Chapter 31

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  I practically fly up into sitting position, gasping for air. Johanna is beside me and looks startled by my sudden awakening.

"Feeling better?" she asks me. Her hostile front has dropped for the moment and she seems caring.

I nod. "Better. How do I look? Bad?"

She cocks her head to the side and studies me. "Still gorgeous. But a little more...battered?"

I laugh. "Oh, perfect," I glance around and see Peeta resting, Finnick several yards sitting down Beetee and Katniss swimming back from somewhere, something clutched in her hands. "How long was I out?"

"Only a couple of minutes," Finnick says as he walks over and sits down next to me, pulling me into him. He feels safe and comforting and for a minute I lose myself in the idea that we're somewhere else, alone, together, at peace with the world. And then I open my eyes and we're all silent. Johanna and Beetee have both lost their district partners. There's only us left to depend on.

"Let's get off this stinking island," Johanna says finally. We only have to worry about our weapons now, which we've largely retained. Fortunately the vines here are strong and the spile and tube of medicine wrapped in the parachute are still secured to Katniss's belt. Finnick has washed his shirt he used to clean my wounds and ties it around his own from Enobaria's knife in his thigh; it's not too deep and should heal quickly. Beetee reckons he can walk, if we go slowly, so Katniss and I help him up. We decide to head to the beach at twelve o'clock. Hopefully it should provide hours of calm and keep us clear. And then Peeta, Johanna, and Finnick head off in three different directions while Katniss, Beetee and I remain still. I roll my eyes.

"Twelve o'clock, right?" says Peeta. "The tail points at twelve."

"Before they spun us," says Finnick. "I was judging by the sun."

"The sun only tells you it's going on four, Finnick," Katniss adds.

"I think Katniss's point is, knowing the time doesn't mean you necessarily know where four is on the clock. You might have a general idea of the direction. Unless you consider that they may have shifted the outer ring of jungle as well," says Beetee.

I laugh inwardly as I doubt Katniss's point was as complex as that. "Yes, so any one of these paths could lead to twelve o'clock," I say.

We circle around the Cornucopia, scrutinizing the jungle. It has an unnerving uniformity about it. I remember the tall tree that took the first lightning strike at twelve o'clock, but every sector has a similar tree and unsettles me slightly. Johanna thinks to follow Enobaria's and Brutus's tracks, but they have been blown or washed away by the Cornucopia moving and the waves. There's no way to tell where anything is.

"I should have never mentioned the clock," Katniss says bitterly. "Now they've taken that advantage away as well."

"Only temporarily," says Beetee. "At ten, we'll see the wave again and be back on track."

"Yes, they can't redesign the whole arena," says Peeta.

"It doesn't matter," says Johanna impatiently. "You had to tell us or we never would have moved our camp in the first place, brainless."

"Johanna..." I chide her and she just shrugs at me. I shake my head at Finnick.

"Come on, I need water. Anyone have a good gut feeling?" Katniss asks us.

We randomly choose a path and take it, having no idea what number we're headed for. I clasp Finnick's hand for sanity. When we reach the jungle, we peer into it, trying to decipher what may be waiting inside. "Well, it must be monkey hour. And I don't see any of them in there," says Peeta.

"I'm going to find some leaves for some shade." I announce and they nod.

"I'm going to try to tap a tree." Peeta says as I walk away.

"No, it's my turn," I hear Finnick say.

"I'll at least watch your back," Peeta says.

"Katniss can do that," says Johanna distantly. "We need you to make another map. The other washed away."

And then I can't hear them anymore as I've found myself several yards in the opposite direction to Katniss and Finnick, searching through the leaves for some shade.

~ Finnick's P.O.V ~

I find a good enough tree about fifteen yards away from Beetee, Johanna and Peeta, Anna having gone off to find shade. I take my knife and stab the tree repeatedly, making a hole big enough for the spile. Katniss stands behind me, guarding. Keeping them apart, that's what Haymitch told Johanna and I to do. So we can protect them. Especially Katniss, we need her for something greater. I just wish Haymitch had told Anna so I could look after the both of them, but Anna can protect herself, she's done it for longer than Katniss. And yet, I love her. I always want her to be safe.

"Katniss, got that spile?" I ask her, bringing myself back to reality. Just as she reaches out to hand it to me, we hear an ear piercing scream and Katniss drops the spile, suddenly terrified and she begins to run wildly into the trees and vines of the jungle.

"Katniss!" I yell, confused, and I can hear her yelling for Prim - her little sister. When I find her, she's wiping her brow with some moss. "Katniss-?"

"It's okay. I'm okay," she says, although she doesn't look as if she feels okay at all. "I thought I heard my sister but—" Another piercing shriek cuts her off. It's another voice, not Prim's, but I instantly no who it is and my blood runs cold. The color vanishes from my face.

