First of all thanks for the shout out! And while I'm a bit disappointed I can't read your reactions, I'm glad you decided to just finish em quickly. All my friends that started reading the series ended up finishing it really quickly too, kinda hard not to. It was fun while it lasted!!
Couldn’t have said it better myself! Thanks for taking most of the journey with me! :)
I totally understand why you decided to just read the entire thing... I've been impressed that you've been able to read just one chapter at a time as long as you did.. I personally read the whole series in five days ;) just one question, you've made me crack up so many times with your comments.. is there a posibility you hav a personal tumblr I can follow?? (maybe you've already answered this and I have missed it)
Thank you so much for understanding. I would have probably had an easier time with it if Suzanne Collins didn’t end EVERY ONE of her chapters with a cliffhanger!
And I am flattered that you enjoy my nonsense, haha. I haven’t given out my personal tumblr (except when I answered messages privately, since this is a secondary blog to it), because when I had first started out, I wasn’t sure I wanted to.
But here it is! There isn’t much Hunger Games there at the moment because until last night (when I finished Mockingjay) I’d been avoiding any spoilers. Enjoy!
I’m sorry, everyone. I just couldn’t keep dragging it out and doing a post for each chapter and it honestly started feeling like a chore to do. This has been an amazing experience for me, and I am grateful for every last one of you supporting me*. I really, truly appreciate it. And you guys are the only reason I feel bad stopping the blog. I feel like I’m letting y’all down, but I just don’t have the stuff to do book reviews (I’ve seen a few of Mark's posts and they're really good, you should check him out!). Plus, it felt so good to just plow through the rest of Catching Fire and all of Mockingjay in two days.
And since I never got to use that .gif I had been saving, and also because this is basically what I was doing while reading the rest of the books:
I TOTALLY KNEW FROM THE START THAT JOHANNA WAS TAKING OUT THE TRACKING DEVICE IN KATNISS’S ARM
OMG SLOW DOWN SHE BLEW UP THE ARENA AND EVERYONE WAS IN ON IT WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON
AND JESUS CHRIST THAT FUCKING LOVE TRIANGLE LASTED THE ENTIRE SERIES UP UNTIL THE LAST PAGE OF THE LAST BOOK BUT PEENISS <3 SO IT’S OKAY
AND I KEPT WAITING FOR EFFIE TRINKET TO SHOW UP BUT SHE WAS NO WHERE NEAR AS INSTRUMENTAL AS I THOUGHT SHE WOULD BE, SO FUCK THAT PREDICTION
I FEEL LIKE I HAVE PTSD JUST FROM READING THESE BOOKS AND I HAD TO KEEP REREADING ENTIRE PAGES JUST SO I COULD COMPREHEND WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON
"YOU LOVE ME, REAL OR NOT REAL?" "REAL" <3
Now that that’s out of my system (I honestly kept thinking about you guys at certain points in Mockingjay and getting the urge to make little quick fire posts, but I knew I couldn’t do it without having done each chapter as well), I guess I’ll wrap this up.
I’m not too good at goodbyes, but I just want to say thank you. Thank you for supporting the blog and reading my posts and sending me messages and not once spoiling me. Just thank you for being awesome!
And…may the odds be ever in you favor! Wow, good one, Jason.
I look back at the wall of fog extending in a straight line as far as I can see in either direction. A terrible impulse to flee, to abandon Peeta and save myself, shoots through me. It would be so simple, to run full out, perhaps to even climb a tree above the fog line, which seems to top out at about forty feet. I remember how I did just this when the muttations appeared in the last Games. Took off and only thought of Peeta when I’d reached the Cornucopia. But this time, I trap my terror, push it down, and stay by his side. This time my survival isn’t the goal. Peeta’s is. I think of the eyes glued to the television screens in the districts, seeing if I will run, as the Capitol wishes, or hold my ground.
I’ll admit that I thought it, too. I just don’t know if I’d have it in me to slow myself down to help another person survive, at risk of getting myself killed. So I think it’s totally normal for Katniss to think this, as a natural born fighter. But I love that she keeps her word and stays with Peeta.
The left side of his face has sagged, as if every muscle in it has died. The lid droops, almost concealing his eye. His mouth twists in an odd angle toward the ground. “Peeta—” I begin. And that’s when I feel the spasms run up my arm.
Whatever chemical laces the fog does more than burn — it targets our nerves. A whole new kind of fear shoots through me and I yank Peeta forward, which only causes him to stumble again. By the time I get him to his feet, both of my arms are twitching uncontrollably. The fog has moved in on us, the body of it less than a yard away. Something is wrong with Peeta’s legs; he’s trying to walk but they move in a spastic, puppetlike fashion.
WHAT THE it also paralyzes you?! How the fuck are they going to get out of this? From a Gamemaker’s standpoint, I don’t really see how this is entertaining, because if the fog is meant to debilitate them, then they don’t really get to put up a fight, which is what the Capitol wants to see, right? It’s like they just want to kill them immediately.
“It’s no good. I’ll have to carry him. Can you take Mags?” he asks me.
“Yes,” I say stoutly, although my heart sinks.
I just, I’m sorry, but it’s really not helping, having to carry these people around. They’re having a hard enough time with their own bodies! I can’t see this lasting much longer.
Finnick’s back by my side, Peeta hanging over him. “It’s no use,” I say. “Can you take them both? Go on ahead, I’ll catch up.” A somewhat doubtful proposal, but I say it with as much surety as I can muster.
I can see Finnick’s eyes, green in the moonlight. I can see them as clear as day. Almost like a cat’s, with a strange reflective quality. Maybe because they are shiny with tears. “No,” he says. “I can’t carry them both. My arms aren’t working.” It’s true. His arms jerk uncontrollably at his sides. His hands are empty. Of his three tridents, only one remains, and it’s in Peeta’s hands. “I’m sorry, Mags. I can’t do it.”
What? Finnick what are you saying? I mean I totally get that you can’t carry two people at once when your body is already not working very well, but so what does that mean now? Finnick?!
What happens next is so fast, so senseless, I can’t even move to stop it. Mags hauls herself up, plants a kiss on Finnick’s lips, and then hobbles straight into the fog. Immediately, her body is seized by wild contortions and she falls to the ground in a horrible dance.
I want to scream, but my throat is on fire. I take one futile step in her direction when I hear the cannon blast, know her heart has stopped, that she is dead.
WHAT THE FUCK, NO, I KNEW THAT THEY COULDN’T CARRY MAGS AROUND FOREVER, BUT I DIDN’T WANT THIS!!! I WANTED THE OPPOSITE OF THIS.
And now I really feel for Finnick. For all we know, they had it worked out that if it were between them, Finnick would be the one to live. I just can’t imagine how Finnick must have felt, by basically saying that he couldn’t keep Mags alive. That he had to let the other victor from his district die so that these two District 12 victors could live, at least for a little longer.
And Mags, man. This woman. I have all the feelings for her. Of course things are probably different when you’ve lived as long as she has, but that still can’t be an entirely easy thing to do, at least not for the average human being. But the way she decides, in the split-second, that of course she is dead weight, and these other three victors are much, much younger, and stand a much better chance of winning than she does. I just, I respect her so much more now because of this, and I really am sad about her dying.
Maybe it’s my eyes playing tricks, or the moonlight, but the fog seems to be transforming. Yes, it’s becoming thicker, as if it has pressed up against a glass window and is being forced to condense. I squint harder and realize the fingers no longer protrude from it. In fact, it has stopped moving forward entirely. Like other horrors I have witnessed in the arena, it has reached the end of its territory. Either that or the Gamemakers have decided not to kill us just yet.
Maybe they were satisfied that they had killed another tribute. They met their dead tribute quota! Or they made it into some kind of safe zone?
But there’s another sensation, of drawing out. I experiment by gingerly placing only my hand in the water. Torturous, yes, but then less so. And through the blue layer of water, I see a milky substance leaching out of the wounds on my skin. As the whiteness diminishes, so does the pain.
WHAT so the salt water cures them of their acid rain fog burn strokes?
And then, of course, there’s Mags. I still don’t understand what happened there. Why he essentially abandoned her to carry Peeta. Why she not only didn’t question it, but ran straight to her death without a moment’s hesitation. Was it because she was so old that her days were numbered, anyway? Did they think that Finnick would stand a better chance of winning if he had Peeta and me as allies?
I really, really, hope we hear Finnick talk about this.
I wonder what happened to the awl. Mags must’ve either dropped it or taken it into the fog with her. Anyway, it’s gone.
NO NOT THE AWL TOO!!! :( I’ll miss you, awl.
In just the short time it takes to cross to the edge of the jungle, I become aware of the change. Put it down to years of hunting, or maybe my reconstructed ear does work a little better than anyone intended. But I sense the mass of warm bodies poised above us. They don’t need to chatter or scream. The mere breathing of so many is enough.
I touch Finnick’s arm and he follows my gaze upward. I don’t know how they arrived so silently. Perhaps they didn’t. We’ve all been absorbed in restoring our bodies.
During that time they’ve assembled. Not five or ten but scores of monkeys weigh down the limbs of the jungle trees. The pair we spotted when we first escaped the fog felt like a welcoming committee. This crew feels ominous.
He’s just five yards from the beach when he senses them. His eyes only dart up for a second, but it’s as if he’s triggered a bomb. The monkeys explode into a shrieking mass of orange fur and converge on him.
OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE PEETA DO YOU HONESTLY ENJOY MAKING THINGS DIFFICULT FOR YOURSELF
I throw my knife at the oncoming mutt but the creature somersaults, evading the blade, and stays on its trajectory. Weaponless, defenseless, I do the only thing I can think of. I run for Peeta, to knock him to the ground, to protect his body with mine, even though I know I won’t make it in time.
PEETA, KATNISS, NO, OH MY GOD SWBFVIE
She does, though. Materializing, it seems, from thin air. One moment nowhere, the next reeling in front of Peeta. Already bloody, mouth open in a high-pitched scream, pupils enlarged so her eyes seem like black holes.
The insane morphling from District 6 throws up her skeletal arms as if to embrace the monkey, and it sinks its fangs into her chest.
Finnick’s hand comes up and hits me so hard, so squarely in the chest that I go flying back into a nearby tree trunk. I’m stunned for a moment, by the pain, by trying to regain my wind, as I see Finnick close off Peeta’s nose again. From where I sit, I pull an arrow, whip the notch into place, and am about to let it fly when I’m stopped by the sight of Finnick kissing Peeta.
Hmm…Finna? Peetick? I could live with that. Also I kind of laughed when Finnick hit Katniss, is that bad?
No, he’s not kissing him. He’s got Peeta’s nose blocked off but his mouth tilted open, and he’s blowing air into his lungs. I can see this, I can actually see Peeta’s chest rising and falling. Then Finnick unzips the top of Peeta’s jumpsuit and begins to pump the spot over his heart with the heels of his hands. Now that I’ve gotten through my shock, I understand what he’s trying to do.
He learned it while filming Baywatch!
His lashes flutter open and his eyes meet mine. “Careful,” he says weakly. “There’s a force field up ahead.”
He meets my eyes and I glare at him through my tears. It’s stupid, I know, that his efforts make me so vexed. All I wanted was to keep Peeta alive, and I couldn’t and Finnick could, and I should be nothing but grateful. And I am. But I am also furious because it means that I will never stop owing Finnick Odair. Ever. So how can I kill him in his sleep?
YOU HAD ONE JOB, KATNISS! And of course she feels worthless and guilty that this one incident 20 minutes into the Games would have been the death of Peeta if no one else were around. Plus she just keeps racking up her debt to people!
“Maybe they did a better job than they thought. You know, sometimes I do hear funny things on that side. Things you wouldn’t ordinarily think have a sound. Like insect wings. Or snow hitting the ground.” Perfect. Now all the attention will turn to the surgeons who fixed my deaf ear after the Games last year, and they’ll have to explain why I can hear like a bat.
Haha, great cover. And definitely a good idea to conceal her knowledge of the forcefield’s weakness. For now.
There’s a reason we can’t turn to the left, will never be able to. From this precarious vantage point, I can see the shape of the whole arena for the first time. A perfect circle. With a perfect wheel in the middle. The sky above the circumference of the jungle is tinged a uniform pink. And I think I can make out one or two of those wavy squares, chinks in the armor, Wiress and Beetee called them, because they reveal what was meant to be hidden and are therefore a weakness. Just to make absolutely sure, I shoot an arrow into the empty space above the tree line. There’s a spurt of light, a flash of real blue sky, and the arrow’s thrown back into the jungle.
What the HEH. So the arena is just a big circle? Actually, now it doesn’t seem so big, if it only took them part of a day to reach the edge. And I didn’t realize that the island that is the Cornucopia is in the center, completely closed off. Holy shit. How are they going to get the tributes closer to each other? Make the forcefield gradually shrink? And what the hell is on the other side of it?
The sound of the cannon brings me to a halt. The initial bloodbath at the Cornucopia must be over. The death toll of the tributes is now available. I count the shots, each representing one dead victor. Eight. Not as many as last year. But it seems like more since I know most of their names.
Yeesh, I wonder how fast this is going to go by? Maybe, like Katniss thought, the Gamemakers want to just get it over with quickly.
It’s ugly, all right, a big rodent with a fuzz of mottled gray fur and two wicked-looking gnawing teeth protruding over its lower lip.
ROUSs! They do exist!
Peeta has another idea. He takes a cube of rodent meat, skewers it on the tip of a pointed stick, and lets it fall into the force field. There’s a sharp sizzle and the stick flies back. The chunk of meat is blackened on the outside but well cooked inside. We give him a round of applause, then quickly stop, remembering where we are.
The man from District 5, the one Finnick took out with his trident, is the first to appear. That means that all the tributes in 1 through 4 are alive — the four Careers, Beetee and Wiress, and, of course, Mags and Finnick. The man from District 5 is followed by the male morphling from 6, Cecelia and Woof from 8, both from 9, the woman from 10, and Seeder from 11. The Capitol seal is back with a final bit of music and then the sky goes dark except for the moon.
And here I thought that old bag Mags would be the first to die.But for some reason I’m saddened by Seeder’s death! Just because she was from District 11 and was Haymitch’s friend.
Peeta unties the cord and flattens out the circle of silk. On the parachute sits a small metal object that I can’t place. “What is it?” I ask. No one knows. We pass it from hand to hand, taking turns examining it. It’s a hollow metal tube, tapered slightly at one end. On the other end a small lip curves downward. It’s vaguely familiar. A part that could have fallen off a bicycle, a curtain rod, anything, really.
Great, more metal instruments that have no apparent use!
“It’s a spile. Sort of like a faucet. You put it in a tree and sap comes out.” I look at the sinewy green trunks around me. “Well, the right sort of tree.”
BOOM BABY! So they’re going to drink sap? I’m not sure that will work as well as water.
There’s nothing to drill with, so Mags offers her awl and Peeta drives it straight into the bark, burying the spike two inches deep.
Yay, the awl isn’t entirely useless!
At first nothing happens. Then a drop of water rolls down the lip and lands in Mags’s palm. She licks it off and holds out her hand for more.
By wiggling and adjusting the spile, we get a thin stream running out. We take turns holding our mouths under the tap, wetting our parched tongues. Mags brings over a basket, and the grass is so tightly woven it holds water. We fill the basket and pass it around, taking deep gulps and, later, luxuriously, splashing our faces clean. Like everything here, the water’s on the warm side, but this is no time to be picky.
Water! So wet, so good! I wonder how the other tributes are doing for water. Are the trees their only source of drinking water?
Instead I find myself jarred from sleep a few hours later by what seems to be the tolling of a bell. Bong! Bong! It’s not exactly like the one they ring in the Justice Building on New Year’s but close enough for me to recognize it. Peeta and Mags sleep through it, but Finnick has the same look of attentiveness I feel. The tolling stops.
“I counted twelve,” he says.
I nod. Twelve. What does that signify? One ring for each district? Maybe. But why? “Mean anything, do you think?”
“No idea,” he says.
Maybe the number of districts that still have at least one living tribute? Nope, 8 and 9 are both out. I got nothing.
The sound of the cannon startles me, although it makes little impression on my sleeping companions. There’s no point in awakening them for this. Another victor dead. I don’t even allow myself to wonder who it is.
I bet someone got struck by lightning (only kind of kidding)! Can the Gamemakers control the lightning so it hits people?!
Moments after it stops, I see the fog sliding softly in from the direction of the recent downpour. Just a reaction. Cool rain on the steaming ground, I think. It continues to approach at a steady pace. Tendrils reach forward and then curl like fingers, as if they are pulling the rest behind them. As I watch, I feel the hairs on my neck begin to rise. Something’s wrong with this fog. The progression of the front line is too uniform to be natural. And if it’s not natural …
A sickeningly sweet odor begins to invade my nostrils and I reach for the others, shouting for them to wake up.
In the few seconds it takes to rouse them, I begin to blister.
WHAT THE FUCK it’s like acid rain! Or acid fog! Or something, just get the hell out of there wtaffyasnefvd
All right, there’s the Cornucopia, the shining gold metal horn, about forty yards away. At first, it appears to be sitting on a circular island. But on closer examination, I see the thin strips of land radiating from the circle like the spokes on a wheel. I think there are ten to twelve, and they seem equidistant from one another. Between the spokes, all is water. Water and a pair of tributes.
That’s it, then. There are twelve spokes, each with two tributes balanced on metal plates between them. The other tribute in my watery wedge is old Woof from District 8. He’s about as far to my right as the land strip on my left. Beyond the water, wherever you look, a narrow beach and then dense greenery. I scan the circle of tributes, looking for Peeta, but he must be blocked from my view by the Cornucopia.
Wait, okay, WHAT? The Cornucopia is on an island, and there are these strips of land, like sand bars, that shoot out between all of them, and the tributes are balancing on metal discs in the middle of the OCEAN?
I’m still not so sure I’m grasping this whole setup, so maybe that’s why I was so confused during the whole first half of this chapter. I feel like I’m reading the Department of Mysteries chapter of OotP, like they’re in WHAT room which is connected to WHAT and WHERE is this person and WHERE are they going now and I need a fucking DIAGRAM of this place.
But anyway, moving on!
Last year, the supplies were spread out quite a distance around the Cornucopia, with the most valuable closest to the horn. But this year, the booty seems to be piled at the twenty-foot-high mouth. My eyes instantly home in on a golden bow just in arm’s reach and I yank it free.
Haha, booty, get it because they’re on an island? Whatever, POINT IS, Katniss got her filthy hands on a fucking golden bow and is now ready to fuck shit up!
For a moment we’re frozen, sizing each other up, our weapons, our skill. Then Finnick suddenly grins. “Lucky thing we’re allies. Right?”
Sensing a trap, I’m about to let my arrow fly, hoping it finds his heart before the trident impales me, when he shifts his hand and something on his wrist catches the sunlight. A solid-gold bangle patterned with flames. The same one I remember on Haymitch’s wrist the morning I began training. I briefly consider that Finnick could have stolen it to trick me, but somehow I know this isn’t the case. Haymitch gave it to him. As a signal to me. An order, really. To trust Finnick.
FINNICK IS ON THEIR SIDE WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN WHY WASN’T I TOLD?
Seriously though, Haymitch, why didn’t you just say something, Katniss almost killed him!
“Duck!” Finnick commands in such a powerful voice, so different from his usual seductive purr, that I do. His trident goes whizzing over my head and there’s a sickening sound of impact as it finds its target. The man from District 5, the drunk who threw up on the sword-fighting floor, sinks to his knees as Finnick frees the trident from his chest. “Don’t trust One and Two,” Finnick says.
I quickly scan the pile on my side and find maces, swords, bows and arrows, tridents, knives, spears, axes, metallic objects I have no name for…and nothing else.
“Weapons!” I call back. “Nothing but weapons!”
“Same here,” he confirms. “Grab what you want and let’s go!”
Why only weapons? Do they want the tributes to just kill each other and get it over with? Doesn’t sound like something they would do. Also, like with those night-vision goggles from last time, I’m going to predict that they’ll find a use for those metallic objects. Or we’ll at least find out what they are.
I sling an extra bow and a second sheath of arrows over my body, slide two long knives and an awl into my belt, and meet up with Finnick at the front of the pile.
I admit I had to look up what an awl was. What a weird thing to have as a weapon!
If I had only my own safety to consider, I might be willing to take them on with Finnick by my side. But it’s Peeta I’m thinking about. I spot him now, still stranded on his metal plate.
OMG WTF I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT PEETA. What has he been doing this whole time? Just standing on that metal plate? Does he not know how to swim? It’s just amazing to me how many of them don’t know how to swim, maybe because I learned when I was like 8 so it’s second nature, and maybe I take it for granted that everyone knows how to swim. Which is weird considering the location of the Cornucopia and the lack of swim training back at the Capitol.
