The Sacking of Persia

Peeta is a lonely, damaged soldier in Alexander the Great's army and they are a day away from taking the Persian city of Persepolis. How much can his life change when he meets the young native girl, Katniss, during the army's pillaging of the great city?

Warning: Violence, Sexual content

"Persepolis." Peeta murmurs to himself as the rich city comes into view before him.

"Persepolis." Finnick, his best friend, repeats with a stoic look. Finnick and Peeta had been paired up to travel side by side since they left for Persia. Now months later, Peeta can surely say that he knows just about everything there is to know about Finnick Odair, from the fact that the bronze haired man snores to the knowledge that Finnick's one true love was killed by a rebellion in her village after Alexander's troops had claimed it. That occurrence led Finnick to rejoin the army and thus he was partnered up with Peeta and the rest, as they say, is history.

"This is the last stop for us, Peeta." Finnick points out, and he is correct.

They both received orders from Alexander the Great, and those orders stated that they would be staying behind as reserve military in case the people of Persia attempted to revolt once the majority of the soldiers had moved on to conquer the next city.

"Welcome home." Peeta jokes as the officers in command pass the order down the line that we'll be setting up camp shortly.

They will take the city by morning. The worst is already over and it is evidenced by the way the troops carry themselves. It had taken much longer than expected to overtake the gates of Persia and they had lost a many good soldiers in the battle but now the path is nearly clear. The Persians put up a fight in every city but they are poorly armed compared to Alexander's troops, and in hand to hand combat will lose almost every time against one of his soldiers. The men are antsy though, many of them hopeful that they will receive orders to plunder the city and take what they will. The thought of bringing that fate on another city makes Peeta feel ill.

Peeta doesn't sleep tonight. He rarely sleeps at all anymore, knowing full well that when he does he will be plagued by visions of the men he has killed and the families who have been robbed by Alexander's forces. Peeta was never meant to become a hardened soldier but fate had had other plans for him, forcing him into a life much too harsh for such a gentle spirit. The suffering he has brought upon others weighs heavily on his soul and he is grateful that after tomorrow he will be released from the army to settle in what is left of Persepolis. Instead of sleeping tonight, Peeta prays for the souls of the men he has killed and the families who suffer because of his blood drenched hands.

"You have the extra bow, Katniss. You know how to use it."

"Gale, I can't!" Katniss shouts at him, knowing full well that both of their families are asleep only a few paces away. Gale and his family have lived next door to Katniss since before she was born and he is her best friend. Their fathers had joked that they would one day be married. That was before they died of the fever though when she was still a young girl and before the war that will take place tomorrow.

"Just pretend you're hunting, Katniss." He pleads, a whistle sounds from somewhere out on the streets and they both turn in its direction.

"Gale, no! You'll be killed! There is no way you can beat them!" She begs, holding onto his arm as he drags her behind him, trying to make his way to the street and hoping she'll let go.

"I must, Katniss. I must do this or I could never live with myself. I must fight for our Persia. I must defend Persepolis." He argues fervently as he tries to pry her fingers loose of his sinewy arm.

"You must defend our families, Katniss." He tells her just as passionately, "You must protect them. Promise me you will try."

It's no use, Katniss realizes. She will never be able to stop the man, still a boy really, before her from marching off to his death. It's foolish to defend the city when the army already took down the stronghold of the Persian gates. If they could get past that, what trouble would they have getting past a hundred poorly armed men?

"I hate you." Katniss spits, but her words tremble traitorously.

Gale smiles sadly and presses a kiss to her thick, dark hair, "I love you too, Katniss. I will see you in the next life."

She leans on her toes and presses a quick kiss to his lips, "Please try to come back."

"You know I will." He assures her. The whistle sounds again and he tears himself away from her grip, hurrying off into the heavy night, leaving Katniss alone to defend their families against what is to come.

A curved blade bites smoothly into the skin of his thigh and Peeta wonders if this could possibly be the end as he screams from the pain. It's really an awful place to die, in the middle of a bloody battle with dark-skinned men howling around him and the sun beating down ruthlessly. He's come close to death before but never has he been cut like this.

Suddenly the dark haired Persian, who is about to administer the fatal swing with his curved blade, drops to the ground, blood spattering across Peeta's face and Finnick's god-like form is revealed.

