Learn to Fly
Summary: Five times 'Peeta' was Katniss' Guardian Angel
AU. "They say an angel gets its wings when they accomplish a good deed of great magnitude." "But what about you? Will you get your wings back, Peeta?" "Nope, not me. I'm stuck here with you." Implied K/G but very much K/P.
Chapter Length: 8,994 words
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any religion and have taken artistic liberty with the interpretation of angels and any higher beings of the sort. Don't kill me.
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Hope y'all enjoy! On to the next chapter!
Chapter 3: Dreams
It was ironic that immediately after Peter told Katniss the blatant lie that was regaining his wings after disappearing, he found upon re-inspection of himself under the veil of invisibility that his wings had indeed regained some of their strength, although they were still nothing close to what they had once been.
It was all Peter could do to resist the temptation of immediately revealing himself to Katniss, his wings even just a little better than they were before, just so he wouldn't have to live with what he was seeing now.
Every night, even months after his abrupt departure, despite having carried on better than he would have ever imagined without him, Katniss was plagued restless sleep, tossing and turning violently in her slumber.
If he had once wondered if sleep could somehow be enjoyable to humans, now he wondered even more if it could be equally as painful. That was what it looked like right now - Katniss was in pain.
He winced at the possibility that he was the cause of it.
The days after he left, Katniss had continued seeing Cinna. Initially she had lied about his leaving, insisting her Peeta's still lingering presence. But it didn't take Cinna long to realize the child was lying before confronting her about it.
That day, Peter watched as Katniss broke down in sobs at being discovered, finally letting his departure be known to the only other person who knew about his true nature. Cinna was generous with his sessions after that, and their routines quickly shifted from activities centered on 'imaginary friends' to activities to cope with the loss of a loved one and Cinna knew better than to inform her parents of his sudden change in counseling. Peter couldn't have been more thankful for the man.
The activities helped Katniss for the most part, finally being able to make Katniss accept that her Peeta was no longer there, much to Peter's discomfort, but he knew that it was for the best if Katniss stood any chance of living a normal life. This was what he had to deal with if he wanted Katniss to live the life mortals were supposed to.
Cinna encouraged her to make new friends on the basis that her Peeta would not have wanted her to suffer in his absence. He was right, and as Katniss slowly grew accustomed to his absence, Peter found comfort in the new friends she made and how happy she was, even without him.
But at nights, he wondered if it was even worth it, because no matter how talented Cinna was at any type of emotional therapy, there was no way it would help the writhing girl who tossed and turned in her sleep.
Peter had endured watching Katniss' restless slumber for an unbearably long time each night, only for her to wake up and force herself to move on from whatever her slumber had done to her. If he only knew what went on in the complex workings of a mortal's mind in their slumber, he could possibly do something to alleviate whatever discomfort the child was feeling. But of course, he knew nothing, and it was excruciating to bear.
One day, the sight became unbearable and Peter just couldn't take it anymore. As the little girl turned in her sleep, he allowed himself the guilty pleasure of tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear. He hoped that if she sensed his presence, it might in some way wipe the pain away. The child did not stir, and Peter was relieved. Despite his being invisible, he could still feel the warmth of the child's skin and after months of the loss of contact he had grown so accustomed to, it was a welcome feeling.
But that was not all that the angel felt. As the warmth of her skin melded itself into his own, it was mixed with feelings he could not understand. Feelings that seemed almost too real, but unlike his own. He furrowed his brow. He inched his hand away from the child's face and immediately the feelings departed. 'How curious.' He thought, examining the child yet again before daring to allow himself another touch.
This time, he trained his eyes to Katniss' pained face and focused, allowing his fingers to fall just close enough for their skin to touch. The feelings had once again returned, but something more resurfaced as he concentrated on isolating their nature. Slowly, images began to form, mixing in what he felt from the child and what his now imperfect eyes perceived of the surrounding world.. They were blurry and unfocused, but what he did manage to make out, unobstructed by the distractions that his eyes still managed to pick out, were the faint sobs he had become quite accustomed to.
'Were these Katniss' feelings?" He thought. He really wanted to know. If there was any chance of him being able to once again bring comfort to the girl like he once had, it would have to start with knowing where her pain originated from.
Still unable to decipher what the child's feelings were trying to tell him and even more distracted by the relentless sound of her sobs, he closed his eyes, striving to shut the rest of the world out as he tried to make sense of the imagery, not once allowing his touch to drift from the child.
And after a few minutes, for the first time in his being, he experienced what he thought to be impossible. He slept. And not only that –
He hadn't thought it was possible for a non-mortal to subject itself to the mystery that was human sleep. But it wasn't sleep, technically. Peter was very much aware of everything going on around him much unlike the unconscious dormancy that humans often underwent. But right now he wasn't entirely sure if that was a good thing, because in his state of awareness, his eyes suddenly focused on the feeble form of a girl in tears, surrounded by darkness.
'Katniss.' He thought. The form in front of him looked undeniably real. Where was he? Was this what humans saw in their sleep? Was this what Katniss saw every night? He feared for the girl.
If this was what he had been experiencing in her sleep, it was no wonder she turned restlessly every night.
This was what they called a dream. But it wasn't just that, he realized by the dark atmosphere that overwhelmed his surroundings. It was a nightmare. Her nightmare – a nightmare she had to deal with every night since he had left. Peter felt an immense weight in his chest. What had he done?
