Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games. Anything you recognize from the books is not mine.
Author's note: The end of Mockingjay left me very, very unsatisfied. There's this whole build up between Katniss and Peeta, with him recovering and trying to not hate her guts and all, and then its all resolved in a quick paragraph at the end? I found the lack of details atrocious and it left me starving for more. This is my attempt at more.
She jolts awake suddenly, a scream dying on her lips. Instantly his hands are on her. Hands that have kneaded endless lumps of dough, created delicate designs out of icing and paint, and are capable of killing to defend her. He runs them all over her body, along her back, her arms, her face. The terrified look in her eyes slowly disappears and she pushes her nightmare back into the darkness. She knows it's only a temporary reprieve, that the nightmares will always be there, waiting to claim her when she allows herself to rest, but she becomes lost in his hands, in his touch, and the nightmare doesn't matter anymore.
She doesn't really remember how he began sleeping in her bed again. Weeks after their return to District 12 and the Victor's Village, she could see he still struggled to stay in control around her. The four ever present crescent-shaped cuts in his palms spoke volumes of the effort it took not to lose himself. Slowly, ever so slowly, the slivers in his hands began to fade. Occasionally, they would resurface as angry red lines when he had a particularly bad day. But those came with far less frequency. Eventually, they disappeared all together.
They began working on her book, the task occupying them both. It helped with her nightmares, providing a form of comfort that nothing else could, getting it all down on paper so that those lost would not be forgotten.
He worked steadily by her, painting and sketching those who did not survive, and she marveled at him. How he could go through everything he did and still be so worried about her, still so determined to protect her. He was doing this for her, the book, and she tried to ignore the longing that swept through her every time she became absorbed in watching his hands work magic on the paper. Sometimes, he would look up and notice her staring, but never said anything, and she was glad he didn't, afraid of what it all meant and not wanting to think about any of it.
Then, one late night, as she found herself mesmerized by his hands again, she realized what he was painting. It was a young girl who looked so innocent and untouched by the tragedy of the Games and the war. At first, she thought it was Prim. But no, Prim had blond hair, not dark. And when flowers began to form around her under his deft brush, she knew it was Rue. Rue who reminded her so much of her sister, Rue who could barely contain her excitement when they teamed up even though she had to know that only one of them could make it, Rue who represented everything pure and how it could be destroyed by the Capitol. She started to cry. For Rue, Rue's family, Prim and her mother, for everyone affected by the Games.
Suddenly, she felt warm arms go around her, and she cried even harder, sobs wracking her body. He whispered meaningless words of comfort that did nothing to calm her, but only caused her to tremble harder. How could he, who had lost everything, be comforting her? She knew the answer even before she asked the question. She was his everything. Hadn't he said as much? Proven it over and over again by trying to keep her alive through not one, but two Hunger Games? By finding the strength somewhere deep down to overcome the Capitol's torture and return to her? She knew it was selfish but she couldn't stand the thought of sleeping in that big bed, in this big empty house, alone and she managed to get out in between sniffles, "Stay with me."
He didn't hesitate, not even for a second, "Always." He swept her up and carried her to her room, gently placing her on her bed before climbing in after her. She cried herself out in his arms before drifting into the dreamless sleep of exhaustion.
She woke the next morning still entangled in his embrace, and it was a moment before he stirred awake. They rose in silence, neither saying anything, neither needing to.
He followed her to her bed every night after that, fighting away her nightmares and comforting her when he couldn't.
Even now, he is there, calming and soothing her with his hands. The terror begins to fade and is replaced by another familiar feeling, a warmth, a hunger, that starts deep within her and spreads to the rest of her body. She can't help but lean in and kiss him.
"Katniss." One word, her name, and he manages to infuse in it every emotion he feels for her.
Soon, her hands are on him, but not to comfort. No, she wants something, something she is unsure of. She only knows she needs to be closer to him.
He takes over for her, gently tugging up the hem of her shirt until it is over her head and she is left bare before him. He hesitates. She shakes her head, "No, don't stop."
And he doesn't. His hands take on a frantic rush as he tries to touch all of her and his lips are everywhere. She moans his name and feels his hardness pressed against her and she needs more, she needs so much more. He gives it, he gives everything she needs and he, in turn, takes from her all she can give. In no time at all, there are no more barriers between them, and they are joined together.
She knows she cannot live, cannot survive, without him now. If he hadn't come back to her, she would have sunken into a darkness from which there was no return. He is her sun, chasing away the shadows that are never completely gone. He is her everything. The realization hits her and then she can feel nothing but him inside of her, surrounding her, sending her tumbling over the edge into sweet bliss. He follows shortly after and it's the most beautiful thing she has ever seen. Peeta moving above her, wanting her, needing her, loving her, saving her.
In the aftermath, he stays on top of her, breathing heavily as she traces lazy patterns across his back. He pulls away enough to look at her and studies her face, not daring to hope but having to ask, "You love me. Real or not real?"
She doesn't hesitate, not even for a second, "Real."