"That was close, Peeta." Finnick shouts over the clashing of metal on metal and screams desperation as the battle wages on. Peeta reaches beneath his armor and tears away a piece of linen from his skirt, tying it tightly around the wound on his leg.

Just as he finishes, a boy, not much younger than himself, charges at Finnick. Peeta lets out a cry and swings his sword, cutting him in the chest and, in doing so, ends the poor boy's life. Peeta adds the young man's face to the plethora of others in his mind that he will pray for tonight.

Sometime after the sun has started to fall in the sky, the battle is finished. Every last Persian who fought against Alexander the Great and his army is dead. The healthy men help tend to those who are injured and mercenaries take care of those who can't be saved.

King Alexander has already entered the center of the city to take over the treasury and the throne, leaving Commander Snow in charge of the troops. Peeta has disliked the man ever since he was first promoted to the rank of commander. It's not just the strange, translucent skin and white hair that bother him, but the apparent cruelty that he uses to guide his orders. When the sun sets, Peeta's thoughts about the man are proven correct.

"Take what you will inside the city!" He shouts, throwing a flask of wine into the air, "Have your pleasure tonight men!"

A roar goes through the troops and Peeta knows that not much will be left of the beautiful city by morning. Men tear out of their tents carrying swords and wearing grins as they slap each other's armor and make their way onto the city streets to pillage whatever, and whomever, they can get their hands on.

"Come on, Peeta." Finnick says, reluctantly grabbing his sword belt, "It won't look good if we stay here. I'd rather live to see the city revived than die under accusations of treason."

Peeta stands and follows his best friend into the night. The first scream sounds from down a quiet street and it makes Peeta's entrails curl uncomfortably. He prays that this brutal night might end soon and spare as many people of the city as possible. A cask of wine is rolled out into the street a dozen paces in front of them and Finnick perks up considerably. Wine is one treasure that he doesn't mind stealing. He doesn't break into houses or touch any of the women, still too traumatized by what happened to his Annie, but the wine helps him forget and Peeta can't begrudge the man that.

"Come on then, Peeta!" Finnick shouts raucously as he runs ahead to take part in the frivolity surrounding the wooden barrel. He's buried in a sea of men however, and Peeta loses sight of him.

A small alleyway is to his left and he decides to take it, thinking that perhaps he will be able loop around and cut through the crowd if he makes his way there from the opposite side.

His leg is beginning to throb from all this walking and his limp is becoming more noticeable, but he continues on. He isn't a soldier in Alexander the Great's army for being weak. He climbs over a low fence surrounding the back garden of a house before he hears it- a woman's voice singing softly, whispering so as not to be heard, but Peeta thinks it would be impossible to miss.

It is unlike anything Peeta has ever heard before and in his distraction, his foot slips, catching his leg against the fence on the other side of the garden and reopening his wound beneath the bandage. He curses under his breath but the singing has stopped, the owner of the voice apparently alerted to his presence.

He hears the voice shush whoever is with her and he realizes that it is coming from the house right in front of him. As quietly as he can manage with his damaged leg, he makes his way to the house, hoping to glimpse the woman who owns such a beautiful voice.

He's two paces from the doorway when it swings out on its hinges. Peeta jumps back instantly, nearly losing his balance as he reaches for his sword. Once the metal blade is glinting in front of him, he takes a moment to look at the body that holds the arrow aimed directly at his heart.

It's a woman, he realizes as his eyes pass over the gentle curve of her breast and hips. The arrow tremors ever so slightly, giving away her nerves but her silver eyes are like steal as they observe him, daring him to take a step closer. Peeta has never seen anything quite like her and he thinks it must be rare for a Persian to have light colored eyes like hers that reflect the moonlight.

Katniss glares down the shaft of the arrow, ready to let it loose the moment this pale man makes any move toward her or her family. He has light, curling hair and skin that glows in the moonlight, but it's his eyes that attract most of her attention. They are the same color blue as the night sky just after sunset. She catches herself wondering how strange it is for a man to have such features.

Peeta opens his mouth and her fingers twitch but don't release the arrow.

"It's okay." He says softly, "I'm not going to hurt you."

