A/N: This is for the Secret Santa on the wonderful forum Fire is Catching. Merry Christmas, Justin! I hope you enjoy your story.
The moment has finally come. Here lies Clove's biggest threat fighting for her life. She's groaning in agony as she struggles to escape from her opponent's fierce grip. But Clove is never letting go; she won't let her enemy's culmination be anything but painful and inevitable.
"I'm not letting go of you, District Twelve," Clove hisses. "I'm going to kill you. I'm going to give the audience a good show." She searches through her array of knives. None of them seems quite good enough to finish this girl off; this girl who destroyed her food supply, who killed one of her most powerful and destructive allies. Clove's performance today will be legendary.
Finally she settles on a small knife with a cruel blade. It's small but oh so destructive. Just like her opponent. Kind of ironic isn't it?
"This one is perfect don't you think?" Clove whispers longingly. Not once does the girl move her lips or show even the slightest ounce of emotion. And for a second Clove feels guilty that she has to kill this girl, for she knows behind her façade of bravery she fears for her life. It's too bad that she has to go— they could have been allies —friends even.
"Well then, let's get started." Clove brushes the thought off; she'd rather be a heartless monster then dead after all.
Clove is a starving artist: her knife is her paintbrush, District Twelve is her canvas. Her death will be Clove's salvation. Here it goes: the first stroke. A brilliant scarlet emerges from Clove's blade and dances onto District Twelve's forehead. Sure, Clove had killed people before. But somehow this is different; this is mesmerizing.
It's only after three strokes of Clove's knife that the dying girl surrenders to the hope of holding onto her dignity. "My name is Katniss Everdeen," the girl stutters shakily. She's clearly resisting the urge to scream in pain.
"Why do you think that I care what your name is?" Clove asks apathetically. However, she quickly turns away before District Twelve could see the truth. For Clove actuallydoescare, there's a big difference between a nameless corpse and a corpse who's name she has learned. Her blade feels less satisfactory against Katniss' cheek. Oh no, she couldn't start feeling empathy for Katniss now. She plunges her knife into Katniss' chin. Kill now, remorse later.
Tears emanate from Katniss' eyes. "Please, my sister is watching. I love her more than anything."
A knot stirs in Clove's stomach. It is profoundly unsettling that she knows her victim's name. Now she has to know her family too? She remembers that Katniss was the tribute who volunteered for her sister. The ground beneath her begins to spin and Clove feels nauseated when she realizes how much she admires her. She doesn't want to kill her. The knife is shaking in Clove's hand.
Clove wipes the tears from Katniss' eyes and the blood from her forehead. "Shh, it's okay," she says soothingly. "It will all be over soon—I promise." As if to make her oath more meaningful she runs the blade along Katniss' hairline. Her hair is beautiful; it's the shade of coal, but if you really scrutinize it you could see it turn slightly chestnut colored in the sunlight.
"Just let me do my job and all the pain will be over," Clove whispers. Katniss nods reluctantly—she's beginning to fade. If only Clove was as lucky. She watches as the life begins to drain from Katniss' features. Clouds appear in her stormy grey eyes. Her tan skin feels clammy between Clove's fingers. Her grasp on Clove's hand is growing increasingly weaker.
"Can you do me one more favor?" Katniss rasps. "Peeta: my ally—he's not expected to survive much longer. Will you make sure he dies painlessly?" No. Clove has already failed to deliver a good show once, there's no way in hell she's going to spare Lover Boy. Yet as she sees the fervency and concern in Katniss' eyes: Clove's insides melt to goo. She's a failure.
"Lover Boy won't feel a thing," Clove assures. "It will be quick and painless."
Her once ferocious scream from earlier in the day is reduced to a gentle whisper. Why is this happening? Clove has killed plenty of people before but she's never put much thought into it, a murder is a murder. Grieving over her kills won't bring them back, so why bother? This kill is supposed to be gruesome; it is supposed to ensure Clove's spot as Victor. Instead she has developed a conscience.
Katniss is fighting to stay awake; she clasps Clove's hand and struggles to focus on her surroundings. She needs to stay alive but she's losing this battle and she's so tired. The darkness is lulling her into its heavenly embrace and there's nothing she can do to stop it.
"Go to sleep now, Katniss," a singsong voice instructs her; it sounds rather like a lullaby, singing her to a dream in which she will never awaken from. I'm sorry, Prim. Memories twirl inside her eyelids as she blinks one last time. And suddenly, there's nothing.
"Katniss?" Clove stares at the girl's unblinking eyes in wonder. She can't be dead. There is no way Katniss is dead. It's not remotely possible.
"Katniss, this isn't funny! Say something!"
A canon booms in response. Before Clove knows it she's sobbing, cradling the body of a girl who was supposed to be her enemy. She looks so small and delicate —like a sleeping child.
Why is her hair in her eyes? Its unnatural looking, Katniss always wears her hair in a side braid. Clove needs to fix that matter this instant. As she attempts to braid Katniss' long, knotty hair she doesn't realize she is still clenching the knife in her hand. No. This can't be happening. All of Katniss' luxurious locks are scattered around her. They mock her, laugh at her attempt to pretend that Katniss is still alive. Silly girl, you killed her. Now you have taken her identity along with her life. You're a barbarian.
Clove could only imagine the audiences' reactions. The loud cries and the false promises being made as they sit around the television. It is sickening. Perhaps Katniss wasn't the real enemy all along.
"I'm sorry Katniss, I'm so sorry." She kisses Katniss' forehead one last time. "I'll make them pay for what happened to you. I'll make them all pay."