“Pass the glitter.”
“You have enough glitter.” Katniss replies.
“But Daddy needs more. He always says that the cupcakes I put the most glitter on are the best tasting ones. So, he needs more glitter on his Tine’s day card,” six- year- old Peeta says.
“Fine,” she huffs. She looks at the card she made for her daddy. Katniss picks up the glue and carefully draws a heart with it. Then, oh- so- gently, not at all like Delly who is dumping glitter all over the place, she sprinkles pink and purple glitter. She shakes it like Peeta does so it will spread out.
She sets it aside so it can dry and watches Peeta. He uses his scissors to snip away at several different colors of construction paper. With a flurry of tape, glue and more glitter, he assembles a very colorful bird. He gently set it aside to dry, and Katniss picks up another card to decorate for her mama. She is busy working but continues to watch Peeta, and wonders who the bird is for. She knows that it’s not for his mama. She left last year and her mama said that she wasn’t coming back, ever.
Katniss finishes up the cards for Mama and Daddy. She even makes one for two- year- old Prim and another for Peeta. She will wait until she gets home to write his name on it so he won’t know that it’s for him. Soon, Mrs. Trinket tells them to finish up because it’s time to go home. Katniss tucks her cards into her backpack and walks out to get on the bus with Peeta.
Peeta brings cupcakes for everyone for Valentine’s Day a couple of days later, while Katniss brings chocolate kisses. Everyone is busy putting the cards they have for their classmates into the shoe boxes they decorated last week. Mrs. Trinket has been a teacher long enough to know that they are too excited to do much, so classwork is full of coloring and word searches.
Soon, it’s time to open valentines. Katniss grabs her box and goes back to her desk. As soon as she has it open, she sees the bird that Peeta spent so much time on the other day. She holds it up to her heart, and looks across the table to where he watches her. He has the card that she made just for him pressed up against his heart. They smile at each other.
Katniss fixes the strap of her messenger bag and scowls at the hundreds of vases that fill the middle school lobby. Balloons almost reach the ceiling, not to mention the stuffed animals everywhere. It looks more like a florist than a school. Valentine’s Day is ridiculous, Katniss thinks to herself. Over privileged kids asking their parents to send flowers to their stupid middle school boyfriends and girlfriends. It’s not like they are going to grow up and get married or anything. Besides, she knows that since Daddy died, she won’t be getting any flowers this year. She could buy groceries for her and Prim for six months or longer with the amount of money those flowers represented since Mama isn’t going to.
She can't stop the pang of jealously that makes her stomach hurt.
She continues on to her last class. It’s art with Mr. Cinna and it’s her favorite. It doesn’t hurt that Peeta is taking the class too. As soon as she walks in, the many worries of her young life just fade away for the fifty minutes she is in there. She slides into her seat with Peeta following right behind her. They both produce their sketch pads. Mr. Cinna wants them to use the first ten minutes of class to doodle whatever is on their minds as a way to get that stuff out of the way so they can listen. Before she realizes it, Katniss’ paper is full of roses and balloons. She quickly turns the page before anyone can see. Despite the fact that Peeta never misses a thing about her, she’s hopeful that he might have been too wrapped up in his own drawing.
She feels Peeta’s eyes on her book. Before he can say anything, Mrs. Corbin’s voice comes over the P.A. “Attention, everyone. This is a list of people who have received flowers today. Teachers, we ask that you allow your students to come and pick up their things now.”
Katniss only halfway pays attention until Peeta pokes her in the side when her name is called. She doesn’t miss the blush that spreads over his cheeks when his name is called, too.
They walk out together with a nod from Mr. Cinna and make their way down the hall towards the lobby.
“Who sent you flowers?” he asks.
She shrugs. “I have no idea. What about you? Clove?”
“Oh, I hope not! I’m hoping that it’s Dad.”
“Oh, yeah. Is Clove still saying that she sent you something?
Peeta blushes. “She is. I’ll throw it away if the card says that it’s from her.”
It’s a madhouse in the lobby with so many different kids getting their flowers. Katniss walks along the tables, and has to do a double take when the biggest bear with a couple of balloons has her name on it. She blinks fast because it looks like something her dad would have picked out. She retrieves the card and in perfect typed letters, it says, “From someone who loves you more than you know.”
She grabs the bear like it’s a life preserver and she is drowning. Peeta comes back with a small bear and balloons and nudges her side. “Who sent those?” he asks.
She shrugs and shows him the card. He knows not to say anything when he sees the misty-eyed look on her face. Instead, he throws his arm around her shoulders and they walk back to Mr. Cinna’s room together.
