The Hunger Games- Alternative Ending

It is a alternate ending to the hunger games-Book 1

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1. The Games

I see the bag with a 12 sewn onto it and I know with a start that this is the bag I have to grab; I start to run across the field but stop when I see Thresh, The male tribute from District 11. He was with the girl from District 2,-Clove I think her name was- and the boy from District 2-Cato-. Thresh had Cato in a headlock and Clove- under his feet, he steps on her neck; I hear a sickening crack… then a canon. A swift twist of his hands and Cato, too, was dead. The Canon fired. Thresh grabbed District 11’s and District 2’s bag and took off into the woods. I unfroze from where I stopped, surprised at Thresh… but I suppose it is a game of survival. I am now afraid of Thresh; I don’t want it to come down to District 12 and District 11.

To my right there is a crunch as the girl from District 5 runs clear across the field to the Cornucopia, grabs her bag and runs back into the woods ‘ I really need to do something about  Foxface’  I think. When I see that no-one else is going to come back I ran across the field and swipe District 12’s bag while I can, I turn to run back the way I came but Foxface is blocking my path…

“Hello… Girl on Fire” she sneers

“Foxface” I say, curtly

“What are we going to do with you? You’re such a prize to find now… so close to the end… becoming closer and closer to death… and to think that your boyfriend can’t save you, he thought it was The Careers that cut him but he was wrong… it was me”

I stand there frozen, unsure on whether or not I should try and make a run for it or if I should stay… I decide to run for it…

I thrust my fist forward, it connects with her face with a satisfying crack and with the amount of blood gushing from her nose I say I broke something, she screams a shrill scream; I pull out my bow and arrow, I let the arrow soar towards her… I miss and she starts to laugh… I draw another arrow and realise I only have a few left; I need to be more careful with my shots…

‘Deep breath Katniss… you can do this… you’ve done it a million times before… killing people is no different’ I hear Gale’s voice in my mind

I let the arrow fly and it hits her right in the heart… a direct shot… the cannon fires and Foxface’s face is now in the sky announcing her death and I know that I need to run before Thresh comes after me too.  ‘Oh no… it’s now between District 11 and 12 that wasn’t supposed to happen’. I turn and run back the way I came; nearly tripping over my feet a few times but I made it back to the cave… where Peeta was sitting up, scowling.

“You told me you wouldn’t go…” Peeta whispers

“You got worse, you need whatever is in this bag and I can’t bear to lose you now… it’s too hard to think about what…” I break off- the horrible nightmares playing through my mind- I sigh and open the bag- inside was a medicine that would help Peeta’s leg

Peeta moves closer to me to peer in the bag

“It’s your medicine, Peeta” I whisper. He reaches for the medicine and I swat his hand away

“You took care of me once… I’ll do it” I say blushing at the memory of the young boy who threw me the burnt bread

‘It was a rainy day, I fell asleep underneath a tree… one place that was actually dry. I was woken up by someone yelling… I opened my eyes and there was Peeta with his mother. She slapped him across the face and left a red welt… he looked down at the bread in his hands… it was all burnt, he started giving to the pigs when he noticed me sitting under the tree, he looked behind him and threw the loaf of bread at me… I clambered up to get it by the time I turned to say thank you he was already gone. I can never repay him for this’

“Hmm I always think of that day, about how I should of just given you the bread… we could maybe of had something before these… stupid… death games” Peeta says, reaching for my hand “Oh my god! Katniss there’s blood on your hand. Are you ok?”

“It’s probably Foxface’s. It’s what I named the girl from 5… because we never see her and she’s always there when we need something but we never see her when we are actually in the woods… she’s sly like a fox” I say, while rubbing the medicine on Peeta’s wound

“Why? What happened to Foxface?” Peeta asks

“I killed her…Peeta” I whisper

“What?”

