This was inspired by a drabble request asking for Peeta and Katniss trapped indoors during Catching Fire, and also a fic idea imloveleee had for everlark getting snowed in (and I STOLE IT) and also the Crosby, Stills & Nash song "Judie Blue Eyes" for which it is named.
The long days of bed rest are beginning to take their toll. My recovery from the fall I took jumping over the live fence has been agonizingly long. My mother had promised I'd only be out for a week, but after a second inspection, extended the diagnosis because my healing hadn't made as much progress as she had anticipated.
If only we had Capitol doctors here in twelve, like the ones who fixed my ear after the first Games. A few fancy machines and I'd be as good as new.
Instead I'm restless. Confined only to my bedroom and occasionally the kitchen or the living room downstairs.
I stare out the window, where the most recently fallen snow has begun to melt, leaving a glassy sheen over the icy surface. I long to go outside. I pull the window open and place my hands on the sill, and greedily inhale the crisp, dry air. I lean forward until half of my body is hanging out the window, my one good foot barely anchoring me to the ground using only my toes.
"You making a jail break?"
My eyes follow the source of the voice and I spot Peeta on the bottom step of the porch, which leads to my front door.
"That depends," I say. "Are you going to catch me?"
He shakes his head, and his breath clouds around his face when he laughs. "No way," he says. "Let's try to keep at least one good leg between the two of us."
I smile. With his prosthetic leg and my sprained heel, we make quite the pair.
I hear the creak of the door when it opens and closes, then follow the sound of his heavy tread as he climbs each step. Even clad only in wool socks, I could hear Peeta coming from a mile away. Or maybe it's because I'm so stir crazy. I've memorized every squeak and moan this house can make, and while others may find them to be a mild annoyance, to me they've become like nails on a chalkboard.
"How are you feeling today?" Peeta says.
I'm still leaning against the window sill and I attempt to stand, flinching when let the lightest amount of weight shift onto my bad heel.
"Wonderful," I say tightly.
He helps me back to my bed, making a show of fluffing my pillows and propping up my leg.
"I brought you some books," he says, and I notice the stack he dropped on my dresser when he entered my room.
I look over the titles. "I already have these," I say. The libraries in each house must have identical sets of books.
"Have you read them though?"
"No," I admit with a shy smile. I set them on the bed beside me. "What are you doing today?" Peeta usually sketches while the light's good, but he doesn't seem to have his supplies today.
"The solstice is tomorrow," he says. It's the shortest day of the year, and the promise that more sunlight is to come, even though we're still in the coldest days of winter. Most families celebrate with a large feast - or as large a feast you can make when you have no food.
"I thought I'd make a few extra loaves and rolls to pass around town. The trains aren't bringing much food these days, yet my pantry always seems to be full."
"Mine too," I say. I'd been divvying canned goods and other things around the Seam as best I could up until my injury, and even if Gale had time to visit, he wouldn't accept anything with a Capitol logo on the label.
I can't help but feel responsible for the people of District Twelve's suffering. Snow is trying to punish me, and he wants to break the spirits of every person I unintentionally inspired.
"Maybe I could help," I say. It's not enough. It'll never be enough, but at least it's something.
He looks at my foot warily. "Okay, yeah," he says after a moment of hesitation.
Although our kitchens are laid out the same way, my mother has organized the pans and utensils in different cabinets than Peeta. It takes him several tries through each drawer to find all the supplies he needs, and even when he does, he doesn't seem pleased with what he has to work with.
I'm little help. All I can really do is sit on the stool that lines the kitchen island and watch.
"I need to run back to my house," he says. "You don't have enough yeast, and I already have a few loaves resting that could go into the oven soon."
"I'll come with you," I say, and if my eagerness weren't apparent enough, I nearly fall off my seat in the process.
"No, stay here," he says. He's already by the front door before I can protest, pulling on his boots, which he left beside the mat. "It'll only be a minute."
