Right Beside Each Other
1: Only The Beginning
Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games! All characters belong to Suzanne Collins.
A/N: Hi guys! I decided to start this story because the idea has been in my head for quite a while now and I got such a great response to "Congratulations, Daddy". This story will kind of be a continuation to my one-shot; you don't necessarily have to read it, but I would recommend it.
Okay, enough talking, enjoy! :)
My name is Katniss Everdeen. I live in District Twelve. I am married to Peeta Mellark. Our tenth toasting anniversary is in a few days. Snow is gone. The Hunger Games are a thing of the past…
Oh, and Peeta and I are expecting our first child.
I smile at the thought as I slowly tread through the woods with the man that I love by my side. I glance down at our intertwined fingers and study Peeta's hand, which is locked with mine. His palm feels smooth and warm against my own; he radiates life. Out of nowhere, I am instantly overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude at the fact that Peeta is alive and well, and that I am too, and that we're both healthy and happy together.
A few years ago, when I returned to District Twelve after the War, I never imagined that Peeta and I would be able to heal from our wounds, especially the ones that went deeper than the scars and bruises on the surface. Back then, I never thought that we would be able to have a normal life again. Over time, Peeta and I realized that we needed each other's support and company; we couldn't repair what was left of us on our own. Only we could understand each other's severe pain and torment. So after many months of facing continuous nightmares and frequent flashbacks wrapped in each other's arms, our hearts and minds painfully began to mend themselves back together, piece by piece. It was difficult, and there were many times when I felt like I just couldn't handle the suffering any longer. But Peeta and I made it through, side by side. And ever since then, we decided to face everything else in our lives the exact same way: right beside each other.
Today, Peeta still suffers from sporadic flashbacks, and I still wake up in the middle of the night screaming due to nightmares sometimes. Our lives are far from perfect. We've both come a long way from where we were ten years ago, but I don't think that we will ever completely heal. Those horrible memories of the Games and the War will stay with us for the rest of our lives. But despite everything that's happened to us, I feel blessed every time I wake up in the mornings enveloped in my husband's arms. I am beyond grateful that Peeta's still here with me and that we've been able to spend ten years together as a married couple already. And last but not least, I am so excited and scared—in a good way—that in a couple of months, Peeta and I will be parents.
"Are you alright, Katniss?" Peeta's voice snaps me out of my thoughts. "Do you need to rest for a little while?"
I shake my head. "No, I'm perfectly fine," I reply as we continue at a slow but steady pace through the forest. "Besides, I want us to make it to the lake in time to catch the sunset."
"Me too," he agrees, still holding on to my hand tightly. "I just don't want you to exhort yourself, that's all."
Peeta has been like this ever since I told him about the baby. He's been taking care of me and watching every little thing I do to make sure that the baby and I are okay. He's ecstatic about the pregnancy, and I think it's adorable how he's stepping up into the position of a father already. I've always known that Peeta is good with kids, especially since he and Prim used to get along so well. I honestly don't know why it took me ten years to say yes to the idea of having a baby. Perhaps it was the darkness of the past or the uncertainty of the future. Whatever the reason was, I'm overjoyed that Peeta and I are starting a family, especially since it's something Peeta's always wanted.
We keep walking through the woods in a blissful silence, our hands always clasped together. After about ten minutes, we reach a clearing in the trees, and the lake comes into view. The sun is just beginning to dip in the early evening sky, causing the surface of the lake to gleam under the light. We find a comfortable spot about ten feet from the lake with a great view of the sunset; I sit between Peeta's legs and lay my head back on his chest while his arms pull me even closer to him. I sigh in contentment as I look up toward the sky, which is a beautiful shade of dark orange—Peeta's favorite color. My favorite color has always been forest green, but I must admit that the mix of rich reds and oranges that paints the sky is utterly breathtaking.
Peeta and I are both quiet for a few minutes as we watch the different hues in the sky blend together to create one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen. Then he speaks.
"This reminds me of that one day when we were in the Capitol," Peeta whispers quietly. "That day we spent together up on the roof."
I don't reply. Peeta seldom speaks of the past, especially of things that took place in the Capitol. We've seen many sunsets together after that one evening years ago, but this is the first time he's ever brought it up.
