Breathing…I..I need to breath. Wouldn’t want a dead Tribute, I sarcastically think to myself. How cliche.
A fire, deep, deep down inside me burns like the heat from a thousand suns. Cotton has been stuffed down my throat, causing me to make a strange gagging noise. If I do try to make words, they’re barely audible.
I look to my left, and to my right, checking- no, searching- for a way out of this death sentence. My jaw hangs down to my feet and I quickly close my mouth. I knew no one would step forward. I hadn’t even expected it. I make my way to the stage with total caution.
”Splendid!” Genevieve blooms from the center of the stage. I don’t look at her, really, I just keep my gaze on the ground. I won’t even look at Finnick either- surely he’ll come to see me before I depart, even though he’ll be coming with me. Right? I pull my hands behind my back and keep my gaze locked on a withering leaf lying on the stage.
”Now, the boys!” Genevieve tweets happily as hurried high-heels scurry across the stage. I can hear rustling from the big fish bowl that contains the boys names and surely she’s pulled another soon-to-be-dead child’s name out.
She gives a slights cough as she projects the name loud and clear over the microphone. ”Tobias Sharpe!” She says.
I perch my eyebrows and lift my head up only slightly to find a boy in a pale green cardigan holding everyone’s attention. It’s funny, actually, watching his face as he tries to progress the information he’s just been given. His first initial emotion is shock, then it quickly fades into a pale sorrow. Then, slowly, but gradually, a sadistic smile spreads across his face showing how Career he really is.
I only know Tobias a little. He’s in my calculus class but we’ve never talked. I watch as he bounces up on the stage with pure delight and that smug smile still glued to his face. He runs a tan hand through his dark hair and then tucks them behind his back.
Genevieve smiles and looks to both to us. ”Our male and female Tributes of the sixty-fifth annual Hunger Games!” Genevieve gestures for us to shake hands and I do. But only slightly. ”Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!”
I’m then taken by guard into a room in the Justice Center where I’m told to wait for my family to come visit me. I’m allowed three measly minutes before I’m taken away to my death. I toy with the green and blue stone Finnick thread through some string to make a bracelet for me. I sure hope he comes.
Just then the door bursts open and I whip around. When I see my father and my brother’s face I run directly in their arms. I tell myself to hold the tears back, that it’s not worth it. But I can’t.
Simon presses his hands down on my shoulders. ”You can’t be weak,” he says. I roll my eyes as I wipe back tears. ”I know that.” I say between sniffles.
”I’m sorry,” My father says from behind him. ”I should have protected you more. This is my fault.” I step away from Simon and closer to my father. ”Your fault? You couldn’t do anything! It’s not your fault…”
He grows silent and I can see the tears growing in his eyes. ”Besides, I’m not weak,” I assure them. ”I know some skills. I can handle myself.” I say.
I embrace both my brother and my father into a big, warm hug and don’t let go. We weep together silently before the Peacekeepers take them away. ”I love you both!” I yell as the door slams shut in my face.
I slump down on the wrinkled yellow chair in the corner of the room. I wipe away some more tears before the door swings open. I jump from the chair and let out a sigh of relief when I realize I’m only standing across from Finnick.
I run straight into his arms, not ignoring his embrace. He smells of pomegranate and I tend to savor it until I’m pulled away from him. I feel a tear drip on my shoulder and look up at him.
”Are you okay?” I ask. His face crinkles up as he punches the wall. ”This is my fault…” He says. ”I already heard that from my father…” I tell him with an attempt at a smile.
He moves closer to me. ”Don’t you understand, Annie? This was no coincidence You were rigged.” Now, I don’t understand. I fold my eyebrows and shake my head.
”What do you mean?” I ask.
”President Snow. I.. He doesn’t like me. He tends to take it out on those I love,”
Wow. What I’m really shocked about is that Finnick Odair just considered me as someone he loves. But never mind that. ”No,” I protest. ”You told me everything. You didn’t want to do those things. It’s not your fault.” I admit.
Finnick shakes his head. ”I’m so sorry, Annie.” He says as he pulls me into a hug. ”I believe in you. You can do this.”I slam my head into his chest as I try to nod.
Just then, the door whips open and two Peacekeepers take Finnick and I away separately. I’m taken to the Tribute car with Tobias and Genevieve and he’s put into one with Mags, the other Mentor from Four.
But I feel that this moment right here is only the beginning of our growing apart.
