Title: Kisses from Katniss

Author: Erica

Rating: PG? PG-13, maybe. I'm not a fan of rating stories.

Word Count: 3000

Chapter: 1/1

Summary: Peeta's point of view from the time Katniss rescues him to the first "real" kiss.

Disclaimer: This is a fan fiction of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I did not invent this world or the characters I am using. It is canon, so there are events in this that appear in the novel, as well as pieces of conversation taken out of the novel as well. Anything recognizable is not mine.

A/N: Consider this an alternate epilogue for Becoming Ice. Originally, when I was planning my NaNoWriMo, "Becoming Ice" was going to be completely Gale's POV with the epilogue as Peeta. It obviously didn't turn out that way, but I still had an outline of my old epilogue. A couple of you said you would prefer if the epilogue was Peeta, and one (PeetaMellark'sKatniss) asked if I would write the kisses from Peeta's point of view. So I used my old outline and wrote it. This is getting long, but I just wanted to thank ALL of you for reading and reviewing! You guys are really, really awesome!

Edit: I forgot Peeta had siblings! I fixed it. Sorry!

Kisses from Katniss

I don't remember our first kiss.

Looking back, I don't really remember anything that happened that day. It comes in flashes sometimes, during the night as I'm sleeping, and I jolt up from my bed as the pain reoccurs. Katniss says she could have fried an egg on my head I was so hot, but I only remember being cold. So cold I shivered frantically in the mud, unable to stop my body from trembling. I think I remember that.

What I remember most was the pain. It's hard to forget pain that excruciating.

I don't remember what Katniss did to me; she refuses to talk about it, and I know it must have been an ordeal for her. She won't even come near me when I have the slightest cold, she's so terrified of catching an illness. But I remember everything she did was agony. It was something I didn't expect, and I kept waiting for it to end. It didn't. Not for a long, long time.

I remember thinking it wasn't right, that it shouldn't be happening like that. In my dreams, as I lay in the mud, Katniss was always the one who took the pain away. She gave me imaginary kisses I could almost taste on my lips and somehow made everything better. In reality, it didn't happen quite the same. Everything she touched made me scream. I wanted my dreams back. I wanted her to take away the pain, not bring more.

I remember wanting to die.

The pain wouldn't stop. I was beginning to think it would never end. Katniss poked and prodded me into the stream, squeezing at my sore leg and other wounds and forcing me to walk to the cave with my injuries. I screamed, moaned, whimpered and whined the entire time. Pain radiated throughout my body, worse than the moment I was stabbed by Cato. It was agony, far worse than the stings of tracker jackers and the hallucinations that resulted from them. If you combined every second of pain from the moment I was born to that hour in my life, it still wouldn't compare to the torture I experienced that day.

I must have been delusional when I asked for that kiss.

I don't remember what I said exactly. I can't give you a word for word recollection, because after being moved to the cave, my memory goes dark. You can always watch the footage, I guess. Katniss says I was telling her I wouldn't make it back, and she kissed me to shut me up. She says her kiss was the drug I needed, and I immediately quieted down and went to sleep.

"I was your morphine," she says with a laugh. "One swift peck and you were out like a light."

"It was such a dull kiss I fell asleep from boredom," I tease back.

I wish I could remember that damn kiss. I waited eleven years for it.

Even worse? I don't remember the second, third, fourth, five, sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth kisses, either.

Katniss says they were unexciting. I watched them on the television shortly after the Games had ended, and I disagree. Oh man, do I disagree. She kissed me awake. She rewarded me with kisses whenever I swallowed the tiniest spoonful of broth Haymitch had sent. And, despite my delirious state, I beamed at her after each kiss. Even in my condition, I realized the importance of them.

I remember every kiss after that. I refuse to forget even one.

Katniss took care of me in that cave. She risked hunting to feed me, even lighting fires to make soup, the only thing I would eat at the time. I remember the smell of food making my stomach roll, but she promised me kisses if I ate it, and that was worth any nausea I was feeling. She kept trying to feed me groosling, but the grease of it was far too much for my stomach to endure.

My leg was getting worse, and Katniss hadn't kissed me in a while. By her face, I knew she was worried. I also knew I had blood poisoning, and medicine would be too expensive for Haymitch to send at this point in the Games. Even a bottle of water was probably more than he could afford. For some reason, it wasn't a big deal to me. I had accepted days ago I was going to die in the Games. I didn't want to dwell on it; I just wanted to spend my last days with her.

Katniss, though, would not listen to reason.

"You're just going to have to outlast the others, Peeta," she said. "They'll cure it back at the Capitol when we win."

Her face held such a look of determination, as if she wasn't giving me a choice. I smiled at her.

"Yes, that's a good plan," I said to appease her.

