Whispers in the Mockingjay's Shadow — Hunger Games fanfiction

Between Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark and Haymitch Abernathy and Gale Hawthorne and Primrose Everdeen as siblings.

Chapter One: The Bunker of Shadows

The sharp cold of the winter morning cuts through the worn fabric of my jacket, almost as sharply as the memories that threaten to surface every time I look at the stark, barren landscape of District 12. It's only been a few months since the Capitol fell, but each day feels like a separate lifetime, a separate struggle. I occupy myself with hunting and helping with the district's reconstruction, filling my days with anything to keep the ghosts at bay.

Gale is here, always just on the fringes of my vision. Our hunting paths don't cross anymore; we have silently, mutually agreed to the solitude that the other prefers. We haven't spoken about it, but words have always been secondary to our understanding of one another. At least, they used to be. The weight of all the unspoken things between us could sink the entire district. Maybe that's why we have to rebuild it, to hold all those words down.

Today, a frosty silence hangs between us as we inspect the new structures taking shape. There's purpose in every hammer's fall, in every saw's bite through wood. Around us, the district is slowly coming to life again, but the life we're building feels as frail as the early morning ice on the scaffolding.

We walk through the site, Gale’s eyes fixated on the skeletons of future homes while mine drift to the forest line, and I can't help but feel like I'm still being hunted. By memories, by nightmares, by thoughts of Prim...

All of that changes when they call us over. Workers have uncovered a hatch, concealed beneath what used to be the Justice Building. Everyone around us is abuzz with conjecture. A bunker? A hidden store? A forgotten piece of the old Capitol's paranoia?

Gale's eyes meet mine, and without a word, we move towards the hatch. The workers have already pried it open, and a ladder descends into the dark. He looks at me, a silent question hanging in the air. I nod. Divided we stand, but united we descend into the darkness.

The bunker is a time capsule, untouched since the early days of the Capitol's domination. The still air inside feels heavy with history, the masses of wires and machines like sleeping snakes waiting to bite. Gale’s flashlight casts long shadows as we explore, each artefact of the old world unearthing yet more questions about how far we've come.

"I wonder how long this has been here," he murmurs, more to himself than to me.

"Since the Dark Days, maybe," I whisper back. My eyes linger on an old console, its blinking lights like dying stars. I can't shake the feeling that we're intruders here in this space meant to keep people out, to keep secrets in.

As I glance back at Gale, I see the tightness in his jaw, the grim set of his face. Here, in the half-light of the past, I can almost see him as my brother again, not as the architect of my sister’s death. It's unsafe to think this way, but here, underground, it feels like a truth I can't escape. It's suffocating, and suddenly, I need air. I can't be trapped down here with him, with this ghost of what we used to be. Without another word, I turn and start to climb out of the bunker, the ladder creaking under the weight of the distance growing between us once more.

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