Mockingjay Alternate Ending
Note: Sections in Italics are from the actual text of Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins. I do not own the characters or the book, I just wrote an alternate ending for a final assignment in my Hunger Games class.
As she passes me, I hold up the glass with the rose. “Can you see that Snow’s wearing this? Just over his heart?”
Coin smiles. “Of course. And I’ll make sure he knows about the Games.”
“Thank you,” I say.
People sweep into the room, surround me. The last touch of powder, the instructions from Plutarch as I’m guided to the front doors of the mansion. The City Circle runs over, spills people down the side streets. The others take their places outside. Guards. Officials. Rebel leaders. Victors. I hear the cheers that indicate Coin has appeared on the balcony. Then Effie taps my shoulder, and I step out into the cold winter sunlight. Walk to my position, accompanied by the deafening roar of the crowd. As directed, I turn so they see me in profile, and wait. When they march Snow out the door, the audience goes insane. They secure his hands behind a post, which is unnecessary. He’s not going anywhere. There’s nowhere to go. This is not the roomy stage before the Training Center but the narrow terrace in front of the president’s mansion. No wonder no one bothered to have me practice. He’s ten yards away.
I feel the bow purring in my hand. Reach back and grasp the arrow. Position it, aim at the rose, but watch his face. He coughs and a bloody dribble runs down his chin. His tongue flicks over his puffy lips. I search his eyes for the slightest sign of anything, fear, remorse, anger. But there’s only the same look of amusement that ended our last conversation. It’s as if he’s speaking the words again. “Oh, my dear Miss Everdeen. I thought we had agreed not to lie to each other.”
He’s right. We did.
The point of my arrow shifts upward. I prepare to release the string.
As I prepare, Snow begins coughing once again and I lower my arrow, waiting for it to pass. Even after everything President Snow put me and my family through, he would be dead soon anyway from the sickness he hid for years. I nod to him, as a sign of respect and ending. I hear a commotion down below and as I look up, Peeta is sprinting toward President Coin in her balcony up above. The guards try frantically to contain him, but his own strength and the adrenaline from the episode that had him clearly trapped in his own mind made him impossible to stop. As he reached President Coin, he lifted her over his head and threw her from her balcony. She hit the ground below with a sickening crunch as the people around her started to scream.
Everything was a blur after Coin fell to the ground. I looked around in a panic, and as I did, I heard President Snow’s laughter as he too died in front of the crowd that was no longer paying any attention to him. As the guards drag Peeta away and out of the sight of the people of the Capitol, I turn and try run to Peeta to find out what happened, but Commander Paylor takes my arm from the shadows. “Leave him, Mockingjay,” she says. “I promise he won’t be executed or tortured any further at our hands, he has been through enough.”
I freeze, trying to come to terms with the grisly scene before me, and then I nod and walk into the mansion with Commander Paylor. I start to look for the signs of destruction that would show me where Peeta was taken. It is clear that his episode has not ended as the hallways are littered with broken decorations and the fresh residue of blood. We follow through a series of hallways and pathways until we reach a set of rooms that I recognize – the training center rooms that Peeta and I stayed in during our time before each of the Games. I run to the door of Peeta’s room as the guards are exiting and locking the door. “Let me see him,” I demand angrily.
They look at Commander Paylor and she nods. As they reopen the door, I hear them caution her, “Careful, he is out of control again.” I see him chained to the wall on the far side of the room, blindfolded and still thrashing in an attempt to escape. I walk over and carefully remove his blindfold before taking a few large steps back.
“Why?” I ask, unable to understand what motivated him to attack someone other than me during this episode. Most of his previously healing wounds were torn open during the struggle, and he was bleeding steadily onto the floor. I feel myself getting angry at the guards callous treatment of him, he has already suffered too much at the hands of the Capitol and District 13. However, I take a few deep breaths, not wanting to worsen the intensity of his episode.
He looked at me, seeming torn about sharing any information with the mutt. “She was using me, just like you do!” he said angrily. “She only brought me onto the team to kill you! She wanted to restart the Hunger Games, too! How could you agree to that? That is the only thing that makes sense!” He looks hurt, and torn again, as he turns to Commander Paylor and said, “I just don’t know what is true anymore.”
He turns and looks back at me, his eyes full out anger once again, “I still don’t trust you.” However, his confusion and his pain still lingered in his eyes, and it was clear that he wished that the situation could be different.
Commander Paylor nods at him, looking concerned and then gestures for both of us to leave him to rest. On the way out the door, she turns to him and says, “We may have to put you on trial for President Coin’s death, but since you were tortured and your mental state is well recorded, I will be recommending long term therapy. The chains will be removed once we are sure that you are not going to hurt yourself.”
A medical team walks into the room as we walk out. She opens a panel on the wall so that I can reassure myself that he is being treated well. The medical team gives him his medication and tends to his various wounds, and slowly he drifts off to sleep.
Commander Paylor was elected the next President of Panem during the time which I remained in the Capitol, and as her first official act, she pardoned Peeta for any wrongdoing on the part of President Coin’s death. After I shared with her my concern that Peeta killed President Coin because of her desire to have me killed, no one even insisted that he should be put on trial. The Capitol was appeased by the idea that the star crossed lovers were once again protecting each other against the world, and the rebellion knew that Peeta’s mental state was the real reason for his decision to murder President Coin and since it was Capitol created, they too agreed that he should not be punished. However, the newly-elected President Paylor did insist that he remain in the Capitol until he was deemed safe to go home.
