What Does Peeta See in Katniss Anyway? (Part Mockingjay)
Guest post Tuesday strikes again! Hunger Games Book Club is here to finish off her series “What Does Peeta See in Katniss Anyway?” and she’s doing it fanfic style, telling everything from Peeta’s POV!
My name is Peeta Mellark. I am seventeen years old. My home is District 12. I was in the Hunger Games with Katniss Everdeen. My plan was to sacrifice myself in the arena so that Katniss could survive. But other people had plans as well. I was taken prisoner by the Capitol. I was tortured. I thought I was going to die. Maybe it would be better if I had.
Let me tell you my story in the way that I remember it… Before I was reaped into the Hunger Games, Katniss was a fantasy to me. The first time I heard her sing, I was a goner. I would watch her from afar but never approached her. One time, I even took a beating from my mother to give Katniss bread, but I could never work up the nerve to speak to her. I couldn’t meet her gaze… I would always look away.
After I was reaped into the Hunger Games, I wanted to find a way to still be myself. I might not be able to win the Games, but I could refuse to let them change me or turn me into some kind of a monster that I’m not. I was determined to sacrifice myself for Katniss, to protect her long enough for her to win the Games. Yes, it’s true that I had a crush on her but it was more than that. I admired her. It was clear that her family was everything to her and even as a young girl, she shouldered the burden of caring for them. How could I not admire that? My own mother was abusive, controlling, and angry. If I could protect someone who was pure and innocent, it would keep me from being just a piece in the Capitol’s games. In this way, Katniss and I were alike: self-sacrificing… she for Prim, and I for her.
After we won the Hunger Games, Katniss and I had a period of coldness. I didn’t want that to continue on our Victory Tour so I made the first move to forgive, to let go of my hurt that she had acted in love with me during the Hunger Games. I knew that Katniss felt something for me but she hadn’t really figured it out yet. Gale was in the picture too and she was not sure about her feelings for him either. But there was something real between us underneath the act we played for the Capitol. For example, we worked on the Everdeen family plant book: Katniss wrote plant descriptions and I painted them. It was our first time doing something normal together. Just being friends.
When Gale was whipped by a fanatical Peacekeeper, every thing normal fell apart. Then we were reaped into the Quarter Quell. It stole away from us any chance of normal and any hope of mine that Katniss would make up her mind about me in a romantic sense. Besides having to face the arena again and knowing that even our best odds meant that only one of us was coming home, it was devastating to feel forced into asking her to marry me in front of the cameras. I wanted it to be real. But I turned my pain into a weapon by dropping a “bomb” on the Quarter Quell audience that we were already married and that Katniss was pregnant.
The marriage and pregnancy wasn’t real, but we had a few real moments: the day on the roof, that time on the beach. In the Quarter Quell arena, I gave Katniss this pearl. She accepted my gift. But with the giving of the pearl, came my realization that she was determined to save me this time, to sacrifice herself for me. I didn’t know what to do to convince her otherwise… my best efforts to persuade her to save herself backfired. All her stubborn will and self-sacrificing nature was directed at me this time, not Prim.
But she didn’t save me. District 13 rescued her and I was left in the clutches of President Snow, who began to hijack my mind. Maybe he believed I could give him information about the rebellion, maybe not. Mostly, he just wanted to break Katniss, and his best chance of doing that was by breaking me. My mind was something that I’d always been proud of: my objectivity, my right words at the right time, my charm. But the hijacking stole my mind. I couldn’t tell what was real and what was not. I held onto reality long enough to warn her about a bombing of District 13 but it was interspersed with doubt.
Eventually, though, I was worn down by the torture and hijacking techniques. When I saw Katniss again after District 13 finally rescued me, I thought she was threatening my life. She didn’t feel like a real person to me, more like a mutt that must be put down. I remembered that I had previously loved her but everything was so distorted. I couldn’t tell anymore what was an act and what wasn’t on her part. I couldn’t figure her out.
It seemed like everyone was moving me around in this elaborate mind-game: Katniss, Snow, Coin… everyone. Eventually, I recuperated enough for Coin to send me with Katniss’ team to infiltrate the Capitol. Her team created this game—“Real or Not Real”—to help me figure out what had really happened. Most of my questions were about Katniss. Sometimes she answered them. Sometimes I couldn’t even bear to ask.
But I began to remember more and more what was real. I began to feel and act like my old self, at moments between madness. Katniss responded to me with a plethora of emotions, but when it counted, she was still trying to protect me. And when Katniss assassinated President Coin and tried to take her nightlock to end it all, I couldn’t let her. I was still trying to protect her too.
After Panem fell and I recovered from my burns, I returned to Victor’s Village. Honestly, I didn’t have anywhere else to go. My family was gone. Katniss and Haymitch were the closest thing to family that I had. Despite all the betrayals and disappointments of the last year, they knew me better than anyone else. So I waited for Katniss to heal and I waited for myself to heal.
When I asked her if she loved me, real or not real, she said, “Real.” And I knew that she did love me. Katniss saw me at my worst, but she’s also saw me at my best. She admired how I could articulate right and wrong. My voice reached her when no one else’s could. We protected each other. That’s who we were; that’s what we did. Katniss appreciated my kindness, my steadiness, my warmth, my unconditional love. Perhaps she had taken those things for granted before, but now we went through too much for her not to appreciate them, to appreciate me. This is what we did together: we wrote a book of remembrance for the loved ones we’d lost and we sealed it with our tears. We promised each other that we would live well and make their lives count. We wanted a new beginning.
That was then; this is now. Some people will hear our story and it will move them toward hope. Some will hear and it will move them toward anger. We will be misunderstood. But know this, I believe that no matter how bad the losses may be, life can go on and it can be good again. My life has gone on. My life is good again. This is my greatest gift to Katniss. And now she is ready to receive it. Like a necklace of pearls, each real moment is strung together until there is wholeness and beauty again.
My name is Peeta Mellark. I am almost forty years old. My home is District 12. I was in the Hunger Games with Katniss Everdeen. We fought Panem and won. We still bear scars but we survived. Now Katniss and I have our own family in a world without Games. All these things I longed for… now they are real.
Hunger Games Bookclub