Initially I was worried that Mockingjay would cater too much to the fans of the love angle between Katniss and Peeta by having too many tender moments between the two. After all, there were parts in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire where I cringed a bit, because I thought Suzanne Collins was taking things too far. But the opposite thing actually happened – there were too few. Blame it on the Capitol.
Here are the very few tender moments between the two tributes from District 12, the victors of the 74th Hunger Games. You can also check out my favorite Peeta quotes from The Hunger Games here and from Catching Fire here.
He DID Love Her A Lot
I’ve just reached the door when his voice stops me. “Katniss. I remember about the bread.”
The bread. Our one moment of real connection before the Hunger Games.
“They showed you the tape of me talking about it,” I say.
“No. Is there a tape of you talking about it? Why didn’t the Capitol use it against me?” he asks.
“I made it the day you were rescued,” I answer. The pain in my chest wraps around my ribs like a vise. The dancing was a mistake. “So what do you remember?”
“You. In the rain,” he says softly. “Digging in our rubbish bins. Burning the bread. My mother hitting me. Taking the bread out for the pig but then giving it to you instead.”
‘That’s it. That’s what happened,” I say. “The next day, after school, I wanted to thank you. But I didn’t know how.”
“We were outside at the end of the day. I tried to catch your eye. You looked away. And then… for some reason, I think you picked a dandelion.” I nod. He does remember. I have never spoken about that moment aloud. “I must have loved you a lot.”
Like the Sunset
At a few minutes before four, Peeta turns to me again. “Your favourite colour… it’s green?”
“That’s right.” Then I think of something to add. “And yours is orange.”
“Orange?” He seems unconvinced.
“Not bright orange. But soft. Like the sunset,” I say. “At least, that’s what you told me once.”
“Oh.” He closes his eyes briefly, maybe trying to conjure up that sunset, then nods his head. “Thank you.”
But more words tumble out. “You’re a painter. You’re a baker. You like to sleep with the windows open. You never take sugar in your tea. And you always double-knot your shoelaces.”
Then I dive into my tent before I do something stupid like cry.
I poke around in the pile, about to settle on some cod chowder, when Peeta holds out a can to me. “Here.”
I take it, not knowing what to expect. The label reads LAMB STEW.
I press my lips together at the memories of rain dripping through stones, my inept attempts at flirting, and the aroma of my favourite Capitol dish in the chilly air. So some part of it must still be in his head, too. How happy, how hungry, how close we were when that picnic basket arrived outside our cave.
That’s What They Do
In the fluorescent light, the circles under his eyes look like bruises. “There’s still time. You should sleep.” Unresisting, he lies back down, but just stares at the needle on one of the dials as it twitches from side to side. Slowly, as I would with a wounded animal, my hand stretches out and brushes a wave of hair from his forehead. He freezes at my touch, but doesn’t recoil. So I continue to gently smooth back his hair. It’s the first time I voluntarily touched him since the last arena.
“You’re still trying to protect me. Real or not real,” he whispers.
“Real,” I answer. It seems to require more explanation. “Because that’s what you and I do. Protect each other.”
Only one figure stays huddled against the wall. “Peeta,” I say. There’s no response. Has he blacked out? I crouch in front of him, pulling his cuffed hands from his face. “Peeta?” His eyes are like black pools, the pupils dilated so that the blue irises have all but vanished. The muscles in his wrists are hard as metal.
“Leave me,” he whispers. “I can’t hang on.”
“Yes. You can!” I tell him.
Peeta shakes his head. “I’m losing it. I’ll go mad. Like them.”
Like the mutts. Like a rabid beast bent on ripping my throat out. And here, finally here in this place, in these circumstances, I will really have to kill him. And Snow will win. Hot, bitter hatred courses through me. Snow has won too much already today.
It’s a long shot, it’s suicide maybe, but I do the only thing I can think of. I lean in and kiss Peeta full on the mouth. His whole body starts shuddering, but I keep my lips pressed to his until I have to come up for air. My hands slide up his wrists to clasp his. “Don’t let him take you from me.”
Peeta’s panting hard as he fights the nightmares raging in his head. “No. I don’t want to…”
I clench his hands to the point of ain. “Stay with me.”
His pupils contract to pinpoints, dilate again rapidly, and then return to something resembling normality. “Always,” he murmurs.
While Cressida and Pollux make fur nests for each of us, I attend to Peeta’s wrists. Gently rinsing away the blood, putting on an antiseptic, and bandaging them beneath the cuffs. “You’ve got to keep them clean, otherwise the infection could spread, and –“
“I know what blood poisoning is, Katniss,” says Peeta. “Even if my mother isn’t a healer.”
I’m jolted back in time, to another wound, another set of bandages. “You said the same thing to me in the first Hunger Games. Real or not real?”
“Real,” he says. “And you risked your life getting the medicine that saved me?”
“Real.” I shrug. “You were the reason I was alive to do it.”
“Was I?” The comment throws him into confusion. Some shiny memory must be fighting for his attention because his body tenses and his newly bandaged wrists strain against the metal cuffs. Then all the energy saps from his body. “I’m so tired, Katniss.”
I get out the key, unlock Peeta’s cuffs and stuff them in my pocket. He rubs his wrists. Flexes them. I feel a kind of desperation rising up in me. It’s like I’m back in the Quarter Quell, with Beetee giving Johanna and me that coil of wire.
“Listen,” I say. “Don’t do anything foolish.”
“No. It’s last-resort stuff. Completely,” he says.
I wrap my arms around his neck, feel his arms hesitate before they embrace me. Not as steady as they once were, but still warm and strong. A thousand moments surge through me. All the times these arms were my only refuge from the world. Perhaps not fully appreciated then, but so sweet in my memory, and now gone for ever.
Can’t Let Go
I raise my left arm and twist my neck down to rip off the pill on my sleeve. Instead my teeth sink into flesh. I yank my head back in confusion to find myself looking into Peeta’s eyes, only now they hold my gaze. Blood runs from the teeth marks on the hand he clamped over my nightlock. “Let me go!” I snarl at him, trying to wrest my arm from his grasp.
“I can’t,” he says.
The Dandelion in the Spring
Peeta and I grow back together again. There are still moments when he clutches the back of a chair and hangs on until the flashbacks are over. I wake screaming from nightmares of mutts and lost children. But his arms are there to comfort me. And eventually his lips. On the night I feel that thing again, the hunger that overtook me on the beach, I know this would have happened anyway. That what I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that.
So after, when he whispers, “You love me. Real or not real?”
I tell him, “Real.”