This plot bunny would not let me go and I've been wanting to write about it ever since.
The first five years of their marriage weren't the best.
Not because of the newness of having Peeta beside her, sharing her table and bed, that was the only good part of it. Dealing with Haymitch's annoying remarks or Greasy Mae's disapproving looks whenever she caught them fooling around in the kitchen wasn't fun but it wasn't so bad either.
The worst part was denying him the wants of those first five years.
Peeta wanted to help rebuild his bakery and by extension District 12 and Katniss wanted him home at all times, safe beside her. He wanted to remember everything and she wanted to forget.
The most important want was revealed to her when she saw him hold Annie and Finnick O'Dair's son, Tristan, for the first time. Peeta wanted a family and Katniss did not.
Katniss saw the way his blue eyes lit up when Annie placed him in his arms. How Annie with her long dark hair and at a distance could resemble herself. How the baby took to him immediately and made him smile like the old Peeta she had known before the abduction of his mind.
They looked like the perfect little family but as Annie turned and the resemblance faded, so did the rightness of the picture.
She wasn't Annie, sweet and complacent. She was Katniss Mellark now but the last name had not tamed her fiery temper or erased her fears of watching her children being marched to a platform and onto a train headed to the games that would mean their deaths.
So when Peeta returned holding the baby in his arms, she had merely turned to water the roses that carried on her sister's legacy not once looking back at him. She felt his disappointment envelope their little home but she let him walk away from her, carrying the child that was all that remained of her dear friend.
The next five years were better.
The nightmares had not ceased but their edges were duller, the images not a as clear. She had come to grips with her sister's death and called Gale for the first time in six years. Their friendship would never be the same but at least they spoke to each other.
She also began to want her husband with a renewed vigor.
She became more aware of him. More in tune with the desires of her own body and the way he welcomed her no matter what his mood was. The mornings were met with a regular occurrence of not letting him out of their bed.
He would laugh and attempt to scoot out but would always cave to her demands, to her desires that finally matches his and she would spend the morning in a blissful haze until Greasy Sae's voice would yell that it was an indecent hour to be in bed.
Peeta embarrassed but happy would shower and change and greet the old woman with warm bread.
The frequency of their lovemaking was also no longer dictated by the need to feel something other than terror after a nightmare. It was now to actually feel his body flush with hers, to give him back all the love he poured into her over the years and to show him how much her love for him had grown.
The hunger for him then became more primal, to lay an even bigger claim on him than she already had. Her change was met with happiness and sweetness on his behalf.
It was this weakness of hers that made him begin to hope.
She hadn't known what she was doing until she overheard him talking to her mother, discussing the possibility, saying that perhaps now that she was better and that his episodes were less frequent, they could actually try.
She had tiptoed away from the office and back to the kitchen, the cup of tea she was bringing him now cold to the touch. When he didn't mention his conversation about it, she relegated the incident to the back of her mind and went about her day.
Unfortunately it was during one of her cleaning sprees that his belief that perhaps she'd want a child was brought back. She had been tidying up his studio when she'd come across a covered painting.
Curiously she had lifted up the fabric and come face to face with a family portrait of them, complete with two dark haired children, one sitting in her lap and the other beside her on a chair.
It had been beautiful but so terrifying that she had fled into the woods and not returned until well into the day. She had come back surprised to find Gale standing on her porch with his hand poised to knock. She'd dropped her game bag and approached him.
Peeta was at work and it was Greasy Sae's day with her family so she was home alone when she invited her old best friend in.
Gale walked in behind her and they made small talk. She offered him refreshments and he sat at the table and neither one of them mentioned what had kept them apart. Eventually she had to address the fact that Gale had not come alone.
He'd come with a child, a dark haired little girl, who nestled on her father's shoulders with the ease of never knowing them gone. He shifted and she opened her big brown eyes.
"Katniss. I want you to meet my daughter… Primrose."
She didn't know if it was the name or the fact that it was Gale, the one that had unknowingly murdered her sister and named his child after said sister, or the little girl's resemblance to the one in the painting that she'd found. The one that was fresh in her mind and told her that Peeta still longed for something she could never give him, that made her collapse back into her chair.
Gale had looked at her with worry but Katniss stared at the child in fascination wondering is she dared to move closer. Tears clogged her throat and blurred her vision and she was grateful to feel his strong hand on hers.
She swallowed and finally looked up as he rose and gingerly deposited the child in her arms.
For a frightening moment, her arms threatened to go limp and she feared she would drop her but she had chocked back the fear and grasped the child. She inhaled the sweet smell that only children had and pictured her little sister, her Prim, as she'd been as a baby.
