A/N: Hello, everyone! I am back with a brand new story. This is my version of the events that took place during Katniss' first pregnancy. I would recommend that you give my one shot "Things Never Envisioned" a read before tackling this story, but it's not needed to follow this one at all, it'll just prepare you a little bit for the impending angst.
Please let me know what you think by leaving a review here, or sending me a message on my Tumblr page: writeintheblanks dot tumblr dot com.
I don't know what it is about dinner that makes me look forward to it every night. Maybe it's the calm and the quiet that signals the success of getting through another day. Maybe it's the way Katniss always wears her hair down, gathering it up and letting it all fall over her left shoulder, and the way it makes her neck visible working together with the looks she gives me after taking bites of her food as though she is asking me to kiss her in the soft crook just how she likes it.
Maybe it's the way we tell each other about our days. It's a simple act, but it's important to us. I tell her all of the things my best co-worker and close friend Hakan says when we open up the bakery that morning, and she tells me about her time in the woods that day, warning me of approaching storms or, like today, an impending cold snap. I will never understand how she does it though she's tried to explain it time and time again. She has even gone as far as taking me outside, telling me to look at the sky and sniff the air, letting out loud, exasperated sighs when I tell her I don't understand how the smell of the air means the weather is going to change. I take her word for it, though. She's always right.
"So, a cold snap is coming, you say?" I ask her before shoving a spoonful of peas into my mouth and chew, waiting until my mouth is clear before speaking again. "It is late November, that isn't exactly a shock."
"Maybe I won't tell you next time and let you walk out of the house underdressed." Katniss replies sarcastically. "Would it be a shock then?" The right side of her mouth lifts up into a satisfied smirk before she puts her head down to try to hide it.
"That's cruel." I say with mock offense. "What if I died of hypothermia outside and you were left here to deal with Haymitch at dinner tomorrow night alone?"
"That would be what's really cruel." Katniss replies.
Maybe it's none of those things. Maybe it's just the knowledge that I have someone to come home to every afternoon and someone to have dinner with every night. That thought alone is comforting and even now threatens to make me smile. It has to be that.
We eat in silence for several minutes before I remember the story I wanted to tell her about the bakery today.
"Had an old woman come into the bakery this morning," I tell her. She looks up at me and tilts her head to the left, exposing her neck even more, and I smirk, wondering if she even realizes what that does to me, before continuing. "She was looking for a job. You know we're fully staffed. I didn't know what to tell her, so I made up a filing job for her for the next few weeks. She'll be in the office every morning during the week looking through the receipts for this last year and clearing things out to get ready for the New Year. She should have a job through Christmas."
"What about after Christmas?" Katniss asks.
"I don't know," I shrug. "I'll make up something else if I have to. I can't make her sweep the floors or do the dishes; she's too old for that kind of work now." I haven't thought about what I could possibly have her do when she finishes this task. I take another bite of food and look up at Katniss who is staring at me in such a strange way that it almost startles me.
Her head is still tilted to the left, and she's smiling at me. Her eyes aren't unreadable but they're a mix of so many things that I can't figure it out.
"What's wrong?" I ask when I've stared back at her long enough to realize that I'm not figuring out this look on my own.
"Why are you so nice?" she asks, shaking her head. "You have every reason not to be, but you still are." I don't know how to answer that, so I just shrug in response. I try to go back to my food but I can still feel her eyes trained on me, staring at me with that look that is a mix of so many different things that I can't even begin to try to understand what is going through her mind right now.
"What's wrong, Katniss?" This time when I ask the smirk fades from her lips and her brow furrows before she looks away from me and to spot on the floor a few feet in front of her. I watch as she brings her arm up and props her elbow on the table, placing her fingers over her mouth as if they'll help her say what is on her mind.
I say nothing, only continue watching her. I observe her face as it contorts into several more unreadable expressions and I notice when the tears begin to form, making her gray eyes glisten even from where I sit across the table. Just as I'm about to ask her once more what's wrong, she turns to look up at me. The tears are still present, but she isn't letting them fall and I can't figure out what I could have possibly said to make her act this way. I didn't tell her anything that I wouldn't normally. She takes several deep breaths as she struggles to get whatever words she is trying to say from her head and to her mouth.
"Do you think we should?" She asks. Is that it? When she exhales loudly and throws her head back to look up at the ceiling, I know that can't be it.
"Should we what?" I coax. "I can't figure out what you're trying to ask me, Katniss."
"Have a baby…" The words come out so quickly and so mumbled that I'm not sure I heard her correctly.
"What?" That can't be what I heard. We just talked about this again during the summer and the answer was still the same "no" that it has always been.
"Please don't make me say it again." Katniss pleads.
"I want to hear you say it again," I tell her. "I need to know I heard you correctly." She sighs and clenches her jaw before she speaks again.
"Do you think we should have a baby?" She doesn't look at me once. The only thing I can do is assume she's joking.
"I hope this isn't your idea of a funny joke." I reply. I try to sound firm, but my voice only sounds confused and tinged with anger.
"It isn't." Katniss shakes her head.
"Then you're considering doing this to shut me up." I state. She shakes her head again, still not looking at me.
"I wouldn't do that, Peeta." She sounds offended, and I'm trying to think of how this could possibly be happening.
"Then what is it? You have to talk to me. You can't shut down right now." I can't help but raise my voice at her. There's no way she is going to bring up something like that and then stop talking. She needs to explain herself. "Look at me."
"Do you remember…?" She starts, stopping to compose herself once more. "Do you remember that night last week when a dream woke me and I told you it wasn't a nightmare?" I nod but don't respond. "I have it a lot, just never that vivid before."
