything else. If they were in danger, I can see why she would be crying over something she did to possibly put them in that danger.
“Don’t think so. Wouldn’t make much sense. See, they’d have to reveal what happened in the training center for it to have any worthwhile effect on the population. People would need to know what you did. But they can’t since it’s a secret, so it’d be a waste of effort. More than likely they’ll make your life hell in the arena.” Says Haymitch.
“Well, they’ve already promised to do that to us anyway,” I say, finally interjecting myself into the conversation.
“Very true,” says Haymitch. “What were their faces like?” He says smiling. I look back at Katniss, and it seems we have more than helped her situation.
“Shocked. Terrified. Uh, ridiculous, some of them. One man tripped backward into a bowl of punch.” She says, now full of pride. We all laugh, and I even see Effie trying to supress a smile.
“Well it serves them right. It’s their job to pay attention to you. And jsut because you come from District 12 is no excuse to ignore you. I’m sorry but that’s just what I think.” I’m still trying to supress a smile at the fact that Effie just said something somewhat rebellious. She of all people should be the only one discouraging Katniss, but she’s not. I’m sure that makes Katniss feel better.
“I’ll get a very bad score.” She says.
“Scores only matter if they’re very good.” Says Portia. “No one pays much attention to the bad or mediocre ones. For all they know, you could be hiding your talents to get a low score on purpose. People use that strategy.”
“I hope that’s how people interpret the 4 I’ll probably get.” I say, “If that. Really, is anything less impresive than watching a person pick up a heavy ball and throw it a couple of yards. One almost landed on my foot.” We eat, and finally it’s time to get our scores. The anticipation is killing me. We move to the sitting room, and the tv cuts on. I don’t even pay attention to the other scores. I’m just waiting on my own, and Katniss’. District twelve comes up last, as usual. My picture comes up on the screen, and under it is…
An eight! I got an eight. I don’t even know how that’s possible. Everyone in the room is congratulating me. Then Katniss’ picture comes up. The score flashing is an 11. An 11? Wow, is that even possible. Everyone is congratulating her now. Then something pops into my mind. It’s Portia’s voice. ‘No one really cares or notices the low to mediocre scores.’ Katniss and I swap congratulations to each other, and I put on the best smile I can, but even my smile looks fake. Katniss goes to bed, and I’m about to go back to my room when Haymitch stops me.
“You don’t look to happy about your score.”
“I am,” I say trying to sound as happy as I can be.
“Something wrong?” I shake my head. I really don’t want to talk to Haymitch about this. He doesn’t seem like the type that wants to be a theripist. “Then what? You upset your crush got a higher score than you?”
“No,” I shoot back at him. “Of course I’m not. I’m happy Katniss did better than me. In fact, I expected it.”
“Then why are you all mopey?”
I shake my head, but it’s obvious he isn’t letting this go. “I’m just afraid Katniss is going to be targeted by the careers and everyone else because she got such a good score.” He nods.
“Uhuh. You really like her don’t you?” he asks. I just shake my head. It’s not like he cares. “No, you really do.” suddenly his tone gets very serious. “Peeta. Do you really like her.”
“Yes,” I say finally, “I don’t know if this helps or hurts you, but I plan to get Katniss back to 12. I’m going to protect her as best I can.”
“Well that means she has an advantage,” he says smiling. But the smile doesn’t reach his eyes. Like he is sad for me.
“She isn’t alone in there. We have two people working together to get her home instead of just one.” I nod.
“Okay then. We agree. You put all your effort into Katniss. I don’t want gifts. I don’t want sponsors. The point of this team is to make her look good.” He nods, and there is a feeling of hope in my chest. Maybe this could work after all. “Oh, one more thing. I want to be trained alone. I don’t want Katniss knowing.” He nods again.
“Alright. Now go to bed, boy. You’re going to need sleep.”
The next morning, I remember training is supposed to begin. All twenty four tributes will finally be face to face with each other, on even ground. Well not even because the tributes from 1, 2, and 4 have been training for The Games their whole lives, but everyone will be in normal clothes, and not in shiny costumes. When I go to the dining room for breakfast, Katniss has already put away two plates full of breakfast, and is working on a third plate of rolls. I don’t blame her, I’m starved too. I also notice we are wearing the same thing. I try to think back to the previous games, and I can’t remember if everyone was wearing the same thing. Or if just the district partners wore the same thing. Or if anyone wore the same thing at all. I don’t know, I can’t remember much. They don’t show much training video things because it’s considered anti-climactic in the capitol. The tributes are forbidden to fight with each other, and that’s all the capitol people want to see.
Haymitch finishes off a few plates of stew before he finally speaks to us about our strategy in training. “So, let’s get down to business. Training. First off, if you like, I’ll coach you separately. Decide now.”
“Why would you coach us separately?” Katniss asks.
“Say if you had a secret skill you might not want the other to know about,” says Haymitch.
I exchange a look with Katniss. I don’t have any skills, let alone a secret one. “I don’t have any secret skills, and I know what yours is, right?” I say turning to Katniss. “I mean I’ve eaten enough of your squirrels.”
“You can coach us together.” Says Katniss.
“Alright, so give me some idea of what you can do.”
Well, I might as well get this conversation over with. I’m a baker’s son, I don’t have the heart to go out and hunt down people to kill, and I can’t do anything but bake. “I can’t do anything, unless you count baking bread,” I say solemnly.
“Sorry, I don’t. Katniss. I already know you’re handy with a knife,” says Haymitch.
“Not really,” admits Katniss. Admittedly, I was surprised when her knife hit the seam of the wall in the train. I knew she could hunt, but I thought she just used a bow. Maybe she hadn’t meant to hit the seam of the wall, and was just hoping it would stick. That’s a new thought. “But I can hunt. With a bow and arrow.”
“Are you any good?” asks Haymitch.
“I’m alright,” says Katniss. Okay, now I know she is downgrading herself. She has been putting food on her table for four years. I know Gale is a small help in that, but there is no way he did it by himself.
“She’s excellent,” I jump in. “My father buys her squirrels. He always comments on how the arrows never pierce the body. She hits every one in the eye. It’s the same with the rabbits she sells to the butcher. She can even bring down a deer.” Now, I have probably said too much about myself. Now she will probably conclude I have been watching her a little closer than any normal person. But is anyone normal when they’re in love, and there is no way to explain why?
“What are you doing?” She asks suspiciously. Her being suspicious would make sense too. We are both about to be thrown into The Hunger Games where only one of us will come out. If one of us comes out. She doesn’t know I love her, and it doesn’t make sense for me to be helping her at this point in The Games.
“What are you doing? If he’s going to help you, he has to know what you’re capable of. Don’t underrate yourself.” I say, trying to calm her down. Possibly to make her think I’m just trying to be allies with her in The Games or something.
She surprises me, by shooting back things that I can do, even though it’s not much. “What about you? I’ve seen you in the market. You can lift hundred-pound bags of flour. Tell him that. That’s not nothing.” But it is nothing. She must know that.
“Yes, and I’m sure the arena will be full of bags of flour for me to chuck at people.” my voice is beginning to rise, and I’m getting agitated. Why can’t she just accept that she is better than me? That she has a chance. “It’s not like being able to use a weapon. You know it isn’t.”
Her head snaps to Haymitch saying, “He can wrestle. He came in second in our school competition last year, only after his brother.” Why would she mention that? And how would she remember that?
“What use is that? How many times have you seen someone wrestle someone to death?”
“There’s always hand to hand combat. All you need is to come up with a knife, and you’ll at least stand a chance. If I get jumped I’m dead!” Her voice has started to rise as well, and I can feel myself about to say something I shouldn’t, but right now I don’t care.
“But you won’t! You’ll be living up in some tree eating raw squirrels and picking off people with arrows. You know what my mother said to me when she came to say goodbye, as if to cheer me up, she says maybe District Twelve will finally have a winner. Then I realized, she didn’t mean me, she meant you!”
“Oh she meant you.”
“She said, ‘She’s a survivor, that one.’ She is,” I exclaim. I look down in embarrassment. Did I really just tell her that? How could I say that? I’m usually so good with words, but I just spit something out like it was nothing. Pain courses through me as I remember my mother. I never had a good relationship with her, but she seemed so confident I wasn’t coming home. I’m sure she isn’t even rooting for me, because she knows it will only be more painful when my death finally comes.
“But only because someone helped me.” I look down at the role in her hands, remembering that day. We were both just children, but I should have gone out and talked to her. I should have said something. But Katniss remembers. That’s all I could hope for. Maybe she will remember me as the boy that saved her life. That’s all I have to hope for now.
