Hello, lovelies! I'm sorry if I missed a few review replies last time around. I saw all reviews, but I was replying from my phone and I feel like some of my messages didn't go through properly. But thank you so much for all of your kind and helpful words! Enjoy :)
Katniss shook her head almost imperceptibly. Of course she didn't want to leave him, but what other choice was there? It would only be selfish to stay.
Peeta held her tightly against his bare chest.
"You can't go. We're both dead if you walk out now. You haven't seen it out there lately."
"You didn't tell me they have been searching homes for Jews," she said, still clinging to his torso, feeling the steady beat of his heart against her cheek.
Peeta wrapped his hands around her upper arms and forced her back a few inches to look into his eyes.
"It doesn't matter because they're not going to find you. They're not laying a hand on you, okay?"
Katniss nodded slightly and leaned back into the warm comfort of him. If the situation were ever to reverse itself, or the opportunity arose, she vowed in that moment to keep Peeta safe. It was the least she could do for all of the trouble she caused him.
"Come on back to my room. You can dry off and warm up by the fire."
"What?" She demanded, abruptly pulling away from him. "I need to get back up to the attic and never come out."
"Katniss, they've already been here, they're not coming back. Not for a long while, anyway. You're safe. I promise."
"And what about you? Are you safe?"
He studied her for a long moment, avoiding her question, gazing intently into the silver puddles of her eyes. He smoothed his hand up her arm, leaving goosebumps in his wake that Katniss knew had nothing to do with the chill in the air on her wet skin. He cupped her jaw and idly traced her cheekbone with his thumb.
"Come on," he whispered, and she followed him back to his room.
The brick fireplace built into the bedroom wall had gone unnoticed by her until this moment. The flicker of the firelight was mesmerizing, but she couldn't take her eyes off of Peeta as he added another log. She found herself wishing he hadn't put his clothes back on. She tugged at the collar of her button-down shirt that once belonged to Peeta. It's loose neck suddenly strangled her. She pulled the top button open and held some of the fabric up to her nose. It still smelled like him.
"You haven't told me much," she said. "About the war, I mean." She had been so busy reading, writing, and enjoying Peeta's bakery treats that she had been forgetting to keep up with the radio news with increasing frequency. The war was about the last thing she wanted to discuss, but she needed something serious to pull her mind from her fantasies and back into reality. Peeta finished poking at the fire and sat in front of her, clasping his arms around his knees.
"You haven't asked," he said. "And I honestly can't say much about it that doesn't make me sick." He squinted against the bright sun streaming through the window. The fire crackled beside them. He stared out at the tree tops for so long, she began to think he was not going to offer any more. He finally exhaled loudly and looked back at her.
"It's bad. And it's getting worse every day." The intensity with which he stared at her made her feel self-conscious and she began combing through the ends of her damp braid with her fingers, hoping it disguised the shaking of her hands.
"The other day, they took a young disabled boy from his home, saying he belonged in a place that could better care for him. And they killed him."
"What!" Katniss shrieked. "Why?"
Peeta shook his head and stood up. His pacing around the room began to make Katniss nervous.
"He wasn't part of the vision. He would only make us look weak. He had no worth to Hitler and his goons."
He snatched up the copy of Mein Kampf from the bedside table and ripped a chunk of pages from the middle, letting them float down around him. But it didn't help. It wasn't enough. He turned away from Katniss and hurled the book across the room where it slammed the wall with a satisfying slap and a thud on the floor. Peeta pulled at his hair and practically fell back down to the floor. He pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes.
"God. I watched it happen. I watched as they pulled him out of the truck and shot him in the head." He looked up at Katniss, tears brimming over. "And they cheered. They cheered when he hit the ground. And I am part of this," he choked on his words and buried his head in his hands again. Katniss crawled closer to him and placed her hand on his knee.
"No. You're not," she asserted. "You're not."
"I'm not doing anything to stop it! I say I don't want to be like them, but I'm just as bad. I'm just standing by, watching."
"You'd be killed! You know that."
"That shouldn't scare me. Hundreds of innocent people are being killed every day. Why am I so afraid to stand up for them? Why is running away to a safer country my big plan? I'm nothing but a coward."
Katniss shook her head. "You saved me. You've lost everything and you're still fighting for me."
He slowly moved his hands away from his face and let one drop to hers. He traced the soft skin on the back of her hand. "Can I tell you something?" he asked, sounding as young and innocent as he looked in sleep.
"Of course," she whispered.
"I don't stay with you at night just for you. I come to you because… you help keep the nightmares away for me, too."
