|katniss everdeen - au, jaha (burningwings) wrote in the100,|
@ 2016-03-30 22:25:00
|Entry tags:||!log/thread, katniss everdeen, peeta mellark|
WHAT: Katniss finds a dandelion & brings it home for Peeta.
WHEN: backdated to March 23rd
WHERE: their room
WARNINGS: cute, feels, suggestive fade to black
Most days here were decent. Katniss still disliked the bunker, but loved the routine of going out into the woods to hunt every day, which was even more comfortable and reassuring with Gale watching her back. Baelfire had not been her partner in the woods for quite as long, but he had been out with her in these woods plenty of times, and she’d come to trust him almost as much. Despite the snow, it was a little warmer when they could find a patch of sun, and the day out with him had been uninterrupted by Grounders, witches, or any of the other threats the forest had to offer. It had felt like as much a present to herself as it was to him.
Especially because she’d found the dandelion.
A few other flowers had started to come out, despite the snow; the hardier ones, the irradiated, that had already survived a nuclear war and weren’t going to be slowed down by unseasonably cold weather. But the dandelion was different, or at least it stood out to her, its bright yellow against grey rock and white snow. She’d stared at it for a moment, overwhelmed by the sudden flood of emotion inside her, and then carefully tucked it inside her jacket pocket, trying not to crush the delicate petals.
An hour later, she’d almost forgotten about it. But that evening, walking beside Peeta’s wheelchair on the way back to her room, she stuck her hand into her pocket for her key and her fingertips found its stem, instead.
“I almost forgot,” she said, as they stopped in front of their unit. She gently pulled out the flower, slightly crumpled now and missing a few of its petals, but still in relatively good shape. “I found something for you, in the woods.”
Peeta was getting used to the wheelchair. It was going to be a process, considering it wasn't instinctive for him to use his arms for movement, but he felt free of a mental burden even if he had a new physical one. His mood was lighter, he felt like he could just quietly enjoy the little things that other people took for granted — getting up early in the morning to make bread, spending free time painting.
It was strange to say that he was happy here, but he was. It wasn't as if the world they'd left was any less broken and in need of repair. He didn't like living underground, but the rest? He could deal with it. No one was asking him to fight. He'd help where he could.
He'd been lost in thought for a while, thinking about being content, and he had to blink and glance over when Katniss spoke. "Mm? Found what?"
Wordlessly, Katniss held out the dandelion for him to take. She didn’t feel like it needed any explanation - she knew he remembered. It had been one of the first real memories he’d gotten back, untampered, something that the Capitol hadn’t known about to mess with. The moment that their eyes had met across the schoolyard, and then she’d noticed the dandelion on the ground. The small, seemingly insignificant flower that had given her the key to survival in the Seam without her father. Peeta hadn’t even pointed her to it, but he’d been there, and she had never been able to dissociate the two from each other.
Now that she knew him better she understood why. It wasn’t just because he’d been in the right place at the right time; there had been other people in the schoolyard that day, too, and she could have looked at them, instead, and would have forgotten them instantly. It wasn’t even because he’d loved her or done something special for her, it was just… him. He had the same warmth as that freshly baked bread and the same bright, hopeful yellow as the dandelion. Circumstances had just happened to align perfectly so that she’d been able to see it.
Peeta took the flower, smiling faintly. "You … really?"
He was surprised. He hadn't been outside in quite some time, because getting around in his chair was complicated out there, but he'd heard about the weather. He'd heard about the wet snow and the bitter cold, how apparently it was the work of the witch that had tried to communicate with them several days ago.
"I didn't think there were any flowers," he said, turning it over between his fingers. He glanced up at her. "Where did you find this?"
Katniss’ expression was already soft, but a small smile appeared on her face when he looked up at her. “In the sun,” she said. “In a little patch of dirt between a couple of rocks.”
She was hardly starving here, but she was still grateful for the dandelion’s reminder. The winter had been long and cold and the witch’s magic was making it even longer. She looked down at Peeta, and then reached out, gently running her fingers through his hair. It had become a more common gesture for her lately, now that he was in the chair and he was lower, it was usually the easiest part of him to touch while she was standing beside him.
Peeta ran his fingertips over the petals. "Stubborn little thing," he said.
Maybe they were going to get through this thing with the witch, after all. They'd gotten through everything else. Winter wasn't going to last forever, and the snow she'd brought would melt and they'd see spring again. More flowers, warm temperatures, and they'd be able to go back to planting outside, to building housing.
He smiled. "Thank you. I needed the reminder that it's probably going to be warm again."
“You’re welcome,” Katniss said, quietly. She smiled at him, and added, “Mr. Everdeen.”
It was nice to make him smile. Not that it was rare, but she still savored his smiles every time, because every once in awhile he was still afraid. Counting his smiles, making sure they outnumbered the terrified looks, was her way of making sure the happiness she gave him still outweighed the fear.
“Is it getting to you?” she asked, after a moment. “The cold. Being inside all the time.” Her hand lowered from his hair to the back of his neck, her fingertips resting on the collar of his shirt. “You could come outside with me sometime. We don’t have to go far.”
