The Lion and the Lamb
Song Suggestion: Naughty Boy- LALALA ft. Sam Smith. If you want another awesome version, check out the cover by Jasmine Thompson.
Before We Begin: This story will contain many trigger warnings throughout, including dubious consent, attempted rape, torture, death, and probably many other things I'm forgetting. I'll try to put a Trigger Warning on the darker chapters, but not on spicy scenes, so if that's not your cup of tea just stop now. This story is really dark at points. There will be no underage Prim with Cato.
As of 1/14/22 I'm editing the first 40 chapters or so. I started writing this story almost ten years ago, and I feel like my writing has evolved so much since then. I'll put the word edited on the top of the chapter as I go. I won't be changing major plot points, just mechanical errors and little things. In a month or so, I'm also going to be putting this on AO3, for those that like to read off that platform.
Beginning of the End
Prim wasn't allowed to watch. Gale covered her eyes as soon as the standoff on the cornucopia began, but he forgot to cover her ears.
"Prim," Katniss cried. Then nothing. Just as simple as that, her sister vanished. Her strength, her love, her pride—all the memories she stored of her—gone in an instant.
Her mother screamed, and Gale's hands faltered in his own grief. Through the small peepholes in his fingers, Primrose saw everything she wished she hadn't. Katniss twisted backwards with her mouth gaping open, and her throat was slashed so hard, it showed the bone, a river of blood pouring from it. Peeta's body crumpled limp next to her sister with a giant hole in his stomach. The mutants had eaten most of his face off.
The bile riled in her stomach.
Then she saw him, Cato—the monster—covered head to toe in his victims' blood, so bright it changed the color of his fair hair. It wasn't the blood that disturbed her. She'd seen enough of that in the Seam. It was the smile, stretching from ear to ear. He enjoyed this, enjoyed the death of her sister, the one who offered herself up for slaughter, so Prim may live to see it. Katniss was no longer Prim's hero; she was her martyr, her very own personal sacrifice.
And it was all The Monster's fault.
For the first time in her short life, Primrose Everdeen hated.
Six months later
Prim glared in front of her, trying to stop the tears pricking at her eyes. The death was still fresh, and this was too soon to be facing her sister's murderer.
Cato stood on the stage of District 12's city hall, glowing golden under the bright lights. He was here on his victory tour, the last stop before returning to his own home among the other victors in his district.
No lights hung in the rafters, no chants followed him on stage, and no food waited for him after. They did clap when the team arrived on stage, per requirement, but it trailed off quickly. District 12 was sending him a stark message: he wasn't wanted. But from the looks of it, he didn't want to be here either. Cato had been picking the underside of his nails for the last half hour, though she doubted his team of stylists would have allowed any dirt to get under them in the first place.
His mentor, Brutus, gave a brisk speech, each word ending with a growl in the back of his throat. Then his team came up, detailing their excitement and strategies of victory. After his stylist sat down, it was Cato's turn for a speech.
For the first time, he glanced into the crowd. He gave an arrogant eye roll before strutting to the microphone. Most of his speech was dull and contrived, but the contempt was hard to mask.
Prim had watched a few of his speeches in the other districts, and it went much the same. First, he explained his strategies before going in, the excitement of the kill, the glory of the capitol. At the end of every speech, he would give a short recount about the competitors, focusing on the tributes from the district he spoke to.
"Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark were my toughest competitors. They made worthy rivals. Especially Katniss… she was the one opponent who surprised me. District 12 should be proud." He sneered when he said it.
That was the moment her mother started crying. For the past six months, her mother could barely get out of bed, and if it wasn't required under penalty for death for her to come, she wouldn't have even woken from her never-ending sleep. She was the walking dead: hair stringy and unkempt, skin sallow and sagging, eyes puffy and empty. The hollows in her cheeks thinned to paper. If it wasn't for the baker's kindness with free weekly bread, Gale's limited meat, and Lady's milk, they would have starved. Primrose held on to her sanity, trying to stay afloat through taking care of her mother's patients. But it didn't seem to be enough.
Crying was dangerous.
Cato's head snapped up, looking into the crowd at the noise, giving a snarl of a grimace. The cameras followed his eyesight. Primrose tried to shush her mother, pulling her into a tight hug.
"Gale, take her out of here. Please, before the peacekeepers step in."
Gale nodded. His knuckles had gripped the sides of his chair since Cato walked on stage. He loosened them, pulling her mother's head to rest on her shoulder and walked out before the authorities intervened. The families of the deceased tributes were supposed to act proud, to act happy, even in their devastating grief. Their family was no different from last years or the ones before that. People gave limited sympathy, but most just looked forward to a new year of horrors with their own children in death's shadow.
Primrose looked back on stage. In Cato's place, the mayor frantically motioned to the crowd. Her mother's cry started a waterfall of boos and hisses, and he was trying to stop them before things got out of hand. The edges of the crowd pulsed forward.
"Now, now, let's give the victor the respect he deserves. The same respect we would have given to one of our own."
The crowd quieted down slowly. Similar things happened in the other districts. The Hob sold news on their grapevine black market, though it wasn't always to be trusted. However, Prim heard it from several of her patients, and there was one overlying message: rebellion. Because of Katniss—a rare outlying tribute capable of winning, only for the victory to be snatched away at the last moment. It left a bitter taste in the districts. The way she said goodbye to Rue sparked something in the people, an act of humanity in a game filled with death and cruelty. It turned the simmering resentment of injustice into a rage almost boiling over the pot.