“I can’t believe they are doing this,” she grumbles, looking out the window at the passing trees.
“What? I thought you said that they are perfect for each other.” He holds the steering wheel steady as he goes around the biggest curve in the park.
“That’s the scary part. They are.” she rolls down the window to help fight the wave of car sickness. “I need to get out of this truck. Are we to the top of Clingman’s Dome yet?” The road straightens out, and Katniss breathes a sigh of relief when she sees the rock wall before the turn off.
Peeta grins as he says, “I think your car sickness has gotten worse as you’ve gotten older.”
“Shut up Mellark, and let me the hell out of this truck, please.” She opens the door as soon as he stops and breathes in the wonderful, precious cold mountain air. She smiles when her stomach settles down almost immediately.
Katniss still has her eyes closed when she hears Rye’s truck pull in behind them. She opens her eyes in time to see her sister slam the door closed and bounce over to her, still wearing the stupid veil that Rue gave her before they left. Katniss can't miss the excited sparkle in Prim’s eye. Her stomach twists painfully, and this time it isn’t because she is car sick.
“You didn’t take your Dramamine,” Prim scolds with her hands on her hips.
“I told you, I’m not ready to go to sleep. Are we going to the hotel first or straight to the chapel?”
“Hotel first. We want to change. Did your bring your autumn dress?” Prim wonders.
At this, Katniss finally smiles. “Yes. Just like you asked me to, Little Duck. Come on. Let’s go to the bathroom.”
They walk down the little hill towards the bathroom, when they hear footsteps behind them. All of a sudden, Prim is lifted, bridal style, and Rye Mellark twirls her around. Their laughter echoes through the hills surrounding them, bringing a smile to their brother’s and sister’s faces. When Rye gently kisses Prim, Katniss decides to give them some privacy and continues on to the bathroom.
Peeta falls into step beside her. “They are so happy,” he whispers.
“They are,” she says.
Prim catches up with her in the bathroom. “Do you think we are making a mistake?” Prim asks.
Katniss throws her arms around her neck, and Prim returns the hug. “I understand why you are doing this. It would be hard to have a big to-do with Mama and Graham gone.”
Prim’s voice is muffled when she says, “Thank you for coming with us. I can't do this without you.”
Katniss pulls away so she can give her sister a reassuring smile. “Let’s go get you married!”
Much to Katniss’s relief, they finally get to the hotel. She vows to take Dramamine and sleep all the way home. Prim and Rye check in at the desk, and she catches the last part when the clerk says, “You have to understand, this is the middle of October and the height of leaf season. We only have two rooms for you because we only have two rooms vacant and those are only vacant because someone cancelled their reservations.”
Prim turns to Katniss and Peeta. “I’m sorry guys. Can you two share a room?”
“Aww, Prim! It’s your wedding night. You don’t have to spend it with your husband,” Peeta teases her.
Prim punches Peeta in the arm and Rye and Katniss laugh. “It’s fine. As long as I don’t have to get back on that curvy-ass road before tomorrow,” Katniss quips.
Rye and the clerk finish the transaction, and he gives Peeta the card for his and Katniss’ room. Peeta smirks as he walks by her, flicking her nose with the key card. “Come on roomie. Let’s go check out the mini bar.”
“Don’t you, dare!” Rye scolds after him. “Hey! Just because I’m paying for your room, doesn’t mean that you can drink those high- priced little bottles. Besides we’re going to McCoy’s after the wedding.” Rye and Prim catch up to Peeta and Katniss at the elevator.
“What time are we supposed to be at the chapel?”
“Five. That will give us time to change and get over there.” The doors open on the tenth floor. Prim and Rye exit after they promise to meet them in the lobby at 4:45. Katniss and Peeta ride to their floor in comfortable silence. The doors open, and Katniss follows Peeta to their room.
Without really paying attention, Katniss sets her bag down on the bed to take her shoes off. Peeta starts cracking up. She looks up in confusion and he motions at the bed. She turns around and sees that she is sitting on a king sized bed. She joins in Peeta’s laughter. “I think we got the wrong room.”
“Let me call Rye.” Peeta reaches for his phone. She slips into the bathroom while Peeta talks on the other side of the door. She can hear Peeta still laughing as she finishes and rejoins him. “All they had available were king sized beds. I guess we have to share.”
Katniss looks at the bed. “Well, you should have plenty of room then. You always wiggle too much,” she says, laughing when he scowls.
“I do not wiggle too much. Besides we haven’t slept in the same bed since the sixth grade.”
