Note from Adillae:
The author's note is at the end of this chapter, if you wish to read it. I feel like I owe you an explanation. Nonetheless, I hope that you are having a wonderful day and remember that you are beautiful! Enjoy!
Sper că aveţi o zi minunată şi amintiţi-vă că eşti frumoasă! Bucuraţi-vă!
My heart couldn't help but flutter as I held the little blue bundle in my arms, a feeling of awe pulsing through my body making this all seem like a dream. He looked so angelic and so heavenly that I didn't want to look anywhere else. I gazed upon his sleeping face, his tiny mouth barely open and his blonde eyelashes brushing lightly against his cheeks. He was only a few days old and was still scrunched up into a little ball, not wanting to relax or loosen up just yet. He had been a week early but was as healthy and happy as Pearl, and for that I was thankful.
I tore my eyes off of him for just a moment so that I could look up at Peeta. His face was relaxed in amazement, tears shinning in his eyes although not overflowing quite yet. Pearl sat quietly in his lap, sitting very still and staring at the little guy, a curious but excited look on her face. I sniffed, feeling tears rush into my eyes as I glanced back up at Peeta. He still hadn't taken his eyes off of his son. His son. My son. Our son.
I could look at him forever, and I'm positive that Peeta would be more than happy to just sit here on the floor all day and hold him. I couldn't stop running my fingers over his little nose, his pink cheeks, his tiny lips, his adorable ears, his blonde peach-fuzz head.
"Do we really get to keep him?" Pearl whispered after a long silence that consisted of us just watching him, taking in his every movement and committing it to memory. I was still so amazed that he was actually here, right in front of me, and I didn't want to forget anything.
Peeta chuckled at her question, finally tearing his eyes off of the child in my arms to look down at his dark-haired daughter. "Yes, we really do! We will get to keep him forever." He answered, sniffing softly.
Her eyes lit up as she looked at my face, and I returned her enthusiastic smile. The four of us here together was still so surreal that I felt like I was floating, and I never wanted to come down.
"What will I call him?" she asked, looking back down at him.
"Oliver. His name is Oliver." I told her quietly, the name sounding like music to my ears.
I knew 'Oliver' was perfect right when I saw it. It was only a few weeks ago, and Peeta and I hadn't talked names a whole bunch. I was starting to get worried, wondering if we were really prepared, but every time we brought up the subject we just couldn't find anything that we liked or that fit. After a frustrated pillow-throwing session from me, I stormed upstairs and slammed the bedroom door shut, upset and mad and knowing that I shouldn't be. I sat up there alone for quite a while, trying to calm myself down, and that's when I noticed it. Our book, my father's book, the book that Peeta and I spent so much time working on, was sitting on Peeta's bedside table. I rolled across the bed and grabbed it, suddenly wanting to see my father's handwriting and see the pictures that he created with his own hands. I had a pang of sadness and guilt that only thinking about my father would bring me, but the craving to see his creations outweighed the feeling.
I spent a long time reading through the book, the familiar penmanship soothing my nerves and relaxing me more than I anticipated. I continued to flip pages, pictures of the meadow, the trees and The Seam unfolding in front of my eyes before I landed on one that I hadn't seen in such a long time. The Olive Tree.
I remembered Father telling me about the Olive Trees and the olives themselves. He had only seen them once, and it was a long time ago when he was a young child. Someone passing through the District, back when it was easier to do so, had a can of olives and a picture of the old looking, magnificent tree with him. Father was so interested, so fascinated with the unfamiliar tree that he spend the whole day questioning the man about it until he knew everything there was to know about them, and then ran home to copy it in this book. The trees looked like they were a thousand years old and weren't very tall, but very beautiful. They had little green olives hanging from them and a sort of majestic feel about them. I had never seen one even though I've always wanted to, but the book was always enough to satisfy me.
I spent a while just taking in the gorgeous hand drawn picture before I started to decipher the cramped handwriting next to the tree. He explained the story and his curiosity, and wrote about some of the uses of the olives. What sparked my interest was at the very bottom, however; a little footnote of sorts that mentioned the name Oliver. My heart gave a little flutter when I read those letters in his loopy handwriting and I'll never forget the feeling. It said 'Oliver' was derived from the Latin words for 'Olive Tree', and that it meant peace, dignity, strength and hope.
