|katniss everdeen - au, jaha (burningwings) wrote in the100,|
@ 2015-10-06 20:25:00
|Entry tags:||katniss everdeen, peeta mellark|
Who: Katniss & Peeta
What: talking about ~marriage~
When: Unity Day (backdated)
Where: at the dance!
At first, the sight of the mess hall-- which looked absolutely nothing like the mess hall anymore-- had made Katniss’ stomach turn over. She’d felt like she was walking into another world. But once she’d gotten over the vertigo of it, she found the dim light strangely comforting.
And it felt good to dance. It felt like dancing at Finnick’s wedding, only the people around her were different, and they weren’t in the middle of a war. She hadn’t gotten to dance with Peeta at the wedding, because he hadn’t attended. She hadn’t danced with Finnick either, because it had been his wedding, and she wouldn’t have wanted to interfere with his time with Annie. But she had gotten both of them to dance with her tonight, and soon she was full of warmth inside and out, glad to be reminded again that there could be joy even in the midst of tension and difficulty.
As the night was drawing to a close, she was back in Peeta’s arms again for a slow song. Her arms wrapped around his shoulders, and she rested her forehead against the side of his neck, her feet moving slowly, more in tune with the rhythm of his heartbeat than the music. After a little while, since the light was dim and she could almost pretend that they were alone, she lifted her head to look at him. Her heart skipped and then swelled with affection in a way that was becoming predictable -- it happened almost every time she looked at him these days.
This time it was almost too much emotion for her to handle, and she pressed her cheek against his so that she didn’t have to look at him directly, one hand coming to rest on the back of his neck. She swallowed hard and closed her eyes, and then before she’d realized she was going to say anything, his name left her lips in a whisper. It probably wouldn’t have even been audible over the music, except that her mouth was so close to his ear. “Peeta…”
Honestly, Peeta hadn't really heard her. He'd felt the vibration against his skin, the warmth of her breath. He always felt hyper-aware of everything when they were close like this, taking note of little things that he wouldn't have noticed otherwise — the roughness of her fingertips, the length of her eyelashes.
Now, it felt a little like being awakened from a trance. He'd stopped focusing on anything else in the room and was just lulled into quiet by the beat of her heart, by the touch of her hands. He didn't feel awkward dancing in front of people — not when it wasn't really dancing anyway. There was just him, and her, and nothing else felt important.
Nothing else was ever important.
It took all the courage she had for Katniss to draw her head back again and look him in the eye. Why it terrified her so much, she couldn’t say, but the fear was there, real, trying to twine itself around her heart. She focused on him, on the way he looked at her, the strength of his arms steadying her, the warmth that radiated from him like the sun.
There had been a thought, a sentiment really, a wisp of a thing floating around in her head for a while. In the intimacy of the moment, it became a fully fledged idea-- a frightening and uncertain one, but immense and undeniable at the same time. Her throat felt too tight, her tongue too heavy and clumsy to speak, but she made herself swallow once, twice, and get the words out.
“Do you still… want to marry me?” Even as she said it, she realized why it frightened her. He’d never actually said it was something he wanted, not in so many words, except in the context of their act, and that didn’t really count. Haymitch had been the one who said he wanted it to be real. Katniss knew it was true, and yet still, irrationally, she found herself wondering now if she’d been wrong. “I… you did want that, right?”
Peeta blinked, genuinely surprised.
It wasn't that he hadn't thought about it. He had, usually while he had an arm around Katniss while she slept. He wanted this forever. He wanted her forever, and he wanted it to be official. He wanted her in his family, for whatever that meant here. They didn't have the same laws, and they were in another world, but they were here for the time being. There was no reason not to make it real.
"You … what?" he asked, tipping his head. He started to smile, but it was uncertain, like he wasn't really sure what she was getting at. "Marry you?"
His smile, uncertain as it was, coaxed the ghost of one out of her, too. It hovered around the edges of her mouth, and she barely resisted the urge to laugh or make some kind of a witty quip, just because of her nerves. It shouldn’t have been so nerve-wracking, but it was. Katniss suddenly had a much deeper appreciation for how he must have felt, trying to work up the nerve to talk to her before the Reaping.
“We’ve only ever talked about it when it was part of the act,” she said, quietly. They were in the middle of a crowd, and this was hardly a dangerous conversation, but she still didn’t want to be overheard. “But… what you said in your interview, about having our own secret toasting, that was… what you’d have wanted to do, wasn’t it? If we’d...”
