Katniss recognizes the strange creatures chasing Cato as muttations, hybrid animals engineered by the Capitol. These muttations look like giant wolves but can walk upright like humans. Cato runs to the Cornucopia and Katniss follows, but she realizes Peeta can't keep up because of his injured leg. Unable to help him from the ground, she climbs to the top of the Cornucopia and fires arrows at the approaching muttations, allowing Peeta to climb up just in time to escape them. When one muttation jumps to reach them, Katniss realizes it’s Glimmer. The dead tributes have been turned into these creatures. One jumps high enough to grab Peeta, and Katniss just gets hold of him before he's pulled over the side. He gets free, but when Katniss thinks he's safe, Cato begins strangling him in a headlock. Cato threatens that if Katniss shoots him, Peeta will go over the side too. Peeta reaches to the gash the muttation left in his leg and draws an "X" in blood on Cato's hand. Cato realizes what he's doing just as Katniss shoots him, and when he lets go Peeta shoves him to the ground below.
Cato, in his body armor, fights the muttations off for an hour before he is dragged into the Cornucopia. Night falls, and still no cannon announces his death. They can hear Cato moaning as the muttations work away at him, but Katniss knows they won't kill him. The Gamemakers want to prolong the gruesome spectacle for the viewers. Peeta, meanwhile, is bleeding heavily from the wound in his leg, which Katniss has tied with a tourniquet. When morning comes, Katniss realizes Peeta won't survive much longer. She climbs down over the ledge and sees Cato, mutilated but alive. Out of pity as much as to win, she kills him. The cannon sounds and the muttations leave, but still the Games don’t end. Katniss and Peeta climb down but just as Katniss thinks they've won, Claudius Templesmith announces that the previous rule change has been revoked: There can now be only one winner again. Peeta says he isn't surprised, and as he draws his knife Katniss takes aim at him. Peeta tells her to shoot, but she can't. Then, realizing the Gamemakers won't allow both of them to die, she has an idea. She takes the poisonous berries from her pouch. As Katniss and Peeta pop the berries into their mouths, Claudius Templesmith shouts for them to stop and announces that they are the winners of the Seventy-Fourth Hunger Games.
They spit out the berries, and shortly after they’re lifted into a hovercraft. Doctors go to work on Peeta immediately and Katniss is dragged to a separate room where she's given a glass of orange juice. She catches her reflection in the room’s glass door and hardly recognizes the feral, crazed-looking person she's become. After a time they land back at the Training Center. Katniss has a violent fit when she sees them taking Peeta away, until a needle jabs her and she falls unconscious. She wakes in a different room and finds herself clean and healed. She can even hear out of her left ear again. The redheaded Avox comes in to feed her, and when Katniss asks if Peeta made it, she nods that he did. Katniss is kept restrained to her bed in this room for an indeterminate amount of time, possibly days.
Eventually she wakes up and finds her restraint gone. An outfit, the same one the tributes wore into the arena, is set out for her at the end of her bed. In the hall, she sees Effie, Haymitch, and Cinna. She runs first to Haymitch, who hugs her and tells her she did a good job, then Cinna embraces her. Her reunion with Peeta will be at the closing ceremony, and they take her to be prepped and dressed. Cinna puts her in a simple dress that recalls candlelight and makes her look young and innocent. He says Peeta will like it, but Katniss knows Cinna has some other reason that has to do with the Capitol. She is taken to a waiting area under the stage where she meets Haymitch. He says she looks good enough and asks for a hug, but when Katniss hugs him he doesn't let her go. He tells her she's in danger. The Capitol is furious at her showing them up in the arena. Her only defense can be that she was madly in love with Peeta. As she prepares to be raised up to the stage for her interview, she feels terrified that she, Peeta, and even their families may be in danger.
After the District 12 team, including Effie, the stylists, and Haymitch, is introduced, Katniss is raised up to the stage. When she sees Peeta she runs to him, knocking him slightly off balance, and she realizes he has a cane. They embrace for a long time before they're seated together on a love seat. Katniss, taking a cue from Haymitch, puts her head on Peeta's shoulder. They watch a reel of highlights from the Games, and after it ends President Snow places a crown on Peeta and another on Katniss. Though President Snow is smiling, Katniss can see he’s unhappy with her. When the event is over they go to the president's mansion for the Victory Banquet, then back to the Training Center. Katniss wants to talk to Peeta privately, but Haymitch won't let her. That night, she sneaks out of her room and looks for Peeta but can't find him. She returns to her room, and when she decides to go straight to his room, she finds her door has been locked from the outside.
The next day she and Peeta are interviewed by Caesar Flickerman. Katniss is nervous because she has to be very careful what she says. She stumbles over her words when Caesar Flickerman asks when she realized she was in love with Peeta, until Caesar suggests it was when she called out Peeta's name to find him. Katniss shrewdly replies that prior to that she didn't want to have feelings for him, but that's when she knew she could keep him. Caesar asks Peeta how his new leg is, and Katniss learns that Peeta now has a prosthetic leg. Finally, Caesar asks Katniss what was going through her mind when she pulled out the berries. Katniss realizes this moment is critical: she can frame the decision as a rebellion against the Capitol or as an act of desperation at the thought of losing Peeta, and she says she couldn't bear the thought of losing Peeta. Haymitch tells her later that she was perfect.