Dani had never in her life felt pain like this before. She now understood the full meaning of excrutiating. If she died from the pain, it wouldn't even surprise her. How could she possibly go on when it hurt this much? She didn't think it was possible. Nothing could provide her comfort.
Aldine was gone forever, and nothing could be done to change that. Dani had never believed things like this happened. People didn't die when they were twelve. It just didn't happen. Only the elderly die.
Dani's father had sat down to tell her two hours ago that Aldine had died last night after being in a car crash with her family. Everyone else had made it out alive with minor injuries. Cars had been a relatively new concept in District 12, and only a limited number of them could be found on the streets. This tragedy had shocked the entire district.
Dani made the mistake of glancing at her mother as Peeta told her the story as calmly as he could. Katniss looked as if every nightmare she'd had about the future had suddenly come true. Dani had it worse. This wasn't her nightmare. This was something so horrible that Dani hadn't even dreamt it possible. The young girl was entirely unprepared for the disaster and had no idea how to handle it. In her twelve years, Dani had never directly experienced death other than watching her mother while hunting, and even that had rattled Dani so much that she'd declined ever going again.
Now, all of her views on death were changing. It was a reality now, and Dani was being asked to accept the fact that she'd never see one of her best friends again except as a still corpse in a casket before it was closed and buried deep into the ground.
The idea was almost too much for the girl to take as she holed herself up in her room and cried never-ending tears. Dani hadn't known it was possible to produce this many tears this quickly. Just one of the many things she was discovering today.
She felt the matress dip beside her but couldn't be bothered to glance up at the person who had invaded her privacy. Dani deduced that it was her father when he pulled her hair back and pulled her closer to himself. She sunk into his embrace, but not even her father could make her feel better at that particular moment.
He must have held her for hours before Dani ran out of tears. It was only then that she stopped to realize that he hadn't bothered to move for that long because he was more worried about her. For the first time, Dani lifted her head from the pillow, hoping not to burst into tears at the sight of her father. She was surprised to find not only her father looking down at her but her mother as well. Katniss had settled in a chair by Dani's bedside, and Dani didn't think she had seen her this worried since Nickel's injury in the woods.
No one wanted to break the silence. Katniss and Peeta were probably worried that anything they said would set of Dani's tears again, but Dani didn't think that was possible. Her eyes stung more than she thought was possible. They'd be raw for weeks.
Dani burried her face in her father's shoulder as her mother moved towards the bed and began to hold her too. Her crying had subsided, but her emotions were just as strong as ever. The young girl had a feeling there would always be a part of her that ached at the thought of Aldine.
A/N: And that's the end of Life Lessons! I'm sorry for ending it on such a sad one, but I guess the fact that death is a part of life is always the hardest lesson to learn, isn't it? Thank you to everyone who read Life Lessons. It means a lot, and an extra special thank you to everyone who reviewed it. I read all of the reviews, and I really appreciate all of them.
I'm currently writing a second Hunger Games fanfiction that will cover themes 31-50 of the Hunger Games 100 Theme Challenge. It's entirely different though and will be about the 4th Hunger Games. I hope you all check it out as well when it's up. I'm about halfway through writing it at the moment. Hopefully it'll be up sometime this summer.
Again, thank you to all of you who read the entire story! I appreciate it.