She should have expected it really. Should have known it was coming.
It was extravagant, white and gold and silver, and scented to boot. It fell from the envelope along with a handful of glittery hearts.
Katniss Everdeen had been cordially invited to see Clove and the Douchebag make it official.
Peeta peered over her shoulder as he dumped a bag of groceries on the counter beside her. "What's that?"
"An invite to Clove's wedding." She stared down at it, at the perfect script inviting her and a guest to share in the joy. Katniss almost couldn't believe it was really, truly happening. So much had changed since that second date with Cato - so much, in fact, that it felt like another lifetime entirely.
"Ahhhhhhh," Peeta said with a grin. "I got one of those yesterday." He moved away, opened her fridge door to begin stocking it with whatever he'd bought to make fajitas. In the two weeks since their conversation at Peeta's apartment, they'd gotten into a comfortable routine of one night at her place, the next at his. She happily let him cook, while she did the dishes; it was win-win for both of them. She was enjoying it, found she liked the routine, that she liked being in a couple. She just plain liked being with him.
She threw him a glance over her shoulder. "Really? You got an invite?"
"Yeah. I get the feeling Clove must be inviting every person she's met, if even I got an invite. I think we've had maybe a dozen conversations in the time I've been at the school."
Katniss shrugged, pulled herself around and up onto the countertop. "She's just excited to be getting married, I guess. And her mom got a shitload of money when she got divorced from husband number 3 - we got to hear that saga two years ago - so I guess it's a case of spare no expense?"
"Maybe. It's nice to be invited either way. And if we've both been invited, it should be fun. Get dressed up, drink on someone else's tab, do a bit of dancing…"
"Oh I don't dance, Mellark," she told him with a snort. He turned to her, eyebrow raised devilishly. "What?"
"I bet that I'll be able to get you on that dance floor at the wedding," he challenged, sliding his hands up her thighs as he moved to stand between her legs.
"Oh really?" She replied. "I bet you won't."
"I bet I will."
"Are we making a bet?" She inadvertently licked her lips.
"I think we are. What does the winner get?" His right hand slid up under the hem of the skirt of the shift dress she wore, fingers brushed against the skin of her upper thigh.
"This would be a...uh, good reward," she mumbled, shifting so that his knuckles brushed against her.
"Hahaha," he chuckled, moving his left hand to the countertop, bracing it palm down. His finger hooked around the edge of her panties, tugged a little. "Somehow I think we both win with that one."
"Shut up, Peeta," Katniss muttered, and yanked him to her. This was a lot more appealing than talking about Clove's wedding.
In the early calm of the morning, Katniss stood at the open door, fingers clutching the chain looped around her neck; she took a deep breath, inhaling a scent that she'd know from a mile away.
It felt like she'd only been here yesterday. How the hell was summer vacation done already?
Then she remembered, and grinned to herself. She knew exactly how summer vacation had passed so quickly. Archery lessons, bachelorette parties, the visit from Prim, day trips hiking, or to the beach, and lots - and she really meant lots - of time in Peeta's bed. Or in hers. Or in his shower.
It was neither here nor there, really.
"Back to the old grind, huh?" Madge sidled up beside her, folded her arms across her chest, and sighed. She rested her head against the door frame, relishing the final half an hour of peace before the kids began to fill the halls. "Summer didn't last for long enough."
"Tell me about it," Katniss murmured, moving into the empty classroom.
"So how's the art teacher?"
Katniss rolled her eyes. "A) you really need to stop calling him the art teacher, because you know his name, and B) you already know how he is because you saw him on Saturday. Remember? You somehow convinced us to double date with you and Gale?"
Madge grinned, twisted a strand of hair around her finger. "I know. I just like to see you get flustered."
"I'm not flustered," Katniss contested hotly, dumping her purse on the chair behind her desk.
"Uh-huh, sure." With a wink, Madge hoisted her overstuffed tote over her shoulder. "I'll see you at lunch, ok?"
"Same time, same place," Katniss replied, her cheeks still burning. She hated that Madge was right. Ever since the day she and Peeta had finally hashed things out and she'd admitted they were a couple, she'd felt like a schoolgirl with a crush on the hot teacher. Which was 50% correct, but it still made her feel foolish. At least she hadn't gone down the road of scrawling Katniss Mellark on any errant pieces of paper.
