Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games!
I am awakened by the first signs of morning. I hear the soft, gentle song of the birds outside my window. As I stretch my arms above my head, I feel the tingle of the bright morning light against my skin. I breathe in the tantalizing smell of fresh cheese buns, and that's when my eyelids flutter open and I realize that Peeta's not beside me in our bed, where he should be.
I slowly swing my legs over the side of the bed and slip my feet into my slippers. I am about to get up and slide a robe on over my pajamas when a wave of nausea hits me, causing me to dash hastily to the bathroom. As I kneel in front of the toilet bowl, holding my tangled brown locks up and away from my face, a spark of fear ignites in the very pit of my stomach.
I've been suffering from nausea for about two or three weeks now. At first, I convinced myself that it was the flu and nothing more. Then, when I went out to the woods a few days ago, fatigue crept up on me before I could do any hunting, and I had to return home empty-handed. I still didn't think much of the vomiting or fatigue until two days ago. My breasts started to feel unusually sore, and it dawned on me that I had missed my period.
When I feel like the nausea has subsided for now, I rise from the tile floor of the bathroom and rinse out my mouth with water. I turn the faucet off and stare at my reflection in the mirror. There's a hint of panic in my stormy gray eyes as I realize what all of these symptoms are pointing to.
I think back to a rainy night about two months ago when Peeta brought up the topic of starting a family for what seemed like the millionth time. He's wanted children since the day we were married, but after ten years of "no" and "not now", I could tell that his hope of me ever agreeing to have a baby was slowly, but surely, dwindling. I can clearly remember his exact words and the pleading look in his deep cerulean eyes when he tentatively raised the subject once again after we had just finished eating dinner. Surprisingly enough, after a few minutes of silence and of thinking things over on my part, I simply replied, "Yes". His eyes widened and a grin spread across his face in a matter of seconds. I remember how he wrapped his arms around my waist, lifted me up into the air, and spun me around jubilantly, all while saying, "Real or not real? Please tell me this is real, Katniss."
Instead of telling him, I proved to him how real it really was. That very night, we started trying for a baby. Now here I am, two months later, realizing that all that trying probably worked. I take a deep breath to compose myself before exiting the bathroom. Just as I'm slipping on my robe, the bedroom door opens and Peeta walks in, the smell of sugar lingering on his skin.
He greets me with a soft kiss on the lips as his arms encircle my waist. "Good morning. I thought I heard you get up."
I lean into his chest and breathe in his sweet scent. "I've been up for a while now," I mumble against his dark gray shirt.
"Why didn't you come down?" he asks, pushing me away from him gently to look into my eyes. He frowns. "Did you throw up again?" I nod, and he sighs. "Katniss, you need to go down to the hospital to see Dr. Keene. I don't think this is just the flu. It might be something more serious."
Peeta has yet to connect the dots in his mind that the symptoms I'm experiencing could mean that I'm pregnant. Years ago, when we were in school, we learned about it, but I don't expect him to remember anything about pregnancy symptoms. The only reason I remember is because of my mother and how she dealt with pregnant women all the time when we lived in the Seam.
"I have my annual check-up coming up at the end of the week," I reply. This seems to calm him down a little. I manage a smile, despite how horrible I feel at the moment. I lace my fingers through his and tug him toward the door. "Come on, I think I smell some cheese buns waiting for me downstairs."
After a small breakfast, Peeta left for the bakery. As soon as he was out the door, I quickly made my way upstairs to the bathroom and shut the door behind me. For what seems like the last twenty minutes, I've been sitting cross-legged on the cold, uninviting tile floor, debating whether or not to take a pregnancy test. I stocked up on a few when Peeta and I started trying for a baby and have managed to keep them out of his sight.
I slowly turn the box the test is in over and over in my hands. The same fear that kept me from wanting children in the past looms over me eerily. I don't regret the decision of agreeing to start a family with Peeta. A part of me really does want a baby. I'm just afraid that everything that could go wrong will go wrong because that's just the way my life seems to work. The odds have not been in my favor ever since the death of my father, and after that, they only seemed to get worse. I know that during the last few years, I have been fairly content with Peeta—no, very content. He's helped me heal more than I ever thought I could. Our lives our good; everybody's lives are good now that Snow and the Games are a thing of the past. Yet my heart can't seem to shake away the fear, the nightmares, or the emotional scars left behind. I gave up on trying to get rid of my physical scars years ago.
