After the minding numbing nightmares and flashbacks, "You love me?" Peeta ask. "Real or not real?"
I tell him, "Real."
"You mean that?" He asks and nod yes. "You, Katniss Everdeen is finally truly saying she loves me, the baker's boy?"
"Peeta, you know I love you." I say as he pulls me into his arms.
"I know but I still like nagging you about it." He says kissing my head.
"Yes, because it's so funny." I say getting up to dress in comfortable pants and a plain shirt. "Want me to show you my father's lake?" I ask pulling on a pair of boots.
"Are you sure you want to?" Peeta says unsure of himself.
"Why wouldn't I? I trust you, Peeta plus I don't really want to be alone today." I say thinking of Gale coming here to visit me and his family that moved back here recently.
"Hey, it's okay." He says wrapping me in a hug. "I thought you were happy about Gale coming?"
"Well, I was at first but I just keep thinking of the bombing at the Capital. Oh, Peeta, what if it was Gale's fault that – that P-Prim is dead?" I halfway yell and clutch to Peeta as I cry.
"Shhhh…" Peeta holds me to his chest and rubs my back until I finally stop crying. "Even if it was they didn't know Prim was there with you. I know it hurts, I see it when you cry and that kills me on the inside. I know you, Katniss you still want Gale to your friend, right?"
"Yes, but I don't think I can look at him the same way." I say as I put my hair in the usual braid down middle of my back. "What if he doesn't want to talk to me?"
"You tell me and I'll hurt him because he hurt you." Peeta says and I kiss his cheek and whisper my thanks. "Now, you still want to show me the lake?"
"Yes." I answer as I grab my father's hunting coat and my bow and sheath of arrows.
A few hours later, we are sitting together with our feet in the cool water. The spring sun shines down on us as we talk and laugh like we have always been together. I sit against his chest as he tells me of a new painting he want to do. His arms slide around me as we talk of more additions to the book.
"Why do love coming here, Kat?" Peeta asks randomly and upon hearing his nickname for me I relax into him more.
"Because I feel that this is where I belong. Not in District 13, 2 or 8, not in the Capital, here. Where I was raised and where Dad taught me to hunt and swim. Yes, when I think of Gale I get sad but we did have good times. And then there's you." I answer truthfully
"Me?" He asks. "What about me holds you here, in District 12?"
"Easy, you saved me and gave me hope when I didn't know there was any." I answer sitting up and turning to face him.
"I love you." Peeta whispers and leans in to kiss me gently.
After a few more hours, we decided to walk back through the district and make our way home. As we went I shot a few rabbits and put them in the game bag. Halfway to the fence line we join hands and I hum happily thinking of Peeta. For the first time being back home, I feel truly happy.
"The birds still stop to listen." Peeta says as a mockingjay repeats the tune I hummed.
"Not like they did for my Dad." I say as we walk along the fence to opening. My body goes cold when we pass the spot where my old house used to be. Peeta squeezes my hand, pulls me close and wraps an arm around me. We walk through the town seeing old and new faces, waving at various ones who acknowledge us.
As we stop to see Greasy Sae we eat some of her soup and talk to others eating with us. Few ask harmless questions about the Games, our relationship, and few tell me sorry about Prim. We start walking again and stop to see other people that we try to stay close to.
"Gale!" I hear a familiar voice yell. Posy Hawthorne is now running at full speed towards Gale, who is standing where the Peacekeeper whipped him. I stop as I watch the rest of his family hug and welcome him home. Peeta squeezes my shoulders and I look up at him.
"It's okay. I won't let him hurt you emotionally or physically." He says before kissing my head.
"It's not me I'm worried about." I say and seeing the confused look on Peeta's face I say, "He loves me and I love him too just not like you. Whatever happens, I'm yours."
"You better be I've fought too hard and long for you." He whispers to me and kiss me deeply. The gut feeling that I want more comes when I wrap my arms around his neck. Needing air we stop but he rests his forehead on mine.
"Hey, Catnip." Gale's voice breaks through to us and I turn but don't move out of Peeta's grasp.
"Hi, Gale." I say looking at him for the first time in months since the war. "How's the job in District 2?"
"Good, kind of tiring but good. Hey, Peeta." Gale says genuinely.
"Hey. You look good, considering the pod trap and the way I saw you last." Peeta says slightly cold because Gale was supposed to be protecting me when he got trapped.
"Yeah, I feel a lot better too. The two of you look so much better now that everything has been worked out." Gale says. "Hope he treats you well, Catnip or I might have to kill him."
The words killhim ring through my head viciously making me imagine Gale taking Peeta from me. "You will not touch Peeta!" I say stepping towards Gale angrily. "You'd have to get through me and you couldn't hurt me."
"You're right, Katniss. Hurting you would never happen and I was joking about killing him." Gale says as I realize that he was just kidding and I step back into Peeta's arms.
"It's okay, Kat." Peeta whispers to me. "Don't worry, Gale she is perfectly fine in my arms. We help each other get through everything."
"Good. I'm glad you're happy. It took her long enough to figure out who she loves but she picked the right one." Gale says and Peeta laughs at the comment.
"You have to admit it was a hard choice but I think part of me knew Peeta was the one since he joined the Careers to save me." I say turning to face Peeta and he pulls me close and kisses me. "I love you."
"Always." Peeta says hugging me closer.