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the way she tells me i'm hers (and she is mine)

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The world keeps taking from Peeta Mellark, and he isn’t sure if it will ever start giving back. 

 

His leg was taken from him. His family, his home, his own mind. Some days, it feels as if the world owns Peeta more than he owns himself. 

 

And he is helpless against it. Wholly, and devastatingly helpless. 

 

Unlike Katniss, who fights and fights and fights against anything that could dare threaten the shred of peace they've created for themselves in District 12. 

Unlike Haymitch, who bit by bit has begun to reclaim the person he was before his own Games. 

 

Peeta still wakes up gasping from nightmares more often than he cares to admit. Finds himself thinking about all the pain he has caused every single day. 

 

He tries to stay strong, of course. For Katniss, for Haymitch. For the citizens of 12, with their hopeful smiles and hesitant words.

 

For himself .

 

He is the last Mellark. He is a victor of District 12. He has a reputation to uphold and a facade to go with it.

 

(But the truth is that Peeta doesn’t know what he’ll do if he falls apart, and the prospect terrifies him).

 

So he offers Katniss laughter and jokes - tells her that he’s okay. And she believes him, after all, what reason would she have not to?

 

He sees her stagger on towards triumph. Watches her emerge victorious against the Capitol which has taken everything from them over and over again. 

 

Maybe District 12 will finally have a winner. Peeta’s mother’s words ring true, even years after they were spoken. 

 

And he is still not the winner she was talking about. 

 


 

Watching Katniss Everdeen grow is an honour, and a gift, and a happy distraction from the ragged mess inside Peeta's head. 

 

She's shy around him, he notices. Perhaps they are making up for the steps they had to miss during the Games - sweet, bashful glances and tentative fingers brushing against his own. Falling for each other all over again, and this time they don't have to rush their way through it.

 

They can take all the time they want, and no one will punish them.

 

Peeta Mellark isn't sure if he’ll ever see heaven, but this is close enough.

 

And of course, there are heavier days. Days in which Katniss pulls away from him and retreats into herself. On days like this Peeta tries to give her all the space she needs.

He finds himself pretending not to notice the way her breath hitches slightly at the sound of doors shutting too loudly or the way her hands flit around anxiously whenever Buttercup comes nearby. 

He forces himself to stay an arm's length away from her when she wakes up screaming from nightmares. Even when all he wants to do is wrap her up in his arms and keep her safe from anything that might cause her harm. 

 

He finds her in the bathroom during one of these heavy days- scissors in one hand, a clump of hair in the other.

 

“Katniss?”

 

Her reply is low and unsure. “I’m okay. I wanted it off my back.”

 

“Okay,” he whispers. “That’s okay."

 

(Peeta has found that telling other people that what they're doing is okay is a thousand times easier than telling himself so.)

 

"Do you need any help?”

 

The Katniss from a few weeks ago would have snapped at him or pushed him clear out of the room through gritted teeth.

 

The Katniss in front of Peeta now nods at him slowly and hands him the scissors.

 

“I look ridiculous.” She mumbles as she stares at herself in the mirror. Her hair choppy - strands of it hanging unevenly over slumped shoulders.

 

“You look beautiful.” Peeta has never been so truthful in his life. 

 

Peeta.”

 

“Katniss.”

 

Her eyes drift over to meet his in their reflected image. 

 

“I don’t deserve you.”

 

Her words make Peeta want to scream at whatever made her believe this. Make him want to take the world into his bare hands and rip it apart for having treated her so badly. 

 

If anything, it’s the other way round. 

 

Peeta doesn’t deserve Katniss.

 

But he doesn’t say this to her. Instead he whispers

 

“That’s not true.”

 

And then, before Katniss can retort, Peeta lifts the scissors up. 

 

“Here,” he says. “Let me help you out.”

 


 

Thankfully, days like this are few and far between, and Katniss smiles much more than she used to.