She rolls her eyes. “Are you going to take a shower?”
She watches him run his fingers through the curls that he always thinks need a trim. She wonders when she will get the nerve to tell him that she loves his curls that way. “I think so. Do you want to go first?”
“No, you go ahead. I showered before we left. I’m just going to freshen my make up and get dressed.”
He smiles that smile that has been making her go weak in the knees since she was sixteen. He grabs his bag off of the bed and goes into the bathroom. She breathes a sigh of relief, gets her make up bag, takes it to the vanity beside the bathroom, and smiles when she hears him start to sing, “Going to the Chapel, and we’re gonna get married—“ She pulls out her brushes, and begins the familiar routine as she gets lost in his voice. His deep baritone wraps around her and makes her feel like it’s one of his hugs.
She slips on the orange sundress that her friend and old teacher, Cinna made for her a couple of years ago. He even made an orange sweater to go with it. She dances that weird dance some women do when they put on a dress with a back zipper and forget to make sure someone is close to zip them up. She has her back to the bathroom door when she hears it open. Strong hands that make butterflies dance in her stomach every time they touch her, steady her. He pushes her waist length hair over her shoulder, and finishes the job.
His Carolina blue eyes that she fell in love with over ten years ago look deep into hers after he twirls her to face him. He is so close she can smell the toothpaste on his breath. He smiles in a way that makes her want to kiss him stupid, showing off those dimples that she wants to lick moonshine out of— are his hands tightening on her waist?
Prim’s ringtone interrupts her thoughts. She steps back and the spell is broken when his hands let go of her. She answers and Prim asks where they are while she tries to not think about Peeta’s touch. “We’ll be there in a minute, ok?”
She hangs up, not giving her sister a chance to say anything else. She straightens her dress and turns around to see Peeta looking at her. She brushes her nose. “Do I have something on my nose?”
A slight flush colors his cheeks pink before he admits, “No. It’s just you look so beautiful.” His voice cracks at the end.
He looks so handsome in his simple jeans and button up shirt. He picks up his blazer at the end of the bed. She puts her phone in her purse, makes sure that she has her wallet, and snaps the clasp. “Well, let’s go, Mellark. There are some crazy kids who can't wait to get married and for some weird reason they want us there to watch.” She slides her hand into the crook of his arm.
“Do you have the key card?” Peeta asks as he maneuvers them towards the door.
She picks up the extra copy from the table by the door, and slides it in her purse. “Now we are ready.”
A nervous but excited Rye exits the elevator, almost knocking them down as they enter. “We are running late. Come on.”
They follow him into the elevator, smiling at his excitement. The elevator stops on several floors for other guests. Katniss can't help but enjoy having to get closer to Peeta. He didn’t put on the cologne that he sometimes wears, but instead smells like the bakery that he took over a couple of years ago. She breathes him in, trying not to seem like a creeper.
Rye is happily reunited with Prim when the doors open in the lobby. Katniss is stunned momentarily when she sees Prim. “What are you wearing?” Katniss asks.
Prim looks down worriedly, running her hand down, smoothing invisible wrinkles. “Rye found it last week in the attic. It was their grandmother’s dress.” She smiles up at her future husband. “He had it cleaned and asked me to wear it.” She beams at her sister. “Is it amazing? She made it for her wedding when she got married in 1954.”
The dress is what one thinks of when they think about the 1950’s; it’s a lace dress with a skirt that has so many petticoats under it, Katniss can hear the rustle when Prim turns around. A classic, plunging V-neckline that dips in the front and in the back reminds her of old pictures of Jackie Kennedy. The dress is ivory, with simple lace covering it. “It’s beautiful. You’re beautiful.” Katniss pulls her close for a hug.
“You look beautiful, Prim,” Peeta says.
Katniss clears her throat to hide her tears. “Are we ready?”
Rye pats his pockets, and smiles when he feels what he must have been looking for. He wraps his arm around Prim’s waist and says, “We’re ready.”
The chapel is a simple building. They could have walked, since the chapel is only a couple of blocks from the hotel but Prim didn’t want to walk that far in her new heels. Katniss and Peeta stand in the back while Prim and Rye talk to the officiant, Mr. Tysinger. They fill out some papers, and then Prim waves them over. “He needs to see your driver’s licenses.”
Katniss digs hers out, and Peeta pulls out his wallet. Once all of the papers are signed and everything is in order, Mr. Tysinger smiles. “Are you ready?” he asks Prim and Rye.
