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I touch my stomach and inhale a deep breath as I look up at the building I used to work in. Almost a two years absence and here I am back in Panem again.

I rub my belly, soothing the rumbling and place one foot in front of the other as I charge on forward. I know they all still work here and they’ve been worried sick about me since I left. But I was fine. I just needed some time to think and experience the world a little.

Panem Private School.

The big bright red sign greets me and I suck in a deep breath. It’s almost lunchtime and I know I’ve got to move quickly as to not be squashed by elementary kids. The sun was still boasting warm temperatures in early November and I knew they’d be seeking the sunshine and fresh air after the long time between recess and lunch break.

The office assistant looks up at me and greets me with a wide smile. “Katniss! You’re back!” She exclaims. I smile at Bristol and nod my head.

She leads me into the office area and her eyes go wide. “Want to help me surprise the others?” I ask her.

She laughs and walks with me down towards the staffroom, passing the few classrooms that display a mixture of out-dated Halloween craft and early Thanksgiving craft.

Bristol tells me I’ll be able to surprise all of my closest colleagues as they were off lunch duty.

I sit behind the lunch table and flip through a magazine and wait. Bristol makes me a cup of tea and tells me she’ll be back in once the bell goes.

It sounds quickly after and Bristol comes and sits beside me and I listen to the familiar noise of the children heading out for lunch. Their shoes squeaking on the polished floors and the sound of the school children’s voices picking up in volume.

“I swear to god these children will be the death of me.”

I smile at Bristol and look back down at my magazine as I hear the approaching bodies.

“I know. Jax just cut Macy’s hair, yelled out Edward Scissor hands and hacked half her braid off.”

“How are you going to explain that to Macy’s parents?”

“Already have. Macy had to go home. Her precious hair is gone and Jax’ family will be getting a nasty email.”

Gasps sound and I look up from my magazine to see the three of my colleagues I’ve missed like crazy.

“Katniss?” Madge says.

“My three favourite elementary school teachers.”

Madge and I started here together four years ago, having met while undertaking our prac.  Madge and I were the nervous student teachers but found a niche and friendship together. Delly and Johanna were new to the school, having started within the 18 months before. The two of them became our mentors during our prac experience and eventually when we took jobs as teachers the following summer. They didn’t monster us, they took us under their wing and from there we bonded into being close friends.

“Katniss, what are you doing here?” Madge asks. “You coming back to work?”

“What are you doing?” Delly asks.

I look at Bristol and she grins at me. I stand up, bracing my hand on the table and then patting my very pregnant stomach with a smile.

Madge, Johanna and Delly gasp.

“I needed to get away. I ended up in LA and took a job as a home schooler for an acting family. They were travelling around a lot and their children weren’t enrolled in school as they had big shooting schedules. I also served as a bit of a nanny and got to travel with them around the globe. They had a plan that when the oldest reached grade four, they’d be enrolled in school and the parents would lighten their loads.” I recall to them as they eat their lunch.

“So that’s what you’ve been doing? Just travelling and teaching these rich kids?” Johanna asks.

“Yep and it’s been amazing, real rewarding.” I tell them and feel a little kick to my stomach.

“So how’d you end up pregnant?”

“Don’t you remember sex health classes?” I ask Johanna with a grin.

“Of course I do. I just want to know if there’s a guy in the scene.”

I shake my head. “Total fling during a holiday. We went on a family holiday to Fiji, and I dragged Prim along. I met a guy on the dance floor on the night of Valentines Day. He was charming and very kind. And one thing lead to another.”

“How long did the fling last?”

“The whole week.”

“Girl, that’s so not like you.” Madge claims with a smirk.

“I know but I felt so alive when I was with him.” I tell them. “Afterwards we went our separate ways and back to our lives. Five weeks later I thought I had come down with a stomach bug. The mother of the children sat me down, handing me a box of tests and told to take them. I got three positives and she was over the moon.”

“And you’re keeping it?”

“I always wanted to have a kid. I’m in my late-twenties. I knew I could do this.”

“That’s a big ask.” Johanna claims.

“Sometimes life throws stuff in your lap… including unexpected sperm donations.” I tell them grinning, rubbing my stomach.

“Did you tell the fling?”

“No. There’s no relationship. It’s my call. I didn’t want to dump it on the poor guy.”

“And you’ve been working with that family the whole time?”

“Yeah, to save some money.” I tell them. “The kids got enrolled into school and I remained with them until just last week when their new nanny started.”

“And now you’re here.”

I nod. “I came by on a whim to see my family and you guys because I didn’t know when I’d get the chance next.”

“What are you going to do?” Delly asks.

“You know me, I find my footing really anywhere.” I tell them with a reassuring smile and rub my stomach where I feel a hard kick come to the top of my stomach. “I just hope this one can find its footing out of my ribs.” I laugh.

“How many weeks do you have left?” Johanna asks.

“Two.” I tell them. “Two weeks to get my life in order.” I laugh. “I’m having a baby. It might not be the perfect situation but its still good.”

The four of them smile at me.

“Well we’re here if you need help.” Madge tells me, squeezing my hand.

“Thank you.”

They all hug me goodbye as lunch is nearing an end.

“I’ll walk you out.” Madge tells me and we head down the hallway to the front entrance.

“Don’t you have to get your kids?”

“I’ve got a student teacher who is going solo this afternoon.”

I nod and smile. “I’ll see you round?”

Madge nods and embraces me. “Please come back and show us your baby.” I squeeze her tighter and let her go. “It was good to see you.”

She watches me and I turn to wave goodbye to her.

But I’m stopped in my tracks as I feel a shooting pain go from the top of my belly down to my core before I feel a wetness between my legs. I look down to see a puddle of water and look up at Madge with wide eyes.

“Guess we’ll be meeting this baby sooner rather than later.” She tells me giddy, skipping towards me.

She organises her class, getting the other grade 2 teacher to combine their two classes for a big afternoon of craft. Madge tells me he owed her one after she covered his class one Friday afternoon so he could have a romantic weekend away with his partner.

She drives me to the hospital in my car and pulls up in the car park where Prim is undertaking her internship.

“How close are contractions?” She asks me.

“I don’t know. I haven’t really been timing them.” I admit, squeezing my eyes together as another painful contraction hits. “I’ve been having a lot of practice contractions. The doctor in Beverly Hills told me I’d know when it was the real thing.” I say. “And I know this is the real thing.”

“Your water broke, it’s very real.” Madge laughs.

I had left two years ago. After a series of unsuccessful dates, I was determined I had found the one. Everyone thought I had found the one. I was planning my life to spend it with this one guy who I really thought I loved. But he did a real number on me, told me he had a wife and went back home to the east coast where he lived. So I quit and left Panem without anyone knowing where I was going.

“That jerk, Johanna was so determined to find him and tear his nuts off.” Madge tells me after a long silence.

“I know.”

“This baby, he isn’t the father right?”

“No. I haven’t seen him since he left.”

“Good. You don’t need that jerks kid.”

She helps me into the ER where we meet Prim.

“Katniss. You’re back?” She asks before gasping. “You’re having a baby?”

“You haven’t seen Prim yet?” Madge asks.

“I just got in to town. I knew she was working.” I explain. “I was going to surprise you at home.” I tell Prim. “Surprise.” I tell her with a weak smile.

Prim embraces me tightly. “I’m glad your home.”

“Me too. Can you let go though? I’m kind of in a lot of pain and about to push a watermelon out of my vagina.”

“Of course. Come on, we’ll get you upstairs.”

“Where’s Mom?”

“Working. I can call her?” She suggests.

“No. We’ve got a while yet.”

Prim gets me admitted upstairs into maternity and tells me she’ll be back to check on me when she can. Madge stays by my side, helping me into my gown and playing the supportive birthing partner.

“You don’t have to do this.” I tell her, looking down at her outfit. “It’s probably too weird for you.”

“I want to though.” She tells me. “You’re having a baby. I want to be here for that.”

I smile. “Thank you.”

“My pleasure. Now tell me what you want me to do.”

Dr Trinket comes by to check on me. “You’re Primrose’s sister, aren’t you?” She asks as she checks my cervix.

I grit my teeth at the pressure she applies. “Yeah.”

“She’s going to make a superb doctor.” She tells me with a proud smile. “I love having her on my rotation.” She smiles and takes off her gloves. “You’re at 8 centimetres, not long now.”

She documents it in her chart and Madge ducks off then to use the bathroom.

“So did you say you travelled from LA to Panem?”

“Yeah this morning.”

“That’s six hours of driving. You didn’t have any contractions?”

“I’ve had a lot of practice contractions but nothing that really was concerning enough.” I tell her as I feel another contraction. She grips my hand tightly.

“Good girl, breathe through it.” She coaches as I feel the end of the contraction.  “Good girl.”

“Knowing my luck I would have ended up having my kid on the side of the road.” I joke and Dr Trinket smiles at me.

“Good thing you made it here then.” She smiles. “Rest up Katniss, I’ll be back in a little while to check you again.”

Madge returns again with a small overnight bag.

“Gale dropped some supplies off for me.” She tells me, producing her bag. “Do you want anything from your car?” She asks me.

“I’ve got my hospital bag in there.”

“I’ll go down and get it for you.”

She rubs my back, relieving the pressure in my lower back.

“Your hands are magical.” I tell her, laughing slightly.

“And you’re high off of the gas.” She claims, laughing even harder.


 “So is the father in the scene?” Effie asks me as she snaps on a pair of gloves. I’m fully dilated and ready to push.

“No. I’m determined to do it all on my own.” I tell them. “I wonder what this kid is going to look like. The guy was good looking. Hopefully the baby will score intelligent genes from him. He seemed pretty successful. He was on holidays for a conference.”

“My dad, he says those holiday conferences are quite the scene. Especially those at those big resorts.”

“The conference was a bunch of business executives.” I say.

“My dad actually got home from one of those in February.” Madge says at the same time and we both laugh.

“Katniss you’re almost ready to push.” Dr Trinket tells me with a smile.

“What’s your father’s name?” I ask Madge.

“Peeta.” Madge tells me and the realisation of it all hits me.

Madge’s face drops and she stumbles backwards, reaching for her phone before she turns it around to show me a picture of her father.

Who happens to be the father of my baby that I’m about to push out.

I cover my mouth, dreading the thought that I have been carrying my friend’s father’s child for 9 months. That I slept with my friend’s father 9 months ago.

“Right!” Madge says clearly shocked. “Right. What? I can’t be here.”

I scream out in pain as a painful contraction comes.

“She’s ready to push now!” Effie states.

“I can’t do this!” I yell, reaching for the gas from the midwife.

“Yes you can Katniss.” She tells me.  

As I suck in the gas I look at Madge, understanding if she can’t stay at my side as I deliver her brother or sister.

“Are you in or out Madge?” Effie asks her. “Because now is the time to leave if you’re out.”

She looks down at me and then grips my hand as I feel another pain rip through me. “I’m staying.”

“I should explain myself.” I tell her once I’ve begun pushing, lying on my side with one of my legs propped up.

“You don’t… you don’t have to explain anything.” She reassures me as she rubs my back. “Let’s focus on getting this baby out first.”

“I have to explain. We met on the dance floor. He was charming and he made me laugh. And then you know…”

“Yeah I know what happens next.” She says and I grip her hand harder as another contraction rips through me.

“I can’t do this.”

“Yes you can Katniss. I’m holding your baby’s head.” Dr Trinket tells me delighted. “Bubs has lots of hair as well.”

I focus on my mind and the baby and focus all my energy into pushing the baby out.

“We’ve got the shoulders out. Come on one last push and we’ll be holding your new baby Katniss.”

Madge peaks over my legs to see the baby and she smiles at me. “Come on, bubs is almost here. You can do it.”

She rubs my outer thigh and squeezes my hand as I use the next contraction to push.

“Here we go!” Dr Trinket beams. “Well done. Baby is out.”

I feel tears spring to my eyes and elation overcome me.

“It’s a girl.” Madge announces with absolute joy in her voice. “She’s fabulous. Look at her.” My little girl is placed on my chest crying and scrunching her eyes and fists together as I lay her in my arms.

“She’s beautiful.” Madge tells me with tears in her eyes. I smile up at her and then back down at my little bundle.

“Good job Mom.” Dr Trinket praises with a wide smile. “I’ve just got to cut the cord-”

“Madge can cut it.” I tell Effie.

“You sure?” I nod and watch her take the scissors cutting the umbilical cord of her half sister. “She’s so tiny.” Madge exclaims, setting the scissors down.

She was right. She was a tiny little baby but she was already so perfect.

She’s taken for a couple of minutes despite my initial desire to be parted from her.

“She’ll be back, don’t worry.” Madge tells me as the nurse takes her to be checked out. “You did good.”

“I think she’s got your nose.” I tell her, trying to lighten the situation.

She stifles a laugh and grabs my phone to take photos of my little girl.

The baby is placed on my chest crying after all the poking and prodding and examination to make sure she is healthy. I study her features, dark hair and a button nose. Her little round eyes house baby blues and I hope secretly she’ll keep the color. The same blue eyes I got lost in nine months ago. I kiss her nose and her forehead and cheeks and lips.

“I love you so much.”

She ceases her crying as she tries to focus on me and my voice and warmth. I stare down at her, staring into her intense gaze and nuzzle my nose against her face.

“Thank you.” I whisper to Madge.

“My pleasure.” She replies, kissing my forehead and touching the cheek of my baby. “I’ll give you two some time.”

“We’ll talk.” I promise her. She nods, squeezes my hand and leaves the room giving me my time alone.

The midwife gets me nursing, making sure our feeding technique is comfortable and correct before she leaves us to be, letting us bond in privacy.

Prim comes and finds me when the baby is sound asleep and I’m all stitched up, cleaned up and settled in a new room.

“She’s beautiful.” Prim tells me with tears in her eyes. “Mom’s on her way.”

“Should I be worried?”

“She doesn’t know. I’m meeting her downstairs.” She tells me, coming and sitting down beside me. “She’s so beautiful.” I smile at her and then down to my daughter. “Is it true you had Madge’s father’s kid?”

“You know?”

“So you had your friend’s father’s kid?”

“It sounds the punch line of a joke.”

Prim smiles and shifts the baby in her arms. Her phone sounds and she takes it from her pocket. “Mom’s here. I’ll be right back.”

She lowers the baby back into the bassinet and leaves us alone

“What a mess we got ourselves into little one.” I whisper to her. “But families can be messy.”

Madge enters the room after Prim leaves and stands over her new sister.

“Thank you so much Madge.”

“You’re pretty good at pushing out a baby.” She tells me with a sincere smile. Her eyes are drawn to the little person. “And now here you are little person.”

“I’m really sorry for having your father’s kid.”

“You don’t need to apologise.” She reminds me.

“Not sure what it etiquette is when you accidently have your friend’s father’s baby.” I say and we both chuckle quietly.

“Are you going to tell Peeta?” She asks.

“I was determined to do this on my own. I didn’t think I’d…”

“You didn’t think you’d have to decide on this part?”

“No.” I admit. “Ok. I have to tell him. But then I think this was my decision, I don’t want the guy to feel obliged to me or anything. So here’s the go I say, ‘hello, here’s you baby but please feel free to ignore that and I’ll get on to being a plucky single mother.’” I exhale and look at her. “What if he feels he has to be honourable even though he doesn’t really?” I say and look away for a brief second before turning back to her. “You could tell him for me.”

“I…”

“Katniss!”

My mother’s arrival corners Madge into telling her father. She tells me she’ll see him in the morning to tell him. She leaves, placing a kiss on my cheek and her sister before she leaves us for the night.

My mother embraces me tightly in her arms. “I’m so glad you’re back and with a grandbaby for me.”

“I’m happy to see you too!” I exclaim and feel relief, as it didn’t start with twenty questions and belittling.  

She tenderly picks up my daughter and holds her first grandchild to her chest.

“Welcome to the world little one.”

She remains silent as she holds her granddaughter and I just watch the two of them together. Prim has long left us to finish up for the day before promising to come back and see us.

“I had Madge’s half-sister.” I tell my mother.

“Families can be messy.” She reminds me as she transfers my fussing daughter into my arms. “Need any help?”

“I think I’m right.” I tell her as I unbutton my gown and bring my daughter to my breast.

“How are you feeling?” She asks me once my daughter is finally feeding.

“I can’t really explain it.” I admit. “I just look at her and I feel happy. Pure happiness and joy.”

“You’re glowing, you’re that happy.”

“She’s made me the happiest person in the world.” I say and kiss the baby’s forehead. “It’s not perfect the other stuff...”

“It’ll work itself out eventually.” She smiles. “Do you have a plan?”

“Not so much. I did but it’s gone out the window. Madge is telling her father for me. I’ll expect him here tomorrow.”

“Do you need me to stick around?”

“You go home. The two of us will be fine together.” I assure her.

“I’ll be by tomorrow afternoon then.” She tells me, getting up off the bed and kissing me on the forehead. “You try and rest up and don’t dwell on what he’ll say. If he’s like Madge he’ll be honourable.” She tells me as she leaves.


When visiting hours begin in the morning, a knock sounds at my door and it opens slowly.

I spy a bunch of fresh flowers before a head ducks around the corner.

It’s Peeta.

“Alright if I come in?”

I nod and smile at him, watching him enter my room slowly. The baby is awake and he stops in front of the bassinet smiling.

“Big surprise all this.” He begins. “You and… her. Everything really.”

“I had a few months warning but still yeah.” I laugh.

He exhales and brings his attention back to the baby. “My feet are stuck. My feet can’t decide which direction to go to first.”

I smile understanding completely but he presents me with the bunch of flowers and sits down on the bed beside me.

“I wish you’d have told me about this.” He admits. “I could’ve helped out.”

“I was fine. It was my decision to go ahead with it. Don’t feel obliged or anything.” I tell him.

He nods. “Have you got a plan?” He asks.

“Um… yeah… I’ve got some savings to cover me.”

“You’ve got things worked out.” I don't nod I just stare back at him.

He looks at the fussing baby and back at me. “Would it be alright if I?”

He stands up and picks up the baby slowly. His smile widens and I can see how overjoyed he is as he brings the baby close to his face and against his chest.

“You’re a little princess. Such a little princess.” He says to the baby, smiling. “Who would have thought you and me would meet like this.” He says to her as she coos. Tears fill his eyes and I feel warmth spread throughout my body. “Beautiful girl. My beautiful girl.” He kisses her cheek and stares down at her little face before he looks up and smiles at me before looking back down at his daughter.

He sits down on the bed beside me. “Katniss. I know you’re an independent person and you’ve got things worked out but… but… what if you and the baby were able to move in with me for as long as you need.”

I shake my head and bite my lip as tears spring to my eyes.

“It doesn’t have to be a relationship between us. But I could provide a home for you and this little girl.” He says, rubbing the baby’s cheek. “I’d love that. I’d love it.”

I wipe my eyes. “I uh… excuse me… I’m a little bit confused at the moment.”

“You’ve just had a baby. Take your time.” He tells me. “The offers there.”

“Okay.” I reply.

He leaves us alone, on his way to work but leaves his number with me.

The baby is placed back in the bassinet sound asleep and I feel chuffed at how over the moon he was.

I grab my phone and flick through the pictures from the holiday when we met.

“You sure I can bring my sister along?” I ask Nancy as I help her pack the suitcase for the kids.

“Of course. This is a break for you and I know how much the kids love your sister. Bring her along.”

With four suitcases, seven carry on bags, a stroller, two teddy bears and three anxious kids, we navigate the airport. Prim and I walk on ahead of Nancy and Dave, not wanting the paps to photograph the kids. We meet Nancy and Dave in the business lounge and the kids are entertained with the kid’s activities while we all enjoyed a beer each.

“Those dam paps.” Nancy curses. They had spotted them, having been called to photograph another celebrity. “They have a hide I tell ya. I'm just thankful they didn't spot you two with the kids.”

“Well we know what to do if they appear.” I remind her. “Relax Nance we’re on holidays.”

We touch down in Nadi, the temperature well in the 90s and the humidity high. The kids are unsettled, the crossing of the dateline and the time zones having knocked them about, it's technically almost night time in LA while we've skipped a day and it's midday in Nadi.

Our transfer picks us up and we let the kids sleep the hour trip to the resort.

Nancy checks us in while I carry the youngest. He rests his head against my shoulder and I rock him from side to side.

A bellboy takes our bags to our suites, Nancy and Dave splashing out and purchasing themselves and the kids a big suite, Prim and myself a suite to share as well. We follow the family down to grab some lunch.

The place is huge and Henry cuddles into me as we find a restaurant. The kids gorge themselves in pizza and the adults fill themselves up with alcohol, celebrating to the start of our vacation.

“Can we go swimming?” Jack asks.

“We can take them.” Prim volunteers.

“Wow! This is awesome!” Jack exclaims as we enter their room.

“Jesus.” Prim says from behind me. The kids had already run off to investigate their diggings for the next week. “I wish I could afford something like this.”

“These are the holidays we could only dream of as kids.” I tell her as we follow the kids into their bedroom. “Maybe one day you'll be able to do the same.”

“Maybe.”

We wrangle the three of them, it taking more time than usual as they are fighting cabin fever and jet lag. They're going a little bit loopy and Henry ends up in a giggle fit over nothing.

“Henry you are a crack up.” I tell him, sliding his swimming trunks up his legs.

By the beach we watch them play. They stay in the shallow part, splashing about and building sand castles. Prim and I laze on the sand in beach chairs and watch them as the sun starts to go down.

“Thanks for inviting me.”

“You'll have to thank Nancy and Dave, they're the ones who let me do this.”

She smiles at me and Liv comes and lies beside me. “What's wrong Livy?”

“Nothing.”

“You tired?”

She nods her head and I wrap an arm around her, pulling her body closer to mine.

“You can have a little snooze if you want.” I whisper to her and she rests her head against my shoulder.

Prim orders us some drinks and we watch the two boys play in the sand. Prim telling me about her failed dates and friendships.

We have an early dinner and despite Prim wanting to head out partying, we follow the rest of the family back to our rooms and sleep.

“We’ll party tomorrow.” I tell her.

“It’s Valentine’s day tomorrow.” She tells me. “They have a party at one of the bars.”

“We’ll be there.”

“You better let your hair down.”

“I’ll try.”

“No trying. Just get loose, drink a lot and have a good time. Let the ocean air get to you and breathe it all in. It’s time you do something for just yourself.”

Nancy and Dave beat us out of bed and get the kids dressed and ready for the day. With our swimmers on underneath and a small beach bag, we followed the rest of the family down to have breakfast and then drop the kids at kids club before Prim and I headed for the adults pool. The sun was behind dark clouds but the temperature was beautiful.

We drink cocktails, swim, sleep and eat. Nancy and Dave join us for the rest of the afternoon after a couples massage. The kids in kids club.

“We were almost sprung by housekeeping.” Nancy tells us laughing. “We didn’t hear them knock and were in the middle. I heard them move into the suite and pushed Dave off of me and we dressed and walked out looking a bit sheepish. They apologised for the disturbance and said they’d come back but we went for a walk, waited for them to leave and went back.”

“They didn’t kill the mood?” I ask.

“Please forgive my sister, she’s not up there with the sexual desire and attraction between two people.” Prim says, flicking the page of her book over.

We take the kids for dinner and then drop them off at kids club again, wishing them a goodnight. Prim and I return back to our room to quickly shower and change, ready for the night of dancing and more alcohol.

The bar is quiet; Prim orders us a drink each and we take a seat. Music plays softly in the background.

“So, are you going to hook up tonight?” She asks me, sipping her fruity cocktail.

“If I see someone I like.” I tell her, shrugging my shoulders.

“I’ve seen a few guys but they’re not here now.” She pouts.

“Give it time.”

Eventually the bar fills with guests, the DJ resumes his spot at the booth and the bartenders are pouring drink after drink constantly. The atmosphere shifts and all at once everyone is on the small dance floor, the doors are opened wide and the partying begins.

We head to the dance floor, dancing and singing along.

And I finally begin to relax a little and let my hair down.

Prim’s attention is taken away from me and given to a guy with an Australian accent and it isn’t long before his tongue is down her throat. I grimace, give them their space and result to dancing alone.

A body bumps into me and is quickly apologetic.

“I’m so sorry.” He says and I look in his eyes.

They sparkle with the DJ lights and I find myself lost in the softness of them. I smile. “It’s fine.”

“I’m too old to be a part of this.” He admits over the music.

“No way. You’re never too old.”

“When you’re in your forties, you’re definitely too old.”

“You don’t look like your a day over thirty-five.”

He smiles. “Flattery, I like it. Can I buy you a drink?”

“Sure.”

I follow him to the bar and then out on the deck, where it’s cool and the sea breeze whips at us. A few other people stand out there and the two of us find a quiet corner.

The moon is peeking out of the clouds and I smile. Tonight’s atmosphere was definitely thriving and I’m glad I agreed to come out.”

“You look quite beautiful.” He tells me.

In all honesty, my hair was filled with chlorine, plaited in a messy side braid and I was wearing a cotton dress that had alcohol spilt down the front of it.

I scowl slight and see him catch it. “It’s true. You’re very beautiful.”

I allow myself to smile at him and turn to look at him. “The same as yourself.”

He smiles and lifts up his beer. I lift up my cocktail glass and we clink our glasses together.

“Peeta.”

“Katniss.”

We head back to the floor, our drinks drunk and the alcohol buzzing throughout our system. We dance together in the middle of the floor, surrounded by the sweaty throngs of people who are partying like it’s the end of the world.

We keep up with the remixed 80’s power ballads fast pace for the most part before we give up, setting our own pace and trying to catch our breaths. He rests his hands on my hips and I wrap mine around his neck as we slow dance.

“This is nice.” He tells me as we continue to do circles. I’m getting slightly dizzy but I don’t care. Peeta’s steady hands keep me stable.

Another song plays and Peeta and I dance with each other. We look into each other’s eyes and sing along badly.

At the closing of the song, Peeta’s lips are on mine.

A tipsy dancer knocking me into his chest and our lips meet, falling into a rhythm of slow kisses and tongue.

Minutes later, we come back to our senses.

“Happy Valentine’s Day Katniss.” He whispers against my lips, his breath tickling my sensitive lips.

“Happy Valentine’s Day Peeta.”

We disappear down to his room with a bottle of champagne we had stolen from the bar when the tender wasn’t looking.

We try to suppress our laughter all the way to his suite and fall into the room.

“I can’t believe we just stole a bottle of champagne.” I exclaim through my breathlessness

“Haven’t done anything wild before have you?” He asks with a quirk of his brow.

I bite my lip and shake my head as heat pools in my centre. He’s mesmerizing. His eyes are magical and his smile breathtaking.

I bite my lip and shake my head as heat pools to my centre. He’s mesmerizing. His eyes are magical and his smile breathtaking.

He leans down to capture my lips with his own.

We move to his bed and he leaves me to open up the balcony doors, letting in the breeze. He’s stripped out of his clothes and stands in just his boxer shorts with the moon illuminating him. I watch his muscles as he pops the bottle of champagne and heat coils in my belly. I take him in as he moves around the suite. His muscles on his chest, arms, back and legs. The broadness of his shoulders. He’s stocky but well built and I can’t help but wonder about other parts of his body.

He crawls up the end up the bed with the bottle in his hand and smirks at me as he hovers over my body and leans down to kiss me.

We guzzle champagne straight from the bottle and the bubbles go straight to my head.

The sex… the sex is the best sex I’ve had in my entire life. The experience, his stamina and age, all contributed to what Prim would call deathbed sex.

He’s gentle, delicate and slow, meeting every one of my needs and more than I knew I needed. His mouth skilful as are his hands.

Both our needs were met and we continue on through to early morning when the sun starts to rise.

I try to fight the urge to sleep as he runs his fingers through my hair and down my back and arms.

“You can sleep.” He whispers. I smile and feel him lean closer to me to kiss me. “Sweet dreams sweetheart.”

We wake again a few hours later and he presses delicate kisses to my lips, cheeks, jaw and neck and I keel against him.

“Tell me about yourself.”

“I’m a business owner.” He tells me between kisses. “I’m here for a business conference.”

“Do you have it today?”

“No, day off today. We got them to give us the day off.” He says licking a path across my collarbone. “Gives me time to remain in bed all day with a beautiful girl.”

His fingers dance across my hips and down to my core where I’m already wet.

“Tell me about yourself.” He prompts, urging my legs apart further and sucking on my collarbone.

“I’m a tutor.” I moan.

“Yeah? Sounds interesting.”

“It is. I’ve travelled the world with the family. They’re in showbiz.”

“What a fun job.” He whispers as he applies pressure to my small nub.

I moan. “It is.”

“You like that?” He asks. I nod and he does it again but softer. He pushes me onto my back and slides down my body, kissing his way down my chest to my heated core.

I do the walk of shame to my suite, avoiding the stares of those few people who were walking around the resort. Some of the men who were out last night wink at me and I slip inside my suite, blushing slightly.

“Katniss!” Prim exclaims.

And I close my eyes, seeing her on top of the boy she was tongue kissing the whole of last night.

“Sorry. I didn’t think you’d have company. I’m just going to grab some clothes really quickly and I’ll be gone.”

I blindly stumble to my suitcase, grab some new clothes and underwear and change in the bathroom as quickly as I can, hoping to not make it as awkward for Prim and her friend.

“I’ll see you round.” I tell her and duck out as quickly as I can.

Peeta joins me for breakfast and laughs as I recall walking in on my sister in reverse cowgirl.

His laughter bellows out throughout the dining room and I shush him. The waiter offers us champagne with our breakfast but we decline. We were still foggy from the whole bottle we drank throughout the evening.

“So how old are you really?” I ask him.

“You’re not going to freak out and regret sleeping with me are you?” He asks.

I shake my head. “No. I’m not.”

“I’m 43.” He tells me almost ashamed.

“You look nothing like a 43 year old.” I tell him. “Like I said last night, you look young still, like you’re in your mid-thirties.”

“Unfortunately not.” He laughs. “How old are you?”

“27.” I tell him and wait for his angered expression but he just smiles. “Nearing thirty.”

“Better to be under forty then over.” He says.

I smile at him, laughing slightly and notice he isn’t wearing a ring. There’s not even a tan line on his finger.

“Do you have kids?” I ask him.

He scratches his neck. “I do. Three.”

“Yeah?”

“Had them when I was young. Really young.”

“So they’re in their late teens?” I ask and he shakes his head. “Twenties?”

He nods. “25, 23 and 20.” He tells me. “Is it weird?”

“Not at all.”

“Would it be better if they were younger? Like school age?”

“Maybe but I don’t mind.”

We fall back in his bed again after dinner.

“Sleepover?” He asks, raising his brows at me, noticing my bag.

“Just my toothbrush and clean pair of panties and clothes.”

“No pyjamas?”

“I can go back and get them if you want. They’ve got Snoopy on them.”

“Get in here.” He says pulling me into the room and closing the door behind us. “I much prefer nudity.”

Its after when his head is resting on chest do I ask him.

“Have you been married?”

“Yeah, the kid's mother. Married her before my eldest was born and we were together until 5 months after the youngest was born. I’ve been divorced for quite some time now.”

“No other serious relationships?” I ask.

“A couple. Nothing that I could see myself settling with. I’ve been focused on the kids mostly that I pulled myself out of the dating scene.” He tells me. “What about you?”

“Just a whole lot of failed dates and one guy I thought was the one who did a runner, breaking my heart. He was married with a kid and lived on the other side of the country.” I explain.

“Asshole.” Peeta spits out. “He didn’t deserve you Katniss. You’re a wonderful girl, any man would be lucky to have you.”

“Thank you.” I breathe out.

On the third day, a hurricane warning is issued.

“There’s going to be a hurricane Katniss.” Liv tells me at lunch.

I look behind her, spying Peeta with one of his mates eating lunch and deep in conversation with him.

“There is Liv.”

“Will we be alright?” She asks.

I nod and smile at her. “We’ll be fine.”

“Will you stay with us?” Jack asks.

Peeta looks up at me and smiles from across the room. Nancy catches him staring. “No, you’ll have us.” She tells her kids. “Katniss and Prim will be in their room just in case.”

“Ok. Fair enough.”

Jack takes a bite of his pasta and Nancy leans towards me. “Gosh he’s yummy. You better make use of your time with him.”

“Oh she will be.” Prim winks and takes a sip of her cocktail.

The anticipation and nervousness is present throughout the guests and those who had day trips planned are left to cancel and make other arrangements. The rain falls heavily and everyone is reduced to entertaining themselves with the limited options. Mostly the adults are at the bar.

A note sticks out from underneath Prim and my suite door, addressed to me. Prim and I had volunteered to watch Henry for the afternoon as the older two went to kids club and Henry didn’t want to be separated from us.

“Oh, someone is sending you love letters.” Prim claims, picking the letter up from underneath the door. I shifted Henry as he tried his best to sleep against my shoulder.

She lets us into the room and I deposit Henry down on my bed and go and lay down on Prim’s.

“Katniss, our meeting will be finished earlier than expected. Will you meet me for dinner? There may be dessert, depending on how good you are.”

“He did not say that.”

“He sure did.”

“Give it.” I demand, reaching out for the note. I read what he’s written, asking me to join him for dinner and to pack a bag as the resort will be in lockdown from 9pm.

“You’re so getting laid for the whole evening. Who cares about a hurricane when you have someone giving you multiple orgasms for the entire evening.” She teases. “Just remember to use protection.” She tells me, throwing me a box of condoms she brought with her.

I meet him for an early dinner, bypassing his room where he told me he’d meet me. I had dressed in my best dress, a white piece that hugged every curve of my body. I let my hair fall in curls down my back and applied a little bit of lip-gloss.

We enjoy a seafood dinner, lots of wine and head back to his suite.

“Dessert.” He had whispered in my ear over our table. I drowned the rest of my wine and we headed off to his room like two horny teenagers at a party.

And he ravished me as the winds blew and the rain fell hard and the thought of a hurricane was non-existent as we focused on each other only.

The remaining few days, his conference finished up and the sun came out. We enjoyed lazing by the pool and beach. Lots of good food, more cocktails, entertainment and made a whole lot of memories. Peeta and I would meet for the rest of the afternoon, go for a later dinner and I’d return to his room where sometimes we just laid in his bed with the doors open and talked. Sometimes we just made it through the door before our underwear would be gone and he’d be filling the space between my thighs. Occasionally we’d utilize the jet spa bath in his suite after an orgasm or three.

“I’ve had fun this week.” I admit to him in the darkness of the night. It was our last night together. He’d be departing tomorrow morning, heading straight for the airport.

“Me too.”

And we knew it would end here. It’d remain a holiday fling and not become anything else.

“Thank you for this week.” I whisper against his lips the morning of departure.

“Thank you.” He echoes and kisses me harder. “I won’t forget you Katniss.”

“Me either.”

Funny how the universe has a way of doing things.

Chapter Text

“Katniss.” A voice startles me out of my snooze.

I slowly open my eyes and gaze up at my visitor. She’s a splitting image of Madge.

“Camille Mellark.” She speaks. “Madison’s sister.”

I’m confused for a second but realise Madge’s proper name is Madison. “I remember you.” I tell her, sitting up slowly.

She looks around the room confused. “Where’s the kid?” She asks.

“They took her.” I say.

“For adoption? You’re giving her up?” She asks.

“No, the nurses took her…”

“Oh the nurses took her to the nursery for a while.” I nod. “Okay, here’s the thing.” She begins. “Are you dead set sure it’s Peeta’s kid?”

“Yes. I mean, no one else’s.”

“I was just che-”

“You must hate me.”

“What? No. No. Not really.” She says slightly confused. “What are your plans? You don’t have some diabolical scheme to trap my dad and drag him-”

“No.” I tell her.

“No. Well um… good luck with everything. I’ll just disappear and let you sleep or you know… squirt milk or whatever.” Camille announces. “Bye.”

I watch the blonde leave and I’m almost certain this interaction was all just in my head.

How was I going to navigate Peeta’s three grown up children? Sliding into their lives that are already so established and formed, there was no room for their unexpected baby sister and me.

“I thought I’d bring her back to you.” The nurse, Allie whispers to me, wheeling my daughter in after lunch. Prim had joined me quickly before being paged away.

“Thanks.” I smile.

“She likes her sleep this one.” Allie tells me and leaves us to be.

I admire her for a long while and lay down to watch her sleep. Watch her chest rise and fall in even movements and find myself getting sleepy from watching her. Mom would be here in a couple of hours and I could do with some rest.

“Katniss.” Mom whispers, shaking me awake. I look up at her a smile. “Hey sweetie.”

“Hi.”

“How is she?”

“She’s great.” I tell her yawning. “And she likes her sleep.”

“Enjoy it.” My mother tells me and stands over the bassinet. “Hi princess.”

She drops her bags at the end of my bed and I look down at my daughter before Mom comes and sits beside me, cuddling me to her chest. It feels nice to be comforted by her, almost like I’m a small child.

“It’ll take a while to get into a routine.” She reminds me. “But you know you’re child better than anyone else. You do what you both are comfortable with.”

I smile and snuggle closer to her, resting my head on her shoulder. “I can’t believe I’m a mother.”

“You never stop believing. It’s a surreal thing being someone’s mother.” She tells me with a sincere smile. “It’s the hardest job in the world but the best thing in the world. You’ll be a wonderful mother to her Katniss and even if everything else is a mess, you two will be fine as long as you have each other.”

Dr Trinket comes in and checks on us, “How’s it going in here?” She asks me with a smile. Mom had left to get some dinner and I’m left alone to feed the baby.

“Good I think.”

“You’re doing great.” She tells me, leaning over my daughter and I. “She really likes you.”

“I’m glad she does. It might change when we go home and I have no idea what I’m doing.”

“You’ll be fine Katniss. It’s a whole lot of trials and errors but most of you know how to do it.” She smiles. “You two will be fine.”

She leaves us to be and I finish nursing my daughter and get her back to sleep as Mom arrives with dinner. She places her granddaughter in her arms and together we sit and talk. We speak mostly about my two years away from Panem.

And then about Peeta.

“Prim told me you did meet someone in Fiji. She just said it was a fling.”

“It kind of was. We both knew at the end of it we’d go our separate ways and that’d be that and we were fine with that. We both accepted at the beginning we’d go back to our lives but enjoy the memories we’d share with each other. I just didn’t expect I’d find out I was pregnant with his child.”

She smiles and sets the baby down in the bassinet, getting her ready to head back down to the nursery.

“Did you like him though?” She asks

“Yes.”

“Why didn’t you make it more than just a fling? By the sounds of it, you both enjoyed each other’s company and really liked each other. Was this you being you and assuming there wouldn’t be anything else or did he ask for it to end?”

“No of us asked for it to end.” I tell her. “We just came to the end of our vacation and knew that’d be it, we had a bit of fun and were ready to return to our lives. We didn’t exchange numbers or anything just said goodbye and thought that’d be it.”

“Are you glad this isn’t it?”

I nod, trying to hide my grin and see my mother smile at me.

“He offered me to move in.” I tell her.

She’s not shocked like I expected her to be. “Does he expect a relationship?” She asks.

“No. He just wants to make a home for us.” I tell her. “He’s a great man, Mom.”

“I think you might be in love with him.” I shrug my shoulders. “It’s all confusing now, you’re hormones are going crazy.” She reminds me. “Just remember she has to come first and if there’s the possibility of a romantic relationship just remember if it goes wrong it could effect the way you raise her.”

“I know. I just don’t think I’m ready to date just now. I have the whole parenting thing to think about.”

“You are allowed to have a little bit of fun as well.” She reminds me. “I’ll be there if you need help.”

“Thanks Mom.”

Allie pops her head in to tell us visiting hours are finishing up and Mom smiles at me.

“Come by early if you want.” I tell her.

She kisses me goodbye and leaves me alone for the night. I check my phone, seeing a text from Madge.

M – How are you feeling? How’s the baby? Did dad come and see you? I’ll stop by tomorrow and see you both. Do you know when they’re releasing you?

A knock sounds at my door and Dr Trinket stands with my daughter in her arms.

“You two can be discharged tomorrow afternoon.” She tells me, lowering the baby into my arms.

She’s awake and alert and I kiss her chubby cheeks. “Really?” I ask her.

“Do you have arrangements?”

“Um, I think so.”

“You’re still not sure?” She asks.

I shake my head. “No I am. It just still doesn’t feel real.”

“It doesn’t for quite a while.” She tells me. “I’ll leave you two alone.”

“Hi. Did you get my text?” Madge asks as I call her soon after bubs is feeding.

“I did. I just thought it’d be easier to call.”

“How are you and bubs?”

“We’re good. We’re ready to be discharged tomorrow.” I tell her.

“That’s good. It’ll be nice to be away from the hospital and finally raising her.”

“It will be.” I agree. “I had visitors today?”

“Dad?”

“Yes. And Camille.”

“How was Camille? She seemed the most hesitant to the news.”

“Alright. Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing this for his money.”

“That’s my sister.” She sighs. “What’d dad have to say?”

“He asked if me and the baby wanted to move in with him.” I tell her. “Temporarily that is.”

“Oh…”

“I don’t know if it’s a good idea though.” I admit and look down at my daughter. “What’s he like? Is he a good father? Does he produce nice kids?”

“Here’s one he made earlier.” Madge jokes. I laugh with her. “He’s a great father.”

“I know. When we met, he told me all about you kids and I I could see how protective he is of you three kids. How proud he is of you. He loves you all so much.”

“And he’ll love your daughter… his daughter as well, just as much.” Madge assures me. “He already loves her. He offered you two to move in with him and have a home. That’s him. He’s generous and kind.”

“Would it be weird for your family if I moved in?”

“We’d be able to get to know her and you more. Especially Camille and Nolan. They hardly know you like I do but they will when they do.”

“Thank you for being so understanding.”

“You’re my friend.” She states.

I smile. “Even though I had your sister?”

“Yes.” She states. “It was such an honor to be there, to watch her come into the world. It is also so wonderful having another sibling. She’ll be so loved and spoilt, she’s already a part of the Mellark family.”

Tears well in my eyes and we say our goodbyes to each other.

“Night Katniss. Call me if you need anything.” She tells me.

“Thank you.”


 

Peeta arrives early the next morning with a bag of bakery treats. I can smell melted cheese and warm bread and I feel my mouth salivate. The hospital food isn’t cutting it.

“Morning.” He greets me.

“Morning.”

“How are you both?”

“We’re good.” I tell him with a smile. “We’re ready to be discharged today.”

“Good. That’s really good.” He smiles and greets our daughter.

He hovers in front of the bassinet, tickling her cheek and tracing her nose and lips that are in a perfect pout. He stares down at her for a few minutes, not speaking or moving. He’s in absolute awe with his newborn daughter.

He peels himself away from her and sits down beside me. “Have you thought of any names?”

“I was set on having a boy.” I admit chuckling. “I didn’t have any girl names picked out. Do you have any names?”

He shakes his head and laughs. “ I haven’t done this naming thing for over twenty years, I used the names I liked then and haven’t thought of any others.” He admits. “We might have to resort to Baby Girl.”

I laugh and sit up in bed just as the baby stirs, trying to break free from her swaddling.

“Oh sweet girl, it’s alright.” I soothe, rubbing her belly. “Sweet girl.” Peeta turns to me and I look up at him. “What?”

“Sweet Adeline. We danced to that on that last night. You were wearing that beautiful dress at dinner. They played Sweet Adeline while we danced terribly together.” He laughs. “Sweet Adeline, My Adeline, At night, dear heart, for you I pine. In all my dreams, your fair face beams. You’re the flower of my heart, Sweet Adeline.” He sings terribly but it makes my heart swell with happiness and I smile at him.

“Adeline.” I say, testing it on my tongue. “Welcome to the world Adeline.” I coo to her.

“Rose.” Peeta adds and I stare back at him, frowning confused. “Adeline Rose.” He repeats smiling.

“Adeline Rose.” I say aloud and smile at her. “Hello Adeline Rose Mellark.”

“Are you sure?” He asks. “You don’t want it to be Everdeen?”

“No.”

“I’d be more than happy to have it as Adeline Rose Everdeen.”

“Everdeen doesn’t suit it.” I tell him. “It’s Adeline Rose Mellark. I want her to be a Mellark, identify herself as a Mellark. To share the same last name as her siblings. She’s a Mellark.”

He smiles widely at me and then down at our daughter. He lifts her up from the bassinet, kissing her cheek before holding her before his face. I watch her try her best to adjust her gaze on him and I smile.

“Welcome Sweet Adeline.” He coos to her softly.


 

“Here we go. Just through here.” He tells me, juggling the car seat and my bags as he walks into his house. “We’ll just plonk everything down here for the time being.”

The bags are placed on the ground of the hallway and he continues his hold on the car seat where Adeline sleeps soundly, scowling as she sleeps.

I look around the hallway, taking in every sight of the place I’ll call home. There’s family pictures on the walls of mostly Peeta and the three kids over the years. The house is homey and inviting and I feel not as much as an intruder as I had feared I would be.

“So, here’s what I was thinking.” He tells me, interrupting my thoughts. “I’ll give you the spare room. It’s nice and spacious and close to my room if you need my help with night feedings or anything. I’ll have to do a baby run…”

“That’s enough, you’re giving me a space in your home. You don’t have to do anything else for us Peeta.” I tell him, placing my hand on his chest. “Trust me.” I smile.

He nods. “Sorry, I haven’t done this baby thing for…

“Over 20 years, I know.” I smile. “Lucky for you, we’ll be going through this together.” I tell him with a laugh. “We’ll take each day as it comes.”

“Ok. Just tell me if I’m too full on.”

“I will. I promise.” I pat his shoulder. “Can I have a cup of tea?”

“Right through here.”

A version of Peeta, 20 years younger walks through the door and into the kitchen, stretching and yawning. He is the splitting image of his father, blond curls and blue eyes. He’s slightly taller than his father but not as broad shouldered.

“Nolan, nice to see you’re awake at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.” Peeta greets his son.

“I didn’t get home until 6 this morning.” He announces, opening the fridge door to look inside.

“Oh to be your age again. Then again, I was looking after my children and not out partying all night.”

“Hey, you made that choice when you had unprotected sex with Mom.”

“Nolan!”

“It’s the truth.” He says, holding up his hands in defence and turning away from the fridge. “You must be Katniss. I’m Nolan.” He says, holding out his hand to introduce himself.

“Hi.” I reply shaking his outstretched hand.

“And this is my surprise baby sister I assume?”

Peeta nods and Nolan stands in front of the car seat where Adeline is stirring from her sleep.

“You’re a stunner.” He tells her, tickling her socked foot. “She got a name?”

“Adeline.” I tell him.

“Addie. Welcome to the family, Little Addie.”

“It’s Adeline.” Peeta tells him.

“Hey, it’s bound to happen with such a long name.” He smiles down at his baby sister and tickles her cheek. “You’re stunning. Be glad you got your mother’s looks and not your father’s.”

“Nole.” Peeta groans.

Nolan grins. “I’m serious Addie, your Mom is hot.”

“Nolan, just shut up.” Peeta tells his son. “I don’t want you making Katniss uncomfortable.”

“Hey, she’s closer to my age than yours. I’m allowed to perve.” He states and swings open the fridge again, taking out some bagels Peeta had just packed in.

“You’re on fire today aren’t you?” Peeta says, slightly annoyed. I bite my tongue in amusement at the banter between father and son. Nolan shrugs his shoulders with a grin. “Just keep it in your pants. Don’t say it if it’s inappropriate and leave Katniss and Adeline out of it.”

“I think you’re the one who should keep it in your pants, dad.”

“I’m not that old. You’re making me sound like I’m 60 years old with a million children. I’m 44 years old.”

“There could be other Mellark’s running around. Who knows how much you’ve sprayed it around.”

“Nolan, shut up!” Peeta scolds his son as he leaves the kitchen. “You better be finding a place to live as well. It’s been three months already.”

Nolan gives a quiet ‘yeah, yeah’ and is off chuckling to himself.

Peeta turns to me, slightly embarrassed and red faced. “Sorry. He likes to be honest and inappropriate. If he says anything that makes you uncomfortable please don’t hesitate to call him out on it.” He tells me. “It’s his mother’s fault he’s like that.”

“How?”

“That’s her personality, brutally honest and says things to make you uncomfortable. He also thinks this place is a palace and treats me like his slave. He was babied a lot too because of the divorce so he thinks he can get away with everything. He’s supposed to be moving out, he promised when he moved in that it’d be temporary until he found somewhere else. It’s been three months.”

“Maybe Adeline while drive him out.” I chuckle slightly.

“Please baby girl, send your big brother out into the world, so he realises how serious he has to be. Madge has a full-time job and Camille is navigating her way through the business. Please send your brother down a path of employment and stability.”

“Girls mature faster than boys. He’s still only young, expect him to be in and out of here until he has a stable relationship.”

“Great.” He mutters and I pat his shoulder stifling a laugh.

“You’ll be fine.” I reassure him with a smile.

He makes me a cup of tea and we settle in the kitchen, nursing our mugs of tea and enjoying the silence. It’s not awkward at all and I find his company pleasing, just like in Fiji. His company is the best thing I’ve ever encountered.

He shows me up to my room and around the house before Madge arrives with Gale. Camille is close behind and in the living room they dote over their baby sister who sleeps soundly in her father’s arms.

“We’re all mad Adeline. All mad.” Camille tells her with a grin as Adeline grips her finger. “But don’t panic, I’ll look out for you sweet girl.”

I smile at Camille and the love they all have for Adeline already. They promise to watch out for her, to love her and care for her as older siblings do. I feel lucky she has three grown siblings to watch out for her. To be there for her. To guide her and shape her into the person she grows up to be.

Adeline grizzles in her father’s arms and he hands her over to me so I can feed her. I look around at everyone uncomfortably and stand up to leave.

“What’s wrong Katniss?” Peeta asks, concern covering his face.

“I’m just going to go somewhere else to feed her.” I whisper to him.

“No, stay.” Madge urges me. “Don’t feel the need to leave.”

“It’s a natural thing.” Camille adds. “And you’re new to the whole experience. Confidence builds with those you’re comfortable with. Don’t leave on our accord. She needs to eat, we understand that.”

“And you’re a new mother, you two are still getting used to it.” Peeta smiles at me. “We’re here to help you both if you need it.”

I smile a thanks and sit back down on the couch. Everyone resumes to a conversation, hardly batting me an eye as I nurse Adeline. I listen in on their conversation and feel comfortable with them all.

Madge and Gale leave soon after as does Camille, headed home to get ready for a date.

“I’m going to run out to the store and get a few things.” Peeta tells me, pocketing his phone and wallet. Adeline is sound asleep in my arms and has been for quite a while now.

I stand up and reach into my purse, pulling out some money. “Take it.”

“No Katniss. It’s fine.”

“Please, I insist. I don’t want to be bludging off of you. To seem as if I’m in it for the money.”

“I’d never assume you’d be in it for the money.” He tells me, smiling at me slightly before he takes my money. “Ok. I’ll be back soon.”

He leaves me alone and I set Adeline down to sleep. I wander around the house, familiarising myself. I make myself another cup of tea and settle into the armchair in the living room. I look over at Adeline as she sleeps and catch up on the texts and emails I haven’t read or replied to over the last few days.

The exhaustion of the past few days catches up to me and I curl into the armchair with a blanket tucked around my lap.

I wake to footsteps. They are similar to those of Peeta’s, and I see Nolan entering the living room, kneeling down in front of Adeline and smiling at her. He tried his hardest to keep quiet, much like his father does. They though are both heavy footed and make enough noise to wake the dead.

“Hi Addie.” He whispers to her. She’s slowly waking up from her nap and scowls as she tries her best to remain asleep. “I’m so happy I have a baby sister. A brother would have been nice but sisters are cool. I always felt like I was missing something in my life and now that you’re here it feels a lot less like I’m missing someone. I think you were always meant to be in our lives and you would have found your way to be with us. Thank you for coming into our lives.”

I close my eyes as Nolan picks Adeline up in his arms and rocks her gently. I fake waking up and smile at Nolan.

“Hi.” I say.

Nolan looks towards me stunned and then down at Adeline, his mouth agape.

“Sor… I should have asked.”

“No, you’re all right.” I tell him and stand up. “She likes you.”

“She’s pretty awesome.”

“She is.” I agree.

“Thank you for having sex with my dad.” I shake my head at him and pinch his ear softly and he chuckles. “Sorry, I’ll lay off the inappropriate remarks. It’s just a bad habit I can’t break.”

“I know. Some habits are hard to break. Just try and think before you speak.” I suggest and he laughs.

“And you sound like Madge. You’ve got that schoolteacher thing happening. I better prepare myself for the school teacher lectures and scolding.”

“You won’t hear that from me.” I assure him. “I have no place to be telling you how to live your life. I’ve just met you.”

“But we’re going to learn a lot about each other.” He says. “That’s if you do stick around.”

“I’m not going anywhere.” I tell him. “Adeline and I are sticking around.”

“Good, I want to be in her life. I’ve never had a younger brother or sister.”

“It’s a good feeling.” I tell him. “You’ll be an awesome big brother.”

I get us a glass of water each and we sit down in the living room, Nolan not letting go of Adeline just yet.

“How’s your mother going to react to all of this?” I ask him.

“Dad and her have been divorced for twenty years but Mom still likes to have her say in whatever dad is doing. She almost ruined the business when he took it over, tried to sue dad for whatever reason even though she was living the lifestyle of the rich and the famous with all these men.” He explains. “She’ll probably have a lot to say.”

“Great, I can’t wait to hear what she has to say. She’ll no doubt believe I did this for all the wrong reasons.”

“Camille will shut her down, don’t you worry.” Nolan laughs. “We’ll take care of you both.”

“That makes me feel somewhat better.”

“We’re Mellark’s, we have this over the top protective nature about us and like to protect those who mean the most to us.”

Nolan hands Adeline back to me and heads off to get ready for the gym.

A knock sounds at the door and I shift Adeline in my arms and walk towards the front door. I open it to reveal a bleached blonde woman standing on the other side.

She lowers her designer sunglasses and looks at me confused and then down at Adeline in my arms.

She smirks. “Peeta got himself another kid? Or did my son knock up a woman nearly ten years older than him?”

“You must be Peeta’s ex-wife.” I reply.

“Please disregard anything hostile he’s said about me.” She smirks. “So which is it? Have I become a grandmother at 43?”

“No.”

“Peeta, didn’t know he had it in him, though he’s always had a thing for brunettes and charity cases.”

I try my best to hold my ground, to not let her get to me. “Is there something you need cause Peeta’s not in?”

“Is my son here?”

I nod and invite her inside and go to find Nolan. I knock on his door and he opens it with his gym bag slung over his shoulder.

“Your mother is downstairs.” I tell him.

“Fuck. Sorry. Shit. Fuck.” He curses. “Camille was going to tell her.”

“It’s fine.”

“You don’t look fine. What’d she say?”

“Everything.”

“That’s my mother for you.” He claims. “Fuck Katniss, I’m sorry.”

“She wants to see you. I’m just going to go to my room and rest.”

I turn to leave and he stops me. “Whatever she said, don’t believe her.”


My bedroom door opens slowly a couple of hours later. I look up at Peeta and wipe the sleep from my eyes.

“You’re back.”

“I am. I got a little carried away.” He admits to me. “I’ll have to go back out for some groceries.”

“Stay.” I tell him, patting the space behind me.

“Are you sure?”

I squeeze his hand and he kicks off his shoes, coming to lie down behind me. I’m in desperate need of a shower. My hair is a greasy pile resting on top of my head. I have milk, spit up, drool and possibly poop staining my clothes. But I don’t care. The company of Peeta is all I want.

I urge him closer to me and he wraps his arm around my still swollen stomach and rests his knees behind my knees. I feel the warmth of his lips on my neck and close my eyes from the comfort this brings.

“I may have gone a little overboard with the baby things.” He whispers.

I smile and snuggle closer to him. “Oh well.”

“Hopeful any problem we have will be solved with the things I bought.”

“I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

“We will be.” I reply, yawning. “Thank you for this Peeta.”

“My pleasure Katniss.” He tells me.

It’s silent for a few minutes before he exhales a deep breath.

A breath filled with guilt.

“Nolan told me you met Cashmere. I’ll have a word with her tomorrow. She’s not supposed to show up here unannounced.” He tells me. “If she made you feel unwelcome then disregard it, she left this life for someone else, if anything she should feel unwelcomed.”

I bury myself closer to his body.

“You and Adeline are more than welcome in this house and I want you to know that I want you both here.” He whispers. “You’re part of the family now. I want you here. Both of you. Forever.” He whispers. “Always.”


 

“That’s not how it goes.”

