Chapter 30

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I wake before the others, still wrapped up in Finnick's arms. I slide myself out of his grip and sit up and make to run a hand through my hair but it shocks me when it stops bellow my collarbone - and then I remember last now. Sighing, I hug my knees tightly. I glance at Finnick why he sleeps, and I remind myself how lucky I am to have him as my rock. He's one of the few family I've got now, he's my best friend and my love and I need him as much as he needs me.

I get up and begin to look for the long grass that Finnick and I weaved before, and find a huge patch several yards from where the others sleep. The jungle is so quiet I could almost mistake it for a tranquil forest, not a death trap. It's sickeningly sweet, however, and the wet air hangs heavy, despite it being so early in the morning.

Once I've cut down a handful of the long grass, I head back and find Finnick's turned over in his sleep, one hand clutched onto his trident. I smile, and sit down and begin to weave another makeshift shelter whilst everyone rests. I'm calmer today, and feel more clear, but I still have the feeling that everything is going to end badly.

After about half an hour, I rest for a while, my hands aching from weaving so fast. A large canopy is lodged between two trees covering us from the sunlight and I've also made several baskets.

"You've been busy," Finnick's head drops on my shoulder and he kisses my cheek. "Need any help?"

I turn to look at him. "Could you get some water?"

He nods. "What are we doing for food?"

"I'm not sure," I frown and look around. "Reckon there'll be any food swimming around in the water?"

"I'll go check once I've got water," he stands and takes two of the baskets and the spile and heads off to a large tree.

While he's gone, I take larger pieces of grass and begin to weave a close net in case there's fish in the water for Finnick to catch and it doesn't take long for him to return with two of the bowls full of fresh water. He pecks my lips lightly as he takes the net and the last basket and begins to fish. I take the time to splash a little bit of water on my face and neck to clean off and try and get rid of the left over scabs, they're not so bad today but they still itch a little. Finnick returns as I'm brushing through my now short hair with my fingers and sets down the basket, full to the brim with an array of shellfish.

"Did you get enough?" I joke, laughing at he sets himself down and steals my knife to crack them open. He offers me the inside of one and I take it gladly. It's salty and fresh but good.

"They're better fresh," he says, popping one in his own mouth and I realise he's talking to Katniss as she wakes up and sits straight. She begins to reach for one but she stops short at her nails caked with blood. Her skin is raw and bloodied.

"You know, if you scratch you'll bring on infection," says Finnick, smirking.

"That's what I've heard," she replies and goes into the saltwater to wash off the blood. After a couple of minutes, she stomps back onto the beach, turns her face upward, and snaps, "Hey, Haymitch, if you're not too drunk, we could use a little something for our skin."

It's almost funny how quickly the parachute appears above her. She reaches up and the tube lands squarely in my open hand. "About time," she half grumbles, but she can't keep the scowl on my face.

Haymitch. I wish I could see him so bad. Or hear his voice.

Katniss sinks onto the ground next to me and unscrews the lid. Inside is a thick, dark ointment with a pungent smell I could feel invading my nose from where I sat, a combination of tar and pine needles. Katniss wrinkles her nose as she squeezes a bit of the medicine onto her palm and begins to massage it into her leg. A sound of pleasure slips out of her mouth - a sign it's working - and I laugh at her. It also stains her hands a horrible a ghastly gray-green. As she starts on the second leg, she tosses the tube to Finnick, who eyes her doubtfully.

"It's like you're decomposing," says Finnick, turning his nose up. But I guess the itching wins out, because after a minute Finnick begins to treat his own skin, too. Really, the combination of the scabs and the ointment looks hideous. I can't help enjoying his distress and neither can Katniss by the looks of it.

"Poor Finnick. Is this the first time in your life you haven't looked pretty?" I say, grinning at him.

"It must be. The sensation's completely new. How have you managed it all these years?" he asks.

"Oh, ha ha," I throw him an evil glance as he throws the tube to me and I take a little bit and rub it into my arms where I suffered the most.

"Just avoid mirrors. You'll forget about it," Katniss adds, sending him a jokey wink.

"Not if I keep looking at you," he retorts back and I roll my eyes.

We slather ourselves down, even taking turns rubbing the ointment into each other's backs where the undershirts don't protect our skin. I'm not as badly affected anymore; the water took most of mine out apparently, but this still alleviates the itching and redness.

"I'm going to wake Peeta," Katniss says after we're done.

"No, wait," Finnick stops her. "Let's do it together. Put our faces right in front of his."

I lean back on my hands and stifle a giggle as they position themselves on either side of Peeta, leaning over until their faces are mere inches from his nose, and then give him a light shake.

"Peeta. Peeta, wake up," Katniss says in a soft, singsong voice. His eyelids flutter open and then he jumps violently like they stabbed him.


Finnick, Katniss and I fall back in the sand, laughing our heads off at his expression. Every time we try to stop, we look at Peeta's attempt to maintain a disdainful expression or glance at each other and it sets us off again. It feels nice to laugh, after several hours of hardship, it feels like a rarity to be happy and just to be young adults again, instead of Tributes. And then suddenly, a silver parachute lands next to us in the sand with a fresh loaf of bread. The scent of fresh bread wafts up into the air and it brings a sense of familiarity from when I was back in the Victor's Village with Peeta bringing round bread daily for me and Haymitch. It's comforting.

