AN: Another little missing scene
"You don't have to do this," Peeta says gently, his arms going around me.
My face is set in a firm expression of determination. "Yes, I do." I maneuver around his arms to finish pinning my hair back from my face.
Peeta gives an exasperated sigh, "No. I don't want you to do it. I've never even asked you to do it! I know how you feel." We've been having this disagreement for a week now and I was very firmly winning.
I turn to face him, giving him a peck on the lips. "And I know how you feel. You do so much for me. You have done so much for me before. Please, let me do this for you. For us." I take a hand, lacing our fingers together. "I feel like I want to vomit, but it will make me happy to do this for you, so damn it, it's happening. Now go downstairs to our guests before they decide to leave!"
It's been four years since Peeta came back to District 12 to be with me. The town has been rebuilt, stone by stone. We've made new friends as people have moved here, grown closer together as a couple, built our lives, healed.
I've learned that healing is an ongoing process, something that never finishes. And tonight, I want to provide healing to Peeta for once, for all the times he's held me together when I wasn't even sure I wanted to continue existing.
Downstairs, we have guests: Annie and her little boy, Finnick's son, Jessick, Joanna, Heevry, the apprentice that Peeta has taken in the bakery, Greasy Sae and her granddaughter and Haymitch, of course. My mother wouldn't come; it didn't surprise me much. I put the finishing touches on my hair, tucking a primrose into the design, then going downstairs to face the music.
Peeta is just herding everyone into the dining room, smiling nervously at me as he pulls out my chair politely. "You look beautiful," he says as he brushes the lightest of kisses on my cheek, then takes the seat next to me.
Everyone talks and catches up as food is passed around the table, plates full of the meal that we prepared. Peeta does the baking and anything delicate – I take care of the meat and vegetables. It turns out I'm not a terrible cook either, when I try. The food is good, the company is better and plenty of wine is shared around. As plates start to be pushed away and the chatter slows to a dull roar, I realize it is time.
I reach for and grip Peeta's hand tightly under the table, his expression worried, trying to convince me with his eyes to not do this. I ignore the non-verbal plea and stand up, drawing the attention of our guests.
"First, I want to thank everyone for coming tonight. It's so good to see you all." Murmurs of agreement are heard. I clear my throat. "But, I had an ulterior motive for this dinner party."
Immediately, suspicion and even fear come into the eyes of Annie, Haymitch and Joanna, the other survivors of the Capitol's sick Hunger Games. I continue quickly to allay their fears. "A lifetime ago, Peeta and I were thrown together. Due to the machinations of the Capitol, we had to agree to marry." I pause, giving an apologetic look to Peeta. He would have happily married me then, but I was forced into it, and we both knew it. "Anyway…That proposal was a sham and we never married, obviously."
The room was silent, looking at me, looking at Peeta, disbelief and shock coming to their faces as they realized where I was going with my speech. "But, it is a new world now. We are different people than we were back then, in so many ways. And…" my voice faltered, looking for the words. I closed my eyes and felt Peeta squeeze my hand in support. He knew this was something I needed to get through. "And I would very much like to marry Peeta Mellark." A surprised and pleased ripple of sound goes through our guests. "And…We're kind of planning to do it right now." I blush heavily as I sit back down.
Peeta gathers me into his arms with a strong kiss. "I'll get the bread," he says when we break, our guests still chattering with each other at the surprise of the night. I stand and motion for them to follow me to the living room, where the fire is still going strong. No one tries to talk to me. Perhaps they see how on edge I am about all this. Most know that I've never been much inclined towards marriage, and they don't want to spook me and ruin the moment.
Peeta brings out a special loaf he made, that I had requested ostensibly for dessert. It's a sweet bread, studded with candied fruits and edible flowers. He joins me by the fireplace and we kneel opposite each other, already becoming very warm by the fire. He breaks the bread in silence, you could hear a pin drop in the room, and hands me half.
"The fire has changed this from a pile of dough, to soft bread, now to hardened toast, as your love has changed me from girl, to woman, to wife." I hold the bread close to the coals at the front of the fireplace. "I love you and I give you my bread as I give myself to you, always and forever." I hand my hunk of bread to Peeta.
Peeta repeats the same vows, the vows that my parents said, that their parents said before them, taking away all the fear and nervousness I had about this night. He hands me his bread when he is done, we both take a bite from the toasted area, then kiss.
A cheer erupts from our audience, and not a few tears are being shed. I am surprised to find my own cheeks are damp, and I laugh in relief. It is done, the world did not end and I have been able to give Peeta something he has wanted for so long. In the process, perhaps giving myself something I didn't even know I wanted.
We stand and receive the congratulations of our friends. I explain I didn't tell anyone, because I wanted it to be something just for us, not for all of Panem. I know they will find out eventually, but I wanted tonight to just be our family. Peeta brings out a lavish cake that he had made for the occasion, despite his protests, and more wine is brought out to toast. We eat, we dance, we sing, we enjoy our extended family. I had never imagined getting married before, but if I had, I'm fairly certain that it would have been just like this.