I hear the bickering sounding from my room. Nolan and Peeta had offered to build Adeline’s crib and for the past thirty minutes they’ve gotten nowhere. There’s been a lot of cussing and swearing and not a lot of action.

“Stupid piece of shit. They weren’t this hard when you kids were born.”

“Safety standards have changed, they’re making them indestructible and impossible to put together.” Nolan replies. “No wonder parents just give up and sleep with their kids in their beds. Conceiving a child is so much easier than building it’s bed.”

I smile down at Adeline as she lays in the swing Peeta bought. The whole living room is covered in everything baby and I truly realised what he meant when he said he went overboard. There’s thing he’s bought that I’ve never heard of and he hopes whatever he has bought will be a fix to raising Adeline.

I set the last piece of clothing into the washing basket and carry it to the laundry. One load is already on filled with the crib bedding and another load is waiting to go on with a mixture of baby items.

Adeline is fussing when I return to her and I lift her up into my arms. “Come on sweet girl. Let’s go and see how the men are going.”

We stand in the doorway watching them for a few minutes.

“So should I just accept the fact that Adeline is not going to have a bed to sleep in?” I tease.

“Adeline will be in college by the time we finish this.” Nolan exclaims. “Why do they make these things so fucking hard.” He swears, throwing his piece onto the ground.

“Language.” Peeta scolds.

“It’s not like Addie understands.”

“If your sister’s first word is ‘fuck’ then you’ll have me to answer to.” Peeta tells him. “You and your sisters first word was a first word, I’m not having Adeline’s first word a swear word.” I stifle a laugh and sit down on the end of the bed. “This is a fucking piece of shit. I should have fucking paid them to come and fucking build this for us.” Peeta states.

“Yeah I wonder where we heard the swear words from.” Nolan states. “That’s all we heard growing up were you and Mom swearing. We didn’t have a lot to aspire to.”

“Well you could have a least said Mom or Dad first and not fuck.”

Nolan chuckles to himself and I shake my head.

“Let me read the instructions.” I say, reaching for the sheet. Peeta hands me the sheet and I read over them. “Someone take the baby.” I say, holding her out. Nolan scoops her out of my arms and sits up on the bed with her. “Leave this to me.”

The crib is assembled in under half an hour. The two men are shocked at how quickly I managed to build the bed.

“Where’d you learn to do that?”

“The family I was tutoring, they had moved house within the first few weeks of me moving in with them. I built a crib similar to this without any instructions.”

“You don’t need to boast.” Nolan teases. “Look Addie, you’re mother is superb. You’ve got a good one. She doesn’t swear, she can build furniture and she’s attractive. Every man’s dream lady right there.”

“Now I’m starving. What do we feel like for dinner?” I ask, Peeta helping me up off of the floor.

“I’ve got it under control.” Nolan tells us and hands Adeline over to Peeta. “You two sit and relax.”

“Can he actually cook?” I ask Peeta fearful for what Nolan might make for us.

“He can surprisingly.”

Peeta nuzzles Adeline, kissing her cheeks and her nose after we push her crib against the wall. Adeline tries her best to focus on her father and I feel my heart swell even more. I wrap an arm around Peeta’s lower back and stare down at the baby. Peeta wraps a comforting arm around my shoulder and kisses the top of my head before we both stare at our daughter.

Nolan has placed a load of washing on and has the bedding in the dryer when we appear downstairs. Dinner is being cooked and the sweet aroma of whatever Nolan is making wafts through to the living room.

“If it tastes as good as it smells, he’s never moving out.” I tell Peeta.

“Oh I see who’s calling the shots now. Haven’t even been here one day and you’re already ruling the roost.” He snickers. “I bet you won’t be saying that when you see his many women parading around in there underwear, his loud music and his untidy ways.” I must grimace as Peeta laughs. “And you’ll most likely meet the new one tomorrow morning.”

“Great.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll have a chat to him about the music and remind him to have clothes on.”

“Thank you.”

Nolan calls us to come and eat and we sit down at the kitchen table for a more casual dinner.

“Smells good Nolan.”

“Thank you Katniss. I hope you’re not allergic to anything?”

“No. I eat just about everything.” I tell them. “Are you two allergic to anything? Just so I know.”

“We’re both good.” Peeta tells me with a smile.

I polish my dinner plate quickly, having not realised how hungry I am.

“Nolan that was great.” I tell him, wiping my mouth. “I didn’t mean to eat like a savage but…”

“You’re producing milk, you’ll burn a lot more calories nursing.” Nolan says and we both look at him confused. “What? So I know stuff about breast feeding, is that a crime.”

“No, not at all.” Peeta tells him. “Where’d you learn about this stuff?”

“I’ve done some research.”

“Why?”

“I wanted to be informed especially when you told me Katniss might be moving in. I wanted to know about these little things and be supportive where I can be.”

“That’s nice of you.” I tell him feeling touched. “Thank you Nolan.”

He smiles, assuring me it’s nothing and takes our dinner plates into the kitchen.

“He’s a good boy.” I tell Peeta. “You’ve done a good job with him.”

Peeta smiles, “Thanks. He’s a great son, always willing to help out and goes out of his way to make people feel welcome. Underneath that goofy demeanour is all of that.”

“You’ve done a good job with all three of them.”

“And I hope you’ll be saying the same with Adeline.”

“Peeta, I can already see how in love you are with her. You’ve known for two days that you have a daughter and I can see how excited you are.”

“I always wanted a big family, lot’s of kids and I wished for at least one more but my ex-wife wouldn’t have it after Nolan and I accepted the fact that that’d be it. I never saw myself to have a future with other women I dated either. I realised though how happy I was though to have three amazing kids.” He tells me with a proud smile. “And now with Adeline, I didn’t realise that something was missing in my life until I met her.”

I wipe at my eyes with my sleeve and Peeta gets up from his chair, wrapping me in his arms. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry.” He whispers into my ear.

“It’s these hormones.” I tell him, wrapping my arms tighter around his neck and pressing my body closer to his. I inhale his sweet scent and relax in his arms. “I’m glad I could give you the missing piece.”

He smiles against the side of my ear and presses a kiss before he lets me go.

Nolan enters the dining room with Adeline in his arms and I wipe away the rest of the tears.

“Was I interrupting?” He asks looking between the two of us.

“No.” Peeta tells him. “She awake?”

“She’s quiet this one.” Nolan smiles. “I say Addie, you’ve got to be a bit louder to make an impact on this family. You’ll learn quickly especially when you’re competing against your sisters.”

Nolan has Adeline in a trance and my heart swells.

I was so determined to do this alone, to raise her and have nothing to do with the family but I was glad I finally accepted them and their help. They were a family who had a whole lot of love to give.

Nolan dotes over his baby sister before he hands her back to Peeta.

“I’m heading out for the night. Darius wants a hand setting up.” He tells us.

Peeta nods and Nolan leaves the room. “Want to go and sit in the living room?”

He takes my hand, helping me up from the chair and places his hand on my back leading me across to the living room.

“You feeling OK?” He asks as I move slower, touching my stomach, which is cramping badly.

“Just cramps.” I tell him, trying to brush it off as if it’s nothing.

“And?”

“My whole downstairs as well.” I tell him and laugh. “I tell you, she’s tiny but she still made an impression.”

“Thanks for that visual.” He chuckles and helps me down onto the couch. “Remember you’re three days post partum, you do need to rest. You’ve delivered a baby, it’s not like you’ve had your tonsils removed.”

“I know, I just was active before I had her and used to moving about, chasing after the kids back in Beverly Hills, it feels odd not being so on the go.”

He passes me Adeline. “Well remember we’re here to help you. You can take it easy for a little and heal. I don’t want you injuring yourself or pushing yourself.”

“But you still can’t baby me.” I tell him. “Let me push my limits.”

“Of course. Just remember though you can take it easy for the first few weeks.” He reminds me. “Bond with her.” He smiles. “Now tea?”

“Yes please.”

He leaves me alone with Adeline and I cuddle her to my chest. She’s half awake, trying to force her baby blues open. But she’s totally at ease.

Peeta comes back with two cups of tea and a heating pad.

“I don’t need this.” I tell him.

“Just take it. It’ll do wonders.”

I place the heating pad on my swollen stomach and feel a whole lot better immediately. Peeta sits down beside me, and takes my feet, resting them on his lap. He rubs them with his warm hands and I relax into him. Adeline nurses quietly and I quickly realise I could get used to staying here.

Nolan ducks in to say goodnight.

“Nolan, remember if you do bring someone home, please be quiet and to put some pants on as well.”

“Roger that. Night kiddies.” And he’s off for the night.


 

I stir awake hours later. I realise I’m on the couch with Peeta passed out beside me. My feet are still in his lap and Adeline sleeps soundly on my chest, cuddled into my warmth.

“What’s wrong?” He asks sleepily.

“Nothing. Nothing at all.”

He smiles a sleepy smile and closes his eyes again. He can’t be comfortable but he hardly complains.

But a noise from the kitchen makes us both jump.

“What time is it?” I ask.

“Past midnight.” He tells me, standing up. “Stay here.”

I watch him walk off in the direction of the kitchen. I get up, following him and hear the gasps sound.

“Nolan, what did I say about clothes?” Peeta groans, covering his eyes.

I’m met with a naked Nolan and his lady friend. I bite my lip as I see Nolan shield himself behind his friend and he helps her conceal her naked body. I shift Adeline to my shoulder.

“Riley this is my father Peeta and this is Katniss and my baby sister Addie.”

“Nice to meet you both.” She says smiling. “A baby sister, how adorable. Is this your father’s girlfriend?”

“I don’t know, they had a fling 9 months ago and it resulted in Addie. What are the two of you?” He asks.

I look at Peeta and see he has gone red from embarrassment. “Nolan, we’re not going to have this conversation with you two naked in my kitchen. Katniss and I are going to bed. Don’t make a mess or noise.”

“Calm down dad, I know.”

“Good night.” Riley smiles and Peeta grabs my hand and leads Adeline and I out of the kitchen and to the stairs.

“I am so sorry.”

“It’s fine. Truly.”

“I’m going to make him find his own place. I don’t want Adeline meeting all these women.”

“That’s maybe a good idea.”

He leaves me once he’s sure Adeline and I are both fine. She lays beside me in bed and I stroke her hands as she sleeps and I soon find myself drifting off soon after.

Chapter Text

“I can’t get over how precious she is.” Prim gushes as she holds Adeline the next day. She was finally free from work and finally able to see her. “How was the first night?” She asks as we sit on the couch together. Peeta was somewhere in the house making himself busy while Prim visited. He was all for giving me my space.

“She slept the whole way through.” I tell her.

“That’s my good girl.”

“I’m going to need to invest in a breast pump or something.” I tell her. “If she’s going to keep sleeping long stretches, I’m going to need to pump to relieve some pressure.”

“Expressing isn’t a bad idea. At least that gives Peeta the opportunity to feed her and give you a break.”

“That’s what I was thinking.”

“Besides they’ve never been this huge before.” Prim grins looking at my chest. “You sure they’re yours?”

“Of course they are.” I tell her, looking down at my larger sized chest. “They feel like they’ve ballooned overnight.”

“I bet someone likes looking at them though.” Prim smirks.

I hit her, quietening her because Peeta was just down the hallway.

“He can hear you.”

“Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it.” She says keeping her eyes on her niece.

“I’ve just had your niece, my vagina went through a lot of trauma, I’m nowhere in interested in going down that path again.”

“The same path that got you Adeline.”

“Yes.”

She snickers and rocks Adeline gently. “You’re mother is crazy but you’ll love her.”

I bite my lip. “Speaking of crazy, I met the ex-wife yesterday.”

“Really?”

“Camille was supposed to tell her but I think she caught on from someone else and coincidently dropped in to see her son to scope me out.”

“Don’t let her get to you, she left this life for whatever else.” Prim reminds me. “She walked out on Peeta and she has no reason to make your life hell. It’s all about Adeline now and she can’t be jealous.”

“You know what exes are like though.”

“Of course I do but she has no reason to tear you’re little family apart.”


“Katniss?” Peeta whispers.

“Hmm?”

“You’re mom’s here.” He tells me with a smile. He has Adeline in his arms sleeping soundly. “She’s just in the kitchen but take your time. Nolan is in their charming her.”

“What has he said?” I groan.

He grins. “Nothing that’ll make her run for the hills.” He laughs. “Come on.”

I sit up slowly and he helps pull me up onto my feet. He kisses my temple and holds Adeline at a height for me to kiss her.

“I can’t get over how perfect she is.” He says smiling. “I’ve forgotten how wonderful this first part is and how much I am filled with happiness and love. It’s a good feeling.”

He keeps Adeline in his arms and I trail behind him to the kitchen where Nolan and my mother sit talking. My mother laughs at Nolan and I shake my head. Like father, like son. They had that silver tongue and smile that could win anyone over.

My mother smiles at me and I greet her with an embrace. Peeta holds Adeline out for her and she happily takes her granddaughter.

My mother is smiling from ear to ear as she hears Peeta and Nolan tell stories. I wondered what she thought of me having a baby with a guy 16 years older than me, closer to her age then my own. I wondered what she thought about the whole situation.

But she seems to not mind. She seems chuffed really and as she bonds with Peeta more and more I think she feels at ease over how honorable her granddaughter’s father was. How wonderful he was and how he’ll take care of Adeline and I.

“Katniss’ father does a lot of international work at the moment, he’s head of the biggest mining company in the country and with the overseas ties he has to keep up with appearances.” Mom tells the men. “He’ll be coming home to a surprise though.”

“Shit, I forgot to tell him.” I say. “Mom, what am I going to do?” I ask her.

“Leave it to me.” She tells me with a smile. “You’re father adores you.”

“But I don’t think he expected this from me.” I reply. “No offence Peeta.”

“None taken.” He laughs. “It’s a bit of an odd situation all-round.”

“That it is.” My mother agrees. “But there’s a new baby in our lives and I don’t think we can’t accept her.”

I smile and Peeta reaches out for my leg underneath the table, squeezing it gently.

“Should I be worried though?” Peeta asks almost nervous. “Should I start running now?”

“No, he’s not like that.” I assure Peeta.

“Be worried if you break his daughter’s heart though.” Mom adds. “Or walk out on his first grandchild.”

I watch Peeta gulp and I reach across the table for his hand. “He’ll love you. He’ll love you for doing this.” I motion to around us. “And for her.”

“When does he get home?”

“Tuesday.”

“Should we have a dinner then?” Peeta suggests. “I can cook.”

“No, you two have enough on your plate with Adeline. We’ll do a quick afternoon tea or something. Vance will probably be tired after the long flight anyway.”

“Where and what time?” Nolan asks.

“Nolan, this is just between Katniss, her family and I. I don’t think Mr Everdeen will want to be bombarded with you three, especially as he’s about to find out he has a granddaughter.” Peeta says.

“We’ll do a family thing later on.” I tell Nolan with a smile. “Introduce you all to each other.”

“When are you going to tell Nan she has another grandkid?” Nolan asks. “You’ll want to tell her before Mom does.”

“Fuck.” He mutters. “Sorry. I shouldn’t swear.”

“You haven’t told your mother?” I say.

“The last few days have been a blur.” He says. “I-“

“Peeta…”

“I will. I promise.”

“You should probably prepare her dad.”

“For what?”

“She’s a witch.” Nolan says. “And that’s putting it nicely.”

My mother chuckles from beside me. “Told you Katniss, family’s can be messy.”


 Janice Mellark arrives. She opts to knock instead of using the doorbell. A knock that sends shivers down my spine. Peeta opens the door slowly, leaving my side as I nurse Adeline. I can just imagine the look on her face. A disappointed look. Her lips pressed in a thin line.

“Peeta.”

“Mother, what do I owe this occasion to?”

“Hmm, let me just say I’ve heard a bit of talk.” I hear her say and I scowl.

“You told us to never believe in rumors.”

“Well this one came straight from a reliable source.”

“Cashmere?” He asks.

“Mh-hm.” She nods. “When were you going to tell me you got another girl pregnant who I might add is close in age to my three grown grandchildren.”

I hear him invite her in. I sit nursing Adeline in the living room and wish I wasn’t as exposed to her like this on first contact.

A woman in her late sixties enters the room, her hair a shade of honey blonde after numerous hair dye treatments. She has her nose turned up as she looks around and her eyes finally land on me sitting in the armchair with her granddaughter nursing.

“Mom this is Katniss.” Peeta introduces. “Katniss this is my mother Janice.”

“Nice to meet you Mrs Mellark. Sorry, I’d get up but I’m a little occupied.” I apologise.

“Does she have a name?” Janice asks. “It’s probably some way out there name you young women like to call your children these days.”

“It’s Adeline Rose.” I tell her, trying my best to not let her offend me.

She narrows her eyes at me and then Adeline. “Peeta, don’t you think it’s inappropriate for her to be nursing so exposed?”

Peeta stiffens beside his mother. “Adeline is feeding. It’s a natural thing. I don’t have a problem with my daughter eating. And I don’t want Katniss to feel ashamed or uncomfortable as she nurses. She’s a new mother and she needs that confidence and support if she wants to continue.” He tells his mother and I smile to myself. “Besides, all I can see is my daughter’s head.”

She huffs. “What about your other children? It’s a little inappropriate for them don’t you think?”

“Mom, they are fine with it.” Peeta tells her. “They are grown adults.” He reminds her. “They’re quite supportive of it though.”

She rolls her eyes. “I’ll be in the kitchen.”

She skulks off and Peeta squeezes his fists together. He moves towards us both and kneels in front of us.

“I’m so sorry. I’ll try and make this as quick and painful as possible. Are you alright?” He asks.

I shrug my shoulders. “She’s fine. As long as I have you there, than I’ll be fine.”

He smiles up at me. “You’re amazing.” He tells me, taking my free hand and kissing the back of it. “You’re getting a foot rub and whatever you want for dinner.” He squeezes my hand and then kisses my forehead. “I think the girls are coming over so they might help shut it down.” He tells me. “But take your time. Seriously, take your time.” He smirks.

He’s gone quickly and I look down at Adeline, tracing her round cheek with my finger. “We’ve gotten ourselves into a crazy family little girl.”

I take my time. I slowly burp Adeline and settle her to sleep and get lost in just holding her in my arms. Studying her face and little features, imagining what she’ll turn out to look like. If she’ll be like her father or me. If she’ll take after any of her aunts or uncles. It’s a silly little game I used to play when my bump slowly started to form and I wondered what she’d look like.

Camille and Madge arrive and I wish them luck as they enter the dining room to be with their grandmother.

I move when I’m sure Adeline is sound asleep and slowly head into the dining room. The matriarch looks perfectly together in her Sunday best. Her son, looks good despite the fact that he is walking around the house with a shirt covered in spit up, possibly poo and he hasn’t showered in almost two days. Her two granddaughters look perfect, with perfectly done hair and neat clothes.

I then look down at myself in sweatpants and an oversized sweater that is covered in baby. My hair is a knotted mess on top of my head and I’m in desperate need of a long shower.

Mrs Mellark side eyes me when I finally enter the room and I take a seat beside Peeta.

“So, Katniss what did you do before you became a mother?”

“I was a teacher with Madge…”

“You knew Madge? Did you intentionally sleep with your colleagues father?”

“Mom to be honest, we didn’t know who each other was.” Peeta tells her. “We met in Fiji earlier this year?”

“Right, so you had a fling and it resulted in an unplanned child? That doesn’t sound like you at all Peeta.”

Peeta looks down at his cup and I reach underneath to touch his leg, consoling him and hoping for him to stand up to her.

“Gran, even if it was unplanned, Dad loves Adeline so much.” Madge tells her grandmother.

“He didn’t even know she existed until a few days ago.”

“What, you didn’t know you were a new father until she was born?” She asks. “How can you be sure it’s even your own biological daughter and she’s not in this for the money?”

“Mother, Katniss isn’t like that.” Peeta tells her, lowering his voice.

“People can sleep with more than one person at a time Peeta, it’s not uncommon.” She says. “Have you asked for a DNA test to ensure she’s yours?”

“I believe Katniss. She’s not like that. Adeline is mine, just look at her.” He tells his mother.

His mother frowns and Camille quickly jumps in, “Even if we didn’t know about Adeline until she was born, we’ve fallen very much in love with Addie. She’s our sister.”

“Don’t call her Addie, her name is Adeline.” Janice sneers at Camille.

I catch Camille roll her eyes and scowl. “And stop scowling, no boy will ever want to marry you looking like that.” She scolds her granddaughter.

Peeta touches my hand and squeezes it. “Mom, I wanted this to be a casual affair of meeting Katniss and Adeline but if you’re going to behave like this than I’ll have to ask you to leave.”

“Kicking your own mother out?” She challenges with the rise of a brow.

“Yes.”

She looks shocked. Obviously Peeta hasn’t stood up to his mother before and I feel pained that he hasn’t. He’s been reduced to pleasing her, not pissing her off. Now he was showing her she could no longer walk all over him.

“Just tell me one thing, you’ve had a child out of wedlock…”

“I haven’t been to church since I was 14.”

“A good Christian boy would have continued and he wouldn’t have found himself in this predicament. Twice.” She says. “Do you plan on marrying her?”

“I’m not going to marry Katniss to make you happy. I don’t want to be legally tied to Katniss in a union that she doesn’t want.”

“Have you even thought about it?”

“Mom, I’ve just welcomed a new child into my life. Katniss is a first time mother herself. We’re not rushing into anything.”

“You two are living under the same roof, it might be responsible to have a little chat or you might end up with another midlife crisis.”

Peeta’s out of his chair like a flash, the chair falling to the ground.

“Leave!” He demands.

She seems pleased with herself and slowly stands up. Madge offers to walk her out and Camille gives the two of us some privacy, taking Adeline from me.

“Peeta?”

He grips the table, his knuckles turning white and he tries to steady he’s breathing.

I touch his shoulder and feel him tense slightly before he relaxes into me.

“It’s ok.” I tell him.

He lets go of the table and turns to me, embracing me.

“I’m sorry.”

“You got it over with, I think that’s what you needed.”

“I think Cashmere got in her ear.” He says. “She seems to do that.”

“Cashmere is doing it to be petty. It’s your mother’s choice if she wants to be in Adeline’s life or not. And it’s also your choice.”

“I hate her missing out on her grandchildren but her behavior, it’s astonishing.”

He let’s me go, after he presses his lips to my forehead.

“We’ll be ok.” I tell him. “Peeta, if you want the proof, we can get a DNA test done-.”

“No, I believe you Katniss. I believe you.” He smiles against my forehead and I exhale a breath. “We’re going to be fine.”


 “You look like shit.”

“Good morning to you too Nolan.” I greet him.

“Morning. You look like shit.” He tells me sympathetically. He looks around for Adeline but notices her missing. “Where’s Addie?”

“Peeta’s got her.”

“She up half the night?” Nolan asks.

“She was and in between feedings and diaper changes, I had her test her vomiting reflexes. She’s a good shot.”

“Must take after her brother.” He beams.

“Just be thankful I built up a tolerance to vomit being a teacher, if not it would have not just been her vomit.”

“Thanks for that visual.” He grimaces.

I pour some milk into my cereal and take a seat beside Nolan.

“She’s not even a week old yet.” Nolan reminds me. “She’s learning just like you are. And dad as well. He hasn’t done the baby thing for twenty years.”

“He has mentioned that.”

“How long has dad had her for?”

“An hour. He got her settled and they’re both sleeping. It gave me a chance to shower and breathe. A baby crying for thirty minutes straight is enough to make you lose you mind.” I say. “Your father is a saint.”

“He’s a good father. Devoted. A very devoted one.” Nolan tells me. “I hope I’ll be like him when I become a father.”

“You will be.” I tell him. “Did you hear her?”

“Nope. These walls are pretty soundproof.” He tells me shrugging his shoulders.

I finish my cereal, Nolan finishing another bowl and a half in the space it takes me.

“You know, if Dad and you ever need a break, I can watch her. She’s quite a good baby and I want to help out as much as I can.” He tells me. “And Madge and Camille will also lend a hand.” I smile at him. “We stick together us Mellark’s.”

I pinch his chin and smile at him. “Thank you Nolan.”

I make two cups of tea and wander on upstairs, knocking on Peeta’s door lightly before stepping inside.

Peeta lays sprawled on the bed, a protective arm around the baby. I step quietly, placing the cups of tea onto the bedside table and crawl onto the bed, facing Peeta and Adeline. He stirs as the mattress shifts and I inch closer to Adeline and Peeta.

“Morning.” He mumbles. “What you doing?”

“Joining you two.” I whisper back. “I did bring tea but a sleep does sound nice.”

He smiles and draws me even closer, placing his hand on my hip and using my body to form a cocoon around our newborn, our heads sharing the same pillow. I kiss her head and inhale the baby smell before closing my eyes. I exhale a sigh of relief and feel him touch my forehead with his lips. His warm breath tickles my forehead and I’ve never felt more at ease in my entire life.


“Little brother, who’s this beauty you’ve kept a secret from us?” His brother Grant asks, pushing his way into the house and into the living room. Adeline lays in her bouncer, half asleep. The commotion causes her to startle awake. She squeezes her fists together and drops her bottom lip as she starts crying.

“Sorry.” Grant apologises as the other Mellark enters the room. “Grant Mellark. You must be Peeta’s misses.”

“Katniss Everdeen and no just the mother of his daughter.” I greet him.

“Well, I didn’t think Peety had it in him.” Tim adds with a grin. “And this must be our niece?”

I nod and let the two men greet their niece. They manage to stop her from crying. Smiles stretch from ear to ear on their faces and I smile up at Peeta.

“Yes, Adeline Rose.”

“Addie Mellark, that’s got a good ring to it.” Grant says. “Hello Miss Addie.”

“Why can’t anyone say her full name?” Peeta asks, dropping down beside me like a temperamental toddler. “It’s Adeline. Nolan, Madge and Camilla call her Addie.”

“Well for starts, Madge’s name is Madison.” Tim reminds him.

“And who started calling her Madge?” Peeta asks.

“I did but it was a long name. It’s stuck though.” Tim adds with a shrug. “You call her Madge as well.”

“Do you mind Addie for short?” Grant asks me. “Are you called Kat?”

“No, no one calls me Kat.” I tell them. “And as for Addie, I think it’s cute. I’m still getting used to the fact that I have a newborn though, so it might take a while for me to start calling her Addie.”

“Well Adeline Rose, welcome to the crazy family.” Tim says with a grin. “Can I hold her?”

Peeta and I both nod in unison and Tim gently takes Adeline out. He’s a natural, just like his brother, and holds his niece carefully.

“I will admit Peet, the next baby I held I expected it to be a grandchild or a great niece or nephew.” Tim tells his baby brother. “But this is a nice surprise.”

Adeline is handed to Grant next and Grant remains silent for five whole minutes as he takes her in. Adeline’s baby blues peak open barely but before long she’s asleep in his arms.

“Welcome to the family sweet Adeline.” He whispers to her and cradles her in his arms silently for a long while after.

It’s Tim who asks the questions.

“So, if she was full term, I’m detecting a February conception date. Where were you in February, 9 months ago?”

Peeta coughs and shifts beside me. “Remember that conference in Fiji over Valentine’s Day?”

“No way.” Tim chuckles. “She’s a product of conference one-night stand?”

Peeta bites his lip and winces. “It was a week long fling.” He admits to his brother and looks at me to apologise. “I don’t know when the actual conception date was. Katniss?”

“The doctor guessed the 16th of February.” I tell them. “She was two weeks early though.”

“Oh Peety.” Grant laughs.

“So Katniss, I hear you worked with Madge?” Tim asks.

“I did for a little while. I haven’t been there for two years.”

“Why?”

“Grant.” Peeta warns.

“No it’s fine.” I assure him. “I was with a guy who I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. Turns out he had a family on the east coast and was using me as a brief affair while he was setting up some business thing here in Panem.”

“Asshole.”

“I was embarrassed, that’s why I left but it turned out Ok I supposed.” I say smiling. “I ended up with a pretty good gift.”

“That you did.” Grant agrees. “No asshole from the east coast, just a lonely single father from the west coast with three grown kids.”

“Grant.” Peeta groans.

Grant chuckles and I smile at Peeta, realising that ending up having a child to him was a thousand times better than ending up with a child from the jackass from the east coast.


 It’s a quiet night that night. Nolan working at the bar downtown, leaving Peeta and I alone to have dinner. Adeline sleeps in her rocker by our feet as we sit in front of the TV watching a series we both enjoy.

Peeta’s pasta is wonderful and I greedily help myself to seconds. He smiles as I settle back down beside him and spoon more mouthfuls of the creamy pasta into my mouth.

At the conclusion of the episode, he switches over the channel and lowers the volume of the sitcom comedy.

“Katniss?”

“Hmm.”

“I think we should maybe talk.”

“About?”

“Us.”

I nod. I knew this talk was due to come sometime soon. Prim and my mother urged me to raise the topic of us and where we stood but I didn’t want to disrupt the unconditional love we’re bathing in at the moment. I even knew Peeta’s brothers and his own children had mentioned it to him and he brushed it off just like I did.

“So, I don’t want to come off too strongly.” He says. “But I do have feelings for you. Strong feelings. I have since we met in Fiji and I couldn’t explain what those feelings were when we were together but I know they were romantic not just lust. I didn’t realise until it was too late.” He admits to me. “And I know we’ve just had a baby together and I don’t want to rush into something because we think we should for the sake of Adeline but I want you to know how I feel for you.”

He ponders for a moment. “And if we pursue nothing I want you to know how deeply I care for you as well as Adeline.” He tells me. “I’m sorry if I’ve scared you off but I want to be honest with you, especially as we have a daughter together.”

I nod and a small smile forms on my lips. “I feel it.” I tell him. “I was gutted when we parted that morning and I wish it was more than just a fling. I yearned to wake up beside you for weeks after and feel you beside me.” I smile. “I think we should be there for our daughter first and see where this goes.”

He agrees with a shy smile.

I go to bed with a small smile and can feel the warmth of his lips still linger on the corner of my mouth where he kissed me goodnight.


 “We’ve got to get going soon.” I tell Peeta. Dad was home from China and our afternoon tea was creeping up slowly.

Peeta was nervous, I knew he was. He had been since my mother suggested afternoon tea.

But he really had nothing to be worried about. Dad would love him.

“Sorry, just had an issue with the pays.” He tells me with a smile. “You look nice.”

I look down at my thrown together outfit. I had struggled to find clothes that were comfortable and being only 5 days postpartum, I was still so sore and tender and experiencing leaking boobs. Adeline had found her appetite and my milk had finally arrived.

“Thanks.” I say. “It’s hard to part away from the sweatpants and oversized sweater.” I tell him.

“You could be wearing a sack and you’d still look like the most beautiful woman in the entire world.”

I blush slightly and smile. He smiles up at me. “I’ll be 5.”

I nod and walk off to finish packing the diaper bag. This was our first outing and it wasn’t as if we were going to the mall or out for lunch, just to Mom and Dad’s for an hour tops.

But I wasn’t taking any chances in forgetting something for the hour we’d be out.

“What’s in this?” Peeta asks as he carries the diaper bag to the car.

“Supplies.”

“Did you pack her whole wardrobe?” He asks me with a smirk.

“Just a few spares. It could get cold or she could vomit or poo.”

He shakes his head with a grin and opens the passenger door for me. He sets the diaper bag in and then takes the car seat from me, locking it into the base and tickling Adeline’s cheek before he shuts the door.

I climb into my seat in the front and he drives us downtown. He stops outside the bakery to pick up some treats and drives towards my parent’s home. My childhood home.

“This is a beautiful neighbourhood.” Peeta says as he drives along. “I wanted to raise my kids here but I couldn’t afford it.” He tells me. “Just the thing that got me was the lemonade stands and the parks filled with kids. It just seemed like such a wonderful place and there was this feeling of community which I wanted to raise my kids in.”

I smile and watch as a dad helps his daughter ride her bike. Letting go of her to ride unassisted for the first time.

I could imagine Peeta doing this with his kids. The devotion and love he’d have to spend time with them once he finished work. Teach them how to ride their bikes, play baseball and soccer in the front yard as it got dark. I knew he’d never want to pass up the opportunity to spend time with his children, even if he had been at work since 4am and had a shit day.

“Did you find a nice neighborhood?” I ask him.

“It was alright. Everyone was friendly and kind but I didn’t feel that sense of community. The kids loved it when we were there.”

“How long did you live there for?”

“At least ten years. Madge had just gone into junior year and the business was booming by then. We moved into the house I’m in now and haven’t left.”

“How is it that we’ve lived in this town all our lives and never crossed paths?” I ask him.

“Life has a funny way of doing things.” He reminds me.

“It sure does.”

He pulls into the driveway behind Mom’s sedan and we take a moment.

“Everything will be OK.” I tell him.

I take Adeline out of the car seat and Peeta carries the car seat and the diaper bag. Mom greets us at the front door with a wide smile.

“He’s just having a quick shower.” She tells us as we settle in the living room. She fusses over Adeline, tickling her cheek and nose before she takes the pastries from Peeta to dish up.

Peeta looks around the living room, walking around and looking at all the photos and mementos of the Everdeen’s. Baby pictures, school photos, vacation snaps and special occasions. Graduation portraits, holiday photos and family photos.

“You were such a cute kid.” He tells me.

“Was not.” I reply.

“You were.” He smiles. “I can see where Adeline got her looks from.”

I blush again and am thankful he turns back to looking at the photos.

Mom tells Peeta to follow her to the kitchen with Adeline. She wanted to surprise Dad with me first and then Adeline. Peeta follows her through to the kitchen and Mom goes to meet Dad.

“Vance, our visitor has arrived.” I hear Mom tell him. He’s made his way downstairs. He was quiet on his feet and his quietness surprised me quite a few times as a kid.

“Who is it?”

“I told you it’s a surprise.” I hear Mom tell him. “Go and see.”

I bite my lip to hide my smile and listen to him walk into the living room.

“Katniss?”

“Hi Dad.” I greet him.

“You look wonderful.” He tells me and wraps me in his arms. “So very wonderful.”

We embrace for a few minutes before he lets me go. “When did you get back?”

“Thursday. I finished up in LA and thought I’d come home.”

“It’s good to have you home.”

I watch Peeta enter the living room with Mom and Adeline and smile.

“Dad, there’s two people I’d like you to meet.” I tell him and he turns around, seeing Peeta and Adeline. I place my hand on his back and smile. “Dad, this is Adeline Rose. You’re granddaughter.”

I look at my father as Peeta walks closer to us and smile. The look of pure joy washes over his face and I recall it being the happiest I’ve seen him in my entire life. He presses a kiss to my forehead and then carefully takes his granddaughter into his arms, cradling her like she’s a fragile piece of glass and stares down at her.

“Welcome sweet girl. Welcome.” He greets her, kissing her cheeks numerous times, over and over again.

Peeta stands with my mother, discussing the pastries he brought over. He briefly looks over at us and smiles before turning back to my mother. Dad and myself have settled on the couch side by side and he holds Adeline in his arms.

“Oh sweet Adeline. Your parents really did capture your sweetness with your name.”

I smile, “Peeta and I danced to that song on our last night together when we were in Fiji. I think I said sweet baby and it brought him back to that night as we danced.”

“You dancing?” My father asks.

I laugh. “Peeta’s in the same boat. We’re hopeless dancers. Two left feet.”

I hear Peeta chuckle as he comes and joins us. “I’m sorry Adeline, you’ve got no hope at being a good dancer.” Peeta coos to his.

“Unless she inherited my mother’s side and their grace. They were all dancers.” My father says.

“You got your father’s agile feet.” My mother announces. “You’re quiet and graceful in your own way.”

“Just not when it comes to dancing.” My father adds with a deep belly laugh.

“My three are just as bad.” Peeta adds. “I think Camille is the most graceful out of the three but she’s still nowhere near graceful. I’m loud and clumsy.”

“Our daughter has no hope.” I laugh and Peeta laughs with me, wrapping his arm around my waist and kissing my temple quickly.

“She’ll be unique in her own way.” Peeta says and my mother and father agree.

Peeta and I sit down on the two seater, while my mother and father sit on the three seater. Adeline lies in my mother’s arms and I watch both her and dad gush over her. They’re in absolute bliss and I feel sad that Peeta’s mother wasn’t the same. I squeeze his hand quickly and silently assure him we’ll be fine.

My father falls in love with Peeta quite quickly. Turns out the two of them have had previous dealings as my father frequented his bakery. The two had formed an employee-customer relationship that they tell me was quite friendly and had turned to first name basis and jokes.

When Peeta walked in, fear setting inside of my stomach at the thought of my father going off his head, pure happiness filled my insides as they shook hands and greeted each other with smiles. There were no hard feelings and Dad just accepted Peeta without question or ask.

But I knew there’d be private words shared between them. Dad threatening Peeta if he ever did hurt Adeline or I.

He drives us home in a silence. Adeline sleeps in her car seat, her Pop getting her back to sleep after a feed.

“I didn’t realise you two knew each other.”

“I didn’t realise he was your father.” He laughs. “But I see it now.”

I smile and look out the window before turning back to him. “My father always wished I marry the baker.” I tell him.

“Really?”

“Yes. He knew the baker would treat me well and love me endlessly.” I say. “And he’s right.” He smiles at me. “I bet he was glad you knocked me up.”

Peeta laughs and turns the corner. “Well, I bet he’s the only father who’ll admit to that.”

“When my ex left, my father wanted to track him down and seriously injure him. Ever since then, he’s been worried for me; worried I’d meet another jerk that’d screw me over. I saw the utter relief in his eyes when you walked in. I could see the proudness as well.”

“That you found the baker?”

“That I found the baker.”

He reaches for my hand and holds it the rest of the trip home.


 The doorbell sounds mid-morning the next day and I go and answer the door. Gale stands in his work clothes with a nervous look on his face.

“Hi.” I greet him.

“Hey, Peeta in?”

I nod and allow him inside. “He’s just changing Adeline upstairs.” I tell him. “Would you like a drink?”

“No I’m fine.” He says and I go back to my seat on the couch where I was folding laundry. Gale remains standing.

“Gale, hi.” Peeta greets him, shifting Adeline to his shoulder to rub her back, trying to rid of her hiccups. “What are you up to?”

“I wanted to have a chat with you, if that’s ok?”

“Sure. Here or somewhere else?”

Gale turns to me and smiles shyly, “Can you keep a secret?” He asks.

“Of course I can.”

Peeta sits down beside me and Gale stands in front of us.

“I want to ask for your permission to-”

“Yes.” Peeta tells him, cutting him off.

“What?”

“Yes, I give you permission to marry my daughter.”

“Really?” Gale asks.

“Do you really think I’d say no?” Peeta asks his future son-in-law. “I’ve been waiting for you to propose to her for a couple of years now.”

Gale smiles from ear to ear at Peeta. “Thank you.”

“As long as you treat my daughter right, I’ll forever be supportive of you two.” Peeta reminds him. “I told you that the minute I met you and it’ll stand if you treat her right.”

“I will. I love her so much.”

Peeta smiles at Gale. “I know you do.” He says. “Thank you.”

Gale leaves shortly after with a beaming smile and Peeta turns to me on the couch, a tear in his eye.

I lean in, cupping his cheeks and kiss him gently. “Congratulations Daddy, you’re kids are growing up.”

We turn our attention down to Adeline and smile at her. “She’s still got a while yet before she’s dating and marrying.” He grins. “She’ll be our baby for a long while.”

Chapter Text

3 months later

Peeta enters the bathroom, Adeline in his arms. He has his nicest suit on. One that makes his eyes sparkle and highlights his features.

I smile at him and he holds up the tie in his left hand.

“Need some help?” I ask him.

“Yes please.”

I motion for him to hand it over and I easily tie it for him. I straighten the tie and brush away the lint that sticks to his shirt.

I’m flying solo tonight. In three months, both of us have been here to take care of our daughter of a night. Now, it was time to step out of that bubble we were living in, for Peeta to return back to his life of business events and work. Now time for myself to get use to taking care of Adeline by myself.

Peeta had rarely stepped foot in the bakery in the past three months, letting Camille take the lead and run the business on her own. To learn the trade of business owning and managing.

And with the two of them looking at opening another store, tonight was for Peeta’s benefit of getting his face out there again after a small absence. He needed to socialise with adults who weren’t his own family and take a break from baby raring.

He’s hesitant, not wanting to leave the two of us for the night but it was time. Time to take that next step forward in our lives.

He leans down, capturing my lips for a short kiss and then hands Adeline to me. “I’m running late.” He smiles at me.

He slips into his suit jacket and we follow him downstairs.

“Got everything?” I ask him.

He nods, pocketing his wallet and phone and picks up his keys. He says a final goodbye to us but hesitates at the door.

“Are you sure you’ll be fine?”

I nod. “Peeta, we’ll be fine. Go and have a great time.”

“Ok. I’ll see you when I get home.”

We wave him off as he steps out of the house and I lock the door behind him. Adeline gurgles and I smile down at her.

“Come on sweet girl, let’s have some dinner.”

Adeline entertains herself while I eat a quick dinner and note it being close to her bath and bedtime once I finish.

Of a day, I had the parenting thing down packed, Adeline slept most of the day, allowing me the chance to do house work, or duck out shopping. At night, Peeta was there to lend a hand. We divided and conquered and had a baby sound asleep by 9pm at the latest.

But tonight, there’d be an upset to the routine and I started to realise it could be a late night.

“Come on baby girl.”

We share a bath together, Adeline lying on top of my legs while we bathe. She giggles and smiles as I tickle her belly and pull faces at her.

Most days I have to pinch myself at how lucky I am that I got given her. That I became her Mom.

We’ve had a whirlwind of a few months. It’s been an adjustment for everyone. It’s been life changing.

But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I had been determined to raise her on my own, trying to not invade on Peeta’s life and turning it upside down with the announcement of Adeline.

But I’m happy with how things have turned out. Adeline’s got more family members than I could imagine. I’ve gained more support and most of all another family to turn to when it gets tough.

Even though I knew Mom, Dad and Prim would be there at the drop of a hat to be there for us. I’m glad I’m not relying on just them three.

And Adeline has a father who adores her like there’s no tomorrow. I got to see him fall in love all over again the day he held Adeline in his arms in the hospital. I got to see his eyes light up and the life come back to him. It’s been the most wonderful experience watching the bond develop between father and child and I have to admit, it might be my favorite thing I’ve ever witnessed.

He’s done this all before but I’m thankful he get a second chance to be a father because the love and patience he has for his children is the most beautiful thing. He loves his children dearly and would walk a thousand miles just to ensure they got the world.

And most of all, I’ve gotten the last three months to get to know who the real Peeta is. He showed me a bit of it last year when we met but those few days we got together can’t compare to the last three months of actually finally understanding and learning about him.

I wrap Adeline in a towel and quickly dry myself down and put on a robe.

Peeta usually was in charge of the bath, book and cuddle part and Adeline had become so accustomed to that, that I had a feeling she might resist sleep tonight because her father wasn’t here to get her ready for bed.

But I carry on as if nothing is different. We do a post-bath massage and I dress her. We take a seat in the rocking chair in the nursery and I read her a book.

She seems relaxed and calm and I set the book down to nurse her.

She’s half asleep by the time she finishes and with a pat to her back; I get her settled into her bassinet.

“Night princess.”

I tiptoe out of the bedroom as quietly as I can and wait a few minutes to make sure she hasn’t woken.

I take a few steps down the hallway before I hear her cries sound and turn back around to go and tend to her.

And for the next forty-five minutes becomes a battle of fighting with her as she resists sleep.

“Oh sweet Adeline, you have to go to sleep.” I tell her, trying my best to not cry. “Come on baby girl. You’ll do us both a favour if you just go to sleep.”

A knock sounds at the door and I turn to see Nolan standing there. I hope he doesn’t notice the few tears that have fallen down my cheeks. I swallow the lump in my throat.

“Need a hand?” He asks. He’s just gotten home from work and it’s the last thing I want him to do.

I look down at Adeline and then to her brother. He is hands on. Always offering to lend a hand or take her for half an hour while we ran errands or just wanted respite for a little while.

Adeline loves him a lot. The bond the brother and sister will have that will be unbreakable and I can’t wait to see the two of them throughout the coming years. Even Camille and Madge have formed such a strong relationship with their baby sister and I feel blessed that Adeline has these three wonderful role models in her life.

I let Nolan try his best to get her settled.

He walks backwards and forwards across the floor, patting and rocking her gently. He talks to her. Sings to her. Hums. Does everything he does usually that gets her sound asleep but it’s no use. I take her back from him and settle her over my shoulder, patting her back gently.

“Can you go and get one of your father’s shirts from the hamper? I think I have an idea.” I tell him.

He nods, slightly confused and heads out of the room. I rock her gently and pat her back.

Nolan is back with Peeta’s shirt and I lay it down on the change table. I strip Adeline from her swaddle and place her in Peeta’s shirt, swaddling her in the soft cotton material. Her crying quietens but she still whimpers. I swaddle her in her other swaddle and then bring her to my arms. She calms almost immediately as I cuddle her and with her little hand escaping the swaddling to suck on, she’s sound asleep almost immediately.

Nolan smiles proudly from the doorway and I rock her for a few more minutes before I deem it safe enough to lay her down in her basinet. I exit the bedroom with Nolan and he high fives me.

“An hour after bedtime isn’t too bad.” He notes with a proud smile. “That was a kind of neat trick.”

“I remember hearing my mother mention it. My dad used to have his routine with me of a night time when I was real young and when he switched shifts, I wouldn’t sleep. Mom eventually figured out his shirt would be enough to calm me and make it seem like he was there with me.”

Nolan smiles at me. “You’re a natural.”

“I like to wish I am.” I say, my lips lifting upwards in a small smile. “With that, I’m making myself a cup of tea…”

“I’ll listen out for her.” He tells me and I thank him.

Arms wrap around my waist and pull me to a steady body a couple of hours later. A body that’s so warm, comforting and safe.

“How’d you go?” He asks in a soft whisper, his lips touching my cheek.

I look over at the basinet that sits beside our bed and smile. “Good. I couldn’t settle her for an hour…”

“You should have called me.”

“I want to be able to settle her on my own if you have another night away.” I tell him and turn to face him. “But I finally got her down thanks to your t-shirt.”

“My t-shirt.”

“She missed her daddy.” I tell him. “She just wanted to be close to him. I used to be the same, a real daddy’s girl.”

“Madge and Camille were the same.” He tells me, settling between my legs. “I like having such a close relationship with my daughter’s.”

I smile up at him and capture his lips in a soft kiss.

Our relationship blossomed quite quickly.

But we didn’t mind. It was nice to have the comfort of each other, to fall asleep and wake up beside each other.

It came after a long night of no sleep and a crying baby who wouldn’t settle for anything we tried. Nolan swept in, feeding her a bottle as we were too delirious to think straight and he got her to bed for us. Peeta and I collapsed on my bed, arms and legs tangled, vomit and milk staining our clothes. We smelt of baby, sour milk and exhaustion.

But as we tried to drift off the slight shift of a body pulled us together, our lips meeting softly before turning more passionately.

And it was like coming home.

And we never slept apart after that night. We fell into a routine of parenting and living together as a couple. His children were pleased for us. My family were just as pleased. Adeline spent her evenings sleeping beside or in bed with her mother and father. She had the comfort of her mother’s breasts and the steadiness of her father.

There hadn’t been any sex, just a whole lot of affectionate. There were plenty of kisses and embraces. Lingering stares and daring touches but nothing more had come of it.

“How was tonight?” I ask him as he comes back to bed, changed out of his fancy swooning clothes. I press my knees together at the sight of his bare chest. It brought back the many good memories of Fiji.

“It was nice.” He tells me. “There were other places I’d rather be but it was nice being an adult.”

I laugh. “What does that entitle?”

“Eating dinner without being interrupted. Having a conversation with someone who actually answers back in full sentences. Getting someone a drink and them not refusing it by screaming the place down. Laughing with someone and not being projectile vomited on… Lot’s apparently.” He laughs.

I smile and curl up against his chest. “Well, we certainly missed you tonight and I certainly miss having a night to myself.”

“You can. You just say the words and I’ll take her for the whole evening. I remember you telling me you used to spontaneously take yourself to the movies; you can do that if you want to. I’ll deal with baby poo, vomit and smelling of sour milk.”

“Well, I might just remember that offer.” I smile against his chest and feel him exhale.

“I love you and Addie a lot, you know that?”

“Of course I do.” I tell him. “I’ve known it from the second you met her. I’ve never seen someone so in love before.”

“I hope you see how much I love you as well because I do love you so much. More than anyone else in the world.” My smile spreads wider and I wrap my arms even tighter around his waist. “Well, I love my kids a lot too but…”

“I know what you mean.” I exhale. “And I love you too.”


“What are you and Dad doing for Valentine’s Day?” Madge asks.

I fasten the sticky diaper tab onto Adeline’s diaper, securing it in place.

“Um, nothing. Why?” I ask her, placing Adeline’s legs back into her zippy suit.

“You two should get out for the night.”

It was a few days after Peeta’s night out and I was no where near ready to leave Adeline alone for the night.

“I don’t know if that’s a good…” I tell her, looking up at her with wide eyes and quickly look back down at Adeline, zipping her into her onesie.

“Come on Katniss, you deserve the night off from baby raring. I’ll make you look hot, the three of us will watch Adeline for the night and you and dad celebrate your first anniversary.”

“It’s not really our anniversary.” I tell her as I lift Adeline up off of the change table.

“Well, if my math is correct, Adeline is about 3 months old. Plus another 9 months makes a full year, which is when you and dad met. It’s the anniversary of when you first met.”

I try not to roll my eyes. Getting dressed up, making an effort on my appearance seems like such a hassle and I’m really not ready to leave Adeline alone.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Come on Katniss, Addie will be fine with us for a couple of hours.”

I scowl. “Talk to your father about it.”

She smiles, leans down and kisses Adeline’s cheek and runs off to catch her father.

I follow Madge back downstairs and set Adeline into her swing. I can hear Madge talking to Peeta in the study and I busy myself with the laundry, folding all of the washing Adeline has seemed to accumulate in a matter of days.

“I’ve never known someone to have so much washing.” I say to Adeline. “You might be in close contentions with your Aunt Prim though.”

Peeta appears around the corner with Madge right beside him. He looks sheepish and I shake my head as I grin. I set the onesie down on my lap. “So, it looks like I’m taking you out for Valentine’s Day.”

“Softie.” I mouth to him and chuckle. It’s a known fact Peeta couldn’t say no to his kids, even as they were now adults, he couldn’t seem to say the word. I don’t even think it was in his vocabulary.

“Great, I’ll text the other’s and let them know we’re on babysitting duties on Tuesday night.” She tells us. “I’ve got to go. I’ll see you two on Tuesday night.”


 Madge arrives at the house well after 5. Peeta is still at the bakery, not due to finish until 5:30.

And I’ve agreed to allow Madge to help me get ready for the night. Despite not wanting to make no fuss about the date at all. Madge insisted. A lot.

Adeline snoozes on my lap while Madge starts on my hair. She tells me about her day and I half listen. It was usually the same old thing, especially working in an elementary school. I experienced the same thing every single day and know how it goes.

But at least she actually achieved something today, whereas, I stayed in my pyjamas until about ten minutes ago and spent the day actively ignoring house chores and binge watching Netflix.

“How was your day?” Madge asks.

“Good.” I tell her. “We didn’t get up to much.”

“Lazy days are good.” She smiles at me. “What series are you currently watching on Netflix?” She asks with a laugh and I laugh along with her.

We were very much alike. We were adventurous and outgoing but much preferred days spent in with our pyjamas on and a good television show or book. We liked lazy Sundays where we hardly did anything. Choose to not do housework or work and waste away a day.

And now, with a baby, it was so much easier to this.

Besides, they grow so much; I didn’t want to miss a moment.

She tells me about a lunch date with Nana Nazi (Janice) she had this week.

“She’s just so bitter towards things. She can’t seem to accept change or anything. She’s never approved of dad doing anything new or exciting in his life. She has to berate him or give him her opinion which eventually, upsets dad and he becomes less excited about this venture.”

I scowl. Janice had been nothing but nasty since Adeline arrived. Every opportunity she gets, she’s constantly judging me. Judging Peeta. Judging everything we’ve decided as parents and how we raise Adeline. She tells us her opinions, despite us not wanting them. She judges our relationship and thinks we’ve rushed into it. Thinks I’m in it just to use Peeta.

On several occasions she’s questions Peeta’s judgement and if he is truly Adeline’s father.

“People have multiple partners these days Peeta. It’s not uncommon for women to sleep around just as much men do. And who knows what she was doing while you were in your conference.”

I never saw Peeta blow up at his mother as much as I had that day. He demanded her to never question his judgement again and she sat across from him for the rest of the night.

It served for a very awkward first Christmas dinner with the whole Mellark family.

She was stepping back a bit in front of us, but bits and pieces Madge and Nolan have told me ensures me that she’s still not ready to commit to Adeline being her biological grandchild.

“Nan brought up the whole paternity thing again.” She tells me quietly.

I bite my lip, will myself to not let the tears fall from my eyes and nod slightly. “Ok.”

Madge is silent for a few moments as she ponders what she’ll say next.

“You know, we don’t not believe you.” She reminds me.

“I know.”

“Adeline got those distinctive characteristics dad has.” She smiles. “When she first came into the world, when they laid her on your chest, I just knew she was my sister. I never doubted your judgement, I know who you are. I trust you and love you so much that I know that you’d never lie about something like this.”

I thank her with a smile. “Do you think I should get the paternity test done just to shut her up?”

“No because then she’ll think she’s won.”

“Do you think I should do it for you father though, so he has proof?”

“My father doesn’t need proof Katniss. He loves you and trusts you so much that he doesn’t need a piece of paper confirming that he is 99.9 per cent related to Adeline. He knows Adeline is his. He’s accepted that since the day he found out about her.”

I smile. “I’d never lie to your father.”

“I know.” She replies. “We love having Addie and you in our lives and we don’t need you to prove anything to us.”

Peeta arrives home just as Madge is starting my make-up. He takes Adeline for a cuddle and some catch up time. With him back at work, he missed spending the day with his daughter and now we had this unspoken routine that when he gets home from work he’ll spend half and hour to an hour with her, giving me the chance to have some me time.

Most of the time, I ended up joining them, craving the intimate family time.

Peeta showers while I nurse Adeline and I remind her older siblings about her routine, likes and dislikes.

“Katniss, we’ve got this.” Nolan tells me. He promised his sisters a gourmet dinner in exchange for them changing Adeline’s diapers.

“I know, I just want to remind you all.”

“We’ll be fine.” Madge tells me, placing a supportive hand on my shoulder. “She’s a pretty easy bub and there’s three of us here to work it out.”

I hand the baby to her father so I can get changed and I know that he is reiterating the routine again to his kids.

I slip into a black dress that hugs my new curves and check myself out in the mirror from all angles and find this newfound confidence within me. I was nervous about my post baby body and how it would look in a figure hugging dress. The first item of clothing I’ve worn since having Adeline that’s really showed off my body.

But I had a feeling, Peeta would love these new curves and marks. He had already told me how beautiful I was hundreds of times when I doubted myself. He instilled this confidence in me that was shattered years before. He’s helped to put me back together again.

I smile at myself, ruffle my hair and apply some lipstick to my lips before I leave the bedroom.

The three kids are the first to notice me entering the living room. I watch Nolan’s jaw drop, Madge’s smirk and the ‘O’ shape Camille makes. This gets Peeta’s attention and he turns slowly, taking a step back as he takes me in.

He’s speechless.

“You’re… You’re…. You look so beautiful.” He eventually stutters out and I smile at him. A big, proud, confident smile.

“It was all Madge’s doing.” I tell him.

Madge shakes her head. “She’s beautiful without all of this.” She motions. “But I thought q bit of treating yourself couldn’t hurt. It’s nice to get dressed up every once in a while.”

I take Adeline for a cuddle while Peeta gathers our coats. I snuggle her, inhaling that addictive baby smell and hoping it will give me the strength to spend a few hours not worrying about her and enjoying the company of another adult, eating a meal uninterrupted.

“Ok, time to go.” Camille says to me.

I slip Adeline into Madge’s arms. “Have fun and don’t worry about us. We’ve got this.”

I nod, thanking them silently and walk to Peeta who stands in the foyer holding out my coat for me.

“Oh dad, I slipped a condom in your wallet too.” Nolan tells his father as Peeta helps me into my coat.

“Nolan!” Madge and Camille exclaim.

“What? I do love my baby sister but I don’t think I’m ready for another little brother or sister so soon.”

I snicker. I was use to Nolan by now. Everyone else though assumed by his comments and jokes that they embarrassed me but I was more than willing to take them as a joke and nothing else.

