thg; war au; peeta/katniss
this is the first part and i’m just uploading it here all for fnurfnur t b h
there’s like a prologue part or w/e but i wanna mess around with it still so you just get the first like actual part or WHATEVER
i still have a stupid high school au to get through and a bunch of other random drabbles/one shots also original writing and ps real life so who knows when i’ll actually post this but maybe posting it here will make me work on it more idk
please just ignore random grammar or spelling mistakes because i edit all of my own things and i usually do several read throughs before things see the light of day.
Although I don’t realize it at the moment, I wake up with the taste of bombs and blood and dirt in my mouth. All I know is that the sun is not up yet and I want more sleep. My lips smack noisily and there’s a rancid taste on my mouth. I’ve never had morning breath this bad, it tastes like rotten eggs and there even seems to be a texture within my mouth. I take a quick sip of the water glass I always keep by my bedside. I need more sleep. There is definitely no way I can face the day.
But I have to.
It’s a quiet morning, I realize. It’s an odd thing to have in my household, living above the bakery. Almost always there is some sound, whether it’s customers on a day I can sleep in or my brothers on a day I can’t or the fires roaring to stay up to quota. Or sometimes the sound of tapping at my open (or in the winter and cold, closed) window wakes me up.
Those are some of my favorite wake ups.
But today it is quiet. I smack my lips because I feel as if there is still some taste within my mouth but I can’t place it. It must be sleep that’s lodged in my throat, and I make to get out of bed. I go and look out my window and see that it’s still dark. I can’t see anything really, it almost seems like the black of night covers like a blanket. What I notice is that there aren’t grey eyes shining silver in the moonlight. I can’t remember a night – or rather, early morning – so dark, and I wonder if I should take that and the silence as a warning of something.
For a split second I wonder if anything is wrong and I hope she is safe. The thought leaves my mind as quickly as it came in. Times are trying and there are whispers of uprisings, but for now we are safe. For now. I know it won’t stay forever but I also know that whispers will become shouts before anything really does happen, and when it does, I will figure out how to make sure she stays safe and stays alive.
I have a quick washing in the bathroom connected to my room and turn my face side to side, looking at my jaw in the mirror. Stubble begins to form upon it and I’ll probably have to shave soon. I probably should today really, but I enjoy the small stubble when it grows in. I slap my cheeks to help wake myself up and rub at the bags under my eyes. They aren’t terribly bad, but it could be better. I sleep better with her here, but it’s not my place to ask. It’s only happened a couple of times, and each time we didn’t even mean for it to happen.
Still, the wake ups where I am holding onto her like I usually try to hold onto my sleep are small victories and my silent favorites. Better than when she comes to the window, climbing a nearby tree and knocking. Most definitely better than when my brother turns me out of my bed to get me down to the bakery.
I want to wake up like that every day. I suppose I always have, ever since I first met her at five years old. Even back then I relished at the times we would have naps together, side by side. Her friendship is a gift I never could have expected when I stood there, my heart pounding and mud dripping down me when I first met her, but now that I have it I won’t give it away for anything. I would die for her, kill for her, whatever was needed or she asked for. Ideas of rebellions and whispers of war make me contemplate with a heavy stomach that the day where I actually will have to do such things is drawing near.
I make my way back into my room and bring the light near my bed with me as I sit at my desk. I always like when I wake before anyone else for this reason alone. My right hand easily find my inks and pencils, the other my sketchbook. I open the page to find a drawing I am almost finished with of the woods that lie just beyond our town, something that I know she’ll love and want. I crosshatch shadows and use my eraser to help the contrast of dark and light amongst the whole drawing. She doesn’t know I’m drawing this, but maybe she does. I never told her, but sometimes she just knows what I sit and draw. She knows when she’s my subject, can feel it in how I look at her.
It makes me wonder if she really does know, if she realizes that I’m in love with her.
I stand up and stretch out my back as I shake out my hands. I don’t know how long it’s been but I got a decent amount done on my drawing, lost in doing it. It’s still quiet. I wonder if it’s still dark, but know it won’t be. I take a walk to my window to look outside again. I was right, it’s no longer dark.