Figuring out what was real and what was the act, for her, had taken a while. But for him, it had almost always been real and truthful in some way. Carefully calculated to have the effect he wanted, but based upon the way he really felt. It was why he was so good at playing the Capitol’s game. Katniss could have an effect on people, too, when she was genuine, but not in the same way.
She leaned in again, her forehead pressing against his temple, her lips brushing against his cheek and then moving closer to his ear before she finished, just barely above a whisper, “I would do that, with you. If you wanted.”
Peeta had been lying, of course. He'd lied about everything, technically. About how he loved her, about their secret marriage, about the baby. But the reason it had been believable was the fact that he wanted those things. He loved her, he wanted her, he wanted a family with her.
He'd just never thought that she'd want the same things, or that she'd come back and question him now.
His smile widened and he reached up to touch her cheek, cradling it gently. "Katniss, you're not asking me to marry you, are you?"
There were a lot of things Katniss could have said. She could have told him that marriage really didn’t matter to her, that it had never been something she’d wanted or dreamed about, that she would be just as happy spending a long, long time-- forever, or the rest of her life-- with him, without ever making it official. But that didn’t seem like the right thing to say, because it mattered to him, and she was tired of giving him reasons to doubt her, and them. It was a sensitive topic already, because she’d already been the one to suggest that they get married, to satisfy Snow, to protect the people they loved. Now, she felt certain that if they’d gone through with it, it would have eventually been real.
But there was no more eventually. The reality of being in love with him was here and now, and she didn’t have to envy anyone else their certainty any longer. She felt it herself, with every kiss, every touch, every time their eyes met, every time she looked at him even if he wasn’t looking back. She felt it so strongly that it was hard to imagine she’d ever doubted it. And it was a strange thing, to be the one in the position of wondering what he thought, what he wanted from her.
She deserved that, though. And he deserved, for once, to be absolutely certain of where she stood. Even if it didn’t really matter, she couldn’t tell him that. She didn’t want his smile to fade, not even a little bit, not even for a moment. She couldn’t help leaning into the touch of his hand, just a little, reassuring herself. Heart pounding in her ears, she managed to say, simply, “Yes.”
Peeta almost laughed, bowing his head and glancing away. It wasn't so much a proposal as a series of awkward suggestions. He'd planned on one day asking her to marry him, when he felt like he was ready, or when things settled down. But things weren't really going to settle down, and they didn't know if they were going to go home.
They weren't the only people settling down and getting married. At least if they disappeared and went home, they'd still have each other.
"Of course I'll marry you," he said, looking back at her. His smile was a little more shy. "Of course I will." There was no one else. There was never going to be anyone else.
The shyness in his smile was the part that absolutely destroyed her. Peeta’s physical power had made him someone to be reckoned with in the arena, and after, when he’d been turned into a weapon against her, but there was so much gentleness and warmth in him, too, and so much of it was reserved just for her. It had gotten under her skin a long time ago, and taken root there, and spread into every fiber of her being, until a simple smile was enough to make her feel warm all over. Katniss wondered if he understood, yet, the effect he had on her.
“Good,” she said, relieved-- and then, because that seemed a supremely stupid thing to say and she felt ridiculous for having worried about it in the first place, she tried to make light of it. “I thought about getting down on one knee, the way you did, but… well, I’m glad it worked on you anyway.”
But after she'd said it, that, too, seemed the wrong thing to say. Katniss winced and tried to hide her face in his shoulder. "Sorry. I'm terrible at this. I meant it, though."
There was some irony in the fact that she was even worse at romantic gestures when she really meant them. It was strangely comforting, and yet, frustrating too.
Peeta wrapped his strong arms around her and pulled her close. It wasn't a proper proposal, down on one knee, but did it have to be? That kind of show was public, it was for cameras, for an audience. This was a private conversation, no one knew that they'd just agreed to marry one another. No one knew that they were having this conversation on the dance floor.
He wasn't doing it for other people. Not now.
He rubbed her back in slow circles, turning his head just enough to softly kiss her ear. "I love you," he whispered. "And I don't care what else happens, but I want to marry you. I don't even care if anyone even knows about it."
It wasn't that he wanted to keep it a secret; he didn't. He just didn't care about making it public, either. Their private lives were so much more precious now.
