I was pleasantly surprised to notice how much comments and views I got on my blog posts about The Hunger Games. I just re-read the entire trilogy over the weekend, and thought I’d write a post on my favorite Peeta quotes from Catching Fire. You can also check out my favorite Peeta quotes from The Hunger Games here and my favorite Peeta and Katniss moments from Mockingjay here.
After a while I hear footsteps behind me. It’ll be Haymitch, coming to chew me out. It’s not like I don’t deserve it, but I still don’t want to hear it. “I’m not in the mood for a lecture,” I warn the clump of weeds by my shoes.
“I’ll try to keep it brief.” Peeta takes a seat beside me. “I thought you were Haymitch,” I say.
“No, he’s still working on that muffin.” I watch as Peeta positions his artificial leg. “Bad day, huh?” “It’s nothing,” I say.
He takes a deep breath. “Look, Katniss, I’ve been wanting to talk to you about the way I acted on the train. I mean, the last train. The one that brought us home. I knew you had something with Gale. I was jealous of him before I even officially met you. And it wasn’t fair to hold you to anything that happened in the Games. I’m sorry.”
His apology takes me by surprise. It’s true that Peeta froze me out after I confessed that my love for him during the Games was something of an act. But I don’t hold that against him. In the arena, I’d played that romance angle for all it was worth. There had been times when I didn’t honestly know how I felt about him. I still don’t, really.
“I’m sorry, too,” I say. I’m not sure for what exactly. Maybe because there’s a real chance I’m about to destroy him.
“There’s nothing for you to be sorry about. You were just keeping us alive. But I don’t want us to go on like this, ignoring each other in real life and falling into the snow every time there’s a camera around. So I thought if I stopped being so, you know, wounded, we could take a shot at just being friends,” he says.
“Peeta, how come I never know when you’re having a nightmare?” I say.
“I don’t know. I don’t think I cry out or thrash around or anything. I just come to, paralyzed with terror,” he says.
“You should wake me,” I say, thinking about how I can interrupt his sleep two or three times on a bad night. About how long it can take to calm me down.
“It’s not necessary. My nightmares are usually about losing you,” he says. “I’m okay once I realize you’re here.”
“He was poaching. What business is it of hers, anyway?” says the man.
“He’s her cousin.” Peeta’s got my other arm now, but gently. “And she’s my fiancé. So if you want to get to him, expect to go through both of us.”
Just Go to Bed
Someone gives my shoulder a shake and I sit up. I’ve fallen asleep with my face on the table. The white cloth has left creases on my good cheek. The other, the one that took the lash from Thread, throbs painfully. Gale’s dead to the world, but his fingers are locked around mine. I smell fresh bread and turn my stiff neck to find Peeta looking down at me with such a sad expression. I get the sense that he’s been watching us awhile.
“Go on up to bed, Katniss. I’ll look after him now,” he says.
“Peeta. About what I said yesterday, about running—” I begin.
“I know,” he says. “There’s nothing to explain.”
I see the loaves of bread on the counter in the pale, snowy morning light. The blue shadows under his eyes. I wonder if he slept at all. Couldn’t have been long. I think of his agreeing to go with me yesterday, his stepping up beside me to protect Gale, his willingness to throw his lot in with mine entirely when I give him so little in return. No matter what I do, I’m hurting someone. “Peeta—”
“Just go to bed, okay?” he says.
So I give up trying to make friends and go over to the archery range for some sanity. It’s wonderful there, getting to try out all the different bows and arrows. The trainer, Tax, seeing that the standing targets offer no challenge for me, begins to launch these silly fake birds high into the air for me to hit. At first it seems stupid, but it turns out to be kind of fun. Much more like hunting a moving creature. Since I’m hitting everything he throws up, he starts increasing the number of birds he sends airborne. I forget the rest of the gym and the victors and how miserable I am and lose myself in the shooting. When I manage to take down five birds in one round, I realize it’s so quiet I can hear each one hit the floor. I turn and see the majority of the victors have stopped to watch me. Their faces show everything from envy to hatred to admiration.
After training, Peeta and I hang out, waiting for Haymitch and Effie to show up for dinner. When we’re called to eat, Haymitch pounces on me immediately. “So at least half the victors have instructed their mentors to request you as an ally. I know it can’t be your sunny personality.”
“They saw her shoot,” says Peeta with a smile. “Actually, I saw her shoot, for real, for the first time. I’m about to put in a formal request myself.”
The Rest of My Life
Peeta would lose it if he knew I was thinking any of this, so I only say, “So what should we do with our last few days?”
“I just want to spend every possible minute of the rest of my life with you,” Peeta replies.
No one bothers us. By late afternoon, I lie with my head on Peeta’s lap, making a crown of flowers while he fiddles with my hair, claiming he’s practicing his knots. After a while, his hands go still. “What?” I ask.
“I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now, and live in it forever,” he says.
If It Weren’t for the Baby
“We’re already married,” says Peeta quietly. The crowd reacts in astonishment, and I have to bury my face in the folds of my skirt so they can’t see my confusion. Where on earth is he going with this?
“But … how can that be?” asks Caesar.
“Oh, it’s not an official marriage. We didn’t go to the Justice Building or anything. But we have this marriage ritual in District Twelve. I don’t know what it’s like in the other districts. But there’s this thing we do,” says Peeta, and he briefly describes the toasting.
“Were your families there?” asks Caesar.
“No, we didn’t tell anyone. Not even Haymitch. And Katniss’s mother would never have approved. But you see, we knew if we were married in the Capitol, there wouldn’t be a toasting. And neither of us really wanted to wait any longer. So one day, we just did it,” Peeta says. “And to us, we’re more married than any piece of paper or big party could make us.”