Someone would have to cart her away if it ever came to that.
Moving her purse from the chair to the floor, she pulled her lesson plans out, had a quick glance over them. She liked to make her classes as interesting as she could - although she knew there were some kids who would just never find science appealing - and she thought she'd done ok with them. She was looking forward to the year ahead; but then again, she normally always did before the parent teacher meetings kicked in.
At least this year, she had a good distraction right from the start.
It wasn't long before she heard the tell-tale sounds of scuffing sneakers, squeals of 'ohmigod hiiii!'s and lockers slamming shut. She grinned to herself, because no matter how much she said vacation wasn't long enough, she knew she was glad to be back. Packing her lesson plans away, she made sure the room was set up just as she wanted; just as she finished, the shrill toll of the bell resounded down the hall. She readied herself for the first influx of students to pile through the door, fully prepared for a mixture of excitement and post-holiday blues to emanate from them.
Her morning ran smoothly, the lessons relatively simple to ease the kids into it. Teaching photosynthesis to the 9th graders was always one of her favourite study blocks; it always surprised her how quickly time went. But she was more than ready for lunch when it rolled around, and she dropped into a chair beside Madge, groaning loudly.
"Well hello to you too," Madge greeted, chomping into an apple.
"Sorry. I had that Templesmith kid in my last class and ugh he doesn't shut up!" Katniss pulled her lunch out of her purse, resigned back to a semester of boring sandwiches. She rued her meal every day, but it didn't inspire her to make anything different each morning when she prepped her lunch. Unwrapping and biting into it, she chewed quickly. "That kid is going to drive me up the wall."
"There's always one," Madge agreed. "My second-"
"Hi there guys!" A voice suddenly piped up behind them, interrupting Madge midsentence. "Did you get my invites? RSVP is in two weeks, wedding in a month!"
Katniss dropped her sandwich onto the plastic wrap and looked up at Clove, pasting a smile on her face. She knew she should have RSVP'd weeks ago, but it had slipped her mind amongst….other things. Studying the woman, it was obvious that the glow of engagement hadn't waned - she was thrilled, and Katniss couldn't fault her for that. She had to begrudgingly admit that while Cato certainly hadn't been for her, he was obviously right for Clove, who was possibly the happiest Katniss had ever seen her. Though sometimes she missed the grumpy brunette who would have a snarky retort for everything.
"Hey Clove. Yeah, yeah I did. Thanks. I wasn't...expecting it."
Clove dropped into the seat at the table with Madge and Katniss, folding her arms across the wooden top. "Oh guys, I couldn't not invite you - especially you, Katniss. Without you, I probably never would have just gone for it with Cato." The sincerity in her voice was obvious, and Katniss blushed. The last thing she'd expected was that.
"Ah, sure. I guess we just weren't meant to be, right?"
"Right. And I mean, I'm sure you won't be single and alone forever," Clove replied blithely. Ah. There she was. Katniss couldn't even stop her hackles from rising at Clove's words. "I know it says 'and guest' on the invite, but don't feel bad if you decide to come on your own if you can't find anyone."
Katniss glanced at Madge; the annoyance on her face must have been obvious, because Madge quickly cleared her throat. "Well, Gale and I will be there," Madge announced, deftly changing the focus. "We wouldn't miss it. And I'm sure Katniss wouldn't either."
"Sure," Katniss replied through clenched teeth. "Just put me down for one. I don't think I'll find 'a date' in the next two weeks."
"Ok then!" Clove popped up out of her seat. "Thanks ladies, I'd better go, I have a few more teachers to catch up with. See you later!" Katniss watched as she crossed paths with Peeta, who was just walking in the staff room. Clove spoke to him animatedly, her foot tapping wildly.
"Are you and Peeta not going together?" Madge asked in a hushed tone, tucking her hair behind her ear. Katniss shrugged, still smarting from Clove's off-the-cuff jibe.
"I dunno. We never really talked about it, other than we were both going."
"You should have told Clove then! You're going to have to tell people at school sooner or later, Katniss," Madge hissed.
"I know," Katniss snapped back. "Trust me, I know." She watched as Clove dashed out of the room, and as Peeta headed in their direction.
