AUTHOR'S NOTES: I decided that there was an epilogue necessary for this story after all. I don't think that I'll crank out another one, but if Clove decides that there's something else she wants to do, I won't ever say that it couldn't ever happen. Whatever the case, This is a fairly simplistic epilogue showing how Clove copes and deals with her PTSD and her obsession with Rue, among other things. Neither she nor Enobaria have gone soft, but they've got a human side to them that they don't often show people in the arena-and that was the only place we saw them in the books. just some food for thought.
PART IV: EPILOGUE—LIFE BACK HOME
CHAPTER 31: Lasting Memories
One of the surprisingly few things the Capitol "requested" from their victors was for them to choose a sort of hobby or skill to develop, perhaps to simply keep them out of trouble or to keep them busy. Sometimes they struggled with this, and other times victors found their niche fairly easily. Asking around a bit revealed to Clove that Elroy worked a bit in architecture, and that the one responsible for some of the beautiful Panemian murals that graced some of the district's buildings were actually the work of Enobaria. Despite this, Clove found no trouble acquiring a skill of her own. She went into Masonry, which was what District 2 publicly specialized in anyways.
Sometimes a victor's work was there simply to appease the Capitol even if they were not at all actually skilled at what they claimed to do, but for Clove's stonecutting and carving, she was a natural. Within weeks of returning from her victory tour, she unveiled a large statue of Cato from her games, which the district 'bought' off of her and placed in a public park as something of a memorial. Shortly after this transaction, Clove began to frequent this park a little more than usual, and it did not take long for Elroy and Enobaria to notice this.
Clove sighed as she gazed up at Cato's stony, resolute expression, down to the triumphant pose Clove had carved him into, with his sword raised high.
"You still miss him, don't you?" Clove spun around to see Enobaria behind her. It was not to say that Elroy was not still friends with Clove, but rather that the two women shared a closer bond for a variety of reasons, including having to kill their own partners at the end of their respective games.
"Both of them," Clove muttered without turning around.
"Both of who?" Enobaria began before realizing who Clove was referring to, "you miss that District 11 kid too still? Didn't she try to kill you?"
"I'm telling you…" Clove turned around, her hand still against the pedestal of Cato's memorial, "Rue Keniye gave me purpose. She knew me almost better than I knew myself. She knew how to get us, and when the odds turned against her."
"Come on, Clove… there's got to be more to it than that…" Enobaria insisted.
"There is," Clove turned around, "it was her innocence. That kid was only ruthless because she had to be. She was simply doing what she had to do to survive. Me… I was in it for the blood. Mission accomplished, I guess, right?"
"…says the girl to the woman who ripped her partner's throat out," Enobaria completed the sentence. "do you wish you had killed her a different way?"
"No," Clove insisted, "she deserved better."
"But if she wasn't in the games, she wouldn't have ever become your rival."
"It was a very one-sided rivalry anyways," Clove clarified, "if she was from here I still might have tried teaching her to spar with me."
"So all of a sudden I'm not good enough," Enobaria elbowed her, and Clove laughed, shaking her head, "it's not that…" Clove shook her head. "Maybe I've gone soft or something. I don't know, En. I'm just a little sentimental about my buddy Cato here…" she sighed again, glancing up at the stone Cato's face, and couldn't help but marvel in how accurate she had made it. Even Enobaria looked at it for a while.
"This is really beautiful, you know," she ran her fingers across the stone. A lot of people in District 2 appreciated the old arts of masonry, both in the artistic value of sculptures and statues, but also in the solid and finely crafted stonework of many of their magnificent buildings.
"Thanks…" Clove sighed again, looking up at the memorial one more time. "it just upsets me that we got duped. We were so excited to be able to both come home, and then…"
"And then there can only be one victor…" Enobaria finished Clove's sentence, knowing how hard it must have felt for Clove and Cato to have to turn on each other after expecting to be able to go home together. It had really brought them closer together as friends, only to sever that relationship all over again as one killed the other.
"It just…" Clove's breathing suddenly grew harsher "It makes me so…" The veins in her hands throbbed as she tightly gripped the stone, and Enobaria recognized the warning signs.
"Clove," she took the younger woman's wrist "don't make me sedate you…"
Clove growled, both from trying to cope with her loss and from realizing that Enobaria was right—which made her angrier. The fact that she had to be prescribed sedatives just to keep hold of herself was something of an embarrassment to the young knife-thrower, and like many career tributes and victors, Clove still had an ego she wanted to maintain.
