Hi everyone, thank you to all of you who have taken the time to follow, favorite, and review this story. This has been such a wonderful experience, thanks for sticking with me.

I want to give a special shout out to Court, she has been with me since day one on this story and it was her encouragement that inspired me to take it from a oneshot to full length fic. Thank you so much, my friend, for sticking with me, putting up with my quarks and giving me most valuable guidance.

Enjoy!

Always a Blessing

Epilogue

June 1956

"Do you,Finnick Coin Odair, take this woman, Annie, to be your lawfully-wedded wife?"

Finnick smiled wide and said loudly, "You bet I do!"

Everyone laughed, and the preacher grinned and asked, "And do you, Annie Ruth Cresta, take this man, Finnick, to be your lawfully-wedded husband?"

Katniss watched Annie nervously from the back of the church. She knew that her friend had had some last minute jitters, not because she didn't want to marry Finnick, but because his grandmother frightened her to no end.

Mrs. Coin had fought the wedding tooth and nail, since that was all she had to do after losing control of the family fortune. She was perturbed that it wasn't in Columbus; it wasn't fancy enough; they hadn't invited the right people. In fact, the only thing that she never opposed was the bride herself. When asked how she like Annie, the dour old woman had replied, "She'll make a fine first wife. She's pretty and quiet and won't cause a fuss when Finnick gets bored and finds entertainment elsewhere."

Although anyone who'd witnessed Annie and Finnick together could never believe the bitter old woman, because nobody could doubt their love. He would be a devoted husband and she a loving wife.

Annie blushed brightly and said softly, "I do."

The preacher continued and finally pronounced them to be husband and wife. Annie giggled and Finnick passionately yet respectfully kissed his bride. Baby Violet startled when the small congregation applauded. Katniss's patted her daughter gently and held her so she could see what was going on around her, and so she could look at the lovely stained glass windows.

When Katniss made her way through the receiving line, kissing and hugging all as she went, she then found a pew and patiently waited for Peeta, who served as best man, while pictures were being taken. Finnick looked attractive, but Katniss only had eyes for her husband. He looked so handsome in a tux. It was nice to get dressed up and to go out.

The last four months had been hectic. The baby only slept a couple of hours at a time, and Peeta spent at lot of time at work. It was hard, yet they were making it work. She knew that he wanted to be home, but he had to be at work. Her parents and Prim were over often to help, especially when they knew that Peeta would be out late. She was glad for the help, but they didn't stop her from longing to be in her husband's company.

The pictures were taken and then everyone drove to the reception at Capitol Club. Katniss had to sit at another table since Peeta had to sit with the bridal party. She was assigned with Haymitch, Effie, Henk Mellark, and Gale. Her father-in-law held the baby so that Katniss could eat. Henk adored his granddaughter, and everyone agreed that they'd never seen him happier than when she was in his arms. If separating from his wife bothered him, he did a fantastic job of hiding it. After a lovely meal, Henk, Effie, and Haymitch went to visit with a few of the other guests who were business acquaintances.

Gale was sitting next to her; he'd come with Johanna, who of course, was the maid of honor. "That is quiet the get up, baby girl," Gale gestured at the Violet's powder pink dress and huge bonnet.

"A gift from Effie," Katniss smirked, and adjusted the baby's overly large skirt. "She might as well wear it."

"Violet looks like you," he commented. "Except for the eyes. They are about the only thing that mark her as a Mellark." Gale's tone was pleasant; none of the hatred that he had months ago was present now.

She smiled. "Yes, she has her daddy's eyes. We're pretty sure that they'll stay blue now."

He said conversationally, "Nice day for a wedding."

Katniss nodded. The day couldn't have been more perfect. It was neither too or cold, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was the sort of day that Annie and Finnick deserved.

"My mom was hinting around about weddings while I was getting ready this morning," Gale shared.

"Really?" It surprised Katniss that quiet and laidback Hazelle would be suggesting marriage to Gale so soon after meeting Johanna.

"Yeah," Gale chuckled. "She likes Jo's sense of humor and how she puts me in my place. The family has really taken her in."

Katniss had to be happy for them. Johanna had been brutally honest with Gale about her past, and had anticipated for him to drop her like hot potato. But instead, Gale had shared with her that his father abandoned his mother, and he was later adopted by the man he considered to be his true father. He told Johanna that he would never hold what had happened against her.

"So, do you think that there will be a wedding anytime soon?"

"Not too soon," Gale smirked. "We talked and decide that we want to save up first. It will be easier now that she got that promotion."