The illusion was broken as the child unused to be held so tightly began to squirm and wiggle.
Katniss had laughed and the child had patted her cheek and it was this simple gesture that mended what was left of her broken friendship with Gale. She looked up at him with love and gratitude, for remembering her sister, shinning in her eyes and he'd bent and dropped a quick kiss on his daughter's head then impulsively dropped one on hers.
She waved him away good-naturally and that was when she saw Peeta.
Her husband stood in the doorway quietly. His blue eyes taking in the strange exchange with an odd mix of old and new jealousy. His gaze settled on the child in her arms and Katniss felt the betrayal coming off him in waves.
He stepped fully into the kitchen and Katniss suddenly understood why his face had looked so sad and angry at the same time. She instantly pictured the scene through his eyes.
Coming home for lunch to find his only rival sitting at his table and enjoying a cup of warm tea and the company of his wife, with a child that looked remarkably like it could have come from her own womb, while he was left to watch, an intruder in his own home.
She rose to hand Primrose back to Gale but Peeta shook his head and instead diffused the tension by welcoming Gale graciously and peering at the child.
"She's beautiful. May I?" he asked.
Gale nodded and Peeta held her. Primrose stared at the strange man uncertainly then clung to his neck in instant adoration. He sighed quietly and closed his eyes for a second.
Katniss had to admit the combination of Peeta's blond hair with the little girl's dark was beautiful and had she been a painter, she would have preserved this moment on canvas.
However it didn't last long and Peeta's low voice calling her name and its tone sent Katniss forward to grab the child from his arms as his eyes locked on hers.
Gale looked confused but the stiffness in Peeta's stance and the way he turned his head away let Gale know that he was having an episode and Katniss knew it was a bad one.
She ushered the concerned Gale out of the room assuring him that Peeta would be fine all the while holding Primrose safely in her arms. They waited quietly in the living room, Gale pacing and asking questions. 'How frequently did it happen? How long did it last?' and 'Had he ever hurt her?'
She didn't answer and a few moments later Peeta came back out. His face drawn and pale.
He began to apologize but Gale cut him off and told him it was nobody's fault but the Capitol's, though he still glanced at him with caution. Peeta excused himself and went back to the bakery without giving either one of them a second glance.
Katniss and Gale were left alone with an uncomfortable silence that longed to be given answers.
Gale eventually took his daughter, who had at some point fallen asleep during the commotion and instead told her that he was moving back to District 12 and that this had been his way of reintroducing himself back into her life, if she was ok with it.
Katniss said she was and bid him goodbye.
In an attempt to stay occupied and not dwell on the scene in the kitchen, she made dinner, called her mom, wrote some letters and even visited Annie and Tristan. But despite all the hours wasted Peeta still did not come home.
Finally she went to bed and woke in the middle of the night to his footfalls. He was still incredibly loud and normally she would have been annoyed he had woken her up but she was so relieved that he'd come back that she just pulled the covers aside and welcomed him.
He stayed out of the reach of her arms and she nervously fiddled with the blanket, "I thought…"
"I have nowhere else to go."
He said it without a hint of malice but she felt the sting of his words anyway.
It was her own fault; she had not given him anything to really come home to, unless you counted a nightmare riddled girl, which she didn't. Not wanting to let him go to sleep without talking to her, she had stupidly blurted out, "Gale is moving back with his wife and kids."
"He named her for Prim. The little girl today." She said it as a way to perhaps, what? Absolve herself? To give him a reason as to why she would hold Gale's child but not his? "That why he was here-"
"I'm really tired. It was a long day. Can you tell me this tomorrow?"
She said ok and he lay down turning onto his side and away from her. It was then she realized how deeply she had wounded him, how with her usual careless nature, she had hurt the one person she loved with all she had.
"Peeta. I love you."
"Maybe we could…holding her felt nice and…"
"Katniss, don't do it for me…" this time there was anger in his voice but being Peeta it didn't linger. "You saw what happened today. I'm not good…it be bad to have a child around when…well talk tomorrow. I promise."
He rolled over gathered her into his arms and gave her a kiss to show her that he wasn't mad.
Morning came but they didn't talk about it that day. They didn't talk about it all that week or the one that followed. The months came and went and still no talk.
They settled into their old routine while she waited to have their promised discussion but when she caught him painting over the portrait and he gave no answer as to what he was doing, she knew that he had dropped the idea permanently and she was confused as to why it hurt her that he had.
She didn't want kids but he did and as usual he had let he have her way. He had put aside his feelings for her and she was reminded of Haymitch's comment that she didn't deserve him.
They still held each other every night but Peeta did not react to her advances in the same way for a long time afterwards.
The next five years were arguably the best.
