It's not often I see her like this. I could probably count the times on my fingers when I've seen her with that smile on her face, the look in her eyes completely free from pain or sadness or guilt. These days, I'm more likely to see her absently rubbing at the skin of her forearm, fingers tracing the scar that's shaped like a crescent, eyes blankly staring at the wall. Or watching her as she stubbornly refuses to get out of bed, where she either doesn't care or doesn't notice the way her hair has twisted into greasy, knotted ropes that lay across her pillow.
Instead today I watch her through the kitchen window as she sits on the grass in the middle of her back yard. She leans back on her hands, her face raised to the sky, eyes closed and her lips curved in a gentle smile.
It's pouring of rain.
Sheets of it fall from the sky, soaking the ground that's hard-packed with dirt, from an entire season without rain. I've almost forgotten what rain looks like, smells like, sounds like, feels like.
I need to be out there with her.
I drop the dishcloth I've been clutching tightly in my hands, almost knocking into the corner of the table in my haste. I reach up, grab the umbrella that hangs on the hook on the back of the door, and venture outside, pausing on the small deck to pop the spring on the umbrella and lift it over my head. She hasn't heard me yet, not over the sounds of the rain, so I continue to stare at her. I can't help it. I always wait so long to see this kind of look on her face that I almost don't want to spoil the moment.
I make my way carefully over the uneven ground, trying to avoid the puddles that have already formed. The join of my leg to my prosthetic has been aching like hell all week, and now the rain has arrived, maybe it explains it. Katniss will love it if I can predict the weather, and that thought alone makes me chuckle quietly.
She must be able to sense my heavy tread, though, and she turns her head, opening her eyes to watch me navigate my way towards her. She doesn't move, her smile stays in place, and my blood warms. She's happy to see me. The haunted look I've become so used to associating with her isn't there.
I eventually reach her, slowly lowering myself to the ground, holding the bright orange umbrella over our heads. The rain beats down on it, a drum that echoes in my ears, my foot tapping along with it unconsciously.
I don't say anything, I just sit with her. She keeps glancing at me, the soft smile on her face almost playful, and a little wistful. Her drenched hair is plastered to her back, her forehead, across her shoulders, and her clothes stick to her like a second skin.
I don't know how long we've been out here, though time seems irrelevant. My pants are soaked through and caked in mud, and goose bumps have risen on my arm, although I'm not the slightest bit cold. It doesn't matter anyway. I'll stay out here all day if I have to.
"I used to sing to her, you know," Katniss finally says softly, looking away from me towards the trees. "When it rained, we'd sit at the window and she'd giggle and laugh, and I would sing to her, because when it rained, even the Seam looked beautiful. The trees would be extra green, and the flowers on the side of the dirt tracks would brighten up, and then we'd be left with a rainbow. It would just look magical." I reach out my hand to tentatively rest it on hers, and I can feel the nerves jump under her damp skin. "I don't want to lose that memory, Peeta. It's a good one. I don't ever want to forget it."
"Then you won't," I reply simply. She turns back to me, and I hate the fact that I can see the sadness beginning to creep in, the smile sliding away. "You won't forget them, Katniss, nor should we feel guilty about keeping them. We're allowed to have happy memories. She'd want you to have them, to keep them, to smile when you remember them. And I think the more we have, the better off we are." I watch a stray raindrop fall from the edge of the umbrella onto our muddied hands, then squeeze her fingers tightly. I need that smile back. "Stand up with me," I tell her, struggling to my feet, and holding my hand out towards her. She looks up at me dubiously, before standing up. I entwine my fingers with hers, trying to pull her closer without dropping the umbrella. She reaches up, grasping its shiny black handle as well, anchoring it between us. "Will you sing for me, Katniss?" Her eyes widen a little, her lip trembles, but I can almost see the wheels turning in her head. We're getting good at reading each other, and she understands what I'm asking her to do. She knows I want her to make another good memory. A memory she can hold onto like the one of her and Prim.
She begins softly, a low, simple tune that I don't recognise. The lyrics are sweet, almost fun, and a grin slowly creeps across my face. She can't help but return it. She doesn't flinch when I begin to shuffle my feet a little from side to side, and the momentum from my swaying is hard for her to resist. She unconsciously begins to mirror my movements, and her cheeks flush a pale pink, in what I could almost take for embarrassment. But I'm happy that she doesn't stop, doesn't pull away from me.
For the first time in a very long while, I feel like all is right in the world. Because we survived. We're together. Katniss Everdeen is dancing in the rain with me. And she has a smile on her face.
Movie Poster Inspiration: Singing in the Rain