We had formed a good relationship.

He still hadn’t moved out yet though. But neither Peeta nor I were complaining at the moment.

“Fine, I’ll admit it, you and Katniss made a cute kid. It would be a crime to not bless the world with another.”

“Or three.” Camille jokes.

I shake my head and squeeze his cheek. “Be good tonight and stop tormenting your sisters.”

“Yes Mom.”

“And don’t ever call me that again.” I tell him, pointing my finger at him. “It’s impossible for me to biologically be your mother.”

“Noted.”

I turn to Peeta and smile. “Ready?” He asks.

I nod, feeling the nerves settle in my stomach. I was dreading the moment we left Adeline for the night. This was my first night out without her and I was nervous the three Mellark children wouldn’t be able to handle it.

“Madge is a qualified teacher. Camille is good at reading bedtime stories. And Nolan is good at making a fool out of himself.” Peeta reminds me as he pockets his phone and wallet. “You three will be fine, won’t you?”

“Of course Dad.” Madge smiles, looking proudly down at her sister who she holds. “She’ll be in bed by the time you two decide to come home. No need to rush.”

“Exactly, no need to rush.” Nolan confirms with a smirk. “Take all the time you need.”

“We’re leaving.” I announce. I kiss Adeline goodbye. “Be good for you siblings. I love you so much.”

Peeta kisses her goodnight and reminds the three of them of the basics again as I drag him out the door.

“No glove no love, remember.” Nolan calls after us and I turn around and stick my finger up at him, grinning. “Have fun you two love birds.”

“I swear to god, he doesn’t get that from me.” Peeta tells me as he helps me into my seat.

“You’re brother’s have told me stories.”

“Who do you think taught me?” He asks. I laugh and he closes my car door behind me.

He drives us to the CBD. There are loved up couples walking the streets, hand in hand, kissing and one couple almost dry humping against the side of a car.

“It’s kind of a cliché this holiday.” Peeta says looking around.

“Is it so cliché we met on Valentine’s Day? Possibly conceived our daughter on Valentine’s Day?”

“Why else do you think there are peak births in the middle of November?”

I shake my head and grin. “Take me to dinner please.”

“Yes m’lady.”

We laugh until we cry. My cheeks hurt. My stomach hurts.

I’m smiling from ear to ear.

Peeta is as charming. He’s wonderful. Caring. Friendly.

Above all, I’m so in love with him.

“How long have the two of you been together?” The waiter asks as he clears our table.

I look at Peeta and Peeta smiles. “A few months.”

“You look like you’ve been together for years. It’s pure what the two of you have.” He tells us.

My heart flutters inside of my chest and Peeta reaches across the table for my hand, squeezing it.

The waiter leaves with our plates and a promise to bring us the dessert menu.

But Peeta declines. He asks the waiter for the bill instead. We have somewhere else to be.

“Where are we going?” I ask him.

“You ask too many questions.” He tells me as he leads me back to the car.

He drives us towards his bakery, parking round the back.

“What are we doing here?” I ask him.

I’ve been helping him some days here. Adeline strapped to my chest as I make my way around the bakery, showing off his daughter to the older ladies who gush and swoon over our daughter. They tell him he he’s lucky a man to have us in his life. They know his story, left as a single dad as a 22 year old. They know he’s raised his kids mostly and hardly dated as he focused on his children and business.

And the day he met Adeline, they tell me he was on cloud 9, they hadn’t seem him smile this much since his older three were born. And they tell me he had lost his smile. But he found it when he found me. When he found Adeline. When he found the rest of his family.

They ask if we’ll have any more, I tell them it’s still new. They tell me it’s real, I reply with a smile and crimson cheeks.

“Come on in, I have a surprise.” He tells me at my side of the car. He holds out his hand for me.

I take his hand and he helps me down from the car.

He switches off the alarm, turns the lights on and leads me inside, shutting the door behind me.

He takes me to the cool room and reaches inside the glass doors taking out a tray and revealing a heart shaped slice of cake, covered in white frosting, strawberries and milk chocolate spirals.

“Caramel mud cake.” He announces with a wide smile. “Happy Valentine’s Day Katniss.”

“We ate this at Fiji.”

“We did at our second dinner date.” He recalls. “You made me want to take you on that table, right there and then.”

I blush and laugh. “Really?”

“You were in this dress you borrowed from your sister, the white one. It hugged every curve of your body and I had never seen someone so beautiful in my entire life.”

“We barely made it inside of your room, we were close to having security called on us for public indecency.” I laugh. “I think that was the night we conceived Adeline.” I tell him, turning my nose up in slight embarrassment.

“Well if you didn’t wear that white dress than we probably wouldn’t be here.”

“I think we would have found each other eventually.”

We share the slice of mud cake, it’s moist and rich and way better than the one we had in Fiji. He feeds me forkfuls and I feel that familiar heat pool in my core. It’s only within the last few weeks has little bits of intimacy turned me on. Prim told me my libido could be affected due to my breastfeeding and it might take a while to physically and mentally want to engage in sexual activity.

And Peeta has been patient. He didn’t pressure or push for anything more. He had been honest with me from the beginning, telling me he was more than happy to wait until I was ready. He wanted me to be comfortable and overall, both of us be ready.

He sets the plate down beside us and I smile at him.

“I know I’ve told you this multiple times already tonight but you are so beautiful. You’re absolutely glowing. You’re just so beautiful Katniss Everdeen.”

I blush, drop my head to hide the blush creeping across my face and down my neck before I look back up at him.

I look him in the eye with a slight smile.

“What’s on your mind?” He asks me after a few minutes of silence.

“I think I’m ready.” I tell him.

“Really?” He asks. “I want you to be sure.”

“I’m ready.” I confirm. My body, my mind and soul were ready to take the next step with Peeta again.

But instead we go home, relieve his kids from our crying daughter and together we snuggle our daughter and fall asleep in our date clothes in our bed.


 “Where’s Dad?” Madge asks as she rushes into the living room the next week. It’s the afternoon, Adeline has just woken from her nap and Madge has finished work for the day.

“Still at work? Why? What’s wrong? Has Gale done something?” I ask her, lifting Adeline into my arms from the bouncer.

“Yes.” She replies and holds out her left hand. And on her ring finger sits a sparkling diamond ring.

“You got engaged?” I gasp.

“I got engaged.” She confirms and bursts into tears.

“Oh Madge, honey this is so good.” I tell her and wrap an arm around her. “You’re engaged.”

“I’m engaged.”

“Why are you crying?” She asks.

“I don’t know, I’m just so happy.” I smile. “Sit, come tell me everything.”

She sits beside me and I let her speak while I feed Adeline.

“He asked me this morning.” She tells me. “We were discussing our trip to see his sister in New York. I was rattling on about something and then he said, ‘it’d be nice if we could see her and tell her we were engaged’, I stopped and looked at him confused and asked him if he just proposed and he said yes with a sheepish smile. He asked me again and I accepted right away.”

“That’s beautiful. Not cheesy or over the top. It’s you.”

Madge smiles. “He told me he had been planning to propose for a while.”

“I know.” I laugh.

“You knew?” She asks.

I nod. “He asked your father for permission three months ago, I had just moved in. He asked if I could keep a secret and I told him I could and he asked your father. Your father didn’t even let him finish before he gave him permission.” I explain. “Do you know how hard it’s been to keep this a secret?” I laugh. “I didn’t realise it’d take him this long to propose to you.”

“Thank you.”

“You deserve the best.” I tell her. “So when are we planning for this wedding?”

We call for an impromptu family dinner to celebrate. Nolan cooks for us and we celebrate the engagement, giving them our well wishes and love.

I couldn’t be happier for my best friend.

“Hey, I was wondering if you’d be one of my bridesmaids?” She asks me as she slips into her coat.

“I’d be honoured to be your bridesmaid.” I tell her, embracing her tightly with a wide smile.

I find Peeta propped up in bed with a book in hand later on. Adeline is asleep in her basinet by the bed and I straddle his lap.

“What’s this?”

I cut him off with a passionate kiss and in the soft light from the bedside lamp we strip each other slowly from our clothing.

I smile at him as I feel him at my entrance and he smiles back, kissing me softly before he enters me slowly.

It’s rejuvenating being intimate again with him. It’s overwhelming but in the most wonderful way. The feel of his bare skin brushing against mine. His lips on my skin.

Adeline remains asleep throughout the whole night.

But we don’t sleep. We just hold each other well into the early morning and he promises me he’ll give us a wonderful life.

Chapter Text

“Hey, you feeling alright?” Peeta asks me, placing a supportive hand on my shoulder.

I’ve had a sudden wave of nausea overcome me and Peeta’s caught the tail end of it, coming into the living room with our lunch just as I’ve turned green.

“Yeah, just feel a bit off.” I tell him, throwing Adeline’s onesie into the basket.

“You think you’re coming down with something?”

“I don’t know. It’s hard to tell.” I tell him and set my plate on my lap. “Thank you.”

He smiles and takes a bite of his wrap. I pick mine up to take a bite but feel my stomach lurch. “I might have this later.”

He nods and I set my plate aside. I finish folding the laundry and watch Peeta fuss over Adeline, tickling our four and a half month old and pulling silly faces at her. She loves her father so much it’s infectious. I love seeing the two of them together and despite me spending 24 hours a day with her, her daddy is her favorite.

Peeta leaves shortly after I begin nursing Adeline. I wince at the sensitivity I feel as Adeline nurses but shrug it off as it’s nothing. I was feeling off and my body could just be having a knee-jerk reaction to my illness.

Adeline sleeps for a couple of hours and I find myself succumbing to a nap as well, feeling absolutely shattered.

I’m woken by Nolan and follow the sounds towards the kitchen where he’s made a mess.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.” He apologises, grabbing the dustpan and broom to sweep up the vase he’s knocked off of the counter. “I threw the bag onto the bench, it’s tipped over and the vase has fallen.” He tells me.

“Everything alright?” I ask him.

“Yeah just a busy morning.” He tells me. He looks shattered too. He was working three jobs and in between those jobs, he was having only a couple hours of sleep. He still managed to fit in his socialising and pick up women in the very few hours he had free.

“You can’t keep going on like this Nolan.” I tell him. “You’ll burn out.”

“I’m young though.”

“You’ll still burn out.” I tell him. “Quit one of your jobs.” I scowl. “I don’t want to see you have an accident or ruin the life of someone else. And that energy drink crap you drink is nowhere near good for you either.”

“Yes Mom.”

“Don’t make me get your mother onto you, cause I will.”

“Oohh, I’m scared.” He grins, throwing his hands up.

I roll my eyes at him and chuckle. “Just consider it. Why don’t you ask Camille for a job at the new bakery? You know the bakery like the back of your hand.”

“I don’t want to bake.”

“You don’t have to. You’ve got the customer service skills and the confidence Camille needs. Work the front and swoon the customers that come in. Sell the product to them and give them a reason to come back. It’s your family’s business, you want it to succeed don’t you?”

“Of course I do. I want Camille to have all the success and expand on what Dad has built with his own hands. But I can’t.”

“Why? You used to spend your weekends and afternoons helping your father out.”

“I know.”

“Just think about it.” I tell him and look at the monitor as Adeline cries. “But you need to look at your other jobs first. Give something up before you hurt yourself.”

He nods and finishes cleaning up the glass. “You’re not looking like your usual self.” He comments.

“What?”

“You just seem pale. Are you feeling well?”

“Yeah, just had an upset stomach earlier. I’m all right now. The nap helped.”

“That I disturbed.”

“It’s fine, Addie’s awake anyway.” I tell him showing him the monitor where his baby sister is fussing in her cot.

“I hope so, I haven’t seen her in like a week.”

Nolan volunteers to go and grab her for me. Seeing his sister in the first time in about a week. He’s always been home when she’s been asleep and hasn’t wanted to disturb her.

He brings her into the kitchen, having changed her diaper. She happily rests in his arms, gurgling and cooing back to him. She’s such a sucker for her male relatives and has her dad, brother and grandfather wrapped around her finger.

“She’s grown.”

“She’s almost 5 months.” I remind him, reaching out to wipe the drool from her chin. “She’s becoming a big girl.”

“And time for Mommy and Daddy to give her another sibling.”

“Not this soon.” I tell him. “We’ve got to give it time. You’re father and I met over a year ago and have truly spent less than five months together.”

“But its real.” He exclaims. “The realest love I’ve seen in my entire life. You don’t get that very often but when you do, you’re so lucky.”

I smile and reach out to tickle Adeline under her chin. “We’re happy with just you at the moment little girl.”

Nolan is off shortly after, on his way to another shift. I tell him to think about his career and he tells me he will.

Adeline and I take a short walk through the neighbourhood. The winter air is long gone and spring has finally sprung with summer just around the corner. I can’t wait for the long days and warm months. More walks with Adeline, picnics and fun in the sun.

I cut the walk short, feeling dizzy and head on home. Peeta is calling as I unbuckle Adeline from the stroller and I answer.

“Hi.”

“Hey, what are you up to?”

“Just got back from our walk.” I tell him. “Had to cut it short.”

“You alright?”

“I felt dizzy.” I tell him.

“Any more nausea?”

“Not at the moment.”

I know what he’s doing. He’s worrying about me. Most likely Googling my symptoms to get some idea of what is wrong me with. Or worrying himself for no reason.

“Ok. Well I’m on my way home. Do you need anything?”

“Diapers.”

“Got it. See you soon. Love you.”

Adeline and I have a quiet afternoon while we wait for him to get home. We read together, cuddle and she hangs out in her jolly jumper, stretching her little legs and tyring herself out.

Peeta brings home a couple of bags of groceries, the box of diapers under his arms and drops them in the hallway, scooping Adeline up into his arms when we walks through the door.

“I missed you.”

I smile. “You saw her 5 hours ago.”

“It’s still too long.” He smirks and covers her in kisses.

I smile at them and take the bags of groceries, carrying them into the kitchen.

“So I was thinking about your birthday.” He tells, following me into the kitchen.

“Yeah?”

“I think the two of us should go away for the weekend.”

“Really? Where?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere nice. Somewhere we can take a breath and just chill out.”

“Would we take Addie?” I ask him.

“Up to you. I’ve been looking at some places they do accept babies but only under 6 months and some places don’t accept them.”

“Are you hinting you want a baby free weekend?”

“Only if you want to.” He smiles. “It’s your birthday and I want to treat you to the whole weekend, doing what you want. Addie can come if you want or we can ask your parents to babysit for the weekend. They’ve been nagging us for a while now.”

“I know they have. I just don’t know if I’ll be ready to leave her for a weekend.”

“You think about it.” He tells me smiling. He kisses me on the lips and grabs the bag of groceries I was about to unpack. “There’s something else.”

I’m suddenly nervous as I watch him reach into the bag and pull out a box.

The same box I bough this time last year.

“Could you possibly be pregnant?” He asks me. “You’re symptoms match to early pregnancy signs.”

I swallow the lump in my throat. I hadn’t gotten my period again since having Addie. Peeta and I had been quite sexually active since after Valentine’s Day and we have been quite careless when it came to wearing condoms.

We’d spoken about more children very early into our relationship. Peeta always wanted a big family. He was happy with his three children before I came along but once he met me he wanted at least another one maybe two. Time wasn’t in his favor and he was now 45, slowly creeping towards 50.

“Would you take one just to see?” He asks.

“Of course.”

He bounces on his toes and pushes the test towards me.

“Now?” I ask him.

“Yes. Now.” He confirms. He has a slight smirk on his face and I really don’t want him to get his hopes up just in case it doesn’t come back positive.

But it was common, women falling pregnant within their baby’s first year of their life.

I drink a glass of water and help him unpack the rest of the groceries while I wait for a few minutes.

“It’s best to take one first thing in the morning.” I remind him as we head up to our bathroom.

“I know. If you’re not certain maybe you can take another in the morning.”

He sits with Adeline in the bedroom giving me my privacy but I leave the door open so I can feel close to him. Have his support from just a few feet away.

I call him in once I’ve peed on the stick and rest the test on the vanity. He comes in and takes a seat on the edge of the bath and I watch the timer on my phone.

When I took the test when I was pregnant with Addie, I was nervous and scared. I peed on three tests at the same time and I avoided looking at the test for a long time afterwards.

This time, the alarm beeps and I look at Peeta. He nods, giving me his best supportive look.

I stand up and walk towards the vanity and look down.

And the big plus sign stares back up at me.

I’m pregnant.

Holy shit.

“We didn’t plan for this.” I say, exhaling the breath I’ve held.

I watch as his smile stretches from ear to ear and he bounces Adeline gently. “Well sometimes the biggest surprises are the best gifts in life.”

“She’s not even five months old yet.” I remind him freaking out slightly. “We’re going to have a newborn and a one year old.”

“We’ll be fine.” He tells me. “We have our family to support us.”

“What’s your mother going to say? We’re not even married or have been together all that long.” I ramble. I feel the anxiety build within me at the prospect of a new baby. The prospect of having a one year old and a newborn.

“Do you love me?” He asks me, touching my shoulder, forcing me to look at him.

“Yes.”

“Then don’t worry about what everyone else will say. Just remember how much I love you and know that we can do this.” He tells me. “This was bound to happen anyway.” He shrugs with a shy smile. “We haven’t been very conservative in the way we’ve done this.”

I hate to admit it but he’s right. We knew we wanted to do this again, give Adeline a sibling or two. And I wanted our children to be close in age and sometimes the universe had a funny way of doing things.

Adeline smiles in her father’s arms and I smile down at her. She had made me the happiest person in the whole entire world, I couldn’t wait to have her sibling here. To have two children.

Peeta kisses me long and hard. “I’m so happy Katniss, there’s no denying it.”

I smile at him and embrace him tightly.

“Addie and you have been the best things to come into my life in the last year and I feel so much more happier that I have you two in my life.” He whispers. “I’m so happy Katniss.”


 I park the stroller beside my chair in the waiting room. I had booked an appointment to see Effie to confirm the news.

Peeta was at work for the day and I had Adeline in tow for my appointment.

“Katniss.” Effie calls with a smile.

I smile, acknowledging I heard her and push the stroller into her office. Effie comes and gushes over Adeline.

“She’s gotten so big.” Effie states, tickling Adeline’s chin and cooing to her. “I’m going to need a cuddle before you leave.”

“I know, it’s gotten away so quickly.” I tell her, looking down at my daughter.

“So, what brings you here?” Effie asks, taking a seat. “I know I spoke to you when you came to get your stitches out regarding looking at your options for contraception. I assume Peeta and you have resumed a sexual relationship or are thinking about it? Contraception is a safe way especially if you don’t want any more kids for a while but if your planning to conceive within the next year then…”

“That’s actually kind of why I’m here.” I cut her off. “I’m pregnant.”

“You are? You sure?”

I nod and smile. “Very sure.”

“Was it planned if you don’t mind me asking?”

“No but either was Addie.” I tell her. “I was just hoping to get it confirmed with a blood test.”

“Of course.”

She writes me up a referral for pathology and hands it over to me. She answers any other questions I do have and gives me some information and refers me to do some research and find more questions to ask her at my next appointment.

“How are you and Peeta?” She asks, holding Adeline.

“We’re so happy, I love him and he loves me.”

“I could see the spark in his eyes when he brought you for your appointment. He’s a good man.”

“He is.”

She tells me to book an appointment with the nurses at the front desk for when my blood work will come back and we’ll go from there. She secures Adeline into the stroller and farewells us.

I bump into Prim on the way to pathology.

“Hey sis, what are you doing here?” She asks with a quirk of her brow.

“OB check.” I tell her. It’s not really a lie but I didn’t want her to know in case I wasn’t pregnant.

“Everything all right?” She asks.

“Yeah, everything is fine, just the standard woman check up.” I assure her with a smile and look down at Adeline who is fussing. “We better get going, we’re meeting Peeta for lunch.”

“Can we have lunch or dinner soon? I feel like I haven’t seen you in quite a while.”

I nod and tell her to organise it for when it suits her. I farewell her and let her kiss Adeline goodbye and head on down to pathology.

The technician frowns slightly when she looks at the request but I pretend to ignore the frown. I knew what she was thinking, a pregnancy so close to my last one. She’s probably seen it all before I think and blow off the frown.

She should be glad that I have a roof over my daughter’s head. She’s fed, clothed and loved with such intensity.

She takes three vials of blood. She gushes over Adeline as she gets me to sign the papers and tells me they’ll have my results by the close of business today.

Effie congratulates me the next afternoon.

“You’re definitely pregnant. Probably only a few weeks though so still too early to take you for a scan.” She smiles. “Had you gotten your period?”

“No. I assumed I’d be safe.”

“You’re body is still capable of reproduction. It’s a common misconception, especially of those who breastfeed.”

I nod. “Three years ago I never imagined my life would turn out like this. The man I was with did a runner back to his wife on the east coast and left me feeling broken. I resolved I’d never fall in love again thinking he was the one for me. Then on a whim Prim and I tagged along on a vacation. I met a guy I had a fling with and thought that’d be it, despite liking this guy so much. Five weeks later I find out I’m pregnant and have no idea who this man is or where he is. And now, 4 and a half months later, I’m living with this man and our daughter and I find out I’m about to have another baby to this man. It seems like its some crazy dream.”

“But you’re living it and loving every moment of it.” Effie finishes with a smile. “I can see how happy you are Katniss. I would call your experience fate.”

I smile back at her because it’s true I’m incredibly happy with this man and so in love with his family who have welcomed me with wide arms. His children have accepted Adeline and me and they find us a welcome addition to their family.

Peeta meets me downstairs, leaning against the hood of the car and I run for him. He catches me in his arms, spins me around and kisses me deeply.

It’d be something I’d roll my eyes at before but now I don’t care if I make people roll their eyes at our public display of affection.

“Ever heard of the team Irish twins?” I ask him when he sets me back on the ground.

“Sure have.” He smiles. “Oh our family is going to be in for a shock.” He laughs.

Camille greets us at the front door with Adeline, she offered to watch her baby sister for the couple of hours today. Peeta picks his daughter up as he embraces her. She swats his shoulders to put her down as she laughs.

“So you two look like you’re on cloud 9. Have a little bit of afternoon delight while I watched your daughter?”

“No. Just incredibly happy with life.” Peeta tells her. “Where’s my Addie?” He asks, going off in search for her.

Camille smiles at me but quirks a brow. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing.” I assure her. “Thanks for today, it was easier leaving her home then dragging her out during naptime.”

“No problem. It gave me some time to catch up on work and get lots of snuggles from my sister without having to compete against Nole and Madge.”

“Do you want to watch her in three weeks. I have an appointment that will cross into her morning naptime?”

“I’d love to, I’d have to ask dad though?”

“He’s fine, he asked me to ask you if you wanted to watch her.”

“I’d be more than happy to do so.”

Three weeks later we kiss Adeline goodbye and head over to the hospital. I bounce my leg, disliking the feeling of a full bladder and run to the ultrasound suite when the technician calls us.

“First pregnancy?” She asks me with a smile.

“Second.” I tell her.

She nods and looks into my file quickly. “You delivered 5 and a half months ago?”

“Yes.”

“Alright, we’ll check to make sure everything else looks good internally as well. For future ultrasounds we’ll monitor the placenta and the wall to make sure it’s in tact but your healthy, you had a healthy first pregnancy so we should have a smooth second one.”

On the screen appears our little button. Peeta gasps in awe and squeezes my hand. I knew after Nolan was born he threw away the idea of becoming a father again and the welcome addition of Adeline and now our little button; he’s a happy man. He always wanted a big family and now he was finally getting his wish.

“I’d say you are 8 weeks, due date around the 20th of November. Everything looks good from this end.”

And the whooshing of the heartbeat brings tears to our eyes. Peeta kisses me as we hear our button’s heart beating and I know I’ve found myself the man I want to spend the rest of my life with.


 “You OK?” Peeta asks as I hug the toilet, throwing up breakfast and dinner and everything else that I have eaten this week.

I shake my head as I throw up more.

Peeta holds my hair and rubs my back. I was hardly sick with Adeline, a few odd occasions when something I ate didn’t agree but now, my whole stomach hated me.

“Why now?” I whine as I sit back onto my feet. “I’m 8 weeks in and now my stomach has decided it hates me.”

“Were you this sick with Addie?”

I shake my head and then feel my stomach lurch. My head is back into the toilet and I’m throwing whatever else is left in my stomach.

He carries me to bed when I’m sure no more can come up and tucks me under the covers. He kisses my forehead and tells me to leave everything to him.

We were having a family dinner tonight to announce the pregnancy and I wasn’t sure if I’d announce it before my stomach betrayed me.

I sleep for half the day while Peeta runs around getting groceries. Adeline tags along with him, letting me rest and recover from my huge bout of morning sickness.

I manage to get out of bed when I feel better. I manage to eat a sandwich and have a cup of tea. I express some milk and make a start on the housework.

By the time Peeta gets home my stomach has settled and I manage to eat some more. Adeline is clingy and I spend a majority of the afternoon with her by my side. She’s just started teething and despite the pain she’s experiencing, she’s such a good girl. She’s just clingy and like a Saint Bernard, drooling endlessly.

“You nervous about tonight?” Peeta asks me.

I shake my head and shift Adeline to my other hip. “Not really. I’m excited to tell everyone finally.”

“Me too.”

Nolan and Peeta cook dinner for our family. Adeline is passed around and we all sit down and enjoy dinner. It’s been quite some time since we’ve caught up with everyone and tonight is just perfect.

Conversation flows easily. Everyone listens to each other. There’s laughter. There’s jokes made. It’s wonderful.

Madge and Prim clear the table for us all and we all sit clutching our stomachs from the beautiful dinner we just over indulged in.

Peeta rests his hand on my thigh, squeezing it often to remind me that he’s here for me.

“There is dessert but I think we’ll rest our stomachs for a little while.” Peeta chuckles.

Adeline is passed back to me, she’s getting fussy and tired, ready for bed and with her teething she’s not herself. She’s been quite good with everyone else, snuggling them and sucking on her sleeve or her teething ring.

I look at Peeta and he smiles at me, nodding to give me his support and I smile back at him.

“We have some news.” I announce, getting everybody’s attention. Peeta clutches my hand and I look around the room at our family, see the excitement already on their faces.

They think it’s engagement news. I can sense by the way they look at my hand trying to see if they’ve missed the engagement ring.

“I’m pregnant.”

Their mouths drop in shock but I know they’re delighted.

“Congratulations!”

Everyone is shocked but delighted. They congratulate us, giving us their best wishes before they embrace and kiss us. They even congratulate Adeline on becoming a big sister.

Their smiles alone would be enough to light a small town. They are incredibly happy for us and I’m so glad I’ve decided to tell them this news. When I was pregnant with Adeline, only very few people knew. My family didn’t know until I was in labor or had delivered Adeline. This moment though was wonderful. Sharing with my family has brought me immense happiness. Happiness that is so hard to describe but I don’t doubt their excitement. They’re happy and don’t call it a circumstance.

I just think they’re excited for a new baby.

Everyone sits down, a bottle of champagne popped and glasses of the bubbly drink passed around. I sip on my water and clutch Adeline close to my body.

“When will our next sibling be here?” Nolan asks, taking a sip from his glass.

“November 20.” I tell him.

I watch as he does the math in his head and see him grimace. “Oh, please tell me you didn’t conceive her on Valentine’s Day? Cause that’s kind of lame.”

Peeta rolls his eyes. “No, we didn’t consummate our relationship until after Valentine’s Day.” He informs everyone. “Not that it’s any of your business.” He tells his son. “We don’t go parading around the house naked broadcasting to the world what we’ve just done.”

“That was once.” Nolan argues.

I clear my throat, shaking my head. “No, three times since I’ve been here.”

“What?”

“There’s been two other occasions. New Years Eve… what was her name again?” I ask Peeta. “The redhead, fox looking one.”

“Finch.” Peeta tells me.

“That’s right, Finch.” I grin. “I got up to go to the bathroom and the two of you were getting quite freaking in there without the door closed.” I remind him. “And the other time was a few weeks later. Addie was quite restless that night and I went downstairs and I came down the stairs to see you and I think it was Josie you were dry humping in the foyer and then when I thought the coast was clear, I caught the two of you in the kitchen.”

Camille and Madge are in hysterics. Nolan blushes slightly after my revelation.

“And we had the pleasure of serving you and your friends the next morning for breakfast.” Peeta adds. “That’s something a father should never have to do.”

Nolan clears his throat. “Sorry I subjected you both to that.” He says. “I think it’s time for Addie’s bath.”

He scoops Adeline out of my arms and leaves to go and bathe her.

That conversation changes and we discuss the baby news and Madge and Gale’s wedding they’ve planned for early next year.

“Is it weird that your daughter will be married this time next year?” I ask him as we settle into bed. I’m exhausted and I’m trying to pinpoint why. Is it the pregnancy? Taking care of Adeline? Or is it the fact that I’ve spent the majority of the morning hugging the toilet puking my guts up.

“It is.” He sighs, pulling the covers up. “But kind of sweet.” He smiles. “We’ll have our Button by then.”

I smile, picturing us as the parents of two by this time next year. Our button will be the age that Adeline is now.

“We will.”

He switches off the lamp and moves closer to me. “What do you want? A boy or a girl?” He asks.

I smile. “I just want a healthy baby. There are risks being pregnant especially five months postpartum. As long as I have a healthy pregnancy and delivery than that’s all I want.”

“Me too.”

“I would like to give you a boy though.” I tell him. “One that looks exactly like you.”

He laughs slightly. “I already do have a child that looks exactly like me.” He reminds me. “He’s name is Nolan.” He smirks. “I don’t think the world needs another Nolan.”

“No, maybe not.” I chuckle. “But Button won’t have Cashmere’s lively personality.” I turn to him, poking him in the side and listen to him chuckle, agreeing with me. “What would you want?”

“I don’t really know. I still feel like I’m living a dream. That I’ll wake up and this all won’t be true.”

“It’s reality.” I remind him. “A pretty good one if I say so.”

He smiles, leaning over to kiss me.

We lay in silence for a few moments, Peeta’s hand resting on my belly that houses our Button.

“I don’t think I thank you enough for giving me this second chance at life.” He speaks.

“I couldn’t do it without you.” I remind him. “It takes two to tango.” I laugh.

“That it does.” He agrees. “I sometimes imagine if we didn’t meet, then we wouldn’t be here now.”

I shake my head. “The universe has a funny way of doing things. Of bringing people together. If we didn’t meet in Fiji we would have met somewhere else. In the street, the bakery, maybe Madge’s wedding or somewhere hopefully tropical. We’d have met and I’m sure we’d have this eventually.”

He nuzzles my cheek gently, placing a soft kiss. “I think we would have too. Hopefully not too long in the future though. I’d hope we’d meet in like a 12 month time frame.” He smiles.

“Me too.”

We lay in silence for a while, conjuring up every possible scenario of us meeting. I picture Spring, the leaves starting to bloom on the branches of the trees in the park by the bakery. The fresh cut grass. The beautiful flowers and the dandelions. I can picture him walking through the park during his lunch break or late afternoon, nowhere to be, just him admiring the park and everything right in front of him. I picture him plucking the dandelions that grow and rolling the stem backwards and forwards between his fingers. Studying the flower, capturing every curve, color and line for him to recreate later in his baking or his painting.

I can smell the cinnamon in that spring air. I can also smell the sweet scent he carries permanently. It’s imbedded in his clothes and his skin and he smells divine.

He kisses my lips and shifts to lie on top of me. Despite being exhausted, I want him so badly. The mixture of pregnancy hormones and the healthy sex life we’ve created has us craving each other terribly.

“Peeta.”

“Hmm.” He mumbles as he kisses me, his lips trailing down the column of my neck.

“I don’t want to tell your mother until we reach 12 weeks.” I tell him.

He stops kissing me and looks up at me. “We can do whatever you wish. I don’t expect the full support from my mother anyway so what’s another four weeks going to matter.”

I smile at him. “Thank you.”

“We’re in this together. We’re a team. We’re a good team. And for our team to continue to work well, we’ve got to communicate about the little things.”

I thank him again by letting him ravish my body.

With Adeline now sleeping straight through the night, we’ve found the time to couple more often, to talk about our days and anything else that might randomly pop into our conversation.

But as parents of a 5 month old, we’re usually out to the world by 10pm.


 He tries to get out of bed as carefully as possible. His alarm has already sounded, waking me up but he tries his best to not disturb me.

He still woke at dawn, his body still in a routine of baker’s hours. He still baked the bread down at the bakery, finding it as good therapy and a way to activate his mind. It was almost like exercise and if he didn’t bake bread than he’d go stir crazy and be anxious and moody. And him being at work early enabled him to be home earlier to be with us. And as he was slowly handing the reigns over to Camille, he had more time to do the things he liked.

But I knew he wouldn’t give up the baking.

Which I didn’t mind because I loved the smell of cinnamon, sugar, spices and that smell of baked bread he always smelt of.

Adeline is brought to me in bed like every other morning. She hardly budges, roots for her dream feed, nurses for a few minutes before she snuggles into my body for the last few hours of sleep before she wakes for the new day.

And like Peeta’s morning routine of baking bread to keep him sane, this was my routine to keep me sane. Skin to skin contact and bonding seemed to have a positive effect on my day.

Peeta leaves with a parting kiss to both of us and sneaks out of the house to begin his day.

And I snuggle my baby and imagine what the next twelve months are going to bring to our little family.

I find myself drifting off soon after and wake to Adeline’s coos and wiggling. She’s getting frustrated, trying to nurse and I help her, bringing her to my breast and letting her nurse.

I rest my eyes for a few more minutes while Adeline nurses. I didn’t want to give up breastfeeding Adeline just yet. I had in my mind to get to at least a year. To power on as best as I could. I wanted that moment of bonding, even if it was just a few minutes each day, it was all I would need to get my Addie fix.

And with the impending pregnancy, I was even more determined to continue my nursing. Dr Trinket encouraged me to continue breastfeeding, reminding me that it was common pregnant women breastfeeding their babies or toddlers. There may be more side effects but Adeline would still be getting her nutrients and when the baby came and my milk changed, Adeline might wean herself. My supply would keep up with tandem feeding and just ensure I was getting enough nutrients myself, eating the right foods and drinking enough fluids. She told me I could do it.

Peeta too supported my decision and reminded me that it was a moment to bond with Adeline. To take a break, sit down, nurse her close to my body and just focus all my time and energy on her at that moment. And when the baby came, it’d be the same. I’d have a moment to relax and hold my babies close to my chest and just stare at them both as they nursed.

And with these moments I’m having with Adeline now, I wanted to continue them for a couple more years still. Morning cuddles in bed, their tiny heads within kissing distance and their hands there for me to hold on to.

Adeline looks up at me, her beautiful blue eyes sparkling and she smiles at me.

“Are you excited to become a big sister?” I ask her with a soft smile. “You’re going to be the best big sister. Loving, caring and tender.” I feel tears well in my eyes. “I’m so glad I have you in my life baby girl.” I kiss her forehead. “Thank you for bringing me and your daddy together. I can’t thank you enough baby girl.”


 I fidget nervously in the passenger seat. I twist my bracelet around my wrist. Pick at the lint on my pants. Cross and uncross my legs.

Peeta’s hand reaches over, trying to calm me down as he places his hand on my thigh.

“It’s all good.” He constantly reminds me. He can usually calm me but right now, I’m struggling to find the comfort in his words.

He turns onto her street and I feel the anxiety build within me.

“This was a mistake.” I mumble.

“You don’t have to come with me.” He reminds me. “I can tell her you’re sick.

“She’ll see through that.”

“I know but it spares you being there.”

I exhale a deep breath and shake my head. “No, I should be here with you.”

I was now 12 weeks and we had agreed it was time to tell his mother.

We told his brothers’ just last weekend during a weekend barbeque Grant was hosting. I interacted with the wives and nieces and nephews who were all mostly in their teens. Grant had three kids. Two boys and a girl. The oldest was the same age as Nolan and the youngest was 15. Tim had four kids. Three girls and a boy. The oldest had just finished high school this year and the youngest was starting school at the end of summer. Noah was a surprise to Tim and Jolene, born when their youngest was 9. There was no doubt Noah wasn’t spoilt by his older sisters and basically had four women mothering him.

Grant and Tim’s families were over the moon at the news of the impending arrival and gave us their support. I quite liked getting to know the rest of Peeta’s family and they made me feel welcome.

He pulls up in the driveway of his mother’s house and we pause for a long while.

“We could tell her when you’re further along.” He suggests.

“Then she’ll be even more pissed off.” I tell him. “Let’s go and rip off the band aid.”

He nods, kisses the back of my hand he was holding and let’s me go.

I get the car seat and Peeta carries in the diaper bag.

I kind of wanted to retreat the closer we got to her front door. Retreat back to the hotel Peeta spent my birthday at just two weekends ago. We hardly left our room for the whole weekend. We just ordered in, slept, talked, made love and made use of the big bath in the room.

My morning sickness has limited me to a lot and by the time my stomach settled it was already midday and we wasted our opportunity to do anything.

But it was nice just being us two together for 72 hours.

The front door opens and we face Janice Mellark. She looks unimpressed that we’re imposing on her Tuesday afternoon but invites us inside. We settle in the living room, Adeline still snoozes in her car seat and Janice brings in a tray of tea to have with the treats Peeta brought with us.

“So what brings you two here?” She asks.

I avoid rolling my eyes. She was in no mood for small talk.

Peeta clears his throat and hands me my cup of tea.

“We haven’t seen each other for a while mother, I thought you’d like to see your granddaughter.”

She rolls her eyes and places sugar into her tea. I always wondered why Peeta never took sugar in his tea until I witnessed his brother’s do the same thing. Even the children were the same. Tea with no sugar.

Peeta told me it was a Mellark thing. They had baker’s blood in them and found their tea was too sweet with sugar in it so all the generations had their tea with sugar.

I though had to have at least two sugars to sweeten it.

“So, how is Evelyn?”

“Adeline.” Peeta corrects her, betrayal in his tone.

His mother just shrugs her shoulders and takes a bite from her tart. “How is… Adeline?”

“She’s good.” Peeta tells her. “She’s six months old now.”

“How is it being a father again at 45?”

“I love my children and I’m blessed to get the chance to do it again.”

“And I suppose you’ve settled with the fact that she’s yours?”

“I trust Katniss with all my heart.”

“I just don’t want you getting tied down with a desperate woman and her bastard baby.”

Peeta slams his cup down and shifts in his seat. “There’s a real reason we came here actually.”

“And that is?”

“Katniss is pregnant.” Peeta tells her. Janice’s face hardly changes as she hears the news. “She’s twelve weeks. Thought you’d like to know.”

She stars off with Peeta and a small smirk crosses her face. She slowly sets down her cup and places her left leg over her right.

“So, you’re about to have another midlife crisis. Congratulations. I’m happy for you both. Really. I bet you can’t wait Peeta. Let’s just hope this one doesn’t leave you.”

I feel the anger rising in Peeta. I grip my hand on the car seat ready to make a move.

“Don’t compare Katniss to my ex-wife.”

“You always seem to get yourself in these messes, I just hope you’re prepared to raise two babies on your own when she leaves you for someone younger.”

Peeta shakes his head and I wait for him to say something.

“You know what, I’m not going to waste my breath on you.” He tells him mother. “Thanks for having us, let’s do it again sometime.” He tells her. “Let’s go Katniss.”

I grab the car seat and follow Peeta quickly out the door, hearing his mother jabs and jeers she makes as we exit.

I don’t understand how someone could be so bitter towards her own son.

Peeta drives us home. The radio softly plays in the background and I hold his hand. I place a kiss to the back of it and smile at him.

“We love you Peeta.” I remind him. “No matter what she says, we love you so much.”

He smiles at me as he stops at a red light. “I know. She’s just never been nice to me. I put up with it because she’s my mother but she’s just bitter towards my past choices. It turns out she’s best friends with my ex-wife so isn’t that great? I know whose side she picked in the divorce.” He grasps my hand. “But I don’t care. I have you, Addie and our Button. If she doesn’t want to be in our lives than that’s her decision. I’ve picked my side and it’s you, my family.”

I lean over kissing his cheek quickly before sitting back in my seat as he moves with the green light. "You were right, this was a mistake." He laughs and it's so contagious that I laugh with him until tears fall down our cheeks.

Chapter Text

“What did you tell your Mother?” Peeta asks me as he packs the cooler.

I rub the spot the baby just kicked. “Just we’d be there after Adeline’s afternoon nap.” I tell him, handing him a container full of fruit.

“And how’d she take that?”

“Ok, I suppose.” I shrug. “Well before I was born, Mom and Dad hosted a big 4th of July party. It was an all day affair with lunch and dinner. Mom took over hosting from her own mother. It’s been a tradition that I’ve grown up with. I think it’s just hard for her to accept that Prim and I are growing older and creating our own lives that don't involve her as much."

“We can go to your mother’s if you like. I’ll call Madge and let her know…”

“No, Madge is family, we can’t let her down after promising we’d be there.” I tell him. “Mom understands we have to split our time.”

“Does she though?” Peeta asks.

Nodding to reassure him, I leave him to go and wake Adeline up from her nap. She’s ticking over the two-hour mark and nowhere near ready to wake up. We’re already running late and the longer our princess sleeps the later we’ll be.

“Good morning Adeline.” I coo, rubbing her belly to wake her up. “That was a very big sleep you had.” I smile at her and watch her roll onto her belly and look up at me through her long eyelashes and her big blue eyes. “You ready to go and celebrate 4th of July?”

She pushes up onto her knees and shows me her front teeth proudly before reaching out for me.

It’s a warm day already, the second day of a heatwave and no matter how much we try, nothing seems to help in keeping cool. Adeline has been a trooper though and we haven’t had much of a complaint from her.

Dressed in her her 4th of July romper with a red headband we head downstairs. Peeta’s got the car packed and is waiting for us to go.

"Hi, my princess." He greets Adeline, kissing her on the cheek and then kissing me. "And my queen. Ready to go?"

I nod, ask if he’s got everything and he leads me out to the car.

Gale greets us at the front door, taking the salad from Peeta and Adeline from me. "What have your parent's been feeding you?" He asks her, kissing her forehead. "You're looking like a little buddha." He chuckles and Adeline giggles at him.

Camille sweeps up Adeline as soon as we walk into the kitchen and I know I don’t have to worry about her as she’s in good hands. She won’t be put down and will have everyone fuss over her for the few hours we’re here.

Peeta gets me an icy glass of non-alcoholic punch and I make my way outside. I chat with Madge for a while and then Peeta’s sisters-in-laws.

“You’re starting to show.” Jolene comments, touching my tiny bump. “20 weeks right?” She asks with a smile.

“Yep.” I confirm, rubbing my tiny bump. “It still feels like a dream.”

They smile at me. They seemed to not judge Peeta and me for our unconventional way of living. They accepted us. The way we were living and were raising our daughter. They just seemed to not care and embraced our choices.

I think they were mostly happy for Peeta’s newfound happiness.

"Hi, Aunt Katniss." Noah greets me, wrapping his arms around my waist. He was adorable, looked exactly like his father and uncle's and was a charmer. I joked they'd have to keep Nolan away from him when he got a bit older.

"Hi, Noah." I hug him back and don't mind that he is wet from swimming. "How've you been?"

“Good. Where’s Addie?” He asks.

I look around, trying to spot where my daughter has gotten to and find her in her brother’s arms. Nolan uses her to try and pick up the 19-year-old who lives next door. I point to her for Noah and he happily heads towards his cousins and has the neighbor turn her attention to him, completely ignoring Nolan.

The three of us chuckle and watch Nolan walk away like a dog that’s been kicked. He hands Adeline over to Madge and goes and gets himself a beer.

“Have you seen Janice since your last visit?” Polly, Grant’s wife asks.

“No. Peeta’s hardly spoken to her since and she hasn’t made the effort to visit. She doesn’t like me. I can accept that. She hasn’t liked me since the day she’s met me. She doesn’t have to pretend for the sake of Peeta and she won’t pretend.”

The two women both nod. "She's hardly made an effort to like us either. She does Sunday night dinner to see the grandkids but there's never any pleasantries thrown our way."

“I just think she can’t accept Peeta. From what he tells me, she’s never been fond of him. She only liked him when he was with Cashmere but then chastised him for the marriage falling apart.” I tell them. “It’s like she can’t accept Peeta’s newfound happiness.”

“She’s never been happy for him.” Jolene tells me. “She’s never shown interest or congratulated him for anything. He raised those three kids all on his own, his mother never helped him out at all. He rearranged his schedule to be there for them. He did distant classes at night when they slept. He did everything to ensure they’d have a good life.”

“Did you help him out?”

"When we could." Polly smiles. "He's someone who doesn't like to ask for help or accept it easily. It took a lot of persuading for him to take a night off and let us watch them or even do the school run some mornings or afternoons. He was a great father and gave up a lot for their happiness.”

“You don’t see a lot of father’s do that.” Jolene adds with a proud smile. “He’s the best and Janice never saw that. When their father died, it hit her hard and she retreated a lot. Peeta stepped up and built an empire and we were there every step of the way with him.” She tells me. “He’s come a long way and I know he inspired his kids to do the best they could through everything.”

I smile and leave them to make my way to see Johanna, Madge, and Delly. Adeline sits on her sister's lap under the shade of a cabana. Her sister drinks sangria and laughs with her friends.

Adeline reaches for me, and Madge hands her over as she goes to get Johanna and Delly more sangria.

Adeline nurses and I listen to them talk about their lives. It's this strange thing, hearing them talk about your old life. It's a distant memory and feels like decades ago when it's only been several years since I've stood in front of a class and taught. I homeschooled for those couple of years but it was so much different to teaching a class full of 25 students. It was more relaxed and our lessons weren't always at the home, sometimes I taught the kids in the middle of a London park, in the African jungle or next to our suite pool in Hawaii or the Bahamas.

I missed those couple of years of exploring and discovering with those kids and I found they were wiser in life experiences rather than learning from a textbook.

Peeta and I had discussed it and despite the opportunity to stay at home and raise the kids, I was itching to get back to teaching again and Peeta offered me the chance to go back part time when our Button was around 6 months old. I’d hope to do just a couple of days a week and still have a majority of my time at home with my babies.

Adeline eats the fruit I offer her after her feeding and she happily sits on my lap, watching the world and studying everything and every passing sound.

"She's gotten so big." Johanna exclaims, reaching across to hold her hand. "You are so beautiful, Miss Adeline."

I smile at Adeline and wipe the drool from her chin. It’s a sticky mess of fruit but I don’t mind.

"She's so much like you." Delly coos. "You're so cute. Yes, you are Addie girl."

“Really? I thought she looked a lot like Peeta.” I say, studying my girl. “Maybe even a bit like my sister.”

Both of them shake their heads. “Defiantly not. She’s a ring in for you.” Delly clears up. “Lucky you, you didn’t want to have your daddy’s looks did you?”

Adeline giggles at Delly and I smile at her infectious laughter. At 8 months old, I’ve found her to be the happiest and giggliest baby. She’s grown up before our eyes but brings so much light to Peeta’s and my life.

And the little button that has begun to flutter and kick inside of me, we’re excited to meet him or her in around 20 weeks. And we know we’re going to have even more happiness and light brought to our lives.

With the sun shining I take notice at how happy Adeline is. How she beams with laughter and happiness as the sun warms her skin. The sun was doing wonders for all of us and there wasn’t a sad soul wandering around the yard on this beautiful day. Everyone was laughing, smiling and just enjoying time with friends and family.

Nolan and Noah dive-bomb into the pool causing the water to splash over us.

There are complaints from nearly everyone but it’s all in good nature. They’re laughing as they scold the boys and return back to their conversations, thankful for the cool relief of the water.

"So, how far along are you now?" Delly asks, sipping her cocktail. Her little one has just learned how to walk and is happy toddling around. Madden is 6 months older than Adeline and is completely smitten with Adeline. Madden has weaned from breastfeeding and Delly is celebrating with her first proper cocktail after almost 2 years.

"I just hit the 20-week mark." I tell her, just as Madden appears in front of Adeline and me, smirking and flirting.

“Halfway mark. Do you think you’ll make it to 40 weeks?” Delly asks, grinning at her own boy.

“I don’t know. Everything is looking good. The baby is measuring at a good weight and length. They’re just monitoring me closer just to make sure I don’t deliver early as my body isn’t as strong and hasn’t healed since before my first pregnancy. Everything is weaker, so there’s a chance of complications but they’re happy so far.”

Delly shakes her head. "I know a few women who had babies close together, one had one complication of more blood loss during labor but the other two had healthy pregnancies and very healthy babies. You can have complications in any type of pregnancy if it's your first, second or fifth. Everyone is different. You'll be fine Katniss."

"Yeah, you will be. Maybe a bit more tired and depleted but you'll be fine." Johanna agrees.

“Just listen to your doctor and hopefully everything will be fine.”

I nod, agreeing with them both. It hasn’t eased the anxiety I have been feeling since I found out I was pregnant but Peeta has been a great support, as has the rest of our family and close friends.

We leave when Adeline is due for her afternoon nap, saying goodbye to everyone after a day of swimming, amazing food and wonderful company and lots of laughs.

We were expected at Mom and Dad’s for dinner for their traditional 4th of July event we have already have missed most if it. But it was Peeta and me now with two lots of families we had to please and make sacrifices for. We knew now it’d be a constant fight for time showing up to holidays. We were now learning to navigate our families and learning how to say no. Or making alternative arrangements, like bringing the party to our house or showing up when it's not nap time and we have a happy baby.

Adeline was a good excuse and we used her more than we should. She was a great baby though and we could get away with going to events. She’d sleep in her stroller or in a port-a-cot without being disturbed. But we sometimes liked to debrief for an hour or so if we were bouncing between events for the chance to change our clothes, take a shower or just lay down beside each other on the couch or in bed and just relax together.

And today, I just wanted a short nap to recharge before dinner with the rest of my family tonight. Carrying a baby was hard work while caring for an 8-month-old.

“Did you have fun?” Peeta asks me. I nod as I curl into his body, letting him wrap his arms around my body. His hand finds its way towards my bump and he gently strokes the tiny bump where our Button is.

I finally have something to show off. A tiny little curve where our Button is growing soundly in the warmth of my womb.

“I did.” I yawn. “I really like your family. They’re so fun and very kind.”

“Most of them are.” He chuckles softly. “They like you. I get told that constantly by nearly all of them.” He kisses my temple. “I know my grandparents adore you. I think they like you more than me.”

“Impossible.” I mutter and soon find myself drifting off, feeling Peeta’s lips against my temple.

“I love you.” He whispers softly.


 

"She's going to be walking before you realize." Dad comments, serving me a glass of water. "You're going to be keeping your mother on her toes, Miss Addie."

“Don’t say that.” I scowl and keep Adeline balanced on my lap. “I don’t want her to walk until she’s like 15 months old and her brother or sister is a little bit older.”

Dad chuckles and places a kiss on top of my head. “Oh love, babies are all so different.” He tickles Adeline’s chin and smiles proudly at her as she stands up on my lap. “She’s going to be just like you though. She’s reaching all her milestones at the same age as you, maybe a bit earlier.”

“The kids were early achievers.” I tell him. “Peeta tells me she’s keeping up with them all. Probably even ahead of all three. He’s chuffed.”

"She's going to keep you on your toes, that's for sure." He smiles. "Just remember, we're here for you love. You need an hour to yourself; we'll drop everything to be there. If Addie is getting too much, we'll take her for an hour to the park or for a drive. We're your family and we're here to help you, especially the closer you get to delivering our second grandbaby.”

"Thanks, Dad." I wasn't in the mood to argue, to tell him that I was more than capable of doing this. But I decided otherwise, I didn’t want him to throw it back at me down the track if I was having a meltdown and questioning every decision I had made.

“Now Addie, why don’t you come with Pop and we’ll go and see what everyone else is doing.”

She happily goes to her Pop and I’m thankful for the moment of peace.

Dad was great with her. So was Mom. They had recently started having her on a Saturday night for a sleepover, giving Peeta and I a break and the chance to have a night off to do couple things. We found a love for going to the movies, we were starting to find our favorite restaurants and cafes, and started to enjoy date night where we could have adult conversations without interruptions and could stay out later than we usually would and explore the city at night. And I know, the closer we get to my delivery date, we'd most likely stay in, order in and watch a series on Netflix and be passed out by 10 pm.

After disposing of Adelie’s diaper, I pick up my glass and go and make my way outside where everyone else is gathered.

I find Peeta outside, in conversation with one of our close family friends and I smile at him before heading towards my Great Nana. She’s 98 and hardly looks a day older than 80. She still walks every day, to the shops and back home again. Never smoked or drank in her entire life. She raised four children on her own after her husband walked out on her and she’s the strongest and liveliest person I know.

"Hi, Nana." I greet her.

She grabs a hold of my hand, squeezing it between her own and smiling at me. She reaches out, caressing my belly and smiles widely at me.

Family was what made her. She dotes over us all. Loves us. Cherishes us. And lights up when she sees us. She called us her greatest achievement and I know she’ll die happy when the time finally comes.

Dad brings Adeline over to us and plonks his granddaughter onto his Nana’s lap.

Nana smiles down at Adeline, her first great-great-grandchild. We watch Nana light up at Adeline and I know this helps Nana get through the day. Adeline adores her Nana, she smiles, coos and touches her hands and face gently in awe and amazement.

Nana kisses Adeline’s knuckles and traces the apple’s of Adeline’s cheeks.

“When will the new baby be here?” She asks me softly.

“November 20th.” I tell her. “Just before your birthday.”

Nana smiles and looks back at Adeline. “You’ll be a great big sister.” She tells her before looking back up at me. “You’re having a girl.” I look at her confused. “You’re going to have another little girl. I can feel it.”

“Where?”

She presses her heart. “In here.”

I feel tears well in my eyes and quickly wipe them away. The thought of another little girl is pleasing and wonderful.

But I’m certain it’s a little boy. Both Peeta and I are certain.

She hands me back Adeline and Peeta takes his daughter for a while, letting me chat with Prim and my cousin Leah.

“He is so beautiful.” Leah swoons. “You’re so lucky.”

I smile because I know how lucky I am to have found Peeta.

“He certainly gets Katniss’ heart fluttering.” Prim teases, elbowing me. “And there’s proof of that.” She points towards my belly.

“Hey, I can’t help the way he makes me feel.”

“We’re not judging, we’re sure we’d not leave our bedrooms if we had a partner like Peeta. I’d quit my job just to have him naked all the time.” Leah laughs. “We’d be broke but it’d be worth it.”

I try my best to not focus on the hormones that are currently in overdrive. I know I’ll crack if Prim and Leah continue on their banter and drag Peeta up to my old bedroom to have my way with him.

“Your hormones are going crazy aren’t they?” Prim asks.

I bite my lip. “Yes. And you two keep talking and they’re going crazier. I’ll have to go and jump his bones if you don’t stop.”

“How many times today?”

“3.” I blush.

“3?” They exclaim.

“When did you find the time?”

“This morning before Addie woke. Before we went to Madge’s and then before we came here.” I tell them. “Nap time is a great time for parents.”

“Be thankful you have a baby who has a great sleep routine.” Prim sighs.

"Oh, we are." I smirk.


 

"So, we should start planning your baby shower." Mom says after dinner. I've gotten Adeline bathed ready for Peeta and me to take her home for bed. "Before we know it, you'll be delivering this baby."

I look at Adeline than up at Mom, pushing a strand of hair over my ear. “I’m not having one.” I tell her, reaching for Adeline's diaper having rubbed cream into her body.

“What?”

“I don’t want to have one.” I tell her. “This is my second baby, it seems pointless.”

“But you didn’t have one for Adeline. You didn’t have one with all of us here to shower you. To celebrate the expectant arrival.”

“To celebrate my holiday fling that had resulted in a pregnancy?” I laugh sarcastically and Mom stares at me. “Sorry. I just don’t want to have one Mom. Please respect that.” I tell her, sticking the tabs to Adeline’s diaper.

I hear her mumble something under her breath. “Katniss. Can you please just grant me this one thing? You were gone for over 2 years and then you come back with my granddaughter. I missed out on the entirety of your first pregnancy. I didn’t even know you were pregnant until you had my granddaughter.” She rambles. “You left and came back and everything has changed.”

“Nothing has changed Mom." I assure her, watching Adeline roll onto her stomach.

She shakes her head. “No, a lot has changed. I feel like I’m just an outsider now. You have your own family now. All these new people in your life that I feel like I’m competing against all the time. I should be happy that you’ve found happiness with your new partner and daughter but I’m struggling to find that happiness.”

“Mom, why didn’t you say anything sooner?” I ask her shocked by her revelations. “I thought everything was fine?”

