A/N: You guys are amazing! All the reviews made me write this so much faster than I initially planned :) Thank you so much. Hope you enjoy the conclusion to this story and how I wrapped things up. I would love to hear your feedback on certain aspects of this that allude to or mirror a lot of what really ended up happening in Mockingjay. I don't have any plans for writing more as of right now, but reviews always help my muse *wink wink* haha - thanks and enjoy!
My heart pounds in my chest as I stand frozen in shock. I study Peeta's face in horror, searching for any signs of what he's thinking, any indication that he is about to lose control.
But I find nothing. His face is blank, giving nothing away as he simply looks back and forth between me and Gale.
I open my mouth to speak but no words come out.
The silence grows uncomfortable and stretches out as the seconds pass by, heightening the tension between the three of us.
"Peeta," I finally manage to gasp and take a step towards him.
Just as I do however, Plutarch appears from around the corner of the hallway behind Peeta, grinning widely. He sees me and his face lights up even more.
"Katniss!" He exclaims, coming to stand between Peeta and I. "I was just escorting Peeta to the control room. He's going to shoot some propos for us today. Nothing big of course, we don't want to rush him. Just a few one liners we can intercut with some of your footage. The rebels are going to love seeing him back on their side again."
I swallow thickly as I look back to Peeta's face, but he diverts his gaze and stares at the floor. I feel a kind of blind terror rise up in me that I can't keep at bay. I'm instantly terrified that he'll have a flashback or fly into a fit of anger over what he just saw. I bite down hard on my lower lip, praying that he stays in control.
Plutarch stares back and forth between Peeta and I for a moment and then clears his throat. "Okay, well we really should be going."
He pushes past me and Peeta follows him without a word. I watch them disappear down the hall feeling helpless.
I look back at Gale who is searching my face for answers.
"Are you okay?" He asks and I offer him a weak nod.
"I'm not sorry for kissing you," he says, taking a step closer to me, reaching out and touching my arm.
I sigh, brought back to my earlier predicament of how to best explain to him my current situation. I need to figure out a way to make him understand without making him hate me.
"Gale, I..." I trail off, no idea where to even begin. I have to tell him that my mind is fully made up, that I love Peeta and want to be with him, and only him. I have to make him understand that there will never be anything between us other than friendship.
"Look, just take some time and think about it. I know this is all new with Peeta getting back to normal and everything, but it doesn't change how I feel."
He offers me a small smile and leans in and kisses my cheek.
He turns and walks down the hallway, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
I don't see Peeta until the next day and it is not at breakfast like I had hoped. In being absent from the dining hall I was convinced that he had a flashback that set all his progress back and was now being restrained and given morphling doses while being monitored full time.
Which is why I am completely stunned when he joins us outside for combat training. I watch with a mix of apprehension and surprise as two guards lead him around the obstacle course and explain the various drills. He follows their instructions and I watch him complete the physical tasks, looking calm and level headed.
"Katniss!" Johanna shouts, making me jump and breaking me from my trance.
"I know you're easily distracted by the sight of Peeta and everything, but you might want to pay attention. You are holding a loaded gun and everything," she quips.
I shoot her a cold glare for mentioning me and Peeta, she knows that we are trying to keep everything a secret between us. I look over her shoulder and see Gale watching us, probably having overheard what she just said. He looks annoyed and angry for a moment before he looks away and refocuses on loading his gun.
We continue with normal combat training for the rest of the time, practicing with the guns and going through simulation drills where our leaders give us commands of when to attack and how to proceed forward as a unit. I can't help my gaze from constantly wandering over to Peeta who is training on his own with the supervision of two guards. I'm reprimanded twice for not paying attention but I can't find it within myself to care. Al I want to do is go talk to him and fix things and make sure he understands.
It doesn't help that his shirt is so tight you can see every muscle on his torso, straining through the fabric. He isn't as strong as he once was, but he's getting back some definition.
When I finally manage to tear my eyes away from him at one point I see Gale watching me intently, a sad look across his face.
After training finishes I decide I can't put this off any longer. I ask our squad leaders if Gale and I can have some time out alone in the woods to hunt like they allow us to do sometimes. We're given the okay and I can feel the air thick with tension and awkwardness as we walk into the woods in silence together.
We barely make it past the first few trees before the words start spilling out from me. "Gale, look...you need to know something."
Gale sighs heavily and stops, leaning against the bark of a tree.
"Yeah...what's that?" He avoids my eyes and I can tell he's already upset.
