A/N- Hey guys, so this is the *final* installment of the series! This last piece takes place a few years later, so it's actually kind of like an epilogue. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!
Five Years Later
The nightmares came without a warning. They began on the night that we got engaged. Peeta had taken me home that day; he had left me with a sweet goodnight kiss on my forehead as he held me outside the door of my apartment. I went to bed that night thinking of him, thinking that he was all I would ever need in life and the only one I needed to trust and rely on. No one's arms had ever made me feel this safe before, not even my father's, and everyone who knew Katniss Everdeen knew that she was a Daddy's girl. I didn't like the title, but it was true.
That night, I dreamt that I was swimming in the ocean at night. It was a peaceful dream at first; it reminded me of the time that my father taught me how to swim in the lake when I was a little girl. But then things changed. My limbs felt heavy, and I couldn't swim. My feet couldn't touch the ground, so I began to sink into the dark blue depths. Fear surrounded me everywhere I turned. I was blind and couldn't see; I tried to thrash around but I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't think, and all I could think of was the cold- it was so cold, and I knew I was dying as a silent scream escaped from my mouth…
I woke up in Peeta's arms. I didn't know how, or why, but I was drenched in tears and sweat as I screamed and trembled in absolute terror. "Shh, it's okay. It was just a dream. You're safe," Peeta whispered soothingly in my ear as he wrapped me in his arms, rubbing my back up and down in comfort.
I tried to steady my breath as I clung to his t-shirt, inhaling the cinnamon and dill scent that was so inherently Peeta. "H-how did you get here?" I finally managed to ask after I had calmed down some. I looked up at him curiously as his deep blue eyes gazed down at me worriedly—it was that same deep blue that I kept drowning in—before he replied.
"I used the key you gave me to get into your apartment," he admitted a bit bashfully. "I couldn't sleep, so I thought I could pay you a surprise midnight visit." He chuckled. "I'm glad I was here when I heard you screaming, though. I figured you were hurt, so I just came in and found you thrashing and crying in your sleep…" he paused. "I'm sorry; I should have just asked to spend the night to begin with. I mean, we just got engaged."
I shook my head and smiled before looking at him seriously. "I'm glad you were here too. Thank you for waking me up."
He tucked a stray hair behind my ear. "I just wanted to make sure you were okay," he said softly.
"Will you stay?" I croaked out.
"Always," he promised as he lay down beside me while I rested my head on his chest. No one's arms have ever made me feel this safe. It was the last thought I had before sleep consumed me.
The nightmares only came back when I didn't sleep in his embrace.
Time passed and we got caught up in wedding plans and work and social events. Winter turned into summer, and summer became fall. And before we knew it, it was our wedding day.
Peeta and I married five years after we first met. It had been difficult at first, coming out to everyone about our relationship and letting them get used to the idea of us. But it had never been about them, or what people had to say. It had always been about us. Peeta proclaimed that everything happened for a reason and that his true calling was running the bakery and being my husband. Once his father had entitled the bakery to him, he had started setting up his paintings and selling them there. They were a huge hit, but then again, so were his cheese buns. All of our friends came, and by then Delly and Thom had had a baby, Madge had started living at a convent, Johanna and Gale had broken up, and Finnick and Annie had already been married.
Of course, I still hated my mother-in-law. But the rest of the Mellarks welcomed me warmly into the family, and my parents cried tears of joy. My sister, Prim, was the Maid of Honor, while Rye was Peeta's best man. And yes, he still teased us about having sex in public, or more specifically, in religious places. Some couples don't even make it to the reception.
Well, we didn't make it to the ceremony.
"OK, Katniss, you're all done!" Prim clapped enthusiastically as she finished helping get into my dress while my mother made sure my hair was well pinned. "Cinna designed you such a beautiful dress!"
"He did indeed. I told you he was the best designer in town." Madge said as the other bridesmaids agreed, ooh-ing and ahh-ing at it.
"Yes, you were right, thanks Madge." I smiled at her and then gazed nervously at the mirror. The gown was astounding. My makeup and hair were perfect. I was overwhelmed and dying to see my soon-to-be husband.
"Well you look absolutely beautiful, my dear. What do you think?" my mother asked me as she took a step back and appraised me, tears of joy gleaming from the corners of her pale blue eyes.
"You look lovely, Katniss!" Annie said.
"Peeta's not gonna make it through the ceremony without getting hard," I heard Johanna mutter under her breath.