"She's got far too much energy. Like bridezilla energy," he announced as he arrived beside them. He grinned, sat down in the chair Clove had vacated, and dumped his things on the table. He promptly pulled out his sandwich, switched one half of Katniss' for one of his. Neither caught the smirk Madge quickly hid behind her hand.
"She can also still be a bitch when she wants to be," Katniss glowered.
"She wouldn't be Clove if she wasn't," Madge reasoned, before turning to Peeta. "So did she ask if you were going to the wedding?"
Peeta shook his head. "Nah, I RSVP'd the same week I got the invite."
"Really, Mr Mellark? Super organised!" Madge smirked, leant back in her chair. "Who's your plus one?"
"Haha," Katniss deadpanned under her breath.
Peeta shrugged innocently, winked at Katniss. "No one. Figured I'd go on my own. Heard there's a pretty hot lady who's been invited, so I might try and pick up. Although...Clove just told me that one of her bridesmaids is single."
Madge snorted. "If it's the one I'm thinking of from the bachelorette party, good luck with that."
"I'm sure I can handle her," Peeta grinned. "Anyway, how's the first day back going?"
"I've had mostly good classes so far," Katniss told him, trying to sound happier than she was. "A few kids exceptionally disappointed summer vacation is over, but that's normal."
"I had someone in second period who thinks they're the next Beyoncé," Madge piped up. "Which is cool and all but, uh….she's not."
Katniss cringed. "That's going to be fun for you." She glanced at her watch, wadded up the plastic wrap from her sandwich. "Sorry to eat and run, but I'm going to head back to class. I have to do a bit of prep before next period. I'll see you both later." She smiled through thinned lips at them, turning on her heel out into the hall busy with students. She couldn't let Clove's words – or the guilt of still keeping things with Peeta quiet – get to her. She didn't have time to worry about any of that today; today, it was all about the kids, nothing more, nothing less.
It was no surprise that the first two weeks of school immediately merged into an almost unrecognisable blur. Katniss always felt the start of school was the time she really needed to engage her students; if they cared at the start, there would be more of a chance of them continuing to care about her class and what she taught for the rest of the semester - and, fingers crossed, the year. As a result, she was intensely focused on her classes, and Peeta was as well - he was already gearing himself up to work on the school play again, and was meeting with Cressida regularly to hash out what they wanted it to be. Plus, Katniss had agreed to help out with archery lessons at the rec centre as part of an after school program. Their days were busy and exhausting, and as a result, most nights they were crashing at their own apartments.
She felt like she hadn't seen Peeta in forever.
Katniss hurried down the hall, trying not to barrel too many of the kids over. She knew they both had this period free, and she was determined to at least say hi, sneak in a kiss if she could. It was almost cringe-worthy how much she just wanted to feel his arms around her, but she figured she was allowed to have a few momentary lapses of sappiness. It made up for the moments the kids were little shits and she had to put her Super Bitch Face on.
Walking quickly into his classroom, she glanced around and stopped short in surprise. He wasn't even here. Dammit. She probably should have told him she was going to visit, should have -
"Hey, Katniss!" Peeta pushed open the door that led to the workroom; it swung shut behind him as he smiled at her. "Sorry, have you been out here long?"
"Uh, no, I just got here. I figured I'd come say hi, since we both have the same period free."
"Ahh, a good idea," he said, moving towards her. His hands automatically began to reach for her, then dropped at the last minute. She could almost pretend that his hand had brushed the skin of her arm, but she knew it hadn't. Wishful thinking.
"So, er, what are you doing?"
He gestured to a group of sculptures that sat on his desk. "I'm slowly clearing out last year's projects from the shelves out here, so that the student work from this year can go up. I'm just moving them into the workroom - there are cupboards for storage in there. Then, the kids can come collect them whenever they want - if they want to. Some of the pieces in the cupboards look like they've been in there since before I started college."
"Possibly," Katniss shrugged. "Can I give you a hand?"
"Sure." He handed her three of the sculptures, which she juggled carefully, before picking up his own and leading the way to the workroom. He managed to loop his finger through the door handle, tugging it before slipping between the gap and holding it open with his back.
"Sorry. It swings open easily if you're coming from the workroom, but it's a bit more difficult opening it this way." Peeta apologised.