Johanna had recently taken Cray's position. A few weeks prior, Johanna had caught him cornering the new girl, Rue, whispering perverted nothings in her ear. Johanna had grabbed Mr. Cray by the collar, punched him in the face, and had been fully prepared to get fired. Instead, Haymitch fired Cray, and Peeta rewarded Johanna with the supervisor position. Employee morale and efficacy had gone through the roof since.

"So, she's the one?" Katniss asked with a grin. She liked that she and Gale were nothing but friends again. She knew that he made Johanna feel safe, which was priceless for someone with her history.

"I'm pretty sure that she is," Gale smiled.

The toasts were made. Katniss could not help but to impressed with Peeta's speech. The cake was cut, and while Finnick was a gentleman, Annie smeared cake all over his face. The band started up and the new husband and wife took the dance floor; then it was Peeta and Johanna's turn for their dance. Katniss was glad to see it, as it meant that Peeta was more or less free to spend the rest of the evening with her and Violet. Peeta and Johanna approached the table.

Peeta held his daughter and gushed, "You look so cute. Daddy has missed you."

After half an hour, Johanna held out her arms and insisted, "Gimme that little milk sucker, and you two go dance."

Katniss handed the baby over as Peeta tugged her away towards the dance floor and waved to Johanna in thanks.

The couple began dancing, and Peeta sighed, "I am so happy that this is almost over. Don't misunderstand, I am honored to do it, but I am glad that it is done."

"I agree. I have missed you this week." Peeta had had his best man duties, and it had taken him away from home even more than usual. She enjoyed just being in his arms for a little while.

Peeta broke the contented silence. "Do you regret not having this sort of wedding?"

The question surprised Katniss, but she answered honestly, "No, actually I am glad that we got out of this sort of thing, although I do regret not getting to have a honeymoon." She had been a bit envious when Finnick told them about the beach trip that he was taking Annie on.

"That would have been nice," Peeta nodded. "How about we take a trip when Vi is old enough to stay with your parents for a few days, maybe a week?"

"Where to?"

"How about Niagara Falls? We could drive there. It would be a fun road trip," he offered. "We can make the plans next spring. We have some money put back and we've always talked about traveling."

"That would be wonderful."

"You deserve only the best," he said sincerely.

"I've already got it," she replied, kissed his cheek, and then laid her head on his shoulder. She watched her friends as she danced. Johanna was sitting at the table holding Violet, and Gale was feeding his date forkfuls of cake. Finnick and Annie were visiting with their guests hand in hand. Katniss wondered if they'd get go of each other once since the ceremony. Haymitch and Effie were even dancing. He was clumsy, but they still smiled at each other lovingly, and for a moment Katniss forced herself to forget that theirs was a bit of a tragic tale.

Katniss was happy for her all of her friends. All seemed right with the world for one beautiful moment.

November 1958

"One, two, three," Peeta counted dramatically as toddler Violet hid behind the floor lamp and giggled heartily. "Ready or not Vi, here I come." He crawled on the floor pretending to look for his daughter under couch cushions and under the end table.

Katniss laughed at the pair of them from the kitchen. When Peeta came home from work every day, it was daddy/daughter time. He would play with Violet and keep her busy while Katniss would finish making dinner.

Their lives were going pretty well at the moment. The new Mellarks' factory addition had been an astounding success. Their newest best seller was Babycakes—chocolate cupcakes with custard filling and vanilla icing. They were Peeta's pet project. From the recipe to the marketing, he had done it all, even to designing and drawing the label. It was a picture of a baby with chocolate all over her face and a dutiful mother wiping her off with a grin. Of course anybody who was acquainted with the young family knew that it was Katniss and Violet.

"I find you Daddy!" Violet squealed and jumped out from behind the lamp.

"I'm supposed to be finding you!" Peeta reminded his daughter and gathered her up in his arms and tickled her until she couldn't take it anymore.

Over dinner, Katniss told Peeta about the phone conversation she'd had with Madge earlier that day.

"So how does she like teaching?" Peeta asked.

"Really well," Katniss shared, "and it sounds like she likes the history teacher even better."

"I'm happy to hear that, but I won't share it with John," he smirked.

Madge had shocked everyone about year and a half earlier when she told her parents that she was done being a nurse to her mother and a secretary to her father. She also broke off the engagement with Peeta's brother. The romance (if it could be called that) had floundered without Mrs. Mellark's constant pushing. John no longer put any effort into his relationship with Madge and it fell apart. She went through some teacher courses and took the teacher's exam and now was a music teacher.