Prim slides her hand into Rye’s and Katniss can see the love she has for him shining in her eyes when she says, “Yes, I’m ready to marry him.” Rye answers her with a kiss.
Mr. Tysinger motions for them to follow him to the front of the chapel. Katniss pulls out her phone so she can take some pictures while a young woman she didn’t notice before does the same. Prim must have chosen a traditional service because soon Prim and Rye are promising each other their forevers with a simple, “I will.”
She can't help but to glance at Peeta out of the corner of her eye. Was he looking at her? Click, she snaps a picture of him watching her. Her heart flips when he flashes his dimples.
She takes another picture when Mr. Tysinger announces Rye and Prim Mellark for the first time. Prim joyfully throws her arms around Rye’s neck, and he gently straightens, lifting her five foot three frame easily. Rye claims Prim’s lips and Katniss snaps one more pic, then turns away to give them a moment. Peeta pulls her to the back of the chapel.
They stand just inside the doorway waiting for Prim and Rye to finish. Katniss lets herself lean closer than she normally would for just a moment so she can feel him and smell that scent that only he has. She must be closer than she thinks because he throws his arm around her shoulder and murmurs, “Let’s get really drunk tonight.”
Before she can say anything, Prim and Rye walk by, oblivious to everything but each other. Katniss and Peeta, fall into step behind them. Peeta gives her a questioning look, and all she does is smile and nod. After a day like today, yes, there is some apple pie moonshine calling her name.
Katniss hides in the bathroom at McCoy’s distillery and restaurant, while her sister and her new husband eat their first meal as man and wife.
She isn’t sure why she feels so mad, frustrated, and like she just wants to shoot something, but she has ever since Prim told her two days ago that she was eloping with Rye. Sweet, corny Rye. Rye who Prim has loved since she was five and the Mellark boys started coming over after their mom left for some God-forsaken place in Canada. Katniss just wants to scream and cry. Prim has gotten her dream, when is she going to get hers?
She looks at her cell phone and sees that she has been gone for about ten minutes. She is within walking distance of the hotel, what kind of excuse can she give for leaving early? She finishes up and washes her hands, leaves the bathroom, and runs smack into Peeta. Rubbing her head from where she hit his hard chest, she complains, “Damn it, Peeta, that hurt.”
He rubs his chest. “I was looking for you. Did you fall in?”
She sticks her tongue out at him. “No. What are they doing? I’m ready to go.”
“They are still eating but I’m ready to go, too.” He grins that damn Mellark grin. You know, the one that shows his dimples. “I have a wedding present for us.”
This gets her attention. “What is it?”
“I’ll show you in the room. Come on, let’s get out of here.”
“Follow my lead, ok?”
He nods and they rejoin Prim and Rye, who are being sickeningly sweet to one another. Katniss rubs her temple like she does when she feels a headache coming on. “Do you mind if I go ahead to the hotel? I feel like I’m getting a headache,” she lies.
“Oh I’m sorry, sis. We can go—“ Prim starts to look for their waitress.
“Oh no, it’s ok! The hotel is just a block away. I’ll walk. The cool autumn air might help my head.”
“And I’ll walk with her.” Peeta exaggerates a yawn. “It’s been a long day.”
“Oh crap!” Prim exclaims. “You opened the bakery today.”
“I did. But I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. Call me in the morning, Rye.”
He nods, and stands up from the booth to hug Katniss. She returns the hug and asks, “How much longer are you two staying? A week?”
“I have some things planned for Prim—“
“And I have something planned for Rye.”
Katniss rolls her eyes and shakes her head. “I really don’t want to know those plans. We’ll see you in the morning.”
Peeta reaches down and grabs a shopping bag with the McCoy’s distillery logo on it. She can't fight the tingles that radiate from the hand that he puts on her lower back when he guides her to the door. They burst through the doors, and Katniss gasps for air like a drowning victim. Peeta pauses for a moment, and before he can ask if she is alright, she smiles at him. She takes a slow breath of the chilly October air, and shivers a bit before she can stop herself. She rubs her arms, and whispers, “I forgot my sweater in the booth.”
“Do you want me to go get it?” he offers. She shakes her head and he takes off his blazer, holding it up so she can slip it on.
She snuggles into it, letting his lingering heat warm her up in more ways than one. The aroma that is Peeta greets her nose, making her panties wet. All she says is, “Thank you, friend.”
“I can't have my best girl getting cold.” They walk towards the hotel. Before they get to the parking lot, they pass a gas station. “Come on, let’s get some snacks.”