Katniss nodded and slipped past him, carefully placing the artworks on a long table at the front of the room. She turned to face him, watched as he put his directly into a cupboard beside the door. She coughed lightly. "Uh, so sorry I haven't been around much the last week," she started, and he shook his head.
"Nah, Katniss, it's cool. I understand. These first few weeks have been busy, I get it. It has been for me too."
"I know - but I told you I'd come around last night, and I didn't…."
"Stop," Peeta said firmly. He smiled at her, shoved his hands in the front pockets of his jeans. Damn, she loved it when he did that. "It's fine. I fell asleep watching a baseball game anyway. Once we're into the swing of things with school, we'll-"
She didn't let him finish, practically flung herself into his arms and pressed her lips to his. He didn't hesitate in sliding his own arms around her, eagerly responding as she slid her tongue along his lower lip, seeking entrance. His lips parted, and a faint murmur escaped them. "What?" she asked breathlessly, pulling away for a fraction of a second.
"I said thank god," Peeta muttered, and pulled her back to him, turning her and pressing her up against the cupboard. His leg slipped between hers, his hands gripped her hips, his mouth covered hers hotly. He tasted of peppermint, smelt of acrylics and felt like heaven as she leant into him even more. This was so wrong, so wrong, but dammit, when he shifted his leg and pressed up against her, it was too right, far too-.
"Mr Mellark? Are you in here?" The voice on the other side of the door was loud, distinctly curious - and that of a teenage girl.
"Shit!" Katniss hissed, and yanked herself away. She pushed her braid back behind her shoulder as she hurriedly moved to face the wall at the back of the room, pretending to be engrossed in the misshapen vase that sat on a long shelf.
She didn't even turn as she heard his feet shuffle, as she heard the door swing open - she knew her face would be a thousand shades of red, and her lips swollen from kisses she shouldn't have even been having right now. The last thing she needed was a student seeing her flustered, about to devour the art teacher. So wrong, Katniss.
"Hey there Roxy," Peeta greeted, his voice smooth and unhindered. "Sorry, I'm putting away last year's sculptures into storage. Is everything ok?"
"Oh yeah, yeah, everything's good. I just wanted to check with you about the art history exam at the end of - Oh hey, Miss Everdeen!"
Katniss cringed internally, hoped her cheeks had calmed enough, and turned, pasting on a smile that probably looked 100% insincere. "Hey," she greeted the young redhead who was one of her brightest students. "Getting ahead on your exams already?"
The young girl nodded, thankfully oblivious to the tension Katniss felt was sucking the life out of the room. "Yeah, I can never be too prepared, you know? Gotta keep those grades up and all." She shrugged and glanced around the room, at the easels set up for students, at the rows of paints and pencils in a glass fronted cupboard. "I didn't know you were into art."
"Oh, I was just helping Mr Mellark put some of the work away," Katniss said blithely. She couldn't lie for shit, but she hoped Roxy would be none the wiser. She was book smart, but not so much street smart…Thankfully, the young girl nodded happily.
"Cool! Ah, so yeah, Mr Mellark, about that exam…"
Peeta turned to Katniss, his eyes full of apology - and still a little heat. "Thanks for your help, Miss Everdeen, but I think I can take it from here."
"Ok then," Katniss replied. "I'll, um, see you around."
"Sure will!" he said cheerfully.
As she walked out, her heart still thudding, and the ache insistent and low in her belly, she knew that Peeta was definitely getting a visit tonight.
She rode him in the dark, the only light a faint filter from the moon through the drapes. She could feel the muscles in his arms shifting every time she ran her hands over them, could feel the soft hairs of his chest brush against her breasts as she leant forward to rest her forehead against his, felt his lips brush against hers. But even in the dark she could still see his eyes, and they were focused on her in the way that undid her every time; the bright blue that seem to look straight through her, through all the layers she built up and he peeled off over and over again. He looked at her like he'd travelled a long and weary road, and she was the prize at the finish line.
Though she could never say it, she hoped that he could see that in her eyes when she looked at him.
She closed her eyes and felt that thing again, the same thing she always felt when she was with him, the hunger that hadn't seemed to abate since the first time they'd been together. It grew, teased along her skin, up her ribcage, out to the tips of her fingers; clutching Peeta's hands, she twined their fingers together. She felt him tense under her, the frantic driving of his hips indicating that he was as close as she was.
