Light a Spark
(the Way of the Flexh Remix)
by Evil Little Dog
Fandom(s): the Hunger Games
Word Count: 1,625 words
Note: When you eat someones flesh, it changes you, and everyone around you.
Remix of A Breath on the Embers.
Shes eating human flesh.
Up there, on screen, Katniss watches as her sister eats a person, the other Tribute from District Twelve. His name is was is Peeta Mellark. Once before, before he died in the Games, hed saved her familys life. Maybe he hadnt realized it then. After hearing his interview, Katniss knows Peeta remembers his kindness, but she doubts theres any way hed know what it had meant to her family. She wonders if Peeta had ever found out that shed been interviewed. Shed talked about Peeta throwing her the stale bread his mother told him to give to the pigs. What would he have thought, hearing her interview? Would he have had a chance to think about how hed saved the Everdeen family?
Now, hes saved Prim again. Just like the first time, Katniss cant pay him back. There is no way she can say thank you to that baker boy. She isnt even sure she can go to his family and offer them her gratitude. Mrs. Mellark would look down her nose at Katniss, shes sure. Or worse, throw the thanks back in her face.
Katness swallows hard. Prim is coming home to District Twelve. To her. To them. Shell be there at the front of the crowd, to welcome her sister back with open arms. Prim would be here, and shed be safe.
Except Katniss isnt sure what safe is, any more.
That is her daughter on the screen. That being, gaunt and hurting and mad, is her daughter, cutting into the flesh of the baker boy, bringing it up to her mouth on the blade of a knife. Eating the bloodied flesh, biting into muscle, chewing, not even noticing the blood coating her lips or running down her chin. This girl is her daughter, sweet, gentle Prim, lover of cats, adoring of her sister.
She hadnt believed Prim would last out the Games. The odds seemed far too long, never, ever in her favor. The battleground too great; her opponents too fierce. Prim hadnt been the one protecting the family. That is Katnisss job, sneaking off to the forbidden grounds and hunting for animals so they can survive. Katniss had been the one to throw herself at the Tribute guards, screaming that shed take Prims place, that shed go into the Games for her little sister. Shed been beaten down, taking into custody. The Peacekeepers and their rules were strict and harsh no substitutions. No matter what Katniss had done, how hard she had pled, Prim had been the one whisked away to the Capital. Little Prim, her gentle daughter. The kind one, who didnt understand any of this. Prim, who could never realize what shed done when she ate another persons flesh.
She didnt either. How could the Capitol do this to a child so young?
But she knows the answer to that question, at least: the Capitol will do whatever it takes to survive.
Just like everyone else in the world.
Effie smoothes her skirt down over her thighs, watching the screen with the other people gathered around. She licks her lips, but realizes someone might notice, and fixes a smile on her face. The skin around her eyes tightens, but she thinks that might not be something anyone would see. This Tribute, little Primrose Everdeen, survived the Games. When her name is announced as the victor, she is the first to clap.
But all around her, Effie feels it, a tension in the air, a feeling like a great beast holding its breath. All around, citizens boil with anger, with fear, with something ineffable, and beyond Effies understanding. But she knows something will change, something must change, from all the emotions clouding judgments. And she thinks, even now, all it might take is one little spark to ignite a fire. Cinnas costumes hinted at a future flame, and Effie wonders if anyone might live to see it.
Haymitch isnt sure what to do with her. The little girl survived it all, through none of his own training. He isnt sure she even knows she survived. If anything, when brought back from the Game, Prim wears an expression like someone whod managed to survive an explosion that killed off everyone else around her.
When she comes back from the gaming field, Haymitch sees a ghost. The girl never seemed very strong, a pale little wraith of nothing. Hed had no hopes of her returning from the Game alive. Even Peetas determination to protect Prim wasnt much when it came to the Games. Prim had no strength, no willpower. She was a laughable contestant; look at the way she bolted like a deer, away from anything that mightve helped her. She didnt take any of the skills hed tried to teach her, nothing, just ran. If he hadnt sent the water filter, Haymitch is sure she wouldnt have lasted out the third day. The cannon might have just as easily boomed for her.
