Chapter 31


When Katniss opened the door to the house, the first thing that caught my eye was the fire roaring in the fireplace. Effie must have made sure it was ready for our toasting. She really thought of everything.

After we took off our boots by the front door, Katniss kissed me warmly on the mouth, then took my hand and led me over to the fire. As we drew closer, I noticed the loaf of bread, skewers and some pillows and blankets lying in front of the hearth.

We sat down facing each other on the thickly layered blankets and then smiled shyly at each other, knowing what this night would entail.

Katniss took a deep breath then picked up the loaf of bread, tore off a chunk of it and stuck it onto her skewer as she began: "Peeta, I promise to share your burdens with you so that you won't have to carry them alone. That whatever sickness, hardships or flashbacks come your way, I will be there to hold you up when you don't feel strong. I will return the love you have shown me for so long, and work to be the companion you deserve. I will be loyal and faithful to you. I promise to always love you."

I smiled appreciatively at her as she stuck her skewered piece of bread into the fire until it was toasted, then pulled it out and fed it to me. It was a little burnt and Katniss giggled as it crunched loudly in my mouth and she apologized for it, but it was the best piece of toast I'd ever had.

When I finished chewing I kissed her gently, then put my own piece of bread onto the skewer.

"Katniss, I promise to always protect you and take care of you," I began. "That when memories and experiences become too painful to bear, I will be your shoulder to lean on. I will be your steady partner in life, always treasuring you and treating you like the queen that you are. I will spend every moment of the rest of my life, conveying how much I love you. I will be loyal and faithful to you. I promise to always love you."

Then, I toasted my piece of bread and fed it to her. She chewed it slowly, the tears in her eyes reflecting the glowing fire.

When she was done, she kissed me.

"I love you...husband," she whispered as if it were a secret, keeping her lips close to mine.

I chuckled. "I love you too, wife."

We kissed deeply and slowly but passionately. I leaned her down onto her back, feeling the heat from the fire on my own back.

The fire burned long and slow. We took our time kissing, reveling in the feeling of each other's lips and tongues. Our breath was hot and mingled between us, but we didn't want to rush things. This was our wedding night. The night to finally and truly convey every ounce of love we held for each other.

When I moved down to her neck, I made my way slowly, flicking my tongue against every inch of skin reachable. She moaned softly and appreciatively, her hands running up and down my back, clenching and unclenching.

I finally reached her chest, where her breasts heaved slowly beneath her thin, white dress. I gently removed her hunting jacket and kissed her bare shoulders and her hands. I wanted her to understand just how deeply I loved and appreciated her.

When I removed her dress, my breathing hitched. She looked so beautiful in the glowing light of the fire. Her eyes were smoldering and the dancing shadows made her look more seductive than she naturally already was.

I could feel my pants tightening significantly but was determined to maintain self-control and lavish her the way I intended.

"You are so beautiful, Katniss," I murmured as I kissed her bare stomach and the tops of her thighs. She shivered despite the fire's warmth and clenched the pillows above her head.

"Peeta," she breathed out, spurring me on.

I gently lowered her bra straps and she leaned forward to unclip it in the back. Then, her breasts were bare before me. Her dusky nipples pert and ready. I cupped her breasts in my palms and ran my thumbs over her nipples, effectively drawing a breathy sigh from her as she closed her eyes and arched into my hands.

I appreciated her breasts with my hands a little longer until I finally lowered my mouth to them, ravishing them every way I knew how.

Her moans increased in volume the longer this went on, until she reached up and ripped off my shirt, pulling me down to her, so our bare chests were pressed together. Our lips met again in a frenzy and I could tell I was losing control.

"Peeta," she moaned out loudly as my hips rolled into hers, the friction between my hardened length and her pelvis so good that I wondered how much longer I would last.


Peeta was taking his time. I appreciated it at first but now I was getting needy and impatient. The way he was grinding his clothed hips into me was making me see stars, but I wanted more. No, I needed more.

I knew he was trying to make this night about me. Typical Peeta. But it was supposed to be about him too. Really, he deserved an amazing wedding night more than me. He'd been wanting it for so long and he'd patiently waited, had even been willing to never get married if that was what I wanted.

He'd done enough for me already. It was my turn to show him how much I loved him.

So as he continued slowly grinding into me, I began kissing his jaw, flicking my tongue against his heated skin. He groaned appreciatively and I felt his hardened length twitch against me.

I took advantage of his momentary weakness and flipped him over onto his back. He protested, but I shushed him with a hard, deep kiss as I began undoing his pants. He immediately stopped protesting and seemed to melt into the blankets as I pushed his pants down to his ankles and he kicked them off the rest of the way.

