Chapter 1

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All credit goes to Suzanne Collins

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I stared out the window of the train blankly, as the outside scene of the world steadily changed. From the Capitol, to endless and seemingly pointless meadows, and eventually to my grubby old home of district twelve. My eyes followed blankly, and I barely paid mind to the scenery. My head felt empty, as though if I focused on any one thing for too long I might break down. I had a painfully emotional few weeks on the victors tour. Of course something terrible would happen in the very first place we visited, sending me spiraling down the remainder of it in misery. Or, more misery than that I had started with. Why shouldn't I be unhappy all of the time?

I suppose there is no reason.

As the train gradually rolled to a stop in district twelve's small station, I stood stiffly, mine and Peeta's hands finding one another as the door zipped open. I looked up to Peeta as we walked out to greet the many cameras. His smooth skin, his ashy blonde hair, his soft lips...

Peeta's eyes met mine and I forced myself to look away. I looked to my feet, feeling heat rush to my cheeks as he caught me staring. I put a smile on my face as I looked down. Couldn't forget to smile. Wouldn't that be simply devastating. No, that was for the cameras. Those idiotic cameramen, swarming around us whenever possible, though they probably had millions of photos of us already. I wouldn't have been smiling if they weren't there. I would have been too confused. With what? Everything.

But I acted along anyway, of course, as I smiled up to Peeta once more. I had such mixed feelings about him. I knew I loved him. At least, a small portion of me did. But the rest of me didn't know what to think. My mind was far off in the distance as I smiled more and kissed him playfully.

Peeta walked me to the house in the victors village after the swarm of people finally emptied the station, allowing us some peace. Mud colored snow sloshed beneath our trodding feet, making a mess of the small white shoes gifted to me during the tour. The sludge splattered over the tops of my feet, effectively freezing them to the bone. I couldn't wait to climb back into my old hunting boots, my own clothes. To be myself again. Whoever that was.

I still hadn't grown used to calling the victors village home, and I don't think I'd ever get the chance to. Peeta awkwardly held open the door for me, and followed me up to my room. He kissed me on the forehead, hugged me gently, and after a slight hesitation, turned to leave. "Goodbye Katniss," he said, sounding tired, sad even. Like he didn't want to go back to how things were before the tour. Not only the romance, but for a long while things had been tense. We barely spoke unless we had to. Is that what I wanted?

Suddenly I grabbed hold of his arm, keeping him from leaving. He turned to look at me in confusion. "Katniss?" he said questioningly, after a long moment of me not speaking.

"Please stay, Peeta," I began to beg immediately, not wanting him to leave me here alone. "Just for tonight." I bit my lip, struggling to find an excuse other than the truth. I missed having him in my bed. "The tour brought back so many bad memories, my nightmares are bound to be awful." Not really a lie, but a reason. "Especially with everything that happened in District eleven. Rue's family, the old man -" My voice broke, and a tear fell silently down my face. I could have stopped there, it would have been enough, but I continued nonetheless. "I need you." District eleven was part of the equation, but I'd slept alone since then. I didn't want to go back to avoiding him, I'd done it for too long and I didn't want to be on my own for any longer. I didn't know if I could survive it. Maybe I didn't only need him. Maybe a small part of me wanted him too.

His arms wrapped around me once again and he kissed me softly, even though he knew he didn't need to. Not here. "Always," he wiped the tear off my cheek with his thumb, gently, his bright blue eyes bearing down into mine.

"I love you." The words came through my mouth on their own, my mind taken aback. The shock on my face was probably as crystal as on his own. My head was going crazy; what was I thinking? But it felt right. The unbelieving smile that spread on his face created a warmth in my chest that could be nothing else. I ignored the voices in my mind as my heart made me smile back at him and take his hands in mine when he offered them. "R— Really." Truthfully, I felt a bit sick voicing any of this aloud. Anxiety, probably. But it was too late. The words were out.

And they were true.

His eyes widened with surprise, then his smile widened as though that was the best thing I could ever say to him. Taking his hand and leading him to the bed, we laid down, embracing one another in the dark.

This time, I kissed him first. Not a fake kiss, like one of the many we'd shared in front of the cameras; but a real kiss. The kind you never wanted to end.

He pulled away after a few seconds and I frowned. "Katniss, I..." I shook my head and allowed the corners of my lips to curl up. I felt his breath on my skin, his hands around my waist, my arms around his neck. I leaned back in and kissed him again, and this time he didn't argue. I climbed under the blankets and he followed, our lips never pulling away from one another's. I slowly started to unbutton his shirt, and he let me.