A/N: Hi guys! Sorry this has been such a long wait but I wanted this to be perfect.
I watch her pacing up and down the bathroom, a swarm of twenty-something girls trying to perfect her hair. I walk into the bedroom and run my hands up and down the beautiful dress; the dress that twenty years ago was mine. Her room is exactly the same as she left it. A desk in the corner, a deep purple duvet cover and of course a picture of her then boyfriend on the bedside table.
"Don't tell me you're going to cry as well! Dad's already down there an absolute wreck-"
"Who says I'm crying!" I sniff, "It's not like my only daughter is getting married today!"
"Mom." She comes over a tightly hugs me. "Just go check on Dad for me?"
I make my way downstairs where Peeta sits sobbing on the kitchen table in his black tux.
"You weren't this upset at your own wedding, so what the hell is wrong?" I lean on the doorway.
"She's our baby girl Kat, but she won't be as of 2 o'clock this afternoon. She won't come to me to sort out all her problems she'll go to Steve."
"Steve is a nice guy and you know it. You're just being a grumpy old dad." I tease, walking over to him and putting my hands on his shoulders. "And you know he's going to take care of her."
"I guess. I'm just finding today a little difficult."
"I'm right here. Just please calm down a little; she still has to put the dress on!"
He lifts his head up and smiles at me.
"You looked beautiful in that dress."
"You're just saying that because you picked it out."
"What can I say, I have great taste." He jokes.
"Just be quiet and go upstairs to check on Bella will you?" He gets up, snakes his arm around my waist and kisses me.
"It's still disgusting after so long." I hear Bella say from the door. Peeta strides over to her and gives her a tickle under the chin.
"You're just jealous that I still love you mother after nearly forty years." He puts his arm around her shoulders and leads her upstairs.
An hour later and Bella is walking down the stairs in my old wedding dress, Peeta's arm tucked around hers. After a few pictures the bridesmaids enter and Peeta walks over to me.
"She looks the spitting image of you." He whispers.
"She does doesn't she." I say, admiring her long curly hair and grey eyes. There's silence between us for a while, both of us admiring our daughter.
"Do you think Haymitch would've liked to be here?" He asks.
"He wouldn't have liked it, but he wouldn't have missed it for the world."
Haymitch died five years ago, something the whole district took badly. Although he was expected to die just before Bella's 23rd birthday, he lasted a year longer than anyone thought he would. He didn't really have anything to live for, however bad that sounds. Him and Effie lived happily alone together and would come around to our house for dinner often. Sometimes Effie would even come on her own. She developed a special bond with Connor, more so then she had with Bella anyway. When she died, a few years before Haymitch, Connor took it especially hard. At the time he was in his early teens and wasn't well equipped to deal with anything. I don't think he's fully over her death and he's 21 years old. I don't think he ever will.
"THE CARS ARE HERE!" Bella squeals.
"That's my queue." Peeta sighs.
"Hey, be happy today. This is a big deal for her. She's still our baby, just all grown up."
"So can you make it?"
"We'll have to see honey; you live all the way across town."
"Please Ma, this is something important. You know I wouldn't ask otherwise."
"I invited Connor. That's how important this is."
"You got him to come to District 12 all the way from 2!"
"Ma that's not the point."
"I'm sorry baby. I'll speak to your father alright. I'm pretty sure I can persuade him to bake that cinnamon bread you like. I'll see you Sunday."
I hang up the phone and give Peeta a look.
"You up to making some cinnamon bread?"
"You up to helping me?"
"Only if you want your bread ruined."
"Oh come on. Your fine with cupcakes."
"Technically I'm not. Picture this. Connors 11th birthday, all the family in the house. I made cupcakes and no one ate them but you? Yeah, I'm all set to join you in the bakery Peeta!"
"Hey! You did for a while! You were good at it too."
"And why didn't I carry on?"
"So you burnt a few loaves? Please just help me?! I won't let you mess it up."
"Fine! But if I burn it-" He holds his hands up.
"Good boy." I give him a peck on the lips as we go on to making the dessert for our meeting with Bella. After a few hours of foods fights, kissing and more kissing we both settled down for the night.
I wake up in the morning to Peeta's side of the bed stone cold, an indication that he hasn't been there for hours. I don't worry as much as I used to when he isn't there in the mornings. We're both 45 now and are used to each other's habits. Peeta tends to need time alone in the mornings, I don't know exactly why, but I've let him do it for so long asking him would be pointless.
Just as I am about to make us both a cup of tea, he emerges through the back door in almost a panicked state.
"Hey, we're out of sugar did you use it all be-"
"Promise me." I turn around to face him.
"Promise you what?"
"Please don't ever go away from me." He almost cries.
"Peeta, we've been through this a thousand times before. I'm not going anywhere. Why are you like this all of a sudden?"
"There back Katniss."