They are in and out of the convenience store in a jiffy, Peeta buying their usual drinks while Katniss splurges on some sinfully bad snacks. It’s not until they are in the elevator that she breaks the silence. “Are you really tired? I brought a book if you don’t want to hang out.”
“I want to hang out with you. Besides, we don’t have to check out until after lunch. We can sit up, watch The Walking Dead eat all of this junk food, or just talk, or go to sleep.” The elevator doors open on their floor. Peeta digs out the key card, and opens the door for them.
Katniss kicks off her shoes and takes off his blazer. He is silent as he steps behind her and unzips her zipper without having to be reminded. She can't help the goose bumps that erupt all over. He must see them, because she swears that he barely runs a fingertip over her shoulder. She doesn’t turn around, but instead walks to the sink, looks over her shoulder and says, “Can I use the bathroom first?”
He clears his throat and croaks, “Yeah, I’m going to go get ice.”
She looks into the mirror and meets his eyes. The look in them takes her breath away. He has looked at her like that before, but in her inexperience, she doesn’t know what to do. “Don’t forget your key card.”
She hears the door click behind him. She quickly drops her dress and hangs it on its hanger. She sheds the rest of her clothes and reaches into her overnight bag for the boxers that used to be Peeta’s. She pulls them on under the long-sleeve t-shirt with the Mellark bakery logo as Peeta opens the door.
She scowls as he chuckles from the sight of her. “What?”
He sets down the ice and grabs his bag. “I’m surprised that I have any clothes left. Do you have all of my t-shirts and boxers?”
“I always get you those things for Christmas, I don’t want to hear it. What did you get for us to drink?”
He pulls out three mason jars that have the same logo as the bag. She comes closer so she can see what kinds he picked up. One jar is her apple pie moonshine, another is his favorite, lemonade moonshine, and the last one is a jar of their 180 proof special. She lets out a low whistle. “Are we going to be able to move tomorrow?”
He grins at her. “Hell, no. This is a party after all. It’s not every day an Everdeen and a Mellark get married.” He starts mixing drinks. “We are marathoning The Walking Dead, aren’t we?”
She smirks. “Hell, yes. I need some walker-killing action tonight. Where is your laptop?”
“On the table. How strong do you want your drink?”
She sighs. The best way to get through this whole ordeal is to get too numb to think about it. She will have to think of something else when the holidays came around. “Strong. You know, I want just enough ginger ale to give it some bubbles.”
“You got it.”
Peeta puts the drink in her hand about the same time she has the Netflix display on the hotel TV. With a couple of clicks, the first episode starts, and they flop beside each other on the bed. “You know,” Peeta muses, “I do agree with Shane about the lightbulbs.”
Katniss rolls her eyes. “Since when have you had women in your apartment leaving all of your lights on?”
“You do it.”
She swats his arm, giggling. “I do not. You are the one who leaves the lights on.”
“I do not. It’s you,” he teases.
“You are the one who has a nightlight in every room of the house.”
“You know all of those were for Bram when he still lived at home.”
“Then why are they all still there?” she teases back.
He doesn’t say anything back, but instead refills their mason jars. “Let’s play a game,” he suggests.
“What kind of game?”
Peeta watches Rick wake up. “How about we drink every time we see a dead person?”
Katniss gets up, and crosses to the coffee pot. She grabs two straws, and puts them in their drinks. “We may as well just drink then.” And they do.
By the time the third show begins, Katniss is curled up beside Peeta. Her head rests on his chest, and he plays with her hair. She enjoys her buzz and snuggles into him, loving the way he feels. She knows somewhere in the back of her mind she shouldn’t be doing this, but he smells and feels too good to stop. His arm tightens around her, and she rubs her nose on his shirt. Through the mental haze in her head, she sits up so she can look at him. “I’m an awful sister.”
“I am. I should be happy for them. I really should. But instead I’m here getting drunk with you, because I just want to forget.”
“I don’t want to forget.”
“Watching them today made me so jealous. I mean, my little sister got married today! Before me! I was supposed to have gotten married first. Not her.”
She points her finger at him, which is something she has never done before. “No, don’t you dare try to calm me down. I want to be mad for a little while. I want to be mad at myself for feeling this way about Prim, I want to be mad at Mama for dying, and I want to be mad at your dad for dying too. Why in the hell did the both of them have to get in that car? Why did they have to hit that damn patch of ice?” Tears laden with moonshine and heartbreak stream down her cheeks. “Why does everyone leave me?”
He doesn’t say a word while he sits up and simply holds out his arms for her as she sobs. He waits for her to calm down before he whispers, “I’ll never leave you.” He kisses the top of her head.
