On the train it's strange. It's like the world they know is falling away and destiny is propelling them forward into a a world they don't understand and a horrible nightmare that will end in an arena.
They both deal with the prospect of competing in the Hunger Games differently. But they are still just Peeta Mellark and Katniss Everdeen. Two kids from Distric 12 who are out of their depth here. While Effie treats them like they should feel grateful for being allowed the great honor to be paraded around for a few days, before they'll inevitably be shipped of to this years newest place of slaughter to be killed on live television. Haymitch treats them like they are nothing but annoying. If he's sober enough to take notice of them at all.
It's okay that Katniss is brushing him off. They are both still shell-shocked and overwhelmed.
They are also not friends and there is not much sense in befriending someone who you might be forced to kill – or who will kill you without a second thought soon. He can't imagine it yet, has watched her too long to imagine it, but she looks cold and determined, when she doesn't look like all of this is simply too much for her.
All this is just too much for anyone to take. It's too much for him too, being here with her of all people. This is not how it's supposed to go, but there's nothing much he can do about it now, but remember the previous Hunger Games he has seen over the years and wonder how exactly he'll find his death. And does Katniss really stand a chance like his mother said?
Effie is complaining about their manners again when Haymitch grins and says:“Effie, Effie, at least they have some spunk. Maybe I can work with that. Wouldn't that be just great for once?”
And that's how it begins. It's starts with Haymitch who doesn't seem to like Katniss very much, but who sees potential in her anyway. When they get to the capital and get to meet their prep teams it continues. Portia smiles while she explains what she and Cinna have planned and Peeta is simply to flabbergasted to even protest. He forgets all about that when he sees Katniss dressed up in a matching unitard, looking just as nervous as he feels.
She's lovely, of course. Even now.
Other tributes are looking at them, some nervous, some taxing.
From here on it counts.
Then suddenly they are on fire. And it only takes that little push to make the Capitol audience fall in love with her.
He can see the two of them on the monitors above and they look amazing together. She looks amazing. The crowd goes wild.
Good, he thinks. If I can no longer follow my heart, at least the crowd will love her, give her sponsors.
It's a childhood crush he never grew out of, but as he sees people fall in lover with her without her noticing, he knows that even if he wouldn't die soon, he would never have fully grown out of it.
This is love and it's complicated and painful. But the adoration in the eyes of these Capitol people might make all the difference.
If they lover she has a chance to go home.
And maybe that can be his last act of defiance. Helping her. Loving her.
They are no longer just Katniss and Peeta. They are tributes now. And one of them might have what it takes to be a victor.