Here’s a short fanfiction I made about Peeta and Katniss’ life a few years after President Snow was brought to justice and the Panem became safe again. It’s called ‘Visiting the Games’ because Katniss is facing her nightmares by going into Peeta’s painting room, where he’s recreated the games (as seen in book two, Catching Fire). Enjoy!
I don’t get the nightmares so often anymore. When I do, they’re vivid and I feel like I’m in the games again. Sometimes the dreams are about post-game events, like the underground tunnels where my friend and ally Finnick Odair was killed.
Sometimes I don’t mind the nightmares that make my heart race and my palms sweat, because they’re better than the ones about Rue. Those are the ones that make me cry when I wake, because it was so lovely that I could see her again. Not in the flesh, but almost.
Tonight’s dream is one of the usual kind that visits me when I eat too much bread just before I go to sleep. It’s hard not to, what with the scent of Peeta’s concoctions always drifting through the house.
I’m standing on a metal plate, silver and raised a few feet from harsh green water that laps against the cornucopia a long swim away. Unlike in the actual games, there’s no way across. No rocky bridges to climb onto and use to get to the center. I’m surrounded by water on all sides, cold and dark and rising. In just a few moments it’s crashing against my ankles, and soon my knees, and I’m reminding myself that if I leave the plate early, I’ll be blown to bits by the game makers, when the gong sounds out.
I leap from the plate and let the icy water embrace me, pushing toward the cornucopia as quickly as my numb body will allow. My heart is racing, my ears are ringing and I’m losing the feeling in my hands, but I continue forward and push the water behind me.
A hand reaches out for me when I get to the bank, and I take it. Once standing I look up into snake-like eyes of President Snow. I’m too frozen to move. The old man that should be dead smiles at me and slips a white rose into my hand, before he turns and walks away.
This is when I wake up. President Snow’s beady gaze is worse than the torture of the games, worse than my memories of Rue and even Prim. Because he did it. He killed all of them.
I pull off my blankets slowly so as not to wake Peeta and slip out of bed. I hope that a mug of warm tea will be enough to ease my conscience, but it’s hardly ever enough to take my mind off of the nightmares.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if Rue won the games instead of me. Would President Snow have been executed? Would Coin have taken over Panem with the help of the rebels? It’s hard to imagine life continuing without my presence, even though I know someday it will. I’ll only be a memory. A figure in history. All of my thoughts, my dreams, my experiences… gone. I will be lost.
I hold a warm mug of tea between my hands and sit by the window. The moon is a crescent, just a sliver of light wrapped around a darker ball in the sky. I stare at it for a while, considering my existence and what will happen once it’s over. Will I really be gone? Will my soul live in the forest, as a wind brushing through the leaves of the trees or running free as a deer through flowery fields? Will I be able to watch my children grow old from afar, seeing the world change and the legacy I left behind change with it? Maybe I’ll just be nothing. No longer a part of the world. Not even a breath, not a ray of light. Just nothing. I wonder what it feels like to be nothing.
It soon becomes obvious that I won’t fall back to sleep tonight. Every time I close my eyes I see Snow’s face, his dark eyes that peer from under sagging eyelids and bushy eyebrows, and his twisted smile that looks so false and scheming. Like he knows everything.
I wonder where Snow is, now, I think, and a shiver runs up my spine. I try rubbing the goosebumps away, but they remain raised and prickling on my arms.
I remember hearing, once, that in order to destroy fear you must confront it directly.
So I do what I haven’t dared to do in over five years. I visit Peeta’s painting room, not his main one that I sit in while he paints but the extra one. The one for the games.
He’s repainted them. He showed me all those years ago, when we were only seventeen and had so much more heartache to undertake. Now I’m older, and Peeta’s older, and I decide that it’s time to face them. It’s time to face the hunger games once and for all, to look back on the faces that haunt my dreams and my memories.
I open the door slowly, as if expecting something to jump out at me. Nothing does, so I open it wider and let the light from the kitchen spill in. It casts strange shadows on the paintings, giving them an eery look in the semi-darkness. I don’t bother switching the light on. I just walk forward, through the line of portraits and landscapes that I know too well.
The berries. The ones Peeta and I used to get out of the games together, when we didn’t want to have to kill one another. Nightlock was the fall of the capital- or, with it, I was.
Thresh. Tall and dark, with deep-set eyes revealing wisdom and sense beyond his years. I wonder what he’d be doing, now, if he’d survived. Would he have married? Had children and a farm of his own? I feel a pang of sadness so sharp in my chest I need to hug myself. I cross my arms over my chest and squeeze them close to me, like I’m trying to keep myself from physically falling apart. Thresh showed me mercy. He could have killed me, but he didn’t. He says he was repaying me for being Rue’s ally and trying to save her, but I still feel like I owe him. Because he gave me something I can never give him back- life.
The mutts. Capital-created creatures that were made to rip us to shreds, as they did to Cato. With the eyes of our fellow tributes, the deceased ones, they have a human-like look despite the fur and long snouts. Peeta’s painted them baring their fangs, which are stained bright red like over-ripe strawberries. There’s a picture of Cato beside it, with his strong arms and confident smile. His strength and brutality did nothing to save him. I wonder if he would have had nightmares, too, if he had won the games. Sometimes I wonder if his confidence was for show. Maybe deep down, he was as insecure as I am.
There are paintings of the fire, of the river, and some other things that Peeta saw during the games. I’m surprised by how many paintings of me there are, but then, it’s Peeta. There’s one of me looking down at him with a dark background, probably in the cave that we called home for so many days in the arena. There’s one of me holding my bow, pointing it at him and Cato. There are some of me during the quarter quell, wearing the light-fabric jumpsuit we all got due to the extreme heat. Even with it, sweat was always running down my back.
I finally stop at the picture I’ve been dreading: Rue. She lays in a field of flowers, holding a bouquet I made her against her chest. Her dark, frizzy hair lays in curls behind her head, and her wide, beautiful eyes are eternally shut.
I rest a hand against the painting and sigh. Maybe I can’t save her, but at least I can keep her memory. She deserves that, at least.
I take the painting and bring it into the main room for everyone to see. I hang it up on the wall and sit in an armchair with the rest of my tea. I’d prefer to look at Rue over the moon any night.
“Hey,” Peeta says gently.
I turn to look at him over my shoulder. “Did I wake you?”
“No, it was a dream. I came down because you weren’t in bed,” he explains, coming to sit beside me. I slide over to give him room.
“So you…” Peeta trails off, not knowing how to say it without upsetting me.
“Yes,” I say so he doesn’t have to. “I decided that I had to face them at some point. I can’t change what happened… I need to live with it. And I don’t think Rue should have to be alone in that room with the rest of them. She should be out here with the rest of us.” Saying this is enough to bring tears to my eyes, and Peeta notices immediately. He pulls me into his arms and holds me, brushing his fingers through my hair and whispering, “I know she does, Katniss.”
We sit that way for a long time, just me, Peeta, Rue and our memories.