A while back, I was pondering Peeta’s parents, which led to me more fully imagining Peeta’s mother’s personality. This is just my headcanon, but I thought I’d share it.
Peeta’s mom is pretty terrible, so I started wondering what Peeta’s dad could have possibly seen in her. Surely there had to be something, right? Some redeeming value.
I asked myself, What qualities cause people to overlook horrible character flaws in others? The first answer I came up with was good looks. Maybe it was just that simple; the great beauty Peeta’s dad had wanted to marry chose someone else, so he found the next prettiest girl. But that idea bored me.
The next idea I had was humor, and this idea instantly grabbed me. So many times we hear (or say) something like “Yeah, he can be a total jerk, but he is really funny.” We’re willing to forgive a lot when it comes to people who can make us laugh.
I also like the idea that Peeta could have gotten an important piece of his personality from his mom, awful as she could be. Her example helped Peeta develop his humor, skill with words, and ability to read people. Peeta tried to use these skills in kind ways, though, while his mother had far less of a problem putting someone down to get a laugh.
I imagine Mrs. Mellark was often a lot of fun, and Peeta enjoyed making jokes with her. Other times, however, something would set off her temper and she’d be cruel, either verbally or physically. If she was just mean all time, Peeta would become desensitized to it. It would be more hurtful if she shifted unpredictably between fun and mean. Then there would be those common moments when she would be funny and mean at the same time. I can see her making a cutting joke about someone and Peeta having to choose between laughing along to avoid her turning onto him, defending the target of the joke, or using humor himself to redirect the conversation.
This headcanon helps me make sense of Peeta’s statement that his mother told him Katniss might win the Hunger Games “as if to cheer [him] up.” I always wondered how in the world she could think that might cheer him up, or else how she could be so rude to her own son whom she would probably never see again. Maybe she said it as a joke, and that’s why Peeta said it was supposed to cheer him up. She was in this super uncomfortable emotional situation, and tried to lighten the mood with an incredibly inappropriate and insensitive wisecrack. Jokesters often make this mistake, though rarely to this degree of wrongness, fortunately.
Do you ever think about how excited Mr. and Mrs. Everdeen were about Katniss’s birth? Here they were two people madly in love with each other, but living in a cruel world that was working against them. Mrs. Everdeen left her nicer life as a Merchant in order to be with Mr. Everdeen, and Katniss was the product of their love. They must have been so overjoyed, and I can imagine how much they doted on their daughter, and spoiled her as well as they could for a family living in the Seam. They weren’t living the best life, but they were probably so happy for that short amount of time.
And then their daughter grew up to become the face of a revolution.
So, I was going through my old writings and found this one that was actually decent. Although at the time I remember putting it aside to turn it into a full story with several chapters, it’s clearly not going to happen. So here it is.
Panem AU where Peeta is a Peacekeeper. Mr. Everdeen lives. Katniss hunts and trades, and grows, blooms, and sings. (Also, older Peeta).
Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games, I’m just having fun. Unbeta’d.
“Here.” She stares at him, silently telling him something he doesn’t understand. They’ve crossed the Meadow and are standing near the end of the District, right beside the fence. She looks around them, before crawling under the fence.
“C’mon!” she incites him once on the other side, almost bouncing on her feet. She looks like a kid.
She is a kid, he thinks.
It only dawns on him when he sees the woods behind her. He can’t believe he didn’t catch up on it earlier. “Katniss, I—” he shakes his head, pressing his sweaty palms against his trousers to dry them, “I can’t.”
“I can’t either,” she tells him, her voice stern, “but that doesn’t stop me.”
This is what gets him moving. He wouldn’t risk her getting caught because of his fault. He wouldn’t risk her getting caught period. “I’m so going to regret this,” he grumbles under his breath, as he worms his way to the other side. He can hear her snort above him.
When he stands back up, she doesn’t give him a second to get his bearings before she grabs his hand and runs to the forest, pulling him behind her. He can feel a laugh bubbling inside him. It feels good. It’s freeing. He feels like a kid himself.
They only stop once they cross the tree line and then continue walking, deeper into the woods, calming their breaths.
“So this is why you asked me if I had normal clothes,” he muses, breaking the silence.
“Yeah, can’t have you dirtying your spotless uniform in the woods.”
He chuckles. “I’ll have you know, I have plenty of normal clothes. I just never wear them around you.” He wonders if it’s weird for her, seeing him dressed like this, with regular gray pants and a light jacket. The jacket definitely feels weird on him, he can’t remember the last time he put it on. But she hadn’t commented on it, just eyed him approvingly when she had seen him standing under the low branches of the oak tree in the border of the Meadow where they had agreed to meet before sunrise.
“Do you wear them at all?” she blurts out, clearly noticing the tight fit of the jacket, “or did you go buy them in Town after I asked you about it?”
“No. I had them already.” He tries to fight the blush that creeps up his neck. He had considered doing exactly that, but had felt ridiculous at the thought of it. He had perfectly good clothes he could use. “I’m only supposed to wear them when I’m at home, though.”
“Oh. Right.” She seems to only be realising this now. “It’s just- I only ever see you in your uniform… So, I didn’t… I didn’t really know. That’s all.”
“I know,” he says softly, squeezing her hand.
