First of all I have to say Holy Crap. So this is the last chapter and I can't believe how sad I am, I never thought I would get so attached to it, but I was scared that if I stretched it out any longer it would ruin it. So here it is, its not a steamy chapter, I wanted to end it on a sweet note. So I have one little request from you guys, I really want to know if it was a good way to end it. Because I don't want to regret ending it. So again I really really really am thankful for all the support that you guys have given me, its more than I deserve and ever expected. I really Appreciate all those Reviews, and Alerts, and Fav's. So yeah...I hope you guys have had as much fun reading as I've had writing, so good bye for now and thank you.
Chapter 13: Secrets
Sometimes I wake up and I can't believe it's a part of my life, my traumatic, broken life. Since we had our last argument we've only become closer, we are together for all but the entire day. Even when I hunt, I hurry to try and catch him before he finishes baking. An old pleasure replaced by a new one. It seems right though, the forest always felt as if it wasn't just mine; too much of Gale lingers there. It's lost its comfort and returned to being nothing more than a source of sustenance. It bothered me at first, even though my old life was full of ghosts I didn't want to forget it, I didn't want to grow complacent and forget that at any moment my world could be taken away, Peeta could be taken away.
It was two weeks after our argument, in retrospect it's a bitter sweet moment, I hate that even then we had doubts, but the result, what we have now, is something I never imagined I'd have. Peeta was baking and I had returned from hunting early. I sat in the kitchen and watched his hands, squeezing and releasing, slowly driving into the dough and twisting it as he kneaded it. It was captivating, to see him work, as the light softly landed on his hands, the way his eyes focused and determined. It was nearly ten minutes before he noticed my presence.
"Hey, I didn't notice you there." He says, meeting my eyes only for a moment before returning to his work. "You got back early today."
I couldn't help but feel I was intruding. "Yeah…I caught a couple of rabbits early on and the snares I had set had yesterday had some squirrels so there was no point lingering. " I said, hoping my thorough explanation was enough to excuse my presence.
"Wow great, so we're set for a few days then."
"Yeah." I said, an overtone of excitement lacing my voice. He turns around smiling with a surprised look, and he looks at me for a minute before speaking again. "You sound happy about that."
"I haven't felt like going hunting lately." I say matter-of-factly. He flashes me a concerned look.
"Are you feeling sick?"
"No I just prefer to stay here with you." I barely finish my sentence before I realized what I said. Peeta walks away from the bread and presses his lips softly against mine. "I'm glad to hear that." The smile is spread almost to his ears. "Do you mind if I watch you bake?" I ask him tentatively. He passes a flour riddled finger across my cheek before kissing me gently. "Nothing would make me happier." I smile with the same fervor and allow him to return to his work once again becoming captivated by the grace of his hands. I let out a breathy sigh and completely relax, something that I couldn't really do unless I was about to make a kill.
Our life has become beautifully uncomplicated, and more then that is has become ours, despite the nightmares that creep in at night and after effects from the trauma. Peeta still has slight episodes now and again but he hasn't allowed me to witness them, he says that he doesn't want to burden me with them, but I've seen him once before in the study, clenching the edge of the chair as his eyes dash wildly under his eyelids. I remember crying, but when I mentioned it to him he told me that he never wanted to be the reason that I cried so he deals with them on his own. Still after that day when the rare episodes do return I give him space, but watch him closely ready to assist in any way I can.
Life is returning to district 12.
There are still times that I can't believe people return but I understand, this place is home, especially for those who still have family, this is all they know. I often fear that those returning will recognize, in fact I know they do. I know they blame me for the destruction of the only place they could call home, but Peeta reassures me that they don't blame me, that they blame the Capitol and Snow. He even began to send give fresh bread to the families when they arrived, as a welcome home present of sorts. At first I never went with him, afraid that they would turn down any bread that has been in my presence, but after a while I realized that they were just happy to feel welcomed.
This has become our life, ours.
