Probably one of the most underrated scenes in Mockingjay…
But it’s not until I get a phone call through to Haymitch that I understand.
“What are you trying to do? Provoke him into an attack?” he asks me.
“Of course not. I just want him to leave me alone,” I say.
“Well, he can’t. Not after what the Capitol put him through,” says Haymitch. “Look, Coin may have sent him there hoping he’d kill you, but Peeta doesn’t know that. He doesn’t understand what happened to him. So you can’t blame him–”
“I don’t!” I say.
“You do! You’re punishing him over and over for things that are out of his control. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a fully loaded weapon next to you round the clock. But I think it’s time you flipped this little scenario around in your head. If you’d been taken by the Capitol, and hijacked, and then tried to kill Peeta, is this the way he would be treating you?” demands Haymitch.
I fall silent. It isn’t. It isn’t how he would be treating me at all. He would be trying to get me back at any cost. Not shutting me out, abandoning me, greeting me with hostility at every turn.
“You and me, we made a deal to try to save him. Remember?” Haymitch says. When I don’t respond, he disconnects after a curt “Try and remember.”
~Mockingjay pgs. 268-269~
Why is it underrated? I have no idea. But Haymitch point blank, calls her out on her bullshit. He tells her exactly what she’s been doing – is doing – to Peeta. No one else could make her see that. She was so mad at what happened to him that she took it all out on him. For the first time she’s forced to see the situation from Peeta’s point of view, and it’s in this moment, that she decides to try to get Peeta back. To do exactly what he would do for her. Because she loves him. From this point on all she ever does is talk him out of having someone kill him, gives him food, brushes his hair off his forehead, they have a cave flashback, and she kisses him. For the first time in the story, Katniss is fighting for Peeta.
By fight for him what I mean is, she’s not fighting against him, she’s not fighting to protect him, she is fighting for him. She is wrestling this Peeta for the old. She’s going to do whatever she can to get as much of that Peeta back as possible, and slowly parts of that happen…but not until she makes this realization…
It’s a long shot, it’s suicide maybe, but I do the only thing I can think of. I lean in and kiss Peeta full on the mouth. His body starts shuddering, but I keep my lips pressed to his until I have to come up for air. My hands slide up his wrists to clasp his. “Don’t let him take you from me.”
Peeta’s panting hard as he fights the nightmares raging in his head. “No. I don’t want to…”
I clench his hands to the point of pain. “Stay with me.”
His pupils contract to pinpoints, dilate again rapidly, and then return to something resembling normalcy. “Always,” he murmurs.
~Mockingjay pg. 314~
And after that when they’re in that tiny cellar before Gale and Peeta have their conversation, she takes care of him. “Because that’s what you and I do. Protect each other." And she does exactly that…
"I know what blood poisoning is, Katniss,” says Peeta. “Even if my mother isn’t a healer.”
I’m jolted back in time, to another wound, another set of bandages. “You said that same thing to me in the first Hunger Games. Real or not real?”
“Real,” he says.
~Mockingjay pg. 321~
Parts of Peeta return to her, which is good, but it’s not until the end of the book that you realize that she loves Peeta not because he loves her – it took her a lot of work to get him to where he is in the Epilogue – it’s not because he loves her that she chooses him, it’s because in the end she loves Peeta. She’s willing to live the rest of her life with a man who was hijacked to hate her, tried to kill her, and yet…
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.
Don’t ever tell me she didn’t love Peeta. Just don’t go there.
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.