Reading The Hunger Games

Katniss, Gale, Peeta, Haymitch and others read the Hunger Games trilogy. I'm going to do all the books and not stop halfway through the series.

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6. PART 1 "THE TRIBUTES" CHAPTER 4

PLEASE REVIEW.... Anyway, I don't own anything in bold, but I wish I did. Here's the Next Chapter:

No one's POV: 

"So, who's reading?" Prim asked. Peeta sighed. "I guess I will" he said. Peeta started the chapter.  

For a few moments, Peeta and I take in the scene of our mentor trying to rise out of the slippery vile stuff from his stomach. The reek of vomit and raw spirits almost brings my dinner up. We exchange a glance. Obviously Haymitch isn’t much, but Effie Trinket is right about one thing, once we’re in the arena he’s all we’ve got.

"Yeah, now that I know you're serious about this, I will try harder" Haymitch said. "so, we have to prove ourself?" Peeta asked. "Yeah" Haymitch said. 

As if by some unspoken agreement, Peeta and I each take one of Haymitch’s arms and help him to his feet.

“I tripped?” Haymitch asks. “Smells bad.” He wipes his hand on his nose, smearing his face with vomit.

"Gross" Rue and Prim both muttered t the same time. 

“Let’s get you back to your room,” says Peeta. “Clean you up a bit.”

We half-lead half-carry Haymitch back to his compartment. Since we can’t exactly set him down on the embroidered bedspread, we haul him into the bathtub and turn the shower on him. He hardly notices.

"Are you really going to help, Katniss?" Finnick asked while wiggling his eyebrows. Katniss rolled her eyes while disgusted. "I don't want to but I won't want to leave Peeta to do it alone" Katniss said. 

“It’s okay,” Peeta says to me. “I’ll take it from here.”

Katniss sent Peeta a grateful look. 

I can’t help feeling a little grateful since the last thing I want to do is strip down Haymitch, wash the vomit out of his chest hair, and tuck him into bed.

Gale shivered at the thought. "I don't think anyone wants that." Gale says. 

Possibly Peeta is trying to make a good impression on him, to be his favorite once the Games begin. But judging by the state he’s in, Haymitch will have no memory of this tomorrow.

"I wasn't. I probably saw how uncomfortable you looked." Peeta said to Katniss. She smiled at him while Gale glared. 

“All right,” I say. “I can send one of the Capitol people to help you.” There’s any number on the train. Cooking lor us. Waiting on us. Guarding us. Taking care of us is their job.

“No. I don’t want them,” says Peeta.

When everyone looked at him he said "I probably don't want the capitol to define me. Why have them do something you can easily do yourself?" And it made sense to everyone. 

I nod and head to my own room. I understand how Peeta feels. I can’t stand the sight of the Capitol people myself. But making them deal with Haymitch might be a small form of revenge.

"HEY" Haymitch shouted. "That's offensive."

So I’m pondering the reason why he insists on taking care of Haymitch and all of a sudden I think, It’s because he’s being kind. Just as he was kind to give me the bread.

"Could be that too" Johanna muttered rolling her eyes. 

The idea pulls me up short. A kind Peeta Mellark is far more dangerous to me than an unkind one.

"How?" asked Peeta confused. "If you're kind, then I won't want you dead even more." Katniss explained. "I would want you to live." Peeta nodded understanding what she meant. "Well, I hope you know that I won't be mean to you just because of that now." he said. Katniss nodded agreeing with him. She didn't want him to be mean anyway. 

Kind people have a way of working their way inside me and rooting there. And I can’t let Peeta do this. Not where we’re going. So I decide, from this moment on, to have as little as possible to do with the baker’s son.

Peeta looked down. He wished that that wouldn't happen. 

When I get back to my room, the train is pausing at a platform to refuel. I quickly open the window, toss the cookies Peeta’s father gave me out of the train, and slam the glass shut. No more. No more of either of them.

"I wish I didn't do that" Katniss said with wide eyes. "I've wanted to try those for a while" she  said. "When we get back I can give you some" Peeta said with a smile. 

Unfortunately, the packet of cookies hits the ground and bursts open in a patch of dandelions by the track. I only see the image for a moment, because the train is off again, but it’s enough. Enough to remind me of that other dandelion in the school yard years ago . . .

Everyone looked confused. 

