A/N: So, this was just me exploring Katniss and Peeta's feelings for each other and how they've changed. The first point of view is Katniss's, and the second is Peeta's. Hope you enjoy. :)
Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games or anything associated.
What is happening to me?
I stare out of the cave between the rocks after I tuck Peeta into the sleeping bag, pulling the covers up to his chin. "Sleep. You're still recovering, okay?"
Peeta smiles at me. "Wake me up in, like, an hour. You need to sleep too."
"We're not making any bargains. Especially after what you did to me last time." I frown at him.
He just sighs and smiles at me. "You're impossible." But his soft snores soon fill the small stony enclosure soon, reverberating off of the walls. I can only hear the noises through my right ear, but it's the one that's facing him, so keeping track of him is easier than ever.
I sigh and place my hand on the cave floor. The pine needles are wearing down, a few crusted with my blood. I have to remind myself to go out and collect some more as soon as the thunderstorm dies out. Hopefully Cato and Thresh end their fighting soon, and then it's safe to travel. Although Foxface will probably be out of her shelter the second the bloodbath's done.
I trace patterns in the dirt with one finger, designs of complicated snares and varieties of berries that I'd collect and eat with Gale back home. My mouth waters at the thought. Peeta and I are both hungry. We're shifting in and out of sleep. We're safe from the fighting for now, but it pays to keep watch from inside the rocky entrance. There's nothing going on.
My heart aches for home. This isn't a place where either of us belong. I wish I were hunting rabbits and wild turkey with Gale, helping Prim prepare dinner and milk Lady, trading with the Seam folks at the Hob. Doing something than sitting here and watching bright flashes streak the sky and listening to thunder cracking in the air.
Peeta lets out a particularly loud snore. He seems content, without a fever, which is more than I can say for the past few days. When the blood poisoning was threatening to take his life. I'm relieved he's getting better. He needs to get better.
I turn my gaze to the boy who is constantly changing my life, making my heart constrict in ways I didn't even think were possible.
My mind wanders to my family back home. They must be watching the Games, although Prim's school probably hasn't been cancelled for today's events. The highlights will be shown throughout the day, along with a few interviews. What will she think when she sees me hiding out in a secluded shelter during a thunderstorm? Relieved, I know, since it's too dangerous to venture out during the storm.
And my mother will probably be watching from home, clutching and wringing her hands as she cooks dinner. The baker will probably visit her, offer her a full loaf of bread and wish her daughters well before taking off to produce those golden baked goods that seem to melt in your mouth.
It never really occurred to me until now how the bakery is suffering without Peeta. Their only cake decorator, a master with frosting. No more pretty cakes with their pastel blues and perfect pinks in the windows. No hope for Prim to gaze at with wonder. Especially if Peeta doesn't come back to the bakery for the rest of his life.
"What kind of spell do you have me under?" I whisper to him, moving some hair back from his forehead. "Why am I thinking about you?"
It isn't fair, how he's formed ties with me so strong that not even Gale can cut the snares. He is just the baker's son, a simple boy that should mean nothing to me. But that day four years ago changed everything, the day when I was starving to death while my father's shadow watched in disappointment.
My hands rub my eyes in exhaustion. I am hungry, Peeta is hungry. We are both starving slowly. I don't understand why Haymitch won't send us food. He obviously either doesn't care, or is too drunk to notice that his tributes are slowly dying. I bet on the latter.
Our budding romance is probably stirring up some hearts in the Capitol, right? The kisses have to be earning us tons of sponsors who practically dump buckets of money on Haymitch's head. Unless I am wrong, and our little flame has faded in everyone's hearts already.
It can't have, not so fast, when it just started. There has to be sponsors. Haymitch just wants us to turn the key in his lock. But what do we have to do?
My eyes wander to Peeta's sleeping face. So peaceful, and not flushed like when the fever had been raging a war in his feeble body.
I sit there in confusion. Why am I feeling like this towards him? I shouldn't care. He is supposed to be just another boy in District 12, who happened to be chosen at the Reaping, who I am supposed to kill and not team up with. When had the line between fond and friend blurred?
Before four years ago, he was just another boy who I hadn't paid attention to, because I was content and didn't need anyone except my father. Then my father died, and thus came the bread, the two loaves that Peeta burned and gave to me, which put me in his debt. He was someone I owed, someone who I had a connection to even though he lived in the wealthier part of District 12 while I lived in the Seam.
