CHAPTER 4—You Look Beautiful
"So, we all know that Coin before her… death, was asking all of the remaining victors about their opinions on a Game involving the Capitol children. Mostly, of you all said no but a couple," her eyes glance at Haymitch but they lock on me. I look away and see Peeta next to me, staring at me. I don't dare look at him; I just stare at his hands. They are clasped in front of him, a light pink from the paint he must have used this morning. "Said yes. I and the rest of the Capitol are not going to go forward with this but I still want to hear why you are pressing on the yes."
Eventually everyone else's stares join Peeta's and fall upon me. I suddenly need and want air, I can feel my heart pounding against my chest, sweat trickling down my spine and past my eyes, feel my body stiffen. I clasp my hands tightly in my lap, feel my finger nails dig into my palm. I mostly did it for Prim, for revenge of the Capitol, for putting us through so much. I wanted them to hurt as we had, watch as they suffer as they did to us.
I'm explaining all of this quietly to everyone in the room. There isn't many victors left; only Haymitch, Beetee, Annie, Peeta and I sit in this small room. Effie has also decided to join us.
I'm shaking, with the feeling of wanting to cry, but I blink rapidly, trying to hold them back, not wanting to show any weakness in front of them.
Peeta's hand gently closes over my knitted hands and I latch onto it desperately. I close my eyes and drink in the feeling of Peeta's hand in mine, the warmness his body generates and the softness of his skin. I begin to talk again, hearing my voice only shake a few times. "But if I could change my answer now, I would—because I don't think making them go through what we did is a very humane act. And they weren't the ones that made us go through it exactly, Snow was."
I feel Peeta's hands squeeze mine and I squeeze back lightly. Haymitch explains that he saw how much pain I was in after Prim died and he remembered all of the awful times the Capitol had put him through, so he had agreed with me, the Mockingjay.
That night, Paylor invites Peeta and I to a ballroom party. I'm getting dressed into the orange dress, one of Cinna's creations, when there is a knock at the door. Quickly, doing up my last button on my light throwover, I hurry over to the door where Peeta awaits on the other side.
He takes in the dress and the corners of his mouth twist upwards. I feel my heart jump into my throat. He remembers, I think with glee.
He holds out his arm in a formal manner and full with hope for the future, I cling on as he leads me to dinner.
"Ah, Katniss, Peeta, so glad you could make it."
Peeta held out a small container which contained some fresh goods—cupcakes and cheese buns. "Thought you might like something sweet and/or savoury."
"Aw, thank you, Peeta, you're too sweet." She side glances at me and then out of the corner of her mouth she says, "You've got a good one." She winks at me.
I laugh, which sounded a little forced so I quickly turned it into a simple smile.
Paylor is dressed in a long silver gown that falls all the way to the ground. Around her chest are small frills and the sleeves are thin and criss-cross on the back.
"You look beautiful, Paylor." I compliment.
She looks at the orange dress that falls to my knees to my hair which is left out rather than in my trademark braid. "And so do you, Katniss."
"Thank you." I say.
We move into the ballroom of the big manor and find many people dressed up, dancing in pairs or groups or solo. Paylor moves off to talk with some of the other guests that she invited.
Peeta turns around to face me and extends his hand to me. "May I have this dance?" He asks me as the music slows to a slow waltz. I giggle and take his hand in mine, letting him pull me into the middle of the dance floor.
"She's right, you know?" Peeta whispers into my ear softly as we turn in slow circles. He rests his hands on my hips and mine around his neck.
"Hmm?" I mumble into his dress shirt.
"You do look beautiful." I blush and am thankful that he can't see my burning face. "You really do. I like your choice of dress too by the way."
He remembers, is all I can think. He remembers this dress from the Victory Tour.
"You remember?" I ask surprised.
He nods. "Of course I do. How can I forget about you in this dress, the dress that is my favourite colour."
"Just because of the hi-jacking—I know some things you can't tell if they really happened or not. I wasn't sure, I was hoping you would." I began to feel Peeta's body shaking against mine. I pull back to look at him in the eyes. I can see he's on the verge of another episode. "Peeta?" I squeak.
"Can I ask you one question, Katniss?" He asks me but doesn't give me time to answer because he asks it anyway. "You love me, real or not real?" I hesitate on my answer and automatically regret that pause. His face turns a shade of red and I'm already beginning to feel a little scared as I take a step backward. "I knew it," he yells and I see from the corner of my eye that some people are turning their gazes on us, including Paylor. "I knew you didn't love me. You don't do you? You just love him, you love him and not me! You're just pretending to love me to get closer to me so that you can kill me! Because you're a mutt, that's what you are! You know that? You're a mutt!" His voice has risen through many octaves and I can see Paylor's face turning worried.
She hurries over and assesses what's happening. "Oh, no." is all she says and I know that she understands what's happening at the moment.
"Peeta…" I think to all of the happy, scared moments that we've shared and realise I do love Peeta Mellark, I always have. Now I'm wondering why I didn't realise that my heart had already picked him before my brain even had time to realise this. "Peeta, I do, I do love you."
He faltered for a second and I saw his pupils subtract and then dilate again as the venom inside him took over once more. "No, you're just telling me that! You don't love me!"
"Peeta," I whisper before cradling his face between both of my palms. He struggles for a moment, even when I touch my lips to his; but as I look into his eyes I see the black pupils in his eyes shrink to their original size. Peeta slumps forward against me and buries his face into the crook of my shoulder. I feel the wetness of his tears on my skin and immediately begin to reassure him.
Everyone turns back to their conversations and Paylor goes back to the group she was talking with, trying to give us some privacy.
"I could have hurt you, I'm so sorry, Katniss." He continues to apologise until I pull away and look him in the eyes. His blonde hair is tousled and its all I can do to stop myself from running my hands through it.
"I'm not sorry." I say and he looks at me incredulously. "You helped me realise that I actually did love you. I have been unsure of my feelings lately, they've all been so jumbled—but you helped clear my head, helped me to realise that I do love you and I always have."
With that he crushes his lips to mine and like that time on the beach, I feel that spark that always has me wanting more.