"You know how much I care about you as a friend..." I begin, "you've always been there for me. You've been that constant support in my life since our dads died and I don't know what I would have done without you."
He looks anywhere but at me. He picks the bark from the tree and shakes his head sadly. "Yeah, but I guess that's not good enough, huh?"
Tears swim in my eyes and I try to fight off the emotion. "I'm sorry," I choke out, "I really am sorry."
He sighs heavily and finally looks up at me taking a step closer. "So that's it? 5 years of it just being me and you against the world and now it's over?"
"I don't know what you want me to say," I protest, letting the tears fall.
"I just...I just wonder if this isn't all just because of the Games. If you and him had never been reaped do you really think you would have ended up together, that you two would have even talked?"
"It doesn't matter, Gale!" I cry, any attempt at keeping it together gone, "we were reaped. And we've been through so much together. He's the only one who understands..." I trail off, hating how this conversation is going.
"Is that it? You think I don't understand? I may not have been there Katniss, but I know what you've been through. I watched every minute of those games and I felt the knife going through me when I watched you suffer." He reaches out and places both hands on my shoulders, an attempt to steady me. "You and me..." He trails off, reaching up a hand to cup my face, "we're one in the same. We know each other like we know the woods outside of 12."
I take a deep shaky breath, feeling my emotions ready to boil over. All this feels wrong, being out here alone with him, him touching me. I want Peeta. I want him to take me in his arms and kiss me and make me forget.
"He can't take care of you like I can. He doesn't know you..."
"I love him!" The words slip out before I can stop them. I clasp my hand over my mouth in shock. I look up at Gale wide eyed. He looks like I just hit him over the head with a blunt object. His wide eyes are frantic as he struggles to regain his composure. He pulls away from me immediately and we stand there, staring at each other in silence.
We are both quiett for a long time, like the words I finally just spoke out loud had some magical properties, rendering us both speechless.
It feels like an eternity later when he finally speaks up and breaks the spell.
"If that's how you feel..." He turns and walks away, heading out of the woods and back towards 13.
I let him walk ahead of me for a moment and then follow.
At breakfast the next day I still haven't found a chance to talk with Peeta alone. I keep looking around the dining room wishing he would show up and hoping I don't run into Gale.
I'm stabbing at my food gloomily with no appetite when a hand on my shoulder startles me.
I look behind me to see Haymitch who looks at me almost sadly and then gestures with his head, "Come on."
I get up and follow him out of the room and into the hall where he proceeds to walk ahead of me, not saying anything more.
I follow him in silence for a while until I figure out where he's leading me. Before we approach the control room where the propos are shot I stop in my tracks and feel a wave of nausea wash over me.
"Haymitch!" I demand, loudly and angrily. "What the hell is going on?"
He sighs and turns back to face me. He approaches me like he would a wounded animal and doesn't meet my eyes.
He takes a deep breath and then says, "They want some shots of you and Peeta together..."
I interrupt him before he can go any further. "No! No way. I did not consent to his. I agreed to be their Mockingjay, not for them to exploit the whole star-crossed lovers thing."
Haymitch smirks at me and I cross my arms in front of my chest defensively.
"What?" I snap.
"Just interesting that you say 'exploit' rather than say...'fabricate'," Haymitch explains giving me a knowing look and I hate that I look away and can feel myself blush.
"I'm not stupid girl, I don't know how - and I sure as hell don't want to know - but I know you had something to do with the boy's sudden recovery..." He mutters.
I stare at my feet and cringe. This is the last topic in the world that I want to be discussing with Haymitch. "I just don't want to do this," I mumble.
"Of course you don't want to do this," Haymitch retorts. "Doesn't change the fact they're going keep asking until you cooperate. Might as well get it over with. Besides they just want to see you and the boy side by side, reading a couple of one liners."
I sigh and put my head in my hands, it doesn't really seem like I have much of a choice in the matter.
"Fine, let's do this," I grumble and follow Haymitch into the control room.
Someone hands me my Mockingjay uniform and I move quickly into a side room to get changed into it. When I return I can only make out Cressida, Plutarch and Haymitch among the unusually large crowd of people behind the cameras.
I walk past all of them and head straight for the mark I stood on when I had my first disastrous attempts at shooting these kind of propos weeks ago. I freeze mid-stride as the lights shine down on me and I finally notice the presence of someone else already at the mark.
Peeta stands in front of the cameras in some combat uniform I haven't seen him in before. He looks at me emotionless as I approach slowly and stand beside him.
"Hi," I say quietly, not meeting his eyes.