Slowly, he bends to place his blade on the ground between them. Katniss watches him skeptically. She's met light skinned traders from the northeastern countries before when she was selling her kills in the city center but this man isn't a trader. This man is a killer. He might have killed Gale for all she knows.

"I heard someone singing." Peeta admits and nods his head towards her, "Was it you?"

Katniss nods stiffly.

"What do you want?" She asks, her words heavily accented, but she can tell he understands by the surprised look on his face.

Not many Persian women would understand his language but she had learned it from her father and the traders. It was a skill she couldn't be without if she expected to get the best bargain for the goods she traded.

"Nothing." Peeta replies as softly as he can manage. His head is beginning to feel fuzzy and his leg is throbbing worse than before. "I don't want anything."

"You will not be taking any of us. I will kill you if you try." Katniss warns, pulling the arrow back a bit more to prove her point, "We will not be raped and enslaved and killed by your men."

Peeta shakes his head, "No. I don't want that-"

"Katniss?" Primrose's tiny voice questions from just behind her.

"Primrose, get back in the house!" Katniss hisses. Peeta can't help but appreciate the sound of her language as she reprimands the fragile looking girl behind her. He thinks it sounds almost like a lullaby. Peeta doesn't notice his vision is going black around the edges, otherwise he might ask to sit down in the garden, knowing full well that it's better to pass out closer to the ground.

"He's hurt." Primrose argues with her sister, nodding toward the soldier's leg.

Katniss turns to the pale man again and sees how he sways on his feet.

"Please, Katniss." She begs, "Let me help him."

"He's not one of us, Primrose." Katniss snaps, but the man crumples to the ground in front of them and Primrose ducks under Katniss's arm, kneeling at his side to assess the damage on his leg.

Primrose is a talented healer, taught by their mother before she died two years ago, leaving Katniss as her sole protector. Despite her better judgment, Katniss helps Primrose drag the man into the house. She has never been able to deny her sister anything and she can't leave them out here with all the soldiers running around the city.

Hazelle is there with her two boys, both too young to fight today's battle, and little Posy. Her eyes widen as Katniss helps her sister settle the foreign man's body in the center of the floor.

"You'll fix him by moonlight, Primrose." Katniss states firmly, "I'm not about to light a candle for a pale man who would a soon as have us killed."

"He wasn't going to hurt us." Primrose mutters but sets to work with her special needles, sewing up the wound after lining it with special herbs mother taught her to use to prevent infection. Katniss argues with her younger sister that they should throw the man back out onto the street after his wound is closed, but in the end agrees that it would be dangerous even to step out the door so they were better off waiting until he woke up.

Katniss takes his sword belt anyway and doesn't sleep that night, waiting for other pale men to charge through their front door and steal the children from their sleep. Several times Katniss swore the end had come but each time the attention of soldiers was diverted by some small miracle to another house down the street. It's not until dawn is nearly broken that she hears rustling in the gardens again and stealthily takes the sword from the pale man's belt before sneaking outside, ready to defend her home again.

Sometime near dawn Peeta begins to awaken and finds himself staring up at a rooftop that he doesn't recognize. It's been many months since he's slept under anything besides the stars or a tent. He looks around and sees several children curled up around him snoring softly. An older woman is in the corner also asleep but he notices one person who is mysteriously missing.

He sits up, glancing around curiously, but she's not here. He thinks perhaps she went to relieve herself outside but finds it strange she would take the risk. He doesn't know what to make of it until he hears a muffled scream from the gardens. Peeta's on his feet in an instant and barrels out the door to find Cato, one of the soldiers in his unit, with Katniss pinned between his hulking body and the wall of the house.

Cato doesn't notice Peeta right away, too busy holding a hand over the restrained girl's mouth pulling at her skirt to pay attention to anything else going on around him. Peeta's sword lays abandoned on the ground just a few paces away and it's all the encouragement from the Fates that he needs. He lunges for the weapon and turns sharply to plunge it into Cato's gut.

Katniss stares, wide eyed and frozen, at her assaulter, breathing raggedly as she watches him fall to the ground once Peeta pulls the sword from the man's back.

