They're snuggled together on the couch when the question slips out. Katniss snuggled against his chest so tightly that she may as well be lying on top of him. He's playing with her hair, and though there's a movie playing, she's more focused on the flicker of the flames in the fireplace. On the feeling of his hands in her hair.
"Peeta?" she asks. "Do you remember the toastings I told you about? In District Twelve?"
His hands still, but only for a second. "Yes, I do. What about them?"
"Just . . . in general," she says. "I've been thinking about it a lot. About – about wanting to toast with you. If that doesn't seem silly."
"Why would that be silly?" Peeta asks, his voice low.
"We're already married. And in love. I just keep thinking about the bath we took together. The traditions."
"Yes, we are married and in love and we did take a bath together," he says. "But we also didn't really get the whole wedding thing."
"Go on," he prompts. She can hear the smile in his voice.
"What?" she asks.
"Ask me," he says. "Ask me to make toast with you."
Make toast. She doesn't mean to laugh at him, but she can't help herself.
"I'll make it easy on you," he offers, his voice soft and encouraging.
"Yeah?" she asks. "How?"
"By promising I'll say yes."
That makes her laugh, too. But because he's sweet. "Okay," she says, and clears her throat before she turns to look at him. She's sitting on his lap, practically. His legs are spread out on either side of her and she's knelt between them. "Peeta. I love you. I love being married to you," she continues. "And I know that a toasting won't make us any more married than we are now. It's just – it feels . . . right. I guess. And it's weird to ask, because I never thought about the asking, really, so much as what it would be like, toasting with you."
"You've thought about it?" he asks.
She nods. "A lot. Starting, I guess, when I first told you about it. And I realized it wasn't silly like I always thought it was. And then when we were looking at this place and . . . you kneeled down in front of the fireplace to see if it was in working order. And I got a little carried away. Before I even realized I loved you. Isn't that strange?"
"No, I don't think so," Peeta says.
"But – anyway. I . . . will you toast with me?"
"Yes," he says, sounding so genuine that she almost forgets he already promised to give her this answer. That doesn't matter. He means it. "What do we need?" he asks. "I mean, a fire, obviously. But that's easy enough. What kind of bread do we use? And are we supposed to dress up?"
She goes to answer, but he continues.
"Are we supposed to fix a meal, too? Would we have to invite my family? Your family? Do you want to see if we can get Prim back here? Or we could see about –"
She takes his face in her hands, giving him a kiss that effectively cuts him off. "Hold on," she says. "Let me catch up, silly."
"We don't have to invite your family if you don't want to, and you're sweet to see about mine, but . . . honestly, I don't know how long I want to wait. We don't have to fix a meal – I'm still sort of full from lunch." She smiles at him. "What else did you ask? Oh! We don't have to dress up. In fact, I sort of love what you're wearing now, if you ask me," she says, nodding down toward the shirt he's wearing. It's the one she bought him, with the arrows printed across the chest.
"Okay," he says.
"And when I pictured it, I guess I always figured it'd be the two of us. Just the two of us, I mean. And that we could use our bread. The kind you made the morning after you told me you loved me."
His smile is so wide that it must hurt his cheek. "That sounds perfect," he says. "All of it."
"I want to wear the shirt you gave me," she decides. "The first one, I mean. From the night I got here."
"That sounds perfect," he says, not for the first time. She smiles, resting her forehead against his.
"Do you want to do this today?" she asks.
"I sort of don't want to wait," she admits.
"Good. Me neither."
She heads upstairs to get changed, and everything moves quickly from there. Floury fingertips and laughs and bread rising. Stories told and kisses stolen and jokes made. They build the fire and she catches him staring. He flicks his eyebrows up at the sight of her eyes on him when he takes the bread out of the oven.
It's quiet for a long moment. She apologizes that she hasn't had much time to come up with vows, and he kisses her softly, telling her not to worry about it.
She goes first anyway. Tells him about what a good husband – what a good man – he is. About how hard it is to think of her life without him in it. How she doesn't like to. How that has nothing to do with cheese buns and orange juice and cinnamon rolls and everything to do with him. And when she feeds him the bread, he takes it happily, not taking his red rimmed eyes from her and licking the crumbs from his lips and looking as if he understands how much more this is than just bread.
Of course he does. It's Peeta.
He goes next. Toasting his piece of bread and telling her about how much he loves her. About how lovely she is. How lucky he feels, waking up beside her in the mornings. What a privilege it is, calling her his wife.
And after, when they're lying on the blanket he tugged down from the couch at the very last moment, and he whispers that he loves her, she knows how serious he is – how much he means it.
It's no surprise when she whispers back. "I love you, too."