His words bring more tears to her eyes. “We should go get married.”
He stills. “Why do you say that?”
Even in her drunken state, she can't admit that she loves him with a “The earth moves, the birds sing, she gets weak in the knees” kind of love. She jokes instead. “Aww, you know, you are my best friend and all. You already know everything that is wrong with me and you love me, anyway. You still love me don’t you?”
She loves it when he chuckles even if she would never admit it. He says ruefully, “There is someone out there just waiting for you to fall in love with him.”
She is so glad that her face is hidden against his chest because his words make her cry even more. She relies on liquid courage to make her brave. “But it’s me, it’s you.” She sits up so she can look at him. “You know, I still remember when you made me that bird card. What did you call it? A Mockingjay?”
He smiles at the memory. “I made that just for you.”
She smacks him on the arm. “See! We have history! You aren’t going to find this with anyone else. That’s why we should go get married.”
His face remains neutral, and he gets up off the bed. He paces the room with Rick Grimes shooting walkers in the background. Finally, he stops, and says, “Ok.”
She can't believe her ears. “Are you serious?”
His dimples peak out and he staggers to the bed. He drops to one knee with a bang. “Yes. Katniss Everdeen, will you marry me?”
She jumps up on the bed and throws herself at him. “Yes,” she whispers as he catches her. “Yes, I will marry you.” Then she goes to put her Uggs on and grab her purse.
“Where are you going?”
“Come on, silly! We are going to the chapel and we’re going to get married.” She sings.
He shrugs and slips on his tennis shoes, following her like he’s been doing since they were five years old.
Since they are both drunk, they walk to the chapel. Its chilly outside, but they are both tipsy enough to be impervious to the cold. Katniss stops dead in a panic as the reach the foyer. “We don’t have to do a blood test or anything do we?”
Peeta pales. “We have to take a blood test?”
“Are you here to get married?” a sing-song voice trills behind them. They turn to see a woman dressed simply in gray trimmed in white whose name tag says, “Effie”. Peeta nods, and she continues, “You don’t have to take a blood test in the state of Tennessee anymore. All I need are your driver’s licenses and social security numbers.”
Katniss can't say anything because her mouth is suddenly so dry, but thankfully Peeta speaks up after he grabs her hand. “Yes, we want to get married,” he says so confidently that it makes her knees weak.
Katniss doesn’t even looks at Peeta, and starts digging in her purse for her wallet. They hand their cards to the woman at the same time. She looks at them closely and walks over to a desk that Katniss didn’t notice when they were here earlier with Prim and Rye.
Effie smiles sweetly. “Wonderful. Did you bring any witnesses?”
“Oh, crap,” Katniss says under her breath.
He squeezes her hand. “How many do we need?”
“Actually, we can cover that for you. You’d be amazed at how many people forget them! Do you want to look over any of our wedding packages?”
“Here, look at the book and decide on a package.” The simplest is two hundred dollars for out of state couples and it comes with flowers and a couple of pictures. Katniss almost wishes she could go back and get her dress or even Prim. But she knows that if she does, she might not come back. “Can we do that one?” she asks pointing.
Her heart clenches when he looks at her blissfully. He nods and hands Effie his credit card. “We’ll take that one.”
Effie claps her hands. “Wonderful, wonderful. If you will give me just a moment, we’ll get started. There are bathrooms through there if you need to freshen up.”
“Thank you,” Katniss says. Effie disappears into the office behind her, taking their paper work.
Peeta pulls her away from the desk and takes both her hands in his. He looks like he wants to say something, but Katniss knows that if he does, then the spell will be broken and so will her heart. Instead she looks up at the clock. “Look, it’s 12:30. We won’t be married on the same day as them.” He has that look again, so she says, “I’m going to the bathroom.”
She locks the door behind her and takes a deep breath. Looking in the mirror, she wipes off some the mascara that is making her look like a raccoon, and finger-combs her hair. She lets a happy smile light up her face. They have always been there for each other. She remembers how Delly would make her and Peeta play house with her. Delly always wanted to be their child, while she and Peeta were the parents. She feels like she is pushing Peeta into this, but she doesn’t know any other way to tell him how she feels. She finishes up and, with a little thrill, realizes that this will be the last time she will wash her hands as a single woman.
She walks out and joins Peeta and Effie, who are talking. “Hello, dear. I just have a quick question, then we can get started. Do you want traditional vows?” the older woman hands her a small bundle of dandelions and daisies.
“Are those like the “Do you take him? And so on?””