I have to remind myself in the shower that it's real sometimes, that this isn't a dream. Because of me, the district was destroyed; thousands of people were killed. Peeta lost his leg, his sanity. Still they don't hate me. He doesn't hate me. He reminds me every day of his love, when he embraces me after a nightmare, when he makes love to me like it's the first and last time, when he kisses me gently, passionately, roughly, even frustrated. When he sees me naked and kisses my scars, telling me that I'm beautiful. This is our life.
Months pass and winter's grasp reached us. One night, while we lay entwined in front of the fire, I look at Peeta and realize he's watching me intently.
"How come you still do that?" I ask him.
He gives me a quizzical look and says "Do what?" The innocence in his eyes makes me smile.
"Look at me. With that look, like if you haven't seen me in a long time."
"Does it bother you?" he asks with confusion on his face.
"No!" I say quickly "It's not that, I love it, I just want to know what you're thinking." His face relaxes and he says "I just can't believe you're with me. All these months, I still can't believe you wake up and don't regret that you're with me. You're perfect, you're beautiful, smart, kind, and yet you choose to be with me." His eyes reflect the light of the fire as he says this making him seem like less of a man and more of an angel.
His words stir something in me, a wild feeling across my body, something I can't explain. I quickly sit up and pull him up with me until he's sitting directly in front of me. Alarm spreads to his face momentarily but quickly subsides. "Peeta?" I say hesitantly "I love you."
He smiles happily before saying "I love you too," and kissing my forehead gently, his lips lingering on my skin.
I pull away and look intently into his powerful eyes. "Ask me." I say confidently.
"What?" he says furrowing his eyebrows closely together in confusion.
"Ask me Peeta, I won't say no, please ask me."
"Katniss what are you talking about?" before he has the chance to formulate another word I interrupt, "Please ask me, before YOU wake up and regret being with me, ask me and I promise I'll say yes, I won't be like I have in the past, please ask me." My voice is become crazed with desperation, I don't want him to leave, ever. A strange look of realization spreads across his face and for a moment his eyes widen in surprise. "Katniss what are you saying?" he says hesitantly.
"I'm saying that I want you to ask me, please, before you realize how wrong you are, before you start to notice how ugly my scars are, and how selfish I am, and how stupid I've been." I feel my eyes tearing and Peeta presses his forehead against mine. "Katniss I would never—"
"Ask me!" I interrupt once again, almost demanding "Ask me and I swear I won't regret it ever. I need you to a—" suddenly he pulls me into his embrace, and with his mouth close to my ear he says "Marry me. Marry me Katniss and be mine!"
I can't control the tears anymore; I look at his yes and desperately kiss him. When I pull away I see his face and for a moment I don't understand why he won't look away. "Yes!" I say almost scared that I've given him time to reconsider; I break into a laughter and repeat "Yes Peeta yes!"
His eyes tear and he pulls me into his embrace once again "I'll never change my mind; no amount of torture will ever change how I feel about you Ok?" I don't answer; I only nod my head that is buried deep in the recess of his neck. When I pull away I look straight in to his eyes and hesitate a moment before saying "tonight?"
"Tonight?" he says surprised. "Yes, tonight." I answer with determination.
"Katniss…are you sure you want this?"
"Yes" I says instantly "I'm sure, but I want this to be our moment and no one else's. I've had to share too many of our moments and I don't want to anymore."
A soft look takes over his face. "Ok. Tonight." I smile happily and spring to my feet. I run to the kitchen and return with a sliced bread. Peeta becomes noticeably nervous.
"Second thoughts?" I say playfully but nervous that he'll confirm my fears.
"Never." He says smiling, and making an effort to calm his nervous appearance. He runs his hands through his hair and tries to straighten out some unruly strands.
I sit in front of him and set the plate close to the fireplace. "Are you ready?" I ask while anxiously smiling. I can't help but feel like a child. He swallows slowly and nods his head softly, never once pulling his gaze from mine.
The ceremony brings tears of joy to my eyes while we toast the bread and to feed it each other. "Katniss" Peeta says softly "I love you." He's a genius when it comes to words, even something so simple, it was perfect. I go through declarations of love in my head, ways to explain how he makes me feel, even apologies for all the times I've wronged him, but in the end turn up empty handed. "I love you too." Is all I manage to say, but I feel disappointed in myself for not being able to express my feelings in my own words.
