Summary: On the night following the day on the roof, Katniss wonders about the impossible.
Warnings: Catching Fire spoilers.
Oneshot. Set during Catching Fire. Written for Prompts in Panem 2012.
AO3 - FFN
“I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now, and live in it forever.”
The words play over in my mind; I can’t make them stop. Next to me, Peeta shifts in his sleep and seems to let out a sigh. Probably from contentment, though I can’t be sure. We always sleep better when we’re together, and the day we had just spent had actually been a nice one. Blissful even, compared to all the ones before it and the ones to come after.
I don’t blame him for having happy dreams. Before I woke up, I had actually been sleeping soundly myself. My dream had also been a happy one, of another day far away from here. One with no Hunger Games looming over my head, haunting my every action.
An impossible day.
I’m not sure what woke me up. For once, I know it wasn’t the nightmares. But now that I am awake, I can only replay the events of the day over and over again, and Peeta’s comment in particular stands out to me. Here in the dark, I can’t help wondering how that would work; what would happen. Would we stay there on the roof, living in a bubble that time itself would be unable to touch? And would we never do anything again except laze around with my head in Peeta’s lap as he played with my hair? Or could we go on living our lives into eternity in that unsullied haven, with no one but each other to control us?
But it’s a pointless thing to wonder about, and I’m not even sure why I can’t shake the idea from my mind. I normally don’t even like to consider this kind of thing; it seems completely pointless to wonder what could have been, so why bother? I breathe out, as though doing so will somehow also expel the idea from my brain. As I do so, my eyes lock with Peeta’s. So he’s awake now as well.
“Did you have a nightmare?” he asks me. I shake my head.
“No, of course not. I would have known.” He studies me for a moment. “So why are you awake?”
As I look at him, thinking of how to respond, I can’t help a shy smile that spreads across my face. “I guess I was just thinking about today.”
I’m not sure why I said it. While it may be technically true, I know it’s not what’s really been keeping me up.
It’s Peeta’s turn to grin. “It was a good day, wasn’t it?” I nod.
“If only…” and now those blue eyes of his go from playful to wistful in an instant as he looks at me as though trying to decide something. I have a feeling I know what it is he’s thinking, so I just go ahead and say it.
“If only we could have another one like it.”
He nods and says nothing. We stay locked in a thoughtful gaze for a while, then Peeta reaches out and gently strokes the hair away from my face. “Katniss…” he begins. And I don’t know why, but I really don’t want to hear what he has to say next.
“No,” I say, and lock my hand around his arm, my eyes dropping to a spot between our bodies.
“What?” he asks, clearly concerned. I don’t have any way of explaining to him how I don’t want to hear him go on about the future I’m not planning on having, so instead I just shake my head. “Don’t say it.”
I look up at him, catching his intense gaze. Peeta says nothing, letting his stare speak for him. Even without words, he is able to communicate amazingly. I don’t break my eyes away now, and neither does he. It’s as though time really has disappeared all around us. And after a moment, the small space between us disappears as well.
“Katniss,” Peeta breathes when we finally pull back a moment later, his lips grazing against my own as he does so. I keep my eyes closed, not wanting to open them and let the world back in, ruining this moment and bringing me back to sensibility. But just as it has all my life, reality forces itself on me anyways.
“I’m sorry,” Peeta says, drawing away from me suddenly. “I’m sorry,” he repeats again; his voice loaded with shame. “I shouldn’t have done that.”
But I’m not mad at him. In fact, if anything I want to reach out and bring his lips back to meet mine. For this one, brief moment, everything seems clear to me. Maybe this is what we would do if we had one more day together. Maybe we would finally work through all the confusion, and find our way to each other, for real this time.
What would be the use, even if we could, though? So we would have one more day together, and maybe we would spend that time behaving in the way we have been for the camera, but this time only for each other. Maybe I would finally tell Peeta what I know he’s been longing to hear from me all his life. But what would it change? In the end, it would only be one more day. We would still be heading into the arena not long after that. We would still only be prolonging the inevitable. We would only be making this whole thing worse than it already is.
So perhaps it’s best that this time now is all that we have; that I remain as withdrawn in my affections as ever. That I don’t make losing me worse for him than I already know it’s going to be.
And even now, the urge to reach after Peeta has disappeared. I watch as he settles away from me, his expression pained. This is for the best, I repeat to myself. And yet… and yet, I don’t want to see him like this. So after a moment, I move back to him and rest my head on his chest, listening to the steady beating of his heart. And after another moment, I feel his arms wrap around me, again enveloping me in that warmth that is the only thing that wards off the nightmares. Soon he’s fallen back asleep, and I watch him as he snores gently.
We can’t have another day; the ones we do have are numbered. And if I play my cards right, maybe Peeta'll even one day know the impossible day from my dreams. But these few, precious remaining days are all I have left, and I need to make them count.