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Loving Like Dying

By carolyncrantz


Trying to FIgure It Out

This is:

A Lovesong for Katniss Everdeen

(to be told in two parts)

(in the T.S. Eliot tradition.

I don't quote songs, I quote poetry,

go ahead, judge me.)

I'm dipping into darkness here; at first, flirtatiously and then going all the way.

Katniss mostly waxing poetic/philosophic on love and death here until she gets burned.

Picks up with MJ and is mostly canon-compliant, though I add/expand/imagine a few details and change the very end (because I had to).

Warning: There are no happy endings here—

or maybe there are, it just depends how you look at it.

(and it might help to think she didn't really want one.)

So with that in mind, here it goes:

Loving Like Dying


Part One:

Trying to Figure it Out)

. . .

I want to tell Gale it's not personal—it's just that I set him free from my heart when I went off to die. (he should thank me, really). Only I never got to tell him. They didn't let me say good bye that time. Not that it matters much, I suppose, they'd prevented him from telling me he loved me the first time around (I may not have realized it then, but I know it now), and they prevented me from telling him I didn't love him next (and I did, love him that is, I figured at least that bit out, but I had to let him go).

But I never got to say it.

(I never got to die either, actually, and that's complicating things.)

So it goes.

I wonder if I should tell him now, though I'm not sure which part (the loving or the not loving—it's so complicated. which part is true?). I end up only telling him the part where I'm supposed to be dead. (Though I can't quite say I wish I were dead—I don't know why; I certainly think it). Maybe it's because he looks at me with a rare softness (his eyes are now the color of tombstones, though not yet as hard or cold). He touches my cheek, and in that moment I can't bear to lay another death on him, however figurative (he's seen more of it than I have now—though seeing death isn't the same as causing it.)

((I think he'll learn that soon enough)).

I tell him I'll survive and offer up the rare smile that only he is able to elicit so he knows my heart's still beating.

(It might beat, but it's badly broken, all sharp edges and scars—and he must know—if he tries to touch it,he'll only cut himself, bad enough to bleed, bad enough to die).

. . .

I try to wipe the blood from Gale's nose. It only made things worse. (I only make things worse—such is the story of my life.) He is nice enough not to remind me.

(happy is not the right word…but it's good to have Gale back.)

. . .

He's alive, I think, with a sudden, sharp intake of breath, and for the first time (in a long time), I'm glad I am too.

. . .

And now there's Peeta...some days I tell myself it's good that I'm alive so I can get him out (though I haven't figured out how yet.) Other days I remember that if I were dead, I wouldn't have to care.

(I like that thought more

than I let anyone know.)

I strap on the Mockingjay uniform and say what they tell me to, because I owe it to Peeta to get him out.

(And I apparently owe it to Thirteen to play their part, though I'm not sure I agree with that as much).

. . .

Prim's the only one who ever bothers to ask me if I want to do it. (It doesn't really matter, I didn't have a choice, but it is nice to hear.)

It's only in her blue eyes that I see goodness (and perhaps hope?). And it's a miracle too, but she's seen her fair share of death and misery. (so much for my attempt to save her.)

When I look into them, I realize I can go on.

And I do.

. . .

The only power I've ever had, I get from her.

. . .

There's another woman who asks me what I want. Her name is Alma Coin. I can't decide if I can trust her.

I give her my list:





She says I can have it all.

(but can I? really?)

. . .

The only things I know are my name, my age, and that I have to save Peeta.

(But I think I'm starting to remember that, even though he sometimes says things that upset me and doesn't apologize, Gale the only person who can make me laugh, the only person I can trust and the only person with whom I can be myself).

((too bad the self I am now is all sorts of awful; Gale gets to know her well.))

. . .

We get to hunt and try to be our old selves again.

(It doesn't work.)

I think we might be hunting each other more than anything else.

I notice him trying to track my thoughts, following them like footprints in the brush, and capture my heart (only you can't catch a heart with a snare.)

. . .

I still have his pearl. (I don't know why, but it gives me—not hope, but comfort?)

I hold on to it some nights and remember the way he used to hold me, curled around me like a question mark. (would he still be a question mark if he were here now?)

Gale's arm could probably offer me comfort too. Sometimes, I think about going (giving?) into them. (I don't, because I'm afraid if I do, I might never come out.)

And I'd have to come back out.

To save Peeta.

(oh, and the rest of Panem).

. . .

Going to 8 reminds me how well Gale and I work together, how our bodies and minds can move as one (I begin to wonder if there are other ways our bodies can move like this). But there's no time to think about that now—because going to 8 also reminds me of everything else:

The rebels, the war, the death, the dying…

I have so much work to do.

. . .

I say what they tell me to. And then what I want to. And somehow it all works.

(It doesn't all work, who am I kidding? What I mean is,

they get what they want from me.)

. . .

If we burn, you burn with us!

. . .

And then there's a lie, an insult, and argument (meanwhile Peeta's looking worse than ever on TV)

. . .

And Gale says, "This is where you kissed me." I'd (hoped?) he forgotten that, (it really would make things easier if he had), but he tells me he'd have to be dead to forget…maybe not even then.

(what's the point of dying then? if you can't forget everything?)