The only thing I'm good at these days is hobbling, and I hop after him using the counter tops that line the walls to propel myself more quickly.
"Please? I could use the change in scenery."
I must look as pathetic as I feel because Peeta folds rather quickly. He picks my jacket up off its hook and tosses it to me, then begins to scoop me into his arms.
"You can't carry me either," I insist.
I slip my boot onto my good foot, but my injured heel is wrapped in a heavy bandage to keep it from moving around too much. The only thing that fits over it is one of my mother's slippers, and as ridiculous as it looks, I pull that on too.
My stubborness is pointless. As soon as we get outside, I cling so tightly to his shoulder that he may as well be carrying me and my feet barely dust the snow with each step.
His house feels different than mine, although it's nearly identical. There's something cold about it. Most of the Capitol furnishings have been left untouched, as if no one lives her at all. I wrack my brain trying to remember if I've ever been inside Peeta's home before, or if anyone has for that matter.
I haven't seen the baker or his wife, or any of Peeta's brothers make their way into Victor's Village. The only time he seems to spend with his family is in town, and that's a growingly rare occasion.
He helps me to a chair in the kitchen and begins to gather the supplies he needs. The large bowl is over flowing by the time he's finished, and there are still a few loose items spread across the counter.
"Let's bake here," I suggest. It really is pointless going all the way back to my house, especially since Peeta is more comfortable in his own kitchen, and will be doing the brunt of the work anyway.
My mother and Prim have been spending their days in the Seam treating the sick. They used to use our home as a hospital of sorts, but since Thread came to town, the Everdeen's is the last place in all of District Twelve that anyone wants to be. I'm getting awfully sick of the place myself.
"Yes," I say. "It was getting too stuffy over there."
He fires up the ovens, then throws together some ingredients so effortlessly, he only needs to use the palm of his hand to measure.
He brings the wet mixture and a canister of flour to the table and sets them in front of me. "You know how to knead?" he asks.
"Yes," I say, and begin my task.
"Let me know if you get too tired," he tells me.
We work in silence, preparing batch after batch, letting the dough rest and then pinching it again. My forearms begin to burn, but I don't say anything. I'm afraid that if I do, Peeta will make me go home, or take a nap and rest. I'm tired of being babied, and this task, as monotonous as it is, feels normal for once.
It's worth the effort when the first loaves come out of the oven, filling the kitchen with a deliciously warm scent. Peeta lets them cool for only a few minutes before he wraps them individually in parchment. It's a good thing he does too, or else I'd eat every bite.
He tosses me a roll when he's bagging them by the dozen. "I made an uneven number," he explains, and I accept it happily.
I practically swallow it whole, giving him an approving nod as the flavors burst on my tongue.
"Good?" he says with a chuckle.
"Very good," I mumble around a mouthful.
We're both smiling and laughing, the moment lingering until I go on and ruin it with my thoughts. "Is this what it's going to be like?" I say. "When we're married?"
He unties his apron and drops it on the edge of the sink. "Maybe," he says. "Even if we play make believe for the rest of our lives though, it's not going to make things better for the rest of them."
It's a bold statement to make when there are probably people listening. But he's right. A loaf of bread can help, but we'll never be able to feed the entire district. We'll always have too much, while others have too little, and the burden of appeasing Snow in the Capitol will weigh heavily on us everyday.
There's nothing to do but rebel, and while I can conjure a flame, I can't wage the fire that the rebellion needs.
"You okay?" Peeta says, looking worried.
"Yeah," I say, flashing a quick smile to appease him. "Do you think I can take some of this back with me? My mother and Prim probably know of a few people who could use the meal."
"Take as much as you need." He moves to the window, drawing back the curtains. "It's getting dark, I should probably get you back."
I don't really want to leave, but I can't argue with him. What would I say?