"Hey," he whispers back and I'm surprised at how calm he seems.
I let my eyes roam up and down his body, taking in his appearance. The uniform hugs his every muscle and I swallow thickly, feeling that familiar charge between us.
Plutarch steps out from the dark area of the room behind the cameras where everyone else stands. "We're so glad to have the both of you here. This is going to do wonders for the rebels morale."
I shift awkwardly on my feet and pray this is over with quickly.
"Now I don't want to push you two, but any show of unity would really help. Maybe just hold hands and take turns reading the cue cards we hold up." He says.
I open my mouth to protest, but before the words can even form on my lips Peeta grabs my hand in his. I look over at him in surprise and then down at our joined hands. A warm feeling rushes through me and I keep my mouth shut.
"Perfect," Plutarch smiles. "Now just alternate reading the lines and we'll be done before you know it." He steps back behind the cameras and I shoot Peeta a look of appreciation.
The corners of his mouth turn up a bit, but he has a sad, quiet look to him. The thought makes me ache and I want to drag him somewhere where we can be alone.
"Okay, you two," Plutarch shouts. "Action!"
We take turns reading the lines they want us to say into the camera with as much passion as we can muster. Peeta is strong and confident and when he speaks I feel like people will follow him into battle. He still has that way with words.
I, however, am still just as horrible at this as I was before. I honestly don't know why they even bother. And then my hand that is holding Peeta's starts to get sweaty because I am nervous about how I am completely messing this up and I have to pull away from him for a moment to dry it. Mostly our hand holding just looks awkward and unnatural as we stand there like statues, reading the scripted lines.
I can tell the group behind the cameras are not impressed and it makes me embarrassed that I'm so bad at this and mad that they tried to make me do this anyway. I am just about to say I've reached my limit for the day when a familiar voice speaks out among the group. It's after a particularly awkward shot where I tried to get really enthusiastic and jerked my arms into the air as I spoke, yanking Peeta's hand up high with me, but catching him off guard so he just kind of looked like a puppet, being dragged along.
"Not very inspiring stuff..." I hear the male voice say, making no attempt to lower his voice.
My eyes search the darkened area of the room behind the cameras, but it's hard because the light is shining directly on me and all the faces seem like a blur.
And then I see Gale leaning against the wall, his arms crossed in front of his chest, looking smug. I glare at him and feel the anger swell in my gut. He knows how much I hate doing this. He knows this wasn't my idea. I don't really appreciate him making fun of me and then I realize he's just being bitter and angry because of what happened earlier. I try to be considerate and think of his feelings and remember he is my friend but at the moment I would like nothing more than to go over to him and shove him in the chest. Hard.
Instead I settle for something much better.
I turn to Peeta and grasp him by the shoulders. I pull his mouth to meet mine and feel his lips set me on fire. Our tongues find each other and it's like everything in the room just melts away. I kiss him for a long time and when I pull away I'm breathless. He stares at me wide eyed like he can't believe what I just did and then I turn to face the cameras.
"Snow tried to take everything important in my life away. He almost took my sister and he did his best to take Peeta. But he didn't succeed and I want him to know that we're coming for him. We're coming to end his reign of terror for everyone who has ever had Snow take something from them. We will find you and we will end this."
The words leave me through their own accord like it is someone else speaking entirely. I'm breathing heavily as I finish my speech and when I stop everyone in the room is quiet for a moment.
Finally, it's Haymitch who speaks up.
"Now that's what I call rallying the troops."
After we finished shooting the propos Peeta and I were pulled in separate directions before we even had a chance to talk. The next day I find Haymitch and he tells me Peeta is relocating to his own room and lets me know where to find him.
I was tempted to go in search of him instead of combat training, but then I remembered how he was at training last time. He isn't there though and I have to suffer through a few hours of physical exertion with Gale shooting me nasty looks the entire time.
I ignore him and remember the feel of kissing Peeta in front of the cameras, bright lights shining down on us, in a room full of people. It felt different from all the other times I've kissed Peeta for show. Probably because it is not about putting on a show anymore. I love Peeta and I'm not afraid to admit it to myself and I don't really care who knows.
The thought is liberating and exciting and scary all at once. It means giving up a sense of power and control, acknowledging you're in love with someone, I realize. But what you get in return is so worth the cost.
I rush through dinner and head back to my room to shower after training is over. I leave my hair to dry naturally and throw on an oversized shirt and some sweats. I realize I'm so anxious to find Peeta I don't really pause to think about how I look like.
