Chapter 1

Disclaimer: I don't own The Hunger Games

Sound the bugle now - play it just for me

Third Person POV

"Hurry, Peeta!" Katniss yelled breathlessly even though Peeta was right on her tail. She was worried he would fall behind with his wounded leg.

Katniss hauled herself up the side of cornucopia, putting her bow down to reach for Peeta's hand. He grasped her wrist and Katniss could feel how cold and clammy his hand was. He was still suffering from his wound and Katniss knew it had been a close call. Without that medicine, he would be dead. She was lucky he was alive. It would be almost pointless for her to go through so much just to lose him at the end.

We could do it, we could go home.

The thought kept running through Katniss' mind, putting images of Prim's smiling face in her thoughts. But she knew she had to shove all thoughts of home away. She wasn't home yet and they still had to win the Games. The only thing standing in the way of that was Cato. And it wasn't going to be an easy fight.

The mutts that were released by the Gamemakers snarled and spit while they waited impatiently below the two lovers. They paced furiously around the cornucopia, craving the taste of blood. Similar to the Capitol in their lust for violence.

Katniss and Peeta just sat there on the cold metal of the cornucopia, breathing heavily from the run and staring at the sight below them. They could hardly believe they made it and it seemed they were safe for now.

But that feeling disappeared when Katniss felt a hand roughly grasp her neck. She was jerked to her feet and came face to face with Cato. His face was covered in blood; lacerations and gashes covered him. His mouth was twisted upwards into a malicious smile. Even his teeth were coated in blood. Katniss marveled at how much blood he was losing but panicked as her air supply was cut off.

Her hands scratched at his, trying to get his tight grip off of her. She attempted to gasp for air but Cato was holding her too tight. He even lifted her off the ground, her feet dangling in the air as he strangled her.

"Katniss!" Peeta yelled in horror when he realized what was happening. He pulled himself to his feet with difficulty and ran at Cato.

Peeta tackled Cato, the impact of their bodies hitting made him drop Katniss. She fell to the unforgiving metal of the cornucopia and sat there gasping. The air was ice cold as it entered her lungs and she clutched her tender neck while coughing.

She kept inhaling deep breaths and turned to see Peeta and Cato rolling around on the cornucopia, punching each other. Katniss watched in horror as Cato delivered a huge blow to Peeta's stomach, effectively disabling him. He lay in a fetal position, wrapping his arms around his stomach as he groaned in pain. Cato sneered down at Peeta as he stood, spitting blood out of his mouth before turning to Katniss with a murderous look in his eyes.

Katniss stood; ready to face Cato as he approached her. Her hands clenched into fists, one of them flying through the air to make an attempt to injure Cato. But he easily grabbed her wrist in his large hand. The courage in Katniss' eyes disappeared and she looked up at him with fear. He just smirked and applied pressure to her hand. Katniss cried out in pain as Cato crushed her hand; the sound of bones snapping joined the background of mutts snarling below them.

Cato shoved Katniss to the metal of the cornucopia while she cradled her hand to her chest. The realization of not being able to shoot her bow anymore passed through her mind. It left her with fear sinking into her belly as the chances of Cato winning increased.

Cato's hands took their place on Katniss' throat again, pushing her head over the side of the cornucopia where the mutts growled and snapped their jaws at her. She could see their sharp, gleaming teeth getting nearer and then farther away as they jumped up to grab her. Katniss saw a small, dark brown mutt that jumped higher than the others. She immediately recognized it as Rue and her collar labeled "11" confirmed that.

Katniss laid there helplessly as Rue jumped up, her small paw reached and dug its claws into Katniss' skin. She felt the razor sharp claws dig into her face, dragging from her left cheek to her forehead.

She screamed in pain, feeling a burning sensation all over the left side of her face. Cato's hands left Katniss' neck once again and she jerked herself into a sitting position, putting her hands on her face as if it would soothe the pain. Quiet whimpers escaped from Katniss' mouth as she pulled her hands away to find them completely covered in blood. Blood was streaming down her face, running into her eye and pooling in her mouth.

Through the blood in her eye, she saw Cato and Peeta wrestling again and Cato was still winning. Katniss ran quickly, stumbling to the cornucopia floor as she scrambled for her nearly forgotten bow. Her hands were slippery with blood and she almost dropped the bow off the cornucopia. Katniss secured her grip and had to bite her tongue to keep the screams of pain in from the pressure she was putting on her broken hand. She notched her arrow and whipped around to face Cato. She was too late; Cato had Peeta in a headlock and was holding him dangerously close to the edge of the cornucopia.

Katniss aimed her arrow at Cato's head, knowing the rest of his body was protected by armor. Her teeth were grit as she tried to keep the bow in her slippery grip as well as from crying out in pain. Cato just smirked. Katniss' eyebrows drew together as Peeta's lips turned blue.

"Go ahead and do it. You shoot and he goes down with me," Cato taunted, blood dripping out of the corner of his mouth. Katniss' eyes flickered to the mutts below them, they circled the cornucopia with fangs bared and vicious snarls escaping their mouths.