They stop in front of a log, and she lets go of his hand, reaching inside a hollow and retrieving a bow and a quiver full of arrows. He gawks while she puts the latter over her head. It’s like he’s meeting a new, secret, side of her. This is the famous huntress.
“Will I get to see you in action, huntress?”
“Only if you behave,” she teases, patting his head.
He laughs, smacking a kiss on her cheek in return.
They go wandering through the forest, looking for game. Unfortunately, his heavy feet keep making fallen leafs crunch and dry twigs snap. His footsteps are too loud for them to even get close to any distracted prey, but she does fire a few arrows to different knots in the trees, after an embarrassing amount of pleading from his part, for him to see. She hits her marks right on the centre. He takes note to never make her mad while she has her bow in her hands.
Even though he is inappropriately attracted to his company, he can’t stop looking around him, trying to drink in all the colours. He understands why she brought him here, why she wanted to share this with him. And it just makes him care about her all that much more.
And later, she points a mockingjay perched on a low branch, gesturing him to remain silent. She whistles a few notes, the bird soon answering in return. And when she shyly sings a lullaby about a valley, and the bird falls silent just like him, he swears, right then, he’s a goner.
They’re lying in a small clearing they found; she’s tucked against his side, almost on top of
him, her nose buried in the crook of his neck, his arms wrapped around her.
“I wish I was from here,” he sighs, his hand gently running through her hair, “then I could be with you every time I wanted, no matter who sees.”
It’s a nice thought. Peeta being born in the same District as her. Him pulling on her braid at school as they grow up. Walking into Town, hand in hand. Introducing him to Prim. Being allowed to be seen with him.
But she isn’t. And he still was born in Two. “You’d be a merchant,” she tells him bluntly and that’s the end of it. Or so she thinks.
“How could you possibly know that?” he teases. His fingers skimming up her side. “Hmm?”
“Look at you!” she exclaims. “All blue eyes and blonde hair, you might as well be a townie.”
“So what? I’d offer you my arm and parade you all over the district, we’d eat at the Hob together like a real couple and not just ‘coincidently’ meeting there,” he grabs her hand as he talks and moves it up and around, gesturing through the air, painting that world around them with his words, imaging doing exactly what he says, “I’d take you out on dates. Heck, I’d take you to the slag heap if you asked me to. I’d dance with you in the middle of the Town Square at the Harvest Festival, right in front of the baker’s wife’s disgusted stare and the florist’s scornful remarks.” He’s cheerful about it, as if he can’t think of anything better than being the object of gossip because of the divide between Seam and Town. If it only were that simple.
“…I’d ask you to toast bread with me.” He finishes in barely a whisper.
Her answer gets stuck in her throat and suddenly the air seems much heavier around them. It’s too much. She rolls to her side and away from him, getting up. It’s pointless to think like that, she should know better than to picture what he says.
She does know better. It’s not real. And it’s useless.
She has to get away. “We should, I mean, I uh… I should probably hunt something. To show for— when we go back.” Her voice comes out raw, and ugly, and wrong. She curses herself for not being able to keep it in check. She doesn’t wait for his reply though. “Yeah, I um, I’ll be right back.” She doesn’t even look his way. Her breaths seem to be caught somewhere inside her, in the constricting of her chest maybe, or in the ache of her heart. She tightens her hold on her bow, as she blinks away the prickle of tears in her eyes.
It’s not real.
She’ll repeat it to herself until it sticks in her head.
The first time I read Catching Fire, I saw the talents Katniss’s mother suggests Katniss try as just random ideas pulled from Effie’s list. As I think about them later, however, all three seem like things Katniss could have enjoyed and been good at if she had been willing to give them a real chance.
Cooking: If I were Katniss’s mother, this is the first thing I would have suggested too. Katniss loves food. She shows an interest in food that she doesn’t give to much else. She glosses over so much in her narration, but she describes food in loving and precise detail. After Katniss becomes a victor and has the money for better ingredients and the time to try new recipes and techniques, cooking could be a great activity for her, but she decides she’s a bad cook without making any real effort.
Flower Arranging: At first, this seems too frivolous and frou-frou for Katniss, but it’s actually kind of perfect for her. Katniss loves nature, and now that she’s the most famous person in the district, it would probably be best if she stopped going into the woods, her mother likely thought. This could be an alternative: enjoy nature while keeping the Capitol happy. Katniss especially loves flowers. She even ascribes deep meaning to certain ones, which is good for flower arranging. On her day off in the Capitol with Peeta, when she can do whatever she wants, Katniss makes a flower crown. Flower arranging is very Katniss. Too bad she’d never admit it.
Playing the Flute: Mrs. Everdeen knows Katniss has a talent for music and that Katniss doesn’t sing much any more. I’d bet Katniss had already firmly shot down singing for the Capitol, but flute playing wouldn’t feel as personal to Katniss and would still give her a way to use some of her musical talent. Mrs. Everdeen might have also hoped that it would reawaken the joy Katniss used to find in music. However, Katniss also quickly gives up on the flute–and then starts taking piano lessons from Madge.
Katniss just really doesn’t want a victor talent. If these hobbies weren’t connected to performing for the Capitol, she might enjoy them all.