What the boys' mother thought of this they didn't really know; she lived 300 miles away and occasionally called Al and John and collected her generous allowance checks, but that was about it. Katniss thought that it must be a lonely life, but decided that it was Mrs. Mellark's choice to live the way she did.

After dinner they gave Violet her bath and put her in her pajamas. Peeta and Katniss settled with their daughterand her blanket on the couch and were about to read her Winken, Blinken, and Nod. When given a choice, Violet always preferred for Peeta to read to her—he was so much more expressive and gave each character a unique voice.

Just as Peeta began to read, there was a quick knock at the door before it swung open. Ripper came hobbling in barking, and Haymitch entered the house with a huge smile on his face and bottle in his hand.

"Brutus Trinket is dead!" he announced gleefully.

Katniss asked, "What?"

"Effie's bastard ex-husband—oh sorry, sweetie," Haymitch paused and winked at Violet, who was watching him wide-eyed. This gleeful man was nothing like the gruff Uncle Haymitch she knew. His tone became softer but his smile was just as wide. "I mean Effie's horrible former husband was killed in a bar fight."

Katniss asked in a befuddled tone, "So what does this have to do with wine?"

"It's not wine, it's champagne. We're celebrating!"

Katniss cast Peeta a confused expression and a smile slowly crept onto his face as he realized it. "Effie's free."

"You got it, boy!" Haymitch grinned. "Now where are the glasses?"

The group gathered in the kitchen around the little table. Violet's eyes grew wider and she giggled loudly when the cork popped. She watched the adults with curiosity from her daddy's lap.

"I got a call from Effie. She's going to help her former sister-in-law make the arrangements. She'll be gone a few days," Haymitch explained. "I'm going ask her to marry me when she gets back. There is nothing to stop us now."

"Congratulations." Peeta raised his glass.

"I'm not going expect her to her to live in Maysi's house," Haymitch said somberly. "Effie's had her eye on a little stone cottage on the edge of town, and it's for sale. I'm going to trying to buy it for us."

"So you're going to sell the family property?" Katniss asked in dismay. She'd become attached to the little house. The plan had been to move out as soon as they had some money saved, but it had become their home and they knew that Haymitch enjoyed the company.

"Yeah, that's the plan, but I wanted to see if you two wanted it first," Haymitch told them.

"Just the house?" Peeta questioned.

"Not just the house, the acreage too—all of Victor's Hallow. You are the closest thing to family I have and I know that you'll take care of this place better than I can or have. The big house is nice. Some wallpaper and a coat of paint and it would be like new again. You could even move Sweetheart's family in here. I'll give it to you for next to nothing."

Katniss and Peeta looked at one another. She nodded and he smiled. They had often said how nice of a place Haymitch's house could be if someone only had given it some tender loving care.

Peeta cleared his throat and addressed their friend, "Haymitch, we'd be honored; we'll take good care of the place."

"I know you will. The place was built for a family and it's high time it had one."

They talked over some particulars and enjoyed the bottle of champagne. Soon little Violet was asleep. Haymitch drank a final glass and he told them that he heading home. He looked happier than Katniss could recall ever seeing him before. Peeta took their daughter to bed while Katniss showed Haymitch to the door.

"Now, I just hope that Effie will say 'yes'." Haymitch chuckled.

"I'm sure she will," Katniss assured him. "I know that she loves you. Now she'll finally be able to admit it to the world."

Haymitch, for once, had nothing else smart to add. He shocked her and gave her a warm hug, and just before they parted he whispered in her ear, "You're a good kid; you and the boy deserve each other."

The comment nearly brought tears to her eyes, as there was a time that she thought that she could never deserve Peeta— in fact Haymitch told her as much in his office ages ago.

"You didn't always think so," she reminded him.

"Well, I was trying to protect him. You ought to know because you're always trying to do the same," he said as he headed towards what would be his house for only a little while pulled Peeta's old, worn orange and grey cardigan closer as she watched him and Ripper walk away. He never said 'good night; he didn't have to. Over the years they discovered that they understood each other very well and that they didn't need words.

She reentered her house, and she met Peeta at the foot of the stairs. He threw his arms around her, picked her up and spun her around in a circle. "We're going to own a house!" he said in an excited whisper, so as not to wake their daughter.

"Don't count your chickens until their hatched," she warned her husband.

Peeta laughed, set her down, and kissed her playfully.

