Under The Christmas Lights
It all started ten years ago.
As I drove home on one of the coldest nights in December, the icy rain pounding my windscreen with heavy drops, the wiper blades on the fastest setting. My headlights caught her, like a deer in the headlights.
She was drenched and carried a large rucksack on her back. She obviously had been caught in the bad weather and sought shelter under a tree that didn't provide her with any protection from the bad weather.
When my headlights landed on her she stood upright ready to run, scared for her safety and she would have bolted if she didn't recognise my voice.
"Katniss, its Peeta Mellark."
She just stared at me. We hadn't seen each other since graduation. I left for college in another state and she stayed behind. We had barely spoken a word to each other through school, only few remarks were exchanged and that was it. The girl I was crazy about, I let go. I thought a fresh start would be good, a chance to forget about her but she had this long lasting effect on me that I couldn't shake. My college roommate laughed at me, telling me to try out dating college girls to get over her but my mind and heart was very much attached to Katniss Everdeen, even if I didn't see her again.
She climbed into my car the minute she realised it was me but didn't speak a word for a while. She warmed her fingers on the heaters and shivered, her teeth almost chattering.
I was still an hour from home and the rain was nowhere near easing up. A diner caught my attention and I asked if she'd mind stopping for some food and coffee. We stepped inside the diner, Katniss wearing some of my dry clothing I had packed for my trip home and sat at a booth. It was quiet tonight in the diner. A middle aged waitress took our order and Katniss avoided eye contact with me at all costs.
"You headed back home?" I asked.
"Where were you coming from?"
She remained silent and stared at the table.
"Were you in any danger at all?"
She shook her head.
It was finally after Katniss' belly was filled with hot food and hot chocolate that she finally spoke.
"My family moved out from Jersey just after graduation. I went with them for the summer break and decided to work and start college next year. There was an accident at home and I just started walking."
She went silent after that. Obviously not ready to talk just yet.
"Do you need somewhere to stay?" I asked her and she nodded. "You can come stay at my dad's with me."
She slept soundly in the passenger seat on the drive back home. I pulled into my father's driveway and she remained asleep as I carried her through my father's house to my old room, laying her down on the bed and pulling the covers over her body and leaving her to be.
I showered and met my father in the kitchen downstairs. Two steaming cups of hot chocolate sat on the table with a plate of chocolate chip cookies.
"I hope its fine I brought her here? She didn't tell me much."
"You did a good thing son." He told me with a sincere smile.
I slept in my brother's old bedroom that night but woke to the mattress shifting. I felt her heat as she sought for me under the covers. I pulled her close to my body and held her, like all the times I had imagined I would.
"I had a bad dream." She told me quietly. "I just didn't want to be alone."
I kissed the top of her head and she settled in beside me holding on to me for dear life while she slept soundly for the first time in weeks.
She finally opened up to me on Christmas Eve. Dad having gone to the local church service with his partner Nat, I stayed behind at the house with her. She had come down with the flu and had been bedridden for the few days we'd been here. We sat on the couch with mac and cheese and watched a movie when I heard her sobbing.
"My family died two weeks ago." She told me.
"Katniss, I'm so sorry."
"It was a house fire. They were trapped and I wanted to go back in and get them but I couldn't. They said it was an electrical fault. I could hear my sister screaming for help but I was held back by the neighbour who rescued me. I slept downstairs and he smashed my bedroom window and dragged me out. The house was well alight when he pulled me out. I was lucky."
She wiped the tears from her cheeks. "And the few days before the accident my boyfriend broke up with me. Well I broke up with him, I caught him with another girl and he went on blaming me. Blaming me for being so pure that I drove him to another girl. I thought that was the worst heartbreak, breaking up with someone but the worst heartbreak is losing your family. The ones you love so dearly and blaming yourself."
"It wasn't your fault Katniss. It was an accident."
That year she decided she'd never celebrate the holidays again, it was too painful. And the love and joy she felt with Christmas before… it felt wrong being happy when her family wasn't around to share in that happiness. So it was better shutting herself out and pretending the holiday never existed.
She remained in bed during Christmas, hiding from the holiday and the pain that would be associated with the holiday for years to come.
Ten years later, Katniss and I are roommates in New York. Katniss a social worker and myself a family law lawyer. Those ten years, Katniss has not once been caught celebrating the holiday. We've lived together for 4 years in a shoebox apartment and not once have we put up a Christmas tree or holiday décor.