“So this was before the Quell?” says Caesar.
“Of course before the Quell. I’m sure we’d never have done it after we knew,” says Peeta, starting to get upset. “But who could’ve seen it coming? No one. We went through the Games, we were victors, everyone seemed so thrilled to see us together, and then out of nowhere—I mean, how could we anticipate a thing like that?”
“You couldn’t, Peeta.” Caesar puts an arm around his shoulders. “As you say, no one could’ve. But I have to confess, I’m glad you two had at least a few months of happiness together.”
Enormous applause. As if encouraged, I look up from my feathers and let the audience see my tragic smile of thanks. The residual smoke from the feathers has made my eyes teary, which adds a very nice touch.
“I’m not glad,” says Peeta. “I wish we had waited until the whole thing was done officially.”
This takes even Caesar aback. “Surely even a brief time is better than no time?”
“Maybe I’d think that, too, Caesar,” says Peeta bitterly, “if it weren’t for the baby.”
I Need You
“Katniss,” he says softly, “it’s no use pretending we don’t know what the other one is trying to do.” No, I guess there isn’t, but it’s no fun discussing it, either. Well, not for us, anyway. The Capitol viewers will be glued to their sets so they don’t miss one wretched word.
“I don’t know what kind of deal you think you’ve made with Haymitch, but you should know he made me promises as well.” Of course, I know this, too. He told Peeta they could keep me alive so that he wouldn’t be suspicious. “So I think we can assume he was lying to one of us.”
This gets my attention. A double deal. A double promise. With only Haymitch knowing which one is real. I raise my head, meet Peeta’s eyes. “Why are you saying this now?”
“Because I don’t want you forgetting how different our circumstances are. If you die, and I live, there’s no life for me at all back in District Twelve. You’re my whole life,” he says. “I would never be happy again.” I start to object but he puts a finger to my lips. “It’s different for you. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be hard. But there are other people who’d make your life worth living.”
Peeta pulls the chain with the gold disk from around his neck. He holds it in the moonlight so I can clearly see the mockingjay. Then his thumb slides along a catch I didn’t notice before and the disk pops open. It’s not solid, as I had thought, but a locket. And within the locket are photos. On the right side, my mother and Prim, laughing. And on the left, Gale. Actually smiling.
There is nothing in the world that could break me faster at this moment than these three faces. After what I heard this afternoon … it is the perfect weapon.
“Your family needs you, Katniss,” Peeta says.
My family. My mother. My sister. And my pretend cousin Gale. But Peeta’s intention is clear. That Gale really is my family, or will be one day, if I live. That I’ll marry him. So Peeta’s giving me his life and Gale at the same time. To let me know I shouldn’t ever have doubts about it.
Everything. That’s what Peeta wants me to take from him.
I wait for him to mention the baby, to play to the cameras, but he doesn’t. And that’s how I know that none of this is part of the Games. That he is telling me the truth about what he feels.
“No one really needs me,” he says, and there’s no self-pity in his voice. It’s true his family doesn’t need him. They will mourn him, as will a handful of friends. But they will get on. Even Haymitch, with the help of a lot of white liquor, will get on. I realize only one person will be damaged beyond repair if Peeta dies. Me.
“I do,” I say. “I need you.” He looks upset, takes a deep breath as if to begin a long argument, and that’s no good, no good at all, because he’ll start going on about Prim and my mother and everything and I’ll just get confused. So before he can talk, I stop his lips with a kiss.
I feel that thing again. The thing I only felt once before. In the cave last year, when I was trying to get Haymitch to send us food. I kissed Peeta about a thousand times during those Games and after. But there was only one kiss that made me feel something stir deep inside. Only one that made me want more. But my head wound started bleeding and he made me lie down.
This time, there is nothing but us to interrupt us. And after a few attempts, Peeta gives up on talking. The sensation inside me grows warmer and spreads out from my chest, down through my body, out along my arms and legs, to the tips of my being. Instead of satisfying me, the kisses have the opposite effect, of making my need greater. I thought I was something of an expert on hunger, but this is an entirely new kind.
Nothing But Oysters
Johanna keeps watch while Finnick, Peeta, and I clean and lay out the seafood. Peeta’s just pried open an oyster when I hear him give a laugh. “Hey, look at this!” He holds up a glistening, perfect pearl about the size of a pea. “You know, if you put enough pressure on coal it turns to pearls,” he says earnestly to Finnick.
“No, it doesn’t,” says Finnick dismissively. But I crack up, remembering that’s how a clueless Effie Trinket presented us to the people of the Capitol last year, before anyone knew us. As coal pressured into pearls by our weighty existence. Beauty that arose out of pain.
Peeta rinses the pearl off in the water and hands it to me. “For you.” I hold it out on my palm and examine its iridescent surface in the sunlight. Yes, I will keep it. For the few remaining hours of my life I will keep it close. This last gift from Peeta. The only one I can really accept. Perhaps it will give me strength in the final moments.
“Thanks,” I say, closing my fist around it. I look coolly into the blue eyes of the person who is now my greatest opponent, the person who would keep me alive at his own expense. And I promise myself I will defeat his plan.
The laughter drains from those eyes, and they are staring so intensely into mine, it’s like they can read my thoughts. “The locket didn’t work, did it?” Peeta says, even though Finnick is right there. Even though everyone can hear him. “Katniss?”
“It worked,” I say.
“But not the way I wanted it to,” he says, averting his glance. After that he will look at nothing but oysters.