Re-connection - An Everlark Fanfiction

My entry for the Shipping Fanfiction Competition!
A lonely night, a drunk Haymitch and the rekindling of the relationship between Katniss and Peeta. Post-Mockingjay.

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1. Re-connection

Katniss rushed across her front yard to the neighbouring house that belonged to Haymitch. Even though she knew the crash she heard was probably just a drunk Haymitch falling down the stairs, she was terrified that it could be something worse. Like President Snow back from the dead.

She barely noticed the stench of vomit and burnt food as she kicked the door down and rummaged around for her drunk mentor. It wasn’t look until she found him in the kitchen, staring woozily at a smashed bottle of liquor.

“Haymitch,” she groaned as she carefully made her way across the kitchen floor. In her hurry to check on him, she had forgotten to put on shoes. “What’s wrong with you?”

“I think,” he slurred, “I might be a little tipsy.”

“You think?” she threw up her hands. “I thought you had fallen down the stairs and broken your neck or- “

“Or what?” he chuckled darkly. “Thought someone had shot me?”

Katniss gulped.

“The idea had crossed my mind.”

“You need to get your problems sorted, Sweetheart.” Haymitch was attempting to climb to his feet and after a pause Katniss reluctantly helped him. “The Capitol has fallen; Snow and Coin are dead and we get a happily forever after.”

The front door slammed shut with a loud bang, causing Katniss and Haymitch to jump in surprise. It wasn’t too long before Peeta appeared in the kitchen, looking breathless.

“What’s going on? I heard a crash and Katniss was yelling and I thought- “

He stopped midsentence to survey the scene before him. Katniss pushed her knotted hair behind her ears and wished she thought to wear something more than a singlet and short pyjama shorts. It wasn’t that she wanted to look good for Peeta, it was that she wished he didn’t have to see her in such a vulnerable state. It was bad enough Haymitch got to see. Besides, she was still angry at him for planting the roses around her house without her permission. She wouldn’t tell him this, but she did find herself staring at them in awe of their beauty at times.

“I fell and smashed the bottle,” Haymitch interrupted her thoughts as he swayed on the spot. “I was just telling our Sweetheart here that it’s time we all calmed down.”

“I’m not your Sweetheart,” Katniss grumbled but they both ignored her as Peeta took the broom out of the cupboard.

“I’ll clean this up,” he told her without meeting her eyes. “You move Haymitch upstairs.”

“Easier said than done,” she thought to herself.

Sure enough, it took nearly half an hour to get the staggering Haymitch up the stairs and tucked in bed. She was sure he had fallen asleep before he hit the mattress. Probably even before they had completely gotten up the stairs. She stretched her neck as she glanced over his sleeping form. Haymitch wasn’t a looker by any means, but he almost looked lonely sleeping there on his own.

Of course, Katniss felt lonely going to bed without Peeta. She had thought she’d be over those nights of sleeping together since they occurred before the Quarter Quell, but there were still nights she woke up reaching for him.

 

 

As she made her way back down the stairs, she checked the clock above the doorway. 1am. Great.

She found Peeta in the kitchen, although now he was rummaging through the fridge. She cleared her throat and he jerked upright.

“Finally got sleeping beauty to bed?”

“Yeah,” she rubbed her neck. “I think he was asleep before we got to the top of the stairs.”

“You carried him?” he asked with eyebrows raised and she simply shrugged in response. “Katniss, you could have asked for help.”

“No, no,” she shook her head. “I need the exercise. I haven’t been looking after myself lately.”

Peeta stared at her quizzically, waiting for an answer she wasn’t ready to give him.

“What are you doing?” she asked after an awkward pause. “I doubt Haymitch has anything decent.”

Peeta laughed and involuntarily, Katniss’ lips perked a little too. There was no sound that filled her with warmth like the sound of Peeta’s laugh. Except maybe Prim. Immediately, her small smile disappeared and she looked down.

“You’re right,” he told her as he turned back to the fridge, “he doesn’t. But he does have milk, coffee and sugar so I’ve put a pot on and I’m just seeing if there’s anything we can have with it.”

“Umm,” she hesitated. “I should probably get back.”

The autumn night had grown chilly and she was growing more aware each minute at how cold she was. She shivered just as Peeta turned his gaze on her again.

“You cold?” he asked and immediately began to shrug out of his jacket.

Katniss took a step back.

“I’m fine,” she told him, just as another shiver wracked her body. Peeta laughed and threw the jacket at her.

“Put it on, Katniss.”

Not a question, a demand. Sighing, she did what she was told.

 

After a bit of searching, Katniss located a packet of basic biscuits to have along with their coffee and brought them into the lounge room where Peeta had lit a fire.

“Winter is coming,” he told her.

“Or,” she corrected him, “it’s cold because it’s the early hours of the morning.”

“True,” he nodded with thought as he took a biscuit and dipped it in his coffee. “Either way, someone should start lighting the fire for Haymitch. We don’t want him to freeze to death.”