"Aw, we all know that Effie will take him," he said in between kisses. She rolled her eyes at him and gave up on the conversation, instead relishing in her husband's attention. He began to kiss down her neck and to unbutton her blouse. "You know, you said that we could have another baby as soon as we had a place with more room."

"I said that we'd talk about it when we were in a bigger place," she reminded him, "and when you were putting in fewer hours."

She did want another child, but it was a scary thought. Would we be okay financially? Would another child take away from Violet? I feel like I've only mastered taking take of one, how would I handle two? We're still young…we have lots of time…why rush it now?

Peeta must have sensed her apprehension. "How about we just practice tonight," he said huskily, and slipped a hand into her open shirt. He palmed her breast and stroked the hardening peak with his thumb. "We can talk any time."

Katniss nodded in agreement and led him to their bedroom.

September 1960

"Rock a bye baby in the tree top," Katniss sang to her month-old son while he enthusiastically nursed. Baby Henry, or Little Hank as he was most often called, was the newest edition to the Mellark family. She lovingly caressed the baby's head, which was totally bald except for the slightest trace of downy white fuzz. He was so different than Violet had been at this age. Violet hardly ever slept and was slight. Hank had to be awoken to eat, and he nursed until Katniss swore his little belly would pop, then he would go back to sleep as soon as he was burped. He was now pushing the scales at nearly eleven pounds.

Katniss couldn't help but to compare how different their life was with their second child than it had been with their first. Henry had been planned, and now they had a lovely, newly remodeled home and owned Victor's Hallow. Katniss had been far more comfortable being pregnant and was more confident with dealing with a baby now. Peeta's hours were now more predictable, and he was home more often.

When they had Violet, none of their peers were wed or had children, but now most everyone was married and had at least one child. Finnick and Annie had had a honeymoon baby, Finnick Jr., followed eighteen months later by a sister,Maggie. Three years ago Johanna and Gale got married and about a year ago, their daughter Joanie was had been born.

The Everdeens now resided in the house that Katniss and Peeta lived in when they first married and her father now even worked in Mellark's factory, repairing equipment. Prim was off at nursing school and was doing well. Peeta's sister-in-law, Dr. Lavinnia Mellark, suggested a series of exercises to help strengthen her legs. They worked so well that Prim was able to walk without crutches most of the time.

If someone had told Katniss five years ago that this is what her life be she never would have believed them.

While she was daydreaming, Peeta entered their bedroom after putting Violet to bed. He began to take off his belt and socks and yawned. "You would think that she would get tired of The Little Red Hen."

"But she never does," Katniss replied, and put her son over her shoulder and patted his back and until he burped loudly. "Think in a year or two, Violet might be reading it to you."

"That's right. She'll be starting school next year," he said almost sadly, and knelt next to his wife and son. "It seems impossible; to me it feels likeonly yesterday she was his size."

"They grow up fast," she sighed, and looked at her precious little boy.

"Goodness little man," Peeta chuckled and took his son from his wife. "I don't think that we'll be able to call you little for long. Why don't we get you put to bed and let mommy take a nice long shower?"

"You sure?" she asked.

"Yes, of course, go ahead. This is not my first time doing this," he assured her. She might have more put up more resistance, but the offer of a hot shower that lasted longer than a few minutes while both children were asleep was too good to pass up.

Katniss went to the adjoining bathroom. When they first moved in, she wondered why in the world someone would need a house with two bathrooms, but now she was glad that they were there. She cracked the window to let out the steam and turned on the faucet, letting the water get hot before she got in.

It had been a little over a month since she'd given birth to Henry, and she was only now starting to feel like herself again, and was getting her old energy back. The baby's appetite had helped her to shed much of the baby weight that she'd put on; her body had healed and her belly was beginning to tighten back up, but she was still far from being back to normal, although she was feeling well enough to maybe even enjoy her husband's affections.

She finished her shower and instead of putting on a nightgown, she simply slipped on her robe before joining her husband in bed.

Katniss stopped at the bassinette to check on her son, who was swaddled in a little bundle fast asleep. Peeta was sitting on the bed, shirtless, reading a book by the lamplight.

"Did he go down alright for you?" she asked, and approached the bed.

Peeta replied, with his voice full of affection, "Yes, he's an easy keeper, a full belly and he's done for the night."

"That's good because I hope that he stays asleep for a while," she said in her most seductive tone.

Peeta instantly put the book down and smiled at his wife. "Is that so?" He licked his lips. "Did you have something in mind?"

