Prompt: Katniss and Peeta throw a New Year’s Eve party, but Peeta insists all the decorations should be DIY. That’s fine for an artist like Peeta, but Katniss doesn’t have a crafty bone in her body. [submitted by @hutchhitched]
“Why don’t we just do them by hand?”
Of course Peeta would suggest something like that, the smug idiot. He who brought cookies, pastries, and cakes that looked like they belonged in a museum and not on their old, wooden table.
But, obviously, the kids loved the idea. They were all excited about it, just because of what Katniss had done for them on Christmas, or actually, what she had instructed them to do, because she doesn’t have even one crafty bone in her body.
“Can we do that, Miss Katniss?” Little Abigail asked.
“We can do stars again!” Malcolm exclaimed.
“No, we did that for Christmas; this is New Year,” Patty explained as if she was a teacher herself, although she had just turned 8.
Peeta looked extremely pleased with himself as he witnessed the excitement growing in the children’s faces. When he turned to see Katniss, though, he realized he might be in for some sulky days.
“Okay, why don’t you all go brush your teeth and then think about it while in bed? Tomorrow we can discuss it and see what we can come up with so that all can participate. Alright?”
A chorus of ‘Yes, Miss Katniss’ was heard, and the older ones quickly guided the youngest toward the bathroom area.
“You,” Katniss pointed at Peeta, “outside.”
“Outside,” she said through clenched teeth.
Peeta followed with the same excitement as a man who was walking to the gallows. He just didn’t understand why Katniss was so furious.
“Are you insane? Handmade decorations for a New Year’s party?!”
“And why not? You did the same on Christmas-”
“I bought wooden ice cream sticks and made the kids paint them with the colors that were about to be thrown away. Peeta…you know we can’t just spend money like this! Even less this year with the pandemic going around; you’re just giving them illusions-”
“Isn’t this the age for exactly that? Illusions? They’re kids, Katniss, and they’ve already had a very rough year. Why not allow them to be happy for just a little while?”
“You think I haven’t tried? You think-”
“I know you’re doing your best!” He started to raise his voice because, really, there was no way to win an argument against Katniss Everdeen, but he was going to try. “But Katniss, don’t you remember being that age? Don’t you remember having that same illusion of Santa coming down the chimney and leaving a present for you or wanting to stay up to see the fireworks when the clock struck twelve on New Year?”
Katniss looked away, only because she was pissed about him being right. She had had that when her father had been alive, but she quickly had to trade her illusion for a cold, hard dose of reality.
“Christmas is easier than New Year’s. You’ll have to come up with something because I’m going to be very busy,” Katniss mumbled with her arms crossed, still not looking at him.
“I thought they were going to give you time off?” Peeta was confused.
“They told us they would pay extra if anyone wanted to work on the 31st and 1st, so I’m going to do it.”
“I already had time off for Christmas.”
Peeta knew he had no right to keep on bothering her about it, but he really wished Katniss would learn to just let loose sometimes, even if he knew how badly she needed the money.
“Okay, alright. I’ll take care of it.” He went to wrap his arms around her waist, but she was still miffed.
“Just because we have sex doesn’t mean I’m your girlfriend.”
“This is just me trying to apologize to my friend. It wouldn’t matter if we had sex or not.”
Katniss scoffed but didn’t move, so Peeta considered it a victory.
°•. ✿ .•°
Panem Orphanage was a place Peeta held close to his heart, if not because it was actually nice, because it was his refuge for years whenever his mother beat the crap out of him.
He first discovered it when a young girl of probably 12 years old offered him a wet rag while he was sitting on the sidewalk.
“You can clean up inside.”
That sole act of selfless kindness made Peeta cry. The girl was surprised and uncomfortable and all but dragged him inside a room and locked them in.
She never called a grown-up.
She never asked him to stop crying.
She never made fun of him for it.
Peeta fell in love.
Anytime he got hit, he returned to the orphanage and looked for the girl with the braid, Katniss.
He found out she had lost her father at 11 and ended up in the orphanage when her mother was admitted to the asylum. Apparently, losing her husband had been too much and she had disconnected from reality, forgetting her two minor daughters for a whole year before CPS had discovered Katniss working and had taken matters into their hands.
Katniss and her sister, Prim, were then welcomed into the orphanage, which was ironic, as their father had been a resident in his childhood years.
Apparently, Graham had been abandoned as a baby and had lived in Panem Orphanage his whole life up until he reached the legal age. This, however, never put him down as he was always remembered as a kind, helpful, skillful, and positive man. He learned the carpenter trade from the previous orphanage director, Haymitch, and made it his form of living. He was incredibly talented and opened his own shop in a few years.