I take off and Finnick follows without question, as if knowing this will be my next move. When I’m as close as I can get, I start removing knives from my belt, preparing to swim out to reach him and somehow bring him in.
Finnick drops a hand on my shoulder. “I’ll get him.”
Suspicion flickers up inside me. Could this all just be a ruse? For Finnick to win my trust and then swim out and drown Peeta? “I can,” I insist.
Yeah, why is Finnick all eager to get Peeta? Something sure seems….fishy.
But Finnick has dropped all his weapons to the ground. “Better not exert yourself. Not in your condition,” he says, and reaches down and pats my abdomen.
Oh, right. I’m supposed to be pregnant, I think. While I’m trying to think what that means and how I should act—maybe throw up or something—Finnick has positioned himself at the edge of the water.
“Cover me,” he says. He disappears with a flawless dive.
I’ll allow it, but watch yourself, Odair! (wow I am on a fucking roll) And what is Katniss’s “pregnancy” going to mean for the other tributes and the Games in general? How will it come into play? Because it obv will.
A quick survey of the rest of the arena shows that most of the tributes are still trapped on their plates. Wait, no, there’s someone standing on the spoke to my left, the one opposite Peeta. It’s Mags. But she neither heads for the Cornucopia nor tries to flee. Instead she splashes into the water and starts paddling toward me, her gray head bobbing above the waves. Well, she’s old, but I guess after eighty years of living in District 4 she can keep afloat.
Mags! Get on over here, you old bag! And I’m still just in awe at how many of those tributes just can’t swim. Like right off the bat, they’re incapacitated by the water surrounding them.
“Hello, again,” he says, and gives me a kiss. “We’ve got allies.”
“Yes. Just as Haymitch intended,” I answer. “Remind me, did we make deals with anyone else?” Peeta asks.
“Only Mags, I think,” I say. I nod toward the old woman doggedly making her way toward us.
“Well, I can’t leave Mags behind,” says Finnick. “She’s one of the few people who actually likes me.”
“I’ve got no problem with Mags,” I say. “Especially now that I see the arena. Het fishhooks are probably our best chance of getting a meal.”
“Katniss wanted her on the first day,” says Peeta.
“Katniss has remarkably good judgment,” says Finnick.
Oooh, yay, the fearsome foursome!
Also, the belts float. Good to know.
I hand Peeta a bow, a sheath of arrows, and a knife, keeping the rest for myself. But Mags tugs on my sleeve and babbles on until I’ve given the awl to her. Pleased, she clamps the handle between her gums and reaches her arms up to Finnick. He tosses his net over his shoulder, hoists Mags on top of it, grips his tridents in his free hand, and we run away from the Cornucopia.
What does mags plan on doing with that godforsaken thing? And I had to reread that part, but yes, Finnick is carrying Mags. Suddenly she seems like dead weight.I mean, at least Finnick is here to support her.
Around the Cornucopia, the ground appears to be bleeding; the water has purple stains. Bodies lie on the ground and float in the sea, but at this distance, with everyone dressed exactly the same, I can’t tell who lives or dies. All I can tell is that some of the tiny blue figures still battle. Well, what did I think? That the victors’ chain of locked hands last night would result in some sort of universal truce in the arena? No, I never believed that. But I guess I had hoped people might show some…what? Restraint? Reluctance, at least. Before they jumped right into massacre mode. And you all knew each other, I think. You acted like friends.
No!!! We were supposed to have a big sit-in!!! I hate this.
I let the slight, soupy breeze cool my cheeks while I come to a decision. Despite the bangle, I should just get it over with and shoot Finnick.
That was quick. But it just seems like a bad idea right now.
But when I land, I find Finnick’s kept pace with my thoughts. As if he knows what I have seen and how it will have affected me. He has one of his tridents raised in a casually defensive position.
“What’s going on down there, Katniss? Have they all joined hands? Taken a vow of nonviolence? Tossed the weapons in the sea in defiance of the Capitol?” Finnick asks.
“No,” I say.
“No,” Finnick repeats. “Because whatever happened in the past is in the past. And no one in this arena was a victor by chance.” He eyes Peeta for a moment. “Except maybe Peeta.”
Yeah, I’m sold. He’s got to be good. At least mostly good. Maybe it was too perfect of a response to what Katniss was thinking, but I really think Finnick is going to be usefull, if not a “good guy”, whatever that is.
But there is no other side. I know this before anyone else, even though I am farthest from the top. My eyes catch on a funny, rippling square hanging like a warped pane of glass in the air. At first I think it’s the glare from the sun or the heat shimmering up off the ground. But it’s fixed in space, not shifting when I move. And that’s when I connect the square with Wiress and Beetee in the Training Center and realize what lies before us. My warning cry is just reaching my lips when Peeta’s knife swings out to slash away some vines.
What the fuck? Is there a forcefield surrounding the island? Is it even an island? Why is there a forcefield there? Why not the bounce-back kind of thing that Haymitch utilized in his Games? OH AND PEETA’S ABOUT TO FUCKING HIT IT.
There’s a sharp zapping sound. For an instant, the trees are gone and I see open space over a short stretch of bare earth. Then Peeta’s flung back from the force field, bringing Finnick and Mags to the ground.
WHAT WAS THAT? The trees disappeared! Right? Is it all an illusion? What is behind that forcefield?
I rush over to where he lies, motionless in a web of vines. “Peeta?” There’s a faint smell of singed hair. I call his name again, giving him a little shake, but he’s unresponsive. My fingers fumble across his lips, where there’s no warm breath although moments ago he was panting. I press my ear against his chest, to the spot where I always rest my head, where I know I will hear the strong and steady beat of his heart.
Caesar gestures for Cinna to rise. He does, and makes a small, gracious bow. And suddenly I am so afraid for him. What has he done? Something terribly dangerous. An act of rebellion in itself. And he’s done it for me. I remember his words …
“Don’t worry. I always channel my emotions into my work. That way I don’t hurt anyone but myself.”
… and I’m afraid he has hurt himself beyond repair. The significance of my fiery transformation will not be lost on President Snow.
Shit, shit, shit, Cinna what have you done? Is this why he asked for District 12? Did he predict that he could facilitate an uprising with his clothing, that Katniss could become the face of the rebellion with his help?
“We’re already married,” says Peeta quietly. The crowd reacts in astonishment, and I have to bury my face in the folds of my skirt so they can’t see my confusion. Where on earth is he going with this?
He’s making everyone feel even worse! They may be the most tragic tributes of them all, the star-crossed lovers, now married, soon to be facing each other in the arena again only a year after they won. And Peeta is just rubbing their noses in it!
“I’m not glad,” says Peeta. “I wish we had waited until the whole thing was done officially.”
This takes even Caesar aback. “Surely even a brief time is better than no time?”
“Maybe I’d think that, too, Caesar,” says Peeta bitterly, “if it weren’t for the baby.”
PEETA YOU GENIUS. Now they’re married, AND they’re expecting?
As the bomb explodes, it sends accusations of injustice and barbarism and cruelty flying out in every direction. Even the most Capitol-loving, Games-hungry, bloodthirsty person out there can’t ignore, at least for a moment, how horrific the whole thing is.
Hmm, sending previous victors back into the games is beginning to sound like less and less of a good idea, huh, Gamemakers?
And then it happens. Up and down the row, the victors begin to join hands. Some right away, like the morphlings, or Wiress and Beetee. Others unsure but caught up in the demands of those around them, like Brutus and Enobaria. By the time the anthem plays its final strains, all twenty-four of us stand in one unbroken line in what must be the first public show of unity among the districts since the Dark Days. You can see the realization of this as the screens begin to pop into blackness. It’s too late, though. In the confusion they didn’t cut us off in time. Everyone has seen.
But what does this mean for the tributes? Are they going to stay this united once the gong sounds and they’re in the arena? I can’t imagine every single tribute would be on board for a sit-in, but DEAR GOD how I’d love a sit-in.
We wait for the others to return, but when the elevator opens, only Haymitch appears. “It’s madness out there. Everyone’s been sent home and they’ve canceled the recap of the interviews on television.”
Peeta and I hurry to the window and try to make sense of the commotion far below us on the streets. “What are they saying?” Peeta asks. “Are they asking the president to stop the Games?”
“I don’t think they know themselves what to ask. The whole situation is unprecedented. Even the idea of opposing the Capitol’s agenda is a source of confusion for the people here,” says Haymitch. “But there’s no way Snow would cancel the Games. You know that, right?”
Either way, they’ve done something. They’ve stirred something in the other districts, and even the Capitol. Everyone saw what happened, they’re going to remember it, and they’re going to do something about it. I just feel like this is the turning point for all of Panem.
“Then we’ll never see Effie again,” says Peeta. We didn’t see her on the morning of the Games last year. “You’ll give her our thanks.”
“More than that. Really make it special. It’s Effie, after all,” I say. “Tell her how appreciative we are and how she was the best escort ever and tell her … tell her we send our love.”
Effie! I never thought I’d get upset over Effie! :(
For a while we just stand there in silence, delaying the inevitable. Then Haymitch says it. “I guess this is where we say our good-byes as well.”
“Any last words of advice?” Peeta asks.
“Stay alive,” Haymitch says gruffly. That’s almost an old joke with us now. He gives us each a quick embrace, and I can tell it’s all he can stand. “Go to bed. You need your rest.”
I know I should say a whole bunch of things to Haymitch, but I can’t think of anything he doesn’t already know, really, and my throat is so tight I doubt anything would come out, anyway. So, once again, I let Peeta speak for us both.
“You take care, Haymitch,” he says.
We cross the room, but in the doorway, Haymitch’s voice stops us. “Katniss, when you’re in the arena,” he begins. Then he pauses. He’s scowling in a way that makes me sure I’ve already disappointed him.
“What?” I ask defensively.
“You just remember who the enemy is,” Haymitch tells me. “That’s all. Now go on. Get out of here.”
What the…yeah. The Capitol, right? Or does he mean the other tributes? Is he disappointed in their striking back at the Capitol? He was never on board with a rebellion, but does he still expect them to “play” the Games and kill each other? After all this? I just wish I new what Haymitch meant and how he really feels!
“What do you think?” I ask, holding the fabric out for Cinna to examine.
He frowns as he rubs the thin stuff between his fingers. “I don’t know. It will offer little in the way of protection from cold or water.”
“Sun?” I ask, picturing a burning sun over a barren desert.
Oh yeah, I just remembered, where are they going to go? Where will the arena be? Did I ever say it might be in District 13? Because I feel like it could be there.
We sit, as we did last year, holding hands until the voice tells me to prepare for the launch. He walks me over to the circular metal plate and zips up the neck of my jumpsuit securely. “Remember, girl on fire,” he says, “I’m still betting on you.” He kisses my forehead and steps back as the glass cylinder slides down around me.
Suddenly the door behind him bursts open and three Peacekeepers spring into the room. Two pin Cinna’s arms behind him and cuff him while the third hits him in the temple with such force he’s knocked to his knees. But they keep hitting him with metal-studded gloves, opening gashes on his face and body. I’m screaming my head off, banging on the unyielding glass, trying to reach him. The Peacekeepers ignore me completely as they drag Cinna’s limp body from the room. All that’s left are the smears of blood on the floor.
NO. NO NO NO. WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?
THEY’RE GETTING BACK AT HIM FOR THE COSTUME.
OH MY FUCKING GOD, PLEASE DON’T LET HIM BE DEAD.
Sickened and terrified, I feel the plate begin to rise. I’m still leaning against the glass when the breeze catches my hair and I force myself to straighten up. Just in time, too, because the glass is retreating and I’m standing free in the arena. Something seems to be wrong with my vision. The ground is too bright and shiny and keeps undulating. I squint down at my feet and see that my metal plate is surrounded by blue waves that lap up over my boots. Slowly I raise my eyes and take in the water spreading out in every direction.
I can only form one clear thought.
This is no place for a girl on fire.
I’m still shaking from Cinna’s attack.
But what the hell? Where are they? The ocean? Do they have to swim around and tread water until they get too tired and drown?
I feel like it's been too long since your last chapter! Come back please?
Tell me about it, and I’m working on it! Haha most likely sometime this coming week I’ll make a post. I hate having school because I just want to do a chapter a day like I did during break, but now I’m lucky to do a chapter a week. Just don’t lose faith in me! I love you all!
As I stand in the water, I begin to wonder about the wisdom of my latest trick. The question that should now always be my guide is “Will this help Peeta stay alive?” Indirectly, this might not. What happens in training is highly secretive, so there’s no point in taking action against me when no one will know what my transgression was. In fact, last year I was rewarded for my brashness. This is a different sort of crime, though. If the Gamemakers are angry with me and decide to punish me in the arena, Peeta could get caught up in the attack as well. Maybe it was too impulsive. Still…I can’t say I’m sorry I did it.
Honestly, Katniss, they were probably going to try to kill you both no matter what you did.
“Well, that would be standard. They can’t let one tribute know what another did,” says Effie, unconcerned. “What did you paint, Peeta?” She looks a little misty. “Was it a picture of Katniss?”
“Why would he paint a picture of me, Effie?” I ask, somehow annoyed.
lol come on Effie
“Actually, I painted a picture of Rue,” Peeta says. “How she looked after Katniss had covered her in flowers.”
JESUS CHRIST, PEETA, WHY DON’T YOU JUST PUT A KNIFE THROUGH MY HEART
“And, Haymitch?” says Peeta. “We decided we don’t want any other allies in the arena.”
“Good. Then I won’t be responsible for you killing off any of my friends with your stupidity,” he says.
“That’s just what we were thinking,” I tell him.
Wait what? When did they decide that? And Haymitch is just okay with that? Your friends most likely going to get killed, anyway, Haymitch, no matter who does it!
And it turns out he’s right. Because when Peeta and I each pull a twelve, we make Hunger Games history. No one feels like celebrating, though.
“Why did they do that?” I ask.
“So that the others will have no choice but to target you,” says Haymitch flatly. “Go to bed. I can’t stand to look at either one of you.”
So they got a twelve for their…performances. But wouldn’t that also make people want to team up with them? I just feel like these scores could go either way.
And Haymitch, can you just stop killing my buzz, thanks.
Peeta walks me down to my room in silence, but before he can say good night, I wrap my arms around him and rest my head against his chest. His hands slide up my back and his cheek leans against my hair. “I’m sorry if I made things worse,” I say.
“No worse than I did. Why did you do it, anyway?” he says.
“I don’t know. To show them that I’m more than just a piece in their Games?” I say.
He laughs a little, no doubt remembering the night before the Games last year. We were on the roof, neither of us able to sleep. Peeta had said something of the sort then, but I hadn’t understood what he meant. Now I do.
I just love that this conversation happens at almost the same exact point last year. And I love that it means a whole hell of a lot more to Katniss now than it did last year. It’s amazing to think of how far her character hs come since then.
And for the first time, I distance myself from the personal tragedy that has consumed me since they announced the Quell. I remember the old man they shot in District 11, and Bonnie and Twill, and the rumored uprisings. Yes, everyone in the districts will be watching me to see how I handle this death sentence, this final act of President Snow’s dominance. They will be looking for some sign that their battles have not been in vain. If I can make it clear that I’m still defying the Capitol right up to the end, the Capitol will have killed me…but not my spirit. What better way to give hope to the rebels?
The beauty of this idea is that my decision to keep Peeta alive at the expense of my own life is itself an act of defiance. A refusal to play the Hunger Games by the Capitol’s rules. My private agenda dovetails completely with my public one. And if I really could save Peeta … in terms of a revolution, this would be ideal. Because I will be more valuable dead. They can turn me into some kind of martyr for the cause and paint my face on banners, and it will do more to rally people than anything I could do if I was living. But Peeta would be more valuable alive, and tragic, because he will be able to turn his pain into words that will transform people.
We lie there for a while, in no rush to begin the day. Tomorrow night will be the televised interview, so today Effie and Haymitch should be coaching us. More high heels and sarcastic comments, I think. But then the redheaded Avox girl comes in with a note from Effie saying that, given our recent tour, both she and Haymitch have agreed we can handle ourselves adequately in public. The coaching sessions have been canceled.
Wow, really? That seems really odd. Though I guess nothing they say can make President Snow and the Gamemakers like them any more or less.
“I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now, and live in it forever,” he says.
This is already heartbreaking considering Peeta’s love for Katniss, but now cthe fact that they really won’t live much longer after this moment makes it ten times more depressing.
His fingers go back to my hair and I doze off, but he rouses me to see the sunset. It’s a spectacular yellow and orange blaze behind the skyline of the Capitol. “I didn’t think you’d want to miss it,” he says.
“Thanks,” I say. Because I can count on my fingers the number of sunsets I have left, and I don’t want to miss any of them.
My prep team. My foolish, shallow, affectionate pets, with their obsessions with feathers and parties, nearly break my heart with their good-bye. It’s certain from Venia’s last words that we all know I won’t be returning. Does the whole world know it? I wonder. I look at Cinna. He knows, certainly. But as he promised, there’s no danger of tears from him.
This is kind of funny and yet sad because I had really grown to like Venia, Flavius, and Octavia. And Cinna, dear God, make me cry why don’t you? That stupid man doesn’t even have to say anything and I just lose it. :(
“President Snow put in the dress order himself,” says Cinna. He unzips the bag, revealing one of the wedding dresses I wore for the photo shoot.
What the…FUCK? She’s wearing her wedding dress? I think I’m going to throw up. It’s just so…cruel. And it’s President Snow’s way of reminding her that she really is no more than a piece in their games.
Cinna helps me carefully into the gown. As it settles on my shoulders, they can’t help giving a shrug of complaint. “Was it always this heavy?” I ask. I remember several of the dresses being dense, but this one feels like it weighs a ton.
“I had to make some slight alterations because of the lighting,” says Cinna. I nod, but I can’t see what that has to do with anything.
I would have passed by this completely, but the last time something seemed odd about her outfit and Cinna gave an odd explanation for it, it turned out to be much more significant.
We meet up with Effie, Haymitch, Portia, and Peeta at the elevator. Peeta’s in an elegant tuxedo and white gloves. The sort of thing grooms wear to get married in, here in the Capitol.
Haha I just love that he’s wearing white gloves. Where’s his cane and top hat?!
Back home everything is so much simpler. A woman usually rents a white dress that’s been worn hundreds of times. The man wears something clean that’s not mining clothes. They fill out some forms at the Justice Building and are assigned a house. Family and friends gather for a meal or bit of cake, if it can be afforded. Even if it can’t, there’s always a traditional song we sing as the new couple crosses the threshold of their home. And we have our own little ceremony, where they make their first fire, toast a bit of bread, and share it. Maybe it’s old-fashioned, but no one really feels married in District 12 until after the toasting.
I took this as a kind of poke at our own wedding traditions today. We set the date months in advance, spend lots of money, get all dressed up and buy a huge cake and drink champagne and whatnot. Actually, I see a lot of parallels being made of the Capitol and our first world countries, if you will.
Finally Finnick says, “I can’t believe Cinna put you in that thing.”
“He didn’t have any choice. President Snow made him,” I say, somewhat defensively. I won’t let anyone criticize Cinna.
AS YOU SHOULD.
I’m confused because, while they all are angry, some are giving us sympathetic pats on the shoulder, and Johanna Mason actually stops to straighten my pearl necklace.
“Make him pay for it, okay?” she says.
It’s amazing how one line can completely change my ind about a character. I mean, I don’t think I ever thought Johanna would be bad, but this made me really like her. It reminds me that in a way, they’re all on the same side. Them vs. the Capitol.
This is the first time I realize the depth of betrayal felt among the victors and the rage that accompanies it. But they are so smart, so wonderfully smart about how they play it, because it all comes back to reflect on the government and President Snow in particular.
Wait so they’re all using their interviews to criticize the Capitol? Nice.
Cashmere starts the ball rolling with a speech about how she just can’t stop crying when she thinks of how much the people in the Capitol must be suffering because they will lose us. Gloss recalls the kindness shown here to him and his sister. Beetee questions the legality of the Quell in his nervous, twitchy way, wondering if it’s been fully examined by experts of late. Finnick recites a poem he wrote to his one true love in the Capitol, and about a hundred people faint because they’re sure he means them. By the time Johanna Mason gets up, she’s asking if something can’t be done about the situation. Surely the creators of the Quarter Quell never anticipated such love forming between the victors and the Capitol. No one could be socruel as to sever such a deep bond. Seeder quietly ruminates about how, back in District 11, everyone assumes President Snow is all-powerful. So if he’s all-powerful, why doesn’t he change the Quell? And Chaff, who comes right on her heels, insists the president could change the Quell if he wanted to, but he must not think it matters much to anyone.
NO I just ripped a page in my book when I was turning it! :(
Anyway, I never in my life expected these tributes to do their interviews this way. I sort of thought they’d be “too proud” for it. But I guess that would make more sense in any other year. New children that we’ve never met refusing to play along, or else trying to win the crowd over. Now, however, it is a completely different ball game. They’re using their “fame” to tell it like it is and try to sway the Capitol. And I wonder if the Gamemakers and President Snow are slowly regretting their decision to send in tributes that the whole world already knows and loves.