“Ironic,” she snorted. “He survived a Quarter Quell, was a mentor for 25 years and lived through a revolution, only to die from an unlit fire.”

“Only Haymitch,” Peeta raised his mug at her and she followed suit.

“Only Haymitch.”

They sat in silence as they ate their biscuits and watched the fire. It wasn’t an awkward silence, but a comfortable silence that unwelcomingly reminded Katniss of their friendship before the Quarter Quell. As much as she tried to ignore it, she really did miss Peeta. It felt like she had lost him along with everyone else she loved after the war. Prim, her mum, Gale… She was growing more and more aware of how alone she was. Without thinking, the words slipped out of her mouth.

“I feel like I’ve lost you,” she told him, fixing her eyes on a brown blotch on the white carpet. Was it vomit?

“What do you mean?” She could feel his eyes on her, but she refused to look up.

“I only have Haymitch now and he’s not that great of a friend. My mum’s gone, Gale is gone and… I feel like you’ve gone, too.”

Peeta placed his hand on her arm.

“Katniss… Katniss look at me.”

She took a deep breath and turned her gaze to his. Were his eyes always that piercing? Their intensity nearly stole her breath.

“Katniss, I could never leave you. I will never leave you. I’m sorry I haven’t been coming over. I thought you were mad at me.”

“I was,” she shrugged, “I mean, I am.”

“Because of the Primroses?”

“Yes… I mean no. I don’t know what I mean!”

She jolted and coffee spilt from her mug to the carpet. It matched the other brown blotch.

Peeta jerked the mug out of her hand and the biscuits from her lap before climbing off the couch to kneel in front of her, holding her shoulders tightly in his grip. His abrupt movements had startled her and her eyes flitted around the room for an escape. Was he going mutt? Was he going to attack her? She doubted if she screamed Haymitch would hear her.

“I’ve hurt you Katniss,” he told her, pain evident in his eyes “and I know there’s nothing I can ever do to make it up to you. But I came back here for you.”

Her eyes widened in question, but he raised a finger, signalling her to wait.

“When I was captured by the Capitol, I knew they were going to change me and I tried so hard to fight them, Katniss. You must believe me. It wasn’t the pain I feared, I was scared of hurting you.”

His eyes were beginning to well with tears and Katniss sniffled as hers did the same. So many questions were running through her mind, but she was determined to hear him out. Obviously, he had been waiting a long time to tell her this.

“When the rebels began to help me get my real memories back, the realization of what I had done made me so angry at myself. I almost didn’t want the memories back. I thought, surely if I stay a mutt it’d be better for you because you could just hate me and forget about me. But I couldn’t do that, Katniss. I couldn’t stay away from you. I’m a selfish and cruel man for doing that to you, breaking your heart twice. I don’ have a nicer way to say it, but I’m going to follow you to the ends of the earth and break your heart more and more times because I just can’t leave you.”

“Peeta,” Katniss whispered.

“They gave me a choice after your trial. I could have stayed in the Capitol and start a new life for myself. They even offered me a bakery. Or, I could come back here to this mess of a place. I almost said yes to the Capitol, but Plutarch and Effie let it slip that you were being returned here. I had to come for you.”

Peeta’s voice had lowered to a whisper as a single tear dripped down his cheek. Katniss took a deep breath, aware she had stopped breathing altogether.

“I love you, Katniss. Always have and the odds have shown that I always will. I know we can’t wind back the tape and begin where we left off and in many ways, I don’t want to. We can do it the right way this time, starting with building a real friendship like we did on the train before Snow got in the way. I love you, but firstly, I want to be your friend. Can I be your friend? Can you be mine?”

Katniss nodded slowly, eyes still wide in surprise of his outburst. With her nod, Peeta withdrew his tight grip on her shoulders and resituated himself on the couch next to her. An awkward moment ticked past before he cleared his throat.

“I’m… sorry. I don’t know where that came from.”

She shook her head.

“If anyone needs to be sorry, it should be me. I know you were only trying to help with the primroses, and they have been a big help.” She paused. “I look at them every day.”

“I thought you might,” he smiled a little as he tucked a stray strand of curls behind her ear.

“Thank you,” she told him, catching his hand in her own. “Thank you for the primroses, thank you for coming back and… thank you for loving me.”

“Always,” he told her, making her face split with a dazzling smile.

 

Even with the coffee in their systems, Katniss and Peeta felt themselves falling asleep and it was too soon that Peeta offered to walk her to her door. Standing on the doorway, she stretched up on her tippy toes to hug him as tight as she could. No words were exchanged as she stepped across the doorway until she whipped around, clutching the door.

“Peeta?”

“Yes, Katniss?” he paused on the second step.

“Would you stay with me?”

It was his turn to brighten with a wide smile as he raced up the steps, pulling her in for another hug.

“Always,” he whispered in her ear. “Always.”

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