From then on it was like a fairy tale story. He met the daughter of a rich family that made a commission to his shop; she left everything behind to be with him; they had two beautiful daughters together, and then, as if Disney had something to do with it, his shop caught on fire. Because he had been with his daughters, he had taken one outside and then went back for the other. Graham died from fumes intoxication three days later.
All of this he had heard from different people in the orphanage and finally, the last part from Katniss herself, a very drunk Katniss.
To be fair, they’d both been very drunk. Peeta had snuck out some of his mother’s liquor, and Katniss had done the same with Haymitch’s not-so-secret stash. They were celebrating her 16th birthday and the fact that Prim had been adopted, which was great, but her new family was taking her overseas. Her new parents had been fully screened and were wonderful people, already with two other adopted children.
It was the first time Peeta saw Katniss cry.
It was also the first time they kissed.
Somehow, things had progressed since that night.
What could he say? They were young and healthy.
Katniss had seemed very surprised that Peeta liked her, but she never let him tell her more than that. He understood she was afraid of those kinds of feelings, so he let it go.
Peeta got to do with Katniss everything he would do with a girlfriend. Everything, except for holding hands, kissing, or demonstrating his love in public.
The first time they did it had been the day Peeta moved out of his mother’s house. They definitely had to celebrate grandly as he was finally free of ‘the witch’s claws’, as Katniss used to say. It had started as always, but Katniss had wanted to stay clothed, which was, to say the least, ridiculous. Turns out, she was embarrassed by her scars; the rough and pinkish skin that had healed from the fire, she thought it made her ugly.
Peeta didn’t care.
Every time they were together, he made sure to worship all of her, which sometimes exasperated Katniss, but she did enjoy it, he could tell. It was only when they were alone behind closed doors or in a hotel room that she let all of her walls crumble down and let him see her.
This had been going on for more than 10 years, and neither seemed ready to call it quits. Katniss always told Peeta he was free to leave, but he was not planning on it anytime soon.
Peeta had managed to get a job in a pastry shop and had been so good at it that the owner offered to pay for his education and welcomed Peeta as a son. He was now a partner, and their shop was the most popular in town.
Every month, Peeta brought a huge cake to celebrate the birthday of all the children born within that span of time. He was, of course, incredibly popular with the young ones and Miss Effie had, from the very start, welcomed Peeta as one more of her children; they were all their own little, broken family.
°•. ✿ .•°
Katniss was actually not a teacher, but she had taken care of so many kids since she had first come to the orphanage that everyone called her ‘Miss Katniss’.
Any person who met her would call her rude, boring, or impolite, but to anyone who took two minutes to actually know her, they would see that Katniss had more warmth than anyone in Panem.
She was the one who made sure everyone ate lunch and also decided who didn’t get dessert because they were naughty that day. She was hard but fair and, apparently, kids loved her for it.
It wasn’t always rainbows, of course, as there were really tough days, but she managed to rally through them, putting all the children to bed with her customary phrase ‘Goodnight, my queens of Monaco, my kings of New England.’
Katniss was never adopted, but she had remained inside the orphanage as Effie and Haymitch offered her her own room the day she came of age.
She studied software development because she knew it was something that would provide good money in the long run. Although she didn’t earn a huge salary, yet, she was always willing to help in any way she could: buying groceries, painting the roof, fixing pipes and chairs. She was an awesome big sister to all, and even a role model of what a mother should be to many.
°•. ✿ .•°
Peeta never understood why Katniss didn’t realize her own worth.
What she had done for the children on Christmas was what had actually inspired him to suggest the DIY New Year’s crafting.
For days he’d witnessed how Katniss made the little ones paint ice cream sticks in whatever colors they wanted and then taught them how to paste them together into two triangles in order to finally put the triangles together and make a star.
“I need you to come with me to the mall,” she had told him on December 20th.
Peeta had agreed, of course, and they had taken the kids in groups of 20 that whole day, together with a couple of older kids of 15 or 16 to keep them together.
Katniss had then stood in line for them to take a free picture with Santa Claus. When the kids realized they were going to sit on the knees of Father Christmas they all squealed and screamed in joy.
One of the shop attendants had seen what Katniss was doing and given a somewhat annoyed look, and when they had returned with the second group, she went to call on a manager.
“Miss, this is a free picture per kid.”
“Yes, so? Each kid is getting one picture and 2 minutes with Santa Claus as your ad says.”
“Yes…It’s just that this is supposed to be per family. If you want to bring all of your cousins or something, you’d have to pay.”