"Finnick, wait!" Katniss says, reaching out to reassure me, but I run.

"Anna!" I scream, fear coursing through me. She's just been almost drowned by that damn wave and now someone has found her, torturing her. Her scream cuts through me and makes tears form in my eyes. I stop suddenly and look around frantically. I hear her scream everywhere, all around me and I can't seem to know where to go. And then it stops, and some form of bird falls at my feet, an arrow in it's chest...and then it clicks. I pick it up, but it doesn't seem to comfort me. How did they get that scream from Anna. Surely they've taken her, out of the arena to some...some facility somewhere and torturing her. My, Anna.

"It's all right, Finnick. It's just a jabberjay. They're playing a trick on us," Katniss says to me. "It's not real. It's not Anna."

"No, it's not Anna. But the voice was hers. Jabberjays mimic what they hear. Where did they get those screams, Katniss?"I say and watch as her cheeks grow pale.

"Oh, Finnick, you don't think they ..."

"Yes. I do. That's exactly what I think," I say bitterly. If the Capitol have her then I swear on my life...

Katniss thinks, and then sinks. I see another jabberjay and begin to warn Katniss but it opens it's mouth and another scream comes out, a man's this time. I grab Katniss's arm before she can run. "No. It's not him." I start pulling her downhill, toward the beach, back to the others. "We're getting out of here!" But Katniss can't help struggling to reach the voice. "It's not him, Katniss! It's a mutt!" I shout at her. "Come on!" I move her along, half dragging, half carrying her, until she finally can process what I said.

She stops fighting me. I breathe heavily. This must be another weapon of the clock. Four o'clock, I guess. When the hands tick-tock onto the four, the monkeys go home and the jabberjays come out to play. Getting out of here is the only thing to do. I catch sight of Peeta and Johanna standing at the tree line and I'm filled with a mixture of relief and anger. Where's Anna? I feel my body slip into panic mode and as I open my mouth to ask where she is, if she's safe, what's happened, Katniss and I run smack into a seemingly invisible wall and bounce back onto the jungle floor. I'm lucky. I groan as I hit it face-first and I feel that my nose is now gushing blood. This is why Peeta and Johanna and even Beetee, who I see sadly shaking his head behind them, have not come to our aid. An invisible barrier blocks the area in front of us. It's not a force field. You can touch the hard, smooth surface all you like. But Anna's knives and Johanna's ax won't make a dent in it. I know, without checking more than a few feet to one side, that it encloses the entire four-to-five-o'clock wedge. That we will be trapped until it's over.

And what if Anna doesn't come back from looking for leaves? Peeta and Katniss are communicating through the glass - but the one person I need, to see, to seek comfort in, to know they're okay, isn't there. And I doubt the others would know if she's gone.

I feel tears slipping down my face as the many birds surround us. I can hear Anna in all of them, but I know there are many of Katniss's family and friends. I only have one person left - and I don't even know if she's safe or not. Sobs wrack my body as I close my eyes.

~ Anna's P.O.V ~

When I go back to the others, leaves under my arm, something doesn't feel right. Finnick and Katniss look pained and drained of energy, borderline insane really, and Peeta is in front of Katniss, hitting on...glass? I rush over and drop the leaves by Johanna before coming up next to Peeta.

"What's going on?" I ask him. Katniss and Peeta are facing the opposite way, curled up together and shaking. He hasn't seen me.

"I'm not sure, but I'm guessing this is four o'clock. We can't hear them, and they can't hear us. Can't get through until it's over," he tells me.

"What is it, do you know?" I sit down beside him and try knocking on the barrier, but I'm guessing they can't hear.

"All I've seen are birds," he shrugs and I frown.

And then my hand goes through and Peeta and I rush over. I drop down in front of a sobbing Finnick and place my hands on his chin and lift his head up. He opens his eyes and gasps before throwing himself into my arms in a wide hug. "Anna - oh- Anna!" he cries on my shoulder and I comfort him, albeit confused.

"What happened?" I whisper to him and he just shakes his head as he calms down, breathing heavily. I hear Peeta talking to Katniss about something.

"You - I hear you! Jabberjays, screaming. I thought they had you, Anna, I thought they were h-hurting you," he's stopped crying but it's clear he's traumatized by it. "Katniss heard Prim and her family but I heard you. I couldn't see you. I thought they were torturing you, Anna,"

I let out a breathy laugh and place my lips to his. "Hey," I whisper, my lips still touching his. "Hey, hey, hey, hey, I'm here look, I'm safe, I'm not going anywhere. It was all a trick, Finnick, I'm here, I'm right here."

He just nods repeatedly and kisses me, just to make sure. "Don't leave me," he tells me. "Promise me you won't leave my sight?"

"I promise." I say, and kiss him to seal the deal.  


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