"Keep going."

Peeta's smile would blind me if we weren't in the dark. "Okay." He shifts over me again, kissing me, one hand sliding down to cup my breast. I sigh in appreciation.

"You smell so good," Peeta murmurs, angling his head to trail kisses down my neck. I shiver slightly as he licks and sucks at my skin. Though it's much less urgent now, there's still a warm, curious stirring between my legs, and I pull my knees up, trapping Peeta's body between them.

He flashes me a look of surprise, then a smirk. "You want me?" he teases in a low voice.

It's absurd to feel embarrassed at this point – naked and panting in bed with Peeta, his fingers dancing lower every second – but I feel the flush spread through my chest nonetheless. "Just…" I trail off, narrowing my eyes, unsure what to tell him. Keep going.

"It's okay," Peeta says, sounding amused. "I want you, too." He sits back on his knees, his body nestled between my own, and reaches down to pull off his underwear.

My gaze can't help but be drawn straight to his penis. It's large. Alarmingly so – not that I have much to compare it to. But I'm not quite sure how it's going to fit inside me, when just his fingers felt like a stretch.

My discomfort must be obvious, because Peeta's expression softens and he lays back down beside me, resting his hand over my hip.

"Just tell me if you don't want to do something," he says.

"It's not that," I say after a slight pause. "I'm just…not sure how this is going to work."

Peeta stares at me for a moment. "Like…sex?" He frowns a little. "You don't know-"

"I know how sex works," I snap, growing frustrated – mostly by my own inability to stay calm when faced with an erection. "I'm just not sure…I don't know how it's going to fit."

Peeta's face lights up with understanding. He chuckles softly. "It'll fit. I promise." He leans in to kiss me but I turn my head away, and his lips only find my cheek.

"Don't laugh at me."

"Oh, Katniss," he says, and his voice is so sincere that it's impossible not to look back at him. "I'm not laughing at you, I swear." He squeezes gently at my hip. "I kind of just…can't believe this is real."

I study him. His hair is tousled from my fingers, his face flushed with arousal. Even now, he's the same Peeta I've always seen, eyes soft with kindness. And love. I push away the thought as quickly as it skitters through my mind.

One corner of his mouth lifts apologetically, and I can't stop myself from mirroring the smile. It's almost unnerving, how quickly he can put me at ease. "Well, it's real," I tell him.

This time, when Peeta leans in for a soft, sweet kiss, I let him. When he rolls closer, his tongue edging into my mouth, I feel his length pressing into my thigh, insistent. Before I can think about it too much, I reach down and brush my fingers over the head of his cock. Peeta hums into my mouth. Never breaking the kiss, he finds my hand with his own and guides my fingers around him.

His skin is surprisingly soft – and hot. Peeta's lips go slack against mine when I squeeze him gently in my hand, and he makes a guttural noise deep in his throat. I loosen my fingers abruptly, afraid I've hurt him.

"No," he whispers, fitting his hand over mine again. "It feels good." He moves our hands up and down together, pumping him, until I settle into a rhythm on my own.

Peeta seems to enjoy it immensely, pressing his forehead against mine, his eyes tightly shut. But after a minute or two, I grow restless, eager to feel him in other ways. "Peeta," I murmur. I press in closer to him, slipping my leg between his. I'm not exactly sure what I'm asking him for, but I hope he'll help me figure it out.

He responds by thrusting up into my hand just as his hand comes up to frame my face, pulling me in for a fierce kiss. "Fuck, Katniss," he groans, sucking my bottom lip into his mouth. "I want…can we…"

He pushes his hips into mine again, and a shudder runs through me when he brushes against my clit, taking me by surprise. I'm still incredibly sensitive. The shock only lasts a moment, though, fading into a dull, throbbing ache that's somehow even stronger. Some deep, animal part of my brain understands what I need now. I need him inside me.

I shift my hips so he's pressed up right against my entrance, and Peeta grinds back against me, his chest grazing the tips of my breasts. "Do you…"

"Yeah," I breathe, digging my fingers into his shoulders. I'm not even sure what he was about to ask; I just know the answer is yes.

"Wait," he says, stilling the movement of my hips with his hands. "Just…a second…" I watch in confusion as he climbs off of the bed and crouches down on the floor beside his desk, pulling open the bottom drawer.

When he springs back up, it's with a little foil square in his hands. Of course – a condom. I'm slightly horrified that protection hadn't even occurred to me until this moment, but there's no point in dwelling on it, as Peeta crawls back onto the bed. He kneels between my legs as he tears the packet open.

"Can't…forget…this," he says quietly, eyes turned down as he rolls the condom over his cock with one hand, the other pinching the tip. It's clearly something he's done before.

Peeta lets out a deep breath and lifts his gaze to meet my eyes. He moves forward, leaning back over me, his hips coming down to rest against mine again. I tilt my chin up to meet his kiss, trying to focus on the feel of his lips, and not the nerves suddenly prickling under my skin. This is real. This is happening.

