Chapter 81: Clove

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The past days have been a wreck. I don't think I've moved from in front of the TV since the Games started. I'm still wearing the black outfit from the Reaping but I don't care, I can't pull away from the screen.

"Clove do you want some food, you haven't eaten for days" Cato suggests carefully, treading lightly. I shake my head and watch Martiall collect water by the only lake in the arena. He must have claimed the only water source because people have been slowly dying without being attacked or fighting. I watch intently and the sun starts to set in the arena, unnaturally quickly. He immediately climbs a tree and starts to tie himself to the trunk, like Cato and I did in our Games. I watch him as he starts to fall asleep and I glance back at Cato.

"You still don't want any" Cato says tauntingly as he takes a bite of some sausage. I shrug but grab it quickly. I turn away from him and eat it slowly. He laughs lightly and I'm forced to smile. I crawl over to him and sit in his lap, blocking his path to the food. He laughs lightly and pulls me close. I glance at the screen and it's still night. I look back and Cato and try for a smile.

"Hey, he'll be fine" Cato whispers close to my ear, brushing his lips over them. I nod, he'll be fine, the only threat is dad. I lean into him and reach over to grab a piece of fruit, it's morning here but just barely night in the arena. They're trying to set them off, make them more vulnerable, like they do every year.

"You want to take Dagger on a walk? Go see your mom or Shyll? We could even try to find Cashmere" he asks now desperately. I shrug and pass him a piece of bacon. He eats it and smiles sweetly. I kiss him, turning all the way around while still in his lap and hold it as long as my back will allow.

"We can go, not for long" I say hoping to see my mom or Cashmere "Do you know where they are?" I ask and he nods. He sits up, pushing me off of him and almost on to the floor. He picks me up carefully and pulls me out of the door and through some long, dark corridors. I look around carefully and nervously. Anything could happen and I'm too distressed to be ready. Cato's here, always a bonus.

"Here you go" he says mocking a Capitol accent, and I wince by accident. That used to be one of our many little jokes but now it's more disturbing than funny. I smile, as realistically as I can, and I knock on the door nervously. Cashmere opens it and glances behind us before letting me, and only me in. Cato waits outside patiently and I hug her tightly.

"Clove!" she squeals in my ears. I smile and we separate quickly. She smiles at me, a soft smile and laughs. I don't know what to say. She's smiling and laughing, not like Cashmere at all.

"I'm so sorry" she says suddenly sad, probably just remembered. I  smile weakly, wishing I could say I was too, but that'd sound weird. She suddenly looks like she's watched too much tv, her face flushes and her eye widen.

"They found me" she mutters almost inaudibly. I look at her carefully and she opens her mouth to explain, almost half-heartedly "The men, my Patrons, they found me. I ended up killing one of them and they ran" she says dully. I hold her tightly, if I get it rough, she gets hell. 

"You'll be okay, just call me and I'll kill whoever did this" I say bitterly and she smiles, with a hint of, pride maybe? She smiles and looks back at the door, probably remembering Cato waiting for us. I hug her again and with that I leave her, still smiling proudly.

"Where to next?" I ask even though I know we're going to see my mom and Shyll. He kisses me lightly, awkwardly since we're walking hand in hand and I sigh.

"I wish this were my life, just you and me and happiness" I say trying not to sound too sad. He smiles down at me and his hand slips around my waist, softly.

"Mom? Shyll?" I ask as Cato stops us at what he says is their room, and of course he's right. My mom opens the door gently, trying to not be rushed. She looks so hurt, just a glance and I can tell she's been crying, a lot. I hug her tightly without a word and Cato looks down awkwardly.

"Cato do you mind? Actually I think Syll wanted to talk, please" my mom says carefully, guessing that he's tense too, and she'd be right. He walks off slowly and my mom looks like she might just break. She tries for a smile but it comes as more of a one-sided frown. 

"How have you been doing?" she asks and I try to think. 


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