Katniss never stayed in the cave for long. She was constantly moving, as if she couldn't stay still. She brought in fresh water from the stream, hunted, cooked and wandered. I just wanted to spend time with her before I passed on. I forced myself to sleep as much as possible during the day, so when night came, I could have my time.

She always slept in the sleeping bag with me, her head resting on my arm. In her sleep, she cuddled into me whenever I wrapped my arms around her, and sometimes her legs would entwine with mine. It was the highlight of my days. I held her every night and listened to her rhythmic breathing, occasionally leaning close to smell her hair. The fact we had been in the Hunger Games for weeks was irrelevant; she stilled smelled like Katniss. Like home. I would pull her even closer, then, and she would sigh, lost in dreams.

I loved listening to the story of her sister's goat. I loved learning about her. By this point I was virtually immobile, my leg back to its previous, swollen size and colour. My fever had returned, and I was nearing delirium once more. Listening to her laugh and talk about home kept me grounded. It gave me a reason not to fall into darkness like I did before. In her voice I could hear the fierce love she had for her sister, Primrose, and it helped me to better understand why she volunteered to save her sister. But I don't think I'll ever fully comprehend it.

When the trumpets blared, my heart fell into my chest. I was sure they were going to take the rule change back. I couldn't lose Katniss after finally gaining her. Not after I had learned so much about her. Not after I had fallen even more in love with her. I think Katniss had the same thought: she had jumped to her feet immediately, staring intently at the sky, as if she was preparing to ward them off.

It was only a feast. I remember her waving at the air, passing on the offer, and (although this memory might be tainted by my feverishness) Claudius actually responded to her.

"Now hold on," he said. "Some of you may already be declining my invitation. But this is no ordinary feast. Each of you needs something desperately. Each of you will find that something in a backpack marked with your district number, at the Cornucopia at dawn. Think hard about refusing to show up. For some of you, this will be your last chance."

The only thought in my mind had been: Oh, hell no.

I jumped up and grabbed her shoulder before she could run toward the Cornucopia. I didn't want her anywhere near Cato and Clove. We were safe in our little corner of the world and I didn't want to return to the bloodshed.

"No," I said. "You're not risking your life for me."

"Who said I was?"

Her tone was too casual. "So, you're not going?" I asked.

"Of course, I'm not going," she scoffed. "Give me some credit. Do you think I'm running straight into some free-for-all against Cato and Clove and Thresh? Don't be stupid. I'll let them fight it out, we'll see who's in the sky tomorrow night and work out a plan from there."

It was all said in one fast breath, as if holding in a lie would hurt her. I almost laughed at how freaking cute she was.

We argued. I thought I won. She drugged me and ran. I woke up to find her lying in a pool of blood; however, I was feeling much better.

You know. Typical romance. For us, anyway.

She gave me my ninth kiss while I was drugged. It's the last kiss I don't remember. I watched it later on the Capitol screens. She had almost left the cave, turned back, and had given me a long, sweet, lingering kiss. She brushed away a tear, acting as though she'd never see me again, and left for the Cornucopia.

I've was never conscious during the early romantic stuff, it seems.

The tenth kiss, thankfully, I remember well.

We were arguing about the day I gave her bread as a child. She couldn't understand why I had done it, and I wanted to shake her hard and scream, "Because I would do anything for you, Katniss! I love you!"

Somehow, I had refrained. Probably because I was so thrilled she had remembered it, a warm heat dancing in my stomach at the thought. When I was picked as District Twelve's male tribute, I didn't think she'd even know who I was. I was positive I was invisible to her. Yet she remembered the bread. She knew me before the Games. She had noticed me.

Haymitch laughed at me before the Seventy-Fourth Hunger Games began.

"I think you're going to have to spell it out for her, Mellark," he had said. "Either she doesn't believe, or she doesn't have a fucking clue."

In the cave, when I mentioned Haymitch to her, her interest peaked, wanting to know what he had said. I tried to change the subject.

"So, Cato and Thresh, huh? I guess it's too much to hope that they'll simultaneously destroy each other?"

A strange look passed over her face. "I think we would like Thresh," she said. "I think he'd be our friend back in District Twelve."

I guess she'd forgotten we weren't friends back in District Twelve. I smiled grimly.

"Then let's hope Cato kills him, so we don't have to."

Unexpectedly, she started to cry. I was shocked; I didn't know what to do. Katniss was the strongest person I knew, and she was crying, her eyes turning red and her lips pressed tightly together. I asked her if she was in pain. She replied with something equally surprising.

"I want to go home, Peeta."

My heart broke, looking at her pale face and trembling body. She suddenly looked half her age, and for the first time in my life, I saw a glimpse of the real Katniss. The girl behind the mask, who has as many fears and worries as the rest of us. I knew then, no matter what happened, I needed to get her home.

"You will. I promise," I said.

