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Every time I close my eyes, I can feel her kisses again. One kiss on the back porch turned into another kiss at the table after breakfast the next morning, then every night before we fall asleep in each other’s arms. They never last longer than a few seconds and don’t go any further than a peck, but it feels so good to have her lips on mine again; maybe even better than ever, because these kisses aren’t for show. There are no cameras, there is no audience; we are kissing because we want to, not because we have to. Because of that, they feel different. They stay on my lips longer and I can recall them at a moment’s notice just by closing my eyes.

The physical effects of the kisses are more difficult to deal with now that I spend almost all of my time with Katniss. I try to keep the feelings of the kisses from traveling from my lips down to my groin, but I’m not always successful. It’s like fighting a flashback; sometimes the emotions are just too strong to stop it. She’s never asked why I take so long in the bathroom when it happens, and I don’t know if she even suspects anything, but it’s the only way to relieve the ache that develops after ignoring it for a few days.

I’ve started painting again, little by little. Up until a few weeks ago, I was afraid to go into my room where I used to paint. I didn’t want the paintings that I’d left there to induce any flashbacks, so I waited until I was absolutely sure I could handle it. I spent the day there cleaning up the room. Paints were dried out after not being used for so long, cobwebs had gathered in the corners of the room, and there was a layer of dust an inch thick on the tops of all of the surfaces.

Katniss came over half way through my cleanup and helped. I was thankful for the extra hands, but even more thankful that she came here. She ventures out more and more every day, and even though my house is so close, this is the first time she has been here since we came back. Together, we took all of my old paintings and set them in a pile in the corner of the room. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them, but until I figure it out, that’s where I’ll keep them. We had dinner at my house that night, and fell asleep together in my bed; just another first in this new beginning.

As time has gone on we’ve been spending time at each of our houses. Haymitch has told us to make up our minds on where we want to live, but neither Katniss nor I have even admitted to the fact that we’re living together. There’s a title that comes along with the admission that may be too hefty for us to undertake right now; we’re just taking everything one day at a time free of titles and formalities.

Katniss always joins me now on the weekly walk to the train station to pick up the orders I’ve put in. We ordered the seeds for the garden a couple weeks ago, and they’ve just started to sprout. These days, our time is spent either working in the garden, or working on the book. I’ve spent a few days holed up in my painting room in my house, but it seems isolated and lonely now that I’ve spent so much time collaborating with Katniss on the book and the garden, so I don’t paint as often as I’d like to.

When we reach the station, we get in line behind others who are here to pick up orders, and wait. There are two people ahead of us, and when it’s my turn it’s very simple. They are starting to learn who we are now and most people don’t even need to give their names anymore before a Capitol worker is off to gather their things. I’ve never had to give my name, so once the Capitol worker sees me, he nods and is off to get my cart. I move over and wait for it to arrive when I notice Katniss let go of my hand.

When I turn around, I see her standing in front of the Capitol worker who has taken the place of the man who went to get my things. “Katniss Everdeen.” She says, even though I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have to tell anybody here her name either. The man simply nods and walks to find her order.

“I didn’t know you ordered anything.” I say to her when she walks over to me to wait.

“Then the plan worked.” She says dryly. I’m about to ask her what plan when a worker appears with my cart full of supplies. In my cart are eggs, cheese, a large sack of flour, liquor to hide in my house in case Haymitch runs out too early, and a hose so we can water the garden easier than we have been.  I grab the cart and move out of the way so others can have room to wait for their orders. While I wait for Katniss, I start to wonder about what she could have possibly ordered and why she kept it from me. Before I can let my mind venture too far, she is walking toward me with a basket over her arm and an accomplished look on her face.

When we reach The Victor’s Village, I decide to speak up. “So, what are you keeping from me?” I ask her, trying not to sound suspicious of anything.

“I’m not hiding anything.” Katniss states, “It’s all right here, I’ll show you when we get in the house.”

She helps me put away what I ordered. I’ve taken over Katniss’ kitchen with baking supplies, but she doesn’t mind. She says it actually makes the place look lived in, unlike when it was just her and Greasy Sae stopping in to cook. I want to ask again what’s in the basket, natural curiosity taking over my mind, but I don’t want to harp. Luckily, as soon as we’re done Katniss grabs the basket.