I had just turned away from Peeta Mellark’s bruised face

Katniss winced, knowing that she was the cause of that. "It wasn't your fault" Peeta muttered to her. She blushed, she didn't think that anyone saw her wince. 

when I saw the dandelion and I knew hope wasn’t lost. I plucked it carefully and hurried home. I grabbed a bucket and Prim’s hand and headed to the Meadow and yes, it was dotted with the golden-headed weeds. After we’d harvested those, we scrounged along inside the fence for probably a mile until we’d filled the bucket with the dandelion greens, stems, and flowers. That night, we gorged ourselves on dandelion salad and the rest of the bakery bread.

"Was it good?" Cinna asked. He wanted to try different foods from other Districts. "Yeah" Prim and Katniss both said. 

“What else?” Prim asked me. “What other food can we find?”

“All kinds of things,” I promised her. “I just have to remember them.”

My mother had a book she’d brought with her from the apothecary shop. The pages were made of old parchment and covered in ink drawings of plants. Neat handwritten blocks told their names, where to gather them, when they came in bloom, their medical uses. But my father added other entries to the book. Plants for eating, not healing.

"That would be useful" Finnick said. 

Dandelions, pokeweed, wild onions, pines. Prim and I spent the rest of the night poring over those pages.

"Did it really take you that quick to learn them?" Johanna asked. She was impressed by that. "Yeah, but I didn't learn like 4 or 5 until a couple days later" Katniss answered. 

The next day, we were off school. For a while I hung around the edges of the Meadow, but finally I worked up the courage to go under the fence. It was the first time I’d been there alone, without my father’s weapons to protect me.

"But you have your own?" asked Haymitch asked. Katniss nodded. 

But I retrieved the small bow and arrows he’d made me from a hollow tree.

"That's smart" Johanna commented. She was very quiet. 

I probably didn’t go more than twenty yards into the woods that day. Most of the time, I perched up in the branches of an old oak, hoping for game to come by. After several hours, I had the good luck to kill a rabbit.

"How did you get better?" asked Finnick. Katniss just ignored him and turned toward the book. 

I’d shot a few rabbits before, with my father’s guidance. But this I’d done on my own.

"Oh, you must be so proud" Johanna muttered sarcastically. Katniss smirked and answered "I was, if you must know" and turned back toward the book.

We hadn’t had meat in months. The sight of the rabbit seemed to stir something in my mother. She roused herself, skinned the carcass, and made a stew with the meat and some more greens Prim had gathered. Then she acted confused and went back to bed, but when the stew was done, we made her eat a bowl.

Katniss was frowning. She was trying to forgive her mother but it wasn't working very well. She will hold a grudge against her until she dies, which she guesses will be soon.

The woods became our savior, and each day I went a bit farther into its arms. It was slow-going at first, but I was determined to feed us. I stole eggs from nests, caught fish in nets, sometimes managed to shoot a squirrel or rabbit for stew, and gathered the various plants that sprung up beneath my feet. Plants are tricky. Many are edible, but one false mouthful and you’re dead.

"Hate that" Everyone who has been in the Hunger Games muttered.

I checked and double-checked the plants I harvested with my father’s pictures. I kept us alive.

"Good job Catnip" Gale said with a smile. "I had help from you and Peeta"  she said not liking to take all the credit. They rolled their eyes but ignored the statement.

Any sign of danger, a distant howl, the inexplicable break of a branch, sent me flying back to the fence at first. Then I began to risk climbing trees to escape the wild dogs that quickly got bored and moved on. Bears and cats lived deeper in, perhaps disliking the sooty reek of our district.

Finnick snickered at that. "That's probably true but they probably also smell Haymitch" he said. Haymitch glared at him while everyone else started laughing... hard.

On May 8th, I went to the Justice Building, signed up for my tesserae, and pulled home my first batch of grain and oil in Prim’s toy wagon.

Peeta smiled. He remembers seeing her that day and thought that she looked cute.

On the eighth of every month, I was entitled to do the same. I couldn’t stop hunting and gathering, of course. The grain was not enough to live on, and there were other things to buy, soap and milk and thread. What we didn’t absolutely have to eat, I began to trade at the Hob.

"That was scary the first time alone" Katniss admitted. "But you still did it" Rue encouraged her. Thresh was looking on thinking that he would help Katniss if he can.

It was frightening to enter that place without my father at my side, but people had respected him, and they accepted me.

"Good thing" Peeta said out loud not meaning to. He blushed when everyone looked at him and just cleared his throat to continue.