“Well… it was her or me” I explain, trying to keep my calm

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Peeta asks, hurt

“Because I didn’t want to worry you… and with your leg I didn’t want to inflict anymore stress on you… stressing wouldn’t do you any good.” I say, looking down at my hands; knotting them together

“Hey…” Peeta whispers, tilting my chin up “It’s ok”

“No Peeta… it’s not… I’m not a killing person, yes I hunt animals… but that’s different… Killing people is… the games… it’s barbaric.” I say, frustrated

Peeta leans forward and gives me a quick peck on the lips

“I’ll love you no matter who you are” Peeta says, rocking back on his heels; he stands up

“We’re going to need some food” I say

I hear a little tinkling sound in the distance and I immediately recognize the sound as the packages we get from Haymitch from our sponsors…

“Peeta… stay here” I whisper

I stand up, unkinking my legs; I walk the short distance to where the little package was

‘You call that a kiss! Remember stay alive –H’

I shake my head at Haymitch’s bluntness and open the package… it’s a whole bunch of food. It’s painfully obvious that Haymitch doesn’t want us out until he wants us out

“Katniss!” Peeta yells out in his sleep “No! No! No! Where are you? No! Don’t leave me!”

I run back to where Peeta lay tossing and turning, still calling out my name. I gently shake him and his eyes flutter open and focus on my face

“Hey…” I whisper

Peeta reaches up and grabs part of my hair of where it’s fallen out of my braid

“You are so beautiful… Katniss” Peeta says, his voice barely audible

“Our sponsors sent us a whole bunch of food… Haymitch doesn’t want us going out until we absolutely have to” I say

“Over-protective fool isn’t he?” Peeta jokes “I was dreaming that I lost you forever…”

“I know… you were yelling in your sleep” I explain

“So… who’s left?” Peeta asks “Because I heard three cannons earlier”

The male from District 11 and us” I whisper “Thresh, killed the girl and boy from District 2 and I killed the girl from 5” I look down at my hands

“It’s ok, you did what you had to do to survive there is nothing wrong with that” Peeta says

“I didn’t want it to come down to us… I helped Rue and now I have to kill her friend… I can’t do that Peeta…” I say, tears springing to my eyes; I wipe them away hastily but they keep on coming

Peeta comes over to where I’m sitting and put his arms around me as my silent cry turns into heartfelt sobs

“Shh…” Peeta whispers “It’s ok… you don’t have to kill him… if the time comes… I’ll do it”

“You know the time will come Peeta… but if it comes down to this… I’ll do it… I don’t like it one bit but I’ll do it… for District 12” I whisper

“It’s ok… I can do it” Peeta says, he looks down “Come here” Peeta rocks back on his heels and leans against a rock in the cave

I scoot closer to him and he lays me down and encircles his arms around me, I feel him sigh and nuzzle his face in my hair which was out at the moment… I need to braid it again when we go out for the final showdown

“I love you Katniss” Peeta murmurs

“I love you too” I reply

Mentally thinking ‘It’s Gale… it’s always been Gale, I can’t tell Gale I love him when I have pretences to uphold… because of Peeta… Oh Peeta, how he diminishes the anger that threatens to overtake me… I’m unstable when I’m around Peeta”

“What are you thinking about?” Peeta ask

“Mm, just what we’ll do once we get home” I say, my voice sad

“What will we do… once this is all over?” Peeta ask

“Try to forget… I guess” I say, the hurt creeping into my voice “I don’t mean about us… I mean about the whole experience”

I see Peeta’s eyes tighten when I say ‘try to forget’ but he now has a lazy, happy grin plastered to his face

“What?” I ask cautiously

“Oh, nothing” He says, his stupid grin getting bigger

“You’re planning something…” I say

“Yep” Peeta says mysteriously

I was now very scared of Peeta… he was a nice boyfriend and I found myself suddenly wondering what he would be like as a husband… if we got married… I shiver happily at the thought

“Are you cold?” Peeta asks, out of concern for me

“No” I nuzzled closer to him taking advantage of his warmth “Just happy”

I close my eyes and very soon the sweet black abyss swallowed me up in unconsciousness… in my dreamy state, I dream about a wedding, the bride was very beautiful she had long brown hair in heavy waves down her back, nice healthy tanned skin and the groom had blonde hair styled to perfection and he was greeting guests dressed handsomely in a white tux… my dream evolves into District 12 when we came back… all the land blown up… my sister dead, my mother in District 4… Gale and Peeta in the hands of the Capitol because of my misadventures….

