The sun began to set behind the woods, fingers of light stretching through the trees and bathing Victors Village in a warm, golden glow. To Peeta, it always looked its best at this time of year, in the fall when the leaves were starting to turn and were beginning to take on the bronzes, the reds, the yellows, the oranges, the golds that had always been his favourite.
He never imagined he'd end up somewhere like here.
Peeta lifted his camera, closed his left eye so he could focus with his right. Through the viewfinder, the houses in Victor's Village looked picturesque, almost like they'd been painted into place with their fanciful trims and flower laden trellises, the brightly coloured foliage of the trees behind them a stunning backdrop.
He took half a dozen images before lowering the camera back to his lap, a smile slowly creeping across his face. From where he sat, he could hear Haymitch grousing at his geese, threatening to send them back with Effie to the Capitol if they didn't shut up. He could see Delly and Thom in their front yard working in their vegetable garden, caught the faint whistle of the train that announced its imminent departure to Ten.
But it was the three people walking across the grass towards him that caused him to smile.
The girl danced in excitement, her cheeks flushed a rosy pink and a ragged tear in the knee of her pants. The boy kicked his legs in his eagerness to join her, his hand patting the cheek of his mother in an attempt to get her to lower him from his place on her hip. Then she looked up at him, all silver eyes and wavy onyx hair chopped off just below her shoulders, a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth.
And he scrambled to lift his camera again, to quickly capture the moment before it disappeared.
"Hey," she called, lifting her free hand to cover her eyes from the last rays of the sun. "What are you doing up there?"
Peeta looked around at the tiled porch roof of the old Capitol house, a small smile playing on his lips. "It's a good angle," he said simply.
"Oh." She nodded slightly in recognition, hitched the boy higher up on her hip. "Yeah, I suppose it is."
"But I'm done now," he told her, holding the camera over the edge of the roof - she lifted up on her tiptoes and grasped it carefully, making sure it was out of the reach of sticky, pudgy hands. He rose to his feet, turning to shimmy down one of the porch posts until his feet hit the ground again. She held the camera back out to him, and he took it, hooking the strap over his neck before reaching for her hand and clutching it tightly.
"Hi," he murmured, leaning close and pressing a kiss to her lips.
"Hi," she replied softly. "You ready to head over to Haymitch's for dinner?"
He nodded, another smile tugging at his mouth. "Can't believe the old man has hit 60."
"Don't remind him," she warned, though her own eyes shone in amusement. "It's just dinner."
"Of course it is. Because Effie and the Odairs always just come out here for dinner." Katniss laughed, and even after all these years, it was still music to his ears.
"Daaaaaaaad, let's go!" The girl tugged on the hem of his t-shirt, and he looked down into bright blue eyes that were identical to his. "I'm hungwy!"
"Go on ahead then, we'll meet you there," Peeta said, and she didn't take a second to pause, scrambling up the street calling out Gwampa Haymish! in excitement. The boy let out a yelp of disappointment that he wasn't going with her, was quickly shushed by a quiet murmur and a tickle to the belly from Katniss as they slowly began to follow her.
Sometimes Peeta wondered how he'd gotten so lucky.
No, he definitely never imagined he'd end up here. Never imagined he'd end up happily living his life in Twelve, sharing his life with Katniss, bringing two children he loved beyond all comprehension into the world.
But he had.
There were times he still hated not remembering those early days, not being able to remember moments that Katniss could still relay to him as though they'd happened only yesterday. Hated that so many of the things that he could remember filled his heart with sorrow and sadness, hated knowing that so many of the same memories sometimes still woke Katniss in the middle of the night screaming, still made it hard for her to get out of bed on the first day of the year that snow fell.
But he and Katniss had already made new memories in the almost twenty years they'd been together, would continue to make even more; with each other, with their children, with their friends. Memories that were brighter,happier. Real.
And in the end, he knew it didn't matter what he'd forgotten; it was what he remembered that mattered most.
My name is Peeta Mellark. I'm 42 years old. I live in District Twelve. I was a part of the Rebellion, and helped to end the Hunger Games, helped to bring about change in Panem.
I lost a family in the Capitol. But I gained one with Katniss Everdeen.
A/N - When I first started this fic for Prompts in Panem in September 2013, I never expected it to turn into this. Never expected it to be as long, or as expansive, or that it would take me two years to finish it, haha. But...here it is. Done. Finished.
Thank you to every single person who has read, followed, favourited and reviewed this story. Thank you to those who helped me brainstorm, who read over sections I needed reassurance on, who gave me encouragement (and sometimes a good old fashioned kick up the ass) along the way. Thank you all, every single one of you, for helping me get to the end.
I'd love to hear what you think, either here or on tumblr, where I'm under sponsormusings as well.