Forget me not when far away
Before he leaves for the games after hers, he holds something wooden out to her and she takes it in confusion. It is an octagon and it is beautiful, coloured shells placed with loving care inside the frame, spinning out a breathless pattern.
He presses his fingers to the heart in the middle and she reads the words around it. She looks to him with tears in her eyes and they promise that they won't, that they will never forget each other.
When he leaves, she places it up on a shelf and watches it on lonely days. It is a symbol of their promise and it is a promise kept because Finnick Odair comes home and their love has never wavered but how could it ever? She is his strength and he is her courage and together the Capitol can never harm them.
The next is an octagonal box and the words made of shells spell a simpler message but the look in his eyes swears he means them. He will be home again and home is you he whispers in her hair when she holds him, holds him, holds him.
And when's he gone, she takes her nightmares and locks them up inside his box, banishes them with the promise on top.
Annie Cresta sits at home with a box to hold her heart and Finnick Odair wears a necklace next to his, a reminder of the home he'll always need.
And as he promised, Finnick Odair comes home again.
To my sweetheart, with love always
It is fancier this time, gilded wood and complicated, intricate shell work but the message is his heart for her to keep. He is going away without choice but he will be back because she is the one he loves and that means everything. There will be others and they will use him and abuse him but she will wait with a pretty box, the keeper of his heart.
It is the most precious thing he can give and it means more than every kiss and whispered word he gives out to the world. And she hangs hers around his neck, because her love will be for him and her heart for him to keep.
Snow may think he can keep them apart but a heart is something you can never steal and when he finds his way back to her, he will be whole again.
And the stars will see me home
It is almost a routine now but it still hurts like a knife in her chest and he holds her tight enough to imprint the memory in his flesh. He doesn't want to go and she doesn't want him to leave but it is a choice they never get to make.
The frame for her shelf this year is almost magical, seems to shine from inside out and it's a promise he means to never break.
And so, miles and miles apart they watch the stars in the sky, the stars they share and trace the lines back to each other.
This is the year two lovers set the Games on fire and they both know the water's about to get rough but no matter how big the waves, the stars never change.
Annie and Finnick find solace in each other's arms and their blood is alight with rebellion tonight.
Before he leaves for what will be the final Games, he presses something cool into her hands. It is a pocket watch on a beaded chain and inside is not the hands of time but delicate shells in intricate patterns. She laughs and tells him "This won't be much use for time telling." And he smiles his secret smile, the one saved just for her.
"It's a promise of the days we'll have together when this is over. I'm coming home to you Annie. Always, I promise." And they both know she'll hold him to it. She loops it around her neck and counts down the days it doesn't tick.
And if she were to be reaped she'd wear it as her token and they'd all wonder what use she'd have for a pocket watch full of shells (But what they don't see is that it's filled with time and dreams and Finnick. They can't see it's filled with her heart).
She wears it every day and every night, holds it tight when Finnick graces her television screen and when it's warmed from her hand, she'll pretend it's Finnick holding tight. And when the world starts to cave in around her ears, when everything is blood and screams and too loud too loud, she'll close her eyes and count to ten, press it firm against her heart, let their future give her strength.
It is a promise of what's to come and when her television screen shorts out, she knows they'll be coming for her. She links her fingers through the chain and presses it flat between her palms and she is not alone, Finnick is there to keep her brave.
But in the dark of the Capitol, they try and break their link, try and pry her heart away from his. They cut her chain and crush it beneath their feet and Annie picks up broken pieces all alone. They laugh and try and twist her mind but broken promises don't mean much to Annie Cresta.
Annie Cresta is a victor, a survivor and she has never needed Finnick Odair to make her strong. She holds him where they can never steal him, deep within her heart and makes a promise of her own. I'll come home to you.
They think she is mad, that she is weak but how can you break someone already broke? She sings herself to sleep with the song she uses to calm him when his Capitol trips take too heavy a toll and imagines him beside her. She imagines District four and sandy beaches, wild waves and crowded markets. The Capitol has tried to take her all but she will never let them have this.
The poor mad girl never breaks the way they want and Annie Cresta holds onto the face of the boy who loves her and she is brave because she is tired of being afraid.
There are broken shells knotted in her hair, the last remains of his final promise and she doesn't know where he is, or even if he's anywhere but she will find him because that is what they do, they find each other no matter how lost.
Someone rescues her, a stranger with calloused hands and then there's Finnick in a hospital room and he's holding her and she has never been more found. They find each other, she pulls him from his tattered lonely mind and he helps her put her monsters all to bed and the promise of that pocket watch carries them away.
One day he will promise her again, promise her he'll find his way back to her, just as he always does but this day is the day Finnick Odair will not keep his promise. This time Finnick Odair will not come home to her but Annie Cresta will not fall because she will come home to him.
One day, one day Annie Cresta will keep her promise.
Years and years later, Annie Cresta will come home to Finnick Odair and they won't need promises anymore.
A.N. So if anyone doesn't know, a sailor's valentine is this really beautiful shell work. I saw them and I was really inspired to write Odesta about it. Look them up on Google, they really are incredible.