Katniss: I'm coming back into focus when Caesar asks him if he has a girlfriend back home. Peeta: (Gives an unconvincing shake of head.) Caesar: Handsome lad like you. There must be some special girl. Come on, what's her name? Peeta: Well, there is this one girl. I've had a crush on her ever since I can remember. But I'm pretty sure she didn't know I was alive until the reaping. Caesar: She have another fellow? Peeta: I don't know, but a lot of boys like her. Caesar: So, here's what you do. You win, you go home. She can't turn you down, eh? Peeta: I don't think it's going to work out. Winning... won't help in my case. Caesar: Why ever not? Peeta: Because... because... she came here with me. Caesar: Oh, that is a piece of bad luck. Peeta: It's not good. Caesar: Well, I don't think any of us can blame you. It'd be hard not to fall for that young lady. She didn't know? Peeta: Not until now.
I'm going to wake Peeta, " I say. "No, wait, " says Finnick. "Let's do it together. Put our faces right in front of his." Well, there's so little opportunity for fun left in my life, I agree. We position ourselves on either side of Peeta, lean over until our faces are inches frim his nose, and give him a shake. "Peeta. Peeta, wake up, " I say in a soft, singsong voice. His eyelids flutter open and then he jumps like we've stabbed him. "Aa!" Finnick and I fall back in the sand, laughing our heads off. Every time we try to stop, we look at Peeta's attempt to maintain a disdainful expression and it sets us off again.
Finnick:" Good to see you, Peeta." Peeta:" You be nice to her, Finnick. Or I might try and take her away from you." It could be a joke, if the tone wasn't so cold. Everything it conveys is wrong. The open distrust of Finnick, the implication that Peeta has his eye on Annie, that Annie could desert Finnick, that I do not even exist. Finnick:"Oh Peeta," says Finnick lightly. "Don't make me sorry I restarted your heart.
You'd have thought we planned it, " says Peeta, giving me just the hint of a smile. "Didn't you?" asks Portia. Her fingers press her eyelids closed as if she's warding off a very bright light. "No, " I say looking at Peeta with a new sense of apreciation. "Neither of us even knew what we were going to do before we went in." "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.
You'd have thought we planned it," says Peeta, giving me just the hint of a smile. "Didn't you?" asks Portia. Her fingers press her eyelids closed as if she's warding off a very bright light. "No," I say looking at Peeta with a new sense of apreciation. "Neither of us even knew what we were going to do before we went in." "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.
No problem, " Gale replies. "I wake up ten times a night anyway." "To make sure Katniss is still here?" asks Peeta. "Something like that, "... "That was funny, what Tigris said. About no one knowing what to do with her." "Well, WE never have, "... "She loves you, you know, " says Peeta. "She as good as told me after they whipped you." "Don't believe it, "Gale answers. "The way she kissed you in the Quarter Quell... well she never kissed me like that." "It was just part of the show, " Peeta tells him, although there's an edge of doubt in his voice. "No, you won her over. Gave up everything for her. Maybe that's the only way to convince her you love her." There's a long pause. "I should have volunteered to take your place in the first Games. Protected her then." "You couldn't, " says Peeta. "She'd never have forgiven you. You had to take care of her family. They matter more to her than her life."... "I wonder how she'll make up her mind." "Oh, that I do know." I can just catch Gale's last words through the layer of fur. "Katniss will pick whoever she thinks she can't survive without
Peeta rinses the pearl off in the water and hands it to me. "For you." I hold it out on my palm and examine its iridescent surface in the sunlight. Yes, I will keep it. For the few remaining hours of my life I will keep it close. This last gift from Peeta. The only one I can really accept. Perhaps it will give me strength in the final moments.
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.
So, here's what you do. You win, you go home. She can't turn you down then, eh?" says Caesar encouragingly. "I don't think it's going to work out. Winning... won't help in my case," says Peeta. "Why ever not?" says Caesar, mystified. Peeta blushes beet red and stammers out. "Because... because... she came here with me.
So, here's what you do. You win, you go home. She can't turn you down then, eh?' says Caesar encouragingly. 'I don't think it's going to work out. Winning... won't help in my case, ' says Peeta. 'Why ever not?' says Caesar, mystified. Peeta blushes beet red and stammers out. 'Because... because... she came here with me.
