In Name Only- Peeta's POV is a series of flashback and Peeta's memories of Katniss growing up and how she went from being Kitty, a little girl that he was fond of, to being the woman who would be the love of his life.
In Name Only- Peeta's POV
The sun was shining and the birds were singing – it was a perfect Spring day. Everybody was out and about, enjoying the temperate weather. Everyone, it seemed, but Peeta Mellark.
He was working in the bakery's kitchen while his father was in the storefront. Peeta was having a bad day, his leg was in agony. He had only recently started to use a cane; up until a few weeks ago he had been on crutches. He knew that he should be thankful that he had his leg at all, but he wasn't. His injuries had cost him so much, the girl that he loved being the most recent in a long line of collateral damage. Peeta had not been able to sleep at all the previous night. His leg hurt him and he was afraid to sleep because of his dreams. Sometimes he dreamed of the war, or the way that Mitchell sounded as he gasped for his final breath. But last night had been different in another extremely painful way because last night he had heard Cato and Clove's cold laughter as he hobbled out of her front door.
Only loneliness and demons awaited him in his sleep; the mere thought of resting made his heart rate increase and he nearly feared his bed. He was becoming increasingly tempted to ask the doctor for morphine to help with his pain and to sleep, but he had seen what it had done to some of the other veterans in the hospital. Peeta did not want to live a half-life like them. He would deal with the pain, both emotionally and physically, as best he could.
"Egg delivery!" a familiar voice called out just shortly before its owner appeared in the doorway with a crate of eggs in his arms. It was Harland Everdeen coming to call and barter. Peeta had become close with the farmer since his return from the war. Harland had been one of the few people who had treated him normally when he returned from the war. It was refreshing. "Hey, Peeta, how are you doing today?" Harland inquired.
"I've been better," Peeta confessed. Harland's features contorted into a concerned expression. Peeta hated that look because it meant pity, and Harland was one person he didn't want pity from. He wanted to change the subject, divert it from his confession. "So, how's the family?"
Harland's face was grim. He shook his head, indicating that things weren't good for him either. Peeta immediately regretted asking. He'd forgotten that all was not well in the Everdeen home. Mrs. Everdeen had given birth to yet another premature stillborn last week. Unfortunately, the town biddies were all over it and the gossip mill had been churning with the news that she'd not gotten out of bed since.
Although you wouldn't have known it from the tone of Harland's upbeat voice. "Lily isn't feeling well today, so I brought the water spud with me." Harland chuckled and pointed to his little shadow, a tiny girl with pig tails wearing a red plaid dress. She smiled at Peeta shyly, then she looked back to the ground and blushed brightly. No wonder Harland is pretending to be so cheerful, he wants to protect his daughter.
Peeta waved at young Katniss Everdeen. He thought that she was a pretty little girl. She often came along with her father, and was obviously a tomboy. Katniss always had dirt on her face and skinned up knees. She resembled her father in that she had dark hair and vibrant grey eyes, yet her features were delicate and fine like her mother's. There was a wisdom in her bright, grey eyes – she was no typical child. Even at the tender age of seven she could follow the conversations that her father and Peeta would have. Occasionally she would politely stop the conversation and ask what a certain word meant or what exactly they were talking about.
"Can't you say hello, Katniss?" Harland hinted to her.
"Hello, Mr. Mellark," she said softly.
She lifted his mood instantly. Peeta loved kids; they were so honest and unaffected, especially this one. He cheerfully greeted her, "Why, hello Kitty, how are you today?"
"Very well, thank you," she answered and then grinned at him.
"Have you been a big help to your Papa?" Peeta inquired of her.
"Yes," she nodded. She and Peeta played this game often. He would quiz her about what she did to help her parents, and in the end it would always result in a treat for her.
"Now, Kitty, have you been 'short bread good', or 'sugar cookie good'?" Peeta teased. He knew that Katniss would gladly take a cookie any day like any other child, but Peeta knew what she really loved was his specialty, cheese buns.
"Neither, I've been cheese bun good!" Katniss exclaimed happily.
