The next few days at the cabin go by in a blur. They took this time to catch up on things they have missed while apart. Peeta had told her that he had spoken to Darius before he came out to the cabin and exposed Delly's deception. She needed to talk to Darius and see what he planned on doing about it. They couldn't let that go unpunished. Could they? What kind of message will that send to the rest of the district? If a single merchant girl can drug someone and walk away unharmed, what's to say that others couldn't do the same. She shudders at the thought.

It was also a time of healing and getting reacquainted with one another. The one thing that was new were the nightmares, they would both get. His were always about losing her again; he would wake up paralyzed in fear but when he'd find her next to him, he would scoop her up in him arms, snuggle her close to him and things would be right with the world. Her nightmares where not so easy to overcome, with some he would be able to comfort her right away. But on the nights that they were about him and Delly, she would push him away feeling the renewed pain but she also felt guilt, knowing she was hurting him. He understood and once she'd calm down she would be right back in his arms.

They never had this much time alone together so there was a lot of making out, at all times throughout the day, every night and everywhere. It was getting harder to hold on to their promise of waiting for marriage and even though they would bring each other to completion, they hungered for more. There were a couple of times they almost give into their desire but either one or the other would pull away. It might seem silly to wait but they wanted to follow through on one thing they had agreed upon before everything had gone to hell. Still they were done waiting and planned on toasting as soon as the annulment came through.

On their last night at the cabin Peeta remembers Madge's note. Rye had put it in one of the zip up compartment in his backpack and he had completely forgotten about it. There had been so many other things that had kept him blissfully occupied. As he pulls out the envelope a strip of condoms falls out. Dammit Rye. He quickly shoves them back into his pack before Katniss could see them. He doesn't want her to think he was expecting something like that to happen. The envelope was pretty thick for being a note. He handed it to Katniss and she read it out load.

Dear Katniss & Peeta,

I hope you both find yourselves well and I'm so glad you have made up.

I was able to call in a favor with Effie Trinket and you would not believe how she gushed over your 'tragic star-crossed lover's story' her words not mine. She was tripping all over herself to help you two.

Let me tell you she can talk ones ear off. I actually feel sorry for Haymitch now. She was going on about coal and pearls and what not.

Anyway, I digress, we managed to put in a rush on the annulment and Peeta is a free man. As per Rye, Peeta is single and ready to mingle. We can't wait for the toasting.


Madge & Rye

P.S. I put in a little gift, wrap it up baby bro. RM

He rolled his eyes at Rye scribbled words. They go through the rest of the paperwork and sure enough it was a copy of his annulment request, approved and stamped with the capital seal. Madge must have done it the minute he submitted the paperwork. He's surprised that she would have gone out of her way for him. She hadn't spoken one word to him since the day after the aging out party. It must be because she and Katniss are friends. Well then, when they get back home he's going to thank her by baking her favorite pastry; strawberry turnovers.

"It looks like you will be Mrs. Mellark sooner than we thought. That is if you'll allow it?" Peeta asks. He gives her a crooked smile that dimpled one of his cheeks, the one that she loves so much. She could hear the tone of uncertainly in his voice, as if he believed she would actually change her mind and say 'no'.

She leaned into him "I'll allow it" she says and sealed it with a kiss.

In the morning she bagged several waterfowl to take back to the bakery. They will make for delicious roasted duck meat pies. She hummed as she collected eggs hidden in the grass for breakfast. Could it really have only been a week ago, that she had resigned herself to living a half life, a joyless life? Basically she had accepted to living a life without Peeta.

She laughed to herself thinking of all the gossip that is going on in the district. She and Madge were never gossipy but ever since Madge started dated Rye there really wasn't a way of avoiding it. He was worst then some of the girls. She is sure that Greasy Sae and Darius, who rival Rye in the rumor making department are having a field day at her expense.

She feels guilty now knowing how hurt Peeta had been a few weeks ago when he thought the rumors about her and Darius were true but a part of her, a very small part was secretly glad he got a little taste of what she had suffered for months. Overall though she's just glad they were given another chance at happiness and she's not going to give it up, especially now that she has Peeta's by her side again.

As he pulls their clean clothes from the dry line, he watches Katniss winding through the tall green grass hunting for duck eggs. He will be forever thankful that she welcomed him back into her life and now they will be getting married soon.

His mind wonders back to Delly. How did he not see the type of person Delly had become? How blinded by their childhood friendship was he, that he had not noticed the changes in her?

He remembers the sneers and smirks she had given him in the Justice Building upon seeing his distress while they where getting married. The whining to her parents when she didn't get her way. Then when they were married she would ridicule and taunt him every chance she got. After a while he didn't hold back either, two can play the asshole card.

Thinking back on it now, they had started growing part when he and Katniss began dating, at 16. They would constantly invite her to sit with them and Madge during lunch time or asked her to dinners and family gatherings but Delly would always refuse. After some time she started hanging around with a different group of friends, some of the snobbier merchants in town. On the day of the reaping party he had even invited her to their toasting and she seemed genuinely happy for them. Little did he know Delly was plotting his downfall that very night. Well, no matter. Katniss took him back and finally he could move on from that living nightmare he had endured.

