The next few days and weeks go by relatively quickly as long as we find things to keep us busy. Colette has made a drastic change and seems to fit in quite well with the rest of us. I’m still keeping one eye on her just in case though. Peeta and I went to the waterfall again twice last week just to get away and be alone together, it was really nice. Annie is barely beginning to show, at least when she is wearing her swim suit and her belly is bare it is getting just a little bit rounder. She must have been a little farther along that she had thought. I can tell that both Finn and Annie are beyond excited although Finnick still barely lets Annie do anything but cook, not wanting her to exert herself to much.
Last week Madge and Gale announced that they are expecting as well and we all congratulated them. It really is exciting and lately I’ve found myself thinking about if Peeta and I had kids, I want them, but at the same time I’m kind of scared. Peeta hasn’t mentioned it so I don’t either, I’m sure it’ll come up when the time is right.
I never did find Gale to be the clingy touchy feely kind of person, but ever since Madge entered the picture he has changed, a lot. He is much more sympathetic now and is so sweet and gentle with Madge like she is a glass doll that could break if handled to roughly. I can’t say that I haven’t changed either since I met Peeta, other people have told me to my face that I am nicer and more open since we got together.
We have been on the island a total of one month now and still no sign of rescue. I’m not complaining. I’ve learned to live here and enjoy it but I do miss Prim. Everyone back home probably thinks that we’re all dead by now.
“Penny for your thoughts?” I look up into Peeta’s smiling eyes and shrug.
“Just thinking about everything that has happened and the babies coming in some months.” He smiles and settles down on the sand beside me and we watch the waves together. After a few moments he speaks,
“What do you think about children Kat?” I gasp a little and look him in the eye. His question shocked me a little since that is just what I was thinking about it but I try and regain my composure quickly.
“I-I’m not sure. I would like to have kids, one day I guess. When we’re not on an island and back in District 12. If we ever do get back.” I add much quieter.
His answer is not what I had expected, “Really?” I nod slowly.
“Oh I’m so glad. I know before the rebellion you never wanted to have kids and we haven’t really talked about it since then.”
“Yeah, well ever since the others announced their pregnancy I’ve noticed how happy and thrilled they all act and someday I’d like to experience that too.”
Peeta smiles and puts an arm around my shoulders. “Sounds good.” He says, then kisses my cheek. “I love you, so, so much. You know that right?” He says.
I nod, “Of course, I love you too.”
“I still can’t believe you finally agreed to marry me!” He says jokingly.
“Hey!” I playfully smack his arm. “I needed sometime, I’m not one to rush into things.”
“I know, I know, I was just messing with you. Although sometimes I still can’t believe it.” Peeta pulls me closer to him and I rest my head on his shoulder.
“Me neither Peeta, me neither.” Then we just sit there in silence, digging our toes into the soft grains of sand and watching the small waves lap up on shore then roll back to sea, occasionally leaving shells and green seaweed behind. I don’t know how long we sit there side by side but what seems like just a few minutes later the sun begins to set, coloring the sky a breathtaking swirl of orange and red, like fire on the sea.
“Are you two hungry at all?”
We both turn around quickly at the voice. Finnick stands a few feet behind us, his hands full of bananas and mangoes and a smirk on his face.
“I hadn’t thought about it but now that I do, I am pretty hungry.” Peeta replies, detaching himself from me and standing up. He brushes the sticky sand off the seat of his pants and walks over to Finnick.
“Thanks man, that was real thoughtful of you.”
Finnick just smiles, “No problem, we ate already and I’m going for a walk with Annie down the beach, thought you might want something to eat.”
“Thanks Finn!” I call over to him and he waves in return.
“Yeah, thanks.” Peeta takes the fruit from Finnick and sets the armload on the ground in front of us.
“You hungry?” He asks. I nod and peel a banana. Peeta in turn picks up a large ripened mango and after releasing his knife from his belt he begins peeling the skin off the yellow fruit.
I finish my banana in just a few bites and also grab a mango.
“Do you miss home?” Peeta asks in between bites of his mango.
“Mostly Prim.” I reply, “But it really isn’t so bad here.”
“You’re right.” He agrees. “But I’m really craving some bakery bread or cookies right now.”
“Mm, that’d be so good. Although you probably miss it more than I do. I used to only eat bread on special occasions where as you lived with it your entire life.”
“I guess.” He replies and continues eating his mango. We don’t even eat close to all of the fruit and just leave the rest in a pile on the sand. Once my belly is full I lay my head on Peeta’s lap and close my eyes contentedly while he slowly and gently releases my long hair from its braid and runs his fingers through it.
I open my eyes to just catch the ending of the sunset.
“ Your favorite color.” I muse quietly.
“Sure is.” Peeta agrees.
“I wish it could just stay there, the sunset that is.” I say.
“Yeah, that’d be nice. But then we’d never get to enjoy the blue sky either.”
“You’re right. I think I’d miss that.”
“Me too.” The sun dips down all the way until it is quite dark out, but then the moon pops up and illuminates off the water giving us a little light to see by.