Finnick picks up the break and turns it over in his hands, examining the crust. A bit too possessively. It's not necessary. It's got that green tint from seaweed that the bread from District 4 always has. I can remember having it as a young child, and whenever I visited the District on tours. We figure that it's mine and Finnick's, but I think more Finnick's by the way he's obsessing over it. Maybe he's just realized how precious it is, and that we may never see another loaf again. All he says is, "This will go well with the shellfish." and he glances to me, so I nod, trying to reassure him it wont be.

Katniss helps Peeta coat his skin with the ointment, as Finnick deftly cleans the meat from the shellfish. I move closer to him and press my lips to his cheek before helping him. We gather round together and tuck into the delicious sweet flesh of the fish with the salty bread from District I glance at the artificial sun. By its position in the sky, I guess that it must be going on ten o'clock, that we've been in the arena for about a day, although it feels much, much longer than that. Ten of us are dead already. Fourteen are left alive. Somewhere in the jungle, ten are concealed. Three or four are the Careers. I don't much up to remembering who the others are - that will only make it that much harder.

Then, abruptly, suddenly, something screams in the distance. Across from us, a wedge of the jungle begins to vibrate harshly. An enormous wave crests high on the hill, topping the trees and roaring down the slope. It hits the existing seawater with such force that, even though we're as far as we can get from it, the surf crashes up around our knees, setting our few possessions afloat. Among the four of us, we quickly manage to collect everything before it's carried off, except for our chemical-riddled jumpsuits, which are so destroyed we don't care. A cannon fires, making me jump and grab Finnick's hand. We see the hovercraft appear over the area where the wave began and extract a limp body from the trees. Thirteen alive.

The circle of water slowly calms down, having absorbed the giant wave. We rearrange our things back on the wet sand and are about to settle down again when I spot them. Three figures, about two spokes away, stumbling onto the beach. "There," I say quietly, nodding in the newcomers' direction. Katniss, Peeta and Finnick follow my gaze. As if by previous agreement, we all fade back into the shadows of the jungle.

The trio look to be in bad shape. One is being practically dragged out by a another, and the third wanders in loopy circles, as if deranged or wild. They're a bright brick-red color.

"Who is that?" asks Peeta. "Or what? Muttations?"

Katniss draws back an arrow, readying for an attack. But all that happens is that the one who was being dragged collapses on the beach. The dragger stamps the ground in frustration and, in an apparent fit of temper, turns and shoves the circling, deranged one over.

And then I see who it is. "Johanna!" I call loudly, and I set off running towards them, happy for my other friend for an ally. I feel Finnick by my heels.

"Anna! Finnick!" Johanna yells back, excitement in her voice.

I race up beside her, and we almost make to hug each other but stop ourselves, as she's covered in some red liquid substance that doesn't seem to bode well. "What are you covered in?" I ask her incredulously.

"Blood!" she spits out angrily and then Katniss and Peeta join us. "We thought it was rain, you know, because of the lightning, and we were all so thirsty. But when it started coming down, it turned out to be blood. Thick, hot blood. You couldn't see, you couldn't speak without getting a mouthful. We just staggered around, trying to get out of it. That's when Blight hit the force field."

"I'm sorry, Johanna," says Finnick and I frown.

"Yeah, well, he wasn't much, but he was from home," she says, shrugging. "And he left me alone with these two." She nudges Beetee, who's barely conscious, with her shoe. "He got a knife in the back at the Cornucopia. And her—" We all look over at Wiress, who's circling around, coated in dried blood, and murmuring, "Tick, tock. Tick, tock."

"Yeah, we know. Tick, tock. Nuts is in shock," says Johanna. This seems to draw Wiress in her direction and she careens into Johanna, who harshly shoves her to the beach. "Just stay down, will you?"

"Lay off her," Katniss snaps at her and I turn to look at Katniss.

Johanna narrows her brown eyes at Katniss, clearly not impressed with her and I bite my lip. If Johanna isn't happy, you'll know about it.

"Lay off her?" she hisses. She steps forward before I can stop her and she slaps her hard.

"Johanna!" I exclaim, disappointed but she ignore me.

"Who do you think got them out of that bleeding jungle for you?"

"Finnick," I send him a warning whisper and he nods.

"You—" Finnick tosses her writhing body over his shoulder and carries her out into the water and repeatedly dunks her while she screams a lot of really insulting things at Katniss. I quickly follow after and brace myself as I get attacked by water as she flails around.

"Johanna - Jo - JOHANNA!" I yell over her screams and she stops, going limp from exhaustion. "Are you quite finished!"

She flicks her wet hair out of her eyes. "The ungrateful brat," she glares at Katniss, who's now helping Wiress.

Finnick releases her and she begins to wash herself properly. "She's not ungrateful, Johanna,"

"Well, she better fucking not be!"

I suddenly start laughing and Johanna and Finnick look at me, a little confused, a little amused. "What's so funny?" Finnick asks me, a smile dancing on his lips.

"I love you both so much!" I say through my giggles and pull them close, hugging them tight.

My two best friends. Who knows if in a week from now, we'll all be alive, all be in Panem together - or whether we'll be long gone. Just another bunch of dead Tributes to add to the list.

Would they remember us?   

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