I couldn't get the name out of my head for the rest of the night, and I knew that I had to tell Peeta. I showed him the page in the book and I'll never forget how his face softened, how he glanced at me and then down to my stomach before smiling in complete adoration. He gave me a kiss before moving his lips down to my belly, writing 'Oliver' into my stomach and feeling the baby stirring, just like with Pearl.
"Oliver." Pearl repeated as she looked back down at him, her sparkling blue eyes matching Peeta's almost perfectly. "I like it."
"Me too." Peeta whispered, rubbing his finger across Oliver's cheek. He gurgled quietly in his sleep, stirring slightly as I gave his forehead a tiny kiss.
"I love you Oliver." Pearl giggled, crawling out of Peeta's lap and over in front of me, giving him a little kiss on the cheek before petting his head gently. I felt Peeta's hand rest lightly on my arm and I looked over at him, tears in both of our eyes. He scooted next to me, giving me a kiss on the cheek before running his finger over Oliver's tiny ones.
Oliver slowly opened his eyes to reveal the dull shade of Seam grey. This didn't bother me as much as I was expecting. The color looked so much better on him than it did on me. The grey made him look wise and had the same piercing effect that Pearls had.
"So, he was inside of you that whole time?" Pearl asked again, scrunching her face up as she tried to understand.
I only nodded, not really wanting to explain too in-depth about the process, and thankfully that seemed to satisfy her. She turned back to look at him, carefully bringing one of her fingers up to Oliver's cheek just like she had seen Peeta do. He turned his head a little and she beamed, looking up at me in excitement. I smiled back down at her, brushing some of her dark hair out of her eyes.
I caught Peeta's eye and gave him a grin, one that he returned whole-heartedly. He held my gaze for a few moments before he looked back down at the bouncing little girl and the tiny sleeping baby, sniffing quietly to himself. I felt a warm, fulfilling sensation spread through my body as I looked down at the two things that I had created. Peeta and I created.
We spent the entire afternoon on the floor, the three of us showering Oliver in hugs, kisses and love. Pearl was in awe, and I felt in awe looking at her. She was so excited and could barely stop talking. She was telling him all about her goose Sprinkles, what she liked to do, and how she could teach him how to race.
"I'll go start dinner." Peeta said quietly once the sun had started to set, sneaking away from us as he started towards the kitchen. Pearl looked up at him and smiled, sliding away from me and Oliver to the kitchen. Peeta and Pearl spent most of their time together in the kitchen. He would teach her everything he knew and she enjoyed the time that he spent with her. I was glad to see that their time together wouldn't change, even though we had Oliver now.
"I'll be right over there Oliver, okay?" Pearl told him quietly, pointing to the kitchen as she slowly followed Peeta, turning around every few steps to make sure that he was still there.
I couldn't help but get teary eyed as she blew him a kiss once she reached the counter, scaling the drawers like an expert and pulling herself up onto the top, sitting down and dangling her feet over the edge. Peeta handed her a jar of jam to hold as she instantly started talking, Peeta listening intently as he made us sandwiches. She was so sweet, so thoughtful, so curious and intelligent, and she had her father's heart. She was so much like Peeta, and I was so thankful that she turned out the way she did.
I looked down at Oliver, smiling at the tiny sleeping bundle. Life before our children seemed like such a long time ago. The games and our "star crossed lovers" ordeal almost felt surreal, and to this day I'm not quite sure how we both managed to get out of it alive. I felt like I had become a different person, a better person. Peeta helped me see the good in the world, even though we were both still hurting and coping. Of course, the nightmares and tracker jacker episodes were still plaguing our minds, but they were less frequent. Pearl rarely ever had to sing to Peeta, and when he felt himself get out of control he would leave. We were there for each other at night when it all became too much, and together we made it through.
I wanted to be better for Pearl and Oliver. They made me want to be the best mother that I could be, which was something that I thought would never happen. I couldn't imagine life without them now, and I didn't want to. I owed all of this to Peeta, to his heart and to his pure love of me.
"Careful, Pearl." I heard Peeta say as I turned around to see her carrying a tray full of sandwiches and sugar cookies. She slowed down and gently maneuvered around the couch before setting the large platter down in front of me, sitting down cross-legged on the other side. Peeta was not far behind with a pitcher of lemonade and glasses.