Peeta smiled when he remembered the way the store manager had visibly cowered under Katniss’ glare.
It was beautiful.
Katniss had recited, from memory, each rule for the Santa Claus promotion to the manager and anyone who would listen. She wasn’t cheating, and she made herself heard.
“These are my kids. If you’re going to forbid them from getting their free picture and time with Santa or charge me, I’ll bring the police.”
The manager apologized, and they ended up returning three more times, only to spite him as Katniss split the last group into ten and ten.
Later that night, she had pasted all of the pictures to the respective stars every kid had made. She bought gift paper and single-handedly wrapped every present, even for the kids who were old enough to know Santa was just a man with a rented suit and a fake beard. Effie had taken care of the decorations around the classrooms and hallways; Haymitch had promised to stay sober, and Peeta, of course, cooked for the occasion.
Christmas Eve had been magical. Every kid received a present and saw their own star hanging from the tree. Everyone was seated around the table that Katniss’ dad, himself, had carved for the orphanage. Lots of the furniture around the place had Graham’s trademark on it. They were sturdy and made from durable wood; Katniss had once told him she felt closer to her dad in Panem.
Bringing his thoughts back to the present, he browsed for ideas for New Year’s DIY crafts.
°•. ✿ .•°
It was 8pm, just after dinner, and all children were getting ready for bed. Peeta had, again, cooked the food but also prepared confetti poppers made out of toilet paper tubes. The kids had been incredibly happy, and the older ones had helped the younger ones in making them during the week. Katniss didn’t even peep out a complaint, so Peeta thought it was a huge success.
Katniss asked the children to gather in the living room before going to sleep, and Peeta noticed her carrying a huge box which looked heavy. He offered to take it for her, but she refused.
Almost every kid was tired from the festivities, and even if a lot of them wanted to stay up until midnight, they already knew most wouldn’t make it.
“I’m sorry that I’m interrupting bedtime, but I thought you might like these.” Katniss took out a small, wooden plaque from the box. It had a red string at the top and resembled a house. “These are called Ema, very common in Japanese culture. It is said that you should write your dreams and hopes for the upcoming year and leave it for the gods to read.”
“Did you do these, Miss Katniss? Like what your daddy did?” Brenda asked with a smile on her face.
Peeta could see the flicker of pain in Katniss’s eyes, for she rarely spoke much about her father, but she did enjoy telling the children what a talented craftsman he had been.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be as talented as my daddy, Brenda, but yeah, I did these myself for you. Not exactly a DIY you guys could do as the cutting machine is very dangerous, but I hope you enjoy them all the same.“
Everyone was excited about writing their hopes for 2021. Soon, one could see wooden plates hanging around the living room with misspelled sentences or barely recognizable vowels, although also long wishes, as that of Annie and Finnick, who were both leaving for college soon and wished to remain together.
Peeta didn’t think he could fall harder for Katniss, but then he did.
She claimed to be cold and hard and difficult, but here she had given everyone a part of herself, of her past, had laid bare her pain to give them something that reflected so much on who the man who’d educated her had been.
“Here, I made one for you, too.” Peeta noticed his had a small carving of a loaf of bread at the bottom, and he smiled.
°•. ✿ .•°
“Happy New Year, Katniss.”
“Happy New Year, Peeta.”
“Did you write anything on your ema?”
“Nothing too amazing, just for Prim to be safe and healthy.”
“I wrote on mine, too, look.” He pointed at his plaque, and Katniss walked over to read.
She had expected to find something between the lines of healthiness for everyone or the like, but Peeta’s wish was something she had never even dared to dream about.“
I wish that, someday, I’ll be able to marry Miss Katniss and have a family with her.
“W-What…? Wait. What do you mean?”
“Exactly as it says.”
“Are you insane?! Me? Why me of all people? You deserve better, Peeta Mellark!”
“And you put this on display? Everyone will know now!”
“Katniss, the only one that doesn’t know I love you is you.”
“B-But you…you can’t. You can’t love me. This thing we have-”
“I love you; I’ve been in love with you since before I even understood I liked girls. And no matter how stubborn or difficult or annoying or crazy you are, I still love you. So prepare yourself, Everdeen,” he hugged her close to him and, for once, Katniss didn’t push him back, even if anyone could easily walk in on them, “I won’t stop until I get a ring on your finger.”
He thought he might have heard her sniff, but he couldn’t be sure.
“You won’t succeed…,” she whispered, but without any real anger in her words, so Peeta allowed himself a huge grin.
“I have all the time in the world. Many more years, in fact. Even when my hair goes gray, I will be here; I’ll stay.”