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Those Who Remain

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He doesn’t remember her – not one bit. I know this by the look in his eyes. He doesn’t hide his contempt, his disdain towards her, and even though this is venom-induced, it is a stunning display; an act so convincing I tense at his snarl and she has to pull herself away from him.

Against the Capitol, she is a warrior, a mountain. She is insurmountable in the face of war and she moves and acts as if she were forged from fire. But in front of Peeta, when he is like this, she seems like nothing at all, just battered in the rain and by his threats. She is a flame long dead before him.

For one moment it is just the three of us – she and him, going back and forth, and me, watching it all unfold. I can do nothing because he is not my lover to kill. They belong to each other, ridding me of responsibility – but it doesn’t make it easy to witness. I watch her raise her bow and arrow, taking aim while biting down hard on her lower lip that hasn’t stopped quivering since he vowed to take her life, showing that the Capitol, in one swift stroke, has rewritten her entire existence in his life.

My mouth twists into a grimace of its own accord. Fuck the Capitol.

She wavers at the last second; I can see it in her eyes. For a moment I think she is going to let him kill her and for a moment I think I have to step in, but then she releases the arrow and it finds its place in Peeta’s chest with a loud thwack. He stumbles from the impact, from the pain, and falls to his knees. His eyes are wide – not with shock at her actions but with rage – and he opens his mouth to say something, but it never happens because he has been dead the moment the Capitol laid its hands on him.

He falls face flat into the mud and now it is just she and I. Her face is unreadable, but underneath – because I know what grief does – there is a storm that rages.

It is the storm that spurs her on when nothing else can.

And so I watch Katniss Everdeen evolve in the fires of war. I can’t tear my eyes from her.

I find myself still looking at her long after she shoots Coin in the face with an arrow, and I wonder how she finds it in herself to live.