And then there was nothing but a flash behind her eyes, her heart pounding out of time, a final thrust and long drawn out moans that echoed each other.
She sank down onto his chest with a sigh, felt his hand loosen itself from hers to brush down her back, along the edge of her spine. And realised, for the first time, that she might just be where she belonged.
"I can't believe I'm doing this again."
"Shopping for another dress."
Madge stuck her head around the fitting room curtain, rolled her eyes. "Harden up, Everdeen. Just think of how hot Peeta will think you are in whatever you find. And we officially only have this weekend to do it, because next weekend is this bloody wedding extravaganza. Now give me that dress you're holding so I can try it on."
Katniss dutifully handed it over, mumbling under her breath.
"What was that?" Madge asked loudly through the closed curtain.
"I said he won't care."
"Who won't care about what?"
"Peeta won't care what I wear."
"That's because he prefers you naked."
Katniss blushed because she was right. "Shut up Madge." With a laugh, the blonde stepped out of the fitting room, tugging at the zip that ran up the side of the dress. Katniss pushed her hand away, smoothly pulling the zip to the top. Then she eyed Madge critically, and the strapless sweetheart neckline the dress sported. "God, woman, what is with your boobs? Is it that time or something? Because they're….." she grimaced. "Kind of all up in my face in that dress."
Madge glanced in the mirror, and sighed. "Yeah, ok. This is definitely not for me. How the hell did I get Hooters boobs this month? Ugh. Give me that blue one instead." She disappeared back into the dressing room, and Katniss could hear the sound of the zipper being pulled, silk rustling as it fell to the floor. Then it was quiet, before she heard Madge clear her throat.
"So have you and Peeta talked about the wedding? You gonna get your ass in gear and start telling people at school about the two of you? Because surely, by now, at least one person must have seen you guys somewhere."
Katniss rolled her eyes, and didn't hesitate to yank open the curtain that separated them. Madge hissed in annoyance, and pulled her inside, closing the curtain. "Geez, Kat, I don't need everyone in the store to see me half naked!"
"Oh, but you're fine grilling me about Peeta and I in the middle of one?" Katniss countered.
"Yes," Madge replied firmly, shrugging the thin straps of the dress over her shoulders, nodding to herself in approval at the flattering V-neck. "I know you've told some people, but Kat, the school is where you work, where both of you spend most of your time. We've had this conversation a thousand times already. I swear to god, the amount of times Peeta has accidentally played footsie with me under the table in the lunch room because he's trying to be all covert about it is insane. Just please. If not for you and Peeta, then for the sake of me and my married ankles."
"Madge, I…." She lifted her hands in supplication, dropped onto the small bench in the change room. "The people important to us, they know. You guys, Prim, Mom, his dad and brothers - we've told them all. Hell, we even went and had dinner with his brothers, and one of Peeta's friends Finnick, which was….interesting."
"Then why are you holding off? Don't you think at least Chantal would like to know?"
Madge shook her head, turned to face the mirror, smoothing the dress over her hips. "'You guess'. Just do it Katniss."
"I...I will," Katniss said quietly, before rising. She felt like a little kid who was being reprimanded – and rightly so. "I'm gonna let you finish. I'll just be outside."
"Yeah, well, get ready for your part of the shopping next, because I'm getting this one. Be prepared to start looking."
Katniss nodded, and stepped out, slumping onto the chair normally reserved for weary boyfriends or husbands. She knew Madge was right – she'd been telling herself this for weeks. She couldn't exactly pinpoint what it was, but every time she thought of revealing all in front of the school, so that Miss Trinket the receptionist and Principal Paylor and oh god all the kids, knew about it, it filled her with nerves she couldn't even begin to describe. But she knew it wasn't fair on Peeta, and really, it wasn't fair on her either.
With a deep breath, she resolved to tell people by the end of the week.
But Saturday morning, and the day of Clove and Cato's wedding, rolled around and she still hadn't uttered a word.
She stood at the back of the garden and studied the rose and fairy light laden gazebo where the ceremony was being held, at the way Cato tugged nervously at the collar of his shirt, at Clove's mom as she waved gaily at friends, her hot pink outfit standing out in a sea of muted colours. Madge and Gale held hands beside her, whispering furiously, while Beetee and his wife stood close by, laughing happily with Chantal and her girlfriend and Cressida and...Thresh? What? When did that happen? With a pang, she realised everyone was paired up, loved up and proud of it.