In her brief spurt of blind fury, however, she jumped at Enobaria, who quickly overpowered her and plunged a syringe into her shoulder, slowing her down. Clove's vision grew blurry, and in a fit of dizziness, everything went black.
She woke up to find herself on the sofa of a victor's mansion. Glancing around as her eyes came back into focus, Clove realized that Enobaria had taken her home, because right in front of her, she was sitting and reading some Capitol magazine.
"Good to see you back, kid," she glanced up as the slightly dizzy Clove who was still gathering her bearings, it seemed. "I'd normally make some sardonic quip about how you should keep cool a bit better, but that just seems rude and inconsiderate."
"Well it is," Clove asserted, "it's not what's wrong with me, Enobaria—it's what happened to me."
"That's exactly what it is," Enobaria reminded her, "and no one else seems to quite get it. The Capitol refuses to acknowledge it, no one outside of this Victor Village understands it, and so we're basically left on our own to try and keep ourselves mentally sound and what have you. Why do you think I want to give the Capitol a taste of their own medicine? It's because I bet if they knew the sort of mental anguish we suffer—the kind of stuff you just don't see on the outside—that they would rethink the glitz and glamour of the games, and more people would see what they're really about—fear. Why do you think they teach you to throw away your fears in the academies—because they don't want you realizing that the games you are so willingly volunteering for are all built on fear and power."
"People really are so much different from how they appear," Clove shrugged, rising to her feet carefully, as to not get dizzy again, "I guess I've been humbled."
"Ha," Enobaria chuckled, "you haven't lost an ounce of that fighting spirit."
"Speaking of my ego," Clove raised an eyebrow, "do you want to see my latest project? All I need to do is add a few details to the base and finish deciding if I want to send it to someone in District 11 or not…"
"District 11?" Enobaria gave Clove a skeptic glance, "I'm not even sure that's possible. But now you've got me curious." Enobaria suspected that Clove's stonework might have been a depiction of Rue, and as Clove excitedly led her out to her backyard, she found her suspicions to be true. There, surrounded by fragments of stone and a few power tools, was an 8-foot high statue of Rue in a relaxed standing position, a pair of wicked-looking blades at her sides—the same ones she had been sponsored in the games. Her expression was neutral, and it seemed like she was working on the pedestal to put an inscription there, but nothing was present at the moment.
"Clove…" Enobaria sighed, "your obsession with that girl…"
"I know," Clove cut her off, "just—bear with me for a moment, okay?"
"It's a beautiful sculpture," the mentor pointed out, "I just think you need to let this kid go. Why do you despise her so much? You were so strong that you made her surrender and submit her life into your hands. Is there something I'm missing here? Honestly—I want to understand it."
"I wish I could tell you," Clove shook her head, "but really, it's like the trauma. It's like that moment when you realize that you are perfectly safe, but your mind is having a panick attack. It's irrational, and doesn't always make sense, but it happens anyways. Rue never stopped visiting me, En—so I made a place for her to stay. That's why there's part of me that wants to send her home…"
"I think you should keep it," Enobaria suggested, "if this is how you cope, Clove, then there's no one that has the right to tell you any differently. I don't think you've gotten soft on me or anything—in fact, when you're done with your little project here, meet me at my house with those knives of yours—you and me are going to spar again."
Clove smirked. "wouldn't miss it. Thanks, En."
"It's nothing," Enobaria chuckled as she disappeared and headed home herself, leaving Clove alone.
The inscription Clove carved into Rue's statue was simple but powerful to Clove.
"I do not wish to kill—I merely wish to survive."
Now that Clove had experienced the Hunger Games firsthand, she felt almost the same way herself. She wondered what it would have been like if she had been bested by any of the other tributes—Primrose's traps, Peeta's reflexes, Thresh's strength, Rue's cunning—or even Cato's skill. There had been luck involved in Clove's victory—just as there had been in any victory before it—but there was also plenty of it that had just been skill. Clove wondered how well her first tributes would fare in the upcoming Hunger Games that would mark her first year of mentorship—after all, the 75th Hunger Games would be another Quarter Quell, which meant that even District 2 would have to be on its toes to prevent falling for the Capitol's wiles. Clove was going to ensure that she was ready to face that problem when it came.