The house has never been so quiet. I can't hear the clock ticking, no sounds emanating from the open window, not even a drip from the bathroom faucet that Peeta hasn't had a chance to fix yet. The only sound I can even make out right now is the blood pulsating through my body and I can feel the exaggerated flutter of my heart. My stomach is turning and I don't know if its from the realization of what is happening or the actual side effects of what was just confirmed.
I glance back down at the stick in my hand and back at the little pamphlet that came in its box. The two blue lines confirmed what I thought. What I knew I felt. I don't completely trust this new test that has come from the apothecary in town, but she assured me that the citizens of the Capitol have been using them for years, and that she could keep a secret.
I hadn't told him that I stopped taking my pills almost six months ago. At first I did it as a surprise, but month after month of it not happening, I started to fear that my body was too damaged, that I'd waited too long, that I'd denied him something that he was born to do. Peeta was always meant to be a father and if I had taken it away from him, I could never forgive myself. But, I look back down at my hand, and I feel a hot tear form at the corner of my eye. I don't know if it's more for happiness, for relief, or if it is an expression of sheer terror.
The past 14 years since the war have been relatively good to us. My nightmares have reduced greatly. I'm barely woken up by them more than a night or two a week. Peeta has made the biggest improvement. His flashbacks have all but subsided. He only had five attacks all of last year, and so far this year, only two. The only drawback is when he does have them, they are more intense than when he had them regularly. He's often tired and sick to his stomach for a day or two afterwards. He's hurt himself a couple of times at the bakery because of it, but he swears he would rather have it this way than to constantly be troubled by them.
Peeta still has the sweet, soft features he always has. His eyes have somehow become an even more brilliant blue over the years and he has the faintest whispers of laugh lines at their corners. He cuts his hair a little shorter now, but keeps the soft waves over his forehead. His most striking change has been the beard he decided to grow a couple of years ago. At first I wasn't sure about it, but now I think it suits him. He keeps it trimmed and it just adds to the fact that he's become so devastatingly handsome as the years progress.
Neither of us are the thin children of our past. Both thanks to not having to miss any more meals and just filling out as we get older. He's maintained his strong, muscular arms and that sexy "V" at his hips. The hard angular lines of my body have softened. I'm rounder in the areas that matter to a woman, having become slightly fuller in my chest and hips.
I wish I could say the years have been as kind to me as him. But, I know that I'm harsher on myself, only seeing my flaws and none of the improvement. I think I always look tired, even when I'm well rested. I can only see the aftermath of the war on my face and the beginning of lines around my mouth from the constant scowl that was often seen as my trademark. I don't wear my hair in a braid anymore. I've cut it a little shorter, tired of the maintenance and generally wear it back in a low bun at the nape of my neck. I have glasses I am supposed to wear now, but I really only put them on in the woods when no one is looking or sometimes when Peeta gives me a look when I'm squinting to see something on the television.
My thoughts immediately turn back to the situation at hand. I look up at the clock and it's a little after six in the evening. Peeta should be home any minute. But, I just don't know if I want to tell him tonight. Tomorrow is our anniversary, we've been married for twelve years. I couldn't think of anything to get him but I'm pretty sure this makes up for it.
He walks through the door a few minutes later. I quickly shove the test under the sink and straighten up the counter.
"Hey! I'm upstairs, I'll be down in just a second." I wash my hands and race down the stairs. I'm terrible at keeping secrets and he can read me like an open book. I try my best to not look flustered, but i feel like he sees it in my face immediately.
"Hi, beautiful." He wraps his arm around my waist and presses a soft kiss against my neck. He smells like faded cologne, warm bread, and raw flour. It's intoxicating. He whispers, "I have something for you."
"Oh lord, I hope it's not cheese buns. I've put on twenty pounds because of those things."
He gets a wry smile on his face and shifts his eyes down. "Only in your ass." he gives me a quick slap on the behind and says, "I love it."
I pretend to act appalled, but secretly cheer to myself when he presents a small brown bag with four warm cheese buns.
"What's for dinner? Did you catch anything today?"
I was honestly too preoccupied with getting the test today to go into the woods. But, I just fumble a reply. "I didn't really have any luck today. But I did see Greasy Sae in town and she happened to have some extra stew that she was making for her and her granddaughter."
With his eyebrows furrowed, he looks at me for a minute. "Were you wearing your glasses today?"
I shrug absent mindedly, "I accidentally left them at the house."