I wind through the maze of hallways until I find the room I'm looking for. His room. I raise my hand tentatively to knock on the door and pause when I hear voices coming from inside. I press my ear to the door to listen.
"I'm sorry boy, but that's just the way it is," Haymitch's familiar voice mumbles.
"I understand," Peeta says quietly. "I'm not happy about it, but I understand.
I frown in confusion, wondering what they're discussing.
I'm too busy trying to make sense of the cryptic conversation that I look up, startled when Haymitch opens the door, on his way out.
He stares at me for a moment and then smirks and shakes his head.
"Not surprised to see you here," He says on his way past me.
He continues walking down the hallway without another word. I watch him go for a moment before turning back to the room. I slip in quietly and shut the door behind me, finding Peeta sitting on the edge of his bed. There is only his bed, a small dresser and a nightstand. The room is about half the size as mine and Johanna's.
"Hey," I say quietly, carefully approaching him.
He looks up and offers me a small smile. "Hi," he returns and I sit down next to him on the bed.
"I miss you," the words come out of me unbidden. It's true though. These past few days have been hell without him.
"Me too," he replies, but his eyes look unfocused and a shadow crosses his face.
"I'm so sorry," I blurt out, "About what you saw with Gale...it wasn't what it looked like."
He takes a deep breath and doesn't respond for a long moment. I hold my breath.
"I know," he says so quietly it's almost like a whisper.
"You know?" I ask.
"Yeah, I mean, I saw what happened. He kissed you. You pulled away," He says, void of any emotion.
"Oh okay..." I trail off, no idea what to say next. If he realizes what really happened, why doesn't it feel okay now.
We sit in silence for an uncomfortable stretch of time.
I'm just about to press him on the subject when he speaks up.
"The thing is..." He pauses and starts again, "The thing is seeing you with him, seeing him kiss you - even though I know it was one sided and all - it still brought back all these memories I have. Memories I'm pretty sure were never altered because the Capitol didn't have them on tape. Watching you tag along with him at school, the pair of you showing up at my back door to sell my dad squirrels, you asleep at his side after he got whipped."
I watch him carefully, feeling my heart ache at the clear pain in his eyes.
"And it just...I don't know, it just reminded me of how inadequate I've always felt compared to him. You guys have this thing, this connection and understanding that I'll never be able to compete with. It just makes me unsure...it makes me doubt..."
I stop him before he can get any further. "No, Peeta! Don't. Just don't, okay?" I feel almost panicky all the sudden. How could he possible think that he's not enough for me? I cringe as a small voice reminds me I've never really told him, that I've never once given him any reassurance that between him and Gale there is no comparison, that he wins every time.
"Gale is just a friend, an old friend and nothing more. I don't feel for him the way I feel for you. And I told him that already, after he tried to kiss me." I search his face, needing to make sure he believes every word I say. "Peeta..." I take a deep breath and prepare myself for what comes next, "Peeta, I love you. I love you so much I didn't care about my own safety the night I came to you. I love you in the kind of way that is so overwhelming and scary I spent the last year and a half ignoring what was right in front of me. You saved me Peeta. You saved me with that bread and you gave me a reason to keep going. I don't know what I would have done without you by side through these past two Games."
The tears are falling from my face but I make no attempt to brush them away.
He swallows thickly and searches my face for a moment. His expression is so intense I find it hard to look away. He lifts a hand to my face and uses the pad of his thumb to wipe the track of tears from my cheeks. "I've wanted to hear you say that for so long," he whispers, tilting his head towards me so the distance between us evaporates, so that we breathe the same air. "...it almost doesn't feel real now."
I smile a sad, crooked smile and grab his other hand and place it flat against my chest so he can feel my heart beat. "It is real, Peeta," I whisper trailing a thumb along his bottom lip. "I love you so much. I know that now without a doubt."
"Katniss..." He breathes out and I can't stand it any longer. I close the distance between us and press my lips to his. My hands wrap around his neck and we fall back against his bed. Our mouths find each other over and over again, tongues stroking and exploring while our hands and bodies ignite the passion we can't control.
We finally break away to catch our breaths and I suddenly feel close to tears. "Real. It's so real, Peeta. It's always been real. Everything I've ever done, including coming to you that night...it was about more than just being intimate with you...it was that I was willing to do anything to help you find your way back to me."
He stares down at me with a gentle look of awe and then smiles a slow, warm smile that lights up his whole face. He leans down and kisses me before making a trail down my neck and along my collarbone. His hot, wet lips make that now familiar feeling roar to life inside me. I buck my hips up towards him and whimper his name.