"That was a wonderful day," he sighs. "Well, any day with you is wonderful."
Turning around slightly to face him, I smile and place a chaste kiss on his lips. "Every day with you is wonderful," I murmur against his mouth.
Peeta grins back at me, his blue eyes sparkling. "I love you."
"I love you, too," I answer, kissing him once again. He returns the kiss with passion as he laces his fingers through my long, dark hair, bringing me closer to him. We pull away when the need to breathe becomes too much. Then we watch the rest of the sunset until the sky is a gorgeous shade of purple and the sun has almost disappeared under the horizon. After a few more kisses, we decide to make our way back home.
As soon as we begin walking away from the lake, Peeta grabs my hand tightly. "Be careful, Katniss. I don't want you to trip and fall since it's getting dark."
I giggle. "Peeta, I'm pretty sure that I know these woods better than you do. I think you're the one who needs to be careful," I reply, and he laughs along with me because he knows I'm right. Peeta's never liked the outdoors very much. I've tried to teach him some basic hunting skills before, but he would rather just stick to baking and painting.
"I hope our son or daughter takes after you," Peeta says. "Hopefully they won't be cursed with my lack of hunting abilities!"
"Whether they're cursed or not, they will know how to use a bow and arrow by the time they're three," I answer.
"Three?" Peeta exclaims, his eyes widening. "Can't we teach them something less dangerous first, like painting?"
I laugh. "I'm just joking. And you better teach them how to paint and bake."
Peeta nods. "Oh, trust me, I will! Someone has to take over the bakery when I retire."
"Your retirement is a long time away," I laugh. "We haven't even gotten through the first doctor's appointment, Peeta. I think it's a little too early to start planning the baby's future."
"Yeah, you're right. It is a tad too early," Peeta says sarcastically. "Speaking of your first appointment, when is it?"
"I haven't called Dr. Keene yet, but I will when we get home," I reply.
Peeta grins. "Great," he says.
After that, we walk the rest of the way to the Victor's Village in silence—a good kind of silence. Peeta and I are already both so caught up in the anticipation of our baby boy or girl that there are no words that need to be shared; the feeling of expectation and wonder is mutual. We are so delighted and content already that I don't know how we're going to make it through nine long months of waiting until Peeta and I will be able to hold our baby for the first time.
"…Okay. Thank you so much, Dr. Keene. See you tomorrow."
I hang up the telephone. My lips curve into a soft smile as I turn toward Peeta, who is bent over the stove, busy preparing tonight's dinner. I stand right beside him as I grab a small potato from the kitchen counter and begin to peel its skin off.
He cocks his head to the side to look at me. "So?" he asks impatiently. "What did he say?"
I smile at his eagerness and excitement. "Tomorrow, at my appointment, he's going to run some blood tests to make sure that I really am pregnant," I answer. I put the potato in an empty bowl and start on the next one.
Peeta furrows his eyebrows. "But you took a test and it was positive. You are—"
"Sometimes home pregnancy tests can be wrong," I say nonchalantly, not thinking about my response.
Peeta is silent for a few moments. I glance at him and see that his eyes are clouded over with worry and sadness. I realize what he's thinking—that the test could be wrong, that I'm not really pregnant.
I place a hand on his arm, and he stares into my gray eyes with his piercing blue ones. "Peeta, I doubt the test I took was wrong. Besides, Dr. Keene confirmed that all of the things I'm experiencing are pregnancy symptoms. Those blood tests are routine, and they're not just to see if I'm pregnant or not. They're for other things, too."
He relaxes, and the light in his eyes slowly returns. "Right, I'm sorry," he says softly. "I just don't know what I'd do if the test you took was wrong."
"You have nothing to worry about, Peeta," I assure him. I gently grab one of his hands and place it on my stomach. There's nothing there yet, but in a few weeks there will be. Our eyes meet, and I know that we're both thinking the same thing.
"It's just so amazing," Peeta sighs, "that there's a little person in there. A little human being that we made."