I start to scream… a cold hand touches my forehead bring me back to consciousness, my screams drop off into soft whimpers

“Peeta…?”I whisper

“Katniss… its ok… you’re not there anymore…its ok” Peeta says, smoothing my hair down. I lean into Peeta and let my sobs control my body

“Shh… its okay… it’s fine… I’m here… everything will be alright” Peeta says, his voice rising an octave as my sobs get louder

“Peeta… I dreamt that… you and I got married and then we returned home and… Prim was dead, my mother abandoned me and you and Gale got taken by the Capitol because of me… because of me “I sobbed

“You can’t lose me…even if you wanted to… I. won’t .let. That. Happen. Peeta said clearly, making sure I understood…

The sun starts beaming through the cave and I know it’s time to go hunting, for our final meal before the end whenever that would be. I stand up stretching out my limbs, they’re stiff from the night’s sleep, and I extend my arm out to Peeta to help him up, instead he pulls me down into his embrace and kisses me, I melt into his arms and he takes that as a good sign, his hands snake into my hair and he opens my lips with his, I sigh and he pulls away.

“What’s wrong?” Peeta asks, alarmed

“Nothing… I’m just pondering over my dream… I can’t live without you Peeta and I never want to know what that feels like.” I said, surprised at my boldness

Peeta’s mouth dropped open and I smiled at his expression… his mouth formed in a perfect “O”

I kissed his cheek “We should get going… I need to hunt” I said

I pulled Peeta up with me and he crashed against my body “No-one’s ever loved me the way you love me” I said

I grabbed his hand, and then reached down to get my bow and arrow and we uncovered the cover we put over the entrance to the cave so we wouldn’t be found and straight away I saw a mockingjay, the symbol on the pin from my district.

“Alright now… give me the bow” Peeta said, completely serious, I looked at Peeta with surprise and started to hand over my bow when he burst out laughing “No, you keep it your handier with that bow than I am. I can’t believe you fell for that. I’ll get some fruit.” Peeta said and walked away

I walked away smiling, I feel like I’m eleven again, tethered not to the safety of the fence but to Peeta, allowing myself twenty, maybe thirty yards of hunting space. Reassured by his periodic whistles, I allow myself to drift farther away, and soon have two rabbits and a fat squirrel to show for it.

As I travel the short distance back, I realise we haven’t exchanged signals in a while, when my whistle receives no response, I start to run. In no time, I find the pack, a neat pile of roots beside it. The sheet of plastic has been laid on the ground where the sun can reach the single layer of berries that covers it. But where is he?

“Peeta!” I call out in a panic, forgetting that Thresh was out there hunting us. “Peeta!” I turn to the rustle of brush and almost send an arrow straight through him. Fortunately, I pull my bow at the last second and it sticks in the old oak tree to his right. He jumps back and ducks, flinging a handful of berries at me.

My fear comes out as anger. “What are you doing? You’re supposed to be here not running around in the woods!”

“I found some berries down by the stream,” he says, obviously confused by my outburst

“I whistled. How come you didn’t whistle back?” I snap

“I didn’t hear you… the water must be too loud, I guess” he says. He crosses and places his hands on my shoulders. That is when I feel that I’m trembling.

“I thought Thresh had got to you!” I almost shout

“No, I’m fine and we’re together.” Peeta wraps his arms around me, but I don’t respond. “Katniss?”

I push away from him, trying to make sense of my feelings. “When two people agree on a signal, they stay in range. Because if one of them doesn’t answer, they’re in trouble, all right?”

“All right!” he says

“All right. Because that’s what happened with Rue, and I watched her die! I couldn’t bear it if that was you… I couldn’t live with myself” I say. I turn away from him, trying to hide my hurt; I go to the pack and open a fresh bottle of water, although I still have some in mine. But I’m not ready to forgive him. I notice the food. The rolls and apples are untouched, but someone’s definitely picked away part of the cheese. “And you ate without me!” I didn’t really care; I just want something else to be mad about.

