Birthday Cake

Summary: Peeta gives Katniss an unexpected birthday surprise. fluff/romance/slight angst

Writer's note: Thanks to anyone who r/r my earlier fic. This one may lead to a multi-chapter follow-up. Maybe.


"Happy Birthday!" Peeta yelled exhuberantly.

I sighed inwardly, plastering a smile on my face. I was never big on celebrating birthdays; who would've been, growing up in District 12?

Oh, yes. My overly blonde and overly excitable boyfriend, Peeta.

Peeta pulled me into the kitchen, grinning infectiously. He's just the type who'd be more excited about my birthday than I am. "Ready for your birthday cake?" He dangled a berry above my head teasingly.

I groaned. "Peeta, it's very sweet but I really don't feel like cake today."

Peeta popped the berry into his mouth and waved dismissively. Well, he's the baker, after all. The cake is probably more for him than it is for me.

Or so I thought at the time.

"It's your big day," Peeta said firmly in his best I-won't-take-no-for-an-answer-and-you're-not-getting-out-of-here-without-eating cake voice. Of course it reminded me of a certain government official's constant reminders of how I was in for a "big, big, big day!" It was hard enough to convince Peeta I didn't want a party or guests showing up on this supposedly auspicious day. Cake, however, was the one thing I wasn't going to get out of.

Trying not to look too much like a killjoy, I sat at the kitchen table. Well, best to get it over with.

Giving me a quick once-over to make sure I wasn't going to make a run for it, Peeta nodded his approval. "Okay, now close your eyes."

Instead of closing them, I rolled them. "Peeta. It's a cake. I've seen cakes before."

"Close your eyes, or I don't bring it out. And we'll sit here till you close them. And I don't care if it takes all day. I'm just going to keep sitting here till you close them." Peeta stubbornly crossed his arms across his chest.

I tried to think back to our history together. Had Peeta Mellark always been such a child? Probably.

More to placate him than for any dire love for cake (even Peeta's cake, which I'd had before, which was admittedly delicious), I closed my eyes.

"Are your eyes closed?"

"Yes." Trying my best to keep my annoyance out of my voice. Birthdays, schmirthdays. I had better things to do with this non-occasion day.

I heard him take something off the kitchen counter and set it down on the table. "Okay, you're not peeking, right?"

I sighed. "No, not peeking."

I heard him fiddle with something. Probably candles and matches. "Okay, you can open your eyes."

I'd thought the cake must really be something, whatever it was. Peeta certainly was desperate to let me see it.

So I was surprised – maybe confused – well, maybe disappointed – well, maybe even a little upset – to note that it was just a plain cake with a fancy icing border and primroses and dandelions piped along its edges.

Nothing else on the cake, though. Not even a Happy Birthday Katniss piped on top even though it was a big enough cake. Plenty of room to squeeze on a few words on there.

This was ridiculous. What was there to be disappointed for? I hadn't even wanted a cake! Really. But for a man who was the supposed love of my life, who pulled out all the stops for others' birthdays and weddings and anniversaries, but apparently had put what looked like a half-baked effort (no pun intended) in front of me…

Trying very hard to mask my disappointment, I looked up at Peeta and said somewhat jokingly "What, no Happy Birthday on the cake?" I smiled, trying to keep my tone as light as I could. I really didn't want to turn this into a big deal.

Peeta's expression suddenly became more serious. "Oh, that's right, I forgot something, didn't it?" he said in a theatrically slow voice, as though he was only pretending to forget something. He reached for a pastry bag that had been left on the cake board and aimed the tip of the bag toward the cake. "Let's just fix that, shall we?" he said quietly. He started piping onto the cake.

Why was he acting so odd?

Suddenly completely quiet, Peeta began icing letters onto the cake. But not the letters I expected.

W

So now he'd forgotten how to spell "Happy Birthday"?

I

"Uh, Peeta?" I said in the same half-joking tone. "You do know how 'happy birthday' is spelled starting with an "H", right?"

Peeta, brow furrowed in utmost concentration, as though this was going to be the most important thing he'd ever do, didn't answer. He just kept piping letters onto the cake.

L

Another L

I was now seriously starting to worry he'd suffered a head injury. Or quite possibly a stroke. One where he had lost all his mental faculties somehow.

But Peeta couldn't stop piping. And I couldn't stop watching the letters come up, slowly forming into words. The first word on the first line:

"Will"

And then:

Y

O

U

Next line:

M

A

R

R

Y

And the final line.

M

E?

Will you marry me?

Peeta finally put down the pastry bag and looked up at me. Dumbstruck, I looked up at him. For a while neither of us spoke.

"That doesn't say 'happy birthday'" I said dumbly, a complete loss for words.

"No," said Peeta softly, a hint of a smile on his face. He reached into his back pocket and took out a small box and propped it open. A ring box. With a ring inside. "And this isn't a bread box."