When I woke up from a restless slumber I sighed.
My name is Peeta Mellark and I won the 74th annual Hunger Games. Together with Katniss. We were only able to survive both, because we pretended to be madly in love. A few people like her family, Haymitch and Effie knew that she was playing. But nobody knew I was playing, too. Even Katniss thought I really love her. She feels really guilty and I feel guilty, because I can’t tell her I pretended. I mean how could I start a conversation like that?
'Hey, Katniss. I just pretended to be in love with you. But actually I am in love with your strong, hot best friend and hunting buddy Gale Hawthorne.'
I don’t think she would react well. Homosexuality is not a good thing in District 12. In the Capitol it is allowed. Of course they can their live their lives as they want. As a victor I could have been openly gay, but since I have to play this ridiculous star-crossed lover thing with Katniss I couldn’t.
I got up and went through my new house into the kitchen to make breakfast. While I made pancakes I let my mind wander. I hated this big house. I only became it through murdering and lying, which was the completely opposite of my character. And the big house just reminded me more that I felt so alone:
My mother hated me; my brothers didn’t care about me. Katniss didn’t like me. I wanted her as a friend. The only people who cared about me were my father and Haymitch. But Haymitch was always drunk and my father was a coward and didn’t say anything when my mother treated me like crap. So I spent most of my time alone in this big house.
The only good thing about being a victor was that I could afford to paint. It helped me a lot dealing with my nightmares, my loneliness and my unrequited love. After eating breakfast I decided to go to the hob. I needed a few things. So I got dressed and made my way to the Hob. Inside I bought everything I needed plus a little bit of liquor for Haymitch. Then I went to Greasy Sae and bought a little bit soup. I wasn’t hungry, but Greasy Sae was always friendly to me and to be honest it felt good to talk to someone.
»Hey, Greasy «
My heart fluttered when I recognized that voice. I looked up and just a few steps away stood the only one I want to be with. The personification of my unrequited love. Gale looked at me.
My stomach dropped because of the cold and the hate radiating from his eyes and voice. I didn’t understand why he hated me so much.
'But you do know why', a voice in my head whispered.
'He is in love with Katniss. And he thinks you stole her from him. He is in love with Katniss. Not with you.'
Gale looked at me.
»Shouldn’t you be somewhere else playing the lapdog of the Capitol? «
I couldn’t stand it anymore. I couldn’t stand his hate, when all I wanted was his love. I jumped up, threw a few coins on the counter and ran out. My vision was a little bit blurry, because of tears. When I reached my house I slammed the door shut. I went into the kitchen.
'Why can’t he understand that I didn’t want any of this? Why can’t he understand that this is not my fault? Why can’t he like me?'
When those questions came into my mind, I became angry. It was definitely not my fault. I didn’t choose to get reaped. I didn’t choose to kill in the arena. I didn’t choose to pretend being in love with Katniss. Technically it was my idea, but that didn’t matter. I didn’t choose to have nightmares every night. I became rigid. My hand grabbed something and threw it on the wall.
'I lost my leg. I nearly died in a mud hole. I was ready to eat those damn berries and die. I managed to save Katniss life. And I never heard a simple thank you! Or a simple Are you okay! '
I threw more stuff at the wall: glasses, plates, cups. Until I was surrounded by shards and my anger faded just to make room for sadness, loneliness and desperation. I sank down to the floor crying and sobbing. When I heard the front door open, I froze. Since the arena I was paranoid. I grabbed a knife from the counter and sneaked to the door which leads from the kitchen to the hallway. I hid myself so I could be seen from the hallway. Someone entered the kitchen and when I was about to attack the someone spun around and grabbed my arm which held the knife. I froze when I looked straight into Gale’s wonderful grey eyes.
»Woah. Easy, baker boy «
For a moment I was distracted by his deep, manly voice. I became slightly aroused, but I shoved those thoughts away.
»What do you want? I am busy playing the lapdog of the capitol«, I said icily.
Gale looked into my eyes.
»I heard something loud from your house and worried about you. But apparently you can defend yourself. «, he said pointing at the knife.
I snatched my arm out of his grip and scoffed.
»I am sorry for being paranoid after fighting in an arena for my life «, I said sarcastically.
Gale looked at the mess I made.
»What happened there? «
»Not your business. «, I snapped.
I felt bad for behaving like that, but I couldn’t afford to let him near me. In the end I would be the one who would get hurt.
»Geez! What’s wrong with you? «, he asked annoyed.
I don’t know what made me snap. Maybe it was his annoyed voice, maybe his look. It doesn’t matter.
