Stay another day

I walk along the edge of the trees, by the sparkling lake. The leaves are orange, and brown. Like fire, like her, like the way she makes me feel. Like the girl I almost lost my life for. The girl I'd give my life for over and over again. Katniss.

Her name sends a wave of butterflies into my stomach and my heart dances for her. Every time that name escapes my lips; I get that intense, burning passion for her. The leaves crunch under foot and the water laps against the shore. My breath mists in the air. I see her then.

She's lying against the leaves, lying with her hair spread around her. This is one of the only times I've seen her hair not confined to the tight brown plait. It spills onto the ground and reflects the sunshine of a crisp autumn morning. Her eyes sparkle.

I approach her, and smile. I'm never not smiling when I'm with her.

' That's an odd place to be cloud gazing'. I say.

'If you can't take strangeness then one, why are you with me, and two you're perfectly welcome to walk away. So kindly shut up and go away. Or you could come and sit with me. Your choice'. She doesn't look at me as she speaks, but I hear the smile in her voice.

Without another word I plonk down on the leaves and lie down next to her. We don't speak for a while. But she takes my hand and I hold it tight. Her body curves next to mine, and I can feel the thudding of her heart. Her breath tickles my cheek. She smells like the forest. I want to just stop time, freeze the moment and lay down in the forest forever. Next to the lake, with the golden leaves and the birds. And next to her. Forever near enough for me to reach out and hold her.

I love her. I would yell it to the heavens if I needed to. But I don't. They already know. She is mine. I am hers. It is that simple, happiness you find when you are with the only one you could ever be with. I love the way she laughs; I love the way she looks when she's angry, and the way I feel when she's next to me. I can never lose her. We went through so much. Nothing can part us. Ever again. I think of who she once was. That harsh, beautiful cold girl. The girl who hated to be saved.

She is still her, but she isn't afraid of emotion anymore. I like to think that that is because of me. I hold her closer, and whisper into her hair,

'I love you'

And the she turns to me at last, and gazes at me with those grey eyes, so bright they're almost silver. And in her gaze she says more than she ever could with words. She leans into me, and our lips meet. Her lips are warm and soft and gentle. My eyes close and once again I savour the feel of her in my arms, my hand is in her hair, I always thought her hair would be rough. It's not. Its soft and shiny and silky as my hand runs through it. We break apart and our eyes flutter open, she gently leans her beautiful head forward and it rests on my chest, right beside my heart. We lie there and her breathing gets heavier, more rhythmical. I realize she is asleep. I study her face and once again I take in every freckle I already have memorised. I look at the tiny scar on her upper lip. Her breath makes the tiny strand of hair resting over her mouth jump softly. I laugh softly. I don't ever believe the capitol could twist such a beautiful memory.

I don't believe they turned me against her. But now we are together. That's all that matters. I gaze into her face. I don't know how long I gazed, but when she woke it was late afternoon. I see the way she looks at me, and when she leans forward, I'm almost smiling too much to kiss her.

Almost.

She stands. She looks at me, and stretches out her hand. I take it and let her lift me up. We stand there for a moment, and look at each other. She releases my hand and kisses my cheek. It tingles. 'I have to go,' she whispers.

'Don't leave'. I beg.

'I have to. Prim will be waiting'.

It hurts me to watch her leave. It makes my heart burn into embers, and it feels like my soul leaves me. She is the only reason I live. And yet every time she's not with me, this crashing depression thuds against my head. I see those things again. The things the capitol put into my head. And reality and fiction mixes up once more.

I see her kiss gale. That's not real. Is it? I see her face morphing into a mutt, and it savagely rips me apart and laughs while I bleed my life away. No. No, not real, please let it be not real. I see her helping me, then pushing me down again. I see her laugh as the capitol lead me away. I see the knife in her hand, trying to find my heart. I see the cruelty in her eyes as she stabs me, and leaves me there and walks off with gale. Not real, not real, make it stop.

I realize I'm rocking back and forth, crying out. I see her telling me it was all a game. That she never loved me. Wait, no, no, that's real. She was cruel and vicious. Maybe it's all real. She wants to hurt me. She's evil. I see her sick smile at my pain. I see her and me by the tracks. I try to talk to her; she pushes me to the track and leaves me there to die. It hurts. Oh the pain. Make it stop, it hurts, stop, stop.

She never gave a damn. She tried to kill me in the hunger games. We only survived because the capitol was merciful. No. That's not real. But what is. Where is the line between fiction and reality? Where is the line between bitterness and insanity? All she ever did was hurt.

She doesn't care. She's only going to hurt me again. I'm crying now. It's night. Nobody's missing me though. Nobody cares if I go and never come back. Even she doesn't care. That selfish, manipulative girl. The one who only wants to hurt.

I look up, and see those evil grey eyes staring at me. But wait, what? In her eyes I see pity. Why does she pity me? Evil doesn't pity the weak. Katniss leans down towards me. That monster takes my hands. It hurts when she touches me. I snap my hand away.

'Peeta…' she says, almost gently. But I know she just wants to hurt me.

'GO AWAY. JUST LEAVE ME ALONE. ALL YOU WANT TO DO IS HURT ME. YOU DON'T CARE. STOP PRETENDING. YOU DON'T CARE. YOU DON'T GIVE A DAMN. SO JUST GO AWAY.'

I scream with that animal, insane anger that has been pent up inside of me all this time. She looks at me, and I see hurt in her eyes. I see the confusion, the hurt, and finally an odd look of understanding.

'Peeta… ' She pleads again. But I am not done yet.

'YOU TRIED TO KILL ME. YOU TOOK MY LOVE AND THREW IT AWAY. YOU JUST RAN BACK TO GALE. YOU SET THE MUTTS ON ME. YOU PUSHED ME TO THE TRAIN TRACKS AND LAUGHED WHILE I STRUGGLED'. My voice cracks.

She looks so hurt. I don't know why I suddenly feel bad.

'Peeta,' she whispers, as she takes my hand, 'Not real'.

I look at her and know she speaks the truth. I remember her saving me. I remember how beautiful she is. I remember I love her. I break down in tears. I hold her hand tight. I lean against her and sob. Like a little kid. But I know she will not judge me. She just holds me. All my anger is gone. Replaced with a horrible, wrenching guilt. I whisper hoarsely

'I'm sorry.'

And she looks at me, and as we sit under the stars by the lake, I know she forgives me. As long as she's here, I know she'll forgive me.