She stays in New York, I travel to Jersey to be with my family each Christmas. My father invites her to come but she always declines stating she has work to do but I know that she just sits on the couch eating mac and cheese and watching Netflix, avoiding holiday movies and specials.
This year things had changed between the two of us. We were known for sharing beds and the comfort of each other since I since I found her on side of the road but it was nothing more than a platonic arrangement until Easter this year, with both of us battling a severe case of the flu, bedridden and somewhat delirious we opened up to each other about our feelings and since then she's looked at me differently, like a girl in love.
Eight months together and I know that I'm not spending the holidays without her. We've spoken about past holiday memories, Katniss' mainly just her immediate family. Mine with my extended family.
I trudge up the stairs of our apartment building. The two of us in the process of packing, ready to move in the New Year. The snow has ceased for the moment but more snow predicted for tonight, a fresh blanketing ready for Christmas tomorrow morning.
Katniss had been out for the day, dealing with a last minute job call out. She having described it as a crisis when she paced around our bedroom getting dressed. Strapping her moon boot to her right foot. Katniss having broken her ankle two weeks earlier, slipping on the front step of a client's home.
So while she wouldn't be home until dinnertime the call out being more difficult than she expected, I had a plan. A plan for us to celebrate our first Christmas together. I wouldn't go too overboard but make it special enough for just us two.
"Hello Mr Peeta." Toby, one of the neighbours greets him. The cold weather usually brought the kids to play in the hallways. Today Toby and his young brother Jack were playing with a hackie-sack while Lucy one of the girls who lived downstairs looked on with a Barbie doll clutched in her hands.
"Hi kids. Who's winning?"
"I am." Toby exclaims.
"Only because you cheated." Lucy claims with a scowl on her face. A scowl that reminds me so much of Katniss.
"I did not, you just don't know how to play." Toby remarks. "Can you play hackie-sack Mr Peeta?"
"I haven't played for quite a few years Toby."
"Would you like to play with us?" He asks.
"Just for a little bit. I've got some things to do." I tell them with a smile. "Come on Lucy."
I set down the two bags of groceries and stand in a circle and play hackie-sack, the game bringing me back to my college days.
"You're really good at this Mr Peeta." Toby exclaims.
"Thanks Toby." I say passing the sack to Jack.
"I thought I heard your voice." I hear from behind me and can hear the slight smile in her voice.
"Yeah, these ones roped me into a game." I tell her.
"Do you want to play Miss Katniss?" Toby asks as he juggles the sack on his foot.
"It's alright Toby, I don't want to break my other ankle." She says pointing down to her moon boot.
Toby passes it to me but I miss it on purpose.
"Oh no." I exclaim. "Oh well, you three can keep on playing." I pass the hackie-sack to Lucy. "Keep your eye on it Lucy and beat those boys."
She smiles at me, her green eyes going wide.
I pick up the bags from the ground and kiss Katniss on the cheek. "I didn't think you'd be home this early?"
"I had to come and get some paperwork. I'm just on my way back out." She tells me, following me back into our shoebox.
"Oh, I was hoping we could go back to bed." I say turning to face her, playing with the buttons of her coat.
"Sorry baby, I'll be back as soon as possible." She tells me picking up her messenger bag and slinging it over her shoulder. "I'm only around the corner anyway."
"Well text me when you're close to leaving, I'll make sure you have a nice cup of hot chocolate waiting for you and I'll make sure I'm naked."
She grins and leans in kissing me. "Bye Hun."
She leaves the apartment with her phone ringing and I'm glad the courts are closed until next year giving me the holidays uninterrupted. I get to work unpacking the groceries and getting the dough for the cheese buns ready to bake later. I dig through the box dad had dropped off a few days ago. Everything was in there and I got to work on Katniss' surprise. The apartment was quite bare. My old room had been turned into storage of all our packed things and the unimportant things packed up and piled high in my old room.
It took me almost three hours to create my surprise and a text from her let me know she would be half an hour. I set the cheese buns into the oven to cook so they were fresh when she walked through the door. This year we had compromised on a small Christmas tree. It was a metal tree that we hung ornaments on and it sat on our coffee table. She was slowly opening up to the holiday and this was a big step after ten years of not celebrating but she knew it meant a lot to me to have a small piece of Christmas since I wasn't going home.
