Trigger warning for forced sex, prostitution, underage prostitution, racism, racial slurs, arranged/forced marriage.
Worry Is Calling
Hunger Games Fanfiction
The sun was starting to set behind the trees. It was Peeta's favorite time of day, with the oranges and yellows. The meadow they were in was Katniss's favorite place with its tall trees surrounding them and all the flowers. She loved all the green and yellow and white, a deep contrast to life in the Seam where everything was so grey and brown and always the same. And there was Peeta. She leaned in and pressed a kiss to his lips.
Peeta smoothed his hand down Katniss's arm. He took her hand and brought it up to his mouth for a kiss. "I had a really lovely dream last night."
"Oh?" She reached up and trailed her fingers over his cheek. "What sort of dream?"
"We had a baby." He kissed her palm. "And there was another growing in you. And an older child ran around our feet." He smiled and pressed a kiss to her wrist just where the fabric of her blouse started.
She moved forward and pressed her lips to his. "A lovely dream. But just a dream. We could never have babies."
He stroked his fingers down her cheek. "You know, we could marry if you were to get in the family way."
She shook her head. "No. She would make me end it."
"It's why your parents married." Peeta pointed out.
Katniss shook her head. "But my grandparents were compassionate. Your mother is...much less than compassionate."
He chucked and pulled her across his lap. "She's a bitch. Everyone knows it. But it would get me away from her, so she would agree to the marriage."
Katniss shook her head and pressed her eyes into Peeta's neck. "I want her to like me. If we make a baby before then, she'll resent me forever."
He sighed and rubbed her back. "All right, my love."
She looked up and grinned. "We can still..." She pressed a deep kiss to his lips.
"I like your way of thinking." He reclined her on the ground and kissed her with soft, fleeting lips, stopping to suck and lick at her exposed skin.
Katniss writhed and moaned beneath him, she begged softly until his mouth finally made contact with her most intimate flesh. She came quickly, crying out over and over.
Katniss returned the favor in short order, doing her best to swallow down as much as she could and not soil her dress. She smiled up at him and he slowly lowered himself to his knees once more to kiss her deeply.
"Time to go." He whispered against her lips.
She sighed and pulled him down on top of her. They kissed a while longer before they reluctantly put themselves back together and headed out of the clearing.
Annie collapsed on Finnick's chest with a content sigh. She began tracing the shape of his sweaty muscles with the tip of one finger. The cave was dark, but there was enough light from the opening so she could still make out the satisfied smile that always came to her lover's lips in the wake of their lovemaking.
"I'm going to miss you." Annie said softly.
"Miss me?" Finnick lifted her head away and made out her sparkling green eyes in the darkness. "I'm not going anywhere."
"You are." She said. "I overheard my father and your uncle talking."
"That's all they ever do." He said gently.
She sighed. "I'm going to marry someone from another district and you're going away."
"I've got plenty to do here."
She mumbled something that sounded like, "Plenty of people."
"They're bored, Annie." He groaned.
"Who?" She demanded.
"You know who." He pulled her close. "But I'm here. I've told you—"
"Father is getting tired of people avoiding him after one of my…episodes."
Finnick shook his head. "I won't let it happen, Ann."
"You can't stop it." Annie said, resting her head on his chest once more. "When he wants something to happen, it happens."
Finnick rubbed her back. "I promise you, Ann, that I will fight tooth and nail. I'm not leaving you when you get like you do so easily. Your father does nothing to help."
"You won't..." She huffed and rolled away. "Just be nice to her, okay? I know how you can get."
"Be nice to who?"
"They girl they're going to make you marry." Her voice was exasperated.
"How I can get?" He moved to hover over her. "You're the one that will bear the brunt of my moodiness. For the rest of your life."
Annie shook her head. It was no use arguing it. Her father and Mr. Odair had been plotting for a while to get Finnick and Annie out of the picture. Her father claimed it was too much work trying to keep clients buying from him after all these years of excuses every time she went off.
As for Finnick, his uncle's friends were bored with the young man's company. They preferred younger companions and, at nearly thirty, Finnick was far too old for their tastes. Something they made known every time Finnick made a visit. Still, he got the job done since he knew what every single one of them enjoyed.
Annie sat up and started searching for her clothes. "Time to go. It's late and you have to be at the dock in just a few hours."
Finnick grabbed her around the waist. "I love you. I'm not going anywhere. Okay?"
She looked over her shoulder and nodded. "I love you, Finnick. And I always will."