The kiss is long and agonizingly slow, and when he sucks my tongue into his mouth the ache at my center becomes almost unbearable. Eventually Peeta pulls back, and kisses me on the cheek. "You ready?" he asks softly.

"Ready," I whisper. But I realize, as he takes his cock in his hand and positions himself at my center, that my body is sending a different message. Where before I was loose and relaxed, melting under his touch, I'm suddenly tense and stiff.

Peeta realizes it, too. He moves his hands up to my breasts instead, squeezing my nipples gently, and runs his tongue over the peaked skin. I whimper a little, but it doesn't feel quite as good as it did before. I'm overthinking it.

"It's okay if you're not," Peeta says in a low, soothing tone. He kisses the spot between my breasts, then moves his mouth down my torso, sucking at the soft skin just below my bellybutton. "We should be…" My toes curl as his teeth graze over my hipbone. "…Honest with each other."

"I'm ready, I just…" I suck in a sharp breath as his mouth keeps moving, even lower, and he flicks his tongue against my clit. My hips buck up against him, completely out of my control. "Peeta," I say, surprised by how much it sounds like a whine.

He draws another moan out of me as he drags his tongue over my folds, but before the pleasure can really build he pulls himself back up over me, pressing his lips together as he studies my face. "It might hurt," he finally says. "But I'll go slow. And it'll feel better if you relax."

"I'm trying," I insist, but that's part of the problem. I shouldn't have to try.

Peeta shifts off of me to lay by my side. His palm trails over my ribcage, leaving goosebumps in its wake, and when I turn to meet his eyes, they're lost in thought. Finally he says, "Close your eyes."

I raise an eyebrow, skeptical.

"Seriously," he half-laughs. "Close your eyes."

So I do it.

I breathe in deeply, expecting him to keep talking. Instead I feel the mattress dip for a moment, and then Peeta's lips brush against mine softly, a whisper of a kiss.

"Don't think," I hear his voice low in my ear. "Just feel."

He kisses a trail down my jaw to my neck, one hand gently kneading my breast as his lips ghost over my skin. I lay still, my eyes shut, and empty my mind of thought.

Peeta maps my body with his lips and his hands. He's slow, serious, steady, thorough. He litters kisses across my collarbone, my breasts, my thighs, taking his time, tasting every part of me. His hands follow the path forged by his mouth, his fingers flexing around my calves, sliding over my hipbones. Against my skin he murmurs soft words, sweet words, things I can't quite make out. When I feel his warm breath against my center again, I press my face into the pillow, hoping it will drown out the sounds I can't stop from escaping.

By the time he's done, my limbs have turned to jelly. My eyes still shut, I feel the mattress dip again as he moves back up the bed. He captures my lips in a kiss, and at the same time I feel his cock resting against me again, right at the spot where I want him most.

"Open your eyes," he whispers against my mouth. I blink them open, and find his face just an inch or two from mine. His lips curve up in a lopsided smile, and he kisses me again, gentle but brief. "Are you ready?"

The word catches in my throat. "Yes."

We keep our eyes locked on one another as he pushes into me slowly. Peeta bites his bottom lip, his nostrils flaring slightly, but he never even blinks. I lift my hands and rest them loosely on his back, just below his shoulder blades, and I can feel his muscles twitching beneath my fingertips.

At first, it just feels odd – a stretching feeling, like his fingers had felt inside me, but more so. Suddenly, though – when he's about halfway in – the stretching edges into pain. I can't stop the sound of hurt that rises up from my throat.

Peeta stops moving, his brow furrowed in concern. "You okay?"

"Yeah," I say, though I know my face must suggest otherwise. "Peeta. Don't stop."

"Okay." But as he starts to push into me again, he kisses me fiercely, his tongue demanding entrance to my mouth. I recognize it for what it is – a distraction – and I'm grateful. I kiss him back, desperate to keep my focus on the feel of his lips and his tongue, and not the painful stretch growing deep within me. When it becomes almost too much to bear, I bite down hard on his lip, and he groans, one hand coming up to roughly squeeze my breast.

I'm so caught up in the kiss that it barely registers when his hips fall still against me. Peeta breaks the kiss, breathing heavily, and as I catch my breath I realize: he's all the way inside me. Though it still hurts, the thought sends a strange thrill through me.

He seems to come to the realization just as I do, and his features slacken into a look I can only describe as pure desperation before he drops his forehead to the pillow beside me. "Fuck," he mutters, eyes squeezed shut.

My legs lock around him in place, and I frown. "What?" I can't hide the worry in my voice.

"Oh." His eyes blink open. "No, no, no. It was a good 'fuck,'" he says, lifting his head to kiss me, and he laughs against my mouth. "That's not really what I meant either."

Our moment of levity lasts only a moment – his hips shift, pushing him a little deeper into me, and a fresh wave of pain hits me. I flinch. "Ow."

Peeta's eyes soften with concern, and he holds himself still, only moving to give me a light kiss on the lips. "Try to relax," he says quietly, brushing my cheek with his fingertips. "This is supposed to be fun, right?"