She loosened her belt and let the robe fall to the floor and watched his eyes darken. But he did have the presence of mind to ask, "Are you sure that you are ready?"

"No, I'm just teasing you," she said sarcastically. "Yes, I'm sure."

He rose and crawled over to where she stood. He wrapped an arm around her waist, pulled her close, and began to kiss her neck. "Thank God," he groaned into her ear,"it has been a long month."

"I had a mind to make you wait until our anniversary next week, but I can't wait," she admitted. "I've missed being with you like this." A month wasn't a long time and she knew it, but with all that had happened in the last few weeks—giving birth, late night feedings, diaper changes, and not to mention getting Violet adjusted to being a big sister—it seemed like much longer. She wanted to feel like a woman again, not just a mother.

Peeta pulled her into the bed and rolled her under him. The kisses started off slow and smoldering. Katniss enjoyed the sensation of just being kissed; she'd not indulged in the simple act very much since having the baby.

He gently cupped her breast, and he remembered to be gentle with the tender tips. Placing kisses as he went, he made the descent down her body. His lips felt so good on her skin that it made her mewl in pleasure. She gasped when his tongue made contact with her wet slit. The sensation of his mouth against her was heavenly, and she allowed herself to sway her hips with his motions.

She covered her mouth to muffle a cry as she came, so not to disturb any little sleepy ones. Peeta sat up in the bed, clearly proud of himself.

"Your turn," she whispered and pulled him to lie down beside her, she then moved her body over his and straddled his thighs. He was fully erect and ready to go; she wrapped her hand around him and he thrust in her hand. Katniss asked innocently, "So have you been taking care of yourself lately?"

Peeta stilled suddenly, but Katniss continued. "Sorry, I couldn't help it." He smirked guiltily, "I sleep next to a gorgeous woman that I couldn't touch because she was recovering from the condition that I put her in to begin with…it was only once…or twice"

"You know that I would have taken care of you," she assured him before she inched up his thighs and slipped him inside of her. She eased herself down, relishing being filled by him again.

"I know," he said in a horse whisper. "But it didn't seem fair—"

She leaned over and quieted him with a kiss. "Shh," she whispered, "that's enough for now. You'll wake the baby." She moved over him, their bodies flush. She loved the position,but it wasn't doing enough for her at the moment. Placing her hands on his chest, she pushed herself up to ride him in earnest.

Peeta groaned in approval, and his hands gripped her hips to help her to keep up the pace. When she started to slow, he took up the slack and began to thrust into her. She could feel her body tense, warning her of another impending orgasm. He changed the angle of entry—it wasn't much, but it made Katniss fall apart almost instantly.

Peeta flipped them over, and waited for her to stop trembling before he started up again. Katniss ran her fingernails down his rib, over his hips, until her hands found purchase on his round firm rear, urging him to go faster and deeper.

His hands pushed her knees further apart, and he buried his head in her neck. His movements became more erratic and with one last deep push, he filled her. They laid there tangled up for several moments. Peeta finally removed his weight from his wife.

She half-heartedly scolded, "You know that we're playing with fire. That old wives' tale of not being able to conceive while nursing really isn't true. We just got lucky after Violet."

"Oh, sorry," Peeta regretfully. A few moments later he added, "But more kids wouldn't be the end of the world, would it?"

"No, it wouldn't," she admitted surprising herself and him alike. "Although, a year or so in between pregnancies would be nice."

"How many are you thinking about?" he asked eagerly.

Katniss had always said that she thought that two would be plenty, but now that Hank was here, she did not feel like he was the last one, and she also knew that Peeta wanted a houseful.

"Three, maybe four, I don't know, we'll have to see what life gives us. We are only twenty-tree."

"It has been pretty good so far, despite the rough start."

There had been so much pain in the beginning. She had allowed herself to feel for him, thinking that she'd have him only a little while. Katniss loved Peeta long before she could admit it. She never planned for her life to turn out like it did, but she was happy it had.

"Yes, it has been," she agreed, and snuggled close to her husband.

Peeta pulled up the covers. "Goodnight Katniss, I love you."

"Love you too," she smiled and gave him a peck on the lips and relaxed her his embraced. Soon the rising and falling of his chest let Katniss know that her husband was slumbering.

She knew how blessed she was, and breathed an all but silent prayer of thanks before she joined her husband in sleep.

So this is the end, thank you for hanging with me and I hope that you enjoyed it.

You can also find me on tumblr as izzysamson.