Character/s & Pairing/s: Katniss & Peeta, Haymitch
Word Count: 2, 236
Summary: Canon Complaint Fic. Set between the end of Mockingjay and the Epilogue. Katniss and Peeta celebrate Panem's first District-wide Christmas and each have surprises for each other.
A/Ns: Written for the Fyeah-Everlark's Secret Santa over at Tumblr! Many thanks to jazzfic for being my beta for this fic!
It's spring-time when Katniss begins to get stirrings. It’s just past dawn - Peeta is still in a deep slumber, but she lays on her side watching as the oranges, reds and yellows filter through the open window, creating bright beams of lights across him. She follows each beam starting from where his head lays on the pillow, a halo surrounding his bright golden curly mop of hair that never seems to stay still no matter how much product is put in it, to his serene and peaceful face turned towards her always. She can see the many little dots of freckles on his cheeks, unnoticeable usually under normal light, and finds herself creating patterns with her eyes. Her gaze then follows the thickest beam of light to his broad shoulders and arms, toned and defined due to his many years of working in a bakery, and she smirks slightly at the reddish, pink mark glowing on his collarbone, her accomplishment of their night together.
It's in this moment, with the happy and joyful light flowing in and the birds singing their morning tune, while looking at Peeta, that she finds herself imagining a small child with her husband’s golden locks and bright blue eyes that could give the ocean something to be jealous of, and she ponders that maybe she and Peeta could have a child. And for the first time in her life, from the time during the Quarter Quell where she dreamed of a place where Peeta's children could be safe, the thought doesn't scare her. She knows how much Peeta wants them, she sees it in his eyes whenever the little ones toddle into the bakery with their mothers, the wide-eye grin as he gives them a cookie. He has never pressured her, not during the past five years they have been wed, slowly growing back together (though she wouldn't admit it, much with the help from Dr Aurelius). But then, that has never been his way, never a part of his temperament. It is one of the reasons she loves him, his good heart, he always puts other people's feelings before himself.
Hell, even when she agreed to have a toasting and make it official, she worried and stressed to him that she may never agree to have children and that maybe he deserved someone else. Someone who could give him children, and wasn't afraid to do so. Instead he held her in his warm embrace and told her that he was happy, blissfully happy as long as he had her and that no other woman could ever compare to her.
So a week later, with Haymitch, Sae and Effie in attendance, they joined hands, holding a loaf of nut and fruit-filled bread over the flames in the fireplace. It was the same as the one that Peeta threw to her in the rain all those years ago; they’d watched as it slowly changed from golden brown to black, much like the burnt bread Peeta took a beating from his mother for, before exchanging traditional District 12 vows and each offering the other a piece, sealing their joining of hearts and souls in matrimony with a kiss.
It's not long before her fingers join her journey of admiring Peeta's form and she finds her hand covering his well-toned chest, letting her fingers slowly caress the light hairs before placing her palm over his beating heart. She wonders if it only beats with love for her.
Katniss is broken from her thoughts when he takes a breath. She watches his chest and stomach extend before releasing, and hears him murmur her name now that he is awake.
"Why aren't you sleeping?" he mumbles out, clearly still half-asleep. Still, he tightens the arm he has wrapped around her slender hips.
"I'm just um... thinking..." Her response is nervous, because even though she knows Peeta will be pleased with her thoughts about having children, a nagging fear in the back of her mind is still afraid. Children will depend on her, like her sister Prim, like Rue that she swore to herself that she would protect. But she’d failed.
Even though Peeta is half delirious with sleep, he still picks on her tone and tries to cheer her up.
"What? Like how earth-shattering last night was?" He winks at her.
Katniss chuckles, before shaking her head, "Umm no, though I do agree with that assessment..." She stops herself before saying anything more, having an internal fight in her head on whether to confess. One part of her brain says that she should be honest with him and that it will be a life changing and positive journey in their life; the other part however is less optimistic, and reminds her of her fear of children and how terrible a mother she would be because of her inability to even protect her sister.
In the end, she gives in to the latter part. "Just nothing really." And that's that, Katniss snuggles closer to him before she can hear Peeta's breath slow until he's asleep, and she is able to join him.
The whole town is harmonious. Each house is decorated in fairy lights, Christmas trees have filled each household and the Merchant shops and Hob are full of people, young and old, buying presents. Last year, there were discussions about starting an old tradition historians had found in books and ledgers kept under lock and key by the Capitol, a tradition known as Christmas. Though, it was found that many religions or countries had their own version of celebration of the end of the year or the birth of Jesus, President Paylor thought that the basic idea of Christmas, of coming together as a family and showing love through presents and having a feast, was something that needed to be resurrected. All the mayors and government officials agreed, and so it was decreed that from the year following and from each year onwards on the 25th of December, Christmas would be celebrated.
It's two weeks to Christmas and Katniss is pacing around in short circles in their bathroom. On the sink sits a pregnancy test, and she keeps looking up to the clock above the sink window, slowly counting down the seconds until the three minutes are over. Finally, the long hand hits twelve and she takes a deep breath, before wiping her sweaty hands on her track-pants and picking up the test.
