Just finish reading the first book again and it seems clear that Katniss knew she had feelings for peeta that she was falling in love with him. Do you think that it was fear that kept her from being honest with herself when she told him it was just apart of the act to save them?
Definitely. Fear plays a big part of her emotion and reaction at the end of The Hunger Games.
I want to clarify something that often gets misconstrued: Katniss doesn’t say it was an act to save them:
“It was all for the Games,” Peeta says. “How you acted.”
“Not all of it,” I say, tightly holding on to my flowers.
“Then how much? No, forget that. I guess the real question is what’s going to left when we get home?” he says.
“I don’t know. The closer we get to District Twelve, the more confused I get,” I say. He waits for further explanation, but none’s forthcoming.
THG, ch 27
It’s almost this understood thing that Katniss says it was all an act, discounting everything that happened in the Games. She was simply confused.
I do believe fear was a big part of her confusion with her feelings. We have to go back to her initial reasoning for not wanting to be married or to be with someone: she was afraid of loving someone so much that it would destroy her if she lost him.
All those emotions, fears and anxieties don’t go away because she’s endured the Games and come out a Victor with this friend/Victor/lover who she has confusing feelings for.
The last paragraphs of THG explain it perfectly:
I want to tell him that he’s not being fair. That we were strangers. That I did what it took to stay alive, to keep us both alive in the arena. That I can’t explain how things are with Gale because I don’t know myself. That it’s not good loving me because I’m never going to get married anyway and he’d just end up hating me later instead of sooner. That if I do have feelings for him, it doesn’t matter because I’ll never be able to afford the kind of love that leads to a family, to children. And how can he? How can he after what we’ve just been through?
I also want to tell him how much I already miss him. But that wouldn’t be fair on my part.
THG, ch 27, emphasis mine
Katniss has all these expectations associated with having feelings for someone else and she’s already decided that she can’t allow that in her life, but then Peeta happens. He messes it all up and makes her feel feelings she never wanted to feel or thought she could feel.
She waffles between her convictions and the very real desires she feels toward Peeta. We see it here and we see it again in Catching Fire where she states the way she wants to feel, or should be feeling, but then immediately follows it up with missing him or wanting to be in Peeta’s arms. Her final confession on the beach of “I need you” is Katniss finally admitting these feelings she’s wavered between since the beginning.
So, yes, fear plays a part, but what 16-year-old girl doesn’t have fear attached confessed feelings?
Thanks for this Ask and I’m sorry it took me so long to answer it! :)