Like A Sound Caught In My Throat
001. Yes. (Katniss/Peeta. Post Mockingjay. Disputing the, "Okay, Peeta, let's have a baby!" and then bam!, Katniss-is-pregnant scenario.)
She finally tells him 'yes' to having children of their own, and it takes them a year before the possibility of a 'no' really etches into their scarred and smooth skin. Katniss is at first hesitant about seeking outside help – she'd had enough doctors for a lifetime or two – but she knows the Capitol fertility treatment is successful without any negative life-altering side effects. They ask specifically for a female doctor and make her swear not to leak any of their private details to the public. The tabloid press doesn't hear a sound, and only Katniss and Peeta's closest friends do.
The shots hurt and Peeta hates giving them to her, but his talented painter fingers are as steady as any doctor's. She gains five pounds, and throws up all the time, and when Haymitch asks her if she's pregnant she goes stony and walks out of his house so she won't throw something or break down and cry.
It takes another six months, and after her last two years of being make a baby make a baby make a baby, Katniss is relieved when there's one inside her and the drugs can stop and she can be herself again. Peeta is gloriously happy, but doesn't make much of an effort to treat Katniss differently, for which she's grateful. All people do is talk to her about her growing belly and baby names and nursery colours and not-so-quietly speculate whether she, with her bouts of depression and Peeta's fits of unawareness, would be safe enough parents.
So it's nice when Peeta find her in their garden, in the meadow, in their bakery, in their bedroom, wraps his arms around her waist and sees with his blue eyes only her, and knows that the answer as to whether they can do this is undoubtedly 'yes'.
002. Love/Hate/Welcome Me. (Gale/Katniss. Post-Mockingjay. Peeta never returns to District 12.)
Katniss find Gale in District 2, shuffling paperwork at his desk in an office that was ridiculously easy to find. Her hair's so short that it doesn't hang below her ears, so it's only when she walks right up to his desk that Gale notices her.
"I thought you were banned from visiting other districts," is the first thing he says to her, agape in a freshly ironed uniform.
She fiddles with the hem of the fine chiffon purple skirt Annie bought her as a birthday present. She's nervous. "I sneak out sometimes," she says simply.
Gale puts down his paperwork. Katniss remembers reading in one magazine that Gale was dating a supermodel, and feels out of step. She was never girly, never good at flirting (or begging, or admitting she was sorry.) But then she thinks of how no one came back for her, and how Haymitch can't look at her most days because all he sees is his loneliness mirrored.
"I don't think I hate you," she tells Gale, and buys him lunch with the money she's earned from working at the pharmaceutical factory set up in 12 two years after it all ended. She wants to tell him that she'd like to punch his mouth and kiss it better, but thinks it won't come out right.
They have sex back at his apartment and Katniss kisses and fucks him with all the anger at everyone who though leaving her behind was a good idea. The second time, he kisses her with such force that she can't help but think that to him, she was only left behind physically, and she gently cools into cinders.
The next year, Gale asks her to come to Plutarch's annual Christmas party with him. She declines, takes herself, impresses everyone with the idea that she's sane enough to construct pleasant conversation and hold a job.
Gale holds her hand like she's his secret and he wants people to know.
After being locked away and banished for three years for doing what was right, being someone's secret is like a welcome mat she can place her loss-covered boots beside and dance over in the night.
It wasn't who she needed. She knew long ago she didn't need anyone but herself.
But she wants him, and it's a welcoming feeling.
003. Lost in Paradise. (Madge/Katniss, as District 12 was bombed in Catching Fire.)
She runs with her heart in her mouth. Her fingers bleed and the ground is unstable as the bombs hit. Her father was crushed by their dining room table. Her mother's last scream was for her to run. Madge watches as Gale yells at Prim to keep running towards him as she stumbles through the town's square. Prim makes it in time.
In District 12, the clock strikes midnight. The gamemakers have decided this quell was too boring without Katniss screaming for Peeta Mellark, too boring when Katniss has been taken out of her arena. So they've set up a new one. The Hob is a desecrated cornucopia, ablaze and affright. The bombs will make the ratings go through the roof.
And Madge, she runs. She runs alone. Her lover's actions taste like the ash and smoke, choking her. It's just as the first time she kissed her Seam girl, all tongue-tied and coughing when she tried to explain why. It's all hot like when Katniss came back from the arena and jealously made Madge the girl on fire. The bombs are all wrong, like Madge and Katniss because girls are meant to marry boys, and surely a husband who's heavy handed was always going to be a better alternative to a girl who's scowl you could smooth away with a touch of your finger on her lips, her thighs, her undeniable lips.
She runs as the flames begin to lick at her heels like her long-dead puppy, and wonders if she'll hear the gong announcing her death before she feels it.