“Peeta and I grow back together. 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.”
“By late afternoon I lie with my head in Peeta’s lap making a crown of flowers while he fiddles with my hair claiming he is practicing knots. After awhile 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.
“I'm coming back into focus when Caesar asks him if he has a girlfriend back home. Peeta hesitates, then gives an unconvincing shake of his head. Handsome lad like you. There must be some special girl. Come on, what’s her name?" says Caesar. Peeta sighs. "Well, there is this one girl. I’ve had a crush on her ever since I can remember. But I’m pretty sure she didn’t know I was alive until the reaping." Sounds of sympathy from the crowd. Unrequited love they can relate to.She have another fellow?" asks Caesar.I don’t know, but a lot of boys like her," says Peeta.So, here’s what you do. You win, you go home. She can’t turn you down then, eh?" says Caesar encouraging-ly.I don’t think it’s going to work out. Winning...won’t help in my case," says Peeta.Why ever not?" says Caesar, mystified.Peeta blushes beet red and stammers out. "Because...because...she came here with me.”
"Your favorite color... it's green?""That's right." Then I think of something to add. "And your's 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 he 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."
“Sometimes when I'm alone, I take the pearl from where it lives in my pocket and try to remember the boy with the bread, the strong arms that warded off nightmares on the train, the kisses in the arena.”
“So that day, in music assembly, the teacher asked who knew the valley song. Your hand shot right up in the air. She stood you up on a stool and had you sing it for us. And I swear, every bird outside the windows fell silent...and right when your song ended, I knew - just like your mother - I was a goner.”
What was that you were saying just before the food arrived? Something about me...no competition...best thing that ever happened to you..." "I don't remember that last part," I say, hoping it's too dim in here for the cameras to pick up my blush. "Oh, that'sright. That what I was t hinking," he says.
"It's just that I didn't understand when I met you. After your first Games, I thought the whole romance was an act on your part. We all expected you'd continue that strategy. But it wasn't until Peeta hit the force field and nearly died that I--" Finnick hesitates. I think back to the arena. How I sobbed when Finnick revived Peeta. The quizzical look on Finnick's face. The way he excused my behavior, blaming it on my pretend pregnancy. "That you what?" "That I knew I'd misjudged you. That you do love him. I'm not saying in what way. Maybe you don't know yourself. But anyone paying attention could see how much you care about him," Finnick to Katniss.