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Sweet Is The Melody

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Prim never sleeps the night before the reaping.

She used to, back before she started having to worry about Katniss' name getting called, but it's been four years. By now she's used to the night of sleeplessness.

Tonight, though, she decides to crawl into bed with her mother and pretend to sleep anyway simply because she knows Katniss needs rest to be able to hunt tomorrow with Gale and she won't get any knowing Prim is awake. She carefully wraps a lump of cheese made from Lady's milk up in leaves and sets it out for her sister before she goes to bed.

Prim never sleeps the night before the reaping, but tonight not only does she sleep, she also dreams.

She dreams of District 13.

Prim doesn't know much about District 13. She knows that this was the district that, roughly seventy-five years ago, had been destroyed by the Capitol, and that the first Hunger Games took place barely a year later near the ruins, but beyond that she knows very little. In fact, it's safe to say that there's more things she doesn't know about it than things she does.

For instance, she did not know that District 13 had burned to the ground.

In her dream Prim can see everything very clearly--every charred remnant of a house, every tiny piece of ash floating through the air. She walks past what had obviously once been a garden, and she can see that every last petal has been blackened past the point of healing. She shudders slightly and moves on, the image of the burnt flowers haunting her as she goes. For some reason it reminds her of Katniss, and she quickly tries distance herself from it.

After a while Prim comes to what seems to be the only house in the district that's still standing. It isn't so much a house as a burnt-out shell, really, and it's clearly only there still because it's made of stone and not wood like the rest of the houses, but it stands out regardless, seeming to beckon to Prim. She carefully makes her way through the mess of rusty nails and splintered black wood piled where the front porch would have been and walks through the empty front doorway.

It isn't until she's inside the little house that Prim realizes she was half expecting to see people on the other side of the doorway. But of course there aren't any people, just a lot of piles of ash and charred wood where the furniture should have been, and maybe the family's bodies are around somewhere, but she doesn't see them and she's certainly not about to go looking.

She can't just stand there, though, so when after a moment she catches sight of a doorway off to the side she goes through it automatically, not sure what to expect but positive it can't be worse than this.

She was wrong, she can feel that as soon as she's on the other side. And even if she couldn't sense it she'd have been able to tell anyway, because this room was clearly once a child's bedroom.

Like in the other room, the furniture is mostly gone, though there are lumps of burnt wood and simple metal knobs littering the floor here and there. This room, however, is worse, because Prim can also see brightly colored puddles of wax on the floor that had undoubtedly once been crayons, as well as a blackened blanket. It takes a moment for her to register through her shock that there is something small and gold tangled in the blanket, and she can't help going over to pick it up.

It's a music box. It's a little sooty, unsurprisingly, but still fully intact as far as Prim can tell. It's pretty, too, like a perfect golden duck egg, with forest scenes carved out on the surface. She winds it up and carefully opens the lid.

She can't help gasping. The inside is lined with real velvet, dark green and softer than anything she's ever touched. There are two tiny trees, attached to the bottom of the music box by little metal springs, and in each tree is a minute but perfect copy of a mockingjay.

And the music! It's the prettiest thing Prim has ever heard, sad and sweet and achingly lovely, and it stirs in her a memory of someone singing. The memory is as fleeting as the sight of a hummingbird, and Prim wonders faintly whether it was her father or Katniss who was singing. Although at the moment she's almost too tired to care.

She scoots backwards to lean against the wall and closes her eyes, still clutching the music box. The mockingjay's song...