"It's unbelievable," I say quietly. All I can do is stare down at Peeta's hand resting on my abdomen and think about the words he just said. The beauty and intimacy of this moment suddenly overwhelms me, and tears threaten to fall from my eyes. I try my best to hold them back because I barely show my emotions, unlike Peeta, who wears his heart on his sleeve. One single tear escapes and rolls down my cheek. Peeta notices and swipes it away with his thumb. He smiles brightly at me, and I return the grin.
"Why are you crying?" he asks me, taking both of my hands into his.
A few more tears make their way down the sides of my face, despite my efforts. "I'm just really happy," I answer as Peeta's warm hands cup my face and his thumbs wipe my tears away.
I see a gleam in Peeta's bright blue eyes as he says, "So am I."
He gently presses a kiss to my forehead before we resume making dinner. Peeta skillfully mixes together a bunch of ingredients in a pot of simmering broth to make his family's old beef stew recipe. As the hot soup comes to a boil, I set the table. I take out three bowls, three sets of utensils, and three glasses. Just as Peeta announces that the stew is ready, there's a knock at the door.
Peeta looks at me. "Are we going to mention anything to Haymitch about the baby?"
I shake my head. "No, not yet. It'll be our little secret for now."
"Ian already knows. It's not much of a secret," Peeta chuckles, slicing a loaf of bread.
I think of Peeta's assistant at the bakery who helped me break the news to Peeta about the pregnancy. Ian's never been good with keeping secrets. It was a miracle that he was able to help me carry out my plan without spilling the beans in the process.
"I told him not to tell anyone else," I reply, moving toward the front door. Before I turn the knob, I look back at Peeta. "No word about the baby, okay?" I whisper.
He nods. "Okay," he whispers back.
I open the door and there stands Haymitch. His hair is in a tousled, unruly mess on top of his head, his clothes are horribly wrinkled, and he has a bottle of whisky in his hand.
He looks completely…normal.
"Hey, sweetheart," he slurs as he stumbles into the house, clearly intoxicated. I shut the door and follow him into the kitchen, where Peeta is busy ladling the beef stew into the bowls on the dining table.
Haymitch slumps into a chair. "Boy, this smells fantastic," he says as he takes a deep breath, inhaling the savory scent of the stew. He licks his lips and instantly starts shoving spoonfuls of the soup into his mouth.
Peeta and I exchange a glance. Haymitch is acting as if he hasn't eaten in days—then again, he is drunk.
Peeta shrugs and sits down at the table, and I join him. I'm about to start digging into my bowl of stew when I suddenly begin to feel nauseous. I set my spoon down to see if the wave of nausea will subside without me having to run to the bathroom to throw up.
Peeta notices that I'm not eating and gives me a worried look. I glance over to make sure Haymitch isn't paying attention to us before patting my stomach softly. Peeta instantly understands what I mean and continues to eat his dinner while I don't touch my food at all.
Haymitch slurps up the last bit of his stew before looking up at me. "Why aren't you eating, sweetheart? That was the best plate of beef stew I've ever had in my life," he says, taking a swig of whiskey.
"I had a little bit of it," I lie, hoping he won't notice in his drunken state that I haven't had one bite of food.
"Sweetheart, you haven't touched your plate," Haymitch states, staring at me. "I may be drunk, but I'm sure as hell not stupid. What's up with you?"
I feel my cheeks begin to burn up. I honestly don't know how Haymitch will react to the news that I'm pregnant, but I really don't want to find out yet. It's been nice basking in the excitement of it all with Peeta—just Peeta. I want us to have a little more time to enjoy the pregnancy by ourselves before we tell everybody else.
"I've just been under the weather lately, that's all," I answer, trying to sound as truthful as I can.
"Ah, still vomiting?" Haymitch asks.
My eyes widen slightly. "How did you know about that?"
"I told him a few days ago when I was really worried about you," Peeta says.
"You still haven't taken her to the doctor, Peeta?" Haymitch questions, raising an eyebrow.
"I'm going to see the doctor tomorrow," I say quickly. I want this conversation to be over with before Haymitch has time to ask any more questions. "Peeta, why don't you offer Haymitch some dessert?"