She combated the nightmares still but they didn't make her wake up screaming. Peeta's own visions were replaced with the occasional moment were he would hold tight to a chair but the fatigue and sickness that accompanied them were a thing of the past.
Gale had returned home, at least part of the time as him and his family settled in one of the many new houses completed. Peeta and Gale had formed an admiration for each other as Peeta had grown to know him through Gale's wife, Lydia and their children, Primrose and Luke.
Even know as she dressed and prepared her game bag she thought about how Lydia had instantly won her husband over with her sweet and generous nature. Like Peeta she was merchant class but she had lived only a few months in District 2 before meeting Gale.
They had instantly bonded and were inseparable much like Gale and herself had been in the beginning. Katniss was glad of it now but that had taken time. She had not known she had a jealous bone in her body until she had come to the bakery and found him teaching Lydia how to decorate the delicate cookies he was so fond of.
Katniss had taken one look at him holding the other woman's hand and had stomped out before Peeta could step around the counter. She had been livid, as she had not known who the woman was. All she knew was that the woman had been too close to him for her liking.
She was thinking that he had finally gotten sick of her and the terror that settled in her stomach at the idea of living the rest of her days without him made Katniss turn around ready to do anything to persuade him to stay when she collided with him.
Peeta had caught her and before she could make a fool of herself, he had pulled her close and in the square, in front of everybody, he kissed her.
Katniss had been so surprised that she didn't hesitate to let him take command of the kiss and she was even more surprised by how nice it felt to surrender to her baker.
It was Gale's muffled snort that brought her up short and she sheepishly pushed Peeta away. She looked over his shoulder and realized that at least a quarter of the district had seen them and she buried her face in his shirt hoping they'd go back to their own lives.
"It's ok folks. You may now go about your business." Peeta shouted to a few giggles and wolf whistles from the townsfolk. Gale shook his head and introduced the woman, who turned out to be his wife, Lydia and who was now apprenticing with Peeta.
"They've met." Peeta laughed and it rumbled through her body and she swatted at his shoulder complaining about being not the tiniest bit jealous and how amorous merchants ambushed her.
From that day on, Katniss and Lydia had become friends.
Katniss dragged the empty bag over her shoulder and went to the forest. Gale had promised to meet her at their old spot before the town celebration so they could have fresh meat for the big day. It would be sixteen years since the capitol had fallen and President Snow had been deposed.
Every district chose its own day and for the residents of District 12 it had been the day of the bombing. The day so many of their brethren had fallen. It had been commemorated with a plaque on the coal miner's statue that had been erected four years before.
They set the traps and walked along, their silence comfortable.
"I really appreciate Peeta doing Prim's cake." Gale said quietly.
"He loves her like his own. He wouldn't have had it any other way." Katniss replied.
"Katniss, why don't you have kids?"
"You know why." She said.
"The games aren't ever coming back. Don't you think that maybe it's time to let-"
"Don't. Gale. Just drop it." She said letting an arrow fly and catching a squirrel right in the eye.
"How does Peeta feel about it?"
"That's none of your business." She snapped and missed the rabbit that had popped out of its hiding place. "Look. We came to hunt, if you're just gonna distract me then there's no point in staying here."
Gale shook his head and began silently setting snares.
Katniss stopped walking and knelt down. "I didn't mean to shout. I'm sorry. I just…its hard to explain why I'm so afraid. It's more than just the games. I've destroyed so many people and things I care about and Peeta is all I have left. I don't want to ruin that too."
Gale finished the snare and held her hand. "Catnip, you have me and Lydia and the kids. You have Haymitch and Annie and Tristan too. You haven't ruined any of us and Peeta loves you regardless of what you do. Anybody that could withstand the tracker jacker venom and not go mad is made of strong stuff. Whatever you decide, he'll be ok with. You're the reason he got better."
She looked away and knew that Gale was right but she was so afraid for him. "I've hurt him so much already. How can I ever make it up to him."
"Don't. He wouldn't want that. Peeta is a good guy but don't underestimate his feelings. Do you want kids? Start with the answer to that question and the rest will be easy."
They pulled away from each other after that and continued hunting for a while longer but they left earlier than they wanted since Katniss' concentration was shot.
Later that day while they sat in the meadow and enjoyed the celebrations, Katniss watched as Tristan and Prim danced around each other, the sight of the latter not longer shoving a dagger into her heart.
She watched as Lydia nodded along while Peeta spoke animatedly about the cake that would grace Prim's sixteenth birthday.
'Do I want children?' No, she could honestly say she didn't just want children. That implied that they could be anybody's. The better question would be, 'do I want Peeta's children? Do I want to extend the line that had included Prim and my father? A grandchild for my mother to coo over?'