'Get up.' He thought. 'Why are you in the darkness?' He felt like he should approach her, but his earlier resolve was like shackles on his feet that stopped him. He had promised himself to let the child live without him and his interventions. Could he turn his back on all of that now?
A sudden cry broke him out of his internal debate. "Peeta." It was small, and weak and pleading. "It's so cold. Where are you?"
That was all it took for Peter to break, releasing himself from his willed invisibility even in the child's dreams. He ran toward her and shielded her from the darkness as he unfurled her wings. His sudden visible presence emitted an intense beam of bright light that pierced through the all-consuming darkness and shattering it to pieces.
It was all white.
That was what he first observed in the drastic change of scenery. And in his arms, no longer plagued by the dark aura of loneliness and sadness, Katniss stared up at him, her face unbelieving with the most unadulterated smile of happiness breaking through her features. "You came back. And you're beautiful, Peeta." Her tiny arms tried their hardest to engulf his frame, the rigor in her embrace a testimony to just how much she had missed the celestial being, and Peter couldn't but return it, despite knowing his wings weren't as beautiful as she had thought.
It was a small flurry of feathers that alerted him otherwise, for this flurry of feathers was certainly as close as it could get to what his old ones had looked like – an iridescent fractal rainbow of color, blindingly bright and exceedingly beautiful.
He turned back to see that his wings spread far and above his form, their strength suddenly back to their former state.
'Was this what the human mind was capable of?' Peter flexed his wings instinctively, reveling at their lightness in stark contrast to the imperfect brittleness he had become accustomed to. The warmth of a small hand on his wings brought him back.
"You're staying right? Now that your wings are back you're staying. Forever, right?" The child looked up at him, the grey of her eyes piercing, haunting and as all-consuming as the light they were bathed in at the moment.
Peter didn't know what had gotten over him, but in the heat of the moment he took the young girl in his arms and held her. "Forever."
And then he woke up.
There he was, back in the same room, the small tinges of orange light signaling the early beginnings of a new day. He looked to his arms to see that they were empty, and a single finger trained only a millimeter from the stirring child's face.
'It was only a dream', he thought to himself disappointedly. He unfurled his wings and soon enough, they were back to a dull dirty white, small, weak, frail, and nothing compared to what they had been. Even for just moments in his state of figurative slumber.
But as his eyes caught a shadow of a smile on the child's face as she began to stir, Peter knew that even that short while was worth it. For both of them.
Katniss woke up that day, better rested than she ever had been in a long time. The look of disappointment she wore at the sight of the empty room with her Peeta nowhere in sight bothered her. But her face told Peter that there was only acceptance for what had to inevitably occur, and gratitude for the small grain of bliss she was allowed to have. She stretched her arms comfortably and smiled, the lingering thoughts of her dream driving her through her day.
Peter was the same. He wasn't entirely sure where the line between the workings of his mind and that of Katniss' own was drawn in the world of dreams, or if the return of his wings had been imagined by Katniss or even by himself, but he knew now the intricacies and possibilities that sleep and dreaming afforded people – be them good or bad.
He rightfully reveled in his father's work, and now he had understood why he allowed humans such a privilege. It was a chance to live past their realm and experience things past the capabilities of the three dimensions they were limited to. In a dream, anything was possible, and for Peter this was like a string of hope that he chose to cling onto for dear life, not only for his sake but for Katniss' as well.
This was how Peter spent the rest of his nights, visiting Katniss' dreams and making sure she was tended to and happy, even if it was only in the inner workings of her mind.
Needless to say, Katniss never had a bad dream or nightmare since.
The routine continued for the days, weeks, months and years the followed.
Every night, Peter would allow himself to visit Katniss' dreams, at times making himself visible and at times merely to observe. Katniss grew and matured and the dreams she shared with him were a reflection of the various experiences her humanity allowed her to have.
When her little sister Prim was born, Katniss' dreams became centered on the child.
Prim, the little girl born to Deborah and Joseph, looked monumentally different from Katniss with her blonde crown of hair, pale pearl-white skin and sapphire blue eyes. For awhile, Peter was concerned that the difference would bother Katniss, with her being aware that she was technically not related to the child by blood. But it didn't seem to faze her as she joined her mother and father in welcoming the child into the world.
Peter remembered the first words Katniss' shared with her little sister, grasping the baby's hand and patting the soft head of thin hair lightly. "You look just like an angel."
Peter smiled, somewhat proud that his appearance had caused Katniss to generalize angels as blonde-haired and blue-eyed, but he sensed in the airy wonder of Katniss' voice that she would be okay, now that she had even just a semblance of an angel back in her life in the form of her new sister. Peter wondered if his Father had given the child such traits just to play with him, but he doubted his father had time for such trivial matters.
As the child grew and as Katniss grew with it, Peter delighted in sharing in Katniss' dreams of tea parties and balls and endless meadows and fields of flowers all to frolic and relish in. He watched silently and patiently as those dreams began to unfold in real life, Katniss finally being able to share a friendship that was more than just superficial – a friendship bound by family.
Prim, Peter decided, was just as charming a girl as Katniss, teetering around in her little toddler feet. He understood from Katniss' dreams that Katniss enjoyed teaching her sister how to crawl, walk, run and eventually climb, although Prim didn't seem to have the particular affinity for it.