Game was game after all, no matter who’d shot it. I also sold at the back doors of the wealthier clients in town,

"Which we would get in trouble for" Johanna said a little jealous. "Oh, come one Johanna, I bet we could get away with it" Finnick smirked saying this. Johanna rolled her eyes knowing this is untrue. "Maybe in District 12 but that's all" she replied.

trying to remember what my father had told me and learning a few new tricks as well.

"Good tricks?" Finnick said suggestively. Katniss rolled her eyes and glared.

The butcher would buy my rabbits but not squirrels. The baker enjoyed squirrel but would only trade for one if his wife wasn’t around.

"She's not a very pleasant person, no offense, Peeta." Gale said. "None taken, I know what she's like" Peeta replied.

The Head Peacekeeper loved wild turkey. The mayor had a passion for strawberries.

Prim giggled. When everyone looked at her she explained. "Two of the highest people in authority are going against the laws." Everyone realized that she was right and laughed.

In late summer, I was washing up in a pond when I noticed the plants growing around me. Tall with leaves like arrowheads. Blossoms with three white petals. I knelt down in the water, my fingers digging into the soft mud, and I pulled up handfuls of the roots. Small, bluish tubers that don’t look like much but boiled or baked are as good as any potato. “Katniss,” I said aloud. It’s the plant I was named for.

"Just like Prim was named after primrose?" Rue asked. Both Katniss and Prim nodded.

And I heard my father’s voice joking, “As long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve.”

Finnick and Johanna started laughing at that as if it were funny.

I spent hours stirring up the pond bed with my toes and a stick, gathering the tubers that floated to the top. That night, we feasted on fish and katniss roots until we were all, for the first time in months, full.

Peeta and Gale frowned. They hated it when people starve.

Slowly, my mother returned to us. She began to clean and cook and preserve some of the food I brought in for winter. People traded us or paid money for her medical remedies. One day, I heard her singing.

Prim smiled loving that her mother returned back to herself.

Prim was thrilled to have her back, but I kept watching, waiting for her to disappear on us again. I didn’t trust her. And some small gnarled place inside me hated her for her weakness, for her neglect, for the months she had put us through.

"I wish you forgave her." Prim said.

Prim forgave her, but I had taken a step back from my mother, put up a wall to protect myself from needing her, and nothing was ever the same between us again.

Katniss looked as though she wanted it to be the same.

Now I was going to die without that ever being set right.

Katniss frowned. "Forgive her" Thresh said to her. Katniss looked confusingly at him. He looked straight into her eyes and said "You won't like dying without ever having your mother fully back." And Katniss nodded, agreeing with him. Even though he wasn't much of a talker, he was good with words.

I thought of how I had yelled at her today in the Justice Building. I had told her I loved her, too, though. So maybe it would all balance out.

Finnick snorted mumbling "That's right, balace it out." Haymitch was laughing at that. "Sometimes it doesn;t balance out though" he said. And he was right, they all knew it.

For a while I stand staring out the train window, wishing I could open it again, but unsure of what would happen at such high speed.

"Nothing bad unless you don't want bad hair" Finnick said. "Good to know" Peeta commented sarcastically.

In the distance, I see the lights of another district. 7? 10? I don’t know. I think about the people in their houses, settling in for bed. I imagine my home, with its shutters drawn tight. What are they doing now, my mother and Prim? Were they able to eat supper?

"We probably won't eat that much because we will be worrying about you" Prim said softly. "Well don't. I want you to be healthy" Katniss replied.

The fish stew and the strawberries? Or did it lay untouched on their plates? Did they watch the recap of the day’s events on the battered old TV that sits on the table against the wall? Surely, there were more tears. Is my mother holding up, being strong for Prim?

"I hope" Katniss said fiercely. "She won't leave, Katniss" Prim said knowingly. "Alright, you're right" Katniss replied wanting Prim to stop fighting with her.

Or has she already started to slip away, leaving the weight of the world on my sister’s fragile shoulders?

Katniss frowned. "She won't" Prim reminded her. Katniss just nodded.

Prim will undoubtedly sleep with my mother tonight. The thought of that scruffy old Buttercup posting himself on the bed to watch over Prim comforts me.

Finnick snickers. "How?" he asks. "Buttercup will comfort her" Katniss answered.

If she cries, he will nose his way into her arms and curl up there until she calms down and falls asleep. I’m so glad I didn’t drown him.

There was silence. And then... Everyone burst out laughing at that statement.