I know I didn't like owing him. It bugged me to no end. And when he was chosen at the Reaping, I felt a sort of possessiveness, one that said I didn't want to kill him. Why had that sense of owing turned into a protection proposition? Why did I feel like I shouldn't lay a finger on him? Had it stemmed from his kindness to me four years prior?
We got on the train. I wanted him to be just another guy. Sure, we might have bonded over the fact that Haymitch couldn't be depended on as our mentor, and that the flames Cinna and Portia lit would burn us to a crisp, but that didn't determine anything. He was still another person who happened to be sharing the same fate as me.
Until Haymitch had to force us even closer together.
Matching outfits. At each other's sides in public. What were we supposed to do when we got to the Capitol and Haymitch started giving us orders? We had to listen to him and not argue. I didn't have to talk to Peeta, I should have distanced myself, but I want to tell myself now that it was only my desperate need for company and someone who couldn't desert me. And the fact that I owed him.
He brought me up on the roof, and he convinced me to tell about the Avox girl. That could be considered as trust, and it was the first step to friendship. And when we fought before the Hunger Games began, I couldn't help but feeling a little more alone.
And, I desperately wished I wouldn't see his name and picture in the sky as the anthem played. Oh, I had hoped I didn't. I tried to tell myself that I was only wishing that because it would give Prim and my mother some food and money if he won, but I was only fooling myself. I had started caring for Peeta.
Then he saved my life. Told me to run, and got slashed in the leg by Cato for doing so. He saved my life in exchange for harm to his. He could have practically killed himself by letting me go. And later on in the Games, after I had lost Rue, and when they announced we could win together, I didn't feel anything else but hope when I shouted his name into the arena. The spirit lifting emotion was coursing through my veins. We could both go back to District 12 together.
After I had found him, when he was starting to resort to dying as a last act, I would feel my stomach drop like when Prim would go without eating for a night. I felt responsible. That if she ceased to exist, I would too. I felt like if Peeta died at that moment, I'd be gone, too.
And now, the kisses we exchange, how I suck up my ultimate weakness for injuries, care for him, tend his wounds, and feel as if my heart will stop beating if his does; what does this mean?
Is it all still an act for us? Can I deny I don't feel anything in my pit of my stomach when he kisses me so sweetly and honestly or caresses my bandaged forehead in such a caring way?
And are the kisses I give back all lies? Am I still pretending to love him for the sponsors and the Capitol, or is it for me now? Is this just my way of comforting myself, telling it's how I must stay alive if I want to win the Games, or am I actually in so deep with the baker's son that I can't do anything but deny it?
Whatever has happened to me, I know it's irreversible.
I can't believe what is happening to me.
My arms are wrapped around Katniss, and I hug her closer to my chest. The skin there feels a lot better, ever since she put the burn ointment on to eliminate the last effects of the fireballs. "Thank you," I whisper to her, even though she can't hear me. I try to get more comfortable under the sleeping bag, and raise my head to stare at the drops falling from the ceiling.
I laugh to myself, thinking of how the Games will almost end, and one or two people will go back to their district. I know Cato, he'll come searching for us as soon as Thresh is out of the way. Which, I'm guessing, won't be too long a wait, because Cato has a determination that is pretty hard to shake. I'll honestly be surprised if he wins, though, or Foxface. Katniss is the one I'd put my money on.
I shake my head in wonder. We probably have sponsors tripping over Haymitch to give us what we need, except the old drunkard is holding it back, waiting for something else to happen. I can only imagine what he wants. Probably waiting for me to die. He's always liked Katniss a lot better. Everyone does.
I close my eyes for a brief second. If death is coming soon, I wish it would delay itself. Especially now that I have her in my arms and I think she loves me, which is all I've ever been wishing for the past eleven years.
But, strangely, this gives me a surge of confidence. Let death come find me. Let Cato track us down. Better me than her. I just want us to get out of here. But don't let her die before me. I don't think I could bare it if I had to face the rest of my life alone. I think I'd rather stick Cato's spear into my chest.
I tip my head back and listen to the ominous thunder. There are only five of us left now. They'll force us together eventually. I know this, from years of watching the Games on huge screens in the market circle. Except, this time, it's not the Career Tributes and strong few forced to come together. It's four people from the lower districts, and then the only surviving Career Tribute. Clove is dead, which provides a sense of relief, but I can't help be a little fearful.