And for awhile, Katniss dreamed of Prim, and the woods, and climbing, and of her Peeta, when Peter allowed it. Peter dreamed of Katniss' happiness to come.
Eventually, her sessions with Cinna ceased to be necessary and Katniss was living the life Peter had always wanted her to live, and a sense of accomplishment washed over him. And though something empty still lay in the depths of his being, he found contentment at watching Katniss grow. He dared even say that he was happy. He laughed at the thought – actually coming to terms with never being able to return to his home. He knew somehow that it wasn't entirely true, but Katniss was as good as a distraction from the fact as anything could be.
Things had become more complicated however, when Katniss entered middle school. Concerns weren't just about being happy anymore and as Katniss' life became more plagued with standards of perfection humans would so foolishly impose on themselves despite their obvious imperfection, it was only natural that Katniss would be affected, albeit quite unwillingly.
Peter had always wondered why humans were so self-destructive, even in their younger years. As he walked through the hallways of the structure Katniss would call her school for a few years, he couldn't help but feel a little disgust at how materialistic and shallow human children could be, yet Peter found pride in the fact that Katniss didn't subject herself to what the mainstream craved. It was unbearable to watch as the mortals her age clad themselves scantily and subjected themselves to such immoral behavior.
Throughout Katniss' developing years, it had come to Peter's attention that although Katniss was a nice child, she wasn't very popular. Ever so often he would sense keen interest from her peers on her background, and it took him a while to decipher that the Everdeens were a very well off family. He felt like warning Katniss that children only wanted to befriend her because of her social status, as absurd as that was – Katniss had much more to offer than that but these children saw no sense is such acquired values. But it seemed as though Katniss knew of that herself, steering clear of what people deemed as the 'popular crowd' and maintaining only a close friendship with a child she had met much earlier on, a girl named Margaret Undersee, or Madge as Katniss would call her. The two seemed inseparable in their quiet, but demure ways and Peter was thankful that she chose not to subject herself to such poisonous human influences. In turn, however, her wise decision dealt her a hand of backstabbing and social ostracism. Oh how mankind had lost its path.
Peter had little to worry about aside from that, and even still, it didn't seem to bother Katniss at all, being gossiped about and envied by her peers. The females were the worst, Peter noted, but Katniss had a certain aura to her that prevented them from going anywhere further than the occasional murmur against her. 'She has no idea the effect she has.' Peter mused to himself as he followed her to her classes each day. Katniss seemed just as down to earth as she had always been as a child, and he liked to think that he was a part of her admirable traits.
Of course, it wasn't just the females that seemed to take a keen interest in the child Peter had become quite protective of. On more than one occasion he caught males trailing after the dark-haired girl, probably with intentions of speaking to her, but something about Katniss' icy eyes always seemed to deter them. He understood the appeal Katniss' had to a certain point, he guessed. She was taller than the average child of her age, her skin smooth, clear and just the perfect healthy shade of tan when most had to deal with the scars that pubescence had afforded them. She was lean, but a bit willowy, and Peter had known from experience that Katniss was what most humans would find attractive. He himself had acknowledged her beauty, even as a baby and it should have flattered him that others agreed, but for some reason it didn't.
Then it occurred to him that these boys were just like any other mortals, looking for potential mates, but in this day and age, Peter noted, the notion of mates and monogamous love which had once been popular in the human ancestry was now outdated, and he knew better than to think the boys had any other intention than a quick lay. Peter felt protective – that was the reason for the lingering feeling of discomfort at the interest the males were displaying for Katniss. That was it. Nothing else. And he knew that Katniss wasn't one to lay herself down for preying males easily. She was better than that.
But still, the amount of attention Katniss was receiving bothered him and a nagging feeling in his mind persisted as a boy had gathered the courage to ask her out one day. To Peter's unexpected relief, however, Katniss seemed oblivious and disinterested. Peter eyed the poor boy as his shoulder slumped, somewhat sorry for his rejection, but all too happy that Katniss had denied him. He reasoned that the boy would have been a bad influence in Katniss' growth and went on about his business, following after her, just as he had done for the last thirteen years. Katniss' disinterest in the opposite gender quelled his discomfort for the most part, and things didn't seem so bad after all.
The changes in Katniss' life reflected in her dreams, and soon Peter found himself sitting in her dreams in study hall with her in the workings of her mind as words, numbers and facts danced threateningly around her, solid representations of her subject material materializing one after the other. He would almost find the situation hilarious be it not for how irritated the teen Katniss seemed to be at the topic of her dream. "Peeta, it's not funny." She would say. Even in her older years and in her dreams, the nickname stuck. And Peter would just shrug in reply, reveling at how preoccupied humans were with memorization, quantities and calculations, even in dreams. It all seemed so trivial to him.
"I'm sorry, Katniss." He replied casually, his dream form just leaning back in a chair Katniss' mind had conjured up. He had become accustomed to the mortal's way of speaking over the years and it was much easier to fit into Katniss' dreams as he spoke so. "If it's any consolation, I don't understand a single thing either."
Katniss laughed at her angel friend's frankness. "Peeta, you always know exactly what to say." She nudged his form, and Peter smiled sincerely at her, finding now that her laughter, in dreams and in real life was like music to his ears. "Think you can slip me the answers like you did back in pre-school?" She joked.