Katniss could only nod, wishing to be better with words, wishing she could open up to him and explain the feeling that swelled up inside her every time she was with him. How she ached for him to come home when he left on school days. How she only felt safe and whole when she felt his warmth beside her, listened to his stories, or glimpsed the other world deep within himself every time he painted. But she could not explain the feeling to herself. How could she voice it to him? It was a warmth, a comfort that sped up her heart and made her every cell buzz with excitement.
She felt his fingers close over hers.
"I'll be eighteen soon, you know," he said. "They can take me away any time after that."
"Don't say that," she said, eyes burning with tears. Thoughts of the day Gale left wrapped around her heart and squeezed too tightly.
"I don't even want to think about it, but it's a possibility. So, we need to find you another place to go. Just in case."
Katniss shook her head furiously, the tears blurring her vision. "No. I can't… I mean, I don't," she sighed in frustration. "You can't-"
Peeta leaned in and tenderly fit his mouth to hers. He pulled away too quickly and averted his eyes from her stare. A deep blush crept all the way up into his ears and he rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. "Sorry, but I've wanted to do that since the day you told me to sing to you."
"So, you- you pick now?" She squeaked, running her fingers across her lips, already missing Peeta's warmth. All distress from their previous conversation forgotten in an instant.
The look on her face could only be described as shock. Peeta wasn't sure if she was about to slap him or yell at him, but he was not at all prepared for Katniss to throw herself into his arms and kiss him with twice the ferocity he had used. Frozen momentarily, his lips finally responded. His hands gingerly cupped her face, afraid if he moved too harshly she would disappear altogether. But this wasn't a dream.
He traced her cheekbones with his thumbs and his fingers found their way into her hair. It was still damp and her hasty braid which had not been tied off properly wasn't holding well. Peeta was glad because it was rather simple to work the loose plait out with his fingers and fan her hair out around her shoulders. Small moans escaped from the back of her throat every time he tugged slightly on her hair and he shifted against the new tightness in his pants. She knew she should be embarrassed by her vocalizations, just as he was embarrassed that morning in bed when they woke up a little too close together, but he just felt so good.
His hands left her hair and trailed lovingly down her arms until he abruptly grasped her small waist and pulled her into his lap, her slight thighs entrapping his hips. She settled directly against the growing bulge between his legs, eliciting a groan from them both. Neither had the wherewithal to be embarrassed anymore.
His tongue traced across her bottom lip and she opened her mouth to him, eager to draw him closer. He grasped her lip between his teeth before darting in to chase her tongue with his own. They swallowed each other's muffled sighs and Katniss could no longer stand the pressure building in her core. She instinctively rocked her hips into his, moaning at the pleasure of the friction she was seeking. When she moved again, Peeta's hips rose from the floor, meeting her with a deep groan she felt reverberate through her entire being. She grasped fistfuls of his shirt, needing to feel him against her.
"Take it off," she sighed into his mouth and he hastily broke away to tear the shirt over his head, ripping some of the stitching apart as he did, and tossed it aside. His mouth covered hers again before the shirt even hit the floor, and he blindly went to work on her buttons. After carefully pulling the first two buttons from their respective holes, he yanked the shirt open with a growl. Small plastic buttons rained down on the wooden floor around them and he faltered when he discovered she wasn't wearing anything underneath. Katniss wrapped her hands around his wrists and brought them up to her chest.
"Don't stop," she sighed, and his hands gently kneaded her breasts. She arched into his touch, encouraging him for more, and he was soon emboldened by the effect he was having on her. He slid his hands down to her waist and stood up, pulling her with him. He hooked his hands around the tops of her thighs and lifted her up until her legs wrapped around his hips again. Knees weak and unsteady, he somehow made it across the room to his bed where they collapsed in a heap and went to work on ridding each other of the rest of their clothing.
"Why did we bother getting dressed, again?" He questioned with a smile as he stepped out of his pants. "We could have just hopped back in the shower, you know."
Katniss barely mustered a smile and a shake of her head before locking her hands around the back of his neck and pulling him back to her.
He settled his weight above her, holding himself up on his forearms, and his lower body sank between her open legs. She began trailing kisses along his jawline up to his ear, where she gently teased him with her teeth. His hips bucked forward with a moan and he could feel the heat radiating from her core through their thin layers of underwear. He reached down between them and slipped his fingers past the fabric of her panties. His head fell into the curve of her neck as he realized just how ready she was for him.
He was inexperienced with the female anatomy, but he recalled spying on his older brothers' sex talks, and remembered that there was something he was supposed to find. When her sighs and the gentle motion of her hips suddenly burst with a sharp thrust and a cry of ecstasy, he knew he was in the right place. He pulled his hand away with a whimper of protest from Katniss, only to pull the obstructive fabric down and off of her body completely. He returned to her, working her with his fingers until she was shuddering and boneless beneath him.