I can't help comparing what I have with Gale to what I'm pretending to have with Peeta. How I never question Gale's motives while I do nothing but doubt the latter's. It's not a fair comparison really. Gale and I were thrown together by a mutual need to survive. Peeta and I know the other's survival means our own death. How do you sidestep that?
What did Finnick Odair want?' he asks. I turn and put my lips close to Peeta's and drop my eyelids in imitation of Finnick. 'He offered me sugar and wanted to know all my secrets, ' I say in my best seductive voice. Peeta laughs. 'Ugh. Not really.' 'Really, ' I say. 'I'll tell you more when my skin stops crawling.
Then I know Prim is right, that Snow cannot afford to waste Peeta's life, especially now, while the Mockingjay causes so much havoc. He's killed Cinna already. Destroyed my home. My family, Gale, and even Haymitch are out of his reach. Peeta's all he has left. "So, what do you think they'll do to him?" I ask. Prim sound about a thousand years old when she speaks."Whatever it takes to break you.
But between the images, we are privy to the real-life action being played out on the set. Peeta's attempt to continue speaking. The camera knocked down to record the white tiled floor. The scuffle of boots. The impact of the blow that's inseparable from Peeta's cry of pain. And his blood as it splatters the tiles.
I'm relieved Peeta's alive. I tell myself again that if I get killed, his winnings will benefit my mother and Prim the most. This is what I tell myself to explain the conflicting emotions that arise when I think of Peeta. The gratitude that he game an edge by professing his love for me in the interview. The anger at his superiority on the roof. The dread that we may come face-to-face at any moment in this arena.
My mockingjay pin now lives with Cinna's outfit, but there's the gold locket and the silver parachute with the spile and Peeta's pearl. I knot the pearl into the corner of the parachute, bury it deep in the recesses of the bag, as if it's Peeta's life and no one can take it away as long as I guard it.
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.
But I have to confess, I'm glad you two had at least a few months of happiness together." 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.
Finally, Peeta turns to Pollux. "Well, then you just became our most valuable asset." Castor laughs and Pollux manages a smile. We're halfway down the first tunnel when I realize what was so remarkable about that exchange. Peeta sounded like his old self, the one who could always think of the right thing to say when nobody else could... I glance back at him as he trudges along under his guards, Gale and Jackson, his eyes fixed on the ground, his shoulders hunched forward. So dispirited. But for a moment, he was really here.
Peeta smiles and douses Haymitch's knife in white liquor from a bottle on the floor. He wipes the blade clean on his shirt tail and slices the bread. Peeta keeps all of us in fresh baked goods. I hunt. He bakes. Haymitch drinks. We have our own ways to stay busy, to keep thought of our time as contestants in the Hunger Games at bay.
Why not? It's true. My best hope is to not disgrace myself and... " He hesitates. And what?" I say. I don't know how to say it exactly. Only... I want to die as myself. Does that make any sense?" he asks. I shake my head. How could he die as anyone but himself? "I don't want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I'm not." I bite my lip feeling inferior. While I've been ruminating on the availability of trees, Peeta has been struggling with how to maintain his identity. His purity of self. "Do you mean you won't kill anyone?" I ask. No, when the time comes, I'm sure I'll kill just like everybody else. I can't go down without a fight. Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to... to show the Capitol they don't own me. That I'm more than just a piece in their Games, " says Peeta. But you're not, " I say. "None of us are. That's how the Games work." Okay, but within that frame work, there's still you, there's still me, " he insists. "Don't you see?" A little, Only... no offense, but who cares, Peeta?" I say. I do. I mean what else am I allowed to care about at this point?" he asks angrily. He's locked those blue eyes on mine now, demanding an answer.
I think of the snarling, cruel exchange back on the hovercraft. The bitterness that followed. But all I say is "I can't believe you didn't rescue Peeta." "I know," he replies. There's a sense of incompleteness. And not because he hasn't apologized. But because we were a team. We had a deal to keep Peeta safe. A drunken, unrealistic deal made in the dark of night, but a deal just the same. And in my heart of hearts, I know we both failed. "Now you say it," I tell him. "I can't believe you let him out of your sight that night," says Haymitch.