"I would if I could." Peter winked back, but sensing that the night was coming to an end, he stood to make his leave. "Don't worry, you won't need them."
Katniss woke up from the dream, refreshed and invigorated. It was dreams like those that seemed the most real, and she was thankful, despite everything that she still had even just a semblance of her childhood friend in her memory.
And it was dreams like those that Peter direly missed only a few years after when things started to so drastically change.
"Peeta, do you think I'm pretty?" She asked once in a dream as she sat on a field of flowers, picking at one's petals and scattering them carelessly on the ground beneath her. The question had caught Peter off-guard as he trailed behind her, this dream being one of those where he allowed himself to be seen.
"Why are you asking?" He approached the topic carefully. Over the years, he had always thought Katniss to be a mortal who wasn't as concerned with her looks as others. At the age of sixteen, she was one of the few who had chosen not to cake her skin with the chemicals that disgusted him so. He was thankful for that because they would have only taken away from her naturally-given beauty. Though he wasn't going to go ahead and tell her that – for some reason, the thought of telling her that bothered him and he suddenly felt a bout of insecurity surround his being.
Katniss laughed as he plucked another petal. "It's nothing." She lay down on the soft grass that her mind had created and sighed. "I guess I shouldn't be asking you, should I? You're perfect. Absolutely beautiful."
Peter stared down at the girl below him as he sat down beside her, his form only a few centimeters from her head. He craned his head down as he watched as the eyes of Katniss' dream form stared intently at him. His breath hitched as he observed his own reflection from the silvery grey of her eyes. Only in dreams did he see his reflection, and reflected in her eyes was evidently what the child saw of him. She was right – he was perfect, and that was the problem. Because over the years, his idea of beauty had changed so much, and perfect didn't seem sufficient anymore. Because what Katniss didn't know was that the only thing Peter considered beautiful anymore was she herself.
He turned away from her abruptly, lest he get lost in the pools of grey that seemed so inviting at the moment. Her dreams were starting to get overwhelming. "You're fine just the way you are, Katniss." Peter said, decidedly. It wasn't exactly what she wanted to hear, but Peter couldn't bring himself to say anything more, not for her sake, but for his own.
"Thank you, Peeta." She closed her eyes and succumbed to a dreamless sleep for the rest of the night, allowing Peter to contemplate what exactly in the world had gotten into him.
The next day, Peter found out why Katniss had been so unsure of herself the previous night. It had dawned on him when Katniss made an abrupt u-turn from her usual route, dragging her friend Madge and the invisible Peter along with her in her hurried tracks.
"What the heck is wrong with you, Kat?" Madge asked as she pried her wrist from the girl's tight grip and shook it, trying to rid herself of the pain.
"It's him. He's in the hallway." Katniss whispered, grasping her books tight around her arms and breathing deeply. Peter found himself craning his head at the same time Madge did to get a look around the corner at whom exactly Katniss was fidgeting over.
"Cato?" Madge asked, her voice quiet and a bit surprised. "Him?" Her tone was incredulous.
Peter's eyes settled on a tall boy making conversation with a teacher about his grades, most likely, and Peter readily agreed with Madge's tone of surprise. Peter had seen the guy around but hadn't actually paid any attention to him. The only boys Peter paid any attention to were those who expressed interest in Katniss, and he was obviously not one of them, being part of the popular crowd and much too pre-occupied with sports and the like despite only transferring a week before. He couldn't fathom why Katniss even spared a single thought for the boy, much less a keen interest in him. That was until his eyes trained themselves on the boy's features.
Blonde hair, blue eyes and skin as pale as snow.
He looked just like him, and Peter found himself gulping at the resemblance. He turned back to Katniss, whose face was now flushed a bright red as she nodded shyly.
"Really?" Madge asked, raising her brow. "I didn't think you'd be the type to fall for a jock." She wore a smirk as she nudged Katniss. "Love at first sight?"
Katniss furrowed her brows. "He looks like someone I used to know." She answered, stone faced and her tone flat, but the same red still etched on her skin.
"Sure." Madge smiled knowingly. "Well, I've got to get to class. See you at lunch." She winked and headed off.
Peter didn't know what to feel. Should he have been flattered that Katniss had picked out his features in particular as criteria for a mate? Actually, a part of him did feel that way, and a warm sensation at the pit of his stomach threatened to come up and envelop him. Did Katniss find his features attractive? He paused to look at the girl who stood transfixed as she peeked through the corner of the hall at the boy. He shook the thought from his head. Regardless of what Katniss found attractive, she was far too young to be thinking of those things. He made it a point to drill that into her head the next chance he could in her dreams.
But as Katniss rounded the corner and bumped into the large jock in an unexpected collision, he knew that later on in her dreams would be a little too late for that.
Katniss' books and papers fell to the floor and she scrambled to get them back, her blush intensifying at the embarrassing situation she found herself in.
"Oh, hey." The large boy looked startled at the sudden obstacle in front of him. "Sorry 'bout that." He knelt down and helped Katniss with her books. Peter found himself standing between the two in a futile effort to keep them apart as his form went right through the large boy.