"Daddy said it's like a picnic!" Pearl giggled as Peeta slid a sandwich onto a plate and handed it to her.
"The best kind of picnic I'd say." I smiled as she slid over next to me, taking a bite of her food and looking down at her brother in awe.
"You're sure we really get to keep him?" she asked quietly, looking up at me.
"Of course we do, you goofball!" I giggled as Peeta brushed his fingers across Oliver's peach fuzz.
"We are going to get to do so much fun stuff together!" She giggled, leaning her head against my arm to get a better view of him.
"You'll have to wait until he's older, sweetheart." I told her, gently rocking Oliver back and forth. "He is going to be spending a lot of his time sleeping."
"That's okay. We have a long time to be together." She whispered.
Peeta smiled, blowing her a kiss. "You'll always have him, and he will always have you." He told her, and she looked back down at him while taking a large bite of her sandwich.
We had our dinner on the middle of the living room floor, all of us just sitting there watching Oliver, smiling at each other and giggling. My heart was complete. I had a beautiful girl and a precious baby boy, and a perfect husband. This, right now, our picnic on the floor, made everything Peeta and I went through seem almost worth it.
Suddenly, somebody knocked at our door four times and Pearl smiled, knowing Haymitch's signature knock. She carefully got up and pulled open the big oak door, jumping into Haymitch's arms and giving him a big kiss. He caught her happily and twirled her around as he closed the door, taking a few steps into the house before he set her back down. She grabbed his hand and led him over to where we were camped out and he took off his hat, giving Peeta and me a smile.
"Hi." He said quietly, his voice rough and husky like always.
He rounded the corner by the sofa and stopped once he saw Oliver, his eyes immediately becoming somewhat misty. He kneeled down on the floor next to me as I carefully extended my arms to him, holding Oliver out for him to grab.
He set his hat down on the floor as he gently grabbed the tiny blue bundle, pulling him close to his arms and looking down at him in awe. Pearl stood next to Haymitch, giving Oliver a little kiss on the forehead. I heard Haymitch sniff and I looked at Peeta, whose face was bursting with happiness.
Peeta took advantage of my free arms and pulled me close to him, scooting us over closer to Haymitch. I turned and gave his cheek a kiss, feeling so incredibly happy that I could hardly contain myself. I couldn't stop smiling.
"What did you name the little bugger?" Haymitch chuckled after a short silence, rocking him gently back and forth.
"Oliver!" Pearl beamed, laying a hand on Haymitch's shoulder. "And we get to keep him forever!"
"How exciting!" Haymitch laughed, turning to give Pearl a kiss on her cheek, his beard tickling her face and making her squirm. Haymitch turned and handed Oliver back to me gently as Peeta put a few sandwiches on a plate and slid them over to him. He nodded thankfully and started to eat, joining our party a little late.
"How are you doing mommy?" He asked me, elbowing me gently.
I turned to smile at him and elbowed him back. "I'm fine. A little sore, but alright. It's all very surreal."
Oliver's pregnancy and birth had been so much harder than Pearl's. With Pearl, everything was easy and mostly painless, and I felt great after giving birth. This time, however, was different. I was moody, I had the strangest cravings, I couldn't sleep, my feet were always swollen, I felt so uncomfortable and huge all of the time, and I yelled at poor Peeta so much I thought it was a miracle that he was still with me. Oliver weighed a few more pounds than Pearl did, and a tiny woman like me giving birth to a nine pound baby was so excruciatingly painful. I was still incredibly sore and I took a while to move, and I hoped Peeta couldn't tell.
"I bet so." He whispered. "You're very lucky, two children and no complications."
"I know. We're extremely lucky." Peeta said, pouring Haymitch some lemonade.
"Can you stay Haymitch? I want you to teach me more about how plants grow." Pearl asked, sliding into his lap. She looked up at him, putting on her best "pretty please" face for him that she knew he couldn't resist.
He looked up at Peeta and me, and we both nodded. Both of their faces lit up and Haymitch stood up, sweeping Pearl up into his arms before bending over to give my hair a kiss. The two of them walked out of the back door and disappeared, probaby heading over to the garden that we had in the back.
