Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul;
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.
Warm from the sun which begins its ritual of setting to her west, Katniss sits up from the burrow she had made with her father’s jacket and the green, sweet Meadow grass. She stretches her arms over her head to draw out the stiffness in her shoulders and sighs.
This warmth, this early Spring has brought Katniss to her favourite spot – beside the pool of water, the lake, that gives Katniss a measure of peace – the space that her father brought her to every Sunday as a child. It is the part of the woods that remain the least changed and Katniss revels in this; she has been altered, forged by fire into someone she hardly recognizes when she looks in a mirror. This spot gives Katniss a small fragment of her former self back.
Her former self. Before.
Before she was the Girl on Fire or the Mockingjay – the titles which always reminds her, sadly, of Cinna – she was just Katniss Everdeen, a friend, a sister and a daughter.
She leans over the curved edge of the lake and splashes the cold, clear water on her face to keep her thoughts away from the memory that she only sees Gale when Katniss remembers to turn on the view screen, she no longer has a sister, and her mother, far away in Four, is her only connection to who she used to be as a daughter.
Today, though, today she is warmed by the sun, cheered by the rebirth of the life which surrounds her, and she manages to clear the dark thoughts from her again as she picks up her game bag – disappointingly light, but then she did nap during most of her afternoon. She swings her quiver over her shoulder with the game bag and Katniss begins her trek back practically humming. She rolls her bow out first, ducks under the fence, mostly useless now, and continues on her way, game bag and quiver swinging on her shoulders.
Katniss stills once she realizes that the Meadow has gone quiet. The mockingjays have stopped to listen to the tune she is humming. Katniss grins, remembering her father and how the meadow was silent for him too. Peeta is right; the mockingjays are waiting for her. She realizes that the tune she is humming is the only song she ever taught her father; it was one she learned at school.
Katniss lets her game bag and quiver slide from her shoulder, sits down, cross-legged on the grass, with her bow across her lap and sings a song from a more innocent time:
Over the meadows in the nest of a tree,
Lived an old mother birdy and her little birdies three.
Sing, said the mother; we sing said the three.
So they sang and were glad in the nest of a tree.
Over in the meadows in the sand in the sun
Lived an old mother toady and her little toady one.
Hop, said the mother; we hop, said the one.
So they hopped and were glad in the sand in the sun.
Over in the meadows in a sly little den,
Lived an old mother spider and her little spiders ten.
Spin, said the mother; we spin, said the ten.
So they spun and caught flies in their sly little den.
There is a pause and Katniss waits. As certainly as they did for her father, the mockingjays trill the tune back to her. She laughs – a real laugh, which feels strange – it comes up her throat and out her mouth before she even thinks about it.
A Mockingjay has found her song. Katniss laughs again, which comes easier already. That’s something that Haymitch would say to her, with more than a touch of irony.
And around the feathered edge of her heart, she feels something else. Something that Katniss can just barely remember feeling the tiniest bit.
Katniss stands, brushes the grass from her pants and gathers her things, still smiling. There is only one other person who needs to feel this too; to share her realization with. She heads from the Meadow towards the path that will bring her to town so she can find him, picking a dandelion along the way.