He fills a sack with most of the bread we've made while I slip on my coat. When he opens the front door I'm nearly blinded by a blanket of white. Snow is falling so heavily, I can't see my house, which is only a couple dozen yards away.
The wind is blowing the snow directly at us, and the steps leading up to his home are already buried, it's as if his house is floating on a white sea.
"I think I should probably carry you," he decides.
He's insane if he thinks we should wander through the snow. It's easy to get disoriented when you can't see beyond your feet, and having to lug me around will only add to the distraction. It seems silly when I live but a stone's throw away, but I'm not going to risk his safety, especially when we're already someplace safe and warm.
"I'm not even sure if my mother and sister are home. They may be snowed in too." We try to phone my line, but as I suspected, there's no answer. "It's probably better to wait out the storm together."
"I don't think your mother would like that very much. What about your virtue?"
My mother doesn't know of all the nights I shared a bed with Peeta, but she's certainly seem some of the highlights from the Victory Tour, "delirious" in my love.
"I don't have any virtue left," I say.
His laugh is nervous. "Believe me Katniss, you have plenty of virtue."
I'm not sure what he means to imply, but it makes me angry.
"Should we start a fire," I say, limping into the living room.
He follows after me, guiding me to the sofa before I can reach the fireplace. He shifts some of the logs in the hearth and then lights one of the matches he keeps by the mantle.
"What should we do now?" he says, the fire now roaring.
"The plant book is at my house," I say regretfully. "We can work on scrap paper and add it tomorrow."
The lights begin to flicker, and soon we can only see by the glowing embers of the fire.
"Power's out," he says. "I think I have some flashlights in the kitchen."
He disappears for a few minutes, slamming doors and drawers before returning with a glowing light in hand. He tosses a flashlight to me and then places a bottle on the table between us.
"Found this too," he says. "I bought it for Haymitch."
"I wonder how he's doing," I say. I pick up the bottle and twist off the cap, flinching when the odor stings my nostrils. "Have you ever tried the stuff?"
Peeta shrugs. "A couple times. You?"
"Only the wine they served us in the Capitol," I say. I tip the bottle back and take a larger sip than I should. I'm barely able to swallow before my entire throat is begins to burn, and I'm coughing violently. "This is terrible," I say, dropping the bottle onto the table.
Peeta picks it up and takes an easy swig. "It eases my nerves sometimes," he explains. "Probably not the best coping mechanism."
"Do you really want to end up like Haymitch?" I take the bottle from him and try another taste. I'm ready for it this time, and the warm trail the liquor leads to my belly is pleasant.
"Isn't that inevitable?"
He's right. It'll only get worse when we're forced to mentor. The odds aren't in our favor bringing home two, let alone one Victor every year. We don't have the luxury of isolation that Haymitch now has. It's likely that for the first few years we'll know, personally, all the tributes that are reaped from Twelve.
My biggest fear is Prim's name being called, but it won't be much easier if it's Madge or Rory or even someone like Levy, whom I barely know.
I take another drink.
At least I'll have Peeta. He's the one luxury that no other Victor has been afforded. He's so intelligent and brave. I'd fall apart completely without him. Even these simple days we spend together helps me maintain my sanity.
I must be staring at him because he looks at me questioningly. "How's Gale?" he says.
A feeling of guilt creeps up my spine. "He's better," I say carefully. "I haven't seen him much, since he went back to the mines."
"That's too bad," he says, reaching for the bottle. "I know you don't need my permission or anything, but it's all right with me. That you're together. I won't stand in the way."
I find that I can no longer meet Peeta's eye. That's what I wanted, wasn't it? The choice that I made after Gale was whipped and I decided to stay behind and fight. If I stay with Peeta, the Capitol will win and we'll never be free.
But still, inside the arena and now outside of it too, I find myself drawn to him in a way I can't explain.
"I don't know what Gale and I are," I admit.
Maybe the alcohol has loosened my tongue, or maybe I'm tired of letting these thoughts weigh on my mind. "It's different with him," I add.