Pearl had Haymitch wrapped around her finger. I never thought that I would ever see Haymitch act like that. I never thought that I would ever see him happy again. He had really turned his life around and was a grandpa to Pearl. She loved spending time with him, and he enjoyed her company just as much. He taught her things that Peeta and I couldn't, and was always there for her if we were ever having a trying day. He was so gentle and sweet with her, and he wanted the best for her. If you told me back in the games that this was how Haymitch would turn out, I would've laughed until I cried. Now though, seeing how he acted with her, seeing how much he cared and how much he got to live through her, I was so glad that it turned out this way.
The demons never left anyone completely, however. Sometimes we would still have to go and check on him or douse him with water, making sure that he wasn't being too dangerous. I had learned to trust him. I trusted him with Pearl and I would trust him just as much with Oliver, and I knew that it wasn't his fault. He had awful memories too, and just like ours, they wouldn't leave him alone. The Capitol never left anyone alone.
He had so many other hobbies to keep his mind off of drinking. He started to get into gardening, and of course was still keeping up his geese family and his knitting. He also became interested in the stars, and was able to answer all of Pearl's never ending questions about the sky. I was so proud of him, and I knew Peeta was too.
"I love you." I heard Peeta whisper, nuzzling his head in my hair.
"I love you too." I breathed, turning to give him a tiny kiss that didn't satisfy me in the least. "I'm so happy."
Peeta chuckled, reaching down to grab Oliver's tiny hand, his little fingers grabbing onto Peeta's pinky tightly. I giggled as I gave Oliver's cheek a small kiss, feeling him wiggle in my arms.
"How are you feeling?" he asked me quietly, his hand still being held captive by Oliver's.
"I'm alright." I smiled.
"No, really." He whispered, his eyes piercing.
I closed my eyes and leaned my head against his shoulder. "It hurts." I said softly. "It hurts a lot."
He resituated himself so that he was able to wrap his arm around me and I snuggled into him, resting my head against his chest. Oliver made a few noises in his sleep, gurgling quietly to himself.
"What can I do to help you?" he asked, his voice sounding exhausted. I knew that he was tired too. He insisted on getting up in the middle of the night to help with Oliver, and he stayed up late just holding him and watching him sleep soundly. He would get up early, play with Pearl, let me sleep, take care of Oliver, and was always the last one in bed. I didn't want to make this all about me, because I knew that it was both of us, but my body was still so sore that it sometimes hurt if I took too deep of a breath.
"Just hold me." I said, feeling like a selfish child. I didn't want to move, I only wanted to stay here with Peeta and our sleeping little boy. I just had to remember that the pain was temporary, and the end result was better that I could've even imagined. I could make it through this, I just had to think of the positives.
We spent the rest of the night on the floor, smiling at the little bundle of joy that we made together. I would never get tired of looking into his Seam eyes. They reminded me of my old home back in a world that didn't exist anymore. They reminded me of the struggle that Peeta and I went through in order to be alive. But they also gave me hope, and told me to be strong.
Haymitch brought a very sleepy Pearl in once it started to get dark, and I stood up carefully, not wanting to wake Oliver. Peeta steadied me before he started to gather dishes, making a trip to the kitchen.
"Congratulations, both of you. He is precious. If he is anything like this one, then you hit the jackpot." He chuckled, rubbing Pearl's back as she closed her eyes, snuggling into him.
Peeta came from the kitchen and slowly slid Pearl out of Haymitch's arms and into his own, giving her temple a kiss and smoothed her hair. "Will you be okay?" Peeta asked him gently.
"Don't worry about me." He said hoarsely. "I'll be back tomorrow, Pearl is set on having me show her how to not overwater your garden." He laughed.
"Well of course, you are always welcome." I smiled as he walked over and gave me a loose hug, giving Oliver a kiss on the forehead and doing the same to Pearl. He shook Peeta's hand before making his way to the door, waving before he closed it.
I turned to look at Peeta, giving him a smile. He returned it, looking tired and yet so happy. He started up the stairs and I followed him, a few of the steps creaking as we quietly made our way to Pearl's room. He changed her into her nightgown and I pulled back the covers with one arm, Peeta sliding her inside and tucking her in. He bent down and kissed her forehead, moving out of the way so that I could do the same. She was already asleep and we giggled as we went up to Oliver's room, Peeta stepping inside and turning on the light.