“I was fine, well I thought I was until you announced you were pregnant again.” She admits. “I just want more. I had dreams of what it’d be like when my daughters were finally becoming mothers and the exciting times that were ahead. I suppose dreams are better than reality.”

"Mom, I'm doing the best I can." I tell her, lifting Adeline onto my lap. "I have an 8-month-old baby, I'm 5 months pregnant and I'm trying to navigate this new family thing and my life, so I apologize if I've been distant, I don't mean it, I'm just trying to do my best."

"I know you don't mean it." She frowns. "But I just want more." She sniffles as Adeline starts to get restless. "You should probably get her home."

She turns and leaves the living room and I'm left in shock. I wonder if I've been neglecting all of my family or just my mother? We've never had the strongest of relationships. I've always been closer to Dad where Prim has been closer to Mom. We've done our best in my adult years to be closer and I thought we were fine but obviously, I thought wrong.

“Hey, you’re Mom said Addie was getting restless? Ready to head on home?” Peeta asks.

I turn to him and briefly nod. He takes Adeline to go and say goodbye to everyone while I pack her gear up. I follow suit, saying goodbye to everyone.

“I’ll see you later Mom.” I say to her, going in to hug her but she makes no move to embrace me. “I’ll think about the baby shower.” I tell her, hurt slightly from her rejection. “Bye.”

“Bye.” She replies sharply. No on else notices and I do my best to get the hell out of the house before I do something stupid like cry.

Peeta has Adeline in her car seat by the time I get into the car and I drive us home.

"Have fun?" He asks as I pull away from the curb.

“Yeah.” I mutter.

“Everything Ok?”

“Yeah. Just tired.”

He reaches over, squeezing my thigh. “It has been a big day.” He agrees and leaves it at that.

I take Adeline, getting her to bed while Peeta cleans up downstairs. He meets me in the hallway and we silently agree to head to bed.

The air con is working in overdrive tonight but I still pull the covers over my body, turning away from Peeta and shutting my bedside light off.

Peeta spoons me, running his hand over my hip, over my belly, and towards my breast, grinding me slightly as he kisses my neck. He moans and I allow him to ravish me.

I needed this as much as he did.

“Peeta.” I whisper after.

“Hmm?” He replies sleepily.

Rolling over to face him, tears fill my eyes. “Peeta.” His name comes out strangled and this gets his attention.

“What is it?” He asks, reaching for my hand.

“Do you think I’m a good daughter?”

He nods, cupping my face. “I do.” He replies with a soft smile.

“Do you think I’ve been neglecting my family?”

“What do you mean?”

"Mom. We had words before we left. She feels like I've neglected her." I tell him. "She wanted to throw a baby shower but I told her I didn't want one." I sniffle. "She feels like she's competing with everyone else to be in my life."

He embraces me, pulling me towards his body. "I think you're being the best person you can be. You've got to remember that you're pregnant and have a baby. Your undivided attention is towards this little person and in 4 months you'll have another little person to take care of."

I nod, wiping my nose. “I don’t think Mom understands that though.”

“Why do you think that?”

I shrug my shoulders. “I think she’s still hurt about Adeline. I think she feels like she missed out. She didn’t show the hurt at first but now the cracks are starting to form. I don't know why it's like a flick has been switched and she's not happy." He kisses my forehead and exhales. "Am I just over reacting? Am I just reading too much into it?"

He shakes his head. “No. Give her some time.” He reassures me, kissing my cheek. “It should blow over eventually.”

“But what if it doesn’t?” I ask him.

He sighs. “I don’t know. One step at a time I guess.”


 

I wake long before Peeta the next morning. I hardly slept last night, tossing and turning, and constantly checking the time over and over again. Even watching the monitor, watching Adeline sleeping soundly. Despite how exhausted I was, I have too much on my mind.

The housework keeps me busy and I find things to distract me from the possible cracks that are threatening my relationship with my mother.

I scrub dishes, pots, the floor, and walls. I fold, wash and hang the washing on the line. I get almost an hours worth of housework done before Adeline wakes, earlier than usual and I know it's going to be a long day. Her tooth that's due to come through is starting to come through and bothering her and I know it's going to be tough going.

"Hi, baby." I greet her, inhaling that sweet baby smell and cuddling her to my chest. She holds me tightly, hiding her face in my neck. “Your teeth hurting you?”

With a grizzle as a response I know she’s woken up unhappy. The sticky heat we’ve experienced has finally caught up to her and she’s finally feeling the heat.

She sits up in her highchair and I sit in front of her with her breakfast, trying my best to get some food into her belly. She’s distracted by one of her toys and I get her bowlful in.

Peeta finds us downstairs, dressed and in a foul mood.

“What’s wrong?” I ask him.

“Security rang. The alarm has been triggered at the bakery.” He tells me pissed off.

I rub my temple and know it’s going to be a bad day for all of us. “Do you want me to come down there?” I ask him.

“No, stay here with Addie.” He tells me. “I shouldn’t be long.”

I nod and watch him leave. He doesn’t offer Adeline or I a kiss goodbye and I try to not feel hurt over that.

Adeline screeches from her highchair and I turn my attention back to her. I carry her to the lounge room, sitting her next to me on the couch and we watch cartoons together, Adeline laying across me. I know she’s hurting and wants one of her favorite comforts. She nurses as we watch cartoons and I find the peace of just us two comforting.

I always imagined it'd just be Adeline and me for quite some time. For most of my pregnancy with Adeline, I imagined it'd be Adeline and me in a little apartment or house. It'd just be the two of us.

Now with Peeta in my life and our families, I can’t imagine not being with him. He’s my rock. My support and the absolute love of mine and Adeline’s life. Without him, we wouldn’t be here. I would be back at work, missing out on this stage of Adeline’s life. I wouldn’t have the support of a partner to help me raise my daughter. And most of all, my daughter wouldn’t know her father. This man deserves the best and me not allowing Adeline the chance to be in his life breaks my heart. Makes me feel guilty for even considering forgetting about him.

I sometimes wish I contacted him as soon as I found out. But I’m stubborn, can’t accept help or reach out for help. I’m independent and determined.

That’s probably why I’m in this predicament with my mother because I never once told her or asked for her help. I was determined to do this on my own from the second the stick turned blue. And I mostly did it all on my own.

Until I returned home and everything fell into place and I knew I wanted my family surrounding me. I wanted the father of my baby there. I wanted him involved. I let down my guard and started to try and be a different person and allow my daughter the opportunity to be with her family. All of her family.

And I’m happy for my choices.

He rings just after Adeline finishes feeding, her eyelids heavy with sleep.

“Someone’s broken in.” He tells me. “The place is fucking trashed.” He curses. “I hate long weekends.”

“Have you called the police?”

“Security beat me. They saw the back door had been forced into. Police should be here shortly. I’m sorry, we’re probably going to have to cancel our plans for today.”

“That’s fine.” I tell him. I was too exhausted to move or even consider leaving the house for the day. “Addie’s teething so it might be best to stay home anyway.”

“Addie OK?”

“Yeah. How much longer will you be?”

“Not sure. I’ll let you know when I know. I’ve got to go, I’ll see you soon.”

“Bye. Love you.”

“Bye.” He ends the call without another word and I try to let that go. He was stressed and angry and I had to try and not let that get to me.

Nolan goes to help Peeta at the bakery tidy up and they’re gone for nearly all of the day.

Adeline is waking from her afternoon nap when they arrive home.

“You home for dinner?” I ask Nolan.

He shakes his head, peeling his banana. “Having dinner with Mom.”

“More like your mother is throwing a dinner to snoop.” Peeta adds, snorting.

Scowling, I turn my back to Peeta to face Nolan. “That will be nice. She knows about the baby doesn’t she?”

Nolan nods. “Gran told her pretty much the minute Dad and you left her house. Surprisingly, Mom has hardly told anyone, whereas Gran’s been bitching to everyone.”

"That's my mother. Never been happy with anything I've done in my life. I was the one who brought the bakery out of the black, up kept the Mellark legacy and she still chooses to shut me out of her life." He groans. "I really don't care what she does anymore. I have you guys and that's all I need."

He goes to get Adeline from her crib and Nolan tells me about the bakery.

“There’s thousands of dollars of damage done.”

“They get inside?” I ask.

He nods. "They smashed all the front windows. Stole a heap of equipment, damaged the CCTV cameras, damaged the office door trying to break in, wrecked the register and one of the big mixers. It's a mess." Nolan tells me. "Dad's organized for the window guys to come in first thing tomorrow despite it being a public holiday to fix the windows so they're ready to trade on Tuesday. He's been on the phone to the insurance guys and one of his equipment suppliers to replace the stolen and damaged equipment."

“How long do you think they were on the premises for before they took off?”

“There must have been a group of them. Dad couldn’t get into the office because of the door but he’ll be able to review the footage from here and hand it to the police but it’s a mess.” Nolan sighs. “Dad’s quite beat up about it.”

“Has he told Camille?”

“Not yet. He doesn’t want to ruin her holiday. He hopes to deal with it all before Camille gets home.”

“She’s going to be pissed that she’s been left out of this.”

Nolan shrugs. “It’s dad’s choice. Take it up with him.” He looks at his phone. “I’m going to go and shower.”

I tend to the washing in the machine. Peeta’s downstairs with Adeline when I come back in, seated in the office on the phone to someone. He’s got the shits big time as he reviews the footage of the CCTV and talks to whomever on the phone about the break-in.

I leave him to be and go and lay down in the lounge room with a book. I needed to rest my feet for a little while and my eyes.

“Katniss.” He shakes me awake. “Addie’s hungry.”

He places Adeline on my lap and sits down beside me, rubbing his eyes. Adeline nurses and he takes a moment.

“Nolan told me it was a mess.”

“Two minutes it took.” He tells me.

“What time did they break in?”

“About 6:14. Out by 6:16.”

“What a great way to end the long weekend.”

“It’s fucking bullshit, that’s what it is.”

I agree with him and his work phone rings, dragging him away from the living room to take it.

He’s on the phone for a good twenty minutes before he reappears.

“Do you want to order in for dinner? I’m too tired to think and it’s so hot.”

“Yeah, I was thinking the same. Pizza?”

“You decide. I’ve been pretty shitty today, let me make it up to you.”

I smile slightly at him and he reaches out to squeeze my hand. He kisses my temple and moves when his phone rings again. He groans, pushing up off of the couch seeing who it is and leaves again.

Two large pizzas are ordered knowing Nolan will come home for a second dinner and I start to get Adeline’s dinner ready. She watches me heat up her pureed veggies and happily eats them while I talk to Prim.

“What happened between you and Mom?”

“Why?”

“She’s been acting weird. Every time I talk about you she scowls, did you two have a fight yesterday?”

“She asked what I was doing for my baby shower and I just said I didn’t want one and that turned into her telling me she feels like an outsider in my life and that was it. She wouldn’t speak to me and we left.”

“Have you spoken to her since?”

“I don’t know what to say to her. I don’t see how I’m in the wrong though. I was honest with her, told her I didn’t want a baby shower and she took that to heart.”

“She did miss out on your first pregnancy.”

“Whose side are you on?”

“I’m just stating a fact. Mom just feels hurt because she missed that bonding experience with you. She missed witnessing her first grandchild grow inside of you and do all those pregnancy things with you. Maybe you should grant her the chance to throw you a baby shower just so she feels included.”

“I don’t want one though. Why can’t she respect that?”

“You should talk to her and find out what else is bothering her.”

"I'm so tired Prim. I have an 8-month-old, I'm 5 months pregnant, the bakery got broken into this morning and I have all this family I have to keep happy. Why can’t Mom see I’m doing the best I can? I’m doing the best I can, Prim.”

“I know you are.”

“She’s more than welcome over here. She hasn’t once asked if I wanted to go out for lunch or for a coffee with her since I’ve been back. I’ve been back 8 months.”

“Maybe she’s giving you space.”

"It's not the point. I'm the one doing all this fixing and keeping up with my family, organizing dinners, lunches, and outings while everyone sits back and watches. I'm fed up. I can't be the arranger anymore. I can't, it's too much for me."

“OK, I’ll talk to her and see what’s going.”

“It’s your fault too.” I add, spooning food into Adeline’s mouth.

“How?”

“For not including her in your life either. She feels upset with both of us.”

“I have a life.”

“So do I.” I remind her. “You should make more of an effort.”

“Piss of Katniss. Stop trying to make me feel guilty for the shit you pulled by leaving. She’s still not over that.” She rants. “There is such thing as a phone.”

“Prim, don’t bring that up. You know what that man did to me.”

“I do but it didn’t mean you should have treated your family like shit. That’s what you did, you treated us all like shit. You took off in the middle of the night with just a letter, didn’t tell us where you were living or if you were safe. You dropped off the face of the planet. We didn’t see you for the first year. I got to see you for like three weeks and then that was it. You hardly called or texted. You declined any offer of a catch-up and always made up some excuse. 9 months passed and you showed up back home, in labor and without much of an explanation. You dropped back in and just hoped we’d take you back in like nothing changed. Mom nearly cried for that whole first year after you left. Did you know that?”

I’m too shocked to speak.

“No you didn’t, did you? You haven’t even offered her an apology. She deserves an apology.”

“Prim…”

“No, Katniss, you’re not dragging me into this. You have to mend what you have with Mom without me being the middleman. I’m not the middleman. Just because you’re not as close doesn’t mean you can use me as your messenger. Grow some fucking balls and talk to her. How would you feel if this was Addie? If Addie left town for two years without an explanation and the only real explanation she gave you was a message through her sibling. What if you cried every night for Addie because you didn't know where she was or if she was still alive? What if your child called you from a hospital to tell you they had had a baby to a stranger and that they were back home? How would you feel if you missed out on all of this stuff with your daughter because you didn't know what the hell she was doing with her life? Put yourself in Mom's shoes and realize how much this has hurt her. You're a mother, act like it."

“Prim!”

"No, I'm done. I'm not speaking to you until you apologize to Mom. She deserves an apology and an explanation." She tells me. "She deserves better than how you've treated her."

“I’m allowed secrets, just like you.”

“Don’t go there.”

“I kept your secret Prim. I bet Mom doesn’t know about that? Don’t lecture me when you’ve done the same. Talk about double standards.”

“Fuck you Katniss.”

Scowling, I bite my lip. “Real mature. You've just given me a lecture about my behavior but I think you should reconsider yours. I'll talk to you later Prim. Don't forget about the sister's oath though."

“Fuck that sister’s oath. You broke it the second you walked out that door after that man left you.” She hisses. “I don’t care about that sister’s oath. You don’t speak to Mom, I’m going to tell her everything.”

“Grow up Prim. You’re 25, not 12.” I remind her. “I’m not telling her everything when you’ve got skeletons in your closet too.”

“Whatever Katniss. You’ve got until the end of the week to talk to Mom...”

I hang up on her. When did the world decide to turn on me?

Peeta appears from the office, sitting on the stool at the island beside Adeline. I brush the few tears from my cheeks and hope he doesn’t notice. He takes over feeding Adeline for me and I go and get the pizzas, bringing them to the kitchen.

He flips open the lids on the boxes and frowns.

“What?”

“Nothing.” He claims, still frowning.

“What is it?”

He sighs. “You ordered the wrong pizza.”

"No, I didn't." I defend, reaching for a slice.

"Yes, you did. I don't like either of these." He states. “Either will Nolan.”

"Nolan is old enough to look after himself," I tell Peeta. "And so are you. Order your own then." I tell him, sulking out of the kitchen towards the living room.

“What has gotten into you!” He yells at me. I choose to ignore him. "Katniss!"

He’s on my heels, appearing in the living room with Adeline on his hip. “What the hell has happened?”

“Nothing, Ok! Nothing has happened?” I yell. I startle Adeline and she starts crying.

“Pfft, yeah nothing has happened.” He rolls his eyes, bouncing Adeline. “What the fuck?”

“Just leave me alone, please. Please just leave me alone.” I plead, our daughters crying upsetting me even more.

“Katniss, please just tell me what has happened and I’ll try and fix it.” He asks. “Please Katniss, I don’t want us fighting. Just tell me whats wrong and I’ll try and fix it for you.”

I shake my head, tears falling down my face. I look him in the eye, see how upset he is and I turn away from him.

“I think I’m going to go up to bed.” I tell him softly. “I’m sorry about the pizza.” I whisper, my voice cracking. I set aside my plate, push myself up off of the couch. I look at Adeline, watch her cry and will myself to walk past her.

“Shh, it’s alright.” Peeta coos to her, bouncing her slightly. “It’s alright my girl.”

She stops crying soon after but I lay in bed, watching the clock and crying.

Peeta appears upstairs an hour later, I hear him talking to Adeline as he bathes her and dresses her. She giggles and coos with him and my heart hurts even more, even after he sings to her. The same song he always sings to her.

Sweet Adeline, My Adeline, At night, dear heart, for you I pine. In all my dreams, your fair face beams. You’re the flower of my heart, Sweet Adeline.”

“Katniss.” He stands at the doorway. “Addie’s ready for bed. Do you want me to feed her a bottle?”

I don’t answer for a while. I feel him staring at me sadly. Wondering what the hell has gone wrong.

I sit up slowly and make my way to Adeline, taking her from Peeta without a word. I nurse her in the rocking chair, cuddling her and singing to her so softly, even after she’s fallen asleep.

Sweet Adeline, My Adeline, At night, dear heart, for you I pine. In all my dreams, your fair face beams. You’re the flower of my heart, Sweet Adeline.”

Adeline sleeps soundly in her crib and I sneak out, closing the door and slowly walking back to the bedroom.

Only the lamp illuminates the room.

And I see Peeta sitting on the end of the bed with a bag packed. I swallow the lump in my throat and go to speak.

“P…”

"I'm going to stay at Camille's." He tells me.

“Why?”

"I think we need some space." He stands up, throwing the bag over his shoulder.

He kisses the top of my head and leaves me standing in the middle of my room, dizzy and confused.

“What have I done?” I whisper.

Chapter Text

January 1989

“Here you go, Mrs. Myers."

The graying woman reaches out to take the brown paper bag from me filled with her usual order.

"Thank you, sweetheart." She smiles, touching my hand in gratitude.

I smile at her. “See you next week.”

She nods, packs the bread into her trolley and continues on to get to the bus home. She's my last customer for the day and I follow her outside to collect the sign.

“I won't be much longer, Cash.” She waves me off, telling me not to rush as I finish close. She reads her trashy magazine and taps her foot along to the radio. She usually comes here and meets me just before I finish for the day and then we go back to her house or to mine. Today she's asked to go out to the lookout for a late lunch and to hang out.

“Need some help?” She asks.

“Could you do the floors please while I count?” I ask. “I have the mop bucket ready.”

She takes the broom and begins on the floor, swaying her hips to the music that plays on the radio. I smile, watching her dance and sing and wonder how me, a wrestler ended up with Cashmere, the head cheerleader. Cheerleaders usually ended up with the footballer jocks. Not her. She's ended up with me, the slightly nerdy wrestler with a bung knee and no sense of style.

We've been together for 10 months. Started seeing each other in March of last year after months of smiling at each other in the hallways. After a junior year party, two worlds collided and we haven't looked back.

Dad’s decade old pick-up groans and whines as I drive Cashmere and I up to our favorite spot.

I tried to not notice her fidgeting on the drive over. I tried to not let the voices inside my head convince me that this was it. After 10 months of bliss, she was going to end it all during a picnic lunch at our favorite lookout. We have an array of food for a picnic. I help her out of the car and lay out a picnic blanket for us. It's a warm afternoon for January and we get away with just wearing a sweater.

She declines the coke I offer her and all the other food on offer. I pick at our picnic and take a sip of my coke and enjoy the serenity of the view.

“I'm pregnant, Peeta.”


 

April 1989

“You ready?” My father asks me, placing a hand on my shoulder.

Cashmere’s parents and my parents agreed that getting married would be best for everyone. It would look good for my mother within her church group. It’d look good for Dad’s business. It’d look even better for Cashmere’s councilman father and PTA mother.

Our lives were put on hold. I'd go to night classes while Cashmere stayed at home with our baby. I'd work at the bakery and study at night. Cashmere would help out in her mother's dress business and we'd save as much cash as we could to support our baby that would be here in just over 10 weeks. School was due to end in the coming weeks and our little house would be ready to move into.

“Yes.”

“It's the right thing to do.” He tells me, coughing slightly.

“Is it? I don't see what being married does for us both?”

“Believe me, it's for the best.” My father reiterates.

“We’re too young to be getting married.” I tell him.

“You should have thought of that when you decided to not wear a condom.” My mother says, interrupting our private moment. “It could have been worse. You could have ended up with that leech from over the railway line. Just be glad you found a nice girl to settle down with.”

The only reason I wasn't kicked out was because of how much my mother liked Cashmere and her family.

“They're ready for you.” She tells us sternly, leaving the room with her head held high up in the air.

“You can do this.” Dad tells me and leads me out of the room.

It was to be a small affair. Strictly immediate family and that'd be it. Cashmere and I would show up at school on Monday sporting matching bands and announce our marriage to our friends and classmates.

Our friends would go off to college and start their lives. Cashmere and I would become parents.

Cashmere looks beautiful. And I can see the sight of our baby in the slight curve of her dress. The dress her mother made her. The dress she sewed, allowing a little give in the front and whole lot of lace to cover up our sin.

In a matter of moments, she'll become my wife and we'll live our lives together raising our child.

I take her hand, smile shyly at her and watch her blush from underneath her veil.

This would be forever.


 July 1990

“Peeta, call for you.” Tim tells me.

I wipe the flour onto my apron and pick up the phone.

“Hello.”

“It's me. I think I'm in labor.” Cashmere tells me.

“Shit. Have you had any contractions?”

“A few. Can you come home?” She pleads.

“I'll be there in a moment.” I tell her. “Cash?”

“Yeah?”

“We’re about to become parents.”

“We are.”

Tim dismisses me for the day

“Keep us informed. I’ll let Mom and Dad know.”

Cashmere is seated on the couch, in the midst of a contraction and the

“I’m here.” I tell her, pulling her into my arms. “Anymore since we spoke?” She nods exhaustedly against my chest and I kiss her forehead. “Shall we get to the hospital?”

She whimpers and nods and I move to grab her hospital bag from our bedroom as quickly as I can.

I drive like a maniac to the hospital, scared absolute shitless that I would be a father in a matter of hours. Cashmere tells me to slow down, that we have time. But the more she groans and screams in pain, the more scared I become. This would be my life. In a number of hours, we’d become a family. We’d be parents. Parents at 18.

And six hours later, I’m holding my first child.

A daughter.

A beautiful girl.

I secretly wanted a girl. A little girl to dress in dresses, pink and lots of sparkly clothes. A daughter to spoil, love and protect.

And she already had me wrapped around her little finger.

"Welcome to the world, Madison Mae.” I whisper, kissing her apple cheek. Cashmere was sound asleep, exhausted after laboring. “You’re already the love of my life.”

Baby Madison yawns, stretches slightly and grabs hold of my finger in her little hand and I know I’m not going to ever let her down. Ever.


 April 1991

“Peeta, can you please take her.” Cashmere asks.

I reach out, taking Madge from her and settling her on my hip. Cashmere is in the middle of studying for her upcoming exam and we’re tag teaming. She was watching Madge while I was studying and now we’ve swapped. Cashmere sits down at her desk, rubbing her protruding belly while trying to study.

"Hi, baby girl."

“Daddy.”

I kiss her forehead and sit her on my lap. She was usually calmer with me than Cashmere. She could sit on my lap forever, watching me studying and write notes. Whereas with Cashmere she’d whinge and fight and not sit still for longer than two minutes.

Cashmere wasn’t the very maternal type. She loved Madge, would be at her beck and call. She just didn’t have the touch and would panic. She panicked from the second Madge was handed over to her and she’s been in a heightened state of anxiety for close to two years now.

She did her best and Madge loved her mother. She took her on shopping dates, manicure, and pedicure dates, for hot chocolate, to lunches with friends, down to the water, to the park and everywhere else. She just was anxious all the damn time and I wished she relax a little and realize the good job she was doing.

And in just a few weeks, we’d become parents again for the second time. Madge was becoming a big sister.

The conception came a bit earlier than planned. Cashmere had enrolled in her first year of college and wanted to wait until the first year was over before we had our second. Hoping to deliver during the summer before the new college year begun. But on her birthday, we celebrated a little too hard and 5 weeks later she was staring at a positive pregnancy test.

I was over the moon. Happy to be expanding our family.

Things were tough. We both had classes and jobs. The cracks were forming but we were mostly stressed and tired from our crazy lives. And baby number two was going to make it that much more exhausting.

But our families were there to lend their support.

Surprisingly, my brother’s love babysitting Madge and happily take her for a few hours. My father was smitten as well and would always steal her away from me when I brought her to the bakery. He’d show her off to customers, treat her to a cupcake or cookie he made especially for her. We had the support but I much preferred to not rely on them. I wanted to prove I could do this.

And I was.

I decide to take Madge for a walk around the block, giving Cashmere some quiet while she studies.

“We won’t be long.” I tell her, kissing the top of her head.

“Ok.” She replies back softly, waving goodbye to Madge.

Madge happily sits in her stroller and we go for a walk around the block. It was a beautiful April afternoon and we walked with the sun beating down on us. Madge waved to people as we walked on by.

"Hello, Miss Madison.” Old Greasy Sae says, stopping us in the street. “Look how big you are my girl. I bet you’re excited to become a big sister very soon.”

Madge smiles, winning over Greasy Sae. We regularly ran into her and Madge loved her. She especially loved playing with Sae’s grandkids at the duck park. Sae was the only one who called her Madison. We had all called her Madge and had since she was about two weeks old. Half the time I forget her name is Madison.

“She’s very excited. We’re letting Mommy studying for a little while though, aren’t we baby?” Madge nods. “She’s a bit stressed I think.”

“She would be. That’s understandable.” Sae smiles. “If you need a break, you know where I am. I don’t mind watching her if you need a couple of hours to study.”

"Thanks, Sae." I smile.

“I better be on my way. I’ll see you around and good luck with the exams.”

Madge is asleep in the stroller when we get back and I carefully get her up into her cot.

“Peeta.” Cashmere calls when I exit Madge’s room.

“What is it?”

“My waters broke.”

“When?”

“Just after you left. I’ve had contractions.”

“Ok, let me call Tim. He has the day off.”

“Peeta. We don’t have time.” She tells me, gritting her teeth as she groans through a painful contraction. “I need to push.”

“What?”

“I think the baby is coming. We don't have time.”

“I'm sure we do. The hospital is just…”

She groans loudly, another painful contraction overcoming her. And she squeezes my hand tightly.

“Peeta.” She cries.

"Ok. Ok." I mutter. Trying to not panic and frighten her.

We work together, I call 911 just as she begins pushing and then return to her. The operator gives me some advice and stays on the line in case I need her.

“The ambulance is on its way. If you need to push then push. I’m here.” I tell her. “I’m here with you Cashmere.”

And in a matter of seconds I know I’ll be delivering our baby. Cashmere is in transition and there’s no way of slowing this down.

And I deliver our second child minutes later.

“We have a girl. Cashmere, we have a girl.” I announce, lowering her into Cashmere’s waiting arms.

Cashmere cries tears of joy as she embraces her newborn daughter. "Hi. Hi, my girl."

"Oh, my." I turn, seeing Cashmere’s mother standing behind us in shock. “I knocked and heard screaming. You’ve had another baby.” Her mother exclaims. “Congratulations my girl.”

She goes to her daughter’s side, checking out her new granddaughter and I go and meet the ambulance that’s just arrived.

“We have a baby.” I tell them in shock. “I delivered my daughter.”

They smile, one of them patting me on the back. “Congratulations Daddy.”

They assess Cashmere and the baby, getting her ready for transport to the hospital. Madge has woken up and is amongst the happenings, helping the paramedics and telling them what to do.

“You’re a good helper, Madge.” Cashmere praises, smiling at her toddler. She looks absolutely exhausted but over the moon.

Madge is in absolute awe of her baby sister, tenderly stroking her forehead and placing soft kisses on her head and talking softly to her.

They were going to be the best of friends growing up, Madge already taking on that motherly big sister role.

They’d fight and hate each other. But they’d have a beautiful bond. A beautiful sisters bond where they’d cherish and love each other so much they’d want to dictate each other’s lives. Fight over choices, keep secrets, share clothes, crush on the same boys and at the end of the day be the best of friends.

“We’ll see you soon Madge.” I tell her. “You stay here with Mimi and we’ll go make sure your sister is fine.” I tell her, kissing her forehead. “Congratulations big sister.”

She happily stays with her Mimi, waves goodbye to us as we leave.

In the hospital, Cashmere and I sit together on the bed. Cashmere is still in shock after the quick delivery. Our daughter rests as perfect as can be, sleeping on my lap. I am over the moon.

“I have an exam on Friday to take.” She exclaims. “How am I going to do this?”

“We’ll find a way.” I tell her, wrapping my arm around her shoulders. “Even if I’m waiting outside that exam room holding the baby, we’ll do this.”

But no matter how tightly I hold her; I can feel the distance creeping in. I can sense that we’re already growing apart and no matter what we do, we’re falling head first into something that is beyond repairable.

“What’s this little one going to be called?” I ask her.

She smiles, tracing the fist of our daughter. “Camille Eva.”

"Hi, Camille." I whisper. "Welcome to the crazy world. You're going to love it."


 August 1992

“Daddy. Daddy.”

“What is it, Madge?” I ask her, tending to dinner on the stove, which I’m in the process of almost burning. Camille is teething and clingy and I can’t put her down for any longer than a minute before she screams the house down.

I check my watch, noting Cashmere is now two hours late and try to not let that get me down.

“Where’s Mommy?” Madge asks. She’s a splitting image of her mother. Beautiful straight blonde hair, blue-green eyes, and a dimple on her chin. She has the same mannerisms as her mother but is very much like me in personality.

“Not sure baby.” I tell her. “Now, do you want cheese on your spaghetti?” I ask her.

“Yes please.”

Camille is just 16 months old now, Madge has just turned 3 and our lives are just as chaotic as before. I work full-time. Cashmere attends college three days a week. We have two toddlers and hardly any time for each other.

The distance I felt twelve months before, is even bigger and I don’t know if I can mend it. Nothing I do will fix it, it just makes it worse. Cashmere hardly speaks to me. Tells me her problems. She much prefers to sulk, give me the silent treatment and tell her friends. And now since she’s 21, she’s making the most of her twenties. She missed the last two years of her teenage years and she doesn’t want to miss a moment of her twenties.

Madge eats her dinner and I help Camille eat hers and try to not look at the clock.

Both girls go down quite easily and I have time to myself. I avoid looking at the clock and busy myself with work. I do the rosters for the next few weeks, fix up the inventory, write out our order for the week, plan the specials and rework the menu. I do anything that distracts me from the fact that my wife isn't home on a Tuesday night after she promised me she would be.

It’s before midnight when she stumbles through the door. Laughing and yelling with her friend who has helped her to the door.

A friend I’ve never before. And a friend who is male and quite handsy with my wife.

“Cashmere, what are you doing?” I ask her, staring at the man who has his hands on my wife.

“Celebrating.” She exclaims, almost falling forward. The man catches her and I try to not take any notice of where his hands are.

“I’ll take it from here.” I tell him. “Thanks.”

“See you round, Cash.” He winks and leaves the house.

Cashmere stumbles as I help her onto the couch. She giggles and laughs and reaches for my shirt, trying to undress me. I know what she wants but I’m too pissed off to even consider having sex with her tonight.

"Cashmere, stop. Stop it." I tell her, pushing her away. "It's fucking 12 am on a Tuesday night. You were supposed to be home 8 hours ago.”

“I was celebrating.”

“Celebrating what?”

“I got a job.” She tells me. “I was celebrating.”

“You got a job?”

“Yeah. We’ve been fighting about money for months now. I thought I’d get a job.”

“What does this job entail?”

“It’s downtown at the day spa.”

“And when are you working?”

“The days I go to college.”

“How are you going to manage that?”

“I quit college.”

“Why?”

She shrugs. “I feel like I’m going to be sick.”

I help her up and lead her to the bathroom, getting her situated in front of the toilet. I tie her hair up, out of her face and go to get her some water.

I get her into the shower, dress her and get her into bed.

“Cashmere, what is happening to us?” I ask her hours later. “Should I be worried?” She doesn’t answer me. “Cash, have I done something?”

She shakes her head, opening her eyes to look at me. “I’m not happy Peeta.”

“Why?”

She motions around us and I can sense she’s crying. “I didn’t expect my life to end up like this.” She sniffles. “I wanted more, and more didn’t involve you and two kids at the age of 21. I wanted to be traveling the world. Have beautiful European men flirt with me. Eat flaky croissants in Paris under the Eifel Tower. Swim with dolphins. Wear a skimpy bikini in Florida during Spring Break. I wanted more. Not to stay at home day after day with two kids. To please a husband and my family.”

I swallow the lump in my throat. “What do you want me to do?” I ask her.

She shakes her head. "I want to leave, Peeta. I don't want to be under this roof anymore. I want my freedom and to experience being a single twenty-one year old. Not the mother of two girls."

I frown.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love the girls. I just wanted to love them in fifteen years time, after I’ve done all these crazy things.”

I bite my lip and wipe the tear from the corner of my eye. “Cashmere, I have to tell you something.”

“Hmm?”

“Dad has Stage 2 lung cancer.”


 April - July 1994

Baby Nolan opens his eyes slowly. He stretches, yawns and moves his mouth, signaling he's hungry.

"Hey, buddy." I whisper to him softly and reach for the bottle beside me. "Here you go."

He’s just 7 weeks old and is already learning how to compete against his two sisters. They spoil him like crazy. He’s so loved, I’m sure he’s going to grow up vying for girl’s attention because of the way he’s treated as a baby.

The girls are still asleep and it’s our time. Father and son time.

I think it’s due to mostly the fact that my father is dying. I wanted that relationship. That bond we shared. And now with my son, I have this special place for him. Something that is so hard to explain to Cashmere. It’s like Nolan and I understand each other. We’re a team and especially since he has two sisters, I know he’ll be vying for some guy time.

I hear Cashmere waking in the bedroom and I focus on Nolan. She’ll get the girls up soon and get them ready for their day.

Nolan finishes his bottle just as his sisters make an appearance. They sit up at the table and Cashmere pours milk into their cereal bowls. It was a silent agreement that we had made. I’d do the cooking and food prepping whilst Cashmere did the other little things around the house.

Nolan is burped and I take him to Cashmere for her morning cuddle while I cuddle the girls. I had the kids today while Cashmere worked for her mother. I’d take the kids to work for a couple of hours and then bring them home.

Things weren’t good.

Cashmere agreed to have another baby, to give us our third and hopefully a son. After her confession of not being happy and wanting to leave. We put that to the side whilst my father started cancer treatment. She’s stayed with me as I’ve slowly taken over the business as my father has slowly started to die. But I know she’s not happy.

The girls happily play with each other while I do some work. Nolan sleeps soundly and I wonder how I ended up with three beautiful kids.

I take them into work with me, the girls go off with Grant who sets them up on the bench and gets their help in making the icing.

"Have you seen Dad today?" I ask Tim who is working out the front and is holding Nolan.

“Nope. It’s so hard being in the same room as him.” Tim sighs. “He’s in so much pain.”

"I know." I reply softly. "Is it bad that I wished he'd go? I just want him to be pain-free."

“We all do.”

Both boys were getting married this summer. Grant first in late May and Tim in June. We’d just hope Dad would be around still for the weddings but we weren’t holding our breaths.

Tim serves a customer as he holds Nolan. The customer gushes over my son, cooing and smiling at him.

“He’s a beautiful boy.”

"Thanks, he gets his looks from his Uncle." Tim boasts with a grin.

I roll my eyes, bag up the customer's order and hand it over to her. "He likes to think that." I add. "But Nolan here is my mini me." I tell her, tickling my son's belly.

“Well he’s got good genes, he’ll be a handsome boy.”

She leaves with her order and Nolan is handed back to me.

“I wanted to take the kids to see Dad.”

“You know how much he loves the kids. He lights up.”

“It’s scary for the kids witnessing it.”

“Do you want them to not remember him?” Tim asks. “They need to make some memories of him. To remember their grandfather. Even if it’s confronting for them, it might teach them an important lesson down the track.”

I give in and take the kids to visit Dad that afternoon. Mom is out running errands and I relax a little. Dad holds Nolan while the girls talk with him. He’s mood has lifted just by being surrounded by his grandchildren.

These will be the only grandchildren he will know because I know he doesn’t have much longer to go. The morphine is increased monthly. He gets too sick off of the chemotherapy. He hardly sleeps. He has no energy. And he's fading away. He's lost half of his lung. He has tumors invading his whole body. Tumors now creeping into his spine and brain. He can’t walk and is struggling to remember.

Dad thanks me when we get ready to leave.

“No worries Dad. We’ll see you soon?”

He nods, a big smile on his face and the kids kiss him goodbye.

“Bye Dad.”

Cashmere is late in getting home. She’s taken on dress making and designing and spends a lot of her free time designing.

I get the kids fed, bathed and ready for bed. Cashmere’s dinner sits on the table cold and I sit on the couch reading.


June

Madge carries Nolan into the house while I juggle Camille. Camille danced her heart out tonight and she sleeps, passed out as I carry her.

“You right with Nolan?” I ask Madge.

She nods, smiling at me and I fish for my keys. Nolan is awake, getting cranky at the fact that he’s missed his bedtime.

Cashmere and I had a plan for tonight. One of us would come home with the kids while the other stayed at the reception. She volunteered to bring them home, allowing me the chance to celebrate with my brother.

But she didn’t show up for the wedding or the reception. She let us four down but we tried to not let that ruin the day.

We had a great day. The girls were the flower girls. I was one of the groomsmen. We danced, laughed and enjoyed our day.

We were on a slight high having had two weddings in a space of a month. But it was nice having our family together.

“Is Mommy home?” Madge asks as I unlock the door.

"I don't think so, baby. Her car's not here."

“Why didn’t she show up?”

“I’m sure she had a reason.”

Madge frowns and carries her brother inside. She was starting to pick up on the flaws in our marriage. She knew something was wrong and I knew I could no longer protect her from the world.

“We’ll get you out of your dress.” I tell her. She sits on her bed, waiting for me to get Camille out of her dress.

Madge has started to undress Nolan out of his suit and I take him from Madge. I help Madge out of her dress, undo her hair and help her with her pajamas. She sits up in bed and I kiss her good night, picking up Nolan.

"You were one of the most beautiful girls there today."

She smiles, blushing. “What about Camille?”

"Camille as well." I tell her. "You're my sunshine, the three of you. I love you so much." I pull the covers up and tuck her in. "Go to sleep, my baby. I'll see you in the morning."

I kiss her and Camille goodnight and take Nolan to put to bed. I give him his bottle out in the lounge room. Cuddling him and reading him a story.

It’s this time of night I love. I love it when it’s quiet. When the kids are all asleep or nearly asleep. I love the cuddles I get with Nolan and that downtime we spend just before bed. I kiss Nolan goodnight and get ready for bed myself. I try to not be too pissed off with Cashmere. I don’t want her ruining this night for me. For ruining my brother’s wedding.

I wipe the mirror clean and look at myself in the mirror. I feel as if I have aged ten years in the past five. I open the mirror, reaching for my toothbrush and find Cashmere's is missing. I scan the other shelves and realize everything of hers is missing.

I run out of the bathroom, wrapping the towel around my waist and look around the house. In the bedroom, I look through her drawers. It’s empty. Everything of hers is gone.

I turn, and see on her pillow sits a note along with her wedding rings.

P

I can’t do this anymore. I’m not happy. I told you I wasn’t happy. I tried to keep up the façade and be a good wife and mother but I’m tired. It’s all too much for me and I can’t cope. I’ll ring you in a week. I just need some time alone. Time to gather my thoughts and to be the best mother I can be. I’ll come for the kids next week but for now, I just need to be alone.

I’m sorry, this just wasn’t the life I envisioned for myself.

C

The note sits crumpled next to me. Tears fall down my face as I mourn for the end of my marriage. I knew this day was coming. I just hadn’t prepared myself for it.


July

“Madge, time to come in.” I call out.

The past few weeks had been challenging but I was managing just fine.

The kids were happy, unaware of the situation.

They just thought it was great having sleepovers at Mimi’s.

Cashmere has only visited twice and left me to be the sole guardian of the kids. She hardly calls. Uses her mother as the messenger. She doesn’t speak to me. Can’t speak to me.

But I don’t let that bother me.

On the two weekends, she's had the kids. My brothers have been there for me. Helped me through the breakdown of my marriage. It's kind of ironic how my marriage has ended as they have started theirs.

I just hope they have longer marriages than I did.

Madge runs on in, Camille following close behind.

“When are we going to Mom’s?” She asks.

Nolan sits in his high chair, banging his fists, waiting for his dinner.

“I’m not sure. She hasn’t told me.”

"Hopefully soon. I want to show her what I learned at dancing."

“She’ll love it.” I tell her and dish up dinner for the four of us. “Go wash your hands.”

She comes back out with Camille trailing her and they sit up at the table. Madge had just started dancing this afternoon and had fallen in love. Camille was asking if she could also join and I was scouting for a class for her to join.

Madge tells me about her day with Tim. I hated relying on my family to babysit but after what has happened, I was more than willing to allow them to babysit and help me out. Even if it was just a couple of hours.

But once I spoke to my lawyer, and Cashmere figured out what she wanted, then I'm sure we'd work out a routine.

The phone rings as we eat and I move to answer.

“Daddy, no calls at the table.” Madge exclaims.

“Sorry, I’ll just see who it is. It might be important.”

She smiles at me and helps Nolan with his dinner, spoon-feeding him his vegetable mush.

“Hello?”

“Peeta. I’m sorry for calling.” Grant says.

“It’s fine. What’s happened?”

“Mom’s just called.” He begins. “Dad’s dead.”

And in an instant, a lifetime of memories flashes before my eyes. My father has left this planet. Has left his wife and three sons. Has lost the opportunity to watch his grandchildren grow up.

He hardly was awake these final weeks. After Tim's wedding, he was prescribed a high dose of morphine as his days were near. He was in great pain and his final days were spent well and truly out of it. He didn't really do much in his final weeks. He didn't even know Cashmere had left me.

I think it was better like that.

“Do you want me to come over?”

“No, stay with the kids. Tim’s gone to be with Mom. I’ll come over and help you with the kids.”

“You don’t have to.”

“But I want to.” He replies. “I’ll see you soon.”

And just like that, my world changes.

I become a single father. The sole owner of the bakery. My ex-wife only sees the kids every weekend and I watch her fall in love with someone new. That same guy from the bar a few years before. He’s rich, drives a fancy car and gives her everything that she wanted, like overseas trips and flaky croissants.

The bakery grows and becomes even more successful than it had been before. 

And she almost succeeds.

I'm left to rebuild the reputation of bakery once again.

But I’m the one laughing years down the track as the bakery succeeds yet again, setting up the kids for a good life. And myself for an early retirement and the chance to finally explore the world and do something for me.


 February 2015

“Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Madge and Camille blush and I smile, happy that I succeeded in embarrassing them. Even in their mid-twenties I can still embarrass them like they're 12-year-olds.

“It’s not even Valentine’s Day here.” Madge reminds me.

“I know but I had to tell you before I forgot.” I tell them smirking. “Any plans for tomorrow?”

“Gale is sweeping Madge away from the night.” Camille tells me, rolling her eyes. “I have a good series on Netflix to watch and Thai takeout to gorge myself with. And the day after, I’m going to go to the supermarket and buying discounted chocolates and hate this stupid holiday.” She rants. “What about you? Any big island parties?”

“There actually is one tonight. I might be making an appearance.”

The girls laugh at me in the window on Skype and I laugh at them. They’ve always wanted me to spread my wings. To To step off the ledge and do something I wouldn’t do. I’ve always been so focused on the kids for the last 25 years, I haven’t done anything for me.

“And who cares if you have a hangover tomorrow morning, there’s nothing like a big cooked breakfast and a swim that doesn’t fix it.”

"I'll see how I go." I tell them. I look at my watch and see I'm due for the rest of the course. "I've got to go, girls, I talk to you later. Say hi to Nolan for me."

“Bye Dad.”

“Love you.”

“Love you too.”

I end the video call and head on down to the conference. Everyone has one thing on their mind that is happy hour and a big seafood dinner.

After a beautiful fresh dinner and a couple of drinks, I shower, dress and head on down to the bar where they are having Valentine's Day. It's full of holiday guests from all over the world. I hear accents galore and feel some sort of rush, a sort of energy from all the cultures in the one room.

I always wanted to travel. To experience the cultures of the world and only in the last couple of years had I started traveling, experiencing the world but I wanted to do more. Visit as many countries, have many stories and experiences to share with my grandchildren. 

The doors of the balcony are opened, letting in the night sea breeze and the partying begins. The bar is packed with patrons wanting drinks and I sit and watch the crowd, nursing my beer and chatting with some of the attendees of the course.

I finish my beer and stand up to go and get another drink and bump into a dancing body.

She turns around. “I’m so sorry.” I say as loudly as I can.

She smiles and I'm mesmerized by her. By her beautiful steel-colored eyes that twinkle in the flashing DJ lights. “It’s fine.”

I look around and back at her, seeing she’s interested in conversation. “I’m too old to be a part of this.”

She shakes her head smirking. “No way. You’re never too old.”

“When you’re in your forties, you’re definitely too old.” I tell her frowning slightly.

“You don’t look like your a day over thirty-five.” She grins. Is she flirting? Is the beautiful brunette flirting with me?

I smile. “Flattery, I like it. Can I buy you a drink?”

“Sure.”

I buy her a cocktail and we head out to the deck. It’s cool and the sea breeze whips at us. We find a quiet corner to stand and chat.

And that’s all we do in the next week. We talk, sleep, eat, swim, share kisses and make love with each other. We find out about each other. Learn a little bit about each other. Learn little secrets, habits, and traits we each have.

We experience a holiday fling. Something I don't want to end. I don't ever want to leave her.

But we’ve agreed our lives are at different points. It was just for the week. A week of pure magic.

“Thank you for this week.” She whispers against my lips the morning of my departure.

“Thank you.” I echo and kiss her harder. “I won’t forget you Katniss.”

“Me either.”

It’d be a week I knew I’d never forget.

And she’d be someone I’d think about constantly for the months to come, wondering if I should reach out to her.


 November 2015

“Madge, hi baby.” I greet her, spying her walk into the bakery. “You look exhausted.”

“I kind of am.” She tells me.

“Is something on your mind?”

She shrugs her shoulders and I make her a cup of hot chocolate and grab a cheese bun fresh from the oven for her.

If there was a cure to anything, it was a fresh cheese bun. I used to tell the kids that all the time. Used to get them to cough up what their troubles were with cheese buns and hot chocolate. And it still worked until this day.

I take her to the office and sit her down. “Here.” She smiles, pulling the cup closer to her. “So, what’s on your mind?”

She breaks the cheese bun in half, letting it cool before wiping her hands on the serviette.

“An old friend has come back to town.” She begins to tell me.

“Oh, who’s the old friend?” I ask her, curious to know what has caused her some trouble.

“What friend?” Camille asks, bursting into the office.

I watch Madge fidget. I know she did this when she didn’t want her sister knowing or when she had to tell me something big. She did it when she was unsure of how to deliver what she was going to say to me.

“Um, one of my old teaching friends.” She says. “She’s been gone for probably two years.”

“Why’s she back?” I ask.

Madge shifts in her seat. “I actually accompanied her to the hospital yesterday. She went into labor and I stayed by her side during the birth, watched her bring her little girl into the world.”

“How lovely.” I smile. “How is she? I mean, are they both healthy?”

"Yep, they are." She replies.

"What's your friend's name?" Camille asks.

She looks nervously at me. “You remember Katniss, Dad?”

I hadn't heard her name in months. I tried to forget her name but not the memories we shared. "Yes." I reply softly. "I didn't realize you two worked together."

Madge nods. “Yeah.” She swallows the lump in her throat. “Until her ex-boyfriend…”

“Screwed her over.” I finish. “She had a baby?”

"Yes. Yes she did." Madge nods. “She had your baby, Dad.”

Baby. She had your baby.

“What?” Camille asks. “How old is she?”

“28.”

"You got some 28-year-old pregnant? Jesus fucking Christ." Camille curses. "We told you to have some fun but didn't expect this."

My hands are shaking in my lap. “I have another daughter?”

Madge nods nervously and reaches for her phone, pulling it out and showing me a picture of Katniss and her newborn daughter.

My newborn daughter.

“Shit.” I curse softly. “I… I don’t…” I mutter. “Did she say anything?”

Madge locks her phone after showing Camille. “Dad, she wasn’t expecting anything from you…”

“That’s what they all say.” Camille says, rolling her eyes.

I nod, still unsure if I’m hearing her correctly. “You said they’re both healthy?”

Madge nods. “She made it seem easy.” She smiles. “It was amazing witnessing it.”

Camille is still in too much shock to do anything else but swear and carry on. Madge shuts her down; telling her what Katniss is like and that she wouldn’t do this for the bad reasons.

"She spent a week with Dad. She didn't realize she'd end up pregnant with him or end up back in the same town as him. She's stubborn and strong-willed. She'd do this on her own. She'd be amazing at doing this on her own. But she knows what's right and wrong and can't carry a secret from Dad. It's better now than 18 years down the track.”

“You sure she won’t want any money?” Camille asks Madge.

“I’m sure.”

“Good.”

Madge leaves soon after and Camille busies herself with work. I’ve had an hour or so to think about it and after finding out what hospital she’s in, I stop by the florist and head over for the morning visiting hours.

I see her sitting up in the hospital bed, looking as beautiful as ever. She’s glowing and I’m instantly reminded why I was attracted to her in the first place.

I walk as quietly as I can and stop in front of the bassinet, my mission was overtaken by the fidgeting bundle in the bassinet.

My daughter.

I smile at her, taken by her beauty and don’t doubt she’s not my daughter.

“Big surprise all this.” I begin. “You and… her. Everything really.”

“I had a few months warning but still yeah.” She laughs.

I tear myself away from my newborn daughter and present her with the bunch of flowers and sit beside her and ask her a few things. Nothing too overwhelming or scary. I wanted to know if she had a plan. If my daughter would have a house over her head and Katniss enough money to clothe and raise her.

“You’ve got things worked out.” She doesn't nod but just stares back at me.

I look at the fussing baby and back at her. “Would it be alright if I?”

I pick up my daughter slowly. Take in her beautiful features. Study this little creature I never expected I’d meet in my life.

She's like the combination of her siblings, mother and me. She has long eyelashes that curl at the ends, much like Camille's. She has tufts of raven hair on top of her head like her mother. Round cheeks like Nolan’s. A button nose and long fingers like Madge. And blue eyes, just like mine. She was a petite baby, her head fitting perfectly in the palm of my hand. Her body as long as my forearm.

She most importantly looked like her mother from the shape of her face down to the way she watched me.

I thought my parenting days were over. I thought it’d be my time to just sit and wait for grandchildren. But life has taken me down another path.

I bring her close to my face and smile softly.

“You’re a little princess. Such a little princess.” I say. “Who would have thought you and me would meet like this.” Tears fill my eyes and I’m overcome with a rush of emotions. “Beautiful girl. My beautiful girl.” I kiss her cheek and stare down at her little face before I look up and smile at Katniss before looking back down at my daughter.

I suddenly knew what I was doing for the next 18 years. I wasn’t letting this beautiful girl and her mother out of my grasp.

I find Madge, later on, pick her up and spin her around. "I'm the happiest man in the world today. Thank you."

Madge smiles, wraps an arm around my shoulder and we make our way downtown together.


 The house is quiet when I arrive home. It’s mid-afternoon and I know Adeline is down for her nap.

I feel deflated that I’ve missed out on a day in her life but it was for the best. I needed time to calm down after the day I had. Time to grieve for my father who’s been gone now for 22 years. I just needed time.

I double back to the living room when I spot her on the couch. She’s upset. Defeated too.

I know I’m the cause of her mood.

“Katniss?” She doesn't answer, sniffles, and wipes her nose and swallows the lump in her throat. “Tell me what’s wrong?”

She sniffles again, sits up straight and stares me in the eyes.

“You shouldn’t have to walk out of your own house.” She begins to say.

“Katniss…”

“No. This is your house. Adeline and I are guests here…” She reiterates.

“Katniss-“

She shakes her head, stands up rubbing her swollen stomach. “I can be packed up and gone by tonight. Adeline and I will leave tonight if that's what you want.”

 

Chapter Text

Adeline laughs and coos as I push her in her stroller. It’s another warm morning and I’m experiencing the worst cabin fever and the baby hasn’t stopped wiggling since dinner last night.

I need fresh air and so does Adeline.

Peeta’s hardly been at home. Working long hours in the bakery to fill in for Camille. I wonder if he’s avoiding me as well. Avoiding exactly what blew up a few days ago.

He convinced me to stay though and promised he’d tell me exactly what is going on when I told him what is going on. He’s been flat out at the bakery, rising at 4 and not getting home until after dinnertime. He usually bathes Adeline and falls asleep straight after.

He promised me when Camille gets back on Monday he’d be home more. The bakery was understaffed for the summer holidays and one of the managers had been in a bad Jet Ski accident before the long weekend. Nolan had stepped in to help his father, with Madge also helping out, mostly with the books and ordering.

I offered to help but he didn’t want to tire me out. He’d call me if he were in desperate need for someone. I told him I’d help him out wherever he needed me, even if it was washing dishes or sweeping the floor.

Adeline coos and I smile down at her through the window of her stroller. She smiles up at me, sticks her tongue out and giggles.

“You are silly, Addie.”

We turn the corner and arrive at one of my favorite cafes. Madge was meeting us for brunch and I was in desperate need of adult conversation.

They didn’t know Peeta spent the night away from us on Sunday. Nolan and Madge had picked up on a fight but didn’t know what has happened.

Madge hugs me and bends down to greet her sister. "Hi, Addie. Look how happy you are." She coos. Adeline kicks her legs in response and giggles and gurgles at her sister.

“She cut two teeth this week. This is the happiest she’s been.” I tell Madge.

“How many teeth is that now?”

“5.”

“5 toothy pegs to start biting us.” She tickles Adeline’s stomach with a huge grin.

Adeline laughs at her sister and I smile. It’s been great having my smiley, happy baby back.

She sits happily in her stroller chewing her teething ring while Madge and I sit and talk. She tells me about the wedding plans while we wait for our food to arrive.

“Do you have a date chosen?” I ask, sipping my juice. I offer Adeline a sip and turn back to Madge.

“January 28th.” She smiles.

“A winter wedding sounds lovely.”

“It just felt right.” She smiles. “Gale and I met January 26th and we both agreed we liked the date.”

We start eating our brunch and we organize a date to go for our dress fitting in a couple of weeks.

“Mom is insisting I take Nan with me for my dress fitting.” She tells me, rolling her eyes.

“She wants her to be involved.”

“I was going to invite you along but I don’t want to have to put you through that torture for those couple of hours.”

“Thanks.”

“I’ll take Camille instead.” She says taking a bite of her pancakes and then starts laughing.

“What?”

“I just remembered you’re technically my step-mother so you should be there too.” She chuckles.

I cringe. "Oh don't call me that. It makes me feel old." I tell her. "You're two years younger than me. I'm not old enough to be your mother.”

She laughs. “It’s weird isn’t it?”

“It is.” I agree laughing. “But I’m lucky to be a part of your family.”

“Mom was snooping on Sunday night.”

“Regarding what?”

“You.”

“Of course she was. What’d she want to know?”

“Anything that was worth some gossip. She was left utterly disappointed when we had nothing to tell her.”

“What did she want to know?”

“The sex of the baby. If there was going to be a baby shower. If you and dad were getting married.” She tells me. “Nothing too bad. It was a no to every question which left her thoroughly disappointed.”

"I don't know why your mother has to be so involved in your father's life."

“She’s always been like this. She’s destroyed nearly everything in his life. His business. Relationships. Friendships.”

“But why has she left me alone?”

"I think Adeline is the reason. Mom and Dad have been separated for 22 years. She went off and had her life. Remarried, traveled the world, got to live out her dreams whereas Dad did everything for us kids. He hardly got a chance to do things for himself until now. He’s met you and she can see how happy he is. He has a baby that deserves a happy father with a strong relationship. She’s always noted how strongly he loves people. How he loves his children and she doesn’t want to destroy that.”

The baby kicks and I touch my stomach and smile.

“I hope she gives you and dad a chance to live your life.”

“We have more issues than just your mother.”

“Yeah.” She sighs. “What happened?”

I press my temples before helping Adeline out of the stroller.

