Are you. Are you. Coming to the tree? Simple words from a sullen voice carried on the wind from her perch in the tree. Johanna rested against the trunk, weather worn rope still knotted in place beside her thigh. The tree starting to warp and mold itself around it, as if it had become part of its branch there. "Where I told you to run. So we'd both be free" a voice replies from the ground, sung as sweetly as the first time it had been uttered from her lips, pulling Johanna from her thoughts. Hazel eye's coming to a rest on the younger victor that stood below her. "How do you even remember that song?" Katniss asks, starting her ascent from the ground "I only sang it that one time." Her voice hitched slightly as she struggled up the wide spread branches. Being a huntress she had always considered herself a skilled climber but compared to Johanna, she was certain she resembled a small child learning for the first time. Katniss had seen the District Seven victor scale tree's of much more complex structure than this is a matter of seconds... Eventually katniss made it to Johanna's side. Leaning her head on the other's shoulder and allowing her legs to swing lazily below the branch. "Strange things did happen here, no stranger would it be, if we met at midnight." Johanna continued, bringing her gaze to the other victor allowing her eyes to beg the finishing words of the verse from Katniss' lips.
"In the hanging tree..." the words spoken instead of sung. Her tone adding to the gravity of the song itself, only to be weighed further by the dead silence that hung in the air around them. "The song that gave everyone chills when you sang it..." Johanna replied "How could I ever forget?" "It's just some old District Tweleve story that someone along the way turned into a song" Katniss replied, voice hallow, eyes clinging to the stars. "My Dad used to sing it to me as a kid... I never really understood why" Another short pause before the finally words slipped through her lips. "It always felt like he was trying to tell me something, or warn me." "Warn you of what? To run?" Asked Johanna "Nobody's ever free of this place..." she lamented, her chest heaving a sigh as she did so. "At first, I thought it was about a man wanting to meet his lover at midnight, but you said it yourself, nobody's ever free from this place... He was calling his lover to death... The only true freedom..." She links an arm through Johanna's, allowing the explanation to wash over them... to sink through their skin... to their bones... souring their stomachs... "It's not a song I understood until the games." Taking the hand of the arm that had just been linked through her own Johanna entangled her fingers with Katniss's, giving it a light squeeze. "All these years I've been asking you to meet me here because it's close to your District and you want to turn it into a horror story" Johanna smirked, resting a light kiss on the top of Katniss's head.
A low hum found its way to the pair up from the ground, blonde hair shimmering in the pale moonlight that bathed the land beneath it. His voice starting to quiver as he opened his mouth to finish "if we met at midnight in the hanging tree..."Peeta stood on the ground, a solitary tear rolling from his cheek and onto the darkened grass beneath his feet, his hand reaching for the looped end of a noose as he whispered to the darkness "I'm so sorry, Katniss..." Katniss turned her head to see the baker... the victor... reaching for the tether that pulled her from the world of the living. Sadness creeping into her chest and making it ache with grief. "I'm sorry too" she whispered down to him, though she knew her words would never reach him. She would never receive his words of forgiveness. Hazel eye's filled with confusion connected with Katniss's "What are you talking about brainless?" A small pityful smile creeping onto Katniss's lips as she searched for the right words, it was time to explain as she searched for the right words to explain.
Her opportunity cut short by the voice of another, "I miss them too" words from the mourning to console the mourning as Finnick reached a hand out for the looped end of another noose.
Glancing down to where Finnick had now joined Peeta on the ground, both held a noose in their hand steadying the rope from its usual swinging position. It felt as if they never truly ceased in their swaying... Each line of rope being the only grave marker for the two fallen... One for Katniss... One for Johanna. Gripping Johanna's hand tighter as the warmth of tears began to prick Katniss's eye's, finally mustering the courage to speak... or rather sing. "Are you. Are you. Coming to the tree? Wear a necklace of rope side by side with me." Her voice cracked as the first tear began making tracks down her cheek. "Strange things did happen here. No stranger would it be. If we met at midnight. In the hanging tree." The final sputtered verse tipped her over the edge, the tears now falling uncontrollably as she tried to control her breaths. Her hand gripping Johanna's tighter and tighter as she felt the older victor start to pull away. "Have you never wondered why we only meet at midnight? Why we can only meet here?" Grey eye's searched desperately for any sign understanding, any sign of memory. "You called me here. The least you can do is have the decency to remember." Katniss's eyes fall closed as she tried to contain the tears, her head dropping forward slightly. "Are you. Are you. Coming to the tree... where the strung up a man.. the say murdered three...." Johanna's words slipped out in whispers, fractured and frayed as the memories began to flood. Katniss felt Johanna's forehead fall against her own, her hand no longer trying to pull away. She finally remembered. Finally understood. "It was Snow." Johanna sputtered angrily through gritted teeth. "When he knew he couldn't win while you were alive... he had me hung... blamed my family's death on my for being 'disobedient' passed it off as murder. Sick fuck. Katniss you shouldn't have followed me here. He won. He got what he wanted" Johanna dragged Katniss's gaze up to meet her own with a gentle tug at her chin, tears now flowing from her own eyes. "Why would you do that? Why would you chose me?" Johanna's face was serious now, ignoring the severity of the whole situation, she had to know the answer to that one simple question.
"Where the dead man called out for his love to flee" Katniss sang in reply, wiping a few of Johanna's stray tears away with her thumb. "I told you to run" the words torn from Johanna's chest as tears streamed her eyes "I told you to run, Katniss..." she ached now, throat closing on words too heavy for her to speak "... so we'd both be free..." melody sung on whimpers of woe as she caved onto the other's shoulder as Katniss wrapped an arm around her and held her close, swaying to and fro as if to soothe the terrible pain that gripped Johanna's chest. "Shh..." she breathed softly to her "... and now we are..."