Peeta lowers his gaze to clean the blade, "Are you alri-"

He doesn't get to finish his sentence before another blade is pressed into the gullet of his throat. Peeta guesses she must have drawn it from Cato's hilt. He thinks she would make a damn decent soldier.

"Drop it." Katniss orders, shakily, her body still trembling after the other soldier's assault. Peeta does so instantly, raising his empty hands out to the side. He wonders how a girl came to have such precision with such a lethal weapon.

"You see what your people do to us?" She demands hoarsely, as though holding back tears.

"I'm sorry." Peeta soothes, "Truly I am."

"You'll go now." She orders, nodding out toward the horizon that is just beginning to lighten. The air is mostly quiet and Peeta assumes the pillaging must be all but over. Cato must have been one of the last holdouts, not surprising given his brutal personality.

"We owe you a debt." Katniss states, her nostrils flaring as she tries to maintain a steady hand, "I will let you go if you leave me and my family alone."

Her eyes dare him to defy her but he can't comply with her wishes and have a clear conscience about it.

"You have a dead soldier in your yard." Peeta points out a gently as he can but she winces anyway, "They'll kill you now if they find him."

"I'll take care of it!" She says, hysteria making it's way into her voice much to her dismay, "I will protect my family." She adds, wondering how those blue eyes can make her want to trust him when trusting him would go against her better judgment.

Peeta shakes his head, "You won't be able to stop them. There will be dozens. They'll kill the boys and take the women."

The blade presses into his throat and her eyes turn glassy with tears she tries to contain, but Peeta has seen this look too many times not to recognize it. She's terrified and desperate and cornered, unsure of what she could possibly do to survive now.

Katniss realizes there is nothing she can do. It's only a matter of time before the army men find her and her family. It's only a matter of time before they take Primrose and crush her beautiful innocence. She has failed her mother and her father. She has failed Gale. She has failed herself.

The sword clatters to the ground between them and she collapses, her knees buckling with the weight of despair. Peeta kneels beside the young girl and is surprised when she lets him gather her into his arms. She's surprised how unthreatened she is by his closeness, his arms relax her, soothe her, though she hardly knows him.

Something about this girl's strength makes him want to protect her. Maybe it's that he's tired of fighting for the army. Maybe it's because he's half out of his mind with blood loss. Or maybe, she's managed to somehow capture a heart he wasn't even sure he possessed anymore after years of killing and all his loss.

"Let me help you." Peeta pleads, "There is one way." He offers, though he can guess she won't like the option much. A girl with this much fight in her isn't likely to agree to such a deal.

"Yes?" Katniss questions hopefully. Bargaining is something she knows how to do.

"If you let me take you as my wife, they will not harm you and I can extend my protection to your family. I'll tell the other soldiers that I had laid claim to you and Cato tried to steal you away from me. It isn't against the law for me to kill a man trying to take what is already mine." Peeta says softly. It's disgusting to Peeta to think of this lovely young woman as a possession that belongs to him. However, Alexander's army is known for pillaging but also for mixing with the natives, and the soldiers are all expected to respect any other soldier's claim on a native woman.

Katniss scowls at the man before her, "You think I'm stupid because I am Persian, but I am no fool. You will take me from them and leave them for dead." She can't comprehend how this pale man could be so good. She doesn't understand why he wants to help her, why he would lie for her.

"Do you Persians have oaths?" Peeta questions, trying to keep the desperation out of his voice. The thought of leaving this woman to the will of whichever soldier finds her makes him sick.

"Oaths? Yes, we have them." She replies, narrowing her eyes in suspicion.

"On my honor, I swear I will keep your family safe if you become my wife." Peeta promises earnestly.

Katniss doesn't like the idea. She doesn't like it one bit but she heard Gale mention something like this once when he was talking about the other conquests of the Great King. She's heard of the pale soldiers taking wives from the natives. She recognizes that this is probably the only opportunity she will have to protect her family. She knows that she'll never be able to hide from or fend off all the soldiers that are bound to remain living in the city.

She thinks of Primrose and Hazelle and young Posy and the boys. She can't fail them if this man is offering to help. She must be brave and hope that, whichever gods are looking down on them, have sent her an honest man. Something about this soldier is comforting to Katniss and she can't really explain what. He's too gentle and he wants to help too much. She finds herself too at ease with him, though she hardly knows him.