He rested his head against hers. "You're the only one that ever has my heart." He kissed her cheek and began dressing.
Katniss tapped on the back door of the bakery with her basket of concoctions draped over her arm. Her mother put together healing teas, salves, and poultices and Katniss delivered them to clients, keeping a few extra to peddle between each stop.
Maureen Mellark, with her constantly puckered face, answered. "What do you want, girl?" She demanded. She always looked immaculate despite working in a bakery where flour and sugar and all manner of ingredients were constantly in the air.
Katniss held up the small jar of burn ointment she delivered every other week. "Your burn cream." She said, trying to keep the annoyance out of her voice. They were at a mutual stand-still after a run-in the other day sneaking in from the woods. Mrs. Mellark had never approved of Katniss. She claimed it was because Katniss was headstrong, but Katniss was sure it was due to the dark complexion she'd inherited from her father. And the baker's wife wasn't the only one.
Mrs. Mellark snatched the jar out of her hand and walked away, slamming the door in Katniss's face. It was what usually happened when the woman answered. She sent someone else to pay. Usually one of her sons.
The door opened again and her husband Conrad Mellark's kind face was there this time. He smiled and handed over some coins. "Got any squirrels for me today, Miss Everdeen?"
Katniss shook her head. "Not today, Mr. Mellark. I'm sorry. They were hiding good this morning. But I'll keep an eye out this afternoon and come straight to you as soon as I get one."
He grinned. "Thank you, Miss Everdeen." He stepped inside.
Katniss started to walk toward her next destination, but he called her back.
Mr. Mellark leaned toward her and said, "I sent Peeta to the Hob to drop some rolls with Greasy Sae." He closed the door without another word.
Spurred by that, Katniss quickly finished her rounds and set her feet toward the Hob. Outside the old building that was formerly a war hospital, she nearly ran into Peeta. Purposely on her part. They shared a smile.
Peeta said, "Good afternoon, Miss Everdeen."
"Good afternoon, Mr. Mellark." Katniss took in his appearance. He was still covered in fine white power despite wearing an apron while he worked. She contributed it to the many sacks of flour he carried from the storage room to the room where they mixed pastry. Only his coat was free of the dust. Katniss knew they worked with their sleeves rolled up to their elbows, no coats, and full aprons. His tie was a little askew, as it so often was. She so wished she could reach up and straighten it. "How are you?"
"I am well." He smiled and looked her over. He asked softly, "And you, Katniss?"
Katniss looked down at her own disheveled form. Her dress was one of her mother's, patched and repaired so many times it probably wouldn't last much longer. Her own dresses were in need of repair from her many days in the forest.
"I am very well." She said.
Peeta said softly, "You look fine."
Katniss felt herself relaxing. He knew her insecurity well. "Your mother didn't think so."
He looked around and then stepped closer. "She never does." His eyes paused on something over her shoulder. "Peacekeepers?"
Katniss followed his gaze to see four men in grey uniforms coming their way. "I need to warn the people inside."
"Peeta Mellark." One of them called.
Katniss moved to stand closer to him, hoping it would be a protection, but knowing it was probably useless.
The soldiers stepped in front of him. The one who said his name before announced, "Peeta Mellark, you are under arrest."
A pair of shackles were produced and Peeta's arms were wrestled together. He tried to fight and was hit in the ribs hard by the hilt of a rifle.
"What's going on?" Katniss asked. "Why are you arresting him? What has he done?"
One of the men turned to her and his lips curled in contempt. "None of your business, girl. Now get going."
They started dragging Peeta away. He struggled and had to be held by all four men.
"Katniss!" He called.
The basket dropped from Katniss's hands and she gathered her skirts to run after them. "Peeta! Let him go! He didn't do anything!"
One of the men, the same one who'd dismissed her, stepped away from the group. He grabbed her arm and said, "You know exactly what he did. Taking up with someone like you." He pushed her down. "Run on home, girl. This isn't your concern."
Peeta was locked into a carriage with a barred window at the back. He called, "Katniss, tell my dad. Please tell my dad."
She watched helplessly as the carriage began to roll away. As she finally took in her surroundings, she noted all the eyes watching her. She usually tried to keep out of the public eye, but it was no use sometimes. The color of her skin and her disgraced parentage played a factor in her need to keep to herself. Still she couldn't help taking up for others when someone bigger or stronger was hurting them. How could she help Peeta?
