Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Life Lessons 9: Insanity

A/N: Merry Christmas, everyone! I guess we can consider this a Christmas present. I hope all of you had a wonderful day, regardless of whether you celebrate the holiday or not. I hope you all enjoy seeing Johanna for the first time in the story. You also get to meet one of Gale and Johanna's other kids.

"I'll never understand the appeal of District 12." Johanna looked at the town with slight disgust. Peeta, who had always found her hatred for the place amusing, grinned. "Gale always talks about it so fondly. It looks like a pit, and this is probably ten times better than before the rebellion."

"Maybe so," Peeta answered. "But it's home."

"You don't even have decent trees," Johanna grumbled, looking past the fence that still surrounded the district. "These all look like pathetic wimps compared to the giant evergreens in District 7."

Alder rolled his eyes at his mother as he followed along behind her and Peeta. "Mom, no matter how many times you insult District 12, I'm not moving, not even to District 7."

Peeta had offered to show Johanna around District 12 in order to give Katniss and Gale time to catch up together, and Alder, Linde, and Nickel had tagged along. Dani had taken Rowan, Johanna and Gale's daughter, off to meet some of her friends. For the past half hour, Johanna had done nothing but insult everything she passed in a futile attempt to prove to her oldest son that he had made a large mistake. Peeta had attempted to quell the growing tension between the mother and son, but had finally given up and decided to take it in stride.

Nickel and Linde didn't seem as amused by the conversation as Peeta. At fifteen years old, Linde seemed to have hit his teenage rebellion years, and he did not seem happy about being dragged all the way to District 12 to spend time with his family. Nickel, much to the teen's dismay, was almost as enthralled with Linde as he was with Alder, and he was quite enjoying having two older boys to follow around and emulate. He was happily occupying the space between Linde and Alder as they walked and seemed to hang on their every word and action. (Not that Linde was doing much but pouting.)

Before long their walk had brought them to the meadow. This was the one place Johanna didn't make a comment about. She knew the place held significance for Katniss and Peeta, and she knew the place doubled as a burial ground. Not even Johanna Mason-Hawthorne would insult a graveyard. The children had never been informed of the meadow's second use, and all three had played in it over the years. Even Linde seemed a little more peaceful in the beautiful meadow as the five of them lounged underneath the shade of a tree. It was only Johanna who seemed slightly uncomfortable.

"How do you deal with coming here all the time?" she whispered to Peeta. The kids looked slightly confused. This question hadn't been asked with the same bitter tone her past insults of the day had used.

"We focus on the beauty," was Peeta's simple reply. "If we did otherwise, it would drive us to insanity."

Johanna chuckled, "I think you've both already reached insanity." Peeta agreed and began to laugh as well. No matter how odd the children found this exchange, they quickly turned their attention from it in favor of more amusing things. Before long all five of them were pointing out pictures in the clouds.

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