 

In the morning (and Peeta hasn't told her this, but he thinks that mornings were made for Katniss Everdeen). Golden, unhurried moments in which she isn’t fully awake, and the iron weights of their past aren't plaguing her yet. Times in which he wakes up and she’s still blissfully asleep, tucked warm and tight against his chest; peaceful breaths and slightly parted lips.

 

Peeta would tie all her pain to his legs, throw himself into the ocean, and let it drown him just to see her like this more often. When he tells her so, Katniss simply rolls her eyes, laughs, and nudges his shoulder ever so gently. 

“Please don’t,” she whispers. “I like you here by my side, Peeta Mellark.”

 

 

At breakfast. When both of them are half asleep and Katniss’s head is heavy on Peeta’s shoulder. He reaches out for the fruit bowl to grab something for her to eat whilst she sings something to herself, quiet and slow. It’s peaceful. 

 

“You’re still sleepy,” Peeta tilts his head to look down at her. 

 

Katniss moves her own head off his shoulder and hums thoughtfully.

 

“Only a little.”

 

Peeta raises an eyebrow, “Oh yeah?”

 

She shushes him, but there's a soft smile tugging at her lips.

Peeta stamps the image in his mind.

 

 

At lunch. Haymitch and sometimes Delly sit with them at Peeta’s kitchen table. Their old mentor is talking about his latest trip to the Capitol as Katniss listens with an eyebrow raised. Peeta himself isn’t really paying attention, but Haymitch must say something real funny because the next moment, Katniss is snorting into her glass. 

Later, when the girl isn’t looking, Haymitch catches Peeta’s gaze - eyes displaying pleasant surprise.

 

 

At dinner. They sit together by the fire, each holding a warm mug of milk and honey. Katniss’s legs are in Peeta’s lap and she’s telling him about her day in the woods. There’s a calm smile resting on her lips and Peeta wants to save the image forever.

 

When her eyelids become droopy and a yawn escapes her lips, Peeta gathers her up in his arms and moves her into his room.

He sits Katniss down on his bed and the girl smiles sappily. 

 

"You're cute, Peeta Mellark." 

"As are you, Katniss Everdeen. Arms up."

 

She obliges and he pulls her sweater off, replacing it for one of the many shirts she's started leaving here. 

 

When they're in bed, Katniss curls into him and whispers against his chest without opening her eyes.

 

"Thank you for taking care of me."

 

Peeta ignores the way his heart speeds up at the sound of her sleep softened voice and presses his lips to the crown of Katniss's head.

 

"Always."

 




“Will you teach me how to make bread?”

 

It’s a quiet request, spoken one morning when neither of them are fully awake yet. Her head is on his chest whilst his fingers are tangled in her dark hair.

 

“You want to learn how to bake?”

 

Katniss sits up to face him. Peeta hears doubt crawl into her voice. 

 

“Do you think I’d be bad at it?”

 

“No, not at all,” he reassures. “And I’d be happy to teach you.”

 

A small sigh of relief escapes her.

 

Then, without another word, she settles back down; leaning her head right over the place where his heart is beating. 

 

"Thank you, Peeta Mellark."

 


 

They decide to follow a recipe that Peeta has known his whole life. Something simple and easy and classically Mellark. 

 

He realises with a start, that though the Capitol has taken a lot from him, not even they could take this. 

 

(A small victory in a chasm of loss.)

 

Katniss stands next to him by the kitchen counter donning an apron which is three sizes too big on her as she dutifully kneads the dough he’s given her. 

Peeta finds himself holding back a laugh that he would let loose were it not for the way he can see her tongue poking out of her mouth in concentration. 

 

Delly Cartwright sits on the counter nearby, watching curiously as Peeta guides Katniss through the process. 

It’s nice, he thinks, having Delly there too. A calming, reassuring presence, and it’s nice to have someone like her around. She spends a lot of time with them, actually. 

Katniss has grumbled to him about it in the past, seemingly averse to Delly’s neverending positivity, but Peeta knows that she likes her too. It’s near impossible not to.