She picked up her basket and gathered all the strewn bottles quickly. Most of them were fine, thank God. She stood to make her way back to the bakery. She figured Mr. Mellark would already know by now, but she had to tell him herself. She spotted the limp felt cap Peeta had been wearing lying in the middle of the road, trampled by everyone in their attempt to ignore her once more.
Katniss picked up the cap and stuffed it into the bottom of her basket.
"Hey, Catnip." Gale called from behind her.
She kept going. She needed to see Conrad Mellark about his son.
Gale's heavy hand fell on her shoulder. "Where are you going?"
"Mellark's Bakery." She explained, barely pausing.
"She won't let you in." He said.
"I'm not going to see her." She twitched out of his grasp. Her steps were heavy, but quick. It was much the opposite of her trek in the woods. She was glad of Gale's presence behind her when she pounded on the back door of the bakery.
Mr. Mellark opened the door and looked down at her. His eyes were compassionate. He nodded. "I'm trying to figure out what's going on." He said.
"So someone already told you?" She asked.
"The commander." Mr. Mellark informed her. "He came in just after you were here to find where Peeta was. I was told to stay out of it." He looked down at his hands.
"What are the charges?" Gale asked.
"They wouldn't tell me." Mr. Mellark looked down. "I'm sorry, Katniss. I don't know anything else. They said I can't go to the jail until tomorrow." He looked over Katniss's shoulder. "Mr. Hawthorne, please make sure Miss Everdeen makes it home." He slowly shut the door, leaving them on the back stoop.
Katniss felt herself falling apart. She was so thankful for Gale's arm around her waist to guide her home. She wasn't sure she would have made it by herself.
Finnick was deep in sleep, dreaming of Annie moving above him, her auburn hair falling behind her in luscious waves as she tilted her head back. His hands reached up to caress her stomach and cup her glorious breasts.
He was pulled abruptly from his bed and out of the dream. A piece of cloth stuffed in his mouth, another tied around his head to secure it, and a bag dropped over his eyes, taking away his vision. His heart pounded out of his chest as he tried to scream, but it was no use. His hands were tied roughly together in front of him as he was pulled out the door into the night.
His thoughts wildly went to Annie. Was she safe? Was this part of the secret she'd overheard?
Someone stuffed him into a carriage and pressed him onto the cushioned seat. He felt someone on either side of him.
A voice in the dark said, "I hate doing this to you, Finn." His uncle Nicholas.
Finnick leaned forward to grab him, but was held steady by two sets of strong hands from the men on either side.
Nicholas laughed. "Don't even try it."
Finnick's heart started to slow and his mind took over. How could he get out? If he could somehow overpower the men holding him down…
But it was no use. Both men were as strong as him, maybe even stronger. He could sense it. And his uncle was sure to have at least four other men in and around the carriage to catch him should he try to run. And they would all be armed.
Nicholas said, "You might as well relax, Finn. You got a long trip ahead of you." There was a pause. He chuckled smoothly and leaned in close. "You're going to be wed. To some mulatto girl. She's apparently very pretty and passes well enough in public. One more generation with a white man and that should lighten your whelps up enough."
Finnick was confused. What did that even mean? What did it matter if he produced a whole passel of children?
"I'm going to make so much more money off of you, Finn. I'll be rolling in it." Nicholas sat back. "Make it quick with the babies. That's the big sale."
Money? Babies? He was going to sell off Finnick's babies like he'd sold Finnick all those years? Was that the plan? Finnick had to get away. There was no way anyone else would live his fate if he could help it.
Finnick tried again to come up with an idea to escape, but was thwarted at every thought. None would work as long as he was blind. He had plenty of time to think as they continued down the road for hours. The carriage stopped a few times to rest the horses and let everyone stretch their legs. They were kind enough to allow Finnick to relieve himself. It was a difficult task with his hands tied together, but somehow he managed.
When he was finally thrown on a train car, they removed his bindings and the bag over his head. He was locked in a cell in the back of the car with a small window to peer out, finally able to untie the cloth that held the gag in his mouth.
"What do I have to do when I got to take a piss?" He demanded, his voice raspy from lack of drink and the cloth.
"That's what that hole is for." A man in a grey uniform said with a chuckle.
Finnick found the small hole the peacekeeper was talking about and sighed.
Food was shoved at him through the window. Stale bread once a day until they reached their destination. A small sip of water every few hours. He didn't think of escape any longer. For now, he waited and prayed Annie was all right.
