I wake up screaming.
Breathing hard, I sit up in my bed. The sun is shining through my window making everything too bright and I have to shield my eyes from it.
I swing my legs over the side of my bed and stand up.
When a stinging sensation flashes through the flat of my foot I give a breathy shriek and crawl back ontop of my bed to inspect it.
It is covered with bandages, and blood has almost soaked through it.
How did I get this? I don't remember.
But when his laugh float up the stairs, through my bedroom air, and into my ears it all comes crashing down on me.
The town. The sunset. The bonfire. The apology. The boot. The knife. The arms. The moon.
I strain my ears to hear his voice again, my heart squeezing tight with feeling.
He's talking and Greasy Sae is laughing.
This time I stand on my good foot and holding onto the wall I hop my way to the door.
The laughter stops as I accidentally make a particularly loud hop onto the creaky wood floors.
"Katniss?" Peeta asks. "You want some help?"
I'm standing at the top of the staircase now, looking down at the two of them as they look up at me from the kitchen. Peeta's blonde hair is striking compared to Greasy Sae's dark complexion.
I nod sheepishly.
Peeta quickly scales the staircase and just like last night, I am in his arms again.
He carries me like I'm a thin piece of glass that he can crush with one wrong move.
He sets me down carefully in a chair and sits across from me.
We meet each other's eyes and then flick them away quickly all during breakfast.
Peeta and Greasy Sae talk smoothly, and the old cook asks me questions about my foot which I answer calmly. I'm sure my accident is what she and Peeta were laughing about earlier.
When Peeta and I finish our plates, we put them in my sink together. I scrub very slowly so I can stand on one foot beside him for the longest period of time.
His shoulders are mere inches from mine as we face the same direction and rinse the last plate.
Peeta gives a sigh and smiles at me. When he looks like he's about to leave I try to say something to make him stay.
"Wait! Uh...could you show me your bakery today?"
He gives me a quizzical look. "Oh, sure. But there's still just a foundation up. Not too exciting."
"Well... I wanted to see more of the town. Could you show me?"
He laughs and nods. "Okay, Katniss," as if he knows I'm pulling things out of thin air.
We walk around the city circle side by side for a long time. Peeta points out what buildings will eventually become shops and which ones will be warehouses. When we come to his bakery-in-progress, I stare up at the beams that will form the roof.
"It's smaller than the last one." I say quietly.
"We used to live above it. There were five of us then. With only me, well...I don't need that much space."
I stop. "You're moving in when it's finished?"
Peeta turns and looks at me. "That was my initial plan, yes."
"Oh." I keep walking and Peeta falls into step beside me.
"Something wrong?" He asks.
"Were you planning to move out because it was difficult living beside me?"
We're walking through a large group of people and food vendors now, and we have to dodge a few running kids.
"In the beginning." He says.
We stop in the center, right before the bonfire pit gapes wide.
I remember last night.
"Katniss?" Peeta asks me quietly. I think because I have been staring off in the distance for a while.
He stands beside me. I flinch when he slips his hand into mine and squeezes.
"I won't be that far away. But if it bothers you that much...I can stay next door."
"That's stupid. If you've already started to build..."
Peeta rolls his eyes. "I told you. I'm not the same person that was in District Thirteen. I care about you now."
I look up at him. "You do?"
Peeta laughs. "Katniss I told you last night. I told you everything last night."
"I thought maybe...you were just saying those things..."
"I'm not a liar, Katniss. Not to you at least."
He brings his hand up to my cheek. His blue eyes look sad.
"I'm sorry I-"
"Don't say your sorry." I interrupt him. "The last thing I want you to do is apologize again." He stays quiet.
He has both hands on my face now. My entire being is nervous and alive.
"Can you not leave? Could you ...stay?" I ask it so shyly it doesn't sound anything like me.
He smiles sadly. But then I see a flicker of recognition in his face. I wonder if he'll say it.
After Peeta had finished showing me the town and some of the corn fields, he shows me some of the mines that collapsed during the Capitol's bombing. He explains that there are only a few mines left that didn't cave in. So the miners had to find other work. But it wasn't too hard to find, most of the miners began to till the ground to plant corn and other food.