Imagining my home makes me ache with loneliness. This day has been endless. Could Gale and I have been eating blackberries only this morning? It seems like a lifetime ago.

"Don't worry Catnip. You'll come home" Gale comforts Katniss.

Like a long dream that deteriorated into a nightmare. Maybe, if I go to sleep, I will wake up back in District 12, where I belong.

"I wish" Peeta said loudly. He meant to mumble it but that didn't work very well.

Probably the drawers hold any number of nightgowns, but I just strip off my shirt and pants and climb into bed in my underwear.

Peeta and Gale were lost in there thoughts. Everyone but Katniss noticed but didn't say anything. Anyone could tell that Finnick wanted to, but everyone was shooting him looks that said shut up. Cinna coughed to get them out of their thoughts, and Peeta started to read as a blush crept up to his ears. 

The sheets are made of soft, silky fabric. A thick fluffy comforter gives immediate warmth.

If I’m going to cry, now is the time to do it. By morning, I’ll be able to wash the damage done by the tears from my face. But no tears come. I’m too tired or too numb to cry.

Prim was looking down with a frown. "It's not fair, Katniss. I should be the one on the way to the Capitol, you shouldn't have volunteered." she said. "No, I don't want you to participate in the Hunger Games." Katniss replied. "I don't want you to die." Katniss whispered. Gale was trying to comfort Katniss but it wasn't helping much. "Oh, Katniss" Prim cried out and ran over to hug her sister. Peeta waited until they calmed down and then continued with the book. 

The only thing I feel is a desire to be somewhere else. So I let the train rock me into oblivion.

Gray light is leaking through the curtains when the rapping rouses me. I hear Effie Trinket’s voice, calling me to rise. “Up, up, up! It’s going to be a big, big, big day!”

Everyone groans. "Her voice is so annoying, that must be torture to hear" surprisingly Thresh groaned out. "It is" Haymitch said. "I feel bad for you Haymitch" Johanna said. She looked sincere at her words. 

I try and imagine, for a moment, what it must be like inside that woman’s head. What thoughts fill her waking hours? What dreams come to her at night? I have no idea.

Everyone burst out laughing. "And I hope to never find out" Haymitch added. 

I put the green outfit back on since it’s not really dirty, just slightly crumpled from spending the night on the floor. My fingers trace the circle around the little gold mockingjay and I think of the woods, and of my father, and of my mother and Prim waking up, having to get on with things.

"I don't want to get on with things, Katniss" Prim said crying softly. "And you won't have to" Katniss promised her. Katniss was going to try to get home, and if she can't, Peeta's going to be the one come home. But she didn't say that out loud. 

I slept in the elaborate braided hair my mother did for the reaping and it doesn’t look too bad, so I just leave it up. It doesn’t matter. We can’t be far from the Capitol now. And once we reach the city, my stylist will dictate my look for the opening ceremonies tonight anyway.

"Some of them are really horrible" Johanna said. "Hey" Cinna said loudly offended a little. "Well, I don't know what your style is" Johanna said to him. Cinna rolled his eyes. "You still could have said something like 'not including Cinna since I don't know what his style is like'" he grumbled. This caused everyone to laugh. 

I just hope I get one who doesn’t think nudity is the last word in fashion.

Finnick snorted and said "You never know what you'll look like until you try it" while wiggling his eyebrows suggestively. Everyone was disgusted with him. 

As I enter the dining car, Effie Trinket brushes by me with a cup of black coffee. She’s muttering obscenities under her breath. Haymitch, his face puffy and red from the previous day’s indulgences, is chuckling. Peeta holds a roll and looks somewhat embarrassed.

They all snorted. "Your group is all messed up" Finnick commented. Haymitch, Peeta, and Katniss glared while everyone laughed. 

“Sit down! Sit down!” says Haymitch, waving me over.

"Makes you sound like Effie" Peeta said. Everyone tried to hold their laughter in but couldn't. Haymitch glared at everybody. 

The moment I slide into my chair I’m served an enormous platter of food. Eggs, ham, piles of fried potatoes. A tureen of fruit sits in ice to keep it chilled. The basket of rolls they set before me would keep my family going for a week. There’s an elegant glass of orange juice. At least, I think it’s orange juice. I’ve only even tasted an orange once, at New Year’s when my father bought one as a special treat.

"Orange juice is awesome" Prim said. Gale and Katniss agreed at the same time. They looked at each other and blushed. 