The winter month had turned the afternoon dark quickly. The fire was burning nicely warming our shoebox. The smell of the cheese buns wafted through the apartment. A knock on the front door was common, with neighbours wishing us a happy Christmas with baked goods or small gifts. I had a huge batch of sugared cookies made to hand out, the neighbours appreciating them the most.
Toby, Jack and Lucy stood at the door with big smiles on their faces.
Or the kids would be here for more sugary treats.
"Hello Mr Peeta." Toby greets with a smirk.
"What are you little rascals up to?"
"Nothing much Mr Peeta." Jack grins.
"Would you kids like some cookies?"
The three heads nodded enthusiastically with wide grins.
"Come on in." I tell them opening the door for them.
They step inside moving to the kitchen.
"Wow, did you do this Mr Peeta?" Lucy asks pointing to the scene.
"For Miss Katniss?" Tody asks.
"Yes, for Miss Katniss." I tell him.
"That's so romantic Mr Peeta." Lucy exclaims. "Bad luck Toby."
I knew Toby fancied Katniss. The 7 year old boy was a goner and blushed whenever Katniss spoke to him in the hallway. He was always fast to offer her help with her bags or groceries. The only problem was Lucy fancied Toby and I had caught the jealous looks Lucy gave Toby when he gave all his attention to Katniss.
I chuckle at Lucy and reach for the Tupperware containers filled with the Christmas cookies.
"How many may we have?"
"Two. I don't want you spoiling your dinner. Your parents won't be too happy with me."
"They won't know it was you." Jack says with a mouthful of cookie, crumbs falling out of his mouth.
I chuckle at Jack and move to the intercom that has buzzed.
"It's me, I left my keys upstairs."
"Ok." I let her in and turn to the kids. "Ok, if you see Miss Katniss, no telling her of this. It's a surprise."
"Ok Mr Peeta." Toby says.
"Thank you for the cookies. Are you going to the carols tonight?" Lucy asks.
"I don't know, if not Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas Mr Peeta." They call out as they leave the apartment giggling.
I shut the door behind them and move to the oven, taking out the cheese buns. I pull out mugs for hot chocolate and pour in the warm milk into the mugs mixing it with the chocolate powder. I hear the clunk of her moon boot sounding down the hallway and the laughter of the kids as she engages in a conversation with them.
"Merry Christmas." She tells them.
"Merry Christmas!" They respond in a sing-song voice.
The door opens and I hear her gasp as she steps inside.
"What is this?"
"Whatever you want it to be." I tell her with a smile. "I wanted to show you how special Christmas could be again and I wanted it to be extra special because it's our first Christmas together."
She walks towards the living room which has been covered in thousands of Christmas lights. Lights that dangle like icicles and the others that are strung from corner to corner. The mattress from my bed set in front of the fireplace with plenty of blankets and pillows.
I switch off the main lights and the room is lit with the flickering colours of the Christmas lights.
"You said you used to lie underneath the Christmas tree and watch the flickering lights. Since we don't have a big enough tree I thought I'd do one better." I tell her. "I hope you like it."
She turns to face me, her eyes watering. "I love it. This is the best gift someone has ever given me."
I wrap her in my arms, kissing the top of her head. I loosen the grip and she looks up at me, leaning on her toes to kiss my lips.
I bring her the plate of cheese buns and the mugs of hot chocolate. She's changed into her pyjamas and lays on the mattress watching the lights, a small smile on her face.
I snap a photo of her, wanting to cherish this moment forever.
We eat cheese buns and drink our hot chocolate. I watch the lights reflect off her cheeks and in that moment she's that little girl who used to lay underneath the tree.
"I know you're not much for holidays, especially Christmas but maybe we could make it our own… bring in our own traditions so you can fall in love with the season again."
She smiles and nods. "OK. Let's make it our own day, only if you promise to do this." She says pointing with her eyes at the lights.
"My love, I'll do anything you want me to." I tell her with a wide grin. "I was going to wait for you naked but I got a little preoccupied."
"There's still time." She flirts with a wink.
When we lay together that night, we don't move to the bedroom. We're too content in watching the lights. There's sounds coming down from the street but we don't bother to check them out. Nothing could be as important as this. The snow pelts the window hard and I pull the blanket higher over our naked bodies.
