A/N: This is just a very quick little one shot about Katniss and Peeta comforting their children during a storm. Nothing profound or life altering here, I just wanted to show Katniss and Peeta's team work parenting and put a bit of focus on their individual approaches to soothing their babies. Enjoy!
"I can't believe it's still storming." Katniss says, pulling the covers up and over her shoulders. All I can see is her head propped up on her pillow as I reach my arm out and pull her toward me.
"The thunder is shaking the house." I reply, running my hand down her shoulder. "We needed the rain, though." I add.
She places a kiss on my chest and nods. "The garden needed it." Her voice is full of sleep and I can feel her body begin to relax against mine as she drifts further from lucidity. Her eyes are closed, but I can tell she is still awake by the expression on her face; when the lighting fills the room, her eyes shoot open and she laughs. "I thought someone turned the light on."
"There's nobody in here but us." I laugh, closing my own eyes. The thunder that follows is the loudest yet, shaking the house and lasting what feels like a full minute before it begins to fade out, and when we hear the muffled scream that comes from down the hall, Katniss' head flies off the pillow before I can even put together what is happening.
"Mommy!" Zuri. That last clap of thunder must have woken her up. Katniss is out of bed in a flash and searching the area for her clothes when we hear the tiny voice again. "Daddy!" Now it's my turn to jump out of bed.
In silence we both scour the area for our clothes. I quickly find my lounge pants tangled in the sheets at the end of the bed, but my shirt is nowhere to be found.
"Here," Katniss says, throwing my shirt at me. "It was on the floor on my side of the bed." When I look up at her I see that she has found the old t-shirt of mine that she wears to bed, but has also put on my boxers; I laugh at her outfit. "What? It works in a pinch. You don't need them right now, just put your pants on." She walks to the door and I follow behind, pulling my pants up and quickly throwing my shirt over my head as we walk down the hall to Zuri's room.
She isn't screaming anymore, but as we get closer to her door we can hear the small sniffles of a crying child. Katniss opens the door gently and we peer inside and see our four year old daughter in her bed with the covers pulled up around her as closely as she can get them, the night light on her bedside table shines on her scared face.
"Hey Bunny, what's wrong?" Katniss asks, walking into the room first and I follow behind, moving past her to sit at the foot of Zuri's bed while Katniss sits down next to her.
"It's scary outside." Zuri replies, trying to pull the covers closer.
"We're here now," I tell her. "It's just a really loud noise."
"And all the rain is good for our garden." Katniss says. "You like the carrots daddy makes, right?"
"The glazed ones?" Zuri asks, a smile spreading across her face which causes me to laugh. Zuri loves the glazed carrots almost as much as Katniss does.
"Yes the glazed ones." I smile. "The rain will make the carrots taste even better; and that thunder? It's just the sky stretching."
"The sky stretches?" Zuri questions, not looking convinced.
"It does," Katniss nods. "Just like you do every morning and you make that loud noise. Don't you feel better when you do that?"
"Yeah," Zuri smiles. "Stretching feels nice."
"Well that's what the sky is doing, but it's a lot bigger than you are so it needs to stretch more than once so it can feel better." I explain.
"I just don't like the sound." Zuri says.
"Do you want us to stay in here with you until you fall back to sleep?" Katniss asks. Zuri nods quickly, the smiling returning to her face again. "Lie down, we'll stay right here."
Zuri moves down and puts her head on the pillow curling up on her side the same way Katniss does; Katniss fixes the blankets and covers her up, tucking the comforter under her chin. We sit in the room silently as Katniss lightly runs her fingers over Zuri's cheek, helping her to relax.
When the thunder roars again, Zuri sits straight up again, pulling the covers over her head, and at the same time Atem begins to cry in his room next door.
"I'll stay in here," I tell Katniss. "He needs you." At 9 months old, Atem is all about his mother. She can calm him easier than anyone else can right now.
"Okay," Katniss says, getting up from Zuri's bed and heading over to Atem's room. I get up from where I was sitting at the foot of Zuri's bed and take Katniss' place, sitting down at the side of the pile of blankets my daughter is hiding under.
"Hey Bunny," I say to the pile of blankets.
"Hey Daddy," Zuri replies, her voice muffled by the layers of blankets.
"Why don't you come out of there?" I ask gently. The covers slowly begin to move and Zuri appears. "You messed up your hair!" I exclaim, pretending as though this is a big deal. She laughs at me as I reach my hand out and smooth her hair down. "Have I ever told you the story about the frog?"
"No." Zuri answers, shaking her head.
"Lie down and get comfortable, and I'll tell you all about him." I coax her. She lies down on her side again quickly and looks up at me, waiting for me to begin. "Once there was a little green frog that lived in the woods."
"The woods mommy goes in?" Zuri asks.
"Those are the woods," I confirm. "He hopped around all day and all night trying to find some friends. He met an owl and he said to the owl 'Will you be my friend?' and do you know what the owl said to him?" Zuri shakes her head. "He said, 'No! I will NOT be your friend.' So the frog kept on hopping until he came to the lake."
"Our lake?" Zuri asks.