Katniss nods almost imperceptibly but Peeta sees it and he gently helps her stand after releasing her from his embrace. She finds herself wishing his arms were still around her. She feels strangely vulnerable now, unprotected from the world, something she never felt before meeting this soldier.

"You and your family will come with me to the camp." Peeta says as gently as he can manage, hoping not to frighten the beautiful girl. He reaches for her hand and is pleased when she laces her fingers with his without hesitation.

She is grateful for his hand because she's not sure she could walk without it, nervous as she is. She realizes that she has started to trust this man against her will. How could she not when he is willing to risk his own safety to lie about Cato's death? If it was found out that he lied to protect a native, Katniss is certain he would be killed. Whoever this man is, he is brave and he is exceptionally kind.

"I'll find the man there who can marry us." Peeta adds and Katniss nods once again before gathering her family so they can make the journey back to the army's camp.

"I'll watch the other house," Finnick assures Peeta once they've returned after the quick marriage ceremony, "make sure everyone stays safe and all the men pay attention to the rules."

Finnick had been shocked when Peeta walked into camp with the beautiful native and her family. Peeta had never taken an interest in the natives of any other conquest. He recognized the look in Peeta's eyes though as the same one he had worn when he married his Annie. Finnick knew Peeta was hiding something, protecting the lovely young girl from a terrible fate. He had offered to watch over her family while Peeta spent his wedding night with the dark-skinned girl, joining them on the journey back to the house.

The older woman, Peeta expects she must be his wife's mother, had spoken with the girl in hushed tones for much of the journey back. Peeta had wondered what it was all about until her silver eyes had turned to him.

"We can use the second house tonight so we are alone." Her gaze had fallen to the dusty ground below their feet and Peeta had been glad because it hid the blush the rose to his cheeks. He hasn't lain with a woman in years, not since he was caught up on a milkmaid named Delly on the way to Alexander's latest conquest.

Now Finnick and Peeta have hastily marked Alexader's seal above the doors of both houses that will signify them as off limits to potential looters. Finnick slaps Peeta on the back with a smile.

"She is beautiful, Peeta. She has fight in her too, I can tell. Treat her well." Finnick offers by way of marital advice.

Peeta nods nervously before turning back to the second house that belongs to his wife's family. He finds his way easily to the back room where a large palette is centered on the floor.

She's already undressed when he gets there and the sight takes his breath away as heat pools in his groin. The moonlight gives her dark skin a silvery halo, accentuating the delicate curves of her body and sending Peeta's cock pulsing. It's so rare for a soldier to see a feminine form and knowing this woman is his wife is enough to drive him mad with want.

She's turned away, watching the night sky outside the window, though Peeta suspects she knows he's here. He gets the idea that she has very sharp senses and wouldn't miss his heavy tread as he entered the room. He looks around and spots a single blanket, wasting no time in draping it over her naked form. The marriage must be consummated tonight but he plans to speak with her first and he knows it will be impossible with her body tempting him like that. She turns to look at him in surprise as she bunches the scratchy wool at her chest, completely hiding her body from his view.

"I thought I should at least learn your name before we- we consummate the marriage." Peeta swallows nervously, removing his sword belt and settling down on the palette. He pats the space beside him and Katniss sits, wondering how much stranger this man could possibly get. He is quite unlike any soldier she has ever heard of, having no desire to take what isn't given freely.

"Katniss." She says once she is settled next to him, "My name is Katniss."

"Katniss." The soldier repeats and she decides she likes the way her name sounds in his voice. He makes it sound softer than a snake slithering over the sands of the desert. "That is a beautiful name. It suits you."

The faintest hint of a smile crosses her lips and she looks up into his eyes that so much resemble the sky outside. She thinks she could get lost in them if she allowed herself. Of all the traders she met, she has never met a pale man quite so exquisite as the one sitting beside her- the one who is now her husband.

Her belly tingles nervously but not at all uncomfortably. She doesn't know anything about this man but the way he looks at her and the way he speaks to her tells her that he is a gentle soul. How this can be when he's a soldier for Alexander the Great she doesn't understand, but she does honestly believe it to be true.

"My name is Peeta." He offers when she doesn't ask for herself.