Effie nods. “Is that what you want?” They nod together. The blonde smiles and says, “Katniss, you stay here. Peeta and I are going to the front. When I wave, you can start. Ok?”
Katniss gives a shy nod and watches them walk into the chapel. Effie gets to her mark, and Peeta stands to her left. Effie pushes a button on a remote. Tears come quickly when she hears the theme from “The Princess Bride” come on over the speakers. This is hers and Peeta’s favorite movie, and they are able to quote whole passages from it. He meets her eyes, and she floats down the aisle to him.
She hears someone taking pictures and she sees a tall young man standing in the corner with a camera. Effie starts and in just a moment they are promising their forever with a simple, “I do.” Effie follows it with the words she’s dreamed about ever since she was twelve, “You may kiss your bride.” He looks at her with a question in his eyes. Their hands are still intertwined, so she pulls him to her. He stops inches from her lips, and she knows that he is looking for permission. She nods, and he smiles. He lets go of her hands and cups her face. She hangs on to his forearms, and he claims his bride with a kiss.
Katniss has been kissed before, but never like this. It lasts for only a moment, but it sets her on fire. He pulls back to look into her eyes, and she promises herself that she will never forget the love that she sees there. They only pull apart to pose for a few more pictures after says to them, “Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Mellark.” That they pull apart and pose for a couple of more pictures. The photographer introduces himself as Tax, and he and Peeta discuss where he can mail the pictures.
Effie throws rice. When they are outside on the steps, all Katniss can say is, “We just got married.”
He throws his arm around her. Kissing her on the top of her head, he says, “Let’s go back to our room, beautiful.”
Once they walk back to the hotel Katniss walks into their room and goes straight for the 180 proof. Unscrewing the Mason jar lid, she takes a big drink. It burns so bad that she can't stop the tears that spring to her eyes. She chases it with the ginger ale that still sits on the dresser. Peeta is beside her, copying her actions. When Katniss can breathe again, she says, “We just got married.”
Peeta takes a deep breath. “We did. Oh shit, we did.” He runs his fingers through his curls. “I wanted that to happen, but not like that.”
Her heart stops. “What did you say?”
He blanches when he realizes what he said. “Nothing. It’s nothing.”
She isn’t sure what he is talking about, but she knows that she has come too far now to lose him. And that is what it feels like. A little desperate and still tipsy, she grabs the collar of his shirt. She is tired of telling herself that she isn’t allowed to be in love with her best friend. That she isn’t allowed to kiss him whenever she wants to, that she can't touch him. She is tired of not having his arms around her when she goes to sleep. She is tired of not being able to tell him how she feels. So she kisses him.
She doesn’t realize that she is crying when she does, her salty tears wetting her lips. His lips don’t move, and she can feel her heart breaking in that instant. Then she sobs in relief when he wraps his arms around her. She opens her mouth first, and that is all the encouragement he needs.
His lips claim hers. She puts every emotion that she has ever felt for this boy, for this man, holding her right now into this kiss. She lets go of his shirt, and her fingers find their way to his perfect curls, those curls that have been begging her to play with them again like she did when they were ten. His arms tighten around her, lifting her up against him. She opens her eyes, and she can't stop the happy tears when he is there looking back at her. “Is this real?” he whispers against her lips.
She kisses him briefly and says, “God, I hope so. If this is a dream, I don’t want to wake up.”
This time, she wraps her legs around him when he kisses her. All of the worries she ever had about whether or not this would happen fades away. She is in his arms. Nothing else matters. His kiss makes her feel things that she has never felt before. She feels like she is on fire. She just wants him to touch her. She wants him.
He stumbles to the bed, and they land with a very ungraceful huff. Peeta sits back, and she loves the way he looks at her. He gently fingers the hem of her t-shirt. “Are you sure about this?” he asks nervously.
She reaches down to his hand and brings it to her lips so she can kiss his palm. His face softens and she recognizes the look he gives her. It’s the same look she finds on his face when he doesn’t think she is looking. He cups her cheek, and she leans into his touch, nuzzling his hand. “I married you today. And I want my husband.”
He pulls her up and fiercely kisses her. In just a moment, he has her shirt off. He freezes when he sees that she isn’t wearing a bra. “You married me without a bra?”
She flushes at his words. Then they start laughing together. “How red-neck is that? Getting married without a bra on?” She giggles, trying to cover herself.
His normally, Carolina blue eyes look like there is a storm brewing in them when he eases her shirt away from her grip. “I want to see you,” he murmurs. He reaches out and lightly touches her waist. Goose-bumps pebble her skin as he skims the underside of her breast with the backs of his fingers. Then, as if he can't stop himself, he cups her entire breast.
