The characters of The Hunger Games Trilogy do not belong to me.
It was a long shot. Suicide even.
But, it was Peeta's last chance to say something.
Katniss would be leaving first thing tomorrow morning on a plane to Paris.
He had loved her since the first time he saw her.
The Everdeens had moved to his small town a year ago and she had come barreling in—with her coal colored hair and cool grey eyes to steal his heart. He watched her from his porch as she mowed her lawn and passed her in the hallways of their high school as she stood in front of her locker talking with her friends.
She never said hello when he walked by.
However, Katniss was a different person when she played with his little sister, Prim. She would dance with the toddler in her arms and he would watch Prim's curls bounce as she giggled.
He tried to ignore the way Katniss' skirt would swirl just high enough when they danced.
On nights, however, when he closed his eyes and that image flashed in his mind—his hand would wander down to his suddenly hard shaft…
That wasn't why he loved her though.
It was the small things.
Like the way he could speak to her just about anything.
They would chat about the classes they were taking or how he was doing in his Chemistry class while eating bowls of mac and cheese with Ritz crackers, their favorite topping, by his kitchen counter. Prim would sit in her high chair throwing Cheerios at them until Katniss picked her up.
But, Katniss would always come back to let him finish his rant or to give him a piece of advice.
It was pathetic the way he would light up at any mention of her—all his friends said so.
Then, there was the last fact; the most pathetic one—
He looked up to see Katniss at her open window staring at him worriedly.
"Why are you sitting in my tree? Is everything okay?"
Peeta suddenly realized how weird this probably looked; her neighbor was sitting in her tree and looking into her room.
"Yeah, everything is fine," he told her. "I just wanted to say goodbye."
She looked at him for a moment before sticking her head out the window to look around their quiet neighborhood. "Get inside—I don't know how long that tree will last with you balancing on it."
Quickly, he stuck out his lanky leg and felt for the floor of the room before scrambling in. Katniss closed the window as Peeta looked around her nearly empty room; most of her things were already packed in the labeled cardboard boxes
Her room was dim except for the projector light, sitting on her floor, showering her ceiling with constellations. Soft music played from the clock radio on her bedside table.
"Nice room," he told her and stuffed his hands nervously into his pockets.
"It was." She looked around sadly before turning to him; they were nearly the same height. "Is it weird that I'm sad about leaving this place even though I've only lived here for a year?"
Peeta shook his head. "Of course not. You've made friends here."
"True," she mused. "I thought we already made our goodbyes. It was really nice of your mother to cook a goodbye dinner for me and I'm going to miss watching Prim. If I ever come back, she probably won't remember me."
She sat on the floor of her room and he followed suit sitting across from her trying to quiet his nervousness by picking at her carpet.
"So, you wanted to say goodbye?"
"Yes—and something else." He took a deep breath before meeting her smoky eyes. "Katniss, I love you."
"—And I know that you're leaving tomorrow but I can't let you leave without you knowing how I feel."
"—I just want you to know that I won't forget you."
Her eyes softened at his words and she placed a hand over his. He tried to stop the pounding of his heart in his ears.
"Peeta, I hope I didn't do anything to lead you on," she started. "You do know that it would have never happened for us. I'm eighteen—and you're fourteen. I'm your babysitter."
He was well aware of this fact which made his situation even more pathetic.
"You were my babysitter," he insisted. "And technically, you weren't really babysitting me. You were watching Prim."
"That doesn't change anything," Katniss told him. "Nothing was going to happen between us."
"It doesn't matter," Peeta murmured. "I just needed you to know how I felt." He gave her a smile. "I won't be fourteen forever, you know. I'll look for you then."
She was silent for a moment before finally meeting his eyes once more and grinning. "That's a good way to look at it." She looked over at the clock behind him. "You should get going before your mom checks your room."
Peeta nodded before standing up.
She stood up pulling down her Panem High School t-shirt suddenly aware of its shortness—it barely reached her knees.
He held out his hand for her to shake. "Goodbye, Katniss."
"Good luck, Peeta." She took his hand and shook it.
As Peeta pulled his hand away, he could see something hesitate in her stance.
"Can I ask you something?" she suddenly said.
"Have you ever been kissed?" Peeta shook his head.
Then, she was leaning forward to press her lips to his in a chaste kiss.
While for her, it was probably a millisecond; Peeta savored the moment, taking in everything he could. He would always remember the softness of her lips and the light floral scent in her hair.
And the soft, sad words of the song that played on her clock radio:
"All along we've known the way these conversations end
You can't deny the shore its tide or sermons their amen
It's just as well we tell ourselves there's not so much to lose
But I would trade ten thousand days for one more hour with you…"
She pulled away slowly and gave him a smile.
"Something to get you through the rest of high school."
Hope you enjoyed this first part! We will be doing a flash forward in the first chapter—about ten years actually!
Next: Chapter One-Katniss