"Maybe I'm like that man in the song,"

(the lyrics ring in my head: Are you, Are you…)

There are tears in his eyes as he says this. I've never seen Gale cry before, and now I don't understand. So I lean in and kiss him, my attempt at an answer, however sloppy. But he pulls away, saying he knew I'd do that. (How? I didn't). He tells me I only did it because he was in pain, that's the only way anyone gets my attention. "Don't worry," he says, "it'll pass." (I don't worry—but I wonder if that's true.)

(I guess this is what I get for having shut him out for so long.

(Is there still time to let him back in?))

. . .

I don't have time to figure that out because all this happens very suddenly:

- Plutarch is very happy

- Peeta is bloody

- Thirteen is bombed (and also covered in roses)

- I decide I truly hate Buttercup

- Prim is going to be a doctor

- Gale saves her life (again)

- And then he goes to save Peeta's

. . .

I might lose both of them.

. . .

Finnick teaches me how to knot a rope.

(If they don't make it back,

I think I'll hang myself with it)

. . .

They both make it back.

I see Gale first, but go to Peeta (I don't know what that means).

And I don't get to figure it out—because he tries to kill me.

Hands around my neck, hate in his eyes, hate in his heart.

It turns out, Peeta's no good at killing me either.

(Why is everyone so bad at this?)

. . .

Peeta hates me. (more accurately, Peeta's been programed to hate me.) He apparently couldn't do it on his own—it really shouldn't be that hard, but such is the nature of Peeta—so the Capitol helped him out. I'm almost happy to have the excuse to stay away from him, and am not sure things would be any better were he okay (what would I do? what would I say?) I'm being terribly selfish though, because Snow has ruined him. And Peeta didn't deserve that. So just when I thought I could be done with him, when I'd paid my debt by getting him free, I'm dragged back in one hundredfold. I don't know how I'll ever make up for this, but I think killing Snow might be a good start.

(I remind myself of that every day: I must kill Snow, I must kill Snow, I must kill Snow.)

. . .

I need to get away, so I go to 2, and there, in the woods, it's almost like home. The trees are a bit different, but Gale's with me, and it's almost like before.

We talk about how wrong everything is, and he says he could almost live with the rest of it if he believed it were true (read: if I wanted to be with him over Peeta. Want? What do I know about want? What I want is for this all to end.)

To make it all end, I kiss him.

It works. I lose myself for a moment. I close my eyes and try to pretend that we're in our woods, and what the world would be like if I were kissing him there. And he kisses me. Lips moving slowly across my skin, taking away the pain of the bruises on my neck and making me feel alive.

(for so long the only touch I wanted on those marks were hands closing in to finish the job...but now?...maybe Gale's hands can undo Peeta's hurt, maybe his lips can take back hismutt.)

When I open my eyes, I'm back in the wrong woods…I'm in the wrong world...and everything still hurts. I can't stand it. I want to go back into Gale—

Gale asks me: why.

(why? Why does it matter? You're getting the kisses that you wanted. Isn't that enough?)

Gale's answer: that's not enough.

(unfortunately, it's all I have to offer.)

I'd have let him take any part of my body at that moment—any part except the one he really wanted (read: my heart)—so he gives me back to myself, like he's handing me a gift,like he's giving me something precious. I almost hate him for it.

I want to tell him something that will make him hate me back, but the look in his grave-gray eyes, when he leaves, I realize maybe I already have...

(and there's a whole new world of hurt)

. . .

The next day, he tears down a mountain. (his eyes are not only the color of tombstones now they're just as hard.)

For the first time, I realize that Gale's heart just might be as badly damaged as mine.

I try to make things better (and unsurprisingly fail). Another man tries to kill me (he unsurprisingly ((and disappointingly)) fails as well).

. . .

In my drug-dreams, I hear Peeta say always and remember Gale say almost.

(But when I wake up, I remember that Peeta hates me and rightly should. And Gale's the one who's there smoothing my hair and kissing me on my cheek.)

((after everything, he's still my friend. I don't deserve it, but I take it. In some ways, it's the only thing I've got.))

. . .


. . .

But I must kill Snow, so:

I make a plan and say goodbye to Prim. (she tells me, next time we see each other, we'll be free)

Gale comes with me and Peeta soon follows. (He starts to finally remember me; I don't have the heart to tell him I'm no longer that girl.)

And all this happens:

- We break some glass

- We film some stuff

- Things start to explode


- People begin to die

- And they keep dying

(I am responsible for all of the deaths in varying degrees of directness. Some died just because they followed me, others because I show an arrow in their heart.)

. . .

When we make it to the Capitol, there's just me, Gale, Peeta, Cressida and Pollux. All I think is:

I must kill Snow. I must kill Snow. I must kill Snow.

I think this while we hide. I think this while we plan. I think this while Gale and Peeta talk.

I don't like what they say, but there isn't time to figure it out now.

(Maybe one day there will be?)

Because right now, all I can think is:

I must kill Snow. I must kill Snow. I must kill Snow.

. . .

Lots of people die: a girl in a yellow dress, several children, and then, a girl with yellow hair.

(That girl is my sister.)

. . .

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