Every day for the past couple weeks has been the same. Wake up, visit Finn at the beach, learn to swim. And every day there’s a new lesson. Back float. Breast stroke. And sometimes, when Finn runs out of ideas, he lets me freestyle. It’s not as fun to watch me splash around like a fish out of water, but I like watching him better. His even strokes, the way he can jump and dive perfectly. But by the time I was finished learning, Finn told me I’m as perfect a swimmer as he is.
And now we’re in a day I dread. Reaping day. There are no more lessons to learn. We have to put all the fun away for this one, retched day. You can’t laugh. You can’t even smile without assuring yourself a place on the stage. Who would want to, anyway? On this depressing day streaked with black, where the next lonesome soul walks straight into the arena. But, of course, District Four being a Career district, there are some people who volunteer for fun.
I roll out of bed in my usual groggy sense and await my brother and father in the kitchen. We eat soggy oatmeal and drink fresh-squeezed lemonade. No one talks. No one laughs. Reaping day might be a thing of fun for some of the District Four Careers, but here in the Cresta house, it is not a laughing matter.
When breakfast is done, I thank my father for breakfast and head to my room. I pull out a baby pink dress and carefully slip it on. I accompany it with some flats and pull my hair back into a French braid. I turn to myself in the mirror. Even if I could smile, I wouldn’t want to. Not on this day.
It’s always weird- this day for the past five years, watching Finnick take his place on the stage as mentor. He’s only nineteen now, so it’s honestly hard to believe that he only won his games at the age of fourteen. I wonder how it feels- training the kids that most likely die every year. I mean, even with these bloodthirsty Careers, we haven’t had a Victor since Finn. No one could kill like him.
The bell rings and that tells us it’s time to make our way to the square. I lock hands with my brother and father until we’re broken apart to form a line to draw blood. I always hate this part. When it’s my turn, I put my finger out but am not aware of the prick of pain I feel- I’m too busy searching for Finnick.
I take my place in the seventeen year old section and continue to look for Finnick. And then I see him, mounting the stage. I wonder if he can see me. Is he hoping for my safety? Or is it strictly just business- what he does. I have no time to think, though, because that’s when our District Four Escort, Genevieve Castable takes her place at the microphone.
Curly red hair perfectly tied in a ponytail, sparkling skin with gemstones the size of grapes inlaid all over her body, and topped off with a golden dress- Genevieve Castable probably has to be the wackiest looking Escort in all of Panem. Still, she’s ditsy and shallow, so she doesn’t know much.
I watch as she grabs the microphone and her bright blue lips spread into a smile. ”Welcome, welcome! Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds, be ever in your favor!” The Mayor reads a passage from the Treaty of Treason then we watch a quick video about blah blah blah war blah blah making of the Hunger Games. And, then, it’s time for the real fun to begin. Capitol fun, that is.
Genevieve voice rings throughout the whole square. ”And now, the time has come to select one young man and woman for the honor of representing District Four in the Seventieth Annual Hunger Games!” She snaps on her perfectly bedazzled gloves and continues speaking. ”As usual, Ladies First!”
As she makes her way to the glass fishbowl and drops her perfect fingers inside, looking for the certain-death slip of paper, I get a look from Finnick. That says he hopes it’s not me. And all he can do is hope. But that won’t change the name on the paper.
So when Genevieve reads the name from the girls slip, I know it all to well. And I’m starting to resent that look from Finnick.
Fans and shippers of Annie and Finnick, come gather and read ‘Breaking Waves’ a new fanfiction about Annie and Finnick’s troubles, losses, and relationship! I think you’ll like it!
I run across the hot sand carrying the brown paper bag under on of my arm. My variations of yelling Finnick’s name continue until I trip over a rock and am sent flying into the water. Soaked and scratched, I watch as Finnick speeds over to help me up.
”Annie! Are you okay?” He asks, lifting me on my bottom and grasping my soldiers.
I rub my head. ”Yeah…I guess I was just in a rush…”
Finnick pulls my up on the sand to assess the damage. There’s a bleeding scrape on my knee embedded with pebbles and sand. One touch the the rough skin sends a shot of pain through my body.
Finn grits his teeth. ”Better get the saltwater in that…” He says.
I raise my eyebrows at him. ”Think I already did…” I joke.