And by the way, Finnick’s poem was about me. You can all go home now.
By the time I’m introduced, the audience is an absolute wreck. People have been weeping and collapsing and even calling for change. The sight of me in my white silk bridal gown practically causes a riot. No more me, no more star-crossed lovers living happily ever after, no more wedding. I can see even Caesar’s professionalism showing some cracks as he tries to quiet them so I can speak, but my three minutes are ticking quickly away.
Well it certainly looks like the tributes’ plan is working.
I don’t have to look at Cinna for a signal. I know this is the right time. I begin to twirl slowly, raising the sleeves of my heavy gown above my head.
When I hear the screams of the crowd, I think it’s because I must look stunning. Then I notice something is rising up around me. Smoke. From fire. Not the flickery stuff I wore last year in the chariot, but something much more real that devours my dress. I begin to panic as the smoke thickens. Charred bits of black silk swirl into the air, and pearls clatter to the stage.
WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY BURNING HER ALIVE IN FRONT OF EVERYONE?
Somehow I’m afraid to stop because my flesh doesn’t seem to be burning and I know Cinna must be behind whatever is happening. So I keep spinning and spinning. For a split second I’m gasping, completely engulfed in the strange flames. Then all at once, the fire is gone. I slowly come to a stop, wondering if I’m naked and why Cinna has arranged to burn away my wedding dress.
But I’m not naked. I’m in a dress of the exact design of my wedding dress, only it’s the color of coal and made of tiny feathers. Wonderingly, I lift my long, flowing sleeves into the air, and that’s when I see myself on the television screen. Clothed in black except for the white patches on my sleeves. Or should I say my wings.
Because Cinna has turned me into a mockingjay.
CINNA, YOU’RE A FUCKING GENIUS.
But maybe I don’t understand how this dress works, but does she actually look like a mockingjay? It’s basically the same dress but with black feathers. And…wings? How does that work? I don’t know but I’m not doing to worry about it because that is freakin’ AWESOME.
Haymitch grips my wrist as if anticipating my next move, but I am as speechless as the Capitol’s torturers have rendered Darius.
Of course Haymitch knows who this is, too! Of course Haymitch is equally affected by Darius becoming an Avox. I wonder what he’s thinking at this moment. Of course, after many years of returning to the Capitol for Games-related stuff, he might be used to seeing people he knows as Avoxes.
But the only time I really feel present is when I purposely knock a dish of peas to the floor and, before anyone can stop me, crouch down to clean them up. Darius is right by me when I send the dish over, and we two are briefly side by side, obscured from view, as we scoop up the peas. For just one moment our hands meet. I can feel his skin, rough under the buttery sauce from the dish. In the tight, desperate clench of our fingers are all the words we will never be able to say.
Haymitch gives me a scowl, then relents. “All right, never mind. Today, in training, you’ve got two jobs. One, stay in love.”
“Obviously,” I say.
“And two, make some friends,” says Haymitch.
Oh man, this ought to be good. Peeta’s a natural, but Katniss, making friends? Recruiting allies? Either way, I’m excited to see who they come up with. I like teams!
Make your own pack if you’d rather. Choose who you like. I’d suggest Chaff and Seeder. Although Finnick’s not to be ignored,” says Haymitch. “Find someone to team up with who might be of some use to you. Remember, you’re not in a ring full of trembling children anymore. These people are all experienced killers, no matter what shape they appear to be in.”
Am I the only one who rolled his eyes when Haymitch suggested, oh, I don’t know, just two random people off the top of my head, how about Chaff and Seeder, the two with whom I’ve become the closest of friends? I mean maybe they would be their best bet, but for some reason I yawned a bit when Haymitch said it.
Enobaria looks to be about thirty and all I can remember about her is that, in hand-to-hand combat, she killed one tribute by ripping open his throat with her teeth. She became so famous for this act that, after she was a victor, she had her teeth cosmetically altered so each one ends in a sharp point like a fang and is inlaid with gold. She has no shortage of admirers in the Capitol.
I WANNA SEE YA GRILL, YA, YA, YA GRILL.
I’d be content to spend the morning alone with him, but after about an hour and a half, someone puts his arms around me from behind, his fingers easily finishing the complicated knot I’ve been sweating over. Of course it’s Finnick, who seems to have spent his childhood doing nothing but wielding tridents and manipulating ropes into fancy knots for nets, I guess. I watch for a minute while he picks up a length of rope, makes a noose, and then pretends to hang himself for my amusement.
The woman, Wiress, is probably around my mother’s age and speaks in a quiet, intelligent voice. But right away I notice she has a habit of dropping off her words in mid-sentence, as if she’s forgotten you’re there. Beetee, the man, is older and somewhat fidgety. He wears glasses but spends a lot of time looking under them. They’re a little strange, but I’m pretty sure neither of them is going to try to make me uncomfortable by stripping naked. And they’re from District 3. Maybe they can even confirm my suspicions of an uprising there.
Hmmm, suddenly these people seem like potential allies. I think either way, they’re going to have to team up with at least one old person. Might as well be them.
I glance around the Training Center. Peeta is at the center of a ribald circle of knife throwers. The morphlings from District 6 are in the camouflage station, painting each other’s faces with bright pink swirls. The male tribute from District 5 is vomiting wine on the sword-fighting floor. Finnick and the old woman from his district are using the archery station. Johanna Mason is naked again and oiling her skin down for a wrestling lesson. I decide to stay put.
Nice, classic, high school cafeteria-style walkthrough of the tributes in the training center. But seriously what is that girl’s PROBLEM?
“The strength of the thread,” Beetee finishes explaining. “Automatically. It rules out human error.” Then he talks about his recent success creating a musical chip that’s tiny enough to be concealed in a flake of glitter but can hold hours of songs. I remember Octavia talking about this during the wedding shoot, and I see a possible chance to allude to the uprising.
“Oh, yeah. My prep team was all upset a few months ago, I think, because they couldn’t get hold of that,” I say casually. “I guess a lot of orders from District Three were getting backed up.”
Beetee examines me under his glasses. “Yes. Did you have any similar backups in coal production, this year?” he asks.
“No. Well, we lost a couple of weeks when they brought in a new Head Peacekeeper and his crew, but nothing major,” I say. “To production, I mean. Two weeks sitting around your house doing nothing just means two weeks of being hungry for most people.”
I think they understand what I’m trying to say. That we’ve had no uprising.
“Oh. That’s a shame,” says Wiress in a slightly disappointed voice. “I found your district very …” She trails off, distracted by something in her head.
“Interesting,” fills in Beetee. “We both did.”
I feel bad, knowing that their district must have suffered much worse than ours. I feel I have to defend my people. “Well, there aren’t very many of us in Twelve,” I say. “Not that you’d know it nowadays by the size of the Peacekeeping force. But I guess we’re interesting enough.”
See, everyone expects District 12 to be like the leaders of the uprising, and they haven’t been able to do anything! But during these games, or after, something will happen. Something has to happen. Gale will organize a rebellion, definitely. Maybe during the games while everyone’s distracted? I don’t know but the suspense is killing me!
I take a tray and start making my way around the food-laden carts that ring the room. Peeta catches up with me at the stew. “How’s it going?”
“Good. Fine. I like the District Three victors,” I say. “Wiress and Beetee.”
“Really?” he asks. “They’re something of a joke to the others.”
“Why does that not surprise me?” I say. I think of how Peeta was always surrounded at school by a crowd of friends. It’s amazing, really, that he ever took any notice of me except to think I was odd.
“Johanna’s nicknamed them Nuts and Volts,” he says. “I think she’s Nuts and he’s Volts.”
“And so I’m stupid for thinking they might be useful. Because of something Johanna Mason said while she was oiling up her breasts for wrestling,” I retort.
“Actually I think the nickname’s been around for years. And I didn’t mean that as an insult. I’m just sharing information,” he says.
“Well, Wiress and Beetee are smart. They invent things. They could tell by sight that a force field had been put up between us and the Gamemakers. And if we have to have allies, I want them.”
I feel like it’d be just like Katniss to make a team of outcasts. Like, the fact that everyone seems to dislike Wiress and Beetee would probably make her want them even more. But I guess it’s still too early to tell who they’re going to team up with.
Cashmere and Gloss, the sister and brother from District 1, invite me over and we make hammocks for a while. They’re polite but cool, and I spend the whole time thinking about how I killed both the tributes from their district, Glimmer and Marvel, last year, and that they probably knew them and might even have been their mentors.
LOL CASHMERE AND GLOSS, I CAN’T.
Also, I guess they’re not too upset about Glimmer and Marvel (lol) if they invited Katniss over to their station. Unless it’s to draw her in and lull her into a false sense of security so they can avenge Glimmer and Marvel (lol) by killing her in the arena? I don’t know why do I even bother trying to predict this shit?
After a while I tune out the trainer and simply try to copy whatever Mags does. When I make a pretty good hook out of a bent nail and fasten it to some strands of my hair, she gives me a toothless smile and an unintelligible comment I think might be praise. Suddenly I remember how she volunteered to replace the young, hysterical woman in her district. It couldn’t be because she thought she had any chance of winning. She did it to save the girl, just like I volunteered last year to save Prim. And I decide I want her on my team.
Great. Now I have to go back and tell Haymitch I want an eighty-year-old and Nuts and Volts for my allies. He’ll love that.
Dream team right here. I still want to learn more about Mags though.
I forget the rest of the gym and the victors and how miserable I am and lose myself in the shooting. When I manage to take down five birds in one round, I realize it’s so quiet I can hear each one hit the floor. I turn and see the majority of the victors have stopped to watch me. Their faces show everything from envy to hatred to admiration.
That’s how you do it, bitch.
And the more I come to know these people, the worse it is. Because, on the whole, I don’t hate them. And some I like. And a lot of them are so damaged that my natural instinct would be to protect them. But all of them must die if I’m to save Peeta.
And that is what the Hunger Games are all about. I kind of want to see all the tributes just have a big sit-in when the Games begin, like an Occupy The Hunger Games. When the gong sounds or whatever, instead of running around killing each other, they just walk up to the Cornucopia and sit in a circle, sharing the food and burning all the weapons in the middle while singing “Kumbaya.”
There’s a lot of kidding about it at lunch. What we might do. Sing, dance, strip, tell jokes. Mags, who I can understand a little better now, decides she’s just going to take a nap.
Hahaha, old people.
We sit in silence awhile and then I blurt out the thing that’s on both our minds. “How are we going to kill these people, Peeta?”
That is what sucks about alliances. No matter how many people you have, how good they are, how much you like each other, at some point you’re going to have to kill each other. It’s its own form of turture that the Gamemakers didn’t even have to create. The tributes do it to themselves. Not that they have much of a choice.
When I go in, I smell the sharp odor of cleaner and notice that one of the mats has been dragged to the center of the room. The mood is very different from last year’s, when the Gamemakers were half drunk and distractedly picking at tidbits from the banquet table. They whisper among themselves, looking somewhat annoyed. What did Peeta do? Something to upset them?
Peeta need I remind you that we’re all here to try to keep YOU alive? So don’t fuck it up!
Suddenly I know just what I’m going to do. Something that will blow anything Peeta did right out of the water. I go over to the knot-tying station and get a length of rope. I start to manipulate it, but it’s hard because I’ve never made this actual knot myself. I’ve only watched Finnick’s clever fingers, and they moved so fast. After about ten minutes, I’ve come up with a respectable noose. I drag one of the target dummies out into the middle of the room and, using some chinning bars, hang it so it dangles by the neck. Tying its hands behind its back would be a nice touch, but I think I might be running out of time. I hurry over to the camouflage station, where some of the other tributes, undoubtedly the morphlings, have made a colossal mess. But I find a partial container of bloodred berry juice that will serve my needs. The flesh-colored fabric of the dummy’s skin makes a good, absorbent canvas. I carefully finger paint the words on its body, concealing them from view. Then I step away quickly to watch the reaction on the Gamemakers’ faces as they read the name on the dummy.
Having been through prep with Flavius, Venia, and Octavia numerous times, it should just be an old routine to survive. But I haven’t anticipated the emotional ordeal that awaits me. At some point during the prep, each of them bursts into tears at least twice, and Octavia pretty much keeps up a running whimper throughout the morning. It turns out they really have become attached to me, and the idea of my returning to the arena has undone them. Combine that with the fact that by losing me they’ll be losing their ticket to all kinds of big social events, particularly my wedding, and the whole thing becomes unbearable. The idea of being strong for someone else having never entered their heads, I find myself in the position of having to console them. Since I’m the person going in to be slaughtered, this is somewhat annoying.
omg lyke i am so sad u guize, my favrt victor is goin bck in2 the hunger gamez 2 almost die agen, dis is so sad 4 me, how wil i evr get ovr dis, how cud dey do dis 2 me, mi lyf sukz u guize.
The costume looks deceptively simple at first, just a fitted black jumpsuit that covers me from the neck down. He places a half crown like the one I received as victor on my head, but it’s made of a heavy black metal, not gold. Then he adjusts the light in the room to mimic twilight and presses a button just inside the fabric on my wrist. I look down, fascinated, as my ensemble slowly comes to life, first with a soft golden light but gradually transforming to the orange-red of burning coal. I look as if I have been coated in glowing embers — no, that I am a glowing ember straight from our fireplace. The colors rise and fall, shift and blend, in exactly the way the coals do.
He turns me toward a mirror so that I can take in the entire effect. I do not see a girl, or even a woman, but some unearthly being who looks like she might make her home in the volcano that destroyed so many in Haymitch’s Quell. The black crown, which now appears red-hot, casts strange shadows on my dramatically made-up face. Katniss, the girl on fire, has left behind her flickering flames and bejeweled gowns and soft candlelight frocks. She is as deadly as fire itself.
I just, I didn;t think anything could top their costume in the last games, but this definitely takes the cake. Oh man. I can’t wait to see this in the movie. Assuming they make the next two books into movies?
“Want a sugar cube?” he says, offering his hand, which is piled high. “They’re supposed to be for the horses, but who cares? They’ve got years to eat sugar, whereas you and I…well, if we see something sweet, we better grab it quick.”
I…what…was that….was that like…a pick-up line? Because it was truly awful. Plus, isn’t he like, in his mid twenties?
Tall, athletic, with golden skin and bronze-colored hair and those incredible eyes. While other tributes that year were hard-pressed to get a handful of grain or some matches for a gift, Finnick never wanted for anything, not food or medicine or weapons.
So basically, if you’re good-looking, you get to live. Or at least, you’ll get a lot of sponsors to give you whatever you damn please so that you can live.
When he received a silver parachute with a trident—which may be the most expensive gift I’ve ever seen given in the arena—it was all over. District 4’s industry is fishing. He’d been on boats his whole life. The trident was a natural, deadly extension of his arm. He wove a net out of some kind of vine he found, used it to entangle his opponents so he could spear them with the trident, and within a matter of days the crown was his.
Wait, hang on, did I read that right? A trident? He used a fucking trident to kill his opponents? I don’t even, what? This is pretty badass!
He’s draped in a golden net that’s strategically knotted at his groin so that he can’t technically be called naked, but he’s about as close as you can get. I’m sure his stylist thinks the more of Finnick the audience sees, the better.
“Then how do they pay you for the pleasure of your company?” I ask.
“With secrets,” he says softly. He tips his head in so his lips are almost in contact with mine. “What about you, girl on fire? Do you have any secrets worth my time?”
SECRETS DON’T MAKE FRIENDS. But seriously, he could get just about anyone to spill their deepest darkest secrets. What kind of secrets is he keeping in that beautiful head of his?
I climb up and pull him up after me. “Hold still,” I say, and straighten his crown. “Have you seen your suit turned on? We’re going to be fabulous again.”
“Absolutely. But Portia says we’re to be very above it all. No waving or anything,” he says.
GOOD. Don’t give those fuckpieces the satisfaction or the attention that they don’t deserve. I like this angle. Because the audience is going to love them no matter what they do. They were the most recent victors, and the “star-crossed lovers” on top of that, and now they’re going back to the games immediately after that. So they already have the sympathy of the crowd. Now they’re going to refuse it. Show them they they don’t need anything from the Capitol. They are better than the Games, and can win it again if they have to.
I look up into those blue eyes that no amount of dramatic makeup can make truly deadly and remember how, just a year ago, I was prepared to kill him. Convinced he was trying to kill me. Now everything is reversed.
IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL AND YOU BOTH HAVE COME A LONG WAY AND I AM SO PROUD OF YOU BOTH.
We star-crossed lovers from District 12, who suffered so much and enjoyed so little the rewards of our victory, do not seek the fans’ favor, grace them with our smiles, or catch their kisses. We are unforgiving.
And I love it. Getting to be myself at last.
This is why I like it so much. There’s no faking it. District Twelvers don’t front. District Twelvers are keeping it real. They’re probably the only “real” people in this joint.
I know Chaff by sight because I’ve spent years watching him pass a bottle back and forth with Haymitch on television. He’s dark skinned, about six feet tall, and one of his arms ends in a stump because he lost his hand in the Games he won thirty years ago. I’m sure they offered him some artificial replacement, like they did Peeta when they had to amputate his lower leg, but I guess he didn’t take it.
Suddenly I’m wondering if Haymitch will have a hard time supporting Peeta, and even Katniss, when he has friends in there fighting against them. Will he be able to overcome his friendship with Chaff and the others, knowing that for Peeta to live, they all have to die?
The woman, Seeder, looks almost like she could be from the Seam, with her olive skin and straight black hair streaked with silver. Only her golden brown eyes mark her as from another district. She must be around sixty, but she still looks strong, and there’s no sign she’s turned to liquor or morphling or any other chemical form of escape over the years. Before either of us says a word, she embraces me. I know somehow it must be because of Rue and Thresh. Before I can stop myself, I whisper, “The families?”
“They’re alive,” she says back softly before letting me go.
Phew. Well, at least Rue and Thresh’s families don’t have to suffer any more than they already are. And I wonder if Katniss and Peeta will befriend Chaff and/or Seeder. Them being from District 11. Or at least as much of a friendship you can have in the Games.
Johanna Mason. From District 7 Lumber and paper, thus the tree. She won by very convincingly portraying herself as weak and helpless so that she would be ignored. Then she demonstrated a wicked ability to murder.
WATCH YOUR BACK, BITCH.
While we wait for the elevators, Johanna unzips the rest of her tree, letting it drop to the floor, and then kicks it away in disgust. Except for her forest green slippers, she doesn’t have on a stitch of clothing. “That’s better.”
“It’s you, Katniss. Can’t you see?” he says.
“What’s me?” I say.
“Why they’re all acting like this. Finnick with his sugar cubes and Chaff kissing you and that whole thing with Johanna stripping down.” He tries to take on a more serious tone, unsuccessfully. “They’re playing with you because you’re so…you know.”
“No, I don’t know,” I say. And I really have no idea what he’s talking about. “It’s like when you wouldn’t look at me naked in the arena even though I was half dead. You’re so…pure,” he says finally.
“I am not!” I say. “I’ve been practically ripping your clothes off every time there’s been a camera for the last year!”
“Yeah, but…I mean, for the Capitol, you’re pure,” he says, clearly trying to mollify me. “For me, you’re perfect. They’re just teasing you.”
“No, they’re laughing at me, and so are you!” I say.
So…people are messing with her because she’s PURE? I just can’t think of anyone who’s won the Hunger Games as anywhere near pure. It’s the whole thing that’s been messing Katniss up! And what is teasing her going to accomplish, exactly? I’m pretty sure her sexuality isn’t going to matter much in the arena. Is it for intimidation? Because anyone who knows Katniss should not waste their time.
Then a chill runs through me. Because I know him, too. Not from the Capitol but from years of having easy conversations in the Hob, joking over Greasy Sae’s soup, and that last day watching him lie unconscious in the square while the life bled out of Gale.
Our new Avox is Darius.
WHAT THE FUCK? The old Peacekeeper guy from District 12? The one who was at gale’s whipping?! Did he get punished for interfering, or was it something else? If it were for that, you’d think Gale, who actually committed the crime, would have become an Avox. Maybe because of his leiency over the years? Or to make an example out of him? I don’t know but this is just fucked.
I don't know if you're interested but MainstayPro has a video of the Second Quarter Quell on YouTube. It's pretty graphic but it's also kind of cool to see especially since they follow the details of the book so closely.
I just watched it, it’s pretty cool! I actually admit that I just skimmed it, both because I don’t want it changing what’s in my head and because for some reason I’m very hard to please with fanmade stuff. But it was very well done! I had to be careful not to look through the channel though because I saw some spoilery videos, or at least ones with spoilery titles ;)
I’m also going to take this oppotunity to say that the new semester has started, so I’m not going to have as much free time as I did the past month or so. I will definitely still be posting, just not as often. Stay tuned!