“Sit down.” She tells me, motioning for me to sit down in the rocker by the kitchen fireplace. I sit down and wait. “Here,” she says, pushing the basket in my direction. “For you.”

“You got me a gift?” I ask.

“You can call it that if you want. I just think it’s something that you needed and probably wanted.” She reasons.

“That’s a gift then.” I look down at the basket that is still covered with a gray cloth and pull it away. “What is all this?” I ask.

“Don’t ask what it is, just look.” Katniss scolds me.

I begin to pull things out of the basket. New paints, a set of paintbrushes, 2 sets of pencils, one colored , one lead, two sketchbooks of different sizes, and folded up at the very bottom is a bag to carry all of it in.

“I know you had to throw out almost all of your old paints and brushes.” Katniss says. “The smaller book is for drawings and the bigger one is to be used for painting. The back cover props the book up on a table.”

“You did all this for me?” I ask. She nods.

“Well, Dr. Aurelius helped. I told him about helping you clean your painting room and how you hardly ever go there. He thought that if you had a way to paint and draw where ever you were, you’d be able to do it more.” She confesses. “Everything should fit in that bag once you unfold it. Then you can take your stuff anywhere.” She looks embarrassed now, glancing down at her feet after she finishes talking.

“I don’t know what to say.” I begin. And I don’t. I told Dr. Aurelius that I missed painting and how lonely it felt in the room now, but to know that Katniss thought not only the same thing but of a solution for me has me speechless.

“Just tell me you’ll use it?” She asks.

“Of course I’ll use it.” I tell her. I stand up from the chair and walk over to her, scooping her up in a hug and briefly lifting her off her feet. When I put her down, I plant a small kiss on her lips and smile at her. “Thank you.” I begin. “Really, it means a lot.”

I get started right away, propping the larger sketch book on the kitchen table and setting up the paints just the way I like them. I decide to start painting a memory that recently came back to me. It’s an old one from when I was really young, maybe 4 or 5 years old. My brothers were cleaning off the table after dinner one night and I was crawling around on the floor, playing. Not knowing that my brother was standing above me with his arms full of dinner plates, I stood up quickly and knocked my head right into the plates. I started crying, and my brother got in trouble for hurting me, even though he tried to tell them what really happened. It’s a strange scene to be painting, but it’s a memory that is fresh in my mind after being lost.

“Peeta, look…” I hear Katniss say from the front door. She’s just walked in and is holding what looks like an unopened letter in her hand.

“What is it?” I ask, getting up from the table and joining her at the door. She hands me the envelope and I take a look in the top corner and see the words “Annie Odair” scrawled on top. It’s a letter from Annie. We wrote to her months ago and we had given up ever getting a reply from her, but it looks like it just took her awhile to get back to us.

“Open it…” Katniss urges. I motion for her to follow me to the table, and I push aside my painting and supplies so we can spread the letter out on the table for both of us to read together. I rip open the top of the envelope and pull out the neatly folded letter that feels a little fatter than it should, and when I unfold the letter I find out why. A picture falls out and onto the table of a little boy with the smallest amount of dark hair and eyes that resemble the sea. I move the picture to the center of the table and Katniss looks at it, reaching out and turning it so that she can see it right side up.

“Well now I see why she took so long to get back to us.” Katniss says, bewildered. “She had more important things to worry about.”

“His name is Dylan,” I tell her, setting the 3 page letter out on the table. We sit in silence and read the letter, each taking a page at a time until we’ve finished all 3. In the letter she explains that she and Finnick were one of the rare couples that conceived Dylan on their wedding night. Annie didn’t even know she was pregnant when Finnick died. For a while, the knowledge that Finnick never knew he was going to be a father haunted her, and she blamed herself for not knowing sooner. It wasn’t until Dylan was born that it stopped bothering her; the minute she looked into the baby’s eyes she realized that somehow, Finnick knew. She got our letter right away and was eager to get back to us, but didn’t want to until Dylan was born so she could send a picture of him since she doesn’t have any of her and Finnick.

She goes on to tell us how life is now in District 4. The train comes weekly just as it does here in District 12, and the new hospital is coming along nicely. She’s kept in touch with Mrs. Everdeen, she comes to see Dylan often and Annie mentions that when she does, she talks about grandchildren; neither one of us mention that part of the letter right away.