I lean my head back against the wall and glance upward at the clock hanging across from me. I realize that I can't sit here forever, afraid of what might happen. Time will never stop, and the future will come whether I like it or not. The only way to get over it is to embrace it, no matter how hard that might be.
As I finally pick myself up from the floor, I try my best to push away any negative thoughts and dwell on the good ones. I imagine Peeta's reaction at the news, myself with a round belly, our baby girl or boy cradled in our arms. I can't help but let my lips curve into a small smile. I think I'm finally starting to understand why Peeta has wanted children for such a long time. I really want a baby now, too. It's crazy to think that in nine months, we might be parents. We might have a family of three instead of two.
A sense of excitement mingled with nervousness fills me as I open the box with shaky fingers. I quickly scan my eyes over the instructions, not bothering to read them thoroughly. The only thing on my mind at the moment is taking the test and finding out if I really am pregnant as soon as possible.
I take a deep breath as I pull the pregnancy test out of the box. I stare at it in my hands for a few moments as I collect my thoughts and emotions.
Then I take the test.
Once I'm done, I set it on the bathroom counter and walk out into the bedroom. I only have to wait a few minutes for the result, yet it feels like an eternity as I pace back and forth from one side of the room to the other. I make my way over to the window and watch the people below, the seconds dwindling until I find out if my life, as well as Peeta's, will be changed forever.
After what seems like long enough, I leave my spot at the window and enter the bathroom. My first instinct is to look down at the pregnancy test on the counter in front of me, but I force my eyes not to glance at it just yet. Although I'm pretty sure all of the symptoms I'm experiencing point to pregnancy, this moment is nerve-wracking and a bit frightening in a good way. A positive test is just the beginning; I'm more anxious of the things to come than actually finding out if I'm pregnant or not.
This is it, I think to myself as I reach down to pick up the pregnancy test. I look at it and instantly my eyes widen—first in surprise, then elation.
I sit in the living room, my back against the soft cushions of the sofa and my feet propped up on the coffee table. I cradle a small cup of hot tea in my hands as I look out the large windows towards the woods. I wish I could go out hunting; I desperately want to lose myself in the trees, feel the bright sun on my skin, and breathe in the crisp air of the forest. But at the moment, I feel a bit fatigued from having cleaned up the house a little, and I don't want to risk hurting the baby by exhorting myself. Right now, the little tiny human being inside of me is the only thing I can think about.
After I looked at the pregnancy test and convinced myself that I wasn't in some kind of dream, I busied myself by sweeping and tending to the primrose bushes outside, all while letting the reality of my pregnancy sink in. I have so many thoughts and questions on my mind. But one question in particular has been on my heart for a while now.
How am I going to tell Peeta?
The simplest way would be to just…well, tell him, of course. But for some reason, a part of me doesn't want to do that. I want to make it special. Peeta has been waiting for a baby for years; I owe it to him to do something out of the ordinary and unexpected to break the news.
I sit in silence for a long time, trying to think of a clever plan to tell Peeta that he's going to be a father. My mind wanders after a while of failing to come up with something, and I think of my father. I wonder how my mother told him that she was expecting. Did she decide to take the easy way out? Or did she think about it just as long and hard as I am?
Oh my, I say to myself, how will I tell my mother?
I shake my head to clear my thoughts and focus back on what's most important now. Peeta will be home in less than four hours, and if I want to do something special, I'm going to have to think of it soon.
Peeta is so good with words; he always knows just what to say and when to say it. If I had his gift, his way with words, I could probably come up with a way to tell him that I'm pregnant without actually saying the simple, ordinary words "I'm pregnant". But I don't possess that talent—or any other talents—so I have to come up with something else.
If only Peeta could tell himself…
I laugh at the stupidity of my thought. Then, as if a light bulb is switched on, a plan instantly clicks together in my head.