Let them go, I tell myself. Say good-bye and forget them. I do my best, thinking of them one by one, releasing them like birds from the protective cages inside me, locking the doors against their return.
Real rebels don’t put a secret symbol on something as durable as jewelry. They put it on a wafer of bread that can be eaten in a second if necessary.
Oh, so that’s why Twill had it on a cracker! I really didn’t know, it seemed weird to me. But now it makes sense.
In the history of the Games, there have been seventy-five victors. Fifty-nine are still alive. I recognize many of their faces, either from seeing them as tributes or mentors at previous Games or from our recent viewing of the victors’ tapes. Some are so old or wasted by illness, drugs, or drink that I can’t place them. As one would expect, the pools of Career tributes from Districts 1, 2, and 4 are the largest. But every district has managed to scrape up at least one female and one male victor.
I was thinking earlier, could the victor of the first ever Hunger Games still be alive? If they competed 75 years ago, they would be between the ages of 87 and 93. I mean, the average life expectancy in certain districts probably isn’t very high (it’s not even that high IRL), but it’s possible, right? I don’t even know what the significance of it would be, just a random though I had.
There’s the classically beautiful brother and sister from District 1 who were victors in consecutive years when I was little.
What the- they’re brother and sister, got chosen one year after the other, both won, and were both chosen to compete now? Besides the fact that one sibling might end up having to kill the other, that’s one unlucky family!
Brutus, a volunteer from District 2, who must be at least forty and apparently can’t wait to get back in the arena. Finnick, the handsome bronze-haired guy from District 4 who was crowned ten years ago at the age of fourteen.
Okay, I have to admit, I’ve heard a lot about Finnick outside of reading these books, so I know he’ll have some kind of important role, ja?
A hysterical young woman with flowing brown hair is also called from 4, but she’s quickly replaced by a volunteer, an eighty-year-old woman who needs a cane to walk to the stage.
At first I read this and was like “Aww, some old lady got chosen to compete in the games” and then I was like “WAIT WHAT SHE VOLUNTEERED?!” This automatically makes her really fascinating because either she is much better than she appears or is basically sacrificing herself because she’s lived a long life and would rather let the other woman live hers. Ugh, I want to know!
Then there’s Johanna Mason, the only living female victor from 7, who won a few years back by pretending she was a weakling.
Well, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!
The woman from 8 who Effie calls Cecelia, who looks about thirty, has to detach herself from the three kids who run up to cling to her. Chaff, a man from 11 who I know to be one of Haymitch’s particular friends, is also in.
It’s such a reverse parallel; instead of people’s children being taken away, it could be people’s parents, or even grandparents!
When Peeta holds out his arms, I walk straight into them.
I wrap my arms tightly around his neck before he can order me to do push-ups or something. Instead he pulls me in close and buries his face in my hair. Warmth radiates from the spot where his lips just touch my neck, slowly spreading through the rest of me. It feels so good, so impossibly good, that I know I will not be the first to let go.
I HONESTLY THOUGHT THEY WERE GOING TO DO IT. I thought I was about to read a sex scene in The Hunger Games. But I guess that’s what fan fiction is for!
The tapes are marked with the year of the Games and the name of the victor. I dig around and suddenly find one in my hand that we have not watched. The year of the Games is fifty. That would make it the second Quarter Quell. And the name of the victor is Haymitch Abernathy.
But I feel weird. It seems like some major invasion of Haymitch’s privacy. I don’t know why it should, since the whole thing was public. But it does. I have to admit I’m also extremely curious.
I feel like Haymitch would come in and see this and go into like a drunken rage or something. But I also just really want to find out what went down in his Hunger Games. And suddenly I’m reminded of The Prince’s Tale. Like whatever I’m about to see on this tape will be the answer to fucking everything in these books. And I’m only halfway through.
She calls out the name of a girl who’s from the Seam, you can tell by the look of her, and then I hear the name “Maysilee Donner.”
KATNISS’S MOTHER’S FRIEND
“I think that’s your mother hugging her,” says Peeta quietly. And he’s right. As Maysilee Donner bravely disengages herself and heads for the stage, I catch a glimpse of my mother at my age, and no one has exaggerated her beauty. Holding her hand and weeping is another girl who looks just like Maysilee. But a lot like someone else I know, too.
“Madge,” I say.
“That’s her mother. She and Maysilee were twins or something,” Peeta says. “My dad mentioned it once.”
WTF so Maysilee was friends with Katniss’s mother and he twin sister was Madge’s mother! So the relationship between Katniss’s mother and Madge’s mother would be like my twin brother’s relationship with one of my friends, if I died.
I think of Madge’s mother. Mayor Undersee’s wife. Who spends half her life in bed immobilized with terrible pain, shutting out the world. I think of how I never realized that she and my mother shared this connection. Of Madge showing up in that snowstorm to bring the painkiller for Gale. Of my mockingjay pin and how it means something completely different now that I know that its former owner was Madge’s aunt, Maysilee Donner, a tribute who was murdered in the arena.
OMG THE SYMBOLISM
“So, Haymitch, what do you think of the Games having one hundred percent more competitors than usual?” asks Caesar.
Haymitch shrugs. “I don’t see that it makes much difference. They’ll still be one hundred percent as stupid as usual, so I figure my odds will be roughly the same.”
The audience bursts out laughing and Haymitch gives them a half smile. Snarky. Arrogant. Indifferent.
“He didn’t have to reach far for that, did he?” I say.
It probably made him a lot of enemies. But I love it.
The beauty disorients many of the players, because when the gong sounds, most of them seem like they’re trying to wake from a dream. Not Haymitch, though. He’s at the Cornucopia, armed with weapons and a backpack of choice supplies. He heads for the woods before most of the others have stepped off their plates.
LIKE A BOSS
Others begin to die off and it becomes clear that almost everything in this pretty place—the luscious fruit dangling from the bushes, the water in the crystalline streams, even the scent of the flowers when inhaled too directly—is deadly poisonous. Only the rainwater and the food provided at the Cornucopia are safe to consume.
Haymitch has his own troubles over in the woods, where the fluffy golden squirrels turn out to be carnivorous and attack in packs, and the butterfly stings bring agony if not death. But he persists in moving forward, always keeping the distant mountain at his back.
I’m sorry, but all I can think of is that bunny in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And where is Haymitch going?
Four days in, the picturesque mountain erupts in a volcano that wipes out another dozen players, including all but five of the Career pack. With the mountain spewing liquid fire, and the meadow offering no means of concealment, the remaining thirteen tributes — including Haymitch and Maysilee — have no choice but to confine themselves to the woods.
sdkgreiu wtf a fuycking volcano omg dhuewbv
Maysilee Donner steps out of the woods. “We’d live longer with two of us.”
“Guess you just proved that,” says Haymitch, rubbing his neck. “Allies?” Maysilee nods. And there they are, instantly drawn into one of those pacts you’d be hard-pressed to break if you ever expect to go home and face your district.
OMG WHAT they were fucking allies?!?!?!
“Why?” Maysilee keeps asking, and he ignores her until she refuses to move any farther without an answer.
“Because it has to end somewhere, right?” says Haymitch. “The arena can’t go on forever.”
“What do you expect to find?” Maysilee asks.
“I don’t know. But maybe there’s something we can use,” he says.
FUCK I never documented it but I kept wondering where the arena ended and what was there AND HAYMITCH IS GOING TO FIND OUT HOLY SHIT
When they finally do make it through that impossible hedge, using a blowtorch from one of the dead Careers’ packs, they find themselves on flat, dry earth that leads to a cliff. Far below, you can see jagged rocks.
“That’s all there is, Haymitch. Let’s go back,” says Maysilee.
“No, I’m staying here,” he says.
“All right. There’s only five of us left. May as well say good-bye now, anyway,” she says. “I don’t want it to come down to you and me.”
“Okay,” he agrees. That’s all. He doesn’t offer to shake her hand or even look at her. And she walks away.
What does he expect to do or find there? Why is he staying? And omg how sad is it that they’re finally splitting up with the knowledge that one of them will die, and with the hope that it isn’t at the hands of the other.
Haymitch skirts along the edge of the cliff as if trying to figure something out. His foot dislodges a pebble and it falls into the abyss, apparently gone forever. But a minute later, as he sits to rest, the pebble shoots back up beside him. Haymitch stares at it, puzzled, and then his face takes on a strange intensity. He lobs a rock the size of his fist over the cliff and waits. When it flies back out and right into his hand, he starts laughing.
OMFG THE CLIFF SHOOTS YOU RIGHT BACK TO WHERE YOU WERE HOLY SHIT. It’s like that cheat in the Lego games (or at least Lego HP) where if you fall over the edge, you just get picked up by some invisible force and land back on the platform.
And Haymitch is TOTALLY going to exploit it like the BADASS that he is.
That’s when we hear Maysilee begin to scream. The alliance is over and she broke it off, so no one could blame him for ignoring her. But Haymitch runs for her, anyway. He arrives only in time to watch the last of a flock of candy pink birds, equipped with long, thin beaks, skewer her through the neck. He holds her hand while she dies, and all I can think of is Rue and how I was too late to save her, too.
MORE PARELLELS, I JUST CAN’T EVEN RIGHT NOW.
Haymitch makes a beeline for his cliff and has just reached the edge when she throws the ax. He collapses on the ground and it flies into the abyss. Now weaponless as well, the girl just stands there, trying to staunch the flow of blood pouring from her empty eye socket. She’s thinking perhaps that she can outlast Haymitch, who’s starting to convulse on the ground. But what she doesn’t know, and what he does, is that the ax will return. And when it flies back over the ledge, it buries itself in her head. The cannon sounds, her body is removed, and the trumpets blow to announce Haymitch’s victory.
HOLY SHIT he totally did it that was awesome and badass and Haymitch is the best character ever. And I wonder if this will come into play later on, like in these games.
Finally Peeta says, “That force field at the bottom of the cliff, it was like the one on the roof of the Training Center. The one that throws you back if you try to jump off and commit suicide. Haymitch found a way to turn it into a weapon.”
“Not just against the other tributes, but the Capitol, too,” I say. “You know they didn’t expect that to happen. It wasn’t meant to be part of the arena. They never planned on anyone using it as a weapon. It made them look stupid that he figured it out. I bet they had a good time trying to spin that one. Bet that’s why I don’t remember seeing it on television. It’s almost as bad as us and the berries!”
You see? District 12 can totally manage a rebellion, look who they’ve got as victors! Katniss and Haymitch have both oursmarted the Gamemakers. They have both done something to “defy” the Capitol. It’s the perfect combination! I mean, besides the fact that Katniss could die. Again.
I’ve spent all these weeks getting to know who my competitors are, without even thinking about who my teammates are. Now a new kind of confidence is lighting up inside of me, because I think I finally know who Haymitch is. And I’m beginning to know who I am. And surely, two people who have caused the Capitol so much trouble can think of a way to get Peeta home alive.
I’m cold and wet and winded, but my escape attempt has done nothing to subdue the hysteria rising up inside me. It will drown me unless it’s released. I ball up the front of my shirt, stuff it into my mouth, and begin to scream. How long this continues, I don’t know. But when I stop, my voice is almost gone.
Is it possible that this was really the Quarter Quell written down seventy-five years ago? It seems unlikely. It’s just too perfect an answer for the troubles that face the Capitol today. Getting rid of me and subduing the districts all in one neat little package.
This had to have been intentional. The way President Snow read the card, the cicumstances being what they are. It’s too perfect.
I hurry back into the night and head straight to Haymitch’s house. He’s sitting alone at the kitchen table, a half-emptied bottle of white liquor in one fist, his knife in the other. Drunk as a skunk.
This actually made me tear up. I just thought of Haymitch, who had not just been in the Hunger Games previously, but in the last Quarter Quell. After all that, he clearly has had a huge difficulty coping with it, and now he’s discovered that he has a 50/50 chance of having to do it all over again.
I bite my lip because once he’s said it, I’m afraid that’s what I do want. For Peeta to live, even if it means Haymitch’s death. No, I don’t. He’s dreadful, of course, but Haymitch is my family now.
I can’t entirely blame her for thinking this. The way Haymitch acts, I’m honestly surprised that he hasn’t killed himself before now.
“Peeta’s argument is that since I chose you, I now owe him. Anything he wants. And what he wants is the chance to go in again to protect you,” says Haymitch.
I knew it. In this way, Peeta’s not hard to predict. While I was wallowing around on the floor of that cellar, thinking only of myself, he was here, thinking only of me. Shame isn’t a strong enough word for what I feel.
“You could live a hundred lifetimes and not deserve him, you know,” Haymitch says.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, Katniss! What would anyone else in your position have done? Peeta is the exception. He’s an exceptional boy with a heart of gold, but you are worth it, too. You are a good person to whom bad things have happened. But that does not make you a bad person. You both deserve the best and I just want to give you a big hug but I CAN’T.
There’s something else I want from Haymitch. “Okay, I figured out what I’m asking,” I say. “If it is Peeta and me in the Games, this time we try to keep him alive.”
Something flickers across his bloodshot eyes. Pain.
God, Haymitch, every mention of you in this scene is breaking my heart.
“I’ve poured all the liquor down the drain,” says Peeta.
This seems to jolt Haymitch out of his stupor, and he paws through the box in disbelief. “You what?”
“I tossed the lot,” says Peeta.
“He’ll just buy more,” I say.
“No, he won’t,” says Peeta. “I tracked down Ripper this morning and told her I’d turn her in the second she sold to either of you. I paid her off, too, just for good measure, but I don’t think she’s eager to be back in the Peacekeepers’ custody.”
Haymitch takes a swipe with his knife but Peeta deflects it so easily it’s pathetic. Anger rises up in me. “What business is it of yours what he does?”
“It’s completely my business. However it falls out, two of us are going to be in the arena again with the other as mentor. We can’t afford any drunkards on this team. Especially not you, Katniss,” says Peeta to me.
PEETA MELLARK: HBIC SINCE SOME HUNDREDS OF YEARS IN THE FUTURE.
“The point is that two of us are coming home from the Capitol. One mentor and one victor,” says Peeta. “Effie’s sending me recordings of all the living victors. We’re going to watch their Games and learn everything we can about how they fight. We’re going to put on weight and get strong. We’re going to start acting like Careers. And one of us is going to be victor again whether you two like it or not!” He sweeps out of the room, slamming the front door.
I love Peeta in this scene. Oh wait, I love Peeta in every scene. But anyway, this kind of attitude is exactly what they need! Attitudes influence behavior. Maybe that’s why the Career Tributes always did so well. They put a positive spin on it (or as positive of a spin as you can put on something like this) and because they treated the Games as a chance at glory instead of just trying not to die, they tried harder and were more successful (not to belittle the efforts of the tributes from the other districts; as we know, the Careers don’t win all of them). It’s simple psychology at work!
“You and me. That’s who he plans on coming home,” I say.
“Well, then the joke’s on him,” says Haymitch.
But after a few days, we agree to act like Careers, because this is the best way to get Peeta ready as well.
Aaaand cue training montage!
LET’S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS
Since I don’t plan on making it back alive a second time, the sooner Gale lets me go, the better. I do plan on saying one or two things to him after the reaping, when we’re allowed an hour for good-byes. To let Gale know how essential he’s been to me all these years. How much better my life has been for knowing him. For loving him, even if it’s only in the limited way that I can manage.
But I never get the chance.
Remember in my second review EVER in the first book where I was lamenting the short time Gale and Katniss had between them before Katniss had to leave and essentially face her death? Well that is what I’m feeling again, but ten times worse. I just really hate goodbyes.
We are immediately marched into the Justice Building to find Head Peacekeeper Thread waiting for us. “New procedure,” he says with a smile. We’re ushered out the back door, into a car, and taken to the train station. There are no cameras on the platform, no crowd to send us on our way. Haymitch and Effie appear, escorted by guards. Peacekeepers hurry us all onto the train and slam the door. The wheels begin to turn.
And I’m left staring out the window, watching District 12 disappear, with all my good-byes still hanging on my lips.
It is kind of a shock (though, knowing the Capitol, not all that surprising) that Katniss is going back to the arena. But Catching Fire is my favorite book of the series so hang in there!! On an unrelated note, how old are you?
My friend texted me after I posted Chapter 12 and said “If Haymitch has to do two Quarter Quells, he would officially be the unluckiest person ever.”
“Why couldn’t you get shrimp? Is it out of season?” I ask.
“Oh, Katniss, we haven’t been able to get any seafood for weeks!” says Octavia. “You know, because the weather’s been so bad in District Four.”
My mind starts buzzing. No seafood. For weeks. From District 4. The barely concealed rage in the crowd during the Victory Tour. And suddenly I am absolutely sure that District 4 has revolted.
Do these three genuinely not know about the revolts, or are they lying? Either way, it’s very clear what is actually going on. And it’s not weather related.
I begin to question them casually about what other hardships this winter has brought them. They are not used to want, so any little disruption in supply makes an impact on them. By the time I’m ready to be dressed, their complaints about the difficulty of getting different products — from crabmeat to music chips to ribbons — has given me a sense of which districts might actually be rebelling. Seafood from District 4. Electronic gadgets from District 3. And, of course, fabrics from District 8. The thought of such widespread rebellion has me quivering with fear and excitement.
Me, too! It’s good to know that other Districts are rebelling. It’ll give the people of District 12 hope to do the same if Katniss can get the word out! She’s kind of the only one that knows.
Haymitch and I can speak in a kind of shorthand now. In a few minutes I’ve updated him and he’s told me about rumors of uprisings in Districts 7 and 11 as well. If my hunches are right, this would mean almost half the districts have at least attempted to rebel.
Yeesh, even more! I wonder how many guys the Capitol has. Like, if every district rebelled at the same time, would the Peacekeepers be spread too thin? It was easy for them to overcome District 8 because they were the only ones. But would such widespread chaos be enough? Could they stand a chance? Of course that’s what happened last time, isn’t it. They all tried to rebel at once, and got defeated.
Also, where does Haymitch get his information? He always seems one step ahead. Maybe he’s just observant like Katniss.
“So you think Thirteen was really destroyed? I mean, Bonnie and Twill were right about the footage of the mockingjay,” I say.
“Okay, but what does that prove? Nothing, really. There are plenty of reasons they could be using old footage. Probably it looks more impressive. And it’s a lot simpler, isn’t it? To just press a few buttons in the editing room than to fly all the way out there and film it?” he says. “The idea that Thirteen has somehow rebounded and the Capitol is ignoring it? That sounds like the kind of rumor desperate people cling to.”
"I know. I was just hoping,” I say.
“Exactly. Because you’re desperate,” says Haymitch.
I don’t argue because, of course, he’s right.
I don’t buy it. There’s something going on there. There’s just got to be.
Each shot is met with a huge reaction from the crowd. People screaming and cheering for their favorites, booing the ones they don’t like. Having voted, and probably bet on the winner, people are very invested in my wedding gown. It’s bizarre to watch when I think how I never even bothered to try one on before the cameras arrived. Caesar announces that interested parties must cast their final vote by noon on the following day.
Wow how did I not guess that Katniss’s wedding dress would be a show for the Capitol in itself? They always need something to vote and bet on, don’t they?
President Snow goes on to tell us what happened in the previous Quarter Quells. “On the twenty-fifth anniversary, as a reminder to the rebels that their children were dying because of their choice to initiate violence, every district was made to hold an election and vote on the tributes who would represent it.”
What the…fuck? Now that is hugely fucked up. What criteria would they base it on? How did the voting system work? I feel like everyone would vote for the better-off people. Like, if they had done that this year, I feel like people would have voted for Madge. Not that that’s entirely okay, it’s still fucked up and twisted, but they probably wouldn’t have much of a problem sending the girl who has money and food to eat and has never had to sign up for tesserae. And I wonder what it was like for the victor when he/she finally made it home.
“On the fiftieth anniversary,” the president continues, “as a reminder that two rebels died for each Capitol citizen, every district was required to send twice as many tributes.” I imagine facing a field of forty-seven instead of twenty-three. Worse odds, less hope, and ultimately more dead kids. That was the year Haymitch won…
Oh man, imagine the Cornucopia at that one! And how the fuck did Haymitch win? I’d like to FIND out. And based on what President Snow said, two rebels died for every Capitol citizen. How many people died in the rebellion? I guess if the entire District 13 was (allegedly) blasted off the map, it much have been a lot.
Without hesitation, he reads, “On the seventy-fifth anniversary, as a reminder to the rebels that even the strongest among them cannot overcome the power of the Capitol, the male and female tributes will be reaped from their existing pool of victors.”
WHAT THE FUCK, so these people who have already survived the Hunger Games once will have to go again? And there will be people of all ages, too, which is weird. It’s a great way to send the message they’re trying to make, but GD IT!
