Disclaimer: I don't own The Hunger Games or the characters. Everything belongs to the brilliant Suzanne Collins. I've just borrowed the characters and played with the plot
The pain, the screams and the stress seemed like a million years ago, perhaps another lifetime. It didn't feel like that in this moment. The air was peaceful, her body relaxed. All she felt was a small pressure against her breasts. She grazed the small head tenderly with her fingers. She felt the soft hair against her fingertips and the smooth skin. The baby was so innocent, like an angel.
The warmth from the small child affected her and she felt her heart burst. She couldn't believe the warm feeling she got, the joy and her beating heart.
The baby made gurgling noises and nuzzled her breast. She couldn't help, but smile and caressed her cheeks.
It was hard to believe that a few hours ago, this tiny human was inside her, fighting to get through to the world. It was hard to believe that nine months ago or years ago, this tiny person didn't even exist. She couldn't imagine a life without her.
Katniss smelled her hair and closed her eyes. She was going to protect her, her daughter.
The baby opened her eyes and looked lazily at her with her blue, merchant eyes.
Katniss studied her face. She didn't look like she would belong in the seam or the merchant area. But that was okay. She didn't have to come from those areas. She had her own home, her own new world.
She didn't want to think about how the new world could change, could take away her family. She wanted to appreciate her moment with her daughter.
Without realising it, her daughter had grabbed onto her finger. The tiny creature touched her. She was real.
Tears fell down her cheeks and she thanked herself and Peeta for making her. This little bundle of joy she never imagined conceiving.
Something got her attention and she looked up to see her mother smile at her.
Katniss smiled back, she finally felt a mother's love.
The first time the girl said her name was the day Katniss worked in the garden. The girl was crawling around on a blanket under a parasol, protecting her from the sun.
She was old enough to walk, but preferred crawling. It didn't matter to Katniss. Protecting her girl was easier this way.
She took a break from her gardening and sat down closer to her daughter and tickled her gently.
The girl let out a squeal and a laugh. Her dark curls danced in the wind.
"Are you laughing for mommy?" Katniss asked tenderly and brushed her hair.
They were interrupted by Haymitch's call and while she answered back she heard a gurgling noise from her daughter.
She gaped at her daughter.
She was biting at her shirt, staring innocently up at her mother.
Katniss snapped out of her daze and lifted up her daughter. "That's right, that's my name, but to you I'm mommy."
Her daughter smiled. She felt a painful drop in her stomach and hugged her daughter close, refusing to let her grief consume her.
"Mommy, I want to visit daddy."
Katniss stroke her pregnant belly tenderly while she stirred the sauce.
"We can do it tomorrow."
"Is he with my other mommy?"
She turned around at stared at her. "What did you say?"
"Is he with my other mommy?"
Katniss guided her three-year old daughter towards the chair and placed her on her lap. "You don't have another mommy, only me." Her voice was possessive.
"But daddy is always with her everywhere she goes. And she gives me presents."
"She gives us presents, and that doesn't make her your mommy."
Katniss stroke the hair from her daughter's face. "Listen, no matter how many women you see your daddy with none of them makes them your mommy. Daddy loves us, but sometimes he has to go away and spend time with other people. Others… care about him too. That's how special he is."
"Aren't you special mommy?"
Katniss looked at her daughter sadly. "I'm special to you and the little one, that's what matters."
They had this conversation almost every time she saw her daddy outside their home.
Katniss wanted to protect her daughter from the evil in the world. The little girl was her priority until the day she gave birth to her second child and he became her priority too.
She bounced exited after the birth of her brother. Her father guided her to the room for the first time to greet her brother. She danced towards the bed and stared at the little child.
"He has daddy's blonde hair!"
Peeta and Katniss stared at each other with mixed emotions.
"Sweety, you need to keep quiet." Katniss said gently and patted her son on his head.
The little girl was oblivious to the concerned looks of her parents. She was a smart child, but Katniss made sure to protect her innocent child from knowing the truth. Why her daddy was never home, why she couldn't talk about her family with others and why her brother might ruin everything.
"He is the splitting image of his father." Haymitch said the day her little flame turned two years old. "It was easier with the girl, but this… I'm not even supposed to be here."
"He looks more and more like him each day. I don't know what I'm supposed to do." Katniss said desperately. "And the girl is getting smarter. She is starting to notice things and puts two and two together. What if she realises everything. Her innocence…" Katniss trailed of. She refused to cry, something she might have done had she continued.
"There is a plan, but I don't think you will like it."
"I'll do anything! Anything to protect my children."
"You have to get married."
The girl wrinkled her nose from the spot she was listening. She wanted to have a taste of the cake her uncle had sent from the bakery when she stopped and heard her mother's intense conversation. Why would mommy get married when she was already married to daddy?
The man scratched his neck as he stared down at the little girl. He didn't see the resemblance between them. He had fair hair and skin and his eyes were green. This girl looked nothing like him with her blue eyes, tiny scowl and dark hair. The boy in the chair across the room looked more like him. Their hair was similar and both had childish faces.
He knew why he had to do this. He never expected this to be his fate, but he couldn't afford to do anything else. He trusted Haymitch.
Katniss thought the awkward tension was enough and rose from the sofa. She picked up her son and walked to where her daughter stood.
"Kids, this is your daddy."
The girl scowled at her mother. "That's not daddy. I only have one daddy."
Katniss swallowed and kneeled down to her daughter's level. "Remember when we talked about your daddy and all the mommys? Well, mommy has to give you a second daddy because you and your brother are so special that other people care about you as well as daddy and I."
The girl looked from her mother to the strange man and back to her mother again.
"What about you? Aren't you special mommy?"
Katniss kissed her forehead. "I'm special to you and our little flame. That's all that matters."
The day before the wedding a shadow sneaked into the house and into her bedroom. She welcomed his familiar arms and scent and let it all consume her. His kisses to her bare skin and grinding against her hip, made her cling to his bare back, biting his shoulder softly. Her desire took over like all the hundred times before. She ignored the nagging feeling she got as he explored her in new ways and gave her pleasure she had never felt before. She didn't want to think about who or where he learned that from. How many times he had practised it first. She only knew he hadn't learned them from her, and that was enough to make her go crazy.
As he was done with his final thrust and laid down beside her, she crawled over and straddled him. She was far from done.
She noticed for the first time something different with him. He looked resentful, as if he resented her. Or himself.
"Do you have to do this? Why can't things be as they were?" His voice was pained, but she had missed it either way. "I don't want to share my family with some stranger."
"Your family has to share you with some stranger everyday." Katniss growled. Still straddling his hip. "And not just with one."
"I don't have a choice."
"Neither do I."
"No one is forcing you to get married."
"I'm doing this to protect our children. This is the only way! Unless you want them to grow up under the mercy of your precious boss, witnessing the way he is using you to do what he wants! Is that the fate you want for them?"
The room went silent. She prayed she didn't scream loud enough for her children to hear and was on her way to get up before he suddenly turned her around. She on the mattress with him on top.
"I never intended this to happen to you." He said softly and brushed her hair away from her face.
"I know." Katniss said and felt, for the first time since her decision, tears well up in her eyes. "It happened and there is nothing we can do about it."
He nuzzled her neck and let her cry in his curly, blonde hair.
She never regretted falling in love with the victor of the 74th hunger games. She didn't regret being his secret love back in district 12 as he was sold of to every rich capitol resident who wanted him. She didn't regret giving birth to his children and keeping him at distance in fear of President Snow finding out their secrets, using them in every sick way possible.
She had felt a mother's love, the protective power and reason for living. And she was not backing down.