Peeta had spent so much time making this room just as perfect as Pearl's. He painted a large mural of an olive tree that sprawled across the entire wall where the crib was. He had spent hours perfecting every detail, every stroke of his brush playing off of the next to create the most life like, serene piece of artwork he had ever painted. The rest of the room was an off white except for the curtains and some of Haymitch's blankets, which were the same olive tone green as the mural. Peeta had made the crib himself, cutting out the words to Oliver's name out of a tree from the backyard and hanging them above his crib.
I walked over to the crib and gently laid the sleeping baby inside, wrapping my arms around Peeta's waist as I scooted closer to him, looking down at our little son. He wrapped his arm around my shoulder and I inhaled deeply, smiling at the familiar smell of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Eventually, he pulled me away from the crib and we went across the hall to our own room, leaving the door slightly ajar so we could hear any noises or cries. Peeta went straight for the window, opening it wide and letting all of the cool October air in. I smiled as I grabbed the end of my braid, undoing the tie and running my fingers through the wavy mess. We changed silently, both lost in our own little worlds of happiness.
I felt Peeta come up behind me, wrapping his arms firmly around my waist. I felt his lips at the spot where my shoulder meets my neck, gently kissing up to my earlobe. I giggled, turning around in his arms to give him a proper kiss. I held his head to mine, feeling his tongue swipe across my bottom lip. I deepened it, feeling his arms travel from my waist up my back, sending tingles wherever his skin touched. I wanted him, but I knew it wasn't possible.
We collapsed on our bed as he pulled me close to him, my head laying on his chest and listening for his heartbeat. I smiled at the powerful, relaxing sound and knew that it was the center of my whole world. Without it, I would be nothing.
"I've missed holding you." He whispered, running his fingers through my hair.
"I've missed being held." I replied as he reached down and pulled the covers around us and I snuggled deeper into him, feeling so content that if I died right here and now, I would be happy.
"Try and get some sleep." He said as I closed my eyes, falling into a comfortable slumber in a matter of seconds.
I awoke a few hours later and kicked my blankets off, sliding out of bed to go check on the little guy. I hadn't heard any noise yet and I wanted to make sure he was okay. I tiptoed across the hallway, tying not to wake Pearl, but stopped once I got to the doorway.
Pearl had managed to crawl into Oliver's crib and was sitting with her back against the wall, her bare feet sticking out towards the front. Oliver was asleep perpendicular to her, obviously not aware that his sister was in the room. She was very gently rubbing his stomach, his head closest to her. She leaned over and gave him a kiss and smoothed his peach fuzz before going back to rub his stomach tenderly, blabbing away quietly to him.
"And in the summer time, we can walk down to the meadow and I can teach you how to climb trees. There are tons of them there and you can go really high. But I won't let you fall; you don't have to get scared." She reassured quietly. "Then Haymitch can teach you about the stars. Did you know they all have names? And there are so many of them. I've counted at least twenty but Haymitch says there are lots more than that. And then you can meet my goose Sprinkles, and I can show you how to feed her, and maybe you can even have one too! And Daddy can teach you how to cook since he always makes things that taste really good, and Mommy can bring you out into the woods and teach you how to be quiet when you're looking for animals." She rambled.
I stood by the doorway, hidden in the shadows, trying not to cry. I held a hand over my mouth as a few tears leaked silently out of my eyes. She was so touching, the way that she spoke to him like they were already best friends. She loved him so much. I was in awe of my little girl.
I heard the floor creak behind me and I turned to see Peeta, rubbing his eyes and walking over behind me, giving me a concerned look. I tilted my head towards the room and he took a step closer in order to listen.
"There is this really cool river in town and sometimes, as long as we're good, Mommy and Daddy will let us swim. Haymitch comes too, and he can swim so fast! So can Daddy. I can teach you how to throw things, and then we can go running through the grass…" she trailed on as Peeta turned to look at me, wearing the same facial expression I was. He wrapped one arm around my waist and held me for a few moments before he stepped inside the room, Pearl looking up and smiling at him.
"Pearl, what are you doing? It's late." He smiled, walking over to the crib and gently picking her up into his arms.
"I was telling Oliver about all the fun things we can do." She said as she yawned, settling into Peeta's arms.