He groaned loudly as I took him into my hand, squeezed and slowly pumped up and down. His eyes fluttered close and his lips parted.

Then, I lowered my mouth to him. He let out a choking groan as I relaxed my throat and took him in fully.

"Katniss," he breathed out shakily.

I continued for a little longer, reveling in the sounds I elicited from him. I loved seeing Peeta this way. I could feel heat building in my core with each sound that escaped his swollen lips, until I knew I was ready.

Holding him in my hand, I lined him up with my entrance and slowly sank down onto him, both of us groaning loudly at the delicious feeling.

Usually I didn't mind him being on top, but there was something about connecting this way that felt more vulnerable for me. Being on top of him exposed every part of me to him. Nothing was hidden. Even now, I could see him glancing down to where we were connected. We appreciated the feeling of him being totally sheathed inside of me for a moment, and then he reached up and cupped one of my breasts, teasing my nipple gently.

I felt myself clench around him and he let out a breath at the sensation. Using my knees, I began moving up and down, being careful to not let our connection break. His hands landed on my hips and squeezed, guiding me to the pace that felt better for him.

He was starting to lose control and I liked it. He was always so restrained, I loved seeing all of his walls fall down.

The rhythm continued to increase until his hands were gripping my hips tighter and urging me to move at a more frantic pace.

"Katniss," he groaned out over and over.

His eyes kept fluttering closed and his long, golden eyelashes were caught by the light from the fire, making them seem even longer. I smiled to myself, remembering the first time I noticed how long they were. When I had hurt my ankle before the Quarter Quell and he was helping me with the plant book.

Suddenly, his hands were painfully gripping my hips and I knew he was getting close. I was getting close too. Our frantic breathing became louder, the fire crackled loudly in the fireplace and then we were both coming undone. We moaned out each other's names, there was a surge of warmth where we were connected and tingling in our limbs. I collapsed on top of him, letting my climax wash over me as his washed over him. I could feel him trembling beneath me.

We stayed connected for awhile. Panting as we caught our breath. The warmth of the fire radiating throughout the room.

"I can't believe we're finally married," he said after we'd relaxed for a bit.

I smiled. "I know. I didn't think I would feel different, but I do," I replied.

He shifted so he could see my face. Probably worried that I meant my statement negatively.

"In a good way," I reassured him. "I'm your wife. I'm Peeta Mellark's wife."

He turned so we were facing each other.

"Mrs. Mellark," he whispered before planting a soft kiss on my lips.

I giggled and returned the kiss. And then the glowing embers caught fire again and burned for most of the night.


The winter was long which made spring that much sweeter when it finally arrived. Katniss wasted no time in going out to hunt, so I spent the day baking cheese buns for her. Lily sat on the counter as I kneaded the dough, rolling a little piece of her own in her tiny hands and cooing happily.

The birds chirped outside and the sun shone through the open windows, filling the house with warmth and light. It was all so peaceful until the door banged open and Haymitch strolled in. I rolled my eyes and began wiping my hands on my apron, readying myself for what he had to complain about now.

He and Effie had gotten married on Valentine's Day. Apparently a romantic holiday that had been celebrated in the Capitol and was, of course, Effie's favorite. Things had been fine for the first couple of months, but now the honeymoon phase was over and they were starting to argue. Never anything to be too concerned about, but Effie always got her way and Haymitch always ended up over here complaining to me about "wives" and questioning how "we" ever got sucked into the idea of marriage.

I don't know if he forgot that I was the one that had convinced Katniss to get married, but even if he didn't, he acted like it was the other way around. I usually just let him vent and then would give him some baked goods I had made that day. That usually settled him enough to go back to his own house.

"How's it going, Haymitch?" I asked, already picking up a cheese bun for him.

"Terrible," he began, taking the cheese bun from me. "Effie wants to throw away my furniture and buy new stuff. Can you believe that?"

I stifled my chuckle behind my hand. My honest answer was that I could absolutely believe it. Who knows what kind of filth was buried in the depths of his sofa? But I played along and just answered, "Wow, that is ridiculous. Your furniture is perfectly fine."

"Thank you!" he hollered around a bite of cheese bun. "You should talk to her, you're the most reasonable person out of all of us. Except maybe Lily," he added, tickling her under her chin. "She hasn't been corrupted yet."

I rolled my eyes in good humor and said, "Yeah, I'll see what I can do about it."

"Speaking of unreasonable wives, where was yours going?" he asked, taking another bite of his cheese bun and leaning lazily against the counter.