I gulped. My heart was pounding in my chest. "Um, I think I need a minute alone if that's okay," I told everyone in the bridal room.
"Alright, dear, let me just give you my blessing," my mother said as everyone else shuffled out of the room. She hugged me tightly. "I'm so proud of you, Katniss. Peeta is such a good man, and I know he will treat you right. You're going to be a wonderful wife. I know you will do the right thing," she said softly as she then looked directly into my eyes, clasping my hands tightly.
The urgency in her gaze and tone caught me off guard. What did she mean by that? Was she trying to say- that I had messed up and that this would fix things? I didn't even know what to say to that. "Thanks, Mom, I love you," I said honestly.
"I love you too, my lovely, brave daughter." Oh no, she was crying again. "Your father will wait for you when you're all done here," she said as she left the room, closing the door softly behind her.
I released a breath I didn't realize I had been holding. I wasn't even sure what it was that I needed to get done. Maybe I just needed to take it all in. But I didn't have much time to ponder it for long, since I heard a soft knock on the door, and I turned around to see Peeta opening the door.
"Katniss?" he asked as he stepped in, the soles of his black dress shoes silent against the plush red carpet.
"Peeta, what are you doing here?" I hissed in alarm. "You're supposed to wait for me by the altar; it's bad luck to see the bride before the ceremony!"
He chuckled. "You don't really believe that, do you?"
"You look absolutely beautiful," he interrupted as he ran up to me and took me into his arms. I didn't realize how devastatingly handsome he looked until I had him up close. Before I knew it, we were kissing frantically, his lips clashing into mine, his tongue seeking entrance to my mouth. This man was going to be the end of me.
"Peeta, we should stop. We're supposed to be getting married soon." I gasped out as soon as we paused for breath.
"I don't know if I can wait until the honeymoon," he growled into my ear as he squeezed my ass, pressing me closer so that I could feel his erection.
I shivered. "I know, but we have to…" I bit my lip.
"Couldn't we just mess around a little?" he pouted.
Ugh, that stupid puppy-eyed look. "Fine," I huffed. "Just don't ruin my dress. We have like, ten minutes."
I didn't need to tell him twice.
He got down on his knees, and before I knew it, he had slid under my dress. "Peeta, what the heck…" I laughed as I stumbled down on a chair, and then gasped and covered my mouth as I felt his hands creep up my thighs and pull my panties to the side. I knew what was coming next, but I still released a guttural moan when I felt his warm, moist tongue trail up my folds.
"Shh," I felt him more than heard him say when I felt his hot breath against my sensitive flesh.
I clenched my thighs and trapped his head in between my legs as he continued to lap his tongue up and down my labia, so close yet not close enough to where I wanted him at. My eyes rolled to the back of my head as the heady pleasure began to surge, and I felt his tongue circle teasingly around the kernel of nerves that was aching for attention. But instead his tongue went farther south, making my hips buckle slightly when he slithered his tongue inside my entrance. Meanwhile, his large, callused hands were massaging my thighs so that I was full of friction and heat and eagerness. I wanted him now, but I knew that we didn't have much time.
Finally, after what seemed like an endless amount of teasing, his tongue glided up to my clit, his lips trapping it as he sucked it with fervor. It was like an uncontrollable craving to him, or at least that was what he had told me on one of the many nights in which I had woken up in the middle of the night with his mouth in between my legs. And, while right now was not the most convenient of times, today was no exception. His lustful oral fixation was making me see stars as he suckled even harder, my thighs clenching him even tighter as I felt my release approach closer and closer. I hissed as I felt his teeth graze lightly at my core and then as his tongue flicked my needy clit soothingly. I squeezed my breasts over my dress as I came, no longer caring that he was ruining my underwear or that his hair would be a mess by the time we were done.
Somehow, the knowledge that our flushed faces would give us away spurred me on, and soon I was biting my lip to keep from crying out as the pleasure and relief overtook me, making my legs tremble a few times before they released him. Peeta simply licked away at my arousal as if he had all the time in the world. I knew that I still needed to use the restroom to clean up properly, which was normally a task that I could do on my own, but due to the circumstances of my dress, I would need help from somebody just getting in there.
Suddenly, we heard a loud, sharp knock on the door, and Peeta and I jumped in surprise. "Hello? Katniss, are you almost ready? It's time for the ceremony. Father Plutarch is already complaining about the tight schedule," we heard my father's voice say from the other side of the door.