Then I get it, what it means. At least, for me. District 12 only has three existing victors to choose from. Two male. One female…
I am going back into the arena.
AND KATNISS IS GUARANTEED A FUCKING SPOT IN THE GAMES FUCKING JESUS CHRIST HOLY SHIT SNACKS. When I wondered aloud a few chapters back whether we’d see another Hunger Games, especially this being the Quarter Quell, I didn’t think we’d be ACTUALLY SEEING IT. LIKE WE’D BE ACTUALLY IN IT. AGAIN. And Haymitch has already been through not just a Hunger Games, but the last Quarter Quell! He might have to do a second one! Or Peeta! And they’re not really going to need mentors since they’ve done it already. And the tributes for the Games next year will have two less mentors (well, one less in the district of the victor)!
What is going on? Has Thread turned on the fence as an additional security precaution? Or does he somehow know I’ve escaped his net today? Is he determined to strand me outside District 12 until he can apprehend and arrest me? Drag me to the square to be locked in the stockade or whipped or hanged?
My guess is the latter. Nothing that happens to this girl is by coincidence.
But today my family would never imagine I’d be in the woods. I’ve even taken steps to mislead them.
You know who else didn’t tell anyone where he was going? Aron Ralston. And look what happened to him.
I begin to skirt along the tree line, searching for a tree with a branch high and long enough to fit my needs. After about a mile, I come upon an old maple that might do. The trunk is too wide and icy to shinny up, though, and there are no low branches. I climb a neighboring tree and leap precariously into the maple, almost losing my hold on the slick bark. But I manage to get a grip and slowly inch my way out on a limb that hangs above the barbed wire.
JUST LIKE RUE OMG.
There’s the sensation of falling, then I hit the ground with a jolt that goes right up my spine. A second later, my rear end slams the ground. I lie in the snow, trying to assess the damage. Without standing, I can tell by the pain in my left heel and my tailbone that I’m injured. The only question is how badly. I’m hoping for bruises, but when I force myself onto my feet, I suspect I’ve broken something as well. I can walk, though, so I get moving, trying to hide my limp as best I can.
Oh, great, more injuries, awesome, as if I didn’t already have enough to worry about!
Two Peacekeepers, a man and a woman, are standing in the doorway to our kitchen. The woman remains impassive, but I catch the flicker of surprise on the man’s face. I am unanticipated. They know I was in the woods and should be trapped there now.
Yeah, that comfirms it. The fence was turned on to keep her out. Well, it didn’t work this time, Asskeepers! You have to get up pretty early in the morning to pull one over on Katniss!
“From Head Peacekeeper Thread,” says the woman. “He wanted you to know that the fence surrounding District Twelve will now have electricity twenty-four hours a day.”
“Didn’t it already?” I ask, a little too innocently.
Having stripped off my sock, my mother’s fingers probe the bones in my left heel and I wince. “There might be a break,” she says. She checks the other foot. “This one seems all right.” She judges my tailbone to be badly bruised.
GOD DAMN IT.
I’m further reassured when Peeta casually tells me the power is off in sections of the fence because crews are out securing the base of the chain link to the ground. Thread must believe I somehow got under the thing, even with that deadly current running through it. It’s a break for the district, having the Peacekeepers busy doing something besides abusing people.
Okay, two things/kind of predictions: what if, while the electricity is off in certain parts of the fence, the people of District 12 like, charged at the Peacekeepers and took down that part of the fence and escaped? To District 13 or something? And I guess to back it up, if the Peacekeepers are busy with the fence, what if the people of District 12 are organizing something? Are there any Peacekeepers left monitering the rest of the place?
One afternoon Peeta stops shading a blossom and looks up so suddenly that I start, as though I were caught spying on him, which in a strange way maybe I was. But he only says, “You know, I think this is the first time we’ve ever done anything normal together.”
“Yeah,” I agree. Our whole relationship has been tainted by the Games. Normal was never a part of it. “Nice for a change.”
Can I just point out how cute the two of them are in this chapter? Katniss wanting him to stay with her while she sleeps and then watching him draw the plants and just them spending time together that isn’t Hunger Games related?
My first sighting is in a news story referencing the Dark Days. I see the smoldering remains of the Justice Building in District 13 and just catch the black-and-white underside of a mockingjay’s wing as it flies across the upper right-hand corner. That doesn’t prove anything, really. It’s just an old shot that goes with an old tale.
YES IT DOES, KATNISS, I CAN’T WAIT FOR YOU TO BE WRONG.
However, several days later, something else grabs my attention. The main newscaster is reading a piece about a shortage of graphite affecting the manufacturing of items in District 3. They cut to what is supposed to be live footage of a female reporter, encased in a protective suit, standing in front of the ruins of the Justice Building in 13. Through her mask, she reports that unfortunately a study has just today determined that the mines of District 13 are still too toxic to approach. End of story. But just before they cut back to the main newscaster, I see the unmistakable flash of that same mockingjays wing.
The reporter has simply been incorporated into the old footage. She’s not in District 13 at all. Which begs the question, What is?
YOU SEE? SOMETHING FISHY IS GOING ON IN DISTRICT 13 AND WE’RE GOING TO FIND OUT WHAT.
Okay wait, not I’m wondering, are we going to see another Hunger Games? Like, the Quarter Quell? I would think that we will.
“What is it? What does that mean?” I ask harshly, still prepared to kill.
“It means we’re on your side,” says a tremulous voice behind me.
OH HOLLER, they’re on her side! They’re good guys!
“My name’s Twill,” says the woman. She’s older. Maybe thirty-five or so. “And this is Bonnie. We’ve run away from District Eight.”
District 8! Then they must know about the uprising!
Yeah obviously. What’s more, they’re escapees! Fugitives! I just can’t help thinking that they’ll eventually go the same way as the Avox girl.
“We’re headed for District Thirteen,” Twill replies.
“Thirteen?” I say. “There’s no Thirteen. It got blown off the map.”
“Seventy-five years ago,” says Twill.
WAIT ARE THEY GOING TO HOLD THE QUARTER QUELL IN DISTRICT THIRTEEN? I don’t know what they’d do with it but I feel like it’d be really cool.
“Out of food?” I ask.
Bonnie nods. “We took what we could, but food’s been so scarce. That’s been gone for a while.” The quaver in her voice melts my remaining defenses. She is just a malnourished, injured girl fleeing the Capitol.
“Well, then this is your lucky day,” I say, dropping my game bag on the floor.
You see, Katniss, you’re a decent person!
“Oh,” says Bonnie. “Oh, is this all for me?”
Something inside me twists as I remember another voice. Rue. In the arena. When I gave her the leg of groosling. “Oh, I’ve never had a whole leg to myself before.” The disbelief of the chronically hungry.
It took months for Bonnie, who worked in the chilly inspection dock, to secure the two uniforms, a boot here, a pair of pants there. They were intended for Twill and her husband because it was understood that, once the uprising began, it would be crucial to get word of it out beyond District 8 if it were to spread and be successful.
Good thinking, District 8! This was essential, since the Capitol keeps all the districts divided and keeps information from crossing over about different districts. Katniss and Gale (I believe) are still the only ones in District 12 that know about the uprising in District 8, and all because Katniss accidentally saw it on television. If she hadn’t met Bonnie and Twill, she’d be entirely oblivious.
Then one night, as the whole district was on the brink of starvation, came the order to return to business as usual.
That meant school for Twill and Bonnie. A street made impassable by the bombs caused them to be late for their factory shift, so they were still a hundred yards away when it exploded, killing everyone inside - including Twill’s husband and Bonnie’s entire family.
It’s like the people who were late to work on 9/11! Well, it’s a good thing they survived. And the Capitol seems to think they’re dead, too, so no one’s probably searching for them.
“It’s nothing but rubble,” I say. “We’ve all seen the footage.”
“That’s just it. They’ve been using the same footage for as long as anyone in District Eight can remember,” says Twill.
“Really?” I try to think back, to call up the images of 13 I’ve seen on television.
“You know how they always show the Justice Building?” Twill continues. I nod. I’ve seen it a thousand times. “If you look very carefully, you’ll see it. Up in the far right-hand corner.”
“See what?” I ask.
Twill holds out her cracker with the bird again. “A mockingjay. Just a glimpse of it as it flies by. The same one every time.”
“Back home, we think they keep reusing the old footage because the Capitol can’t show what’s really there now,” says Bonnie.
JESUSCHRISTSUIBWECDCWHOLYSHITFUCKING the Capitol is covering something up! There’s something going on in District 13 that the Capitol doesn’t want anyone knowing about! WTF IS ITTT?!
“We think the people moved underground when everything on the surface was destroyed. We think they’ve managed to survive. And we think the Capitol leaves them alone because, before the Dark Days, District Thirteen’s principal industry was nuclear development.”
So they might have weapons? I guess now I’m wondering whether the Capitol is covering it up because they plan to use the weapons or because they just don’t want the other districts to try to use them.
“We don’t know,” Bonnie whispers. “Right now, we’re just holding on to the hope that they exist.”
That snaps me to my senses. These are delusions. District 13 doesn’t exist because the Capitol would never let it exist.
No, Katniss, I believe them, it must be true! It all makes sense! Isn’t the Capitol all about facades? It’d be just like them to hide the true District 13 from the other districts’ eyes. And they’d let it exist if it benefitted them!
In the fading light, the chain links look as innocuous as usual. But what makes me jerk back my hand is the sound, like the buzz of a tree full of tracker jacker nests, indicating the fence is alive with electricity.
Oh, for God’s sake, this girl can’t catch a fucking break!
Before I go down to face this new life, though, I take some time making myself acknowledge what it will mean. Less than a day ago, I was prepared to head into the wilderness with my loved ones in midwinter, with the very real possibility of the Capitol pursuing us. A precarious venture at best. But now I am committing to something even more risky.
a.k.a. SHIT’S ABOUT TO GET REAL.
It’s weird though. I feel like this whole chapter is like the calm before the storm. We spend about two pages going through Katniss’s head as she tries to sort out her thoughts and feelings. She’s weighing her options now and and really thinking about the outcome of both actions. It shows her development as a character to see her CAREFULLY make these decisions that not only decide her own fate, but the fate of those close to her, and even possibly the fate of Panem.
I can’t let the Capitol hurt Prim.
And then it hits me. They already have. They have killed her father in those wretched mines. They have sat by as she almost starved to death. They have chosen her as a tribute, then made her watch her sister fight to the death in the Games. She has been hurt far worse than I had at the age of twelve. And even that pales in comparison with Rue’s life.
And THAT is why the Capitol needs to go down!
Gale is right. If people have the courage, this could be an opportunity. He’s also right that, since I have set it in motion, I could do so much. Although I have no idea what exactly that should be. But deciding not to run away is a crucial first step.
I’m really, really glad that she’s not running away. I mean, I guess I would have been fine with either one. The dyanamic of characters that she would have brought with her would have been really, really fun to read. But I think each character will also be able to grow from the alternative, by facing the Capitol themselves. And I’m excited to see it.
Words. I think of words and I think of Peeta. How people embrace everything he says. He could move a crowd to action, I bet, if he chose to. Would find the things to say. But I’m sure the idea has never crossed his mind.
I like that she is considering Peeta to join her in her plan for the uprising. I think he’ll end up being an invaluable asset to her team, especially since he was also in the Hunger Games.
“Hey. I just wanted to make sure you got home,” I say.
“Katniss, I live three houses away from you,” he says.
“I want to start an uprising,” I say.
Am I the only one who thinks this sounds so lame when it’s finally been verbalized?
“My plan is to make sure everything is just perfect for your wedding,” says Haymitch. “I called and rescheduled the photo shoot without giving too many details.”
A wedding?! There’s still going to be a wedding? What’s the point? It’ll sure make it easier for them to round up Katniss and her “gang” into the Capitol, but they could have done that anyway. Are they still worried about giving a good show? Do the regular citizens of the Capitol know about all the unrest in the other Districts? Do they know about the scene in District 11 during the Victory tour, or the riots in District 8? How would they react if they did?
“Haymitch.” I can hear the pleading creeping into my voice.
“Katniss.” He mimics my tone. “It won’t work.”
What won’t work? The uprising? Why not? I WAS COUNTING ON YOU FOR A PLAN, HAYMITCH.
Nothing much will happen during the blizzard. That’s what Peeta and I had agreed. But we couldn’t have been more wrong. The square has been transformed. A huge banner with the seal of Panem hangs off the roof of the Justice Building. Peacekeepers, in pristine white uniforms, march on the cleanly swept cobblestones. Along the rooftops, more of them occupy nests of machine guns. Most unnerving is a line of new constructions - an official whipping post, several stockades, and a gallows - set up in the center of the square.
Oh, they’re asking for it now.
Some streets away from the square, I see a blaze flare up. None of us has to say it. That can only be the Hob going up in smoke. I think of Greasy Sae, Ripper, all my friends who make their living there.
Shitttt all these people with nowhere to trade! How are people going to get supplies, food? How’s Haymitch going to get alcohol? It’s a good thing Katniss stocked up, but how long will it last? Are we going to see an angry Haymitch in withdrawal?
An uprising, I think. What an idiot I am. There’s an inherent flaw in the plan that both Gale and I were too blind to see. An uprising requires breaking the law, thwarting authority. We’ve done that our whole lives, or our families have. Poaching, trading on the black market, mocking the Capitol in the woods. But for most people in District 12, a trip to buy something at the Hob would be too risky. And I expect them to assemble in the square with bricks and torches? Even the sight of Peeta and me is enough to make people pull their children away from the windows and draw the curtains tightly.
What they need is hope! You can give it to them!
As the days pass, things go from bad to worse. The mines stay shut for two weeks, and by that time half of District 12 is starving. The number of kids signing up for tesserae soars, but they often don’t receive their grain. Food shortages begin, and even those with money come away from stores empty-handed. When the mines reopen, wages are cut, hours extended, miners sent into blatantly dangerous work sites. The eagerly awaited food promised for Parcel Day arrives spoiled and defiled by rodents. The installations in the square see plenty of action as people are dragged in and punished for offenses so long overlooked we’ve forgotten they are illegal.
These people can only bend so far before they break.
I feel like a pariah when I walk through the streets. Everyone avoids me in public now.
That’s so unfair! Katniss didn’t ask for any of this! She didn’t even want a rebellion when she had those berries! She just wanted to stay alive. And now she comes back home, and all she wants is to live normally again, try to forget the Games ever happened. But things have changed. The Capitol won’t let her forget. They want her dead, they think she’s goin to rise against them, and instead of her “people” embracing her, they almost turn their backs on her. They’re afraid that the cameras will follow them as well, that their families will be tortured or killed by the Peacekeepers. And it’s all Katniss’s fault, yet at the same time it isn’t.
I toss and turn in bed until I can’t stand it anymore. I have to get out of here. At least for a few hours.
Don’t do it, Katniss! Something bad is going to happen, I can feel it!
I am literally a few yards from the door of the cement house when I pull up short. And that’s not because of the smoke or the prints or the smell. That’s because of the unmistakable click of a weapon behind me.
My fingers have all but decided to release the arrow when I see the object in the glove. It’s a small white circle of flat bread. More of a cracker, really. Gray and soggy around the edges. But an image is clearly stamped in the center of it.
It’s my mockingjay.
WHAT! So she’s good? What does the mockingjay mean in this particular case? Has she met people who will help her in her cause?
“No!” I cry, and spring forward. It’s too late to stop the arm from descending, and I instinctively know I won’t have the power to block it. Instead I throw myself directly between the whip and Gale. I’ve flung out my arms to protect as much of his broken body as possible, so there’s nothing to deflect the lash. I take the full force of it across the left side of my face.
The pain is blinding and instantaneous. Jagged flashes of light cross my vision and I fall to my knees. One hand cups my cheek while the other keeps me from tipping over. I can already feel the welt rising up, the swelling closing my eye. The stones beneath me are wet with Gale’s blood, the air heavy with its scent. “Stop it! You’ll kill him!” I shriek.
OH SHIT KATNISS JUST TOOK A WHIP IN THE FACE TO SAVE GALE. That’s got to fucking kill. I never really know how bad whipping was until I saw another show and blood would splatter with every hit. And Gale got forty lashes! Enough to make him pass out from the pain.
“Hold it!” a voice barks. Haymitch appears and trips over a Peacekeeper lying on the ground. It’s Darius. A huge purple lump pushes through the red hair on his forehead. He’s knocked out but still breathing. What happened? Did he try to come to Gale’s aid before I got here?
Haymitch ignores him and pulls me to my feet roughly. “Oh, excellent.” His hand locks under my chin, lifting it. “She’s got a photo shoot next week modeling wedding dresses. What am I supposed to tell her stylist?”
Attaboy, Haymitch! And what’s happened to Darius? Are the District 12 Peacekeepers being replaced by harsher ones, possibly from the Capitol? My only consolation in this is that this one guy seems to be the only one who is enjoying Gale’s punishment.
One, a woman named Purnia who eats regularly at Greasy Sae’s, steps forward stiffly. “I believe, for a first offense, the required number of lashes has been dispensed, sir. Unless your sentence is death, which we would carry out by firing squad.”
“Is that the standard protocol here?” asks the Head Peacekeeper.
Well, I don’t know, is it? Yeesh, you could tell him anything and pass it off as law, apparently.
Gale must’ve gone to Cray’s house, as he’s done a hundred times, knowing Cray always pays well for a wild turkey. Instead he found the new Head Peacekeeper, a man they heard someone call Romulus Thread. No one knows what happened to Cray. He was buying white liquor in the Hob just this morning, apparently still in command of the district, but now he’s nowhere to be found.
Oh this does not sound good at all. It’s already begun! The Capitol is starting to really come down hard on District 12! God knows where Cray is, if he’s even still alive.
I’m filled with awe, as I always am, as I watch her transform from a woman who calls me to kill a spider to a woman immune to fear. When a sick or dying person is brought to her … this is the only time I think my mother knows who she is.
I was really happy to see Katniss’s relationship with her mom begin to mend, and it makes me even more happy and proud to see her mom so determined. I really like her character right now!
As the blood clears, I can see where every stroke of the lash landed and feel it resonate in the single cut on my face. I multiply my own pain once, twice, forty times and can only hope that Gale remains unconscious. Of course, that’s too much to ask for. As the final bandages are being placed, a moan escapes his lips.
I’m shuddering just reading this. It reminds me of an episode of Law and Order: SVU where a girl had gasoline poured all over her and then got lit on fire. That part wasn’t shown, but we saw her in the emergency room covered in really bad burns, and the doctor mentioned that the pain medication would wear off soon. A few minutes later, the scene started to fade out and all you could hear was the girl’s terrible, blood-curdling screams. It was truly horrifying and I still feel sick just thinking about it. Anyway, that’s what this reminded me of.
“Take her out,” says my mother. Haymitch and Peeta literally carry me from the room while I shout obscenities at her. They pin me down on a bed in one of the extra bedrooms until I stop fighting.
This moment This moment resonated with me, I think partly because it showed again the fierce determination of Katniss’s mother to help Gale get better, even if it means removing Katniss, who loves Gale (in whatever sense you will), from the scene.
We all go, though, following her down the hallway to the insistent ring of the bell. When she opens it, there’s not a squad of Peacekeepers but a single, snow-caked figure. Madge. She holds out a small, damp cardboard box to me.
“Use these for your friend,” she says. I take off the lid of the box, revealing half a dozen vials of clear liquid. “They’re my mother’s. She said I could take them. Use them, please.” She runs back into the storm before we can stop her.
Madge, you are a life-saver! I like her presence in this book so far and I hope it stays that way.
“I didn’t even know Madge knew Gale,” says Peeta.
“We used to sell her strawberries,” I say almost angrily. What am I angry about, though? Not that she has brought the medicine, surely.
“She must have quite a taste for them,” says Haymitch.
That’s what nettles me. It’s the implication that there’s something going on between Gale and Madge. And I don’t like it.
“She’s my friend” is all I say.
Oooooh, girl, someone’s jealous! I wonder if there is something between Game and Madge. Or if there was in the past. I feel like Madge would have given the medicine to any of Katniss’s friends if they needed it. I kind of feel like Madge wants this uprising to happen just as much as Gale does, and she wants to keep the people who can orchestrate it alive and healthy.
For the first time, I reverse our positions in my head. I imagine watching Gale volunteering to save Rory in the reaping, having him torn from my life, becoming some strange girl’s lover to stay alive, and then coming home with her. Living next to her. Promising to marry her.
The hatred I feel for him, for the phantom girl, for everything, is so real and immediate that it chokes me. Gale is mine. I am his. Anything else is unthinkable. Why did it take him being whipped within an inch of his life to see it?
Because I’m selfish. I’m a coward. I’m the kind of girl who, when she might actually be of use, would run to stay alive and leave those who couldn’t follow to suffer and die. This is the girl Gale met in the woods today.