"She left to go hunting awhile ago," I replied, getting back to kneading the dough.

"Well she must have forgotten the way to the woods because she was heading the other way earlier."

I stopped kneading and looked at him. "What do you mean?"

"I mean she was heading toward town, not toward the woods," he said, finishing off his cheese bun.

I studied him, trying to decide if I should be worried or not.

"Did she say anything?" I asked. "Was she okay?"

"She did look a little pale, but when I yelled at her out the window, she just waved me off and said she was checking on something," he said. Seeing my concerned face he continued, "She seemed fine. I wouldn't worry."

Just then, the door opened and Katniss and Effie walked in.

"Speak of the devil…" Haymitch muttered under his breath.

"Hey," I started. "Haymitch was just telling me he saw you going into town. I thought you were going hunting."

"Can we talk? Alone?" Katniss responded, not meeting my eyes.

I glanced at Effie and she gave Haymitch a look, indicating that he needed to leave us alone.

My heart started to race. What was wrong?

Once Haymitch and Effie had closed the front door behind them, I rushed to Katniss and grabbed her shoulders, maybe gripping a little too tightly as I felt the tendrils of a flashback trying to creep into my mind.

"What is it? You're scaring me, Katniss," I said urgently.

She must have realized what was happening. She hurriedly took my hands and said, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. But I went to the new clinic in town today. The one my mother and Prim helped set up before they went back to 13."

My mind started going through all of the possibilities. "Why? Are you sick? Haymitch said you seemed pale. You do look pale."

I felt her forehead but she gently pushed my hand away. "I'm not sick, Peeta. But I haven't been feeling well so Effie convinced me to go to the clinic."

"Effie? You talked to Effie but not me?" I asked, slightly offended.

Katniss made a frustrated noise. "Peeta, will you just listen?"

"Okay, okay, sorry."

"Anyway...she convinced me to go and she met me there. And...I'm pregnant...again. About two months along."

"What? Katniss! Really?" I laughed with relief and hugged her as the flashback began to retreat.

"So you're not mad?" she asked, tentatively hugging me back.

"Of course not! Why would I be mad?"

"I don't know...because things are finally calming down and we were finally getting into a routine. I wasn't even sure if you wanted anymore kids," she said, pulling back to look at me.

"Of course I don't mind having more kids. Yeah, things will get a bit unsettled again, but we'll figure it out. Just like we always do. And I'm sure Effie and Haymitch won't mind. They need something to preoccupy them from all their arguing anyway," I said with a chuckle.

Katniss laughed too. "Yeah, I'm sure a little babysitting every now and then will help."

"Who are we babysitting?" A voice hollered in through the open window that faced the porch.

Katniss and I simultaneously looked at the window and then looked back at each with a laugh. Of course Haymitch was eavesdropping. I could hear Effie scolding him already.

I picked Lily up from the counter, grabbed Katniss's hand and followed her to the porch where the couple sat on the swing.

"Eavesdropping is very rude, Haymitch," Katniss began. "Didn't Effie teach you some manners?" She barely finished the sentence with a straight face.

Effie just rolled her eyes and shook her head.

I cleared my throat.

"Well, I guess you already know then, there's another Mellark on the way," I said, smiling warmly at Katniss.

"Damn you two, reproducing like rabbits and just barely married. I wonder what you'll be doing while we babysit."

Effie hit his arm as he laughed at his own joke.

I could feel my cheeks burning and was sure Katniss's were too. Even though we should be used to these comments by now. He had already made comments in the past about shutting curtains and closing our bedroom window at night. He said it sounded like we were having a contest on who could scream each other's name the loudest. Of course, he was least I hoped he was.

"I hope it's another girl," Effie stated excitedly, breaking the awkward silence.

"Then the poor kid will be surrounded by women. Don't wish that on him," Haymitch added.

"I wouldn't mind having another girl," I replied with a shrug.

But Katniss looked thoughtful as we looked at her expectantly for her opinion. "I agree with Haymitch. You shouldn't be outnumbered by girls." She smiled and ran her thumb across my knuckles.

"Well, I guess we'll find out soon enough. I'll be happy with whatever we have. And I think Lily will like having a sibling," I said as I rubbed her cheek.

"Well, we'll see how you two feel about having two babies after Mellark Number Two is born," Haymitch said. "Might not be as easy as Number One."