I walked up behind him and gave Pearl a kiss on the forehead, smoothing her hair as I smiled. "You and Oliver can do so many things together, but he will have to be a little bit older remember. You'll have to be patient."
"I'll be patient, Mommy." She whispered as she closed her eyes, almost instantly falling asleep.
Peeta turned around and started to carry her back to her room as I walked over to Oliver's crib, peeking in to see that he was still asleep and looked happy. I sniffed and walked back out into the hallway, meeting Peeta there.
His arms encircled my waist as he hugged me tightly, swooping me up into his arms and carrying me back to bed, laying me down gently. He crawled on top of me and gave me a deep kiss, snaking one of his arms around my waist. I wanted it to turn into something more almost immediately, but knew that I was too much pain at the moment and Peeta would never let it happen.
"Thank you." He whispered, kissing up my neck to my lips.
"For what?" I giggled, his fingers brushing against my arm, tickling me.
"Everything. Carrying these kids, handling all of the pain, being the best mother in the whole world…" he trailed off, looking up at me.
I ran my fingers through his hair and smiled, so in love with him that I thought I was going to burst. "You're the most wonderful father in the entire world, and I love you." I told him quietly, bringing his lips back to mine.
"I love you too, sweetheart." He whispered in between kisses. He eventually rolled off of me and I pulled myself close to him, falling back asleep almost instantly.
I awoke for the second time, stretching quietly and opening my eyes to see that I was alone. I sat up, squinting in the daylight and rolling out of bed, quickly changing into a simple shirt and pants before heading downstairs to where I heard Peeta and Pearl giggling.
"Good morning Mommy!" Pearl shouted as she saw me emerge from the staircase.
"Good morning darling, what are you doing?" I asked her, walking over to her and giving her a big hug and kiss. She giggled as I walked over to Peeta and gave him a kiss too before making my way over to Oliver, who was in a little infant chair that Peeta had made for Pearl. I picked him up gently and rocked him back and forth, looking over at Pearl as she answered my question.
"We're making breakfast! Blueberry pancakes with cinnamon!" she smiled as Peeta gave her some blueberries to toss into the mix.
"That sounds delicious!" I said as Peeta flipped one over, the batter sizzling and making the house smell wonderful. Peeta turned to me and held out his arms, and I smiled as I walked over and handed Oliver to him. He gave him a big kiss before Pearl leaned over to do the same. I smiled at the scene in front of me, my heart happy and completely full.
Haymitch knocked on the door four times and I unwillingly tore my eyes away from the precious sight in order to walk over and answer it. I made my way around the table to the big oak door, unlocking the deadbolt loudly and heaving it open. What I saw made me gasp loudly.
Haymitch was there, holding a wrapped gift and a plate of food, a large smile on his face. He chuckled as he stepped inside, revealing a large group of other people. Mom, Greasy Sae, her granddaughter, Gale, Violet, Dr. Aurelius and Johanna.
I gasped, a smile growing on my face as Mom stepped inside first and gave me a big hug, running my braid between her fingers and whispering something I couldn't quite understand. We had been getting along alright lately, but we were both trying. She wanted to be there for Oliver and after some therapeutic shouting sessions, we had mostly come to terms. It was still a work in progress.
She let me go and stepped inside just as Gale wrapped his arms around me and lifted me up, swirling me around once. I laughed as he set me down, pulling away to look at his face. He seemed to be glowing with happiness, and he didn't have any bags under his eyes. He let me go and I gave Violet a hug, which was difficult because of her growing pregnant belly. The last time they came to visit she was barely a few months along, but now she was large enough for it to be obvious. I gave her a kiss on the cheek as she grabbed my hands and squeezed them, letting me go to make her way over to Gale, who was now starting a crowd around Pearl and Oliver.
Greasy Sae gave me a large grin and an even bigger hug. I hadn't seen her in such a long time, and I owed practically all of my cooking skills to her. She pulled away to give me a once over, and apparently approving. "I'm so proud of you, Mockingjay." She whispered as her granddaughter hugged my legs.
I smiled as Greasy Sae went inside to see the kids, and I picked up her granddaughter for a proper hug before letting her go find Pearl. They got along so well and would often play with a ball or make up all sorts of games to pass the time. They enjoyed each other and understood each other, much like Peeta did. I couldn't help but chuckle and smile as I watched Pearl give her a hug before Peeta did the same, watching it come full circle.