"Sorry, I'm just a bit clumsy." Katniss voice was quiet and controlled, trying not to fall apart from embarrassment. She made no move to make eye contact with the boy whose eyes were now trained on her flushed face as a smile graced his face. Her breath caught as her fingers suddenly made contact with Cato's as they reached for the same piece of paper. Katniss retracted her hand in a reflexive response and Cato picked up the paper in its place. They both stood up and Katniss gingerly reached for the books that were still in Cato's possession.
"I don't think I've seen you around before."
"Of course you have! She sits in front of you in history, you buffoon." Peter found himself spitting the words at the boy, kicking Cato's form, only to have his leg pass right through it.
Cato smiled, the books still held securely tucked between his arm and his torso, away from Katniss' reach. "I'm Cato, just transferred." He extended his hand for her to shake.
"Don't take it, Katniss." Peter bore his eyes into Katniss' skull, willing for her to hear him. He contemplated making himself visible, even for just a moment – anything to stop the current interaction in its tracks. "Don't you dare."
Katniss just stared at Cato's extended hand, speechless and unable to move, so instead, Cato took her hand in his on his accord.
"Damnit!" Peter found himself cursing, only to cover his mouth only moments after. When did such vulgar language enter the vocabulary of a higher being? He grunted to himself, frustrated at his inability to do anything right so far.
"Katniss." She replied lamely, still partially stunned as she stared at their now joined hands, feeling the roughness of Cato's hand in hers and gulping. "I'm Katniss."
Cato laughed. "Well, Katniss. Would you like me to walk you to your next class?" He bent down so their eyes met and their faces were only inches apart.
Peter couldn't do anything. Even if Cato didn't know it, they were heading to the same class anyway. He silently wished for a miracle. "Don't do it, don't do it."
Katniss nodded swiftly but shyly, causing her forehead to bump on Cato's. "Ow." She let out as she rubbed her forehead. Cato laughed as he rubbed his own and Katniss couldn't help but smile back.
"So where to, fair maiden?" Cato asked teasingly still rubbing the bump on his head.
"I've got history – same as you." Katniss answered, only for her eyes to widen in realization at what she had just said. She had basically admitted to knowing his schedule. She mentally slapped herself and it was all Peter could do to hope that Cato found her weird after this. It was far from what Peter usually wanted and it was not usual for him to wish such horrid things for Katniss, but if it stopped her from falling for the large blonde boy it would be a welcome occurrence.
"Well then, let's go!" Cato thought nothing of it and led the girl whose hand was still in his to their room.
Things became somewhat unbearable after that for Peter.
Despite not even knowing Katniss prior to the encounter, Cato seemed to take a keen interest in the reserved girl, going so far as to invite her and her friend to sit with his friends during their lunch period. Needless to say, it was an uncomfortable setting, making Madge squirm on more than one occasion at the shallow topics being discussed by the girls who only seemed to have makeup and clothes on their minds. It did not get past Peter's attention that Katniss was receiving the brunt of most of the girls' death glares and the haughty look that one named Glimmer sent a particularly nervous shiver down his spine. She didn't seem concerned at Katniss' presence at all and instead laughed condescendingly at her presence. This did not escape Madge's notice either as she wrung a handkerchief in her hands.
But Katniss didn't seem to notice at all, her attention solely centered on the boy who held her hand possessively under the table. She was smiling, happy as ever and for some reason Peter's heart felt heavy – unbearably heavy. Something about seeing the intimacy between the two mortals irked him and he found himself looking at his own hand, suddenly missing the contact and the warmth he used to so easily share with the child he had come to know so well. He had always thought that as long as Katniss was happy, he would be too, and seeing her smile so pure and so sincere right now told him she was happy. So why wasn't he?
That night, in Katniss' dreams, she didn't seem to need him. She was in a meadow with the same flowers that were so familiar and inviting, just as usual as in most of her previous dreams, but in his stead was the boy, Cato, cradling her head in his lap as they talked and chatted about nothing in particular. There was something innately wrong with his unnoticed presence in her dream and it felt like he was suddenly intruding in the most intimate of moments. Tonight, he would not be in Katniss' dreams and she did not need him in them. She had her own angel now, an angel she could touch, feel and talk to – an angel that was not just a figment of her imagination. Peter hadn't felt this hollow in a long time.
As the days and weeks progressed, it became apparent that Cato was more than just a friend to Katniss when in one dream Peter found himself paying witness to a sight he was definitely not prepared for.
That was all it was.
Kisses – they were a strange form of affection that Peter never understood. Mouths, as far as he was concerned, were made for talking, eating, tasting. The way they were designed made them perfect for those activities. Whatever came over humans to resort to such a barbaric form of affection went far past what he could fathom and quite frankly he found the entire exchange detestable and disgusting.
But why was it then, that as he sat from afar, invisible and hidden from view, that he could not pry his eyes away from the scene that transpired in front of him? Katniss, in a white flowy oversized t-shirt that she always wore when she was alone at home entangled in the arms of a boy she only knew from school. There was something about the haunting resemblance the boy bore to his own form that sent chills down Peter's spine and he could not help but bring a hand to his own lips, trying as hard as he could to imagine how it would feel to have Katniss' own on them.
He knew that it was wrong to have such thoughts, and he wondered how such thoughts had come over him in the first place. Such burning desire started erupting within him and he found himself turning away from the scene, ashamed and disgusted at his own weakness. What had gotten into him?