“What? No, I didn’t,” Peeta says.

“Oh, and I suppose the apples ate the cheese,” I say, smiling on the inside… it sounded so ridiculous.

“I don’t know what ate the cheese,” Peeta says slowly and distinctly, as if he’s trying not to lose his temper, “but it wasn’t me. I’ve been down by the stream collecting berries. Would you care for some?”

I would actually, but I don’t want to relent too soon. I do walk over and take a look at them. I’ve never seen this type before. No, I have. But not in the arena. These aren’t Rue’s berries, although they resemble them. Nor do they match any I learned about in training. I lean down and scoop up a few, rolling them between my fingers.

“Do you know what these berries are?” I ask, my voice strained

“No…”

Just then, the cannon fires. I whip around eyes wide, expecting Peeta to collapse to the ground, but he only raises his eyebrows. The hovercraft appears a hundred yards or so away. The male tribute from district 5 is being lifted into the air… I had no idea he was still alive.

I should have known the moment I saw the missing cheese… both tributes were as sly as foxes…

Peeta has me by the arm, pushing me towards a tree.

“Climb. He’ll be here in a second. We’ll stand a better chance fighting him from above.”

I stop him, suddenly calm; Peeta looks at me like I’m insane. “No, Peeta, he’s your kill, not Thresh’s.”

“What? I haven’t seen him since the first day,” he says. “How could I have killed him?”

In answer, I hold out the berries “eat these and you’ll be dead before they reach your stomach”

It takes a while to explain the situation to Peeta. How he stole the food from the supply pile before I blew it up- he smiled ruefully as I said it- how he tried to take enough to stay alive but not enough that anyone would notice it, how he wouldn’t question the safety of berries we were preparing to eat ourselves.

“I wonder how he found us,” says Peeta. “My fault, I guess, if I’m as loud as you say.”

We were about as hard to follow as a herd of cattle, but I try to be as nice as possible. “And he’s very clever, Peeta. Well he was. Until you outfoxed him.”

“Not on purpose. Doesn’t seem fair somehow. I mean we’d both be dead, too, if he hadn’t eaten the berries first” he checks himself. “No, of course, we wouldn’t. You recognised them… didn’t you?”

I nod. “My dad and I called them nightlock.”

“Even the name sounds deadly,” he says. “I’m sorry Katniss… I really thought they were the ones you’d gathered.”

I put my fingers to his lips “no, don’t apologize. It just means we’re one step closer to home, right?” I ask

“I’ll get rid of the rest,” Peeta says. He gathers up the sheet of blue plastic, careful to trap the berries inside, and goes to toss them in the woods. An idea suddenly came to me…

“Wait!” I cry. I find the leather pouch that belonged to the boy from district 1 and fill it with a few handfuls of berries from the plastic.

“What are you doing?” Peeta asks

“If they fooled him, maybe they can fool Thresh as well. If he’s chasing us or something, we can act like we accidentally drop the pouch and if he eats them—“

“Then hello, district 12,” says Peeta. “If he was anywhere nearby and saw that hovercraft, he’ll know we killed her and come after us.”

Peeta’s right. This could be just the opportunity Thresh’s been waiting for. But even if we run now, there’s the meat to cook and our fire will be another sign of our whereabouts. “Let’s make a fire. Right now.” I begin to gather branches and brush.

“Are you ready to face him?” Peeta asks

“I’m ready to eat. Better to cook our food while we have the chance. If he knows we’re here, he knows. But he also knows there’s two of us and probably assumes we were hunting Foxface. That means you’ve recovered. And the fire means were not hiding, we’re inviting him here. Would you show up?” I ask

“Maybe not,” he says

Peeta’s a whiz with fires, coaxing a blaze out of the damp wood. In no time, I have the rabbits and squirrel roasting, the roots, wrapped in leaves, baking in the coals. We take turns gathering greens and keeping a careful watch for Thresh, but as I anticipated, he doesn’t make an appearance.