Now, men and women come home smelling like fresh air and satisfication instead of coal dust and a relief at being alive.
Beyond the city circle, crop fields stretch on for a few miles or so, but the District plans on expanding.
We walk hand in hand back to my house, and when I ask him if he wants to come inside he says yes.
We release Bird in our living room and watch him fly and sing happily around the room. But it's harder to get him back inside his cage so Peeta has to lay a trail of seeds till we shut the door behind him once he's inside.
Once Bird is safely in hid cage I tell Peeta, "Dr. Aurelius wants to me to set him free."
"And are you going to?"
I shrug. "I guess I got used to hearing him sing."
Peeta looks out the living room window. "Summer is here. I love summer."
Then he turns to me. "Your favorite color is green?"
"Yes. And yours is orange." Peeta nods in agreement. I remember what he said before I fell asleep last night, about him calling me beautiful and a blush spreads onto my face.
I can tell Peeta is remembering too, because a soft grin spreads across his face.
I feel the need to say something so I say, "Thanks for showing me around the town today."
He walks over and shrugs when he's in front of me. "It was time for you to see it. Instead of spending all your time in solitude."
"I like solitude. I can think when I'm alone."
Peeta thinks I mean to tell him it's time for him to leave, so he sighs and gives me a hug. I cherish every moment in his arms.
"It was nice seeing you today."
I grin against his shoulder. But I don't want him to leave so an old idea comes into my mind.
"Peeta? I have this idea that I was wondering if you could help me with it."
He lets me go. "Oh?"
"I was thinking...so many people we know have died." I stutter on that last word. "Maybe we could make something to make sure nobody could forget."
Peeta listens closely to my idea for the book. He says he would love to help, and he agrees to stay after breakfast tomorrow to start it.
After he leaves, the sun is setting and there isn't much to do so I just climb into my bed and impatiently wait for tomorrow.
The next morning, Peeta brings two giant baskets of cheesebuns and he laughs at my ecstatic expression at them.
"You remembered!" I say with a little too much enthusiasm. Peeta gives two whole rolls to Greasy Sae's granddaughter.
"I'm trying to remember everything." He says quietly. "I'll get there. Someday."
After breakfast Peeta pulls out a package that I hadn't seen him come in with.
"What is that?" I ask.
"Paper. I thought maybe you could use it."
Oh. Why didn't I think of that? It didn't even across my mind. Of course you need paper for something like this.
It's good paper too, not the flimsy stuff we used when we were in school.
"Where did you get this?"
"Dr. Aurelius sent it. I use some of it for my sketches. But this is much more important. Not quite enough for what you're thinking of though."
"That's alright." I say with a shrug. "It'll be a good start."
All day long we work on it. It's quiet between us until Peeta starts asking questions about our childhood.
It becomes comfortable between us and our conversation slowly but surely begins to flow smoothly.
He asks real or not real questions and I answer them as best I can.
We start with the less painful memories first. I start with my father, it fills me with nostalgia and hurt but it's old enough that I can brave through it.
I show Peeta the picture and he looks at it a long time, maybe he's trying to place the face.
After a while he says, "Oh yeah, I remember him singing."
Peeta binds the pages and I glue my fathers picture onto the first sheet and write a few words about him.
After we've worked for a few hours, Peeta looks up at me with a chuckle.
"I bet the night at the bonfire was quite a shock for you."
"It was beautiful." I say.
He looks confused at my answer.
"Well...the new city, it's great. And the stars were out, summer came. If only...I felt a little better." Peeta knows what I mean.
"One day things will be good again, Katniss. They can't be bad forever."
I shake my head and sigh. "I'm not quite so hopeful."
Peeta reaches over and rests his hand on mine. He's sitting cross legged on the floor across from me and leans forward. I think he might kiss me, but he doesn't, he just rests his forehead on mine.
"I promise you. Things will be good."
After that, Peeta packs his pencils and pulls me into another long hug. Peeta promises to stay again tomorrow while Bird sings a goodbye and I watch him walk back to his house from an upstairs window.