This was wrong – wrong in so many levels. He thought back to the last time a higher being so much as dared to pay an interest to the lowly mortal creatures that were the humans. A brother of his, one that had been banished and never to return had fallen for a mortal and was smitten with her. They had bonded in ways that were not meant to be. It had resulted disastrously and their offspring, the Nephilim, as the people of that time had once called them had wrought havoc and destruction upon mankind which brought about the deadliest of deluges. It was unnatural, and unthinkable, and he had detested, even so much as abhorred his brothers that dared even mention the prospect of copulating with a mortal. He had felt so strongly against such matters then, but why was it then that now, the only thing that plagued his mind was Katniss' lips on his own and his arms ravaging her in ways that he would not even dare utter?
And why was it then that when he turned back to the scene, he desperately wished it was he who had Katniss in his arms, clinging to her desperately for some type of release? How low exactly had he fallen?
And it was all he could do to watch as her dreams turned into reality, as so many of her other dreams had. Suddenly, the mortal saying 'Dreams come true' felt like an enormous pile of bull droppings to the angel as the desperate feelings began to overwhelm him yet again.
The days that followed did not make things any easier to bear.
"How far exactly are you planning on going with this, Kat?" Peter heard Madge ask Katniss as she picked out a dress for her next date with Cato. "I mean, you don't even wear dresses. It must be something big if you're going all out on this one."
Katniss blushed. "Cato invited me to his house. This Friday. His parents will be out." Her voice was quiet, tense and unsure. "Do you think he-?"
Madge's eyes widened, and Peter could feel the signs of impending danger. "You can't be serious." Madge laid her hand on Katniss' shoulder as she turned the girl around from her examination of the chiffon dress she held in her hands. "Don't you think you should at least stop to evaluate things? You've only been dating for what, a month? Two?"
Peter furrowed his brows. What were they talking about?
"I don't know Madge. I don't want to seem slow." Katniss started biting her nails, a habit she had picked up when she was nervous. "It's all Glimmer and the rest seem to be talking about and I don't want to disappoint Cato."
"Are you fucking kidding me Kat!" Peter winced at the tone her friend took. It had been the first time he heard the girl swear. "Would you stop thinking about others for one damn minute and stop to think about yourself? Are you even ready for this?"
Katniss pried herself away from Madge's hold and glared at the girl. "I love him Madge. What else is there to do? It's not such a big deal." Peter could almost swear he felt his heart, if he had one, stop. She loved him? It ached even just to repeat the words in his mind. "He's been waiting for forever. I can't just say no to him now." Katniss reasoned.
"It's your virginity Katniss. It is a big deal." Madge's voice was hardened and unyielding, and Peter's eyes widened. Was that what they had been discussing? Was Katniss considering offering up her chastity to this boy? Of all things and of all people, why this? And why him? "You don't even know how many girls he's been with and you're ready to throw all that away for a silly crush!"
"It's not just a silly crush, Madge." Katniss was now in tears. "I love him, and I'm sure he loves me too." She held the dress tightly in her arms now, the fabric scrunching up in the pressure. "I just want to feel loved. I want to feel beautiful, or pretty or even half as good as those girls feel about themselves. When I'm around Cato he reminds me of-" She couldn't continue. How was she supposed to tell her friend that Cato reminded her of the only person who made her feel good enough about herself and that that person just happened to be an angel that left her a long time ago. She'd sound crazy. "I just don't want to be left again. Not again, not ever."
"God damnit Kat, if he leaves you over a simple thing like that, he's not even worth it!" Madge tried to shake Katniss into realizing that, while all Peter could do was stand and watch, knowing full well that all Katniss' insecurities had rooted from his abandonment of her. When would he stop hurting the girl whom he had grown to care for so deeply? "You deserve better, Katniss."
Katniss slapped Madge's hands away from her. "No I don't Madge! I don't deserve a damn thing! Nobody's ever wanted me. Do you know how it felt to wait around for anybody to pick me up from that damn orphanage when I was little? Do you know how it feels to be so utterly alone every night clinging to stupid dreams that will never ever be real?" Katniss was frantic, the tears now streaming down her face and the dress she held now strewn across the dressing room floor. Madge would never understand, but Peter did. He had thought he was helping Katniss, when all he was doing was making it harder for her. "Cato makes me feel wanted for once in my life Madge, and it isn't just some silly dream anymore."
Madge was silent, a pained look on her face, wishing there was more she could do to convince the girl she was wrong. "Oh Katniss."
"I'm sorry Madge." Katniss was breathing heavily, surprised at her outburst. She picked up the dress and wiped the tears off her eyes with her other hand. "Thanks though." She gave her friend a pat on the shoulder and exited the room, bringing the dress to the register.
Katniss was unreachable for the nights after that – her mind shut in a dreamless slumber of darkness and nothing else. Peter wanted so desperately to tell her that she was wanted and that he hadn't left her, but he didn't know how, now that Katniss had effectively built a wall between them. What exactly was he doing? He shouldn't have felt so strongly about a mortal and he had no right to butt into her business and what exactly she chose to do with the mortal boy that held her affections.
And then it was Friday and there was nothing left he could do. If there was any occasion that he wished he could just truly disappear and hide himself from any chance of witnessing what was to conspire it would be now, as Katniss sat on her boyfriend's bed after dinner and more than a few drinks on Cato's part, nervously awaiting his return from whatever it was he had decided to do.
