Author's Note: This is a one-shot, submitted to PromptsInPanem's Everlark Week on Tumblr. The prompt reads:
A Day in the Life of the Mellark Brothers
"Peeta had two brothers, a kind father, and a cruel mother. We know nothing about them."
The middle Mellark brother is a jerk .
She can't even tell you what his name is, but she can tell you that much.
He's nothing like his younger brother. Nothing like Peeta, who is also everything that she is not.
His soft spoken, friendly disposition is the complete opposite of the sullen, unapproachable scowl that usually occupies her face. He laughs often and makes others laugh as well. She is lucky if her little sister, as moody as a normal fifteen year old should be (as moody and as normal as she never had the option to be), even bothers to humor her dry sense of sarcasm with a roll of her eyes anymore.
Then there are the physical differences. He's tall, where's she's short. His skin is fair, while hers, thanks to hours spent in the woods each day, is even darker than most of those that live in the Seam. He has bright blue eyes that shine like the sky. She can only liken hers to the light sheen of coal dust that coats the windows of her home.
Of course, she guesses that the middle Mellark does have those things in common with Peeta.
Stupid, jerk of a man. He probably has another stupid, bread-based name like Rye or Bannock or Whole Wheat.
She immediately feels bad for this line of thinking. She likes his name, even if it is bread-based. It's nice. It suits him, and she couldn't imagine him being called anything else, really.
Not that she's ever called him anything… Not even his name.
Katniss Everdeen has been in love with Peeta Mellark for most of her life and she's never even spoken to him. Now, thanks to his jerk of a brother, he probably thinks that she's an idiot. Or easy. Or, even worse, already involved with Gale Hawthorne.
Looking over to where her best friend stands, currently wrapped up in flirting with Mayor Undersee's daughter outside the florist's shop, she sighs . She's seen the way that the girls from town look at Peeta. The bat their eyelashes and lay their hands on his forearm while giggling at what he has to say. It's not unlike the display she sees in front of her now and, turning resolutely on her heel, she makes up her mind.
She's going to talk to Peeta Mellark today.
He thinks his brother is an assshole.
He tells him so and shoves his elbow hard into Chord's ribs when he laughs at him.
He tells him that he's not funny and that it would really be in everyone's best interest if he stopped trying to be. The middle Mellark boy just laughs again and continues to roll out the dough that their father needs for the next batch of cookies.
His brother had been the one to answer the backdoor when they'd come round to trade earlier. Katniss has never been particularly verbose. At least not with him, though who can blame her? He's been caught staring at her enough over the years that he's quite sure that he's already scared her off. Usually, though, when his father handles the morning trades, he's able to stand just out of view, fingers clutching the edge of the partially closed door to the storage room, and listen to the hushed, melodic sounds of her speaking voice. She never says much, but it's always enough to put a smile on his face so early in the day.
She'd let her hunting partner handle the talking today. His brother's normal teasing, flirtatious tones were ignored, and Peeta could tell by the way that the corner of his lip started to curl up that he was about to take it just a step too far.
When Chord had told Gale Hawthorne that he hoped she wasn't so quiet all of the time, complete with a wink and waggling eyebrows, it cemented the fact.
His brother is an asshole.
A few minutes pass, and Peeta thinks that perhaps he'll be left alone now. He moves to the prep table and stares out the smudged glass of the window that never gets cleaned the way those that line the storefront do. It's the same window that he watched her through that night. He brings his hand up to ghost his fingers over the scar on his cheek subconsciously.
He still thinks it was worth it to put the life back into her eyes. Even if those eyes never look at him, it will always be worth it.
Chord catches him by the wrist and slaps his cheek softly. Peeta's eyes harden once more and he watches as his brother backs away, hands out in the air in front of him.
"Whoa there, baby brother!" He smirks and moves into a position that puts the table in between their bodies. "Calm down. Besides, it's not like you've never wondered the exact same thing."
"Not with Gale freak'n Hawthorne added into the mix," he mumbles the words before he can even think of them, earning a howl from Chord. Even his oldest brother, Leif, chuckles from his spot over by the ovens.
"You can't keep putting off finally talking to Katniss Everdeen, Peet." Chord's voice turns serious and it surprises him. Chord is never serious. "One of these days, she's going to end up actually engaged to Hawthorne and then your sorry ass will be shit out of luck."
Ah, yes. There's Chord's normal, crass way with words.
"Leave your brother alone, Chord."
His father's voice comes from the other side of the curtain that separates the kitchen from the storefront. It's kind and far from threatening, but Peeta appreciates the sentiment regardless of the fact that it will do nothing to help.
"Chord's right, Peeta," his oldest brother offers. His voice is solemn, and it's obvious that he's thinking about the girl that he'd had a crush on all throughout his school years. She's married to the apothecary's son now, heavily pregnant with one still running around in diapers.
Peeta sees her through the window then. Her long, dark braid whipping behind her as she makes her way back down the road. There's a determined look on her face and he can't help but be drawn to the way that she's worrying her bottom lip with her teeth. Slamming the rolling pin in his hands down with a resounding thud, he makes up his mind.
He's going to talk to Katniss Everdeen today.
Wiping his hands hurriedly on his apron, he makes for the backdoor. Chord's voice carries over the sound of the squeaking hinges.
"Oh, sure! Leif opens his mouth and says one thing, and you go running off like it's the best advice in the world! I've been telling to you to talk to her for almost a decade!"
His words fade the farther that Peeta gets from the still-open doorway. The sound of his own heart beating in his ears is making it hard to hear him anyway.
Katniss is too busy mumbling under her breath, practicing what she might say to the boy she knows is so good with words himself. She vaguely registers the yells coming from the back of the bakery.
They come face to face in the middle of the dusty street, only a few feet between them, when their eyes meet.
Their names meld together in the air as they both speak at the same time. The first time that either has ever said a word to the other, and those words turn out virtually unrecognizable.
It doesn't matter, though, because she's looking at him in a way that he's never seen her look at Gale Hawthorne. And he's looking at her in a way that makes her forget that her hair is not blonde and her eyes will never be blue.
Soon, their lips follow suit of their words and collide midair, pressing together until there is no space between them and it's hard to tell where one begins and the other ends.
He doesn't know what's made her so open, but it doesn't matter because he's spent countless hours wondering just how her lips would taste on his. And he knows now - they taste better than anything else he's ever had.
She doesn't know what's made him so bold, but it doesn't matter because she's wondered for years how these strong, baker's arms would feel wrapped around her. And she knows now - they feel warm, and safe, and right.
A loud whoop rings through the air and they break away to see Chord standing in the alleyway beside the bakery, hands raised in triumph over his head. Peeta turns to her, his cheeks red and breathing heavy.
"He's kind of a jerk. Sorry."
A year later, when his voice carries the farthest as the wedding song is sang at their toasting, she thinks that maybe Chord Mellark is not so bad after all.