Nine Months Later

Well, Haymitch was right. Baby Mellark Number Two was not as easy as Lily had been. We did have a boy, like Katniss hoped we would. We named him Graham after my father. He had my hair and Katniss's stormy grey eyes. But he was a handful. He cried several times each night, which usually woke up Lily, so Katniss and I couldn't take turns holding or feeding him because we would each be dealing with a crying or screaming (sometimes both) child. Saying we were exhausted would be an understatement.

Haymitch didn't even say I told you so. I think he felt bad because he could see how tired we were. He and Effie did offer to babysit fairly often, though, so that helped. But the moment both children were out of the house all Katniss and I did was sleep. It was fine at first, but eventually having two young children took its real toll on us.

We were losing touch with each other and ourselves. Katniss rarely went out to hunt anymore. I never painted and I baked much less often than I had been. I couldn't remember the last time we'd made love...or even shared a heated kiss.

All of this disconnect and stress eventually led to each of us experiencing our post-war trauma more frequently and more intensely. On the nights we did sleep, they were riddled with nightmares for both of us. Eventually the lack of sleep on my end inhibited my mental awareness to avoid and fight off flashbacks, so I started having those more often too. And each one seemed to be worse than the last.

The first few times I felt them coming on, I would leave the room under the guise of using the bathroom or fetching something. I didn't want Katniss to know that they were happening more frequently. I knew that would only make her worry and she didn't need to worry about me on top of worrying over two children under the age of two. I was able to hide them successfully for awhile as I would just sit in our bedroom or clutch a chair until they went away. But then they started happening almost daily and each time it would leave me so drained, that one day I didn't even feel it creep up on me.

We were getting ready to go to sleep, Lily already lying in the middle of the bed totally out. Katniss was just finishing nursing Graham and was putting him in the crib beside our bed, when suddenly Lily screamed in her sleep. She was having a nightmare.

Without warning, I was in a full-on flashback. Hallucinating that Peacekeepers were storming into our home, our bedroom, to take away Katniss and our children. I screamed and I kicked, fighting to get away from the Peacekeepers that restrained me as I watched them take my family. Then, they started beating me and I could hear Katniss screaming my name as our children cried. One of the blows finally hit me so hard that it knocked me out.


I had suspected for awhile that Peeta had been having flashbacks more often, but honestly, I was too tired to ask him about it. I was so exhausted from taking care of Lily and Graham that I figured since he hadn't said anything about his flashbacks I wouldn't say anything about them either.

That was a stupid, selfish decision. And I realized that very quickly the night he had one of the most intense flashbacks he'd ever had. Lily was asleep in our bed and must have had a nightmare and screamed.

I don't think even Peeta had felt the flashback coming on. It was like hearing his daughter scream in terror flipped a switch in his head. He fell to the floor trembling and struggling against something that wasn't there. He was crying out and thrashing around so loudly that Lily fully woke up and started crying. I realized that she had never seen Peeta have a flashback and must have been terrified of what was happening to him. Graham was no longer sleepy from his just-finished meal and began screaming and crying as well. It was pure chaos. And then Peeta was thrashing around so wildly that he was hitting his arms and legs on the furniture, hard enough to leave bruises.

I leaped off of the bed and knelt down beside him, taking his face in my hands. I screamed his name several times but he wouldn't come out of it. The panic started setting in and I felt like I couldn't breathe. I couldn't run for help and leave the children, but Peeta was hurting himself and wasn't stopping. So I just started screaming for help, hoping Haymitch and Effie would hear me.

I had never been so thankful for Peeta always insisting we open our window at night. Haymitch and Effie had heard me. They were in our house, Haymitch stomping loudly up the stairs, less than a minute after I started screaming, both in their pajamas.

I stood there in my own pajamas amidst the screaming chaos around me as they entered our bedroom.

"I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do," I sobbed as Haymitch saw Peeta thrashing around on the ground.

Effie looked startled for a moment when she saw Peeta and I realized she'd never seen him have a flashback before. But Haymitch didn't bat an eye. He immediately went over to Peeta and tried to snap him out of it a little more roughly than I had. He smacked Peeta's cheeks and shook him but it didn't work. He looked like he thought about restraining him for a moment so he would stop knocking into the furniture, but thought better of it, remembering how Peeta had reacted to that before.

He tried waking him a few more times by yelling and shaking him, before he settled to his last resort. I don't even know what he grabbed, but it was something heavy enough to knock Peeta out.

Peeta slumped to the ground and the whole room seemed to suddenly go silent. But maybe that was just my own mind blocking out all other noise. It killed me to see Peeta like that. And I hated myself for knowing that he was struggling with his flashbacks and I did nothing to help him.

I started crying and Effie immediately took me into her arms. Lily and Graham were still crying softly behind me but seemed to be settling back down a little.

