I lie in bed, the pearly dawn of morning starting to creep through the bedroom window. The curtains flutter in the early morning breeze, and I shiver, pulling the sheet up over my body. Winter is coming.
I turn my head, reach out my hand, but I can already feel he isn’t there. He’s already left.
I hate the mornings I wake up alone, without his warm body curled around me, the feeling of his skin against mine, his faint breath tickling the back of my neck. I’m so used to it by now, sleeping and waking beside him. For so many years, we’ve lain side by side, fighting our nightmares, comforting each other, loving each other. We’ve made our children here, discussed our hopes for the future, quietly reflected on our past. It’s where I feel closest to Peeta, closer than anywhere else.
I close my eyes, and remember the first time we shared a bed, on the Victory Tour on our way to the Capitol. Our hesitance to do so at first, awkward limbs fighting for space, until we gave up any semblance of propriety and melded our bodies together, legs entwined, his chest as my pillow, his arms wrapped around me tight.
I would never have admitted it at the time, but it felt perfect. It felt right.
I remember when we were close, so close prior to the Quarter Quell, that nothing would separate us. I wouldn’t let him go, wouldn’t let him out of my sight. When we shared a bed during those times, it was bittersweet. I knew he loved me, while I was still clueless as to how I felt. I would feel the evidence of his need for me pressing into my back in the middle of the night, when he was asleep and I was wide awake, counting down the hours to my death. It made me yearn for something I wasn’t even sure I wanted. But more than anything it was bittersweet because we both knew our time like this was limited, and our days numbered.
I remember when he first returned to 12, and we were painstakingly creating the memory book, working on it until the early hours of the morning, where, exhausted, we would fall asleep on the couch, head to toe. Still a little unsure, a little wary, careful not to get too close. Peeta ended up with many a black eye those nights, as I tossed and turned and thrashed and kicked in my sleep.
I remember the first night we shared a bed after the rebellion, after the war. The rain had been pouring for hours, had almost felt like days, and had turned the streets and woods into a muddy wasteland. I had been struggling with being cooped up inside for so long, had been frustrated, and irritable and almost irrational. I thought it a good day to start on Finnick’s entry.
It hadn’t taken long for Peeta to realise it wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had, as my already unstable emotions took me over. I had sobbed into his arms, visions of Finnick and mutts and blood and Snow ripping at any sense of composure I may have had. Eventually he carried me upstairs, placing me in my bed, carefully tucking the blankets around me.
My heart had sighed, and I had asked him to stay. He had softly replied “Always”. Again.
He simply held me as he always had, our bodies melded together, legs entwined, his chest as my pillow, his arms wrapped around me tight. It was a long time before we shared anything more than a few tentative kisses. But when we did, I knew nothing in my life would ever feel as right as the two of us together.
I remember those times, those times when I felt so close to Peeta that it was almost as if we were one. The feeling of his skin on mine, the heat from his body, the way his eyes seemed their bluest when he was inside me. I smile softly, and remember how incredible he always made me feel.
I remember all this with the knowledge there will never be another morning when I wake beside him, when I move with him, when I smile at him and he smiles back, the happiness evident in his eyes. When I tell him I love him. I feel the tears begin to well, the lump form in my throat as I think of the black dress in my wardrobe that I have to wear today. I think of how strong I have to be for my family, for my children, my grandchildren.
I’m all they have left now.
But I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Peeta is with me, with them.