“Saturday.”

“You and Dad seemed fine at my house.”

“It was after at my Mom and Dad’s. Mom and I got into a fight when we were leaving. She said some things that I didn’t know she was feeling. I hurt her Madge and I didn’t even realize. She won’t speak to me. Either will Prim. Prim and I had a fight on Sunday night and she’s threatening to tell Mom and Dad some things that they don’t know about. I think she’s hurt as well. I didn’t help and we had a big fight. She wants me to tell Mom and Dad everything by basically Saturday or she’ll tell them herself.”

“How old is she?”

“I know but I think I’ve done it. I really think I’ve ruined it with them all. Well, Mom and Prim mostly.”

“That’s not true.” Madge tells me, shaking her head. “I just think they kept their feelings to themselves all this time. Kept up the façade. It’s like the domino effect; one falls over and knocks everything else in its path. It’s happened to me a couple of times. There might be something else going on in their lives that have just caused them to unload on you.” She says. “It’ll get better.

“Will it?”

She nods. “You just have to talk to them. Ask what is going on, tell them the truth about how you’re feeling, what happened in those two years you were gone, what really happened with that dropkick and make them understand. I think there’s just a lack of communication going on between you all and you just need to talk and get back on the same track. I’m sure it’s been hard for them just as much as it has been for you.”

She sips her coffee and sets her mug down.

“And even with Dad, you have to be honest with him too.”

“He slept at Camille’s on Sunday night.” I tell her ashamed.

“It was the anniversary of Pop’s death on Monday. I think he just wanted some time to himself. I think Pop’s death affected him more than the rest of the family. He was really close with Pop and he still grieves each year for him. He needs his alone time each year.”

“Why didn’t he tell me?”

“He didn’t think you’d understand.”

“I would understand.” I shake my head. “I do understand.”

“Dad’s never had a partner by his side to support him through each anniversary. Mom left him a few weeks before Pop died. She wasn’t there when he needed her the most and I think that’s the way he feels now. He didn’t have anyone then so he doesn’t need anyone now. Which is bull because he needs someone to turn to on this day.”

“He should have said something.” I whisper.

“But with the day he had with the bakery, combination of the heat, the little fight you had, I just think he was at breaking point and he needed a moment to himself.” She tells me. “I don’t think he was ready for his partner to see him grieve. And you were going through your own things that I don’t think he wanted to burden you with his grief.”

“He’s an idiot.” I say.

Madge smiles. "Yeah, he is."

“I know I was a bitch on Sunday. To him and to my sister. I didn’t sleep the night before, Addie was teething, I had the fight with Mom and then Prim, I ordered him the wrong pizza, fought with him and I was not myself.”

“Of course not.” Madge agrees. “You’re 5 months pregnant Katniss, no one expects you to be perfect. You have an 8-month-old as well. You’ve been keeping it all together for everyone, I think you’re allowed to break.”

“So I’m not being unreasonable?” I ask her, tears welling in my eyes.

She shakes her head. “Of course not.” She says squeezing my hand.

I wipe the tears from my cheeks and thank her.

"Prim said to put myself in Mom's shoes. To imagine what I did to Mom, that Addie did to me. To realize how much it hurt my mother. And that's all I've been thinking of these past few days, is how I treated my family when I left. I left with no explanation but just a letter. I didn't see them for a whole year, only allowed Prim and then shut her out when I fell pregnant.” I explain to her. “I’ve fucked up.”

“You had a lot going on. That guy really hurt you Katniss. I don’t think they understand what he really did to you.”

“They don’t.”

“You should tell them. It won’t hurt for them to really know what happened, especially those final few weeks before you left.” She reassures me. “And you should really inform Dad too. He deserves to know.”

“I’ve told him bits and pieces.”

“But not the whole story.” She smiles. “He’ll be supportive.”

I thank her and decide to head on home. Adeline is due for her nap and Madge is heading to the bakery to do some work for her father.

Nolan is home when we get back and takes Adeline from her stroller and up to her bed.

I pour myself a drink and sit down in the living room, putting my feet up.

“You OK?” He asks.

“Yeah, just a bit tired after the walk.” I tell him, rubbing my ankles. “I thought you were working today.”

“Dad didn’t need me today.” He tells me.

“You’re Dad appreciates your help.”

He nods. These kids have been very humble. They thank those who praise them but don’t get big egos regarding the compliments. They take it on the chin, let it pass and still do the best job they can do.

I’m amazed, each and every day, the way Peeta brought up his kids. They are true products of him. They are thankful, patient, gracious and wonderful. They go above and beyond to help anyone. Can always offer words of advice. Can bring a smile to anyone’s face. And don’t judge people based on looks or experiences.

I hope Adeline and her baby sibling are the same. I hope Peeta teaches them values, manners, and wisdom. How to be gracious and how to admit defeat. I want them to be the best people they can be.

Nolan sits with me watching Netflix and I read, waiting for Adeline to wake.

"What's going on with you and Dad?" He asks me.

And I tell him what happened, escalating to the fight between us, Peeta’s night away and the silence we are now living in. He doesn't judge us, has any bad words and just offers me advice.

“You’ve got this Katniss. Be yourself. Tell the truth. Stand up for what you believe in and don’t sway to what they want. They can take it the way they want to take it and if they don’t believe you, then that’s their loss.”

"Thanks, Nole.”

He smiles at me and turns back to the TV.

Adeline wakes soon after and I go and get her. Nolan feeds her lunch and we get giggles and laughs out of her.

“Did your father say what time he would be coming home?” I ask Nolan.

He shakes his head. “I think he was hoping early.” He tells me. “If you two want some time together, I can watch Addie for you.”

“It’s Ok. He’ll want to see Addie after today and she goes down quite early so we’ll be able to speak after that.”

He nods, spooning some food into Adeline’s waiting mouth. “Dad hasn’t been himself since Sunday night.”

“I know.” I nod. “Either have I.”


 

Peeta comes home earlier than he has been the last few days, Nolan cooks dinner for us and it gives Peeta and me a chance to play with Adeline together.

"You're so much happier today." He tells her, tickling her cheek. "Hi, my happy girl. Have you been good today for Mommy?"

“She’s been really good.” I tell him. He looks up at me, smiles slightly and then looks back at Adeline who has put her foot into her mouth. “What a marvelous trick Addie."

She smiles, babbles in response to him and he just talks back to her. Engaging in a conversation that doesn’t make sense but has the two of them laughing and smiling.

I feel comfortable in this moment. I feel happier and less anxious. The build-up of stress is starting to disappear and we're back on track.

Adeline eats her dinner and rolls around in her walker while we eat dinner.

Peeta bathes Adeline while I quickly shower. He brings her to me to dress and nurse and I get her down for the night.

"Sleep well, my beautiful girl." I whisper to her, caressing her cheek before I leave her room.

Peeta is finishing up downstairs and brings me up a mug of hot chocolate and some cheese buns. The last few nights he’s been sleeping in the spare room but tonight I’m sure he’s going to join me.

“If there’s ever a cure to any troubles, it’s hot chocolate and cheese buns.” He tells me with a small, shy smile.

He's told me about this tradition. Even the kids have. If they had a bad day, he'd have them waiting for them. And they really thought it was the cure to any bad day. The comforting taste of the sweet hot chocolate he made and the savory taste of the cheese buns. They just went together and cured any bad day.

We share the cheese buns in bed, drink our hot chocolate and watch TV cuddled up together.

“I’m sorry for walking out.” He tells me.

"I'm sorry too." I softly tell him. "You should have told me."

"I know. I'm sorry I didn't. I just didn't want to burden you with it all."

“Peeta, I’m here to listen to your burdens. To take them on board. Just like I hope you're hear to listen to mine too. To take them on board. To offer me advice and help me work through them.”

He kisses my forehead. “I haven’t done this for so long. This whole relationship thing. And when I was in one after my divorce, I didn’t let them in. I held back when it came to my feelings and pain. I made up excuses; I lied and tried to remain happy when sometimes I was hurting inside. It wasn’t healthy and that’s what ultimately lead to the break down of the two serious relationships I’ve had between the divorce and meeting you. I don’t want to shut you out, I don’t want to lose what we have.”

“Me either.”

“So can we make a promise, from now on, we tell each other what’s on our mind? I want to help you, share the burden and work through it with you.”

“I promise to tell you what’s on my mind.”

He kisses me and I taste the sweetness of his lips. I’ve missed him. His kisses and touches these last few days. I’ve hardly slept as well, being apart from him.

We tell each other what’s been bothering us. What has been on our minds. The struggles from the last few days. And the secrets we’ve been withholding from each other. The reasoning behind our blowouts.

"The last woman I dated. She was nice. We were together for 2 years. She had two kids of her own who were just a few years younger than my three. We lived apart but spent nearly every available minute with each other. We met at the kid's sport on Saturday's and on Sunday's we went exploring. We lusted for each other which I think we confused for love but we were happy.” He tells me. “My mother and Cashmere didn’t make it easy for her and ultimately lead to the break-up but a few months before the breakup, we were expecting a baby together. We were excited, we started to arrange to move in with each other and finding a house big enough to fit our brood in. She miscarried at 11 weeks.”

“Peeta, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s alright. I always believed, things happened for a reason.” He says. “We broke up a few months later and she eventually moved across the country to the east coast and I think she found love over there.”

I squeeze his hand and brush the tears from his eyes. "That's why when I held Adeline in my arms, I felt that missing piece in my heart was filled. Even the kids have said that. That missing piece they've experienced for the last 13 years was filled with their baby sister. Things happen for a reason. I almost canceled that trip to Fiji. If I did, we wouldn't be here today with Adeline and our Button. This has given me my second chance at life. You have given me hope and love and passion and family.”

I kiss him because everything he was saying was right.

“I was with my ex for two years. Met him when I moved back after college and I fell hard. He took an interest in me. Called me what I wanted to be called. Made me not feel those insecurities I had been feeling with past relationships. I think he noticed I was weak. He latched on and played with my feelings and made me feel like the most amazing woman in the whole entire world. I didn’t know he was living a double life. He was with me during the week and flew home to his wife and kids on the weekend. I knew he was here for work, placed temporarily while the company he worked for was set up. He made me think he was visiting his sick mother.” I tell him.

“He manipulated me. From the beginning, I thought, this was it; this would be the guy I’d spend the rest of my life with. He said all these things I wanted to hear, convinced me to do things that I wasn’t comfortable with, talked about marriage, kids, a house with a picket fence. All those things that I, unfortunately, fell for. He had a persona that everyone believed, even my friends and family. He was jealous, had to know where I was or what I was doing constantly, showed an instant attachment and was selfish. We always had to do things he wanted and not what I wanted.”

Peeta brushes the few tears from my cheeks and encourages me to continue when I’m ready.

“I suggested going with him to visit his mother plenty of times but I never did. He held back a lot from me, didn’t tell me exactly where he lived or his real name and age. He did all these things that made me fall in love with him or think I was, that I didn't realize he was abusing me emotionally until he took off back to his wife and kids, telling me in a stupid letter and going back home, having stolen thousands of dollars from me. He also blackmailed into not speaking and telling the truth. Into getting into contact with his wife. I paid what he wanted and a bit more to get him off my back.” I tell him.

“I was so embarrassed that I fell for it, that’s why I ran because I didn’t want to face my family and friends and tell them the truth. That’s why I left them just a letter, telling them the basics that he had a wife and kids and his work had finished that he was going back home. They don’t know the real story. Prim knows a bit more than Mom and Dad, but not the whole story.”

Peeta kisses the top of my head. “You should tell them the truth.” He whispers. “They should know what he did. How he broke you.” He squeezes me closer to his body. “That was brave of you telling me what happened. It took a lot.”

"Nancy suggested I go and see a therapist because of what happened. She basically found me sleeping in my car near her work. I was flat broke. I had about 100 dollars to my name and that was it.” I tell him. “A name search connected me to the school I worked at here, I had a CV with my credentials and she hired me to tutor her children as the last one had quit unexpectedly. I told her what happened a few weeks later and she facilitated me in getting help and getting me back on my feet. She gave me a roof over my head, a steady income and security. I had lived in my car for almost a month.”

“You’re family needs to know this.”

“I know.”

“I think they’ll understand what was going through your head at that stage. You weren’t yourself.”

I shake my head, agreeing with him because I truly wasn’t myself. When I met him, was when I was starting to feel like myself again.

“Tell me, do you feel comfortable with me?”

I nod. “Yes. I was oblivious and young when I met him. He made me believe in the lies he told me because I was inexperienced with relationships.” I swallow the lump in my throat. “It’s different being with you, meeting you. I can’t explain it but it felt right. Despite how screwed over I got by him, it was different.”

“I agree. I thought I would spend the rest of my life with Cashmere. I was young and naïve. But me meeting her compared to meeting you, it just felt right. I knew all those years I spent hurt over Cash, I shouldn’t have dwelled. Something better was coming.” He smiles. “Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have my three if I wasn’t with her but it’s just right with you.”

We don’t speak for a long while; we catch up on the lost embraces for some time before either of us speaks again.

I tell him about my fight with Mom on Saturday and then my fight with Prim.

“She’s threatening to tell them all my secrets I have withheld.”

“She wouldn’t do that, would she?” He asks.

“I don’t know. I think she was upset, that’s why she took it out on me. Sister’s can be the absolute worst to each other.”

“I know.”

“I just, I was a bitch to Prim on Sunday.”

“You’ve been keeping it together for quite some time. You’re allowed to let it go every once in a while. You’re only human, Katniss.” He tells me.

“What should I do?”

“Stand strong. Be brave. Tell them your side of the story. Apologize after. Let them process it. Think it over. Give them time. And go from there.”

“Thank you.”

“Do you want me to come with you?”

I shake my head. “I caused this mess. I have to sort it out.”

“You don’t have to do this alone.”

“Some walks you have to take alone.”


 

In the morning, Peeta is still beside me. I slip out of bed, reach for my robe and tie it at my waist. I tiptoe out of the bedroom after I use the bathroom and head on downstairs with my phone and the monitor.

Prim’s awake. I’ve seen from her activity on Facebook and I know I have to reach out to her first. Make amends with Prim before my mother.

K – Hey, are you free at all today? We need to have a chat. I have a few things I need to tell you. And I miss you as well.

I watch the text bubble flash for quite some time. I know she’s figuring out what to say back to me. Typing then deleting what she’s written.

P – I finish at 3 today. I’ll come over if that’s easier.

K – Yeah Addie is still napping then. I’ll see you then.

Peeta follows me down soon after with Adeline on his hip. Nolan offered to open this morning, allowing us the morning together. We eat a big breakfast; go on a walk together before we head on back home.

Adeline is happy playing on her playmate, rolling around, crawling and getting into everything she can.

"There was something else I didn't tell you what else happened on the weekend." He tells me, sitting up beside me on the couch.

“What?”

“When your mother walked out of the house after your fight, she turned her nose up at me, scowled for quite some time before she spoke to me. I could tell she was upset and by the way she spoke I knew she was angry. She told me that you were ready and to leave now. I just took it on the chin, came in and got Addie off of you to say goodbye to everyone. Your father gushed over Addie and your mother ignored her. I asked what was wrong and she mumbled that she wasn't good enough for our ‘new family’. I asked what had happened and she gave me the cold shoulder, muttering things. Prim witnessed it, overheard some of it but told me she’d see what had happened and would let me know.”

"Prim did get back to me on Sunday, told me it was my fault you had changed so much and that you weren't forgiven like you thought you were. She said she'd try to talk to your Mom again and plead your case. I didn't realize she'd fight with you that afternoon and throw everything back in your face, taking your mother's side."

“Prim is a Mom believer. Anything Mom says, she believes. I think Prim was still hurt after me leaving her. I didn’t make it easy on her. I broke our entire sister oath and promises. But I don't think I realized how much I'd changed in those couple of years returning home."

“It’s your life remember Katniss. You can’t let people dictate it and run it for you. You’ve made decisions; sacrifices and choices that have shaped who you are now. They should accept what you’ve done and embrace your changes. I mean, you’ve become a mother in that space of time. You've found yourself after losing it. You've experienced the world, cultures, and traditions and experienced one of the biggest things that can happen to a person. They should be interested in your adventure and find out what you did to find yourself again."

I thank him, lift Adeline up onto my lap to nurse her. He comes and sits closer to us, holding Adeline’s hand and watching her.

“Mom also sent me a few messages on Sunday too. I won’t tell you what they said; they were mostly about you, Addie and the baby. She was pressuring me to know when we'd be doing all these things like marriage and when Addie would be baptized. She usually gets rude and mean around Dad’s anniversary and accused me of all these things that I didn’t do. Blamed me for getting someone pregnant out of wedlock caused all these atrocities that happened in my family, like my father’s death. That rattled me the most I think. She’s blamed me for a lot in my life but never for my father’s death. And never accused my children of being the cause of the family misfortunes.”

I reach out for him, cupping his cheek and looking deep into his beautiful eyes. “I think we should write our fight on Sunday off. We had a lot on our shoulders. A lot of pressure. A lot of ugly things were brought up and we were blamed for quite a number of things that weren't our fault. We had our biggest and most real fight on Sunday but I think it made me realize that I don't want to be without you. I know we'll fight and argue but I don't want us walking out on each other. We stick together."

He nods against my hand and presses a kiss into my palm. “I was a bit of a jerk on Sunday.”

“Me too.”

“You’re allowed to be. You’re pregnant and we have an 8-month-old.”

“That’s still not an excuse.”

He smiles. “It’s better than what I got with Cashmere. We didn’t speak nor fight for the last two years of our marriage. Half the time, I didn’t know how to respond when people asked if I was happily married.” He tells me. “I like what we have. It’s easy and carefree and simple.”

“I like it too.”


 

Prim arrives just after 3. She carries a coffee and a green juice for me. I supply us with cheese buns.

“Cheese bun?” I offer her.

“Are you trying to make me fatter than you?”

“That’s the plan.” I tell her, smirking at her. She grins back and takes a huge bite out of it. “It was always my plan to be the prettier sister.”

“You’ve always been the prettiest Everdeen girl.” Prim tells me.

“Not true. The boys loved you.”

“You didn’t notice the boys pining after you.” Prim laughs. “You’d have to fall over them to realize they were looking at you.”

“Not true.”

She rolls her eyes and laughs. “It’s so true. Just admit it.”

I smile at her and sit down next to her. She watches Adeline on the monitor for a little while before she speaks. “I think I was a little harsh on Sunday.”

“Me too.”

“You’re allowed to be a bitch. You’re filled with all these hormones and you have a baby. I'm just a sleep-deprived intern."

“Prim, you know I didn’t mean what I said.”

“I know you didn’t. I didn’t either. I took Mom’s side because it was easier and I was pissed at what you said to me.”

“No, you made me realize some things that I did to you all when I left. I wasn’t the perfect daughter but I had been through some things that you all don’t know about.”

We talk for hours. I tell her the truth behind my relationship, everything that happened to me and why I left.

And she understands. She’s tearing up, brushing away the tears because she never realized what I went through.

“But I’m happy now.”

“I can see that. And I’m happy for you. Really happy for you.”

Adeline sits in Prim’s arms, playing with her bracelet and her toys and tries to listen like she’s a big girl.

“I think you should tell Mom and Dad what you’ve told me.” I encourage her. “Mom feels like she’s missing out on our lives and I don’t think she’ll judge you for what you did. You weren’t ready to go down that path. Mom will understand.”

“You think so?”

“Yep. She’s the least judgemental person I know.”

“You know I never thanked you for what you did.”

“It’s what sister’s do.” I remind her. “Do you know how to throw a baby shower?” I ask her, smirking.

She looks up at me, snorts and grins. “Thought you weren’t having one?”

“I was being unreasonable last week and I have never really be showered by my family.”

She smiles. “Leave it with me.”


 

Adeline wiggles in my arms and I adjust her body, resting her butt on my hip as I ring the doorbell. She kicks her legs, waiting in anticipation for the door to open.

She knows where we are and I know she’s been missing these people so much.

The door opens and I face my mother. She’s stone-faced as she looks at me.

But her expression changes when she looks at her granddaughter. Adeline smiles at her, coos and I know Adeline has won her grandmother over.

"I bought some cheese buns, tarts, and fresh bread." I tell her with a smile.

She opens the door wider for me and takes the bag of baked goods from me and leads me into the house.

“Dad home?” I ask.

“At golf.” She tells me. “What brings you here?” She asks, getting straight to the point.

I sit down on the stool with Adeline on my lap. I rub my belly, easing the slight pain that’s sitting low in my pelvis.

“I wanted to clear some things up with you.” I tell her. “Talk to you about why I really left.”

She nods and turns the kettle on, making us each a cup of tea and we share a cheese bun each. Adeline has some of one, which turns into a slobbery mess.

“Has Prim been by to see you?”

"We're having lunch tomorrow." She tells me, giving me my cup of tea. "Have you two apologized to each other?"

“We spoke yesterday.” I tell her. “I just think we weren’t on the same page. We were both unreasonable to each other.”

“It’s what sister’s do.” She sighs. “And you and Prim have always had big fights but are always stronger at the end of the day.”

I smile agreeing with her. “Just because I hate her some of the time doesn’t mean I love her any less.”

“That’s family for you.” She states. “I don’t hate you, you know that right?”

“Of course. Family don’t have to agree with things that people do or say. It might cause fights and tension but in most cases, it's resolved within a short period and they move on."

She holds Adeline, making up for the missed attention and cuddles from the last week.

“So, why did you really leave?”

“Honestly, embarrassment was the biggest reason.”

“Why?”

She listens to me as I tell her the whole story. She doesn’t interrupt or give me her opinion.

She just listens, let's me speak and inform her of what really happened.

“I didn’t realize.”

“No one did.” I tell her. “That’s why I left because I couldn’t bear face everyone and tell them what happened.”

She squeezes my hand and smiles at me. “Thank you for telling me.”

“I just hope you understand the reasoning. I didn’t do it just to cause you all heartache, I just was embarrassed.” I tell her. "And I'm a mother myself. I'd be upset if Addie did that to me. I understand where you're coming from. I just was being selfish then. I wasn't thinking straight and I was suffocating. I just needed space and time to recover.”

She smiles. “You’re allowed to be selfish. And I didn’t expect you to understand how I was feeling. No one does until they have something they love so much it makes their hearts ache.”

I nod and wipe the tear from the corner of my eyes. “But, things happen for a reason and I wouldn’t be here, four months away from delivering your second grandchild if I didn’t leave.”

“I think you and Peeta would have found a way to be together.” She tells me. “You two are just made for each other.” She smiles. “I’m sorry for what I said. Of course you have your new family, you’re entitled to space and freedom. Peeta is your person. I have to accept the fact that my children are no longer kids and aren’t capable of making decisions without my help. You have your partner to assist you with this. You have a family. A new family as well as ours. You have people who are relying on you.” She reminds me, pointing down at Adeline. “She needs you more than your silly old mother.”

“You’re always my mother, first and foremost. I’ll always need you no matter how old I am.”

She comes around to my side, wrapping her arm around my shoulder. "I am so proud of you Katniss. You're a beautiful woman, a beautiful mother, daughter, and sister." She tells me, kissing my temple. "I realize we put a lot of pressure on you and I know we shouldn't. It's not just your Dad and me in your life. You're allowed to live your life and we have to accept that. I mean, your somebodies mother. You should learn to say no. For your own wellbeing mostly."

“I’m trying.” I tell her with a sincere smile. “So, I thought about the baby shower.”

“You don’t have to have one, I was just a little emotional last weekend. I shouldn’t have pressured you into having one.”

“No, I haven’t allowed you all to celebrate my pregnancy and shower me. You all missed out on my first and I’m sorry for that. I want to have one with you all there with me. I don’t want to look back in twenty years and regret not having a baby shower.” I tell her. “I just want it to be meaningful though. Meaningful gifts and things to pass on to this one.” I tell her, rubbing my belly. “I've got Prim helping me but I'd like you to help as well."

"I'd be honored to help.”


 

Peeta is waiting for us when we get home. Adeline is sleepy and I carry her inside over my shoulder. Peeta takes her from me, carrying her upstairs to her cot. I unpack the few groceries and wait for Peeta.

“How’d it go?” He asks me, broaching the subject lightly.

“Good. I told her everything and apologized for leaving the way I did. She understood once I told her exactly what had happened. She’s the least judgemental person I know.” I tell him, smiling. “She can seem hard and sometimes cold but she understands so much. I think her years working in medicine have truly opened her eyes. She sees people from all walks of life walk through those doors, day in day out. They all have stories and histories. She hears them all and I think it’s softened her into taking people for who they truly are.”

Peeta wraps his arms around my body, pulling me to his own. He holds me tightly and I relax into his arms.

"I think that's rubbed off onto you and Prim. You’re amazing Katniss. You just have this patience and way of listening to people. It makes you a wonderful teacher and human being. I know Madge wishes she was like you.”

"Madge is a wonderful teacher and person. You did a beautiful job raising your three." I tell him. "I tell you this time and time again, I'm so honored to be raising my children alongside you."

He kisses me softly and smiles. This time, there are tears in his eyes and I brush them away softly from his cheeks.

We end up in bed at the end of the night. Adeline sound asleep and Peeta and I curled up next to each other in bed.

“You don’t have to tell me but what is going on with Prim?” He asks me.

I turn to look at him, ignoring the show that plays on the TV and tell him the secret I’ve been hiding from my family about my baby sister. One of the sister secrets I’ve kept for her.

But Peeta is my person. He’s the one I want to share my secrets with. The one who I trust more than anyone in the world.

“She got into a bit of trouble in college and med school. Guys, kids who lead her astray, the party scene and everything else that is readily available to kids who are fresh out of school and away from their parents. Prim fell into the easy path a lot of kids fall into and found a love of partying and barely making class the next day. Which I did, I played hooky, I drank and partied the night before and went to class with terrible hangovers.” I tell him. “Prim failed her first year of college. She didn’t tell Mom or Dad but only me. I got her set up to do catch up over the next couple of years to ensure she graduated with her class.”

“She was on the good path, focused and determined and found a love for staying in of a night and just watching movies. She found a nice guy who Mom and Dad loved and seemed happy. That ended at the end of her final year, as he was moving across the country. Prim loved him but didn’t see it going further than what they had.” I say. “The end of the summer, I was helping her move into her new apartment and she told me she was pregnant. She didn’t want to tell him and asked if I could keep it a secret while she figured it out.”

“She called me crying one night, asking if I could be her support person after her procedure. I drove up, held her hand and drove her home. I held her as she cried, experienced a wrath of emotions and just held her and I told her how much I loved her. She wasn’t ready to be a mother just yet and a pregnancy as a med student didn’t work very well. She moved on, tried to get over it as she began the next stage of her life but I knew it was eating her up. She began partying way too hard, mixing with the wrong crowd and falling behind.”

“I found her one night, passed out on her bed, her panties around her ankles and half undressed, a half bottle of bourbon and some pills on her bedside table. She hadn't remembered what had happened the next morning and went on like nothing had happened. She went down a dark path for a while. I had to babysit her and ensure she didn't stray. She met some arse that treated her like shit and I knew was trouble from the beginning. The final straw for the both of us was when I was called to the hospital. The guy had knocked her out so hard; she had a concussion and was found in a car park at the university. The abuse had been pretty ongoing and she finally had the strength to move on. It was about a month later that I left after what happened to me.”

He squeezes my hand. “Prim went through a lot.”

“She did. I knew everything that happened, I figured a lot out on my own but Mom and Dad didn’t know. Mom was still working full time and Dad was flying around the world for work. It just left me to be the one who helped her and I think it made us closer. She’s my best friend and I’m hers. I did what best friends and older sisters are supposed to do.”

Peeta caresses my stomach and smiles. “If we have another girl, I hope Addie and her will be as close as Prim and you.”

“Me too. I always wanted two daughters who were like Prim and I. I just hope our children don’t have to experience what we have.”

“That’s what their big sisters and brother are for." He reminds me with a smile. "They won't let them get hurt." He nuzzles my cheek with his nose. “You’re amazing what you did for your sister.”

“I just am glad I got to be by her side during those times.”

“She’ll be grateful for it every day of her life.” I smile and reach for my phone. “What are you doing?” He asks.

“Just texting Prim.”

K - I love you and know I’m here if you need me tomorrow. Xx

P – I love you more. Thank you for everything you’ve ever done for me. I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you properly. Xx

K – It’s what sisters are for. Xx

Chapter Text

“Who are we inviting to your baby shower? Prim asks. Adeline and I have come to meet her for brunch in between her double shift. She’s been head down in her work for the last few weeks as she has begun as a resident in the last month. She tells me she is on top of her class and is who all the Doctors want on their service.

I lick the froth from the spoon of my hot chocolate and scowl slightly. Adeline sits on Prim’s lap. She barely makes a peep and listens to us like she’s a teenager. I wonder if she’s going to cause me trouble when she’s actually that age.

But the baby shower was what I was silently dreading. Especially the inviting of people. Well, Peeta’s mother. I was contemplating whether I invite her or leave her off. Would she even know I was having one if we kept it a secret? I couldn’t endure the hours spent with her. Endure the bitching and moaning and snide comments about Peeta’s midlife crisis. About me. About Adeline and about Button.

I wanted to enjoy my afternoon with my friends and family. Have a carefree afternoon with mocktails, laughs and being spoilt by my friends and family. I had envisioned a shower and secretly had wanted one when I was pregnant with Adeline but wasn’t ready to return home. Nancy threw me a small one with a few of her friends I came to know but it didn’t feel the same. They spoilt me but I didn’t feel the longing was fulfilled.

“I’ll write you a list if that’s OK?” I ask her.

She nods. “Of course. Decide quickly because we’re running out of time.” She pushes.

“I know.” There were only really 4 and a half weeks until the shower. “There are just a few people I’m undecided on.”

“Like your mother-in-law?”

I groan. “Yes.”

“We don’t have to invite her.”

“We kind of do.” I say.

“It’s your baby shower, you should be surrounded by those who you love.” She reminds me. She shifts Adeline over to me after a big kiss. I thank her. “I’ve got to get going but I’ll talk to you later.”

I hug her goodbye and watch her head off upstairs to restart her shift. I finish my hot chocolate and coo with Adeline, playing a game of tickles and peak-a-boo.

Peeta was at the bakery for most of the day and it was up to Adeline and me to entertain ourselves.

I had an appointment with Effie in twenty minutes for my 6 month check up. She was out on unexpected leave last week after a death in the family and while they rearranged most of her appointments with other OB’s, some of us were happy to wait a week until she was free again.

I pack the diaper bag into the stroller and carry her upstairs. She was in need of a diaper change and that’d fill in some time before we saw Effie.

I check in with the nurse at the front desk and tell her I’ll be down in the parent’s room changing Adeline. She smiles at me and tells me I have plenty of time.

We sit in the waiting room together, reading a book. Adeline is fascinated with the colors and shapes of the animals, pointing and cooing at them. I point them out, reading along with the story and she happily listens and follows.

“What a beautiful girl.” The dark-haired lady beside me says smiling. She’s sporting a small belly, most likely newly pregnant and a month or so after me.

“Thank you.” I smile. “I’m incredibly lucky.”

“How old is she?”

“9 months old. She’ll be one when her baby sibling arrives.” I tell her. “What about you, first baby?”

There’s a look of pain that crosses her face. “Second. This is my rainbow baby.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine.” She assures me. “I was just 21 weeks when he was born. Just over that stage that it isn’t a miscarriage but a stillbirth.”

“How long ago?” I ask.

“It’s been about 14 months since I gave birth to him. I believe things happen in life and the doctors discovered he had a few abnormalities that if I did carry him full time than he probably wouldn’t live for very long after he was born. He probably wouldn’t have opened his eyes. He was probably in a lot of pain too.” She tears up. “Things happen for a reason and I believe he’s gifted us with his baby brother.”

I smile at her and notice her looking at Adeline.

“Would you like to hold Addie?” I ask her. “She loves a cuddle.” I chuckle.

“If that’s ok?”

I nod, hand Adeline over to the lady and Adeline sits happily in her arms.”

“Is Addie short for Addison?”

“Adeline.” I correct her. “Her father and I danced to Sweet Adeline when we first met and when she arrived we just knew it was fitting.”

“You are beautiful Adeline.” She coos. “You’re going to make a great big sister.” She bops Adeline’s nose. “Do you know what you’re having?”

I shake my head. “We want it to be a surprise. I mean, I’m an impatient person but I didn’t find out with Addie and I just loved the anticipation.” I smile. “Everyone thinks it’s another girl but I’m sure it’s a boy.”

“What does your husband want?”

“He doesn’t mind. He’d love another girl.” I tell her. “He’s got three kids from a previous marriage. Two girls and a boy. His son is outnumbered.” I laugh.

She laughs with me. She’s called into her appointment and hands Adeline back to me as she gathers her bag.

“It was nice meeting you…” She begins.

“Katniss.”

“Annie.” She smiles. “We should grab a coffee or lunch one day. I don’t have any Mom friends and I’ve just moved to town in the last few weeks.”

“Of course.” I whip out my phone, get her to input her number and I tell her I’ll send her a message and we can meet up.

She smiles, says goodbye to us and heads on inside for her appointment. I could tell she was nervous and striking up a conversation with a stranger was definitely out of her comfort zone but I know she’ll return to her husband and tell him how she made a friend today. A friend who is a mother and also expecting a baby around the same time.

I send her a message before I forget and organize her to come along to our mother's group meet up on Friday morning at the park if she's free. She'll meet Delly and the other lot of mother's who have welcomed me into their group. Their babies range from age 3 right down to a few weeks old. And it'd be nice for Annie to network with some new Moms. Delly will take her under her wing quickly and go out of her way to welcome her.

I mentally add Annie to the invite for my baby shower too.

Effie calls me in shortly after and I head on inside with Adeline.

She takes Adeline for a cuddle while she chats with me before I get to do the fun things like measurements, peeing in cups and tests. Effie also will check out the baby on the ultrasound, especially with how close my pregnancies have been and she wants to ensure the placenta is fine.

“Please stop growing my dear, Adeline Rose.”

“She’ll be a big sister in the space of 15 weeks.”

Effie frowns. “She’s growing too quickly.”

"I don't know if I've noticed it more because I'm also counting down the pregnancy and in 15 weeks, the baby will be here and Addie will be one."

“I hope you’ve tried to enjoy both.”

"No, I am. It's a bit surreal though."

“I bet it is.” She smiles.

We chat, she answers my few questions I have. I feel like it was just yesterday I was at my 24-week appointment with Adeline. I have a vague idea of what is going on and we move on to the other things.

She gets the baby up on the ultrasound and checks everything out, giving me a look at baby number 2 and printing off a few pictures for Peeta.

“You’ve got Hawaii next week don’t you?”

I nod as she cleans the goo from my belly. “Yes, fly out on Sunday.”

“You nervous for the flight?”

I shake my head. “If she’s not happy, she’s not happy but we’ll do our best to keep her entertained and happy.”

“Try and nurse or give her a bottle when you take off. Helps with the ears and it comforts them from the sudden movements.” She tells me. “And if you’ve got the Ergo take that for her to sleep in, even if Peeta takes her. It’s even handy to travel through the airport with her in the Ergo too, keeps your hands free too."

“Thanks.”

She deems me right to go, wishes us a good trip and I tell her I’ll see her in a few weeks when we’re back. She kisses Adeline goodbye and lets us go.

“Let’s go and see what damage we can do to Daddy’s credit card.” I coo to Adeline and head on down to the car after booking my next appointment. I could walk to the baby store but with a 9-month-old baby and being 25 weeks pregnant and unable to see my own feet, I decided against it.

Peeta and I had a plan for Adeline and Buttons rooms; we’d tackle them once we were back from Hawaii after our babymoon and first vacation as a family. We were just going for ten days to hopefully lay in the sun, swim, explore and spend some time as a family of three before we became a family for four.

When we get back it’ll be full on with the baby shower, preparing Madge for her wedding, baby finalizing, Adeline's first birthday and then the birth of our button. We were hoping to squeeze a trip up to LA to visit Nancy and the family for a few days before the baby came. She had done a quick flyby trip when Adeline was 10 weeks old. She didn't bring any of the kids and had a job to do an hour out of the city. She stayed with us one night before she flew back home and promised me she'd visit again and then invited us up to visit.

They’d hardly been home in the last 6 months with movie shooting, press and spending time with the kids that just before the birth would be the only downtime they had before it started all back up again with awards season looming, the holidays and another movie that Dave was shooting across the country.

The kids had been so excited to meet Adeline and I secretly missed them a lot. I was excited to see their little faces again and hold them. They really lit up the room and I missed their energy. They’d be the perfect ‘cousins’ to Adeline and Button and I wanted them to have a close bond. Even for them to spend holidays and time visiting us when they got older and wanted time away from their parents.

Adeline sleeps in the stroller as we zoom around the aisles of the baby store. I look at clothes, crib sets, toys, strollers and everything else that is stocked in a baby store. Everything that is screaming to be bought. We had so much to upgrade and buy Button that it was a little overwhelming.

Button would sleep in the bassinet in our room. It was the easiest during the first few months, especially adapting to a schedule, feeding on demand and midnight feeds. Once Button was big enough to be moved to the crib, we’d move Adeline to her new bedroom across the hall and maybe to a toddler bed. At this point, she'd be at least 18 months old and possibly ready to upgrade.

If not, we’d sleep one in a portable cot until they were ready to upgrade.

But it could all turn to shit and we could end up with two babies in our bed.

Peeta and I would have to learn to share and accept that alone time would be out the door for quite some time.

And I don’t think we could do three under the age of three. A bit of space might be good in preventing another Button so quickly.

I end up with a basket full of clothes. Most of them discounted and bigger sizes that Adeline could fit into next Summer. A few swimmers that she’d fit now and could wear when we’re in Hawaii. A few Winter clothes as the days are starting to get cool. And new pajamas for the baby.

“How far along are you?” The cashier asks.

I rub my belly unconsciously. “25 weeks.”

“She excited to be a big sister?”

“I don’t think she really understands yet. She will probably when my attention is divided.”

“How close will they be in age?”

“12 months.” I tell her hesitantly, prepared for an earful of advice and disappointment from her over the lack of forethought in our family planning.

“Irish Twins?” She asks with a grin.

“Yeah.”

“I had Irish Twins.” She laughs. “Let’s just say it’s an experience.”

“Really? How old are they?”

“The youngest just started pre-k.” She tells me with a sad smile. “I had two boys. Despite how difficult it was, they love each other so much. They’re so close and it’s been joyful watching them grow up together.”

“You have just the two?”

“No, four. Two girls and two boys. The oldest she’s just started senior year and the second she has just started high school. There was a bit of a gap. Number three was a surprise baby.” She laughs. “And then our anniversary fell three months after his birth and guess what, we ended up with surprise baby number 4.”

I smile at her, look down at Adeline and rub my belly.

“Surprises are always the best blessings.” She tells me as she packs the bags. “The two fit in so well. I couldn’t imagine my life without them.”

“My partner tells me this all the time.” I tell her. “He has three older kids who are grown and starting to figure out their own lives. And he told me when she was born that he felt that missing piece was filled. His kids even tell me that. They always tell me that she is such a gift to the family. And this one is two.”

“I bet she is spoilt by the older siblings?”

“You wouldn’t believe it.” I laugh. “They’ll both be well protected and looked after, I can tell you that.”

Annie texts me when I leave the store.

A – Sounds great. I live just around the corner. I'll see you at 10 am. Do I need to bring anything? Thanks again for being so kind to me Katniss.


 

“You’ve got her?” I whisper.

Peeta nods at me with a slight smile on his face. Adeline is sound asleep in the Ergo and we’ve just touched down in Hawaii. She’s slept the last half of the flight and has remained asleep, as we’ve touched down. She sleeps in her dad’s arms soundly.

An older couple stop for us, motioning for us to go ahead but we wave them on.

“Go, we can wait.” I tell them with a soft smile.

"She's an angel." The lady tells us looking at Adeline's sleeping pout. She looks so ridiculous she's adorable. She's scowling slightly, cheek resting against her father's chest with her head tilted upwards and her chubby arm across his chest.

“Thank you.”

About a dozen more people depart the plane and we stand to make a move. A hostess helps us take our luggage down from the overhead compartment.

“She was wonderful.”

And she’s right. She happily sat on mine and Peeta’s lap throughout the trip. I nursed her on take-off where she barely made a peep. She happily read books with us, played with toys, went on walks up and down the aisle when I got restless and the baby was moving quite a bit. She shared our lunch and giggled and cooed with the hostesses, happily going with them for a cuddle and a walk.

Then she passed out after another feed and has slept in mine and Peeta’s arms. Both of us taking turns. We put her in the Ergo just before we landed. I’ve found the more I progress in my pregnancy, the harder it is to wear the Ergo on my front with Adeline inside. It was fine when I didn't have much of a bump but the last few weeks I've started to struggle with babywearing. We've gotten Adeline used to ride on my back and she has loved the change of scenery. But loves the front when she's sleepy and it's been a win-win especially for her as she enjoys her dad’s cuddles, especially when she’s sleepy.

It might help when the new baby is here and we’ve got to split our time between both kids.

I take the baby bag we've transfered into a backpack, resting it on my shoulders and Peeta carries our pack on his back.

“Thank you so much for your help.”

She smiles wishes us a great trip and we disembark the plane to head through customs and security before we pick up our bags and find our driver.

I watch Peeta tenderly kiss Adeline’s forehead, inhale her sweet baby smell and feel my heart fill with so much love. I’m so glad he is my children’s father and he turns me on when he is so sweet and tender with Adeline.

It’s probably the reason why we were pregnant again so quickly.

I smile to myself and head through to security.

Adeline wakes as we are waiting for our luggage and she just smiles at us, taking in the sights of the airport and happily waits in the carrier.

We're helped with our luggage, an attendant loading our three suitcases and the stroller onto the trolley and leading us outside to our waiting car. Peeta had organized the whole trip, right down to the fine details of being helped to the car and a car to drive us to the resort.

Peeta thanks the attendant after he loads the trunk with our suitcases. I’ve strapped Adeline into the car seat in the car and Peeta sits and talks to the driver who has actually tasted Mellark’s bakery treats. He’s a little star struck when he realizes who Peeta actually is.

“I think the best thing I had was the cheese buns.” Hani tells us.

I laugh as does Peeta.

"That's Katniss' favorite." Peeta tells him. "We like to say it's not a baby bump but a cheese bun belly."

The driver laughs and tells Peeta some good places to eat around where we are staying.

Peeta has booked him for a few days to take us around to the sights and back to the airport in 10 days. Peeta asks his questions, they swap favorite dishes and bakery treats and talk about family.

“How old is the little one?”

“Addie is 9 months. She’ll be a big sister in just over 3 months.”

“Do you know what you’re having?”

“We don’t.” Peeta tells him. “We want it to be a surprise.”

“Whatever it is, the baby will bring great joy.” Hani smiles. “I love my three so much and wouldn’t change it for the world.”

We arrive at our hotel. Hani jumps out of the car to help with our bags while I get Adeline out of the car seat and into my arms. There are a few families pulling in and heading in to check in.

There is hotel staff waiting to place beautiful colored leis over our necks, welcoming us to the country. A bellboy has come out to greet us, helping Peeta and Hani load our luggage onto the trolley. Hani cuddles Adeline quickly, dancing around with her to the music that sounds in the open aired lobby. Adeline giggles and smiles with Hani and he beams a big toothy-grinned smile, throwing his head back and laughing in delight.

He takes her to the ladies waiting with the leis, letting them place one over her neck and fussing over her, pinching her cheeks and tickling her. She’s in hysterics and I’m glad the long trip hasn’t affected her. Peeta and I get leis put over our necks and welcomed and congratulated on a beautiful girl.

They even place their hands on my stomach and wish me a good pregnancy, telling me I’ll be blessed with another beautiful giggly baby.

I thank them and take Adeline from Hani. He was due back for another pickup and the longer he danced and played with our daughter, the later he'd be in picking up his next transfer.

“I’ll see you both in two days. I’ve got a special surprise for you both.”

“Thanks, Hani.” Peeta tips him and tells him we’ll see him later.

We’re lead to our room, the bellboy loading our luggage into our room and Peeta thanks him.

Adeline and I check out our suite and I’m ready to spend the next week here.

"Peeta, they've forgotten Addie's cot." I tell him, coming out of the bedroom. We've got a mini suite with a separate living area to our bedroom. The living area steps off into our own private balcony with 270-degree view of the ocean.

“I’ll call reception.” He tells me.

Within 5 minutes, a staff member has brought a port-a-cot to our room, setting it up in a matter of seconds and quickly dressing the mattress.

“Thank you so much.” Peeta says to him. A highchair has been brought to us as well.

“I wasn’t in a rush.” I tell Peeta. “But this service is amazing.”

He smiles, kisses me and we go out to the balcony admiring the view.

"I could get used to this." He smiles.

“Me too but I love our house.”

"Are you sure? Cause if you really want to find something that you like then we can."

I shake my head, silencing him. “I love our house. We have a big yard, plenty of space for our families, it’s decorated how I imagined my house would look. It’s home. I don’t feel like it’s just a house. It’s home. It’s our home. I want our kids to grow up there. We have room for a cubby house, maybe some chooks or a pool.”

He smiles. “I’ll see what I can do. Might give Nolan a job to do next summer.”

“There’s no rush.”

“What do you think about getting a dog too? The kids had a few growing up and it was nice seeing the bond there.”

“Would it be too much taking on a dog before a new baby?”

"I'll source some rescue organizations." He tells me. "Leave it up to me."

“Ok.”

“Let’s go for a swim.”

He's determined to capture our holiday, creating a short little family video. One of his workers studies film and has taught Peeta a few tricks, especially when he showed an interest in documenting Adeline's everyday life. And the few things he's learned and the mini videos he's created are breathtakingly beautiful. I've found myself crying watching these perfectly captured clips of my daughter and her life so far. There have also been sweet moments of Adeline and I tenderly embracing before bed, the two of us sleeping together or just everyday moments like my singing to her, playing, feeding her and dancing. Just everyday moments that I'm thankful I'll have to remember.

I change into my bikini. I’m a little self-conscious but I’m far too proud of my bump and know Peeta loves seeing it on display. The sun is warm too and I know my bump and I could do with a little bit of sunshine.

He finds me in the bedroom, touching my belly and comes up behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist and kissing the back of my neck.

"You're so beautiful." He whispers. "Hi, little one."

The baby gives him a little kick and he smiles, kissing my neck again and going to grab Adeline.

I carry her down with the big beach bag and Peeta has his camera gear all ready. Its almost mid-afternoon and we'd only get a bit of sunshine and water before we’d head off for dinner and to bed.

We swim, wading in the shallow water of the bay. The water rushes over Adeline's legs and body and she squeals at the coolness and feel.

She’s happy. And I’m happy. Peeta is also smiling and I know he’s secretly filming us but I don’t mind, you can’t notice him and I enjoy the time with Adeline. He’ll join us when he’s ready and I’ll do my best to film precious moments like he’s taught me.

He joins us in the water, splashing Adeline and eventually taking her further out on his hip. The bay is calm and quiet and many kids enjoy the calmness of the water playing games of tag, swimming races and swimming with snorkels on trying to spot crabs or shells that have managed to get into the bay.

“Where’s Mommy?” Peeta asks Adeline. “Where is she?”

Adeline looks around for me and spots me, smiling at me from a distance.

“Let’s go see Mommy.” He whispers to her, kissing her cheek.

She’s a determined thing and steps to me with Peeta’s help. They’re jolty and wobbly but she loves the feeling of almost independence and is so proud of her new trick.

I hold my arms out for her and she falls into them and I cover her face with kisses. Peeta leans down to kiss me and sits beside us. Adeline roots for a feed and I adjust her to a comfortable position around my belly, letting her sit on my lap and nurse as the water gently laps at us. Peeta is off again with the camera and I just place kisses on top of Adeline’s head and watch the world go by.

We gorge ourselves with a beautiful fresh seafood buffet dinner and head on back to our room. I get into the shower with Adeline, washing the salt from our bodies and wrap us both up in a fluffy white towel and join Peeta out in the bedroom. He’s Skyping Camille by the sounds of it and I pass him, Adeline, while I reach for my robe.

Hi, my beach baby.” Camille greets her sister. “You look like you’re having fun.”

Adeline points at the screen, smiling at her sister.

“Say Hi, Addie.” Peeta coos. “Is that your Cami?”

Adeline tries touching the screen and gets frustrated when she can't physically touch her sister.

“I’ll see you in a few days beautiful.”

They end the call, Peeta telling her to ring if anything is wrong. He gets Adeline dressed in her sleeping bag with just her diaper on underneath and they read a couple of books together before he hands her to me to nurse and put to bed.

“How’s Camille going?” I ask him.

He shrugs his shoulders. “She’s doing Ok. She went out last night, dragged out by her friends to try and have some fun but she bailed early and went home and watched romantic comedies.”

“She’ll find her feet soon. She’s a social butterfly.” I tell him.

“She’s just not so sure. She thought he was the one.” He says.

"He was an arsehole and despite how much pain he has caused her, she'll realize it was for the best. She's still young and plenty of time to meet the one."

“I just want the best for my kids.”

"I know you do. You just have to let them learn and grow and make the mistakes adults make and find out who they really are." I tell him. "Besides, you have a 9-month-old and a baby on the way who you can baby while the other three learn who they are in this big world."

He kisses my cheek. “I’m so glad I found you.”

“Me too.” I smile. “Camille should just focus on the business, getting that to a success and going from there.”

He drags me away for the day. A baby free day. Adeline has happily gone with a Nanny and ready for a big adventure day following the kids club and most likely being spoilt by the hotel staff.

Hani picks us up from the hotel and drives us out to a small heliport base.

“You’re not making me jump out of a plan?” I ask him.

“No, I wouldn’t put that type of danger onto you and Button.” He tells me. “We’re going to take a ride.”

Hani tells Peeta he’ll see him later and we head on into the building where a pilot greets us and we’re taken through to the base. We climb into our helicopter, placing the headphones on and Peeta pulls out the camera ready to record our trip and maybe my reaction.

We are flown around the Island, the pilot pointing out certain points of attraction while giving us a brief history of certain places. We get a view of the volcanos, ridges, valleys, and waterfalls.

We make a landing on a clearing near a cliff that overlooks the ocean and we climb out, Peeta reaching into the front for a picnic basket and blanket and the pilot tells us he’ll see us in about 2 hours.

We step away; watching the helicopter take off and Peeta takes my hand leading me to a clearing. He lays out the blanket and we go to the cliff to overlook the water. The water looks crystal clear with beautiful views that stretch forever.

“This is beautiful, how’d you arrange it?” I ask him.

He smiles and we sit down. He unpacks the basket and tells me how he had contacted many operators, spoke to a lot of locals and read a story online telling him about this beautiful clearing that overlooks the water that not many people know about. The pilot does this trip about three times a year and limits it to that because the more people knew, the more the beauty would be taken away with tourists flocking.

We eat our lunch, pick at the selection of cheeses and non-alcoholic wine. Eat fresh fruit and listen to some music while we chat. We don’t talk kids, family or work, more about ourselves, how we’re feeling, wishes for the future, travel plans and any else we can come up with.

I lie against his chest and hardly move. The waves rolling and crashing against the rocks lull me slightly and I’m content to just remaining there for the rest of the afternoon.

“Would you want to get married?” He asks me. He asked me this months ago. Months before when we had just moved in together. When he found out I delivered his baby. When it was all new and fresh and we were slowly coming together.

I shrug my shoulders. “I don’t know. We've done this whole thing back to front." I chuckle. He laughs too. "Would you want to?"

"I've learned that marriage doesn't make everyone happy. That it doesn't suit everyone." He sighs. "I have friends who have been together for years and never married and they're happier than my married friends. A piece of paper doesn't mean a lot these days." He says. "I just wanted to know if your thoughts had changed since we last spoke."

“I’m happy. We’ve got a beautiful daughter and a baby on the way. We’re happy. I wouldn’t mind what we do. Marriage or not.”

“Me too.” He smiles against my shoulder. “We’re happy.”

I turn to face him, smiling at him over my shoulder and we share a brief kiss before we turn our attention back to the water. The baby kicks and together with linked hands, we feel the kicks of our impending arrival.


 

We spend the rest of the trip sightseeing, shopping, swimming and exploring the island. Hani takes us to some spectacular spots where Peeta gets his camera and drone out. Adeline and I do our own exploring at the sights while Peeta films us. Adeline is amazed at the new landscape and watches with eyes wide open. We let her feel the earth and crawl around, getting herself acquainted with nature.

I hoped she’d be just like me and loved the outdoors. The few trails we had done during Sunday mornings in Spring and early Summer were successful. She loved every moment as she rode in the carrier and I hoped once her sibling was here and the weather warmed up again we'd be able to do the same, trails on a Sunday morning with both kids in tow. Adeline could ride on her father’s back and I could carry the baby on my chest.

At the end of the trip, Peeta and I have one last date night. We put Adeline down and a Nanny comes to sit in and watch the monitor.

We sit outside with the sea breeze whipping at us and eat way too much food and watch the fire show.

“I’m so glad we decided to come here.” I tell him.

“I’m glad we did too. It’s been nice relaxing and just being a family of three.”

“How do you think Addie will react when the baby comes?”

“I don’t know.” He says. “I’m a bit worried.”

“Me too.” I frown. “What if she hates the baby?”

“She won’t. She might just not like it for a little while but they’ll be thick as thieves.” He laughs. “They’ll be into mischief together all the time. They will definitely be keeping us on our toes but it’ll be worth it.”

“It’s going so quickly.” I note, touching my belly.

“We’ve just got to enjoy the days with Addie as a single child, enjoy the pregnancy and slowly prepare for the baby. We’ll try our best to make Addie feel like she hasn’t been pushed aside when the baby comes as well.”

I nod. “I just think we do our best to maintain our usual routine, make Addie seem like nothing has changed too much and we squeeze another member into our family.”

“We’ll be fine. I’ve done it with my kids and they survived. We didn’t do much, just kept a normal routine, invited the older child to help out with their baby sibling and feel special. Lot’s of hugs and kisses too. We’ll be fine, Katniss. We’ve got this. We’re going to nail this parenting two babies thing.”

“Are we mad?” I ask him laughing.

“No way.” He chuckles.

We go back to the room, Peeta walking the Nanny to the door and I go and change into my pajamas and then watch Adeline sleep. She must sense I'm watching her and she wakes, smiling at me and saying ‘Mama'.

I reach into her cot, lift her out and carry her to the bed. She happily cuddles into me, nursing and I just relish in her cuddles and inhale that faint baby smell I will never get over and hold her in my arms.

She’ll always be my baby, even when she becomes a big sister and outgrows my lap and doesn’t need me. I’d always remember these moments and times when it just felt like time stopped and I enabled me to cherish these small moments I’d hold near and dear for the rest of my life.

Peeta slides in behind Adeline, kissing the top of her head and the three of us embrace for the whole night as the days were limited to when it won’t just be the three of us.

“I can’t wait until there’s four in the bed.” He whispers.

“There technically is.” I giggle quietly.

“I mean, physically to hold.” He smiles.

He reaches out, pushes a strand of hair behind my ear as Adeline still nurses. "It'll be here before we realize."

He smiles, happiness beaming out of his body. “We’ll be a family of four soon, real or not real?” He asks, reaching out to touch my belly.

“Real.” I echo in the darkness of the night.

Chapter Text

“So what does your husband do?” I ask Annie. She’s joining me on a last minute shopping trip to pick up some supplies for my baby shower tomorrow afternoon. We’ve been to two playgroups together but I haven’t really spoken to her about her and her husband. The women in the group have been interested in more the baby and offering advice than actually getting to know her.

And it’s only been playgroups we’ve seen each other. I’ve been keeping busy, helping Madge with the wedding, assisting Prim with the shower, looking after a 10-month-old and gestating another baby. We’ve texted occasionally, Annie asking for advice on certain things like doctors, butchers, grocery stores, bakeries and things in town.

“He's an orthopedic surgeon.” She tells me as she pushes the stroller with Adeline asleep inside. “We were relocated from the east coast to here. He just finished his residency and got a job here for his fellowship. It felt like now was the time to move and start fresh.”

“Does he enjoy it?”

“He does. It can be tough but he enjoys it.”

“Why ortho?” I ask her.

She laughs. "He spent a lot of time in the hospital as a kid getting casts for broken bones and it just sparked an interest. His mother was a surgical nurse and always told him stories of surgeries and the ortho ones just inspired him. Especially those that rebuilt bones from scratch and knew from age 12 he wanted to be a surgeon.”

“That’s nice.” I smile. “What about you? Did you work before you moved here?”