The first year after returning to District 12, Peeta had decided it was time for him to re-open Mellark's Bakery. Though there are times when certain things will trigger an episode, he finds that he manages to get through them.
Yuletide is shaping up to be a busy time for the bakery, Peeta and his junior assistants being constantly in need of making gingerbread cookies and houses and fruit mince pies. Because of this, Peeta rarely has time to go out shopping for Christmas gifts, so he manages to get Effie's help in securing some presents for Haymitch, Sae, Delly and his fellow co-workers and friends. However, for Katniss, he’d felt a store-bought gift was not good enough. She deserved more than that, she deserved something special and that held personal meaning.
It hadn’t take him too long to work out what he would give her. The difficulty was finding the time and place available to work on his gift. Then he realised the above apartment of the bakery would be perfect. Though the original bakery had living quarters above, Peeta decided he still wanted to have an apartment above, in case he had to work late or if he had a bad episode. In that instance, they had a plan; Katniss would call Haymitch and Thom and they would quickly rush to the house and take him there. At the beginning after Peeta and Katniss moved in his victor's house, he would suffer an episode every few weeks, depending on the triggers. Eventually, through Dr Aurelius's help and their determination to fight his hijacking together, it got to the point where his episodes had decreased to one every several months.
Now it’s Christmas Eve, and after listening to his right-hand man Dom, Peeta finally decides to allow them to take over running the bakery while he puts the finishing touches to his gift. He just hopes that Katniss will love it.
Katniss hasn't slept a wink since she found out she was with child. The first thing she wanted to do was to reveal the news straight after Peeta got home for his long shift at the bakery, but she would feel her heart racing as memories of his sister and Rue flooded her mind again and wonder why she ever thought having a baby was a good idea. After taking several deep breaths and doing the exercises Dr Aurelius prescribed, her breathing and heart rate calms down and she remembers seeing something interesting in one of the shopping catalogues Effie constantly sends out. And she realises that she has the perfect way of telling him.
Finally it's Christmas Day. Katniss knows because she's been staring at their bedside digital clock since midnight. Using her skills as a hunter she manages to detangle herself from Peeta's embrace and tip toes silently down the stairs and into the kitchen. The first thing she does once entering is to take some cheese buns out of the fridge and place them into the oven to re-heat. Once that's done she goes about making him a cup of tea, and for herself - since lately she's been craving extra chocolate - hot cocoa.
Fifteen minutes pass and everything is ready; all she needs to do is put on a 'special' something. Once that is done she picks up the tray and makes her way back to their bedroom. Peeta is still sleeping, tired out after his crazy work hours for the past few weeks. A part of her wants to let him sleep, the other wants to wake him up now and reveal her news. The latter part wins, and she places the tray on the top of the dressing table before returning back onto the bed. She begins placing a trail of kisses on her husband's neck, along to his ear before reaching his face. It's during this that his eyes flicker open and she whispers huskily in his ear, "Merry Christmas!"
After quickly rubbing his eyes, he looks down at her face, grins and returns her Christmas greeting.
"Hmm, what do we do we have here?" he asks having smelt breakfast.
"Oh, well, I made breakfast," Katniss replies, which only causes Peeta to snicker at her before pointing out that breakfast consists of his home-made cheese buns.
"Okay, true. Though, I did re-heat them," she counters, before informing him that he should pay attention because his Christmas present is somewhere in the room.
"But I thought Christmas gifts are placed under the tree," he says.
"Yeah, well when have I ever followed protocol?" Katniss gets up and grabs the tray from its spot on the dressing table. She makes sure not to cover the apron she had placed on before climbing the stairs, and to walk slowly, hoping that Peeta will notice.
It appears he does because as she nears the bed, she can hear him stutter out, "Kat-katniss is um... that.... um," he points to the I got a bun in my oven slogan written on her apron, "true? Are are... you... you--?”
As he trails off, Katniss can't keep the tears that are quickly pouring down her cheeks, nor the huge smile off her face, and she drops the tray on the bed and grabs Peeta's outstretched hand before placing it above her stomach.
"Yes, Peeta. I'm pregnant. You're going to be a father."
Before another second passes, Katniss finds herself encased in Peeta's arms and her face and neck is smothered in wet and happy kisses. After a few moments, finally Peeta says something.
"Well, this sure beats my present!" Which causes them both to crack up laughing.
Hours later, Katniss stands before their family room where a new painting adorns the wall. This is her Christmas gift from Peeta. He has managed to perfectly paint her favourite spot in the woods, a little place by the river where her father used to teach her how to swim while tiny Prim got her feet wet. And she knows that it really is the perfect gift, because amongst all the shrubbery, there stands a single yellow dandelion. Like the dandelion she saw after Peeta threw her the bread and gave her hope that things could be better. Because no matter what happens, no matter how terrible the past is, how bad the flashbacks are or the episodes, there can be life again. Good things can happen. She looks down at her hand on her stomach, no bump present, yet she knows that there is new life within her. And for the second time in her life, she knows this is right.
This is perfect.