A cup of coffee. My mother adores coffee, which we could almost never afford, but it only tastes bitter and thin to me. A rich brown cup of something I’ve never seen.

“They call it hot chocolate,” says Peeta. “It’s good.”

"Hot chocolate is very tasty" Finnick said. Everyone who had tried the drink agreed. 

I take a sip of the hot, sweet, creamy liquid and a shudder runs through me. Even though the rest of the meal beckons, I ignore it until I’ve drained my cup.

"Seems like Katniss agrees" Gale said to Finnick. They looked like they could have been friends, had they lived in the same District. 

Then I stuff down every mouthful I can hold, which is a substantial amount, being careful to not overdo it on the richest stuff. One time, my mother told me that I always eat like I’ll never see food again. And I said, “I won’t unless I bring it home.” That shut her up.

"That makes you sound proud" Thresh said smiling. Katniss didn't see him smile though and snapped back thinking he was insulting her. "Maybe I was" she snapped. Thresh raised an eyebrow and said "I wasn't insulting you" Katniss got what he was saying and smiled sheepishly. "Sorry" she mumbled. Thresh nodded his head. 

When my stomach feels like it’s about to split open, I lean back and take in my breakfast companions. Peeta is still eating, breaking off bits of roll and dipping them in hot chocolate. Haymitch hasn’t paid much attention to his platter, but he’s knocking back a glass of red juice that he keeps thinning with a clear liquid from a bottle.

"Has alcohol in it" almost everyone muttered. They all looked at each other and snickered. Everyone could have guessed that. 

Judging by the fumes, it’s some kind of spirit. I don’t know Haymitch, but I’ve seen him often enough in the Hob, tossing handfuls of money on the counter of the woman who sells white liquor. He’ll be incoherent by the time we reach the Capitol.

"Eh" Haymitch said throwing the comment away. "What do you mean 'eh'? Aren't you going to help us?" Peeta asked. Haymitch just looked at him and shaked his head. He wanted to see how Peeta and Katniss would react. "But you're supposed to, it's your job" Katniss said angrily. "My job is to watch kids kill other kids and lose my tributes. Not very cheerful if I do say so myself." he replied. "If you help us, one of us can come out alive" Peeta almost shouted, unusually angry. He doesn't get angry. "Fine. I will stay sober enough to help" Haymitch amended. He was still glaring at Katniss and Peeta though. 

I realize I detest Haymitch. No wonder the District 12 tributes never stand a chance. It isn’t just that we’ve been underfed and lack training. Some of our tributes have still been strong enough to make a go of it. But we rarely get sponsors and he’s a big part of the reason why.

"Wow, thank you." Haymitch mumbled while Finnick shouted out "WAY TO SUGAR COAT IT". 

The rich people who back tributes — either because they’re betting on them or simply for the bragging rights of picking a winner — expect someone classier than Haymitch to deal with.

"True" Cinna said looking at Haymitch. "I can help if you don't mind" he said sincerely. Haymitch growled but knew if he was going to help his tributes this year, he would have to look presentable so he nodded toward Cinna. 

“So, you’re supposed to give us advice,” I say to Haymitch.

“Here’s some advice. Stay alive,” says Haymitch, and then bursts out laughing.

"Great advice" Peeta mumbled. 

I exchange a look with Peeta before I remember I’m having nothing more to do with him. I’m surprised to see the hardness in his eyes. He generally seems so mild.

"I usually is if it didn't depend on a life" Peeta said to Katniss. Katniss got the feeling he was talking about her life and not his own. But he has to try to win, Katniss thought. He can't give up yet. She was about to tell him that when he started to read again. 

“That’s very funny,” says Peeta. Suddenly he lashes out at the glass in Haymitch’s hand. It shatters on the floor, sending the bloodred liquid running toward the back of the train. “Only not to us.”

"Good one" Finnick laughs with Johanna. 

Haymitch considers this a moment, then punches Peeta in the jaw, knocking him from his chair.

Peeta clenched his teeth trying to control his anger. 

When he turns back to reach for the spirits, I drive my knife into the table between his hand and the bottle, barely missing his fingers.

First everyone was shocked, but then everyone laughed while Haymitch glared at Katniss tension all throughout his body. He was shaking with rage, Katniss and the others hoped he gets it under control. It looked like he did because he turned toward the book and motioned to Peeta to continue reading. 

I brace myself to deflect his hit, but it doesn’t come. Instead he sits back and squints at us.