As it is, shes the one leaving the playing field. Shell-shocked. Ravenous. And the fire in her eyes makes Haymitch want to pull back, a little bit. Maybe more than a little. The Trinket woman is horrified, positively aghast, and stands with her fingers all twisted together, and her mouth pursed even tighter than normal. The only one who greets her with any equanimity is Cinna, and he hugs her gently. Prim clings to him, her dirty, bloodied fingers digging deep into the fabric of his clothes, all the way down to his skin. Haymitch knows shes leaving marks behind, but Cinna makes soothing sounds until he can finally get her settled.
Trinket says something about how Prims come back a complete savage, as opposed to one who used to be at least somewhat civilized.
Haymitch thinks shes probably right, but keeps the comment to himself.
Prim sits up in the bed, her eyes wide and staring. She cannot sleep. Her heads too full. Her stomach is full, too, a rounded, hard lump in the middle of her body. It hurts, but in a good way. Better than shed felt all through the Game.
Outside the window, she can catch glimpses of stars. Not like back home. The flickers are stronger on the ground, far below. Prim doesnt want to look down. She doesnt want to see whats there. She looked once, and the sight of it reminded her of a river, running over the rapids. It made her stomach churn, the way it had when they told her about her dad.
She remembers, though her mother and Katniss never thought she did. Prim remembers the sound of the explosion that took her fathers life. It started like this; a low growl that shook the ground, and then the fire erupted out of the mine, a cloud of smoke and a bang so loud, it made her ears ring. She remembers, waking and in her dreams, and sometimes, its not just her father who dies, but her whole family, leaving her in the smoking ruins.
Shes seen the looks. Theyre worse than the ones she got when Daddy died. Prim recollects Mr. Abernathy expression. It makes her shiver to think about it, how cold and strange it was. Her fingers itch at remembering Miss Trinkets fake smile, and she wonders if thats what Katniss meant, about wanting to slap a smile off someones face. Cinna alone treated her the same; holding her close and whispering to her that everything will be okay. Prim knows its not true, but its nice to hear.
Nothing will ever be okay again. It cant be. She isnt the one theyd picked to win; even as little as she knows, Prim understands that. President Snows smile is even more false than Miss Trinkets, and Prim doesnt like how his hand held hers when he gives her his congratulations. Her own skin prickles even in memory, like shes touched poison ivy. She thinks thats what President Snow is, a cruel vine that poisons everything it comes in contact with.
Outside her room, she hears noises from the street, screams and shouts, a blending into the roar of a great animal, or maybe even a wildfire. She covers her ears, but she cant block it out. The susurration rising up to her window rolls and flows, a continuous sound of the crowds below. They are celebrating her win, thats what Miss Trinket says, but Prims not sure if she believes it or not. The sound seems less like a cheer, and more like a howl.
Prim lies down, pulling her pillow around her ears. Its not enough. The sound is like a wild animal hunting its prey. She can still hear it. Her pillow doesnt block the noise.
She can still taste Peetas blood on her mouth. No matter how she brushes her teeth or rinses, the flavor coats her tongue. His flesh, fat and muscle and skin, it all tasted so good after nothing but tubers for so long. Her lips chap from how many times she licks them, still tasting his blood there.
A part of her thinks of her mother, of a story her mother told Katniss and her, a long time ago, about a man who fed his people with his own flesh. Peeta did that. Peeta is the one they should cheer for, not her.
The roar rises, like the lick of a fire, like the growl of a monster. Prim wraps her arms around her knees. She doesnt understand much, but she knows this: The monster may be out there, but its in her, too. And shes going to be like a dragon.
Shes going to let it burn.
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