“Do you think that they will send out a rescue boat once they realize that something bad has happened to ours?” I ask a few minutes later.
“I don’t know. I think the captain cut off all communication from Panem once we were out of sight and I’m sure that the sailors back in District 4 would have noticed that or if not since we were supposed to be back by now they know that something isn’t right.”
My eyes begin to get heavier and in my comfortable position with Peeta playing with my hair I fall asleep.
Two men from the District 4’s ship headquarters are seated in one of the men’s office, each with a coffee cup in hand.
“You asked to see me?” The guest of the first men asks.
“Yes, yes. Thank you for coming so quickly.”
“Not a problem, now what did you need to talk to me about?”
“Well I’m not sure if you remember but almost 5 weeks ago we sent out a cruise ship with approximately 200 passengers. As you probably know it was one of the first pleasure ships to go out since the rebellion.” The man explains and the other nods understandably.
The speaker continues, “The ship was supposed to dock back here 3 weeks ago but no one has seen it and after checking the records on the computers all communication had been cut off from the ship.” The man listening gasps slightly, “Are you implying that it was sunk?”
“That, or just got lost, but I doubt that.”
“What was the name of the captain?”
“I’m not sure, but I can check.” The man and owner of the office spins around in his swivel chair and begins tapping on the keys of his computer keyboard.
“Oh, here it is. The name is just Jack S.”
The other man goes a little pale when this name is said, “A-are you sure that’s the name sir?” He asks hesitantly.
“Yes, it is written plain as day right here.” He points to the screen for the other to see. “Is there something wrong? Do you know him?”
“Well I don’t know him personally.” The pale man says once he’s regained some of his composure and the color is beginning to return to his cheeks. “But I’ve heard of him from when I was in the capitol last year.”
“Who is he?”
“A man who was totally against the rebellion, who tried everything to stop it and the people starting it. He was successful of course but I’m not so sure now.”
“Sir, who were some of the passengers of the ship?”
“Oh, well Gale and Madge Hawthorne who were in the last games but kind of got this whole thing started. They are pretty much heroes to everyone around.” The man sitting across from his pales a little again. “And also their friends Katniss and Peeta who were just recently married. Then there was Finnick Odair, the older victor and his wife, a few others too but I can’t recall their names. Why do you ask?”
“It all makes sense now.”
“What, what are you saying?”
“I know why that ship hasn’t returned.”
“And why is that?”
“Because the captain has sunk it himself.”
“What?! That’s preposterous!”
“Not really, he wanted to get all those famous and strong people out of his way in one shot.” The pale man explains.
“Karl, what does the ‘s’ in Jack’s name stand for?”
Karl swallows audibly and opens his mouth to speak, “Snow, it stands for Snow.”
Back on the Island
When I wake up I find myself snuggled up to Peeta and covered up with a blanket in our own little shelter. I smile to myself when I realize that after I fell asleep out on the bench Peeta must have carried me all the way back here. From what I can see through the window the sun is just barely beginning to show so I figure I can get a few more hours sleep; after closing my eyes I drift back off into dreamland.
When I wake again the sun is high in the sky and it is quite warm out. I roll over to check and see if Peeta is awake yet and my heart literally stops when he isn’t there beside me just like every other morning. I know I probably shouldn’t panic, that Peeta is most likely just at the Odair’s or gone for a walk or something, hopefully that’s all it is. I throw off the blanket quickly and slip into the same clothes I wear pretty much every day, then I braid my hair and tie Annie’s necklace around my neck. After sliding the sandals onto my feet I step outside into the open air. Not wanting to bother with my bow I just grab the small knife that we keep inside and hook it to the belt loop on my shorts, just in case. Then I take off at a dead run towards Finnick and Annie’s place, hoping that everything will be totally normal when I arrive.
But no such luck, when I come to the entrance to the Odair’s shelter it is totally deserted, so I take a calming breath and hurry over to the Hawthorne’s, trying not to come up with the worst possible scenarios for what happened. Ducking inside to their shelter I don’t seem to find anything at first because it is so quiet, then I see a body wrapped up in a blanket in one corner, only a mass of blond hair visible. Madge.
I hurry over to her and crouch down beside the sleeping girl.
“Madge.” I whisper and gently shake her shoulder. Her eyes open almost immediately and she sits up quickly.
“Katniss? What’s wrong? What happened? Where’s Gale?”
“Hold on!” I say. “One question at a time.”
Madge blushes, “Sorry, okay is something wrong?”
“That’s what I don’t know.” I tell her honestly. I just woke up not long ago and Peeta wasn’t beside me so I came looking, nobody is around and its very quiet.”
“Gale was asleep next to me last time I was awake as well, I’m surprised I didn’t hear him leave.” Madge says, trying to comb her hair with her fingers. “And Finnick and Annie?”
I shake my head, “Nowhere in sight.”
“Well what are we waiting for, lets start searching!” The newly pregnant woman exclaims, standing up quickly and throwing on a sundress.