The sky is a churning grey and green, as if it’s sick and about to vomit. In the distance I see piles of ashes where a couple homes once were, smoke dancing in between the streets.
It’s still silent.
But my heart shudders, pounds against my ribcage as if trying to break it and that’s all I can hear. Ashes, smoke, grey. Silence outside of my body.
And I’m terrified.
The upstairs, where my family lives, is empty. I look out my window again and see no one around in the streets. I go downstairs and I see my family huddled around the radio, a static voice. They all turn to look at me, their eyes finding me in the smoked morning and in their eyes I could feel their relief. I sigh in relief. They’re safe. Words seem to float through me.
It is imperative that the people of District Twelve recognize this for what it is.
There have been no recorded fatalities.
My thoughts go to her father and what we’d hear him talk about in what he thought was a quiet enough voice for us to not hear. I recognize what this is, what this truly is. It’s not some warning. It’s the Capitol trying to stop the talk and whispers by bombing us into subordination, to get us to fit back snugly into the roles we’ve lived in for years. The voice says that we should be grateful to them, that upon our District they only let two bombs fall. They say it’s a warning, but I recognize it for what it truly is. There is no future but a war of more bombs.
Today is the morning I wake up to war.
No recorded fatalities. I wonder if at the end of the day they’ll truly give a count or if they’ll spread the idea of their merciful warning bombs that didn’t kill anyone. The things I saw when I looked out my window flash in front of my eyes. I know there are dead, and will be more by this time tomorrow.
The sign in front of our bakery is turned to “closed” for the outside to see and I know that’s how it’ll stay all day. No one needs bread today. They need their families. They need to make sure their house is there. Or they’re dead. Either way, no one’s going to line up for baked goods. Tomorrow will probably a busy day, everyone forced to fall back into what life was, what life is, and what life will be taken away from them by bombs and hate.
My brother Ryder stands up. “I need to check on Lou.” His voice is distracted and he almost trips over himself trying to scramble his way to figuring out how to deal with this new day that we all woke up to. Lou, Louella, his soon-to-be-wife. Well, only I know that part, everyone else just knows her as his sweetheart. But he proposed to her earlier this week. He told me last night that he was going to tell the family today. But it’s a different today than we thought was to come. The reality of yesterday and the reality of today are two different countries that speak different languages, have different rules and the food on this side that we’re on now is all spoiled.
I wonder if they’ll still get married. I wonder if at the end of it they’ll still be alive. I wonder if this will ever end.
When he leaves I look at the rest of my family. My mother and father are holding onto each other and stare at the radio. It’s still uttering sounds, words, but I don’t really hear them. My other brother, Heron, is at his own home with his own family, but I have a feeling that we will see him today. There’s something about bombs that just drags people together.
I suddenly feel bile threatening to come up. I can’t place why, but as I look out the door where Ry just left, I know why.
“Son?” I hear my father’s voice call to me by the time I’m halfway to the door. I turn and look at him.
“I––” I don’t want to say it aloud. I fear what I could lure into reality if I speak my fears aloud. The ovens aren’t on but the air is so suffocating. I need to get outside. I need to go. I need to make sure, to know––
“Be safe,” My father tells me, and I figure that my face told him my intentions. Or maybe it didn’t have to, maybe he just knew. My mother nods, adding her own sentiment to it, and I nod back at both of them. I can’t even say her name aloud but it’s all that’s in my head, drumming through me like a hammer, cutting at me like an ax.
I step outside and shut the door and take a deep breath, hoping for less suffocating air. The air outside has a taste, and on it I can taste ash and death. There’s a certain spike to it, and I know that that’s the bombs itself I’m tasting.
I’m able to get to the side alley by the bakery before the scratching feeling at the back of my throat releases itself and I vomit a breakfast I didn’t have. How many destroyed homes are stuck on my tongue? How many dead bodies?
My mind betrays me and wonders if any of it is hers.
I run, needing to see her in front of me alive in one piece. I need to, I need to. There is no other alternative that I allow, no other reality that I can accept. There is war just under our feet waiting to take charge of us all and I know that I have no choice but to accept it. But I can’t accept the idea of her being anything but alright.
