Ciao! Sorry, this chapter took a while to write. I've been really busy. :(
But anyway, they're about fifteen in the first part and sixteen in the very last part of this chapter.
Read and Enjoy!
Now son, I'm only telling you this...
Because life, can do terrible things
The staring contest had finally begun. The interrogation lasted for about fifteen minutes. Peeta tried as hard as he could to answer every question perfectly, but he knew that he was messing up some of his answers. Every time he glanced to his left, he saw Katniss smiling at him, and his confidence returned. Surely, her father would not say no if Katniss was so happy to have him there. Mr. Everdeen seemed to notice, since he eventually let up and turned to his wife.
"What do you think, Violet?"
"Me?" she asked rhetorically, as she smiled at Peeta. "I think he's a wonderful young man."
"Thank you so much," Peeta said, letting out a sigh of relief.
He could not help but smile, as Katniss squeezed his hand under the table. Prim, who was watching from the stairs in the next room, sighed and thanked heaven that her father had not been too hard on him. Mr. Everdeen smiled back and chuckled, as he took in the look on Peeta's face.
"Scared you a little, didn't I?"
"Well..." He gulped, too afraid to lie. "A bit..."
"Good." He smirked. "That means you won't be trying anything behind my back, will you?"
Katniss giggled quietly, as she watched Peeta's face turning pink from nervousness. Mrs. Everdeen shushed her, even though it was obvious that she was trying not to laugh as well. For a moment, all of them sat in silence, as they waited for some kind of decision. And finally, Mr. Everdeen stood up and held out his hand.
"You're a good kid, Peeta."
"Thank you," he said, as he stood up to shake his hand. "Thank you so much."
"But I've still got my eye on you."
"Of course, sir."
He chuckled, as he let go of Peeta's hand and walked around the table to hug his daughter. He muttered something to her, so only she could hear, and she laughed quietly. Peeta began to feel nervous again, as he wondered what they were talking about, but Mrs. Everdeen immediately gave him a look, telling him not to worry. She returned to her husband and watched, as Katniss grabbed Peeta's hand and pulled him from the room, saying that they would be back soon. He quickly said goodbye, as he let her pull him all the way to the front door. Despite the cool air outside, he could still feel his face burning from embarrassment. It only became worse when Katniss started giggling over the look on his face.
"Only a little," he said, staring at his feet.
Before he could even finish, she had already wrapped her arms around his torso. He looked down, surprised, as she rested her head against his chest.
"How about now?" she mumbled into his jacket.
"F-fine," he stuttered out.
"You did great." She grinned, as he placed his arms around her tightly. "With my parents, I mean. They really like you."
"Really?" She nodded against his chest. "Well, I'm glad."
She bit her lip, as she pulled away from him. A smile slowly appeared on his face. Every time he felt worried, he would just look at her face, and his confidence would return. She really had no idea how much of an effect she had on him. But one day, he would make her understand. Katniss smiled slightly; she loved it when she caught Peeta staring at her, but she reminded herself that they did not have the time to simply stand there, staring at each other.
"Come on," she said quietly, as she headed for the sidewalk. "We better go now, if you want to get me back in time."
"Definitely." Peeta shuddered, wondering what Mr. Everdeen might say if they were late.
When they finally arrived at the park, neither of them had the energy to walk through the trails. So, they both sat down on the grass in front of the lake. Occasionally, one of the red and yellow leaves from the trees would flutter down and land on their shoulders before slowly sliding into the grass. It was his favorite time of the year. He loved to watch the leaves change to their new, vibrant colors. He knew that bringing her here was the right choice. Just as his eyes closed, he heard her giggle, and his heart leapt at the sound.
"Autumn leaves," he commented, as she plucked one from her shoulder.
"The way they fall... It's like they're falling in love." At this, his heart nearly stopped, as he looked at her with wide eyes. She blushed and looked down at her lap. "It's a quote I heard once."
"Oh..." He sighed, trying to hide his disappointment.
Her eyes searched the pond, as she tried to ignore his stares. Although she loved it when he watched her, she could not help but feel a bit nervous, especially considering what she had just said. She had never been very good with words or showing her feelings, and she believed that she had just made it even worse. On the other hand, Peeta wondered if he was doing something wrong. Of course, he was good with words. But when he was with her, it was as if all of his sense left him for a moment. He even remembered one particularly painful conversation they had had about the weather. The weather, for heaven's sake. He took a deep breath, knowing that he had to say something. If he really wanted her- really loved her- he knew that he had to make this happen.