I know exactly what he means. The nightmares. It was hard enough explaining it all to the children, including explaining the games. Bella was only 10 when we couldn't avoid answering the questions anymore.
"Why does your wedding ring have a pearl on it? Why do you wake up screaming in the night? What is a mockingjay?"
We just couldn't make up excuses anymore, it was impossible. So one day after school we sat her down and told her everything.
"When me and your father were young, your age, well the world wasn't like it is today. Every year from the ages of 12 to 18...children were chosen or, um, reaped. There were children reaped from every district and all of them came together to...fight to the death. When me and your father were sixteen," I turn to Peeta. "I can't do this I'm sorry."
I go to tug away but he has a firm grip around my hand.
"Together." Peeta then takes over.
"When me and your mother turned sixteen we were reaped. We went to the Capitol and were trained to," he takes a deep breath. "Kill. Grandpa Haymitch helped us survive and your Grandma Effie did too, each in their own ways. Um, a lot of people died Bella, during that period. People who I consider family. They saved me, when I was at the worst point in my life, they believed in me. I was tortured, memories forced inside my head, fake memories. That's why sometimes, I grab the back of a chair like there is no tomorrow. Because sometimes, I can't tell the difference between those memories and the present day."
The worst thing was that Bella didn't even know how to interpret it all. We left major parts out, for good reason. We both knew she would learn it at school and even though she may be hurt that we hadn't told her ourselves, Bella was such a warm and compassionate child that we knew she would understand. After we told her she came over to each one of us in turn and gave us a long hug. I don't know about Peeta but when she embraced me she whispered in my ear,
"I'm sorry Ma, I'm sorry you had to do that. I'm sorry they put you through that."
"It was all for you and your father," I whispered back. "Even if I didn't know it at the time. I would do it all again if it meant having us all together."
Peeta snapped me out if my daydream. "Katniss, I can't go through this again. What if I hurt you or the kids if I have an episode!?"
He was frantically running about the kitchen, more scared then I have ever seen him before. I stand in his way and put my hands on both cheeks, forcing him to look up.
"You're not thinking straight, alright. Connors staying at a friend's tonight before he goes back to 2 and you haven't had an episode in more than 20 years. Tonight, you have a nightmare, wake me. Understand?"
"I don't care whether I've just fallen asleep or it's five in the morning. I'm not going anywhere, haven't I proved that to you?"
He gulps. "Gale. Gale showed up in my nightmare." He bursts into tears and I drag us both to the couch.
"He-he knocked on the door and you ran in-into his arms!" He sobs.
I stroke his hair; it's all I can do. Because when he's this upset Peeta needs reassurance, something I can only give to him when he's calm enough to receive it. He sobs turn to nothing but sniffs and I slowly begin to talk sense back into him.
"If Gale ever turned up on that doorstep, I wouldn't run into his arms, not in a million years. I would probably slam the door in his face for being such an idiot." We both smile. He sits up.
"I'm sorry. I'm 45 years old I shouldn't-"
"Shh. You've been through more than any other 45 year old I know."
"Still, I should be recovered by now and not being hysterical about some friend."
"Gale is not my friend. Whatever we had in the past is gone now. Someone who hasn't spoken to you in 20 years and punched my husband, well I don't want to be around them."
He pulls me onto his lap.
"I'm sorry you had to give up your friends for me Katniss."
"I'd do anything for you."
"But he used to be your best friend. I don't know. I just feel bad sometimes."
"Used." Peeta gives me a sad smile. Over the years I can't say I've missed Gale. I loved him; a small part of me will always love him. But never as much as I love Peeta. With Gale it's a completely different love. I love him as I do my children and if he turned up on my doorstep right now battered and bruised, I'd be lying if I said I would slam the door back in his face.
I can't even imagine an old, wrinkly, grey haired Gale. By now he will be married with children of his own and I can only hope they make him as happy as mine do.
"Come on." He says softly. "We have to go to Bella's."
"Are you sure you can? I can call her and-" He quiets me with a soft kiss.
"I'll be fine."
We walk hand in hand to the car. It doesn't take long for us to drive to her house.
Bella and her husband Steve live in the old merchant side of town. Steve's family must be wealthy because those houses are still quite expensive. We walk up to the driveway hand in hand and barely wait at the door 5 seconds before Bella comes to embrace us.
"Hi Ma!" She says as she hugs me a little tighter than I'd prefer. "Well don't just stand out here all day! Come on in!"
I give Peeta a look but he just shrugs his shoulders. Bella seems a lot happier then she usually is but I suppose I should be happy. I'd rather her be jumping for joy than so riddled with sadness she can barely find the will to get up in the morning.
We're quickly escorted into the kitchen where Steve is slaving over the stove. He stops as soon as we come in the door and his attitude seems to completely change.
"Mrs Mellark." He holds out his hand and I limply shake it. He moves over to Peeta and does the same.
"Please, Peeta and Katniss." Peeta points out. "Your part of the family now."
Steve grins. I change the subject.