When the train finally stopped, they took Finnick to a house and handed a piece of lye soap.
The peacekeeper that had escorted him pointed to a pile of clothes. "Bathe and dress. Do it quickly." He slammed the door shut and locked it.
"Thank you." Finnick mumbled sarcastically as he stepped toward the tub of cold water. He stripped and scrubbed away the travel grime. He pulled on his own drawers, soiled as they were, and then picked up the trousers provided to find a perfect fit. The shirt was a little big, but the vest and coat both fit relatively well. He was never good with ties, always bungling the knot the first time. He was shaking so much that even the second knot was jumbled when the door slammed open and a young girl was pushed in.
Finnick looked over the girl. Her hair was dark brown and braided along her back. Her olive skin was scrubbed clean, though she was definitely not the class of person to clean up in the middle of the week. He assumed it was the middle of the week, anyway. Her dress was pretty enough, but it looked as though it might fall to pieces if a string was pulled.
She gave him a stern look as she took in his appearance as well. He knew the clothes didn't quite fit him and his tie was still out of sorts.
He extended his hand. "I'm Finnick Odair."
She looked over her shoulder at the closed door and then back to him. She slipped her hand into it for a quick shake. "Katniss Everdeen."
He nodded. "I heard I'm supposed to…marry you." He went back to his tie.
"How kind of you to ask." She said dryly.
Finnick snorted. "I'm sorry."
Katniss worked her jaw a moment before she said, "This is definitely not what I planned, Mr. Odair. And I am certain you are far from home. It's a horrible situation all around."
He nodded and looked around the room. "How do you know I'm far from home?"
"The train arrived from District Four. This is Twelve. There are very few stops between those stations for the type of train you rode in on."
"I didn't realize…" He ran his fingers through his hair and looked out his window. "Annie." He sighed.
"My name is Katniss." She corrected him angrily.
He shook his head. "Annie is my…" He scraped his fingers through his hair again. He turned and looked Katniss over again. "So when do we do this? I want to get it over with and get those damn peacekeepers off our asses."
The door opened again and a man walked in holding a Bible. He was tall with dark hair and a full beard, trimmed to perfection. "Hello, Miss Everdeen."
"Reverend Crane." Katniss greeted him dryly, shaking his hand.
"I'm Reverend Seneca Crane." The reverend said, holding out his hand to Finnick. "And you must be Mr. Odair."
"I am." Finnick said, shaking the offered hand. How many more hands would he shake today?
"I am here to escort you to the ceremony." Reverend Crane said. "As requested, Miss Everdeen, it will be performed at the chapel with you family in attendance. Your uncle will also be there, Mr. Odair. As well as a few special guests." His grin made Finnick's skin crawl.
"Tell me about your family." Finnick requested softly.
Katniss looked up at Finnick. Her grey eyes were curious. "I have a little sister and my parents are both living. You?"
Finnick shook his head at her slightly vague response. "It was just me and my uncle." He didn't add that his uncle wasn't a kind person. He would try to keep that part of his life from her for as long as possible. Though if they were expected to breed like cattle for someone else's profit…
"What happened to your parents?" She asked, breaking him out of his thought.
"A story for another time." Finnick held out his arm. "Shall we, Miss Everdeen?"
Katniss slipped hers through his without a word and they followed Reverend Crane out.
Peeta's journey brought him to a little house on the beach. The water lapped at the shore. It was pretty. But not pretty enough without Katniss. He'd been locked in a box on a loud, smelly train car with no food and little water. The pair of peacekeepers took him inside the house and removed his shackles.
A scruffy-looking older man stumbled into the room. He looked over Peeta and nodded. "You'll do."
"I'll do what?" Peeta asked, earning a kick to the back of the knee from one of his guards. "It would be great if you would stop that."
"Silence!" The guard snapped.
The old man laughed. "Yeah, you'll do well. My Annie is feisty. She needs a strong hand to keep her in line."
"Annie?" Peeta asked.
"Get your ass in here, Annie Mae!" The old man called into the next room. "Come meet your husband."
"Husband?" Peeta asked.
A young girl with long auburn hair stepped in timidly. She looked at Peeta with sad, curious green eyes. Her faded pink dress hung limply on her form. She looked even more ragged than the old man.
The man pointed. "That's Annie. My girl. She's a little simple and has bouts of crazy. But you're the kind of man to handle her. Get her out of my hair."
Peeta looked between father and daughter before he took a tentative step forward. "Hello, Annie. My name is Peeta. Peeta Mellark."
