Katniss sat with her elbows resting on a cold, metal table. She was in a small room with white walls and a lone, round clock. The seconds ticked by. In her peripheral vision, she could the see a large, rectangular one-way mirror that was built into one of the walls. If she turned her head, she only would have seen her reflection. Still, she could feel the eyes of strangers monitoring her every move. She knew how it felt when she was being watched.
Sitting across from her was a boy. Well, he wasn’t a boy exactly. He was a young man, not much older than her. He had dark hair, green eyes, and pale skin. A kind yet awkward smile curved at his lips, but faded as fast as it appeared. He kept adjusting his glasses. Clearly he was just as nervous as she was. The most striking thing about his appearance was the lightning-bolt shaped scar that rested on his forehead. Katniss didn’t know much about it, but she knew that the scar was significant somehow. He looked down and cleared his throat. The silence lingered.
“So, you’re Harry, right? Harry Potter?” Katniss asked.
“Yes. And you’re Katniss Everdeen?” Harry asked.
“I am.” Harry reached out to shake her hand.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, really.” He said. They shook hands and laughed, loosening up the tension. The gesture was so ordinary in these strange circumstances. Katniss noticed that Harry’s accent was so proper sounding. She remembered being told he was from a place called England.
“So, they tell me you’re a wizard.” She said.
“I am.” She rummaged through a small bag and pulled out a red apple. She placed it on the table and looked at Harry expectantly. He looked at her blankly, wondering if he was supposed to eat it.
“Prove it.” She said.
“With an apple?” He asked. She said nothing, only looked at him with expectant eyes. Her face cracked to reveal a tiny smirk. He shook his head and laughed as though the idea was completely absurd. “Okay, sure. Whatever you want.” He pulled his wand from his jeans pocket, cleared his throat, and pointed it toward the apple. He moved his wand in a swish and flick motion while saying, “Wingardium Leviosa.” The moment the words left his lips, the apple levitated into the air. Katniss watched as it rose and then hovered in the space between them.
She looked at Harry who gave her a look that said, ‘Is that proof enough for you?’ She waved her hand under the apple, over it, and then under it again, trying to make sure it wasn’t just a trick. As far as she could tell, the magic was real. The apple did not seem to be held up by an invisible string. She nodded in approval, but did not express any feelings of giddiness or surprise.
“Not bad.” She said. She grabbed the apple from midair and took a bite, the apple crunching between her teeth. She paused mid-chew as a thought crossed her mind. “That spell or enchantment or whatever doesn’t alter the apple in any way does it? Like eating it won’t make me start floating around or anything, right?”
“No, you’re fine. It’s completely safe.” He said.
“Though, there are spells that can make people float around. I once blew up my aunt when she spoke badly about my parents. I didn’t mean to, but I got so angry. She got real big and floated out of the house and into the sky. I know I should be sorry I did it. But to be honest—“ Harry stopped talking because Katniss was looking at him as though he had three heads. This made him want to mention Fluffy the dog, but he decided it might be too much for a person who never knew about magic before today. She took another bite of her apple. “I’m not.” He finished.
“Did they, I mean, did they get her back?” She asked.
“My aunt? Yeah. The Ministry of Magic took care of it. They got her back safe and sound. And they erased her memory. I thought they were going to send me to prison. But they didn’t, thankfully.”
“Thankfully.” Katniss agreed. If she was weirded out at all about discussing magic, she didn’t show it. She rummaged through her bag again. “I have some more food in here. Do you want anything?”
“Oh, thank you. But no. I’m fine.” Katniss continued to rummage through her bag.
“Take it from someone who spent a long time being hungry,” She started. She pulled out a banana and a small loaf of bread, and placed it on a napkin in front of him. “You’re an idiot to turn down free food.”
“Thankyou.” He said. He pulled the food closer to him, not knowing what else to say. She took another bite of her apple.
“So, what did your parents say after you blew up your aunt in their defense?” She asked.
“My parents are dead.” He said. Those words never became easier to say. But that might have been because Harry didn’t have to explain this to very many people. Most of the people he encountered already knew everything about him.
“Crap. They told me that to me earlier, but I forgot. I’m so sorry.” She reached out to take his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. Harry was surprised by how sweet this gesture was, coming from this girl who seemed so tough and unfazed.
“It’s alright. At least they told you something. To be honest, I’m not even entirely sure what this place is. I came here as a favor to McGonagall, my professor. She said it would be good for me. It’s the story of my life, really. No one ever tells me anything.”
“I can tell you. Well, I can tell you what I know, anyway. Think fast!” She threw her apple core at him and he raised his wand instinctively.
“Immobulus!” He shouted. The apple core froze in mid-air and hovered around the room a bit. “Good thing I had my wand out.”
“I’m sorry. That was mean.” She didn’t sound too sincere. She was giggling, clearly amused.
“No, it’s fine. Really.” He was still trying to catch his breath. She grabbed the floating apple core and tossed it into a metal trashcan. “Please don’t do that again.”
“I won’t. I promise. But I have to say, I’m impressed by your reflexes.” She said.
“I try.” He tore off a piece of bread and nibbled it, trying to calm his nerves.
“Anyway, in all seriousness. This place is the International Trauma Recovery Center. Also known as the I.T.R.C. Their mission is to bring people together who have gone through exceptional traumatic experiences that most people in their lives wouldn’t fully understand. The idea is that if we hear each other’s stories, we’ll feel like there are people who can understand what we’re going through. We’ll feel less alone, and that’s supposed to help us on our ‘path to recovery.” She put air quotes around “path to recovery,” but her tone of voice suggested she didn’t think it was all a joke. Her joking seemed more like a defense mechanism than anything else. “So,” she continued, “what’s your story?”