There is more destruction the closer I get to her house and my heart is thudding. My hearing seems to go in and out. I pick up the sound of people yelling and crying. I try to make myself deaf again for the time being. It seems that the town is awake after such a silent morning earlier on. I stop for a second and try to collect myself. I look around. There are people clutching onto each other. There are others that are sifting through the destroyed houses looking for, for…. For what?
My eyes land a couple feet away, down a street I know that I’ll never go down again. Bodies line the path, unmoving. I see someone in the rubble nearby that town find a body in it, and start to drag it to add it to the line.
I go back to running. I’m going to find her house and see her there and I’m not going to have to look through the bodies for her. No. I refuse to even consider looking through them first.
I’m startled when I come upon her house. Or, where her house should be. There’s only a part of her kitchen left standing, everything else is a pile and still smoking. My heart is in my throat and I look around. No.
But she’s there. I see her, and she’s laying, curled into herself amongst the rubble. I trip a couple of times coming towards her and when I finally am there I can only feel relief at the fact that I can see her body moving with breath within her. She’s alive. But…
I say her name aloud finally. “Katniss?” I crouch and sit next to her, tentatively putting my hand on her arm. She doesn’t react. Her eyes are a dead sort of grey, like the grey that fills this area of soot and now ash. Cold ash, a signal that destruction took place. Her body is cold and all I want to do is wrap her up tight in my arms and never let her go. I have a feeling I know what happened and it makes me feel sick how one-track minded I was. But I know if I pick her up she’ll be just as she is right now. She needs to come back when she can.
We sit there for an hour or so, I think. I’m not sure. I watch as a sun tries to break through the sky but it stays hidden amongst clouds, or maybe that’s just all the death that is going to go unrecorded that happened here. I move my hand up and down her arm a couple of times to see if it’ll warm her up, but eventually just take her hand in mine and interlock our fingers. Or more of I weave my fingers in between her unmoving ones, and I place her head in my lap. It’s all I can do for her and it kills me.
The street of the dead grows a bit more. I don’t know how many are there and I don’t want to know.
I feel a slight pressure in my hand and I look down and see that Katniss is silently crying. “Oh, Katniss…” I gather her up in my arms, seeing that she’s now responding. I don’t want to ask and I don’t want to know but it needs to be. But not right yet, and so she and I both stay quiet as she presses her face into my chest and wraps her arms around my waist. She’s not crying quietly anymore, the sounds of her gulping breath and shuddering tears break through my skin. My arms encircle her and I can feel it in how her sobs shake her that she wants to disappear within me just like I want to keep her safe from everything as well. But I know that all of this is inside of her, and there’s no ridding her of it. I can’t do anything to stop it.
“Peeta,” Her voice has a grit, as if sandpaper coats her throat. “Peeta, they’re––”
I don’t know what to say. I want to stop her from saying what she is going to but I can’t. I can’t tell her that it’ll be alright because it’s not. So I hold her closer and I don’t interrupt. Because she has to say it.
“They…I couldn’t, I wasn’t––” I hold her tighter. I think she tries to grip me tighter as well but her tears make her grip weak. “Peeta, I… I can’t be here. I need–– I need––”
I can’t take it anymore and stop her. “Shhh,” I hold her face in between my two hands and push my forehead against hers. Her eyes are closed and I stare, hoping for her to open them to mine. She finally does and I almost regret wanting her to. There’s so much pain and hurt. “I’m going to take you to the bakery, alright? I’ll get you tea and a bath, and then you can sleep. You don’t have to talk about it.” But she does, she knows she does, but it’s the only lie that I allow through. I can’t say she’ll be okay. I can’t take her hurt and pain like I want and make it go away. I feel useless but I need to do anything I can, however little it is.
“Okay,” she says and nods against my head. “Okay.”
I don’t think she can walk at this point, and I don’t want to ask her because I know she’ll fight me tooth and nail on it, even in this state. I pick her up, my hands cradling her under her knees and against her shoulders. She makes a sound but doesn’t protest, instead brings her arms around my neck and pushes her head into my chest again. I can’t walk past that road again, the road lined with bodies. And I don’t want her to see it either, I know she can’t see it. I take a longer route, and although she doesn’t open her eyes, there seems to be slight relief. Death is still a smell upon everything around us, but it’s not as pressing, not as engulfing.