"Peeta." She repeats and nods. The name seems to suit him, she thinks.

Peeta smiles at her and the tiny frown she wears while she thinks. Her eyes catch him and her heart jumps.

"Why did you help us?" She blurts out, her fingers nervously playing at the hem of the blanket.

"When I heard you singing," Peeta shakes his head, "the world stopped. It was the most beautiful thing I've ever heard and it's been so long since I've had beauty in my life. I couldn't let something happen to you knowing what you had to offer the world."

Katniss's brow furrows. Peeta uses a lot of words but she thinks she understands him well enough. She never thought her voice was anything special but it seems that he would argue otherwise.

"My father was better." She whispers, "His songs could charm snakes if he wanted."

"Where is your father?" Peeta questions curiously.

"Dead." She replies, "He died of the fever years ago."

Peeta breathes a sigh of relief. At least he wasn't killed in yesterday's battle. At least there was no chance that Peeta killed him.

"My mother died too." Katniss offers.

Peeta frowns, "I thought the woman with you was your mother."

Katniss shakes her head, "That is Gale's mother. Primrose is my only blood family."

"Who is Gale?" Peeta dreads the answer.

"He was my best friend. He lived in this house with his family. He fought in the battle." She finishes sadly. Peeta doesn't have to tell her that Gale is dead now.

"My family is gone too." Peeta admits one of his dearest secrets. "They were killed in a fire when I was just a boy. I was sent to Alexander's army so I could be trained and I would be useful. I haven't had any family in so long I can hardly remember them anymore."

Katniss's heart breaks for the man who barely knew his family. She had many years with them before they died and holds many memories. She can't imagine the pain of living a life without any family. Even worse, she can't imagine growing up as a soldier, trained since childhood to kill. Katniss's calloused hand finds his arm and a warmth spreads throughout his limb at her touch.

"I am your family now." She says softly, hoping he understands everything she means by this. He has saved her and comforted her, and now she wants to give him the same gift. Her grey eyes pierce his blue ones and something happens between them. A spark ignites as she moves to meet her lips to his.

Peeta doesn't expect her kiss to turn his blood to lava but it does, burning him from the inside out, feeding him with want as his hands brush over her arms and around her naked shoulders, pulling her tightly to him.

Katniss has never felt whatever this is before. Her heart beats so quickly it feels like a tiny hummingbird fluttering against her chest. She hardly knows this man but she knows he cherishes her. She can tell by the way he looks at her and she swears those blue eyes are an open book for her to read. This kiss isn't enough. She slides a hand under the soft linen at the throat of his tunic and he groans, pressing into her touch.

She lets the blanket fall from her shoulders and his hands roam over the smooth planes of her dark skin, finding the small pert breasts with the palms of his hands.

Katniss gasps at the feeling of his rough skin against her nipples and looks down in surprise, watching as his hands work magic against her body, kindling something inside of her that she can't explain. Peeta rolls a nipple between in fingers and she lets out a low growl that makes him smile. Suddenly she wants him naked too, she wants to be able to press her skin to his and with this thought her hands find the bottom of his tunic, struggling to tug it over his hips.

Peeta's hands leave her breasts and help her pull the fabric over his head before leaning into her and laying her back against the palette. Katniss pushes at his shoulders and he frowns, backing away slightly, worried she might have changed her mind. She lets her eyes linger across the toned muscles under pale flesh. She should be embarrassed by her brazen behavior, but she can't bring herself to feel that way with this man and his beautiful body.

Peeta's cock hardens as he watches her take him in, realizing she only pushed him away so she might observe him just as he had done with her when he first walked into the room. He gives her a chance to look, and her eyes flicker over his member quickly as they move to his thigh. Her hand brushes over the bandage there and the scowl that is quickly becoming familiar to Peeta graces her pretty face again.

"It feels much better since your sister tended to it." He whispers, his voice gravelly with want and it causes her to look up and meet his eyes.

She's innocent, he can tell somehow just by looking at her now, her hair fanned out around her in a black halo and her silver eyes wide and curious. He lets a hand trail over her belly before letting it come to rest between her thighs. He surprised by the amount of heat and moisture there. Clearly it's not just him who wants this and the thought sends a thrill down his spine.