“Okay.” I agree and the two of us step back outside.
“Where do you think they could have gone?” She asks me.
“I have no idea, but we could start by just walking up and down the beach.” I suggest.
Madge surprises me by grabbing my hand and giving it a friendly but encouraging squeeze, “We’re going to find them.”
“I know.” Kicking off our sandals we start walking down the beach, keeping our eyes and ears open for anything that could indicate our husbands whereabouts.
“You didn’t see Colette either?”
I shake my head, “Nope, do you think that this could have something to do with her?”
Madge shrugs, “I don’t think so, I mean she’s changes so much in the last month, and really seems to be fitting in with us, I doubt she’d try something now.”
“I sure hope you’re right Madge.”
“Me too Kat, me too.” We stroll through the sand in silence for the next few minutes, still not seeing anything that could help us in our search but not wanting to give up.
“Maybe they went to get mangos and bananas, we are running kind of low.” Madge proposes.
“Yeah maybe, but wouldn’t they have left one person behind for when we awoke?”
“That’s what I don’t get. Gale has barely left my side all week every since I confirmed my pregnancy and now he’s just gone.”
“Maybe they got tired of us.” I say jokingly. Madge cracks a smile, “I find that very hard to believe.” I chuckle and we continue on our way down the beach, getting further and further away from our camp with every step. Just then Madge tenses and stops walking.
“Madge, what is it?” I ask, concern evident in my voice.
“Did you hear that?” She whispers. I crane my ears to hear what she heard, surprised that I didn’t pick it up with my hunter’s senses.
“I don’t hear anything.” I tell her.
“I’m sure I heard something, just faintly, but it sounded like a growl.”
“I hope you’re wrong Madge.”
“I guess we’ll find out soon, let’s hurry.” Taking my hand again we begin running farther down the beach until I hear a noise as well. I don’t tell Madge but I heard it. A great snarling and growling, and I also heard a human shout and cry of pain. I push my legs harder, practically dragging poor Madge behind me. I curse myself for not having my bow with me when it could possibly be useful.
A few minutes later we are at a part of the island that I’ve never been to before, and what lies before us makes me want to run away and hide. Madge’s face has gone deathly pale and she looks as though she might faint. There, not 20 meters in front of us is Colette, Gale, Peeta, Finnick and Annie. They haven’t noticed our presence yet but I don’t blame them. A huge cat-like animal with orange and black fur, huge white fangs and enormous sharp claws is circling the five of them. Annie has a long gash down her arm and it is dripping with blood. Finnick seems to be fine but Peeta has a small cut on his cheek but other than that is unharmed. Colette on the other hand has an ugly wound on her leg but she is still standing, ready to fight.
The animal crouches ready to pounce and just as it does, Madge lets out a terrifying scream causing Gale to lay eyes on her which wasn’t very smart because the animal’s claws take that chance to rake across Gale’s back, leaving him lying face first in the sand, blood gushing from the wounds on his back. Madge runs to him immediately, not thinking about how she could get hurt as well but only wanting to help her injured husband. I decide that maybe the others could use my help so with my small dagger I come charging towards them.
Peeta doesn’t notice me until I am beside him.
“Peeta, you had me worried sick!” I yell and dodge a deadly swipe of the animal’s paw.
“I’m sorry but we had to lure it away from you two.” He yells back.
I wait until the animal is closing on me before I leap, closing the distance between us and drive my dagger into its neck. He howls and stumbles into the woods away from us.
“Good job Katniss!” Finnick congratulates me. I smile while Peeta engulfs me in a tight hug. “Are you okay?” He asks worriedly, checking me all over.
“I’m fine, but Gale isn’t.” The other four turn their eyes on the man lying on the ground and Madge crying profusely beside him, shaking him with all her might.
“He’s unconscious.” Annie states.
“We need to get him back to camp.” Finnick says.
“I’ll help.” Peeta and I say at the same time.
“Katniss, how about you take care of Madge and bring her back, this trauma isn’t good for her, she needs to stay calm.” Finnick instructs.
“Sure, but what about your wife?”
“Believe me I wanted to leave her behind but she insisted and she is a little more used to stuff like this than Madge.” He replies. “Oh and Annie can take care of Colette, she’s going to need her leg wrapped up.”
“Is the baby okay?” I ask and Annie nods, rubbing her tummy comfortingly.
“Okay, I’ll do my best but believe me, she’s not going to want to leave Gale’s side.”
“Yeah I know.” Finnick agrees and we all walk over the two on the ground.
“Come on Madge, let’s get you back to camp.” I say quietly, grabbing her by the arms.
“No! I’m not leaving him!” She screams and tries to get away from me.
“”It’s okay, he’ll be right behind us, but you need to rest, think about the baby.” I tell her.
“Fine, but he’s coming back to our shelter with me.” I nod and help her up again. She gives Gale a soft kiss on his forehead before coming along with me. Annie and Colette follow and the guys, as well an unconscious Gale, trail slowly behind.