When I get us into the bakery, my mother and father start to stand up. Heron is here with his wife and two kids. They all look at me, at us, and look as if about to say something. I shake my head. We can’t deal with words right now. I continue up the stairs into the kitchen-slash-dining-room-slash-living-room. I sit her down at the kitchen table and her head is down, her eyes opened again and she stares at the pattern the wood has within it.
I set about to making her a cup of tea. A black tea, and I add hazelnut and cinnamon to it. We both share a love for cinnamon, and the addition of hazelnut will hopefully make –– at least for a bit –– her think of the tea, of the tastes, and not what is plaguing her mind now. I put a large pot of water on to heat up for her bath as well. She sips slowly, distractedly, but I notice her stare at the tea for a bit and hope that it’s helped at least a bit in the way I wish for it to. I watch and don’t speak until her tea is gone, and then put the mug in the sink. “Come on,” I tell her in a low voice and help her stand up. I bring her into the bathroom my brother and I share and sit her on the toilet. I run back out to the kitchen and get the water, coming back in and dumping it into the tub.
She looks up at me. “Can you help me?” She’s so vulnerable, it makes me want to cry.
I nod and swallow back tears. “Alright.” I help her stand up and slowly bring up her shirt. I work at the zipper of her pants and help them down her legs. She stands in just her underclothes in front of me, and I wonder if she wants to stay in them. She works her underwear down though, and takes her bra off, making the decision herself. I don’t stare. I don’t feel effected even from her naked form (something I admittedly have dreamt of from time to time). I turn her around and slowly undo the braid that is in her hair, gently tugging my fingers through it in hopes of getting rid of some of the ash that has coated itself upon her. I take her hand and direct her into the tub where she sinks down.
She looks up at me and knows what I’m going to ask. “Stay,” she says, and so I stay. I sit next to the tub and hold her hand as she sits there. I know I should get the soap and she should wash, but maybe this is what she needs right now. We’re silent and her eyes are closed as she grips onto my hand. I trace circles into her flesh with my thumb.
“I fell asleep in the woods last night.” Her voice reaches out to me after a while and I open my eyes and look up at her. Her eyes are still closed and her head points straight ahead. “I went hunting and some wild dogs chased me up a tree and I ended up falling asleep. They were gone in the morning. I rushed into town and so was my home. Gone––” Her breath catches and she takes a couple steadying breaths.
“Katniss…” I don’t know how to ask it. I don’t want to hear it. But I have to. I have to know. I have to hear the words.
“Yeah.” Her voice is a wisp now, nothing is holding it together. She opens her eyes and looks at me. “Yeah –– they’re. They’re gone. Yeah.” She swallows, as if to try and hold in her tears as she turns straight ahead again and closes her eyes. “When I got there they found Buttercup in the rubble. Dead also. Said that they found two bodies, and if I could come and see them where they laid them. Identify them, although they said it might be a bit hard because everyone has a coat of ashes and fire upon them. I didn’t go. I didn’t –– I couldn’t.” Another swallow. “I couldn’t see them. I can’t have that be the last thing I see of them. It was so selfish, so stupid. But I know. I knew they were gone because I could feel it. Or rather couldn’t feel it, them. Just like my dad, just…. They’re gone. They’re –– Peeta. Peeta, my family is dead.” Tears fall at a steady pace. “And I should be too but here I am because I slept in a tree. I should be––”
“Shhh,” I quiet her down again, hearing her become hysterical. I think about maybe telling her about how her father isn’t confirmed dead, him and the other two, but I know that we don’t need to get in that. She knew within herself that her father was dead the morning they woke up and he was gone and never came back. Her mother fell into a depression that said she agreed. Only Prim held onto the hope of maybe, but now that all doesn’t matter. Because they’re dead.