One more obstacle he will have to overcome is Gale. He rubs the side of his jaw remembering the day Gale had decked him. It was a Sunday, the day after the reaping party and he was heading home after trying and failing to get Katniss to forgive him. He knew she wouldn't but he had to at least acknowledge what he thought he had done and to apologize for it.

"I knew it; I knew you two merchants weren't any better than the rest. I had warned Catnip and Thom but they wouldn't listen and now look were they are. Humiliated and heartbroken" then Gale took a wing at him and he didn't bother to dodge it, he deserved that and more.

"You had actually won me over bread boy. It had been hard to hate you but not anymore. Leave Katniss alone and tell that floozy Delly to stay away from Thom or I'll have Leevy take her down." Gale scuffed and walked away. He had been so distraught at the time that he didn't try to understand nor did he care why Gale had mentioned Thom that day.

After breakfast of duck eggs and boiled katniss tubers they help each other wash up at the lake. It took longer than usual because he had thrown her on a towel and devoured her with his mouth making her sing. Afterwards they cleaned up the cabin and headed on home dragging their haul behind them.

"How about a song?" he asks. He knows she doesn't like singing in front of other people but she'll usually allow it when it's just them because she knows how much he loves her singing.

"A song? What about?" She asks. Peeta and Prim are the only ones that can wheedle one out of her.

"Something happy" he said, wanting a song to go with his mood.

She racks her brain for a happy song and starts laughing. Peeta raises an eyebrow at her. It was on her mind this morning and he'll get it once she starts singing. She clears her throat and begins.

People are talkin', talkin' 'bout people

I hear them whisper, you won't believe it

They think we're lovers kept under covers

I just ignore it, but they keep saying

We laugh just a little too loud

We stand just a little too close

We stare just a little too long

Maybe they're seeing something we don't, darlin'

Let's give them something to talk about

Let's give them something to talk about

Let's give them something to talk about

How about love?

I feel so foolish, I never noticed

You'd act so nervous

Could you be falling for me?

It took a rumor to make me wonder

Now I'm convinced I'm going under

Thinking 'bout you every day

Dreaming 'bout you every night

Hoping that you feel the same way

Now that we know it, let's really show it, darlin'

He cracks up! Whether it's about them, her and Darius, or really anyone else in twelve, this song definitely describes their district. He grabs her braid and gives it a gentle tug. He remembers the rumors that had gone rampant in the district when they first started dating. There was the one where he had gotten her pregnant but his favorite was that Katniss had used her mother's healer's knowledge and brewed up some love potion that she would put in his tea with a lot of sugar to mask the taste.

They made it as far as the snare line that she shared with Gale and Rory when they hear a voice.

"I see she didn't finish you off, lover boy" they whip around as Gale materialized from behind some bushes. "At least half the district will be happy to know you're still alive" Gale said going up to Peeta and shaking his hand. "Glad to know I was wrong about one of you but Delly though" Gale said shaking his head. "I'd tell Thom to drop her, if it weren't for the baby." He turns to Katniss "you'd better make an honesty man out of him" he tells her.

"Why, what have they been saying?" she asks rolling her eye.

"Oh no, I just listen. Against my will mostly, Leevy can't seem to help herself. Anyway I'm sure Prim will be all too happy to tell you all about it. I'll catch you up later" Gale said and went off to finish checking the snare line.

As they make their way through the seam towards her house they were taken aback at the reaction of some of the people they come across. Some would clap as they walked by while others would smile and nodded at them. They actually seemed happy to see them back together.

Once they arrived to her house her mom and sister were not surprised to see Peeta with her. Prim ran up to him, gave him a big hug and asked when they plan on toasting. She gives her sister and incredulous look.

"Oh, come on Katniss, when Peeta didn't return the day he left, we figured you either shot him with an arrow or took him back" she said. "The most popular rumor has you feeding him to the flesh eaters outside the fence. Followed by the one where you turned him into your plaything" Prim laughs when she sees Katniss scowling at that one. Why is she the one always coming off as the bad one in these rumors?

"That last one sounds like something Rye would spread" Peeta said wiggling his eyebrows at her while she glares at them. She huffs and heads off to the kitchen leaving them to their gossip, her mother following closely behind.

"Are you still taking the medicine?" her mom asks. Lily Everdeen started treating Katniss with the same medication she used when she found out her oldest daughter was slipping into depression.

"No" she answers sheepishly. Ever since Peeta show up at the cabin she hasn't felt the need to use it. Her mom gives her a knowing smile.

"That's good, you will need to start taking the tea to prevent pregnancy and that other medicine will block out its effectiveness, you'll have to drink one cup every morning." Katniss feels her cheek grow hot but nods as her mom continues to give her 'the talk.'

She had noticed a change in her mother these pass few months. Lily was pleased that she had begun accepting her help instead of brushing it aside like she had been doing for years. She had also come to realize how much she missed and craved her mother's affection. So at least one good thing could be said about the terrible ordeal she had gone through. It helped to mend her relationship with her mother.