When the food’s cooked, I pack most of it away, leaving us a rabbit’s leg each to eat as we walk.

I want to move higher into the woods, climb a good, sturdy tree, and make camp for the night, but Peeta resists. “I can’t climb like you Katniss, especially with my leg, and I don’t think I could fall asleep fifty feet above the ground.”

“It’s not safe to stay out in the open either, Peeta,” I say

“Can’t we go back to the cave?” he asks “it’s near water and easy to defend.”

I sigh. Several more hours of walking – or should I say crashing—through the woods to reach an area we’ll just have to leave in the morning to hunt. But Peeta doesn’t ask for much. He’s followed my instructions all day and I’m sure if things were reversed, he wouldn’t make me spend the night in a tree. It dawns on me that I haven’t been all that nice to Peeta today. Nagging him about how loud he was, screaming at him over disappearing. The playful romance we had in the cave has disappeared out in the open, under the hot sun, with the threat of Thresh looming over us. Haymitch had probably just about had it with me. And as for the audience…

I reach up and pull Peeta against my lips, hard and Peeta groans, a low sound in the back of his throat, just as he starts to kiss me back, I pull away. “Sure,” I say, breathless “let’s go back to the cave” I start to smile

He looks pleased, relieved and breathless. “Well that was easy.”

I work my arrow out of the oak, careful not to damage the shaft. These arrows are food, safety, and life itself now.

We toss a bunch more wood on the fire. It should be sending off smoke for a few more hours, although I doubt Thresh assumes anything at this point. When we reach the stream, I see the water has dropped considerably and moves at a leisurely pace, so I suggest we walk back in it.

Peeta—who is still glowing—was more than happy to oblige and since he’s a lot quieter in water, than on land, it’s doubly a good idea. It’s a long walk back to the cave though, even going downward, even with rabbit to give us a boost. We’re both exhausted by our hike today and still way too underfed. I kept my bow loaded, both for Thresh and any fish I might see, but the stream seems strangely empty of creatures.

By the time we reach our destination, our feet dragging and the sun sits low on the horizon. We fill up our water bottles and climb the little slope to our den. It’s not much, but out here in the wilderness, it’s the closest thing we have to a home. It will be warmer than a tree, too, because it provides some shelter from the wind that has begun to blow steadily in from the east. I set a good dinner out, but halfway through the meal, Peeta begins to nod off. After a few days of inactivity, the hunt has taken its toll. I order him to the sleeping bag and set aside the rest of his food for when he wakes. He drops off immediately. I pull the sleeping bag up to his chin and kiss his forehead, not for the audience but for me. Because I’m so grateful that he’s still here, not dead by the stream when I first thought I’d lost him. So glad that I don’t have to face thresh alone… now I knew what Thresh was capable of.

Brutal, bloody Thresh who can snap a neck with a twist of his arm, who had the power to overcome Cato—who had it out for me since the very beginning—he probably thought he was doing Cato a favour; killing him when he did. He probably has a special hatred for me ever since I outscored him in training. A boy like Peeta would simply shrug that off. But I had a feeling it drove Cato and Thresh to distraction. This is not hard to do. I think they’re reaction to the supplies being blown up were ridiculous. The others were upset, naturally, but Thresh was completely unhinged. I wonder now if Cato might not be entirely sane.

The sky lights up with the seal, and I watch Cato, clove, Foxface and the guy from district 5 shine in the sky and then disappear from the world forever. Despite the fatigue in my body, my minds alert, so I let Peeta sleep long past our usual switch. In fact, a soft, dull gray day has begun when I shake his shoulder. He looks out, almost in alarm. “I slept the whole night! That’s not fair! Katniss, you should have woke me up.”

I stretch and burrow down into the sleeping bag next to him “you looked so peaceful… you needed the sleep, besides I’ll sleep now. Wake me if anything interesting happens.”

Apparently nothing does, because when I wake Peeta’s playing with my hair and the bright hot afternoon light gleams through the rocks. “Any sign of our ‘friend’?” I ask

Peeta shakes his head. “No, he’s keeping a disturbingly low profile.”

