Author's Note: First fanfic for The Hunger Games! Yes, I had to make it about Peeta, because he's amazing. I hope Katniss picks him.

Anyways, this is a look at his character through a five-shot surrounding five words. It's my first work that wasn't betaed, so I hope it's okay! Just a warning, the last one is really different from the rest of them, but I think I still like it.

As far as a timeline goes, one takes place before the first book, two takes place before they get to the Games, three takes place just before the Games, four takes place during the Games, and five takes place after the Games.

Because You Never Really Understood

i . b e f o r e

When they are just eleven, he is already swooning badly. He feels his head grow warm and his hands grow clammy. She walks by him without a second glance, and he can't help but see the beauty in her eyes.

Every time her foot comes down upon the ground, the sound of her heel clicking against the floor, it sends his heart into madness. Every time she tugs on her braid, mulling over the answer on a test, his breath stops just a bit short at her tense, mysterious glory. Whenever she slams her books against the table and slumps in the chair next to him, never once noticing the lovestruck boy he has become, he gulps down the words he will never have the courage to say.

He is the first to reach a helping hand out to her. He is the only one who never asks anything in return. He is not a believer in debts.

Since day one, he has admired the girl she is. Not because she is beautiful (though he's never seen a sight more breathtaking in his life), not because she is smart (despite the fact she outwits him every time), and not because she embodies the very phrase radiant as the sun.

He loves her for all of these reasons.

But that is not why he loves her.

He loves her because when she sings, the birds stop to listen. Because when she smiles, the world shuts down around him, and she is all he sees. Because when she speaks, the words wrap around him and pull him closer than close.

Because when she breathes, it gives him his reason to do the same.

And yet his face is nothing special to her. His voice does not prick her ears. His light tap on her shoulder does not send shivers up her spine.

He is nothing more than a boy.

And he is okay with that. Because at least she is there, and she is spectacular.

And life is simple. He admires; she lives.

But all of a sudden, he is more than a boy. He is the boy with the bread. And he is saving her.

Oh, how simple life was before he was someone.

i i . n o b o d y

"You are nothing," his mother says.

And that is all he is. All he will ever be—nothing. He is a nobody, in this vast sea of nobodies who wish to be more.

But she is not a nobody.

To him, she is everything. Everyone. And she never wanted to be. She is always trying to blend in with the crowd, with the other students. She tries to meld with the sea. But she is like quicksilver to water—she will never mix. Because she is something more. She will always shine just a little brighter.

Some pass her by, but he will never believe her charade of similarity, her masquerade of sameness.

He sees her for who she is.

The glimmer in her eyes is angry and wild, but it has a certain beauty to it. He loves to watch her braid go from tight and contained at the start of the day to tousled and loose by the end.

Everything about her reminds him of what he knew from the start.

She's never been the same as the others.

And he loves that about her.

i i i . g o n e

She plans to go down fighting, and he knows it. He knows she's a survivor, that she'll do her best to keep herself alive. His own mother thinks she will win out over him. And he believes so, too. More than anyone.

All he can hope is to keep who he is, who he's always been. He wants to remain himself.

The boy who doesn't need the flames to be red, because she was holding his hand, and that would've done the job just fine. The boy whose blond hair and blue eyes mark him as one of the privileged, but he'd give it up in a heartbeat if it meant he could be nearer to her. The boy who looks like a man, but never thinks he'll really be one, because he never sees anything but weakness within himself.

The boy with the bread.

The boy who has loved her from the start.

The boy who will love her until the end.

He will always feel this way for her, because that's who he is. It's a part of his identity, now. One he'd always kept hidden from everyone else. He'd kept it underneath the layers of himself, disguised perfectly, until he blurted his secret to Haymitch Abernathy.

Haymitch Abernathy, the drunk.

Haymitch Abernathy, whose knowing his secret might just keep her alive.

Of course she walks in straightaway after he tells the mentor, but he prays she hasn't heard anything. She must not have, because, knowing her, she'd be strangling him if she had. Her pride is one of the many things he's come to know well within her.

But she, too, has layers of hiding. And sometimes, aspects of herself get hidden so far down that she, even, does not know them.

And when they're in the arena, she thinks her feelings for him are just a façade to keep the audience happy and engrossed in their vile romance.

Somewhere, deep down, though, she knows that she's only uncovered something about herself she never knew before. Somewhere, she's truly falling for this boy who has already fallen so hard.

But she won't let herself believe it. Because she knows he'll be gone the second these games are over. Because they both know he very well could be gone before these games are over.

i v . w i n d i n g

Their lives are like winding mazes, endlessly tricking them into believing something that is not so. Forever deceiving them to go the wrong way. Always set up simply to confuse them.

He's knows exactly what's waiting for him on the other end, but she is walking through blindly, hoping her purpose will eventually be clear.

Both keep walking; she takes care at every turn, trying to determine what lies ahead.

He, on the other hand, walks around each corner with no second thoughts.

She takes light footsteps, hoping with all her heart not to awake the beast of misery.

He tromps around the corridors of life with his natural loud personality and noisy step.

She's unsure.

He's beyond confident.