I’m carried into the shallow river and carefully dipped in. At first, the salt water stings my open wound but once it washes the gritty sand and pebbles out of it, it’s feels soothing. As I soak my knee in water, Finn sits on the other side of the river, smiling at me.
”So you want to tell me why you were in such a hurry now?” He asks.
I shake my head awkwardly. I guess I must have forgot he was there since the past five minutes I’ve been staring blankly into space.
”Oh, yeah,” I say, remembering my current predicament. ”I was just so excited today because…well…one of the Peacekeepers came in to the shop today and bought a big bass, and he handed Simon three coins for it. I asked what Simon was going to do with the money, but he said it was a surprise! And when he got back from his walk in town, he had a full bag of the little hard candies we can never afford. He said I could bring some to you to share! Isn’t this great?” I beam.
Here in District Four, Hunger isn’t always a problem. Half the town scraped up enough to avoid it, but if your like me and my family, you don’t always have enough to eat. I’m not saying we’re starving everyday, but we don’t always have Capitol-fresh food among us. So my brother Simon, my father, and I opened up a shoppe in town a few years ago that sells fish. Now, here in Panem, you’re not supposed to sell your Districts industry, just for good measure that the Capitol has enough for themselves. And to make sure anyone comes in town from the Capitol doesn’t see our illegal business, my father had my brother pain ‘’Pastries’’ on the building just to be safe. But it doesn’t matter here in my town, because everyone knows we sell the fish and the Peacekeepers don’t mind, they’re usually our best customers.
Anyway, I already know Finn’s true answer is that this is not new to him. Being a Victor means he’s probably already tasted every candy under the sun. But I haven’t. And if this is the case, I know he’s going to be happy for me.
‘’Woah, Annie that’s great!’’ He grins. Then he moves his head back and fourth, like he’s searching for something. ‘’Where are they anyway?’’
I scratch my head as I too stilly search for the brown back they were wrapped in. ‘’Oh! I dropped them over there. Could you get them?’’ I say.
Finn runs over to the sodden bag and opens it up. ‘’Mmm, my favorite!’’ He laughs, popping one into his mouth.
He hands the bag to me and checks my cut as I crunch on a few of the sweet candies. ‘’Maybe we should cancel today’s lesson?’’ He asks, raising his eyebrows at me.
I grip his arm, as if he could be whisked away from me at any second. ‘’No,’’ I say quietly. ‘’I need this.’’ He gives me a good, long look then slops some dark gray sand on my cut. ‘’Okay, but we have to be careful..’’ He says.
We carefully move into the water about waist high. Finnick stands beside me, ready for another class of swimming. ‘’Alright, Annie, so today, I’m going to teach you about breaking waves.’’ He confirms.
I stare at him. ‘’Breaking waves? You can’t…you can’t break waves…’’ I say, bunglingly.
Finnick laughs. ‘’You don’t actually break them…you just sort of, conquer them.’’ He assures.
‘’And how do you do that?’’ I ask.
‘’You have to know how the wave works. Just watch me first, then follow,’’ He says.
‘’Okay, so when you’re facing the Northen way and a big wave is about to knock you over, you need to tread it.’’ He says, squatting down in the ocean.
‘’Tread?’’ I ask.
‘’Yeah, kind of like, bob your head above the wave when it gets to you, so you don’t go under.’’ A big wave nears him and I watch as he so easily leaps above the wave. ‘’Simple. Now, you try.’’ He instructs.
I perch down in the water and when a wave comes to me, I bob my head and body above it, like a frog. ‘’How’s that?’’ I ask.
Finnick makes a gesture with his mouth that tells me I’ve done a good job. ‘’Now, we’re going to work in the Southern direction,’’ He says, turning around. ‘’Okay, so when you feel a big wave coming behind you, crouch down. You need to be like the wave, okay? So when it comes you have to jump with it. Use your legs,’’ Finnick positions himself in front of a wave and when it seems to jump, he flawlessly does the same. I watch as the wave crashes, dropping off bits of white foam.
‘’And you,’’ He gestures with his hand that it’s my turn.
Finn’s a few feet away from me now so I come up to where he started, crouch down, and when a wave knocks my back, I jump with it.
‘’Why do I need to know how to do this?’’ I ask quietly.
‘’Because, if you’re ever stuck in the ocean and waves are threatening your life, you know how to break them. To get back to me. Ughhh, I mean, District Four…’’ Bright pink marks line Finnick’s face as he rapidly shakes his head.