Katniss could still feel the blood rolling heavily down her face as she kept her narrowed eyes on the pair, trying to make a decision. If she shot Cato, Peeta would fall and die with him. If she didn't do anything, Peeta would die of suffocation. If she shot Peeta, he would die. Ever scenario ended with Peeta dying. Katniss started to panic.

"Come on, fire girl. What are you going to do? Everybody's waiting," he snarled bitterly at me, a hint of smugness coming off his tone.

Katniss looked at Peeta, his face was starting to pale and his eyes strained to look at her. His hand that wasn't pulling weakly at Cato's moved slightly and she glanced at it with eyebrows crinkled. What was he trying to say? His hand continued to move and she watched it as Cato stared at her with a smile. Katniss kept her eyes on Peeta's hand, her gaze flickering to Cato every once in awhile. Peeta's hand shook as he put the last of his energy into that movement. Katniss looked back at his face to see the life slipping from his eyes. Peeta's hand fell to his side, limp.

"Peeta!" Katniss screamed in agony. She dropped her bow from its attack stance and Cato smiled. He dropped Peeta off the side of the cornucopia, to the mutts below. Katniss' mouth had fallen agape, Peeta's name caught in her throat and she felt as if she was choking again. She was frozen in place as she watched the mutts tearing at Peeta's already unrecognizable body. The cannon boomed but it didn't make her jump like it usually did.

"Looks like it's just you and me, fire girl," Cato said, laughing evilly. Katniss tore her eyes away from the scene below her and glared at Cato menacingly.

"You son of a bitch!" she screamed, suddenly livid with fury. She ran at Cato and he didn't expect her outburst which gave her the advantage. She tackled him to the cornucopia floor, her bow and broken hand forgotten.

The mutts had left, disappearing into thin air. But it all meant nothing to Katniss. Cato looked up at her with wide eyes and she held him down with her weight. She punched his face with all her strength, hurting her hand even further.

"You selfish bastard! Do you have any idea what you just did?" she screamed, tears of fury ran down her cheeks, carrying blood with them. "You killed him! He was supposed to win!"

Katniss clawed at Cato's face and arms, seeing the blood slide down his skin with sadistic glee. Cato finally came to his senses and tried to grab her arms. He got a hold of her wrists and flipped her over so that she was underneath of him, lying on her stomach with her hands behind her back. Katniss began to struggle again but a voice rang out in the arena.

"Ladies and gentlemen! May I present the victors of the 74th Hunger Game! Cato Stone of District Two and Katniss Everdeen of District Twelve!" called out the voice of Claudius Templesmith, sounding a bit shocked.

Katniss froze in her struggle, trying to comprehend the meaning of the words. She had won. But so had Cato. And Peeta was gone. As this realization set in, Katniss lay her cheek on the cool metal of the cornucopia. The sun had suddenly risen and the beautiful, green trees were illuminated. Blood and tears had started to pool around Katniss' face; the blood loss was making her dizzy. The salty tears burned her wounds but she ignored the pain. Cato had noticed that she had stopped struggling and so he released her wrists. It was the wrong decision.

Katniss sprung from her spot, her vision blurry from tears and blood. She turned to face him; the monster from Two. Her teeth were bared like some sort of animal, blood seeping out of her wounds as they grew wider and deeper from her constant change of facial expressions. Cato watched Katniss with wide eyes as she glared viciously at him. The Capitol wanted a good show? She would give them one.

"You should be dead," Katniss growled, her hands itching for a weapon. She lunged at him, her eyes widening in surprise as she felt a pair of hands on her arms. Katniss hissed at the pain surging through her broken hand and whipped around to face Haymitch. His eyes were slightly puffy and red. The look in his eyes was pitiful as he glanced at her bleeding face.

"You need to calm down, sweetheart. It's over," said Haymitch, his grip still tight. Katniss hadn't even noticed the hovercraft that had landed behind Haymitch. He began to tug her towards it.

"No," Katniss snarled and Haymitch's eyes widened at her tone. "No! How can you be this way? Peeta is dead and you won't do anything about it! The Games are not over. I have to kill him!" she screamed, ripping her arms out of Haymitch's grip.

It was almost ironic. Katniss had dreaded the GAmes and just wanted it to be over. But now, all she wanted was the chance to kill Cato. She turned to face him, ready to attack, but found that he wasn't there. Katniss' eyes darted around, searching for him with a murderous glare. She spotted him on the ground, swarmed with nurses and a few Peacekeepers.

Katniss narrowed her eyes and ran to where she had dropped her bow; she picked it up and notched an arrow in place. She cried out at the pain of straining her broken hand.

"Katniss, stop!" Haymitch yelled, but it was too late. She had released the arrow and it soared through the air at lightning speed. The arrow pierced the skin of Cato's bicep and came out on the other side of his arm.

Katniss screamed in frustration and fury when her arrow failed to fatally damage Cato's body. She jumped down from the cornucopia and ran at Cato. But she was tackled to the ground by multiple Peacekeepers. Katniss screamed and thrashed under the weight of the Peacekeepers as they struggled to hold her down.

She screamed for Peeta, she screamed for Prim, she screamed for Cato to be dead. She even screamed for herself to be dead. Katniss watched helplessly with tears running down her cheeks as a nurse ran towards her. The nurse jabbed a needle into Katniss' thigh and quickly, everything went black.