I’ve decided right now that I’m going to ship whatever I feel like during this book. I liked Katniss/Peeta in the first book, but now that I’m seeing more of Gale, and there still seems to be something between her and Peeta, I’m not so sure. I’m just going to go with the flow, because I guess either one would be okay with me.
That being said, it’s really nice to see Katniss recognize deep feelings for Gale. For anyone. And I’m glad that she is starting to realize how bad the escape plan was.
Life in District 12 isn’t really so different from life in the arena. At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead. The hard thing is finding the courage to do it. Well, it’s not hard for Gale. He was born a rebel. I’m the one making an escape plan.
My choices are simple. I can die like quarry in the woods or I can die here beside Gale. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to stay right here and cause all kinds of trouble.” “Me, too,” Gale says. He just manages a smile before the drugs pull him back under.
I have continued on through the cold, misty woods, breaking a path that will be unfamiliar to Gale but is simple for my feet to find. It leads to the lake. I no longer trust that our regular rendezvous spot offers privacy, and I’ll need that and more to spill my guts to Gale today. But will he even come? If he doesn’t, I’ll have no choice but to risk going to his house in the dead of night. There are things he has to know… things I need him to help me figure out…
I wonder how he’ll react to all this? Didn’t he want to fight back? Wasn’t he always rebellious toward the Capitol? It’d be a fine excuse to help give District 12 its very own uprising.
I look in his eyes. His temper can’t quite mask the hurt, the sense of betrayal he feels at my engagement to Peeta. This will be my last chance, this meeting today, to not lose Gale forever. I could take hours trying to explain, and even then have him refuse me.
Well, I mean, he really can’t blame her. She was only doing it to stay alive. I would think Gale would congratulate her on her resourcefulness! Though his jealousy for her and Peeta probably eclipses everything else.
He steps in and I feel myself lifted off the ground. The room spins, and I have to lock my arms around Gale’s neck to brace myself. He’s laughing, happy.
“Hey!” I protest, but I’m laughing, too.
Gale sets me down but doesn’t release his hold on me. “Okay, let’s run away,” he says.
Awww, I just think it’s kind of cute how excited he is about running away with her. Of course, it’s not like they’re eloping. It’s to keep them alive. Not romantic.
His voice drops to a whisper. “I love you.”
“Gale, I can’t think about anyone that way now. All I can think about, every day, every waking minute since they drew Prim’s name at the reaping, is how afraid I am. And there doesn’t seem to be room for anything else. If we could get somewhere safe, maybe I could be different. I don’t know.”
Can’t he see that? Maybe because he wasn’t in the Games, or maybe he’s just so driven by jealousy that he wants to get his Katniss back. I don’t know. It’s sad because it’s not even entirely Katniss not loving him back. It’s also Katniss not really loving anyone. Which should offer some comfort to him. I just feel bad that his only friend has changed so much from the Games and he’s developed feelings for her that might never be returned. And this whole star-crossed lovers engagement thing isn’t helping, either.
“I have to, Gale. I can’t leave him and Peeta because they’d—” His scowl cuts me off. “What?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize how large our party was,” he snaps at me.
Oooooh, he mad! It’s just sad to see his disappointment. I think he honestly thought it’d be just the two of them, together, forever. But obviously Katniss needs to get all these other people, Peeta included, to safety.
“Stop it! You don’t know what you’re saying. The Peacekeepers outside of Twelve, they’re not like Darius, or even Cray! The lives of district people — they mean less than nothing to them!” I say.
“That’s why we have to join the fight!” he answers harshly.
“No! We have to leave here before they kill us and a lot of other people, too!” I’m yelling again, but I can’t understand why he’s doing this. Why doesn’t he see what’s so undeniable?
Gale pushes me roughly away from him. “You leave, then. I’d never go in a million years.”
“You were happy enough to go before. I don’t see how an uprising in District Eight does anything but make it more important that we leave.
I’m really surprised that Katniss doesn’t want to help in the rebellion. I mean, she had to try to calm it down before, when she had the ability to, but now that she knows that it didn’t work, I would have thought Katniss would be all about it. She doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would just run away.
He throws Cinna’s gloves at my feet.
WOAH, HELL NO, BRAH, NO ONE DISRESPECTS CINNA.
Peeta shakes his head and gives me a rueful smile. “I bet he does. Sure, Katniss, I’ll go.”
I feel a slight twinge of hope. “You will?”
“Yeah. But I don’t think for a minute you will,” he says.
I jerk my arm away. “Then you don’t know me. Be ready. It could be any time.” I take off walking and he follows a pace or two behind.
At first I was like YOU DON’T KNOW KATNISS, SHE’LL TOTALLY DO IT. But then I realized that he really does know Katniss. He probably feels the same way I do. That Katniss would rather stay and fight than run away. And I also think that whatever Katniss decides to do, whether it’s to stay or leave, Peeta will do the same.
I lift my chin. I’ve been so consumed with my own worries, I haven’t noticed the strange noise coming from the square. A whistling, the sound of an impact, the intake of breath from a crowd.
“Come on,” Peeta says, his face suddenly hard. I don’t know why. I can’t place the sound, even guess at the situation. But it means something bad to him.
When we reach the square, it’s clear something’s happening, but the crowd’s too thick to see. Peeta steps up on a crate against the wall of the sweetshop and offers me a hand while he scans the square. I’m halfway up when he suddenly blocks my way. “Get down. Get out of here!” He’s whispering, but his voice is harsh with insistence.
OH GOD WHAT’S GOING ON. Is it Gale? Has he already started some sort of riot?!
“Get out of here, girl.”
“Only make it worse.”
“What do you want to do? Get him killed?”
But at this point, my heart is beating so fast and fierce I hardly hear them. I only know that whatever waits in the middle of the square is meant for me. When I finally break through to the cleared space, I see I am right. And Peeta was right. And those voices were right, too.
Gale’s wrists are bound to a wooden post. The wild turkey he shot earlier hangs above him, the nail driven through its neck. His jacket’s been cast aside on the ground, his shirt torn away. He slumps unconscious on his knees, held up only by the ropes at his wrists. What used to be his back is a raw, bloody slab of meat.
Standing behind him is a man I’ve never seen, but I recognize his uniform. It’s the one designated for our Head Peacekeeper. This isn’t old Cray, though. This is a tall, muscular man with sharp creases in his pants.
The pieces of the picture do not quite come together until I see his arm raise the whip.
Holy shit, he’s being whipped! For hunting? Or for trying to start an uprising? It all just seems weird because the Peacekeepers in District 12 are normally a lot more forgiving. And speaking of which, I’d like to know who this man is.
So you would think that at this moment, I would be in utter despair. Here’s what’s strange. The main thing I feel is a sense of relief. That I can give up this game. That the question of whether I can succeed in this venture has been answered, even if that answer is a resounding no. That if desperate times call for desperate measures, then I am free to act as desperately as I wish.
See, Katniss, it’s liberating to realize that they’re going to hate you no matter what you do! Now you know how Kristen Stewart feels!
These are the people I must take with me when I escape into the wild. How I will convince them, where we will go in the dead of winter, what it will take to evade capture are unanswered questions. But at least now I know what I must do.
What the, you’re going to run away?! The Avox girl tried running away, Katniss. And look where it got her.
Apparently my mockingjay pin has spawned a new fashion sensation, because several people come up to show me their accessories. My bird has been replicated on belt buckles, embroidered into silk lapels, even tattooed in intimate places.
YOU GET THAT POOR BIRD OFF YOUR UNWORTHY BODIES, YOU SAVAGES. THAT AIN’T FO’ YOU! And besides, doesn’t the mockingjay kind of mock the Capitol (no pun intended)? Why would they want to wear it? Oh, right, they’re a bunch of morons.
I act delighted, but I have zero interest in these Capitol people. They are only distractions from the food.
Sounds like me at every family function.
Peeta looks at the glass again and puts it together. “You mean this will make me puke?”
My prep team laughs hysterically. “Of course, so you can keep eating,” says Octavia. “I’ve been in there twice already. Everyone does it, or else how would you have any fun at a feast?”
But often in the old days, there was nothing to give and the child was past saving, anyway. And here in the Capitol they’re vomiting for the pleasure of filling their bellies again and again.
He pauses, then whispers, “Maybe we were wrong, Katniss.”
“About what?” I ask.
“About trying to subdue things in the districts,” he says.
FUCK YEAH JUST GO WITH IT. It’s going to happen anyway!
I don’t want to dance with Plutarch Heavensbee. I don’t want to feel his hands, one resting against mine, one on my hip. I’m not used to being touched, except by Peeta or my family, and I rank Gamemakers somewhere below maggots in terms of creatures I want in contact with my skin.
Hahahaha piece of shit.
“Are you planning the Quarter Quell Games already?” I say.
“Oh, yes. Well, they’ve been in the works for years, of course. Arenas aren’t built in a day. But the, shall we say, flavor of the Games is being determined now. Believe it or not, I’ve got a strategy meeting tonight,” he says.
What are they planning? I keep trying to imagine worse things than the regular Hunger Games, but I guess I’ll find out. Right? Right? Also, Plutarch has a mockingjay on his watch, which is even more disgusting since he’s a Gamemaker, but it’s different from the others, and Katniss takes note of it. I wonder what’s so special about it.
Haymitch is deposited in his room. Cinna orders tea and we all take seats around the table while Effie rattles her schedule papers and reminds us we’re still on tour. “There’s the Harvest Festival in District Twelve to think about. So I suggest we drink our tea and head straight to bed.” No one argues.
I have a bad feeling about this. I feel like something bad is going to happen when they go to District 12. Becaise there’ll be Capitol people there, right? And Katniss and Peeta’s families and friends will be there. It just does not auger well for Katniss, especially now that we know she failed to change the audience’s mind.
“It’s not necessary. My nightmares are usually about losing you,” he says. “I’m okay once I realize you’re here.”
Ugh. Peeta makes comments like this in such an offhand way, and it’s like being hit in the gut. He’s only answering my question honestly. He’s not pressing me to reply in kind, to make any declaration of love. But I still feel awful, as if I’ve been using him in some terrible way. Have I? I don’t know. I only know that for the first time, I feel immoral about him being here in my bed. Which is ironic since we’re officially engaged now.
Okay, first of all, that was one of the cutest things I’ve ever heard, and second of all, it’s only fucking Katniss up more. I just, things would be so much easier if Katniss loved Peeta too. Like if she had no doubt in her mind that she loved him. Then this arranged marriage thing wouldn’t be so bad. But it’s so messed up because Peeta actually loves her but Katniss is just doing it for the cameras but she doesn’t know if maybe she genuinely loves him back, but until she sorts that out, she hates the idea of pretending to be in love because she feels like she’s cheating Peeta as well as the Capitol.
But I like Mayor Undersee’s house, especially now that his daughter, Madge, and I are friends. We always were, in a way. It became official when she came to say good-bye to me before I left for the Games. When she gave me the mockingjay pin for luck. After I got home, we started spending time together.
Aww that’s good. Maybe Madge will team up with them in whatever they’re doing! She’ll like, defy her father and run away with the opposition, which will cause quite a stir because of her father’s political position, and her father will be ashamed and angry at first, but then he’ll have to accept his daughter’s decision and realize that maybe she was right and come around and help them, too!Am I looking too far into this? I probably am.
“Yes. But you don’t go to the Capitol unless they invite you,” said Madge unhappily. Even the mayor’s privileges are limited.
ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY WALK INTO THE CAPITOL.
I’m leaving the room when a beeping noise catches my attention. I turn back to see the screen of the television go black. Then the words “UPDATE ON DISTRICT 8” start flashing. Instinctively I know this is not for my eyes but something intended only for the mayor. I should go. Quickly. Instead I find myself stepping closer to the television.
Oh, shit, what’s going on?!
An announcer I’ve never seen before appears. It’s a woman with graying hair and a hoarse, authoritative voice. She warns that conditions are worsening and a Level 3 alert has been called. Additional forces are being sent into District 8, and all textile production has ceased.
Level 3 alert, what’s a Level 3 alert?
They cut away from the woman to the main square in District 8. I recognize it because I was there only last week. There are still banners with my face waving from the rooftops. Below them, there’s a mob scene. The square’s packed with screaming people, their faces hidden with rags and homemade masks, throwing bricks. Buildings burn. Peacekeepers shoot into the crowd, killing at random.
I’ve never seen anything like it, but I can only be witnessing one thing. This is what President Snow calls an uprising.
Two more shots. The door doesn’t muffle their sound much. Who was that? Thresh’s grandmother? One of Rue’s little sisters?
NO NO NO NO PLEASE NO
“Then I made things worse, too. By giving the money,” says Peeta. Suddenly he strikes out at a lamp that sits precariously on a crate and knocks it across the room, where it shatters against the floor. “This has to stop. Right now. This - this - game you two play, where you tell each other secrets but keep them from me like I’m too inconsequential or stupid or weak to handle them.”
You tell ‘em, Peeta!
“Well, you overestimated me. Because I really screwed up today. What do you think is going to happen to Rue’s and Thresh’s families? Do you think they’ll get their share of our winnings? Do you think I gave them a bright future? Because I think they’ll be lucky if they survive the day!” Peeta sends something else flying, a statue. I’ve never seen him like this.
Good going, you guys. His ignorance of what was going on may have cost these people their lives. YOU’RE A TEAM. YOU ALWAYS HAVE BEEN A TEAM. NOW ACT LIKE ONE.
“From now on, you’ll be fully informed,” Haymitch promises.
“I better be,” says Peeta. He doesn’t even bother to look at me before he leaves.
“Did you choose me, Haymitch?” I ask.
“Yeah,” he says.
“Why? You like him better,” I say.
“That’s true. But remember, until they changed the rules, I could only hope to get one of you out of there alive,” he says. “I thought since he was determined to protect you, well, between the three of us, we might be able to bring you home.”
I honestly hadn’t even thought of this. I was too busy hoping that they could both win. Of course there could only be one. So of course there was really no point in trying to help both of them win, in a way. Because even if they both make it to the last two, they still have to kill each other. How could Haymitch live with himself, having to choose one to live and one to allow to die? It worked out a little better this time around, but still.
“Haymitch says I was wrong to yell at you. You were only operating under his instructions,” says Peeta. “And it isn’t as if I haven’t kept things from you in the past.”
I remember the shock of hearing Peeta confess his love for me in front of all of Panem. Haymitch had known about that and not told me.
YOU SEE?! You two are the ones who dragged Katniss into this, she had no choice but to go with it!
“Was that really the only time you kissed Gale?”
I’m so startled I answer. “Yes.” With all that has happened today, has that question actually been preying on him?
Even without our personal speeches to trigger dissent - needless to say the ones we gave in District 11 were edited out before the event was broadcast - you can feel something in the air, the rolling boil of a pot about to run over. Not everywhere. Some crowds have the weary-cattle feel that I know District 12 usually projects at the victors’ ceremonies. But in others - particularly 8, 4, and 3 - there is genuine elation in the faces of the people at the sight of us, and under the elation, fury. When they chant my name, it is more of a cry for vengeance than a cheer. When the Peacekeepers move in to quiet an unruly crowd, it presses back instead of retreating. And I know that there’s nothing I could ever do to change this. No show of love, however believable, will turn this tide. If my holding out those berries was an act of temporary insanity, then these people will embrace insanity, too.
I wonder why 8, 4, and 3 in particular? And boy does that suck, Katniss. If only it were as easy as being like “I hate you all and we deserve the Games every year.”
The back-to-back appearances in 2 and 1 are their own special kind of awful. Cato and Clove, the tributes from District 2, might have both made it home if Peeta and I hadn’t. I personally killed the girl, Glimmer, and the boy from District 1. As I try to avoid looking at his family, I learn that his name was Marvel. How did I never know that? I suppose that before the Games I didn’t pay attention, and afterward I didn’t want to know.
Hahaha Marvel. I expected something more from these districts. Of course, they have it a little better than the other districts, right? They don’t necessarily hate the games as much as the others. But I still thought something would happen. Other than the awkwardness.
Back in our old quarters in the Training Center, I’m the one who suggests the public marriage proposal. Peeta agrees to do it but then disappears to his room for a long time. Haymitch tells me to leave him alone.
“I thought he wanted it, anyway,” I say.
“Not like this,” Haymitch says. “He wanted it to be real.”
When he asks us about the future, Peeta gets down on one knee, pours out his heart, and begs me to marry him. I, of course, accept. Caesar is beside himself, the Capitol audience is hysterical, shots of crowds around Panem show a country besotted with happiness.
Wow I expected something a little more…dramatic? I don’t know. Like obviously it’s fabricated for the audience, but I don’t know. It’s just really weird to think that they just decided one day, “Hey, we should get married, they’ll like that.” “Okay.”
Did I do it? Was it enough? Was giving everything over to you, keeping up the game, promising to marry Peeta enough?
In answer, he gives an almost imperceptible shake of his head.
I wonder if President Snow will insist we have children. If we do, they’ll have to face the reaping each year. And wouldn’t it be something to see the child of not one but two victors chosen for the arena? Victors’ children have been in the ring before. It always causes a lot of excitement and generates talk about how the odds are not in that family’s favor. But it happens too frequently to just be about odds. Gale’s convinced the Capitol does it on purpose, rigs the drawings to add extra drama. Given all the trouble I’ve caused, I’ve probably guaranteed any child of mine a spot in the Games.
Ugh let’s just force these two people to get married and have babies because it’ll make our people happy. And you’d think that the children of the victors would have immunity or some shit from being put into the Games. But no. If anything, if Gale’s right, they have a higher chance of being picked. So of course Haymitch didn’t have children. Of course Katniss has ruled it out for herself completely. Why bring children into this fucked up world?
My mind searches frantically for a way out. I can’t let President Snow condemn me to this. Even if it means taking my own life. Before that, though, I’d try to run away. What would they do if I simply vanished? Disappeared into the woods and never came out? Could I even manage to take everyone I love with me, start a new life deep in the wild? Highly unlikely but not impossible.
And she’s trapped. She’s completely trapped. The Capitol can do whatever it wants to her and and everyone she cares about if she doesn’t do everything to please them. We already know they’ve been watching her, so they’ll be watching her every move, possibly for the rest of her life. How could anyone live with that?
“Doesn’t he need prepping?” I ask.
“Not the way you do,” Effie replies.
BECAUSE SHE’S A GIRL?! AND GIRLS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE PRETTY?!
Not one of the boys grew a beard, and many were old enough to. I wonder what they did to them.
Made them look more child-like. Which, if anything, makes the Games appear even more fucked up, like it’s flaunting the fact that our children are in there fighting to the death.
As far as I can tell, they never get up before noon unless there’s some sort of national emergency, like my leg hair. I was so happy when it grew back in, too. As if it were a sign that things might be returning to normal. I run my fingers along the soft, curly down on my legs and give myself over to the team.
Hahahaha ugh ew what is this shit I’m sorry, I know it’s a different “world” full of very different circumstances, and I know I just bashed them a few paragraphs ago for implying that girls require more asthetic work than boys, but it’s still really difficult for me to wrap my liberal, feminist mind around a girl with hairy legs.
This sends Effie into a state. She pulls out her schedule and begins to work out how the delay will impact every event for the rest of our lives. Finally I just can’t stand to listen to her anymore.
“No one cares, Effie!” I snap.
“Look, Katniss, I’ve been wanting to talk to you about the way I acted on the train. I mean, the last train. The one that brought us home. I knew you had something with Gale. I was jealous of him before I even officially met you. And it wasn’t fair to hold you to anything that happened in the Games. I’m sorry.”
Wow, it’s nice to see Peeta acknowledging that Katniss basically kept them alive by pretending to be in love and shifting some of the blame. You know, considering he STARTED IT by confessing his love for her and Haymitch promo’d the shit out of it.
“Let’s start with something more basic. Isn’t it strange that I know you’d risk your life to save mine … but I don’t know what your favorite color is?” he says.
A smile creeps onto my lips. “Green. What’s yours?”
“Orange,” he says.
“Orange? Like Effie’s hair?” I say.
“A bit more muted,” he says. “More like … sunset.”
Awww, this is so adorable and it makes me feel all fuzzy and warm inside much like the mere mention of Cinna does.
Peeta has painted the Games.
Some you wouldn’t get right away, if you hadn’t been with him in the arena yourself. Water dripping through the cracks in our cave. The dry pond bed. A pair of hands, his own, digging for roots. Others any viewer would recognize. The golden horn called the Cornucopia. Clove arranging the knives inside her jacket. One of the mutts, unmistakably the blond, green-eyed one meant to be Glimmer, snarling as it makes its way toward us. And me. I am everywhere. High up in a tree. Beating a shirt against the stones in the stream. Lying unconscious in a pool of blood. And one I can’t place — perhaps this is how I looked when his fever was high—emerging from a silver gray mist that matches my eyes exactly.