He rids me of my shirt and takes my breasts in his hands. He takes his time, using his mouth and fingers to work me until I am panting erratically. When he finally pulls down my sweats and peels off my underwear I am dripping wet. He trails his hand from my breast down over my stomach and then gently parts my legs. He lightly trails his fingers over my folds and gently rubs that bundle of nerves so that I moan and cling to him, the pleasure consuming every part of me.
He inserts two fingers inside me and we moan in unison. He drops his head to my shoulder and takes a deep, shuddering breath. "You're so wet..." he mumbles and presses his hips against my side, his hardness evident. He thrusts his fingers inside me a few times and I cry out. Before I even realize it he slides down my body and positions his head between my legs...right there.
My breath hitches as I tense up, realizing what is about to happen. He doesn't do anything for a moment though and I peak an eye open, glancing down at him. He gives me a small smile and I instantly relax. "I just want to return the favor," he explains with a grin, "I don't know if I'll be as good at it as you are, but I want to try," he laughs.
The comment makes me blush and all my earlier apprehension is gone.
I want him to do this.
His face suddenly grows more serious as he presses a finger to that pleasure point that makes me squirm. "You're just so beautiful," he murmurs and his eyes darken, "I want to taste you."
And then he presses his tongue to me and I cease to think altogether. I practically scream and reach down, gently tugging on the ends of his hair. I thrust my hips towards him, urging him to go deeper, resting my legs on his shoulders.
His tongue is inside me and his fingers are working that bundle of nerves and I've lost all control. I moan loudly, and try to hold on but everything is building inside me and the pleasure is too much. Suddenly I feel it, my entire body tightening, my insides clenching and a wave of pleasure hits me with full force.
I scream and moan and call out his name so loud and for so long I'm completely lost in a daze as the pleasure rolls through me. My body is like dead weight and I eventually regain some composure and realize Peeta has pulled me in his arms and his stroking my back.
"I love you too," he whispers directly into my ear and I fall asleep, content in his arms.
A few days later there is a huge strategy meeting and everyone is there except Peeta. I glance around the room looking for him, but can't seem to find him. I'm sure there's just an oversight and he'll be here later. He has been increasing his combat training with no major setbacks and continues making progress everyday. I try not to meet Gale's eyes as I listen to Boggs and Coin make their speeches.
I'm not really paying attention until I hear them announce we will be moving into the Capitol with the other rebel forces to take down Snow and hopefully end this once and for all. We take off first thing tomorrow and the reality of this war finally coming to a head - coming to an end that could either destroy or save everything - makes me sick with nerves. I don't know if I'm ready for this.
I am just starting to accept that this will really all be over soon, either one way or the other, when Boggs reads off the list of soldiers that need to report tomorrow.
Peeta's name is not on the list.
I instantly feel anxious and panicky, unsure of what to make of this and scared of what it ultimately means - that I'll have to face this alone. I want to immediately scream my indignation and protests, but I hold my tongue until after the meeting finishes.
Instead of charging up to Coin or Boggs I find Haymitch and pull him to the side.
"What's going on? Why isn't Peeta going?" I ask, but even as the words leave me I already know the answer.
"It's too soon, sweetheart," Haymitch grumbles and there is no patronizing in his voice. He looks at me with sad eyes. "He hasn't been better for that long and everyone is concerned that sending him into a war zone will only end badly. He could jeopardize the mission or even hurt himself. The doctors say he's better, but he's not completely cured. Putting him into that environment...it could completely undo all the progress he's made."
As I process the words I realize that I completely agree with everything he's just said. I know logically it only makes sense not to have Peeta go. I know that it is in everyone's best interests if he stays behind. Still, though I can't help the small, selfish part of me that is terrified of doing this alone. That wants, and needs, him by my side to make it through whatever transpires on this mission.
I acknowledge Haymitch and wander out of the room in a daze. I find myself wandering the halls until I end up at Peeta's room without even realizing it. I open the door quietly to see him sitting up in bed, writing in a small notebook. He looks up at me as I enter and I close the door behind me, putting the notebook on his bed stand. His face changes to one of concern and I realize my eyes are red and I've been silently crying.
He holds out his arms for me and I move towards him and bury myself against his chest, letting him soothe me. "So they told you..." He mumbles against my hair and I look up at him and nod.
"They already told you?" I ask, wiping my eyes.