When we wrote to her, I apologized for talking to Finnick the way that I did in District 13, since I can’t apologize to Finnick. Thankfully, Annie accepted the apology. She closes the letter by wishing us well and hoping that we’ll call her sometime. She gives us her phone number at the bottom of the letter and then signs her name in small, neat cursive.

Silently, Katniss gets up and grabs the book and a new piece of parchment and writes at the very top “Annie Cresta Odair.” She writes until everything that can be said is said, moving the parchment over to me to draw a picture of her, nodding when I show her the rough draft I’ve sketched while she wrote. Quickly, she takes another piece of parchment, writes “Finnick Odair” on the top and begins furiously writing once more.

This time, when she finishes writing, she waits for me to finish drawing Annie and watches as I start on Finnick, giving me the same nod of approval when I show her his sketch, so I begin to draw it onto the parchment.

“Before you color it, let me see it?” She asks. “We have to get his eye color just right.” I nod and she grabs a third piece of parchment and writes “Dylan Odair” on the top, writing down everything that Annie wrote to us about him. When she finishes, she carefully pastes the picture of Dylan into the book and focuses on me, prepping to color Finnick.

I take drops of ink and place them on a spare piece of paper, blending two colors. “What about this? Is that close?” I ask Katniss.

“Almost, but I think it needs a little more green.” She replies.

I place another drop of ink on the paper and swirl the colors together again and smile when I see the familiar color of Finnick’s eyes appear. “That’s it.” I say, looking up at Katniss. She’s nodding.

“Perfect.” She says.

When I finish coloring Finnick, we take the 3 pages we did today and seal them in the book, then Katniss puts the book away. “Have you talked to Haymitch to see if he wants to add anything in here?” Katniss asks me.

“I haven’t yet. He’s usually too drunk to give me an honest answer when I see him. I’ll go ask him in the morning before he has a chance to get too drunk.” I tell her.

We make dinner and sit down to eat, both of us with Annie’s letter and the picture of Dylan at the forefront of our minds.

“So your mom wants grandchildren.” I say.

“Well she’ll have to adopt a new daughter then.” Katniss answers quickly, not looking up from her plate.

“Why?” I question. “The Hunger Games has been abolished; the war is over, what’s the problem? Isn’t that why you didn’t want children?”

“It’s over for now.” She states. “Who’s to say that The Capitol won’t reinstate The Hunger Games in 10 years? I could never bring a child into the world unless I knew for sure they’ll be safe.”

“If everyone had children because the world was completely safe, the population would have died out a long time ago, Katniss. You can’t live your life based on something that may or may not happen.” I retort.

“I won’t do it again. I won’t watch another child die.” She says, slamming her fork down in her plate and pushing it away.

I don’t say anything else. I knew her refusal to have children before was so that they would never have to experience a Reaping Day or worse, being a Tribute in The Games, but I did not think that her refusal would evolve with the end of both of the things that scared her out of wanting children in the first place. However, it’s silly for me to even be thinking about right now. We’ve shared luke-warm kisses over the last few weeks, it’s not like we’re married. It was stupid of me to even bring it up. It’s way too soon.

“I’m sorry, Katniss.” I say apologetically. “I didn’t think that it still bothered you that much. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“You don’t have to apologize,” she says “I’m not mad at you.” She looks at me with sad eyes. “I’m mad at her.”

“Your mother?” I ask.

“How dare her to leave and then say something like that to Annie. She has no right to wish for that from me.” Katniss’ relationship with her mother will always be strained, but now it’s teetering on irreparable. They mourned as best as they could together for Prim, but only for Prim. Katniss only answers her calls because it’s the only attachment to Prim that she has left in the world.

I reach across the table and take her hand, circling my thumb over her knuckles. “Let’s not talk about it anymore.” I suggest. “Why don’t we go try out the hose I got for the garden?” Katniss nods, and gives a small smile, silently thanking me for changing the subject before we both get up from the table and head out to work on the garden again.

The next day, as promised, I am knocking on Haymitch’s front door bright and early with hopes of catching him before he’s too drunk to understand what I’m going to ask him. His sleep is so erratic that it’s a shot in the dark and a surprise every time I visit, but my hope is that he has sobered up after a night full of drinking and I’ve caught him before he goes to sleep.

“Come in!” I hear Haymitch call out. His words don’t sound very slurred, but the fact that he wouldn’t get up to answer the door worries me.

