Chapter One

Katniss Mellark's POV

It's been fifteen years. Fifteen years since the rebellion. Fifteen years since I became the mockingjay. Fifteen years, to the day, that Peeta and I officially became husband and wife.

The bright sunlight shining through the curtains irritates my eyes and I squinted against it. Once my eyes have adjusted to the light, they flutter open. Peeta's arm is around my body protectively. I can feel his hot breath on my neck. It sends shivers down my spine.

I manage to turn around without removing Peeta's arm from around my waist. I watch him as he sleeps. His face is relaxed, his blonde hair messy from sleep. I run the back of my hand lightly across his cheek and can't help but smile. Peeta smiles, too, enjoying my touch. His eyes flutter open and he smiles back at me.

"Good morning, beautiful." He says, pulling me closer to him and kisses me gently on the lips. The touch of his lips against mine set my whole body on fire. I moan and tangle my fingers in his hair. Peeta shifts us so he is hovering above me, his lips still attached to mine.

Peeta's kisses move to my neck and my moans increase. He always knows exactly what drives me crazy. He sucks on the spot where my neck meets my shoulder and my hips buck up. Peeta begins removing our clothes, kissing down my body as he goes. Once our clothes are removed, Peeta makes love to me on the anniversary of the day we were joined as man and wife.

I am sitting at the table and reading the Panem Gazette, the weekly newspaper that is delivered to each district telling the citizens of Panem everything they would ever need to know about what's happening this week in all of Panem. Its fall, harvest season, and some of the districts are hard at work harvesting all the crops.

"Good morning, again," Peeta says, placing a plate of breakfast pastries in front of me. Peeta took over his family's bakery after we settled down in District 12. It's no surprise that I've gained at least ten pounds since we got married.

Peeta sits across from me and takes a bite of the raspberry strudel he made just this morning. As he bites into it, the crust of the pastry flakes and Peeta ends up with the front of his shirt full of it. I unsuccessfully attempt to hide my amusement.

"What's so funny?" Peeta asks me, barely suppressing his own laughter.

"Oh, it's nothing." I tell him, dismissing the matter with a wave of my hand.

"It must be something if it made you laugh," Peeta insists.

"Scales are all the rage in the Capitol. Everyone's wearing them. And, I must say, they all look rather amusing." I tell him.

"Is that the truth?" Peeta inquires.

"It is," I tell him and, after just a few seconds of silence, we both break out into a fit of laughter.

Once we stop laughing and clean up the kitchen, we get dressed and head out into the breezy fall day. I've come to learn that fall is Peeta's favorite time of year. He really loves the colors on the trees and break from the constant heat and the new array of spices that are available for him. Peeta makes a wonderful pumpkin pie and it's always between the months of September and January that I gain the most of the weight that I work so hard to shed during the warmer months.

As Peeta and I walk through our District, we are greeted by an array of faces. District 12 has bounced back amazingly after the assault by the Capitol forces. Many people from District 13 moved here, along with smaller numbers from other Districts.

District 12's major product is still coal, but now we've started a fur and meat market. It's surprising how much money the people in the Capitol will spend on furs. District 12 isn't the only district that's undergone major changes. All the districts have undergone changes, but the Capitol is where most of the changes are evident.

Since the rebellion, Panem has become a democracy. Each district gets two representatives on the Council of Peace, the new governing body that was formed as a result of the rebellion. After I shot President Coin, President Snow was sentenced to life in prison, where he died five years ago. The Hunger Games became a thing of the past and parents would never again have to fear watching their child be killed in the vicious form of the Capitol's punishment and entertainment.

All the people of District 12 had wanted Peeta and me to be on the Council of Peace, but we decided that it was best for us to stay in 12. The people understood our decision and elected a competent man and woman to represent our district in the Capitol. It had also been brought to my attention that Gale was serving on the Council of Peace for District 2.

Peeta and I arrive at our destination: the meadow. The same meadow that used to have a chain fence running through it that separated District 12 from the woods. The same meadow that was the start to all those days spent hunting with Gale.

Peeta and I stroll through the woods together, Peeta clumping loudly as ever. I don't usually like taking Peeta with me when I go out hunting because he's so loud, but today is a special day for us and I want to spend as much time with him as I can. As we moved through the woods, the trees becoming denser and denser, Peeta picks berries from surrounding bushes.

Two hours and half a dozen beavers later, Peeta and I were sitting beneath a huge maple tree. Peeta was leaning against the trunk of the maple and I was leaning against his chest. The berries Peeta had picked were perfectly ripe and were like little explosions of sweetness in my mouth.

Peeta started kissing the right side of my neck, lightly grazing the skin with his teeth. I moaned lightly, closing my eyes to relish in the feeling of his lips against my skin. I quickly turn myself around and smash my lips against Peeta's. He kisses me back with just as much passion, slipping his tongue into my mouth. As Peeta's tongue explores my mouth, I trace the contours of Peeta's pecks and abs with my fingers.

Soon I grow impatient with Peeta's teasing and begin tugging on his shirt, signifying that I wanted it off. Peeta takes the hint and breaks the kiss momentarily to remove both our shirts. Peeta kisses me again, tangling his fingers in my dark brown hair. I eagerly kiss him back, pushing my body up against his. I hear a growl that I assume has come from Peeta, but Peeta's assault on my lips has stopped.

"Did you hear that?" He asks, looking around us for the source of the noise.

"I thought it was you," I tell him, pulling myself from his grasp. I search the trees, but can't find the source of the noise.

"KATNISS," Peeta yells, pointing at something behind me.

I swing around and am met with a huge, fierce-looking mountain lion. Its teeth are bared and his back and leg muscles are hunched up. He's ready to pounce. Just as his front feet leave the ground, I grab my bow and arrow in a flash of movement. Before I have a chance to think about it, I've shot two arrows at the beast. The first misses, whizzing over the beast's head. The second hits it in the left front leg and it screeches in pain. Its progress is slowed, but it's still coming towards us quickly. I shoot another arrow and this one hits home, striking the beast right in the heart.

I breathe a sigh of relief and turn to Peeta. He looks as if he's been paralyzed with fear. His pupils are dilated and his breathing is rapid and shallow. I walk over to him and, after dropping my bow and arrow to the ground, sit beside him. I stroke his face as he comes down from his fear.

"That was . . ." Peeta begins.

"I know, but it's over now. I wonder how much a mountain lion will get us in the Hob." I say, trying to break the tension. Peeta laughs and together we distribute the load of today's kills and head back towards District 12.