The people cheer and clap, Peeta looks over at me tenderly and leans down to give me a gentle kiss. "Happy New Year Katniss" he whispers in my ear. I put on a smile and gulp down the memories and guilt. Yes, another year is gone; Yet, part of me still remains in the past. I grab Peeta's hand and feel him gazing at me, he knows what I'm thinking and begins to lead me to our home.
Walking in the door I look around at the familiar place. We've lived here for more than 10 years together, its amazing how cluttered it has gotten. Unfortunately for us, Peeta and I both tend to be pack rats and hoard this and that. It isn't too bad, but we could use a good cleaning. I take my coat and boots off and put them away before walking to the bedroom.
I continue to take off the layers of clothes I had put on earlier in anticipation for the cold night I would be in. The bedroom is fairly clean, so I walk over to the corner to a little fireplace Peeta had added in a few years back. The room tended to stay cool all year long, it was great in the summer, but terribly cold in the winter. Blowing on the fading embers, I manage to get a little fire started. The room starts to warm up immediately but I still feel chilled, so I go into the bathroom, closing the door behind me. Another added bonus to this house is that we got plumbing first thing. Not many people had any for the first several years of the town being rebuilt, now it was slowly becoming more common to see even in the poorest mans home.
Stepping into the hot shower I let the water drain off of my head and down my back. I feel the warmth flowing through me, and sit for several minutes just enjoying it. I want to drown this growing depression, I hate it. It has been so long since Prim left me, since the games, since everything bad, but it's days like today that makes the feelings feel fresh. I am so lucky to have Peeta, he seems to understand when I tell him about it.
After a while I decide its getting hot, so I quickly wash up and get out. Wrapping a towel around me, I get out and dry off. I look in the mirror I can see my still scarred skin. It is so much better than it used to be, but I can still pick out the faint outlines of my scars. I dress in some warm pajamas and walk out. Peeta is already sitting in bed reading a book. He looks up as I enter. He may not be trying to show it, but I can tell he is worried about me. There was a certain point for both of us when we stopped getting 'better' and we just 'were'. Peeta still has flashbacks, and I still have depression, and from what we have been told and can tell for ourselves, none of it is ever going to go away.
I sigh and get into bed. "I'm okay Peeta, just tired." I snuggle closer to him and lean my head against his shoulder. He sets his book on his nightstand and wraps his arms around me. "What are you thinking about?" He asks quietly. "Oh a little of everything. The games, people I miss, a new year." I reply. I feel him hug me closer. We both have grown so much in the past 10 years together, but the sting that the games left in our hearts hasn't faded much, especially for me. He kisses the top of my head. "Do you want to talk about it?" he asks. "I'd rather not think about it anymore." I say truthfully.
After a few minutes Peeta gets up and restocks the fire before coming back to bed. I lay back and stare at the ceiling, and feel Peeta crawl in beside me. He turns out the light and lays down, so I snuggle close and drift off to the crackling fire and the steady sound of Peeta's steady breathing.
The next day dawns gloomy and grey. I wake up and take a look at the clock, it's already 9. I look to the other side of the bed and find it bare, Peeta must already be up in the bakery. I stand up and slip some clothes on before heading out the back door of our house that connects us to the bakery. The inside is warm and smells of freshly baked bread. I walk to the front of the store where Peeta is helping a customer. Grabbing a cheese bun from a tray, I plop on top of the counter and wait for him to finish. He puts the money away in the cash register and notices me on the counter behind him.
I see his eyes brighten as they always do as he walks over to me. "How are you this morning Mrs. Mellark?" He says. I still love to hear him say it to me, it's just a happy reminder for both of us. I smile and give him a tender kiss. "Good, thanks for letting me sleep in." I take another bite of the bread. It's the best of course, and still my favorite snack. "We stayed up late and you didn't seem to sleep well last night. Besides, I didn't need much help today." he says.
I think for a minute before remembering last night. After falling asleep I woke up several different times and couldn't fall back asleep. "Anything in particular you were upset about last night?" He asks with somewhat of a cautious tone. I don't quite follow. "No..?" I say slowly. He looks relieved. What does he think I was upset about? Then I remember, his new years resolutions.
I didn't even have to ask to know what Peeta's biggest resolution was: To have a baby. Over the years we've been married the conversation hasn't come up much, but I know that Peeta wants children so badly. Part of me wants them too, but I just can't. I told myself I would never be a mother, and I'm sticking to that plan.
I find Peeta still staring at me. I see the wanting in his eyes, he doesn't say it, but I can see his pleading. I sigh, this is no time for an argument, I don't want kids, we aren't having any, end of story. I jump off the counter and mumble something about me having to do something and head back into the house. I can't take another minute of guilt.
Back in the house I look around at the cluttered rooms. One of these days we will get in and clear some of this stuff out. On the kitchen table I notice the vase of primroses are wilting, so I decide to head out and get some new ones from our old home in the victors village. Up the road I see Haymitch sitting out on his front lawn, last night may have been New Years Eve, but Haymitch's drinking was the same as it ever is. He has stopped for the most part being constantly drunk, I guess he has just gotten used to the idea of the new government and the memories of the games fading.
He waves me over. "What's with the sad face?" Haymitch says. All I have to do is give him 'the look'. "Again Katniss? Why can't you just give the man what he wants?" I look at him angrily, "Its a bad idea, I'm not fit to be a mother, and it's still a dangerous world. The answer is, and will always be NO." I say.
Haymitch just sighs. "Katniss, if you only understood." He says. "Understood what!?" I spit out. "If you only understood that that man gave up absolutely everything he had for you, and all he wants in return is a kid or two, is that so much to ask?" Haymitch says almost shyly. He knows it isn't necessarily his place to tell me these things. I begin to cool down and feel the guilt settle in. "As for the rest of your excuses, you know just as much as I do that the chances of anything like the games or capitol happening again are slim, if not at all. The world is as safe as it's going to get, you can't make a more stupid excuse than that." he says.
I stare at him angrily. "As for the mother part, I happen to think you would be a good mother. For one thing you were practically a mother for Prim weren't you? he asks. "Yeah and look how well that turned out." I lash. "That has to do with my first answer. 1. It wasn't your fault, and 2. there is nothing like the games that you have to worry about!." He spits out. I back off. Haymitch seems to take notice and calms down too.
"Look, all I'm trying to say is that I know you would be a good mother, and we both know that Peeta would be the best father. Are you really going to deny him something he wants so bad? Can you?" He says quietly before getting up and going back into his house. I sit there for a moment and think. As much as I hate to admit it, Haymitch had some very good points, and it hurts me so bad that I can't give Peeta what he wants. I am just scared. So, so, scared. I gulp down my feelings and go about my work getting the flowers before I head back home.
I hope you guys enjoy! As for the winner of the contest, I unfortunately didn't find anything that seemed to fit. I decided to name this story Embers because its about Katniss' flame fading and becoming something still hot, but lasting. If that makes sense. Basically, embers are what come after the fire, and children come after the fire of the games. Hope you know what I mean ;)
As for the story itself, REVIEW! I really NEED some input here, as this story is much harder to write than the last. Thanks so much for your support! Until next chapter ~Nan0min