Delly Cartwright is sunflower meadows and honey and laugher -  she reminds Peeta of the goodness around him, and for that he will never stop being grateful.

 

Then, a flour covered hand comes up to swipe against his nose, pulling Peeta out of his thoughts.

Katniss looks up at him, a tiny, impish grin tugging at her lips - powdery fingers hidden clumsily behind her back.

Peeta gasps in mock astonishment and reaches into the bag of flour himself in order to throw some back at Katniss. She shrieks and covers her face quickly, laughter tumbling from her lips.

Despite her efforts to cover herself, the flour hits Katniss anyway and the sight of her smiling from ear to ear, grin large and unbroken, makes Peeta’s heart soar.

 

Happiness looks so, incredibly, good on her.

 

They’re still laughing at each other when Delly’s voice rings out. 

 

“Hey, Peeta! Smile!” 

 

And when he turns, Peeta finds a camera pointing straight at him and Katniss, and suddenly, he can’t breathe.

 

It takes milliseconds for all the joy to drain out of him.

 

He’s going to be sick. He’s going to be sick. 

His eyes lock with Katniss’s for an infinitesimal moment and then he can feel himself stumbling backwards as though he’s been shot.

Distantly, he hears the sound of Katniss yelling something as she slaps the machine straight out of Delly’s hands. 

 

“Why would you do that?” Her voice is sharp. Ragged. There’s a shadow of panic there too.

 

Peeta can see tears welling up in Delly’s eyes as Katniss shouts at her, but fear blocks him from making his way any closer - the fallen camera lays between them mockingly, and when Peeta looks into its lens, all he sees is the Capitol. 

 

A lens aimed at him like a gun as he speaks to Panem. A lens, and a production team and Snow smiling at him from the corner of the room. Scratchy powder on his skin to hide bruises, a white tie that might as well be a noose considering how tight it feels around his neck.

 

Katniss’s hands find his and she begins to speak quietly, but Peeta can’t understand her and there are warped sounds falling from her lips rather than words. 

 

He shakes his head frantically in an attempt to make her understand.

 

“I have to go, I’m sorry I-“ Peeta’s words snap in his mouth, a sob cleaving its way through him as tears begin to sting his eyes.

 

“I- please let me go -”

 

A distraught look passes over Katniss's face, and the moment she steps back, Peeta is running away from her and Delly and the godforsaken camera.

He barrels out of the kitchen, heading straight for the pantry and locking the door behind him. 

 

Smile for the camera, Mr Mellark. Give them something they’ll remember.

 

Peeta bites down on his lip so hard that blood begins to fill his mouth. 

 

“You’re not there anymore,” he whispers to himself, but he can barely trust his own words. 

 

He tries again,

You’re not there anymore. This is real. This is real.” 

 

His voice sounds desperate and jagged and tearful in his ears.

 

Then, Katniss’s voice soars over his own choked one, “Peeta? Peeta, can I come in?” 

 

Peeta’s reply is strangled and tastes like poison, “I don’t want you to see me like this.”

 

Because Peeta is damaged beyond repair. He’s a shoddy mess of a human, rudimentary bandages and staples holding the pieces of him together lest he falls apart. Katniss can’t salvage this. No one can. 

 

Please. Let me help you.” Her voice is defeated.

 

“You can’t.” Peeta’s voice is defeated too, but he repeats himself for good measure.  

 

“You can’t, I’m sorry.”

 

Katniss is quiet for a second, then he hears the soft thud of her head against the door. 

 

“Don’t apologise. This isn’t your fault.” 

 

It’s the Capitol’s.

 

She doesn't mention it by name, but it’s presence lingers in the air thickly like something gone sour and rancid. 

 

Peeta rests his own head against the door, just above the spot where he reckons hers will be on the other side. 

 

“You don’t have to stay here,” he murmurs, “I’ll be fine in a while.”

 

“I don’t mind. You know I don’t.” She repeats his own words back to him. Echoing the moment in which they first spoke, days after his return from the Capitol.