He covered her with kisses until she came back to herself, and she eyed his almost painful erection straining against his underwear between them. She gently scraped her nails down his chest to the elastic band at his hips. Her fingers danced along the surface, feeling unsure until she looked into his eyes. They were so dark, his pupils so fat with desire that there was merely a sliver of brilliant blue left at all. She slowly tugged down on the elastic and released him carefully, eyeing him hungrily. He thought he was done for right then.
With a shaky hand, she grasped him in an experimental but firm hold and he cried out in pleasure against her neck. His words of turning eighteen crept into her mind. She could lose him forever. She could just wake up one day and he would be gone from her life for good.
She raked her fingers through his hair and whispered in his ear, "I need you."
He pulled himself up slightly, knowing he was not going to make it if he didn't move quickly. Once positioned at her entrance he looked into her eyes with concern.
"I don't want to hurt you."
She bit her lip and glanced down at where they were so nearly joined. "It's all right. I'll be fine. Just be with me."
Peeta kissed her deeply, hoping to provide her some distraction until he was fully sheathed inside of her. He swallowed her whimpers and stilled above her. He ran his thumb across her cheekbone.
"Are you all right?"
Katniss bit her lip and nodded, tilting her hips to let him know it was okay to move. It was more discomfort than pain, and she was anxious to get to feeling as good as his hand made her feel minutes ago.
Despite how he attempted to downplay how much pleasure he was feeling, she could tell. It shocked her that she could actually make a man feel such things. He muffled another moan against her skin. The discomfort she felt was beginning to give way to a more pleasurable feeling, but she supposed it would take some getting used to before she could enjoy this as much as he was.
"I can't. Last. Much longer," he panted apologetically.
Katniss nodded quickly as his movements became erratic until he stilled above her with a deep guttural moan that made her tighten around him. His arms seemed to give out and his weight came down on her. Though he felt heavy, she wrapped her arms around his back and held him there.
She wasn't sure how long they stayed like that, cocooned around each other, neither willing to let go first. Peeta finally shifted of of her and pulled her into his chest.
He combed his fingers through her hair languidly. "I wish I could live in this moment forever. Just us. And we would never have to deal with everything that's going on out there."
Katniss hummed her assent and pulled herself closer into him.
But their moment was shattered with a rap on the door.
Peeta's arms tightened around Katniss. Their hearts seemed to cease beating, unable to handle the crushing fear bursting through their veins. After a moment, Katniss pulled out of his grasp.
"Go answer it. You don't need anyone else thinking something suspicious is going on here. Maybe it's just Haymitch or something."
He reluctantly slipped out of bed and looked around for his pants. Peeta knew Haymitch would be hard at work downstairs by now. Haymitch also never found knocking to be a necessity when entering Peeta's home.
Peeta was still pulling his pants on as he walked out toward the kitchen, where the door down to the bakery was located. Katniss slipped into his button- down shirt and tiptoed behind him, hiding around the corner. He pressed in close to the peep hole in the door and studied it before more rapid knocking caused him to jump back.
"Peeta!" Katniss whispered harshly. "Open the door."
"It's a soldier," he said, his face ghostly pale. Katniss eyed the closet across the way that contained the hidden attic door. She wondered if she could scurry over to it and run upstairs quickly and quietly enough.
"It's not a German," his voice called her from her thoughts. "He's American."
Peeta gestured for Katniss to conceal herself. Once hidden from sight, he reached for the knob and pulled the door open slowly. The soldier straightened and removed his hat, revealing a head of bronze hair that was slightly longer than regulation.
"Peeta Mellher?" The soldier questioned.
Peeta narrowed his eyes, sizing the man up, from his dirty brown boots to the American flag on his sleeve to his mint green eyes.
"May I help you, sir?"
The minty eyes widened at the perfect English that fell from the German's mouth, and he seemed to momentarily forget what he came for.
"Uh, I'm sorry for the intrusion. I'm Finnick Odair and I come from the United States."
"Yes, I can see that," Peeta said, crossing his arms over his bare chest.
Finnick nodded and smoothed his hands down his uniform. He pulled in a deep breath and stole Peeta's with his next words.
"I'm here for Katniss."
Hmmmmm, so what do we make of Finnick showing up at Peeta's? I have already started working on the next chapter to try and lessen the lag between updates. Hopefully one of these days I will get one chapter ahead of myself so I'll always have something ready to post for you! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!