"Oh, right." Peeta hastily rises from his seat to grab a platter full of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, which happen to be one of Haymitch's favorites. Before he can even set the tray down on the table, Haymitch grabs a handful of cookies and scarfs them down in between gulps of whiskey. As he swallows the last bite of the cookies, Haymitch sends me a suspicious glare, indicating that he knows something is up.
"Well," he starts as he stands up from his chair, "thanks for dinner, you two. Goodnight."
"Goodnight," Peeta and I both say in unison. I start clearing the table while Peeta accompanies Haymitch to the front door. I'm washing the dirty dishes when Peeta comes back into the kitchen and wraps his arms around my waist from behind.
"That was close," he says.
"Yes, very close," I agree, nodding my head.
"When are we going to tell everyone, Katniss?" Peeta asks as he begins to help me with the dishes.
I dry one of the clean bowls. "I don't know," I reply. I thought about how to tell Peeta the news for so long that I neglected to think of when to tell everybody else. But we still have a while to ponder it.
So I say, "We'll tell everyone when the time is right."
I fiddle with the end of my braid nervously as I sit in the waiting area of the maternity wing in the hospital. I didn't think that I would feel anxious or worried about my first appointment, and after Haymitch left last night, I actually felt pretty excited about it. But now, sitting in a lobby with other pregnant women, it feels much more real. I quietly watch a blonde-haired lady who doesn't appear much older than I do as she flips through a pamphlet about labor and delivery. One of her hands rests on her large, round belly. She looks beautiful, as if she's glowing. I wonder how I'll look when I'm farther along in my pregnancy.
A nurse opens a door that leads to many examination rooms and looks down at a clipboard in her hands. "Wren Edenthaw?"
The woman folds up the pamphlet and follows the nurse to a room. I look down at my hands and fidget with them until another nurse appears. "Katniss Everdeen?"
I take a deep breath as I get up and follow the young nurse to a room. She instructs me to have a seat and then takes my blood pressure. After she checks my heart and lungs with her stethoscope, she gathers her things and heads toward the door. "Dr. Keene will be with you shortly."
"Thank you," I say, and she leaves.
I haven't been waiting long when Dr. Keene enters the room. The older man, probably in his late fifties, greets me with a warm smile. "Hello, Katniss," he says as he shakes my hand. "How are you feeling?"
"Alright," I reply, trying to muster a smile, despite how anxious I feel.
Dr. Keene flips through some papers in his hand. "Well, I already told you over the phone how this appointment will go, but before I run the blood tests and examine you, I'd like to try and determine your due date. How long ago did you say that you started feeling symptoms?"
"Um," I start, "about three or four weeks ago."
Dr. Keene nods. "Do you remember when you had your last period?"
"Yes, September 6th," I answer.
Dr. Keene hastily jots down what I've told him. "Well, according to that, your estimated date of delivery is June 13th." He looks up at me and grins. "Are you excited?"
I nod. "Yes, very," I say, smiling. "I'm also a bit scared though."
He chuckles. "All first time mothers feel the same way. Don't worry, it's perfectly normal to be scared."
Dr. Keene's words make me feel a little bit better, but just a little bit.
"Alright, Katniss, I'm going to need you to change into this hospital gown," he says, handing it to me. He makes his way towards the door. "I'll be back in a few minutes."
After he leaves, I quickly undress and slip on the gown. I think about Peeta and how I wish he could be here with me now as I wait for Dr. Keene to come back. He was really sad this morning that he couldn't come along with me today, but he had about ten cake orders to finish at the bakery. I can't wait to see him later tonight and tell him all about it.
Dr. Keene returns to run the blood tests and examine me. Afterwards, I change and get ready to go home. The doctor hands me all kinds of different pamphlets and books about pregnancy, then talks to me about some things I should and shouldn't do during the next nine months. I feel overwhelmed and blown away by all of the information he's telling me, and the expression on my face lets him know exactly that.
"Don't worry about having to remember all of this stuff, Katniss," he says. "Most of this information is in the literature I've given you. And don't let anything I'm saying scare you. As long as you take good care of yourself, the baby will be just fine."
I smile softly at him. "Thank you, doctor. Peeta and I are just so excited about the baby."
Dr. Keene chuckles. "Don't get too excited just yet. This is only the beginning."
A/N: Thanks for reading and please review!