 

Peeta tries to ignore the guilt curdling tightly in his stomach. She’s come so far since then, and now he’s ruined their day.

 

“Is Delly- is she okay?”

 

“Yeah she’s fine. She’s gone home though. I told her it’s okay.”

 

“You can go home too, Katniss.”

 

When she replies, her voice is quiet, stubborn.

 

 “You shouldn’t be alone.”

 

And Peeta knows he shouldn't, he knows. The Capitol doctors told him so time and time again during his recovery. 

 

Ensure that you spend time in company, Mr Mellark. Human contact can work wonders.

 

But the thought of Katniss being anywhere close to him right now- the thought of Katniss seeing this - is soul destroying. 

He doesn’t deserve her patience or her kind words. Peeta Mellark is a stain - a rot - on Katniss Everdeen. He’s not worthy of the sweetness she gifts him. He doesn’t deserve any of it. 

 

Instead of telling her so, he aims for lightheartedness.

 

“I wouldn’t be alone. You’re just across the street.”

 

Katniss laughs wetly in agreement. “Yeah, I guess I am.”

 

But instead of hearing her leave, Peeta hears Katniss sit down by the door and lean back on it.

 

“What- what are you doing?”

 

“I’m staying with you.”

 

“Katniss-“

 

You would do the same for me.”

 

Her voice isn’t harsh or loud, but she speaks with utter conviction. 

 

But Peeta finds himself shaking his head even if she can’t see him.

 

Katniss is getting better, she can’t help him too - shouldn’t have to help him too. 

 

Her words break through the rushing in his ears. 

 

“Do you want to play real or not real?”

 

“Yes.” Peeta’s voice is small.

 

Katniss breathes deeply and shuffles around some.

 

“Your name is Peeta Mellark. Your favourite colour is orange, like the sunset. You are eighteen years old- are you still with me?”

 

Peeta nods even though she can’t see him, “Keep going.”

 

And so Katniss does. 

 

“You like the smell of fresh rosemary. You feed Buttercup when I forget to. You go on walks with Haymitch to get him out of the house.”

 

Peeta doesn’t have any real’s to share in exchange so he just thanks her quietly and leans back against the door.

 

“I’m not done, sweetheart.”

 

The boy ignores the way his heart swoops at the soft sound of the pet name leaving her mouth.

 

Katniss carries on. 

 

“You are the kindest person I know. You taught me how to make bread today even though I know you wanted to paint because your easel was out. You are funny and smart and gentle. I think Haymitch and I would be completely lost without you.

 

You’re-“

 

Peeta hears her voice thicken when she next speaks. 

 

You’re my best friend.”






By the time he steps out, night has arrived and the corridor is dark.

Katniss is still there - curled up by the door and fast asleep. 

Guilt begins to fill the air so thickly that Peeta can barely breathe as he crouches down on his knees. 

She looks beautiful like this, he thinks. Calm features, hand curled up by her mouth, hair splayed across her shoulders. The panic he caused earlier is completely gone. In the absence of the revolutionary that all of the Districts know and fear, lies a girl with flour on her hands instead of blood.

 

Suddenly, she jerks awake, eyes finding him in seconds. 

 

“Peeta?” 

 

And he doesn't mean to, he doesn’t, but he flinches away before he can stop himself. 

 

“I’m sorry-”

 

Katniss sits up slowly, “it’s okay, you don’t have to apologise.”

 

But Peeta does, and Katniss needs to understand that. 

He needs to apologise for scaring Delly. He needs to apologise for reacting the way he did to a hunk of plastic and metal. He needs to apologise for making Katniss sleep on the floor for hours on end in an unfamiliar place. He needs to say he’s sorry, and he needs Katniss to hear it. 

 

But before he can, Katniss is already shaking her head. 

 

“I mean it, Peeta. You have nothing to apologise for.”

 

“You slept on the floor because of me.”