She lays back, and she smiles when he follows her. They look into each other’s eyes and he presses a lingering kiss to her lips. “I just want to kiss you all over,” he whispers.
All she can say is, “ok.”
He kisses her on the side of her neck. “I’ve wanted you for so long, I don’t think I can wait.”
“Wait for what?” she asks.
He pauses for a moment then chuckles. He takes her nipple in his mouth and she gasps at the new sensation. She finds his curls again, and tries to pull him closer. Her hands never leave his head as he travels to her other breast. The sensation of him kissing her there makes her want him in another place. She just isn’t sure how to tell him.
She tugs at his hair, and he smiles against her skin. “I’m getting there, kitten.” He sits up, and takes his shirt off. Through the years she has seen him shirtless many times. She has wanted to feel him since she was 14. She reaches out and touches his stomach, and she smiles when he quivers under her fingers. Her touch lingers when she looks up to his face. This time, he’s the one who claims her hand and brings it to his lips.
He grins at her and reaches for her boxers. She tries not to be embarrassed when she realizes that her best friend, now husband, is going to see how wet she is. He pulls them off and freezes, looking at her. She makes herself look up at his face. Instead of horror, he is smiling at her. He touches her knee, and slides his hand all the way up her thigh. Her legs fall apart instinctively, and she wants him to touch her there. She can't stop the moan when he does.
His fingers find her clit, and she grabs his other hand when he starts to rub her, her eyes rolling back at the waves of pleasure washing over her. She grabs his arm, wanting to pull it away so he won’t feel how wet she is there when he pushes his finger in anyway. Instead of the look of disgust she expects, he pulls his finger back, and licks her wetness off of it. She can't describe what she feels when he does that, she just knows that she wants him to do it again. But he doesn’t.
He stands up. She just knows that he is going to leave her now. She just wants him to go away so she can be alone in the light of his rejection. Instead, he goes to the bottom of the bed and lays down in between her legs. Before she can ask him what is he doing, he is there licking her clit.
Her back arches off of the bed. More waves of pleasure roll through her. She feels something coiling in her belly and she can't help herself as she comes. He is still gently licking her while she feels like a limp rag doll. He sits up on his heels, and slides his shorts off. She admires him and at the same time is a little scared that he is going to put that in there. He suddenly has a condom, sheathes himself and lays on top of her to kiss her deeply. She doesn’t miss her scent on his lips. Instead of being repulsed by it, it makes her feel that taut feeling again.
He reaches down in between them, and she gasps at his intrusion. Her nails dig into his shoulders when he comes up against her natural barrier. “Oh God, Katniss. You mean you’re a virgin?”
With tears in her eyes, she begs, “Don’t stop, and don’t leave me. Please.”
He kisses her tears away. “I don’t think I could if I tried.” He doesn’t move down there, but he does put his hands on either side of her head. He gently pushes in, and she hangs on to him. When he is all the way inside of her. He stops and looks down at her. “I had no idea—“
“Shhh. I was saving it for you.”
At her words, she thinks she sees him tear up some. He rests his forehead against hers. “I love you. Now, it shouldn’t hurt anymore.” And then he starts to move. Slowly at first, he pumps in and out until she opens her legs trying to let him deeper on every push.
She can feel the tension coiling again and hangs on to him tighter. This time he gasps and goes stiff in her arms. He moves his hips a couple of times and this time, Katniss realizes that she is having an orgasm. Waves of pleasure wash over her again, as she comes with him.
His kisses make her open her eyes, and she meets his smile with a face-splitting one in return. She kisses him deeply. He lays down beside her, and they lay there for a moment looking up at the ceiling. “How long do we have to wait before we can do that again?”
There will be more…. I promise… I have two more parts planned!!
As some of you may or may not know, these fics usually take a small army of people to get it looking as nice as they do and to you. There are some writers who do it all, I’m not one of them. So first, I need to thank Sohypothetically. she is not only a great comma policewoman, but she is a good friend, especially when I call her freaking out about this… twice… she is just wonderful. And for my sweet Norbertsmom. Thank you for your all-seeing reading abilities. You rock dear!!! And to Whowhatsitwhich… thank you for listening to me when the mister was tired of hearing me whine, and for reading… thank you for that too!! But most of all, thank you Street for putting all of this together. I know how it is with two little ones and you don’t know if you are coming or going half of the time. You are doing great things by hosting this, and I know the kids that benefit from this are and will be grateful. Thank you.