I just saw a post about Peeta in Catching Fire and how surprised he must have felt when Katniss said she needed him, and as I was going to reply to it, this thought occured to me and it is just one of the things that makes Mockingjay so damn near heartbreaking…

"I must have loved you a lot," he says.

"You did." My voice catches and I pretend to cough.

"And did you love me?" he asks.

I keep my eyes on the tiled floor.  ”Everyone says I did.  Everyone says that’s why Snow had you tortured.  To break me.” (MJ, pg. 231) 

And as I was writing this I had another thought, my first train of thought no longer seems important enough.

Katniss says “everyone.”  WHO is “everyone”?  When did “everyone” say that’s why she did?  When did “everyone” say that’s why Snow tortured him?  And why does she say “to break me”?  To break me.  The only person that’s said anything remotely like that to her was Prim.  

"What do you think they’ll do to him?"

Prim sounds about a thousand years old when she replies, “whatever it takes to break you.”  (MJ, Ch. 10)

And then Katniss herself uses that to describe her feelings.

For example:

  • What will break me into a million pieces so that I am beyond repair, beyond usefulness?  I mention it to no one, but it devours my waking hours and weaves itself throughout my nightmares. (ch. 11)
  • [Crazy Cat] I am Buttercup.  Peeta, the thing I want so badly to secure, is the light. … Maybe this realization on my part is all Snow needs.  Thinking that Peeta was in his possession and being tortured for rebel information was bad.  But thinking that he’s being tortured specifically to incapacitate me is unendurable.  And it’s under the weight of this revelation that I truly begin to break. (ch. 11)
  • …my discovery of Snow’s plan to break me […] (ch. 11)
  • Anyone [can see how much she cares about Peeta]?  On Snow’s visit before the Victory Tour, he challenged me to erase any doubts of my love for Peeta.  ”Convince me,” Snow said.  It seems, under that hot pink sky with Peeta’s life in limbo, I finally did.  And in doing so, I gave him the weapon he needed to break me. (ch. 11)
  • There’s something like a collective sigh of regret from the semicircle of people spread out before me.  Because I know this now.  Because there will never be a way for me to not know this again.  Because, beyond the military disadvantage losing a Mockingjay entails, I am broken.” (ch. 11) 

The only person that makes references to her being broken, is herself alone.  The closest anyone else comes to that, is Finnick, “Better not to give in to it.  It takes ten times as long to put yourself together as it does to fall apart.” So in that moment, when she says “everyone” there is literally no one else.  She’s speaking for herself, in a distant, withdrawn manner, but that is all her.

And I think Peeta can tell.  I think he knows.  And I think that’s why he asked.

I have a headcanon that when they were trying to heal Peeta, they were showing him those moments again, in a new light, without the venom, maybe with the aid of a sedative.  I’d like to think that is why he asked to see her.  I like to think that some of that love came back, and that’s why he asked her.  I like to think that, "there’s a chance that the old Peeta, the one that loves you, is still inside.  Don’t give up on him."