Peeta, ' I say lightly. 'You said at the interview you'd had a crush on me forever. When did forever start?' 'Oh, let's see. I guess the first day of school. We were five. You had on a red plaid dress and your hair... it was in two braids instead of one. My father pointed you out when we were waiting to line up, ' Peeta says. 'Your father? Why?' I ask. 'He said, 'See that little girl? I wanted to marry her mother, but she ran off with a coal miner, '' Peeta says. 'What? You're making that up!' I exclaim. 'No, true story, ' Peeta says. 'And I said, 'A coal miner? Why did she want a coal miner if she could've had you?' And he said, 'Because when he sings... even the birds stop to listen.'' 'That's true. They do. I mean, they did, ' I say. I'm stunned and surprisingly moved, thinking of the baker telling this to Peeta. It strikes me that my own reluctance to sing, my own dismissal of music might not really be that I think it's a waste of time. It might be because it reminds me too much of my father. 'So that day, in music assembly, the teacher asked who knew the valley song. Your hand shot right up in the air. She stood you up on a stool and had you sing it for us. And I swear, every bird outside the windows fell silent, ' Peeta says. 'Oh, please, ' I say, laughing. 'No, it happened. And right when your song ended, I knew-just like your mother-I was a goner, ' Peeta says. 'Then for the next eleven years, I tried to work up the nerve to talk to you.' 'Without success, ' I add. 'Without success. So, in a way, my name being drawn in the reaping was a real piece of luck, ' says Peeta. For a moment, I'm almost foolishly happy and then confusion sweeps over me. Because we're supposed to be making up this stuff, playing at being in love not actually being in love. But Peeta's story has a ring of truth to it. That part about my father and the birds. And I did sing the first day of school, although I don't remember the song. And that red plaid dress... there was one, a hand-me-down to Prim that got washed to rags after my father's death. It would explain another thing, too. Why Peeta took a beating to give me the bread on that awful hollow day. So, if those details are true... could it all be true? 'You have a... remarkable memory, ' I say haltingly. 'I remember everything about you, ' says Peeta, tucking a loose strand of hair behind my ear. 'You're the one who wasn't paying attention.' 'I am now, ' I say. 'Well, I don't have much competition here, ' he says. I want to draw away, to close those shutters again, but I know I can't. It's as if I can hear Haymitch whispering in my ear, 'Say it! Say it!' I swallow hard and get the words out. 'You don't have much competition anywhere.' And this time, it's me who leans in.
When I wake, I have a brief, delicious feeling of happiness that is somehow connected with Peeta. Happiness, of course, is a complete absurdity at this point, since at the rate things are going, I'll be dead in a day. And that's the best-case scenario, if I'm able to eliminate the rest of the field, including myself, and get Peeta crowned as the winner of the Quarter Quell. Still, the sensation's so unexpected and sweet I cling to it, if only for a few moments. Before the gritty sand, the hot sun, and my itching skin demand a return to reality.
It's a long shot, it's suicide maybe, but I do the only thing I can think of. I lean in and kiss Peeta full on the mouth. His whole body starts shuddering, but I keep my lips pressed to his until I have to come up for air. My hands slide up his wrists to clasp his. "Don't let him take you from me." Peeta's panting hard as he fights the nightmares raging his head. "No. I don't want to. . ." I clench his hands to the point of pain. "Stay with me." His pupils contract to pinpoints, dilate again rapidly, and then return to something resembling normalcy. "Always," he murmurs.
And here, finally here in this place, in these circumstances, I will really have to kill him. And Snow will win. Hot, bitter hatred courses through me. Snow has won too much already today. It's a long shot, it's suicide maybe, but I do the only thing I can think of. I lean in and kiss Peeta full on the mouth. His whole body starts shuddering, but I keep my lips pressed to his until I have to come up for air. My hands slide up his wrists to clasp his. "Don't let him take you from me." Peeta's panting hard as he fights the nightmares raging in his head. "No. I don't want to... " I clench his hands to the point of pain. "Stay with me." His pupils contract to pinpoints, dilate again rapidly, and then return to something resembling normalcy. "Always, " he murmurs.