I leaned over and gave her a soft kiss. Her lips were warm and salty from tears. Even though I wish, more than anything, I could remember the first nine kisses, sometimes I'm glad this is the first I remember. It was the first real connection I ever had with Katniss, beyond the superficial pecks and hand holding we had done. It was my first kiss, and it was more meaningful than I ever could have hoped for.

And yet, it got better.

The next day, we finished the last of our food. Katniss was unable to gather or hunt in the torrential downpour and we were starving. I tried to keep a steady stream of chatter, distracting us from the cramps of starvation. Katniss asked what was in the field Thresh was living in, but I didn't know. I sighed.

"I wonder what we'd have to do to get Haymitch to send us some bread," I said. My stomach growled in response.

Katniss grinned up at me, a real smile, and my heart fluttered. "Well, he probably used up a lot of resources helping me knock you out," she said.

"Yeah, about that," I laughed. "Don't try something like that again."

I entwined my fingers in hers, and she squeezed my hand playfully. "Or what?"

"Or. . . or . . ."

I couldn't think of anything, especially when her fingers were playing with mine and she was openly flirting with me. It was more than I had ever hoped for, and I wanted to thank Cato for injuring me and bringing Katniss here. Hell, had it not been for the Games, I never would have had her. Maybe I should thank Effie Trinket, too.

"Just give me a minute," I laughed. I couldn't concentrate when she was around.

"What's the problem?" she said with a grin.

I knew she was flirting with me, for the first time. I knew I would be an idiot to mess it up. And yet I did it anyway. It was easy to forgive her for running to the Cornucopia when I was feeling better. When I was finally conscious and not in pain and could care for her. But when we were both finally healed, I didn't want her hurt anymore. I knew that, if the opportunity came, she'd do it again in a heartbeat.

"The problem is we're both still alive. Which only reinforces the idea in your mind that you did the right thing," I finally said.

"I did do the right thing."

My grip on her hand tightened. She needed to know that she was the most important person in the Games, and my life meant nothing in comparison to hers. She was the one who needed to live. She was the person who had a family, a best friend, and a community waiting for her to return.

"No! Just don't, Katniss!" I had yelled. "Don't die for me. You won't be doing me any favors. All right?"

She ripped her hand out of mine. "Maybe I did it for myself, Peeta, did you ever think of that? Maybe you aren't the only one who. . . who worries about . . . what it would be like if . . ."

She fumbled, looking for the right words to say. I remember this moment so well. I played it and replayed it in my mind for weeks after it had happened. She had looked so scared, then, as if she was realizing how much I meant to her. She didn't want to leave me. She didn't want to be alone or go home without me. As she fumbled, my anger had instantly drained away, replaced by an emotion much, much stronger.


"If what, Katniss?" I said softly.

I watched her struggle to maintain her emotionless mask.

"That's exactly the kind of topic Haymitch told me to steer clear of," she said.

Whatever she wanted to say, it was lost. I remember thinking to myself that Haymitch and I were going to have a little chat once the Games were over. But when she glanced up at me through her long, dark lashes, I somehow knew everything she was trying to say. I refused to let the moment pass, after finally getting so close to the real Katniss.

"Then I'll just have to fill in the blanks myself," I said.

And then I kissed her.

To say it was amazing would be a major understatement.

I still don't know how I gathered the courage to do it. Maybe what gave me courage was not gathering any at all. I did just it. For a split second, when her soft lips met mine, I was afraid she'd shove me away, angry and upset. But she didn't. Her eyes were closed, and she responded. I let my own eyes drift shut and concentrated on her mouth on mine.

Her mouth was warm, and wet, and I'm positive my brain fizzled up and died. I didn't want to push my luck. I finally parted my lips, ready to pull away, but her mouth opened too, and then her lips were back on mine. My heart pounded in my chest and blood flowed steadily into my cheeks. I reached my hand up, holding her neck in place to kiss her harder, wanting more. Wanting so much more. It was as though I could never get enough of her.

I eventually pulled away to breathe. We couldn't take this any farther, not with a million people watching us throughout Panem. But even separated, I could feel her hot, trembling breath against my lips, and a rush of want tore through my body.

I opened my eyes to look at her. I couldn't help myself. I needed to see.

She was beautiful.

Her eyes were still closed, her mouth still open. I licked my lips and tasted her on them. I craved more. She leaned closer to me, almost searching for my mouth again. I inwardly groaned. If we started again, I wasn't sure I could stop. I kissed her nose instead.

"I think your wound is bleeding again," I said. "Come on, lie down, it's bedtime anyway."

She laid down next to me, her head on my arm, her legs entwined with mine. I tried to slow my breathing, but whenever I remembered the kiss, a little thrill ran through me and I had to pull her closer.

Before, I had no idea what love was like. But that night, I figured it out.

And I refuse to ever let it go.