"Oh... You were-"
"No, it's okay."
"No, really," she reassured him, grateful that she did not have to start. "You first."
"All right, well..." He rubbed the back of his neck nervously, as he avoided her eyes. "Katniss, you know that I like you. I mean, you've known for a while, now, and..."
"You want me to tell you..."
"No! I mean, I don't want to rush you." He sighed. "I just..."
For the first time in quite a while, he looked straight at her eyes. She inhaled sharply, surprised by the confidence and intensity that had suddenly appeared in his eyes. Although she usually struggled to maintain eye contact, she now found that she was unable to look away. With each second that passed, her calm silver eyes encouraged him, and he decided that he would ask now before he lost his nerve.
"You don't have to say anything, if you don't want to." He smiled slightly before he could stop himself. "This moment is already perfect... I mean, every moment. It's just that I really like you, Katniss, and I want to-"
His eyes became at least twice their normal size. Her eyes might have done the same, but he could not know for sure since she looked down immediately. She shifted uncomfortably and let out an audible sigh, as he moved closer to her.
"Katniss." She looked up hesitantly until their eyes met again. "Can I?"
After a moment of silence, she slowly nodded, never breaking eye contact. She lowered her eyes to his lips, as he slowly leaned in toward her. She felt as if she was frozen where she sat, but he did not seem to mind. The only thing he could focus on was the look on her face. Her beautiful face. He watched, as she took a deep breath. As her eyes slowly closed. He brought his hand up to touch her soft cheek, as he pressed his forehead to hers. The feeling of his warm breath against her lips created a strange tingling sensation in her stomach. Finally, he brought his lips to meet hers, leaving both of them overwhelmed by the feeling. It was such a short, simple kiss, but it had already managed to leave both of them breathless.
"Peeta?" she whispered against his lips.
"This isn't a one time thing." She smirked. "Is it?"
"Do you want it to be?" he asked slowly.
"No." At this, her lips came so close to his that he wondered if she might back up her answer right now. "Do you?"
She reached up to touch his hair tentatively, and this one small show of affection gave him even more confidence than before. He ducked his head, hiding his smile, as he lightly pressed his lips to her neck. Her hand fell to his shoulder, and she let out a quiet hum, letting him know that she was just as happy to be in this moment as he was. For a moment, he simply rested his head there on her shoulder, and everything was still and quiet. Until, finally, a bright orange leaf floated down and landed on his shoulder. He pulled away slightly, as she plucked it off of him and smiled.
"The way they fall-"
"It's like they're falling in love," he finished, unable to look away from her eyes.
As Peeta laid on his bed, waiting for sleep to come, he could not help but think of Katniss. Of course, that was normal. He had not been able to stop thinking about her since the first day she spoke to him. And there was no way he would ever forget their first kiss of many. He smiled at the memory. Of course, it had only been about three months ago, but he felt as if it was only yesterday.
He also remembered the walk home. How it was quiet yet, finally, comfortable. How he watched, as she gazed at the leaves of the trees on the way. But more than anything, he remembered the way that she had kissed him just before she walked into her house. The way she smiled at him and squeezed his hand. He could never forget. Not that he ever wanted to.
Since then, things had gotten better. Conversation had become much easier, and with each date, there were less awkward silences. More kisses, of course, but still less silence than before. Her entire family loved him, especially Prim. She loved to tease both of them and call them "lovebirds", but she was really the sweetest little girl he had ever met. But more importantly, it seemed that Mr. Everdeen finally approved of him. He no longer interrogated Peeta or tried to make him nervous, which seemed to be a good sign.
More than once, Peeta caught himself imagining the dreaded conversation. The one in which he asks her father for his permission to marry her. He might even beg, if he had to. He knew that any of his friends would make fun of him and mock him horribly if they knew, but he really could see himself marrying Katniss. He only hoped that her father would accept him. He knew how much his approval must have meant to Katniss.
Before he could think about it too much, his phone began to ring. He picked it up from the bedside table and smiled when he saw who it was.
"Hey, Kat." He smiled, as he held the phone to his ear. "How are you?"
The smile disappeared from his face in less than a second, as he listened to her crying on the other end. The sound began to break his heart, but he knew that he had to focus. He had to focus only on her, if he wanted to make her feel better.
"Hey, what's wrong?" he asked urgently.
"Peeta." She whimpered. "My dad..."
"What?" He tried again, even though something told him that he already knew. "Katniss, tell me."