The garden is in full bloom around me, dirt is caked underneath my fingernails, and I have never felt more at peace. One year ago I could not have said the same. Last year on this very day Peeta had found me and rescued me from Cray's malicious clutches. One year since he bought me my freedom. After months of recovery and the best medical attention, Peeta spared no expense on the best treatments he could find. I'm convinced he felt and most likely still feels guilty for his mother's actions.
The rumors ran wild about why he would secure my freedom; however once word spread of my family history the rumors found their end. The more conceited ladies of this so-called high society still look down on me but I sense that many are simply jealous. For good reason too, I imagine I would also be jealous of the most recent addition to the Mellark family. During my recovery Peeta never left my side and once I was well again he asked if I'd do him the honor of becoming his wife.
Shortly after we were wed. The wedding was beautiful. Peeta looked so dashing in his suit, his smile so bright and infectious. More than a single tear was shed by his father. Immediately his father had welcomed me into the family, his mother however did not. She rarely made an appearance anymore, although her presence wasn't truly welcomed when she did.
Peeta's brothers and sisters-in-law, as well as his nieces and nephews were most welcoming; it has been wonderful to have a family again. Prim still lives with the Cartwright's only now she is also free. Delly and herself formed a deep friendship that neither was willing to abandon. They visit often and nearly six months ago the Hawthorne family was visiting at the same time. Rory was instantly infatuated with Prim and I am beginning to wonder if she'll be living at the Cartwright's much longer.
The heat of the sun warms my back and I find myself singing a childhood tune about a meadow. A heavy foot fall approaches behind me, a set of footsteps I know all to well. A sturdy, warm body settles behind me. I lean myself into his strong and muscular chest. He nuzzles his face into my hair, softly inhaling before placing a gentle kiss on the crown of my head.
"I love it when you sing, my dear." His hands caress the exposed skin on my arms leaving goose bumps in their wake. I feel his one hand move to the end of my braid, releasing the leather tie, before slowly and soothingly running his fingers through it until my hair flows freely around my shoulders. A contented moan escapes my lips at the relaxing motion.
"How are you today my wife?"
"Why so formal today?" I ask curiously.
"No reason, Mrs. Mellark." He chuckles lightly.
"Peeta please, your mother is Mrs. Mellark. I wish you wouldn't call me that." His chuckling continues at my exasperation.
"Well then my dear what am I permitted to call you." He murmurs into my ear. The sensation sends a shiver down my spine.
"Should I call you my dear?" He places a kiss on my temple.
"My love?" His lips brush lightly behind my ear.
"My darling?" He softly kisses my neck.
"Sweetheart?" His lips press tenderly into the crook where my neck melds into my shoulder.
"Katniss?" He kisses a freckle on my shoulder.
"Peeta," I laugh, "You may call me whatever you wish. Except for Mrs. Mellark." I turn my head to glance over my shoulder. His eyes are bright and lively, dancing in the sunlight. He smiles a dazzling smile before leaning in to capture my lips with his. This kiss is soft and sweet. His lips mold comfortably to my own.
"We really must get you cleaned up my dear." His face returns to my hair once again. "After all we have a party to attend and as much as I love you covered in dirt it is not proper to great a child into the world that way. Besides imagine what Finnick would have to say if you arrived at his house in this condition." He laughs heartily. "No doubt he would assume only the worst." His eyes twinkle in amusement. It's true; Finnick would no doubt have many a comment suggestively asking why I was covered in dirt and if Peeta had been ungentlemanly with me. His eyes would shine as he laughed at the blush, which would inevitably rise on my cheeks. Damn you Finnick Odair.
"Besides Annie is a new mother. I've heard they are rather paranoid in terms of germs and such. And I'm sorry to tell you sweetheart, covered in dirt like this you are a breeding ground for bacteria." His voice is full of mirth and his laugh is barely contained.
The warmth of his body leaves my own as he stands. I take his outstretched hand and allow him to bring me to my feet. He places another lingering kiss on my lips before entwining our fingers and walking towards the house.
Before entering the house he takes my face in his hands. His thumb moves tenderly across my right cheek. His gaze is intense upon me, his eyes trying to memorize my every feature. A small smile plays up his lips.
"I love you Katniss. More than anything. More than life itself." I feel my own lips turn into a smile.
"I love you too Peeta. Always."
His lips capture mine once more. It is longer, sweeter, and more affectionate. His lips leave mine and he rests his forehead against my own.
"Always." He whispers.
Thank you everyone for all the reviews! They always made my day! It was just such an encouragement to hear from everyone. I love to write and have at least a dozen more fanfics on the go and will post some of them soon. So if you so chose then keep a look out for my next ones. Once again thank you for reading!