Chapter 24

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Finnick's hands find mine and he pulls me to him, his lips resting on my forehead as we wait for the other tributes to arrive. When they do, we'll line up ready to go on stage for our interviews. I care for Finnick. I really do. I remember so much now. All the memories. It's as if there was a wall in my mind that was slowly being chipped away at until Finnick managed to knock it down. I can tell he cares for me too. He's missed me.

We break apart but keep one of our hands intertwined for support. "Anna," he says quietly and I look at him, eyebrow raised. "Firstly, I want to say how."

I blush and smile wistfully at him. "You're not looking so bad yourself, Pretty Boy,"

He lets out a little chuckle. "Secondly, what I say up there...many people in the Capitol will think I'm talking to them...I'm not okay? I'm - I'm talking to you. I just want you to know."

I'm slightly taken aback but before I can press the matter, the rest of the tributes arrive. Katniss and Peeta enter and everyone falls silent. Katniss is wearing her wedding dress, Peeta his suit. A lot of people are staring daggers at her dress, although it truly is beautiful.

"I can't believe Cinna put you in that thing," Finnick says finally.

"He didn't have any choice. President Snow made him," Katniss replies defensively. Of course Snow made her.

Cashmere tosses her golden curls. "Well you look ridiculous!" she spits, grabbing her brother's hand and beginning the queue. The other tributes follow: Brutus and Enobaria, Beetee and Wiress then Finnick and I, everyone joining behind us. Finnick's hand is still holding on to mine and my mind runs over all the possibilities of what he's going to say on stage. Then we begin.

Cashmere begins to talk about how she can't stop crying when she thinks about how much the people in the Capitol must be suffering because they'll lose us. Gloss follows up by recalling the kindness he and his sister had been showed. Beetee questions the legality of the Quell in his nervous, twitchy way, wondering if it's been fully examined by experts of late. Then I go up. 

As soon as I step on stage, the audience fall in love with my dress. I spot Cinna in the crowd and smile, thanking him once again for his stunning work. I sit down on the seat opposite Caesar Flickerman and smile, waiting for him to begin.

"So! Vivianna Everly, of District 4 - you're the Capitol's 'Gorgeous Girl'! How do you feel about all that?" he asks me perkily.

I let out a fake laugh, keeping a positive image. "Oh, Caesar, I'm sure the Capitol must be blind!" I joke, earning a loud noise of indignation from the crowd, clearly disagreeing. I laugh more.

Caesar laughs too and pats a hand on my knee. "It's not been a great amount of time since your last Games...thoughts?"

Time to lie. "It's purely a coincidence that we're going back in, although inconvenient. There are far more skilled tributes now than my own Game so we'll see how I go. I hope to do the best I can."

"Any Allies in mind?"

I smile. "Maybe one or two..."

"How about Finnick Odair? There's been several rumours of your growing closeness going around," he catches me off guard and I feel myself blushing furiously.

"Finnick's an old friend and very close to me. We'll see if we become Allies or not when we get to it," I try and recover, changing the subject back to the Games but the crowd is chanting our names, as if their support will bring Finnick and I together. I'm still blushing when Caesar ends the interview and I walk off, joining the other tributes who've given their interviews.

And then Finnick comes on, not helping our 'romance' situation. The crowd is wild, women fainting and screaming, begging for his attention. Before I can even think about it, jealous rips through my body. Caesar begins the interview and halfway through Finnick announces he has a poem dedicated to a special someone, once more provoking the idea of us to the Capitol. I hold my breath and he looks directly into the camera and begins.  

"As I've begun to learn who you are,
and how deep your soul is,
as I've begun to notice how perfect you are for me,
each hour I long for the moment,
where I may finally be by your side.

like the blueness of the ocean is constant,
so are the thoughts between each second
that possess your name.

I cannot think of a world where an us does not exist,
because I've become so attached to the idea
of always being yours.

is it bad? is it good?
that my heart is forever set on you?
sometimes it's difficult to tell.

I love days like today,
when the sun is out,
and my mind is clear like the sky,
I just wish you were here to enjoy it.

I will wait however long it takes
for that day to come,
because I've never known anyone,
as breathtaking as you.

and my love, you have my heart for all eternity,
and if I die in that arena,
my last thought will be
of your lips.