And here she was - glancing over at Peeta standing on the other side of Gale - still being an idiot.
The ceremony - non-denominational, with traditional vows, and a kiss that definitely didn't abide by 'church tongue' - was short and sweet, and Katniss had to admit that Cato looked as besotted with his wife as she did him.
Maybe, in the presence of Clove, waitresses just didn't exist.
Canapés and drinks flowed as photos were taken, and Katniss found herself growing more and more frustrated as the afternoon wore on. Peeta was chatting happily with everyone, beer in hand, shooting her a smile once in a while. She was scowling like it was an Olympic sport, and had ploughed through 3 glasses of wine before Madge grabbed the fourth out of her hand and gave her a Coke instead.
Dinner was 3 courses of food that Katniss could have eaten forever, topped with an hour of speeches that bordered on bawdy. And by the time Clove and Cato took to the dance floor, Katniss had gone past frustration and into despondency. The week had passed, and she had failed. She hadn't held her word, and now while she was miserable, Peeta sat across from her, the light from the candles dotted across the table flickering over his face as he discussed baseball with Thresh, without a care in the world.
She ignored pleas to join the group on the dance floor, begging blisters from her shoes. Instead, she watched as Peeta and Chantal danced - well, she thought it was dancing at least, with the way they were both attempting to out-dance the other resulting in a mish mash of moves. The minute Peeta busted out the robot, she dropped her head into her hands. Oh good lord. His tie got loosened in a frantic rendition of Footloose, his jacket discarded somewhere between Love Shack and Single Ladies. His face was flushed - from exertion or alcohol, she couldn't tell - his eyes bright with amusement. She was just glad his tie hadn't been ripped off completely and tied around his head like a bandanna, as the groom had enthusiastically done. Either way, she was glad he was at least having a good time.
Suddenly, the tempo changed, and a slow, soulful tune drifted over the speakers; couples immediately paired up, swaying slowly to the music. Chantal leant forward, said something close to Peeta's ear and he laughed; she turned on her heel, aiming in a beeline towards the bathroom. He'd barely been alone for half a second when a purple clad body sidled up to him, blonde waves curling down her back. A perfectly manicured hand ran down his arm, a head leant in a little too close.
The stupid single bitch bridesmaid was hitting on Peeta.
Katniss saw red as Peeta nodded and clasped hands with the blonde, rested his other on her waist, and began shifting to the music, a respectful distance between their bodies.
Now he was dancing with her. Hell no.
Before she even realised what she was doing, she was on her feet, practically stomping across the room and the dance floor. She stopped directly behind them, arms folded across her chest, and Peeta caught her eye.
"Oh hey Katniss," he said lazily. "You remember Cashmere, right?" The blonde turned, smiled an insincere smile if she'd ever seen one. No, she'd completely forgotten that she'd ever met someone with such a ridiculous name.
"Course," she greeted through clenched teeth. "Peeta, can we talk?"
"We're dancing, in case you hadn't noticed," Cashmere told her haughtily.
"Oh, I noticed," Katniss retorted. "Still doesn't change the fact that I want to speak with Peeta."
"That still doesn't change the fact that I was here first, sweetheart," she said sweetly, her fingers tightening against Peeta's upper arm.
Her voice rose without her even being aware. "I still really don't care." If Katniss had been paying attention to those around her, she would have seen the glances being tossed their way, a combination of curious and amused. But she wasn't paying attention, because right now, all she was seeing was some bitch dancing with her boyfriend.
Cashmere turned back to Peeta, obviously waiting for him to tell Katniss to get lost, but he smiled at her apologetically. "Sorry, do you mind if Katniss and I speak?"
Her mouth dropped open, and she stepped back from Peeta with a huff. "Fine," she hissed, and stalked away, turning occasionally to glare at Katniss.
"You ruined her night," he told her.
"I don't care," she snapped. "What the hell was that?"
"What was what, Katniss? She asked me to dance, I said yes. What's the harm in that? You weren't going to."
"That's...that's beside the point," she stammered, heat beginning to rise on her cheeks.
"Is it?" Peeta asked, taking a step forward, resting a hand lightly on her hip. "Then what is the point?"
