My mother gives me a cup of chamomile tea with a dose of sleep syrup, and my eyelids begin to droop immediately. She wraps my bad foot, and Peeta volunteers to get me to bed. I start out by leaning on his shoulder, but I’m so wobbly he just scoops me up and carries me upstairs. He tucks me in and says good night but I catch his hand and hold him there. A side effect of the sleep syrup is that it makes people less inhibited, like white liquor, and I know I have to control my tongue. But I don’t want him to go. In fact, I want him to climb in with me, to be there when the nightmares hit tonight. For some reason that I can’t quite form, I know I’m not allowed to ask that.
"Don’t go yet. Not until I fall asleep" - I say.
Peeta sits on the side of the bed, warming my hand in both of his.
“Almost thought you’d changed your mind today. When you were late for dinner.”
“No, I’d have told you,” I say. I pull his hand up and lean my cheek against the back of it, taking in the faint scent of cinnamon and dill from the breads he must have baked today. I want to tell him about Twill and Bonnie and the uprising and the fantasy of District 13, but it’s not safe to and I can feel myself slipping away, so I just get out one more sentence.
“Stay with me.”
As the tendrils of sleep syrup pull me down, I hear him whisper a word back, but I don’t quite catch it.
- Catching Fire
Peeta and I grow back together. There are still moments when he clutches the back of a chair and hangs on until the flashbacks are over. I wake screaming from nightmares of mutts and lost children. But his arms are there to comfort me. And eventually his lips. On the night I feel that thing again, the hunger that overtook me on the beach, I know this would have happened anyway. That what I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that. So after, when he whispers, “You love me. Real or not real?” I tell him, “Real.”
Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay
Jennifer Lawrence & Natalie Dormer on the set of ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay’ in Paris - 5/15/14
I’m still betting on you, girl on fire
"This is no place for a girl on fire."
Peeta says it will be okay. We have each other.
Happy Birthday to our Girl on Fire, Katniss Everdeen!