"That's the one." I smile. "When he found a fish in the lake he said to him 'Will you be my friend?' and again, the fish said 'No! I will NOT be your friend.' So the frog kept hopping until he came across a bear. For the third time, he asked 'Will you be my friend?' and for the third time, the answer was 'No! I will NOT be your friend.' So the frog kept hopping."
"That's not very nice." Zuri says with a frown.
"No it isn't, is it?" I reply. "But then do you know what happened? The frog came across a little girl. Do you know what her name was?"
"Her name was Zuri," I nod. "The frog hopped up to her and asked her 'Will you be my friend?' and can you guess what Zuri said?"
"She said 'YES! I will be your friend!'" Zuri answers.
"That's exactly what she said. They became fast friends, too." I continue. "He would sit on her shoulder while she walked all around and he was able to see the world from a whole new height because his friend helped him. They had so much fun that the owl, the fish, and the bear had second thoughts about turning the frog away…" before I finish the story I notice that Zuri has gotten quiet. Looking down, I see her eyes are closed and her breathing is just beginning to even out, indicating that she's falling back to sleep.
The thunder is still rumbling but it's much softer now as the storm is finally starting to move away. I wait a few minutes just to make sure that Zuri is truly asleep before I stand up quietly and leave the room, moving to the next door to check in on Atem and Katniss.
I slowly push the door open and stay there, watching Katniss pace the length of our nine month old son's room. She is holding him close to her chest, with one hand on his bottom and the other behind his head; as she walks she's bouncing him slightly and speaking to him softly.
His head is resting on her shoulder and I can see his eyes are still wide open, and then his face contorts into a grimace and he begins to cry again.
"Shhh," Katniss says, running her hand through the soft blonde curls that are beginning to sprout. "Mommy's here, it's okay." She moves to the rocker in the corner of the room and sits down, positioning him close to her so she can nurse him. I give a light knock on the door frame before walking in so I don't scare her.
"Hey," I smile. "How is he?"
"Calmer," she begins, watching as he latches on and begins to nurse. "When I first picked him up he was shaking so bad." She runs her hand over his face then looks back up at me. "I think he's just hungry now." I reach my hand out and touch his head soothingly.
We are quiet as Atem nurses; we watch as he fights sleep, opening his eyes really wide when they begin to close on him.
"Stubborn," Katniss whispers in a soothing voice. "And daddy better not say he knows where you get that from."
"Daddy is saying nothing." I whisper back.
"How's Zuri?" Katniss asks.
"She fell asleep in the middle of a story." I tell her. "Don't be surprised if she goes looking for frogs next time we go to the lake." Atem finishes nursing, and I take him from Katniss' arms, and resume the back and forth pace across his room.
"Time to sleep, bud." I whisper. "You have all day tomorrow to be awake." Katniss gets up from the rocker and walks over to me; I stop walking. "Is he sleeping yet?"
"No." Katniss says, shaking her head. At the sound of her voice, Atem lifts his head from my shoulder and looks for her.
"You want your mom, huh?" I laugh, pulling him away from my chest. When I point him in Katniss' direction, his arms go out to her immediately. Katniss scoops him up and he nestles he head back down on her shoulder as she moves back to the rocker and sits down.
I watch as Katniss rocks the chair back and forth, Atem's head resting on her shoulder, as she hums to him and tickles his cheek. I move next to the rocker and watch his eyes close and stay closed this time, and his face relaxes to the point where his lips jut out from the pressure of his cheek on Katniss' shoulder.
"Sleeping?" Katniss whispers a few minutes later.
"Yes." I whisper back. I put my hand out and she grabs it, pulling herself up and out of the rocker without disturbing Atem. Before she places him in the crib I give him a kiss on his forehead and wish him good night. After he is in his crib, Katniss kisses her hand and then places it on his forehead, running her hand down to his cheek. We leave the room quietly and peek in on Zuri, who is still asleep.
"Goodnight, Bunny." Katniss says, kneeling in front of her bed and kissing her forehead this time.
Once we are back in our room, we settle back in bed, lying on our sides and facing each other.
"What story did you tell Zuri?" Katniss finally asks.
"I made up a story about a frog looking for friends, but nobody but Zuri would be his friend." Katniss laughs. "What? It got her to sleep, didn't it?"
"I know," she smiles, bringing her hand up and running it through the front of my hair. "You did a good job."
"So did you."
"Get some sleep, you have to work in the morning." Katniss reminds me.
"You and the kids should visit tomorrow." I say. "I'll put Zuri to work."
"I'll try," Katniss begins. "It's a lot harder walking there with two now. Zuri still can't make the whole walk on her own."
"I know." It was a lot easier for Katniss to visit before Atem was born. Before, she would wrap Zuri in the sling Effie gave us after she was born and walking to the bakery would be no problem, but now that Atem is in the sling and Zuri is four, it's much more difficult. Zuri can make it halfway before she is asking to be picked up.
"Zuri could go with you to work and then I can bring Atem later." Katniss suggests.
"I can do that." I nod. "Then we can walk home together."
"Exactly." Katniss laughs. "Now go to sleep."
"Okay, okay. Goodnight." I say. "Love you."
"Love you too." Katniss smiles. "Goodnight."