“Haymitch?” I say, walking in the front door.

“Oh it’s you.” He answers, walking in from his living room.

“Don’t sound so surprised!” I exclaim.

“I just thought you were that insufferable nag.” Haymitch explains throwing an empty bottle into the trash can. It clanks against the others.

“Greasy Sae?” I ask. “I thought she just walked in?” I sit down at the table.

“Well I made sure she never does that again.” Haymitch laughs as he sits down across from me.

“I’m not going to ask.” I say, repulsed. “I have something to talk to you about.”

“Katniss again?” he asks with a sigh.

“Not really.” I answer. A small smile creeps up on my face, and Haymitch notices it before I can even hide it.

“What’s that smirk for, boy?”

“Nothing… things are just going really well, right now.” I begin. “I mean, she still has horrible nightmares, I still have a few flashbacks every week, but we’re really learning how to get through it together.”

“That’s good. We all have to find ways to get through it.” Haymitch says looking at his kitchen counter stacked with bottles of liquor.

“Why don’t you visit Katniss anymore?” I ask. I didn’t intend for the conversation to take this turn, but if I’m going to convince him to help us with the book, I’m going to have to find out why he won’t visit. I guess this is about Katniss after all.

“It just seemed like a lost cause. Besides, she has you now.” Haymitch answers with a shrug.

“A lost cause?” I say incredulously. “So you’d give up on her that quickly?”

“She hasn’t exactly made it easy, kid.” Haymitch responds.

“She’d like to see you.” I tell him.

“Well now you’re lying.” Haymitch laughs.

“No, I’m not. In fact, that’s why I’m here. She wants me to ask if you’d like to come over and help with the book we’ve been working on. If she didn’t want to see you, she wouldn’t have asked me to do this.” I explain.

“Then why didn’t she just ask me herself?” Haymitch asks.

“Because she’s Katniss. Out of anyone, you should understand that. She can say that she doesn’t care if you don’t come around or suggest we sit in the backyard to avoid you all she wants, but she wants to see you. She wants you to see the book; she wants you to see the progress she’s made. She’s trying, Haymitch and that’s more than I can say for you right now.” I lecture. Haymitch doesn’t deny my accusation.

“I’ll think about it.” He says with a tone of finality in his voice.

“Please do.” I say, getting up from the table and walking to door to leave.

When I get back to Katniss’ house, I tell her Haymitch’s answer and she shrugs indifferently. We don’t talk about it again. The day carries on as normal. We have breakfast, and Katniss leaves to go hunting for a few hours and I paint in the kitchen while she’s gone.

Katniss returns in time for lunch with a few squirrels and plants she picked in woods, stopping to look at my painting before she begin prepping her haul.

“What’s that one of?” she asks.

“Another memory that came back the other day.” I tell her. “The first cake I ever decorated entirely on my own was my 13th birthday cake.”

“You decorated your own birthday cake?” Katniss asks.

“It’s not as sad as it sounds, I asked to do it. My dad always did them. This was the only one he didn’t do.” I say quickly.

“It’s very nice.” She says when suddenly, the front door flies open, making us both jump.

 “Did I scare you?” Haymitch bellows. “Sorry. I think this door is lighter than mine.” He walks into the kitchen, stands next to Katniss and looks at my painting. “What do you think, Sweetheart? Do we have an artist on our hands?”

Katniss turns and walks away from him and to the sink, grabbing a knife to work on the squirrels. “Are you staying for lunch?” she asks, keeping her back to us.

“How can I say no after that warm welcome I just received?” Haymitch says. I get up front the table and turn to him.

“Sit down.” I whisper. “And keep quiet.” He obeys without a peep and I go to Katniss at the sink, putting my hand on her back, gently rubbing it and I feel her relax. “Are you okay?” I ask her. She nods.

“He just makes my head hurt sometimes.” She admits. “Why can’t he just act human?”

“Because he’s Haymitch.” I laugh a little remembering saying almost the same thing to Haymitch this morning about Katniss. “But he came here, so that’s something, right?”

We cook lunch together while Haymitch sits at the table in silence, when I glance at him he’s just looking around the house, observing. Lunch starts off with awkward silence until Haymitch can’t take it anymore and finally speaks.

“So, where’s this book?” he asks. I breathe a sigh of relief because he finally said the right thing.