Peeta can tell himself.
I smile as I see everything falling perfectly into place in my mind. I never imagined that I could come up with something like this, or that a dumb thought was the only thing needed to inspire a brilliant plan. My grin grows wider as I fantasize about Peeta's reaction. I hope that he'll react just like I think he will—at first, shocked, then ecstatic.
For the first time that day, I realize that that's how I am reacting. I'm still a bit shocked, but the surprise is slowly fading away into pure euphoria. I feel so overjoyed, and I can't wait for Peeta to feel the same way.
Around three-thirty, I pick up the telephone in the kitchen and dial a familiar number. My fingers fidget with the telephone cord as I silently pray that a certain person will answer my call.
"Hello, Mellark Bakery," a deep, rough voice says—a voice that definitely does not belong to Peeta. "How may I help you?"
"Hi, Ian," I reply, dropping the phone cord. "It's Katniss."
The voice of Peeta's bakery assistant softens a little. "Oh, hey, Katniss. I'm guessing you called to talk to Peeta?"
I hear Ian's feet shuffle across the wood floors of the bakery over the phone. I assume that he's going to find Peeta, and if he finds out that I called the bakery, he'll know that something is up. Whenever I need to talk to Peeta about something or simply miss him, I just visit the bakery because I've never liked using telephones and the walk into town isn't too long. "No!" I say. "No, I actually need to talk to you."
"Oh, me?" I can hear Ian's footsteps stop abruptly. "Really?"
"Yes," I assure him quickly. "And Peeta cannot know about this, okay?"
There's a short pause. Ian is probably very confused. He's in his early twenties and has been working at the bakery for about a year now. He's been a great help to Peeta—which is why he was promoted to bakery assistant—and can make some delicious cheese buns, although Peeta's will always be the best. Despite his promotion and his baking abilities, Ian can be clumsy and lack common sense sometimes. He's the only person I can trust with this, though. I just hope he doesn't give away the surprise.
"Um, okay." He clears his throat. "What do you need to talk to me about?"
I take a deep breath as I get ready to tell Ian about my plan, about me being pregnant. It feels awfully strange that Ian will be the first person to know about the baby, but I push my feelings aside because I know that for my idea to work, I need Ian's help.
I exhale shakily into the phone. "I'm going to tell you something that Peeta cannot find out about at all…well at least not yet, anyway. Please try to keep this between us for now, and when I tell you, please don't make a big deal about it. I don't want Peeta to overhear you or anything."
There's another pause. "Okay…" Ian says slowly. I must sound so ridiculous to him. Hopefully, when I tell him everything, he'll understand.
"Well…" My voice drags a little. "I'm pregnant." The words feel so strange and foreign as they roll off of my tongue, yet I smile as they do.
"Really? Oh my goodness, Ka—"
"Shh!" I whisper harshly into the phone. "Ian, you need to keep this quiet!"
"Right, I'm sorry," he says, lowering his voice. It again sounds deep and rugged, like it did when he first picked up the phone. "That's great, though. Congratulations."
"Thank you," I reply earnestly. I shift the phone from one ear to the other, and rest my free hand on my stomach in acknowledgment of my baby.
"So," Ian says, "what exactly does that have to do with me?"
I grin. "I want to tell Peeta in a special way, and I came up with something that I know I'll need your help to pull off."
"Oh, I'd be honored to help!" Ian answers. "Peeta's such a good friend—not to mention a great boss—and I'd love to be a part of whatever you have up your sleeve."
"Great," I say happily. "I want to tell him tomorrow."
"Alright, what's your plan, Katniss? I'm all ears."
I smile once again. "Well, first, I need you to grab one of those order forms you use for specialty cake orders. I'm going to need a cake…"
"Katniss, if you still feel sick by the time I get home, I'm taking you to see Dr. Keene."
She sighs and puts down the apple pastry in her hand. "Peeta, I'm fine, really. There's nothing for you to be worried about."
I shake my head. "Obviously you're not fine; you've been throwing up for a few days now. I'm really starting to get worried."
