“Stronger than lover's love is lover's hate. Incurable, in each, the wounds they make.”-Euripides
I sucked in a huge breath, drinking greedily the oxygen into my lungs. I coughed up the water, which had found its way into my lungs, until my breathing had finally returned to normal. I opened my eyes and finally took in the surroundings. It was so eerily familiar. There was green scrubland, which took shelter under towering trees. The pattering of footsteps, too light for a human but perfect for a scurrying animal. I lay floundering in a shallow pond, the water trapped by heavy grey boulders. To the side of the pond a small cave mouth.
I’m in the hunger games.
How did I ever return to this place. The last thing I remember was talking to Snow. It probably was no coincidence. He wanted to show me something here. Back to where it all started. I stood up out of the pond and clambered over the boulders. I was in the same clothes I wore from my time in the hunger games. Every detail of my surroundings was perfect to the very last leaf. I ducked gingerly under the cave mouth, thinking of the last memory I could recall from this cave. Katniss had slung her bow across her shoulders and promised me she would return with medicine for my leg.
“You’re not risking your life for me. I wont let you,” I told her, pulling the bag of arrows from her back and holding them close to my chest.
“You would do it for me, wouldn’t you?” she had asked. Her eyes seemed to pierce into my soul. I hesitated, not wanting to give her the answer she expected. Truth is, I would have done anything for her. I would have given my life to save her.
“Why are you doing this?” I pleaded. I begged for her to stay using my eyes. I hoped without reason she would give in and just stay with me. No amount of medicine would ever convince me to allow her to risk her life. But I couldn’t tell her to stay because she is the kind of person who does the complete opposite just to spite you. She’d do it just to show you she was boss. That no one could control her.
None of that happened though. Instead she leaned down and kissed me. It was a delicate kiss but passionate as well. Our conversation had been translated through our lips. That kiss said all we needed it to: our protests, explanations, sadness, happiness and fear.
My inner musings were stopped short, the memories destroyed. I could hear someone outside. Or maybe I didn’t. It was probably just the wind. But when had it ever just been the wind. I crouched in the corner covered partially behind a boulder. The cave grew dark as a figure stood at the mouth of the cave blocking the light.
“Peeta?” I would recognize that voice anyway. That sweet honey like sound belonged to Katniss Everdeen.
“Katniss” I cried. I jumped from behind the rock and nearly tripped stumbling towards her. “I’ve missed-“
My words were cut short with the shock registering within me at witnessing the transformation of her face. A second ago she had beckoned me forward with the sweet, soft sound of her voice. She had a delicate face, her hair tied in a familiar braid and a lopsided loving smile on her face. Now she let out an inhuman growl. Her face screwed up in rage and her mouth curled up in a menacing scowl.
“Katniss?” I whispered. That set her off. She ripped her bow from her arm and strategically placed an arrow in its string. She pulled it back and launched aiming straight at me. I dived to the floor just in time to only be scraped by the point of her arrow. She had aimed to kill.
“Katniss, please” I begged, trying to appeal to her better nature. Nothing about her appearance now looked like there was a better nature to appeal to. She flung the bow to the side in annoyance and I heard it clatter to the floor. Finally she had come to her senses. I pulled myself up but was pinned back down by the full force of her body lay on mine. It wasn’t in the lover way I would have liked but rather a ravenous, forceful predator way.
“I will kill you Peeta Mellark” she spat, adjusting her body so she was straddling me. Her hands found the way around my neck and her grip grew tight.
“Katniss…” I choked out but her grip was too tight for words to escape. She pulled my head forwards and then flung it against the rocks on the ground. She repeated the process twice more until I felt blood at the back of my skull.
I knew one day I would die. I obviously wasn’t oblivious to the idea since I had participated in two Hunger Games already. Yet never would I expect to die at the hands of the one I loved. Pure hate radiated from her and her smile intensified every time my skull cracked against the floor. I searched into her black, unrecognizable eyes for anything of the old Katniss but as she got ready to fling me against the rock again, I found there was nothing redeeming about her. She let my head go and it hit the rock for the last time before everything went black.
I screamed, throwing my head back and yelling as loud as I could. Except something was different. Instead of a rock bed beneath my body it was a flat surface. I no longer felt pressure of another body on top of me. I was free to move around. I was back in my cell at the capitol. I cautiously sat up and my finger felt at the bottom of my head and found no injury. No blood; no caved in skull, just a head of grimy hair over my smooth skull.
“Snow!” I demanded his presence. My voice commanding him to appear to which he did. “Why did you send me back there? How did you send me back there?”
The fear began to finally settle in and my hands begun to shake. I tucked them under my legs, not willing to let Snow see my fear. His apparition was in front of me.
“My dear boy, I sent you back into your memories. I unleashed your subconscious. I dug to the very depths of your brain and allowed you to access that restricted section,” he told me. None of this was making sense. Memories? Is he telling me Katniss tried to kill me. She wouldn’t. Or maybe she did.
“No” I said. I didn’t know exactly what I was protesting against but I knew what ever it is; isn’t true.
“Peeta yes” he confirmed. “Katniss is a monster. She tried to kill you”
He stared at me intently, watching for my reaction. I didn’t know how to feel. My memories were a mess. It was like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle but not being given all the pieces. He waited on for my reaction but I strained to keep my face neutral.
“Who is Katniss Everdeen? How do you feel about her, Peeta?” he insisted, his voice impatient waiting for my response. I was confused. The only thing I knew was hearing her name sparked something inside of me. Something I would never have thought to associate with the name Katniss Everdeen.
I knew I loved her or maybe did love her but I couldn’t shake this feeling of hate towards her, the rising feeling of disgust at the sound of her name. I had an itching feeling to rid her from my brain, to rid her permanently from this world. The hatred inside me must have registered on my face because Snow nodded in approval.
“Good” he applauded me and I felt disgusted at the fact that I was giving him what he wanted. I couldn’t be sure what was true about Katniss but I knew I loved her once. I knew that something must have been there between us. Something must have made me love her and want her and be willing to die for her.
“Who is Katniss Everdeen? She is a brave girl who represented district 12 with me in the Hunger Games. And how do I feel about her? Well…”- Snow was waiting with bated breath and I smiled smugly at him-“I love her.”
His smile faltered and morphed into a frown. Anger crossed his features. He raised his hand and threw it across my face with so much force it knocked me back. I could feel a red, welting mark grow across my cheek. I spat in his direction and the saliva was tinged red.
“Wrong answer, Peeta” he said, and pulled a syringe from a table out of my vision and forcefully plunged the syringe straight into my neck. The woozy feeling returned and my vision turned black.