"A couple of days ago..." Peeta sighs. "I get it, I do. Part of me completely understands and even agrees with the decision, but..." He trails off and I see a familiar look in his eyes, being torn between what you want and what is right. "I just hate that I'm going to be separated from you. I want to be there to protect you. I feel sick thinking about if something happens..." He takes a shaky breath. "I don't know if I could handle it."
Unbidden, a small smile makes it way across my face as he voices the thoughts that mirror my own. I let out a small laugh and he looks at me questioningly. I take his face in my hands and press my lips to his.
"I feel the exact same way," I tell him when we break apart. "I don't want to risk you having a setback, but I wish you could be at my side. I don't want to do this alone."
He gives me a small smile and pulls me against him so we're laying back in the bed. "It'll be fine," he says after a while and I think he's trying to convince both of us. "We'll finally end all this and you and I will be okay," he says as he rolls on top of me so he's hovering above me. "No matter what happens," he adds and his eyes lock with mine and the intensity of his gaze takes my breath away. Something about the way he says it, with such passion and intensity in his voice, makes me actually believe his words, makes me understand and realize that no matter what does happen on this mission he and I will be okay in the end.
I pull him down to me and kiss him and try to express that I'll do whatever it takes to hold onto what we have when this is all over. Our mouths fuse together, quickly gaining heat.
He finally breaks away, breathless and looks down at me with eyes that are clouded over with love. "Just come back to me," he whispers and when he sees my look of confusion he quickly elaborates. "After the war ends...no matter what happens...just come back to me," he explains and his words makes something deep inside me wrench uncomfortably over something I can't quite explain. I ignore it though and let his unyielding love and support wrap me up and soothe my worries.
"Okay," I whisper and he holds my gaze for a moment.
"I'll take care of you...I'll help you like you helped me," he adds and although he is trying to comfort me I feel fear prick in the back of my mind that he is quietly alluding to the very real possibility that something terrible could happen on this mission. That he is silently telling me that I could be just as broken as he was with his hijacking when this is over.
I ignore those worries though and let myself focus on the fact that I still have Peeta no matter what happens. I comfort myself in the knowledge that we will take care of each other, that we help each other heal from whatever wounds, physical or emotional, are left after this all ends.
Our lips meet again and I whisper breathlessly to him between kisses, "I'll always come back to you...always."
We kiss deeply and slowly our clothes melt away until we are lying completely bare under the covers of his bed. I feel his hardness pressing against my inner thigh as his hand finds my breasts and my hands grasp his bare backside.
Something feels different from the other times we've been intimate together. Maybe it is the knowledge that tomorrow I leave on a mission that could change everything, but there's a feeling that this time is special, sacred.
I reach down and grasp his hardness in my hands. I study his face and note the way he closes his eyes and swallows thickly. I take his tip and rub it against my folds so that he can feel how wet I am, how ready I am.
His eyes shoot open to look at me and I bite my bottom lip. I don't say anything. I could ask him to make love to me, but I'd rather let my actions do the talking. Slowly I guide his length into me until he takes over, pushing his hips until he is completely inside me.
I'm so overwhelmed by the feel of him, the closeness, being connected in this way, that I hardly notice the discomfort at being stretched in this new way. I notice Peeta is breathing heavily and practically quivering above me, trying to stay still and let me adjust.
I roll my hips up towards him and he takes my silent sign that it is okay to move now. He withdraws slowly and then thrusts back into me. The pleasure is radiating to every part of my body. It is so different, so much more intense than the other times we've been together. I feel like we are one being, so in tuned with each other's bodies, working in perfect synchronicity to get each other to that point.
His pace starts to increase and I meet him thrust for thrust, urging him to go deeper and faster. Everything inside me is ready to come undone. I grasp Peeta's shoulders to hold on. Suddenly I could cry because this, what we're sharing, is the perfect way for us to express our commitment, to show each other that we'll be there to help each other through whatever lies ahead.
With every thrust inside me he claims me as his. Always.
I explode, my insides clenching around him and I feel him come moments later. We collapse into a sweat mess of exhausted limbs and ride out the euphoria together.
Nothing could ever feel as good as that. Ever.
The next morning I leave on the mission.
When Prim dies in the explosion I am sure that I would like nothing more than to join her.
But when I shoot Coin instead of Snow and Peeta stops me from taking that nightlock I remember what he said to me. I remember how I promised to come back to him.
There are so many times when I'm ready to give up over the next few weeks, but the thought of Peeta keeps me holding on.
And just like he promised Peeta eventually brings me back to life after several painful months, reminding me that despite what I've lost, there is still a life to live, love to share, and a future to have.