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Real or not real?

Katniss mentoring Peeta.

New readers/people who want to catch up you can read the previous part s of this fic here, here, here, here and here.

I’ve been worrying about Peeta’s interview almost more than I’ve been worrying about Allysia’s, but about five minutes into our training that fear has all but disappeared. To begin with, its slightly awkward – again, our lone interaction, the bread and the boy hangs in the air between us, but as soon as I start asking practise questions, he’s like a different person. He is perfect – funny, charming but sincere, exactly how all the Capitol like to imagine the poor little districts, run-down but still optimistic, pleasant but without feelings as deep as theirs. After about an hour there’s nothing more I can do, nothing more I can ask him so silence falls between us once again.

I can’t help noticing how attractive he is, though i’m trying to ignore this fact as best I can. I’ve never seen it before, not at school, not at the bakery, not when he threw me that bread, almost as if his face has changed since he’s been in the Capitol – perhaps there’s something in the water? I wouldn’t put it past them. Nevertheless, I have never noticed before this moment how smoothly his skin lies along his jaw and how his smile does something to his face, makes it lighter somehow, and how the blue of his eyes stands out vividly against his warm skin, which has tiny freckles on it if you get close enough to look…

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I have to stop this. This boy will most likely, despite my best efforts, be dead within a fortnight. And I have Gale at home, loyal Gale, Gale who waited for me whilst I was in the arena and who couldn’t bear to watch me in the games but did anyway, Gale who fed my mother and sister, who hunted before light and after dark every single day to keep my family safe. Gale, who was the only person I’d ever even consider marrying. Is, I mean.

I glance up at Peeta for a moment, suddenly aware of that fact that we have been set in silence for at least ten minutes, that we’re wasting precious time that could be spent with the stylists, or training. To my surprise, he is watching me intently, his eyes darting over my facial features with a look of slight concern. When my eyes meet his, he gives me a smile that is so genuinely sweet with just a touch of shyness that an unexpected warmth rushes through me. Without realising it, and for the first time in days, I smile back at him.

“Katniss-I” he starts to say, as Haymitch crashes into the room, bringing with him an aroma of alcohol and sweat.

“I’m here, I’m here” Haymitch mutters gruffly “I can coach the boy”

I looks from him to Peeta, who is staring at Haymitch with an open mouth, a mouth that was halfway through a word I find myself desperate to hear. He suddenly realises, closes his mouth and looks back at me. I feel my cheeks go red, so I excuse myself hurriedly and leave the room, leave Haymitch and Peeta alone, hoping that all my confusion and doubt and terrible worry will stay behind as well. I don’t even know what to think.

All I want to do is shoot, so I head down to the training arena to see if they will let me use their bow and arrows. It’s deserted now, all the tributes are either training for their interviews or being prepped for the stylists. I lift one of the silver bows, draw an arrow into it and point it at the bullseye.

“Katniss?” A now familiar voice almost whispers my name into the empty training ring. I turn around and see Allysia sat cross-legged on the floor.

“What are you doing here?” I ask her. “Shouldn’t you be with the prep team, or Cinna?” I check my watch. The interviews start in just over three hours.

“I escaped from them” she replies, with an attempt at a smile. “I couldn’t stand it, them fussing over me when they couldn’t care less that we’re basically all going to-”

She stops there, but of course I know what she wanted to say. Because I thought the same thing, wanted to scream it every second that I was in the Capitol last year. We’re treated like celebrities here, but when it comes down to it, no-one here gives a damn if we die. And the odds are, most of us will die.

I try to comfort her, but my smile is just as feeble as hers. She looks as though she wants to say something else, and sure enough, a minute later she asks me something that I am surprised at my own answer to.

“Do you think I can trust Peeta? In the arena I mean?”

Without hesitating, almost before most of my brain has processed what she says I here my answer:

“Yes.”

All I can think about it the boy with the bread.

  • 4 Dec 2012
  • 82

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