“How long do you think until the gamemakers force us together?” I ask

“Well, the guy from 5 died nearly a day ago, so there has been plenty of time for people to place their bets and get bored. I guess it could happen at any moment,” says Peeta

“Yeah, I don’t know why but I have a gut feeling that today is the day,” I say. I sit up and lean against Peeta’s shoulder and look out at the peaceful terrain. “I wonder how and when they’ll do it.”

Peeta remains silent the weight of impending death was looming over both of us. I guess there’s not really any good answer.

“Well, what do we do? Do we stay in and wait for them to drag us out or do we go and hunt. But either way we should probably eat as much as we can hold just in case we run into trouble,” Peeta says.

I pack up our gear while he lays out a big meal. The rest of the rabbit, roots, greens, the rolls spread with the last bit of the cheese. The only thing we leave in reserve is the squirrel and the apple.

By the time we’re done, all that’s left is a pile of rabbit bones. My hands are greasy, which only adds to my growing feeling of grubbiness. Maybe we don’t bathe daily in the Seam, but we keep cleaner than I have of late.

Leaving the cave has a sense of finality about it… somehow I don’t think there will be another night in the arena. One way or another, dead or alive… I will escape the arena today, I give the rocks a goodbye pat and we head to the stream to clean up. I can feel my skin, its itching for the water. I may even do my hair and braid it back again—where it escapes—I’m wondering if we might even be able to give our clothes a quick scrub. When we reach the stream… or what used to be the stream, now there is only a bone-dry bed. I put my hand down to feel it—my hand comes away dry—“Not even a little damp. They must have drained it while we slept,” I say. A fear of the cracked tongue, aching body and fuzzy mind brought on by my previous dehydration creeps into my consciousness. Our bottles and skin are fairly full, but with two drinking and this hot sun it won’t take long to deplete them.

“The lake,” Peeta chokes out. “They’re trying to get us to the lake. That’s where they want us to go”

The more I thought about it the more it made sense, there’s no cover. It’s where they’re guaranteed a bloody fight to the death with nothing to block their view. The whole idea made me feel sick.

“Katniss? Are you okay? You’re looking kind of pale” Peeta said, his voice soft

“Let’s go, we’ve had food and rest. Let’s just end this this,” I said

He nods, in agreement. It’s funny. I feel almost as if it’s the first day of the Games again. That I’m still in the same position. Twenty-one tributes are dead, but I still have yet to kill Thresh. And really, wasn’t he always the one to kill?

But no, there’s the boy waiting beside me. I feel his arms wrap around me, he nuzzles my neck and sighs.

“Two against one. Should be a piece of cake,” he says

“Next time we eat, it will be in the Capitol,” I answer.

“You bet it will,” he says

We stand there a while, locked in an embrace, feeling each other, the sunlight on our faces, and a rustle in the leaves make us break apart and we head straight for the lake.

We have to fight Cato and I’d do it here on the plain. But I doubt I’ll have that choice. If the gamemakers want us in the open… then in the open we will be.

Given our late start to the day, we reach the plain at early evening. There’s no sign of Thresh. No sign of anything really, Just in case Thresh decides to pull a Foxface on us, we circle the cornucopia to make sure its empty. Then obediently, as if we were following instructions, we cross to the lake and fill up our bottles.

“We don’t want to fight him after dark. There’s only one pair of glasses.”

Peeta carefully squeezes a few drops of iodine into the water.

“Maybe that’s what he is waiting for. What should we do?”

“Let’s give him another half hour. Then we’ll take cover.” I answer

We sit by the lake, in full sight. There’s no point in hiding now. I can see mockingjays flitting about. I open my mouth and sing out Rue’s four-note run. I can almost feel them pausing curiously at the sound of my voice, listening for more.

I repeat the notes in silence. First one mockingjay trills the tune back, then another. Then the whole world comes alive with the sound.

“A natural… just like your father,” says Peeta.

The mockingjays voices rise up in a shrieking cry of alarm.