Next December we turn our living room into a giant Christmas tree on the 1st of the month. Smaller Christmas decorations are sat out around the apartment, like a real Christmas tree covered in baubles and tinsel and wrapped in Christmas lights. We spend every night sleeping in the living room leading up to Christmas, happy and content.
On Christmas Eve we drink hot chocolate and eat cheese buns while the floor below parties.
"Marry me." I say to her just before midnight. I hadn't planned to propose to her until next year but nothing felt as right as now.
"What?" She asks, unsure if she's hearing me right.
"Marry me Katniss Everdeen." I tell her again, a wide smile on my face. "I don't want to spend the rest of my life with anyone but you. I can imagine the rest of my life, you wrapped up in my arms as we watch the Christmas lights. I don't want to share that with anyone else but you and maybe our children. Marry me."
The corners of her mouth turn upwards.
"Yes. Yes." She responds. "I'll marry you."
We kiss until it's after midnight, our clothes soon falling to the ground and our coupling celebrating the next stage of our life.
It isn't until the morning when I place the ring on her finger. The ring that I had hidden so good I forgot where I hid it. It became an Easter egg hunt and in one of my suit jackets Katniss found the velvet box and like I had imagined since I was young I got down on one knee.
"Real or not real?" I ask.
"Real." She tells me with the most beautiful smile I've ever seen and I slip the ring onto her finger, pulling her to the ground with me.
We travel to Jersey that afternoon for dinner with my family. This would be Katniss' first family Christmas dinner in 12 years. I could sense the nerves associated with branching into other family traditions but she knew that the moment I asked her to marry me, this would be part of our traditions. We'd have our Christmas lights to share together. We'd have all my family for the best meal of the year.
My aunt was fast to embrace me, ruffling my hair like she used to when I was small. She greets Katniss with a welcoming hug and the whole family soon knows we're here. My eldest brother Aaron greets us with his three month old son in his arms, sound asleep. This being the first time I saw my nephew since he was born.
Baby Elijah is thrust into my arms and I welcome the baby. The baby dressed in a green and red stripped onesie to celebrate the occasion with a Santa hat.
Katniss's hand instinctively moves to the baby's foot and she rubs the foot with a small smile on her face. We had spoken about kids, she was open to the idea but still not officially given me a yes. I kiss her cheek and look back down at my nephew who flits his eyes open, revealing the very dark blue of his eyes.
I hand him to Katniss and she holds the baby, patting his back when my step-mother gasps, rushing towards us, and grabbing Katniss' hand to see the sparkling silver ring.
"Is this real?" Nat asks.
"Very real." I tell her with a smile. She had known I would be proposing having given me her engagement ring during Thanksgiving.
That night causes for a huge celebration for our family and for Katniss officially being welcomed to the big fan fare as the aunts, cousins and sister in laws start pressing for details on the wedding which we haven't even spoken of yet, hoping to have a few weeks together before we're deciding on flowers and meals.
That night in the darkness of my old bedroom I can't sleep.
"Hey, you awake?" I whisper.
She nods and turns her head to look at me, her chin resting on my chest.
"How was it tonight?"
"It was wonderful."
"So maybe next year could we go and watch the carolling?" I ask with a smile.
"We'll have to wait and see what happens."
We marry in the fall 9 months later. We didn't want to be engaged for years and had a very low key ceremony on a property of my business partner. We married under tea lights and fairy lights with a celebrant officiating just before sunset. Katniss wore a simple lacy white dress that hugged her curves and the swell of her pregnant belly where our daughter was slowly growing.
We danced the night under the big marquee tent that Katniss insisted have fairy lights decorating the room, telling me there was nothing prettier than the light of fairy lights.
"Peeta." Katniss says during one of our dances.
She grabbed my hands and guided them to her stomach.
"She kicked." She tells me with a smile. We had been waiting for the first time we could feel her and in that moment, under the light of a thousand fairy lights I could feel my daughter move for the first time.
My hands never left her belly for the rest of the night, even when we lay under the covers of the bed in the hotel we were staying in.
The first of December I chose to decorate our bedroom so Katniss didn't have to lower herself to the ground of our living room.
I found her in our daughter's nursery a few days before Christmas. She had been on maternity leave since the beginning of December and spent this time nesting. I'd come home for the day and find her refolding the onesies, sleep suits and blankets she had already washed three times.
