Katniss immediately regrets calling Peeta’s name, but then she realizes that there’s almost no one left to be afraid of. She instructs herself to go back to sleep and search for Peeta in the morning. When she wakes, she’s extra-cautious, knowing that Cato and the others may decide to ambush her as she tracks down Peeta.
Forming relationships with other tributes often puts Katniss in more danger, but it also sharpens her sense of caution because she realizes that there is more at stake.
Katniss decides that Peeta must be near a source of water, since he wouldn’t be able to survive without it, especially with severe wounds. She follows the stream to a new part of the woods, where there are muddy banks. She fears that she will be vulnerable if Thresh, a powerful tribute from the same district as Rue, or Cato find her in this spot, and she’s about to leave when she spies a bloody streak across one of the boulders. She follows the boulders, believing that she’s onto something, but when she can’t find anything, she gives up. As she starts to walk away, she hears Peeta’s voice hoarsely say, “You here to finish me off, sweetheart?”
Katniss endangers herself, walking into an area where she might be vulnerable to attack, so that she can find Peeta. Peeta’s skill at camouflage also reflects how adept he is at blending in socially. The fact that he was able to convince the Careers to let him join them is a testament to his skill with manipulating appearances.
Katniss looks towards the source of the voice, but she still can’t find Peeta and wanders up the side of the bank. Suddenly, Peeta speaks again, and she sees that she’s directly above him, and Peeta is remarkably camouflaged. Katniss attempts to move Peeta, but it’s evident that the movement is causing him too much pain, so she decides to clean the mud off of him first. She takes a look at his wounds, applying leaves to soothe the tracker jacker stings and giving him medicine for his fever. When she finally looks at the stab wound on Peeta’s leg, however, she realizes how severe it is—cutting straight to the bone. She tries to apply the leaves to the festering wound, and pus drains from it. She wraps up the wound again afterwards, but she knows that she hasn’t done enough.
Although Peeta’s wound looks better after being cleaned up and newly bandaged, Katniss knows that it’s extremely severe. Surface appearances do not reflect the deeper truth.
Katniss allows Peeta to rest for a bit and then forces him to move, but he can’t go far at all. They’re forced to settle in the mouth of a nearby cave, where Peeta rests. He refuses to eat, but Katniss gets him to take some medicine for his fever. Peeta thanks Katniss for finding him and begins to talk about what will happen if he can’t make it home. In order to hush him, Katniss leans in for a kiss. Peeta finally dozes off.
Katniss is manipulative in some ways, realizing that she can get Peeta to do what she asks by showing affection. However, her manipulation also stems from how much she cares about Peeta—she only tricks him so that she can keep him healthy and safe.
When Katniss heads outside the cave, she sees that Haymitch has sent another gift—a bowl of broth. It’s a clear message to Katniss to keep up the romantic gestures. She heads inside to feed the broth to Peeta, understanding that she needs to act in order to get the sympathy of sponsors.
Katniss fully realizes how big of a role her appearance will play in getting donations from sponsors. She knows now that it all hinges on her ability to create a convincing romance with Peeta. She is playing at love, while perhaps also feeling the stirrings of it. Peeta, though, is plainly in love.