Chapter five: Dark and dangerous

Apparently grown-up, married couples invite their parents over for dinner on Sundays. My paternal grandparents died before I was born, my maternal grandparents didn't want to see us, and besides, my family hasn't been "normal" since I was a child, so this is something I haven't really tried before. But Peeta says this is normal, and so we invite our parents for dinner one Sunday. We invite Haymitch, too, as he seems to be more or less a parent to us as well. A dinner without him present just seems… wrong.

Peeta does the cooking, while my tasks are cleaning and finding wild flowers for the table. I'm not really good at either of those two jobs, so Prim helps me out. We actually have a surprisingly nice day together, considering the fact that I dread all sorts of family gatherings, and besides, the anticipation of me and my mother-in-law in the same room is enough to destroy the day alone.

Peeta, too, seems stressed. He's still helping his parents in the bakery on most days, but he often comes home angry, although he doesn't want to talk about it.

It only takes about ten minutes for me to be fully certain that this was, in fact, a horrible idea.

Rye, his wife and their one-year-old son are there, along with Simon and his girlfriend (or current fuck, as Peeta refers to her when no one's listening, which is degrading but in Simon's case unfortunately quite probably true). Little Mikey is the only person who prevents a complete meltdown at first – providing a welcome distraction and something to talk about and fuss over. But it quickly becomes apparent that a toddler is not enough so save this dinner.

Peeta's mother won't speak to neither my mother nor me. Prim seems to be marginally acceptable to her, but that's probably only because she looks like a merchant kid, and she's so pretty and kind and innocent that you can't help but like her. My mother, on the other hand, is a whole other story. Peeta's father barely dares to look at her, and I wonder what he's had to endure since Peeta and I became the star-crossed lovers. My mother was her husband's ex-girlfriend, not to mention the love of his life if the rumors I've heard are to be believed, plus she married below her social class. As if all that wasn't bad enough, my mother didn't keep her eldest daughter under control either, allowing me to sleep in Peeta's bed for a year before we were married. The fact that her middle son is screwing around in front of the whole district, and has been for years, is apparently not a problem – just thinking about her double standards makes me furious.

In addition to my unfortunate choice (or lack thereof) of parents, I am the very impersonation of everything she hates – scrawny, dirty Seam children. My gray eyes and my dark hair are a constant reminder of where I come from, and that her merchant son is now married to a Seam brat. Haymitch arrived reasonably sober, and we've threatened him to be careful with the liquor because we don't want him to be dead drunk around the toddler, but I can see that his right arm keeps twitching, he involuntarily reaches for a drink that's not there whenever there's another snarky remark coming across the table. Which is often.

Dinner is delicious, it always is when Peeta's cooking, but the tension is palpable. When Peeta's mother finally speaks to me, acknowledging that I do in fact exist, she only asks questions that she knows will embarrass me.

"What have you been up to lately, Katniss? We don't see you around in the bakery."

I tried being there a few days just after we returned from the Capitol, just to have something to do. I hate baking, though, and I couldn't stand being alternately bossed around and ridiculed, so I never returned. I mumble something about being very busy.

"Oh, but you're not hunting anymore, are you? The electricity is on 24 hours a day now, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is," I answer, looking down at my plate.

"Just as well, it's not appropriate for married women to be out in the forest hunting, all alone. That's an activity which men are much better suited for."

"She's a much better archer than I could ever be, Mom," Peeta says.

"You were never any good at outdoor activities, anyway," his mother snaps, and he seems to shrink in front of me. I'm furious that she treats her son this way – kind, sweet Peeta. He's good at so many things, yet she keeps degrading him. He's never been good enough for her.

"Well, I'm not much good at cooking, so we complete each other, don't we, Peeta?" I say, trying to aim the fire at myself instead of him.

But things don't get completely out of hand until dessert, when Peeta's mother asks casually, as if asking me to pass the salt: "Are you pregnant yet, Katniss?"

I just stare at her, stunned at her rudeness.

«You should really conceive as soon as possible. Look at me, Rye was born nine months after our wedding. It would do you some good, and make you more womanly. You'd be too busy to do all the arching and fighting and all the other ridiculous things you waste your time on now."

The only one who hasn't frozen is little Mikey, who's happily smearing ice cream all over his face.

"That's none of your business, mother," Peeta finally says through clenched teeth, and it's one of the very few times I've heard him openly speak out against his mother.

I'm glad she didn't ask that question during dinner, when there were knives around, because if she had, I just might have been tempted to throw one of them in her general direction. Not to hit her, perhaps, but just to nearly hit her. As it is, my spoon isn't much of a weapon anyway. My eyes are burning with tears, but I won't show her just how much she hurt me. I just drop the spoon down on my plate and leave the table. As I reach the stairs, I start running, and quickly lock myself into our bedroom. I hide in our wardrobe, and enveloped in our clothes, in this small, confined space where no one can find me, my soft and protected cave, I finally start crying. It's been so long since I cried, I don't think I have since the train ride home from the Capitol.