“Well, what’s this?” says Haymitch. “Did I actually get a pair of fighters this year?”

"Yes" Haymitch mutters answering his own question. No one heard him except Rue and Prim. both smiled at him, thinking that he wasn't as bad as everyone thought.  

Peeta rises from the floor and scoops up a handful of ice from under the fruit tureen. He starts to raise it to the red mark on his jaw.

“No,” says Haymitch, stopping him. “Let the bruise show. The audience will think you’ve mixed it up with another tribute before you’ve even made it to the arena.”

"It's horrible that that's what would entertain them." Cinna said. Everyone knew he was saying this truthfully. 

“That’s against the rules,” says Peeta.

"Only if they catch you" Finnick said. 

“Only if they catch you.

"Ew. I said the same thing as Haymitch" Finnick said jokingly. "I'll show you what I said" Haymitch told Finnick glaring at him. 

That bruise will say you fought, you weren’t caught, even better,” says Haymitch. He turns to me. “Can you hit anything with that knife besides a table?”

"Yes" Gale said without hesitating. "But she'll play it down" he continued. Katniss glared at him. "I'm ok with a knife, I'd rather have a bow and arrow though." she said. "Either way, you'll be ok as long as you have one of those weapons." Gale said fiercely to her. Katniss didn't look convinced but nodded to get him to be quiet and let Peeta continue. "Peeta, continue please" Prim said as soon as they were quiet. 

The bow and arrow is my weapon.

"Obviously" Gale said. 

But I’ve spent a fair amount of time throwing knives as well. Sometimes, if I’ve wounded an animal with an arrow, it’s better to get a knife into it, too, before I approach it.

"Smart" Johanna said amazed. She had good hunting skills like Katniss, if she were able to hunt she would. 

I realize that if I want Haymitch’s attention, this is my moment to make an impression.

"Good thinking" Thresh commented. He would be doing that too, if he needed to. 

I yank the knife out of the table, get a grip on the blade, and then throw it into the wall across the room. I was actually just hoping to get a good solid stick, but it lodges in the seam between two panels, making me look a lot better than I am.

"But you are really good" Peeta said. He knows since he had eaten her kills before. She either has killed them with a knife or a bow and arrow. No one asked how he knew, so Katniss guessed that everyone thought that he got her kills sometimes. 

“Stand over here. Both of you,” says Haymitch, nodding to the middle of the room. We obey and he circles us, prodding us like animals at times, checking our muscles, examining our faces.

"Yep, animals" Johanna mutters sarcastically. Haymitch glared at her. 

“Well, you’re not entirely hopeless. Seem fit. And once the stylists get hold of you, you’ll be attractive enough.”

Peeta thought that Katniss didn't need that though, so did Gale. "Enough" Katniss scoffed. 

Peeta and I don’t question this. The Hunger Games aren’t a beauty contest, but the best-looking tributes always seem to pull more sponsors.

"The bad part" Rue said angrily. It really isn't fair everyone thought. 

“All right, I’ll make a deal with you. You don’t interfere with my drinking, and I’ll stay sober enough to help you,” says Haymitch. “But you have to do exactly what I say.”

"That's not a very good deal" said Katniss. "Deal with it" Haymitch replied. "At least we'll have a little help" Peeta tried to comfort. But others thought it wouldn't be enough. 

It’s not much of a deal but still a giant step forward from ten minutes ago when we had no guide at all.

"Step 1: Get your guide" Finnick said smartly. He was trying to lighten the mood, and it worked, sort of. 

“Fine,” says Peeta.

“So help us,” I say. “When we get to the arena, what’s the best strategy at the Cornucopia for someone —”

"Don't go to the Cornucopia" Johanna said. When everyone looked at her she said "That's the best strategy." "But we need some things to survive" said Peeta. He didn't see how that was the best strategy. Johanna got tired of explaining and said "Just wait and you'll see in the book."

“One thing at a time. In a few minutes, we’ll be pulling into the station. You’ll be put in the hands of your stylists. You’re not going to like what they do to you. But no matter what it is, don’t resist,” says Haymitch.

"How good is that advice"asked Rue. She was going to take everything serially, since she is eligible to go into the arena. "Pretty good. You have to look good to get sponsors." Cinna replied. He may have not been in the arena, but he has watched the Hunger Games for many years. He hated how he had to watch it. 

“But —” I begin.