 

“I chose to do that. You didn’t force me.” 

 

But when they walk back out into his kitchen, Peeta catches Katniss rubbing at her neck discreetly. 

 

And all he can think is that she is hurting and that it’s his fault.

 

All his fault.

 


 

That night, Katniss Everdeen steps out of the bathroom wearing one of Peeta’s shirts and a pair of sleep shorts, his knees very nearly buckle underneath him.

 

“Peeta?” Her voice is unsure but light. 

 

The boy can’t find the words to reply. 

 

“I hope you don’t mind, I- I can take it off if you want?”

 

“No, no- it’s okay. You look… You can keep it.” Peeta fumbles around for a reply.

 

She nods and smiles at him softly; grey eyes crinkling at the corners when she does so. 

 

They lie against each other on his bed in a way that feels like muscle memory - Katniss’s head tucked under Peeta’s chin, hands clasped together between them. Sleep finds her quickly. Peeta knows the exact moment her breaths even out and loosen. She shuffles closer slightly and Peeta finds himself pulling her tighter, forcing himself to try and forget about the day's events.

 

He falls asleep to the sound of her steady breaths.

 



Running. 

 

His feet are pounding against the Capitol’s streets. 

The entire city is rigged. Rigged against him and Katniss. 

 

Peeta can’t breathe. 

 

He keeps running. 

 

Katniss is just in front of him, just a few paces ahead. When she turns to say something to him, all Peeta can focus on is the blood smudged on her face and her wide eyes. 

 

She takes another step forward. 

An alarm blares. 

 

Suddenly, they’re surrounded by guns. Heavy and glinting in the daylight. 

 

Peeta thinks he screams out Katniss’s name as he lunges to cover her body with his own. 

 

But she’s been hit. He’s too late, and blood is spilling from places all over her shot mangled body. She's torn to pieces underneath him. Clothes soaked red with blood and w hen she coughs, red streams from her lips. Her nose. Her ears. 

 

Peeta screams again. 

 

Then, her eyes open and look at him, pupils dilated and glazed over. 

 

“Wake up, Peeta.” 

 

Peeta begins to shake his head, unwilling to leave her there in the dust and dirt- dying, choking, in a pool of her own blood. 

 

This is how it always goes. 

 

The world keeps taking from Peeta Mellark, and he isn’t sure if it will ever start giving back. 

 

 

He wakes with a start. Lungs aching for breath, throat scraped raw and bloody from screaming.

 

The blood. The Capitol. Katniss.

 

“Peeta?” A familiar voice calls out his name once, twice - bringing him back into his body. 

 

Peeta wants to sob when Katniss’s face comes into view. Hovering beside him as her hands rub gentle circles into his arms.

 

“Hey, hey- you had a nightmare. You’re okay.”

 

Nothing is okay.

 

But Katniss can’t know that. Not when she’s been doing so well. Not when he's already broken down on her once today.

 

He smiles instead of falling apart, and it feels fragile on his lips, but it’s there nonetheless. 

 

“Yeah, sorry. I'm fine now.” 

Lie.

 

Katniss doesn't seem too convinced. "Would you like to talk about it?"

 

Yes.

 

"No it's alright." Peeta lies back down slowly, "I've already forgotten what happened."

Lie.

 

The girl raises an eyebrow, but nods and shuffles back down next to him.

 

“You sure?”

 

Nodding, Peeta turns on his side to look at her better. Her eyes are full and vibrant in the warm lamp light, and when his gaze runs over her, he doesn't see any blood. His shirt is loose and soft on her frame and strands of hair are escaping from her plait.

She’s safe. She's okay. That's enough. That's enough.

 

Peeta squeezes Katniss's hand in his. 

 

“I’m okay.”

 

It's another lie of course, and maybe they're both beginning to know it. 

 

But lying is survival - and Peeta is adamant that he won't fall apart. Not here, not where Katniss will be forced to pick up the mess he'll leave behind. 

 

A mocking voice in the back of his head tells him that falling apart is inevitable. 