“I’ll show you after lunch.” Katniss answers. “It’s almost finished.” Well, at least they’re talking.

“We added Finnick, Annie, and their son Dylan last night.” I tell him.

“Who?” Haymitch asks, raising his eyebrows.

“They had a son.” Katniss joins in. She pushes her empty plate away from her and gets up from the table, disappearing to the living room briefly to grab the book and supplies. When she gets back in, she sets the book down in front of Haymitch and opens the book to Dylan’s page. “There.” She says, pointing at the picture of the baby and hands him the letter from Annie.

Haymitch reads the letter and the text that Katniss wrote on Dylan’s page. “Well I’ll be.” Haymitch says when he’s finished reading everything. “I had no idea.”

“We didn’t either.” I tell him. “We just got the letter and the picture yesterday.”

Haymitch looks at the picture again and shakes his head. “So what do you want from me for this?” he asks, looking at Katniss.

“Anything you want to add.” She answers. “Anything we may have missed. You were part of The Games longer than we ever were.”

“Maysilee Donner.” Haymitch says quickly. Katniss nods and leans down to grab a fresh piece of parchment from the box and writes her name on top of it.

“I’ve been doing all the writing, and we want to keep it all in the same hand.” Katniss explains.

“So, I just tell you what I want you to write?” Haymitch asks. He sounds oddly young, like he’s channeling a part of himself that died a long time ago.

“Can you do that?” I ask quietly. Haymitch nods. “Then just tell Katniss what you want her to write and then I can draw a picture.”

Haymitch spends the next half hour giving a detailed account of Maysilee Donner during the 2nd Quarter Quell, then goes on to talk about Terra Baxwoll, a female tribute from the 1st games Haymitch mentored. “She had the potential but not the nerve.” Haymitch says. “She got nervous during the countdown and fell off her platform, and that was the end of Terra. If she could have gotten her nerves in check though, I think she could have won.”

Every day for the next three weeks, Haymitch comes for lunch and stays until he’s told us everything he can remember about the male and female tributes from all 23 years he mentored The Games. He finishes with Eunia Fairbain and Talon Dunbryll, the tributes in The Games before mine and Katniss’s and we close the book. We’ll never be finished with it, but everything that had to be said has been said. From this point forward we’ll be adding smaller things as we remember them.

Now we put even more effort into the garden, ordering more seeds to plant that will be ready in the fall. I’m baking and painting more than ever since returning home, taking baskets of bread and pastries to families around the district and have started creating welcome packages for families that are finally beginning to move back from District 13. Katniss contributes to the packages by gathering berries and edible plants from the woods to include, and we start sitting on the front porch at night, no longer avoiding Haymitch. It’s a nightly tradition now to watch him chase his geese around The Victor’s Village trying to gather them into their pen every night.

“Why does he do this again?” Katniss asks, giving a genuine laugh.

“I think he mentioned once that it’s the only way The Capitol will send him more liquor.” I answer, joining her with a laugh of my own.

By the time Haymitch has all of the geese safely in the pen, it’s completely dark. He walks over to us, trying to catch his breath. “I would have appreciated a little help back there, you know. You guys just sit there every night and laugh at me.” He says, wiping his brow.

“That’s your arrangement, not ours.” Katniss reminds him. We laugh once more as Haymitch turns and walks back to his house in a huff. We sit outside a little while longer, enjoying the cool breeze that has come in with the darkness before heading up to bed.

My eyes fly open at the sound of her screams. When they adjust to the darkness, I can see her facing me, her expression pained as she clutches the bed sheet and yells for Prim. When she starts screaming for me to run, I grab her shoulder and shake it, but it does nothing.

“Katniss!” I yell trying to drown out the scream. “Wake up!” but she just keeps screaming.

She does this every so often. Has a nightmare so bad that she can’t even be woken. I reach out my arms and wrap them around her, pulling her close to me, preventing her from thrashing around.

“Shhh, Katniss, I’m right here.” I whisper into her ear. “Wake up. There’s nothing to run from.” I repeat the words over and over until I feel her body relax in my arms. I say it one more time before I pull back to look at her face. It’s covered in sweat but no longer looks pained; I reach my hand up and move her sweat soaked hair off her forehead. “You’re okay.” I tell her. “Just breathe.” I take a deep breath in, encouraging her to breathe with me and let it out slowly through my nose. In time, her breathing slows and she is relaxed again. “I’m right here.”