"What's it about?" I ask, keeping my voice low, almost to a whisper.
"Prim." Katniss answers. I know that she notices the look on my face. "It wasn't a nightmare," she insists. "It was Prim as an adult, I know it was her." She smiles slightly. "She was a doctor, a wife…." She looks away before finishing her sentence. "…a mother."
"You can't do this for her either, Katniss." I remind her. "This has to be for you."
"It is for me!" She snaps. "Just listen!"
"Then talk…" I say calmly. We've had this conversation far too many times for me to get hopeful. Every time I think we're getting somewhere she shuts it down. I've learned now not to even take her seriously. The difference tonight though is that our roles seem to have been reversed. She is the one trying to reason with me while I'm the one shutting her down.
"When I first started having the dream I talked to Dr. Aurelius about them. I wanted to know what they meant, if anything at all." Katniss explains. "He said maybe it was a message. Not from Prim but from my own mind." She shifts uncomfortably before continuing. "Maybe my mind is trying to tell me something that I've been denying it for so long, and this is how it's doing it."
"I'm not following." I say honestly.
"Prim wouldn't have wanted me to be so afraid of this." She replies.
"She would want you to be happy." I add.
"That's what Dr. Aurelius said." She nods, almost sounding excited that I'm beginning to follow along. "She would want to see me with a family, be an aunt herself." I didn't have nearly enough time with Prim, but even I know this is true. "It made me question what I have been so afraid of."
"What are you so afraid of?" I ask. I know the answer, I've heard it a thousand times before, but I want to hear it again. I want her to voice her fear. If she's going to change her mind, it might as well be now and not a few weeks down the road. I couldn't handle that.
"What if The Capitol reinstates The Hunger Games?" she says. I stand up and pull my chair around the table and set it next to her, going through the motions to support her the way I always do when this topic comes up.
"You can't be afraid of things that don't exist." I take her hands in mine and squeeze them.
"You can't say that it won't happen." Katniss reminds me.
"No, I can't. I also can't say I won't break my neck after I slip and fall on some ice going to work tomorrow. Does that stop me from going to out in the cold weather?"
"What if something worse happens?" Katniss asks. "What if I fail another child the way I failed Prim?" I squeeze her hands tighter and shake my head.
"You did not fail Prim. Everyone thought she was safe." She closes her eyes when I say this. I'm not sure what to make of it. None of this is new; we've said these things before, time and time again. Everything she has said about her fears is nothing I haven't heard and yet I still sit here with her, hoping her decision will be different than it has been all these years.
"Lately I've been starting to feel like it's an insult to Prim's memory to be so afraid," Katniss explains. "And to Finnick's, Boggs', Rue's… everyone. We promised each other that we'd live well to make their deaths count."
"We have, you know." I remind her. She nods.
"But I just keep wondering what would have happened if she lived?" Katniss asks. This is new. I've never heard her talk this way before, and I don't say anything that will stop her. "What if things ended differently? Would I still be so scared?"
"I don't have an answer for you." I admit. "You never wanted kids, though." I can't ignore that fact.
"Because of The Games." She admits. "I never wanted to get married, either." She reminds me, holding up her left hand where the wedding ring I had made for her 10 years ago is firmly seated on her finger.
"Well, you're a different person now," I grin. "Is that what you're trying to say?" She nods and takes another deep breath, pulling her shoulders up and straightening her spine.
"Do you want this?" she asks. She sounds like a child. Her voice is small and afraid. She can't possibly think I'd say no, can she?
"Of course I want this, you know that." I tell her. "But this isn't about only me. Do you want this?" She is silent for a long time, the look on her face racked with a mix of something that could be realization or something entirely differently, like guilt over the fact that she has to tell me no again. I can't be sure.
"Yes…" she manages to say a few minutes later. "Yes." This time her voice is stronger and more confident. "I want this." I try to keep a straight face, but it's no use. The smile that spreads across it seems to radiate through my entire body. I squeeze Katniss' hands with so much force that she yelps out in pain, forcing me to come back to reality, but my mind is still in a fog.
"So… what do we do?" I ask. Katniss crinkles her nose at my question and bites her lip to stifle a laugh.
"I think you know the answer to that." I finally realize what my question sounded like and I shake my head wildly in attempts to correct myself.
"No!" I laugh, doing nothing to contain my excitement anymore. "What about your pill?" I ask.
"I guess I stop taking it." Katniss shrugs. "I'm not due for another dosage until January, though." My shoulders deflate when I remember that Katniss' birth control lasts for three months at a time and she just had her last dose in October; So much for starting right away.
"Do we tell anyone we're going to be trying?" Now it's Katniss who is shaking her head wildly.
"No. What if something goes wrong? I can't have people looking at me like a wounded animal again. It took them long enough to stop the first time." Her explanation makes sense, but I'm already bursting at the seams wanting to tell everyone I know that after fifteen years, Katniss finally agreed to try for a baby. "Do you think I should see the doctor first?"
"I don't know. I've never made a baby." I joke. This causes Katniss to stifle another laugh. I'm glad to see that she is in high spirits and able to appreciate a joke right now. If her attitude were anything but relaxed, I wouldn't even be discussing this with her anymore. I refuse to have her regret this later and resent me for it.
"Are we really doing this?" I question out loud. It seems too good to be true and I need to hear it from her once more. "I need to hear you say it again." Katniss tilts her head again, exposing her neck and she smiles.
"We're really doing this, Peeta."