We’re on our feet, Peeta wielding his knife, me poised to shoot, when Thresh smashes through the trees and bears down on us. He has no spear. In fact he has no weapon, yet he runs straight for us. My first arrow hits his chest and inexplicably falls aside.

“He’s got some kind of body armour!” I shout to Peeta.

Just in time, too, because Thresh is upon us. I brace myself, but he rockets right between us with no attempt to check his speed. I can tell from his panting, the sweat pouring off his purplish face, that he has been running hard a long time. Not towards us. From something. But what?

My eyes scan the woods just in time to see the first creature. As I’m turning I see another half dozen join it. I grab Peeta’s hand and then we are stumbling blindly after Thresh, with no other thoughts than to save ourselves.

Muttations. No question about it. I’ve never seen these mutts, but they’re no natural-born animals.

Thresh makes a beeline for the Cornucopia, and without question I follow him. If he thinks it’s the safest place, who am I to argue? Besides, even if I could make it to the trees, it would be impossible for Peeta to outrun them on that leg—Peeta! My hands barely touch on the metal at the pointed tail of the cornucopia when I remember that I dropped Peeta’s hand half way—we are part of a team. He’s about fifteen yards or so behind me, hobbling as fast as he can, a mutt comes out of nowhere and lands on him. I scream.

“Thresh! Help Him! Please” I scream, Thresh stops what he’s doing “I helped Rue when she died! She asked me to sing her to sleep! Please!”

 

Thresh climbed down from the Cornucopia and throws his knife, it hits one of the mutts, pinning it to the ground. I hear Peeta cry out. I twist around and he’s reached the tail.

“Climb!” I yell. Peeta starts up hampered by not only the leg but the knife in his hands. I shoot my arrow down the throat of the first mutt that places its paw on the metal. As it dies the creature lashes out, inadvertently opening gashes on a few of its companions. That’s when I get a look at the claws. Four inches and clearly razor-sharp.

Peeta reaches my feet and I grab his arm and pull him along. Then I remember Thresh waiting at the bottom of the cornucopia but he’s doubled over with cramps and apparently more preoccupied with the mutts than us. He coughs out something unintelligible and the snuffing and growling sound coming from the mutts isn’t helping me concentrate.

“He said “can they climb it”?” answers Peeta, drawing my focus back to the base, where Thresh is frozen.

The mutts are beginning to assemble. As they join together, each one has a thick coat, some fur that is straight and sleek, others curly, and the others vary from jet black to what I can only describe as blond. One of them, a good size mutt with silky waves of blond fur takes a running start and leaps onto the horn. For a moment it hangs there and in that moment I realise what else is unsettling me about the mutts. The green eyes glowering at me are unlike any dog or wolf, any canine I’ve ever seen. They are unmistakeably human. And that revelation has barely registered when I notice the collar with the number 1 inlaid with jewels and the whole horrible thins hits me like a ton of bricks. The blond hair, the green eyes, the number…. It’s Glimmer.

A loud shriek escapes my lips and I’m having trouble holding the arrow in place. I have been waiting to fire, only too aware of my ever dwindling supply of arrows. Waiting to see if the creature can, in fact, climb. But now, even though thee mutt has begun to slide backward, unable to find any purchase on the metal, even though I can hear the slow screeching of the claws like nails on a chalk board, I  laugh a merciless laugh and fire into its throat. Its body twitches and flops onto the ground with a thud.

“Katniss?” I can feel Peeta’s grip on my arm.

“It’s her!” I get out

“Who?” asks Peeta?

I scan my eyes along the mutts and there, the smallest mutt, with dark glossy fur, huge browns eyes and a collar that reads 11 in a woven straw. Teeth bared in hatred. Rue…

“What is it, Katniss?” Peeta shakes my shoulders, hard.

“It’s them. All of them. The others…Rue” I choke out “Foxface and…all the other tributes,”

I hear Peeta’s gasp of recognition. A pair of teeth ring together just inches from my hand and then I hear Peeta cry out, feel the yank on his body, the heavy weight of boy and mutt pulling me over the side. If not for the grip on my arm, he’d be on the ground, but as it is, it takes all my strength to keep us both on the curved back of the horn. And more are coming

“Kill it, Peeta! Kill it!” I realise I’m shouting, and although I can’t quite see what’s happening. I know he have stabbed the thing because the pull lessens. I’m able to haul him back onto the horn where we drag ourselves towards the top where a lesser evil awaits.