 

(Peeta tells the voice to shut the fuck up.)

 

He can make this work. He can make Katniss believe that he's okay.

 

After all, out of the two of them, Peeta Mellark has always been the better actor.




 

The days go by, and Peeta manages. 

 

(Barely.)

 

The camera incident has thrown him clear off course and the nightmare that followed only served to make things worse. it's like someone has ripped a script clean out of his hands and told him to improvise.

 

And so Peeta Mellark stumbles. He guesses. Unsure about how to make it all work out.

 

Unsure about how to pretend everything is fine in front of Katniss and Haymitch - the two people who know him best in the world - when nothing is fine at all. 

 

The boy makes an effort.

 

He goes for walks with Haymitch and plants and inordinate amount of flowers in the garden.

 

(Maybe if his hands are doing something productive he wont have to think about all the lives they have taken and all the blood that they've spilled).

 

He shows Katniss more recipes and paints her smile in every spare moment he has.

 

Peeta might not be okay but Katniss is, and he will not  take it away from her.

 

Not now. Not ever.

 


 

In spite of his best efforts, Peeta's world falls apart exactly one week later.

 

(Told you so.)

 

It's evening- the sky is darkening outside and he and Katniss have just finished eating.

 

"I can do the dishes tonight." She murmurs, and Peeta has the sinking suspicion that she's offering because she's noticed the way his hands have been trembling all day - residue of a nightmare he had in the early hours of the morning.

 

Before he can overthink it, the boy shoves his hands into his pocket and nods. 

 

"I'll run you a bath," he says quietly. 

 

And off he goes. Out of the kitchen, up the staircase, humming one of Katniss's songs to himself whilst he makes his way to the bathroom.

 

Then, the sound of gunshots tears through the walls. Loud and obtrusive and Peeta’s world comes crashing down on him.

 

His legs give away underneath him and suddenly he’s on the ground, knees pressing against the wooden floor of the corridor. Gasping, dying, like their air itself is wrapping its hands around his throat and refusing to let him breathe. 

 

Gunshots. Gunshots. 

 

Maybe they’re here. The Capitol, Snow, Coin. 

Here to drag him and Katniss back into their sick games. 

Here to take the person he loves away from him again. 

Here to turn him back into a mutt. 

 

Peeta retches. The wooden floor digging into his knees as his body caves inwards in a desperate attempts to shield himself from the sound.

 

Then the sound of footsteps running towards him joins the gunshots. 

 

When Peeta looks up, storm grey eyes find his. 

 

Katniss.

 

He thinks she says his name, but it sounds thick and muted behind the rushing in his ears. When she reaches out to him, Peeta presses himself even further into the wall.

He manages to catch some of her words, but they're not nearly enough for his mind to make sense of.

 

“.... Fire- Peeta... Just... okay-”

 

He registers her hands on his face- running through his hair gently as he continues to gasp for breath. 

 

When another shot rings out Peeta swears he feels a part of him die.

 

“I can’t - please, please help me.” 

 

He doesn't know if the words actually leave his mouth or if they get caught on teeth that are chattering so hard he can feel them in his skull, but Katniss seems to understand anyway.

“Okay, okay.” She nods and changes tactics. Slowly, her hands move to press gently against the sides of his head- covering his ears and muffling the sound of the shots. 

 

She tilts her head gently towards his open bedroom door, a silent question hanging between them. 

 

Do you want to go to your room?

 

Peeta nods frantically, anything to get him as far as possible from the noise. 

 

Katniss nods back, indicating that she hears him. 

 

She guides him slowly, making sure to not move her hands from their place against his ears. Pulling him into his room and nudging the door shut behind her. 

 

When they're safely in, Katniss leads him over onto his bed and moves her hands slowly, shifting them off his ears but keeping them close by on the back of his neck instead.

 

Her voice is fresh water after weeks of arid wind and cracked earth.

 

"It's safe," she whispers.  "We're safe."