Haymitch stood up and walked over to me, a serious expression on his face.

"Do you want to stay at our place with the kids and Effie tonight?" he asked. "I can stay here to keep an eye on him."

I thought about it for a moment, but then thought about how Peeta would feel when he woke up and I wasn't here. Abandoned. Guilty maybe. Or like he scared me off. I couldn't do that to him.

"I think I should stay. But do you mind taking them?" I asked, gesturing to my children.

"Not at all," Effie replied, kissing me lightly on the cheek. "Don't worry about a thing."

"Thank you," I said, wiping tears from my eyes.

"Keep your window open and holler if you need us again," Haymitch said, patting my back.

I nodded and thanked them again as they left with the children.

I stood there for a moment, looking at Peeta and noticing all the bloody scratches and blooming bruises on his limbs. Tears welled up in my eyes again. I knelt down beside him and pulled his head into my lap, running my fingers through his hair and softly singing a lullaby to him.

After what felt like hours, his eyelids finally began to twitch and he slowly opened his eyes. They were hazy and looked a little confused, but held a warm expression when they landed on me.

"Katniss," he said breathily. "What happened?"

"You had a flashback, Peeta. A pretty bad one," I replied sadly.

His eyes fell for a moment and then he asked, "Where are Lily and Graham?"

"With Haymitch and Effie. They came over to help. I couldn't get you to snap out of it," I said, trying to hold the tears at bay.

Peeta must have seen them and gently stroked my cheek. "I'm so sorry, Katniss."

"You don't need to apologize. You can't help it. I'm the one who should be apologizing. You've been struggling with your flashbacks for awhile now, haven't you?"

He hesitated and then replied, "Yes…but I didn't want you to worry."

I sighed. "But I knew you were struggling. I could tell. And I just ignored it. I should have said something. I should have helped you!" With each statement my voice got louder as my anger at myself rose.

"Hey," Peeta said gently, running his fingers through my hair. "Don't blame yourself. I should have told you I was struggling. We're a team. We're married for goodness' sake. We're supposed to tell each other when we're struggling."

I sniffed and nodded. "It's okay, though. I understand why you didn't tell me. Having Graham and Lily has just been so exhausting and I feel like I'm starting to forget who I am outside of being their mother."

"You're my wife," Peeta said, reaching up to place a gentle kiss on my lips. "And a hunter. You love chocolate and cheese buns. You hate doing laundry. You're caring and kind. You're strong. You'll get through this."

I couldn't believe it, but I was crying again at his sweet words. "As long as you stay with me, I will."

"Always," he replied.

We finally did get through it. We started devoting more time to spend together, other than sleeping. We went on picnics in the meadow and at the lake when it was warm out, played games and tried new recipes when it was cold. We made love often, being careful to not have a Baby Mellark Number Three. Ten years passed before we weren't so careful and we had another son, but with Lily and Graham being older, it was much easier this time around.

Haymitch and Effie helped often, despite their aging. Mom and Prim came to visit often and even Gale stopped by a few times. He and I would always go hunting together when he did. It never felt quite like old times, but it was refreshing all the same.

Johanna stopped by a few times too. She took up residence back in District 7. She built a log cabin in the woods there and finally found some peace.

We took several trips to see Finnick and Annie and their four children. They offered to come to us in District 12 but Peeta and I were always looking for an excuse to go to Four. I went for the sandy beaches and rolling waves, but I think Peeta went for the sunsets on the ocean horizon. They were beautiful and showed up in a lot of his art when he picked up painting again.

One evening while we were in Four, I was standing on the beach, letting my feet sink into the wet sand as I watched the sunset. Peeta came up beside me and wrapped his arm around my waist.

"You look radiant," he said, placing a tender kiss on my lips. "I can't believe you married me."

I smiled at him, remembering how silly I was for ever being afraid to marry him. For ever being afraid of having children. I watched the three of them out in the shallows, splashing each other and laughing.

"I'm glad you asked me," I replied, kissing him back. "What a life you have given me, Peeta Mellark."

We watched the remainder of the sunset holding each other, our children playing and laughing in the distance, until the moon rose and the stars shone brightly in the sky above.

Hello, dear readers! I hope you enjoyed the ending of Rekindling. A heartfelt thank you to all of you who have stuck with me for so long. I know it wasn't easy. I have no excuses other than life is busy and writer's block is real. However, I've had a wave of fresh inspiration lately and have a few ideas floating around for my next story. I plan to approach the next one differently for more accountability on my end. I hope you're all satisfied with the ending and stay tuned for future stories :)