Ugh. They’re probably really good and all, but. I can imagine Peeta using these pictures in an ad campaign to stop the Hunger Games, with some Sarah Mclachlin song in the background, showing pictures of Glimmer with an ugly furry snout and talking about how these tributes need you help.
“I see them every night,” he says.
I know what he means. Nightmares — which I was no stranger to before the Games — now plague me whenever I sleep. But the old standby, the one of my father being blown to bits in the mines, is rare. Instead I relive versions of what happened in the arena. My worthless attempt to save Rue. Peeta bleeding to death. Glimmer’s bloated body disintegrating in my hands. Cato’s horrific end with the muttations. These are the most frequent visitors.
Okay. These paintings are his therapy. Maybe that’s what these “talents” are supposed to help with? I mean, besides being another controlled segment by the Capitol. This is real PTSD shit right here.
It takes place before their Justice Building, a huge marble structure.
Which for some reason only now reminds me of the Hall of Justice.
As usual, a special platform has been constructed at the bottom of the stage for the families of the dead tributes. On Thresh’s side, there’s only an old woman with a hunched back and a tall, muscular girl I’m guessing is his sister. On Rue’s…I’m not prepared for Rue’s family. Her parents, whose faces are still fresh with sorrow. Her five younger siblings, who resemble her so closely. The slight builds, the luminous brown eyes. They form a flock of small dark birds.
No no no no, I don’t want her to have to face this again. MY EMOTIONS.
“It can in no way replace your losses, but as a token of our thanks we’d like for each of the tributes’ families from District Eleven to receive one month of our winnings every year for the duration of our lives.”
PEETA MELLARK, YOU WONDERFUL BOY. YOU BRAVE, BRAVE MAN. LET US WALK.
At this moment, it’s impossible to imagine how I could do any better. The gift…it is perfect. So when I rise up on tiptoe to kiss him, it doesn’t seem forced at all.
OH JUST GET MARRIED ALRE- oh yeah, right.
“I want to give my thanks to the tributes of District Eleven,” I say. I look at the pair of women on Thresh’s side. “I only ever spoke to Thresh one time. Just long enough for him to spare my life. I didn’t know him, but I always respected him. For his power. For his refusal to play the Games on anyone’s terms but his own. The Careers wanted him to team up with them from the beginning, but he wouldn’t do it. I respected him for that.”
I still wish he had been more instrumental in the grand scheme of things. What he did was still fucking awesome and badass and I loved every second of it, and I guess it’d be unrealistic to think that he’d get more action, considering that if the story were to progress, Katniss would have to win, which meant that everyone else would die, and every single one of their stories would end there (in a more literal sense).
I turn to Rue’s family. “But I feel as if I did know Rue, and she’ll always be with me. Everything beautiful brings her to mind. I see her in the yellow flowers that grow in the Meadow by my house. I see her in the mockingjays that sing in the trees. But most of all, I see her in my sister, Prim.” My voice is undependable, but I am almost finished. “Thank you for your children.” I raise my chin to address the crowd. “And thank you all for the bread.”
Wait shit hang on you guys, I have a branch in my eye.
I stand there, feeling broken and small, thousands of eyes trained on me. There’s a long pause. Then, from somewhere in the crowd, someone whistles Rue’s four-note mocking-jay tune. The one that signaled the end of the workday in the orchards. The one that meant safety in the arena. By the end of the tune, I have found the whistler, a wizened old man in a faded red shirt and overalls. His eyes meet mine.
NOOO SYMBOLISM ARE YOU TRYING TO MAKE ME UPSET?
What happens next is not an accident. It is too well executed to be spontaneous, because it happens in complete unison. Every person in the crowd presses the three middle fingers of their left hand against their lips and extends them to me. It’s our sign from District 12, the last good-bye I gave Rue in the arena.
That hand signal is even more beautiful the third time and I’m definitely crying now and I love the feeling of her being backed and supported by this huge group of people because it GMH.
If I hadn’t spoken to President Snow, this gesture might move me to tears. But with his recent orders to calm the districts fresh in my ears, it fills me with dread. What will he think of this very public salute to the girl who defied the Capitol?
Shit. Shit, shit, shit. God, as a reader, this rebellion-typey stuff is awesome, but it’s exactly what the Capitol, and Katniss, doesn’t want. These people, for once, have hope, but little do they know (or maybe they do) how angry President Snow is getting, just because they’re showing support for a tribute. More support than they “ought to”, considering she’s not theirs. It’s both beautiful and horrible at the same time.
We would be safe inside the Justice Building by now, if I hadn’t stopped, if I hadn’t left my flowers. Instead, from the deep shade of the verandah, we see the whole thing.
A pair of Peacekeepers dragging the old man who whistled to the top of the steps. Forcing him to his knees before the crowd. And putting a bullet through his head.
"Okay, can we PLEASE get more information on Haymitch? His life before the Games, his time in the Games, just anything and everything about Haymitch." you do get some more background info in this book and in mockingjay! patience good sir :D
And as for patience, I should remind you all that I’m a Potterhead; after years of having to wait for HP-related stuff, my people have evolved to achieve a heightened level of patience. (Though my predominantly Type A personality does win over at times.)
What does he do? I think. Drink it? I imagine him sipping it from a teacup. Dipping a cookie into the stuff and pulling it out dripping red.
I hear my mother’s light, quick tread in the hall. She can’t know, I think. Not about any of this. I reach my hands over the tray and quickly brush the bits of cookie from my palm and fingers. I take a shaky sip of my tea.
“Is everything all right, Katniss?” she asks.
“It’s fine. We never see it on television, but the president always visits the victors before the tour to wish them luck,” I say brightly.
My mother’s face floods with relief. “Oh. I thought there was some kind of trouble.”
If I didn’t already know as much as I do about Katniss, I’d be surprised and astonished that she didn’t confide in her mother about all this. I would not be able to bottle all that up. True, I don’t confide in my parents about anything. And I can see her reasoning. She doesn’t need her mother knowing about al the trouble she’s in, and she wouldn’t be able to do much about it, anyway.
Since I’ve been home I’ve been trying hard to mend my relationship with my mother. Asking her to do things for me instead of brushing aside any offer of help, as I did for years out of anger. Letting her handle all the money I won. Returning her hugs instead of tolerating them. My time in the arena made me realize how I needed to stop punishing her for something she couldn’t help, specifically the crushing depression she fell into after my father’s death. Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.
Awww, I love this! I love this a lot. This is what I was looking for!
I never took Gale to the lake. I could have. It’s time-consuming to get there, but the waterfowl are such easy pickings you can make up for lost hunting time. It’s a place I’ve never really wanted to share with anyone, though, a place that belonged only to my father and me. Since the Games, when I’ve had little to occupy my days, I’ve gone there a couple of times. The swimming was still nice, but mostly the visits depressed me. Over the course of the last five years, the lake’s remarkably unchanged and I’m almost unrecognizable.
In a normal year, being a mentor to the tributes is the stuff of nightmares. I can’t walk by the school now without wondering what kid I’ll have to coach. But to make things even worse, this is the year of the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games, and that means it’s also a Quarter Quell. They occur every twenty-five years, marking the anniversary of the districts’ defeat with over-the-top celebrations and, for extra fun, some miserable twist for the tributes.
Ooooh, how fun! I can see why they’d be looking forward to that! As if the regular Hunger Games and the sensationalization surrounding it wasn’t enough.
I’ve never been alive for one, of course. But in school I remember hearing that for the second Quarter Quell, the Capitol demanded that twice the number of tributes be provided for the arena. The teachers didn’t go into much more detail, which is surprising, because that was the year District 12’s very own Haymitch Abernathy won the crown.
“Haymitch better be preparing himself for a lot of attention!” squeals Octavia.
Haymitch has never mentioned his personal experience in the arena to me. I would never ask. And if I ever saw his Games televised in reruns, I must’ve been too young to remember it. But the Capitol won’t let him forget it this year.
Okay, can we PLEASE get more information on Haymitch? His life before the Games, his time in the Games, just anything and everything about Haymitch. I can tell when I’m having information withheld from me, Ms. Collins, and I don’t like it!
When my hair is done, I find Cinna downstairs in the living room, and just the sight of him makes me feel more hopeful.
I will never get tired of Cinna.
Every victor is supposed to have one. Your talent is the activity you take up since you don’t have to work either in school or your district’s industry. It can be anything, really, anything that they can interview you about.
Oh my God that is by far the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Maybe coming from someone who doesn’t really have much of a hobby, but the absurdity being forced to have an interest or talent JUST to have something to show the audience makes me cringe.
Bam! It’s like someone actually hits me in the chest. No one has, of course, but the pain is so real I take a step back. I squeeze my eyes shut and I don’t see Prim - I see Rue, the twelve-year-old girl from District 11 who was my ally in the arena. She could fly, birdlike, from tree to tree, catching on to the slenderest branches. Rue, who I didn’t save. Who I let die. I picture her lying on the ground with the spear still wedged in her stomach…
My mother hurries up with something cupped in her hand. “For good luck,” she says.
It’s the pin Madge gave me before I left for the Games. A mockingjay flying in a circle of gold. I tried to give it to Rue but she wouldn’t take it. She said the pin was the reason she’d decided to trust me. Cinna fixes it on the knot in the scarf.
There it is again!
It’s full of fur and snowflakes and lipstick, but underneath all that, I can feel the steadiness that Peeta brings to everything. And I know I’m not alone. As badly as I have hurt him, he won’t expose me in front of the cameras. Won’t condemn me with a halfhearted kiss. He’s still looking out for me. Just as he did in the arena. Somehow the thought makes me want to cry.
“No, Katniss, it’s not just this trip,” he says.
“What do you mean?” I say.
“Even if you pull it off, they’ll be back in another few months to take us all to the Games. You and Peeta, you’ll be mentors now, every year from here on out. And every year they’ll revisit the romance and broadcast the details of your private life, and you’ll never, ever be able to do anything but live happily ever after with that boy.”
Wait what?! I’d never thought of this! They expect Katniss and Peeta to love each other forever? I don’t know why I’m so surprised, this is just like the Capitol.
“Do you understand what I mean?” he presses me.
I nod. He means there’s only one future, if I want to keep those I love alive and stay alive myself. I’ll have to marry Peeta.
Oh, for God’s sake, I should have seen this coming. You know what happens to a lie? It turns into a bigger lie, which turns into an even bigger lie, until there are too many lies for you to keep track of and you wish you’d never lied in the first place because now you’re in a worse situation than you would have been if you’d never lied except in Katniss’s case it kept her alive it’s just that charades is only fun for so long until you get sick of it.
“I think we’ll make this whole situation a lot simpler by agreeing not to lie to each other,” he says. “What do you think?”
I’m going to say this at the start of every conversation I have with anyone ever. With a customer at work, during a class discussion, with my friends, at family dinners, getting pulled over by the police…
Like our home, this is a place that he has no right, but ultimately every right, to occupy.
You can’t give something and then take it back! I mean, what are you, a person that gives something and then they’re dissatisfied and they, uh, wish they had never given it to the person that they originally gave it to?
“If the Head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane, had had any brains, he’d have blown you to dust right then.”
Who’s Seneca Crane are we going to meet him i want to know more about him what’s his story i wonder what’ll happen to him later in the book
I nod because, by the way he says it, it’s clear that Seneca Crane has been executed.
“There have been uprisings?” I ask, both chilled and somewhat elated by the possibility.
That’s so…awesome. The best thing is that, in my opinion, Katniss and Peeta honestly didn’t mean to rebel against the Capitol. Their primary focus was getting out of there alive. I mean, yes, Katniss did exploit their weakness for a good show, because she knew that they wouldn’t want the winners killing themselves. But what would anyone else do? It’s their own damn fault for changing the rules at the last minute like that, purely for entertainment. The Capitol started it.
“Do you have any idea what that would mean? How many people would die? What conditions those left would have to face? Whatever problems anyone may have with the Capitol, believe me when I say that if it released its grip on the districts for even a short time, the entire system would collapse.”
“Peeta. How is the love of your life?” he asks.
NO. I AM NOT HAVING THIS CONVERSATION RIGHT NOW, LEAST OF ALL WITH YOU.
My revulsion at this conversation, at discussing my feelings for two of the people I care most about with President Snow, chokes me off.
Fuck this guy, he, nor anyone else at the Capitol, gives a shit about the people in the other districts. It’s disgusting, how much he enjoys playing with the real emotions of the tributes in the games.
That was my favorite. To see all those hungry kids in the Seam running around, waving cans of applesauce, tins of meat, even candy. Back home, too big to carry, would be bags of grain, cans of oil. To know that once a month for a year they would all receive another parcel. That was one of the few times I actually felt good about winning the Games.
It’s weird to think that not only are these tributes fighting for themselves, they’re fighting for their district. Because Katniss and Peeta won the Hunger Games, their friends and family get to eat and be a little more comfortable for a year. It’s nice.
Then I looked up and there he was, ten feet away, just watching me. Without even thinking, I jumped up and threw my arms around him, making some weird sound that combined laughing, choking, and crying. He was holding me so tightly that I couldn’t see his face, but it was a really long time before he let me go and then he didn’t have much choice, because I’d gotten this unbelievably loud case of the hiccups and had to get a drink.
Then suddenly, as I was suggesting I take over the daily snare run, he took my face in his hands and kissed me.
WHAT I THOUGHT YOU TWO WERE JUST FRIENDS. If there is a fucking love triangle, I will be pissed. And it’s beginning to sound like there is one. I cannot stand love triangles. I had my fill with all that Harmony bullshit.
“Please don’t hurt Gale,” I whisper. “He’s just my friend. He’s been my friend for years. That’s all that’s between us. Besides, everyone thinks we’re cousins now.”
“I’m only interested in how it affects your dynamic with Peeta, thereby affecting the mood in the districts,” he says.
“It will be the same on the tour. I’ll be in love with him just as I was,” I say.
“Just as you are,” corrects President Snow.
“Just as I am,” I confirm.
LOL RIGHT because God forbid an entire population finds out that two people aren’t in love, at least not “anymore.” This all just sounds so stupid out of context. That’d be like if we forced Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston to get back together. It’s like people who ship real people, actors whose characters are in love, but who aren’t in love in real life.
I don’t watch him as he heads for the door, so I flinch when he whispers in my ear. “By the way, I know about the kiss.” Then the door clicks shut behind him.
If it were up to me, I would try to forget the Hunger Games entirely. Never speak of them. Pretend they were nothing but a bad dream.
Sounds like Katniss!
I will have to travel from district to district, to stand before the cheering crowds who secretly loathe me, to look down into the faces of the families whose children I have killed…
You know, I never thought about that. I knew that she and Peeta were going to tour each district, but it hadn’t occurred to me that they’d have to face the families and friends of the dead tributes. I wonder what’ll happen at each district! District 11 might not be so bad, since they all seemed to like Katniss for her alliance with Rue. I can’t wait to see them at Districts 1, 2, and 4, where the Career Tributes were from.
As always, I listen a moment, but there’s no telltale hum of electrical current running through the chain link. There hardly ever is, even though the thing is supposed to be charged full-time.
This reminds me of where I work. I’m not saying where, but we have an alarm thing at the entrance/exit of our store, but it goes off at absolutely nothing and at completely random times, and it’s the most obnoxious thing I’ve ever heard. So most of the time we just keep them off. So if someone’s stealing something, the alarm won’t go off. And IDGAF.
I mourn my old life here. We barely scraped by, but I knew where I fit in, I knew what my place was in the tightly interwoven fabric that was our life. I wish I could go back to it because, in retrospect, it seems so secure compared with now, when I am so rich and so famous and so hated by the authorities in the Capitol.
This makes me so sad! Like yeah, she won the Hunger Games and has more money and food than she could have ever dreamed of, but life was soooo much simpler before she became a tribute. I’d miss it too. Especially considering the aftereffects of these particular games.
Before my fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark, announced he was madly in love with me. Our romance became a key strategy for our survival in the arena. Only it wasn’t just a strategy for Peeta. I’m not sure what it was for me. But I know now it was nothing but painful for Gale.
Someone’s jelly! But I mean, I’d probably feel the same way if I were in his position. There was absolutely no way for Katniss to connect with the outside world, and to tell Gale or anyone else that the “star-crossed lovers” thing was an act, because it was the only thing keeping them alive.
So no matter who Haymitch is, I owe him, too. And that’s for always. I’m getting the white liquor because a few weeks ago he ran out and there was none for sale and he had a withdrawal, shaking and screaming at terrifying things only he could see.
Aaand I’ve decided that I want to learn more about Haymitch.
So some genius made him my cousin. I didn’t know about it until we were already home, on the platform at the train station, and my mother said, “Your cousins can hardly wait to see you!” Then I turned and saw Gale and Hazelle and all the kids waiting for me, so what could I do but go along?
Hmmm, sneaky sneaky! Kind of like when my sister would pretend one of her guy friends was gay so that my parents wouldn’t be suspicious about spending alone time together.
Just the sound of his voice twists my stomach into a knot of unpleasant emotions like guilt, sadness, and fear. And longing. I might as well admit there’s some of that, too. Only it has too much competition to ever win out.
SO MANY EMOTIONS.
My voice doesn’t sound like my own, it’s so formal. Just as it’s been every time I’ve spoken to Peeta since the cameras finished filming our happy homecoming and we returned to our real lives.
TOO MANY EMOTIONS.
“Someone’s here to see you,” says my mother. Her face is too pale and I can hear the anxiety she’s trying to hide.
I’m staring into the snakelike eyes of President Snow.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING, WHAT, WHAT, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Then there’s Peeta just a few yards away. He looks so clean and healthy and beautiful, I can hardly recognize him. But his smile is the same whether in mud or in the Capitol and when I see it, I take about three steps and fling myself into his arms.
I sit so close to Peeta that I’m practically on his lap, but one look from Haymitch tells me it isn’t enough. Kicking off my sandals, I tuck my feet to the side and lean my head against Peeta’s shoulder.
I feel like I’m watching the Bachelor aftershow or something, where the couple gets interviewed and they look back on their journeyyyy and whatnot.
Caesar Flickerman makes a few more jokes, and then it’s time for the show. This will last exactly three hours and is required viewing for all of Panem.
Ohhh so we do get a recap of what was going on! Except it only really shows what Katniss and Peeta were doing which I already knew anyway. So I’m still wondering what else happened!
They play her death in full, the spearing, my failed rescue attempt, my arrow through the boy from District 1’s throat, Rue drawing her last breath in my arms. And the song. I get to sing every note of the song. Something inside me shuts down and I’m too numb to feel anything. It’s like watching complete strangers in another Hunger Games. But I do notice they omit the part where I covered her in flowers.
Ugh I wonder what the audience’s reaction was to this. Probably sad, but more for themselves than for Rue or Katniss.
There’s just one crown, though, and you can hear the crowd’s confusion — whose head will he place it on? — until President Snow gives it a twist and it separates into two halves.
He’s still smiling when he settles the second on my head, but his eyes, just inches from mine, are as unforgiving as a snake’s.
That’s when I know that even though both of us would have eaten the berries, I am to blame for having the idea. I’m the instigator. I’m the one to be punished.
Oh mannn I’ve got a bad feeling about this….except there are like 5 pages left?
After I toss and turn for a few hours, I slip into the hall. My first thought is to check the roof, but it’s empty. Even the city streets far below are deserted after the celebration last night. I go back to bed for a while and then decide to go directly to his room, but when I try to turn the knob, I find my own bedroom door has been locked from the outside.
What are they trying/going to do?
I quickly get back in bed and pretend to sleep until Effie Trinket comes to alert me to the start of another “big, big, big day!”
Ahahaha oh how I’ve missed you, F-Bomb.
“New leg?” I say, and I can’t help reaching out and pulling up the bottom of Peeta’s pants. “Oh, no,” I whisper, taking in the metal-and-plastic device that has replaced his flesh.
Woah! You mean they couldn’t fix his leg? Shit man. Maybe he’ll be part robot now! Eh? Eh?
It seems to call for a big, dramatic speech, but all I get out is one almost inaudible sentence. “I don’t know, I just…couldn’t bear the thought of…being without him.”
If I wasn’t so terrified at them being royally screwed by the Capitol, I’d laugh at how awkward and lame that sounded.
As I slowly, thoroughly wash the makeup from my face and put my hair in its braid, I begin transforming back into myself. Katniss Everdeen. A girl who lives in the Seam. Hunts in the woods. Trades in the Hob. I stare in the mirror as I try to remember who I am and who I am not. By the time I join the others, the pressure of Peeta’s arm around my shoulders feels alien.
It’s so weird, her going back. I just don’t even know what to think or feel! I just want to read more and see what happens after she returns!
“It was all for the Games,” Peeta says. “How you acted.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Peeta extend his hand. I look at him, unsure. “One more time? For the audience?” he says. His voice isn’t angry. It’s hollow, which is worse. Already the boy with the bread is slipping away from me.