The cold was getting to him. Being inside, being underground. He didn't feel the need to be outdoors all the time like Katniss did, roaming the woods and hunting, but he needed sunlight. He needed fresh air. Being underground was like being trapped, and being trapped felt like being captured — it was affecting him, slowly, creeping in on his consciousness. As happy was he was to not be using the Capitol's prosthetic, as freeing as that was, he still felt the isolation of being constantly indoors.
"I'd like that," he said, relaxing into her touch. He felt safe outside with Katniss, at least. He took a moment to smell the dandelion, still fresh and floral. "At this point I think I need that. I've been going outside with Major, occasionally, but not since the snow started again."
He frowned slightly. "Is it affecting hunting?" he asked, finally pushing open the door and heading into their rooms. "Are we looking at a food shortage again?" Katniss would know. Their food shortages here had been nothing like what they'd faced in District Twelve, and certainly nothing like what Katniss and her family experienced, but that was no reason not to worry. Having strict rations and being on the brink of starvation were not the same, but Peeta wasn't about to criticize anyone for complaining or being worried.
“It’s… strange out there,” Katniss said, a little hesitantly. She didn’t quite know how to describe the way in which the cold and snow felt off; she couldn’t have said exactly which of her senses picked up on the difference that the witch’s magic made. “It isn’t quite like normal winter. Some of the plants are still trying to grow the way they normally would. Some of the animals are still out. But - there are less than there probably would be, if not for the magic making it so cold.”
Truthfully, she didn’t know precisely how much food they had. She knew how much game she brought back - which was more than it had been, now that she was hunting with Gale again - and she sometimes saw the other hunters’ hauls, but she didn’t know exactly how much they were producing in the underground farms or how much was stored away. She hadn’t been worrying about it, but she gave it some thought as she followed him into the room.
“We should be able to survive til the witch is gone. But I don’t know how long that will take. Hopefully they’ll take care of her soon.”
Of course, her idea of what was enough to survive on was lower than most. She didn’t think it would get that bad, at least not this winter, but experience had taught her that it would always be a possibility. She really didn’t like the idea of an extended winter, for multiple reasons, but as long as she could get around in it, she wasn’t going to be deterred by the snow. She was more worried about running into the witch who could turn people into stone, but she wasn’t going to say that out loud.
"You're not getting involved in that."
It wasn't a question, but it wasn't a warning, either. Peeta was just confirming that Katniss wasn't going to go into battle with a creature like this. Ever since coming here they'd done their best to stay out of the fighting. They were no longer soldiers; they didn't have to fight anymore, and Peeta felt no obligation to do so.
A lot of the people here happily volunteered to fight, especially if they had experience in war. Sometimes Peeta worried that perhaps he was a coward, or that he wasn't being responsible.
“No,” Katniss agreed, easily enough. “I’m not.”
It had been different under other circumstances. Earlier in the year, when she’d still felt more fresh from the battle. When their opponents were wolves. Extra dangerous wolves, maybe, but still creatures that could only hurt her if they got close, and having her bow meant that she had more of an advantage over them.
She had softened since then. Allowed herself to be more vulnerable, emotionally accessible, if only to one person, but it still made her feel more weary of fighting. She wanted to keep feeling warm, instead of cold and broken.
And more importantly, she really didn’t want to be literally turned to stone. She had no defenses against magic, and she knew it. She knew better than to engage in a battle that she couldn’t win.
Moving forward, she slid into the chair with him, resting her side against his chest and her head against his shoulder and neck. “I’ll always protect you, and everyone else I care about. But I’m not fighting for anyone else anymore. And I don’t want to try fighting magic at all. I’d much rather get out of its way.”
Peeta wrapped his strong arms around her and pulled her into his lap. Apart from the peace of mind that came from using the chair, this was possibly his favorite part. Katniss seemed to like the chair rather than feeling like Peeta had lost something, and she took advantage of the changes rather than pretending they weren't there. It was intimate and close, and Peeta could easily wrap his arms around her and keep her with him.
"What does that say about us?" he asked after a moment, leaning back to look at her. He already had good reasons for not wanting to fight, and he didn't need to justify himself to anybody, but there was still a culture of combat here that seemed to leave most civilians in the dust.
"Are we selfish?"
He tucked the dandelion into Katniss's hair, just over her ear.
Despite the jokes they’d made early on, Katniss didn’t actually take advantage of the chair as transport, didn’t make him wheel her around anywhere. What she did like was that it was easier than ever to get close to him without actually having to need to be held. Whenever she wanted to sit down, she could choose his chair instead of another, and end up with his arms around her as well. She didn’t do it when it seemed inconvenient for him, when he was in the middle of eating or painting or something else, but in quiet moments like this, all she wanted to do was fit herself into the chair with him. He seemed to like it, which only encouraged her to do it even more often.