Peeta smiled. It was the first genuine smile that he could remember having in a long time. "I think that I can arrange for you to get one, but they're in the oven right now. You'll have to be patient until they're ready."
"Katniss, honey, why don't you go outside and play until they're ready?" Harland told her, and she obediently went outside to play.
"How are you really, Peeta?" Harland asked in a concerned tone.
"So, I see that the gossip has already made it all the way to the farms," Peeta said, not even trying to hide the resentment in his voice. "It was only two days ago. I thought that I would at least have a week before the whole town knew."
"The only reason I know is because Mrs. Cartwright came out to check on Lily," Harland admitted reluctantly. "She's worse this time than she was the last time – I think because this one was a boy. She wants so badly to give me a son. But I don't know why she is so stuck on that, I love Katniss so much- she's just as good as any boy could be…" The usually stoic man stopped and his eyes glistened with tears that Peeta knew he would never see fall.
Peeta felt ashamed of himself for a moment. He'd only been concerned for himself over the past few days, no, the past few months really. When you're lost in your own misery it is hard to remember that other people suffer in life, too. "I'm so sorry for your loss, Harland," Peeta said sincerely. He knew that as much as he was hurting now that it had to be much harder to watch a child die, or to watch your beloved wife suffer through such pain.
Harland nodded. The timer on the oven rang out. Harland again adopted a cheerful temperament as he picked up the crate of eggs. "Let me get these in the storage room for you, Peeta. Then I'll settle up with your dad." Peeta was in awe of this man, that he was so able to deal with the pain and sorrow that life had dealt him. This was the sort of man Peeta aspired to be.
Peeta pulled the buns from the oven and he sat one on a napkin and called out the door, "Kitty, your buns are ready!"
The little rosy-cheeked girl ran into the bakery kitchen in a very un-ladylike fashion. Peeta chuckled at her enthusiasm. But he also knew that she had to have a clue what her parents were going through; she was too bright of a child to be ignorant of what was going on in her home. Perhaps that's why she seemed mature for her age. Katniss was holding a bundle of dandelions in her hand.
"Here, Mr. Mellark," Katniss said breathlessly, and held the dandelions out to Peeta."These are for you."
"For me?" Peeta asked slightly confused.
"Yes," Katniss told him seriously. "You looked sad. When Mama and Papa are sad, I give them flowers. Flowers help to make them happy again. I thought that flowers might make you happy, too. Well, these are only dandelions, but I think that they're pretty."
Peeta patted her head and then took the flowers from her outstretched hand. "Thank you, Kitty," Peeta said softly, "I like dandelions, too." Peeta then pointed to where her bun waited on the counter and she ran to retrieve it.
"Thank you, Mr. Mellark!" Katniss spouted as she chewed her first bite.
"You're welcome, Kitty," Peeta replied.
Harland came back out of the storeroom. "Let's get going, Katniss, we have to stop by the doctor's and pick up some medicine for Mama."
Katniss waved to Peeta and with her mouth full of cheese bun she offered up, "Bye."
"That's quite the girl you've got there, Harland," Peeta told his friend after she skipped out the door.
"I know. I'm going to be beating the boys off with a stick in a couple of years," Harland smiled genuinely.
Both men laughed. It was nice to joke about something as conventional as an overprotective father. Harland and Peeta exchanged their goodbyes and then Peeta was left alone with a bundle of dandelions in hand. Peeta had to sigh at Katniss's innocence and pure heart. He was amazed at her thoughts of how a bundle of flowers could make everything better. Perhaps it could be that simple. To have faith as simple as a child's, all you had to do was decide that you wanted to be better and then it would happen.
Peeta knew in that moment that he was going to have to get better and move on with his life. He needed to do it not only for himself, but also for those who cared about him, like his father, who Peeta knew had been very worried about him. Maybe I will take Finnick up on his offer and go visit him this weekend. It would take my mind off of Clove.
Peeta's father returned from the storefront and looked at his son and asked out of curiosity, "What have you got there, son?" Then he motioned to the dandelions in Peeta's hand.
Peeta looked down at the yellow weeds in his hand and absent mindedly replied, "I think it's supposed to be hope."