Katniss can tell that Peeta feels bad about unintentionally killing Foxface. As they cook their food, Katniss realizes she hasn't been very nice to Peeta all day, so when he asks to go back to the cave, Katniss aggress even though she doesn't want to make the long trek back. Peeta sleeps first. Katniss kisses him on the forehead, for herself, she admits, and not for the audience. She is glad to have him there with her, comforted by the thought that together they can fight Peeta.
She evaluates Cato while Peeta sleeps, deciding that while he may be strong and fierce, he also has a tendency to lose his temper, which could cause him to make bad judgments. She decides, too, that he has been her biggest opponent all along, that this Games has been leading up to the time that she and Cato will meet.
The next morning, Katniss is certain that the audience is growing weary, that they want to see more blood. The Gamemakers are sure to drive them together, and when Katniss leaves the cave that day, she says goodbye to the rocks, sensing that — live or die — this will be her last day in the arena. The Gamemakers have dried up all of their sources of water, and Katniss understands that the Gamemakers are forcing them back to the lake, out in the open where a bloodbath is unavoidable. As she passes by different locations in the arena, she thinks about all that she's done in this arena.
They circle the Cornucopia to make sure that Cato isn't hiding, and then they wait. Katniss sings Rue's song to the mockingjays and they answer. Peeta says she's just like her father. Then, there's a shriek from the birds and Cato emerges from the woods sprinting toward them. Katniss hits him in the chest with an arrow, but it bounces off of whatever armor he wears. Cato sprints past Katniss and Peeta, and Katniss sees that he's running from creatures. She turns to follow.
Katniss admits to having true feelings for Peeta in this chapter, something she hasn't done before. Previously, she's considered how her heart is stirred by kisses she and Peeta have shared, but she always brings these moments of affection back to how the kisses, while sometimes emotionally charged, are meant to placate a romance-hungry audience. She states outright, though, that the kiss she plants on Peeta's forehead is for her and not for the audience. She has taken control of her emotions in this instance and acted upon them truthfully. Her gratitude for the boy beside her is not an act, and she owns up to that.
The Gamemakers continue to manipulate the tributes. At the start of the Games, Katniss discovered how important having a water source is, so she knows when she sees the dry streambed that the lake is where the Gamemakers want them to go. Despite the changes that have come to the Games because of Katniss, as well as Peeta, they must still answer to the Gamemakers, who continue to treat them as pieces in their game.
As she walks through the woods, Katniss is nostalgic, remembering different events in the Games, thinking about Rue and the other tributes and about how they are all dead. When she leaves the cave, there is a strong sense of finality. It is time to say goodbye to the arena and, by doing this, Katniss is preparing herself for the final battle with Cato. She knows that the Games have been leading up to this moment, and she takes comfort in having a partner, Peeta. All along she has thought about how she is a better hunter with a partner, and now, when it matters most, she has Peeta with her.
The mockingjays add to Katniss' nostalgia. She sings Rue's song to them while she and Peeta wait for Cato. She touches her mockingjay pin, remembering her friend and District 11. Peeta comments on how Katniss is just like her father, who could also make the birds sing. The mockingjays are a comfort to Katniss, a constant companion, and when their song turns to cries of alarm, we know that Cato is on his way. But, even more terrifying, something is chasing Cato, something so terrifying that he doesn't even stop to try and kill Katniss and Peeta.