I lower my voice, and continue, trying to keep the conversation more lighthearted than it was. “People will help you in the arena. They’ll be tripping over each other to sponsor you.”
“No more than you.”
I can see the look Haymitch is giving me. He must be absolutely sure of my love for Katniss now, after everything I have said and done. I roll my eyes and say, “She has no idea. The effect she can have.”
After about a minute of silence Haymitch says, “Well then. Well, well, well. Katniss there will be no guarantee there’ll be bows and arrows in the arena, but during you private session with the gamemakers, show them what you can do. Until then, stay clear of archery. Are you any good at trapping?”
“I know a few basic snares,” she mutters.
“That may be significant in terms of food,” Haymitch turns to me. “And Peeta, she’s right, never underestimate strength in the arena. Very often, physical power tilts the advantage to a player. In the Training Center, they will have weights, but don’t reveal how much you can lift in front of the other tributes. The plan’s the same for both of you. You go to group training. Spend the time trying to learn something you don’t know. Throw a spear. Swing a mace. Learn to tie a decent knot. Save showing what you’re best at until your private sessions. Are we clear?” Katniss and I nod. “One last thing. In public, I want you by each other’s side every minute.” I nod, but I can tell Katniss doesn’t like the plan, and Haymitch slams his hand on the table. “Every minute! It’s not open for discussion! You agreed to do as I said! You will be together, you will appear amiable to each other. Now get out. Meet Effie at the elevator at ten for training.” I sit at the table for a few more moments, waiting until Katniss stalks out of the room. I hear the door slam shut, and I know it was for me. She is mad at me, maybe Haymitch a little, but mostly me. I nod goodbye to Haymitch, and when I’m half way down the hall I hear him yell, “You would have had your hands full, boy!”
“I already do,” I mutter to myself.
At ten, Katniss and I meet Effie at the elevator, and zip down to training. None of the other tributes are dressed alike. When we join the already gathered circle of tributes, Atala, the women I’m guessing oversees training steps up to give us advice and rules. She tells us all the stations, and that we will be able to roam freely between each one. We are not allowed to fight with other tributes during training, but there are assistants if we need someone to help. I look around at all the other tributes, and see that despite my upbringing in twelve, I’m probably one of the more fit tributes. Of course, that’s not counting the career tributes from 1, 2, and 4. It makes sense though. I grew up in a bakery, I have never starved, and even though some of the tributes are bigger built, I’m in better shape. I have had to work my entire life lifting and carrying and moving around. Maybe Katniss was right. I could stand a chance. That is, if she wasn’t here. I wouldn’t let myself win if she was to die in the arena.
Atala releases us, and the careers immediately move to the sharpest and scariest of weapons. I stick beside Katniss, not only because of Haymitch, but even if he hadn’t have told us to stay together I would have stayed by Katniss. “Where would you like to start,” I say, nudging her, making her jump. I pretend not to notice.
“Suppose we tie some knots.”
“Right you are,” I say, knowing we need to do something to blend in. Whether I’m new at this or not, I know I would stand out if I tried using a weapon. I’m strong, and Haymitch told us to blend in. to be forgettable to the careers, not to the gamemakers. We move to the knot tying station, and get to work. Katniss is a natural, but that makes sense. She has probably been setting snares since she learned how to hunt. The trainer shows her a few more complex knots while I attempt to master the most basic ones. Finally, we move on to something I enjoy. Camouflage. I find that decorating cakes was not as useless as I thought. I can match my skin to almost any background with a few different colors from mud and berries, and other natural things. I can feel the trainer eyeing me, so I admit how I learned to do all of this. “I do the cakes.”
“The cakes,” asks Katniss? “What cakes?”
“At home. The iced ones, for the bakery.” I know she knows what I’m talking about. How could she not? I have seen her through our bakery window, looking at my work. There is no way she could know it’s my work, but I had started to develop a sense of pride over them when I caught her looking at them the first few times. She always had Prim with her though. Any time I would see her in the square alone, she would never come and look at the cakes.
“It’s lovely. If only you could frost someone to death.”
“Don’t be so superior. You can never tell what you’ll find in the arena. Say it’s actually a gigantic cake,” I was going to say something else, but Katniss jumps in.
“Say we move on.” she is obviously a little peeved that I did something better than her. It’s odd really, and kind of annoying because she sees herself as small and hopeless, but when someone does something better than her she becomes defensive. I still love her though, and will until I draw my last breath in the next few weeks.
The next three days go on while we pass from station to station as tension builds between us quickly. We do our best to appear as a team, but I’m much more for this plan than she is. I watch the other tributes as well. The girl from 2 can hit a target dead center with any kind of knife you give her. The girl from 1 is not as impressive, but there is no doubt she is absolutely stunning. And being gorgeous can get you just as many sponsors as actually being good at something.
On the second day I keep seeing a small girl following us. The first few times, I think it’s just coincidence that she is at the same station as us, but then it becomes much to frequent for coincidence. “I think we have a shadow,” I say, and Katniss throws the spear she had in her hand. It hits its target but she isn’t standing very far away. “I think her name’s Rue,” I whisper softly.
“What can we do about it?” she asks, seeming mad. I know she isn’t mad at me, but I could never say what she is really mad about. She’s mad that such a young girl is here, going into the arena, and the capitol is making her. Katniss volunteered for her younger sister, but there isn’t a thing she can do about other twelve year olds getting sent in.
“Nothing to do. Just making conversation.”
On the second night, after Haymitch has grilled us with instructions and things to do, I can tell Katniss has had just about enough. “Someone ought to get Haymitch a drink.”
She laughs, but then immediately stops. “Don’t. Don’t let’s pretend when there’s no one around.”
I had only meant it as a harmless comment. I thought we were getting somewhere. I thought we were becoming friends, but obviously not. “All right, Katniss,” is all I say. After that, I don’t make effort to talk to her anytime we aren’t in front of people. I don’t think I could stand feeling rejected again. On the last day of training we are all called into private sessions. District twelve tributes go last, and I’m the male tribute so I go before Katniss. All of the other districts begin to file out until it’s just Katniss and me left. When I’m finally called, I’m shocked to hear Katniss.
“Remember what Haymitch said about being sure to throw the weights.”
“Thanks. I will. You… shoot straight.” I say, and walk into my private session. Shoot straight? Well that made me sound like an idiot. Now that’s all I can think about as I’m walking into the training center, but as I walk in I see that it wouldn’t matter what I am thinking about. They aren’t paying attention to me. But I don’t have anything else to do but continue with the plan. I head over to the weights and throw a few around. I’m sure to get the largest I can manage and toss it as hard as I can. To change it up, I put a dummy in the middle of the room and throw a weight at it, hitting it right on its head knocking it clean to the floor. When I look back up, I see that the gamemakers still are not paying attention. After fifteen minutes, I’m dismissed back to my floor.
I leave, knowing they won’t pay any more attention to Katniss than they pay to me. They’re going to give her a low score based on nothing but the things she couldn’t do, and not her amazing bow and arrow talent because they will be too wasted to pay attention. There might not even be a bow in the arena because no one here has really proven they can handle it with accuracy. That’s the only thing that will ensure Katniss’ life. So when I’m dismissed, I leave with a very sad feeling in my chest. More than sad, but a feeling of hopelessness.
So sorry everyone for how long it’s taken me to get the next chapter up. i’ve had a busy week! hope you enjoy the first rooftop scene :)
I’m turned into the training center elevator that moves even faster than the one in the justice building. Because I’m from district twelve, I’m on the twelfth floor. But I’m not really paying attention. I’m thinking about Katniss, and that kiss. What was that all about? Effie is chirping along about something, but I don’t quite catch any of it. And what I do hear doesn’t completely make sense. She says something like ‘if you put enough pressure on coal it turns to pearls.’ At that point I stop listening completely.
On the twelfth floor, I’m sent to a room that is about the same size as my house. Maybe a little smaller if you count the bakery. There are many confusing automatic gadgets, and I know I will never learn how to use all of them. I try the shower first. There are so many buttons, so I just press one. Quickly, I realize I must have hit the wrong button because I’m assaulted with pressurized, hot water coming from a whole in the shower a little lower than my midsection. I give up on the shower as I double over in pain, and eventually Effie comes to call me to dinner.
Cinna and Portia are on a balcony that overlooks the capitol, so I decide to join them. I should thank them for all they have done for Katniss and me already. They have surely helped with sponsors, and in one night have proved their brilliance. Also, I seem to like them both. It’s very odd. Cinna, for one doesn’t dress like capitol people, which I admire about him. Portia, even though her style is a little capitol, her attitude toward The Games is not. Before I even step out on the balcony Portia is at my side.
“You were wonderful tonight,” she says.