He moves his thumb to brush circles around the small pearl of nerves. At first Katniss isn't sure what he's really doing until he finds just the right spot. Stars flash in Katniss's vision and she arches against Peeta's hand with a whimper. She's never felt this before but she doesn't have time to think about it before Peeta dips a finger into her wetness.

Peeta leans down and catches her moan with his lips, darting his tongue into her mouth. Katniss's hands slide over his back, tangling themselves in the curls of his blonde hair as she presses her tongue back against his. She has never felt more right than she does with this man, Peeta, her Peeta.

The muscles in her body seem to be coiling up, like a cobra she once saw preparing to strike, but she doesn't understand for what. Peeta's fingers continue to move in her, pressing against a spot that makes her thoughts blur as his thumb brushes over the raw nerves. Her muscles keep coiling until she cries out, unable to bear it anymore.

"Peeta!" She cries softly into the night and suddenly she's shattering into a million pieces like a clay bowl thrown against the wall but Peeta is there, whispering sweetly to her, his lips brushing along her jaw, leaving her skin tingling in their wake.

"My beautiful Katniss." He murmurs against her hear once she comes down from her cloud and her mind can register thoughts again.

He moves his body to sit beside hers and tugs her gently by the hips guiding her to straddle his waist. His cock brushes against her backside and a strangled groan makes its way from the back of his throat.

"Lift up so I can help you." Peeta orders softly. She looks at him curiously but lets him guide her to her knees, trusting that he knows more about all of this than she does, "Put your hands on my shoulders."

He guides himself to her entrance, letting out a tense breath as he does.

"What now?" She whispers, her voice trembling. She doesn't know if it's from fear or excitement, hoping he might make her feel that good again.

He uses one hand to push down on her hip while the other holds his cock steady at her entrance, "Just lower yourself. Take your time."

Peeta lets out a low growl as she takes him in, little by little, until she hits a wall. He pulls her close to his chest before pushing his hips into hers and she feels a tight, uncomfortable pull. She presses her face into his neck and a whimper falls from her lips as he plants gentle kisses to her shoulder but after a few moments she begins to lower herself again until her hips rest against his.

"Are you okay?" He asks softly.

She nods, unable to explain what exactly she feels. It's not exactly comfortable. She feels as though she's being stretched to the point of breaking but there is also a subtle pulse of pleasure anytime she moves just the slightest bit. She feels whole even though she didn't realize anything was ever missing. She feels safe. She feels protected by the man holding her tightly to his chest where it feels like the hot noonday sun is pressed between them.

Hesitantly, she lifts her hips before lowering them onto him again more quickly than the first time. Peeta moans deeply and his head falls back as his eyes flutter shut. She smiles at the sense of power she feels when he does this and repeats her actions until she finds a rhythm that starts her muscles coiling again. She lowers her lips to his throat, pressing kisses against the soft, pale skin.

Peeta's fingers dig into her hips and help her maintain her motions until suddenly his motions become less coordinated and his hips jerk into hers. The change in angle brushes against her in such a way that it sends her shattering again and this time he shatters with her.

She seems to regain her composure first and she presses kisses along his jaw, his neck, his chest, anywhere she can reach. She wants to explore every bit of this man before her- this man, her husband. The idea brings a smile to her face because she's certain now that she was lucky he heard her singing. She has only known him a day and already it feels like a lifetime. War can do that she supposes.

"What are you thinking?" Peeta questions, moving to lay them both back against the palette but he doesn't release the tight grip his arms have around her. He can't bear the thought of letting her drift away from him now.

"Will you truly protect us? Will you stay with me?" She asks, her grey eyes, wide and hopeful in the soft moonlight.

Peeta's heart feels as though it might burst. It's been a long time since someone has relied on him in this way, since he had family. He realizes that this is what he has been searching for as he traversed empires. It's all right here, in this tiny room, in this woman's arms.

"Always." He replies softly, not trusting his voice with any more words. That one is enough.

Katniss smiles, the first real genuine one she has ever given him and he thinks the world might begin and end in her smile. She feels as though it's impossible to find any more happiness than there is in this moment. The way Peeta looks at her, his eyes soft and awed, she thinks she could learn to love this man very much. Maybe a part of her already does.