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In Another Life

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Seven days until my fate and his are determined. If what's happened since the day I got the pendant one week ago is any indication, my life will be hell from now on, and insomnia will consume me. I will have returned to the nightmares and they always involve either losing him, or the day of their wedding, and I always had to be there watching how he kissed Delly, or how his mother gave him up because Peeta told her he was with me. What's most frightening about the nightmares is that no matter the situation, he always came out injured.

I look out of my window and see his last gift. There's a green envelope under a large rock so it won't fly away. I assume it's something delicate and I carefully open it to find a dried out flower, a dandelion to be more specific.

The memories and tears enter my mind and eyes because of what this dandelion means and the farewell it implies.

After my father died and my mother entered the deep depression that took her years to get out of, our situation was critical. We had nothing to eat and I watched as Prim slowly starved to death. One day I picked out some dresses to sell and trade for food, but I had no luck and ended up rummaging through the merchant's trash bins in hopes of bringing home something for Prim to eat. When I got to the bakery, Peeta's mother went outside and began to yell at me, telling me to leave and that I was a 'stinking rat'. But dizzy from the lack of food and under the rain, I could only walk a couple feet before collapsing under an apple tree.

I thought I'd stay there and die, but then heard footsteps and saw a boy who was in my grade at school exit through the back door of the bakery while his mother yelled at him, saying he was useless for burning two loaves of bread and saying that he should give it to the pigs because no one would buy them. After his mother went back inside and the boy reached the pig pen, he looked back to the bakery, making sure that his mother wasn't looking before throwing the bread to me. Then, without a word, he re entered the bakery.

It took me a moment to realize what he meant, are these really for me?, I thought. But it was clear that they were meant for me, so I took them and went home smiling for the first time in months. Excluding the part that was slightly burned, the bread was delicious. That night we went to bed with full stomachs and I had no nightmares.

The next day, after a breakfast of tea and bread, I went to school with the intent to thank Peeta. I saw him look at me and took sight of his black eye. I immediately looked away, ashamed because somehow I knew it was because of me. That was when I saw a beautiful dandelion in the grass, possibly one of the first that spring.

Dandelions, my father told me, were weeds that were used to dress salads and season meats. I plucked it, and hugged it tightly to my chest, because suddenly I knew what I had to do to survive. I turned back to Peeta and saw that he was looking at me again. I smiled, this time more confident with my fate and I walked away with a plan in mind.

That night, I walked to the bakery and climbed to what I knew was his window, (having spied all afternoon) and left the dandelion. It was possible that he wouldn't have known who it was from, but I hoped that it would give him the courage it gave me. I stayed under his house for hours until I saw him open his window, give a surprised look at the offering, and then smile as he looked away into the distance.

Until today, I hadn't known why he left these gifts at my window, what it meant for him. I hadn't even thought that he knew who had left the dandelion, or that he'd kept it. Though we've shared many things this past year, I'd never told him that it was me, out of shyness and embarrassment.

That's why, this is his last gift, or is he giving back to me what I've given him. Is he saying goodbye like I did a few weeks ago in the forest?

I get dressed before leaving my house in a hurry, because I don't have time to lose even though it might already be too late.

When I arrive at the bakery, I see that the ovens and lights are on and I leave the dandelion on the doorstep.

Running, I go to our shed, hoping that it's Peeta who opens the door and see's the dandelion, and hoping that he still wants to see me. I honestly don't know what I want to tell him, but I know I have to see him.

I open the door, almost breathless and, suddenly, I find him standing in front of me.

"What are you doing here?" I ask, so surprised that I'm practically frozen in place.

"I called it off with Delly yesterday." Peeta says in response. "What are you doing here?" He asks.

"I came because-" I pause. "Wait, what?" I ask.

"I've broken the engagement with Delly. Last night I realized that I couldn't continue this game anymore. I don't want to be like my father and marry someone I don't love. I won't become that person, not even for you." He says in a firm voice, looking at me with a serious expression. "And why are you here?" He adds.

And in that moment I know just what I want to say.

"I came to tell you not to marry her." I begin. Peeta takes a step towards me and opens his mouth as if to say something, but I silence him with a hand, because what I have to say is important.

"I haven't been the easiest person in the world, and I haven't been very patient ether. I've made you suffer, but I realized something very important these past weeks, even if it took me a long time to realize it. I've refused to see what's obvious to the whole world. Not only because I need you, it's so much more than that, Peeta, I love you. I only did what I did because I thought it was the best for you, I wanted you to be safe, and thought you'd be better off without me but-" I don't finish my sentence because Peeta closes the distance between us and starts to kiss me. I shut up because this is a much more pleasant way to use my lips and tongue.

"You're so stubborn, Katniss." He says, waiting for my answer , but I only groan and he laughs before kissing me once more.

"We'll need to talk eventually, it's important." Peeta says, breaking the kiss once more.

"I know." I say, because his expression is serious, and he has a reason to be.

"I don't think I can go back to the bakery, my mother kicked me out last night. When she found out that I broke it off with Delly, she was furious . But I'm not as weak and docile as I used to be. Rye tried to defend me, but my mother said she didn't want me anymore, and before my father joined in, I went to my room and collected my belongings. After I left, I spent half the night wandering around the District, I left you your gift and then came to hide here. But you being here makes up for it all." He says.

"You can stay at my house while we look for something. Together." I tell him, taking my pearl out from under my clothes.

"Together." He says, echoing my words, smiling the way I adore.

I don't know what the future holds, but I do know that week zero starts today. And I'm not scared because there are more things to come and I'm excited to share my life with him.