Claudius announces that there will be a "feast" at the Cornucopia at dawn and that there will be backpacks for each district containing something that those tributes desperately need. Katniss is sure that her backpack will contain medicine for Peeta, who says he won't let Katniss risk her life for him. Haymitch sends Katniss sleeping syrup, which she uses to put Peeta into a deep sleep while she makes her way to the Cornucopia. As she races to get her backpack, she is caught by Clove, the girl tribute from District 2, who is skilled with knives. Clove pins her to the ground, but before she can carve Katniss' face, Thresh, the boy from District 11, kills Clove and frees Katniss. Thresh lets Katniss go — just this once — because of what she did for Rue, who was the other tribute from his district. Katniss thanks Thresh, retrieves her backpack, and runs back to the cave.
The medicine in the backpack attacks Peeta's infection and he slowly regains his strength. Katniss and Peeta hunt and gather in the woods, and Katniss can't help but think of Gale and how she misses him. She wonders what Gale thinks of Peeta and how she kisses him, but then doesn't like to think of Peeta and Gale at the same time because her feelings are so complicated. When the only remaining tributes are Katniss, Peeta, and Cato, Katniss knows that the Gamemakers will soon drive them together for their final battle.
True enough, the streams and ponds dry up, forcing the remaining tributes to head for the lake near the Cornupia for water. Katniss and Peeta go to the Cornucopia to wait for Cato. Cato emerges from the woods being chased by muttations, creatures made by the Capitol. These particular creatures are wolf-like and can balance on their hind legs. They also each represent one of the dead tributes, possessing their eyes and hair color. Peeta, Katniss, and Cato climb up the Cornucopia, trying to get out of the creatures' reach. Cato grabs Peeta, who received a deep bite and is bleeding profusely. Katniss shoots Cato in the hand, which causes him to fall to the ground where the muttations attack him. The animals gnaw on Cato through the night; Katniss shoots him with an arrow the next day to end his, and their, suffering.
Katniss and Peeta believe the Games are over, but then Claudius Templesmith's voice announces that the new rule that was previously established about two tributes winning has been revoked. Only one tribute can win. Katniss realizes this has been the Gamemakers' plan all along, to end with the star-crossed lovers and watch one of them sacrifice his or her life for the other. Katniss, however, comes up with a plan. She and Peeta both prepare to eat poisonous berries, which makes Claudius take back his most recent announcement, stating that two tributes can indeed win, declaring Katniss and Peeta as this year's Hunger Games winners.
Back in the Capitol, Katniss and Peeta are nursed back to health, their scars and burns polished smooth, though Peeta loses his leg. They will be reunited in front of an audience, but before they take the stage, Haymitch warns Katniss that the Capitol isn't happy with her. They believe that her stunt with the berries made them look like fools. Haymitch says that she must convince them that she's so madly in love with Peeta that she can't be held responsible for her actions. As Katniss takes the stage with Peeta to watch the video replay of the Games, she's aware that the most dangerous part of the Games has only just begun. During the video showing, as well as during her interview with Caesar Flickerman, Katniss is quite convincing. Peeta is as well, but he doesn't require any coaching. Katniss, thus far, has preferred to believe that Peeta is simply a more natural actor. She wonders, though, if he might truly love her.
The novel ends with Katniss and Peeta on their train ride back to District 12 as heroes. The closer she gets to home, the more confused Katniss becomes about her feelings for Peeta and about her true identity. She knows that pretending to love Peeta has saved her life and that she must continue to pretend to love him so that the Capitol doesn't punish her for her final act in the arena. Still, her mind centers on Gale and how she can't wait to be reunited with him. When Peeta finds out that Haymitch was coaching Katniss even after their return, he feels betrayed. He wants to know what has been true between them and what things will be like once they've returned to District 12. Katniss can feel him distancing himself from her and knows that she is losing him. At the novel's end, Katniss isn't sure who she is now that she's a victor in the Hunger Games. She also doesn't know whom she loves, Gale or Peeta, or where her life will go from here with the Capitol's eyes closely upon her.