I'm thoroughly unsuitable to be a wife, not to mention a mother. I can only imagine how horrible of a mother I'd be. And to think of our child… Being not only the child of two victors, but even two victors that Snow hates, any child of ours would certainly be reaped as soon as he or she was eligible. Snow has enough ammunition to use against me already, what with Prim and my mother being such easy targets. Having a child would just be giving Snow a loaded machine gun and ask him to aim at me.

I'm so grateful that my mother gave me the pills on the morning of my wedding day. The thought of me being pregnant now is just unbearable.

After a while, I'm surprised to hear that someone is outside the door of my wardrobe. I locked the door, didn't I?

"Go away, Peeta," I yell through the door.

"It's not Peeta, sweetheart."

"How did you get in here?"

"I picked the lock." It figures. Peeta would be way too polite to do anything like that, even if he had the skills, which I'm sure he doesn't. Haymitch, on the other hand, is like me. He refuses to be bound by any constraints.

Sulking, I get out of the wardrobe. Haymitch is sitting on the edge of our bed, drinking straight from the bottle.

"I told you to stay off the liquor when Mikey's in the house," I tell him.

"The kid has left, along with the witch, so now I have to work really hard on getting my blood alcohol level up to its usual standards," he says dryly.

"They're gone?"

"Yeah, sweetheart. Do me a favor, will you? Don't invite me to any of your family gatherings ever again."

"Trust me, there won't be any," I assure him, and he winks at me.

"Wise girl," he laughs.

We don't talk about the dinner with our parents afterwards. That we are never repeating this is something we don't even have to discuss.

That night, as we go to bed, there is something almost desperate about the way he touches me. He seems intent on making me writhe underneath his tongue and hands, and my body is thrashing uncontrollably in our bed under his touch. My core is throbbing, and the constant assault on my senses, without being allowed a release, is getting more and more frustrating by the day.

Yet he is angry. I can see it in his eyes. His anger at his mother and his sexual frustration are combined to create a darker and more dangerous Peeta.

And I like it.

He crawls up in bed to look me in the face, after spending an eternity kissing and licking the soft skin on the insides of my thighs. My panties are soaked, yet he refuses to touch them, or the skin underneath, although I know that he can surely both hear, see and smell my desire. He's panting. "I just want you to know that if it comes down to a choice between you and my mother, I'd choose you."

"Please don't think about or talk about your mother when you are doing those… things to me," I pant back, and he chuckles.

"Sorry. But I just had to tell you. I talked to her after you… left. I said to her that she's not welcome in our house until she apologizes to you and starts treating you with respect. And that's the end of the discussion."

"Peeta, stop talking." I just cannot think about my mother-in-law now, all I want is for him to touch me. With shaking hands, I take off my panties, and his breath catches. "Touch me. Right now. And if you talk about your mother when we're in bed together again, I swear I'll make you sleep on the couch for a week."

His eyes are burning when they meet mine. I half expect him to shed his boxers as well, but I'm somewhat relieved when he doesn't. Instead, one of his hands goes lower, stroking the skin of my belly first, then slipping between my legs. I part my thighs, eagerly welcoming his fingers. "I can smell you, how aroused you are," he groans, and when his fingers touch me it's evident to me just how wet I am. "You smell so good." Two of his fingers slip into me, and I buck underneath him as his thumb graces my clit. He brings his fingers, now glistening with my fluids, up to his mouth. "You taste good, too." He licks them clean, but leaves one finger for me to taste. I eagerly lick it free of my own juices, then suck on his finger, all the while keeping eye contact. He whimpers when I suck, and when I release it with an audible 'pop', he whispers: "Holy shit, Katniss," groaning, "you almost make me come just by sucking on my finger."

I can't help but grin.

And then he goes down on me. Finally, his tongue is back between my folds, where they have been only once before. He's alternating between licking and sucking and kissing on my clit while he inserts first one finger, then two, into me again, pumping slowly, then picking up speed as he grows more confident. Within minutes, I'm convulsing wildly around his hand. Just before I come, I distantly see that he's slipped his free hand into his boxer shorts, touching himself just for a few seconds before he comes loudly, and that's enough to send me spiraling into the most intense orgasm I've ever had. Not that I've had that many to compare to, there's just the one, but the experience still leaves me in shock.

Even through his own orgasm, Peeta keeps licking on me me, drinking up my fluids, guiding me through my climax and prolonging it. When I finally slump down in bed, spent, Peeta crawls back up to me. He kisses me, and I can taste myself on his lips and tongue. There is so much I want to tell him, but I can't find the right words, so I let my body do the talking. My hands are stroking his hair, holding him close. I kiss him lightly, like butterflies, all over his jaw, his face, his nose, his eyelids. There's a tired, but content smile on his lips.

His underwear is now wet and sticky, and after a while he excuses himself and goes to the bathroom to get cleaned up. When he returns, in a fresh pair of boxershorts, I curl up in his arms, still completely naked. His skin is warm and still sweaty underneath my fingertips. I breathe in the scent that's Peeta, and me, and the smells of our lovemaking combine to form a scent that is uniquely ours, intoxicating, filling the room.

We fall asleep, and I haven't slept this well since our first night together.

Thanks for reviews, likes, favorites and ideas, everyone! This probably seems all sugary sweet at the moment, but I just have to give Katniss and Peeta a little break before the 76th Hunger Games... Will the odds be in their favor?