Her arms didn’t quite go around him in this position, but one hand rested near his hip instead of trying to reach around his back, the other rested against the center of his chest. She lifted her head to look at him, her grey eyes meeting his blue ones. She lowered her gaze and her head just a little bit, briefly, when he tucked the flower over her ear, and then looked at him again.
“Yes,” she said, with a slight smile. Half joking, half not. “Probably.”
Leaning in, she rested her forehead against his. Lightly, she added, “I’ve always been selfish. I must be rubbing off on you.”
Peeta kissed her lightly. Maybe it was wrong to think that they'd fought their battles and didn't have to fight anymore, but they weren't soldiers, no matter how people had tried to turn them into ones. Peeta was definitely useless in a fight, and while Katniss was good with a bow and arrow, Peeta knew of at least three or four other exceptional archers. He wouldn't say that he felt like a kid compared to these people, but he definitely didn't feel like his skills were of any particular use.
"You were willing to die to save me," said Peeta, leaning back a little to look at her. "I don't know if I'd call that selfish."
Katniss closed her eyes, savoring the warmth that rose up inside her from even the lightest of his kisses. It helped to block out most of the unpleasant emotions caused by the memories he was referencing, although she still swallowed hard and lowered her head to hide it, resting her forehead against his chest.
“Totally selfish,” she said quietly, but with feeling. “Losing you would be a million times worse than dying.”
Peeta still had a hard time believing that, but Peeta didn't think much of himself. He was somewhat chronically incapable of believing in his own self-worth, no matter how much Katniss told him he was loved and important. If she needed someone to blame for that, she could look toward his parents. Peeta was happy to sacrifice himself, to give things up, to put someone else's needs before his own — yes, because he was kind, but also because he didn't think very much of himself.
But even if he didn't think he was worth that sentiment, he did believe that Katniss believed it.
He paused, trying to gather his thoughts. "I don't know if I ever thanked you," he said after a moment. "You're going to say that I don't have to thank you, and that's fine, but you're the only person who ever thought I was worth saving." People had bent over backwards to keep Peeta alive, sometimes, but they'd done it for Katniss. Even Katniss was doing it for herself, but it meant that she cared about him enough to want him alive for his own sake.
That wasn’t entirely true, although Peeta didn’t know it, and Katniss didn’t know if it would make anything better if he did. Coin had always liked him better than her, but that was because she didn’t like things she couldn’t control - like Katniss. It wasn’t because she actually cared about Peeta as a person, or at least, Katniss wasn’t willing to give her credit for that.
For her part, she would never understand why people didn’t see his worth. He didn’t have the kind of fire that she did, that had spawned a revolution, but fire was overrated. It was destructive and consuming and it had caused far too many innocent deaths. Peeta had warmth, which felt like the exact opposite - he was slowly but surely bringing her back to life, in the same way he managed to make his drawings seem alive, in the way that he brought out laughter and humor in people around him, even Capitol audiences. To her, he represented all of her hopes for survival despite their losses, a spring’s rebirth after a fire or a hard winter. The peace and calm after a storm or a war.
Maybe in a world that needed the fire of a rebellion, that hadn’t been given the credit it was due, but she still felt that the people who knew him well - especially his family - should have valued him more. It made no sense to her that they didn’t. She valued him enough for all of them put together, but he still deserved more than that.
She didn’t say anything immediately, because she wasn’t quite sure what to say. The lightheartedness of a few moments before was gone, and although she wanted to bring it back, she didn’t want him to think that she took this lightly. There was probably nothing she’d taken more seriously in her life than the way she felt about him.
“You don’t have to thank me,” she did end up saying, finally, “You saved me, too. Over and over again, in so many different ways.”
She lifted her head to look at him, and then slid her arms around his shoulders, resting the side of her head against his. Usually, all she wanted to do was take the comfort that his arms provided, but she had learned - even if she still needed to remind herself sometimes - that he needed her to be here to support and comfort him, too. It wasn’t her first instinct, so she had to make the choice consciously, but it felt good to be able to return the favor.
Gently, she pressed a kiss against the side of his neck. “I love you, and I need you, and I’ll always save you. You’re worth everything to me.”
Peeta turned his head just enough so he could catch her mouth in a slow, affectionate kiss. "Maybe you don't need to hear me thank you, but I need to do it," he said, his voice soft. He leaned in for another kiss, and then another, his arms tightening around her waist. As comfortable as this was, it was difficult to have his wife in his arms and to not feel his heart start racing as he wanted more of her.
"You're not going anywhere, are you---?"
Katniss would have responded to that, though she wasn’t sure quite how. But his lips were on hers, soft and warm and insistent, and each kiss made her even hungrier for the next. She curled her fingers into his hair and kissed him back, the conversation almost entirely forgotten. Her heartbeat grew faster and louder in her ears, but she could feel his, too, against her ribs and under her fingertips.
“No,” she murmured back, without opening her eyes or pulling away. She hadn’t planned on leaving, but even if she had, she would have skipped it without a moment’s hesitation. There was no one, nothing, and nowhere else that mattered more than this. “I’m staying right here.”