She was overdue by two days and with the doctors not too worried about the baby, Katniss was going crazy wishing our daughter was here. She was over the pregnancy part and ready for the parent part.
It didn't take her much convincing to agree to have a baby. The trip back home after Christmas was when she told me she wanted kids. A friend's wedding in Vermont lead to a drunken weekend which ended up in a surprise pregnancy. Despite our shock we knew it was better being now than never.
Katniss sat on the floor surrounded in baby things. A sea of pink and white after our friends and family went overboard at the baby shower. Even myself having bought a few too many cute outfits she'd grow out of in the blink of an eye.
"What you up to?" I ask her.
She looks up and back down at the pile.
"I'm going crazy. I've never had this much time off and I just want something else to do rather than folding clothes and remaking her cot ten billion times a day. I can't sleep because she keeps doing somersaults and I'm bored of the TV already. Can't we go for a walk or something? The doctor said walking was good."
"He did. He also said sex could bring on labour." I smirk.
"I'm too much of a whale."
"You are not. We don't have to have sex, maybe a little bit of fooling around. It's going to be a while before we can have sex again."
"You're lucky my hormones are going crazy. Because I really want to fuck your brains out but I also want double chocolate chip cookies and some pizza with lots of chilli and pineapple." She says almost conflicted. "Stupid hormones." She curses.
I cock my head to the side and smile. "Need a hand?"
She nods and sets the baby clothes into the washing basket and I help her to her feet. She wears a black tank top that barely covers over her belly button that now sticks out. It shows off her olive skin that isn't covered with her yoga pants that ride low on her hips. I touch her belly with my hand, knowing all too well that I'm going to miss her belly when our daughter is here.
Katniss' bump is smaller than most full term women I've seen, especially those in the doctor's office just the other day during Katniss' check-up. A woman who was due to have her third asked how far along we were and when Katniss told her she was full term the woman didn't believe us, thinking Katniss was no further than 30 weeks. The bump was small and perfect and the doctor wasn't too concerned about the size, noting the baby was fine.
"Hey baby girl, I hope you're going to be making an appearance soon. You're sending you're momma crazy." I tell the bump, pressing a kiss to the place that sticks out the most. "Let me take you to bed Momma."
It's late in the night when Katniss shakes me awake telling me her waters have broken.
"Where's your hospital bag?" I ask her, throwing on my jeans.
"In the closet. I haven't finished packing it yet."
"Peeta, calm down. It's just a couple of things. You go grab the bag and the car seat and I'll grab the things."
I nod to confirm and race to the closet near the entrance finding the duffle bag. The car seat is in the nursery and I race back to find Katniss clutching the duvet between her hands.
"How close together are they?"
"8 minutes I think."
I nod remembering all the advice I read and was told by the midwives. We weren't too far from the hospital either and with it being late at night, I'd be able to drive there with no hassles or delays despite the holiday season approaching.
A pile of clothes sits in front of Katniss and a toiletries bag. I throw them in the bag not caring about the neatness and help Katniss into warm clothes. She steps into her slippers and I help her with her jacket.
"We're having a baby." I say.
"We're having our baby." She smiles.
We arrive home Christmas Eve, Katniss having delivered our daughter the day before. With the doctors deeming baby and mom healthy we were going home with our precious bundle Ivy. Ivy was born at 7 am. She had blue eyes and dark hair. A nose that belonged to her mother and tiny fingers and toes.
We step down the hallway to our apartment that evening, the baby strapped soundly in her car seat. I open our front door and let her step inside first with the car seat and our daughter. I follow with her bag. We hadn't had any visitors, telling our family and friends we wanted this time to bond with our daughter.
Katniss unbuckles Ivy from the car seat carefully. The baby not making a peep.
"This is your home Ivy. I hope you like it baby girl."
Katniss shows her around our apartment and I know I'd want to move out of the city into a bigger house and a backyard for Ivy to run around in.
It's after I've ordered us some dinner when I move into our bedroom. Katniss laying on our bed with Ivy beside her. Ivy still sound asleep but Katniss watching the Christmas lights that decorated our room with a big smile on her face. I lay beside Ivy and watch the lights like I have the past couple of years and feel happier than ever before.
When Ivy finally opens her eyes, the flickering of the lights catches her attention and while she nurses she falls asleep to the lights changing around her.