"Yes, Dad, I'm almost ready!" I shouted in response, trying desperately not to panic.
"Crap, I need to get out of here," Peeta whispered as he stumbled up out of my dress and ran his hands through his hair, combing the unruly curls back into their formerly tidy state.
"Quick, go through this door!" I hissed at him as I led him towards the back entrance of the room, which led outside. "Go around the back of the church and walk in through the front door…I'll meet you in the altar." I gave him a quick, chaste kiss—the tangy taste of my arousal still lingering on his soft lips—and pushed him out the door before we got caught.
I then ran back and opened the other door, where my father was waiting for me. "Hey honey, are you alright?" my father asked in concern as he took in my flushed face.
"Yeah, um, I just need to use the restroom before we start," I said quickly as I looked for my little sister and my mom so that they could help me out with my dress. Their expressions showed concern and understanding when I asked for their help, and Prim startled rambling on about how I was such a typical bride by making everyone wait.
"Geez, Katniss, you've been peeing for like, 84 years. Will you hurry up already?" she groaned as she waited for me to finish.
"Yeah, calm your tits, it's my freaking wedding. I mean, it's not like I'm gonna miss anything." I shot back.
"Girls, please don't argue right now; we're still in church," my mother pleaded as I washed my hands.
"Okay, let's get this show on the road," I said as we hurried out of the restroom.
"Hey, there's the bride! Katniss, come on, Peeta's already waiting for you!" Madge exclaimed when she saw us.
"Ready?" my father asked as he held out his arm for me to take.
"Almost," I responded as the bridesmaids and groomsmen got into their places and started walking while the wedding march played in the background. They went up in pairs towards the altar until it was finally my turn. "Alright, let's go," I finally breathed out.
My father nodded, and we began marching forward, my heart beating fast so that I could barely focus on my surroundings. Everything in my peripheral vision was a blur until my eyes landed on Peeta, who was waiting patiently at the altar. He looked at me like a groom looks at his bride for the first time, just as I expected him to, as if he hadn't just gone down on me ten minutes ago. He took my breath away. That bastard.
But it wasn't so much the novelty of seeing him as much as the gravity of the situation, of the fact that he was standing at the altar and that were about to get married that really caught me. It wasn't until my father let go of my arm and handed me off to Peeta that reality sank in and I fully realized that ohmygoodness I'm about to be Peeta Mellark's wife.
I was nervous the whole time, but Peeta squeezed my shaking hands and gave me that sun-rising loving smile every time he looked at me. I couldn't really focus on anything except for him. My heart burst when we exchanged vows and he promised to love and protect me for the rest of his life as he slid the ring into my finger. I did the same for him as I looked straight into his mesmerizing blue eyes, because that's what we did, protect each other. We kissed for the first time as husband and wife, and everybody around us clapped and cheered in the background. I loved this man so much that tears threatened to spill from the corner of my eyes. We kissed so passionately that Father Plutarch had to split us up. I finally felt like everything in the world had been set right.
And Peeta would stay with me.
Once we were married, we could have sex anywhere we wanted. Peeta said that God would totally reserve a room for us in His house, but part of me wondered if he was joking. We weren't a couple of teenagers anymore, but then again, he had gone down on me right before our wedding ceremony. The reception was just as full of anticipation for us; we couldn't keep our hands off of each other, and it was obvious to everyone around us by the constant catcalls and wolf-whistles. We had fun dancing at our wedding—Peeta even jokingly pole-danced to Ginuwine's "Pony" at one point, and I put a dollar in the waistband of his trousers—but our honeymoon couldn't have come faster. Anyone who caught sight of us might have instantly assumed that we were two crazed sex-addicts.
"Fuck Peeta, you made me wet when you pole-danced to that song," I growled as I climbed on top of his lap while we rode in the limo that was taking us to the airport. I ground my hips against his, feeling his hardness against me as I bunched up my dress. Thankfully, I had changed out of my wedding dress earlier; otherwise it would have been cumbersome to do this. "I don't think we're gonna make it to the airport, or even to the damn hotel room. I want you now," I gasped urgently into his ear.
"Damn it, Katniss, you're so fucking sexy when you talk dirty to me. Go ahead and ride me, baby. We've got all night."
He didn't have to tell me twice.
