Chapter 9


After Katniss's interview finishes, I turn off the TV and lean back into Ron's arms. It was a silent unanimous decision that we would watch the interview. The clothing was the first thing that caught my eye. The beauty of Artemis's dress was outstanding, but with the dark green of Katniss's, it looked like the silver moonlight on a forest at night. Changing, that is what Cinna was going for. Showing that this would be a big change in Katniss's life. Her confession of her undying love for Peeta was very tear jerking. Even though she said she wasn't good at interviews, she convinced me. Then that jerk reporter came firing with all weapons at Katniss. She didn't even bat an eye, though I saw a small ounce of hurt when he questioned her ability to take care of her child. She quickly wiped her face and became a rock. When he asked her to prove that she sings for Artemis, I knew the game was over. Katniss has one of the best singing voices I have ever heard. People say all the time how she could make the mockingjays fall silent, and I know this is true. The rest of the interview goes smoothly, Katniss facing no real challenge until Artemis starts to get fussy and she can't corral her. Caesar bids them good night and the interview is over.

I look up at Ron who has a thinking look on his face.

"What would you name our child if we had one," I ask.

Ron looks down at me and smiles, "What brought this up?"

"I guess with all the baby stuff around here I am thinking into the future," I say.

"Well it depends," Ron says, "boy or girl."

"Both," I say with a smile on my face.

"Hmmm," Ron ponders, "If it were a girl, I really like the name Renae."

"I like that name," I say.

I think about if we did have a child that was named Renae. Would she have blonde hair or red? My green eyes or Ron's brown. Many different possibilities run through my mind until Ron's voice breaks through my mind barrier.

"What about for a boy Kim," Ron asks.

"Steve," I say.

"That's a good one," Ron says.

I settle back into him and think of the future. Then suddenly I hear someone approaching the living room. It's weird but it's like I can hear their footsteps, and small noises from a small child. Suddenly I know who it is, and I think I am about to impress my mentor.

"Katniss how was it," I say while looking out the window.

"Kim she isn't-," Ron starts before he is cut off.

"Props unstoppable," Katniss says carrying in a cooing Artemis and a diaper bag.

They are both still wearing their dresses and I resist the girl state of mind that wants me to run over and fawn over the beauty of the dresses.

"I guess you finally put your ears on," Katniss continues while sitting down in a chair opposite from us, getting Artemis out of her dress.

"Well you're probably are tired, so that's why your steps were a little louder," I say, "and the big giveaway was that Artemis was making baby noises. She really is blowing your cover," I say teasingly.

"Well I better get used to it," Katniss says. She has freed Artemis from the dress, revealing a black t-shirt and a diaper underneath. Artemis looks pleased and gives a big stretch and a yawn.

"Well little one," Katniss says, "you had a big day, and it's time for bed. Do you guys have any questions?"

"No," I say "I'm good. Ron?"

"Nah," Ron says, and he also looks pretty tired.

"Well then get to bed," Katniss instructs, "Another day of training, get alot done."

Katniss carries Artemis off to her room and Ron and I are left alone in the living room. I watch Katniss as she walks away, and notice something. She is constantly walking in a protective stance. She is on the ball of her feet as if she was ready to spring at any moment. I quickly assume that it is just the byproduct of being a new mother and with her experience in the games, she is bound to be a bit jumpy.

"C'mon," I say to Ron, "let's get some sleep."

Katniss POV

"Shhhhh baby," I say coaxingly. Artemis has been awake for the last thirty minutes crying about something. I've tried feeding her, changing her diaper, singing, walking, and even giving her the stuffed lion but nothing is working. I am afraid that she is going to wake Kim and Ron so I hurry up to the roof and try to coax her there. It seems that the fresh air has a calming effect on her.

"Did you have a nightmare baby," I ask, wiping the tears from her face.

Her little eyes, still fresh with tears, looks up at me with a unhappy face to her.