“Well,” he started. He wasn’t sure how to put it into words. Everyone in the wizarding world knew about Harry. They knew about The Battle of Hogwarts, Voldemort, Dumbledore, his scar, Cedric Diggory, the Chamber of Secrets… they even knew about horcruxes and Harry being the Chosen One. Now, sitting before him was someone who wasn’t familiar with any of it. He fought a war that had no effect on her. Just like she fought a war that had no effect on him.
And yet, here they both were, talking, sharing, and listening. “I fought a war against a dark wizard. His name was Voldemort and he killed my parents when I was a baby. That’s how I got this scar. Of course, I wasn’t the only one who fought in this war. I fought alongside my friends, and alongside other brave witches, wizards, and anyone else who was on our side. We lost a few friends along the way. But in the end, we won. And things were peaceful again. We still had a lot of work to do. Hogwarts, our school, needed to be restored to look like new again. But in the end, things worked out. And the fight was over.” He said.
Harry hadn’t even realized he had started crying. But when he met Katniss’s eyes, he realized his cheeks were wet with tears. He wiped his eyes before his glasses could get fogged up. Katniss handed him a tissue.
“I’m sorry. That must have been really hard for you.” She said. She turned her attention to the two-way mirror. “Hey! Nosy people with the clipboards. Can we get some water in here?” A moment later, a hand slipped through the slot in the bottom of the metallic door, leaving behind two bottles of water. Katniss retrieved them, happy to find that they were cold. She handed one to Harry. “Can you believe them? They gave us water through a doggy door. We’re war heroes for crying out loud, and they’re treating us like dogs.” She opened her water and took a sip. Harry did the same. “Sorry. I just thought the cool water would help you feel better. It works for me.”
“No, it did. Thank you.” He said. He wasn’t crying anymore. He looked over at the two-way mirror. “Are they really listening to everything we’re saying?”
“Yeah. This whole I.T.R.C thing is still really new. They want to study it to see if it works. We’re basically test guinea pigs. And I don’t know about you, but that’s the story of my life.” She closed her water and smoothed her long hair. It was styled in a side braid, and its dark color really brought out the blue in her eyes. “Anyway. I am sorry. About the war. I’m sorry for the friends you lost. I know how it feels to lose someone you love. To wish you could have done something to save them.” She said. She thought about Rue. She thought about her father and Prim. She thought about everyone who lost their lives in the Games. She couldn’t believe the government in Panem had been so terrible for so long.
“Would you like to tell me your story?” Harry asked. He looked at her with so much openness and so much innocence in his eyes. She could tell he wasn’t asking out of obligation. He genuinely wanted to understand her.
“Well, there is zero magic in my story. I’m sorry to disappoint.” She started. She took a breath, and then continued. “Basically, I come from a place called Panem. And there was a time, not so long ago, that our government was afraid of its people starting a rebellion. So, as a way of controlling us, they had an annual event known as the Hunger Games. See, we had to enter this lottery. And the more times you put your name in, the more likely it was you would be picked for the Games.
“Long story short, when they came to my district, they chose my little sister, Prim.” She choked when she said her sister’s name. She breathed again and brushed the tears that began to well up in her eyes. She cleared her throat and continued. “Anyway, I volunteered for her. I entered the games in her place, and somehow, from there, it spiraled into a revolution. And I became the face of it. Trust me, I didn’t want that kind of ‘honor.” She used air quotes again. “I didn’t want to be the Mockingjay. I survived the games the first time. And then I survived them a second time. It’s a survival of the fittest type of thing. A bunch of people go in, but only one comes out alive.
“We basically managed to screw with the system. The next thing you knew, we were at war with the capital. We fought, and we lost people. Including my sister. But in the end, we won. The people won. And we changed Panem. And now, there will never be another Hunger Games. And things will be better. Things are better. Panem is better now than I have ever known it to be.” She wiped her eyes again and Harry could tell she was fighting back tears. She refused to let go of control. Harry reached out and took her hand in his.
“I’m sorry. Truly. About the Games, the war, your sister…everything.” He said. She nodded and held both his hands.
“Things aren’t all bad. I have my husband, Peeta. He’s good for me. He understands what I’ve been through because he’s been through it, too. What about you? You have a girl, right?” She asked.
“Yes. Her name is Ginny.” Saying her name, his face lit up, and a smile curved at his lips. “And she understands, too. What I’ve been through. Because she’s been through it, too.
“Are you going to marry her?” Katniss asked, her eyes playful.
“Um…” He said. He was blushing. Katniss’s expression turned serious.
“Because if you can find someone who truly understands what you’ve been through, you should hold onto that. It helps.”
“I think you’re right. And all that aside, I can see myself spending the rest of my life with her. I think I’ve felt that way since the moment I realized I loved her.” He said.
“Excuse me? Harry and Katniss?” A perky woman’s voice said. It came over a loudspeaker. Her voice kind of reminded Katniss of Effie Trinket’s. “Your I.T.R.C session will be over in five minutes.”
“Okay!” Katniss said. The loudspeaker clicked off. “I think they want us to have four of these sessions, since we’re the guinea pigs. But it’s completely voluntary, of course. If we meet again, we don’t have to discuss all of this heavy stuff. You can tell me more about Ginny. And you can show me more of your magic tricks.”
“I can show you some more magic now, if you’d like. Would you like to see my Patronus?” He asked.
“Sure. What’s a Patronus?” She asked. Harry smiled, cleared his throat, and tried to fill himselt up with a happy memory.
#Fiction, stories, writing, fan fiction, fanfics