reversal.

katniss & peeta

( glowing embers and fresh heartache )

disclaimer: not mine.


( thirty-five. )

They watch them play in the meadow.

(together, because they're never going to be apart again, not evereverever.)

They're theirs, all theirs, and she still can't believe it, even more so than he (who is having a very hard time believing it, thank you very much).

The little girl giggles as she spins and twirls this way&that, her dark hair fanning out behind her. She dances on the tips of her toes, careless and free. The sun brings out flecks of gray in her blueblue eyes, which are squinted up as she smiles.

The toddler boy laughs his toddler laugh as he eagerly runs to keep up with his older sister, corn silk curls bouncing, turning once in a circle and then falling over on young, unsteady legs. The little girl picks him up and kisses his forehead.

Katniss watches the scene and sighs as Peeta comes up behind her and wraps his arms around her waist.

"Sometimes, I'm afraid that someone's going to come and take them away," he confesses, lips warm against her ear.

She turns around and places her hands on his broad chest. "Not real, Peeta," she says confidently. "Not real."

He kisses her then, and she allows herself to believe that maybe, things will be okay.


( thirty-three. )

She looks down at the baby in her arms, half-shock and half-awe.

Prim.

Why are you here? She asks the baby. Why did you come? She nearly growls at the familiar pricking feeling at her eyes, and swallows the large lump in her throat.

"Momma?"

Katniss lifts her head, dragging her gaze away from the child in her arms and towards the doorway. The little girl stands there, dark hair in pigtails and cobalt eyes alight with excitement.

"Yes?"

The little girl takes a tentative step forward. "Can I see my little brother now?" Peeta emerges into the hallway at that moment with a glass of water and walks up behind the girl, placing his hand tenderly on the back of her head.

"Yes." Katniss says, shifting the baby.

Peeta herds the little girl into the room and lifts her up onto the bed. He places the glass of water on the table by the bed and holds out his arms. Katniss gently, carefully, hands the baby to him.

(and she would never trust just anyone with her child, with her son, but she trusts Peeta. oh, how she trusts him.)

She takes the glass of water from the nightstand as Peeta sits down on the edge of the mattress. The little girl scrambles up and rests her hands on her father's shoulders, leaning over his back as she peers past his head. She gasps.

"Oh! He looks just like that girl that daddy's always painting."

Katniss flinches.


( thirty. )

He cradles her softly in his arms, almost afraid that she'll breakbreakbreak.

(because for all he knows, she's perfect, and she might.)

He distantly hears the doctor murmuring softly to Katniss, giving her pain medicine and last minute instruction before he heads home for the night.

Peeta sits back in his chair and brings his daughter closer to his chest, shielding her. Protecting from reapings and blood and murder and people that might try to take her, that are going to try to take her, because she's too pure and it isn't here, and they'll surely try to destroy this tiny spot of white in their black, black country.

(realnotreal realnotreal which one is it?)

"Hey." Katniss says hoarsely, placing her hand gently on his shoulder. "You alright?"

He rolls his shoulders and turns to her.

"I will be."


( twenty-eight. )

He had expected this big climactic moment, with tear-stained faces and heartfelt confessions.

What he did not expect was this.

They're sitting on the couch, his head in her lap and his sketchpad over his bent knees. She absentmindedly runs her fingers through his hair as she stares out the window at the rain.

"Hey, Peeta?" She says softly.

"Mhmm?" He replies, only half-listening, because the shading on this sketch doesn't look quite the way he wants it to and he's trying to think of ways to fix it.

"I think..." she sighs heavily, cocking her head to the side as she tries to find the right words (and she was never any good at this), "I think... that... I'm ready."

"Ready for what?" He asks simply as he brushes eraser dust off of his paper.

"Readyforababy." She blurts it out quickly, the words blending together, and she has to repeat herself twice before he gets it.

"Are you serious?" He questions, sitting up so quickly that he knocks her chin with the top of his head. She rubs her jaw and glares at him irritatedly. "Oh, God, I'm sorry!" He sets his sketchpad and pencil on the floor before leaning forward and kissing her frown away. He draws back and looks at her earnestly. "You're really serious?"

She snorts. "It sounds like you're trying to convince me to change my mind."

"No, no!" He assures her quickly. He laughs. He kisses her again, and she can feel him grinning.

(because, well, it's kind of hard not to feel it, because she thinks that the upturned corners of his mouth are actually meeting at the back of his head.)