"How about another song," I ask and start to sing

I have often dreamed

Of a far off place

Where a great peaceful life

Will be waiting for me

Where the crowds won't be there

Won't see my face

And a voice will keep saying

This is where I'm meant to be

I will find my way

I can go the distance

I'll be there someday

If I can be strong

I know every mile

Will be worth my while

I would go most anywhere

To feel like I belong

I am on my way

I can go the distance

I dont care how far

Somehow Ill be strong

I know every mile

Will be worth my while

I would go most anywhere

To find where I belong

This seems to satisfy Artemis and she quickly falls asleep. I travel back into floor twelve from the roof and I am crossing the hallway to put Artemis in her crib in my room when I see a television light coming from the living room. I step into my room, lay Artemis down in her crib, grab a baby monitor, and walk into the living room. Kim sits on the couch watching a recap of a past Hunger Games, my games. She is to the part where I am surrounded in a tree by the careers, with that horrible nasty burn on my leg.

"Watching your old mentor work huh," I say while sliding into a chair next to the couch.

"I don't think you are old," Kim says making me smile. "Not physically at least."

"What do you mean," I ask.

"Anyone who has gone through what you have, has aged mentally to the breaking point. Luckily you have one thing to hold on to," Kim says reminding me of Artemis. "Who is that little girl in the tree opposite of you?"

I look at the screen and my heart sinks. Little Rue is telling me about the tracker jacker nest above me after the night where Haymitch got me the medicine.

"Her name was Rue," I say shakily.

"Were you really close to her because I'm guessing that is what made you name your child after her," Kim asks.

"I..I..," I stammer, "you're just gonna have to watch the broadcast."

"I can turn it off if you want," Kim says, "we don't have to watch this."

"No," I say, "With all the things that are about to happen, I need to regain some strength. I've never watched the footage of my own games before, now might be a good time."

We watch in silence for a while. The ploy with the tracker jackers works to perfection, killing Glimmer and the girl from District 4. I watch as I retrieve the bow and arrows from Glimmer's disfigured body looking like I had drank about fourteen bottles of whisky.

"What does a sting feel like," Kim asks.

"It hurts really bad," I begin, "you can see the size of the welt that it leaves. It also causes powerful hallucinations which is why I look like I am drunk."

Then Peeta comes crashing from the trees and tells me to run away and starts fighting Cato off to protect me. I stumble through the forest for a while before I crash to the ground unconscious. This next part of the recap is really interesting for me. I had been out cold for about three days, and had no idea what was going on in the arena until I woke up. I saw Rue approach me, pull me to a secluded spot, and camouflage me so nobody would see me. She then set the bow and arrows directly next to me so I would find them when I woke up. The camera panned then to the three other tributes that I wanted to know about. Cato, Clove, and the rest of the career group was at the Cornucopia, and seemed to be in a lot of pain. Then I remember, they forgot to take the stingers from the tracker jackers out. Thresh was in the grassland area that nobody wanted to venture out in to. Currently, he was sitting in a grass hut of sorts, eating what looked like to be a cooked snake. There must've been multiple species of poisonous snakes in that area, and he knew how to catch them. The Peeta, who was currently by the river. The camera showed a close up of the wound that Cato had inflicted with his sword. Right down to the bone, I remember it vividly. I turn away because I ca 't stand this part in the games.

"Katniss," Kim says, "are you okay? I can turn it off, if you would like."

"No," I say, "I just don't like cuts and blood."

"Oh," Kim says, "well do you want to fast forward until you are awake?"

"Sure," I say, wanting nothing more, "that would be okay."

We get to the part where I regain consciousness and find the bow and arrows. I meet Rue and we discuss strategy for destroying the food at the Cornucopia. After we settle on a plan, Rue teaches me the four note Mockingjay tone, and we go our separate ways, promising to return to each other. I know it's not the truth, but a part of me still believes that she might come back to me unharmed. I blow up the food with ease and hide not far away so the careers don't find me. I watch the boy from District 3 get murdered by Cato because he needed something to take his anger out on. After a few moments I see myself running towards the cries of Rue. I arrive just in time to watch Marvel thrust his spear into Rue. A second later, there is an arrow in his neck and he topples to the ground. I still tear up as I see myself go over to Rue and tell her it is going to be alright. She asks me to sing and I sing the only song that could come to my mind at that moment.

