One Year Later
Peeta opened the door for Katniss and she stepped out into the sunshine. He followed closely behind and then they paused for a moment on the top steps of the Justice Building. Peeta took her hand and smiled brilliantly at her. They had done it—they were married.
A swell of applause started up from the small group of friends and family who had gathered to walk home with them. Peeta's brothers were whistling, and Katniss felt her face flush red—she hated to be the center of attention like this.
"C'mon," she said, giving Peeta's hand a tug, and they started down the steps.
The group closed around them, and in one great huddle they moved down the street towards the bakery. Katniss held tightly to Peeta's hand and looked fondly on the people around her.
Prim was walking closely on Katniss' other side, her hand clasped firmly in Rory's. One year later and the two of them were still inseparable, and Katniss was sure that in just a few short years Prim would be the bride, no matter what Gale might have to say about it. She would be much better suited to the role, too, Katniss thought ruefully.
Gale himself was walking with Madge a little ways ahead. Katniss had had her suspicions about those two for a while now. While she was truly happy for them both, and had actually made the introductions with that thought in mind, she still couldn't wait to give Gale hell for falling for a townie after all his high talk. And the mayor's daughter to boot! She couldn't let him get away with that without some repercussions from his best friend.
Katniss' mother was walking and chatting with Hazelle Hawthorne, every now and then tossing her eldest daughter an affectionate glance. The two of them had grown closer over the past year: Mrs. Everdeen's acknowledgement of guilt, and Katniss' lowering of defensive walls had worked wonders for their relationship.
Thoughts of her own mother naturally led to thoughts of Peeta's. She sighed sadly—Mrs. Mellark had not seen fit to grace them with her presence today. Peeta had broken an almost six month long silence between them to specifically invite his mother, but she had scornfully refused. Katniss was just as glad she didn't have to deal with the woman today, as the very thought of the way she had always treated Peeta made her blood boil, and she was sure his mother would have disowned him for marrying her if it weren't for the fact that she relied on his money for her own survival. She did feel bad for Peeta, though. This day was hard enough for him without his father there; his mother's absence was just salt on the wound.
Thankfully the rest of Peeta's family was there to make up for their mother's inadequacies. Katniss had grown to adore Peeta's two older brothers, who teased her and watched over her as though she was the baby sister they had never had. Their wives were lovely people, too, and the children were simply adorable. On this day Katniss had become an aunt to two little girls and one boy. They, along with Posy Hawthorne, were currently playing a raucous game of tag around and among the group of adults, hooting and hollering for all they were worth.
There were others, too: Sae and Thom, Delly Cartwright along with the rest of her family, some of Peeta's other friends from school. Everyone was dressed in their best, everyone was determined to enjoy the beautiful spring day and the happy occasion. Katniss had never believed her life could be like this.
"Hey," said Peeta, low, as he squeezed her hand. "What are you thinking about?"
Katniss smiled at him.
"Nothing, really. Just how wonderful everyone looks, how happy I am."
"I'm happy, too."
Sometimes Katniss still had doubts about whether she truly deserved this man.
"Like you wouldn't believe," he said and leaned over for a kiss.
"Now, now, you two…save all that for later. We have guests to feed," said her mother teasingly. They had arrived at the bakery, and Katniss and Peeta led the way around back to the small yard there which was scattered with tables and chairs. One long table off to the side was covered in the dishes everyone had brought to contribute to the celebratory dinner. In the middle sat the wedding cake, which until now Katniss had not been allowed to see. Like all of Peeta's creations, it was exquisite. Simple yet elegant, it exactly suited Katniss' tastes.
Peeta was anxiously watching for her reaction. She gave him an enormous hug and whispered in his ear, "It's perfect. Thank you."
He kissed her cheek.
"You're welcome, Mrs. Mellark."
"Oh, I like that!" Katniss smiled. She felt like she hadn't stopped smiling all day.
"Me, too," he said and then grabbed her hand again. "Come on, let's eat. I'm starving!"
Katniss rolled her eyes and muttered "Men!" under her breath, but she followed him willingly over to the food anyway. The rest of the party followed suit, and soon the yard was filled with people eating, talking, and laughing. Delly's father even provided some entertainment by way of a fiddle, which he played with enthusiasm and skill.
Soon after the cake was cut some of the more adventurous among them started to dance. Before she knew what was happening, Katniss found herself being swung from one partner to another. It seemed everyone wanted a chance to dance with the bride. By the time she finally found herself in Peeta's arms for the last slow, sweet song, she was breathless with laughter.
The sun was going down, and it was time for the toasting. Katniss shared a last hug and kiss with her mother and sister, and then joined hands with Peeta. Their guests sang the traditional wedding song of District Twelve as they walked to the door of their new home. Waiting inside was a fire ready to be lit, two pieces of bread resting on a covered plate nearby. But that part would be private, just for the two of them alone.
As the final notes of the song rang out Katniss looked into Peeta's eyes. He opened the door and put his hand on her lower back to help guide her inside.
"Welcome home, Katniss."
Thank you to everyone who reviewed, who favorited, and alerted! This is my first mult-chapter fic I've ever actually completed, and I've had a ton of fun with it. I still have lots of HG Everlarkish stories rolling around in my head, so watch this space. Love to all!