‘’Welp, that’s all I got today. Meet here tomorrow?’’ He says.
‘’Yeah,’’ I agree. ‘’But why don’t we just…swim, awhile?’’ I ask, chomping on another piece of the candies. And so that’s how we spend the rest of our day; diving in the salt water and having a candy feast.
No it’s not roleplaying haha it’s a solo fan fic! But thanks so much yay I’m glad! <33
The next morning I find Finnick lounging on the small U-shaped tree off the coast of the ocean. I smile as he finishes a book he’s been reading and sets it in sand. When he notices me nearing he sits up right in the tree.
”Ahhh,” He says with a grin. ”You showed up.”
I raise my eyebrows at him. ”Didn’t think I was going to chicken out on you. Did you?” I smirk.
”Not a chance,” Finnick says as he springs from the tree, wiping his hands on his capri’s with a jittery expression.
”You okay?” I ask with a chuckle.
Finnick’s eyes find mine. Confusion spreads across his face. ”Yeah…I just never gave anyone a swimming lesson before…” He laughs.
This makes me giggle. ”Is Finnick Odair…scared?” I say.
He immediately takes offense which makes me smile even more. ”What!?” He asks. He straightens his shoulders as he moves into a superior pose. ”Finnick Odair is not afraid of anything.”
I lift some seaweed up from the sand as he remains in his ridiculous pose. ”Oh yeah?” I ask. I throw the seaweed over my head and watch as it lands on Finnicks sparkling chest. He completely wigs out in an attempt to scrape the stuff off of him. I stand there, guffawing at him, clearly not paying attention as he chases after me.
I run into the water and Finnick catches me. Laughing, he says, ”Why don’t we get on with that lesson?”
I nod as he walks with me further out into the water. He lowers us down into the cool, glistening waves and begins his lesson. ”Okay, kneel down.” He says. The water’s only about three feet deep so this is easy to do.
”Now, the first thing to learning how to swim is to learn how to float,” He tells me. He puts a hand on my back and lowers me further down. ”In order to float, you have to get accustomed to the water. Just relax. Lay your body down on the water and don’t think about it.” Finnick helps me with this and I’m now floating on my back in the water.
Finnick smiles above my head. ”Good. Now, try moving yourself back and forth with your arms. Watch me,” He instructs. Finnick lies in the water on his back and I watch as he propels himself back and forth, moving his upward to go forward, and downward to go backward.
Finnick jumps up from the water and kneels beside me. ”Now your turn.” He says. ”Boy, Finnick. You’re better at this than I am,” I laugh.
”It’s just floating, Annie.” He says. ”Remember, don’t think about it.”
I nod my head as I allow my arms and hands to propel me through the water. I move upward, downward, sideways. ”I think I got it.” I smile. Finnick claps his hands. ”Good job.” I stop myself as Finnick lifts a hand out to me and pulls me up. ”Want to try diving now?” He asks me.
I lift an eyebrow. ”Am I ready for diving?” I ask awkwardly.
”You’re a pro,” He laughs. ”I think your ready.”
With that, I watch as Finnick shows me how to pull off a perfectly clean dive. We move deeper into the water where it’s about four and a half feet now. ”Okay. So, what you want to do is extend your arms above your head like this,” He moves his arms above his head so that his hands are touching each other. ”Then you need to make sure your feet are lined together. Once you do that, you basically just pounce and dive under. Like this.”
Finnick throws his body neatly under the waves. I watch as his body glides with the ocean until he comes up. ”Now, you try.” He says. I follow Finnick’s positions and jump underwater. I try to move under the ocean like he does, but I know I’m not doing too well.
Finnick shakes his head with a laugh. ”When you’re underwater, the swimming is not supposed to be that complicated. Move your body up and down, like a mermaid. In one continuous direction.” He tells me. ”Try again.” He says with a sweet smile.
So I do. I jump under the waves and swim up in down in a line until I pop up a further distance away from Finn. ”I did it!” I yell. I swam!” Springing out of the water that fast made me so wobbly that I almost fall over. Finnick’s by my side fast enough, though, that he catches me before I go under.
Right now I find myself in his arms, our eyes locked. I can tell he’s say something, but he can’t quite get the words out. ”I…I uhhh…I think that’s enough swimming for today. We can do more tomorrow?” He carefully lets me go.
