I am very sorry for the short and overdue chapter! It was supposed to be one big chapter but I decided to split it up into two parts. It's really just a filler chapter. BUT another chapter will be uploaded Sunday, maybe tomorrow night and it will be longer and finally introduce Gale into the story! Thanks for all the few but sweet reviews! they're appreciated a lot!
I don't remember the walk home, nor do I remember how I got into bed. I don't even snap back into reality until I wake up in the middle of the night screaming my lungs out. "Katniss, Katniss!" Peeta's voice raises, trying to get my attention. My eyes snap wide open and I gasp for air. Peeta brushes my hair out of my face, his warm hand gently caresses my cheek. "It's ok, Katniss. It was just a dream."
I shake my head. "They were on fire, Peeta." I pant, my voice is raw and I can't stop from trembling.
Peeta, being very familiar with my dreams, doesn't need a full explanation. He knows exactly what I'm talking about. He cuffs my face into his hands while I continue to sob. "Katniss, open your eyes and look at me." I'm fighting very hard to stop crying, I'm not supposed to be weak like this but truthfully, it's a fight to even raise my head right now. "You're name is Katniss. You fought and survived two Hunger Games, a war and now this nightmare. It wasn't real. You're safe now."
It's funny how Peeta uses the same technique that I use almost every day. I'm still tortured by the remaining facts though. For the nightmare was real. It was a memory and constant reminder that my little sister is dead. I thought that I had almost come to terms with her death, it being a dull ache in my heart but coming close to healing. But now, with Gale's life hanging on by a thread, it feels like that hole has been ripped open ten times wider.
"It hurts like hell, Peeta." I confess while gripping onto his shirt for dear life.
Peeta rubs my back soothingly and kisses my temple gently. "I know but it won't last forever." He whispers.
I hope he's right. I almost, almost wanted to snap at him and ask him how he knows but then a brutal reminder reminds me that every single family member of his is dead. I remember Mr. Mellark, Peeta's father, the sweet, kind hearted baker that was always more generous than he had to be. Gone. All of his brothers…gone. All of them…gone. Never coming back. I feel another stab of guilt and cling tighter to Peeta.
"How do you do it, Peeta? How do you lose everything including your family, go through the hell you've gone through and still find a way to be yourself?" I whisper into his chest.
Peeta holds me tighter then rest his chin on my head. "I'm not the same person I used to be, Katniss. I knew that as soon as I got out of the first Games. I used to beat myself over it but then I realized that if the Capitol was going to change me, I wouldn't let it be for the bad. Despite everything that I've gone through, I try to focus on a brighter future because that's what my father and the other people that I loved would want and what Snow would despise. I focus on the one reason that I'm still here."
"And what's that?" I ask curiously.
"You." He replies simply.
The only response that I have are my tears that slowly soak his shirt. Once again I remember Haymitch's words. "Find a reason, even if it's just one and stand on it. Grab a hold of it and whatever you do, don't let it go."
"You're the only reason I'm not dead right now." I say quietly.
"That's a start. Now find another and tell me what or who it is and why."
I pull away and look at him with an annoyed expression, which he responds with a smile. "Go on." He insists.
It takes me a moment before I say, "Gale, because he's still my best friend. We've always been there for each other."
"Good, now another." He encourages.
"Haymitch." I say randomly, which makes Peeta laugh. "What? He may be an old drunk but it he did save my ass more than once." I scowl while my cheeks burn.
Peeta laughs harder. "It's nothing. I just expected Haymitch to be pretty low on that list."
"Yeah well, maybe we've gotten closer recently." I reply sarcastically yet at the same time mean every word. "I used to hate him but I've realized how much he's done for us and he'll never openly admit it but his actions shows that he cares."
Peeta nods. "I understand." He says then motions for me to continue. "Name some more."
"Finnick," I say with tears in my eyes. "Because he got me through a really hard time when we were in 13. He helped me keep my sanity whenever I felt like I was slipping away. It's hard to believe I ever wanted to kill him at one time."
Peeta gives a sympathetic smile. "In your defense, that was before we knew he was going to be our ally."
A smirk pulled at my lips. "Yeah, those were the days." I whisper. I lean back against the headboard and close my eyes while naming more people who are no longer here but have made a difference in my life. Rue, Cinna, Portia, Mags, Madge, Boggs, Johanna, the list goes on and on, no matter how short amount of a time they were in my life, they were there and they played a part that helped get me where I am today. All of them were either allies, friends, family or just someone who gave me hope during a bad time.
I sigh, feeling a little lighter than I have in a while. Though it still hurts to know that these people are gone, there's an undeniable fact that they're the reason that I'm here right now. They loved and supported me through hard times and saved my life. That's too many sacrifices to let go to waste. So how do I make them worthwhile? It's too easy to just live and I've never been the type to take the easy route.
I lean against Peeta, feeling exhausted. I haven't had a good sleep in a long time. "I guess my biggest reason right now is Gale," I confess. "I'm so afraid I'm going to lose him."
Peeta strokes my hair soothingly. "He'll make it through. When he has someone so strong and stubborn fighting for him, he can't lose even if he wanted to because it's not an option. I know, I've been in that situation." He says.
I close my eyes and begin to drift off. "I hope you're right." I whisper faintly.
He kisses my head softly then wraps me in his arms. "Go to sleep, I'm right here." he whispers in my ear.
My eyes, which were so heavy, oblige and immediately close. The rest of my body relaxes and I nestle into his chest. With one hand Peeta rubs comforting circles up and down my back and with the other, he plays with my hair. Soon, I forget the pain I'm going through and drift into a place between sleep and reality. It's dark and there are no monsters, mutts or people drowning in flames but I can still hear his faint heart beat in the distance. It's a peaceful darkness that I wish would last forever.
Before I fall completely asleep, Peeta whispers something in my ear. "I wish I could find a way to explain how much I love you." He says then kisses my temple softly.
At first I think of how blunt he is but then I realize that he probably thinks that I'm asleep. I can't deny that I feel a little tingly at his confession but at the same time, it still scares me a bit because it seems everyone that I dare love is sooner or later taken away from me.
But I do love him. I can freely say that without a script or prompting from Haymitch or anyone else. Between the Games, war and all the pain we've endured these past couple of years, it's brought us closer. It's one of the few things that I can be thankful for. It's moments like this that I feel grateful that we never gave up on each other.
However, I myself in the same situation. Because I love him but one, I'm terrified and two, I have no idea how to explain either.