The early morning sun flickered in the windows as Katniss rolled unto her back. In the gauzy light that filtered through the curtain, she could see her husband, sprawled across the space where she had been lying a moment before. He snored, flinging out his arm in sleep, reaching out to pull her close.
It was Sunday. Blissful Sunday. The only day of the week they ever allowed themselves to sleep in.
But apparently she couldn't do that.
Granted, it was a little later than they usually woke. After sharing the same bed for thirty-five years, she found herself completely unable to sleep as soon as he left it. Of course, when the children had been babies, it had been different. Both of them were so constantly exhausted that they just slept wherever, and whenever they could. But now that the children were teenagers, even on the days she didn't hunt she found it impossible to sleep in later than Peeta.
And for a baker, sleeping in meant little more than staying in bed past five in the morning.
Despite his frequent protests that she shouldn't bother herself, she would make him breakfast as he showered, kiss him when he left, and then spend the rest of the early morning in the garden until the children woke up. When it was too cold for that, she tanned leather on the kitchen table.
He hated that. Said it was unsanitary, and it definitely made the whole house smell. But she did it anyway, and laughed when he poured vanilla on rags and hung them from the ceiling.
"What are you thinking about?" he rumbled next to her. The fact was, he couldn't really sleep without her either. He grew restless whenever she rolled away in her sleep and would eventually wake up if they didn't roll back together again.
She sighed, smacking her lips a little bit, "Oh, just how funny you are when you get angry."
He propped himself up on his elbow, feigning offense. "I don't know who you're talking about. I never get angry."
"What about yesterday when Fletcher was four hours late for dinner?" she asked smugly.
"That was a special exception," he said, "I wasn't… angry. I was worried for his safety."
"You were sputtering. I think your face turned purple."
He slid close to her and began to nuzzle her collarbone, "Must have been the lighting."
"It seemed fine to me."
"Really?" he slid the straps of her nightgown down her arm and began placing gentle kisses across her collarbone. "Because your face looked a little blue. I think we need to replace the light bulb in the kitchen."
"Peeta–" she half-groaned, half-gasped as he nipped at her skin.
His smile was innocent, but his eyes were devious, "What Katniss? Are you worried about the lamps? Because I can go down and fix them right now."
"Don't you dare," she growled.
"Then what is it?" he asked in mock confusion, gently sliding his fingers from the valley between her breasts and down her stomach, pushing her nightgown as he went.
"It's been so long," she whispered.
He chuckled against her navel, "It's been a week. Who would have thought you'd be so insatiable at the ripe old age of…nghg!"
His words were strangled away as she grasped him.
"If you don't take me right now, Peeta Mellark, you're not going to be able to walk for days."
Sliding on top of her, he whispered in her ear, "I dunno, love. You might be the one who can't walk."
Something in his voice alone made her toes curl in anticipation.
"You do remember what day it is, right?" she asked lazily over the sound of him trying to catch his breath. Her head was draped over his chest, the streaks of her salt and peppered hair spilling all the way across him and to the other side of the bed.
"Of course I do!" he replied defensively. After a moment's consideration, he looked down at her and asked, "How could I forget the day that Thom broke his leg helping me move the oven? You wound me."
"Oh shut up."
Sliding her head gently onto his lap, he sat up, "Katniss, I will die before I forget our daughter's birthday."
"Don't joke about things like that," she chided him, sitting up herself.
He slid out of bed and pulled on a pair of loose pajama pants, then slipped into his robe. The sunlight caught on the small collection of hair on his chest. "You think I'm joking?"
"Peeta…" she began.
"I'm going to go downstairs and put the cinnamon rolls I made last night in the oven," he interrupted her, leaning forward to kiss her on the cheek. "If you still want to talk about this, we can once they're done."
Katniss nodded, biting her lip. There was no point in arguing. The rare times that Peeta avoided talking about things, he really didn't want to talk about them. His poor memory was an iffy thing. Sometimes he joked about it casually, and other times, he made jokes to cover up how badly it bothered him. Predicting when he was going to react which way was difficult, even now.
Slipping from the bed herself, she headed into the shower and tried to focus on the good things. It wasn't actually that difficult. The nightmares were less frequent, his episodes pretty rare, and their children… they really were something to be proud of.
She had lost track of time, just letting the hot water spill over her back and shoulders, when she heard her daughter's scream.
A fear she had convinced herself was irrational for seventeen years exploded in her heart like a parachute bomb. She leapt out of the shower, not even stopping to turn off the water. Grabbing the nearest towel, she clumsily wrapped it around herself while running across the room. She wrenched the door open just in time to hear Peeta roar.
"What the hell is this?"
Across the hall, Fletcher had stumbled out of the door of his room in his shorts, hair sticking up all over the place. "Dad?" he asked blearily, staring at his father. Peeta was standing outside of his daughter's room, holding a plate of cinnamon buns and a glass of orange juice. He was clenching the glass of juice so hard it was likely to crack.
His face was definitely purple.
