Here is the final chapter in the Acacia Series - which I'm so happy about. I love the way that it turned out and I hope that all of you do too. This was my first ever Hunger Games story and my first ever intended story to have more than one story attached to it. I'm so sad to see it end, but proud at the same time. For the last time for Acacia Lily Yarrow Coin: Jabberjay...
Fifteen Years Later:
Sitting behind my desk, I quickly finish my paperwork before carefully placing it in a folder marked as District Thirteen – Confidential, only for the eyes of Mayor Maggie L. Smalington. I stare at the now almost empty bin in front of me and decide to take a well-deserved break. Touching my tightly wound bun to ensure that it's still in place, I begin to stand and stretch like a kitten who's been in one position for way too long. Moving my hands down to my dress I smooth it out and walk to the door, pulling it open slowly before glancing around one last time. As I make my way down the hallway I nod my head at my co-workers and smile softly as they address me with my proper title. When I reach the end of the hallway and begin to descend down the side stairs, a short man appears behind me with a large notebook and begins to read off my schedule for the day. I only half listen to him as I make my way into a large dining room and accept a cup of coffee and quickly begin to drink it as I sit down across from my husband, who merely sighs and shakes his head slowly. Settling into my seat, I hold up a small envelope before offering it to my second oldest daughter Bridgette, who almost immediately loses it to Lauren. They bicker for a few seconds before Bridgette's twin brother Odysseus enters the room and quickly grabs the envelope from them with a mischievous smile forms on his lips, before he offers the envelope to Emma and Garret. Having enough of the game, Alwin holds his hand out to Emma and she quickly hands it over to him.
"I hope that you've informed your staff that you'll be unavailable tonight, because Ethan and Alyssa are coming over with the kids," says Alwin as he begins to open the envelope, but his eyes remain fixed on me. He tilts his head to the side as I nod and sip at my coffee, with a small smile forming on my lips. "Another thing that I was thinking about…the kids haven't been to District Thirteen in a while, so I was thinking that we could head out there one time in the next few months so that they can see everyone again?"
"I'll have Beth and Sophie arrange it once they've returned. There's a meeting that I'm having tomorrow that I can't miss though." I lift up my spoon and take a quick bite of my food as everyone stares at me. My eyes remain on the plate in front of me until Alwin makes a loud sound in surprise and I look up to see him looking down at the opened letter. "That's what the meeting is going to be about and I have no doubt in my mind that Beth will make a fine replacement."
"Wait – what?" asks Bridgette as she looks up from her magazine with wide eyes, her expression matches Odysseus's perfectly. She blinks a few times and the surprise slowly begins to fade away, which is replaced with uncertainty. Her eyes dart around the table, meeting each and every single pair of eyes before they settle on me once again. "What's going on mom? Are you planning on leaving the Capitol and for good this time?"
Lacing my fingers together I inhale deeply as I consider how to answer her question properly. I understand her fear, one that I'm sure that Odysseus, Emma, and Garret share with her. My gaze shifts from the uncertainty and fear of four of my children, only to land on expressions of not only approval but gratitude. "I know that the four of you haven't lived outside of the Capitol, but I feel like this is what's best for our family and it'll give us more time to spend with one another – as a family. Lauren and your father have wanted this for a long time, which is why I've considered it for years before deciding on it."
"Thank you mom," whispers Lauren with a small smile, before she stands and walks around the table to give me a gentle hug. She's practically bouncing in place with excitement, which I know is because she'll be able to see Travis more often. "I'll go into the main room to wait for Aunt Aly and Uncle Ethan – I hope that they're here soon!"
I watch as my baby runs out of the room, leaving her siblings sitting here with solemn expressions on their faces at the news. This would be hard on them, but they'll all adjust and will see how much more we can have back home. One by one, they each get up and leave the room as I rest my head on the top of my intertwined hands. Why don't they understand that this was bound to happen at one time or another? My time of being President has lasted way longer than I had originally expected – thirteen years to be exact, and so much has changed. Yes, this is the right decision for my family and everyone will see that over time – I have to remember that. Nothing lasts for forever, and the time has come for me to move onto my next adventure with Alwin.
Alwin stands and offers me his arm, and we walk into the sitting room together. I feel as though this huge change has already improved things for the two of us and has filled us both with excitement. He stops in the doorway and we both smile at our two best friends, watching as they sit with their seven children. Travis, Colin, Seilee, Fay, Corrine, Ashlee and Morgan sit around the room with our children mixed in with them. I watch as Lauren stands and takes Travis's hand giving me a small smile, before she leads him out of the room. We walk farther into the room and the children quickly break off into their own little groups to go do their own things.
"Alyssa, Ethan…" I say with a small smile before I sit down on the couch across from them with Alwin by my side. My smile grows wider with excitement as I am given a small folder from Luis and I nod in thanks, before shifting through the papers slowly. When I find the slip of paper that I'm looking for, I offer it to both of them and say, "We've been doing a lot of testing and experiments. Dr. Owen has informed me that all of the procedures have been done perfectly, and that every single person has the ability to speak again. Following the procedure, every single patient is put through a program which helps them learn to talk properly again."
"Aca…you don't mean that – Ethan's not up for this procedure is he? I don't know if we can afford it..." whispers Alyssa as she looks over the single sheet of paper. She leans against her husband, who rubs her back soothingly as tears build up in her eyes. "I'd love to have him be able to talk again, but…we can't just jump into this…we weren't even aware that the technology was available for this. Maybe in the next few years-"
"Aly, we're paying for it. Think of it as a thank you for everything that the two of you have done for us, and don't worry about a thing," responds Alwin with a wide grin. He takes a large envelope from me and holds it out to Ethan. "Your appointment for the procedure is tomorrow, we'll be there with you two through it all and you'll be released from the facility in a day or two – depending on how everything goes. But that is the typical amount of time that one spends there for evaluation."
"You two…really don't have to do this. That's a lot and…I…" Biting her lip Alyssa trails off as the tears begin to boil over and her body begins to tremble. She stands and I do the same, only seconds later we're hugging each other tightly. "Thank you so much, I don't know how they found this procedure but I'm so thankful for it. I haven't heard his voice in so long and the kids…have never heard his voice – it'll be something that we cherish."
All that I can do is smile at my best friend as we continue to hug. Neither of us had ever expected for us to be where we are today, especially after everything that it took for us to get here. I know deep down in my heart that everything happened for a reason, the good and the bad, but it still doesn't make me feel as though I should have done more to help others live to see the future that they helped us create. Ethan and Alwin lead us out into the garden, into the bright sunshine. My gaze flickers around the bricks that make up the building, a small smile forms as I stare at two bricks side by side that say Odysseus and Ashlee. All of the things that I set out to accomplish have been completed, and that is what tells me that it's time to move on.
As we sit down at a small table that overlooks the water, I notice that Ethan and Alwin are smirking at each other. Raising an eyebrow, I take a biscuit off of the platter and take a small bite off of it before finally giving in. Sighing, I ask, "What are you two smirking about?"
"Well, we both have some news for you too." Alwin and Ethan pick up their glasses, clinging them together as their eyes sparkle. Taking a small sip of his drink, Alwin chuckles before saying, "Ethan and I have agreed that I should become the Mayor of District Thirteen. I've spoken with a few people and they've agreed that I should run."
I almost choke on my biscuit and just stare at him, not fully understanding his words. Alwin hasn't ever mentioned becoming Mayor to me before now, but everyone else had said that they could see it happening later on in life. Holding my hand over my mouth I shake my head slowly, this would be our next great adventure – there's no doubt about that.
Thank you for supporting my writing and I hope that all of you have enjoyed the series. For the final time, thank you so much for reading and please leave a review.