“I originally worked for a magazine as a writer and then eventually turned to blogging. A couple of my friends from back east put together a blog aimed at real women. We shared real-life stories, had a feminist approach and such. There were three of us and we've all since left the east coast relocating with our husbands. One went North and the other south. We're still running it, just from different time zones."

“I’ll have to check it out. Send me the link when you get a chance.” I tell her as we enter the party store.

I had a list of things and it’d be a quick shop. Annie and I were going for lunch after our quick shop.

“So you’re a teacher?” Annie asks me as we stroll through the aisles.

“Yes. Elementary.” I tell her. “I haven’t taught for a few years though.”

“Why’s that?”

"I left town almost three years ago after a painful breakup. I worked for a family in LA as a tutor and traveled the world with them before I returned home and gave birth."

“Do you think you’ll go back to teaching?”

“Maybe.” I tell her, placing some yellow party plates into the basket. “I’ve had so long off and about to have baby number 2 that it feels surreal. I mean, Peeta’s job supports us and I could stay at home until the kids are both at school. But it also gives me something to do. Gives me another identity other than ‘Mom’ and I can inspire my kids that you can do both.”

“I’m sure you’ll be awesome at whatever you decide.”

"Thanks, Annie."

We casually chat as we walk around the store before we head to the checkout. Annie has gathered things for her own baby shower, the women in our mother's group supporting and helping her organize one. She tells me both families will fly out from the East Coast for the weekend for the baby shower and Annie's 30th birthday, which is in the middle of October. She’ll be 33 weeks by then.

We finish up at the party store and head down the street for lunch. I had everything I could purchase today and Nolan would collect everything else tomorrow morning like the balloons and platters. Peeta and Camille were making the cake and would finish it tomorrow morning at the house. Camille had got a taste for cake decorating and making and they were so beautiful and creative she was getting orders daily. Peeta was helping her out and together they were creating nearly 10 cakes a week. And with the Fall wedding season beginning, they were inundated with wedding cakes.

But they didn’t mind. They loved doing this venture together.

Annie had asked them to do her baby shower and birthday cake as well.

“Anything else we need?” Annie asks me.

“Madge is doing the grocery shopping this afternoon.” I tell her. “Prim is gathering everything for the games and little gift bags. Peeta and Camille are doing the cake. Nolan is picking the balloons and platters up tomorrow. Mom is coming round tonight to help decorate with Camille and Madge. " I tell her, checking off the list. My baby brain was terrible at the moment and without a list, I was forgetting nearly everything. "I think we've got everything."

“I might get your family to help me with mine.” She laughs.

“Hey, we’d be more than happy helping out.” I tell her. “It is a bit daunting.”

“Thank you. My sister is helping me out but it’s a bit hard from across the country.”

The waitress takes our orders and Adeline sits in a highchair eating her lunch and making an absolute mess of things.

“Oh Miss Addie, you’re too cute.” Annie coos to her. Adeline’s face is covered food and she’s so proud of herself.

“She’s showing off.” I tell Annie with a laugh.

"Well, she's an adorable show-off." Annie laughs, tickling Adeline's cheek.

Adeline shows off her teeth with a cheeky smile and her blue eyes beaming. She’s going to cause Peeta and I a lot of trouble when she’s older.

Luckily she has a very protective older brother and sisters.

We eat our lunch. I change Adeline and nurse her and we go for a quick stroll around the mall for a little bit of retail therapy and to get out of the mid-September heatwave. School has gone back and the mall is quiet which is nice for the two of us.

“Let’s go and get a pedi and manicure.” Annie suggests. Adeline is happy in her stroller and she’ll be fine sitting on my lap. And I don’t mind admitting that a little bit of me time will go down a treat.

“Lead the way.”

We’re squeezed in right away and have our feet worked on while we pick out colors. Annie goes for red and I have a hard time choosing.

"What color are you thinking?" The technician asks me.

“I’m not sure.” I admit to her. “I like a lot of them.”

“Do you have a special occasion coming up?” She asks me.

“A baby shower tomorrow.”

"What color is your outfit?"

"It's a muted orange color. Soft like the sunset." I tell her.

She picks out a muted pink that I was eyeing off but unsure if it’d suit me. Annie gives me her approval.

“What do you think Addie?” I ask her. Adeline smiles and claps and I take that as a yes.

The technician paints Adeline’s nails in the matching pink. “Just like your Mommy sweet girl.”

We drop Annie home after a little more shopping and when Adeline is getting ready for another sleep.

“See you tomorrow.” I tell her with a smile.

“Yep. Thanks for today.”

"Anytime. Just text me if you want to hang out or need help with something."

“I will. Bye Addie girl.” She gathers her bags and climbs out of my SUV, waving goodbye to us.

I wait until she’s in her house until we head on home carrying my sleeping daughter and the shopping inside, ready to set up when everyone comes over this afternoon. I go and lie down for a little rest, exhausted after a busy day.


 

“You look beautiful!” Madge exclaims as I enter the master bedroom from the ensuite.

I look down at the dress, flattening it against my stomach and smiling at the beautiful color. For a dress that I bought on sale for 75% off, I think it's a bargain.

“Dad is going to love you in that dress.”

I smile, checking myself out in the mirror and smiling even more. The maxi dress is comfortable, light and flattering which is everything I want at this stage of my pregnancy.

“I love it.” I tell her. “Good thing I walked into that shop.”

Madge laughs and directs me to the chair by the dressing table. She helps me with my sandals and touches up my makeup.

“I’m sorry that Gran will be here." She apologizes.

"It's fine. It was the right thing to do." I tell her. "Even if it pains me."

“Don’t worry, Camille and I are on Gran watch.” She tells me. “Just sorry for you having to put up with her for the whole weekend.”

Camille and Adeline appear. Adeline is in a light onesie ready to go down for her sleep. She’s got a party dress for when she wakes.

"Hello, baby girl." I greet her, reaching out for her. Camille hands her over to me and goes sits down on the end of the bed. “Everything ready?”

“Yep.” She confirms. “The boys are retreating outside with a cooler full of beers and the game. And the rest of the guests are due to arrive in about ten minutes.” Camille tells me. “Dad said he can give Addie her bottle and put her down.”

“It’s fine. I want to spend some time with her. Will you two be fine greeting everyone until I come downstairs?”

“We’re on it.” They tell me.

"Thank you, both for everything you've done."

Prim was called back into work after vehicle pile up this morning and she’d be here as soon as she could get away. The girls swooped in as quickly as they could to help me out with final prep. They were angels and I’m glad they are my family.

We snap a quick photo of the four of us together, all of us kissing Adeline’s cheek.

“We’ll go downstairs and wait for everyone.” Camille tells me. “Take your time.”

They both kiss Adeline and head on downstairs. I carry her into the nursery, shutting the blinds and sitting down in the rocking chair. I nurse her, cuddling her and just studying her features. She’s growing too quickly for my liking and as the days go on, the closer she is to turning 1 and becoming a big sister. I’m cherishing these moments as much as I can.

She goes down shortly after her feed and I tiptoe out of her room with the baby monitor in hand. I prepare myself for the hours where I'll be the centre of attention and head downstairs.

A few people are here and Camille, Madge and my mother entertain while Peeta entertains the men outside.

I greet everyone and go slide up next to Mom. She takes the baby monitor from me and tells me she’s on baby watch and to enjoy my afternoon.

“No mother-in-law yet.” She whispers to me. “You can breathe.” She smiles. “And you look beautiful.”

“Thank you.”

Annie arrives with her husband.

“Hi Annie, you made it.”

We quickly embrace and she hands me my present. “Katniss this is my husband Finnick.”

“Nice to meet you, Finnick.” I greet him.

“You too. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“Hopefully good things.”

“They have been.” He tells me kissing my cheek and chuckling. “This is a beautiful place.”

"It's still so unreal waking up every day. Peeta did a great job in renovating it." I tell him. "He was looking at downgrading before Addie and I moved in."

“Well, he did an amazing job.” He smiles.

I smile at him. “They’re out the back the men.” I tell him. “I’ll take you through.”

I lead Finnick out to the alfresco area which serves as a man cave for Nolan and Peeta when the game is on. Peeta jumps up quickly when he sees me, making a move for Finnick to introduce himself. The men are enjoying themselves, laughing and telling jokes. The younger kids play in the yard.

“Hi, you must be Finnick. I’m Peeta. Nice of you to make it.”

“Nice to meet you too, Peeta.”

“Help yourself to anything in the fridge. The grill is going on soon so I hope you’re hungry.”

“I’ll leave you boys to be.”

Peeta kisses my cheek. "You look beautiful. That color suits you."

“Thank you.”

“Just breathe.” He tells me, squeezing my hand.

I head back inside. Nearly everyone has arrived. The only person still to show up is Peeta’s mother.

"We're just waiting for my Grandmother and the men should have lunch ready. Feel free to grab a drink and some nibbles and have a chat.” Madge tells them all.

Johanna pulls me aside away from the group with a grin on her face.

“What?” I ask her. “What’s happened?”

She flashes me her left hand where a diamond ring sits on her ring finger. “I didn’t want to steal your thunder but I wanted you to be the first person to know.”

“Oh my god. When?”

“Last night. It was our anniversary. We went for a picnic at sunset where we had our first date and I was too busy appreciating the view. I turned to say something to him and he was holding out the ring. It was perfect which is weird coming from me who vowed she’d never get caught up in all of this but it was romantic.”

I embrace her, congratulating her. “I’m so happy for you.”

“Thank you.” She smiles. “Now, I’m slipping this off and hiding it in my bag until we leave. I don’t want any attention taken away from you.”

“You can steal all the attention. I won’t mind.”

“Come on, we’re all here for you.” She pushes me back into the party.

Janice Mellark arrives and she makes an arrival. The atmosphere shifts and everyone in the room go silent. I feel my throat tighten and my stomach clench. I feel self-conscious, worried about what will be said. She doesn't make a move to come and greet me and I take baby steps to go and greet her.

“Hi, you made it?”

“Yes. Did you think I wouldn’t or did you hope I wouldn’t?”

“Gran.” Camille scolds her.

“No, I’m happy you’re here. It’s a special day for you too. We’re celebrating the impending arrival of your next grandchild.”

She turns up her nose with her lips pursed. Her face is tightly pinched as she tries to hold in what she really wants to say.

“I’ve been blessed with many grandchildren and have been to many of these showers. It’s just another day.”

“Janice, please.” Jolene states. “It’s Katniss’ day, let’s not spoil it.” She warns her. Jolene was the only one who really called her mother-in-law out and that served for a tense relationship between the two of them. Janice usually never fought back and gave up. After 20 years of Jolene in the family, Janice knows how head-strong Jolene is and gave up arguing considering that’s what Jolene does for a living.

She huffs, sucking in her lips and moves to the refreshment table.

The call for lunch is a welcome relief and I disappear down to the study with Mom following me.

“Just ignore her.” Mom tells me.

“Do you know how hard it is to please her? Nothing I do pleases her and nothing ever will. I mean, I’ve had her grandchild and pregnant with another. I’m creating life and it’s still not good enough for her.” Tears well in my eyes and my mother pushes me into the bathroom. Locking the door.

"Look at me!" She urges me, lifting my face up to her. "Don't let petty people like her bring you down. They're trying to lower you down to their level and you've never let that bother you before. You'd stand your ground and stand up to the bullies." She says. "Remember all those cuts, bruises and scars are from those times you never stood down. You're bulletproof my dear. Let her fire away but don't let her bring you down. You're a mother. You're a warrior. You're strong and determined and no mother-in-law can bring you down.” She tells me. “You hear me?”

I nod, sniffle and wipe my nose.

She helps me touch up my make up and gives me a moment to gather myself before we exit the bathroom. Janice is caught up with the grandchildren and her sons outside to see me and I do my best to try and enjoy the afternoon. The girls will ask her to leave if she steps out of line. Or I will. I might gain the courage to tell her how I really feel. Blame it on pregnancy hormones.

Mom and Madge start cleaning up from lunch and Camille drag us all into the living room for the games. A few had already started when everyone arrived, guessing the sex, date of birth and weight of the baby.

Camille begins the games, starting with guessing the measurement of my belly. I'm glad I can sit and rest my feet for most of them and watch everyone.

“We’ll see who the winner is later.” Camille tells them. “Just keep your string.”

It’s a very arty based baby shower. A lot of games and activities to do with art and crafts. There’s a onesie decorating station that has had many participants and a few interesting creations, especially from the men outside. Madge had printed out an ABC coloring book the night before for people to color in. She'd laminate and bound the pages into a book for the baby. The pages would be colored with little notes left from the guests.

“We’re going to play a game of Baby shower bingo.” Madge tells them. She’s joined us after cleaning up the kitchen and hands out the cards and blotters to everyone.

I join in on this game; sitting beside Delly on the couch and Madge calls out the answers from cards she prepared after interviewing me a week ago.

“November 20 is when Katniss thinks the baby will be born.” Madge calls and moves on to the next card.

“You’ll go before then.” Delly tells me with a chuckle. “Irish twins.”

“I hope not.”

“She hopes for a blonde haired baby.”

We go through the cards, blotting as we go. The baby monitor cackles and Mom moves to go and check in on Adeline for me. I note the time, seeing she’s had a shorter nap than usual. I hope she’s just rolled over and gone back to sleep.

Jolene wins the bingo and wins a box of chocolates with a pleased smile.

Mom brings Adeline downstairs, having changed her into her dress and brings her to me for a cuddle. She’s a bit shy and hides from the attention and I hold her on my lap, rocking her gently as she hides in my chest.

“You sleep well?” I ask her, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. She murmurs into my chest and I hold her while Madge begins the next game.

Camille drags Peeta into the room next to ask him 20 questions related to me and the pregnancy. This’ll sure make his mother roll her eyes.

“Dad, when is Katniss’ birthday?” Camille asks.

“May 8th.”

“What is her sister’s full name?”

“Primrose.”

“How far along is she?”

“30 weeks.” He tells us all proudly.

“What was her first craving?”

“Strawberries dipped in Nutella. I had to search high and low for a jar of Nutella.” He smiles at me. And I smile back. For him to remember that specific craving amazes me.

"What is her favorite TV Show?"

"Shameless and Brooklyn 99."

"What is her favorite season?"

“She loves spring, that’s when the dandelions come out.”

“Favourite hobby?”

“Anything to do with the outdoors, hiking, archery, camping or swimming. She loves reading too.”

"Her favorite song to sing Addie?"

“The meadow song. Her father used to sing that to her as a child. And Sweet Adeline.”

“Favourite food?”

“Cheese buns or lamb stew.”

"Your daughter's full name?"

“Adeline Rose Mellark.”

“How did you decide her name?”

“We danced to Sweet Adeline when we met in Fiji.”

“What did she want to be when she was growing up?”

“She wanted to be Wonder Woman.” He laughs. “It broke her heart when she was told she was just a fictional character.”

“The book that is currently sitting on her bedside table?”

“There are a few.” He says. “Guess How Much I Love You, a book full of baby names, The Handmaids Tale and Jane Eyre. She’ll finish Jane Eyre one day.”

"What is her favorite color?"

“Green.”

“When is the baby’s due date?”

“It’s changed a few times but November 23rd.”

“What has she craved the most?”

"Cheese buns, chocolate yogurt and pears."

“What does she think she’s having?”

“She doesn’t admit it but a little boy. She wants a mini-me which will probably turn into his older brother.” He chuckles.

“Which out of the two of you changed Addie’s diapers the most?”

“She’d say it was even but I will have to say she changed the most maybe by just a few.”

“And lucky last, will they be bakers or hunters?”

“Katniss would love chubby little bakers but they can choose to be whatever they want.”

“20 out of 20, perfect score.” Camille says. “You definitely know the deep stuff.”

Adeline has spruced up and wants to go with her father and I hand her off to him and focus on the party. They play games that brings out everyone’s competitive side and I’m in stitches listening to the banter and trash talk coming from them all.

It’s fair competition and everyone has a chance at winning. Delly wins the measurement of my bump having an exact measurement.

I’m spoilt with gifts, despite my wishes for people to not bring any considering this is baby number 2 and I have most of my stuff already. But I'm spoilt with more clothes, toys, and books. Madge, Gale, Camille, and Nolan have chipped in and bought me a double stroller.

“We can’t have our siblings not riding around in some dingy looking thing, they’ve gotta look stylish.” Camille tells me as she wheels in the double stroller. I had wanted one that had the ability to convert into a single or a double. One that wasn’t too wide to fit into shops and take up the sidewalk and that could be interchangeable with seating options and travel systems. And obviously, they had asked their father what I was interested in and purchased the exact one I wanted.

“You all didn’t have to. Thank you.” I tell Camille embracing her. “I love it.”

"We knew you were looking and had your sights on this, hopefully, the kids and you will be stylish cruising around town.”

There’s an array of gifts for the baby, myself, Peeta and even Adeline. A lot of them spoiling the soon to be big sister with gifts.

“Have you ordered one of those cheesy t-shirts for Addie?” Jolene asks me.

“Prim has.” I tell her and feel saddened she’s not here yet. “She’ll insist having Addie in it when she meets the baby.”

“Despite how cheesy it is, they make for cute photos.” Delly says. “I plan to do that to Madden if we have another. They’re good 21st photos.”

Peeta comes in just towards the end of opening the presents with Adeline who wants me. He checks out the gifts we got and thanks, everyone.

“I didn’t bring anything because we were told on the invite not to.” Janice states and I know she’s at the beginning of a tantrum.

“It’s fine, Mom. We didn’t expect all this.”

"Well, it makes me look bad that I didn't bring anything."

“Mom, it’s fine.” Peeta reassures her. “We weren’t expecting anything, really. You being here is enough.” He tells her. I know he’s treading on water, careful of what he says in case she blows and starts going on about the so-called ‘midlife crisis’ I’m carrying. The second midlife crisis.

“How about we do the cake.” Camille suggests, diffusing the situation before anything else is said and my afternoon is ruined.

They present me the cake and all the men from outside come in to witness me cut the cake. They've made the cake large enough to feed the large turnout.

It’s a beautiful 2-tiered semi-naked drip cake. It’s simple but definitely what I wanted. Peeta and Camille have done a wonderful job on the presentation with wildflowers, macaroons, white and milk chocolate curls as well a cake topper sticking out that reads ‘Baby Mellark’. I kiss Peeta and hug Camille, thanking them for the beautiful cake.

Camille is sure to take photos of me while I cut the cake and Peeta holds Adeline on his hip and helps me with the knife as we cut into the bottom layer.

“I’m surprised she’s even giving the kids the Mellark last name.” I hear his mother say to whomever she’s standing with and I tense up. Peeta quickly squeezes my hand for support.

“Thank you to everyone for coming today.” Peeta begins to say. “We’re really blessed to have you all here, showing us you’re support and love for the next chapter in our life. It’s been a crazy twelve months but I wouldn’t change it for the world.” He smiles at me and kisses Adeline’s cheek. “I’ve been blessed with my beautiful partner, our beautiful daughter Addie and soon the next Mellark baby.” He laughs. “Katniss, you’ve fit into our family nicely and we all love you so much. We’ve done this all back to front and upside down but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

He kisses my temple and squeezes me against his body. "And thank you again to everyone who came and celebrated. To the guys for giving me crap about my team and my team beating you all in the end. And to the ladies who spoilt Katniss today. It means a lot to us to have you all in our lives. To my beautiful children, Madge, Gale, Camille and Nolan, thanks for your help. We called you all to help last minute and we didn't hear a complaint and you all helped create this. You all took turns wrangling Addie, still cooked us dinner and helped late into last night doing the finishing touches to let Katniss not have to lift a finger as her sister who had planned the whole thing was stuck saving lives last night. And to Prim who organized this whole thing, I've just seen you sneak through the door and you did amazing work with everything you organized and creating this beautiful day. Also to Katniss’ mother and father who helped us out a lot too.” He smiles. “We’ll serve the cake now and the rest of the desserts.”

Adeline comes to me as Peeta cuts up the cake. Madge had taken what felt like a million pictures and I slide away to see Prim.

"I'm so sorry I missed it." She apologizes as I embrace her.

“It’s fine, you still made it here for the cake at least.” I smile.

“You look beautiful. You’re glowing.”

“Thank you.” I tell her. “You hungry?”

“Starving.”

Mom gets Prim a plate of leftovers and we both go and sit with our beautiful great nana and Nan. Adeline happily sits in her lap, chatting and cooing and Nana coos back, complimenting how beautiful she is.

“She’s like you.” Nana tells me. “In looks and characteristics.”

My Nan agrees with her mother and tickles Adeline. I hoped Adeline had a strong relationship with her grandparents as Prim and I did. We were blessed to have a great nana and Adeline was blessed to have a great-great grandmother, great grandmother and great grandfather and a Nan and Pop who are in her life, guiding her throughout. As well as the aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings. I made a mental note to try and continue to see Nana and Nan at least once a fortnight when the new baby came.

Peeta comes over with cake for us all and Nana and Nan both compliment Peeta. Nana pinches Peeta’s cheeks like he’s a small child.

“What a talented boy you are.” Nana compliments. “I’m so glad you found my Katniss.” She smiles. “She deserves the world.”

“She does but I plan on giving her the whole universe.” Peeta tells her. My Nana grins and I know she’s glad I found him.

“You’re a good boy. Treat her well.”

“Don’t worry, he does Nana.” I reassure her. “Both Addie and I. And button.”

"He reminds me of your great-grandfather. I knew I wanted to marry him after our first date. Everything just was easy. We had our hard times, our fights and arguments but we got through them and remembered why we fell in love with each other in the first place. Every day was like our first date and we loved each other everyday until he passed away." She smiles. "Promise me both you will love each other every day because life is short but can be rewarding if you make the most of it.”

“We will Nana.”

“We’ll make sure of it.” Peeta tells her.

Guests slowly begin to leave and we thank them as they leave, handing them a gift bag as a thank you. Peeta’s mother was first to leave but not without a double take of us both and an upturned nose as she exited the house. Everyone else hugged us, spoke to us, thanking us both and wishing us luck in the coming weeks before they left.

Just our family stayed behind. The kids, my parents, Prim, Peeta’s brother’s and they’re family also stayed behind. They helped clean up and Mom and I started on dinner. Nothing too fancy, just the leftovers and a few more drinks. Annie and Finnick also stayed behind with Peeta’s invite.

Adeline crawled amongst the presents as I showed Prim what I got and we organized everything the best we could and wrote in the cards who gave us what to send a thank you out.

We were gifted with lots of onesies, socks, and singlets as we were going into the cooler weather. Diapers, wipes, bibs, swaddles, toys, books and lots of bath products. Adeline’s own pile was quite big with little gifts like new clothes, toys and headbands and beautiful hats. She even received her own cards, wishing her luck on becoming a big sister.

Prim took most of the gear into the dining room to be sorted later. Mom took Adeline to take up to bath and to dress before bed.

“What time are we heading to the boutique?” I ask Madge, picking the strawberries from Peeta’s dessert plate.

“I’ll come and get you at 9. Is that OK?”

I turn to Peeta confirming tomorrow. “Yep, I’m on Addie watch tomorrow.” He reminds me.

“Sorry, I have terrible baby brain.” I tell Madge.

She laughs. “All good.” She slightly frowns. “Will you be alright with Mom and Gran?”

I nod. “I’ll be fine.” I tell her. “I’ve got Camille.”

“Don’t worry, I’m on them both.” She reassures Madge. “Everything will be fine.”

We’re left alone just after I put Adeline to bed. Peeta runs me a bath and makes me a cup of sweet tea and lets me rest while he finishes cleaning up downstairs.

He comes back just after I’ve gotten out and rubbing lotion into my skin on the bed with my gown open and my pajamas beside me. He has his iPad in hand and a smirk on his face. Something that I've learned means he has something to show me or he's done something.

“What’s going on?”

“I’ve got a gift for you.”

“A gift?”

“Yes, it’s something I’ve been working on since Hawaii.”

I slip underneath the covers and he turns on his iPad and hits play on the video.

An acoustic version of one of my favorite pop songs begins and showcases Adeline, the first day she came home sleeping soundly in my arms and me smiling up at Peeta with a tired smile. It brings tears to my eyes and a smile forms on my face as I watch this video come to life. This video he created for me as a gift. I know I made the right choice in being with this man.

He wanted to learn something new and after trying a million things, he stumbled into videoing and editing after speaking to one of his workers who was studying at film school. And this is what he’s done. It looks professionally done, I’m amazed.

There are various shots of Adeline growing, learning and doing new things, shots of me in there with Adeline or by myself, family shots or some of him and Adeline.

It's a mixture of everything and I watch the beauty that Peeta has brought to this video he created. It's a mixture of the ups and downs of parenting and our relationship before there's a documentation of my growing belly, ultrasounds, moments he caught me caressing my belly and when Adeline starting communicating with her sibling. There's everything from parties, birthdays, holidays and everyday moments. The video ends with our vacation in Hawaii. There's beach shots, dancing, island hopping, helicopter riding, downtime moments, Adeline embracing her new world and ends with Adeline and I watching the sun go down on our last night on the island.

Tears are covering my face when I turn to Peeta and he wraps me up in his arms, kissing the top of my head.

“I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

“It was so beautiful. I love it.” I tell him. “Can you give me it?”

“Already done.”

"I feel like I don't tell you enough but thank you." I tell him, kissing him and pushing me back against the mattress.


 

I climb into Madge’s car, rubbing the spot where the baby has just kicked me. It was a low kick and I felt it right around my belly to my back.

“You alright?”

“Just painful kick.”

“You look a bit pale, you ok?”

"Yeah, just couldn't sleep last night." I tell her. She didn't need to know Peeta and I were up quite late but even after our lovemaking, the baby was jittery and jumpy and I was awake most of the night. "Baby wouldn't sit still."

“I’m hoping we can have this done quite quickly and I can return you home.”

“Thank you.”

She picks up Posy who made up part of the bridal party. Madge had four bridesmaids, Camille who was maid of honor, Posy, Delly and myself. Gale had his two brothers, Nolan and his best friend. Rory was serving as his best man. Camille had gone to get her mother and Gran to bring them along for the day. We were trying on bridesmaid dresses and Madge was trying on dresses. She had a few ideas but wasn’t sold on anything just yet.

We're first to arrive with Delly and our host brings us in and sits us down, offering champagne and some canapés. She asks Madge was she was thinking in terms of bridesmaid dresses and then her own dress. The host and her assistant have filled the racks in the room with dresses, colors that resembled M&M's and I groaned at the colors. I was they'd be much more muted than these. The styles are fine, just the colors are all wrong.

"Oh, when are you due?" The assistant asks.

“9 weeks. In November.”

"How nice. My sister is due at the beginning of November. Her first baby."

“This is my second.” I tell her. “You’re sister will be fine. Just tell her to enjoy it as it goes so quickly.”

“I will.” She smiles

I feel the air go cold and turn to see Janice and Cashmere entering the store with Camille trailing. They head up to us and the host starts, asking everyone for their measurements and handing out the dresses to everyone.

"Don't worry, these are just stock colors, they can come in an array of colors." The host smiles.

I feel a slight cramp in my hip and brace myself before I stand up. I follow Delly towards the change rooms and I help zip her up. She helps me, letting me lean on her as she helps me step into the dress. We’ve all tried different styles on to show Madge. Mine strapless, Delly’s held up by the neck, Posy’s has one strap and Camille’s double straps.

We step out to show Madge and she studies us all, gets us to turn around and show off the dress. We give her our feedback and she’s happy to hear our advice, as we’ll be the ones wearing them.

“What style do you think would be easier for you to breastfeed in, Katniss?” She asks me.

“Maybe strapless.” I tell her. “Or something I don’t have to fiddle too much with. The straps should be fine but halter style maybe not.”

I hear Janice snort. She’s probably thinking it’s all about me. Cashmere has surprisingly been fine and had complimented us all.

We try on a few more styles and the last dress I’m given, I feel an awful cramp in my lower abdomen that has me clutching my stomach.

“Katniss, you OK?” Delly asks.

“Just cramping.”

“Are you Ok?”

“I think so.”

“Tell me if you’re not.”

I nod and go to use the bathroom before getting into the dress. There’s a bit of discharge in my underwear, a bit more fluid like than anything but I push it aside and head on back to try on the dress.

I overhear Janice bitching to Cashmere as I head back.

“You know Janice, I’ve been nothing but nice to you and you treat me like I'm nothing. I know you don't like me and that's fine but for the sake of today can you just be quiet. You ruined my day yesterday but I don't want you doing that to your granddaughter. This is a day she's been dreaming of since she was a child and you're ruining it but whining and bitching about me. Just for the sake of Madge, can you please keep all comments to yourself while we do this? I know it’s hard to be in the same room as me but seriously, just act like everything is fine and you’re enjoying yourself.” I tell her rubbing my cramping belly. “Why is that the ex-wife treats me better than the mother-in-law?” I mumble to myself as I turn around and head back to the dressing rooms.

Madge picks out a style she likes, strapless dresses for all of us. She finds a shawl that'll go and we all agree on the champagne color of the dress. The dresses are nicely priced and we change back into our clothes. The dress doesn’t attract much to our stomachs and is flowy and loose and empire style which will hopefully draw away attention from my postpartum stomach.

I sit down on the lounge beside Camille and Delly and we wait for Madge to come out in a dress she’s trying on.

I drink some water and feel another cramp. I clutch the lounge with my knuckles turning white and wait for it to pass. There was no bleeding before just a bit of fluid.

Madge comes out in her dress with the assistant holding the train for her. It’s long sleeved, plain with just some lace detailing on top. It suits her beautifully and I can see the smile on her face and how happy she is.

Cashmere is smiling, with tears in her eyes and I can’t wait for this to be Adeline standing there before me in her wedding dress.

But I feel the tears in my eyes too because she’s so beautiful and her father will think she is absolutely beautiful when he sees her.

She shows off to us and decides to try the other one on just in case. I cramp slightly and try to hide the pain from my face.

When Madge appears in the next dress I fall forward onto my knees, clutching my stomach and crying out in pain.

Everyone swarms around me except for Janice who huffs that I’ve drawn the attention away from Madge.

“What’s wrong, Katniss?” Delly asks me. “Are you having contractions?”

“I don’t know.”

“How many cramps have you had in the last hour?”

“About 4, I think.” I wince, riding through the pain best I can.

"She's in preterm labor." Cashmere tells them and steps away grabbing a phone from the table and calling for 911.

“Don’t call an ambulance.” I tell Cashmere. “Just someone drive me.”

Cashmere kneels in front of me. "It'll be the quickest way to seeing a Doctor." She tells me. "And if you're in labor, the quicker you see a doctor, the quicker they’ll be able to slow it down for you.” She tells me with a smile and dials the number as she walks off. “Ambulance please.”

“Just breathe.” Delly encourages me. “Deep breaths.”

Camille and Madge both hold my hand, giving me reassuring squeezes whilst Delly gives me water. I listen to Cashmere speak to the operator.

"29-year-old woman who is 30 weeks pregnant experiencing preterm contractions."

"I'm so sorry, Madge." I apologize to her.

“It’s fine.” She tells me. “You and the baby are more important than my dress.” She smiles. “I’m going to get out of this dress and I’ll go with you in the ambulance.”

I nod and focus on my breathing and trying my best to not focus on the worst-case scenario.

I just hope I’m not delivering my baby today at 30 and a half weeks.

The ambulance arrives shortly after and they start asking me questions, they give me the oxygen mask, perform a few quick spot tests before loading me up onto the gurney.

“We’ll get you to the hospital right away, Katniss.” The paramedic tells me. “Is anyone coming with us?”

Madge tells them she’ll be joining them and gives her keys to her mother to drive her car home. “Camille, maybe go home to Nolan and help him with Addie.” Camille tells her she’s got it under control.

She’s on the phone as they wheel me out of the bridal store.

“Dad, where are you?” She asks him. He’ll know something is up. “Is Nolan home?” She asks him. “Ok, I’m sending Camille over and she’ll watch Addie while you come and meet us.” She tells him as I’m loaded into the back of the rig and the paramedics speak back to each other. “Which hospital?” She asks the paramedics and relays that we’re heading to Panem West, the same place Prim works and where I had Adeline. “She’s having contractions, Dad." She tells him. "Just take your time, I'm with her just get here safely and I'll see you soon." She says. "I will. See you shortly Dad."

She hangs up the call as the ambulance speeds through the city with the sirens blaring and squeezes my hand.

“Dad said to be strong, everything will be fine and he’ll be here.” She tells me. “And he said to tell you, always.”

I nod into the mask and try to focus on my breathing and not letting my mind go into overdrive as I’m rushed through the city.

“Always.” I whisper to myself, squeezing Madge’s hand and closing my eyes to focus solely on my breathing and my little button who needs all my strength and love at this moment.

 

Chapter Text

Peeta

“Now, what do you want for lunch, Addie?” I ask her, opening the refrigerator and peaking in. Adeline chews her sleeve and rests happily on my hip. “Some sweet potato?” I ask her, holding out the container of sweet potato. She kicks her legs and gives me a smile. “You’re definitely your mother’s daughter.” I tickle her side and she giggles.

We’ve had a pretty chilled out morning together, I’ve had the chance to do some work and design some cakes whilst Adeline slept. She’s only just woken and after a bit of play we’ve worked up an appetite.

I opt to feed her instead of letting her self-feed. She doesn't complain and we chat while I feed her. I was so thankful Katniss was this organized with prepped meals for Adeline. It helped on these days I was behind and caught up with work.

My phone rings and I see its Madge.

“What’s your sister doing?” I ask Adeline and answer the call.

“Hey, how’s dress…”

“Dad, where are you?” She asks immediately, cutting me off.

“At home.” I tell her. “What’s wrong?” I ask her.

“Is Nolan home?”

“No, he’s not.”

“I’m going to send Camille over and she’ll watch Addie while you come meet us.”

“Camille, what’s happened?” I ask her.

“We think Katniss has gone into labor.” She tells me and I freeze.

I look at Adeline who is looking up at me, wondering why I’ve stopped feeding her. I don’t know what to do and I look around the room for my things.

Madge tells me which hospital to meet them at.

“She’s having contractions, Dad.” She tells me. “Just take your time, I’m with her. Just get here safely and I’ll see you soon.” She tells me, almost too calm.

“Ok. Just tell her to be strong and that everything will be fine. Tell her I’ll be there.” I say and look at our daughter. “And tell her, always.”

“I will. See you shortly Dad.”

She ends the call just as the sirens sound and I start to panic. I look at the time, wishing Camille would hurry up but know I can’t do anything for Katniss until she’s at the hospital. I finish feeding Adeline and make her up a bottle. I check to make sure there's some expressed milk in case Katniss is kept in for a while. I wonder if I should pack some clothes for Katniss but decide I'll wait until I know what's going on.

I pace, letting Adeline have her bottle in her swing while she watches a cartoon.

And the second the door opens; I make a move for my keys and wallet.

“Dad!” Camille calls out.

I nearly bowl her over as I make a move for the front door. “She’s had her lunch and is in the living room with a bottle. You know where everything is. There’s milk in the fridge defrosting. Just call if you need anything.”

She places her hands on my shoulders and wills me to calm down. “Dad, deep breaths.” She tells me.

“Camille.” I say, tears filling my eyes. “She could be having the baby right now and I’m not there.”

“But you’ve been with Addie. Katniss would want you with Addie, making sure she feels loved and safe and not scared. Madge is with her. Just breath.” She urges me. “Madge was there when Addie was born, she’s a pro at being a birth coach.”

I take in a few deep breaths, following Camille and it has an instant calming effect on me.

“I just, need to be with her.” I tell her, swallowing the lump that has formed in my throat.

“You will be. Madge said she’d call if anything happened.” Camille says. “I’ve got Addie, don’t worry about her. I’ve called Katniss’ mother and she said she’d come over and help me out. I’ll rearrange the roster at the bakery. You go be with Katniss.”

I kiss her forehead and go into the living room, kissing Adeline. “Be good for Camille.” I whisper to her. “I’ve got to go check on your Mama and Button.”

I try to stick to the limit as I head for the hospital. I focus on my breathing and keep checking my phone every second to see if Madge has texted or called.

"I'm coming, Katniss." I whisper as I turn off in the direction of the hospital.


 

Katniss

“Katniss, if you feel like pushing let us know.” The nurse tells me as they hook me up to IV’s, heart monitors and other machines I can’t name. Prim is in the room, having spotted me enter the ER just before.

I nod, breathing into the oxygen and focusing on the pains. They were definitely contractions. It was 10 months earlier I was here delivering Adeline. I knew these were contractions.

Effie arrives quickly, swooping into my room and checking my chart and quickly examining me.

“What happened?”

Madge steps in. "We were trying on dresses for my wedding, nothing too strenuous." She tells Effie. "She was looking a little pale this morning when I picked her up and was complaining of painful kicks. I told her to tell me if anything felt abnormal."

“How many cramps or contractions did you have?” Effie asks me softly.

I hold up a hand, showing her five fingers and then two.

“Within an hour?”

“And a half.” I softly tell her, removing the oxygen.

“Any fluid?”

I nod. “A little.”

“Ok, I’m going to do a quick ultrasound.” She tells me.

She’s quick and efficient and has the wand on my stomach quickly, looking at the screen and the baby.

“Baby isn’t engaged." She tells me. "You're uterus has dilated a centimeter, Katniss." She says. “You’re blood pressure is raised slightly. There’s been no break in the amniotic sac either.”

I start to panic that I’ll be rushed down for an emergency C-section and deliver Button at 30 weeks but she reassures me that everything is fine.

“We’ll give you some progesterone to hopefully delay labor.” She tells me. “And then we’ll look at the other options if this slows down your labor.”

A nurse enters with the drugs and she administers it to my IV and tells me to rest. Prim and Madge hover, watching me and urge me to close my eyes and try and sleep.


I wake when I feel his warmth and his sturdy hand holding mine.

He leans over and kisses my forehead when I open my eyes groggily.

“Hey, how are you feeling?”

"OK." I tell him. I've lost the oxygen mask and am breathing better. I don't feel like I'm short on breath and can get the oxygen into my lungs. "Who's got, Addie?"

“Camille was going to watch her for the night.”

I touch my chest, feeling how engorged my breasts are and know I need to either pump or nurse Adeline.

“What time is it?”

“Almost 5.”

“Do you think Camille could bring her in? I need to empty my boobs pretty badly. Or bring my pump?” I tell him. “And I want to kiss Addie goodnight.”

He kisses my forehead and goes outside to call Camille. I reach for my phone and see the texts that have come through from my family and friends asking how I am and for an update. I’ll leave that for Peeta to do later when we really know what’s going on.

Effie stops by my room, checks my chart and sits beside me on the bed.

“Peeta is just calling his daughter. I want to see Addie before she goes to bed and at least nurse her. My boobs are sore.”

Effie nods. “It’ll be good to see Addie.”

“What are my stats like?”

“Good.”

"You won't be rushing me down to the OR?"

“Not yet, the contractions have stopped but we want to make sure you don’t dilate any further.” She tells me. “So far, so good.”

“I’m so scared.”

“I know, it’s good to be scared.” She tells me with a smile. “I’ll check in on you in an hour or so.”

Peeta comes back in, sitting back down next to me and Effie leaves.

“You’re Mom is going to come in too.” He tells me. “She’s at home with Camille.”

I nod, snuggle down as best as I can and watch him through heavy eyelids. “Cashmere was really good with me today.” I tell him. “Can you pass on my thanks?”

“I will.” He tells me.

“I went off at your mother today as well.”

“That’s ok.” He smiles at me, pushing a strand of hair behind my ear. I can sense he’s smiling slightly.

“I just didn’t want her spoiling Madge’s day and told her straight.”

“Good.” He tells me and sighs, pushing my hair behind my ear and kissing my forehead. “It’s been a big weekend.”

“It has.” I agree, yawning.

“Get some sleep, I’ll wake you when Addie is here.”

I nod and close my eyes, willing myself to sleep and rest. I know I will need the rest in case things take a dramatic turn tonight and we end up with a premature baby in the NICU and a 10-month-old at home.

Camille, my mother, and Adeline arrive an hour before visiting hours end. I embrace my little girl tightly in my arms, kissing her forehead and inhaling her comforting baby smell.

“I missed you.”

She nuzzles into my chest and Peeta helps me with my gown. She's in her pajamas and Camille will be able to take her straight home and put her to bed with maybe a bottle, a book, and some back tickles. Madge had dropped her some clothes and dinner after she left my side this afternoon. Camille had rearranged staff and would have everything covered for the next few days at least.

But I didn’t expect her to watch Adeline the whole time. She could go to Mom and Dad’s and be taken care of by them if I had an extended stay.

I feel the pressure release from my boobs as I begin nursing and swap her midway through to release the other. They’ve packed a bag with some things for me, clothes, toiletries, phone charger and one of the books from my bedside table for the night at least.

“Have they told you anything more?” Mom asks.

"Labor has stopped and they're just monitoring my dilation. I've dilated a centimeter. If there's any more movement down there, they won't be able to stop."

“Ok.” She says. “But for now, everything has slowed down?”

“I think so.” I tell her.

Visiting hours comes to an end and after feeding Adeline, she sleeps over her sister’s shoulder and we kiss her goodbye as Camille and my mother leave for the night. I pump to relieve the rest of the pressure and Peeta bags it and places it in the mini fridge to take home tomorrow.

I lay down and Peeta goes for a walk and I rest my eyes.

“We’ve stopped it for now but we want to keep her in overnight just to monitor her and the baby.” I groggily overhear Effie tell Peeta outside my room. “She’s not out of the clear yet but she’s stable.”

"Thanks, Effie."

“We’ll have a nurse bring in a bed for you.”

He comes back to me and tells me the news but isn’t as positive that everything is out of the clear just yet.

He makes his bed and goes and brushes his teeth and then helps me brush my own teeth, spitting the residue into a cup. He brushes my hair and then braids it quite sloppily but I don't mind. I kiss him after he braids my hair and he settles in beside me on the bed. We switch off the light and on his phone, we watch the video he created for me.

I watched this multiple times last night and this morning, crying every single time. We watch it once and then other videos on his camera roll from the last 10 months of raising Adeline.

It distracts me for the most part and we happily snuggle into each other for most of the evening.


 

It’s a restless night with nurses coming and going all evening and I sleep on and off.

I wake well before sunrise and so does Peeta. He comes and joins me in my bed, cuddling me and willing me to try and sleep some more.

By 9 am, they tell me I'll be discharged and that Effie will be round shortly to explain to me my treatment plan.

I pump again and return everyone’s texts, letting them know I’ll be home and thanking them for their thoughts.

Peeta even responds to a text from his mother, asking how I am. It’s still shallow but at least she had the forethought to ask.

Effie explains my treatment plan. Strict bed rest for the next month.

“That should bring you to 35 weeks. If you experience contractions before then, then come in right away another week is better in the long run, especially for the maturity of the baby. I think this was just a scare and you should deliver after 37 weeks.” She tells me with a smile. “Now you’re bed rest procedure.” She hands me a sheet she’s printed off, telling me the dos and don’ts. “No intercourse either, ok?” She tells us.

“Yep, got it.”

“And I mean none for the remaining weeks of your pregnancy.”

I try not to scowl in front of her but know this is for the best possible outcome.

"Your bed rest is restricted, so I only want you moving for bathroom breaks and maybe some meals." She tells me. "Peeta, you'll have to become her carer for the next few weeks until I give her the all clear."

“Already done.” He tells her.

“The sheet will have everything else on there regarding travel, movements and what not. Make sure you try your best to exercise your muscles and follow the sheet with exercises that are safe and you’ll want to be mindful of blood clots in your legs. Peeta, maybe a nightly massage will help or slight movement.” She says. “Anything else, just call and I can advise you.”

“Thank you, Effie.”

"Peeta, I'd try setting up a station with everything located close by just to limit movements. Lot's of bottled water, some snacks, books, hand sanitizer, baby wipes and things like that. It should be on the list as well but it just makes it easier for her.”

I’m brought the discharge papers an hour later and sit on the bed, dressed and ready to go. They bring me a wheelchair and push me to the car, Peeta helping me into the passenger seat. I’m off limits in driving and only allowed in the car to come to my appointment at 32 weeks and again at 35 weeks. Peeta will have to pick up the slack in everything but I know there were some resourceful tools on the sheet that should help with the next few weeks.

He helps me inside and upstairs, waving hello to Camille and Adeline who is in the living room playing together. They follow us upstairs as I'm set on the bed and made comfortable with body pillows and extra blankets.

Adeline climbs over me and roots for a feed and I use the support of a body pillow to nurse her. It was mostly a comfort nurse and she’s off minutes later, just cuddling me.

I want to shower and eat and sleep.

But now, I’m just cherishing the moments with my little one. Making up for the night away.

I’m sad I won’t be able to watch her these next few weeks. Won’t be able to play with her, chase her around and take her for walks to the park or anywhere else.

But this is for her baby brother or sister. The bed rest, despite how hard it’ll be, it’ll be worth it if we get to 37 weeks.


 

We make a plan that night. We rearrange schedules, Peeta’s work and anything else that we have coming up for the next month.

We recruit our family. Or they more volunteer to help us out. They happily lend their help, offering afternoons, mornings or evenings to babysit, cook us meals, laundry, grocery shopping or keep me entertained when Peeta isn’t here.

Camille gives Peeta time off from the bakery, only requiring him if they desperately need him. Nolan steps up and takes some of his father’s shifts. Peeta will do the easy things he can do from home, the pays, rosters, inventory, accounts, and orders. I even suggested he could teach me some of this and I can help him out.

It’ll be a welcome change from Netflix and staring out the window for four weeks straight.

We make a plan for two days a week to do those work tasks and recruit Mom to come round and watch Adeline for us while we work.

We write a schedule for me. With everything from meals, showering, light exercising and massages and anything else. I have homecare nurse coming to see me each week who specializes in high-risk pregnancies and those on bed rest to check my progress and report back to my doctor.

Then there’s Adeline we have to work around, her doctor’s appointments, meal and sleep schedules, arranged play dates and anything else that she could surprise us with.

Peeta organizes for a cleaner to come in once a week and we arrange for our groceries to be delivered.

It's a slow and tedious process working out the next few weeks but we get there. I was always known for my schedules and rosters while working and those organization skills have come in handy.

“I’m sorry I’m leaving this to you all to do.” I tell him as we switch off the lights to head to bed.

He smiles at me in the darkness and reaches across to touch my stomach.

“It’s fine. You have to keep Button inside of you for as long as you can.” He tells me, kissing my cheek.

“I’ll have time to organize Addie's birthday too."

“Can’t forget Addie.”

I shake my head. “I was thinking, maybe when the baby comes, you and Addie can go on a daddy-daughter date once a week. I don’t want her feeling left out and it gives you two time to bond and do fun things.”

“Ok.” He agrees. “But I think you should do the same with Addie. Even if it’s just an hour a week, the two of you get out of the house and do something together.”

I smile at him. I don’t understand how I was so lucky for him to end up in my life.

“I’ll raise that again and make sure the four of us do something together. I want our children having memories of both us in their lives, especially from early on. I just have all these memories from growing up with all my family and its what I always wanted when I finally had my family. Lot’s of memories, new experiences and moments we’ve all shared together.”

“I like the sounds of that.” He smiles but I sense the pain and regret hiding in his eyes. I reach out, touching his cheek and urging him to tell me. “I did everything I could with the kids but I was forced to work long hours, I was studying, running carpool and taking them to weekend sport. I didn’t have a lot of money or time to take them places or on vacations whilst I was running the bakery. Most of the time they were with their mother during the summer and I only got them for two weeks and I’d take them camping because that’s all I could manage and afford for a while.”

“Peeta, your kids love and adore you.” I remind him. “They’re all fond of their upbringing and everything you did for them. They always tell me how hard working you were, inspiring and wonderful. Kids don’t care about holidays or fancy gadgets, as long as they have a roof over their head, food, warmth, and love. That’s what they’ll remember. And that’s what your kids are grateful for.”

He kisses me softly and tenderly but we leave it at that.

I know he’s forever thankful for this second chance. This chance to spoil his children. The younger ones and the older ones.

But I’m grateful for the way he raised his three oldest children and set up a future for his 2 youngest children.


 

By the end of the first week of bed rest, I’m going crazy.

I'm cooped up in bed or on the couch. I can't do anything on my own. Little things I did I wish I could do. Especially picking up Adeline from her crib.

Peeta has picked up everything around the house from caring for me to Adeline, doing general household tasks and helping Camille with the business. He brought home the pays, inventory, accounts and everything else yesterday. He showed me the basics and I helped him out while Adeline slept.

Adeline has changed her schedule this week and has begun waking during the night for a feed. Peeta has been waking to her to bring her to me to feed or gives her a bottle before he changes her diaper, settles her and gets her back to bed. He’s brought in the portable cot so she’s close by. Peeta just thinks it’s been the slight shift in our schedule that has disrupted Adeline and the night feed has been a comfort thing.

Our family has begun pitching in where they can and it’s been a welcome relief. Even just them cooking us dinner or coming and sitting up and having a conversation with me have been thoughtful. I’ve enjoyed the company and the distraction from the bed rest, they’ve overseen baby purchases, Adeline’s birthday party planning, Madge has come to me with wedding and honeymoon stuff and also needing help with work-related stuff that has me stretching my brain but has been nice to do some old work.

I’m waiting on Peeta to come and help me have a shower. I’ve had breakfast, fed Adeline and changed and dressed her and entertaining her whilst Peeta tidies up downstairs and gets ready for the day. He’s taking Adeline to playgroup for me. I know the girls are excited to have Peeta coming along with a promise of baked goods.

“You going to be a good girl for, Daddy?” I ask Adeline.

She smiles at me, babbling in response to me. Her whole chin is covered in drool and I dab it with a cloth. I have a steady hold on her, not wanting her to go over the edge of the bed as she’s really found the groove of crawling. If there were a baby crawling championship, she’d be a front-runner for first place.

She’s though happy to sit with me and read and play with her few toys Peeta’s left with us.

Adeline crawls closer to me, climbing up my body and wrapping her arms around my neck and kisses my nose and mouth leaving drool all over my face. I smile at her, nuzzling her nose with mine.

“I love you baby girl.”

She smiles at me and I hold her tightly to my chest. I look at her smile and notice there’s a new tooth that has popped through. Not just one but two.

“When did you get those new toothy pegs?” I ask her. “You didn’t even make a fuss baby girl.”

Peeta comes upstairs to help me with my shower.

“Addie’s got two new teeth.” I tell him.

“What?” He asks picking up Adeline and opening her mouth for him to have a look in. “Well look at that, two new teeth.”

“She didn’t even make a fuss.” I tell him.

“No, she didn’t. Come on Miss Addie.”

He places her in the walker in the bathroom whilst he helps me have a shower and get ready.

He’s a good nurse and I’m really appreciative of his help. He brushes my hair for me and braids it for me. He’s gotten good at braiding in the last week. He helps me into my clothes and back into bed.

“Ok, everything ok?” He asks me. Adeline follows us out of the bathroom in her walker. Peeta picks her up and holds her on his lap.

“Yep.” I nod.

"I've put bottles of water in the fridge. There are snacks and food as well. You've got your phone?"

“Yep.” I tell him.

“There’s the breast pump and everything you’ll need. Call me for any reason.”

"Yep. Thanks. Have a great time at playgroup." I wink.

“I will.” He winks back.

“And no flirting.” I tease.

"Hey, it's not my fault their favorite treats are cheese buns.”

“And how many cheese buns are you supplying?”

“2 dozen.” He murmurs against my lips.

“Tease.” I chuckle and kiss him. “Bring me home some.”

“Don’t worry, I brought you up some already.” He points to my station.

“God I love you.” I tell him. “And if we weren’t on restricted bed rest, I’d be ripping your clothes off of you right about now.” I whisper in his ear, holding his shirt in a fist to keep him close.

He jerks a little. “Don’t, I’ve got to face the others and I can’t be thinking of… S-E-X.” He pronounces in front of Adeline. He doesn’t want one of our daughter’s first words to be sex. We’ve been careful in what we’ve been saying these last few months as she’s showing interest in our conversations, babbling and trying to form and trying to mimic us. She’s started babbling Ma and Da but we’re not prepared for the swear word or anything inappropriate.

Peeta always tells me Camille and Nolan’s first started saying ‘fuck’ when they were around 13 months old. Mama, Dada, and fuck. It caused for interesting looks when they were at the park or the mall and the kids were screaming fuck at the top of their lungs. Peeta was mortified as people looked at him ashamed. The kids didn't really know what it meant, they were just used to hearing swearing from their uncles and in the bakery.

“Have a fun time, Addie girl.” I kiss her goodbye. “Have fun with all your friends.”

She kisses me back and I kiss Peeta again.

“Call me if anything is wrong.” He tells me. “I should be home when the nurse gets here.” I nod looking at our big whiteboard schedule. “Any special requests for lunch?” He asks.

“Whatever you feel like, I’m not fussed.”

“Ok. I’ll see you later.” He tells me, kissing me again and then heading out with Adeline for the morning.

I settle in, reaching for one of the many books I’m reading and try to focus on that.

But I’m too restless. And I need to pee again.

I slowly swing my legs to the side of the bed and getting up slowly. I take my time getting to the bathroom and use the toilet before heading back to bed. I can’t stare at the page of my book for too long and reach for my iPad instead where I finish planning Adeline’s first birthday.

I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it but with the fact she’ll be a big sister shortly after and the attention divided, I wanted to do something fairly big and memorable. Not just for Adeline but for Peeta and I too.

We'd have it the weekend before she turned one, hopefully, the new baby won't be here or I'll be stuck in the hospital. If that happens, I know our family will step in and help make Adeline's day, even if it'll pain me to miss it. That's what photos, videos, and Facetime is for.

I decide on a Fall theme, ‘Adeline’s Pumpkin Patch’ and begin on the planning and ordering of decorations, Adeline’s party outfit and making up a menu for the day. I plan out the desserts and her cake that I hope Peeta will be able to make.

By the time Peeta gets back, I have a mock-up invite created, the menu planned and decorations ordered. Peeta might be able to create some of the bigger pieces or maybe Madge. She’s got an eye for art, just like her father.

“So, what do you think?” I ask him.

“I love it.” He tells me. “I should even be able to make a replica of that cake too.”

I kiss his cheek in appreciation. “Yes. Thank you.”

My home care nurse comes to visit. She's due to check my blood pressure, the baby and to see if I've dilated any further. She ensures the baby is doing fine and checks my cervix. She draws some blood.

“Everything looks good, Katniss.” She tells me. “It’s a bit scary when you go into premature labor.”

“Very.” I agree.

“Bed rest is a bit hard but it’s worth it if you get a few extra weeks.”

I nod. "I was fearful I'd be stuck in the NICU with a preemie and have my 10-month-old at home."

“You’d find a way to manage. Most parents do.”

She packs up her kit, happy with my progress and tells me she'll report back to Effie this afternoon and drop my blood work off. She tells me she'll see me in two weeks time for another follow-up.

Peeta serves up lunch and we have a picnic in bed. Adeline lazily eats and leans on me while Peeta fills me in on playgroup.

“There was a bit of tension between Glimmer and Clove.” He tells me.

I just roll my eyes. The two girls were quite stuck up, had the best of everything, had the ‘perfect children', judged everyone else secretly and brought their nanny's along to playgroup to watch their kids whilst they socialized with just each other. I don't know how we fell into this group with them but found it better to keep on their good side. Adeline got along well with their daughters who were just a little older than her. Their daughters wore designer clothes, had their own Instagram accounts, matched their mothers and weren’t allowed to play if we had our gathering outside at the park. The girls only ate certain things and the nanny's had to sanitize everything before they played.

I always just kept my mouth shut and whinged to Delly after playgroup via text. We couldn’t believe the two of them but knew we shouldn’t judge, especially as I was trying to be accepting of all mother’s and parenting styles but they just seemed to have the girls for image and not really to be parents.

“What do you think happened?”

"Don't know but Clove was without the Nanny and actually socialized with us all.”

“That’s intriguing.” I said and reach for my phone. Bed rest has sent me crazy and I’ve found myself stalking people on social media. I’ve never been like this, to care about people and their lives but missing out on the outside world, on the socializing has brought me to the very worst of stalking.

There’s a changed profile picture on Clove’s page. The one before was of the family of three. Now it’s just Clove and her daughter Avana. Her relationship status has been removed from her homepage and is hidden in her bio page with no status at all.

I’m involved in a conversation with Delly straight away, tossing up what has happened. She thinks an affair with the Nanny and Glimmer is involved somehow. Probably defending the Nanny.

Peeta just shakes his head laughing. “It’s like the Bold and The Beautiful.” He laughs.