“It was the mutts from the first games.” She tells me. “Chasing you, catching you. Ripping you into pieces.” She stammers.

“It wasn’t real.” I tell her. “Look, I’m right here.” I tell her again. “I’m not going anywhere.” I lean in and give her a quick kiss, hoping it will solidify what I’m telling her. When I pull away, Katniss leans back in quickly and mimics my kiss; then she pulls away and stares at me silently before leaning in again.

This time, she keeps her lips planted on mine and doesn’t move, snaking her hand up from between us and placing it on my cheek before she opens her mouth and deepens the kiss. I respond by opening my mouth allowing her tongue to enter and explore.

We lay there wrapped in each other’s arms, tongues moving together in a rhythm that has quickly become familiar as Katniss takes her hand off my face and slowly moves it down across my chest and further to the skin between the hem of my shirt and the top of my pants. When she removes her hand from my waist, she reaches behind her and grabs one of my hands, moving it to her chest and placing it on her breast.

For the first, time, she breaks the kiss, pulling back so that she can nod, telling me that it’s okay to let my hands to roam too. I give her breast a gentle squeeze, which causes Katniss to gasp and smash her lips against mine again. She moves her hand back down to my waist, rubbing my hip with her hand before grabbing and tugging on the bottom of my shirt.

I stop and pull away, looking at her, not knowing what to think about what is happening, but all I see in her face is that same look of allowance. I move back a little and sit up, bringing my legs up under me just so, so that my prosthetic doesn’t bother me. Katniss mimics my actions, also sitting up on her feet. We stare at each other for just a second before she places both hands at the hem of my shirt again and starts to move it upward. I place my hands over hers and pull up, helping her take my shirt off. She throws it to the side and begins to lean in for another kiss. I reach out, grabbing her head with both of my hands and bring our lips together roughly.

We stay like this for what seems like hours, Katniss’ hands moving up and down my bare chest, lingering now and then at the top of my pants, sometimes snapping the elastic band before moving her hands back up. When I feel her hands disappear from my skin, I open one eye and see that she’s now fumbling with her own shirt. I pull away again, and watch her. Wanting so badly to reach out and pull the shirt off her body, but fear is stopping me; until she looks up at me with a look that I’ve never seen before. I saw a hint of it from her once before during a kiss we shared during the Quarter Quell, but it wasn’t nearly this intense. Before I realize what I’m doing, my hands are clutching the hem of her shirt and quickly pulling it over her head.



She breaks my gaze for the first time and looks down at herself before grabbing her for shirt, but I stop her. Keeping her hand in mine, I take my other and graze the skin on her stomach gently with my fingers, not lingering over a single scar; moving them slowly upward until they are between her breasts, stopping there for a moment to look up at her. Then I continue, tracing the contour of her breast before moving back down between them; I can feel the goose bumps on her skin.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see her let go of the shirt and move her hand back to my chest and down until she has three fingers under the elastic band of my pants. This time, she doesn’t move them away, but gives a gentle pull forward and down, stretching the elastic and moving it lower and lower on my hips. I take my legs out from under me and sit with them stretched out in front of me and lie back, swiftly pulling the bottoms off, leaving me in just a pair of boxers. I can just make out Katniss looking at me from top to bottom, stopping at my boxers when she notices my erection. Just when I am convinced that I’ve ruined everything, Katniss loops her fingers under the waistband of her own pants and pulls them down, kicking her legs until they finally fall to the floor.

She moves quickly, throwing her leg over mine and sitting on top of me, scooting up my thighs slowly until her middle is on my erection. I push myself up and grab the back of her head, bringing her lips down to mine once more. It’s not until I hear Katniss whimper between kisses that I even realize that I’ve been driving my hips up into her the whole time she’s been sitting on top of me.

We continue on this way until I can feel that aching. The same aching that I’ve felt the last couple of months and have to disappear into the bathroom to relieve. I don’t want to beg, but I need to relieve this ache soon; I can only ignore it for so long.

Katniss puts her hands on my chest and pushes me down, leaning over me and giving me one more deep kiss before sitting back up. I see her reach back behind her and then her bra is loose around her frame. I can’t stop myself, I have to reach up and pull it off; she doesn’t object. She leans back down again pressing our bodies together and I shudder as she moves her body down slowly, her nipples lightly touching my chest as she does.