"So, um, when does Connor get here?"
"In a few minutes actually. Dinner should be ready soon so hopefully he will be on time for once."
Connor does have a tendency to be late for things. Whether that's because he thinks he will get away with it I will never know. As Bella leads us into the living room Connor bursts in right on time, out of breath.
"I'm not late!" He pants.
"Actually," Bella says whilst looking at the clock, "you're late by 5 minutes."
"Well I haven't missed anything important!"
I sigh. Connor proceeds to hug us both and we sit down for a while discussing things. What life is like in 2, how things are going with his girlfriend. I am sure he wants to tell us more when Steve calls us all for dinner.
We must have been sitting around the table for around 10 minutes when Peeta finally asks the question that has been waiting on my tongue ever since we got here.
"So why were we invited here anyway? Not that it's not nice, because it is-"
"We were just wondering why it was such a rush for us to come here so soon after the wedding, is all." I add.
Steve and Bella give each other a look and clasp hands.
"Well it's been a month since the wedding and we just thought-"
"You made me take a train just to celebrate one month of being married! Come on!" Connor says, with a mouth full of food.
"Connor!" I gently scold. He only looks down and tries to keep the smirk off of his face.
"So, as I was saying, it's been a month exactly since the wedding and we have some news." They look at each other.
I sigh and take a seat in the chair nearest to the hospital bed. For the past 14 hours me, Peeta and Steve have been waiting for what seems like days. Waiting for something that I know Peeta will have waited his whole life for.
A sweaty Bella lies on the bed, panting after another contraction.
"Ma! How did you do this…twice!?"
I laugh. "Never underestimate the powers of persuasion."
She smiles but it turns into a frown when another contraction hits. She grits her teeth as she says, "Ma, please get Doctor Reeves!'
I race of to get Doctor Reeves. The Doctor Reeves that gave birth to Bella and Connor is no longer alive but she did have a daughter, who now works at the hospital. I myself have never seen her but it is thought she looks exactly like the late Doctor Reeves.
I turn a few heads as I race down the halls. I haven't really changed in appearance other than a few wrinkles under my eyes and even today people still recognise me and Peeta.
It doesn't take me long to find Doctor Reeves junior who tells me to call her Megan.
"Um, my daughter, I think she's ready to push." I pant.
"Okay. It looks like you're about to have a granddaughter Mrs Mellark."
Just the thought makes the butterflies that were already present multiply.
"I guess I will."
We both walk quickly back down the halls and enter the room to find the sweat still pouring down Bella's face. Megan gets into the zone that I saw my mother do all those years ago. Nothing else matters except for getting that baby out and in this case its one of my own.
That's right! He says, tickling her five year old belly.
I've been watching Peeta play with Sophie for around 10 minutes. It's obvious how much he loves her.
"Peeta, you really should stop giving her cookies." He turns to face me.
"And why's that?"
"She's five years old! And you've given her two already. Her teeth will rot!"
He strides over to me and places his hands on my waist.
"Are you just unhappy because there will be less at the picnic?"
I fight back a grin.
"No, I am thinking of our granddaughter's health here honey, and I don't think two cookies are very healthy for a five year old."
"Well, she seems to enjoy it. And don't worry; I have extra cookies just for you."
"And do you have-"
"Cake? Lots of it."
"You know me too well." I stand on my tiptoes and kiss him full on the lips.
"Come on," I say. "Bella and Steve will already be at the meadow." He picks up Sophie and we all walk to the meadow.
It still looks exactly the same as it did all those years ago but there are odd bunches of flowers under the large tree that stands in the middle of the meadow. That's where Bella and Steve are sat right now. Sophie runs up to them and they all hug and kiss.
The next thing I know me and Peeta are sat together at the base of the tree and Bella, Steve and Sophie are running about, smiling and laughing.
"Thank you." I whisper.
"For giving me the best thing the ever happened to me." He smiles.
"The same to you too."
There is a long pause as we both watch our small family.
"I love you Katniss." I look at him.
"I love you too Peeta."
I clasp onto his hand, comforted by the fact that I will never have to let go.
A/N: Alright, first things first. I'm so sorry that this is so late. I have been so busy I can't even tell you and every time I did sit down to write I found myself extremely stuck. So I'm sorry about that.
I just want to thank you all for reading this fanfic. It has been an absolute privilege writing for you all these past few months. It has been one of the most humbling and amazing things that I have ever done.
I DON'T WANT TO LOSE TOUCH WITH YOU ALL!
So please, even if you are a guest and have only just read this chapter PLEASE PLEASE REVIEW!
Tell your friends, neighbours, aunts, uncles, cousins, cats and dogs about this fic. I will be eternally grateful.
Like I said, I don't want to lose touch with any of you so please please set me on your author alerts! I have lots of plans for other THG fics.
So I guess this is it. Thank you so much for your reviews, PM's and for just reading this.
I love you so much.