 

Peeta wants to believe her so badly, but he can’t be sure. He can’t underestimate the Capitol. 

 

He shakes his head and his hands come up to frame hers on his neck as fresh tears begin to blur his vision.

 

“Is the Capitol here?”

 

Katniss’ brow furrows with confusion.

 

“The shots” Peeta tries again. “The gunshots-"

 

“They weren’t gunshots, Peeta. 12's holding a firework display to celebrate the rebuilding of the Hob.”

 

“No, no… There was- they sounded like- please I.. Katniss- you have to believe me,  please-

 

Peeta is full aware that he sounds like something terrified. Something deranged, but Katniss nods firmly.

 

“I believe you," She whispers. "I believe you. But it's all stopped. We're safe, sweetheart, I promise.”

 

His voice cracks when he next speaks.

 

“I can't go back to them again.”

 

Katniss brings her head forward so her forehead rests against his, and all Peeta can think is that she can’t possibly be comfortable in that position; leaning up into his shaking frame with her hands still warm and steady against his jaw.

 

But Katniss doesn't complain. 

 

“I will never let that happen.”

 

He doesn't know how long they stay there like that. Katniss's hands cradling his head against hers; she breathes deeply and heavily in an attempt to bring him down with her, and after a while the motion of getting air into his lungs becomes easier. Katniss's thumbs come down to wipe at the tears still streaming down Peeta's face and she offers him a kind smile. 

 

"Do you want to talk about it?" 

 

Peeta shakes his head. If he does talk about it, he's scared he'll never be able to stop. Scared that everything he's been feeling in the past few weeks will come spilling out in waves and that he wont be able to shut his mouth when it happens.

 

So he tries to apologise instead. 

 

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” 

 

Katniss shifts upwards slightly and presses her lips to his forehead.

 

“It’s not your fault. It is never your fault.” 

 

Peeta Mellark feels the walls inside of him creak and splinter and crack and then, everything comes tearing through him.

 

Katniss is right there, tugging him into her arms, moving both of them further onto the bed so that she can pull him close. Peeta goes down willingly and his bones sing with relief - happy to not have to bear the weight of his body for a while. 

 

When she curls herself around him, tightly, forming a barrier between him and the rest of the world, Peeta sinks against her and sobs.

 

“Katniss-“ Her name cracks in his mouth.

 

“It’s okay," she coos softly. "We’re okay.”

 

"Katniss, I don't want- I can't bring you down with me."

 

The girl pulls away ever so slightly to look at him.

 

"Is that what this is all about?"

 

Peeta nods slightly and Katniss' face falls, a small oh leaving her lips. Then, she shakes her head.

 

"You're not bringing me down, sweetheart." She holds him tight against her like she's scared he'll disappear if she doesn't.

 

"We do this together. You are mine, and I am yours." She runs her hands soothingly against Peeta's jawline.

 

When he won’t meet her eyes Katniss pulls back again, hands coming up to brush away the tears on Peeta's face. 

 

"Hey, hey - If we have nothing else, at least we have that."

 

The words are soft to his ears, and to Peeta, they feel like they might just be the only true things left in the world.

 

Maybe they are.

 

So he lets Katniss hold him and repeats her words to himself over and over like a prayer. 

 

You are mine, and I am yours. 

 

You are mine, and I am yours.

 

You are mine, and I am yours.

 


 

That night is filled with Katniss's gentle words and smiles.

 

When they fireworks have stopped, and both of them are under the covers, her hands find his.

 

She brings them up to her lips slowly and presses soft kisses against his knuckles until he's warm and pliant in her arms. 

 

"We're okay, Peeta. We're okay."

 

There's still a lot they need to talk about. Peeta's unwillingness to open up is probably first on the list, followed by his reluctance to ask for help. 

But for now, this is alright. It is enough, Katniss is always enough.

 

"We're okay," Peeta replies.

 

And for the first time in what feels like a lifetime, Peeta Mellark isn't lying.