A/N: I'm sorry for the long wait, guys! Since my last update school's started back up for me again, and I've been adjusting to my new classes and stuff. It's going pretty well.
I had fun getting into Mrs. Everdeen's head for this. She wasn't a character I gave much thought to while reading the books, but she turned out to be pretty interesting to write. Also, don't ask how I came up with Dani's new hobby. I don't know a thing about needlepoint, but it seemed like a somewhat quirky hobby to have. I guess I liked the idea of Dani having a hobby that was somewhat unusual.
Mrs. Everdeen had never particularly enjoyed her rare visits to District 12. It was an entirely different place than the one she had left, yet it held a certain quality about it that took her back to a different time. A time she had no interest in being reminded of on a daily basis during her trip. Still, she forced herself to travel to the small district at least once a year. For years it had only been to see her daughter and the man who eventually became her son-in-law. Then one year she found herself beginning to visit grandchildren. She knew visiting the only family she had left in the world should feel her with joy, and it did at times, but even more of her time spent in the district was taken up by her struggle to forget the past.
She knew Katniss would have taken any excuse she gave her as a reason not to come, but she'd never been able to bring herself to that. Sometimes Mrs. Everdeen wondered if it was because she had to prove to Katniss, and herself, that she was still a mother. Yet most of her visits were spent largely out of Katniss' company. Her grandchildren seemed happy to see her at least, but she wasn't much fun to play with. She wasn't often away from her own sorrow enough to play childish games, and her old age made it even more difficult these days. Unfortunately, this left her with a lot of free time during her visits, which was omething she didn't want in a place where it was so easy to sink back into horrible memories. She was forced to wander around the house she had lived in for almost a year. A house that held some of the memories she was most anxious to get rid of. Yet she still came.
On this particular visit she had spent more time alone than she had on any visit since Dani and Nickel were born. In addition to all of her usual sorrow, she was forced to face the fact that they were growing up. It seemed like Dani was constantly off with one of her friends, and Nickel was either with his own friends or out in the woods with Katniss, something that worried her ever since she had heard about his leg injury. She tried to visit during school holidays, but that never seemed to matter. Katniss and Peeta had always been busy when she was there. Mrs. Everdeen was positive that Katniss went out of her way to be out of the house as much as possible. Peeta made an effort to keep her company, but she never knew what to say to the man and he had a bakery to run for most of the day.
On this particular day, Mrs. Everdeen had busied herself by looking through the old plant book when Nickel suddenly came through the front door, startling her a bit.
"Grandma," the boy seemed extremely excited. "Guess what happened at school today." He looked at her expectantly, waiting for a reply.
Mrs. Everdeen honestly had no clue what could have caused Nickel so much excitement, and she'd never been one for guessing games. There was an awkward moment of silence while she struggled with a response before Katniss came in the door Nickel had left wide open carrying two bows and some arrows. They either hadn't made any kills or had stopped to sell the meat in town.
Nickel finally seemed to realize that his grandmother wasn't answering anytime soon, so he leaned in to tell her quietly. "Mommy used the money we got from selling meat in town to buy Dani's birthday present, and I know what it is!"
"And you promised you wouldn't tell," Katniss scolded him gently from the hallway where she was placing her load in the closet.
"I'm not telling Dani!" Nickel protested. "And Grandma won't tell her either. Will you Grandma?"
"Of course not," Mrs. Everdeen smiled down at her grandson. She was thrilled at the chance of being in on something. Nickel's trust in her secretly made her gleeful that she was being included in a family secret.
"It's canvas and yarn for her to needlepoint more. We even got a book to help her!" Nickel's excitement seemed to be at the same level Dani's would be when she opened her present.
Katniss came and sat on the couch next to Nickel. "She did some needlepoint at school and loved it. She got Peeta's creativity, but she doesn't feel like painting is her thing. She's good, but she seems to think she could be even better at needlepoint. I suppose she likes that it's something of her own. Painting gives her time with Peeta, but she likes being able to make something that she won't mentally compare to her father's work."
Mrs. Everdeen was surprised that Katniss had been able to come to these conclusions when she was usually so clueless about other people. Katniss must have been able to read her mother's expression. "Or at least that's what Peeta told me the other day," she smirked slightly. As Mrs. Everdeen smiled back she realized this was a bit of a new experience. She couldn't remember the last time Katniss had truely smiled at her. It was a small thing, but it made her continual sorrow just a tiny bit more bearable. After all, District 12 may hold a lot of painful memories, but it also held her family.