A Mother’s Love
As she watched him across the room, her heart wept for the boy with the bread. She could tell he was in a great deal of pain his cheek a mass of color and swelling. He saved her and her family but at what cost. She wanted to thank him tell him how grateful she was for his generosity and sacrifice. She sat there in class watching him as he shuddered and winced with every move, every breath. She thought just talk to him after class but that came and went. She debated watching as he stood outside the school chatting with friends how to approach him. Should she just walk up, call him over? Several times, she took a step forward only to step back, he must have felt her stare because he turned and caught her eye giving her a small, discreet smile. She immediately flushed turning her head so quickly she nearly lost her balance only to look down and see a dandelion growing at her feet. As she picked the flower, she glanced in his direction once more knowing that once again he saved her.
She never could bring herself to thank him in person but found other ways to repay his kindness she broke Tim Holloway’s nose when he teased him for yet another black eye delivered by his mother. She glared daggers at Shelley Stanton and Jenny Mattson during his wrestling match when they were badmouthing causing both girls too hastily grab their belongings and leave. The only thing she couldn’t do was stop the bruises that regularly appeared on him. She could never understand how his mother could do such a thing to him. He was so kind hearted, such a gently soul, he deserved so much more than what he got. As the years went by her rage and bitterness towards Mrs. Mellark grew as his beautiful, bright eyes began to dull. She was literally watching the life drain from him as he had with her those few years ago. She felt helpless as she watched him fade into the background no longer taking joy in school, friends, or life in general.
At sixteen she felt stronger than she had in years her abilities at hunting were unmatched and her confidence to provide for her family had never been greater. Over the years, she had developed a good relationship with several of the merchants trading her kills for food or other necessities, even bartering with Mr. Mellark. She often wondered how such a kind man could stand by and let his son be abused so brutally by his wife. Did he not care, not know although how he couldn’t know was unthinkable. Peeta was continuously covered in bruises, scrapes, cuts; he had even suffered a few broken bones. Why didn’t he stop her, she knew he loved his son, that she could see every time she witnessed their interactions at the bakery. They were close, so close their relationship made her long for her own father, god how she missed him. Ever since he died and her mother all but disappeared, she craved that closeness she once had with him. Yet she knew her father never would have stood by and let her or Prim be beat.
One day after school when the hallways had emptied out she began walking towards the exit only to be stopped by the sound of someone crying, she turned and followed the sound finding Peeta in the janitor’s closet gripping his hair and rocking violently. Her heart broke at the sight she had seen the fresh marks and noticed the limp in his gate earlier knowing all too well his mother had struck again. Without thinking, she dropped to her knees enveloping the sobbing boy in her arms gently cradling him while softly whispering in his ear that everything will be all right even when she knew that was one thing she couldn’t guarantee. He clutched onto her like she was life itself needing comforting desperately, minutes, hours may have passed she did not know but eventually his tears subsided and as he hiccupped he apologized for being so pathetic. He continued saying how worthless he was and if he could just stop screwing up his mother would love him, that’s all he wants is for her to say she loves him not how she curses the day he was born, wishing he would just die so she could be happy. As she listened to him her anger grew, what kind of a monster would do such a thing, could she not see the beautiful boy given to her. She quietly shushed him telling him that his mother was wrong how wonderful and amazing he is that he should never doubt that. With a guilty heart, she proceeded to thank him for saving her and her family but also for giving her hope. She knew her gratitude was long overdue but she poured her heart out to him struggling for every word knowing she lacked a silver tongue hoping to convey to him how much he meant to her and how grateful she was for his very existence. That day a bond was formed between the two, the hope he had given her all those years ago she gave back to him letting light back into his heart. From that day forward, they spent countless hours together, any spare moment the two could find.
The closer they became the more Katniss’s blood filled with venom towards his mother, she had to bite back every harsh word as she consoled and caressed him not wanting to dwell on his latest wave of pain. She found herself becoming more and more protective of him spending more time outside of the bakery watching and listening to ensure his safety. Every loud bang or shout heard she clenched her fists, gritted her teeth waiting to make sure the commotion didn’t escalate. Peeta implored her to stay away not wanting her to get involved fearing for her if she were to confront his mother. While she implored him to fight back even though she knew, the gentle soul he was could never retaliate against another and definitely not his own mother.
At seventeen years, old Peeta and Katniss had become everything to one another. He was her first kiss, her first time, and her first and only love. She never thought she would care for someone as deeply as she did for him. Her love for him even surpassed her love of Prim; she knew now her mother’s pain after her father’s death. If something were to happen to Peeta, her heart would surely stop beating, her breath would fade, and she would cease to exist. So when she came to the bakery that Sunday afternoon and was talking her trade over with his father it shouldn’t have surprised her so when she found herself pushing past him towards the clamber of pans and smacking of something hard on flesh. Before she could even register a thought she had drawn her bow, knocked back an arrow releasing to sail thru Mrs. Mellark’s arm that was currently holding a marble rolling pin. The rolling pin hit the ground with a great thud as she screamed out in pain, blood flowing from her freshly pierced arm. Before she could even utter a coherent word Katniss stood over her with another arrow aimed at her heart. Peeta and Mr. Mellark were frozen neither knowing what nor how to diffuse the situation. Peeta was already starting to swell, blood spattered on his cheeks from the few blows she landed. Katniss shook with rage, her face fierce daring the wounded woman beneath her to speak. Mrs. Mellark for the first time in her life was stunned not knowing how to react to such an attack on her. Once reality set in her anger surged and she began to scramble to stand spewing words of hate towards the silver-eyed huntress. This only spurred Katniss on and she quickly released another arrow piercing her other arm. She knocked another back ready to fire again as the older woman cried out in pain. Katniss then dropped to her knees in front of the wailing woman and threatened her with every ounce of hate she had for her. Claiming to come back and finish the job if she ever raised her hand to her son again, that she would take personal pride in ridding her of her miserable life. As she began to stand, she quickly grabbed her embedded arrows ripping them from her arms causing more shrieks of pain to rupture from her mouth. Mrs. Mellark recoiled in fear feeling for the first time what it is to be truly scared to death. Katniss then turned grasping Peeta’s hand pulling him to her gently stroking his cheek and guiding him out the door.
Peeta was never struck again after that day not only because Mrs. Mellark anxiety of Katniss’s threat but her arms could no longer endure the weight of a heavy object or swing with any strength. Her life was to be forever reminded of her misguided love of her son. Katniss kept her Peeta safe from that day on, no one ever daring to incur her wrath again.