“Yes, truly brilliant,” adds Cinna turning around to greet me with a shake of his hand.
“Are you kidding me?” I say kindly, “All I had to do was wear the costume. You two designed it, and it’s going to do wonders for Katniss and me getting sponsors,” I gush. I always have had a way with words. It’s a natural gift, really. I try to use it to full affect while thanking them. They deserve it.
“Yes, well we are just here to help,” smiles Cinna. “Oh, I have been meaning to show you and Katniss something. It’s fascinating, up on the roof, and the district twelve tributes are the only people who have access to it.” Without giving Cinna an answer, he pops open a door from the balcony and I follow him up a flight of stairs. It’s beautiful. The wind is loud, but it’s so wonderful up here, I almost forget the people partying in the streets below me aren’t cheering for my future death.
“So what if a tribute tried to jump off or something. You know, to get out of the games.”
“It’s not possible.” He reaches his hand out, and something invisible zaps his finger. He pulls back quickly and explains. “There is some kind of electricity that throws you back onto the roof. You know, they will put you in the arena with an already broken leg or arm from trying to jump off the roof, but they can’t put you in dead.” I nod, and he checks the time. “We have to go back down for dinner, but there is a garden right through there.” He points to another closed door. “It’s magnificent. There are wind chimes everywhere, and the sound is deafening, but it’s so beautiful.” I feel like he just told me to be careful what I say inside. I know we are taped for the games inside, but I have never seen anyone on the training center roof before. I feel like Cinna just told me it’s safe to speak in the garden. Or maybe I’m just being paranoid.
We climb back down the steps, back onto the balcony where Portia is waiting for us. Katniss and Effie are just entering the room, and we are all seated at the table. Haymitch joins, looking better than I have ever seen him before. He looks sober, healthy, and ready to help. I think I might actually be proud of him. When he is offered wine, he doesn’t refuse, but that’s not all he focuses on. He actually eats his soup, which is a big deal for Haymitch. I’m not sure if I’ve ever really seen him eat. Talk is small, and most of it is praise for our stylists. That is until a cake is placed on the table by a girl with dark red hair and white skin. The cake is beautiful, and I find myself thinking about something normal ever since I got here. Cakes. That probably isn’t normal for most people, but I decorate the cakes back at the bakery. This cake is quite wonderful, and I find that I want to collaborate with the person who did the icing. Perhaps get a few pointers from a more experienced decorator. But it wouldn’t matter. I’m never going to decorate another cake, so I watch as the girl lights it on fire, and wait for the flames to flicker out. It’s almost symbolic really. Looking at the cake makes me long for home, but watching it burn reminds me I will never see it again. To burn it from my memory.
I shake my head clear of thoughts and look to Katniss. She is studying the cake, weary of something. “What makes it burn? Is it alcohol? That’s the last thing I,” but she never finishes. Instead, she looks up at the girl and shouts, “Oh! I know you!” I don’t know how Katniss could possibly know this girl, but she seems content on figuring it out herself. Confusion washes over everyone else at the table. I’m confused as well, but everyone else seems on edge about it. Like there would be something wrong with Katniss knowing this girl. Well, technically there would be something wrong with Katniss knowing her. If she is a capitol citizen there shouldn’t be any way Katniss would recognize her, and suddenly I’m worried as well. What if she gets in trouble for saying something like this? The girl is obviously worried as well because she gets a terrified look on her face, and scurries off.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Katniss. How could you possibly know an avox. The very thought.” Effie looks appalled, Haymitch is confused, and the stylists look worried.
“What’s an avox?” asks Katniss. I listen in because I don’t know what an avox is either, and frankly because I’m worried it’s dangerous for Katniss.
“Someone who committed a crime,” says Haymitch. “They cut her tongue so she can’t speak. She’s probably a traitor of some sort. Not likely you’d know her.”
“And even if you did,” cuts in Effie. “You’re not to speak to one of them unless it’s to give an order. Of course, you don’t really know her.”
Worry strikes Katniss’ face, and I try to come up with a solution to help. “No, I guess not. I,” she stammers. “I just”
I snap my fingers and blurt out, “Delly Cartwright.” That’s the first girl I thought of, and now that I’ve said it, I’m going to go with it and hope Katniss catches on. “That’s who it is. I kept thinking she looked familiar as well. Then I realized she is a dead ringer for Delly.” I look at Katniss and smile. Did she get it? Please, catch on, Katniss, please.
“Of course, that’s who I was thinking of. It must be the hair.”
“Something about the eyes too.” I say, and this calms the table down.
“Oh well. If that’s all it is,” says Cinna. “And yes, the cake has spirits, but all the alcohol has burned off. I ordered it specially in honor of your fiery debut.” He says, answering Katniss’ earlier question. We eat the cake, and move to the sitting room where the opening ceremonies are being replayed. There is small talk, but I’m not paying attention again. I’m thinking about Katniss. I’m still thinking about that kiss. What does it mean? I think I hear Haymitch say something about rebellion. That’s when I know I’m not paying close enough attention, so I stop thinking so much about Katniss and try to focus on the conversation.
“Tomorrow morning is the first training session. Meet me for breakfast and I’ll tell you exactly how I want you to play it,” says Haymitch to Katniss and me. “Now go get some sleep while the grown-ups talk.”
I walk Katniss back to her room, and I find that I’m very interested to know where she knew the avox girl from. I don’t want to force her to talk, but it’s as good a time as any to ask. She is about to walk into her room when I stop and lean against the door frame. “So, Delly Cartwright. Imagine finding her lookalike here.” We both know Delly looks nothing like the avox girl. I’m hoping this will get Katniss to talk. Katniss stares ahead. She hasn’t completely dismissed the idea, so perhaps she is actually considering telling me. Maybe she is worried about being overheard by someone who shouldn’t know the story. “Have you been on the rood yet?” She shakes her head no. “Cinna showed me. You can practically see the whole city.” I smile at her, but the hesitation is still there. The story must involve something illegal. I add, “The wind’s a bit loud though.”
She seems to understand. “Can we just go up?”
“Sure, come on.” I take her up to the roof, and walk over to the railing where Cinna showed me the electric field. I catch Katniss looking straight down over the long edge. “I asked Cinna why they let us up here. Weren’t they worried that some of the tributes might decide to jump right over the side?”
“What’d he say?”
“You can’t.” I do exactly what Cinna did. I stick my finger out over the edge until a little zap sends my hand flying back. Surprisingly, it doesn’t hurt so bad, but if I hadn’t know it was there, it would have scared me enough to hurt me more. Kind of like when you miss the last step on the stairs and it scares you so much you have a little mini-heart attack, but you didn’t really get hurt. You just panicked. “Some kind of electric field throws you back on the roof.” I contemplate telling her what else Cinna said. About how they will put you in the arena with an already hurt body, as long as you’re not dead, but I feel like it’s time to get to the point.
“Always worried about our safety,” says Katniss sarcastically. I can’t help but agree. “Do you think they’re watching us now?”
I don’t plan on lying to her. “Maybe,” I say. Then I remember something else Cinna mentioned. The garden and its wind chimes. “Come see the garden.” I move to the other side of the roof, and open the door to the garden. Cinna was right. If someone didn’t want to be overheard, this is exactly where they should come. Katniss is looking at a blossom, and I stand patiently waiting for her to explain.
“We were hunting in the woods one day,” she whispers. “Hidden, looking for game.”
“You and your father?”
“No, my friend Gale.” My heart sinks at his name. Then I remember it’s best if Gale is in the picture. He will take care of her. “Suddenly all the birds stopped singing at once. Except one. As if it were giving a warning call. And then we saw her.” Her whispers are almost poetic, and I’m so close to her right now. I’m so close, so close. “I’m sure it was the same girl. A boy was with her. Their clothes were tattered. They had dark circles under their eyes from no sleep. They were running as if their lives depended on it.” They probably did depend on it. Katniss pauses for a moment. Obviously trying to recall the memory, but I’m not sure I want to hear more. I shouldn’t have pried, but she just continues. “The hovercraft appeared out of nowhere. I mean, one moment the sky was empty and the next it was there. It didn’t make a sound, but they saw it. A net dropped down on the girl and carried her up, fast, so fast like the elevator.” I still stand and listen, unmoving as Katniss finishes the story. “They shot some sort of spear through the boy. It was attached to a cable and they hauled him up as well. But I’m certain he was dead. We heard the girl scream once. The boy’s name, I think. Then it was gone, the hovercraft. Vanished into thin air. And the birds began to sing again, as if nothing had happened.”
“Did they see you?” I ask. I’m not sure what compelled me to ask. The story is horrific, and I have my answer as to how she knows the girl.
