The Twelve Months: A Midwinter's Tale
Epilogue: Wed to the Winter
The forest was at once different and completely the same. All the trees Katniss had once walked amongst were long since dead, turned to rot and feeding newer growth. The leaves and boughs over her head were many generations younger than the ones she'd known. But still, she would recognize her forest anywhere.
She needn't have worried about it before leaving her mortal life behind. The trees and jays persisted and thrived long after her cabin had fallen apart, and the people she'd known were nothing but a memory to the humans dwelling nearby. Whether Clove, Merah or Coin had ever managed to reclaim their human forms, Katniss did not know. The power structure in the region had been reshaped many times over. Several of the locals bore a similar resemblance to Clove and Merah, though.
Regardless, returning here was always a homecoming. She breathed deep and concentrated, focusing on the forest, until she could feel their presence. When he'd offered her a place at his side, Peeta hadn't told her how her senses would intensify and expand. Deeply tied to him, and by extension the natural world, Katniss was able to feel a sort of spirit in her surroundings. Peeta had once said he could feel the forest's knowledge of her, and in a way, she could do the same. Nowhere was she more attuned to her environment than in her woods.
The terrain held centuries of memories, and with a little effort, she could concentrate on the impressions her family had left behind. Soon, Katniss could hear her father in the mockingjay songs that spread back and forth through the woods, and feel his solid reassurance in the sturdy, towering evergreens. Her mother's breathy murmurs and lullabies traveled on the wind, and Prim's laughter bubbled from the brook feeding the lake.
She came here most Decembers, to feel close to her family while Peeta painted his influence the world over. Even knowing they would never be separated long, their partings each November were tender and reluctant, while their reunions each January were especially sweet. Just days ago, Peeta had rained kisses over her face, whispering plans for the coming year and promising her the most beautiful December yet. During the other eleven months of the year, they traversed the planet together. Even after so long, there were still sights she had not seen, and Peeta was ever eager to share in her wonderment. They added to her plant book, now many volumes long, and above all, cherished each other's company.
Some years, she would follow the progress of Peeta's reign, witnessing the many and varied celebrations he oversaw, ones she'd only ever imagined as a mortal. The world of men was always a lively source of amusement. The pair both admired their progress and lamented their errors, chuckling at their folly, and frequently cheering for their tenacious ingenuity.
Many of the the other months had come to feel like extended family to Katniss, which she supposed they were. She often visited them during her travels, and found a certain sense of belonging with many of them. She also met a few others like her, people who'd been mortal. She was especially fond of Annie, a girl April had found swept away in the overzealous riptide of the spring sea. With no recollection of her origin, Annie had come to rely on the month himself for a place of belonging. And April had discovered he needed her outlook, both fresh and beautiful, to reinvigorate him and provide the inspiration for all the verdure of spring.
She and Peeta had just such an accord, where one's existence sustained the other. And should she wish it, they could sustain and nourish another's as well. Though Katniss had noticed upon their first meeting that some months looked older than others, the youngest she'd seen being November, she had not realized this indicated a lifespan of their own. Compared to that of a human, it was unimaginably vast, but there was the possibility of succession. The eleventh month Katniss knew had arisen from a union between the former November and a companion, and the cheery girl had assumed dominion over her month when the pair felt ready to gradually fade from existence.
Katniss felt certain that one day, she and Peeta would eagerly welcome a future heir to the twelfth month, but that time would be long in coming. When it did arrive, and Peeta held the child in his arms that would one day be known as December to the world, and Twelve to its kin, Katniss knew she'd give it something extra, something special from her life as a mortal, in the form of a name all its own, like she'd once given Peeta. But for now, and for countless future years, Katniss was perfectly content as she was: touring the world with Peeta, taking in the seasons, wed to the winter.
I made some edits to the first two chapters when posting this. Just very minor changes to correct errors, flesh out foreshadowing, and make it flow a little better. If people following are notified(?), nothing major was changed.
Thank you all for exploring this little tale with me. :) I'll be working on other stories/art in the future, so come visit me on tumblr: GhtlovesThg
Can it be spring now? ;)