Just a little preview of a Post-WWII piece I’m working on. And it’ll be a one-shot. (You here me, Ypis? One-shot.)
Peeta Mellark never particularly loved Sundays as a young boy. They were nice enough in the sense that the bakery was always closed, but Sunday also meant a painful hour sitting quietly in church wearing his best suit even during the stifling heat of the summer.
No, he had never been especially fond of the first day of the new week until after he came home - until after the war. He never appreciated laundry until after the war either. In fact, there are a lot of things Peeta never appreciated until after the war.
“You need help, Peeta.” Graham had informed him matter-of-factly when he visited one evening with his own young wife. Peeta would be the first to admit he was no housewife. He was a bachelor and he knew very little of homemaking. However he thought he managed well enough under the circumstances. But Graham seemed to think he had the solution to all of Peeta’s troubles.
“Let me find a girl for you. There are plenty whose sweethearts didn’t come home and need the work.”
Peeta had shrugged off the suggestion, knowing that with Graham arguing was futile. The eldest Mellark always does what he wants regardless of what anybody else thinks.
That exchange had taken place months ago however and, though Peeta would rather die than admit his older brother was right, he’s never been more grateful for his brother’s unsolicited involvement.
She’s quiet and graceful but she never seems aware of it. That’s what Peeta likes best about her, he thinks, though he has such a difficult time choosing a favorite trait. She has no idea the effect she has on the people around her. He wants to tell her but he doesn’t now how and he certainly doesn’t want to scare her off. He knows she has a family at home that she’s trying to keep afloat with her salary.
That’s the one thing Peeta wishes he could have decided for himself. Graham, businessman that he is, had interviewed all the women and decided what the wages would be. If Peeta had his way, she would never have to worry about paying the bills and having enough food to go around. He has plenty, especially now that he’s working in the town’s little bakery.
She’s here every day of course, but Sundays are the only days he has no other engagements or responsibilities. It is only this one day a week that Peeta Mellark can dawdle around the house basking in the presence of Katniss Everdeen. Even now he watches her from his spot on the side of the house where he’s watering the peonies that the previous owners planted years ago.
She’s wearing that skirt again, his favorite, the one colored the perfect shade of orange, flattering the dark skin of her calves. The white blouse she wears clings a bit to her back in the sticky, late afternoon heat. The sun glistens against the dark waves of hair that she wears fixed back in a braid. She never fools around with the more fashionable hairstyles that most girls her age wear. Peeta likes that braid very much.
She doesn’t have a clue that he’s watching her and part of him feels like a peeping Tom for doing so, but she has him entranced. The splashing of water in mud catches his attention and he looks down, realizing that he’s been watering the exact same section of the flowerbed for five minutes now. He’s also made a mess of his khaki trousers.
The sound catches her attention and she peers around the crisp white bed sheet that she’s hanging on the clothesline. A whisper of a smile tugs at the corner of her slightly chapped lips and a blush rises to his pale cheeks. Her eyes wander down to his feet, noting the splotches of fresh mud painted on the light-colored fabric of his pants.
“If you change, I can wash them before I leave for the day.” She offers, her voice soft as the summer breeze that catches the laundry drying on the line between them. “I don’t want them to be stained permanently.”
Peeta gapes at her for a long moment, only realizing how awkward he’s making the situation when Katniss clears her throat nervously, glancing down at her calloused hands.
“O - okay.” He stutters, swallowing against the knot that seems to have suddenly formed in his throat. “I’ll go… do that.”
She smiles softly again, biting her bottom lip as though holding back laughter. He wishes she would laugh at him just so he could know what her laughter sounds like.
“Okay.” She replies, shaking out a pillowcase and turning back to her work.