It all starts a couple of days before the 74th Hunger Games reaping. Already in her mind is clear the image of volunteering, but he doesn't know that, doesn't know that this is the last time they would be doing it.
Sex is a hot flurry of sensations. Clove kneels atop the bed and Cato is immediately over her, covering her body with his own, pressing a knee in-between her legs and sliding insider her without a moment's notice. She gasps and holds on to his shoulders as they rock together, only letting him go to part her thighs and allow him a better angle. It's delicious, it feels incredible and yet, there is something lacking about it. Cato doesn't complain, he's used to Clove's whims and complacently gets off the bed as Clove pushes him away after he orgasms. She doesn't come, and he knows it, but there are no words to describe the tension between them, so he simply gives it up.
Clove doesn't know how to deal with it. With the fact that one of them is doomed to die. She never did and when the game's rules change, it feels like she has been lent a part of wings, she's free in a way that she has never been before.
Now they stand atop the cornucopia, together. Down bellow are the mangled bodies of loverboy and firegirl, having failed to escape the mutations which circle and snarl around them.
And then, the rules change. Again. And Clove heart doesn't skip a beat. Before Cato has even managed to glance at her from his position sitting down, there is a knife sticking off his chest, slowly colouring the front of his shirt with blood.
He dies with a plea and Clove doesn't regret ending his life.
It's only days later that her mind lingers on Cato again and that she recalls the picture of him dying. Clove's kneeling by a toilet sit, one hand holding the hair off her face while the other grips the tilled floor beneath her, and she feels like utter crap. Cato is there, next to her.
"It'll be okay." He speaks, softly wrapping his strong arms, keeping her shoulders together.
"Fuck off, I killed you. Just go away." She snaps back.
After a while, Cato is gone but his touch lingers, it sends shivers running down Clove's spine and she almost, just barely, wishes that he were there with her, in reality, anywhere but in the deepest recesses of her mind.
Clove sees him again several times. His form seems to always remain in the corner of her eye. Tall, muscular, blond and it's only when she discovers she's pregnant that Clove realizes why.
For the first time in many years, there are tears in the corners of her eyes and a sob caught in her throat.
"I don't know what the hell to do," she croaks, not quite knowing why she is talking to herself, to a figment of her imagination, but not quite caring. Not when Cato's form has melted against her and he's holding her close.
"Yeah… I know." It's all he says. It's all he ever says. But Clove doesn't mind, he's there, for her, only for her, and that's good enough.
She decides to keep the baby for the sole reasons that she knows it's Cato's. No one else does. No one else even suspects anything, or so does Clove believe, and, after a couple days of discovering, she finds a boyfriend. It's not nice, but she has a figurative and literal knives pressed to his throat as he lies and admits having impregnated her.
The guy doesn't look a bit like Cato but Clove doesn't care, not even when the baby (a girl) ends up being blonde. By then, there are some suspects, a few rumors circling around the inhabitants of the victor village she lives in, but even they don't dare cross the mad knife bitch as Clove has been so fondly named, so after a while, things die out.
Clove's daughter is named Clara, not for any reason in particular, she just feels it is an appropriate name.
Clara grows up into a fine woman. She's tall, blonde and broad like Cato had been, but there's something of a fierceness to her that reminds Clove of herself. Clara doesn't know about her real father and she plans to volunteer to the Hunger Games when she's old enough. Clove doesn't tell her she isn't upset when she fails to make this dream of hers come true.
It's been many years since Clove has last seen Cato. She has just almost forgotten what he looks like and this bothers her. Now she can't recall his boyish features, his brutal smirk and the way he handled a sword, not with the precision of before.
She's sitting on a bench, watching a now grown up Clara walk home back to the training center where she teaches swordsmanship when she finally sees him and it nearly causes her eyes to water.
"Hey," she says, sounding almost afraid at the vision will fade away at any moment.
"Heya," Cato replies, and he's not old, fragile and wrinkled like her. He's young, tall, rippled, and there is a blank hole in his chest, he looks exactly the same as oh so many years ago, exactly the same as when she killed him.
"I… why are you here?" She questions, after a moment.
"Dunno, shouldn't I be? I think you enjoy me here." He sits next to Clove in the bench and places an arm around her waist, a wicked grin on his lips. "I've missed you." He says.
Clove doesn't know what to say, so she doesn't reply. She sits there and doesn't even twitch when he he leans to press a kiss on the side of her neck, and she swears she can almost feel his hot breath against her skin.
Clove never sees Cato again. At some point, she doesn't even remember there used to be one boy, the father of her child, who used to brag at her, that made her guts jump at his every move, and whose arrogance had conquered her. It's all been forgotten. Now there's only two words in the front of her mind, and Clara is holding her hand, and Clove can't quite recall what they are doing there.