A few weeks after the elections, I was sent back to District 12 to recover from my own trauma. Dr. Aurelius was convinced that I would not even begin to recover while still in the Capitol and Peeta was not allowed to see me anyway because he was still unstable. They planned to perform an experimental surgery on him soon that should lessen the effects of the hijacking. He would never be completely cured, but it would at least give him more control over his actions during the episodes.
When I returned to the ruins of District 12, everything was still in ruins. I returned to the home in the Victors Village that I hated and simply shut myself away from the world. I only ate when Greasy Sae returned and started refusing to leave until I ate enough to survive. I forgot to shower, to clean, and to retain any remnants of a life outside of my house. Haymitch, who returned to District 12 with me, gave up on dragging me out of my house and returned to drinking away his own sorrows. Every day, and every night, my thoughts were haunted by Prim and everyone else who was lost. I received various letters from my mother and Gale, who moved to other Districts after the war, begging me to call them and to let them help me. Gale’s letters stopped over time, rarely opened and never answered.
Eventually, at Greasy Sae’s insistence, I start eating with her and her granddaughter and start hunting once again. Dr. Aurelius insisted that going through the motions would at least keep me mostly sane. However, the flashbacks in the woods are terrible, so more often then not, I hunt only in the meadow. Even hunting, the memories of the people who died and the people who left linger in my mind. Some days I am able to hunt, but others I simply sit in the meadow and cry near the mass grave that I realize is mostly my fault.
When Peeta returned to District 12, after nearly a year of surgeries, therapy, and recovery in the Capitol, I was too broken to go see him. Haymitch stopped by long enough to let me know that he was back, and while there was a brief moment of hope, my own despair crushed my resolve. What if he still hated me? I heard from various people that he was doing better, but even without the hijacking he would have every reason to hate me after everything that I put him through.
One morning, I wake with a start. Pale morning light comes around the edges of the shutters. The scraping of the shovel continues. Still half in the nightmare, I run down the hall, out the front door, and around the side of the house, because now I’m pretty sure I can scream at the dead. When I see him, I pull up short. His face is flushed from digging up the ground under the windows. In a wheelbarrow are five scraggly bushes.
“You’re back,” I say.
“Dr. Aurelius wouldn’t let me leave the Capitol until yesterday,” Peeta says. “By the way, he said to tell you he can’t keep pretending he’s treating you forever. You have to pick up the phone.
“He looks well. Thin and covered with burn scars like me, but his eyes have lost that clouded, tortured look. He’s frowning slightly, though, as he takes me in. I make a halfhearted effort to push my hair out of my eyes and realize it’s matted into clumps. I feel defensive. “What are you doing?”
“I went to the woods this morning and dug these up. For her,” he says. “I thought we could plant them along the side of the house.” I nod, and then flee the house towards the woods.
When I return from the woods, I invite Peeta inside and we start to clean the house of President Snow’s smell and the state of disrepair I let it fall into. Greasy Sae cooks breakfast for us both, glad to finally see us talking once again. Over time, Peeta, Haymitch, and I fall into a routine that helps us retain our sanity. I hear Peeta on the phone sometimes, talking to Dr. Aurelius and someone else that he refuses to share with me. All I hear on those calls is pleading for them to come out to District 12 and help.
When Peeta drags me along to the train station one morning, I assume it must be the woman he has been calling to visit. I am shocked when I see my mother step off the train, crying but clearly surviving. She runs up to me, “I am sorry for abandoning you again, Katniss. I could not handle Prim’s death, but Peeta called and made me realize that I need to be there for you and that maybe we can help each other heal.”
I feel myself slide to the ground as I begin to sob, my mother sitting next to me and holding onto me tightly. “I’m so sorry,” she says, over and over again. Peeta lets us cry and mourn, but after a while he pulls us both to our feet and helps guide us back to the house. My mother sniffles and takes a good look at me, “You look such as mess Katniss, go shower and I’ll help Peeta make some lunch.”
Peeta, Haymitch, and I still receive compensation from the Capitol, as do all of the surviving victors, so we are able to live comfortably. However instead of relying on the Capitol, I started hunting in the woods again and selling game to the people who returned to District 12, as well as some new people as well. Peeta baked bread for the people who are rebuilding, and after people recovered enough, he reopened the bakery. Late at night, both of us spend long hours with Haymitch working on our memory book of everyone that we have lost. Life moved on in District 12 and Peeta and I were finally able to grow close without the threat of the Capitol hanging over us. My mother ran a small clinic in town after making an agreement with the new medicine factory to get access to better medicine in the case of accident’s and injury. Annie, unable to remain in District 4 without Finnick, eventually traveled to District 12 and moved into Peeta’s house with my mother. They grew close while my mother was working in District 4, and it was a relief to both of them to be back together again. With the baby and Annie around to take care of, my mother starts being able to move on from Prim’s death, instead of working to try and forget, she learns to remember Prim and all the good that she brought into our life.
There are still moments when he clutches the back of a chair and hangs on until the flashbacks are over. I wake screaming from nightmares of mutts and lost children. But his arms are there to comfort me. And eventually his lips. His episodes get less intense as the experimental surgery that he had in the Capitol, which gave him greater control over his ability to distinguish reality, took hold. The episodes will likely never go away completely, but it is enough that he is safe from harming himself or others now. Each night, Peeta and I are able to lay down to sleep together and know that we are still broken, but we are recovering.
On the night I feel that thing again, the hunger that overtook me on the beach, I know this would have happened anyway. That what I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that.
So after, when he whispers, “You love me. Real or not real?”
I tell him, “Real.”