After Mockingjay

The Hunger Games are over with... But Katniss has more battles to face, or it could get worse.

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3. Three

3

Peeta cuts the loaf of bread into four pieces while I chop up carrots and Katniss roots I found today while visiting my Dads old pond. Willow and Rye come down when I announce dinner was ready.

"Deep in the meadow," says Willow.

"Under the Willow." I say, poking her side. She giggles and sits down. She reminds me of my sister, Prim. Peeta sits down at the table with a plate full of Katniss roots and Carrots in one hand and a cup of Hot Chocolate in the other.

"So," Peeta says. "How was everyone's day?"

Willow speaks first. "Mommy and me saw Aunt Annie today. She said her baby's name was, um-," Willow tried to think of the name, but I said, "Finn, her baby's name is Finn."

Peeta was quiet. He tore of a piece of bread and dipped it in the Hot Chocolate.

"Finn. Like," he says and I nod. "Cute."

"So, um. Peeta, are we still going hunting? I mean after we check on everyone," I say. He nods again.

"Of course, I promised, right?" He shoves a fork-full of roots into his mouth. I smile and finish my bread.

"You guys want to go to Haymitch's house for a while while daddy and I go hunting?" I ask Willow and Rye, even though they have no choice in the matter.

Willow bounces in her seat while repeatedly saying yes, and Rye lets out an excited cry.

"Good. Okay," says Peeta. "Well, I guess we can go after dinner," Peeta raises his eyebrows and looks at me. I nod in agreement.

I pound loudly on Haymitch's door. "Haymitch!" I yell. "Haymitch, it's me, Katniss." The door swings open. Haymitch looks as if he just woke up.

"Yes?" He is leaning on the door, as if he is about to pass out any second.

"Can you watch the kids? Peeta and I have plans." Haymitch opens his eyes.

"Oh," Haymitch grins. "What kind of plans? Are your children going to have another sibling anytime soon.."

"Haymitch," I look at him in disgust. "No, We're going hunting. Jesus, you are weird."

"Sweetheart, the weirdest people are the most fun. And I don't thing Jesus likes being called weird. Yes I will babysit your kids." Haymitch looks at the kids and smiles. He motions them inside.

"How long?" He asks.

"Not long, I'm just going to teach Peeta how to hunt." Haymitch nods and closes the door.

The first house we go to is Annie's. Even though we know she was okay. As soon as we get through everybody and make sure they are okay, we head for the woods.

Peeta watches me as I skin the squirrel I just shot with my bow and arrow. He isn't the best at weapons so I found him a job picking berries.

"Something wrong?"

"No." I say. I know he knows something.

"I uh, saw a hovercraft fly over the bakery. I know where it landed. What's up?"

I let out a sigh. I don't know if I should tell Peeta. If I tell him, then he would want to come along, to make sure I'm safe. But I guess he has to know at some point, after all, I'll be gone for about a month.

"Well, Cinna came-," he interrupted me. "Cinna? I thought he was dead!"

"Well, he was, I mean I thought he was," I sounded nervous. I tried to sound more steady, "he and Gale came, they wanted to know if I wanted to, um, go with them to find President Snow's granddaughter." I looked at him.

Peeta jerked his head up.

"What?"

I knew I shouldn't have told him. He is never going to let me go. Not when there is a chance I could die.

"Forget it. I wasn't going to go anyway." I got up and gathered my things.

"We should go. It's getting late."

We pick up Willow and Rye from Haymitch's and soon we are back home and they are in bed.

"Can you sing a song mommy?" Asks Rye. "Yeah!" Agrees Willow, "Sing us the valley song!"

I look at Peeta. He smiles a half smile and raises his left eyebrow. I clear my throat and nod.

"Deep in the meadow, under the willow, a bed of grass, a soft green pillow."

Prim and Rue come to my mind. Images of the day of Prim's first reaping when I sang to her. Rue laying on the ground in the wild flowers. Both too young to die, too innocent. All because of the Capitol's sick games.

"Lay down your head, and close your eyes, and when again they open, the sun will rise."

The song that I thought was so harmless, so beautiful back before the games now brought nightmares so graphic and horrible, I lay wide awake most nights.

"Here it's safe, here it's warm, here the daisies guard you from every harm."

Peeta comes to my mind. He is my daisy. Peeta is the only person who keeps me sane.

"Here your dreams are sweet, and Tomorrow brings them true, here is the place where I love you."

Prim, Rue, Finnick, Cato and Clove, Foxface, Glimmer and Marvel, Mags, Brutus, Chaff, Seeder, Wiress, Beetee, and all the tributes from all the previous Hunger Games, all just kids, way too young to die, come to my mind. I try to hold back the tears. There's no doubt I am going to have nightmares tonight.

The next day, Peeta is off of work, so he works in the yard.

I decide that on top of hunting, I'm going to expand on the primrose bushes Peeta planted and make a garden. I don't know how he knew, but he is there in the garden that morning, and we work in a silent but enjoyable companionship. I take a break, still not as strong as I once was, and sit on the windowsill watching him work. He stops too and helps himself to the pitcher of water Greasy Sae left out for us. There is so much I want to say, but I don't know how.

"She's dead," I blurt out before I can censor myself.

Peeta puts the pitcher down and strides over to me. "Yes," he says.

"Was it all for nothing? She died anyway." This is my most recent internal battle, and I need to hear it from his mouth.

Peeta seems unsure as to what he should do with his hands. At first I think he's going to reach out for me, but when they're half way up he sighs and rests them at his side. "No, Katniss. Because it would have just kept going. More Games, more children dying, more oppression. Nothing would have changed. It could even be worse."

"Worse than everyone we lost?"

This time he doesn't hesitate. He takes his hands and puts them on my shoulders, staring at me intensely with his blue eyes. "They died for this future. It doesn't seem like much yet, I know, but it will be. And if they knew what they helped do, they would tell you the same thing."

The sensation of his touch is immense, and I can barely take it. I search his face and see more of the boy I remember. I smile the best I can and excuse myself to clean up. I don't want him to see me break down.

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