Until he finally takes the turn that brings him into her maze. At this point, he questions everything.

He is uncertain of every small detail that crosses his path. Their path.

Because he's finally gotten what he wants, but he's afraid that it's not real.

He's scared that someone will take it from his grasp any moment now.

Because his life's never really been a dream. It's been more of a nightmare. And when he's sleeping, his dreams have always been able to shift to more disturbing, scarring subjects, but he's never been lifted from the land of terror once he's been dropped in. So he holds onto her with every ounce of his strength, and prays she won't leave.

He never thought that maybe he'd be the one to give up on her.

v . u n d e r s t a n d

"Miss Everdeen, please answer the question." Their teacher looms over the tired, worn-down girl.

"North America, Ms. Cannenbelle." She answers, referring to the name of the land preceding Panem.


And she moves on to her next victim. But his eyes linger a little longer on Katniss Everdeen, and he's marveled once again at her ability to be so normal at school. They'd been through so much together, and yet at school, their glances were as awkward as they'd ever been. She's still avoiding him, and he's still wondering how everything had been so perfect one moment, then crashing down before he knew it.

He's still wondering why he's never stopped loving her.

Why she's never really felt the same.

And then class is dismissed, and he's walking out of the school. Towards the victor's portion of the district. He wants to crash in bed and complete his assignment within the confines of his room, where his mother cannot berate him for whatever it is she's unhappy with today.

Usually the walk home is silent, and she always walks a good fifty paces ahead of him. She's always had a knack for getting out of the school building first.

But today when he rounds the bend of Fifth Street, she's leaning against the fence. He can tell she's waiting for someone.

He just never thought it'd be himself.

He keeps walking, trying not to look back at her. Trying not to be mesmerized by the lock of hair hanging in her face.


It's her voice, he's sure of it. He thinks perhaps he's delusional.

He sneaks a quick look over his shoulder, positive that she will be just how he left her. But her head is turned in his direction. Her eyes are cast downwards, but she hauls herself from the fence, and walks towards him. She won't meet his eyes.

"What?" It's not harsh, but he's certainly not being warm.

"I don't understand."

And neither does he. He's furrowing his brow, trying to figure out what, exactly, it is that is confusing her.

He speaks the only words that are coming to his mind. "Yeah. Well, you never really did understand, did you, Katniss?" He lifts her chin to look into his icy eyes.

"What?" Her face is starting to contort—confusion, then anger. "What do you mean, I never…"

And then, finally, she does understand. She sees the hurt hidden behind the anger in the blue pools within his eyes. She sees that she has caused that hurt, without ever meaning to.

She's never really said it before. At least, not so truthfully. Her pride refuses to let her.

"I'm sorry."

The words are so quiet, that he's not sure that he heard them.

But he can see it in her eyes. He doesn't want to forgive her, but he knows that he will. He will because she is Katniss. "It's okay," he says. He gestures ahead of himself. "So. After you." He knows she likes to walk in front.

She starts walking, but when she feels that he isn't following, that he's waiting for her to get ahead, she turns. She's a good distance away, and they have to shout just a little to be heard.

"What?" he asks when she stops.

"Well…What are you doing?"

"I thought you liked to walk in front!"

"Not really."

"So you want to walk behind me?"

"Not really."

"Then I don't understand. If you don't want me to walk in front, and you don't want me to walk behind, where should I walk? I mean, I can't exactly hover over you. And you've made it quite clear that you don't want to walk together, so…"

As he's ranting, she's walking back towards him, and he stops only because her eyes are gleaming and she's smirking up at him.

"Okay, see, the thing is, I don't want to say it."

His eyes widen a little and he takes a deep breath, trying to figure out if he's got the situation straight.

When she keeps smirking up at him and rolls her eyes, he's confident that he's right.

And he walks next to her. He laughs for a reason unknown to her, brushes her hair from her face with the gentle touch she's come to love with all her heart, and kisses her lightly on the lips.

She backs up for just a second, reverting to her natural independence. "What…"

And she sees the hurt starting to flood back into his eyes, and she knows that look will break her if nothing else will. She can't stand to ever see him like that again. Such being the case, she allows herself to be engulfed in this feeling she doesn't yet trust. All she knows is that she trusts him.

They walk right past her house in the neighborhood, straight into his. The warm smell of bread and home flood her as she walks through the door.

Today he doesn't mind that he doesn't get his peace and quiet, or that his mom is unhappy, or that his brothers are giving him slightly suggestive smiles.

Today she doesn't care that she is vulnerable, or that she doesn't quite know how to be such.

Doing homework in his room together is all they care about. Because the house is so much nicer with her there.

Author's Note: This is quite different than what I usually write. Mostly because it's my first fic outside of the Percy Jackson realm!

By the way, in case you didn't catch it (I'm not sure i made it very obvious), I was thinking that when Katniss walked into the dining room in The Hunger Games, and she says Haymitch looked like he was laughing and Peeta looked embarassed, that Peeta had just told Haymitch that he was in love with Katniss.

Hope you liked it. Reviews are always appreciated.

~ S t r a w b e r r y S o r r o w s