When she reaches my hips, she brings her hands up to my boxers and doesn’t hesitate in pulling them from my body, down my legs and off my feet. She freezes when she sees me, her breathing gets noticeably heavier. Before I can tell her that there’s nothing to be afraid off, she’s lying on her back next to me, looking at the ceiling. We lay there together, her breathing hitched and my erection throbbing, for quite a while before she takes deep and audible breath in and swiftly removes her underwear.

Is she trying to tell me what I think she’s trying to tell me? I sit up again and look at her lying there stiff as a board, like she’s frozen and unable to move. She can’t possibly want this. I reach my hand out and brush hair out of her face and look at her. Her eyes still have that look, but her body doesn’t match. It’s like the two parts of her brain are fighting against each other; the part that wants this and the part that is too scared to let this happen.

I lean in and kiss her again, slowly, trying to tell her without words that this isn’t something that she has to do right now, but rather than getting that message, she deepens the kiss again, darting her tongue out and into my mouth before pulling me down. I’m not directly on top of her, but my erection presses into her thigh and it’s me that is whimpering now. I want this so badly. Without realizing it again, I buck my hips forward a few times, rubbing my length against Katniss’ thigh until she moves her leg to the side causing me to drop down between her legs. I break the kiss and sit up quickly on my legs and look at her. Was she telling me to stop or to go on? When I look up as see the hunger consuming her eyes again, I know what is trying to tell me, but I don’t move.

She reaches out to touch me but I’m too far from her, so she drops her hand down on the bed with a thud. She’s still looking at me as I inch forward and grab her knees, pushing her legs apart further so I can get closer between them. Before I do anything, I lean over her, trying to balance myself on my arms as I hover over her, shaking, and plant a quick but deep kiss on her lips, without words, the kiss she returns tells me that she wants this and pull back and off her before my arms can give out and I crush her.

I grab myself and position my tip at her entrance, but can’t get myself to go any further because I’m shaking so badly. I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths trying to steady myself and when I finally have the shaking down to a slight tremble, I press my head to her center, but nothing happens. I can feel her wetness where we are connected, but I still can’t get myself past this point. I begin to shake again and can’t even keep myself at her entrance anymore when she reaches toward me, propping herself up on one elbow as the other hand reaches out to me and she places her hand over mine in attempts to still my shaking, but she’s shaking too.

I look up at her, checking her eyes again for any signs of trepidation, but none are to be found. I take a deep breath in again and she takes one too and slowly, our hands move together and press my head to her middle again. I slowly feel myself pushing into her, and I hear a sharp intake of breath and look up to see Katniss with her eyes shut tightly, biting her bottom lip and I stop. I’m hurting her, there’s no way I am going to keep going, but when she notices me stop, she squeezes my hand and pushes her hips toward me, taking more of me in.

When I’m halfway in, I pull back, removing myself completely before trying again, this time on my own, without guidance from Katniss. I continue to push forward slowly and stopping whenever I hear Katniss gasp, but every time I stop, she begins to push her hips forward again. I stop again when I feel that I can’t possibly go any further without truly hurting her and I pull back, but I pull too far and I slip out. Starting over again, I position myself for the third time and push forward, this time it’s a little easier, but Katniss still gasps a few times before I’m in as far as I’m willing to go. I pull back slower this time, careful to stay in and then push forward and stop.

I continue this slow rhythm until I don’t hear Katniss gasp when I push myself in. Feeling confident, I take my eyes off of where we are joined and I move up to lay on top of Katniss, bringing our lips together in an intense kiss as I pull back and begin to move again, finding a rhythm that is just the right speed. Katniss has her hands wrapped around my neck and is moaning directly into my ear. Hearing that makes me stomach feel like it’s dropped into my toes, and the ache in my groin has turned into a pleasurable pain as I get closer to the edge. With one final kiss I burying my head in her neck and groan as I’m pushed into the point of no return; Katniss grabs my hair and moans with me.

After a few minutes of regaining my senses, I push myself up and pull myself out, plopping down to lie next to Katniss. She turns her head to me, her eyes sleepy, but satisfied and I can’t help but ask the question that is nagging at my mind.

“You love me. Real or not real?” I whisper.

“Real.” She tells me.