Dr. Aurelius gave me a loose hug and a smile before going in to see the little ones. I knew that he would want to talk later. It had been a while since Peeta and I had called him, and I knew we would probably be in a little bit of trouble.
Johanna was last, but she gave me the biggest hug. She laughed and shut the door behind her as she shouted "surprise!" at me, her rough face looking a little calmer.
"Johanna, what on Earth…?" I trailed off, so surprised to see her. The last thing I had heard about her was that she was traveling around the districts, not quite sure what she was going to do. That was years ago now. I always had her in the back of my mind, but I never asked. It was complicated.
"I was traveling through District 12 and thought that I would see if you guys were still here. I met Haymtich and started chatting, and he got this whole thing together while you were in the hospital." She smiled, grabbing my hand.
"I…" I didn't know what to say. I was so touched by her, by Haymitch, by everyone being here to see my family.
She knew that I was at a loss for words and giggled slightly, letting my hand go. "We can catch up later, but right now I wanna meet your little ones!" she told me, stepping inside towards the kitchen.
I turned around to look at my house, full of people that I had missed without even realizing. Oliver was being passed around and was currently in the strong arms of Gale, making Oliver look even tinier that he actually was. He smiled down at the little boy before he gently passed him over to Violet, who took him carefully and looked up at Peeta, who grinned back at her. Gale pulled her close to him and extended his other arm out to Peeta, who shook it gratefully, both of them smiling.
Pearl was sitting on Mom's lap, telling her a big long story and using lots of hand gestures. Mom sat there and listened to every gripping detail as she gently rubbed her back, only stealing her eyes away for a moment to smile at me.
I returned it, watching Oliver being handed around the kitchen. Haymitch was talking to Greasy Sae and her granddaughter about something exciting, while Gale, Violet, Peeta and Johanna were all chatting and smiling. I took a step forward towards Peeta, who found my eyes and gave me a large grin, holding out his hand a little for me to take. I slid next to him, his fingers lacing themselves in mine, and I knew that it was worth it. Everything I had ever been through was worth it. Seeing a house full of people who were struggling just like I was come together and be happy, seeing my little girl run around and play and tell stories, seeing my baby boy being loved by everyone who was important to me, seeing all of these broken, struggling people be truly happy made all of my suffering worth it.
If you would've told me that back in the games, during the Quarter Quell, during the time that Peeta was taken from me, or while I was watching him constantly hurt himself in order to stay in the present that it would be worth it, I would've gotten angry and defensive. But seeing how my life was right now at this very second, seeing all of these people together with my children, made everything worth it. Even though the nightmares hadn't stopped, and they probably hadn't stopped for anyone in this room, even though we had all gone through unimaginable suffering, we were together and we were happy.
I looked up at Peeta and smiled, watching him laugh and joke with Gale and absentmindedly look around the house to find Oliver and Pearl. We had made this together. Without him, I would be nothing. None of this would've happened, and I knew that we were meant to survive and create all of this. We were meant to be together.
My husband. My boy with the bread. My Pearl. My Oliver. My Peeta.
Note from Adillae:
I feel like I owe each and every one of you an explanation. Being gone for a year is unacceptable, and I understand that. If you don't wish to read this, then go ahead and skip it. I do not want to come off as playing a sympathy card.
The last thing I want is to come off as stuck up, snobby, insensitive or arrogant. I appreciate every word of everyone's reviews and I am very grateful that this story has gotten as much attention as it has. I am very honored and beyond flattered to have this story win an award. I am touched. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this; it would never have been possible without all of you.
To put it simply, the past year, I was in and out of a coma. My vitals were still alright, but I would fall into a comatose state for weeks on end, only to wake up for a few minutes and fall right back into one. It became a vicious cycle. I finally woke up completely about a month ago, and I have been trying to wrap my head around the whole experience. Essentially I was alive, but I wasn't really living. I lost a year of my life because I was wasting away in a New York hospital. It's been very difficult for me to get back on track, and I feel especially bad for making it look like I have abandoned this story. Believe me that was not my intention.
I only have one chapter left after this. I know that this probably isn't my best, but I would never put something out that I wasn't proud of. I hope you enjoy it and know that it will definitely not be a year until my next update.
Thank you so much for everything 3