The answer to all those questions was yes and there was something else, something more important than her fears or reservations.
She wanted to see Peeta holding their child. She wanted to see his blue eyes shine when she told him she was pregnant. She wanted him to hold her and kiss her belly like she'd seen her father do to her mother. She wanted to see that beautiful blond hair that so represented him mixed with her features.
Most of all she wanted to give him something untainted by the games, by the capitol and by their past. She wanted something pure, something that was all their own.
It was three months after the fireworks and celebrating that she decided to tell Peeta. As usual he just went about chatting about how Prim was getting so big and that he couldn't wait to start her cake next month and he was sure that he had all the ingredients, when she stopped him.
"Come to bed."
He finished undressing then lay down beside her. She scooted closer wrapping her arm around him. She took a moment to breath in that heady sent of bread and man that was uniquely his.
"Peeta, I need to tell you something."
He turned his head on the pillow and looked at her, "are you ok? Is it your mother? Is it Gale?"
"I realized something when I was walking in the woods with Gale today."
"Like what." He asked guarded.
"I…would like to have children."
"Katniss, we talked about this. You don't have to do it-"
She interrupted him. "I know I don't have to. I want to do this for you but I also want to do this for us. I want…I want…" She chocked up, not sure how to describe her feelings.
"What do you want?"
"I want to make you happy. I want to move on from our past. I want to be whole again."
"That's a lot to put on a child. It might not be anything like that." He said gently.
"But it will. You'll be with me. I can do it if you're with me. There's one more thing I have to tell you."
He laughed. "After that I think I'm ready for anything."
"Peeta, I'm pregnant."
His silence was deafening and she began to wonder if she'd made a mistake.
She had seen how in the last few years he no longer looked longingly at every child in town. He only smiled and asked politely about them when their parent's brought them in to buy his delicious pastries.
In that tense quiet moment, Katniss was reminded of an incident that had happened not more that a few weeks ago. Even now guilt squirmed inside her, as she recalled how a little boy that lived in their area, and called him Uncle Peeta, had innocently asked why he had no kids of his own.
He'd ruffled the child's hair and whispered that he had enough with him and Gale's kids.
The child had wandered away and Peeta had just shaken his head and squeezed her hand knowing what she was thinking without her having to voice a single word.
"Peeta, did you hear me?"
"Do you want to…say something?"
"What do you want me to say?" he asked softly sitting up with his back to her and his head bent.
"I thought you would be happy. You always wanted kids and I just…"
He strapped on his leg and stood. "I don't need kids, Katniss. I'm fine with how we are now and I'm disappointed that you didn't discuss this with me."
"Gale and I talked about it a few months ago and…"
"Gale isn't your husband, I am. I'd like you to remember that sometimes." He looked at her curiously, "Why are you doing this now? It's been fifteen years and that's a long time to wait."
"I know but could you need this one?"
He laughed in a relieved sort of way. "You really want this, don't you? It's really not just for me."
"It's for us," she paused. "I thought if it was a boy, we could name him Nathaniel. Like your father."
"If it's a girl?" he asked kneeling on the bed.
She crawled to him and hugged him. "I don't know."
"I like Marjorie."
"That's nice. Who do you think they'll look like?"
"You and me and Prim and my dad and your dad. All of us."
"Peeta, I'm sorry I took so long to make you happy."
He gently lifted her face and brushed his lips against hers. "I was happy the moment you kissed me in that cave, the moment I asked you if it was real and you told me that you loved me. The moment you agreed to be my wife. And every moment since including this one."
"Every moment, even the bad ones?"
"Especially the bad ones. It just shows us how lucky we are to have each other after everything we went through."
"Haymitch once said I didn't deserve you. I think he was right." She mumbled into his chest.
"Haymitch is an idiot."
She laughed and kissed him again. "Have I told you that you have quite a way with words, Peeta Mellark?"
"You can tell me whatever you want, whenever you want, Katniss Mellark."
Several years later found them in the same meadow, watching as the dark haired six year old, Marjorie Annabel Mellark, was swung about by Primrose Hawthorne soon to be O'Dair.
"She looks just like her mother." Gale commented. Peeta smiled proudly and held his wife a little closer.
"Maybe her brother or sister will look like you," she said to Peeta.
The roar of her father's laughter interrupted Prim's twirling of Madge, which was what Gale had started calling young Marjorie. It seemed Uncle Peeta was in the process of being revived after having passed out onto Aunt Katniss' lap.
Having no idea why it happened, Prim resumed playing with her young charge, leaving the adults to settle themselves.
Madge then looked over at her embarrassed father, her laughing mother and godfather and smiled.