Summary: This morning is all about making things better.
Spoilers/Warnings: Spoilers for Mockingjay.
A/N: Was prompted to write what we've come to refer to as 'toast babehs' fic on Twitter. So here it is. Also, this is the first time most will see my headcanon names for said toast babehs.
“Rora, no!” The three year old shrieked loudly, causing Peeta to flinch and fly out of the pantry where he was collecting more ingredients.
“Whoa!” Peeta dumped the stuff in his arms on the counter and gave his son a gentle squeeze from behind. “You don’t want to wake up mama…” He whispered soothingly, brushing his hand through the blond curls that matched his own.
The toddler, who was standing precariously on a stool right against the counter, turned in his father’s half embrace and glared up at him with watery grey eyes. “But Rora did wha’ you tell me ta do!”
“He was gonna mess it up...” Aurora argued from her own stool next to them, where she was busy stirring ingredients in a mixing bowl. She glanced at Peeta through the fringe of her dark brown bangs. “Like he always does.” She added with a mutter.
The boy in his arms whimpered dejectedly and clutched at him tightly. Peeta gave his daughter a pointed look and her blue eyes flitted back down to the bowl before her.
“Well it’s true.” She muttered again.
“No it is not.” Peeta scolded her, scooping his son off the stool. “Raiden is an excellent little helper,” He whispered in the boy’s ear, carrying him to the door that led to the backyard. “Just in different ways.”
Sniffling, Raiden pulled back a bit to look up at him. “Diffren’?”
Peeta grinned, carrying him down the steps and over to the flowers that now lined the entire perimeter of the house. “Yeah…you’re good at outside things. Like picking flowers.”
Little grey eyes lit up. Raiden always loved a good romp in the dirt. “Flowers?”
“To make mama’s breakfast all pretty and perfect.”
Smiling, the toddler squirmed his way out of Peeta’s arms and charged at the flowers as fast as his stubby little legs could carry him.
Peeta grinned; moving his way back over to the steps where he could keep his eye on both his children while they worked to make the morning as special as possible for their mother. His grin faded as his thoughts drifted to Katniss, burrowed under the blankets upstairs, trying to hide away from the world. With two growing kids, it was easier to fight off the bad days. But neither of them could deny the emotional damage forever. Sometimes the age old devastation would hit hard and fast, like it had the night before with Katniss. She had screamed and screamed and no matter how tightly Peeta held her, the screams kept coming.
The remembered helplessness from the wee hours of the morning threatened to overwhelm him, send him in a world of shiny memories and confusion like it often did. Peeta drew in a deep breath, closing his eyes and listening to the sounds of his children. They were his rock, the solid thing he held onto in his mind to keep from slipping into the mayhem of hijacked memories.
“Papa!” Raiden whispered breathlessly.
Peeta opened his eyes to see his son watching him. His grey eyes were alight with the excitement of digging through the flowerbeds, but also held wariness as they watched him. Despite being the tender age of three, Raiden was fast becoming aware of the demons that haunted his parents.
“Got a lot of flowers?” Peeta asked with a smile.
Raiden grinned, all hesitation leaving his little body. He flung himself as his father, thrusting a fistful of flowers and weeds into his face. “Look!”
Pushing back the bouquet, Peeta examined it lightly. He felt warmth build in his chest at the sight of so many half-demolished dandelions filling his son’s tiny fist. “They’re perfect.”
“Breakfast won’t be if you don’t help me too.” Aurora muttered from the doorway, a fire to her voice that was all Everdeen. But the tears playing in her eyes when Peeta glanced at her softened the impact of her words. Despite her crass exterior, Aurora Mellark was still just a seven year old girl who wanted to help ease the pain of the screams she’d had to endure listening to all night.
Peeta stood, ushering Raiden before him. “Well, guess I better help you then, huh?” He whispered to his daughter, leaning down to place a kiss in her hair. She smiled softly, and he felt the warmth return once more at the amount of Katniss he saw in it.
“Mama, mama, mama!” Raiden raced up the stairs, barely managing to make it past each step without tripping or dropping the vase of flowers he carried before him.
“No!” Aurora shrieked, charging after and then past her brother. He yelled in protest, trying to make his little toddler legs carry him faster.
Peeta shook his head, following up the stairs at a much slower pace. ‘So much for the surprise’, he thought as he carried the tray of food. With Raiden being all energy and mischief, and Aurora having inherited her mother’s knack for not letting anybody outdo her, it was sometimes a struggle to keep them in check…or quiet.
Reaching the top of the stairs, Peeta made his way down the hall and into the bedroom he had shared with Katniss for over twenty years. She was now sitting up in bed, the children wrapped around her and babbling away happily about the breakfast and flowers. He set the tray down on the bedside table, stepping back and leaning against the bedpost.
Her grey eyes seemed to drink in their children like they had been missing from her life for decades. She brushed back Aurora’s bangs with one hand and clung to Raiden’s vase of flowers with the other. She was clearly exhausted, but the presence of these two young ones was enough to heal something the night had broken in her.
“Okay.” Peeta finally jumped a few minutes later, as the two kids started to bicker across their mother’s lap. “Mama needs to eat…” He moved in, lifting Raiden to the floor and then Aurora. “Why don’t you two head downstairs and start cleaning up the mess we made. I’ll be there in a couple minutes.”
Raiden didn’t hesitate to rush off and start the task at hand. Aurora paused in her leaving, glancing between her parents uncertainly. If Raiden was fast becoming aware of their demons, Aurora was an expert in the experience of them.
Peeta nodded to her reassuringly. She blinked, nodded, and left them to have their few minutes together.
“Breakfast, huh?” Katniss said, her voice scratchy but playful. Peeta turned his attention on her with raised eyebrows. “You really are a glutton for punishment, aren’t you?”
He shrugged, taking a seat on the edge of the bed next to her. “It wasn’t too bad making it.” Peeta leaned his arm across her outstretched legs. “I don’t think clean up should be-”
A loud crash from downstairs, followed by shrieking and things falling over, cut him off. Peeta closed his eyes and sighed, his mind conjuring the mess that now littered his kitchen.
A hand wrapped around the back of his neck, pulling him in blindly. Lips he knew so well pressed to his and he sighed into her kiss, bracing himself with his free hand against her cheek. The wetness he found there really didn’t surprise him too much. He was used to her tears.
“Thank you.” Katniss whispered to him roughly as they broke apart, staring at him with such intensity that he knew it was meant for more than just the breakfast. It was for this thing they were doing – had been doing for some time. It was for their children. It was for giving her life when she didn’t think she had any reason to carry on.
Peeta took the hand she had fisted in his shirt and brought the back of it to his lips.
“Always.” He said without a smile, but with a love that made her eyes seem to flash with the flames that had never really died out.
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