She's sitting in the kitchen one afternoon when it happens. Peeta's at work and the house is a mess, and she's contemplating getting up to clean.

And it's so simple and small, but she looks out the window and sees a tiny yellow dandelion growing in the grass of their backyard.

(cue the lightbulb.)

God, she hates it when the universe sends her messages like that.


The silence is always the worst part.

It's not the low, level tone that sneaks into his voice, not the spark that lights his eyes, not the clenching-un-clenching-clenching fists. It's the silence, the too-quiet quietness that comes with their fights. He doesn't talk to her, won't acknowledge her beyond a nod when she addresses him.

She corners him one evening, while he's in the study, painting.

"Talk to me."

He pauses in his work to turn and look at her.

"Please," she adds as an afterthought (and also because people seem to react better to commands when please is added on the end).

"I don't understand," is all he says.

"What's not to understand?" She asks, annoyed. "Just stop ignoring me."

"No," he says. "I don't understand."

She sighs and sinks down into one of the high-backed chairs at the desk next to his easel. "What do you not understand, Peeta?" She asks, gentler this time.

He resumes his painting and is quiet for a long time. She almost thinks that he's not going to respond when he inhales sharply suddenly and says as he turns to face her again, "I don't understand how after all we've been though, you're still not willing to try for a baby." He doesn't add again, because it's implied and he thinks she might scream if he does add it.

She presses her fingers against her left temple and closes her eyes. "You know why."

He doesn't protest, because he does know why, but he will never understand it, how she felt. He only knows his own pain, and that's all he needs to know, he decides.

So he lets the matter drop, because she's hurting and she needs more time.


( twenty-six. )

Miscarriage. The word is ugly, and she decides that she hates it. And it's stupid that she's crying over this, because secretly, she might have actually wished for this.

(but not really, because it's the same as murder, and she's done too much of that.)

"Peeta," she murmurs, putting her head in her hands. "God, what am I going to tell Peeta?"

And then she starts sobbing for real, wailing and beating her fists weakly on the floor of the bathroom. Because she thought she was done with this, all of the pain and death and blood, and she's so frustrated, because, does it ever end?

(silly little girl, the answer is no.)

It was all an accident anyway, so is shouldn't be that big of a deal that it's dead.

The sharp pain in her chest heartily disagrees.


( twenty-two. )

She still has nightmares.

She wakes up differently ever time. Sometimes she just opens her eyes and she's screaming, screaming herself hoarse. Sometimes she'll wake up in a cold sweat, and she can't move, because she's paralyzed, and she's so afraid. Sometimes she wakes up to find her face wet with tears, her pillow soaked through.

But Peeta's always there, and he is warm and he is comforting and he is safety.


He still has flashbacks.

They vary in violence, sometimes he just starts shaking uncontrollably, other times he crashes things against the wall and yells until his throat is raw.

But Katniss always brings him back as she whispers, Not real, Peeta, not real, a never-ending mantra that circles through his brain and helps him distinguish fact and fiction.


Whoever said this recovering thing was going to be easy lied.


( twenty. )

She opens the door one day and finds the past staring her straight in the face.

"Katniss," Gale breathes. He shifts from foot to foot. "Um... can we... talk?"

She opens the door and lets him in.


( eighteen. )

They've never been officially "married", but they think of each other that way.

"Peeta," she says one night, trying to ignore how warm she feels when his lips brush past her collarbone, "You're... you're my husband. Alright?"

He stops and sits up to look at her. "Yeah," he says. "I feel like that too." He kisses her, just once, before pulling back and smiling. "I love you."

"Me too."

They toast bread that he made together, and they don't need a marriage certificate or signatures or a priest. They figured out a long time ago that each other is enough, and that's all they really need.


( seventeen. )

District 12 is a ghost town.

She would be afraid, except she knows that her ghosts would have followed her to the moon and back.

She and her boy with the bread grow back together. They fight off the ghosts together, because Two Heads Are Better Than One, right?

They both don't know much at this point, they just know that there is need, a gaping hole in their chests that binds them together, because when they're apart, the hole just grows bigger, gnawing at them, making their hearts pang with longing.

The pain doesn't go away completely when she's with him, but it loosens up, and the relief is welcome.


He asks her one night. "You love me. Real or not real?"

She tells him honestly. "Real."

She means it. He means it.

They're going to get through this hurt together, because together, they can get through anything.

(they've proved that much at least.)


fin.