Peeta opens his mouth for the first bite without hesitation. He swallows, then frowns slightly. "They're very sweet." "Yes they're sugar berries. My mother makes jam from them. Haven't you've ever had them before?" I say, poking the next spoonful in his mouth. "No, " he says, almost puzzled. "But they taste familiar. Sugar berries?" "Well, you can't get them in the market much, they only grow wild, " I say. Another mouthful goes down. Just one more to go. "They're sweet as syrup, " he says, taking the last spoonful. "Syrup." His eyes widen as he realizes the truth. I clamp my hand over his mouth and nose hard, forcing him to swallow instead of spit. He tries to make himself vomit the stuff up, but it's too late, he's already losing consciousness. Even as he fades away, I can see in his eyes what I've done is unforgiveable. I sit back on my heels and look at him with a mixture of sadness and satisfaction. A stray berry stains his chin and I wipe it away. "Who can't lie, Peeta?" I say, even though he can't hear me.
I'm so excited. I love Peeta so much. I think that over the course of the next couple of books, he has so many interesting places to go to, character-wise. I'm ready to dive full-force into it. When I saw the movie actually, it got me energized. 'Let's go get some cameras! Let's go shoot the second one right now!'
No one really needs me," he says, and there is no self-pity in his voice. It's true his family doesn't need him. They will mourn him, as will a handful of friends. But they will get on. Even Haymitch, with the help of a lot of white liquor, will get on. I realize only one person will be damaged beyond repair if Peeta dies. Me. "I do," I say. "I need you.
What about Gale?" "He's not a bad kisser either, " I say shortly. "And it was okay with both of us? You kissing the other?" He asks. "No. It wasn't okay with either of you. But I wasn't asking your permission, " I tell him. Peeta laughs again, coldly, dismissively. "Well, you're a piece of work, aren't you?
I know we promised Haymitch, we'd do exactly what they said, but I don't think he considered this angle.' 'Where is Haymitch, anyway? Isn't he supposed to protect us from this sort of thing?' says Peeta. 'With all that alcohol in him, it's probably not advisable to have him around an open flame, ' I say.
I know we promised Haymitch, we'd do exactly what they said, but I don't think he considered this angle.' 'Where is Haymitch, anyway? Isn't he supposed to protect us from this sort of thing?' says Peeta. 'With all that alcohol in him, it's probably not advisable to have him around an open flame,' I say.
So what should we do with our last few days?' 'I just want to spend every possible minute of the rest of my life with you, ' Peete replies. 'Come on, then, ' I say, pulling him into my room. It feels like a luxury, sleeping with Peeta again. I didn't realize until now how starved I've been for human closeness. For the feel of him beside me in the darkness.
Several sets of arms would embrace me. But in the end, the only person I truly want to comfort me is Haymitch, because he loves Peeta, too. I reach out for him and say something like his name and he's there, holding me and patting my back. "It's okay. It'll be okay, sweetheart." He sits me on a length of broken marble pillar and keeps an arm around me while I sob.
Peeta, how come I never know when you're having a nightmare?' I say. 'I don't know. I don't think I cry out or thrash around or anything. I just come to, paralyzed with terror, ' he says. 'You should wake me, ' I say, thinking about how I can interrupt his sleep two or three times on a bad night. About how long it can take to calm me down. 'It's not necessary. My nightmares are usually about losing you, ' he says. 'I'm okay once I realize you're here.
Peeta, how come I never know when you're having a nightmare?" I say. "I don't know. I don't think I cry out or thrash around or anything. I just come to, paralyzed with terror," he says. "You should wake me," I say, thinking about how I can interrupt his sleep two or three times on a bad night. About how long it can take to calm me down. "It's not necessary. My nightmares are usually about losing you," he says. "I'm okay once I realize you're here.
Agreed, " I say. "It's going to be a long hour." "Maybe not that long, " says Peeta." what was that you were saying just before the food arrived? Something about me... no competition... best thing that ever happened to you... " " I don't remember that last part, " I say, hoping it's too dim in here for the cameras to pick up my blush. " Oh, that's right. That's what I was thinking, " he says " Scoot over, I'm freezing.
My death could, in fact, save him. If it can't, no matter. It's enough to die of spite. To punish Haymitch, who, of all the people in this rotting world, has turned Peeta and me into pieces in his Games. I trusted him. I put what was precious in Haymitch's hands. And he has betrayed me.
It's impossible to be the Mockingjay. Impossible to complete even this one sentence. Because now I know that everything I say will be directly taken out on Peeta. Result in his torture. But not his death, no nothing so merciful as that. Snow will ensure that his life is much worse than death.