“I don’t know. We were under a shelf of rock.” She replies. I see something flicker through her eyes. Guilt maybe, but I can’t be sure. Then I see she is shaking or shivering from the wind, or perhaps something else.
“You’re shivering.” I take my jacket off and place it on her shoulders. There is hesitation from her at letting me put the jacket on her, but I guess she decides to allow it. She must be freezing. “They were from here?” She nods her head, and I button the top button around her neck. Electricity runs through my fingers at the closeness of her, but I know she does not feel the same. “Where do you suppose they were going?”
“I don’t know that,” she admits. “Or why they would leave here.”
“I’d leave here.” The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them. What is it about Katniss that lets my guard down? I look around, and hope no one heard me above the chimes, but I know if someone is watching, they could hear it. But I’m Peeta Mellark. I never have nothing to say that can’t make any situation better. “I’d go home right now if they let me. But you have to admit, the food’s prime.” That should do it. I said it loud enough to make it sound like the words of a scared tribute. “It’s getting chilly. We better go in.” Inside, our conversation goes back to normal. No more talk of the woods or the avox girl. “Your friend Gale. He’s the one who took your sister away at the reaping?” I ask, but I know the answer. It was him.
“Yes. Do you know him?”
“Not really. I hear the girls talk about him a lot. I thought he was your cousin or something. You favor each other,” but I know they are not related. I know they are either good friends or something more. I have to keep reminding myself that something more would be good. It would help Katniss return to twelve and forget about me. I hope she will remember the sacrifices I make for her, perhaps remember my name, but I don’t want her to be exiled for the rest of her life. Gale will be good for her.
“No, we’re not related.”
I nod. “Did he come to say good-bye to you?”
“Yes,” she says. Now she is looking at me closely, and I have to be sure to watch my movements carefully. “So did your father. He brought me cookies.” I’m relieved my father was able to get to her, but instead I just lift my eyebrow like I had no idea. She seems to accept this, but I can’t be sure.
“Really? Well, he likes you and your sister. I think he wishes he had a daughter instead a houseful of boys.” I say honestly. I love my father, but I can tell when he gets annoyed at the three of us boys. Then I remember something he said to me. Something that made me first notice Katniss. “He knew your mother when they were kids.”
“Oh yes, she grew up in town.” We have arrived at her door, and I’m sad to watch her take my jacket off. “See you in the morning then.”
“See you,” I say, and walk down the hall to my room. My last thought before slipping into sleep is how beautiful Kantiss looked with my jacket on her. How right it seemed for her to be wearing something of mine. A little big on her shoulders, but cute in a way that just makes her more beautiful.
I spend the next few hours being cleansed better than I’ve ever been cleansed before. My prep team has made it clear my stylist doesn’t want to see me until everything has been taken care of.
“We just have to do one more thing, and then Portia will come see you,” says one of the women. She takes a salve from the top shelf of the cart standing next to the metal bed I’m lying on. She dips a gloved hand into the small container and touches my check with it. I’m immediately struck with searing pain, and jump away from her touch.
“What is that?”
“It’s a salve to keep you from growing a beard,” she says while smiling. Why would I need to be kept from growing a beard? What is I want a beard? And I don’t see how she could be smiling right now.
“What if I want a beard?”
“All the male tributes do it.” Now she looks disappointed. My heart all the sudden aches for her, even being from the captiol, I realize she is only doing what she has been told. I mean, what would i look like if I was from the capitol? “It’s supposed to help everyone recognize you in the arena.”
“Okay,” I sigh, “go ahead.” I shut my eyes, and let her apply the rest of the salve to my cheeks, chin, and neck. “How long is this supposed to keep hair from growing?” I ask while wincing away from the pain.
“Shh, stop moving. You do not want this stuff in your mouth.” What happens if I get it in my mouth? Nope, now that I think about it, I really don’t want to know. “Okay, you’re all set. I’m going to go get Portia now.” She smiles at me, as well as the other two members of the prep team as they exit my room. A few moments pass by, and a young woman enters the room.
“Hello Peeta, I’m your stylist, Portia,” she offers her hand, and I shake it. She doesn’t look like I expected her too. She still has a crazy capitol style, with her blonde wig and outrageous colors blended together in the same outfit, but she just isn’t the same. She isn’t down right hideous with tattoos marking her all over, or surgical alterations to make things on her face and body appear bigger or smaller than they really are. It seems that under her clothes, she probably hasn’t touched her body. I like that. That’s when I recognize her. She started being a stylist a couple years ago. “I want to talk to you about the opening ceremony tonight.”
“Alright, I know you have to put me in something related to coal miners because that’s our district industry.”
“Coal miners isn’t the district industry. That’s the workers,” she says smiling. Okay, I know Haymitch said I have to do exactly what the stylist says, but that smile is seriously scaring me. “Your industry is coal.” I think back to a few years ago when both of the district twelve tributes were sent out stark naked with coal dust covering their body. She seems like the type of person that would do something like that. “Cinna, Katniss’ stylist, and I wanted to put you both in complementary outfits.” Awesome, so I will be wearing the same thing as a girl. That will get me man points for sure. “Anyways, we want to put you in something unforgettable. And what’s more unforgettable than fire?”
“Fire?” I ask. “I’m going to be wearing fire.” I look down and chuckle softly to myself. I think I would rather be naked. At least I wouldn’t be burnt.
“Basically, yes.” She stands examining me a little more. “Your blonde hair will be perfect. It will complement the orange and red colors of a fire. Oh I just can’t wait!” she squeals.
A few hours later I’m dressed in a black unitard that covers my entire body except my feet, hands, and face. I have black leather boots that stop mid-calf, and a long cape that is shimmering with orange, yellow and red. Portia and Cinna plan to light it on fire. To make matters worse, I also have make up on. Not much, but it highlights my face. I feel like a girl. It’s a problem.
I meet Katniss down the hall, and see she is dressed in the exact same outfit, except her boots lace up to the knees. At least my boots are a little manlier. That counts for something, right? Everyone is excited, except Cinna who I meet alongside Katniss in the hall. We are taken to the bottom level of the remake center, and there are horses everywhere. Other pairs of tributes are filing in as well. I look around at the other tributes. Some stylists did the same as Cinna and Portia and put their tributes in complementary outfits. Like the pretty girl from district 1 is dressed in a luxurious silver outfit, along with her male partner. But district 7’s stylists obviously didn’t plan their tribute costumes together because they clash. The girl is dressed in brown bottom pants, and a silver top to make her look like an axe because district 7 is lumber. The boy is dressed in green like a tree. In a way they go together, but in a different way they clash. Like the colors don’t quit match, and the balance is just a little off. Great, I’m dressed like a girl, and now I’m thinking like one. Katniss walks up behind me.
“What do you think?” she asks quietly. “About the fire?”
“I’ll rip off your cape if you’ll rip off mine.” I don’t want Cinna and Portia to hear, and I’m trying to be as quiet as possible.
“Deal,” she answers. I can tell she is thinking about the same thing I am, and that thought is proven when she says, “I know we promised Haymitch we’d do exactly what they said, but I don’t think he considered this angle.”
“Where is Haymitch, anyway?” I look around once more, and see he is nowhere to be found. “Isn’t he supposed to be protecting us from this sort of thing?”
“With all that alcohol in him, it’s probably not advisable to have him around an open flame.” Okay, since when did she have a sense of humor? That was genuinely funny, and we are suddenly both laughing. That sounded like something one of my friends back home would say, or myself. The opening music begins, and everyone is rushing around trying to get into place. Each district is pulled out on their chariots pulled by the horses. District 11 is just leaving when Cinna comes up behind us both. “Here we go then.” Before either of us can react, he sets our capes ablaze. Instead of heat, I feel almost tickled. I’m not being burned to death! “It works! Remember they’re going to love you!” He hops off the chariot, and has one last idea. “Hold hands!” he yells. Katniss looks confused, and she must not have heard him, so he yells again and gestures.
“What’s he saying?”
“I think he said hold hands.” I look at Katniss surrounded in flames. She looks absolutely stunning. She’s shimmering in beautiful colors, and I realize she is staring right back at me. I grab her right hand in my left, and she turns back to Cinna for confirmation. He smiles and I smile right back at him. Thank you Cinna, for having one of the best ideas ever. i enjoy the feeling of Katniss’ fingers intertwined in mine for as long as I can. Before I know it, we are being ushered into the city. The crowd’s initial alarm at our appearance quickly changes to cheers and shouts. Every single pair of eyes is turned our way, and I get a little shaky on the chariot. Katniss seems to be having a great time. She is smiling, blowing kisses; she even catches a rose, and holds it high into the air. All I can think about is how stunning she looks. I smile and wave, smile and wave, smile and wave. At some point Katniss begins to let go of my hand, but I feel like I might fall off if she does. “No, don’t let go of me. Please, I might fall out of this thing.”