The audience cheers and several women have fainted, thinking he's talking about them. I am looking at the camera, and Finnick is staring at it directly. That's what he meant earlier. He was talking about me. He thinks I'm breathtaking? He wants an us? His last thought will be of my lips...I blush even more. The interview ends and he comes and joins me with the others, sitting in the chair next to me. I don't say anything to him as Johanna comes on stage, just hold his hand tightly and smile at him. It's too public to make any display of affection.

Johanna's interview is memorable. She gets angry at the Capitol, yelling, swearing, asking if anything can be done about it. It begins a trend as later Seeder mentions that in District 11, everyone presumes Snow is all-powerful, and if he is all-powerful, why can't he end the Quarter Quell? Chaff comes on and blatantly says Snow could change the Quell if he wanted to but he must think it doesn't matter much to anyone.

By the time Katniss comes on, the audience is a wreck. People are calling for a change. "This can't be good..." Finnick leans in and whispers to me.

"Let's see how Katniss and Peeta do," I reply nervously.

The sight of Katniss in her wedding dress nearly causes a riot and even Caesar tries to make them quiet. Finally, he manages to begin. "So, Katniss, obviously this is a very emotional night for everyone. Is there anything you'd like to say?"

"Only that I'm so sorry you won't get to be at my wedding...but I'm glad you at least get to see me in my dress. Isn't it just...the most beautiful thing?" Katniss gets up and begins to spin. My hand flies to my mouth, the other hand clenching Finnick's in shock: as she spins around, the dress sets on fire almost and burns away into something dark and black. The audience screams and Katniss raises her sleeves to see...wings.

Cinna has made her into a mockingjay.

"Really not good," I look at Finnick, panicked.

"Anna...Snow won't be happy with either of them," he replies, frowning.

"Oh, Cinna, what have you done?" I find Cinna in the audience. He looks back, half smiling knowingly. He nods to me and mouths "don't worry". But I do.

Katniss finishes her interview and then Peeta steps on the stage. He and Caesar begin to talk about the wedding dress and how there's no more wedding. Then Peeta announces he and Katniss have already done the traditional District 12 wedding with the toasting, although I know they haven't. Peeta just knows how to work a crowd. They talk about the wedding.

"But I have to confess," says Caesar. "I'm glad you two had at least a few months of happiness together."

"I'm not glad," Peeta replies. "I wish we had waited until the whole thing was done officially."

Caesar is taken aback. "Surely even a brief time is better than no time?"

"Maybe I'd think that, too, Caesar," says Peeta bitterly. "if it weren't for the baby."

Baby? I turn wide eyed to face Katniss who looks bewildered but fits the picture. I bite my lip nervously as Finnick catches my eye and shakes his head, knowing the Capitolites won't stand for it.

And then...up and down each row, the Victors join hands. I hold on to Finnick on my left and Beetee on my right, all the Victors joined together in a perfect display of union before the curtain closes. I can hear the audience rioting, yelling and screaming insults at the Capitol and Snow. Then backstage becomes chaos, people pushing and shoving us back to the elevator. Finnick, Johanna and I try and reach Katniss and Peeta but we're too late and find ourselves in a separate elevator climbing up.

"Interesting night, huh?" Johanna smirks, leaning against the side.

Finnick's hand's in mine still, my source of comfort and protection. "Yeah...interesting," I echo.

Johanna grins and gestures to our hands. "So you are a thing, then?"

Finnick smiles and pulls me to his side. "I'd like to be," he looks down at me and I look up at him. "If that's okay with you, of course, Anna?"

I lick my lips lightly and smile back. "Of course it is. I've gone so long without you I can't bare a second apart."

Johanna fakes being sick, making us all laugh and break some of the tension after the interviews. "I want to be bridesmaid at your wedding, okay?" she calls to us after Finnick and I leave the elevator, just before the doors close.

"Wedding, huh?" Finnick raises an eyebrow at me and I roll my eyes, pushing him away slightly.

"Too fast, Finnick - give it some time,"

"I know, I know, Anna, I was joking," he pulls me onto the soft couch with him, my back against his chest, and wraps his arms around me. "I do love you, though," he mumbles into the fabric of my dress by my shoulder.

"You do?" I whisper back, suddenly not trusting my voice.

"I do," he repeats sincerely. "I've watched you grow up in the Capitol, Anna. 'The Capitol's Gorgeous Girl'. I've had to watch plenty of men try and win your affection and every time you denied them. In fact, I may have stopped a few myself, and Haymitch definitely has. I've fallen in love with you from afar and now being with you, being reunited with's a dream come true. I really love you, Vivianna Everly."

"Finnick Odair...Finnick Odair...I love you, too."  

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