He sighs, smiles, and gives me a quick kiss on the lips. "You know, you look nice in them."
"I'll remember next time, I promise."
"Good, will you heat up dinner while I take a shower?"
I nod, pull it out of the fridge and light the stove while he heads up stairs. While I'm stirring the food, I get a chill down my back. Shit. What if he sees the test? I place the lid on the pot and run up the stairs. I hear the shower running and see the light on in the bathroom. I wait to hear the distinct water splashes of him washing himself and crack the door open. The heavy steam pours out of the room as I open the door wider. I crouch down to the cabinet under the sink and hear the shower curtain slide open.
"What are you doing?"
Dammit. "I'm just getting your clothes. I'm doing a load of laundry and wanted to grab what you wore today."
He slides the curtain back and I grab the test, box, and all of his clothes off the floor. I head back downstairs. I know there is no way I can hide this from him for too long. I'm nervous and fidgety. I shove everything in the laundry room and close the door. I get frustrated and think about all my time being stealthy in the woods and the arenas. How is this so difficult?
A few minutes later he comes down in a white t-shirt and pajama pants and towel drying his still damp hair. He walks into the kitchen, "Smells good." He throws the towel over his shoulder takes my face in his hands and plants a kiss on my lips. Even after all these years, I still get light headed after he kisses me like that. My body feels warm, I can feel it in my fingers and toes. I don't know how he does it, but there is always an electricity in every kiss from him.
I regain my composure, slide the towel off of him, and walk it down to the laundry room. "Go ahead and sit down, I'll bring you your food."
We sit through dinner without much conversation. He had a slow day at the bakery and I have so much to keep inside.
Finally, as I start to clear away the table, he looks at me with a little light in his eyes. "So, I'm sure you remember what tomorrow is."
I smile and reply, "Hmm... tomorrow? Nope, doesn't ring any bells."
He takes the bowls out of my hands and pulls me onto his lap. "You're a terrible liar, Mrs. Mellark. But, just in case, I want to remind you, tomorrow is the anniversary of the happiest day of my life."
I give him a smile and reposition myself on his lap to where I am straddling him. "It hadn't even crossed my mind. I'm far too busy to keep up with dates and anniversaries." I wrap my arms around his neck and begin to kiss him. I gently slide my tongue across his lips and he quickly responds by opening his mouth and tangling his tongue with mine. His hands find their way to my back and eventually his fingers make their way under my shirt. I can feel them trace random swirls around my back and stomach and slowly work up to my breasts. I break away from the kiss, panting.
"What about the dishes?"
He shakes his head as to bring him back to reality. "Yeah, those can wait. I'd rather go up to the bedroom."
I playfully tap his chest and slide off of his legs. "C'mon, it'll just take a second. Let's at least get them off the table."
He reluctantly gets up from the table, shifts himself in his pants, and grabs the drink glasses and takes the plates from my hands. He shoves them in the sink and practically pulls me upstairs to the bedroom.
I giggle and feel giddy from the rush of endorphins. We barely make it to the doorway before he starts kissing me again. I eagerly pull my shirt off and throw it across the room to the chair by the window. He quickly follows suit and takes his off and tosses it in the same direction. He pulls me back against his chest and his kisses become deeper and more desperate.
That's when I feel it. The burning in my stomach, the dizziness in my head. I pull away from him, almost violently, and run to the bathroom. I'm flushed and embarrassed as I'm sure he can hear the retching. He appears at the door, chest heaving, fear in his eyes.
"Are you okay?!"
I nod, with my head in the toilet bowl. "I think it was something I ate."
He takes a second, looks at me and states, "I ate the same thing as you."
I back away from the toilet, sit on my heals for a second while I pull a towel from the towel rack and wipe my face. "It's okay, I'm just not feeling well."
He takes the towel from me, holds it under the running faucet and proceeds to wipe my face and neck off. "Seriously, Katniss, what's wrong?"
I go to answer him, but suddenly taste the horrid after effects of vomiting. I smack my lips and tongue and stand up and go straight to brushing my teeth. I know I'm buying time before I tell him, but I know I can't keep it from him any longer. I've known for three hours. It's the longest I've kept anything from him in years.
Finally, I spit out the last of the mouthwash I've been sloshing around, rinse my mouth out with water and wipe my mouth. I slowly turn to face him and take a long, slow, deep breath.
"Peeta, I'm pregnant."