Still Peeta smiles uncontrollably and presses his lips amorously to mine. "Peeta? Why is that enough?"
"Because I love you." he says matter-of-factly.
"You really are a too good." I say and I lunged myself towards him and bury him deep with my kisses.
That night was beautiful, we barely slept, we just lied in front of the fire and looked into each other's eyes, trying our hardest to reach into one another's souls.
I awoke alone in the morning, covered by a thick comforter.
"Hey you're awake." Peeta says as he enters the room with a steaming cup in each hand. "I was just about to wake you up."
He hands me one of the cups which is filled with peppermint tea. I breath it in deeply and the let steam warm my face before taking a cautious sip. "Thank you…" I pause "I was afraid you remembered what we did and ran away."
"I was going to but you woke up and caught me." He says laughing.
"Good thing I woke up then."
"So, second thoughts? I know you were afraid of this." He says as walks over to the fire and lights a few logs of the already burned wood. "No second thoughts." I answer.
He sits next to me and tugs at the comforter, and I wrap it gently around him. "I'm still scared though. I don't think I'll ever stop being afraid." He stares at the small fires rising from the embers and says "I'm a little bit scared too. But I don't care. I'm will never regret last night. Thank you Katniss."
"For marrying you?" is say perplexed.
"No" he says smiling "For making me brave enough to be happy."
I feel my body shudder with happiness. "I love you, so much Peeta I can't believe it's not a dream sometimes." I meet his lips with mine before saying "Thank you for making me happier than I ever thought I deserved to be."
I drank the tea slowly, and in between sips his lips awaited mine. When the room warms up we decide to start our day, Peeta bakes and I decide to go out, we have enough food for today's dinner but there's someone I need to speak to.
On my way out I grab my coat, but the cold weather still catches me off guard. It's not very far, but the unpleasant weather makes the walk to Haymitch's house a bigger chore than it really is.
He sits in his living room surprisingly lucid. "Strange, I thought I would have wake you up some water. Shame."
He looks at me for a moment sizing me up. He scoffs and says "I'm waiting for the train to bring my liquor, so don't tell me you came to piss me off."
"I came to talk to you, but I'm not sure how much I want to. Do you mind?"
"Spill it! What do you want." He says with an exasperated tone.
"How are you?" I say to break the tension.
"I'm just peachy. How's the boy?" he says nonchalantly.
"I'm good too. And don't call him the boy." I say sharply "Peeta is doing well. We…" I trail off, I'm not completely sure I want Haymitch to know, though I feel he deserves too, instead I say "have you spoken to him lately."
He points at some bread on the kitchen counter which is barely visible through the wreckage he's left behind. "He's brought me bread, we've been speaking, well, he's been talking."
"Good." I say. "I'll bring you some game next time I go hunting, just make sure it doesn't go to waste again."
"Yeah" he grumbles in a barely audible voice.
I start to make my way for the door, and before I leave I say "Oh, Peeta and I got married last night….I thought you might want to know." I feel nervous as I say those words; Haymitch is the only one that has tried to protect Peeta, even if it was in his own dysfunctional way. I was scared he would be able to put a negative spin on my actions, sullying our happiness.
He says nothing as I walk out. It's not until I'm on his lawn that he comes out of the house. He flinches as the cold hits his body. "I hope you didn't say yes out of pity." He says, no harshness in his voice only concern.
"I asked him to marry me." I say, even if it was in my own way, I was the one that asked.
I see a surprised look on his face, but it quickly resides and a smile creeps on his lips, "Good! Try to get me some rabbit then, next time you go hunting." He turns around and closes the door.
My tension disappears. He approves, and thought it's something I normally wouldn't care about he's the closes thing Peeta has to family, aside from me now.
I return home and say nothing to Peeta.
Our day goes by just as beautifully as our morning, and at night, after he makes love to me, passionate, tender, satisfying love I ask him, "What am I going to do if I wake up and this moment was just a dream."
He looks at me tenderly and says "Then I'll make love to you then and make it a reality."
I smile. "Peeta?"
"You love me? Real or not real?"
He smiles and his eyes glisten "Real."