My eyes land on Peeta across the school yard. I was still unsure as to why he threw the bread to me yesterday. I was desperate to find food, but his witch of a mother tried to chase me off. I had collapsed next to a tree accepting my death when I heard yelling. That was when he threw me two loaves of burnt bread. His striking blue eyes look up and meet mine before he shyly looks down. I say goodbye to Prim and walk up to him.
"Thank you." I say shyly when I reach him and he gives me a warm genuine smile.
"Anytime, Katniss." He replies just as shy. My name coming from his lips makes my heart flutter and i wasn't sure why. His cheek bone was badly bruised from where he was hit. I lift my hand slowly and brush my hand gently across it. He catches my hand between both of his holding it tightly. Butterflies fill my stomach and I find myself not wanting him to ever let go.
"Why?" I whisper my eyes locking with his blue ones.
"Because I can't bare to see you hurt." I can tell by his tone he's telling me the truth.
"I don't want you getting hurt for me." I reply honestly which causes him to smile. I wasn't sure really why I was feeling this. He's the first one aside from my sister to make me smile since my father's death.
"Can I walk with you to class?" He asks shyly and I realize I hadn't even noticed he was in my class. I give him a smile and a nod. His face brightens. We walk to class his hand still locked with mine. People silently stare but I couldn't care less.
He releases my hand reluctantly as we sit. Disappointment washes through me and I'm surprised at myself. I was always so careful not to feel anything for anyone except my sister who I would protect with my life. Not even my mother could break through the cold walls I built around myself.
Peeta and I talk whenever we get the chance. He walks me to my classes and sits with me at lunch. I begin to crave his company. Which is something I was terrified of. I didn't want to need someone. After my father's death I realized how much I needed him, and death nearly slapped me in the face. Now, I was terrified of needing someone, but Peeta was different. When school is over I can't bare to part with him.
"Peeta, I need to go hunting today. Or at least try. I haven't been in the woods since my father died, but it's the only way to feed myself and my family. Will you come with me?" I ask softly afraid he'll say no.
"I'd love to. Meet me at the bakery in an hour. My mom needs help with the bakery." I nod and my face lights up. Without thinking I brush my lips over his bruise. He beams at me. Peeta and I say temporary goodbyes and walk home. I had told Prim just to go home so I could talk to Peeta. I pretty much bounce all the way home happy for the first time in who knows how long.
I fling my bag down on the couch and run to our shared bedroom where my mom lays in bed starring blankly into space. I sigh but shake it off and grab my father's plant book from the shelf. I make my way back to the living room and start looking through it. Prim watches me curiously.
"Why are you in such a good mood?" She asks sweetly. I just shake my head trying to concentrate on the plants. "Well, if you won't answer that, how about you telling me what you're doing." I sigh in defeat and look up.
"I know how I'm going to feed us. Don't worry about it, do your homework." I say sounding almost motherly, which was an odd way for a twelve year old to sound. But ever since my mom shut down I had no choice. I had to become the parent in this family. She smiles and gets to work on her homework. The house doesn't past fast enough, in fact it drags. Once I see it's 4:45 though I dash out of the house quickly.
I catch myself running to the bakery. I knew how to keep my family alive, and I had Peeta to help and thank for that. When I reach the bakery he's already standing outside waiting for me, flour in his blonde curls. I suppress a laugh.
"Hey, Katniss." He says and I feel that thing again, when he says my name. I smile and he gives me a hug. For being only twelve his arms were quite strong, and I had to admit I liked the way they felt wrapped around me.
"Ready to go?" I ask and he nods beaming offering his hand to me. I take it quickly and walk with him towards the woods when we reach the fence he hesitates.
"Umm, Katniss? Won't we get in trouble?" He asks and I could see the fear in his eyes. I give a slight shrug.
"Not unless we get caught, but the peacekeepers usually bought the game my father would get. So, it's not much of a problem." I say as I slip with ease under the fence. Peeta hesitates for a moment then copies my movements moving himself under the fence. I help him get back to his feet and our eyes lock for a moment. I find myself getting lost in his blue eyes.
"We, uh. Better get into the woods. Just in case." I say with difficulty my head spinning. Not in a bad way, but in the kind of way that leaves you feeling like you're on a cloud. Happiness. No. That couldn't be it, I've been happy before and never experienced something like this. A thought tugs in the back of my mind that baby I have a thing for the baker's son. I push away refusing to admit this.
Peeta's eyes flit away shyly and he nods following my lead into the concealment of the trees. I bend down grabbing the bow and sheath of arrows my father had made me from a log. Peeta watches me curiously. My gaze moves upward and lands on the bruise on his cheek.
"Peeta?" His name feels good coming out of my mouth, and foolishly I feel the need to say it again. "Does your mom usually hit you?" I ask curiously. I couldn't imagine it. My mother and father would never lay a hand on me or Prim in an abusive manner. Ever.
"Well, uh...It's just my father was in love with your mom. She didn't return the love though and she ran off with a miner. He fell in love the moment he saw her. My mom was his second choice. Then on that first day of school, when you stood up on that chair and sang The Valley Song every bird outside fell silent. I knew I was a goner, just as my father had been at that moment. I was right too, I never was able to stop thinking about you." He pauses letting me take his words in.
"You kind of became my whole world, and my mother saw that. I mean sure my brothers got a bit of her abusiveness, but not like I did. She disliked me the most because I reminded her of my father. Choosing the girl from the seam over her." His eyes move to the ground and I watch him in shock. So, if I were to have feelings for this boy, I would have no doubt that they would be returned.
"Why would you choose someone from the Seam anyways?" I ask truly curious. He gives a slight shrug.
"I don't care where you're from, Katniss. You're not just a girl from the seam. You're so much more than that." I can't help but fall into his embrace. "Well, we better start hunting if you want to get something. My mom will be mad if I'm out too late." He says pulling away and changing the subject. I nod and we start walking through the woods.
He walks loudly at first, but with my advice and help he get's quieter. He spots a squirrel and nudges me pointing it out. I nod and load the bow letting the arrow go flying into the squirrels heart. Peeta and I turn to each other smiling widely. I pull the book of plants from my jacket and have Peeta pick plants while I continue to hunt animals.
As I walk in the forest, Peeta on the ground at my side picking berries and plants I realize he did something yesterday that can't be undone. He threw the bread trying to save my life, but by doing so he changed both our lives. He formed a connection between the two of us that I already knew was unbreakable. I wasn't sure what the connection was, I knew friends for sure. I still wasn't sure though, if there was anything beyond that, but something in my gut told me there was.
Peeta Mellark not only became one of my favorite people in the world, but my safety. Every day he would venture into the woods with me and help me keep my family alive. He wanted to give me bread but I refused. I couldn't bare to see him in pain, just as he said when I asked why he threw the bread. As we spend more time together, the connection grows stronger and I realize without a shadow of a doubt that I was falling for the baker's son.