Annie slipped her hand into the one he gently offered, palm up. "Annie Cresta."
Peeta said, "Could I possibly have a moment alone with my betrothed?"
The old man nodded enthusiastically. He asked the peacekeepers, "You two want a nip of my latest brew?"
The men exchanged a shrug and followed him outside.
Peeta patted the back of Annie's hand. "Miss Cresta," he smiled, "it is a pleasure to meet you."
Annie's face relaxed. "Please call me Annie, Mr. Mellark."
"And you must call me Peeta." He tried to keep his voice gentle. She reminded him a little of a scared puppy, her eyes curious, but still so very timid.
"Peeta." She smiled and nodded. "Lovely to meet you." She indicated the chairs and Peeta finally realized he was in the kitchen. "Please take a seat, Peeta. I'll make you some tea."
"Thank you, Annie." He smiled and slid into the closest chair. He watched her move around the room. It was organized similarly to the kitchen back home. "I apologize for my appearance. I've been on a train for nearly a week."
"And I apologize for mine. I haven't slept in nearly as long." She sat the kettle on the stove and sat down across from him. "I had another intended."
"I am so sorry to hear that." His thoughts went to Katniss. Was she all right? Had they told her anything? If they had, it would have been more than he knew.
Annie drew circles on the table with her fingertips. "He was taken. I don't know where or how he is. And now…" She looked up, her eyes suddenly clear. "Well, aren't you going to propose?"
Peeta chuckled. "Why don't we get to know each other bit first?"
Annie nodded. She took in a big breath and spoke without a break. "That man is my father. His name is Thomas. My mother died when I was a baby. I don't know how, but the rumor is my father killed her in a drunken rage. Finnick always brought me out…" She finally paused for a breath and let it out in a sigh. "I guess I'm your problem now."
Peeta gave her a calculated look. "I'm the youngest of three boys." He said. "We have a bakery back home."
"Where is home?" She interrupted.
She nodded. "Go on. What about your parents?"
He smiled. "My father is a wonderful man," his face fell, "who always kept us safe from the full impact of our mother's wrath every time she went off. My mother is…very demanding and particular."
They sat in silence for several minutes, Peeta watched Annie as she continued to trace the lines on the table, leaning closer to the surface. Her lips moved without sound. She looked like she was growing a little agitated, her face screwed up and her hand moved faster.
"Annie." He said softly, placing his hand on top of hers.
Her head shot up and she stared at him for a moment of confusion. The kettle started whistling, pulling her back to the moment. "Tea." She stood and went about the task very methodically. "Do you take sugar in your tea?"
"No." He sighed. Katniss knew that. "No cream either."
"We're out of cream, so that's good." She sat a cup in front of him. She took a cube of sugar out of the bowl and looked at it a moment before she dropped it into her cup. "So what else do you want me to know?"
"I bake. I don't know a thing about fish other than how to cook one. But that was only a few times when my dad was lucky enough to get one in. I wouldn't even know how to catch one."
Annie smiled. "Good thing I know some fishermen."
Peeta chuckled. "What else should I know about you?"
She thought a moment, sipping her tea. "I'm twenty-three years old. How old are you?"
"I'm twenty." He looked her over. "When is your birthday?"
"Seventeenth of June. Yours?"
"September thirtieth." He opened his mouth to ask another question when Thomas came in.
Thomas looked between them and then announced, "Let's get on with it. I got things to do."
Peeta looked between Thomas and Annie. He smiled kindly and moved around the table. He knelt in front of Annie and took her hand in his. "Annie Cresta, would you do me the great honor of becoming my wife?"
Annie's lips trembled. This was the farthest from an honor for either of them, but she nodded. "Yes. Thank you, Peeta."
He kissed her knuckles gently and stood, helping her to her feet. "Lead the way, Mr. Cresta."
Thomas chuckled and stepped out the door, not waiting for them to follow.
Peeta pulled Annie's arm through his and patted her hand. "Don't worry. I'll do what I can to keep you safe."
"I just hope Finnick is." She said softly as they walked out the door.
Author's note: So much thanks to LavenderVanilla for her amazing beta work and encouragement to get this story off the ground.
And thanks also to my bestie writingbutunpublished for all her help coming up with the ideas to make this concept more specific.
Go read their works! They both have some great stuff going.
Thank you, dear readers, for taking the time to read this. I would love to hear your thoughts. You can find me on Tumblr at the url booksrockmyface.