I wonder who my father is betting on now. We've teamed up, haven't we? Or am I still not getting any support from my family? Do they still think Katniss will win, even though the rules say we can both if we survive?
But, surprisingly, it doesn't matter anymore. Because she's here, lying right down next to me. I feel my heart give a thump as I gaze at her eyelids, fluttering in her sleep, and the soft exhale of breath that comes every couple seconds. Her rising chest, her soft features streaked with a little bit of dirt. Even though it's the skinniest I've ever seen her, she still looks beautiful.
If I hadn't been chosen as tribute, what would I be doing right now? Probably working at the bakery, going to school, watching with agony in my eyes as Katniss struggled for the right to live. In a way, it's a blessing my name was called at the Reaping. A curse, and a blessing. I smirk at how grim it seems now.
The wound on my leg is healing. The skin is scabbing over, healing tremendously with the help of Haymitch's medicine and Katniss's healing skills, probably inherited from her mother and passed onto Primrose and her. It must be something that runs in the family, I'm guessing, even though she claims to not know much.
I smile at her sleeping body beside me. Ever since I can remember, back in school, I've never seen another girl in the same light as her. That pretty plaid dress caught my eye, the adorable two braids that trailed down her back. I've never forgotten how it looked on her, not even when Primrose started wearing it around the Seam and it became worn and faded.
And then how Katniss sang the Valley song in school. Everyone knew Mr. Everdeen, his heavenly voice. And hers was exactly like his, but with more delicate tones and notes than ever imaginable. It wasn't hard for a woman to see how Mrs. Everdeen fell for him. And now I was falling hard for his daughter. The one with the beautiful black braids and an entrancing smile.
I watched her, a guardian angel. I would glance at her and give an occasional smile when she turned to me. I don't think she remembered much about me, though. But still when other girls would flirt with me as I got older, I would ignore them. She was the one for me. I knew it in my heart.
When her father died, I wanted to be there for her. I couldn't just stand by and watch her starve to death, but I was too scared to approach her. It killed me how I saw her lose the fight and spirit. Until I gave her that bread, earning a welt on the face that was well worth the hope I instilled in her.
Then she started hanging out with Gale. I saw her at his side everyday. The one I loved was running around with another guy, and it wasn't hard to think that they were boyfriend and girlfriend.
At the Reaping, when I saw the look on her face when my name was called, I could see she hadn't forgotten me. And I made a promise to myself: I would protect her. I was accepting my death, but not hers. She would have two people fighting for her.
It meant joining the Career Tributes' little pack, to keep them from tracking her down and killing her. It meant saying things that were risky and doing things that would have guaranteed me dead if the pack was in a bad mood. It meant telling her to run as Cato dragged a long cut through my leg.
But now, with her by side and well and alive, it was all worth it. She's alive, and she's mine. I kept her alive, and I was rewarded with the sweet kisses that I've only dared to dream about for most of my life. Her bending over my wound, wiping my hair back from my forehead, risking her life to get the medicine for me, kissing me; it is the most that I can ever wish for.
Even though we're supposed to be miserable and just some pawns in the Capitol's game, I can't help but feel that the Hunger Games have given me something I might have never had the chance to experience back home in District 12.
She stirs a little now, and one gray eye cracks open to a slit. It takes a while for her brain to register that I'm holding her in my arms, and when she does, she frowns. "Is anything wrong? Any cannons sound? Thunderstorm let up?"
I smile at the worry lines in her forehead that trace her cut and say, "No, nothing's happened. Go back to sleep."
"I'll keep watch. You can sleep," she says and climbs out of the sleeping bag, even though she's shivering.
I raise my eyebrows. "Are you sure? Because – "
"Peeta. Just sleep." And she rolls her eyes and kisses me and tucks me into the sleeping bag.
I only agree because it's her and I am honestly pretty exhausted and hungry. So I take a few sips of water, lay my head on sleeping bag, and give her one last contented smile as she smoothes back my hair.
For once, I don't care that Cato and Thresh and Foxface want to kill us. That we're in an arena where the Capitol wants their excitement and entertainment in the form of a bloodbath. I only relish in the moments I have with Katniss, and have only one last thought before I slip off to blissful sleep.
If I want to die myself, what is a better way than to gaze into the face of the one I love?
A/N: What'd you think? Please let me know in a review! :D