I take his hand, holding on tightly, preparing for the cameras, and dreading the moment when I will finally have to let go.
What a sad, horrible, amazing, poignant way to end the book. Back to reality.
I’m really, really glad I didn’t have to wait for the next one.
You mean you're NOT "some sexy muscley guy typing these up with his shirt off because he just got back from the gym and it was arms and back day so he had trouble fitting back into his shirt and he’s comfortable with his body anyway."? Oh, the disappoint . . .
My fingers are still gripping the back of his jacket so tightly that when they take him away it tears leaving me with a fistful of black fabric.
Peeta’s so pale and still on a silver table, tubes and wires springing out of him every which way, and for a moment I forget we’re out of the Games and I see the doctors as just one more threat, one more pack of mutts designed to kill him. Petrified, I lunge for him, but I’m caught and thrust back into another room, and a glass door seals between us. I pound on the glass, screaming my head off.
God this is like post-traumatic stress disorder. I wonder how Katniss will be handling life after this. Same for Peeta.
I startle when I catch someone staring at me from only a few inches away and then realize it’s my own face reflecting back in the glass. Wild eyes, hollow cheeks, my hair in a tangled mat. Rabid. Feral. Mad. No wonder everyone is keeping a safe distance from me.
Hahahaha wow, yeah. I never really thought about it, but she hasn’t seen herself since before the games started.
Apprehensively I ruffle the hair by my left ear. No, it wasn’t an illusion. I can hear again.
While she adjusts my pillows, I risk one question. I say it out loud, as clearly as my rusty voice will allow, so nothing will seem secretive. “Did Peeta make it?” She gives me a nod, and as she slips a spoon into my hand, I feel the pressure of friendship.
Okay, so I can stop worrying that Peeta will die? And I’m even happy to see this Avox girl.
Somewhere, Cinna and Portia will be creating our wardrobes for the public appearances. Haymitch and Effie will be arranging the banquet for our sponsors, reviewing the questions for our final interviews.
Ahhh I can’t wait to see them!
Home! Prim and my mother! Gale! Even the thought of Prim’s scruffy old cat makes me smile. Soon I will be home!
Agh this is so emotional. Going back home to the people you didn’t think you’d see again, getting to be with your family, being this celebrated hero. But she still has to live with what happened in the arena.
The skin’s perfection, smooth and glowing. Not only are the scars from the arena gone, but those accumulated over years of hunting have vanished without a trace. My forehead feels like satin, and when I try to find the burn on my calf, there’s nothing.
Yeah, if I just spent like two weeks fighting for my life and getting almost dehydrated, burned to death, and attacked by zombie werewolves and watching my friends die, I’d better come home looking fucking perfect. Even though in a way, it kind of erases everything that went on in the games. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
“Peeta!” I call out, since there’s no one to ask. I hear my name in response, but it’s not his voice. It’s a voice that provokes first irritation and then eagerness. Effie.
I run for them and surprise even myself when I launch into Haymitch’s arms first. When he whispers in my ear, “Nice job, sweetheart,” it doesn’t sound sarcastic. Effie’s somewhat teary and keeps patting my hair and talking about how she told everyone we were pearls. Cinna just hugs me tight and doesn’t say anything.
And when we ride up to the twelfth floor, the faces of all the tributes who will never return flash across my mind and there’s a heavy, tight place in my chest.
TOO MANY EMOTIONS
They are truly thrilled to see me and I’m happy to see them, too, although not like I was to see Cinna. It’s more in the way one might be glad to see an affectionate trio of pets at the end of a particularly difficult day.
Hahahahaha very good analogy.
It’s funny, because even though they’re rattling on about the Games, it’s all about where they were or what they were doing or how they felt when a specific event occurred. “I was still in bed!” “I had just had my eyebrows dyed!” “I swear I nearly fainted!” Everything is about them, not the dying boys and girls in the arena.
We don’t wallow around in the Games this way in District 12. We grit our teeth and watch because we must and try to get back to business as soon as possible when they’re over. To keep from hating the prep team, I effectively tune out most of what they’re saying.
Ugh, of course they only care about themselves, really. That’s what they’ve been taught. That the Hunger Games are for their entertainment. It’s an activity for them just as much as it is for the tributes (though in an entirely different way). It’s just sickening how desensitized they are to it and still think about themselves so highly.
“I thought it’d be something more … sophisticated looking,” I say.
“I thought Peeta would like this better,” he answers carefully.
Peeta? No, it’s not about Peeta. It’s about the Capitol and the Gamemakers and the audience. Although I do not yet understand Cinna’s design, it’s a reminder the Games are not quite finished. And beneath his benign reply, I sense a warning. Of something he can’t even mention in front of his own team.
“Listen up. You’re in trouble. Word is the Capitol’s furious about you showing them up in the arena. The one thing they can’t stand is being laughed at and they’re the joke of Panem,” says Haymitch.
I feel dread coursing through me now, but I laugh as though Haymitch is saying something completely delightful because nothing is covering my mouth. “So, what?”
“Your only defense can be you were so madly in love you weren’t responsible for your actions.” Haymitch pulls back and adjusts my hairband. “Got it, sweetheart?” He could be talking about anything now.
Oh, great. GREAT. Of course they’re pissed. It’s amazing yet unsurprising that the Capitol will go to such lengths to preserve their self-concept. They want to feel and look in control, and anything that contradicts that is a big threat to them.
When I left the arena, when the trumpets played, I was supposed to be safe. From then on. For the rest of my life. But if what Haymitch says is true, and he’s got no reason to lie, I’ve never been in such a dangerous place in my life.
It’s so much worse than being hunted in the arena. There, I could only die. End of story. But out here Prim, my mother, Gale, the people of District 12, everyone I care about back home could be punished if I can’t pull off the girl-driven-crazy-by-love scenario Haymitch has suggested.
I feel so cheated! Like I thought there would be this nice, happy, they-can’t-hurt-us-anymore ending. But we’re not out of the woods yet, folks!
I haven’t even begun to separate out my feelings about Peeta. It’s too complicated. What I did as part of the Games. As opposed to what I did out of anger at the Capitol. Or because of how it would be viewed back in District 12. Or simply because it was the only decent thing to do. Or what I did because I cared about him.
And I’m having a hard enough time deciding on a transfer school. Like I said waayy back in the beginning, this is all one big mindfuck, especially now that she’s coming back from it. Because throughout the games, Peeta was the friend, the enemy, the lover, all in one, it’s hard to distinguish all these levels in their relationship from the ones created by the games.
Muttations. No question about it. I’ve never seen these mutts, but they’re no natural-born animals. They resemble huge wolves, but what wolf lands and then balances easily on its hind legs? What wolf waves the rest of the pack forward with its front paw as though it had a wrist? These things I can see at a distance. Up close, I’m sure their more menacing attributes will be revealed.
Peeta’s waving me up the horn, “Go, Katniss! Go!”
He’s right. I can’t protect either of us on the ground. I start climbing, scaling the Cornucopia on my hands and feet.
Oh man, they’re just going to climb up and hope that the wolf things can’t get them? Bad news, I don’t like this. They seem more trapped than anything.
For a moment it hangs there, and in that moment I realize what else unsettled me about the mutts. The green eyes glowering at me are unlike any dog or wolf, any canine I’ve ever seen. They are unmistakably human. And that revelation has barely registered when I notice the collar with the number 1 inlaid with jewels and the whole horrible thing hits me. The blonde hair, the green eyes, the number…it’s Glimmer.
FUCK, NO. IT’S ALL THE DEAD TRIBUTES.
My head snaps from side to side as I examine the pack, taking in the various sizes and colors. The small one with the red coat and amber eyes…Foxface! And there, the ashen hair and hazel eyes of the boy from District 9 who died as we struggled for the backpack! And worst of all, the smallest mutt, with dark glossy fur, huge brown eyes and a collar that reads 11 in woven straw. Teeth bared in hatred. Rue…
No no no no. These are like a cross between werewolves and inferi!
Their eyes are the least of my worries. What about their brains? Have they been given any of the real tributes memories? Have they been programmed to hate our faces particularly because we have survived and they were so callously murdered? And the ones we actually killed…do they believe they’re avenging their own deaths?
If they are, then it sucks for Cato.
Cato stands before me, almost at the lip of the horn, holding Peeta in some kind of headlock, cutting off his air. Peeta’s clawing at Cato’s arm, but weakly, as if confused over whether it’s more important to breathe or try and stem the gush of blood from the gaping hole a mutt left in his calf.
Okay this is like the third time I thought Peeta was going to die in this chapter.
Cato just laughs. “Shoot me and he goes down with me.” He’s right. If I take him out and he falls to the mutts, Peeta is sure to die with him. We’ve reached a stalemate. I can’t shoot Cato without killing Peeta, too. He can’t kill Peeta without guaranteeing an arrow in his brain. We stand like statues, both of us seeking an out.
THERE IS NO OUT, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE GAMEMAKERS WANTED.
As if in a last-ditch effort, Peeta raises his fingers, dripping with blood from his leg, up to Cato’s arm. Instead of trying to wrestle his way free, his forefinger veers off and makes a deliberate X on the back of Cato’s hand. Cato realizes what it means exactly one second after I do. I can tell by the way the smile drops from his lips. But it’s one second too late because, by that time, my arrow is piercing his hand. He cries out and reflexively releases Peeta who slams back against him. For a horrible moment, I think they’re both going over. I dive forward just catching hold of Peeta as Cato loses his footing on the blood-slick horn and plummets to the ground.
OFY THAT IS WHAT I CALL TEAMWORK.
I don’t know how long it has been, maybe an hour or so, when Cato hits the ground and we hear the mutts dragging him, dragging him back into the Cornucopia. Now they’ll finish him off, I think. But there’s still no cannon.
Yeesh, this guy is resilient.
“Don’t go to sleep,” I tell him. I’m not sure if this is exactly medical protocol, but I’m terrified that if he drifts off he’ll never wake again.
HOW THE HELL COULD YOU SLEEP ANYWAY WITH A GUY GETTING MAULED UNDERNEATH YOU?
“Why don’t they just kill him?” I ask Peeta.
“You know why,” he says, and pulls me closer to him.
And I do. No viewer could turn away from the show now. From the Gamemakers’ point of view, this is the final word in entertainment.
Ugh, yes, I want to cuddle up on the couch with some popcorn to a nice, slow, gory, death.
Finally, I hear him whisper that the sun is rising. I open my eyes and find the stars fading in the pale light of dawn.
They’ve been there all night?!
It takes a few moments to find Cato in the dim light, in the blood. Then the raw hunk of meat that used to be my enemy makes a sound, and I know where his mouth is. And I think the word he’s trying to say is please.
Pity, not vengeance, sends my arrow flying into his skull.
You know, I definitely feel bad for Cato now. He was a stupid dickwad assdouche, but he in no way deserved that. And my prediction at the end of last chapter could not have been more wrong.
Peeta pulls me back up, bow in hand, quiver empty.
“Did you get him?” he whispers.
The cannon fires in answer.
“Then we won, Katniss,” he says hollowly.
A mockingjay gives the long, low whistle, and tears of relief fill my eyes as the hovercraft appears and takes Cato’s body away. Now they will take us. Now we can go home.
But again there’s no response.
“Greetings to the final contestants of the Seventy-fourth Hunger Games. The earlier revision has been revoked. Closer examination of the rule book has disclosed that only one winner may be allowed,” he says. “Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.”
Seriously though I almost threw the book reading this. You slimy pieces of shit.
“Then you shoot me,” I say furiously, shoving the weapons back at him. “You shoot me and go home and live with it!” And as I say it, I know death right here, right now would be the easier of the two.
“You know I can’t,” Peeta says, discarding the weapons. “Fine, I’ll go first anyway.” He leans down and rips the bandage off his leg, eliminating the final barrier between his blood and the earth.
“No, you can’t kill yourself,” I say. I’m on my knees, desperately plastering the bandage back onto his wound.
“Katniss,” he says. “It’s what I want.”
“You’re not leaving me here alone,” I say. Because if he dies, I’ll never go home, not really. I’ll spend the rest of my life in this arena trying to think my way out.
I am crying right now, it’s all come to this, and it’s all a fucking no win situation, and they both know it, and I just feel dead inside reading it.
If Peeta and I were both to die, or they thought we were…
I spread out my fingers, and the dark berries glisten in the sun. I give Peeta’s hand one last squeeze as a signal, as a goodbye, and we begin counting. “One.” Maybe I’m wrong. “Two.” Maybe they don’t care if we both die. “Three!” It’s too late to change my mind. I lift my hand to my mouth, taking one last look at the world. The berries have just passed my lips when the trumpets begin to blare.
The frantic voice of Claudius Templesmith shouts above them. “Stop! Stop! Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to present the victors of the Seventy-fourth Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark! I give you — the tributes of District Twelve!”
“Not on purpose. Doesn’t seem fair somehow. I mean, we would have both been dead, too, if she hadn’t eaten the berries first.” He checks himself. “No, of course, we wouldn’t. You recognized them, didn’t you?”
Ohhh, okay. He didn’t know what he did. She just stole their food but ate the wrong berries before they did. Yowza!
“Wait!” I cry. I find the leather pouch that belonged to the boy from District 1 and fill it with a few handfuls of berries from the plastic. “If they fooled Foxface, maybe they can fool Cato as well. If he’s chasing us or something, we can act like we accidentally drop the pouch and if he eats them —”
“Then hello District Twelve,” says Peeta.
“That’s it,” I say, securing the pouch to my belt.
Smart smart smart! Always thinking, that girl!
“Are you ready to face him?” Peeta asks.
Brutal, bloody Cato who can snap a neck with a twist of his arm, who had the power to overcome Thresh, who has had it out for me since the beginning. He probably has had a special hatred for me ever since I outscored him in training. A boy like Peeta would simply shrug that off. But I have a feeling it drove Cato to distraction. Which is not that hard. I think of his ridiculous reaction to finding the supplies blown up. The others were upset, of course, but he was completely unhinged. I wonder now if Cato might not be entirely sane.
Which makes me feel even worse about it. He could do literally anything. But I wonder if it’ll be his downfall. And I want to know what’s been going on with him this whole time, and what’s been going on in his head.
I can’t pretend I’ll miss her, but I have to admire her. My guess is if they had given us some sort of test, she would have been the smartest of all the tributes. If, in fact, we had been setting a trap for her, I bet she’d have sensed it and avoided the berries.
Yeah, I never particularly disliked her either. This also makes me wonder what all the other tributes were up to during the games. I’d love to “watch” the broadcasting of the games to see what was going on that Katniss didn’t know about.
“How long do you think we’ll have before the Gamemakers drive us together?” I ask.
“Well, Foxface died almost a day ago, so there’s been plenty of time for the audience to place bets and get bored. I guess it could happen at any moment,” says Peeta.
“Yeah, I have a feeling today’s the day,” I say.
I’m so nervous you guys. What’s going to happen? Is something going to happen?
“Not even a little damp. They must have drained it while we slept,” I say. A fear of the cracked tongue, aching body and fuzzy mind brought on by my previous dehydration creeps into my consciousness. Our bottles and skin are fairly full, but with two drinking and this hot sun it won’t take long to deplete them.
“The lake,” says Peeta. “That’s where they want us to go.”
Of course. Back to where it all began.
“Let’s go now, while we’ve had food and rest. Let’s just go end this thing,” he says.
Guys I’m shaking. Like I haven’t been this anxious about a book since Deathly Hallows.
I open my mouth and sing out Rue’s four-note run. I can feel them pause curiously at the sound of my voice, listening for more. I repeat the notes in the silence. First one mockingjay trills the tune back, then another. Then the whole world comes alive with the sound.
For a while, I just close my eyes and listen, mesmerized by the beauty of the song. Then something begins to disrupt the music. Runs cut off in jagged, imperfect lines. Dissonant notes intersperse with the melody. The mockingjays’ voices rise up in a shrieking cry of alarm.
We’re on our feet, Peeta wielding his knife, me poised to shoot, when Cato smashes through the trees and bears down on us. He has no spear. In fact, his hands are empty, yet he runs straight for us. My first arrow hits his chest and inexplicably falls aside.
“He’s got some kind of body armor!” I shout to Peeta.
Just in time, too, because Cato is upon us. I brace myself, but he rockets right between us with no attempt to check his speed. I can tell from his panting, the sweat pouring off his purplish face, that he’s been running hard a long time. Not toward us. From something. But what?
My eyes scan the woods just in time to see the first creature leap onto the plain. As I’m turning away, I see another half dozen join it. Then I am stumbling blindly after Cato with no thought of anything but to save myself.
WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT IS GOING ON. Going straight to the next chapter now.
(Predictions before I continue: the Gamemakers did this and the creatures attack the three of them and Katniss and Peeta and Cato have to team up and fight them, or the creatures kill Cato themselves.)
You know what might be cool- if you did your reactions to a chapter in a video! Like maybe us followers who have already read the book could vote on an exciting chapter and you could vlog it :) Anyway, just a thought. Love your blog!!
Thanks! I like the idea, but I’m a little too self-conscious for video.
And I’d literally just sit there like “Uh, so, yeah….uhmmm this happened, and I was all ‘wut?’”
I’m just a dreadful vlogger. It would be so boring.
Unless you mean like, set up a camera to record myself actually reading the book, but that’ll mostly just get my facial expressions.
Plus I like the idea that like 98% of you don’t know what I look like and are imagining some sexy muscley guy typing these up with his shirt off because he just got back from the gym and it was arms and back day so he had trouble fitting back into his shirt and he’s comfortable with his body anyway.
That’s right. If we win, we’ll each get a house in the part of town reserved for Hunger Games’ victors. Long ago, when the Games began, the Capitol had built a dozen fine houses in each district. Of course, in ours only one is occupied. Most of the others have never been lived in at all.
A disturbing thought hits me. “But then, our only neighbor will be Haymitch!”
Hahaha I bet he gets his paper in the nude.
“That’s right. Who am I thinking of? Oh, I know. It’s Cinna who likes you. But that’s mainly because you didn’t try to run when he set you on fire,” says Peeta.
…..I miss Cinna :(
Peeta considers this quite a while before he answers. Haymitch is sturdily built, but no physical wonder like Cato or Thresh. He’s not particularly handsome. Not in the way that causes sponsors to rain gifts on you. And he’s so surly, it’s hard to imagine anyone teaming up with him. There’s only one way Haymitch could have won, and Peeta says it just as I’m reaching this conclusion myself.
“He outsmarted the others,” says Peeta.
“Thresh is dead,” says Peeta.
Wow, that was sooner than I was expecting. I wonder what happened? I’m a little sad.
But no one will understand my sorrow at Thresh’s murder. The word pulls me up short. Murder! Thankfully, I didn’t say it aloud. That’s not going to win me any points in the arena.
What’s the word hunters use? Harvest?
How long have I been gone? I’m guessing it’s been about two weeks in the arena, and there was that week of preparation in the Capitol. Maybe the moon has completed its cycle. For some reason, I badly want it to be my moon, the same one I see from the woods around District 12. That would give me something to cling to in the surreal world of the arena where the authenticity of everything is to be doubted.
SOMEWHERE, OUT THERE, BENEATH THE PALE MOONLIGHT
SOMEONE’S THINKING OF ME, AND LOVING ME TONIGHT.
I abandon my fork and scrape up the last dabs of gravy with my finger. “I can feel Effie Trinket shuddering at my manners.”
“Hey, Effie, watch this!” says Peeta. He tosses his fork over his shoulder and literally licks his plate clean with his tongue making loud, satisfied sounds. Then he blows a kiss out to her in general and calls, “We miss you, Effie!”
I kind of miss Effie, too!
He grabs my hand away. “What do I care? I’ve got you to protect me now,” says Peeta, pulling me to him.
“I am not worried, Harry,” said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. “I am with you.” #shamelesspotterhead
It’s clear, at this point, that the explosion destroyed the hearing in my left ear for good.
But even on the smooth bed of needles, Peeta is loud. And I mean loud loud, as if he’s stomping his feet or something. I turn and look at him.
Lol, you babbling, bumbling, band of baboons.
My fear comes out as anger. “What are you doing? You’re supposed to be here, not running around in the woods!”
I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE YELLED AT A BOY LIKE THIS. WHEN MY MOTHER YELLS AT ME IT’S BECAUSE SHE LOVES ME.
Just then, the cannon fires. I whip around, expecting Peeta to collapse to the ground, but he only raises his eyebrows. The hovercraft appears a hundred yards or so away. What’s left of Foxface’s emaciated body is lifted into the air. I can see the red glint of her hair in the sunlight.
WOAH. Poor little fox girl!
I stop him, suddenly calm. “No, Peeta, she’s your kill, not Cato’s.”
“What? I haven’t even seen her since the first day,” he says. “How could I have killed her?”
In answer, I hold out the berries.
Peeta did good! But why did he want to cover it up?