“With them it is. More like Real Housewives.”

And in that instant, Delly, Annie, and my group chat notify me to a new message and it's Delly filling me in on the day and her own theory as to what has happened to Clove and Glimmer.

He kisses my shoulder and tidies up from lunch and comes back up for us to organize Adeline's birthday. I just want to have everything in line in case something happens. I want to have it laid out in the instance that we're in the hospital with the new baby and my mom or the others have to step in.

We have plan after plan written up almost like a manual. It’s a little tedious but it works for us.

“I hope for the sake of Addie, we’re here for her birthday.” I admit to him. Adeline is asleep in the portable cot.

“Me too.”

“We didn’t really think this through did we?” He says laughing.

“It’s alright, the best things are never planned.” I remind him. “I just have this feeling the two of them will share a birthday.”

“If it happens, it happens.” Peeta says. “We can’t really make you close your legs until the day after.”

“No.” I laugh. “We’re going to have two kids who’ll resent us in years to come.”

“If that’s the only thing they resent us for then we’re doing a good job.” He tells me, kissing the top of my head. “We’ve got this.”


 

“You should see how tense it is.” Annie tells me. She’s come over to visit after playgroup and to drop off invites for her 30th and baby shower. Both I will have to miss but she still wanted to make me feel included. Peeta missed today’s playgroup as he had a big meeting for the bakery today he couldn’t miss. Annie though took Adeline along with her, offering to watch her.

Adeline sits in my lap and I cuddle her, making up for the time away.

“Yeah, where they both there?” I ask her.

“Yep. Glimmer sat on one side of the room pouting and making sure Alba wasn’t mixing with the babies.” Annie tells me. “Clove actually joined us and stepped back letting Avana play with the kids and had a conversation with us all.”

“Really?”

“Yep.” Annie tells me, sipping her tea.

“How was Addie?”

“A dream.” Annie tells me with a smile. “She is so well behaved and just this sweet little thing.”

“She didn’t cause you any trouble?”

She shakes her head. “She was fine. She didn’t make a fuss, played with the babies and kids and I hardly heard a word from her.”

“Might be a sign for things to come.” I laugh. “You’re just deceiving us all aren’t you, Addie?”

Annie and I laugh at Adeline who sucks her fingers and smirks behind her hand.

I nurse Adeline and Annie heats up some lunch for us.

“Everything coming together for the baby shower?” I ask her. It would be a small affair for her but that was Annie, didn’t like big crowds or gatherings. The moms from playground where invited, as were some of Finnick’s colleagues she’s met and their family that was coming out for her 30th that evening.

“Yep. All planned and set. I wish you could come.”

“Me too.” I tell her. “2 more weeks and I’ll be bed rest free hopefully.”

“You and that baby are more important than anything in this world.” She tells me, touching my belly gently. “You’ve both gotta be strong and healthy.” She smiles. “Now, is there anything you need help with?”

I don’t have anything that needs doing and we watch a movie together. The friendship I’ve found with Annie is great. It’s easy and honest and the two of us can speak about anything or nothing and still feel comfortable with each other. I sense she feels it too and we can casually exchange texts and phone calls or go a week without talking.

Her and Finnick have been great these last couple of weeks. And I’m thankful for these new friends. Even Finnick has been a good support for Peeta. Peeta’s friends are far and few, a lot of them living interstate. But Finnick is almost like a friend he’s grown up with all his life.

“I really appreciate you watching Addie today.” I tell her.

"Anytime." She smiles.

"Maybe not when you've got your own little boy." I laugh. "But I appreciate the help now. I just hate feeling like a thorn when nothing is really wrong with me."

“You’re not a thorn. And there’s a good reason you’re resting. Just enjoy it. Rest those feet, enjoy the quiet, the relaxation and being waited on.”

“I’m just never someone who relies on anyone. I hate owing people things.”

"It's not about owing or about favors. It's about you and your little one. People like to rally together when people are sick and in help and they don't expect repayment. It's seeing the person they're helping healthy and happy which is the ultimate repayment." She tells me. "I'll be happy to see you and the baby healthy and all those favors we helped you with will be worth it."

Annie joins us for dinner after Finnick is pulled in for an emergency surgery. Nolan, Camille, and Prim all join us as well for dinner.

“I love the cake designs.” Annie tells Camille. “They’re so beautiful.”

“Thank you.” Camille smiles. “So Prim, any hot doctor you’ve been seeing?” Camille asks with a wink.

“No.” Prim says, avoiding eye contact with us all and pushing her food around the plate.

“Primrose Katherine Everdeen!” I say. “What is his name and do you have a picture of him?” I ask.

She blushes, going red and reaching for her phone, flashing the screen for us.

“What, you’re not even Facebook friends?” Camille asks as Prim shows us the doctor she’s been dating.

“We don’t want the others to know.” She tells us.

"Well, what does Nathaniel Matthews do?” I ask her with a smirk.

"He's a pediatric fellow."

“And what is he like?”

And I watch her lips turn upwards into a smile. One that I’ve seen her rarely give when she’s talking about a guy she’s dating.

“He is wonderful.”

“Yeah?” Camille says. “And Aunty Prim, how’s the sex?” She smirks.

“We haven’t had it.”

“Bull shit.” Nolan points at her. “Look how shy you’ve gone, Aunty Prim, it must be earth-shattering.”

They’ve resorted to calling her Aunty Prim, despite her being the same age as them, it’s a running joke but she doesn’t mind. She plays along in good humor.

“We haven’t gotten to home base just yet, just…”

“To third and by the look on your face it must be amazing.” I add. “And you can’t wait to get to home base.”

We’re all in a fit of laughter, even Adeline joins in on the laughter which has us laughing even more.

“You should bring him round for dinner.” I tell Prim.

“Um, ok.”

“Only if you want to.” Peeta tells her. “No pressure.”

“No, we want to meet him, see if he’s right for our Aunt.” Nolan tells his father. “Maybe after he meets the parents.”

"Ahh shit." Prim swears when she realizes she'll have to introduce them to Mom and Dad.

“Don’t worry, Prim. I sprung Mom and Dad with a baby and Peeta, I’m sure they’ll be fine.”

“And maybe you should bring him to Addie’s first birthday. They’ll be distracted with Addie and there’ll be plenty of people.” Annie suggests. “That’s if he likes kids.”

"He's a pediatrician, of course, he likes kids." Prim says.

“There’s a difference.” Nolan states. “Just because he likes kids doesn’t mean he doesn’t like them outside of work.”

“That doesn’t make sense.” Prim rolls her eyes and turns to her niece. “Addie, I hope they give you this much trouble when you start dating.”

“She’s not dating until she’s 28.” Peeta announces.

“Yeah because no one will ever be perfect for Miss Adeline Rose.” Camille states, kissing her sister’s cheek. “Except maybe Madden or Annie’s little boy.”

"I'd be honored for my son to marry Addie." Annie tells us.

Nolan tidies up and Peeta gets Adeline and me upstairs to get ready for bed after everyone leaves. He bathes Adeline and brings her to me for her bedtime massage and nurse. She’s sleepy as we read a book and nurses and goes down easily. Peeta helps me get showered and dressed.

“How do you feel your sister having a boyfriend?” He asks me, handing me my toothbrush.

“As long as he treats her right and she’s happy, I’m happy for her.” I tell him. “He’s attractive too which is a bonus and definitely Prim’s type.”

“What do you think your parents will say?” He asks.

“I think they’ll be happy for her.” I smile.

He helps me to bed and stretches and massages my legs for me.

“Nancy and Dave said they’re going to come up in two weeks.” I tell him.

“That’ll be nice.” He smiles.

“The kids have been asking to visit for a while. And with our plans to go and visit changed Nancy thought it’d be perfect to come down for a few days instead. Is that OK?”

"Yeah, that's perfectly fine."

“I should be off bed rest by then and it’ll be Halloween.” I tell him excitedly.

“Can’t wait for Halloween this year.” Peeta says with a smile. We’d decided on a family costume. Monster Inc. Adeline as Boo, Peeta as Scully and myself as Mike. Or more my belly as Mike’s head.

I had dreams each year to have the greatest costumes. I knew it’d be hard as the kids got older and wanted to do their own thing but I’d always push for family costumes. And looking at Peeta’s family photos of their Halloween costumes, I knew I’d want those memories to look back on.

He switches off the lamp and climbs under the covers beside me. He rubs my belly, feeling where the baby is moving.

“That was a big one.” He laughs quietly. “Might have to start seeking professional soccer clubs with a kick like that.”

“Or early enrolment into karate.” I laugh. “Maybe Button is just saying, I’m running out of room.”

“Probably is but you can’t make your exit for at least four more weeks Button. You stay inside of Mommy for the next month where it’s nice and warm then you can make your departure for this big world. It might seem like you’re missing out but the longer you stay inside, the quicker you’ll be able to embrace this new world. The logic probably doesn’t make sense but just trust me on this Button.”

I smile at him and he looks up at me and kisses me quickly before we both place our hands on my stomach.

“I can’t believe we’ll be parents of two soon.” I say to him.

“I can’t wait.”

Chapter Text

“You’ve got the all clear.” Effie tells me at my 35-week appointment. Peeta has driven me in for my check-up after four weeks of bed rest. Effie wanted to monitor me for the month and if there was no progress I’d be allowed off of exclusive bed rest and allowed to do more with a few restrictions.

"That's great." I tell her with a relieved smile.

“I bet it is. You hadn’t had any contractions?”

“Just Braxton Hicks which I had the entire pregnancy with Addie.” I tell her. “But no contractions.” I tell her with a smile.

“That’s good.” She smiles and smiles at Peeta and Adeline who sit in the chair beside the exam table. “I assume you did everything?” She asks Peeta.

"Yep but it's Ok. It's for the health of both of them." He smiles. "She did manage to organize a lot though." He laughs.

"Most of my high-risk Mom's do." She laughs. "Let me guess, the nursery?"

“Yes.” I laugh. “And Addie’s birthday. I did a lot of online shopping.”

She laughs and places the gel on my belly to perform the ultrasound. "Hopefully some nice things for yourself too?"

“A few nice things.” I tell her. “Mostly stuff for Addie’s room and the nursery. It’s so hard to know what to buy for the baby though. I mean I have a few boy things in case it’s a boy to get started but we can recycle Addie’s things if it’s a girl.”

“That’s where you’re family and friend come in to help you out.” She smiles and grabs the wand moving it over my belly.

Our baby appears on the screen, fingers in mouth sitting like a budda. The heartbeat is steady and strong and Effie is happy with everything.

"Good heartbeat. I think Button just gave you a little scare but wasn't really ready to come out just yet. I think they realized how warm and cozy it was inside.”

“I hope so.”

“I still want you to be careful and limited in what you’re doing. Still no intercourse or long-distance travel. Just limit yourself. You have made it this far but I want you to get to at least 37 weeks."

I nod understanding where she's coming from and tell her I won't let her down. I also want Button in until 37 weeks at least.

We had planned before my pre-labor to go and visit Nancy and Dave around this time but with my strict bed rest and a travel ban, we put those plans on hold. But Nancy and Dave decided to come down and see us instead. They had been itching to see us and with a break in their schedule for about 6 weeks they decided to do a bit of family bonding and traveling around to see their family and close friends. They'd be arriving tomorrow and spending five days with us.

Effie lets us go with another pamphlet with some more info on my unrestricted bed rest and the dos and don’ts for the following few weeks.

“It’s going to make it nearly 4 months until we can have sex again.” I say to him as we drive home.

“I know.” He says sadly. I feel sorry for the unexpected dry spell but he’s being a trooper.

“Maybe we can break the rule if I reach 37 weeks. I’ve heard it’s a good way to bring on labor.” I suggest.

“What if Effie finds out.”

“She won’t.” I tell him. “We’re in the clear at 37 weeks and I’d be more than happy for baby to come out then.”

“Let’s just wait and see.” He says, a slight hint of a smile on his face.

He helps me inside, carrying Adeline on his hip and into the house. It’ll be nice to be able to do more now. I’m still not allowed to do housework, long walks, any lifting heavier than Adeline or anything too strenuous but can now walk down the stairs, play with Adeline, get her to bed and other things. Peeta was heading back to work for a couple of hours a day and working right up until the baby came where he’d be off on leave until the new year.

He goes to finish making up the spare room where Nancy and Dave will sleep. Jack and Liv would sleep in Adeline’s future room and Henry in with his parents or in with his siblings.

I was so excited to see the kids and hold them in my arms again. From our Facetime sessions, I knew they missed me and were excited to see me and meet Adeline and Peeta.


 

"Time to wake up sweet Addie." I coo to my 11-month-old who is dead to the world. She's overslept from her usual 11 hours and I know the later she wakes, the more her schedule will be pushed back today.

She stirs, rumbles and rolls away from me.

I laugh, touch my hand on her back and rub it softly. "Come on sweet girl."

She rolls back over, opening her eyes before she hides behind her hands, not yet ready to face the world.

In the past month, her hair has grown longer and darker. Her eyes bluer. She's grown up in front of my eyes so quickly and is slowly morphing into a toddler. Just over 3 and a half weeks and she'll be our big 1-year-old and soon a big sister.

I watch her wake up and wonder where she got the whole not a morning person thing.

“Come on sweet girl.”

I lift her out of her crib, change her diaper before taking her down to have breakfast and get ready for our guests to arrive.

I attended my first playgroup yesterday and they were all concerned, asking me how I was and helping me with Adeline.

And there was no Glimmer. Just Clove and her daughter

From what I’ve heard, the Nanny was caught with Clove’s husband one afternoon when he was supposed to be at work and Clove at the gym. Glimmer defended the husband, which brought on an argument and it came out that Glimmer had fooled around with Clove’s husband a couple of times which ended the friendship immediately. Clove kicked out her husband and she’s doing everything on her own and doing well. Without trying to keep up with Glimmer, she’s a different person, she’s friendly, funny, kind and caring. She’s a great mother and hands on. She invites the others around for play dates and asks those who are having a bad day to coffee or how they are going.

It’d have been nice to get rid of Glimmer before and have the real Clove for the last 9 months.

Adeline and I hang out for the morning. It’s a warm morning and we go out to the garden and get some fresh air. Adeline plays with the grass and the dirt and I sit and watch her take in the world. She was definitely going to be like me and enjoy the outdoors.

She watches a butterfly flutter by and goes silent and still as she watches the colorful creature fly around her. It lands on her nose and Adeline goes cross-eyed and giggles as she’s tickled by the butterfly’s wings.

“Is it tickling you?” I ask her.

She cries when the butterfly flutters away, landing somewhere else and makes a move to catch it.

I catch her attention with the bugs in the garden, snails, and ladybugs and she's happy looking at nature.

Birds chirp from high up in the trees and we chirp back, Adeline wanting to touch them but I convince her just to listen and watch.

I can't wait until its spring, my favorite season where we could sit in the backyard and watch the world come to life. Where we could go for hikes high up into the ranges and overlook our hometown and watch nature in a whole different aspect.

“Come on, Missy Moo.” I tell her when the birdsong has stopped and she starts to get a grumpy, ready for her mid-morning nap.

I sing her to sleep, watch her sleep soundly in her crib before I tear myself away from her side and exit the nursery with the baby monitor in hand and go and wait for our guests.

Nancy, Dave and the kids arrive just before midday.

"Hello, my favorite people." I greet them, swinging the door open.

Liv is the first person to move for a hug and I carefully embrace her.

“Hey, sweet girl.” I greet her. “I’ve missed you.”

“Me too.” She replies.

I greet Nancy and Dave next with a quick embrace and go to embrace the boys. Jack doesn’t want anything to do with me but obliges for an embrace. Henry embraces me but I notice the confused look on his face.

“Aunt Katniss, you still have the baby in your belly." He emphasizes the still and I wonder if he still thinks I'm pregnant with Adeline since I was around the same stage when I last left them.

"No Henry, this is a new baby." I tell him. "I'll show you, baby when she wakes up from her nap."

He’s not convinced but nods. I lead them through the house and the kids set up in the living room with their toys. They were so good at self-play and not needing their parents. They had patience and an understanding which was great for Nancy and Dave, especially with the traveling and movie sets the kids are always on. And Jack and Liv do a good job at entertaining Henry.

“How are you feeling now?” Nancy asks.

“Better.” I tell her as I boil the kettle. “It was scary at the beginning when I didn’t know what was going on but now I’m more relaxed.”

“I could imagine how scary it would have been.” Nancy says.

“I was so glad I’ve gotten to this far along without delivering.” I tell her, rubbing my belly. “35 weeks is better than 30 weeks.”

“But look at the advances in technology and how well preemies do now. Button would have been fine.”

“That’s what Peeta kept telling me.”

We catch up the three of us, Dave popping in and out to check on the kids and it’s just like old times.

Peeta comes home just as Adeline stirs and he chats and entertains while I get her from her crib, change her diaper and bring her downstairs. She’s a little shy at first and wants just me and then eventually Peeta, hiding her face in his neck.

“She’s grown so much.” Nancy frowns as Peeta holds her, offering her some fruit. Nancy had seen her at just a few months old when she stayed with us for a few days. Adeline loved her and was at that stage where she just giggled and smiled and mimicked us all.

“I know.” I tell her, frowning too because my baby won’t be my baby for much longer.

“She’ll always be your baby, even when she’s a big sister.” Nancy reminds me. “I just want to squeeze your cheeks though, Addie.” She coos and Adeline grins and buries her face into Peeta’s neck.

It becomes a game for a little while until she hears the kids in the living room.

“Uh-Uh.” She groans, fighting to be put down.

Peeta puts her down on the ground and she makes a quick move towards the kids. We follow her, watching her reaction and she freezes when she comes to the living room seeing three kids playing. Three that she has never met before in person.

She’s inquisitive and we all chuckle at her watching these strangers invading her personal space.

She sits up on her bottom and watches them intently. The kids haven’t noticed her and Adeline watches, narrowing her eyebrows and watching with such intensity.

Liv notices her first and smiles. "Hi, Addie." She greets her. Adeline looks at Liv and shuffles towards her, still leaving a distance between herself and the kids. Henry and Jack turn their attention to Adeline and smile at her.

Henry gets up and goes to her, handing over his dinosaur. Adeline snatches it off of him and smiles, dribbling like there’s no tomorrow.

“Ba.” She coos at him.

“Do you want to come play, Addie?” Jack asks her showing her more of the toys they have.

Adeline scoots quickly across the carpet and sits with the kids, happily joining in and the kids allowing her to terrorize their game.

I see Nancy smiling. “They’re going to be such good friends growing up.” She says.

“I hope they have a bond more like cousins.” Dave adds.

“I’m sure they’re going to have a strong bond.” Peeta smiles, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me closer to him.


 

“Uncle Peeta, can we make cookies please?” I hear Jack ask.

Adeline and Henry are both down for a sleep. Dave and Nancy have gone for a drive and to explore more of our hometown. They loved traveling away from LA and having the sense of freedom to be themselves within reason with no sneaky paps or crazy fans. But with the kids with us, they were more at ease in case they were asked for photographs.

And it makes my heart surge, hearing Jack calling him Uncle Peeta. They’d only just spent the day together and I can sense how comfortable the kids are.

“Would Mom allow it?”

“She says we can have them as a treat?” Jack says. “I just remember Mom saying how good your cookies were.”

“We can make them as a treat for afternoon tea.” Peeta agrees. “Alright, you can be my apprentice then Jack. Liv, do you want to help?”

Liv and I were doing some colouring in together.

She nods and leaves my side to go and make cookies. I watch the monitors and then get up slowly following the kids into the kitchen.

I find Peeta has quickly found aprons and chef hats and is tying them up for the kids. They were way too big but adorably cute for a photo opportunity and to show Nancy and Dave later.

I watch how naturally Peeta moves in the kitchen with the kids. I know his kids spent their whole childhood sitting on the kitchen bench watching him bake and found their love for baking from these moments. He taught them the basics and gave them his own tips and tricks, which kept the attention of the three of them.

I couldn’t wait until Adeline was old enough to be his assistant, sitting up on the bench and helping him measure out ingredients and creating something together. He usually sits Adeline up in her high chair if he’s cooking and she’s ready to get in and help but she’d be more of a hindrance than helpful.

Henry and Adeline eventually join me in the kitchen, Henry joining in on the baking and Adeline and I curled up together in the nook with the afternoon sun shining in on us. Adeline and I snack on fruit and crackers and I enjoy this. I know this is how I could spend my Sunday afternoons for the rest of my life. This is the life I want to live with my beautiful family bonding over baking, cuddles and lazy Sunday afternoons.

And I could actually consider having a big family, four kids and another on the way.

But that might be wishful thinking.

Peeta smiles up at me from across the room and I smile back at him. We silently decide this is how we’ll spend our Sundays from now on.

“Uncle Peeta?” Liv says.

"Yes, Livy?"

“Will you marry, Aunt Katniss?”

“Maybe one day, Liv." He tells her. "We're happy as we are. And we're a bit busy with Addie and the new baby. But maybe one-day Aunt Katniss might want to make me an honest man."

I laugh and the kids look confused at my outburst. “You wish I’d make you an honest man, Peeta Mellark.” I smirk. The look I give him drives him crazy and our no sex rule has him going crazy but he’s abiding. Just.

“Like I said, I’m happy living our unconditional life.” He smiles at me.

“Me too.”

With nearly a hundred cookies cooling, we decide on a walk to the park. The kids had cabin fever and were going a little crazy with the sugar. Nancy and Dave still weren’t back from their adventuring. And I knew the chance of the kids being recognized would be low with them hanging out with Peeta and me in a park 6 hours away from their hometown.

“You sure you’re up for the walk?”

“I’m fine, I won’t break.”

“Just take it easy.”

“I’ll just push the stroller and sit on the bench.”

The walk exhausts me but I soldier on for the quick trip down the road. Peeta carries Henry on his shoulders, holding Jack’s hand while Liv walks with me, holding onto the stroller and chatting away to Adeline. The two older kids are happy running around, playing a make-believe game. Jack tags along, which turns into a chasing game of monsters and hide and seek and Peeta and Adeline join in as best as they can.

I happily snap the afternoon and take Adeline to push in the swing whilst the kids and Peeta play. She’s craning her neck and turning her whole body the entire time she’s on the swing to watch the shenanigans and I give up and let her crawl after them. She’s quick and catches them often and laughs when she tags them.

“Run, Addie, run.” Peeta encourages her, running to get her to chase him whilst the kids chase after Adeline slowly.

“We’re gonna get you, Addie.” Liv yells as they chase her, pretending to be monsters.

And I reiterate what I said before; this is how I want to spend my Sundays. A lazy day at home followed by some playtime at the park where we chase our children as the sun shines on their faces and their little minds grow and are nurtured by the earth.

I receive a text from Nancy, telling me they’ll be home shortly and I decide it’s time to head on home.

Henry rides in the stroller, half asleep and Adeline in her father’s arms. I push the stroller and Jack and Liv hold onto the sides as we walk home.

“What’d you do?” Nancy asks with a laugh as she notices how tired the kids are.

“Good old park fun.” I tell her as she lays Henry on the couch next to Liv and Jack who are quiet and sleepy. We put on a movie for them and they quietly watch a movie whilst we have an afternoon snack.

Adeline sits in her swing in the living room with the kids watching the movie and I knew she’d be asleep soon.

“How was your afternoon?”

"Relaxing." She tells us. "We just love if we can go somewhere and not be recognized for the entire day."

“I bet it’s a hard life especially up in LA?” Peeta says.

“It’s stressful some days. You just learn to deal with it but it’s unfair on the kids to be followed and have activities ruined because we’ve been followed or the paps show up.”

“That’s why we love getting out of town if we can and just enjoying ourselves.” Dave follows up.

“Well, our door is always opened.” I remind them.

“As is ours to you.” Nancy reiterates. “When you’ve had Button, you four should come for a visit when you’re ready. We’d love to have you and return the hospitality.”

“We’ll see how we go adjusting.” I laugh.

“You’ll be fine.”

My parents and Peeta’s kids come over for a Sunday roast and his kids meet the people I talk about so fondly.

Mom and Dad had met Nancy when she visited earlier this year but were yet to meet Dave. But it’s like they’ve known them forever and conversation never stops.

The kids happily take to Nolan, thinking he is goofy and silly. And he is, he’ll make a great father one day. Madge and Camille also win over the kids and they happily play games of go fish, Legos, monsters and hide and seek.

We eat dinner in the dining room, which is large enough for us all to fit with plenty of room for more. Peeta’s cooked enough for our whole family but it’s a nice evening.

Mom and Nancy go and get the kids into the bath, watching them and then getting them dry and dressed ready for bed. Adeline fights her bedtime and we don’t fight with her.

The three kids go to bed without a fight and Adeline sits up with us as well all chat and they share some wine amongst themselves.

Everyone starts to call it a night and I farewell my family, kissing and hugging them goodnight.

Nolan had moved out to live with his sister and I hate to admit it but the house feels quiet without him there. Without hearing his goofy jokes and swearing. He’s like his father, just a bit ruder and no filter what so ever but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s got a big heart and will do anything for his family.

When I was on bed rest he’d do his best to come over and entertain me. He’d show me funny videos, new Netflix shows and gossip about things he’s heard at work or open up telling me things he doesn't share often, like his insecurities, things that got him in trouble, crushes, dreams, and goals for the future.

He’s a wonderful boy and I’m so glad I can call him my stepson.

The other two were great as well, they’d come and paint my nails, do face masks and watch a movie with me. They’d do my hair when I was feeling like crap and focused a lot on self -love, and care.

The two opened up to me about their own secrets and insecurities and I feel like our relationship dynamic has shifted tighter together and we're like a real family.

“We always wanted Dad to find someone who complimented him and let him be himself. We’re glad he’s finally found someone like you who lets him express himself and just be him after years of hiding what he loved and who he was to the world.”

It’s just easy with him and I find him supportive of who I am and who I stand for. He’s just a wonderful human I’m so glad I can share my life with.


 

“So, what are we doing today?” Nancy asks. They still had two more days here before heading back home.

“I’m thinking girls’ day.” I tell her, feeding Adeline. “Peeta said he’d take the boys out and do something that excites them and we can have a girls’ day.”

“Can I come?” Liv asks from the bench.

“Of course you can.” I tell her with a smile. “Do you want to get your nails painted?”

She nods with a smile. I used to take her out all the time when I lived in LA. Usually to give her a break from two brother’s. She could be a tomboy, not afraid to get her hands dirty or play outside games of football and soccer but she liked to wear her dresses, and play princess and have tea parties. I liked to let her express her feminine side as I had found growing up that I enjoyed the pampering as much as I enjoyed the outdoors.

“And can we have sushi?” She asks.

“I’m sure we can find a sushi place or maybe somewhere else.” Nancy suggests.

Once the kids are wrangled and dressed I drive Nancy, Liv, and Adeline downtown to the mall. Peeta would take Dave and the boys to trampoline world to burn off some energy and then maybe to go fishing, bowling or go for a walk around some of our favorite trails.

Nancy and I decide on some retail therapy first. I had a few bits and pieces to get for Halloween and Adeline’s birthday.

“What else do you need for the baby?” Nancy asks as we walk the aisles of the department store.

“Not a lot. I think we’ll just play it by year.” I tell her. “We’ve been so spoilt by everyone.”

“I bet.” She smiles. “Have you got a car seat for Addie? Cause I forgot to do that when Liv was born.” She laughs. “Dave had to go out and get another car seat installed because we just forgot.”

“Nope, we’re prepared.” I tell her. “Peeta is installing them this weekend.”

I pay for the few items I’ve found and we head on down to the day spa to have our nails done. Liv looks like she’s at home up in the salon chair with her feet in the foot bath. Adeline sits on my lap and we both get out feet massaged and our toes painted. I chose a soft purple and the beautician paints Adeline's toes the same color.

“Peeta better start saving his money cause his little girl is going to want manicures and pedicures all her life.”

“She’ll probably have a steady hand to paint her own nails.” I laugh. “She might be able to start doing mine.”

Adeline is so good during our pampering. She happily sits on my lap and gets her nails painted and hands and feet massaged.

I get my eyebrows done the same time, shaped and tidied, as I knew I was running out of time before the birth. I had an appointment next week to get my hair done as well. Peeta making sure I was treating myself to some R&R before the baby came.

“Oh, I need a dress for my maternity shoot.” I tell Nancy.

“When is it?”

“Wednesday morning when you guys leave.”

“We’ll find you something.”

“And Addie.” I add.

“And Addie.” She laughs.

She’s a good shopper, finding me something for my shoot. We were gifted a maternity shoot and newborn shoot at my baby shower and Peeta booked it for us as something to look on and do. I never was one to be this flaunting but I decided it’d be nice to look back on these photos when I was older and remember the time.

We were so old-fashioned in our pregnancy announcement, that we didn't actually announce it. A photo from 4th of July confirmed it for everyone with one Peeta put up of the three of us in our attire and my belly noticeable. Everyone questioned and we then announced it afterward with a photograph of Adeline smiling and a onesie that read future big sister to stop with the messages and questions.

I didn’t officially announce I was pregnant with Adeline either. I was mostly embarrassed that I was pregnant after a one-night stand. And my announcement was a photograph of Adeline at a week old telling, everyone, she'd been my best-kept secret. I tagged Peeta in the photograph so his family and friends knew as well that he'd become a father again.

There were many questions about our relationship and a photograph of us at Christmas, kissing in front of the tree with our 6-week-old daughter confirmed our status for them all and a simple caption of ‘My perfect Christmas'. We didn't strut our lives for the world to see, it was mostly photographs for our family and close friends that informed the world of our doings.

I might be a bit more active with the doings of Adeline and Button but I’d probably forget and just spend my time and energy on the two of them.

She finds me a dress, one that I could wear in our newborn shoot and something cute for Adeline. It semi matches me and her chubby legs look adorable in the romper suit.

“And you two can wear that for the newborn session.” She tells me. “Who’s doing your hair and makeup?”

“Camille was going to come and help me.”

“Oh, you’ve got everything sorted.”

She pays for the clothes, shooing me away as I try to pay with my card. “Don’t be silly.”

We head for lunch. A Mexican place taking Liv’s fancy and we sit in a booth together and enjoy our nachos and tacos and ask Liv what she wants to do next.

“Um.” She says and looks at her mother.

“Anything, Liv.” Nancy encourages her. The kids were spoilt but had a good head on their shoulders. They knew when things were treats and that they had to work for certain things. Nancy had reminded her they were on holidays and anything they got was a treat. They weren’t needy kids either. They could be entertained by a coloring book and the outdoors.

“Can we go to the big play center?"

She must have seen the play center on the way here. It’s huge and you can’t miss it.

“How about on the way home?” Nancy suggests. “There are a few things I just need to have a look for before we leave if that's ok?"

Liv nods with a happy smile and finishes her nachos. Nancy finds herself in little boutique shops, finding little gifts and treasures.

“Word of advice.” She whispers to me. “Start Christmas shopping as early as possible.”

“Got it.” I reply with a smirk.

She leaves with a handful of bags and Liv points out a photo booth.

“Just like old times, Katniss.”

“Come on, let’s jump in.”

The four of us squeeze inside the booth and pose with silly faces and goofy smiles, each of us getting a copy each.

“Look at you there, Liv. You look like a monkey.” I laugh, tickling her sides.

She makes Adeline laugh with the monkey noises she makes and I’m glad I have goofy Liv in my life. That Adeline has a ‘cousin’ like Liv to show her it’s good to be silly and expressive.

We finish up in the mall and head on to the indoor play center where the boys meet us all. Adeline wakes when we enter the center and Peeta takes her to the infant’s area despite Adeline wanting to go on the big slides with the kids.

“Not for a few years yet.” Peeta tells her with a smile.

We wear the kids out, watch them race on plastic bikes and cars. Adeline is completely smitten with the Crazy Coupe Car. She’s pushed around in it by Jack. She also falls for the plastic trike that Peeta helps her ride around in.

“Guess what she’s getting for her birthday.” Nancy laughs.

“That’s a good thing she likes the car cause Prim is buying her one.” I laugh. “What a relief.

“Prim can be the one who pushes her around then until she learns how to use her feet?”

“Yes.” I laugh. “But she’s cute she’ll convince anyone to push her around.”

We finish up when Adeline is in the midst of a tantrum having fallen over and I know she’s ready for her afternoon nap.

“You can stay here, I’ll take her home.” I tell Nancy and Dave.

“We might stay for a little longer, maybe take the kids for a look around.”

“We’ll see you at the house then.” I smile at them.

“Dave, can you go and get Liv’s car seat?” Nancy asks him.

He nods, follows us out to the car and takes the car seat to put in their SUV. I nurse Adeline before we leave and get her settled in the car before we head home, Peeta stopping at the grocery store first and then the bakery.

We have a quiet afternoon, I snooze on the lounge whilst Peeta prepares dinner and does some work.

Nancy and Dave and their tribe arrive home just before dinner with arms full of gifts.

“What’s this?” I ask them.

“A thank you and a treat.” Nancy tells us, placing the bags on the floor of the living room.

“You didn’t have to.”

“We know but we thought why not.” She shrugs her shoulders and I embrace her to thank her, trying to not cry.

There are a few things for Adeline. Gifts that they are given to her as an early birthday gift.

There's a ride-on trike like the one she played on at the indoor play center that Dave gets to task in building. A baby doll of her own with a few accessories like a stroller and some clothes. Some books and clothes.

“Thank you.”

Adeline is taken to the baby doll and carries her around in her arms as she shuffles around the house. She tries her best to sit in the stroller but we have to keep lifting her out.

“Like this.” Liv says, showing her what to do.

But Adeline goes to sit in the front and makes us all laugh.

“She’ll get the hang of it eventually.” Nancy assures Liv with a smile.

Peeta and I are spoilt with gifts as well. There are gift vouchers that are quite high in price. Some little goodies like bath oils, candles, and pampering packs. Some cooking utensils for Peeta. Ones to update the aging appliances that he hates to throw out but is causing him more grief than anything. And then a two-night stay for two weeks time at the six-star resort that is about 45 minutes from here. Nancy schemed with my mother and father to watch Adeline for the two nights whilst we get treated to a beautiful view, luxurious food packages and couple massages and everything else. This retails in the thousands but they tell us we deserve it and they know some people down there.

“You always do this to me.” I tell her.

“I know but you deserve it. You both do.”

“I have to repay you.”

“No.” She stops me. “It’s a gift. Enjoy it.” She smiles. “And you helped Dave and me out so much when you lived with us that this is our way of showing our appreciation."

“Thank you.” I embrace her. There’s another gift she tells me to open in the privacy of my bedroom without the kids watching and tells me to take it away.

We eat another homemade meal, eat apple pie for dessert and get the kids bathed and to bed.

I'm beat after today and call it an early night, saying goodnight to everyone before I drag myself up to bed. I open the gift Nancy told me to in my bedroom and it's a beautiful sunset colored lingerie. A matching bra and panty set. There's also a forest green teddy and matching panties.

I set the lingerie pieces back into the box and lift up the note.

Even if you think you look like a beached whale, Peeta still thinks you’re beautiful.

I recall a conversation we had a few ago where I expressed my doubts of feeling unsexy and beached whale like especially the further along my pregnancy went and she told me that it was just my own self-doubt. She obviously had asked Peeta what he thought of me and we always told me I looked beautiful. He thought the whole nurturing a child made me look even more beautiful and would be sad when I wasn’t pregnant anymore.

I place the box on my side of the wardrobe, hiding them from Peeta and go and grab my things for a shower.

Peeta finds me in bed, later on, his arms searching for me and pulling me to his body.

“They are too good to us.” He whispers with a slight smile.

“I know. They have the biggest hearts and so much love to give to everyone in their lives.” I tell him. “They spoil their friends endlessly and also generously to charities all the time.” I exhale a deep breath. “Liv donated her pocket money today to a charity. She didn’t have to but she went up, put her $50 in a tin for a local boy and went about it like it wasn’t anything. Do you know how proud that made me? Nancy had the biggest smile on her face that she’s teaching her children all about being generous to those who don’t have a lot or need a helping hand. She’s taught the kids that it might be them one day that needs the help.”

Peeta smiles against my shoulder.

“I was in tears when I saw Liv just hand her money over and told the collector that she hopes he gets better soon. I lost it.” I laugh slightly. “These pregnancy hormones are making me go crazy.”

He laughs, kisses my shoulder and pulls me tighter to his body. “Can you promise me we’ll teach our kids to be generous?”

“I promise you we will.”

“Thank you.”


 

I’m holding Nancy tightly on Wednesday morning. I don’t want her to leave.

“We’ll see each other as soon as can.” She reminds me.

I nod into the crook of her shoulder and she holds me tighter. We'll organize it between their schedules and our lives.

“And we’ve got Facetime and texting.” She reminds me.

“It’s still not the same.”

"You'll be fine, I'm leaving you in Peeta's capable hands." She laughs. "Promise me you'll take it slow these next few weeks and keep Button in until at least 37 weeks."

“I promise.”

“Keep me updated.”

“We will.” I tell her. “You’ll be one of the first to know.”

She kisses my cheek and rubs my belly. “Be nice to Mommy, Button. I can’t wait to meet you little one.”

I hug Dave goodbye, and then the three kids who hold me tightly in their arms and each kiss my belly.

“We’ll meet you soon, Button.”

They kiss Adeline goodbye and then Peeta. Holding him just as tightly as me and kissing his cheek.

“Thanks for everything.” Jack says to him.

I’m so glad the kids gave him their approval and they see him as an Uncle to them all.

“I miss you already.” I tell the three of them. “We’ll try and visit when Button is born.” I tell them. “How does that sound?”

They all nod with a smile on their faces, say goodbye to Adeline again and wish her an early 1st birthday before leaving for the car.

Nancy hugs me again and kisses Adeline on the nose before she leaves us.

The kids are strapped into their SUV and they beep as they drive off, waving to us out the windows of their car.

And I want to cry but Peeta holds me in his arms and kisses me.

“We’ll see them sooner than later.” He tells me. “Come on, we’ve got a photo session to get ready for.”

Camille makes me look beautiful, curling my hair and enhancing more my natural beauty. She doesn’t go over the top and I thank her. I’d get dressed at the studio where we’d take some indoor photos and then head outside to get some photographs outside if the weather behaved.

Adeline sleeps for the beginning of it and the photographer works with ease and quickly. Cressida has known Peeta for a little while as a customer of the bakery and they joke and laugh trying to relax the atmosphere. Adeline soon joins us and despite her persistence to be in her dad's arms, Peeta makes it work. We soon forget Cressida is there and act like ourselves. Outside, I shine even more before we come back inside for a few more shots of more in natural form with my bare stomach and our bodies covered in sheets but it's my body and it’s an artwork to Peeta. He loves every curve and always describes my body like it’s an artwork if I criticise myself. He turns coal into diamonds the way he speaks and I’m appreciative of such a caring and beautiful partner.

“Beautiful.” Cressida compliments after our final photograph. “I’ll let you get dressed and I’ll show you some of them.”

I quickly get back in my jeans, Peeta’s sweater I’ve stolen and my boots and come and look through the photographs she’s taken of us. It’s almost a mini family session rather than a maternity. And I can see so many of these photographs hanging up in our home. Cressida’s style was authentic and intimate and I couldn’t wait for the newborn shoot.

“Thanks so much for today.” I thank her.

“No worries, Katniss. It was nice to finally meet you.” She smiles at me. “You have a wonderful family.”

“Thank you.”

“And I can really tell you all relaxed.” She smiles. “Peeta rang when you were put on bedrest to say we might have to cancel and I knew he was stressed, even after he confirmed you’d still be in. I think it’s something nice to look forward to and celebrate your family before the new addition.”

I smile because she’s right. These things we’re doing now together as a family are celebrating our impending arrival and celebrating Adeline as our baby but soon to be big sister.

"I'll be seeing you at the end of next month."

I nod. Thanking her again and taking Adeline from Peeta as he wheels the stroller out, thanking Cressida and handing her over her favourite bread and a package of his goat cheese and chive cheese buns.

Adeline waves goodbye to Cressida. Cressida was also due in the coming weeks and I mentally add her to our mother’s group and ask Peeta to offer her an invitation for Friday to meet the mother’s. Peeta and my newborn shoot would be her last for a number of months and I’m happy we’ll be the last.

“She’s amazing.” I comment.

“She’s one of the best.” He tells me. “I always tell her she could be a director as well. She’s good at giving orders.”

I laugh. "I can't wait to see them. I'm thinking that one outside with Adeline blowing a raspberry on my belly we should get that on a canvas. And then the newborn shoot, we can give our family a picture book for Christmas and maybe a canvas of our favorite photo."

“I like the sound of that.” He smiles and reaches over, squeezing my knee. “Not long to go now.”

I shake my head, smiling. “I’m ready to be a family of four.” I tell him. “I mean, 7.” He smiles widely realizing I've included his children in my counting. They’re my kid's, blood or not.

“I was getting the idea when you were baking with the kids that we could handle our own big brood of like five but that might be a bit over realistic.”

“Jesus, a father of 8.” I can sense he’s almost having a heart attack until he smiles. “I always wanted my own baseball team.”

“It’s a little ambitious but I’d be happy with 3.” I remind him.

“We’ll see where nature takes us, I mean, I’m not getting any younger and I’m getting closer to 50 each passing day.”

“I know. We’ll just see where nature leads us and what we’ve gifted with.”

He kisses the back of my hand. “I’d love to have a dozen of our children running around.” He smiles.

"It's alright, we'll probably end up with grandchildren to fill that void of wanting a baseball team." I laugh. "Jesus, I'm going to be a grandmother when I'm in my 30's." I realize.

“Reality is a bitch, isn’t it?”

I laugh because really, we're living such an unconventional way, raising grandkids the same time as our children just seems natural and we'll be gifted with two rounds of grandchildren raring. The three oldest and then our children.

“I love our life.” I remind. “Even how unconventional it is. We’ve got a good tribe and will all be there to support each other no matter what stages of life we’re all reaching.”

“Did I tell you how much I love you?”

“All the time.” I remind him with a big smile. “Just don’t bring up grandkids until it actually happens because I feel like I’ve just aged 20 years.”

“Noted.” He laughs. “Let’s go and get some hot chocolate.”

Chapter Text

Our suitcase sits beside the door to the garage as does the three bags Adeline needs for the next two days. A bag of clothes, a bag full of diapers and wipes and a cooler filled with milk, bottles, and pre-prepped food and snacks. 

And any day now we’ll become a family of four and outings will be interesting with twice the amount of things for two kids.

Peeta appears with Adeline from upstairs with them both dressed and ready.

"Do you have Bunny?" I ask him.

“Yes.” He shows me.

“Right, we’re good to go then.” I tell him smiling. “I need to wee first though.” I tell him with a scowl. “For the tenth time today.” I mutter as I head to the toilet.

“I’ll pack the car then.” He announces. “Come on Addie girl.”

The car is running and packed when I appear in the garage and the house all locked up.

“Time to go to Nanny and Poppy’s.” I tell Adeline, leaning over to tickle her.

We’ve already got the capsule installed, my hospital bag is packed and Mom on call for Adeline drop off when I go into labor. Which I’m hoping will be any day from next Wednesday. I’m officially 38 weeks on Wednesday and Adeline turns 1 on Tuesday so if we can get through after her birthday, I’ll be happy.

We spend a bit of time at Mom and Dad’s before we leave. We’re a little early for check in and want to spend a bit of time with her before we go. She’s had sleepovers with Mom and Dad every Saturday night since we found out we were expecting baby number 2, which was a way of getting her used to being away with us when we did have the baby and spent a couple of days away from her. She loved going to Mom and Dad's and was spoilt immensely and it was a relief knowing she was fine. Even one night she was running a temp and Mom still insisted she watch her. Adeline was fine and enjoyed Nanny cuddles and Poppy's songs.

I show Mom some of the photos from our shoot and I notice her smile as she views them, commenting on how beautiful the preview all are of the three of us and celebrating the impending arrival.

“She said she’d have them ready by the weekend.” I tell Mom with a smile.

We have a cup of tea and chat randomly, Mom showing her concerns for Prim.

"I just don't know how she's coping as a resident and deciding what she wants to specialize in and she's got boy trouble too."

"Mom, she's 25, she's allowed to be unsure what she wants to specialize in and have boy trouble. People my age are still experiencing boy trouble." I remind her. "I don't think she's yet ready to settle down either, she's still young and she wants to focus on her career before a family."

“I suppose, I just want her to be happy.”

“She’s Prim, she gets what she wants.” I smile at her and I rub my belly. “And this might not be in her plan for a few years yet.”

Mom nods and smiles. “That’s true, Addie and this new baby might be enough for her.”

“And she can hand them back.” I laugh.

Peeta laughs from the floor as he plays with Adeline. “I think Addie has turned her off babies for maybe ten years.”

“Or not, she could surprise us.” I add with a slight smile.

We say goodbye after a quick lunch and me nursing Adeline and getting her down. The drive is 45 minutes and with check-in after 2, we'll arrive right on time. It's casual conversation as we drive down the valley through the beautiful scenery of the valley on the right and pagodas that surround the left-hand side.

“I used to always take the kids camping down here.” Peeta tells me.

“Yeah?”

"Yes, used to load up the car with the tent, sleeping bags, blankets and food for the weekend and we'd have a great time. I mean, I couldn't take them on flashy holidays but long weekends down here was our thing and we always had a great time bonding and being with each other."

I smile. “Maybe in the summer we can come down and camp.” I suggest. “Button will be 7 months old by then and Addie 18 months old.”

"I haven't been camping since Madge was 16." He tells me. "I'd love that. I'd love to continue the tradition and maybe the three older ones can join us too. And your parents."

I reach out, squeezing his hand that rests on the handbrake and I smile at him. “I’m sure they’d love to join us. I want to have a few family traditions.”

He kisses the back of my hand and we enjoy the company of each other for the rest of the drive.

We arrive at the resort, following the instructions of speaking to the man at the gate.

“I’ll just get you to park here and our driver Joel will drive you two in.” He explains to us.

“Thank you.” Peeta smiles at him and parks in the parking lot beside the helipad and comes and helps me out of the car.

“Are your bags in the back, Sir?” The driver asks.

"Yes, the suitcase and there's a little bag as well." Peeta tells him as he helps me to my feet.

Peeta takes my handbag and my hand and leads me over to the Land Rover that'll take us to the resort.

Joel has the doors open to the back of the car and Peeta again helps me in and he slides in beside me.

Joel chats for the ten minutes it takes to drive in. He drives slowly over a river and through the rugged road.

"I'll do my best to not jostle you too much." Joel tells me with a smile. "I accidentally put my wife into labor after a day of rough four-wheel driving." He laughs.

We laugh with him. “How many kids do you have?” Peeta asks.

“Two, expecting our third after Christmas.” He smiles. “And you two?”

“This is my fifth. I’ve got three from a previous relationship.” Peeta tells him. “This one is due basically any day now.”

“Our youngest will be 1 on Tuesday.” I tell him with a smile. “We’re risking Irish twins.” I laugh. “Just hoping we don’t deliver until after Addie’s birthday.”

“Or go into labor here.” Peeta laughs.

"Don't worry, we've got a trained nurse down here if it happens and a helicopter if you're in fast labor. We'll do the best to make you comfortable if labor occurs." He smiles. "We're experienced in babies. We've had three women go into labor and one baby actually born down here. Mom and baby were healthy and the ambulance came down and got the new family and took them to the hospital. So rest assured, you'll be fine if something happens."

I feel a little relieved in case something happens and decide to try and relax and enjoy our two nights together.

We’re greeted again as soon as the car pulls up outside the resort.

"Mr. Mellark and Ms. Everdeen, so nice to meet you." The girl smiles. “My name is Emily.”

There is a champagne arrival with some canapés. But I figure Nancy must have notified them that I was pregnant as there is my favorite non-alcoholic cider in a glass. We sit and drink whilst Emily checks us in and she converses with us whilst she taps away on the IPad screen. Even asking about the baby and the occasion. She shows us around the reception hall and where the dining and drink lounge is.

 “Ok, everything is fine. You’re in the one bedroom heritage villa, which has your own private pool, ensuite, and living room with a fire that we have already lit for you. Blight will take you to your room and answer any questions.” She advises us. “Hope you enjoy your stay with us.”

Peeta takes our key and Blight our bellboy carries our bags and leads us to our room in a buggy.

The views are stunning and the layout is magnificent with the villas quite secluded from one another but still close enough. He points us towards the day spa, the public pool, tells us some history regarding the resort and hints and tricks.

“There are activities you can do too but depending on how mobile you are, you might be ruled out on a few.” He tells us. “If not there are plenty of short trails you can walk around the area. Some beautiful wildlife and there are the stables if you want to pat the resident horses.”

He lets us into our villa and we are blown away by how beautiful it is. He places our bags down in our bedroom and then hands us our welcome folder.

“This has extensions for everything. Reception can divert you. They can also arrange activities and book you in for dinner or room service. This will have everything explained from the fire to your pool.” He smiles. "There is a hamper waiting for you and you have a massage booked in for 5 pm with dinner at 7 pm. Any questions, don’t hesitate to ask or call.”

We thank him and he leaves us to be. I fall onto the king bed and I’m in heaven.

“Oh my god.”

“What?” He asks, a little concerned.

“Come.”

He comes over to me and falls down beside me and exhales as soon as he sinks into the mattress.

“We’re getting the mattress.” I tell him.

“Anything for you my love.” He murmurs as he kisses me.

“And I can’t wait to be riding you on this mattress later tonight.” I whisper in his ear. The weeks without sex have been hard for us both and I want to cherish him and thank him and make use of our time together before we return back to reality.

And I consider that we’re at the 37 weeks, it might not matter too much now as we were over that safe zone.

He jerks a little, taken by surprise at my comment and I roll off the bed and go and check out the rest of our villa. I dip my toe into the pool and note the warmness and know I want to use this later. The bathroom is big and spacious with a large walk-in shower and a tub. I find Peeta in front of the fire, reading through the guest info book. I hang our nice clothes up in the wardrobe, laying out our dress shoes under our clothes. I leave everything else in our bag and take our toiletries to the bathroom.

I come and sit with Peeta in front of the fire, cuddling up to him and he wraps his arm around my body and kisses my temple tenderly.

This is nice, just the two of us together. I kind of wish we got to experience the moments with just the two of us before Adeline was born. The snuggles, the embraces, the tenderness and the quietness. The talks about our future, the impending arrival and expressing fears and doubts.

We’ve done this now with Button but I wish we got to experience the lead up together before Adeline as scared and nervous expectant parents.

We’re still scared again, the thought of having two under two and a healthy birth for Button after the scare we had early on. But we could do this.

It’s an afternoon of pampering for the both of us with couples massages before we dress up and head to dinner. One of the therapists doing my hair and makeup for our dinner.

“I haven’t felt this relaxed in forever.” I tell him at dinner around the fire that warms the restaurant nicely.

“Me either.” He agrees, sipping his red wine. I take a sip of my virgin cocktail and pretend that it is filled with alcohol, like the cocktails we were drinking in Fiji together almost two years ago.

Dinner is beautiful, served with fresh and locally sourced produce from the area. Right down to the cheese from the local goat farm just down the road.

“This goats cheese is so much nicer than what the bakery uses.” He comments. “This would make the tarts so much nicer.”

Peeta strikes up a conversation with the chef, they talk baking and cooking.

“Wait, you’ve got Mellark’s bakery?” He asks Peeta.

"Yes, I do." Peeta smiles proudly.

"The cakes are wonderful." He says. "What do you think about a partnership with your cakes and desserts? Our baker has left quite suddenly and the sous chef has been taking over the baking but your treats would be a welcome addition here. Very well received too."

I smile as I watch them chat about business and Peeta throwing his ideas of what desserts would suit the menu and what they could do from savory canapés they serve on arrival right down to the desserts and treats. Peeta swaps details with the chef.

“I’ll have you deal with my daughter Camille regarding the partnership. She’s stepped up in the last twelve months as I’ve been focusing on my family and she’ll be overseeing things until well after the New Year.”

“Camille, I think I’ve had her serve me a couple of times. She was always pleasant and lovely so I’m sure she’ll be fine to deal with in a business sense.”

Peeta walks me back to our villa, his arm linked in with mine and we count the stars and watch the moon.

“Let’s go for a swim.” I suggest when we step into our villa.

He helps me out of my dress and my shoes and we change into our swimmers. The water is warm and we look at the stars and listen to some music before we shower and fall into bed together with the fire burning nicely and exhaustion overtaking us.


 

“I think we went a little overboard.” I tell him early on Saturday morning.

“Everything is basically finished.” He reminds me.

“What if it’s too much? What if no one likes the party?”

“Who cares what others think. It’s Addie’s day and if they can’t enjoy the day then it’s their loss.”

I nod against his chest. We’re enjoying the moment of peace before we’ve got to begin the day. The kids and Mom and Dad were coming over to help us do final set up and help with food and laying out the items for the activity stations.

We got home yesterday afternoon after our couple of nights spent away. The two days were what we needed to regroup, reconnect and celebrate our impending arrival and celebrate what we've been blessed with.

Our family was working behind the scenes to help with the party from decorations, food and drinks and props. Mom taking charge of quite a bit. And yesterday afternoon we had them slowly filter in and help us set up. I'm limited in how much I can do and had a clingy baby who limited me quite a bit yesterday and Peeta went and did the birthday cake and a few of the desserts. But that was the great thing about our family, they step in when they know we need help.

I also had a quick check up with Effie this afternoon. She deemed baby and me were ready to go and she is expecting by next Friday I’ll have a baby in my arms or to be in labor.

We got most of the prep done with tables, chairs, hay bales and pumpkins laid out where we wanted them. Decorations were hung around the house and the props also set up. Madge had done a great job in creating these pieces for the party and Adeline loved the blow-up pool we'll turn into a ball pit. She also loved the bubble station.

We were targeting games for the babies and a few games for the bigger kids.

It’s all system go as the house fills with my family who helps with food prep and creating the grazing table out in the outdoor area. We enclose the area leaving just a door open and layout buckets with ice for drinks and make up homemade iced tea and lemonade in drink dispensers. Adeline is happy crawling around and being in her crazy coupe car whilst we get the house ready.

"Come on, little miss." I swoop her up into my arms when it's naptime. She doesn't budge and I carry her up the stairs, stopping at the top of the stairs out of breath. "Those stairs are getting hard." I tell Adeline, giving myself a moment to catch my breath before moving down to the nursery.

I get her down for her midmorning nap and go and shower myself. Prim arrives early and jumps in to help out. The balloon arch is delivered and Peeta finalizes the photo booth and lays out the cake, cupcakes and cake pops.

Adeline sleeps in as the guests arrive and we keep them entertained with food, drinks and the activities outside. The babies from playgroup crawl around the yard and play in the ball pit and Madge paints the older kids faces and Camille gets them decorating pumpkins. The parents have a chance to sit down and relax and Nolan entertains the kids.

“He’s such a kid.” Delly chuckles watching as Madden chases Nolan.

“It’s great though when you’re not in the mood to do much.” I tell her.

“How many weeks now?” Johanna asks as she sips from her spiked iced tea.

“I’m 38 weeks on Wednesday.”

“I don’t even think you’ll make it to 39 weeks.” Delly claims.

"I don't think so either." I agree with her. "Just want to get pass Tuesday and baby is welcome to arrive."

Adeline finally wakes and I head upstairs to get her. I dress her in her birthday dress and bring her downstairs to join in on the party. She’s a little shy and wants just me and I slowly take her around the place, showing everyone the birthday girl before getting her something to eat as Gale and Peeta announce lunch is ready. We were just doing sliders and salads as we had the grazing table and lots of desserts.

Peeta’s mother sits in a corner scowling as my mother tries to converse with her but she’s uninterested and blows Mom off.

I fill a plate with some food and go and sit down with Prim and Dad. Adeline doesn’t want to leave my side, so I share my lunch with her. She warms up, spots the kids and decides she wants to go and join in.

“Come on then, Princess Addie.” Prim says reaching for her and she takes her out to play with the babies who are being supervised by Nolan and Camille.

I socialize with my friends and family as I know this will be one of my last social occasions before the baby is born and try doing my best to get around with everyone. All the Mom’s from our group are here. It’s been a few months of parties and will be until the New Year when the last of the babies turn 1. Clove is here with her daughter. I'm glad she's fit in with the other moms after what has happened. Her daughter is happy and thriving and Clove despite the relationship breakdown, she's happier than she was before.

The older kids engage in fair style games like pumpkin bowling, balloon pop, ring toss and sack races. Some of the adults compete in the games as well, showing their competitive side and compete with their babies, helping them compete. The photo booth is popular with polaroids taken for the guests and photos on a camera for us to print off later on. Most of the props are utilized as photo opportunities such as the kissing booth. 