»WHAT DO YOU THINK IS WRONG WITH ME? I WENT THROUGH A FUCKING NIGHTMARE! I AM HAUNTED BY NIGHTMARES! I SAVED KATNISS! THE CAPITOL TURNED ME INTO A MURDERER! AND NOBODY CARES! NEITHER MY SELFISH FAMILY NOR KATNISS OR YOU OR SOMEONE ELSE! I NEVER HEARD A FUCKING THANK YOU! NOBODY SAID TO ME: I AM GLAD YOU ARE ALIVE! I AM ALONE! JUST THE NIGHTMARES AND THE FEAR ARE KEEPING ME COMPANY! BUT WHY SHOULD YOU CARE? YOU HATE ME WITHOUT ANY REASON! AND I DON’T KNOW WHY! I JUST WANT YOU TO LOVE ME LIKE I LOVE YOU! «
I stared at him breathlessly, slowly realizing what I said. Tears spilled out of my eyes. I turned around and ran into my room locking the door. I threw myself onto my bed, buried my face into the pillow and cried. And I don’t know how long I cried and sobbed into my pillow. I was pretty sure Gale would hate me even more now. He would think I am something disgusting and abnormal. At some point I stopped crying. I still felt like shit, but nonetheless I dragged myself in the bathroom. I washed my face and got out of my room.
»Gale? «, I asked nervously.
After looking into every room I became depressed.
'Of course is he gone… Why would he stay here?'
I noticed the broken plates and glasses were gone. I didn’t know what to do now or how to deal with what I have done so I decided to bake something.
Five hours later I made a few cakes and a lot of other baked goods. Since I wasn’t in the mood for something to eat, I packed the stuff I made up. With one pack I went over to the Everdeens. I knocked and Mrs. Everdeen opened the door.
»Peeta, nice to see you. Do you want to see Katniss? «
I forced a smile on my face and held the package out.
»No. I baked a little bit and wanted to ask if you want something? «
She smiled brightly.
»Thank you. That is really nice of you. Do you want to come in for a cup of tea? «
Earlier that day I would have been happy and I would have said yes without hesitation, but in that moment I wasn’t really in the mood. I smiled and shook my head.
»No, thanks. I want to bring Haymitch something of the stuff I made. «
»Of course. Bye Peeta. Have a nice evening. «
»You, too. «
I went over to Haymitch and of course he was drunk.
»What do you want? «, he slurred.
»I baked some stuff and wanted to bring you something. «
He looked into my eyes and I knew he knew I cried. Haymitch snorted:
»Trouble with your boyfriend? «
»Did you think I didn’t notice that you are in love with that Hawthorne boy? I really don’t care if you are in love with a boy or a girl. Just don’t go too far. «
I knew he cared about me and was worried I could get hurt, but he would never admit that. I nodded and went back to my house.
The next morning I went out. I couldn’t stay inside I felt suffocated. When I was about to enter the hob, I heard two voices.
»Those cookies are amazing. I didn’t know your mother could bake. «
The voice belonged to Gale. My heart fluttered, because Gale liked my cookies, even if he didn’t know I made them.
»They are not from my mom. Peeta brought them over yesterday. «, Katniss explained.
I heard choking and coughing. And Katniss laughed.
»Careful Gale. Just because they are delicious, you shouldn't kill yourself with them. «
I closed my eyes and saw Foxface and how she laid in the arena the poisonous berries still in her hand. I took a breath. I couldn’t freak out now. When I was about to turn around because I didn’t want to run into Katniss and Gale, they came out of the Hob. Both froze.
»Peeta. Thanks for the sweets. «, she said awkwardly.
»I am glad you like them. «, I said polite.
I waved at her, avoided Gales gaze and slipped into the building. After I bought a few things I used up yesterday, I got back to the house. I planned to put the stuff in my kitchen and go for a walk. But on my porch sat Gale.
»What do you want? «, I asked quietly fearing the worst.
»I want to talk with you«
He sounded as nervous as I was. I sighed inwardly.
»Come in. «
I put the things away I bought and turned to Gale who stood awkwardly in the doorframe.
»I-uh. I just wanted to ask if it is true what you said yesterday…«
I rubbed with my hand over my face.
»Yes. You can freak out now. «
He came over and stood very close to me.
»Why should I freak out? « he mumbled.
Gale put a rough hand on my cheek and leaned down to me. When his lips touched softly mine, I could help myself and moan. I waited so long for that moment. I pulled him closer and intensified the kiss. Every touch sent sparks and jolts through my body. I felt at the right place. I felt safe, loved and complete here in Gales strong arms, his lips on mine. He broke the kiss and whispered huskily:
»I really like you«
I grinned and whispered back:
»I really like you, too. «
He kissed me again and I knew in that moment I would never be depressed or lonely again. Gale brought me from the darkness to the light.