Peter looked at the girl who sat patiently, biting her nails and fidgeting, obviously uncomfortable in the dress she donned for the occasion. For a mortal, she was beautiful – more beautiful than anything he had witnessed in his being, Peter thought, and he cursed himself silently at not having the courage to tell her so earlier. It might have spared her the little bout of insecurity which resulted in the situation that she now found herself in. He stood beside her, unknown to her as he continued to survey her form.
Her hair was down, flowing freely down to her waist where her natural waves curled gently as they hit the bed just slightly. Her hair had grown and so had she, Peter couldn't help but notice. What used to be the chubby cheeks of child that he would so often play with were now the define lines that so softly slopped into the 'v' that was her perfectly shaped chin. Her wide eyes were unchanging and the silver depths of her irises seemed more beautiful now in the dim light than they ever had been. Her shoulders were exposed, and Peter noted the small goose bumps that formed on her skin. He wondered if she was cold and suddenly craved to be able to warm her up in his embrace the way he had always done when she was little, but somehow, his craving now was different as his eyes caught sight of the gentle slopes of her curves where there used to be flat planes of flesh. His eyes lingered on her breasts, and he could have sworn he felt heat creep onto his cheeks, but for some reason he could not turn away. He inwardly wished that Katniss had chosen a less sheer dress that evening as the supple peaks of her chest sent uncomfortable chills down his spine. He took in a sharp inhale as he calmed himself down, turning away and burying his face in his hands.
At this moment, he could not blame the mortal Cato for wanting someone as fine as his Katniss. She was indeed as close to perfect as mortals could come to, and if he, a higher being, albeit severely weakened, had trouble keeping his emotions in check, he could not expect someone as daft a boy as Cato to be able to resist. The only comfort he found was that this was what Katniss wanted. She wanted Cato, not him, or not anybody else. If she chose to give her chastity away to the boy it was her decision, but Peter couldn't help but feel resentment toward the boy. And he couldn't stop the thought form escaping his lips, "Why not me?"
He laughed. Of course he knew the answer. They could never be, that was why. And for the first time in a long while, he cursed his own being.
Cato entered just then, two glasses filled with what looked to be some type of liquor in his hands. "Sorry I took so long. Here." He handed Katniss a glass and Katniss cradled it gingerly in her fingers, swirling the liquid carefully, unsure of how exactly to proceed.
"Thanks." She took a sip and bit back a wince at the bitter taste of the liquid before swallowing. She forced a smile and looked up at the tall man who took a seat beside her, effectively downing his own drink in a single gulp.
"You look beautiful tonight." Cato whispered into her ear after he'd finished, drawing her closer and maneuvering the girl onto his lap. He took the glass from Katniss and settled it on his bedside table. Katniss squirmed uncomfortably at the feeling of the man's recognizable hardness beneath her. He grunted in a rather unappealing way and tucked the long hair that draped over Katniss' shoulder over her back, exposing her neck and collarbone and ravishing her with sloppy kisses. "Katniss."
Katniss merely furrowed her brows and closed her eyes in concentration, trying as hard as she could to feel the love in the boy's actions as his hands felt up her back. All that Cato was though, was impatient. Peter fought hard not look but failed. What was he doing, watching the two? His eyes fixed themselves on Katniss', boring into her, concerned and terrified for the girl at the same time.
"Say my name." Cato said roughly as he pushed the girl onto the bed, pinning both her hands above her and nipping roughly against the skin of her neck. "You want me so fucking bad, don't you?" He grinded against her, hiking up the train of her dress exposing her bare thighs and Peter felt his entire being grow cold.
"Cato, wait." Katniss let out, surprised at the boy's roughness. "Ah!" Cato had brought a hand up to her waist beneath her dress, trailing up and finally clasping at her bare breast from underneath. "Stop, please." Katniss closed her eyes tightly, trying desperately to break free from Cato's grasp on her hands.
"Shh, it'll be alright. I'll make you feel good, don't worry." Cato breathed into her collar as he grazed her skin with his teeth and squeezed, making Katniss wince. "I'll make you scream my name in pleasure. That's what you want right? You've always wanted me."
Peter could do nothing. It was evident now that this was not what Katniss wanted and he stood desperately looking for a way to help the poor girl who was now shedding tears profusely.
"Cato, please no, I'm not ready. I don't-" Cato silenced the girl with his mouth in a rough kiss, very much unlike all the soft ones the two had shared before. The boy was hurting her, Peter realized, and he prayed fervently for a way to be able to stop what was happening. Cato, however, had every intention of continuing what he had started.
"Get off her, you beast!" Peter found himself screaming, unheard and unnoticed. His breath was heavy and a familiar dampness streamed down his face from his eyes as he looked on helplessly at the girl who was being held against her will. Her pain was his, a thousand fold. "Don't you see you're hurting her!"
"Stop!" Katniss screamed, kneeing the boy in the stomach, causing him to topple over in pain at the impact. Katniss got up, gathering what was left of her now tattered dress in an effort to flee. Cato grabbed her leg before she could leave. "Let me go, you bastard!" Katniss kicked furiously, the tears now streaming down her face as she desperately fought to break free.