“Okay,” she says. A flicker of hope crosses into my mind. Perhaps it will be possible to win her over while I’m here. But do I really want that? Then she could never truly be happy because she will always be thinking about me. I don’t know, I can’t think about this right now.
The chariots have pulled into the city circle, and the president gives a short speech. Finally we are taken into the training center, and our stylists and prep teams surround us. Portia extinguish us with a canister, and I’m so busy looking at Katniss, I hardly notice anyone else in the room. Katniss looks troubled though, and when I look around I know why. The other tributes are giving us dirty looks for stealing the thunder, and it almost makes me feel triumphant. That is until I remember I haven’t really done anything but get into a cool costume that I didn’t design. I just wore it. That’s when I notice I still have Katniss’ hand. She must realize as well because she lets go, and rubs her hand. Stupid! I must have been squeezing too hard. I need to say something to make it less awkward.
“Thanks for keeping hold of me. I was getting a little shaky there.”
“It didn’t show,” she says. “I’m sure no one noticed.”
“I’m sure they didn’t notice anything but you.” The words slip out of my mouth before I’m really able to control them. I might as well continue with the complements. “You should wear flames more often. They suit you.” Heat flares into my cheeks, and I give her a slight smile and reach to put my hands in my pockets. Then I remember I don’t have pockets so I just end up smiling at the floor like an idiot. When I look back up, Katniss is smiling with the same warmth that I’m portraying. Then something unexpected happens. Katniss steps a little closer to me, stands up on her tiptoes, and kisses my cheek. Then walks away smiling.
For a moment, I just stand there beside Katniss, taking in the picture of our mentor trying to rise from the vile stuff. The smell is what’s bad. It’s so disgusting, I almost vomit myself. Katniss and I exchange looks, and as if by some unspoken agreement, we each take one of Haymitch’s arms and help him up.
“I tripped?” Haymitch asks. “Smells bad.” No kidding. I learned in school, smell is the weakest of your five senses, and after smelling something often, it practically goes away. I think they might have lied to me that day because this smell is not going away any time soon.
Well, Haymitch is my mentor, and I need to get on his good side. “Let’s get you back to your room,” I say. “Clean you up a bit.”
I practically carry Haymitch back to his room. Katniss is helping, but it’s half-hearted. I open the door, and realize we can’t lay him down on the nice bed, so we stick him in the bath tub and turn the shower on. He doesn’t even stir when the water hits his vomit covered face. After we do this, I realize we are going to have to help him actually take his shower. I don’t want Katniss to have to go through that. It’s going to be disgusting work, and Katniss doesn’t deserve it. By the state he’s in, it doesn’t look like he will remember much of who helped him anyway.
“It’s okay,” I say quietly, “I will take it from here.” Relief floods her face, and I know I have done the right thing. Hopefully the first in many right things.
“All right,” she says to me. “I can send one of the capitol people to help you.” I know she means well, but I don’t want them in here either. Just looking at them makes me almost as sick as smelling Haymitch’s vomit. Their looks, their voices, and everything else about them is sickening. Even Effie, who has become almost tolerable with her jokes that aren’t meant to be jokes when she talks about her hair or clothes or shoes, can send my mind spinning sometimes. I look back down at Haymitch, remembering what I have to do.
I strip him down, and turn the shower on him. The buttons are confusing, so I just hit a couple, and soft soap sprays onto Haymitch easy enough. He looks at me with what I think is distaste, but is possibly more confusion.
“Why are you doing this?” He asks. If I didn’t know he was drunk, I might actually think he cared.
“How about I tell you when you’re sober.” He huffs, and lets me finish washing him. After the shower, I toss him some clothes to sleep in from his drawers. “Here, put this on. Get in bed and don’t come out until Effie comes and gets you in the morning. Unless you want to find yourself slipping in more of your vomit without anyone awake to help you.”
“Don’t tell me what to do, boy.” But he does what I say. He climbs under the covers, but doesn’t go to sleep. I’m not exactly sure why, but he says he won’t fall asleep until it’s brighter outside. I think it’s just the alcohol talking. I go back to my room, take my own shower, and settle in for the night. Images slip in and out of my drowsy mind as I remember my family and friends. It will most definitely be the last time I saw them back in district twelve. I have already sworn off coming home because that is not what I want. There will be no life in twelve for me. Not without Katniss. She though, she will have a life. She will go back and live with Gale. She will be happy, and in my moment of death, whenever that may come, that’s what I will think about. Katniss happiness.
I do realize something that night though. I realize, no matter how hard I try to persuade myself away from it, I am jealous of Gale. I would never admit it, but he has always had her. She may not even know it, though I don’t exactly know where she stands with her relationship status with him, but Gale has always had her. I figured out why too. All I have ever worried about was her. Gale took it upon himself to feed her family as well as her, and Katniss loves her family more than she loves herself. That’s how Gale did it. That’s how he won her heart. Finally, as I drift into sleep, I try to think of what I’m supposed to say to Katniss. How, in the next few days, I’m supposed to tell her everything about my feelings. Everything that she needs to know.
The next morning, I wake myself up with the sun beaming in from the window. I contemplate whether I should go back to sleep, but I know Effie will be in here soon to get me anyway so I might as well get up. I stumble into the bathroom, and attempt to make myself presentable. Endless capitol clothes are at my fingertips, but I don’t want to look like them. Instead, I choose something as simple as possible. Jeans and a simple black tee-shirt.
The dining car is quiet with just Effie and I. Haymitch stumbles in a little later, obviously hung over, but still eager to go at it again with the bottle. It seems he might not be as much help as I would hope trying to get Katniss home. Breakfast is served, yet Katniss is not in the dining car.
“I think I will go wake Katniss,” I say standing from my chair.
“Your right. You wouldn’t want to eat without your girlfriend.” Haymitch slurs out. Did he really just say that? Am I that obvious? He must already be drunk again because I can’t be that obvious can I?
“Oh Peeta, you eat. I will go wake Katniss.” Before I can object, Effie has bounced out of the dining car in the direction of Katniss’ room. Again, I will not get to talk to Katniss alone because of Effie. She seems bent on keeping us apart, or at least chaperoned when we’re together. Once Effie is out of sight, I stare Haymitch down, trying to decipher what is inside his head, and how he could possibly know I love Katniss. I’m about to ask, when Effie walks back in. “Katniss will be in here in a few minutes, she is getting ready.” Effie smiles, and sits on the sofa in the back of the room. The train is magnificent really. All its decorations and paintings and extravagant tapestries. I hadn’t noticed Effie getting impatient, but all of the sudden, she bursts out, “Where is that girl? She is late for breakfast, and she has been given plenty of time to get in here. We will be at the capitol soon!” This comment infuriates me.
“You are kidding me right? She just volunteered for The Hunger Games, and you’re questioning her punctuality? Are you insane?” Effie’s mad now. Great, I’ve upset Effie. This is the last thing I want to deal with right now. I take my seat again, and grab a roll off the center of the table. Haymitch is smiling like an idiot. His face almost screams not your girlfriend huh? I feel my cheeks get hot.He’s smiling to the point where he is almost laughing. I think Effie thinks he is laughing at her, and she stomps out of the room shouting profanities, brushing by Katniss who is just now walking in to the dining car.
“Sit down! Sit down!” Yells Haymitch, waving her to the table. Immediately, when Katniss is seated, the table is once again filled with food. Even though I’m a little hungry, I don’t eat much. We will be arriving at the capitol today, and I just can’t stomach anything right now. I do look over at Katniss though, who seems to be scarfing down her plate of food. That is until hot chocolate is put in front of her. She looks puzzled, and I realize she might not know what it is. Hot chocolate is a luxury most people in twelve can’t afford, and I’ve only had it once or twice in my life.
“They call it hot chocolate, it’s good.” I say getting Katniss to sip the drink. After her first taste, I can tell she loves it. She doesn’t take another bite of her food until she has gulped down the rest. I begin to take little bites, and eventually I get curious, and dip my bread into my own cup of hot chocolate. It turns out to be quite delicious.
I’m still dipping my bread when Katniss says, “So you’re supposed to give us advice.”
It’s obvious she is talking to Haymitch, but I stop eating to hear what he says. I know he is already drunk, and he isn’t going to be much help to Katniss or I. He probably won’t be much help during the games either. “Here’s some advice. Stay alive,” he says then suddenly bursts into laughter. This is not okay. I realize I’m madder than I’ve been in a long time. I don’t get mad easily, but I’m about to give my life for the girl I love, and he won’t even do his job and help me. I look at Katniss, and I see the same madness in her eyes.