“I invite everyone to head on inside and we’ll do the cake.” Peeta announces.

I take Adeline from Madge and join Peeta where the cake is.

“I’d like to thank everyone for coming today to celebrate the 1stbirthday of our beautiful Adeline Rose. We appreciate all the love and support we have received from every one of you over the last twelve months. It’s been a wild ride and as you all know any day now our Addie is due to become a big sister.” He smiles and lights the candle. “Happy Birthday Addie girl.”

We sing happy birthday to our daughter and I kiss her cheek before the three of us help her blow out her candle on her two-layer pumpkin patch cake. We help her cut her cake. To the applause of everyone.

I sit her in her high chair and serve her a piece of cake and Peeta serves cake to the adults and the kids take a cupcake each. Adeline sends most of her cake to the floor.

“Oh, what a waste.” Janice states when we laugh at Adeline. “You’ve got to teach her not to do that.”

“Mom, it’s fine.” Peeta assures me. “She’s one, she doesn’t understand.”

“Well don’t complain when she’s going to be a disobedient toddler.” She huffs. Peeta’s brother’s turn away embarrassed.

She was still making it known that she wasn’t approving of Peeta’s ‘two midlife crisis’s’. We thought we’d show pity and invite her to the party of her youngest grandchild. Which she isn’t appreciating very much.

I slink into the crowd away from the mother in law and try and find the protection of friends or family.

I find Annie instead. I’m so glad she’s come into my life as a close friend. Despite the time we’ve known each other, it feels like we’ve been friends our entire life.

I sneak Adeline out of her highchair when she’s starting to get a little fussy and I sneak away to nurse her. Annie comes and joins me to keep me company. Delly and Johanna join us and they keep this type of barrier around me. Janice hated the fact that I was still breastfeeding Adeline whilst pregnant with Button. She thought the breastfeeding was inappropriate whilst pregnant. She didn’t agree with anything I did so I knew I’d never win.

The party winds down and we thank everyone for coming, handing them party bags and cake pops for their exit with a photo of Adeline. Janice is the first to leave and I’m glad she is. She doesn’t say a word to me, just a stern goodbye to her son and disappears.

“The nerve that woman has to not say goodbye to the birthday girl.” Mom says slightly pissed off.

“Just let it go, Mom.” I tell her as I follow her to the hallway.

She helps me say goodbye to everyone. Most of them wish us well for a healthy birth and wish Adeline a happy birthday.

The immediate family stays for dinner, along with Annie and Finnick. It’s Prim’s first Saturday night off and she tells us she’s more than happy to spend at home with us all.

They help us pack everything down, do the dishes, sweep and mop the floors from the stickiness from spilled drinks, food, and mud. Mom vacuums and Peeta gets dinner on for us all.

"Come on Addie, let's open some presents." I say to her, showing her to the living room where we have a mountain of presents to open. I've grabbed the presents from the immediate family to open and Annie and Finnick's.

Adeline is more interested in the paper and I try my best to get her interested in the gift but I thank everyone for the gifts. She plays with some of the toys and looks through the books but she’s nowhere near interested.

"No offense, my four were all the same." Jolene tells me with a laugh. "Maybe her second birthday she'll be more interested."

Peeta serves us up dinner of the leftovers from today turning it more into a pulled pork nacho with a serving of salad. Everyone isn't too hungry, having grazed most of the day from the table and the desserts.

“So, do you two have any baby names decided?” Tim asks.

“We’ve got heaps for a boy but a girl has been a little harder to come by.” Peeta tells his brother as he takes a bite of his dinner. “I mean Tim has taken three girls names.” He jokes.

"Yeah, sorry about that." Jolene apologizes to us with a laugh.

“Something will come to us if it’s a girl.” Peeta assures them with a smile and a slight rub of my belly. The baby is kicking like crazy, moving and dancing inside of me. “Hey, settle down little one. You’re just like Nolan and Camille, eager to be known and always kicking and moving about.”

I'm going to miss these embraces when the baby is finally here. The feeling of his hand over my hand as he feels the baby move or kicks. Or when he holds my belly when he talks to the baby, calming Button down with his voice, a story or his bad singing.

We eat birthday cake and cupcakes after dinner, the adults play a game of cards and I go and get Adeline bathed and in her pajamas before I take her down to say goodnight to everyone. Her grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings kiss her goodnight, all wishing her a good sleep before I take her upstairs with Peeta. I nurse her whilst he reads a book. We’d been doing this the last few weeks together as a way to spend some quality time before we become a family of four and our life a little more hectic.

Peeta kisses her goodnight when her little eyes are closed and her breathing evening out. I lay her in her crib and step out of her room, wishing her sweet dreams.

Peeta pulls out a bottle of his finest scotch and all the men have some scotch whilst the women have a glass of wine and we play a game of poker. Little Noah has gone to watch a movie in the living room with his sisters and cousins. It's nice, having a night all together, socializing, laughing and chatting.

“We haven’t done one of these nights since Caleb and Ally were babies and that was 17 years ago.” Grant notes. Caleb is his youngest and Ally is Tim’s second born.

“It hasn’t been that long, has it?” Peeta asks.

Tim and Grant nod. “Sure has been. Madge here was being a little madam.” Tim laughs. “She wouldn’t go to bed and was giving us so much attitude.”

“Was not.” Madge defends. “I wanted to join in.”

“You were 12.” Grant reminds his niece, ruffling her hair. “You had a bit of attitude.”

"I was hormonal." She states. "I couldn't help it. And in my defense, I'm sure Camille was annoying me."

"Never would I annoy you, big sister."

"Yes, you would." Madge says. "You were the annoying little sister who wanted to always tag along and always stole my clothes and makeup. Dad so let you get away with so much more than me. But look how that turned out, I’m the model child and you and Nolan are the free spirits.”

“Dad just couldn’t be bothered disciplining us two because you were so much work.”

"No, you have it all wrong." Tim laughs. "Nolan was a lot of work."

“That’s true.” The girls laugh.

“Where is Nolan by the way?” I ask noticing he is missing.

“He was dropping home.” Prim tells me dipping her chip into the dip.

I’m a little rusty at poker but Peeta is a great partner and we’re on a good streak. Prim has partnered with Camille and they’re on fire.

"Where did you learn to play?" I ask Prim.

“A lot of downtime as an intern.” She laughs. “And we used to bet each other’s snacks. I used to always win.”

With a couple of rounds played, Mom and Dad are the overall winners and win bragging rights. And they kicked our butts.

“Man, we’re really rusty.” Grant states. “Might have to have scotch and poker nights more often.”

“Or maybe just more family get togethers.” Peeta suggests. “I miss our game nights and dinners. So when we’re home and settled after the new baby, can we start doing a weekly get together?”

Everyone agrees and we decide on Sunday night dinners with the Mellark side of the family which we will alternate every week.

“We don’t have to invite Mom do we?” Tim asks.

Peeta shakes his head. “Let’s just do it between us all.”

And they all happily agree.

I’m starting to get sleepy and say goodnight to everyone.

“Get some rest because it won’t be long before Button is here.” Dad reminds me as he embraces me.

“I’ll try. Button likes to do gymnastics of a night.” I laugh.

He kisses my forehead and I move around towards everyone else.

"Oh before I do disappear we just wanted to run this by everyone." I begin to announce. Peeta squeezes my hand and encourages me to continue. I turn my attention to the oldest three. "When we have Button, we want Addie to be the first to meet him or her if that's fine with all of you? We just want to spend some time together and get Addie used to the baby and show her a bit of love before we open our bubble up to the rest of our family if that's fine with you all?"

Peeta’s three are all happy with that decision, as are Mom and Dad and Prim.

“I’ll even try to not sneak into the nursery.” Prim tells me with a smile. “But don’t feel bad, it’s your decision how you do things.”

“And I know we don’t mean to do this but we don’t want Mom showing up at the hospital so when the baby is born we’re just going to let Katniss’ Mom know before we let the rest of you know. We won’t keep it too long before we tell you but we want to limit someone showing up before Addie meets the baby.”

Peeta is still a little hurt over his mother doing that with Nolan. He wanted the girls to meet their brother and Janice showed up when he went to get the girls and was sitting up in the hospital holding Nolan before the girls got to.

She did the same to Tim and Jolene when Noah was born and they wanted the girls to meet their brother first.

“We totally understand.”

“And we won’t keep it a secret for too long but we just want you to all understand.”

They all nod and are happy. They've even gone and gotten their whooping cough vaccines so they can visit the baby right away. I love how accepting the family is of our decisions. And Peeta even told his mother that she'd be allowed to visit the baby right away if she got vaccinated but she resisted and Peeta has told her she won't be able to visit until after the baby is 6 weeks old which she didn't really seem to care. So we wouldn’t be making an effort to take the baby to see her until 6 weeks after the birth and if she did show up we’d politely refuse her drop in.

I head up to bed, showering and climbing under the covers after saying goodnight to the nephews and nieces.

I must fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, even the stirring of the baby doesn’t keep me awake.

I wake a couple of hours later, a foot sticking into my bladder and Peeta snoring slightly. I use the toilet and climb back into bed when I hear a noise downstairs.

"Peeta." I shake him. "There's someone downstairs." He groans and I hear footsteps. I shake him again. "Peeta!"

“It might be Camille, she stayed over.” He mumbles.

“She’s not that loud.” I tell him.

“I’m up.” He tells me.

He pulls on his pajama pants and makes his way downstairs and I follow behind not too closely.

The light is on in the kitchen and he slowly walks down the hallway towards the light.

When a figure appears.

“Hi Dad, did I wake you?”

“Nolan, you scared the shit out of me.” Peeta tells his son. “What are you doing here, it’s late?”

“I um, got kicked out of the house.” He tells us a little ashamed. “I broke up with Reed cause she was having it off with one of my roommates.” He sighs. “Can I stay here until I find somewhere else?”

“Of course.” I tell him. “You’re always welcome here.” I smile at him.

“Thanks.” He smiles. “I’ll be out of your hair as soon as I find somewhere. I’m sure you don’t want me around when Button arrives.”

“Nole, you were around for Addie’s first 10 months so you being here again for the beginning of Button’s life won’t disrupt us.” Peeta tells him, ruffling his hair. “Just respect the rules and we’ll all be fine.”

“Besides, you’re a good babysitter.” I wink at him.

“That’s what I thought, I mean to help you out when the new baby comes. I can cook you dinner and pick up groceries and things like I did when Addie was a baby.”

“It’s good to have you home.” I hug him. “It’s been quiet without you.”

“Come on, I’ll help you make up your bed.” Peeta tells him.

“Sorry for waking you up.”

“You didn’t it was the baby.” I tell him as we head back up the stairs switching the lights off as we go. “Then I heard movement so my brain went into overdrive.”

“Which is natural.” He laughs. “I’ll text next time.”

“You’re on the air mattress tonight, Gale and Madge are in your room and Camille is in her room.”

He’s fine with that and Peeta and Nolan make up the mattress with a sheet and he just opts for a sleeping bag and a pillow.

“This whole house is spotless.” He comments.

 “Yeah, I’ve been nesting these last few weeks.” I tell him with a laugh.

“No complaints from me.” He smiles as he helps with the doona cover. “Cleaner than it's been in five years. Well, this room is."

“Not me.” Peeta tells me. “Typical 18 year old. And he had a habit of using this room and his bedroom as his own. Or his mates used to use this place like a hostel.”

“I can imagine.”

“Dad never dared entered either room.” Nolan laughs. “Too scared weren’t you?”

“I was scared you were growing bacteria in there. You never cracked a window to let the room breath. I can still smell teenage boy in here.”

“I’ve burnt a lot of candles and incense in here.” I tell Nolan. “You did a good job.”

“You get used to it.” Nolan exclaims. “And I think Dad was just scared to enter the room in case he found something he didn’t want to find.”

“Hey, I respected your space. Even your sisters.”

“Tell Katniss why.” Nolan says with a smirk.

“Madge had borrowed some of my charcoals and I went into her room when she was 15 to get them back and I found some condoms, a polaroid picture of a boy covering his junk and this romance novel that was known for its sexual content. I decided I would now knock, never enter their room without permission and leave it as their own zone." He laughs as he tells me.

“There was probably more you missed.” Nolan nudges his father with a laugh.

“Don’t go there.” Peeta warns his son in good humor.

I find a towel for Nolan and leave it in the bathroom for him.

"Thanks, Mom."

"What'd I tell you about calling me, Mom?"

“Sorry.” He smirks.

“Now would you like me to tuck you in?” Peeta laughs.

“I’ll be fine but I know where to find you if I have a bad dream.” He laughs.

“Night Nole.”

Peeta and I climb back into bed snuggling in together after checking in on Camille and Madge and Gale as they sleep off the bottle of scotch and rum they happened to all but devour along with their uncles and Prim. We almost had the whole family camping out.

“It’s kind of nice having the kids all under the roof again.” He comments with a soft smile. “It’s kind of like bringing things full circle.” He smiles as he touches my belly. “Full circle before the new baby arrives.”

“It’s nice too. The house just feels whole.”

"I know what you mean." He smiles nuzzling my forehead with his nose. "I haven't had the three kids under the house for nearly 10 years together. I mean they've come and gone between college, boyfriends, and housemates but all three of them haven’t been here since Madge moved out for college.”

“But you’ve witnessed them come and go. They know they’re welcome home whenever they’re in trouble.”

“And if the pantry is full.” Peeta laughs referring to Nolan. “And they probably will until the babies are grown.”

“I was going to say Nolan will probably be the one who spends more time at home than his sisters and Button.”

"I think so too." He smiles. "But I don't mind, the company is nice."

“Can I ask, why the kids live here more than with their mother?”

“I don’t know. I mean they love their mother but she hardly raised them like I did. She wasn’t there for all these big milestones that I witnessed and helped them through. She traveled heaps with her boyfriend and lived the life she wanted. She liked the idea of saying she was a mother but not enjoyed the raising side of it. She ran when it got tough. I mean, I calmed the girls down when they had their first periods and when they had their first heartbreaks, I went to every recital and school play, I dealt with the principal when Nolan was in trouble, I did all the hard stuff and she had them every second weekend and some holidays. I just think they feel more at home here because it's their home. And I've always hesitated to let them go because they've been my life for the last 28 years. They know they'll always be welcome with open arms if they return home.”

I kiss the underside of his jaw and smile at him as I run my fingers through his hair.

“I tell you this time and time again but I love you. I love how you are as a father and how much you love them all. How patient and caring you are. I love everything about you.” I whisper to him. “I love that I found you.”

He cuddles me to his chest tightly and holds me for the rest of the night. Adeline wakes after 4 am and Peeta brings her to our bed for her to sleep between us. We hold her little hands and play with her hair and place kisses on her head.

“Soon it’ll be four of us.” He whispers.

I shake my head. “7 of us.” I correct him. “The three may be grown but it’ll still make us a family of 7.”

He kisses my forehead and stares down at our littlest love for the rest of the morning as the birds start to chirp and the fall sunlight warms our room and our skin.


 

The four older kids are late in waking up, still dead to the world well into the middle of the morning.

“I suppose we’ll be serving them brunch.” I laugh.

We’ve already had breakfast, a mini dance party, played with Adeline's opened presents, opened a few more and we've put her down again for her midmorning nap.

“What even are hangovers?” He asks me.

“I don’t think I’ve had one since Fiji.” I laugh.

“Me too. Those cocktails were strong.”

“You were downing them like they were water.”

He chuckles as he stirs the wet ingredients of the pancakes into the dry. We were prepping them for when the kids started to stir. I was cutting up some fruit and we'd do a full spread of pancakes, fruit and cheese buns, which were cooking now. We were trying to eat the rest of the leftovers but with Nolan staying he'd eat us out of the house by tomorrow morning.

“How are you functioning this well?” Madge asks her brother.

"I didn't drink the whole bottom self." He tells his sister as he hands her a coffee and juice. He's been awake since Adeline went down for her nap.

Peeta plates up pancakes as he cooks them, I lay out a tray of pulled pork cheese bun sliders. Adeline has a selection of fruit and a plain cheese bun she wants to share with her brother.

“You eat it, Addie girl.” Nolan tells her with a sweet smile.

“Can’t believe she’s one on Tuesday.” Madge comments with a bit of a frown. “But it’s been a pleasure watching her grow and it’ll be a pleasure to watch her sibling grow as well.”

We all sit around the island bench sitting on stools and enjoying the company.

“Dad, did you imagine five years ago this is how your life would be?” Camille asks him.

"I imagined I'd still have you three having brunch and scabbing food off of me." He laughs. "There were dreams and a wish for a beautiful woman beside me which I did get. And as a bonus, I got to love another little human and will get to share the love with another child very shortly. I've been blessed and I'm glad I have this chance. And I'm glad you kids are here to share it with me."

“We’re glad you’re happy again Dad.” Madge comments.

“It’s nice as well having Katniss in our life.” Camille smiles. “And a beautiful step-mom at that.”

“And we can’t forget our beautiful baby sister.” Nolan reminds them as he gives Adeline his strawberry she’s been eying off. “And the soon to be baby brother.”

“You wish it’s going to be a boy but it’s a girl.” Camille tells him. “Look at how she’s carrying, totally a girl.”

“A baby brother would be nice though.” Madge smiles.

"We've already got one and his name is Nolan who farts, burps, whinges and sleeps all day like a baby." Camille reminds her sister. "It's so another girl. Sorry, Dad."

“It’s fine.” He tells them. “As long as the baby is healthy, I don’t mind. Babies are a blessing at this age for me.”

“Obviously not because you can still spray it.” Nolan says pointing to Adeline and my belly.

“You men are so lucky, you can still father children into your 60’s and us women have a clock and we can be barren by the time we’re in our 40’s.” Camille frowns.

“Really Camille, would you want to be pregnant in your 60’s?” I ask her. “Being pregnant at 29 is hard enough.”

“That’s true.”

“And Camille, I would not want to be waking up to a newborn in my 60’s.” Peeta tells her. “I’ll instead have teenagers.”

“And I hope they give you as much hell as we did.” Nolan tells his father with a wicked laugh.

“Addie wouldn’t do that to her father, would you?” He asks Addie who gives him this cheeky grin.

“Guess what, Daddy, we’re in for a wild ride.” I tell Peeta with a chuckle.

“We’ll be here to help.” Camille says.

“Or we’ll be raising our own kids.” Gale comments.

“How nice will that be, Dad, raising your kids alongside your grandkids.” Nolan teases.

“Don’t worry, we’ve already had this discussion and I can’t wait to be having my grandkids grow up with Addie and Button. It’s a little unconventional but most blended families are.”

"And you get to do the grandparenting thing when Addie has kids." Madge smiles. "It's going to be this never-ending cycle of kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids."

“More the merrier I hope.” He smiles. “I don’t care, I’m proud of my family and whatever direction we all take. It’s our own little tribe.”

“I like our tribe.” Nolan tells us. “It’s just this circle filled with all this love and happiness.”

“And support.” Camille adds.

He nods. “I wouldn’t ask for anything else.”

I smile up at Peeta and he wraps his arm around my shoulders and kisses my cheek and we enjoy our Sunday family brunch.

Chapter Text

 “I can’t believe that on the morning of her birthday she sleeps in.” Peeta comments.

Adeline is usually awake from anywhere between 5:30 and 6:30. This morning she's having a bit of a sleep in, and it's well after 7.

"Well, she was partying in her crib for a while." I remind him yawning as I take a sip of my tea. "She's just getting some extra Z's as she knows it’s going to be a big day.”

She’d been up a few times last night, unsettled and fussy every time I put her to bed. The only thing she wanted was me and to nurse. We just resorted to letting her sleep in our bed where she settled quickly and soundly.

We were planning on taking her out to the bakery for breakfast for some cheese buns and a trip to the park on the way home.

“I think we should wake her up.” I tell Peeta. “Cause she’s going to throw her sleep schedule out for the day.”

“Does that matter too much today?”

I nod. "Yeah, I mean we bend the rules, and she'll think it's fine to do this. I want her to have her schedule for when the baby comes."

"She could be a little unsettled when the baby comes from a change of routine."

"I know, but we need to try and keep familiarity."

I’ll reach 38 weeks tomorrow and baby was getting its eviction notice at 12 am tomorrow. Button was free to come any day after the 10thof November.

We wake Adeline up together gently and softly. She’s happy when she wakes, smiling at us with a big smile and we cover her in thousands of kisses.

We put her in her princess onesie over he onesie that Madge got her with her name on the front and her sneakers before we head over to the bakery. We’d come home and open her presents we bought her after our trip to the park.

She’s wanted to walk these last few days with our help, so Peeta holds her hands and walks her into the bakery that has been decorated for Adeline's first birthday.

"Look, Addie, look at all the pretty balloons." Peeta points out to her. Camille has been busy this morning with the decorating.

Camille and Nolan appear from out the back and come and swarm their sister with kisses and cuddles.

“Look at you big girl in your princess tutu.” Nolan coos as he throws her gently in the air and catches her. This was her favorite game, and she loved when Nolan played this with her.

“She’ll need to grow into it I think.” I tell them with a smile.

We’re served cheese buns and juice and allow Adeline to have a blueberry muffin as a treat. We sing happy birthday to her as do the rest of the patrons and staff who have watched her grow from a newborn to a big one-year-old who is talking, almost walking and will be a big sister soon.

“We going to go to the park now?” I ask her.

“Pa.”

“The park? You ready to go?”

She nods, and we take her to say goodbye to her brother and sister.

"See you this afternoon princess, Addie." Nolan tells her as he kisses her cheek.

We were going to have a quiet night tonight in with pizza. We suspected everyone in the family would drop in for a visit this afternoon and we didn’t mind. It was her special day.

Delly meets us at the park with Madden. Madden is a whole lot more mobile than Adeline, and he runs rings around her as she crawls and chases him. Peeta pushes them on the basket swing gently, and Delly and I catch the kids at the bottom of the slide.

I feel slight twinges in my lower belly. It has been quite common these few weeks, so I pass them off and enjoy time with my littlest love before Button is earthside.

We bring her home when it’s close to nap time and when she shows no sign of slowing down just yet we open her presents with her.

She received heaps of toys and clothes on the weekend. Her brother bought her a little wooden balance trike that can turn into a bike when she’s ready and confident. He also made her a toy box with her name on it for her new bedroom. That was a big hit with her. Camille brought her plenty of new books; toys to stimulate learning like puzzles, recycled wooden animals, and a charm. Madge and Gale bought her the personalized tutu dress, a personalized silver money box, bookends, books and a charm. Dad built her a dress up box, bookshelves, a rocking horse and a table and chair set for the playroom. Mom painted the furniture. And the rest of the family bought furnishings and items for the playroom. They did spoil her with other bits and pieces. The rest of the family also bought her a charm each as well.

“Come on Addie, let’s see what we got you.” Peeta says to her.

We decided on more momentums instead of toys and clothes as we knew she would be spoilt at her party.

"This Addie is a personalized memory box for you that we will add to each year and will gift to you on your 18thbirthday." Peeta tells her showing her the box that has Adeline Rose Mellark, her date of birth, place and time of birth, her weight and how long she measured in a soft purple and pink. 

"So far we've put in some of our favorite photos into an album. Your hospital tag and the onesie you wore home. Your hospital beanie, a copy of the song you were named after, your baby book that I hope we will continue to add to until your first day of school.” We tell her showing her the items inside the box.

"And today we're going to add in some letters we wrote to you, and each year we will put a letter in that we want you to read when we gift this to you on your birthday. We'll put in things like your first lock of hair, first teeth and everything else that we want to cherish in this capsule. And we think that you're 18thbirthday is the perfect time to gift you with this.”

She doesn't understand, but we marvel at the moment and place in some of our favorite birthday cards from her party.

“And we’ve got two more gifts for you.” We tell her. And I open the next gift for her which catches her attention.

"Every year we've asked your family to buy you a charm which they pick out as a way to signify your year, what you've meant or their favorite memories so it might be an animal, a wish for you like traveling or a hobby. We'll put these charms onto a bracelet each year and place them in your box. So this is your first bracelet for your charms.”

The shininess of the bracelet catches her attention, and she wants to play with the bracelet.

But I tempt her with the bracelet we got engraved for her to wear now.

"Here let me put it on." Peeta tells Adeline and snaps the bracelet on her little wrist. "Oh, beautiful."

She doesn’t care about the other presents we’ve gotten her. A handmaid quilt made from her old baby clothes that Nan and my Great Nana made for us. We hope it’ll be a beautiful treasure for her to keep for years to come.

I get her down for her midmorning nap, laying her new quilt over her body.

"What do you want me to do?" Peeta asks me when I come back downstairs. The twinging is still present, and I want to cuddle with Peeta on the couch for an hour or so.

We must snooze for a little bit before I wake needing the toilet. He helps me up like I’m a turtle stuck on my back and I waddle down the hallway to the bathroom.

I haven't felt this pregnant until these last few days. My bed rest slowed me down and I was still on restrictive activities now but was busier than ever, chasing after a twelve-month-old, preparing for a new baby, party planning and everything else that had seemed to creep up on me.

And I've allowed myself to slow down now as we've gotten through Adeline's first birthday party and I was allowing myself to sit and enjoy the remaining days we had before the baby came.

Peeta has made himself busy clearing out the media room which he was using as storage before. We were turning the media room into the toy room, and that would be his project whilst he was taking time off work. Nolan promised to help him in painting the room too. We were in no rush, but after the number of toys we received over the weekend, I was in desperate need to get it painted and fitted out with storage and furniture and make it a place for Adeline to go and play in and entertain herself whilst I’m busy with the baby.

Peeta has the walls masked out with tape and drop sheets.

“I might start this tonight when we put Addie down.” He tells me with a smile. “Nolan should be able to help me.”

We go and picnic outside for lunch when Adeline has woken and enjoy the sunshine. The weather could be so much more bitter now, but we were being blessed with pleasant days.

Adeline crawls around the backyard, playing with the grass and sticks and twigs. She comes and shows us her collection before she goes off again.

Peeta walks her around the yard by holding her hands, and I hope she won't take her first steps whilst we're in the hospital.

She wants to be left alone, so Peeta comes and joins me again on the rug where I sip hot chocolate and enjoy the sun on my face.

I watch Adeline stand up over near Peeta’s veggie patch and tap Peeta to get his attention.

She takes one step and then another step and another on her way towards us before she falls to her knees.

"Oh Addie, six steps." Peeta coos, jumping up to swoop her up into his arms. She giggles as he flies her high into the sky and tells her how wonderful she is.  He sets her back down on the grass, and he tries to get her to walk again so we can capture the steps on video.

He tries to encourage her with her bunny and food, and she falls for the trick and takes eight steps, falling onto the edge of the rug and crawling towards me to embrace me where I snuggle and kiss her.

“You are so clever.” I tell her. “I was just hoping you’d not walk for a little while.”

She’s so proud of herself but gives up on walking anymore and instead wants to nurse ready for her afternoon nap.

Peeta puts her down this time, and I drag him down to our bedroom to rest our eyes, but I'm wide awake as soon as I feel his warmth beside me and trail my finger up his arm, biting my lip as I look up at him. The look I give him I know drives him crazy. He knows what I want immediately.

I feel the twinges get more frequent and I know labor will be upon me soon.

He rolls me onto my back, kissing me deeply as his hands trace the curve of my body and coming to rest on my hips, pulling me tighter towards him.

His hands find the waistband of my tights, and he strips them down my legs, my panties following. He’s gentle, his lips placing kisses along the length of my legs from ankle to thigh as he searches for my heat and I roll my head back into the pillows, allowing the feeling to overtake me.

No matter how many times I've felt self-conscious and unbeautiful, Peeta was always there to remind me of my beauty by a simple kiss and a hand to my belly to remind me of the fantastic job I was doing. How I was creating new life. He loved me, embracing my curves and tiger stripes he called them.

He was overall beautiful towards me, treating me with respect and supporting me as my body changed from postpartum to pregnant in a matter of months. When we were intimate as my belly swelled with Button, he always caressed my belly gently, kissed my new marks and lines that formed on my hips, belly, thighs, and breasts. He made me feel beautiful and confident in bearing my naked body to him. To be intimate with him as my body changed to accommodate our baby and still provide for our daughter.

He brings me over the edge, and I see stars as I try to regain my breathing, and he undresses and helps me out of the rest of my clothes. He was too damn good at this.

I leave my bra on, giving me support as my breasts are sensitive and swollen. He lets me take the lead, shifting me down onto his length and holding my hips and guiding me. I hold his shoulders for support, and he sits up looking me in the eye.

My stomach presses against his and I can feel the baby moving and kicking, and I urge Peeta to feel the baby. I always loved this during sex, especially as the baby grew inside of me and I could feel the movements that Peeta could feel the movements too. It was such an intimate moment between us, and I knew I'd miss this.

Before long, we're both coming, and we lay beside each other as we come down from our highs. He kisses the place between my brows and our bodies still intertwined with one another.

And I knew this would be the last time before our baby was born as the contractions start.


 

Adeline sits beside me on our bed as Peeta times my contractions.

"20 minutes. I say we've still got a little while." He tells me. He's panicking slightly, but I urge him to remain calm and relaxed.

He plays soft music, and I spend time with Adeline as he paces and finalizes my bag and Adeline's bag.

“Should we call Effie?”

“Not until I’m at 15 minutes.”

He nods, and I grab his hand and urge him to slow down and come and sit down beside me.

“You better cancel our pizza night.” I tell him.

“We still could be here.”

“I doubt it.”

It’s not too much longer until the contractions are down to 12 minutes and Effie is on standby and Mom on call for baby drop off.

We move downstairs, Peeta carrying the bags and my pillow and I carry Adeline and ensure she was bunny.

He packs the car and gets expressed milk ready in a cooler with spare bottles.

“I don’t know how much.” He tells me.

“She’s usually feeding three to five times a day so plan for three days and a few spares just in case she’s a little fussy.” I tell him.

Nolan walks in the front door shortly after with some groceries in his hands.

“Hey, what’s going on?” He asks. He must notice the change in atmosphere.

“Katniss is in labor.” He tells his son.

“Really? Do you want me to take Addie?”

“Mom’s on standby.” I tell him as I feel another contraction hit.

He takes Adeline from me as I ride through the pain and he holds my hand. "You're going to become a big sister soon." He tells his sister with a big kiss.

Contractions are down to ten minutes, and Peeta looks a little concerned.

“Katniss, contractions are progressing quickly, should we head to the hospital?”

I shake my head. “Not until my waters break.” I tell him. “Or we’re at 6 minutes.”

He tries to remain calm, and Nolan talks to keep our nerves at bay.

“I might show Nolan what I’ve done in the toy room.”

I wave him off and continue reading a book with Adeline until I feel the wetness and I must gasp loudly because Peeta and Nolan come running in.

“What is it?”

“All systems go.” I tell him.

“Shit. Oh shit.” He curses and looks down at Adeline. “Shit. Fu…Crap. You didn’t hear that sweetheart.”

“Smooth Dad.” Nolan laughs as he takes his sister as Peeta helps me up and down to the bathroom.

"I'll get the car started, and Addie strapped in." Nolan tells us as Peeta helps me.

I strip out of my wet clothes I was wearing and into a clean hoodie and sweats for the ride to the hospital.

Peeta helps me into the car, buckling me in and Nolan wishes us luck as he proudly and excitedly watches us drive away.

Peeta calls Mom and lets her know we're on our way.

She's outside, buzzing with excitement when we pull up in the driveway. Peeta jumps out of the car to grab Adeline's bags, and Mom gets her out of the car and brings her over to say goodbye.

“I’ll see you soon Princess. Be good for Nanny.” I tell her. “And when I see you next you’ll be a big sister.” I smile. “Happy birthday sweet girl.” I kiss her and Peeta kisses Adeline too.

Mom touches my cheek and gives me a supportive smile and nod to say I can do this.

They wave goodbye to us as Peeta reverses from the drive and Adeline is happy. I didn’t worry about her being with Mom and Dad as she enjoyed her sleepovers and being spoilt quite a bit.

“How are you doing?” He asks me, squeezing my hand.

“Good.”

He smiles, his eyes crinkling and detours to the hospital, holding my hand as I have another contraction.

Effie meets us outside of the entrance with a wheelchair. Peeta parks in the labor zone and grabs my bag and pillow, walking me over to Effie.

“Baby Mellark ready to make an appearance?”

“We think so, if not they’re playing tricks again.” I laugh as she helps me into the chair.

Peeta pushes me into the hospital, bypassing the ER and straight into labor and delivery.

“How close are the attractions?”

“5 minutes.”

“You’re getting close.” She tells me.

“Please let it be tomorrow.”

“Why?”

“They’ll be sharing a birthday.” Peeta tells Effie.

“That's right." She says. "Does it feel like it's been 12 months since you were last here?" I shake my head. "I'll try my best, but you know what babies are like."

I’m set up in a bed, Peeta helping me into a gown and gets my feet into the stirrups for Effie to examine me.

"I'm so sorry, Katniss, you're already at 8 centimeters. There's no way you'll be delivering tomorrow. You're progressing too quickly." She tells us.

“It’s fine.”

“I think it’s cute they’ll be sharing a birthday.” Peeta tells me.

“Me too.” Effie smiles. “Baby’s heart rate is a little low, so I'll just get you on your left side, and that should pick up."

She helps me slowly roll onto my left-hand side, and Peeta rubs my back.

“I don’t know how I feel about them sharing a birthday.” I tell him.

"Katniss, plenty of siblings share a birthday." He reminds me. "My cousins did. My best friends at school did too."

“Irish twins though.” I remind him.

"Well, you can blame me for that." He laughs. "But Irish twins are cute." He kisses the back of my head. "Katniss, we're about to welcome a baby, as long as the baby is healthy, that's all I care about."

“Me too. Sorry, I’m being selfish.”

"You're allowed to be. You're about to push out a watermelon." He laughs, and I laugh with him.

Effie enters the room about an hour later, and the baby's rate has risen and is beating well.

"How are you feeling?" She asks me, and I nod. "I'm just going to examine you real quick. Stay there."

I feel her examine me and a little bit of pressure then it's gone quickly, and she's snapping off her gloves.

"9 centimeters. It won't be long now. Try and rest up as much as you can. Things are moving fast. Baby's heart rate is good too." She notes in the chart. "Won't be long and you'll be holding your baby."

I try and rest but the pain is too uncomfortable, and I need to move.

Peeta helps me up, and I grip my arms around his neck, and we sway from side to side. The movements help with the pain decreasing a bit. And I was praying gravity would do the rest. I was going drug-free this time, too late for a spinal block or anything else.

But Peeta was good pain relief. He helped the pain go away. Just him being beside me helped.

Effie comes back into the room nearly an hour later, and Peeta and Effie help me onto the bed. Effie is quick in snapping on a pair of gloves and to examine me. I squeeze my eyes together and open them when I feel the pressure of her hand. I open my eyes when she removes her hand and catch her smiling.

“What?”

“Addie and Button will be sharing a birthday.” She smiles. “Time to push.”

There's a flurry of movement with a nurse arriving and Effie getting ready. I look at Peeta and see his big blue eyes staring down at me.

I wish he were here last year holding my hand. I hope I tried harder to track him down. I wanted I kept in contact, so he didn't miss out on everything leading up to Adeline.

“Peeta, I’m sorry you missed Addie’s birth last year.”

“It’s fine, Katniss. We didn’t know.” He whispers to me.

“I should have tried better.”

"I should have too." He agrees. "But she had her sister to watch her come into the world, and I've had twelve months of loving her earthside. Loving her earthside alongside you. We're a team and whatever happened before Addie's birth, doesn't matter, what matters is we're in this now together. That we focus on bringing Button into the world safely. That you squeeze my hand as tightly as you want and do the amazing thing you're body was made to do." He kisses me. "Let's do this."

And I smile because no matter what, we're a team right at this moment. We're about to become parents again. About to bring a new life into the world. And I don't care if the baby will share a birthday, the thought of a new baby lying in my arms soon is so unreal, and I can't wait to inhale the new baby smell, trace fingers and toes, name my new life and share the new bundle with Peeta. 

And after a slight scare, this was happening right now.

Peeta sits beside me, holding my hand and my leg as the nurse holds my other leg as I await instructions.

“Just like last year. Listen to your body, pant between and push with each contraction.”

I listen to my body, focus on the feel of Peeta’s body and squeeze his hands when contractions come and go.

“You’re doing great, Katniss, I can see the head.”

"You're doing amazing." Peeta whispers in my ear.

And after more pushes and one final big push, Button is here, crying and grizzling as Effie places the baby on my bare chest.

“It’s another girl.” She announces as she warms the baby up. “Congratulations.” She smiles, tears in her eyes. “She’s beautiful.”

"7:12 pm." The nurse announces as she congratulates us.

I’m taken aback by the sight of my newborn daughter. My daughter, I've just brought into this world.

"Hi, baby girl." Peeta kisses me and meets his daughter who I try to shush from her crying and grizzling. "I know darling." I coo. "It's so upsetting being earthside." I tell her. "It's Ok. We're here for you." I coo as I kiss her face. Peeta's in awe of her tiny fingers, and he's studying every feature of our newborn daughter.

“Four girls.” He laughs. “Thank god two of them are adults.” He kisses my cheek. “We did it.”

I look up and see the tears in his eyes. The tears he wipes away as he spots me looking at him. He smiles, assuring me he's okay and quickly snaps the first photos of our daughter.

Peeta cuts the cord, and the nurse reaches in to take the baby. "She won't be gone too long." She assures me. “Dad you can follow me if you want.”

Effie comes and squeezes my hand and congratulates me on another beautiful baby.

"I'm so honored to have delivered your second daughter." She tells me. "It's been a pleasure."

“Let’s just hope the next one isn’t for at least another two years.” I laugh which causes her to chuckle.

“You want a third?” She asks.

“I do.” I tell her. "Just not as close together this time. I don't think I can handle Irish Triplets." I laugh.

She smiles at me. "We'll ensure you're on contraception then when the time is right."

“Thank you.”

She gets me comfortable and sitting up and ready to nurse the baby. She gets me some water, and I skull quite a bit, dehydrated from the labor.

Peeta brings our daughter back to us. "We've got a healthy 7 pound 6-ounce baby girl." He announces.

I let him hold her for a little while before he hands her back over to me so we can try nursing.

“Are you still nursing Adeline?” Effie asks.

“Yes I am, she’s gone a bit funny on it the last few days but I think it was just my body getting ready.”

“Ok, she might not like the colostrum for the first few days." Effie reminds me.  "Try to get the new baby nursing first, so she gets all the good fat before her sister. Just for the first week and then once your milk comes in you will be fine to nurse her at the same time."

I smile and settle the baby in my arms and try and get her to latch on. It's a practice of patience and persistence, and she's quick to latch on which I know will help for the after birth.

“Look at that, she’s a natural.” The nurse smiles.

“My boobs are going to be huge.” I laugh as the baby feeds. “I’ll become the literal milk bar.”

Peeta kisses my head and settles in beside me on the bed. Effie and the nurse are great at giving me advice for tandem feeding, and I'm happy to be supported by wonderful medical staff.

"She's so beautiful." Peeta comments, running his hand over her beanie-clad head. "Who would have thought we'd be here 18 months ago."

And I’m still glad it happened in this crazy, reversed way.

“Happy birthday little girl.” He coos to her. “You’re such a lucky girl to share it with your big sister.” He tells her softly. He watches her with such intensity. I can feel the love beaming from him. "I love you so much, Katniss." He whispers to me as I nurse our daughter.

I smile at him and take the time to look at my daughter, and there's no denying that she's Adeline's twin. It's so uncanny how alike they both are. The same dark wisps of hair. Her button nose. Round eyes that house baby blues like her sister and father. She’s perfect.

"Irish twins." He chuckles beside me.

Once Effie ensures I've finished laboring and stitched me up, they transfer me down to my room. Our daughter sleeps in a plastic crib, and Peeta helps me get changed into pajamas after helping me freshen up and back into bed.

“Do you want something for dinner?” He asks me as I settle back into bed.

“I’m ok for the moment.” I tell him. “We’ve got snacks in the suitcase anyway if I do get a bit peckish.”

The nurse has set up a bed for Peeta in the corner of my room, and I'm glad he'll spend the night with us.

He falls asleep as soon as he hits the pillow and I can’t find myself falling asleep just yet. I hold my daughter in my arms and decide I’ll let Mom know how things have gone with a quick text and a photo.

Meet Addie’s Irish twin sister.
7 pounds 6 ounces. 19.2 inches
10thof November. 7:12 pm
No name yet as Mommy and Daddy haven’t decided
How’s my big sister?

Mom gets back to me instantly with a congratulations text and a thousand heart eye emojis.

M – She's a splitting image of Addie. She's so beautiful. Your father is so proud of you. Addie is sound asleep and was a good girl for us tonight. Get some rest, and we'll see you tomorrow.

I shoot Nolan a quick text.

K – Hey Nole, the baby was born at 7:12 pm tonight. We're both healthy. Just wanted to let you know we're okay and that your father passed out on the lounge before he told you guys. I'll allow him to spare the details when he wakes as well. Thanks for your help these last twelve months, I appreciated it, and you've made me feel welcome to the family. Talk to you later.

N – Congrats Mom! Can't you tell me if it was pink or blue? Any time, you were too nice to not welcome into the family. I'm so glad to have you both in my life.

K – Sorry bud, leaving that to your father. Don’t want to steal his thunder. I’ll make sure he lets you know as soon as possible.

Effie comes and checks on me a little while later.

“You’re still here?” I ask her.

“On call. We’re starting to see an influx of Valentine Day babies.” She smiles at me.

“Hey, I can assure you, she wasn’t conceived on Valentine’s Day. Her sister on the other hand was.” I laugh.

She laughs too and checks out the baby. "No name yet?"

“Not yet.”

“Take your time.” She smiles. “I’m sure you have a few?”

“We do. We’ve just been more focused on bonding than deciding on a name.”

“It’s sometimes better after a rest and some food to name the baby.”

"Well, Addie wasn't named until the next day, so we're just following tradition."

She smiles. “What about you? Are you feeling good?”

“Overjoyed.” I tell her. “It still doesn’t feel real.”

"I think it's a little unreal for some people. Once you return to normality, it should be fine." She smiles.

“Hopefully.”

“You’re pretty good at pushing out babies.” She laughs.

“Thanks for everything.”

“My absolute pleasure.” She smiles. “And I hope I’m delivering the next one.”

“You will be.” I smile.

She looks over at Peeta and then back to me. “You two seem like you’ve been together for years. You both know what you want from each other. It’s so natural and pure. The two of you belong together, no matter what people say. What you have is what people fight to find, and you found yours in Fiji on the dance floor."

“I know.” I smile. “I’m so glad I met him.” I tell her. “But I believe things happen for a reason so if we didn’t meet in Fiji we would have met some other way, like back home or just coincidentally.”

“Well, make sure you fight for it. Continue the way you are going but remember to fight.”

“We are.” I tell her. “We’ve done everything in a weird way.”

"But you've learned a so much in the past year. It goes to show you don't have to date someone, have the engagement, move into the white picket fence and have the marriage and then welcome the kids to be happy." She tells me. "I mean, some people do to realize they're not compatible but it just works out a weird way for some people."

"I'm glad every day that he knocked me up." I tell her. "It showed me what I wanted and where I need to go for the next stage of my life. Addie was a good thing."

“He seems happy.”

"He's been given a second chance." I tell her. "He loves his three older children and has sacrificed so much for them. Now, he has the opportunity to do parenthood again and to have a family and actually enjoy it. He has a partner that loves him, and he can see growing old with. He was sure he'd grow old alone and have the kids. He gave up on finding the one he'd spend the rest of his life with."

“Until he found you.”

“He got his second chance.” I smile. “And the age gap means nothing to us. It’s just a number that’s irrelevant.”

“Love is love. Family’s are messy. And as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters.”

“We’re both happy.”  I tell her. “So are his older three.”

“You’ve got yourself a beautiful family, Katniss.”

I feel tears well in my eyes. “Thank you.”

“You should get some rest.” She tells me. “Do you want me to take her to the nursery?”

“No thanks. I want to have her close.”

“I’ll check in throughout the night.” She tells me. She tickles the baby’s cheek before she leaves us to be.


 

“What time are you going to get, Addie?" I ask him with a slight yawn. Despite the baby not waking throughout the night, I just couldn't settle with the constant movement on the floor, Peeta's snoring, the nurses coming and going to check on us and to see if the baby was right still with us. And the rest of the night I spent just admiring my baby girl.

I was worried I wouldn’t find the room in my heart to welcome another baby but within the first moments of hearing her cries, seeing her and holding her I knew how deeply in love I was with her already. My heart was whole even more.

“Soon.” He tells me, rocking the baby in his arm gently. “Visiting hours will start in about an hour.” He smiles.

I nod and eat my breakfast. My appetite had appeared in full force, and I could definitely devour a horse.

“Have you let the kids know?” I ask him.

“Not yet.”

“You better let them know cause they’re getting impatient.” I laugh.

“I know, I’ve just been in this bubble of newness.”

I smile acknowledging that same feeling.

He sings and coos to her as her rocks her gently. I can see how in love he is. And I know after my fears of making room for the new baby, his heart has made a place for his 5thchild and he seemed to have done it with ease.

“I love you so much.” He whispers to her as he kisses her hand.

He comes and sits beside me on the bed, and we share a moment together before we open up the door and allow the world into our bubble.

“She needs a name.” He reminds me as he hands the baby over to me, fixing her swaddling as she fusses ready for a feed.

I smile down at her and decide to throw out the list of names we had. The few baby girl names we discussed none of them suit her right now. I want something strong and meaningful that will also go with her sister's name.

“What about Amelia?” I suggest.

I can sense his smile, and he reaches over and tickles her belly. "Hi, Amelia."

“You like it?”

“I love it.” He smiles. “What about Ivy for her middle name?”

The smile grows on my face. "I love it." I kiss him. "Welcome, Amelia Ivy."

He sends a message to the kidsofficially announcing her birth. He sends a message to let his brothers know as well. I send Mom and Prim a text to notify them of the newest member. Prim had been on call last night, but she respected our wishes to allow Adeline the chance to meet her sister. Peeta decides he’ll wait to let his mother know until Adeline visits her sister.

Amelia Ivy Mellark
10thof November.
7:12 pm.
7lbs 6 ounces. 19.2in.

He leaves me to go and get Adeline, and I nurse Amelia.

Effie appears looking a little tired, but she's still happy to see us.

“How are we?”

“Good.” I tell her. “You look tired.”

“5 babies last night.” She tells me.

“Long night then.”

“Yes.” She smiles. “She’s got the feeding down pact.”

"This is the third feeding I think she's getting the hang of it."

“I say you two will be ready to go home tomorrow.”

“That’s good because I don’t want to be away from Addie too long.”

“Is she coming to visit?”

“Peeta’s just gone to get her." I tell her. "Oh, we have a name too."

"Yeah, we decided?"

“We did.” I chuckle. “Amelia Ivy.”

“I love it. A perfect and strong name.”

“And it suits Adeline too.”

“So you’ll have an Addie and an Amy?”

“Or maybe a Mille, we’ll see what the family start calling her.” I laugh. "They'll probably come and visit us this afternoon, and she'll have a nickname already."

I get my camera ready when I hear Peeta and Adeline outside my room. Adeline is calling my name softly, and I anticipate her arrival.

“Mama Mama.”

“Addie.”

Peeta steps into the room with Adeline on his hip, and she's a little more interested in the surroundings before she spots me.

“Addie girl.”

I get her attention, and she smiles at me. "Mama."

"Hi, sweet girl. I have someone for you to meet." I tell her. Amelia is in the bassinet beside me snoozing slightly. Peeta places her on the bed, and she crawls up towards me, and I cuddle her tightly in my arms. "Hi, sweet girl."

I ensure to spend a moment embracing her and catching up on the missed moments. She's happy chilling beside me and cuddling me. She wants to nurse, and I let her nurse whilst we spend some time together.

"You're Mom said they'd come and get her just before visiting hours finish. I said we'd be happy for them to come and meet Amelia."

Peeta pulls the present out and places it in front of Adeline.

“She’s going to think this is normal all these gifts.” I tell him with a laugh.

"It's been a special week for her." He smiles. "Look, Addie, look what your baby sister brought you."

She's finished nursing, the new milk not to her particular taste and turns her attention to the wrapped gift. She hasn't even noticed her sister in the bassinet beside me.

"Let's read the card together to see what Amelia wrote to you." I tell her as I open the card. "To my big sister Adeline, I can't believe I'm finally here, and I've got you as a big sister. I can't wait until I'm finally big enough to play with you. To follow you everywhere you go. To look up to you and be just like you. Just remember I'm still learning and adapting to this new world so please be patient with me. I love you already so much, and I'm glad I was chosen to be your baby sister. Here's to the places we'll go and the things we'll do. I love you. Amelia."

“Isn’t that lovely.” Peeta says to her.

Adeline doesn't understand, but we try our best. He helps her with the present and wrapping paper. We didn't know what to get her as she's still little, but we thought a book we can read both of them together. 

"A new book, Addie." Peeta tells her. "We can read this book altogether or when Mommy feeds you and Amelia."

She looks at the book a little uninterested before she delves into more. A new pair of pajamas, a teddy Nan, made her and Peeta's promise to her.

“And every week, I’m going to take you out and do something fun.” He promises her. “So we can go to the park, the indoor play center, for a walk or anything else.”

“And when Amelia is ready to explore the world, we’ll go out on family outings together.”

She has no idea what's going on, but she smiles at us.

“How about we meet your baby sister?”

Peeta gets Amelia out of her bassinet and comes and lays her in my arms. He gets his camera ready to capture a photo of their first meeting, and I adjust the pillow across mine, and Adeline's waist prepared to bear the weight of the baby.

"Addie, this is your little sister." I tell her.

She’s fascinated by Amelia and looks at her curiously. “Mama?”

“It’s Ok, this is your baby sister.”

"Baba.”

“Yes.” I tell her. “Amelia.”

“Ma.”

“Close enough.” Peeta tells her.

“What do you think?”

Adeline is curious about her, and I encourage her to kiss her sister, touch her fingers and hands.

“Nice and gentle.” I coo to her. Amelia stirs in my arms and makes a grizzling sound which startles Adeline. "It's Ok. She's just waking up." I tell her. "Shh, it's ok bubba."

"Baba." Adeline tells her sister, patting her belly. She then touches my belly. "Baba.”

"That's where Bubba was before," I tell her. Adeline would always caress my belly when she nursed and cuddled with me. This was when I talked to her about her incoming sibling, trying to get her excited and ready.

“You’re a perfect sister.” I tell her, placing a kiss on her head watching as Amelia's hand grasps Adeline's finger and I feel the tears well in my eyes at the bond these two will have.

Effie appears with a balloon for the big sister and a cuddle. Adeline loved Effie and every appointment she was happy to sit on her lap and steal a cuddle.

“Do you like your sister?” Effie asks her.

"Baba.”

"Yes, that's your baby sister." She tells her. "Look what I bought you. A balloon."

“Ooh.”

Effie ties the balloon to Adeline’s new teddy and Adeline is more interested in the balloon than us.

“How about I get a quick photo of the four of you?”

Peeta hands Effie his phone, and he comes and sits beside Adeline, lifting her to his lap, and we pose for our first photo as a family of four.

“Beautiful.”

Effie arranges us to bath Amelia for the first time whilst Adeline is here to help. She stands beside her father with my arm around her. She helps her Dad with the washer and putting water onto Amelia’s belly.

“You’ll be able to help us bathe Amelia.” Peeta tells her. “You’re doing a great job.”

She helps her father, and we dress her in the outfit Adeline chose. A stripy onesie and a beanie. Peeta swaddles Amelia, and he goes and sits down with both his daughters and holds them both and talks to them. He reads the book we bought Adeline, and she's happy snuggling into her father.

Mom and Dad arrive 30 minutes before visiting hours end, and they meet their second granddaughter.

“Congratulations Mom.” They both embrace me. They had already congratulated Peeta when he picked Adeline up.

They find Amelia in Peeta’s arms asleep. Adeline is sound asleep in her father's arms as well. Mom skillfully takes Amelia out of his arms and meets her granddaughter. Dad meets her from Mom's arms, and I can see how in awe they are of her. I take some sneaky photos of the two grandparents.

“We’re so happy to be meeting you.” They tell her quietly.

And I’m so glad my girls will have loving grandparents in their lives. Grandparents who'll love them like no tomorrow. They'll drop everything to be there for them.

“Did you let Nan and Nana know?” I ask them.

“I called them both. They send their congratulations and can’t wait to meet her.” Mom tells me. “We’re going to take Addie over and show them some pictures this afternoon.”

“Yes please and tell them I’ll be as soon as I can.”

“They said there’s no rush.”

They leave us to be when the nurse comes in to let us know visiting hours have ended. We kiss Adeline goodbye as she sleeps over Dad's shoulder and we thank Mom and Dad for visiting and for the flowers and gift.


 

"Is it ok for us to come in?" Madge asks from my door that late afternoon. They brought us dinner in exchange for meeting their sister.

Peeta nods and the three kids enter the room with Gale trailing behind. He waves them over to the bassinet, and the four of them meet their sister.

“These are your older siblings, Amelia.” He tells her as she snoozes. “They’ll protect you and teach you everything there is to know about the world.”

The kids are in total awe of their sister, and I can't help but smile from the bed as they meet her and fight over who gets to hold her.

“Sorry that you’re outnumbered again.” Peeta tells his son.”

“Four sisters is totally fine." He smiles. "I get the chance to be the protective big brother of the girls, so I'm fine with this. No bully's will dare come near Adeline and Amelia Mellark."

"And if not, they've got us," Camille adds.

Nolan gets to hold Amelia first whilst Gale, and the girls dish out dinner. They bought the Italian from the place close to the bakery.

"Oh, they went a little overboard when they heard you had the baby." Camille tells us.

“Did you tell him?”

“He saw the display in the bakery announcing it’s a girl.” Nolan tells his father. “We went a little overboard. Surprised you haven’t seen it on social media. The local paper shared the post too, congratulating you on the new baby.”

“Shit.” Peeta curses.

“What?”

“I haven’t told your Nan yet.”

“You better do so cause she ain’t going to be happy.”

Peeta sends his mother a quick text to announce the birth, and she replies with just a simple OK.

“She could at least show she’s a little more interested.” He comments a little heartbroken.

“It’s Ok, Dad.” Camille comforts her father. “What she lacks in love, we make up for it.”

Amelia is handed around her siblings, and they are all happy to meet her and hold her. Taking photos of their new sibling and promising her the world.

“Amy you are stunning.” Nolan tells his sister when she’s handed back to me.

“Amy? I was hoping we’d call her Millie.” Madge adds.

“Why not both?” Gale suggests.

“You can’t do that to the poor girl. She’ll be confused.” Camille tells him. “I like Amy.”

“Won’t Addie and Amy be too much?” Madge asks.

“No way. It’s cute.” Nolan tells us. “What do you two think?”

“We’re not getting involved in this.” Peeta tells his kids. “Why don’t you let the name sit for a few days before we go and give her a nickname?”

“You’re doomed, Amy.” Nolan coos to her.

“Well if you’re calling her Amy, I’m calling her Millie.” Madge tells him. "Hi, Millie."

And I don't mind. Bickering over a nickname is something I'll remember. It's better to have them squabbling over a nickname rather than her actual name.

“Jury is still out.” Camille tells Amelia as she lays her in my arms as they leave.

 “You raised them so well.” I tell him once it’s silent in the room again.

“They were just great kids anyway.”

Amelia nurses again and he has his arms around my body. He sought comfort from the rejection from his mother, and I just wanted to feel close to him.

"I don't want to make an effort with my mother anymore." He tells me. "She won't make it, then why should I be the one who runs after her? So from now on, she's not welcome in our house without prior arrangement. I'm not going to take the girls to her house. She chose to be like this then she misses out on her granddaughters."

“Peeta…”

“No, it’s time. I need to focus my energy on you three and not her. I can't keep trying to please her, so I give up on wasting my time on the horrible woman. She couldn't even send congratulations back via text. I don't want to expose the girls to her pettiness and hatefulness either. They deserve to be loved by those who are willing to be in their lives."

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Ok.” I smile at him.

“You deserve people who love you, Amelia. Not blow-ins who feel like their teeth have been pulled to come and see you." He tells his youngest. "And I want to protect you for as long as I can, even if that means not letting you know your grandmother. It'll protect your heart my dear, and you have other grandparents who love you."

"And siblings, cousins and aunts and uncles."

“And us too.” He tells her, kissing her head. “We’re so glad you chose us.”