And even on New Years Eve when Katniss and I are exhausted and in bed before the countdown, Ivy curled on my chest we watch the lights. The lights calming us down after a stressful week of getting used to our newborn. When it's been 2am and Ivy is resisting her sleep, Katniss finds the soothing sight of the lights her comfort while she comforts our daughter.
It's this year, our first year as parents when we know that our traditions have been set for our daughter and the other kids we will welcome. It's something so familiar and inviting, I know Katniss finally feels at peace at celebrating Christmas with her new family.
The next year we repeat our motion but with Ivy nearly one, we decorate the living room instead and I find some fairy lights to string around her nursery. I come home from work each afternoon with Ivy and Katniss laying on the couch watching the lights. After bedtime, we read to Ivy in the living room, the lights giving off the calming, relaxing vibe and Ivy doesn't fight her sleep. She falls asleep under the Christmas lights.
On the year Ivy turns 5, she jumps on our bed on the first of December.
"Is it time to put up the Christmas lights yet?" She asks me.
Katniss groans and rolls over, after having a bad night with our 8 week old daughter.
"It is." I tell her. "Are you going to help me?"
"Yes but not Paddy. He's too young to help. He'll tangle to lights." She says referring to her two year old brother. "Also Stella is too young also. I'm the only one capable of the task at hand."
"Well, if you're a good girl at preschool we'll put the lights up this afternoon. Deal?"
When I walk through the door a little after four, Katniss is doing her best to soothe Stella and entertain Patrick at the same time while Ivy sits colouring in. I take Stella from her, kissing her softly on the lips.
"Was she good today?" I ask Katniss as she picks up Patrick.
"Her teacher said she was excellent." She replies with a small smile. "These two on the other hand though, it would have been nice to have Ivy home to help me."
"You could say that." She says with a sad smile.
"Well I have something that will cheer you up." I remind her. "I'll keep them entertained if you want an hour to yourself?"
"Will you be right?"
"I'll put Stell in her swing and recruit Ivy and Paddy to help me out. Go lie down. I'll call you if I need you."
She's disappeared upstairs and with Stella in her swing and the box of Christmas lights ready, Ivy and Paddy are recruited in helping me hooking the lights to the hooks I had put up last year.
On Christmas Eve, after a drive around town, checking out the other houses Christmas displays is when we come home. Our three babies dressed up in Christmas pyjamas ready for bed. We know Ivy will fight to remain awake as long as she can in hopes of seeing Santa but we have a trick up our sleeve.
It's when we sit on the couch, cuddling together as a family of five before bedtime is when our kids fall asleep to the soothing sight of the changing lights. Stella is sound asleep against Katniss' chest and we know we should move the kids to bed but it's these moments we cherish, being wrapped up on the couch under blankets, in front of the fire and under the thousands of Christmas lights with our snoozing children when we know life is perfect.
Katniss who has had her doubts about Christmas, embraces the season with open arms. Like embracing her children running towards her full of joy and happiness and love and warmth. It's the time of year she glows and I see her smile the biggest during the month of December. I see her smile even wider on Christmas morning when our children see the gifts left under the tree and she knows it's the most magical time of year. I see her light up, as bright as the stars in the sky and she shines, making my world bright, shiny and wonderful. I love her more every day when I know how much she loves her new family and knows that no matter the loves that left her before, she's found the people to fill the gaps and know life can be spectacular.
Even if it's a few Christmas lights, cheese buns, hot chocolate and your loves. It's enough to convince you that despite the loss and the doubts, you can recreate a holiday and fall in love all over again.
"It doesn't get any better than this." I whisper to Katniss.
"Under the Christmas lights, my favourite place. It's safe. It's warm. It's here where I love you."
Katniss never gave up on the idea of Christmas, it just got buried deep in her soul waiting for the moment someone came around, made her believe again and dug the feeling back up and since then, she's never lost the will to celebrate Christmas when it's so true in her heart now. It's engraved in her soul, never to be lost again. Especially when she has so much to be thankful for and three little souls who make every day Christmas. They make her warm, loved and joyful. Just like her parents made her feel years before. A few simple lights and she's come back fighting stronger than ever before.
A few Christmas lights, a recreation of a childhood tradition and my Katniss has fallen in love again with that feeling, a love she'll never let go.