“That’s very funny,” I say with dry humor. Then I reach over the table, grab the glass in Haymitch’s hand, and throw it as hard as I can. It hits the floor, and shatters into small shards of glass. “Only not to us.” I sit back in my chair as Haymitch stairs at the broken glass now getting his red juice all over the floor. I don’t even see it coming. Something hits my cheek, I’m knocked to the ground, and pain floods the bottom of my jaw. I lie on the ground for a moment, and hear a loud thump on the table. When I sit up on my knees, I barely look over the table see a knife driven into it. I’m not exactly sure what Katniss did, but it seemed to have changed Haymitch’s mind about us.
“Well what’s this?” Haymitch asks. “Did I actually get a pair of fighters this year?” I stand, and I scoop some ice out from under the fruit tureen to put on my jaw which is hurting like crazy right about now.
“No,” Haymitch says, which immediately stops me in my tracks. “Let the bruise show. The audience will think you’ve mixed it up with another tribute before you’ve even made it to the arena.”
“That’s against the rules.” I say.
“Only if they catch you. That bruise will say you fought, you weren’t caught, even better,” he adds. He turns to Katniss. “Can you hit anything with that knife besides a table.” I’ve never seen Katniss hunt before, but I know she does better with a bow and arrows. I’ve eaten a lot of her and Gale’s squirrels, and I know she hits the eye every time. That takes a lot of skill. I don’t know what she can do with a knife, but I have a feeling I’m about to find out. She yanks the knife from the table, and throws it hard towards the train wall. It sticks right in a seam between two panels. That was amazing, and I think, if it’s possible I might love this girl just a little more.
“Stand over here. Both of you,” yells Haymitch. Katniss and I both do as he says, and Haymith circles us like a buzzard examining every inch of us. Our muscles, our faces, our bodies, everything. “Well you’re not entirely hopeless. Seem fit. And once the stylists get a hold of you, you’ll be attractive enough.” I don’t question this. Attractive tributes seem to get most of the sponsorships. “Alright I’ll make a deal with you. You don’t interfere with my drinking, and I’ll stay sober enough to help you. But you have to do exactly what I say.”
“Fine,” I say, responding quickly. I look at Katniss, and she doesn’t seem as pleased with this agreement, but she must realize it’s the only choice she’s got.
“So help us,” she starts. She begins to say something, mumbling quickly over her words, but I’m not exactly sure what she says. Something about the cornucopia.
“One thing at a time,” says Haymitch, cutting her off. “In a few minutes, we’ll be pulling into the station. You’ll be put in the hands of your stylists. You’re not going to like what they do to you. But no matter what it is, don’t resist.” Katniss begins to question this, but Haymitch cuts her off once again. “No buts. Don’t resist. He eventually leaves the car leaving Katniss and I alone. Alone. Katniss and I are alone, but just then the car goes dark. The lights are still on, but outside it’s like night has fallen. I look at Katniss, and I can tell she doesn’t like it much. We must be in a tunnel. The train finally reaches light again, and slows down immensely. Katniss and I both run to the window to get our first glance at the capitol. It is truly breathtaking. People gather outside to get their first glances at us, the tributes. I realize I will have to make sponsors like Kantiss and I, and maybe someone outside is a sponsor, so I start waving. And smiling. I can feel Katniss’ eyes on me so I turn around for a moment and face her.
“Who knows? One of them may be rich.” I smile, and turn back to the window, and wave at the crazy capitol people who have no idea the dislike I have for them because I’m so good at hiding it.
The anthem ends, and we are immediately brought into the justice building. I’m taken through a hallway, and into an elevator, all the more aware of Katniss’ presence. Once inside, I’m moved into a room, and left alone. The carpet is thick and deep, and the couches and chairs are velvet. My family doesn’t own anything this nice, but a couple of my friends do. Tears sting my eyes and slowly drip down the side of my face. I know there will be cameras at the train station, but it’s not like I have much chance at winning this anyways. Actually, I’m hoping I won’t win. After a little time, my mother and father are the first in the room. Dad comes toward me and gives me a hug that I can’t help but never want to let go of. He pulls a small bag out of his pocket and hands it to me. I open it to find a cookie. We make them often at the bakery, but my family doesn’t eat them much. It’s a luxury we don’t get very often, and just that my father is sparing one for me is enough to send another tear down my cheek. He is the only one in my family that knows of my love for Katniss, so when I hand the cookie back to him, he knows exactly what I mean for him to do. He nods and leaves the room quietly, and I’m hoping the peacekeepers will allow him to see Katniss.
My mother stands awkwardly to the side. “I guess this is it, mom.” I say, trying to keep my voice steady. She nods her head slowly like everything is suddenly dawning on her.
“I’m so sorry, Peeta.”
“It’s not your fault mother. I was reaped. It’s not like you could do anything about it.” We stand in silence once again, but I know time is almost up and I have to say my final words. “I won’t be coming home, you know.” I whisper.
“No, but district twelve might finally have a winner.” She doesn’t really think I can win does she? There will be competitors that are far above my skill level there. They have been training their whole lives for The Games, and I’m just a baker’s son. You’re not supposed to train before The Games, but the richer districts do it anyway. And they get away with it because they are the capitol favorites. “She’s a survivor, that one.” So she doesn’t mean me. She means Katniss. Maybe my mother has known of my love for Katniss. Maybe she saw me toss the burnt bread to her instead of giving it to the pigs as she instructed. Then, she didn’t beat me because she knew I loved her. Probably not though. My mother and I don’t have a very close relationship. A peacekeeper comes in the room, and starts to issue my mother out the door. She gives me one last peck on the check, and she is gone. Out of my life forever.
The next few minutes go by in a whir. A few friends of mine come to say goodbye to me as well as my brothers, but I try to forget them all as soon as they leave the room because there is no use in remembering them. It will just make sacrificing myself for Katniss that much harder. One girl, Delly Cartwright, comes in crying hysterically. She is a friend of mine, and has always had a little crush on me. I’ve never seen her so upset. She is usually happy with her blonde hair, and white toothed smile, but today she is crying, which makes me cry as well.
Finally, I’m ushered out of the room with my last goodbyes to everyone hanging in the air. A car picks Katniss and I up from the Justice building. Despite my ‘upper class’ upbringing, I have never ridden in a car before. Most people in twelve walk everywhere, and all I’ve ever needed to get to was the square, which is right outside my house, the school, which is only a couple blocks away, or to a friend’s house who usually lives right down the street. There is no need for cars. At the train station, there are more cameras whizzing about. I don’t try to cover my tear stained face. There is no point to it, and perhaps I can use it as an advantage. I’m not sure how, but I can figure that out later. Katniss on the other hand looks bored. Completely and utterly bored. I don’t know how she managed not to cry in front of her mother and sister, and I’m sure Gale saw her as well, but I’m glad she isn’t. There is no need to put an easy target on her back before The Games even start. Cameras manage to get a few good headshots of us walking into the train until finally the door shuts mercifully, and the train starts rolling immediately. The speed makes me stumble and I put my hand on the wall for support. I don’t think anyone noticed. This is definitely not an average coal train. This is a top notch capitol train, and at this speed, the journey to the capitol should only take a day or so.
In school they tell us the capitol was built in a place once called the Rockies. District twelve was in a region known as the Appalachia. Even hundreds of years ago, they mined coal where we are. That’s why our miners have to dig so deep into the ground. School is rather boring to me because it always goes back to coal. I knew I would never be a coal miner. I would eventually take over the bakery or start my own business, so other than basic math and reading, I’m bored to tears. Everything else is how we owe the capitol for Panem and all we are given. Like I said, bored to tears.
The tribute train is fancier than the justice building rooms. We are each given our own chambers that include a bedroom, a dressing area, and a bathroom. Just before I slip into my room to shower, I catch one last sight of Katniss. Even in distress, she is beautiful. Then I notice a gold pin that wasn’t on her dress earlier. It’s a mockingjay I think. Mockingjays are somewhat of a slap in the face to the capitol. They come from Jabberjays which are genetically engineered birds the capitol used during the rebellion. Jabberjays could replicate exact human sounds and enunciate words like a recorder. Once the rebels found out about them, they fed the capitol endless lies to the birds. The centers creating the birds were shut down, and they jabberjays were left to die off.
But they didn’t die off. They mated with female mockingbirds, and created the mockingjay. Mockingjays have lost the ability to make words, but they still can replicate human melodies like full songs. If they like your voice, that is. I fell in love with Katniss when she sang. It was the first day of school, and when Katniss sang, every single mockingjay out the window fell silent to listen. Then, when she was finished, they picked up her song. I became like a mockingjay. Every time Katniss would sing on the playground or down the hallway at school singing to herself, I would try to get close enough to hear, then I would fall silent just to listen.