”Yeah,” I reply quietly. He smiles at me and splashes me with some water. I laugh at him as we get caught up in a huge splash fight. After moment of this, Finnick intertwines his fingers with mine. ”Come on. Let’s go.” He says as he leads us away from the ocean.
The waves are cold. Cold, but refreshing. They’re not the jumbo ones who’s job is to knock you over. No, they’re the small ones that crisscross past you and drag you along. I watch as another wave comes by and twirls the rocks underneath. I float on my back in the shallow water as my fingers skim the pebbles.
Occupied with this, I don’t notice until I’m pulled under that a wave has hit me. I choke on the sea water and accidentally swallow. I’ve heard a million times that you’re not supposed to swallow salt water, but it’s bound to happen a few times, being from District four and all.
As I pull myself up so that I’m sitting again, I hear a crack behind me. I don’t bother to turn around to see who’s there; I already know who it is. A smile creeps over my face as I pull a patch of seaweed out of the water and fling it behind me.
I turn around and watch as the gooey green stuff lands in my best friend, Finnick Odair’s hair. It looks weird- the light green seaweed meshing with his bronze locks. Finnick makes a grotesque face as he flicks the seaweed off him, which makes me laugh even more.
”Ew Annie, what was that for?” He asks. I know he’s not mad though, because he’s laughing too.
I turn back towards the ocean. ”Just thought I’d surprise you…” I say as I continue to play with the rocks beneath me.
Finnick comes over and takes a seat in the water next to me. ”K, well just leave the surprising to me,” He laughs.
There’s silence for a few minutes as Finnick sifts through his fabric bag. He pulls out two biscuits and hands one to me. ”I got them down at the shoppe,” He tells me.
I don’t need to ask how. I already know. Five years ago, when Finnick was fourteen, he won the sixty-fifth annual Hunger Games. It wasn’t easy for him, and it definitely wasn’t easy for me to watch, me being twelve at the time. After he took the crown the Capitol fell completely in love with him. But what shocked me was that he still had time for me.
As for me, I fish with my brother down here to sell in the shops and that’s how we make our money. And as many times as Finnick has offered my family and I a share of his winnings, we always refuse. But we don’t talk about his games itself. No, never. I know that would just ignite some kind of pain inside of him.
I take the biscuit. ”Still warm,” I say as I take a bite. ”Thanks.”
I examine the water- right now a green-blue- and then I watch Finnick. How his eyes are downcast as he bites into his bread. Then he looks up at me and I see them once again. His green-blue eyes, same color as the ocean.
”What?” He asks soothingly. ”Do I have something on my face?” Finnick gently slaps his face for my amusement. Looks like it worked, too, because I’m laughing.
”No. No you’re good.” I say as I nibble on the biscuit and watch the waves.
A short silence breaks us apart as we simultaneously cast our sight on the ocean. A small fish swims past us and I stare at it. Finnick could easily kill that, with his trident, I think to myself. I’m so fixated on watching the fish that it’s not until Finnick starts talking that I allow myself to focus on him.
”So the seventieth Hunger Games are coming up soon. I wonder what poor children they’ll pick this year,” He says, gloomily.
It’s true. The seventieth Hunger Games are only a month away. And while most of District four is well fed, I can only imagine what part of town the unlucky child will come from. A shiver runs down my spine and I decide to let these thoughts go.
”Let’s not talk about it,” I say calmly. ”That’s a whole new terror for another day.”
Finnick agrees but the silence continues. We mostly come here everyday, to Blueridge Creek, and do what we’re doing now. Sit on the beach or in the stream. Talk. I like to watch Finnick fish; it’s very interesting seeing the way he works. But the silence has been building up ever since he won his Hunger Games and I don’t know if I can take it anymore.
”Finnick,” I say quietly. He looks over at me. ”Yeah?” He asks.
I cast a small breath in as I look out to the water. ”Will you teach me how to swim?”
Finnick stares at me. Not judgmentally, not confused, just—normally. ”But Annie, you’re swimming right now.” He gestures to me sitting in the water.
I look at him. ”Finn, I’m sitting in a foot on water. Not exactly swimming.” I point out to him.
He looks down. ”I guess not,” After a minute of quiet he gets up, slings his back on his back, and looks at me. ”Sure, Annie. I’ll teach you how to swim. Meet me here at dawn tomorrow.” He says. He smiles at me and I watch him run off to his home.