Thresh is still on the ground, he is now laying down, his breathing slowing. I arm my bow but the arrow takes out a mutt instead of Thresh. I’m just turning back towards Peeta, when an ear-splitting scream fills the arena, I turn my eyes wide and there is the muttation of Rue pilling him apart with the mutt of Glimmer. I draw another bow and let it fly.. Thresh’s screams slowly dropping off as he is being pulled apart.

Night falls and the anthem plays but there’s no picture of Thresh in the sky, only faint moans coming through the metal beneath us. The icy air blowing across the plain reminds me that the games are not over and may not be for who knows how long, and there is still no guarantees of Victory.

I turn my attention to Peeta, whose leg is bleeding badly; I lie him down and probe his wound. Although I’m shaking in the biting wind, I rip off my jacket, remove my shirt and zip back into the jacket as swiftly as possible. Peeta’s face is gray in the pale moonlight, I cut a sleeve from my shirt, wrap it twice around his leg, just under his knee—Peeta may end up losing his leg—I bandage the wound in the rest of my shirt and lie down with him; taking advantage of his warmth while I still could.

“Don’t go to sleep,” I whisper. I’m not sure if this is exactly medical protocol, but I’m terrified that if he drifts off he’ll never wake again. I shiver at the thought of losing him

“Are you cold?” he asks and before I can say anything he unzips his jacket and I press harder against him as he fastens it around me. It’s a bit warmer, sharing our body heat inside my double layer of jackets, but the night is young. The temperature will continue to drop… rapidly.

The next few are the worst in my life, which if you think about it, is saying something. The cold is torture. Peeta begins to doze off now and each time he does, I find myself yelling his name louder and louder because if he dies on me now, I know for a fact I’ll go completely insane. He’s fighting it—probably more for my sake—and it’s hard because unconsciousness would be its own form of escape. But the adrenaline pumping through my body would never allow me to follow.

Finally I hear him whisper that the sun is rising. I open my eyes and sure enough the sun is starting to rise over the Cornucopia. I can see, Peeta’s face and the blood has left his face, I suddenly start to wonder how much he actually has left.

A canon fires signalling Thresh’s death… finally.

“Hurray for us,” I choke out, but there is no joy of victory in my voice and nor should there be.

We are met with complete silence until…

“Greetings, to the final contestants of the 74th annual hunger games. The earlier revision stating that two victors may be crowned has been… well… revoked. Only one winner may be crowned,” Claudius says. “Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favour”

I turn to Peeta, my eyes wide, he is already drawing his knife and now I’m scared

Before I am aware of my actions, my bow is loaded with my last arrow, pointing straight at his heart. Peeta raises his eyebrows and drops the knife into the lake, where it makes a splash. I drop my bow and take a step back.

“No,” he says “do it” Peeta limps towards me and thrusts the weapon into my hands

“I-I can’t you know I can’t” I say “I won’t!”

“You know I can’t,” Peeta says “It has to be you”

“You’re not leaving me here alone” I cry. “Because if you die I’ll never go home, not really… I’ll spend the rest of my life in this arena trying to think my way out”

“Listen,” he says calmly, tilting my chin up “We both know they have to have their victor. It can only be one of us”

‘No they don’t what if Peeta and I were to both die… then they’d have no victor’ I think

“No,” I say fiercely “they don’t”

I grab the nightlock and pour an even amount into our hands “You trust me?” I ask

He nods “On three. One.”

“Two..”

He grabs a strand of my hair and twirls it around his fingers, kisses me briefly on the lips..

“Thr—“

“Stop! Stop! May I present to you the winners of the 74th annual Hunger Games—the star-crossed lovers of District 12”

A hovercraft appears above us but I refuse to let go of Peeta’s hand

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