We are kneeling alone in the dark in front of a roaring fire.
I'm wearing Cinna's candlelight dress. He's dressed very much like the way he appeared at the Reaping three years ago. His shoulders are too broad. Nothing Portia made for him fits anymore.
He's holding the slice of bread in his hand, normally steady fingers shaking. As the fire flickers around the edges, he's supposed to be saying something, making promises. At least, that's what I think is supposed to happen, though I've never paid too much attention to an actual toasting ceremony before. But he's not. He's not saying anything, just gazing at me like I might disappear. As I see the crust begin to blacken, and the tongues of fire dance around his fingers, I realize what he's doing. He shouldn't even have to toast his piece. He did it already, seven years ago. But before I can stop him from burning himself further, he pulls the burnt bread from the fire.
"I would do this for you every day for the rest of my life, and it would be completely worth it," he whispers, pressing his forehead against mine. "I hope I don't have to, though," he adds conspiratorially. "You'd think I'd be used to burns by now, but my fingers really hurt." I laugh, but the tears running down my face betray me.
"Is it okay if I just love you every single second of every day for the rest of our lives?" he asks softly.
In response, I hold my own bread into the fire. I want to tell him how much he means to me, how I can't imagine life without him, how he is my best friend in the world. I want to tell him that he is the only other person I've ever known who is as beautiful as Prim was. I want to tell him about the hope he fills me with. But I don't know how to say these things.
Instead, I blurt out, "I love you. I promise to try to be a good wife."
He smiles so brightly the flames pale in comparison, and I know that somehow he's understood.
As he holds the bread to my mouth, I can feel the tremors that run through his entire body. His eyes are bright and clear. I am solid as an oak, but the tears stream down my face in an endless river. I press the bread against his lips and he opens his mouth. I do the same.
It tastes like charcoal and raisins.
It tastes like life.