"Peeta, you know I'd go see Dr. Keene if I thought something was wrong!" Katniss replies. "I promise, everything's okay. I feel better than okay, actually."
I let out an exasperated sigh. I look down at my breakfast and shove the last few forkfuls into my mouth. I feel Katniss' eyes on me, but I don't glance up at her. I know she doesn't feel okay. The vomiting is definitely not normal. Besides that, Katniss hasn't been out hunting in days, which usually signals that something isn't quite right. She's just been acting strange for the past few days, and I hate not knowing what's going on. Katniss usually tells me everything. It's not like her to keep things from me. But if she is keeping something to herself, she's doing a good job at it. Most of the time, I can see right through Katniss—which she hates. But not this time.
Katniss gets up from the chair she's sitting in and walks over to me, her arms wrapping around my neck from behind. She rests her chin on my shoulder. "Please don't worry about me," she whispers into my ear. Her lips leave a kiss on my earlobe. "You need to get going. It's almost five-thirty."
I get up from my place at the kitchen table to go take care of the dirty dishes, but Katniss stops me. "I want you to rest," I tell her.
She grabs the plate from my hand. "No, you gotta go." I open my mouth to argue, but she stops my words with a soft kiss. "Go, Peeta. I'll be fine, I promise."
"Alright," I say, "but if you feel too sick, I want you to call, okay? I'll leave Ian in charge for a little while and take you to the hospital."
"Okay," Katniss agrees. I plant another kiss on her mouth. "I love you," she says as I pull away.
"Love you more," I reply, before heading out the door and toward the town square.
I greet the few people I see on my way to the bakery; not many are awake so early. I think of Katniss during the entire walk to work. I wish I could turn around and go home to take care of her, but unfortunately I can't. There's bread that needs to be baked, and cakes that need to be prepared.
As soon as I get to the bakery, Ian, my assistant, hands me a sheet of paper. "A client called this morning to order a cake."
I glance at the order form hastily and see the size and flavor that the customer ordered. I purposely leave the details—frosting type, color, and decorations—for later. I want to get this cake started right away because I have other orders to finish.
"Thanks, Ian," I say as I momentarily put down the order form to slide my flour-covered apron over my head. "Did the customer say what time they'd be here to pick up the cake?"
"Around closing time."
I want to ask him who the customer is or what their name is, but Thomas, a middle-aged man with dark hair and green eyes who always stops by in the mornings to pick up fresh bread for his family, enters the bakery. He greets me with a smile and a wave as Ian takes care of his order.
I retreat to the back of the bakery, where I quickly get started on that specialty cake. The customer ordered a simple, round vanilla cake, about eight inches wide. I skillfully mix up a batch of my father's famous cake batter and pour it into a circular mold. Once the oven is heated up, I slide in the cake and let it bake. I busy myself with making fresh pastries in an attempt not to worry about Katniss too much, but I find myself thinking about her more when I start working on a batch of cheese buns.
The day flies by. Our regular customers come and go. I finish a specialty cake for a toasting and deliver it to the clients around four o' clock. The soon-to-be husband and wife beam at the sight of the simple white cake adorned with colorful, edible wildflowers that look like the ones I see whenever Katniss and I go for a walk in the woods together. The look of love in both of their eyes reminds me of when Katniss and I had our toasting.
After the couple leaves, I have an urge to call Katniss and make sure that she's alright, but I remind myself that I have to finish the other specialty cake. The customer will be here at closing, which is at six, and I still need to see what kind of decorations they asked for.
I bring the cake down from a cooling rack and onto a long metal counter that runs down the middle of the kitchen. I pull the order form from a clipboard hanging on the wall and examine the client's specific instructions.
They want the cake to be covered in a light yellow buttercream. White piping along the edges. And they want the words Congratulations, Daddy written on top.
I furrow my eyebrows. I've never made a cake and piped those words on it. I wonder what the cake is for. After a while of trying to figure it out, I call Ian from the kitchen.
"Yes?" he says as he peeks his head around the door.
"Do you know what this cake is for?"