"Not until I get what I want." Cato's smile was wicked, the red in his eyes telling Peter that the boy was not himself. The look in Katniss' eyes was pure fear as she struggled against his grasp, finally being able to wriggle herself free when the alcohol overcame Cato, causing him to groan lamely as he collapsed. Peter was all too thankful as Katniss ran out the door and out of the house as fast as she could, leaving her shoes behind.
Katniss was a good distance away before she collapsed by the side of a large tree. It was past midnight and she had nowhere else to go. She cried, and cried. It was all she could do. She really had no idea where she was at this point, surrounded by an unfamiliar neighborhood, barefoot and bruised in a torn up dress. Peter frowned, a deep searing pain emanating from the depths of his being as he sat down beside the girl who buried her face in her hands. She was tired, and broken. She leaned against the tree and stared up at the sky above her, her gaze unfocused and hollow. What left her lips afterwards surprised Peter.
"Peeta, I'm sorry." She whispered, her eyes still trained on the sky. "I'm horrible aren't I?" She asked no one in particular. She laughed at herself cynically as she wrung a few blades of grass between her fingers. "He didn't really love me, did he? I don't think anybody ever will." The tears kept coming. "You still want me, right? Even if I'm not the innocent little girl you used to know." Her voice was pleading, and Peter's heart wrenched as if she had just pulled hard on its strings. "When you come back, you'll still want me, right?" her voice was weak and defeated as she surrendered herself to sleep, suddenly tired of it all. "I'll always be your Katniss, right?"
"Katniss." Peter whispered into her ear, as softly and as gently as he could. "I will always be your Peeta." He willed himself visible as he shifted so his shoulder cradled the young girl's head. Her warmth and proximity was intoxicating and it felt as if it were ages since he had gotten to feel her as close against him as he did now. Even in her dreams, nothing compared to being able to hold her feeling the true warmth of her presence. It did strange things to his system, but he fought them back, knowing that it was neither the time of place for self-realization. "We need to leave now, Katniss." He whispered, tucking a stray hair behind her ear.
His breath hitched when she replied softly. "Just five more minutes." Her hand found his on the grass as she laced her fingers between his. And he gave her, and himself, those five minutes.
Katniss was in a deep slumber when Peter woke up, realizing that it had been much longer than five minutes. He smiled when he saw that their hands were still intertwined and that Katniss was leaning into his frame as she slept. He took the girl into his arms in a familiar style as he unfurled his wings, lifting her up with his renewed strength. It was early enough that no one would notice a seemingly floating girl as Peter carried her from where they were back to the open window of her home. She felt warm against him, and Peter couldn't help but be brought back to the first time he had ever held the girl in his arms like he did now. She had fallen that day from a tree, and tonight she had fallen from a much higher perch. He found comfort that during both times, it was he that was there to pick her up from her fall, and as he lay the sleeping girl in her bed that night, he admitted to himself the origins of his fretfulness, worry, envy, and admiration for the girl.
He loved her.
He loved Katniss, a being far from his own nature, a mortal and but a fleeting grain of existence in comparison to himself. She was perfectly imperfect, and yet she was his and he was hers.
And as the familiar orange light of the sun alerted him to the start of a new day, their rays casting silent shadows against the planes of Katniss' perfect face, he wondered if there was a chance she'd love him back. But he knew very well he had no right to ask anything of this poor girl whom he had taken so much from already. He was a selfish being, even hoping for any prospect of redemption after all the sins he had committed, against her and against his father, but at this point, he couldn't have cared less.
He was a fallen angel, and he had fallen for this girl. There was nothing more, and nothing less.
Anything else ceased to matter, and as he brought his frame closer to the face that had captured him and his affections, he let his selfishness get the best of him, finally succumbing to the nagging craving his new found imperfection afforded him.
His lips brushed hers for a moment, just a fleeting moment of contact and he was undone.
Kissing wasn't so bad after all.
Sorry for the late update, I just got back from Hong Kong, where I got caught up with fangirling because I actually shared a floor in the same hotel with the very band I went to go see in concert. It was a rollercoaster 5 days and I actually got to meet some of them, so needless to say I was a bit star struck, even after I got back from vacation. I had to unpack and make a blog post so I wouldn't forget a thing that transpired, so you can sort of see why my stories sort of took a backburner to the entire thing, but hey, I'm back with a new chapter so yay!
Smitten Peter is Smitten. This chapter was a little bit of a pain in the ass to right because it was hard to transition from one part of Katniss' life to the other, but it was necessary. I'm sorry that I had to put Cato in here, but he was a monumental plot element to Peter discovering yet another part of his possible humanity. Dun dun dunnnn.
Writing Peter's internal conflict, however, was more fun that it should have been. I always have fun writing internal dialogues where there's a 'I shouldn't but it feels so good' type feeling to them. Haha, I hope you guys got that from my writing.
I'm sorry Prim doesn't really play a part in this part of the story, but that was one part of her life and we have to move on, right? Don't worry, there are more opportunities to explore that relationship in the future, and hopefully a lot more as well, as Gale Hawthorne will finally be making his appearance in the next chapter!
If you can't wait and are craving for a little more of my writing, why not go ahead and check out my other story, Music and the Beast. It's a bit different and has a different tone to it, but I ensure you that you'll enjoy it.
Anyways, thanks for reading! Review and Subscribe!