He couldn’t remember a time when she wasn’t in his head. Her thoughts and emotions were woven among his earliest memories. Her presence had been a comfort in lonely times, in times of disappointment. She was part of him.
But Peeta did remember, clearly, the first time he understood no one else shared a connection like he had with her. He’d been seven years old. That was the day his mother smacked the side of his head hard enough to make his ears ring and told him imaginary friends were for babies.
She shared his pain, felt his anguish as she always did. And she soothed him, like she always did, with warm thoughts and songs. But that time she had also assured him that his mother was wrong, that she was very real. That they were real.
But they agreed, then, to be careful, understanding even at such a young age that no one would believe them. They spent time teaching themselves and each other how to mask their reactions, so as not to give away that they were experiencing things others couldn’t hear, couldn’t feel.
They helped each other, encouraged each other. They shared everything. Not so much in words, not usually, but in sounds and smells and feelings.
She was as much a part of him as his own hands, his eyes. He couldn’t fathom life without her.