“No buts. Don’t resist,” says Haymitch. He takes the bottle of spirits from the table and leaves the car. As the door swings shut behind him, the car goes dark.

"Ominous" Thresh said. 

There are still a few lights inside, but outside it’s as if night has fallen again. I realize we must be in the tunnel that runs up through the mountains into the Capitol.

"Great" Peeta muttered. He didn't want to go to the Capitol, and his book-self is just about there. 

The mountains form a natural barrier between the Capitol and the eastern districts. It is almost impossible to enter from the east except through the tunnels. This geographical advantage was a major factor in the districts losing the war that led to my being a tribute today.

"Wish the Districts won" Johanna muttered. Everyone agreed, it would be better than sending kids into an arena toward their untimely death. 

Since the rebels had to scale the mountains, they were easy targets for the Capitol’s air forces.

Peeta Mellark and I stand in silence as the train speeds along. The tunnel goes on and on and I think of the tons of rock separating me from the sky, and my chest tightens. I hate being encased in stone this way. It reminds me of the mines and my father, trapped, unable to reach sunlight, buried forever in the darkness.

"It's ok Katniss, that's not going to happen there" Gale comforts her. Everyone was silent waiting for Katniss to calm down. One she was calm enough she motioned for Peeta to continue. 

The train finally begins to slow and suddenly bright light floods the compartment. We can’t help it. Both Peeta and I run to the window to see what we’ve only seen on television, the Capitol, the ruling city of Panem.

"I would too" Prim admitted. 

The cameras haven’t lied about its grandeur. If anything, they have not quite captured the magnificence of the glistening buildings in a rainbow of hues that tower into the air, the shiny cars that roll down the wide paved streets, the oddly dressed people with bizarre hair and painted faces who have never missed a meal. All the colors seem artificial,

"Which they are" Johanna said. "How do you know" Katniss asked. "I just do" Johanna said with a smirk. That irritated Katniss. Before Katniss could continue Peeta started to read to avoid a fight. 

the pinks too deep, the greens too bright, the yellows painful to the eyes, like the flat round disks of hard candy we can never afford to buy at the tiny sweet shop in District 12.

They all frowned. Everyone should have a sweet once in awhile. 

The people begin to point at us eagerly as they recognize a tribute train rolling into the city. I step away from the window, sickened by their excitement, knowing they can’t wait to watch us die. But Peeta holds his ground, actually waving and smiling at the gawking crowd.

Everyone looks at him like he's crazy, except for Haymitch who understands what he's doing. "What?" he asks. "There could be sponsors in the crowd." he explains when no one looked away. He continued reading to get everyone to stop staring at him. 

He only stops when the train pulls into the station, blocking us from their view.

He sees me staring at him and shrugs. “Who knows?” he says. “One of them may be rich.”

"Not my best words, but see" Peeta says loudly. Most just rolled their eyes and returned to the book. 

I have misjudged him.

"I didn't" Katniss says softly. "You're really trying to help us" Katniss said toward Peeta. He nodded. Katniss smiled at him, and he looked down embarrassed. He started to read since he didn't have anything to say. 

I think of his actions since the reaping began. The friendly squeeze of my hand. His father showing up with the cookies and promising to feed Prim . . . did Peeta put him up to that?

"My father likes you and Prim" Peeta explained quietly. "Thanks" Prim said to him. Katniss nodded her thanks. 

His tears at the station. Volunteering to wash Haymitch but then challenging him this morning when apparently the nice-guy approach had failed.

Finnick snorted. "You should just skip the nice-guy approach next time" he said. Peeta ignored him and continued to read. 

And now the waving at the window, already trying to win the crowd.

"You have to admit that it's smart" said Johanna. She can see why he wants sponsors. It's to help him and Kantiss to live pass the Hunger Games, most likely Katniss though. 

All of the pieces are still fitting together, but I sense he has a plan forming. He hasn’t accepted his death. He is already fighting hard to stay alive. Which also means that kind Peeta Mellark, the boy who gave me the bread, is fighting hard to kill me.

Peeta's eyes opened wide. "You know that's not true, right Katniss" he asked quickly and loudly. Katniss was staring at the book in shock. Peeta seemed nice. "Katniss, it's not true, you know that right" Peeta asked desparately. He wanted to stay friends with her. Almost everyone knows that. "Peeta..." Katniss said and she hesitated. She was thinking. Peeta was looking at her desprately hoping she would see the truth.

"Peeta, I..."

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