In his dreams, Peeta is always the first to eat the berries. He hears the cannon sound as he slowly gives in to the darkness, just seconds before he's snapped back to the real world.
He awakens with fresh tears trickling down his face and his forehead slick with sweat. The nightmares have been growing stronger as the inevitable Quarter Quell beckons, just one month away.
Peeta knew that he had made an enemy of President Snow and so expected something maniacal from the leader of Panem.
His anxiety was creeping slowly to the surface, his plush new home of the past 11 months doing nothing to ease his fears. There was only one thing - one person - who could do that.
He climbed out of his bed, took a glance out of the window after cleaning himself up and getting dressed, and headed to the front door.
Gale had risen in the early hours.
He stood outside the home he shared with Peeta, sun burning down on the nape of his neck as he looked out at the District where little had changed for the many,
despite them playing host to their first victor in 24 years.
The establishment had to maintain order and a sense of longing; what purpose would Peeta's new riches serve for the higher-ups if not to ensure the Games would always go ahead as planned
and keep everybody in line?
Publicly mourning the loss of Katniss wasn't something Gale was ever willing to do. He had his quiet moments, away from the Capitol's cameras and suspicious eyes.
Peeta would sometimes hear him locked away in one of the house's many rooms, but he knew better than to disturb him during such a moment.
These were the times when Gale longed to be alone, if just for an hour or two, and Peeta was willing to give him that.
Their connection wasn't something either had seen coming.
The grief both experienced after the Girl on Fire had fallen drew them together in the months that followed, with Gale quickly moving in with his newfound companion.
Together, they shared stories of the brave young woman they had once known; Gale from their many years of friendship, and Peeta from his time with her both before and during the Games.
On one particularly cold night of storytelling, they had shared their first kiss.
It was sloppy, both butting heads to begin with as they leaned towards each other, but they laughed it off and, as they moved together for a second embrace, it all clicked into place.
Fireworks danced on their mouths and in that moment they knew that their future was forever intertwined.
They kept in touch each day with Katniss's sister Primrose, who maintained she had wanted to stay in the family home despite her mother's passing soon after the 74th Games.
There, she took care of her beloved cat Buttercup, who still hissed defiantly at anybody who dared approach. Anybody except Primrose, of course.
She had been the first to learn of the pair's blossoming relationship.
It was something the young girl gave her blessing to immediately, lessening the guilt both Peeta and Gale had felt when they realised how deeply they were falling for one another.
Despite her age, she was mature beyond her years. She knew that any hope at happiness in this bleak world was something you should hold onto with both hands and a tight grip.
"Boo," whispered Peeta, sliding his arms between Gale's before wrapping them around his waist from behind, linking his hands at the front of his partner's torso. A smile.
"Thought you were never going to join me," Gale replied. "Welcome to another day in paradise."