All of Katniss’ nerves disappeared the moment his arms tightened around her, fading away under the rush of a pleasant warmth through her entire body, starting at her ear where his lips had touched and her back, under his hands. She’d always thought that she had to be safe to let herself fall in love, but Peeta had made her feel safe even in the arena, just by holding her tight, and now she couldn’t help wondering if it wasn’t the other way around. If it wasn’t love that made her feel safe, instead.
“I don’t want a big ceremony,” she murmured, her voice muffled against his shoulder. Even though she no longer needed the comfort, she still wanted to savor it with all of her senses, the inviting warmth, the reassuring strength and steadiness, the familiar scent. “Or a dress. I don’t really want anyone else there, even our friends. I want…” She trailed off, taking a few moments to find the words. “I want it to be just for us, not for anyone else. We can tell them afterward, or not. I don’t care if anyone knows, either.”
She just wanted a memory that no one could tarnish. That no one else would remember, except for them. It was, in no small part, motivated by the fact that so many of their memories had ended up being used against him in the hijacking, because they had been filmed. She was also just tired, down to her very core, of having to play the game, or care what anyone else thought. Even the idea of having people there that she trusted, like Finnick, felt invasive. There would be things she wouldn’t feel comfortable saying or doing in front of them, even if they were completely innocent. When it came down to it, she wanted her relationship to Peeta to belong to the two of them, and only them. Which, until recently, had seemed an impossible thing to even dream about.
Peeta used to think he'd want more. He used to think he'd want it to be public, to stand up and say that he loved this woman and he was going to love her for the rest of his life … but he agreed with Katniss. No one could take away what they had together, no one could bring anything negative, no one could say anything or ruin a moment that was just theirs. They needed to be alone. Marrying wasn't about other people, to Peeta. It was about her, and him, and their connection to each other.
"Okay," he said quietly, murmuring into her ear so he could be heard over the music. "It's about you and me, not about having a party or anything else. It's ours, just ours … and I want to be just yours. I don't care who knows."
Katniss’ fingers tightened possessively into his shirt. He was, arguably, the best thing that had ever belonged to her. There was Prim, but her sister wasn’t hers in the same way, and she had slipped out of Katniss’ hands, first in the way she’d grown up while Katniss wasn’t looking, and then… she would be lost forever. Nothing and no one had ever been so faithfully hers, long before she’d claimed him, even when she’d driven him away, even after he’d been turned against her. She couldn’t help wondering, to her own shame, whether she would have been able to love him if he’d been any less steadfast, even if everything else was the same. The amount of trust required to put her heart in someone else’s hands was impossibly high, and yet he’d earned it, because he’d had the strength to do it for her, even knowing that it might end with his heart being broken. Even when it had meant trying to sacrifice his life for hers.
She remembered that moment on the beach, when he’d tried to give her everything that he probably thought she wanted. Even then, she’d known it wasn’t. She did want everything from him, even his life, but in the form of his life being entwined with, running parallel to hers. Only with his steady, reassuring presence beside her could she imagine a life that she might genuinely enjoy living.
Lifting her head, she looked him in the eye, which sent a fresh wave of warmth through her. There were so many things she wanted to say to him, but what came out was, “Not today. Not on Unity Day. It’s not our day.”
That, and she wasn’t sure that she wanted to buy into this government’s holidays and stories of unity and heroism just yet. They were alright now, but the amount of security that had been required for this event had put her hackles up. Even if the dancing had taken the edge off her nerves, it still didn’t feel right.
“It doesn’t have to be tomorrow either. But… soon.” A small smile hovered around the edges of her mouth, and she brushed her thumb along his jaw. She was really tempted to kiss him, and if they hadn’t been in public, she would have. As it was, she didn’t. “I want to be just yours, too. I already am. You know that, right?”
Peeta wanted her to kiss him. His breath hitched a little, his gaze flickering down to her lips. He could have closed the distance and kissed her hard, but they rarely engaged in any kind of public displays of affection. A dance was enough. Holding hands was enough. No one needed to know the way they touched and kissed each other in private.
"I know you are," he said. Whatever jealousy he had over Gale, or even Finnick sometimes, didn't matter in the long run. He knew that Katniss loved him, that she chose him, even when he had days when he was childishly insecure.
"And I'm yours. I always have been. There was never anyone other than you."