The sound of rain drumming on the roof of our house gently pulls me toward consciousness. I fight to return to sleep though, wrapped in a warm cocoon of blankets, safe at home. I’m vaguely aware that my head aches. Possibly I have the flu and this is why I’m allowed to stay in bed, even though I can tell I’ve been asleep a long time. My mother’s hand strokes my cheek and I don’t push it away as I would in wakefulness, never wanting her to know how much I crave that gentle touch. How much I miss her even though I still don’t trust her. Then there’s a voice, the wrong voice, not my mother’s, and I’m scared.
“Katniss,” it says. “Katniss, can you hear me?”
My eyes open and the sense of security vanishes. I’m not home, not with my mother. I’m in a dim, chilly cave, my bare feet freezing despite the cover, the air tainted with the unmistakable smell of blood. The haggard, pale face of a boy slides into view, and after an initial jolt of alarm, I feel better. “Peeta.”
“Hey,” he says. “Good to see your eyes again.”
“How long have I been out?” I ask.
“Not sure. I woke up yesterday evening and you were lying next to me in a very scary pool of blood,” he says. “I think it’s stopped finally, but I wouldn’t sit up or anything.”
I gingerly lift my hand to my head and find it bandaged. This simple gesture leaves me weak and dizzy. Peeta holds a bottle to my lips and I drink thirstily.
“You’re better,” I say.
“Much better. Whatever you shot into my arm did the trick,” he says. “By this morning, almost all the swelling in my leg was gone.”
He doesn’t seem angry about my tricking him, drugging him, and running off to the feast. Maybe I’m just too beat-up and I’ll hear about it later when I’m
stronger. But for the moment, he’s all gentleness.
“Did you eat?” I ask.
“I’m sorry to say I gobbled down three pieces of that groosling before I realized it might have to last a while. Don’t worry, I’m back on a strict diet,” he says.
“No, it’s good. You need to eat. I’ll go hunting soon,” I say.
“Not too soon, all right?” he says. “You just let me take care of you for a while.”
I don’t really seem to have much choice. Peeta feeds me bites of groosling and raisins and makes me drink plenty of water. He rubs some warmth back into my feet and wraps them in his jacket before tucking the sleeping bag back up around my chin.
“Your boots and socks are still damp and the weather’s not helping much,” he says. There’s a clap of thunder, and I see lightning electrify the sky through an opening in the rocks. Rain drips through several holes in the ceiling, but Peeta has built a sort of canopy over my head an upper body by wedging the square of plastic into the rock above me.
“I wonder what brought on this storm? I mean, who’s the target?” says Peeta.
“Cato and Thresh,” I say without thinking. “Foxface will be in her den somewhere, and Clove… she cut me an then…” My voice trails off.
“I know Clove’s dead. I saw it in the sky last night,” h says. “Did you kill her?”
“No. Thresh broke her skull with a rock,” I say.
“Lucky he didn’t catch you, too,” says Peeta.
The memory of the feast returns full-force and I feel sick. “He did. But he let me go.” Then, of course, I have to tell him. About things I’ve kept to myself because he was too sick to ask and I wasn’t ready to relive anyway. Like the explosion and my ear and Rue’s dying and the boy from District 1 and the bread.