I didn't even bother to pull off my underwear, instead shoving the flimsy lace to the side as he unbuckled his belt and pulled down his zipper, allowing me to take his cock out of his boxers so that I could rub it against my dripping folds. We moaned in unison as I placed his tip at my entrance, slowly descending until he was fully sheathed inside me. The feeling of his hot, rigid length inside me made my walls clench greedily against him, and my hips began to rise and fall as I held on to his shoulders. He gripped my ass between both hands and held me steady as he we kissed desperately. I increased the pace so much that my thighs began to burn, and he growled and moaned against my throat as our tongues battled and clashed for dominance; no crevice of his mouth or mine went undiscovered. I moaned and whimpered as I felt the tingling, burning ache in my core. He felt so good inside me that I didn't want this to end. I rode him hard and fast, bouncing on his lap as one of his hands groped my breast eagerly.
We came nearly at the same time that we arrived to the airport. Peeta knew that we were running out of time, so he began rubbing rapid circles against my swollen clit until I could no longer stand it; my release came so suddenly that I nearly fell out of his lap. A wave of relief washed over me at the same that Peeta came and spilled his hot seed inside me, fluids dripping down my thighs.
"Ugh, we made a mess," I laughed as he handed me some tissues so that I could clean myself up as best as I could before we had to exit the vehicle. Our chauffeur opened the door just as soon as we had composed ourselves. We gave him apologetic but guilty looks as we stepped outside; it was obvious by the redness of our cheeks and our disheveled state that we had been fucking in the limo. But the man simply shook his head and chuckled. "Have fun, you two!" he said.
As if we hadn't already.
"Thanks, Caesar," Peeta said as he handed him a generous tip while someone else came and took our luggage.
"So where are we going?" I asked Peeta as we walked into the airport. He had decided to keep our honeymoon a surprise until the last minute, and I couldn't wait to find out what it was.
"To the stars," Peeta announced dramatically.
I laughed. "No, seriously, tell me!"
Peeta winked at me. "We're going to travel the world."
We spent the first official night of our honeymoon in Paris. Peeta was playing stripper and throwing his clothes at me as I laughed and cheered him on from the bed of our luxurious hotel room. He was, once again, singing along to Pony.
"If you're horny, let's do it! Ride it, my pony! My saddle's waiting, come and jump on it!" he sang as he thrust his hips at me.
I threw my pillow at him as he pulled down his suspenders, which were only attached to his boxers. "Come over here and make love to me already," I demanded.
He laughed. "Yes dear," he grinned as he jumped up on the bed beside me. "I love you, I love you, I love you, ugh I'm gonna devour you with kisses," he said playfully, his voice muffled as his mouth went descended down my neck.
I giggled as he took me in his arms, feeling blissfully, deliriously, happy. "I love you too, Peeta. Remember when we first met? I never thought that this would happen. Not in a million years."
He sighed. "Katniss, listen to me. I've loved you all along. And I'm not saying that I regret making any decision before I met you, because everything I did brought me to you, to this moment right here, right now. You are my dream, my gift…my wife."
"My mother said that she trusted me to the right thing, as if I had messed up somehow, or led us astray. Sometimes I wonder what she meant by that, and what that could mean for us now," I whispered.
Peeta frowned. "I think sometimes we need to remember to love the giver more than the gift. Listen to me; you're not your past, okay? And I'm not my past either. What's done is done, and this is our new beginning. We need to be grateful, and Katniss Mellark, I am eternally grateful for you. This can't be a mistake if I had to get lost to find you. You're always loved, and you will always be enough. "
I wasn't good with words, so I didn't know how to respond to my husband other than with actions. He was mine, and I was his. I kissed him with everything that I had as tears streamed down my face, tears of happiness and joy and love. I let him hover above me gently, felt his kisses take their time to worship my body, and then I his. I parted my legs to allow him inside me, to feel that connection that we would always have. Then, as he moved inside me, as he gazed down at me, lovingly, I knew. I wasn't prudent, but I was pure. For him, I was perfect. He was my dandelion in the spring, the yellow that meant rebirth, the reminder that no matter how bad our losses, things could be good again. He was my hope, and he had saved me.
A/N- As always, I would like to thank my lovely readers, and my usual accomplices, sponsormusings and court81981. I still don't know how everybody puts up with me, but here I am! I am also really grateful to streetlightlove for allowing us all to contribute to S2SL. I couldn't think of a better reason to write smut;)