I’m about to open the door to my room when Haymitch brushes past me murmuring as he trots along. “I’m taking a nap,” he states, and I silently slip into my room. I shower and dress in the capitols fancy clothes they have given me in the drawers of my bedroom. Eventually, I get bored and slip out of my room to explore when I bump into Effie.
“Dinner is ready if you would like it. I’m going to get Katniss right now,” she chirps in her capitol voice.
“I can get her,” I say trying to get a few moments alone with Katniss. Maybe now is my time to tell her everything.
“No, that’s quite alright dear. The dining room car is just a couple doors down. You may go ahead and sit if you would like.” She smiles and continues on her way.
Disappointment sinks in, but i do as she sais. I find the dining room and sit down at the table. Drinks are the only thing that has been served, so I take a few swigs of whatever lies on the table. Katniss and Effie walk in a little later.
“Where is Haymitch?” Effie asks.
“Last time I saw him, he was going to take a nap.” I say, remembering him bumping into me a little earlier.
“Well it’s been an exhausting day.” I smile a little, because I know Effie is glad not to have Haymitch around for a little while. She obviously is still a little overwhelmed by his drunken hug and falling off stage.
The food comes in courses. A thick carrot soup, green salad, lamb chops and mashed potatoes, cheese and fruit, and a chocolate cake. Effie is continuously reminding us to save room because there is more to come, but I’m stuffing myself, and by the looks of Katniss, she is too. I’ve never had food like this, and it’s so good. Being a baker’s son, I know a little about food, but not like this, and mostly I just know bread.
“At least you two have decent manners. The pair last year ate everything with their hands like a couple savages. It completely upset my digestion.” Effie states. The pair of kids last year was two kids from the seam who had never had enough to eat in their lives. I’m sure when they did have food; table manners were the last thing on their minds. Katniss’ mother was a merchant kid growing up, so I assume it was her who taught Katniss to properly use a fork and knife. I’m a baker’s son. We make food for a living, but the comment Effie made still makes me mad. I catch sight of Katniss who is now purposefully eating with just her hands, and smile to myself a little. I should do the same thing, but the look of disgust on Effie’s face is just too hilarious to do anything right now. Katniss finishes, and wipes her fingers on the table cloth, and now I’m choking just to contain my laughter.
The meals over, and I’m fighting to keep my food down. Katniss is looking a little green herself. Neither of us is used to such rich food, but I’m determined to keep this down. I will not look like a fool.
We go to another compartment to watch the recap of the reaping. One by one, the districts go by. I try to remember as much as possible, but there are twenty two other tributes to watch, and only a few stick out in my mind. To get the reapings started, a beautiful girl from district one is called forth. She steps to the stage confident, and obviously arrogant. I can tell almost every boy is staring at her, and not just because she is the reaping winner. A large boy from District two volunteers with a shout as he lunges for the stage like the glory is going to pass by him if he doesn’t take the chance now. The next few districts go on without me remembering much about them at all. A boy with a crippled foot steps up from District ten. And finally I’m absolutely appalled when I see a small girl from district eleven chosen. She can’t be more then twelve years old. Lastly is district twelve. Prim being called, Katniss stepping forward, Gale pulling Prim up, and finally Katniss mounting the stage courageously.
“Look at what he did to my wig,” Effie whispers furiously to me. I laugh silently, but it’s obvious Katniss did not notice. The screen then cuts to Haymitch falling off the stage, and finally my name is called. Every camera can see the shock on my face as I quietly mount the stage alongside the girl I love. Katniss and I shake hands, and they cut to the anthem. “Your mentor has a lot to learn about presentation. A lot about televised behavior.” Effie says a little louder.
I can’t contain my laughter anymore. First the comment about her wig, and now this. I give a quick chuckle and say, “He was drunk. He’s drunk every year.”
Surprisingly Katniss adds, “Every day.” We laugh together as Effie looks baffled. I honestly think she believes Haymitch can just be fixed with a couple tips about bad manners.
“Yes, and how odd you two find it amusing. You know your mentor is your lifeline to the world in these Games. The one who advises you, lines up your sponsors, and dictates the presentation of any gifts. Haymitch can well be the difference between your life and your death!” Effie hisses.
As if on cue, Haymitch stumbles in. “I miss supper,” he says in a slurred voice. Then he vomits all over the expensive carpet and falls in the mess.
“So laugh away!” screeches Effie. She hops in her odd shoes around Haymitch and his mess, and flees the room.
so.. i know i said i was going to post every other day, but chapter one was done super quick and easy to i thought i would go ahead with chapter 2..
At first I feel awful for her. There is no way Prim will be able to survive The Hunger Games. She is going to be devastated. I’m also wondering how this could have happened. Prim is twelve years old, and has her name entered only once. There is no way her older sister would have allowed her to take any tesserae. She was one slip in thousands. I look back, just like everyone else and catch sight of Prim trying to contain herself. The crowd is murmuring unhappily, just like always when a twelve year old gets chosen. It’s really not fair. Prim is clenching her fists, her face is drained and white, and she is walking with little, stiff steps towards the stage. Unlike everyone else that keeps their eyes on Prim, I look to her older sister. She is watching helplessly, but something in her demeanor changes. She’s about to do something drastic.
“Prim!” She cries. “Prim!” Everyone around her make way for her to the center path. A path directly to the center. To her sister. Prim is just about to mount the steps when she sweeps her hand across Prim and pulls Prim behind her. “I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!” No, no, no, no! This can’t be happening. She’s going into the Hunger Games. While I’m lost in thought, thinking about all the things I could have said to her, all the things I should have said to her, confusion sweeps over everyone else. District twelve has never had a volunteer. In richer districts, where it’s an honor to win The Games, volunteers are plentiful. In district twelve, Tribute is a synonym for corpse.
“Oh Lovely!” says Effie. “But I believe there is the small matter of introducing the reaping winner and then asking for volunteers, and if one does come forth then um…” She trails off. I’m not surprised, she has never had to deal with a volunteer before, and the actual protocol is a little rusty.
“What does it matter?” Says the mayor. I’m surprised to see a pained expression on his face, but then I remember his daughter. Madge is friends with her. Perhaps the mayor knows her well, or maybe she sells something she hunts to him. “What does it matter,” he repeats with the pain reflecting in his voice. “Let her come forward.”
Prim is screaming now. Her screams echo through the town square. “No Katniss! No! You can’t Go!”
“Prim let go,” she snaps at her little sister. “Let go!”
I don’t know what’s going on inside her head, but I can bet she’s already thinking about The Games. She knows if she appears weak, a target will be placed on her back before she even has the chance to prove her strength. In the corner of my eye, I see movement. Gale is moving towards the two of them, and he picks Prim up off of her, and whispers something to her with pain in her eyes. Gale carries Prim back to her mother, and Effie tries to continue the reaping even with a twelve year old screaming her head off.
“Well Bravo! That’s the spirit of the Games!” Effie is probably ecstatic right now. Everyone knows she can’t wait to get bumped up to a better district, and handling a little action for once will get her good points with the capitol for sure. When she finally mounts the stage, Effie thrusts the microphone into her face. “What’s your name?”
“Katniss Everdeen.” She mumbles sheepishly.
“I bet my buttons that was your sister. Don’t want her to steal all the glory do we?” That comment infuriates me. Katniss is selfless. Ever since her father died when she was eleven, Katniss took on feeding her mother and sister without any help. Stealing the glory? More like sacrificing herself as usual. “Come on everybody! Let’s give a big round of applause to our newest tribute!” No one claps, and inside I smile to myself. Way to go district twelve. Instead, first one, then another, then every person in the square, including myself touches the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and raises it high in the air. The symbol means admiration or goodbye to someone you love. This is dangerous, but I don’t think anyone cares right now.
I can see tears begin to well up in her eyes. Don’t cry Katniss, don’t cry. My thoughts project silently outward, but I know she doesn’t hear them. She doesn’t really know who I am. Luckily, Haymitch chooses now to stumble across the stage. “Look at her. Look at this one!” He puts an arm around her shoulders. “I like her! Lots of…” it takes him a few moments to decide what he wants to say exactly. “Spunk! More than you!” He points randomly into the crowd, and walks to the front of the stage. “More than you!” he shouts into the camera. He can’t possibly be addressing the capitol can he? No one in their right mind would do that. Then again, I don’t know if Haymitch is anywhere close to being in his right mind. He is about to continue, but I see his right foot slip off the front of the stage, and he plummets to the ground knocking himself unconscious. I look to Haymitch, but then immediately back to Katniss standing so brave on that stage. I will go visit her after the reaping. Tributes are allowed a couple minutes alone with friends and family. I have to go see her then. I have to tell her everything.