"I bet," Peeta says flatly.
He thinks different means real. And why shouldn't he? I've never been able to return his feelings honestly.
My feelings for Gale are just as confusing though. I know that I care about him. That part is easy. I'm just not sure what it means.
"When I kiss him..." I start to say, but the hurt that flashes across Peeta's face is too great to continue.
"Please, don't elaborate," he says.
I think it over. What I was trying to say, and I'm drawn back to our kiss in the cave. Not the kisses we shared to dupe our sponsors into feeding us, but the one that moved something inside me. A feeling I haven't been able to recapture since.
Kissing Gale wasn't like that.
"When you kiss me..."
"You don't," I say quickly. "Sometimes when you kiss me. I don't want you to stop."
He begins to laugh. "Oh Katniss, that doesn't mean anything," he says. "Only that on occasion you actually act your age."
I scowl at him. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"I know you pride yourself on knowing everything, but there are some things you're absolutely clueless on." He lifts his eyebrows when I don't reply. His amusement is making my blood boil. "Hormones. Even the best succumb to them from time to time."
My cheeks begin to burn but it's not from the fury I want to feel.
"You don't have to be embarrassed," he says. "Sometimes when we kiss I feel a little friendlier too."
"Shouldn't I feel that with Gale though?" We haven't even kissed since I chose him, except for when he was whipped, and he wasn't even awake for that. I know that I love him, but I hardly think of him that way. I couldn't fathom being with him in the way I am with Peeta in front of the cameras.
Peeta's face pales as the words sink in. "Katniss, I'm sorry. I don't think I can handle talking about the two of you anymore."
I don't want to talk about it either, but I can't think of much else right now.
It's all so unnecessary. Feelings. What do they even lead to besides marriage. And children. Two things I know I don't want. At least I didn't think I did. When I had a choice there was empowerment in saying no. It was something I actually had control over. The only thing, possibly.
But now that that's been stripped away and I'm being forced to consider a future with someone, I wonder if my uncertainty about being with Gale was born from my ambivalence towards marriage, or my ambivalence towards being with him.
"Peeta... could you kiss me?"
It can't be too odd of a request, we've kissed a thousand times, but since the arena, he's known that every kiss is an act. I want him to kiss me like he did in the cave. I want to know if what I felt was real, or just a momentary thing.
He looks at me tentatively then grips the armrests of his chair. "That doesn't seem like a good idea."
His objection only drives my need for him. It's not need though, it's want. I'm not used to wanting things, but I know I want this.
Peeta kneels on the floor in front of me. With my ankle propped on the table, he sits between my legs, then leans forward just enough to brush his lips against mine.
I feel my heartbeat spike, spreading warmth rapidly through my chest. He kisses me again, a bit more firmly this time, sucking my lip between his to part them before kissing me again. I cup his face with my hands, holding him in place so that he can't stop kissing me.
I begin to feel it, that stirring deep, just beneath my belly. It startles me, sending shivers to the tips of my fingers and leaving me short of breath.
"Satisfied?" he says between kisses.
"Keep going," I say, desperately latching our mouths again.
The warmth continues to spread uninhibited, like a fire raging out of control. It's no good having him on the floor when every part of my body craves to be touched. The rush leads to a dull throb between my legs, which is becoming increasingly impossible to ignore, no matter how I shift my hips.
"How does it feel?" he says. There's an edge to his voice now, and when I make out the outline of his smile in the dim light, it looks pleased.
"I really like kissing you," I say lazily.
"Me too." He gives me another kiss.
But the spell doesn't last much longer. Peeta comes to his senses, sitting back on his heels to distance himself. "This isn't right. We shouldn't do this."
"We're getting married," I remind him. "We'll have to. They'll want children."
"Hopefully it won't come to that," he says, scrubbing a hand over his face.
"They're going to take it away from us. Why can't we have it now? When it's still our choice."
