Katniss thinks of Peeta’s behavior before and during the Games. She realizes the feelings he’s expressed for her have given an advantage to them both. Before going to sleep for the night, she thinks of the remaining tributes and decides the real threats are Cato and the girl from his district. In the morning, Katniss looks for Peeta. She knows he needs water to survive, so she follows the stream until suddenly she hears him calling. He is lying on the ground, camouflaged in mud. Peeta’s skill frosting cakes has paid off. His leg is badly cut, and he can barely move. With great difficulty and care, Katniss cleans him up, stripping off most of his mud-caked clothing, and treats the infected wound as best she can. They need to move, but Peeta can’t walk, so Katniss helps him to a cave where he’ll be hidden. Peeta starts telling her what to do if he doesn’t survive, but Katniss tells him not to talk like that. She kisses him, thinking of how they’re supposed to be in love. She steps outside, and a new gift from Haymitch arrives. It’s a pot of hot broth, and Katniss realizes Haymitch wants her to play up the romance.
Katniss spends the night caring for Peeta, who is feverish because of the infection. In the morning, he keeps trying to be playfully romantic, but Katniss won’t play along. Later that day, Katniss sees that Peeta’s leg is getting worse. The infection is spreading. When Katniss returns from gathering food, Peeta asks her to tell him a story, and Katniss tells the story of how she got Prim a goat. Because she doesn’t want to get other people in trouble by connecting them with her illegal hunting, she says she got the money for the goat by selling her mother’s old silver locket, but in reality she and Gale killed a large buck and sold it at the Hob. On Prim’s birthday, Katniss went back to the Hob to buy dress materials when she saw an old disabled man selling a goat that had been mauled by a dog. The goat was to be sold to the butcher, but the butcher said she no longer wanted it. Katniss haggled with the old man. If the goat lived, she was getting a great deal, but if it died she would have thrown away her money. She ended up taking the goat. Prim fell in love with it immediately, and she and her mother were able to treat its injury and save it. Katniss says the goat more than repaid the cost of saving it, and Peeta says one day he’ll do the same.
The trumpets sound, and the announcer, Claudius Templesmith, declares that there will be a feast. Katniss isn’t interested at first, but Claudius Templesmith says there will be a backpack waiting for each person containing something they desperately need. Before Katniss can speak, Peeta says she’s not going to risk her life for him. They argue, with Peeta swearing he’ll follow her if she goes. Katniss heads down to the stream to wash up, and while she’s thinking that Peeta won’t survive without medicine, a new gift arrives from Haymitch. But it’s not the medicine she needs. It’s sleep syrup, a common medicine in the districts, and Katniss realizes it will knock Peeta out long enough for her to go to the feast. Katniss mashes some berries and mixes the syrup in. She goes back to Peeta and tells him she has a treat for him. He recognizes the flavor of the overly sweet sleep syrup too late, and after a moment he is completely unconscious.
While waiting for the feast at dawn, Katniss thinks about the people in District 12 watching the Games. She wonders if Gale wants Peeta to survive, and if he has any romantic interest in her. Thinking of the audience at home, she gives Peeta a lingering kiss and pretends to brush away a tear before she leaves. She makes it back to the Cornucopia, where the feast will be, and just as the sun rises, a table comes up out of the ground with a few backpacks and one tiny pack that Katniss assumes must be for her. Foxface runs out of the Cornucopia immediately and grabs her backpack before anyone else reacts. Wishing she had done the same, Katniss sprints to the table, and just as she gets to her backpack, a knife clips her forehead, spilling blood down her face. Clove, the girl tribute from District 2, slams into her, knocking her down. Clove pins her, taunting her all the while, and says they’re going to kill her like they did her ally, Rue.
But just as Clove cuts Katniss’s lip, Thresh, the boy from District 11, grabs her. He asks Clove if she cut up Rue like she was going to cut Katniss, and he crushes her skull with a rock. He turns to Katniss and asks what Clove meant, calling her Rue’s ally. When Katniss explains, he says he’ll let her live, but now they’re even. As Katniss runs off, she turns to see Thresh running away with two large backpacks and Cato kneeling beside Clove’s body. Katniss doesn’t stop running until she reaches the stream. She’s terrified and dazed from her wound, but she suspects Cato will pursue Thresh, not her, since Thresh took the backpack meant for him. She makes her way back to the cave and crawls in, then dumps the contents of the small pack. It’s a hypodermic needle, which she injects into Peeta’s arm. A few moments later she passes out.
The intimacy between Katniss and Peeta increases dramatically in this section. Because Peeta is so severely injured, he is unable to care for himself. Katniss becomes his caretaker, treating his wounds, feeding him, and even telling him a story to soothe him. Through her actions, Katniss reveals how much she cares for Peeta, and the emotional intimacy between them, which had waned before they entered the arena, reaches a new level. Moreover, Katniss must also remove all his mud-covered clothing, creating a physical intimacy between them that they had never experienced before. This physical intimacy only increases throughout the section as Katniss and Peeta share their first kiss, and later in the section, share a sleeping bag for the night. As a result, their friendship, which had previously verged on the romantic because of Peeta’s honesty about his feelings for Katniss, essentially leaves the realm of friendship and does finally become romantic, even if Katniss’s feelings are mixed.