I’m thinking about everything I’m going to say to her. I can hear Effie speaking in the back of my mind, but I’m not really paying attention. I’m writing my own little speech to Katniss. I’m not paying attention until I hear my name being called in a high squeaky capitol voice “Peeta Mellark.”
Wait what? That’s my name. She just pulled my name out of the reaping bowl. Everything is beginning to dawn on me. Peacekeepers surround me, and bring me up to the stage. I can feel my steps, stiff and steady, but that’s not what I’m feeling on the inside. How could this happen? The odds are definitely not in my favor today. I’m going into a competition where I will have to kill or be killed. I will have to kill Katniss. I will have to kill the girl I have loved since I was five, but I won’t do that. I try to keep my face emotionless, but it’s so difficult. I will not kill Katniss. Instead, I will ensure she comes home alive, which in turn kills myself. Katniss will have a better life without me anyway. She will come back, live in victor’s village, and marry Gale. I will save her life therefore ensuring my death.
“Are there any volunteers?” Effie chirps in her odd capitol accent. I look to my brother but his eyes are trained on the ground. I’m not surprised no one volunteers for me. Katniss loves only one thing, and that is her family. That is the reason she could be as brave as to volunteer herself for The Games. What she did was the radical thing. The mayor begins to read the treaty of treason, but I have stopped listening. Does she remember? Does she remember what I did for her, and what I would be willing to do again and again for her? No, she has probably forgotten the whole episode with the bread. I saw her starving outside the bakery door. My heartless mother wouldn’t let her even go through our trash, so I tossed a couple loaves of bread into the fire knowing my mother would make me get rid of hit. I also knew she would hit me, but I don’t see how that compares to anything Katniss had to go through at the time. She had just lost her father, her mother was jobless, and money was bound to run out sometime. She looked helpless and I remember thinking, this is it. You can save her, and she will fall in love with you. But I was a coward. Instead of handing her the bread I quickly looked through the window to make sure my mother was not looking, and tossed it out to her. I should have said something. I shouldn’t have cared about getting another beating but I did, and I never got to talk to her again. I’m such a coward and I have the audacity to love someone so brave.
The mayor is finishing up and it is time for the two tributes to shake hands. I give Katniss a reassuring squeeze, and with it go all my feelings. Everything I want to say to her goes into that one little handshake, but I know she doesn’t receive it. I will have to tell her. It’s time for me to be courageous.
I wake to the smell of bread just like every morning. But today everything is heavier and uneasy. Reaping day. My chances of being chosen are slim because i’m a merchant child, but it’s not me who i’m worried about. I get up, and stretch my muscles, make my bed, and clean my room a little because if i don’t my mother will be mad. The bread scent hits me again, and I love it. It’s my favorite scent in the world, and on days like today it’s easier to take into consideration for everything i have.
I walk down the steps and into the bakery. One of the downfalls of being a merchant child is having to work on days like today. The mines close on reaping day, but stores don’t. Especially the bakery. Reaping day is actually our best buisness day becuase even poorer families try to scrape up just enough to have a luxury tonight. To celebrate being with their children for another year. But two families won’t be able to do that. Two families will close their shutters tight, and hold onto the last hope of ever seeing their child again.
My heart flutters at the thought she might be in here today, but i know i’m wrong. She is smart, and would never waste money on something like bread. Why would she need bread when she can hunt her own meet? But then i get a shock. I step through the door and see Gale Hawthorne talking to my father. He has a squirrell in his hands, and looks to be trading for some bread. Will he be taking this to her, or back to his family? Will she finally eat some of my bread that’s not burnt? That’s an interesting thought.
“Peeta!” My father yells through the wall that seperates the counter from the kitchen. An empty window is placed in the center of the wall so the person standing at the counter can easily talk to the people working the kitchen. “Will you get Gale some whole wheat bread from the back please. Make sure it’s hot. Wouldn’t want to tarnish our reputation.” He says smiling back at Gale. Gale Hawthorne. He’s so big and strong and all the girls think he’s handsome. Sometimes I find myself jealous of him because he gets to spend so much time with her, but then i remember i’m thinking selfishly. It’s not his fault i don’t have the guts to go up and talk to her. Also, i know that if i never do get my chance, she will probably end up with Gale, and he will make her happy. He will do his best to provide for her and care for her, but that doesn’t mean i don’t still want my chance. Maybe after the reaping today I will talk to her. Yes, that’s what I’ll do.
I think all of this as i go fetch Gale’s bread, and toss it through the window where my father catches it easily. He smiles as he takes Gale’s squirell and hands him the bread.
“Good luck today,” My father finishes as Gale turns around to leave.
“Thank you. Good luck to your family as well,” Gale smiles and eventually leavese the shop. The rest of the afternoon continues without a hitch. My father taking orders, my brothers and I cooking, and my mother “Overseeing” everything. We close the bakery, just as every other shop in district twelve closes on reaping day. I go back upstairs to my room and put on my best clothes. I remember to slick back my hair, adn tidy myself up. If i’m going to the capitol i want to look my best.
When i go back down the steps the rest of my family is waiting with solumn looks on their faces. This is it. Time to go. I step onto the open streets where everyone is filing neatly into the square. I wish they wouldn’t do reapings in the square. It’s one of the few happy places in district twelve, but today it’s very sad. I move into the line with all the children standing from twelve to eighteen years old, and catch sight of her. I love seeing her. Even on days like today, and i realize it could be one of the last times I see her. No. I will not think like that. I know the “odds aren’t in her favor,” but there are plenty of other people who have more slips than her. It could just as easily be a merchant child.
I’m directed to an area surrounded by other sixteen year old boys, adn my attention is immediatly drawn to the stage. There are three chairs, a podium, adn two large glass balls that contain all the children’s names on them. I’m not too worried about me. My odds of being drawn aren’t nearly as high as someone like Gale, but never the less i try not to get my hopes up just in case. Mayor Undersee, a tall, balding man is on the stage along side district twelves capitol escort, Effie Trinket. She looks as out of place as ever with her pink hair which is definitly a wig, and green suit. Haymitch Abernathy, district twelve’s only living victor, is supposed to be up there as well, but like usuall he is late for this event. I don’t blame him. It’s probably the last place he wants to be, and he’s probably wasted.
When the clock strikes two, Mayor Undersee waits no longer an steps up to the podium. The story is always the same. He tells the history of Panem, the country that rose out of the ashes of a place once called North America. He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the enroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustanance remained. The result was Panem, a shining capitol ringed by thirteen districts, which brought peace and prosperity to its citizens. Then came the dark days, the uprising of the districts against the capitol. Twelve were defeated, the thirteenth obliterated. The Treaty of Treason gave us the new laws to guarantee peace and, as our yearly reminder that the dark days must never happen again, it gave us The Hunger Games.
The rules of The Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins. “It’s both a time for repentance and a time for thanks,” finishes the mayor. He then announces the names of district twelves previous victors. The only one still alive is Haymitch, who as soon as his name is called staggers onto the stage yelling something unintelligible, and falls into his chair. I was right. He’s wasted. The crowd claps, but he gets confused and tries to hug Effie, a hug she barely is able to fend off.
I look back at the mayor, and silently laugh at his expression. He knows this is all being televised, adn he also knows district twelve is the laughingstock of the nation. He quickly introduces Effie, and she responds as bubbly as ever, bouncing to the podium.
“Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!” I catch a glimpse of Gale in front of me. He’s turned around looking at someone. I follow his gaze, adn am not surprised when he is looking at her. She is looking right back, but I remind myself not to be jealous. Of all things to think about right now, this is it. I catch one last glimpse of her, and see she is mouthing something to herslef. Possibly telling herself not to be nervous or afraid. Maybe sending up a silent prayer that it’s not her name.
Effie shouts into the microphone, “Ladies first,” which brings my attention back to the stage. She reaches her hand in and plucks out one slip of paper. One tiny slip and i’m hoping it’s no one I know. Other than that i’m also hoping it’s not her, not her, not her. Effie reads the name, and it’s not her.
It’s Primrose Everdeen, her sister.
Hey everyone. So i’ve been looking around on tumblr lately and i couldn’t find any Gale or Peeta pov stories i really really liked so i thought i would do my own. when i made my tumblr account it was just to look around at all the stuff but now i’m like… bored. so i’m blogging! i’m new at this so please comment and tell me if the story is good or not. i will try to update at least every other day! thanks!