Katniss/Peeta, it isn't a trick she is really pregnant
AN: If you've been reading the Collections, the first three chapters are cross-posted. I figured since I couldn't shake it, I'd just bust it out into its own story.
I feel Haymitch's arm pressing into my windpipe. I can't help but be surprised at the speed with which he moved as we stepped off the elevator onto our floor in the Training Center.
"Is it true?" He's not looking at me when he asks, his menacing eyes focused on Katniss as she stands a foot away, her hands on her stomach and her face barely controlled. I can hear Effie in the close distance as she rambles on in a high pitch. We've just had our Quarter Quell interviews.
It's getting harder to breathe now.
My eyes flick towards Katniss who quickly nods her head. Haymitch's arm releases me and he steps back, the blood leaving his face. I stumble against the wall and Katniss grabs my arm, steadying me as her eyes remain locked on our Mentor. He's standing shell shocked, his eyes focused on her hand as it never leaves her belly.
"You have no idea what you've done." His words hang in the air as he disappears down the hallway.
It hadn't been expected, the way we'd fallen back into sleeping next to each other as our families slept down the hall. She'd found me one night after a hard training session – one that I'd imposed on the three of us – and had asked if she could stay with me.
I couldn't turn her away. I'd promised her always.
It was like the Tour. We held close and breathed each other in, our bodies pressed together, our hands clinging. We were almost like children, terrified of what was coming for us though neither would admit it out loud.
We didn't need to say it out loud. We both knew that one of us, both of us, would likely not be coming home.
It happened in the afternoon, the heat of the sun having forced us out of training and into the shelter of my home. Haymitch had returned to his, determined to hide himself away in the bottom of a bottle.
The house was quiet with my brothers at school or at the bakery with my mother and father.
And she knew it when she kissed me. We were alone and right now, right now was all we needed.
We hadn't bothered to go far, stumbling our way to the couch in my front room and collapsing upon it. I didn't call into question why now or what was going through her head. I should have, there's no doubt in my mind about that, but I didn't.
With my body pressed into hers I pulled back from the frenzy. My lips peppered kisses across her forehead, her cheekbones; my lips found her earlobe and the dip where her neck and shoulder connected. Her hands found my spine and traced it upwards, under my shirt and along my skin. I pressed my hand to the center of her chest and felt her heart beat.
It beat quicker for me.
"Katniss," I felt her breath in my hair as I nuzzled my face against her, needing to be closer. It was a flurry of movement as clothes were discarded and bodies were aligned. I'd never seen her naked before. I tried to slow it down, to take it all in, but she wouldn't have any of it.
It was moments before I felt myself moving in her, her body tight and hot and wet and around me. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't move. There was pain on her face as she lowered herself further onto me. I wanted to lift her up, stop her from hurting, keep her safe. But that was instinct and I knew this had to happen.
She held tight to me then, her discomfort expressed into my shoulder as I struggled to hold on for just a little longer. I felt her muscles clench around me and I almost let go, right there.
"Katniss," The words were strangled from my lips. She wasn't moving anymore, the hard part over and done with she had given up. I pull her back to look into her eyes, there were tears there, rimming her lids. I knew, deep inside, that it's not pain that's making her cry. She's terrified for every other reason.
I remove her from my lap and lay her on her back across the cushions. I trace my hands across her chest, settling on her sides as I lay myself over her. The moment apart has calmed me and I'm able to hold it together as I push into her again.
The angle, the mood, the feeling – it's all different this time. We move together slowly, our hands grasping tightly as my pace increases. I slip my fingers down to where we connect and find her center. It's pleasure that spreads on her face now, no longer tangled with fear.
When I let go, she doesn't follow. Not until I slip out and refocus my hands on her, pulling her over the edge with me.
We lay entwined for too long, our sweat coated bodies cooled in the breeze drifting through the windows.
The idea of bringing a child into the world hadn't even crossed my mind that day. How could it? I was so focused on Katniss and the Games that it wasn't even something real.
Until it became real, at least.
The training we'd done in the District had slowed down, almost to a stop on account of her feeling ill. I'd written it off as nerves as we quickly approached the day of the Reaping.
I'd figured it out on the train to the Capitol as I held her hair while she expelled breakfast into the porcelain toilet.
"What do we do now?" I'd asked as she tipped the glass of water to her lips. She looked at me quizzically for a moment too long. She hadn't recognized the signs. My heart broke for her. For us.
"What do you mean? You win and you go home. That's the plan, isn't it?" I lean back against the closed bathroom door and sink to the ground, my arms wrapping around my legs as I watch her carefully. My chest is tight.
"Katniss, do you have any idea what's happening to you right now?"
"I'm being led to the slaughter, aren't I?" There's a deadly serious smile on her face, a blithe comment from the teachings of Haymitch.
"You're pregnant, Katniss. You've been sick, skipping out on training, feeling off balance when you do show up..." My voice trails off as the look of incredulity fills her features. She's quick to her feet and instantly I'm on the defense as she kicks at my heels and screams.
"No! I'm not! It's not real if I don't want it to be real." She'd known. She just hadn't admitted it to herself. I wrap my arms around her tightly as she pounds her fists into my chest. It calms her and soon I'm holding her up as her words turn incoherent. She didn't want this.
I didn't want this – not now anyways.
When we lay together that night in my bed, I can't help but rest my hand over her stomach. I want so badly for this but it isn't right. I pull her tighter against me, crushing her close as if to mold us together.
"You'll come home with a piece of me." I whisper it into her hair. I know she's asleep. It's the only time I can admit that I want this for her. That I'll save them both.
We don't talk about it again. She refuses to tell anyone but I know people know. Portia looks at me different. Cinna can't look me in the eye.
I start working on my plan to bring her home. I keep quiet and put my plans into motion.
I tell all of Panem first.
I'm desperate to bring her home. To save her. To save them.
It's only when we're back up on our Training Center floor that it all seems much more dangerous to have announced it.
But I'm grasping at straws with each new target. I can only stand in front of one bullet. I'm banking on the people of Panem to stand in front of the others.
She needs to come home. They need to come home.