"I, uh…" she trailed off as his other hand slid around her waist, drawing her in. Her hands inadvertently rose, resting on his chest. "What are you doing?"
He moved his foot, first one, then the other. Then they shuffled, and his hips moved, and her feet shifted to compensate. He swayed slightly to the left, then the right, and she felt her hair swing lightly behind her. "Well….what I'm doing Katniss…" he leant forward, whispered in her ear. "Is getting you on the dance floor."
Her eyes flew up to his face, her jaw dropped. "You asshole," she accused, and he laughed, tightening his grip around her waist. "Dammit. I had every intention of not dancing, you know that."
"I know that," he admitted. "Just like you know I had every intention of getting you out here. And I must say….you feel kinda good. Just like I hoped you would." He turned them in a circle, lifted one of his hands to grasp hers, holding them between their chests. "Is it really that bad? Dancing with me?"
She tried to set her jaw, but she couldn't. Couldn't help the way she just wanted to soften like butter in his arms, the way she wanted to rest her head on his chest to whatever the hell this soppy song was. Knew it was what she'd really wanted all day. She sighed. "No. It isn't."
"Good. Then just dance with me." He closed his eyes, rested his head against hers. She couldn't help but close hers, both out of content, but to also to block out the sight of Cashmere glaring at her, Chantal's look of shock as she exited the bathroom and Madge and Gale's wild hollering from their table.
The cat, it seemed, was pretty much out of the bag. And the relief that washed over her was more powerful than she expected. It was going to be ok.
"Chantal and Cressida are watching us," he said quietly.
"So is Clove. She looks dumbstruck."
Katniss chuckled, opened her eyes and moved her head back a little, glanced over to the bride who was staring at them incredulously. "Ah yeah. I can see that too."
"And you're ok with that?" He looked down at her seriously. She didn't even have to think - everything she saw in those eyes assured her that she was.
She reached up, loosened his tie a little more, popped the top button of his shirt. "You know….I think I am." She tightened her grip around his tie, and pulled his face to hers.
Katniss kissed him in the middle of the full dance floor, with a good portion of the teaching staff from school looking on. And found she really didn't give a damn.
Peeta switched the ignition off on his car, and Katniss glanced out at the school grounds in front of her. Kids already spilled across the lawn, huddled in groups in the car park; surprisingly early, for a Monday morning. She could see Mr Thread barking into his phone by his car, saw Cressida frantically brushing her hair in the front seat of hers. This was her school. Their school, and it made her feel slightly ridiculous for holding onto this secret for as long as she had. Plus after the performance she'd put on at the reception, there was really no holding back any more.
And she knew she really, really liked that she didn't have to.
She turned to Peeta, who was watching her curiously. "Ready to go?" She asked with a smile.
"Always," he replied, reaching over into the backseat for his backpack. He pulled it into his lap, began to open the door before Katniss laid a hand on his arm to stop him. "Yeah?"
She looked down at the sleeve that he'd shoved up to mid forearm and deftly rolled it up a little higher. She reached over, did the same to the other sleeve. "Perfect," she grinned.
Peeta chuckled, and stepped out of the car, waited for her to follow suit before locking it. Their feet crunched along gravel as they began walking up the path to the main entrance, kids calling out hellos as they passed. She felt her hand brush against the back of his as they swung, and almost by habit she grabbed onto it, threaded her fingers through his. She felt his squeeze hers, and she looked up at him, at the surprise - and let's face it, sheer happiness - that grew across his face. She grinned back, and knew that walking into the school holding hands with the hot, young art teacher was almost better than a loudspeaker announcement. She could almost imagine it.
Good morning students! Just a little notice that Miss Everdeen isn't a third wheel anymore! She's got what all you young ladies joined the drama club for!
Katniss grinned at the thought. No, this was definitely better. Better all around.
A/N - And this chapter brings TTW to a close. Thank you so much for reading, for your follows and favourites and reviews. The response to this story blew me away, and I cannot thank you, the readers of this story, enough for your support. Thank you also, to the ladies who motivate me every week with their encouragement and ideas.
Come find me on tumblr - I'm there as sponsormusings as well.
Edit: 21/3/14 - I've recently written a one-shot future take from Peeta's POV called Say It First. If you're keen to read more of TTW Katniss and Peeta, you'll find some there!