Deep in the meadow, under the willow

A bed of grass, a soft green pillow

Lay down your head, and close your sleepy eyes

And when you awake, the sun will rise.

Here it's safe, here it's warm

Here the daisies guard you from harm

Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true

Here is the place where I love you.

Deep in the meadow, hidden far away

A cloak of leaves, A moonbeam ray,

Forget your woes and let your troubles lay

And when again it's morning, they'll wash away.

Here it's safe, here it's warm

Here the daisies guard you from every harm

Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true

Here is the place where I love you.

I stifle a sob and look away from the screen. I hadn't thought about how hard this would be to watch until I saw it from a distance. I notice that the focus changes when I start to bury her in the flowers.

The rest of the games is hard to watch, me finding Peeta and nursing him back to health. The feast where Clove was about to kill me but Thresh saved my life. At that point Kim says,

"I can see where your concern was with Tris. Same look in her eye and everything."

I nod and the broadcast continues. After getting Peeta all the way back to full health, we start to contemplate winning. Then the downpour starts, and we see most of the focus on Peeta and I in the cave, talking, eating, and kissing. Peeta was my first and last kiss, well unless you count me giving Artemis a kiss on the forehead and cheek count. Then the camera shifts to another battle in the plains area. I finally figure out how Thresh died, and Cato is one of the luckiest people I have ever seen. Thresh had Cato on the ropes, Cato was without a weapon and backing up pleading for his life. Thresh was about to deal the killing blow when a large rock appeared from nowhere. The Capitol people couldn't see it, but I take in all my surroundings and remember that there was no rock there before. Thresh was thinking the same thing and tripped and dropped his scythe and before he could recover, Cato killed him with his own weapon. A single tear runs down my cheek for the boy that spared my life. He didn't deserve the death placed on him by the gamemakers. My guess is that they were not happy with the way he just let me be, and didn't kill me by the Cornucopia. I feel my breaths becoming short as the end of the game draws near. The mutts that still give me nightmares begin their assault and then the climax of the games. Cato has Peeta in a headlock on the top of the Cornucopia. I have an arrow pointed directly at his head.

"Go ahead," Cato says, "Shoot me. Then we both go down and you win. I never realized it till now, but I was never gonna win. Because that's what they want," he shouts into the sky.

I pull my arrow back tighter.

"Ahh," He says, "No no no. I can still do this," as he puts his hands into the neck snapping formation. "I can still do this. One more kill to make my District proud."

Peeta is struggling and reaches up with his hand to draw an X on Cato's front hand. Cato realizes a second before I do. He then snaps Peeta's neck as I fire an arrow into his hand. Peeta falls on the Cornucopia and Cato staggers back to the edge. Another arrow lodges into his temple and he falls to the ground. I run over to Peeta and find no life in him at all. Two cannons fire out and the trumpets blare, I have been announced winner of the 74th Hunger Games. I look at Peeta and start crying profusely, and can't stop myself. The hovercraft appears and peacekeepers pick me up and practically shove me into the hovercraft while I wail out Peeta's name.

The broadcast cuts to my post game interview but I am done watching at this point. I get up and begin to return to my room when Kim squeaks out a question,

"What if that happens to Ron?"

I turn to her. Gone is the fiery red head that I saw earlier, full of confidence and determination. This new look is not good on her. It is of a small child, scared about what could come. I go and sit beside her.

"Prepare for it mentally," I say, "Don't let it show, weakness is not good for the games. You have to be prepared for the loss. Fight hard so you can both come home, but realize it is always a possibility."

Something happens that I am not prepared for. Kim leans into me and hugs me. I am frozen, not knowing what to do. I tentatively put my arms around her. I am not the comforting sort of person. She says in a hushed voice,

"I'm sorry. For everything."

We stay like that for what seems like forever. Eventually Kim falls asleep and I'm not surprised. She is mentally exhausted, like most are before going into the games. Eventually I fall asleep as well.

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