I stand up and lean over, grabbing her into my arms and lifting her a bit out of the water. She grabs onto me forcefully and clings. I don’t even notice all the water getting on me. “I’m not going to hear any of that, alright? I can’t stand you saying those things about yourself so please.” She nods and holds me tighter. I hold her tighter, leaning over the tub more. And I slip a bit. I try to catch myself but Katniss is in my arms and I can’t so I find myself falling into the tub. The water is still warm as I splash into it, falling a bit awkwardly as I try not to plummet onto Katniss, and I sit up straight and start to gasp. My clothes are drenched now and uncomfortable, but I don’t do a thing about that. Katniss looks at me curiously, almost amused, but still she’s crying and in pain. I move so that my back is against the tub and bring her back is against my chest. I wrap my arms around her. She tries to disappear in me again.
“You’re here, alright? You’re here, with me. And I’m here with you. We’re going to stick together through this, alright?” She nods her head. “You’ll stay here. I’ll take care of you, we’ll take care of you. And you’ll take care of me, of us. We’ll get through this. I’ll help you through this. Just don’t, don’t say that. Please.”
She nods against me and I kiss her temple.
I take her hands in my own and notice her right hand now that most of the ash is off of her. It’s red, parts of it glistening and not from the water. I bring it up near me to inspect it better.
“Some of the wood was still warm when I got back.” I picture it in front of me. Her laying down upon wood that built a house that used to be her home. Still warm from the bomb, from the fire, from her family. Turning cold along with her. I wonder if the burn will stay, and I wonder if she wants it to. I place a kiss on it and bring it back underwater. Ash dances in the water and dust dances in the air through the patch of cloudy sunlight that comes through.
The water is cooled off by the time we get out. I wrap her in a towel and get myself in one as well. When I bring her into my room, I sit her on the bed while I look for clothes for the both of us. I grab her a pair of sweatpants as well as a Mellark’s Bakery tshirt and she changes while I put on my own pair of sweatpants and a plain shirt. I’m cold –– the impromptu bath I took in my clothes not being the best decision for comfort, really. I open up the covers to the bed I made just before – has it been a couple hours? Several days? It feels like I’ve lived through at least ten lifetimes. She crawls in and looks up at me. I understand, and I climb in as well. She’s reaching out for me before I’m even fully settled and her head goes straight to my chest, her body on her side and pressed against me, her legs intwining with my own. Her hand clutches onto my tshirt on my chest, near my heart, the other around my waist. I circle my arm around her and try to bring her closer.
It reminds me of the night that her father never came home, when several men suddenly “went missing” and he was one of them. It was two years ago. Katniss and I have been best friends since that day in the town square when we were five, but that night changed something in her, in all of us. She left her house and tried to throw a rock at my window for the first time that evening. My window was opened and she ended up hitting me with it. I let her in. She came into my bed and held me tight like I was the only thing holding her to life and having her not follow in the footsteps of who she lost. After that, stolen touches happened a bit more often within us. With her. Sometimes she’d steal into my bed at night. Sometimes she’d come in the morning to just have the same sort of reassurance in our embrace. Nothing more has happened and I’m fine with it. Just to know that she is alive and whole in my arms is enough.
“I need you to stay with me,” She says to me. Her voice is unwavering, something surprising to me after everything that’s happened. “I need you to stay and I can’t let you have that happen to you too. You can’t. You can’t leave me. I couldn’t take it. You’re all I have left.”
It’s the most emotional and open she’s ever been. I take no warmth from it, even though these are all things I’ve always wanted to hear, wanted her to say. It’s just plain truths that’s always existed between us, forced between her teeth because of the worst. “You’ve always been all I have. I won’t leave you, I can’t. And you can’t leave me either, alright?” She nods. “I forbid it.
“Now go to sleep,” I tell her, my own eyes closing. I’ve only been awake a couple of hours but I’m absolutely exhausted. I hope the smell and taste of death will leave as I sleep but I’m not sure. “Go to sleep and maybe the world will be kinder when we wake up.” It’s the closest thing to a fairytale or a bedtime story I can get to telling her to calm her. We both know it’s not true, that it can’t be true. But we both cling to it still. She hums low and throaty, a song I’m sure her father taught her. She sings it to us and to the people all lined upon the road outside. Her song brings us to sleep, and her song brings all of them to peace.