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Chapter 12

This is where the story ends - The Fray


Annie's POV

I let Finnick leave. The thought feels like an accusation.

"I have done all I can to deserve you. That's the absolute truth."

That's when I realize that I believe him. As soon as the door closes and he disappears into this unknown underbelly place.

It's like the moment he realized that someone in District 2 put brine in my glass – only this is my error in judgment, not his. I feel like a fool. Like Finnick, only going by what I could see instead of what I knew in my heart to be true.

And soon he'll be gone and I won't know how to find him. Panic freezes in my chest. I bruise my hip against the bedstead in my haste to circle around it and out the door. The handle sticks. I pull harder.

Finnick's already yards down the corridor. The bag hanging from his arm lazily slaps his lower leg as he plods away from me.

He stops, alerted by the sound of the door opening. The bag swings on his arm. Slowly his head turns, dead eyes set on my face. His cheeks look pale in the dim slivers of light coming from the wall lamps.

I cling to the doorpost, waiting for him to turn around fully. It feels like ages before he does, though it's only a second or two. And when I see his face I can't force any words from my mouth. He looks ruined. He must have been yanking his hair out of place after he left. Strands hang over his face or stand up from his forehead. Finnick's eyes are wide and intense. His lips form a line like a tightrope.

"Finn! Wait," I gasp, my heart in my throat.

"Annie?" he rasps. It sounds like he has sand in his throat. He steps toward me, then checks himself.

I edge my way along the wall toward him, feeling the rough texture of the stone beneath my hands. After half a dozen steps my hand reaches out for him. Finnick's lips part as the intent of the gesture dawns on him. Then he's at my side.

"I believe you – I—." My feet leave the ground as Finnick's arms lift me into himself. The rest of my garbled words are lost between our lips. My arms wrap around his neck while his crush my waist to his body. My face becomes wet – they're his tears, but that breaks the levee within me as well.

When I can't breathe anymore, I have to drag my lips away from his, burying my face against his throat. "Where were you going?"

Finnick swallows. "I…don't actually know."

My fingers comb his hair. "Stay with me."

"Are you sure, Annie?" he breathes. His arms grasp me tighter against any possible doubt. "After everything?"

I nod my head against his shoulder. "I'm choosing to believe you, over Dr. Celsus, over Haymitch or whatever anyone else has to say about you. If I can't trust my own intuition then it won't matter if I believe either of them."

"Annie…"

"Wait, Finnick." I press my finger against his lips. "My heart tells me that I can trust yours. I don't know why I forgot that. And what I want, Finnick, is everything we talked about in Mags's cave."

For the first time, Finnick looks like himself. "I love you, Annie." He glances away, then forces himself to look me in the eye, as though he were afraid. "Are you going to marry me still?" he asks.

My eyes widen. "Right now?"

"Well, we can wait until tomorrow," he concedes.

I sigh. "I wanted to get married at home." If there's anything left of it.

Finnick grimaces. "Don't know when that will happen. War's not over yet. Not by a long shot."

"Can you wait?" I ask.

Finnick sputters. "Can you?"

I shrug, showing a smidge of fortitude.

"I mean, we've got the dress, haven't we?" he presses, sounding so like his old self that I experience déjà vu. "And let's face it, we're a beautiful couple, but we're not getting any younger."

"The dress was never the important thing, though it is beautiful," I tell him. "I'd have married you, even if I had to wear moldy canvas."

He grimaces again. "Moldy canvas? You're offending my delicate sensibilities."

"Sorry." I pat his cheek. "I forgot how sensitive you are about ugly things."

Finnick sniffs haughtily. "And I went through so much trouble getting Cinna's gown to you."

"Not as much trouble as I went through to keep it," I remind him. "I—"

Now Finnick presses his finger against my lips. His intense, green eyes pour into mine. "Shh. Let's not talk about the dress anymore. In fact, let's stop talking."

Expectations charge the air around us. It's been there for a while, but now we said so much. What more is there? It's making it harder to ignore the current between us. My hand still pressed to my chest. The bag with the dress dangles from his other arm. He lets it slip off and fall to the ground. I watch it slouch over then gazes up at him.

His hands on my hips guide me backward into his room. Our bodies form a familiar symmetry, casting one shadow. Later, as we fall asleep, my ear against his heart, I hear the sea.


The End