He's not convinced. "You want this? This isn't a game?" he says.
I'll never be able to erase the doubt Peeta feels. A small part will always feel it myself. But things have changed between us since the Games. Since the Victory Tour, and the days waiting for my injury to heal. My feelings for Peeta have evolved into something entirely different. Something I'm too terrified to identify right now.
I need for him to keep on kissing me. I liked it better that way.
"What do you want Katniss?"
My body is so tightly wound, I can't stand it a moment longer. "I need you - I want you to..."
"To what? Tell me."
I reach for his hand and touch it to my cheek, but I don't just want it there, I want it everywhere. I guide it down my neck, then across my collar bone. The darkness in his gaze emboldens me, and I smooth his palm over one of my breast.
He takes control, curling his fingers around the mound and squeezing it with his hand. When his thumb flicks over my tightened nipple, I let out an embarrassing sound between a moan and a yelp. He does it again, grinning when he elicits a similar response.
"What about now?" he says, toying with the top button that keeps the front of my dress closed. I nod eagerly and he unfastens it deftly, then circles the one below it, freeing each button until my dress falls open.
I'm basically only in my underclothes now, but with all my prep team has seen, I'm far beyond any kind of modesty. My skin burns where his fingers splay across my waist and when he bows his head to nip at my breast through the thin, cotton bra I almost sing.
It all feels wonderful, but nothing has addressed the ache between my legs. A damp heat gathers, pooling every time he finds new skin to lavish until I feel like I'm dripping.
I urge his hands lower, to my hips, hoping he'll take the hint. He kisses down my stomach, pausing below my belly button. My breath hitches when he kisses me over my underwear. His groan is muffled against my hipbone.
"You're really wet, Katniss," he says, and by the grin that slants his mouth, I take this as an endearment.
He removes my underwear then spreads my legs wide. "Do you want me to?"
My eyes widen when his lips touch the inside of my thigh, his mouth dangerously close to my center. I nod wordlessly, my entire body clenching in anticipation.
The feeling of his tongue is an odd sensation at first, but when he presses it flat against the cleft, I see fireworks behind my eyelids. I can't believe such a small bundle of nerves can ignite every fiber of my being, but I'm floating now, anchored only by his hands pinning my hips to the cushion.
My toes curl and I cry out, the pleasure of his tongue silencing my protesting heel. I need to hold onto something desperately. My fingernails scrape against the upholstery, then up my body to my hair, where I fist the tresses, ravishing it from my braid.
It's hard to keep my eyes open, the warmth coursing through my veins leaves my lids impossibly heavy. Through the faint haze I can make out his eyes staring up at me, the embers from the fireplace reflecting in his blackened irises. It's that image that makes my body keen. The all consuming hunger crests, and I dissolve against the sofa, sated and full.
He presses his forehead against my belly, his lips slick against my stomach.
"I should take you home," he says. I can't quite make out his tone, but I fear regret. He stands and moves to the window. "It stopped snowing. I'm going to shovel the walkway so I can carry you back."
I find my underwear and button my dress, feeling surprisingly numb when moments ago I was humming with something wonderful.
I curl into a ball on the sofa, staring directly into the flames. Outside, I can hear the sharp sound of the steel shovel breaking through the ice. I can't recall the exact moment I fall asleep, but when I open my eyes, sunlight is creeping through the window.
My bedroom window.
My bed feels cold and empty. I reach my fingers across the mattress in search of Peeta, but it quickly becomes obvious that he isn't there.
I make myself stand, limping to the window to let in the chill. The cold is welcome, and I inhale a deep breath, reveling the burn in my lungs.
Across the lawn I hear the familiar crunch of snow, then I see him, Peeta, with his sketchbook tucked under his arm, making his way up the cobblestone path that leads to my front door.
"You making a jailbreak again?" he calls up to me.
I smile. "That depends. Are you going to catch me?"
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