Ian shifts around on the balls of his feet. "I think the client said that it was for her husband." He clears his throat. "She's pregnant, and she wants to tell him by surprising him with the cake."
"Oh," I say, finally understanding. "Okay, thanks."
"No problem," Ian replies quickly and disappears from the room.
I return to working on the cake. As I frost it, I can't help but think about how sweet and different the client's idea is. She must've put a lot of time and effort into coming up with such a brilliant idea. I bet her husband's reaction will make all of her thinking worthwhile.
I smile as I think about Katniss and how we've been trying to conceive for about two months now. I can't wait to have a child with her. I've wanted one ever since we were married, but only recently did Katniss decide that she wanted to start trying for a baby. I was ecstatic that day, and I can only imagine how I'll feel when Katniss tells me she's pregnant one day.
As much as I love to think of Katniss and our future child—hopefully children—I have to push thoughts of her aside to finish this cake. It's almost closing time, and the client will be here at any moment. I pipe the words Congratulations, Daddy on the top of the cake in cursive letters and step back when I'm done. The cake looks great, and I bet it'll look even greater to the soon-to-be father who will receive it.
I carefully box up the cake and take it up to the front counter of the bakery. I set the order form on top of the box and tape it to the lid.
"Here's that last specialty cake," I say to Ian, who is busy tidying up the pastry displays.
"The client should be here any second," he answers, grinning at me.
"I want to meet her," I say to him, grabbing a rag and polishing the glass case of one of the displays. "She must be very clever to have come up with something like this."
"Mhmm." Ian doesn't say anything else, which comes across as a little strange. He isn't the most talkative person around, but he usually says more than that. He and I are pretty close; ever since he began working here, I've looked at him as a younger brother.
First Katniss. Now Ian. I guess everybody's acting a little weird today.
The small chime of a bell causes me to stop wiping down the glass and turn around. I expect to see a client come in to collect the cake, but instead, Katniss steps into the bakery. My heart sinks and I instantly assume that something is wrong.
I rush over to her and envelope her in my arms. "Katniss, is everything okay?" I ask her, pulling away and searching for a sign of something wrong in her gray eyes. "Are you sick again?"
"No," she says with a smile as she shakes her head. "No, I'm fine."
Confusion spreads across my face. "Why are you here?" I question. Katniss visits me every once in a while, but not this close to closing time.
"I'm here," she answers, "because I need to pick up a cake that I ordered."
I stare at her, perplexed, and she gives me a coy smile. A cake? Why would Katniss order a cake? And wouldn't I have known about it since I make all of the specialty cakes?
My thoughts jumble together in my head as I try to make sense of what she just said. Then, I realize what she means.
She's the client who ordered the cake to surprise her husband with the news that he's going to be a father.
That husband is me.
My eyes grow impossibly wide, and I see her smile stretch from one ear to the other. "Congratulations, Daddy," she tells me with a laugh.
"Oh my God!" I exclaim, wrapping my arms around her waist and twirling her around in circles. She giggles, and I put her down.
My eyes meet hers. "You're pregnant?"
She nods. "Yes."
I shake my head in disbelief. "That's why you've been feeling sick," I say, putting all of the pieces together in my head.
She nods again. "I told you not to worry about me," she smiles.
"When did you find out?" I ask her.
"Yesterday," Katniss replies, reaching down to lace her fingers into mine. "I've been itching to tell you since then, but I wanted to do something special for you."
I press my lips onto hers, and we both smile against the other's mouth. "You're amazing," I tell her as we pull away from each other. "This is beyond special. Thank you."
"You should also thank Ian," she says, glancing over my shoulder at him. I turn around to see him bring the boxed cake over to us. "I wouldn't have been able to do this without him."
"I'm just glad I got to be a part of it," he answers, handing me the cake.
I give him a small hug of appreciation. "Thanks, man. For everything."
"No problem," he says. "You two should go. I'll lock everything up."
"Are you sure?" I ask him, weaving an arm around Katniss' waist and holding the box in the other.
"Yeah," Ian chuckles. "You have a cake to enjoy, don't you?"
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this cute little one-shot! Reviews would be greatly appreciated! (: