ten years later


"Mommy, what are you writing?" A small voice comes through the door, stopping at my feet.

"A letter, Finn – to your dad."

His face wrinkles, as if he were trying very hard to understand me. "Does he write back?"

I smiled and reached out to grab his chin with my fingers. It was strong and defined for such a young face and I knew that when he grew older, he would have his father's handsome face. He had grown out of his round, baby face sometime last year and was a ten year old with cheekbones.

"He does, but not in a letter." I explained, feeling the warmth of the open window I was facing before rinse my neck with sun rays. "In here." I took his little hand, callused from his adventures of climbing on trees and using branches as swords, into mine and put it over my chest, where my heart was beating. "I hear him in here. Don't you?"

Finn blinked with my green eyes. I remembered the way Finnick used to tell me how my eyes reminded him of the sea, and now I could see it for myself. Finn's eyes glowed even in the darkness. It was the translucent green of salt water on a day where the sun was high and the sky was blue. Yesterday was one of those days, when I took Finn to the beach to play with his friends. All I could think of was how much he looked like his father, when I knew that if Finnick were still alive, he would be thinking of how much Finn looked like me. There wasn't a day that I didn't look into our son's face and didn't think of him.

"Yeah…sometimes." His mouth twitched, as if he were holding something back. "He was brave, wasn't he mom?"

I nodded as my throat constricted and the corner of my lips twitched. "The bravest man I've ever known. Just don't tell your Uncle Avan I said that."

Finn laughed a sad little laugh. "We're learning about the Hunger Games in school. They told us that you dad was the youngest Victor the Games ever had. Is that true?"

"He was only fourteen." I told him, pride swelling in me for him. "And despite all odds, he came out alive. He wanted to live."

Finn looked down. "And then you were reaped, mom, but they said something mean…I didn't like it…"

"That I was mad?" I smiled. "Finn, we all saw some terrible things during our times in the arena." I lifted his face, gently. "What I saw, it stuck with me for a really long time and I don't think I've ever really gotten over it. I lost two good friends that didn't deserve to die. But you know what you have to do, Finn?" I filled my chest with oxygen, feeling alive and grateful. "You keep your head up and you keep living. You learn to find the good things in life and trust me, there's always something good."

"But you lost so much, mom."

"And I gained so much, too." I brushed long wisps of bronzed hair out of his eyes, anchoring them to the side of his forehead. "I wish you had a chance to meet him, you know. But, I hope I've told you enough stories to keep him alive enough for you. Enough so that you could meet him, in your own way. Truth is, I do struggle with it sometimes, trying to stay present but I'm working on it. I will always try hard to stay present." But I would never make it go away, because I didn't want it to. What other people considered a stroke of madness, I saw as my gateway to Finnick. Now, it wasn't much of Lucas and Alec and terrible things. I saw Finnick and his smile and his hair and eyes. The day of my reaping. The first day on the train when we brushed shoulders. The first time I felt his touch on my cheek and his lips on my skin. The first time he said he loved me. His smell, his voice never left me. I could hear him as if it were yesterday when we were last together. Finnick changed my life. He supported me and helped me see through my visions. He kept me anchored to the world and when he left, I could still somehow feel him calling me back to it. Just like he had done so many times before he died.

My throat was so tight; it was painful to keep the tears away.

"Yeah, I kinda know him." Said Finn. "I'm really glad he's my dad and all, but I just wish he was here."

"Me too." I let myself admit. "But you know, you're just like him."

"Yeah." Finn and I both looked up to the end of the room, where Avan was leaning against the door frame. "It's kind of creepy, Finn."

And just like that, Finn was all smiles again. The moment of such weight had lifted and Finn was just a ten year old again. "You're creepy, Uncle Avan!" he teased, running to his Uncle's arms and letting him swoop him and spin him around in an embrace.

"Can't argue with that." He smirked. "Kaya's waiting for you outside. Go get her!"

Finn's face lit up at the mention of his cousin and he bolted out of the room, not looking back.

"How long were you there?" I asked him.

He shrugged, the insouciant shrug that always made me wish I could adopt his ease for just everything. "Long enough. You okay?"

"Yeah, I think so." I played with the edges of the paper with my scribbled words.

"You know, if they're still talking about you back at that school, I can tell you why. Fillippa went over there to talk to Kaya's teacher the other day and she saw this girl that used to be in Finnick's grade. Apparently, she's Finn's teacher and apparently, she's never really gotten over the fact that Finnick never chose her. Really bitter, I hear, because he fell so crazy in love with someone else, that he never spoke to her or any other of his ex-girlfriend's ever again." He cast me a sidelong glance. "Rumor has it, he was like a poor little puppy, just following this new girl around and doing everything and anything to make her happy."

The pain was too much. The back of my throat was like sandpaper. I dropped my head into my hands and the tears spilled over. Avan was by my side in an instant, his hand on my back and the other on my arm. "You keep telling him about how brave his father was, but you never tell him about how incredibly brave his mother was and continues to be." He said into my hair. "My sister is the strongest person I know."

"I w-wish I was, Avan." My breathing was ragged and I tried to draw a long, slow breath. "If I didn't have Finn, I don't know what I would've done –" I cut off, letting the tears take over.

"You don't show it, Annie." He said warmly. "And that's what makes you strong – your ability to hide the pain for Finn."

{+}

The grass is still green and the sky is still blue. The wind is picking up and the waves thrash harder against the rocky cliffisde. Coming into sight is the tombstones and after a few more steps, the monument they made for him. The one with the bust of the face that was always in the back of my mind, no matter the day or the time. I walked around it, sitting on my knees to face it. A marble slate about two feet long sat at the top of the length of grass that was about his height.

Finnick Odair was engraved right below the bust in elegant script and beneath it, the dates marking the 25 years of his too-short life.

Husband, Friend, Son, and Hero.
You will forever be remembered.

"Hey." I whispered to the wind, feeling as if the words were being carried up to him, wherever he may be. "Finn did the funniest thing earlier. It made me feel like it wasn't just me being crazy. He told me that sometimes he feels like you talk to him too." I smiled sadly. "And you left behind a string of bitter ex-girlfriends, too. Finnick, will you ever stop breaking hearts?" Like mine. The way you broke mine when I had heard you had died and they couldn't even bring me your body. Then, the wind grew stronger and my hair blew off my neck and I swear that I felt those chills again. I met the carved out eyes of the bust and smiled. "Just kidding.

I spent a part of the afternoon there, sitting over feet over feet of dirt concealing a coffin that may or may not have anything in it. I told Finnick about our son and what a little man he was growing to be. I told him about how I burned pancakes this morning and how Finn laughed instead of complained over just having a glass of orange juice for breakfast. I told him about Kaya and how she was a striking resemblance of her mother instead of her father – thank God – and how glad I was that I had Phillippa at my house almost every day, now as a sister and not just a friend.

When I laughed the sun felt warm and when I cried, the wind blew at my face as if to dry my tears.

He was here. He had never left.

The End


A/N: Like most of you, I was intrigued with Annie and Finnick and their love story. I felt so strongly about writing these two and I'm so glad that I've had such a wonderful readership to follow this story with me! This fic may be over but I will most definitely be writing more and I hope you all add me to your author alerts (maybe favorite author? eeek!) and continue to read my fics. thankyouthankyouthankyouxx