"Yeah, I know." My voice sounds very small. "It hurts, though."

He breathes heavily through his nose and presses a long kiss to my forehead. "I know. I'm sorry."

Peeta readjusts himself on his arms, trying not to press deeper inside of me, and then lowers his mouth to my ear. "Is it okay if I try moving?" he says quietly.

I consider it. Yes, it will probably hurt – but there doesn't seem to be a point to just laying here like we're both too scared to move. Now that I've had more time to adjust, this doesn't even feel so bad compared to some of the other things I've endured – a sprained ankle, a split lip, a skinned knee. "Go ahead," I tell him.

Slowly, Peeta pulls out of me, nearly to the tip, and then pushes back in. I suck in a deep breath as he fills me again. There's still a definite lingering soreness, but the pain is duller this time, and much more bearable.

"That's – better," I breathe softly.

My fingers dig into his back as Peeta rolls his hips against me, sliding in and out in a steady, slow rhythm. A quiet gasp escapes me as he moves in deeper, and he kisses me, a little sloppier this time. "Fuck, Katniss," he says again, his eyes slightly unfocused.

I'm not sure what I should be doing – if I should be doing anything at all, really – but I pull my knees up, squeezing his body a little more tightly with my legs. Peeta groans against my neck. "You feel so good," he mumbles, and adjusts his movements so he's grinding up against me as he thrusts, instead of moving in and out. It feels better this way, letting me grow used to the feel of him for longer.

"You feel good too," I tell him, but I know as soon as I say it that I don't sound very convincing. Peeta just laughs a little, nuzzling his nose against my cheek.

"You don't have to say that," he says. "I promise it'll get better. So much better."

At his words, a rush of affection washes through me, and I wrap my arms all the way around his back, holding him against me tightly. I'd never really thought about what this would be like. I wasn't sure I'd ever experience sex, to be completely honest. But at this moment, I'm so happy that the person I'm doing this with is Peeta.

Peeta takes my sudden embrace as a signal to move a bit faster, and his hips begin to rock into me more firmly. It still isn't a feeling that I'd call good, necessarily, but the pain is mostly gone, and when he brings one hand up to touch my breast my mouth falls open in a gasp. The sound seems to affect him, and his hips jerk against me a little quicker, losing their steady pace. "I'm gonna come soon," he says through gritted teeth, and his fingers pinch my nipple as if to emphasize the point.

I don't know if that means I should do something differently, but I run my hands up and down the slick skin of his back as he thrusts into me, harder now. After a few moments he tenses over me, making a low, strangled noise in his throat that I've never heard before, and then lets himself fall, his weight pressing me down into the mattress. I'm surprised by how nice it feels.

Just as I start to lose my breath, he rolls off of me and lays on his back for a moment, breathing in deeply. Then he turns his head and meets my eyes. "You okay?"

I nod. "I'm okay."

Peeta moves onto his side and slips one arm over my waist, his fingers brushing gently over my skin. He starts to speak, then stops himself, his face turning slightly pink. "Let me…just…" He pulls away and slips the condom off, tying it off at the end, then leans over me to drop it into the trashcan beside the bed.

As he lays back down to face me, he props his head up on one arm. I only meet his eyes for a moment before I have to look away. I'm at a loss for words. What do you say to someone after doing…this? Once he's seen you bare and vulnerable, touched every part of you…been inside of you?

I love you? Is that what he wants me to say?

Is it what I want to say?

The touch of his fingers against my cheek draws me back out of my thoughts. Peeta gives me a small smile. "You look like you're thinking way too hard," he jokes, but I can sense the nervous undertone in his voice.

I return his smile, but still no words will come.

"How are you feeling?" he asks, running his fingers through my hair, catching on a few tangles.

I mull over the question for a moment. "A little sore," I say honestly. "But good." As I say it, I know it's the truth. I do feel good, laying here in bed beside Peeta. Warm, comfortable, safe. Happy.

Peeta's smile grows wider. "I feel really good," he says, his voice low, like it's a confession meant only for me. Maybe it is.

We lay there just looking at one another for a long moment. Without warning, Peeta edges in closer, wrapping his arms all the way around me. Before I know what's happened he's on his back again, and I'm splayed over his chest, my breasts pressed up against him, our legs tangled together.

When I shoot him a questioning look, he only shrugs. "I wanted to hug you." The smile that stretches across my face is so wide I have to bite down on my lip to control it.

"You could've just asked," I say, but I don't make any move to get away. To the contrary: I stretch my body over his and drop a kiss on his lips, then let my head fall to rest on his chest, the soft thud of his heartbeat right beneath my ear.

omg finally *collapses*

thank you thank you for all your lovely reviews! :) this is certainly not the sexiest sex ever written - I wanted it to feel kind of fumbling and awkward and nervous, since that's been their entire relationship in this fic - but I hope you liked it and it felt satisfying, and *them*, after so much build up.

I would love to know your thoughts! also feel free to join the fun on tumblr - I'm imloveleee!