Hope stumbled to the door, dressed her pajamas, a look of absolute humiliation in her eyes. Katniss sighed in relief as she saw that there was absolutely nothing physically wrong with her daughter.
However, her sigh was quickly replaced by a sharp intake when a lanky body stepped into view.
"What is hedoing in your room?" Peeta hissed.
The boy leaned against the doorframe and ran his fingers through his wild, dark hair. "It's not what you think, Mister Mellark," he said with a casual shrug. If it were possible, Peeta's face turned four shades darker.
Fletcher snorted away a laugh.
Realizing that something had to be done before Peeta had an episode in the general direction of their unexpected houseguest's face, Katniss stepped beside her husband and pried the glass of orange juice from his clawlike grip. "What exactly is going on here?"
"We were… last night… that is to say… we fell asleep talking…" Hope stumbled through her explanation, pale cheeks almost as flushed as her father's.
"Talking? That's what they call it now?" Fletcher called down the hall.
Katniss turned and shot him a look.
"Alright, alright. I'm going to back to sleep. I don't want to know anyway," his door closed with a snick.
"He was sleeping in your bed," Peeta choked out.
"I think it'd be the not sleeping that you'd be worried about," the boy remarked, green eyes sparkling.
The plate cracked like a gunshot, and the cinnamon buns scattered across the floor.
Katniss cleared her throat, "Jasper, you should probably… go."
"Alrighty then," the boy nodded. He leaned over and kissed Hope softly, then whispered something in her ear that made her blush even more. Before her father could say anything, the boy brushed past him, and then ran down the stairs.
"HOPE, I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU!" Peeta exploded as the door slammed. "Brazenly sneaking him of all people into your room and… GAH! You are far too young for this sort of behavior, young lady."
With the departure of her gentleman caller, Hope's embarrassment transformed into fury, "Sure Dad, because when you were my age, you weren't telling the entire country that you got Momma pregnant or anything!"
"That wasn't real, Hope," Katniss said in a level, controlled voice.
"Well, this wasn't real either!" Hope cried. "We were just talking and then we fell asleep. Nothing happened."
Peeta scoffed, "I don't care what you were doing, young lady. Boys his age only want one thing, and I'll bedamned if I sit idly in bed a room over while some mop-haired, long-legged maniac deflowers my daughter!"
"How do you know that ship didn't sail a year ago?" Hope spat defiantly.
Her father put both of his hands in his hair and yanked, hard.
"Stop it! Both of you!" Katniss bellowed so loudly that her voice reverberated down the hall.
Taking a deep breath, she began again, "Now, Peeta, why don't you go and sit down in our room, while I talk to Hope, okay?"
"I-I-I am not going to sit down, Katniss" he sputtered.
She turned to glare at him directly.
"Then bake something."
He took each step on the stairs more heavily than normal, grumbling the entire way.
Katniss bent down to pick up two cinnamon rolls, then handed one of them and the glass of orange juice to her daughter.
"Happy birthday, little goose," she smiled knowingly. "I think we should probably talk."
"So that's all that boys his age think about, hm?" she murmured, having crept up behind him.
Her words startled him, and a cloud of flour flew in the air as he dropped the measuring cup he was holding. His robe had been discarded on a chair and the settling flour stuck to his bare skin.
Swinging his head around, he glared at her, "Yes."
"Well, as I recall, you seemed pretty content not trying anything when you were his age. Do you even remember the first time we shared a bed after the war? We most definitely did not do any of the things you're so worried about."
He spun around completely, "That was entirely different, Katniss. We were so broken… and…"
"So you never thought about it? About being with me like that? All those nights we slept together, even before the war? You never wanted to just…" she trailed off, reaching up her hand and dragging her fingers from the base of his skull down his spine.
"Of course I did, I was only human," he said sheepishly, looking at the floor. After a moment, he tipped up his head, peering at her out of the corner of his eyes and looking all of sixteen again. "And you were… are… absolutely lovely."
She ignored the fluttering in her heart, "But you didn't try anything."
The moment was gone, "Well, of course, I didn't! We were going through hell! But this kid has never had to do any of that. He's got no worries at all! Everything is just sex sex sex!"
"Do you think he could force Hope to do something she didn't want to do?" she asked frankly.
"And do you trust our daughter?" she crossed her arms.
"Yes," he said quietly.
"She says they didn't do anything. I believe her. We can set more ground rules if you want, but in the end, we can only trust her, Peeta."
He leaned forward and kissed her softly. "You're right."
And that was that.
For the first time, she noticed that the counter was absolutely covered in ingredients. There was definitely more than just enough for a single batch of anything.
"What are you making here?" she leaned into the counter as he crossed the kitchen to get the broom.
"Cakes," he said distractedly as he began to sweep.
"More than one? Why?"
He briefly grimaced and turned his focus back the task at hand. "One's for Hope's birthday dinner."
"And the other?"
Laying aside the broom, he shot her a guilty grin.
"It's for me."