On one hand, Prim desired rebellion, on the other hand, she feared President Snow's reaction. Would he take it out on the source? Would he take it out on district 12? The mayor must think so. This tour must be very important.
Sweat dripped down the Mayor's cheek as the situation got under control.
She searched out Cato. He lounged in a metal chair off to the side, legs spread, with one of his arms draped across the chair next to him… and he was looking right at her.
Prim recoiled at his glare. At her backwards movement, he tilted his head a little. His blue eyes narrowed into points.
Then he smiled—a sinister, hair-raising smile.
Later that Night
The snow crunched under her feet. She couldn't sleep, so Prim decided to get out of bed to go feed Lady. The goat and the cat proved invaluable comfort and companionship in these dark days.
Katniss had built a tiny shed off to the side of the house for the pet to keep it protected from the elements a few months before the games. It came in handy, but the elements were already beating it down. Rot clung to dilapidated boards, and the structure creaked in the wind.
The air bit her skin. Winter came late this year, the fierceness just around the corner. Katniss hated the cold, but Prim loved it. There was something about the crisp air burning the lungs before rejuvenating it, a quick shot of energy.
It was as she neared the shed when she heard it. A similar crunch of snow came from behind her.
She pivoted on her heel. Not but ten feet from her, stood her nightmare.
"Boo." Cato smirked at her.
She tried to be brave, like Katniss, but her body jumped a little. Tremors wiggled through her body.
"Prim, Prim, Prim," he mocked.
"How do you know my name?" Prim didn't realize she was backing up, until she stood against the rotting wooden door with the leather handle.
Cato ignored her question.
"So this is where the great Katniss Everdeen grew up?" He surveyed her yard and her house, crinkling his nose in distaste. "What a shit hole."
Prim tried not to take offense from someone like him, but it still stung a bit.
"Why are you here, and how did you find me?"
Cato looked startled out of his thoughts, though it was an obvious question. Against the bright white snow, his hair and skin shimmered.
"Curiosity." He shrugged. "Your peacekeepers are corrupt enough to accept a bribe."
"Your sister took my finger. Did you know that?" He held up his right hand to show his pointer finger cut down to the joint. It must have been so bad the Capitol couldn't fix it. "I think it's only fair I take something just as valuable from her."
The crunch of his boots moved forward until she was trapped between the shed and him. She tried to turn her head, whimpering a little, but he just gripped her chin between his fingers and forced her to look in his eyes. The pupils were restricted, allowing the blue to spark brilliantly in the moonlight.
"Her tears gave me joy, but I didn't get to see yours."
She struggled against his hold. It clamped against her skin, and it hurt more than she allowed to show. It took a second for her to realize he spoke of her mother—he taunted her. Katniss would have spit in his face. Prim just began to cry, like he wished for. She hated the wetness on her cheeks.
"Let me go."
Cato brushed his free hand against her cheek, touching her tears.
"Prim, Prim, Prim... it's all I hear. Over and over again. It's all they ever play in the recaps. You're quite the celebrity."
The goat began to kick around in her pen. She must sense her master's terror. Prim used this moment to gather her courage. She swung her fist. It hit the side of his face with a dull thwack. Cato didn't look affected, though her wrist thrummed with pain. He snatched her fist in its descent, turning it over to examine.
"So little and dainty, almost hollow like bird bones. I don't know how you're related to your sister. She was a real bitch. I wanted to slice her head off the minute I saw her. Who did she think she was, anyway? Some slum rat coming in to defeat me? Getting a fucking eleven…"
That made Prim cry a little more. She sniffled back the worst of it, determined not to give the monster anymore satisfaction.
"You got what you wanted in the arena, didn't you? So why are you trying to hurt me?"
He just glared, gripping both her chin and her wrist.
"Prim, Prim, Prim, little lovely Prim. The crowds loved your sister, so when I won, they hated me. All of Panem grieved her last word. She ruined my victory because of you."
Cato pushed her face against the rough grain of the wood. The hand moved from her chin to her throat. The fingers squeezed around her windpipe, cutting off all her oxygen.
"I wish I could kill you."
"Why don't you?" Prim sputtered out as best she could. In some ways, she wished he would. He stole so much for her, why not her life.
"The crowds hate me, and each district manages to show it. The boos, the curses. It's the edge of rebellion. Not because of me, but I make a great scapegoat. They wanted one of the love birds to live, not me. President Snow warned me... he warned me if I couldn't soothe the people and make them love me, then my life would become a sacrifice for them. So my mentor came up with a revolting plan. Do you know what I'll tell them for their love?"
This was the first she heard of this. She couldn't breathe anymore. She kicked her feet against the snow in panic. And then he let her go. She dropped into the snow, giving heaving lurches to return air to her lungs.
Cato squatted down, placing his weight against his ankles. He reached out, and Prim flinched backwards, sobbing. But he didn't go for her throat; instead, he flicked one of her braids playfully.
"You'll learn tomorrow. I think I'll let the suspense hurt a little."
Cato got up and walked back the way he came. Before he got too far, he turned and smirked back in Prim's direction.
"It won't last. I promise you. As soon as the Capitol's memory of the Girl on Fire dies, as soon as your usefulness dies... so shall you." He waved goodbye with the stump of a finger. "You're only a fragile little bird in my hands. Remember this. Fear this, because your life is the only payment I asked of death after victory."
Prim was left panting against the shed, splinters in her cheeks and buzzing with fear, dread, and pain.