Hey kids! Today happens to be foreverdawn95’s birthday, and she thought it might be nice if a WtM teaser made its way to the dash.
(On a sidenote, you guys have NO idea how hard it is to ferret out an Everlarky excerpt from this chapter without giving things away!)
In light of a certain post that I reblogged today, I thought this might be a particularly nice tidbit to share. It’s a continuation of the bedtime story Peeta began in the previous excerpt (that he’s telling to Katniss :D), though I’m skipping past the rather crucial segment where five-year-old Peeta finally obtains the precious bridal hairpins (heh heh heh). This is what follows…
Now the boy was friends with the shoemaker’s children, but he didn’t want to play with them just then, and for one horrible moment he imagined that his father thought it was the shoemaker’s daughter – a round, ruddy girl with yellow hair that frizzled in the summertime – that he wished to wed. The boy protested this vehemently, hiding the pin-parcel deep in his trouser pocket so the shoemaker’s daughter wouldn’t see – for she knew the hairpin tradition as well as he and thought it entirely romantic – but the baker only chuckled and shook his head. “I know well who your bird-girl is,” he assured the boy, and there was a strange sadness in his eyes. “And if you are old enough to think of bridal hairpins, it’s time you began another task.”
He led the boy into the shop, where his uncle – the baker’s younger brother – also worked, and up to the living quarters, where the baker’s aged mother – the boy’s beloved grandmother – shared two small rooms with her bachelor son. The old woman was thin and frail with age, but her blue eyes were still bright and keen and very wise, and she guessed at once why her youngest grandson had been brought to her. Then again, the boy had chattered to his grandmother about the starlight-voiced bird-girl every morning when he delivered her sweet buns and soft honey-bread, so it had been no great riddle to solve.
“’Tis the way of our men,” she told the boy with a smile when his father had gone downstairs once more. “To fall deeply and fast, and give their hearts away in childhood. When we were eight years old, your grandfather – who was a fat, clumsy boy – pushed me into a mud puddle and covered me with kisses. I blackened his eye for it, but we were best friends within a year and sweethearts soon after. Likewise, your father loved his Lyssa in the cradle and wanted babies with her when he was little older than you are now. So to see you set on becoming a bridegroom is no great surprise, and it does my old heart good to see my sweetest grandchild in love, and with so worthy a girl besides.”
She bade the little boy sit beside her on her bed, then she took down her long silver braid and handed the boy her hairbrush. “Come now,” she said. “Brush it well. I shall teach you first to braid and then to shape the bride-coils.”
The boy’s fingers were chubby and unskilled, and like any child, he had games and friends with which his time might be better spent, but he knew well the significance of this task and set to it with the same diligence he had dedicated to the deliveries which had earned him those five precious pennies. He knew now that it was not enough simply to have the pins: he must learn to braid his sweetheart’s hair in the bridal fashion before he could think of asking her to marry him, and he worked tirelessly to learn this task. Every afternoon he stood at the schoolhouse door and watched his bird-girl till her black braids were out of sight, then he hurried to the shoe shop, arriving even before the shoemaker’s own children, and ran upstairs to wake his grandmother from her nap and practice the bridal braids with her. He made the cinnamon tea she loved and gave her the sugar cookies from his lunch, which he always saved for her, and she always gave him one back, and sips from her tea cup besides, so they could share the treat.
His grandmother’s hair was smooth and lustrous as a skein of silver thread, and as the days went by the boy combed and plaited and wound it in clumsy coils and thought of his bird-girl’s eyes. He breathed in sweet supple shoe leather that reminded him of her father’s jacket, the one he sometimes draped around her shoulders when they came by the bakery on brisk days, and sipped warm cinnamon tea that made him think of New Year’s, of kissing boughs and red plaid dresses and the scent of evergreens that clung to his girl’s braids on Sunday afternoons. One day he would weave sweetheart ribbons through those braids, he thought, but for now, it was enough to be thinking of their marriage.
P.S. If anyone’s confused, there is additional backstory earlier on regarding why Mellark boys learn to do the bridal braids, what those braids look like, and how they factor into a Mellark wedding ceremony. But I’m sitting on that like a broody hen. ;D