They left a good portion of her haul at home to trade in town and at the hob later. But they still had a lot and not wanting to seem like she was rubbing it in the peacekeepers faces they took the back streets and alleyways to get to the back of the bakery. The minute they entered the door Mrs. Mellark was ready to pounce on Peeta because he had been gone longer then she thought necessary. He showed her their haul, two fat wild turkeys, a half dozen waterfowl, rabbits, squirrels and wild vegetables; katniss tubers, wild onion, mushrooms and a handful of cooking herbs. She about squealed in delight actually hugged Katniss and then hurried off to clean the game. Making a mental calculation of the profit they'll make.

He goes upstairs to drop off his stuff leaving Katniss with his dad, who genuinely was happy to see her. Back at the cabin in a moment of weakness or more like post orgasmic bliss Katniss had actually let him sketch her naked saying it was for his eyes only and with a promise of inflicting bodily harm if anyone else saw it. So he was desperate to hide his sketchbook in his safe box. He couldn't afford to let Rye get his hands on it. He had a loose floor board under his bed where he kept his lockbox. He stashed his sketchbook in there, locked it and hid it away.

While Peeta headed upstairs Rye who had been tending to customer up front walks to the back of the bakery and gives her a big bear hug picking her off the ground ignoring her protest.

"Oh thank god, you here" he said placing her back down "Now Peeta will stop being such a moody asshole."

"Rye, give your brother a break, he had it rough. No thanks to us." Mr. Mellark said moving towards the store front to let them talk.

"Was it really that bad?" she asks him.

"At one point, he even wished he was dead." Rye said. Seeing the pained look on her face he adds quickly "Of course he was drunk out of his mind so I don't think he remembers." Hearing Rye say that makes her heart ache for Peeta.

"Darius said Cray's not going to charger her with anything" Rye continues "But we managed to show her that what she did was not going to be ignored."

"What did you do?" Peeta asked from the stairs startling them.

"The shoe shop got a makeover, come look" Rye tells them with a self satisfying grin on his face. Peeta grabs a hold of her hand pulling her towards the front of the bakery but instead of seeing the shoe shops new look she sees Delly and all the rage she had bottled up at the lake, came rushing back. Letting go of Peeta's hand she stalks out of the bakery. Hearing Rye say 'Oh this is going to be good' as they follow after her. Thom tries to intercept her first.

"Katniss, please I know…" Thom begins but she doesn't let him finish.

"Don't start" she pushes pass him. Delly puts her hands up, placating.

"Just let me explain, I think you of all people might actually be able to understand." Delly starts off.

"How in the hell would I possibly understand?" she yells "Can't you see all the lives you turned upside down? Peeta's most of all, he was your friend and you used him Delly."

"I just thought I was going to end up an outcast living out in the seam. Kind of like your mother. Not that it matters I'm an outcast now anyways" Delly says dejectedly.

"So you think that justifies what you did to Peeta and everyone else that was hurt in the process?" she asks incredulously. Delly just shrugs. "Are you for real?

"I messed up, I realized that now" Delly said lamely.

"Are you kidding me, messed up? Putting salt in his tea is messing up, putting drugs in his drinks is a crime Delly" she yells. Rye repeats what he had said in the bakery about Delly not being charged and without realizing it Delly smirked. She was pleased knowing that she had gotten away with something big without being personally punished for it. Her smile shocked the people around her except for maybe Peeta. He had lived with her long enough to know that she had a nasty side to her. A cruel side that found pleasure in seeing other peoples misery. If she wasn't happy she made sure no one around her was happy.

Thank goodness she doesn't have her bow on her because all Katniss could see was red. She steps forward before anyone could react and punches Delly so hard she'd see stars. She doesn't have time to do anything else because strong arms circle her waist and toss her over his shoulder.

"Come on tiger, you've made your point and have restored my honor" Peeta chuckles.

"Put me down" she bellows "I'm not finished with her yet" she struggles against his shoulder but it's no good he's much to strong and tightens his grip on her even more as he carries her away from the square. She hears laughter coming from some of people that had gathered around them while she continued to yell profanities at Delly.

She lets her body go limp knowing Peeta was not going to let her go and starts smacking his fine ass.

"Ouch, stop that" he tells her. Rye comes running up behind them. Giddy as a school girl with a new hair ribbon.

"That was so badass Katniss! I'm no healer but I think you broke her nose" Rye said. For a moment she felt a pang of guilt. She didn't mean to get violent. She just wanted to give Delly a piece of her mind for the way she treated Peeta.

They make it to the bakery but he still won't let her down instead her carries her up the stairs taking two at a time heading to his room. He tosses her on his bed and locking the door behind him.

She thought he was going to be mad but when she looked up at him his eyes were almost feral, wild with lust.

"No one has ever defending me like that before" he said. His voice sounded husky and full of need. She looks down his body and sees him straining against his pants. "Can you see how hard you've made me?" she licks her lip as he starts removing his shirt.

"Your parents are down stairs" she whispers but that doesn't stop her from taking off her own shirt.

"Then we better be quiet."