A/N: Hey all! Loved the idea of Katniss watching both Annie's Hunger Games and Finnick and Annie's wedding! Hope you all enjoy it! Feedback is always welcome
It wasn't much of a rehearsal dinner, but Finnick had wanted Annie to have every aspect of a real wedding, so we went through the motions. Half way through the ceremony though, Annie's eyes glazed over and she was gone. She began screaming and thrashing her arms, tearing at her clothes. Finnick tried to calm her down, nearly suffocating her in his embrace until she regained normal breathing. He kissed her hair and smoothed her dress before taking her to bed.
I tried not to look at him as he left the cafeteria where the wedding would be held, feeling unjusty guilty for what had happened to Annie. A few hours later I was wondering the halls sleeplessly when I found him sitting outside the medic rooms.
He was slumped on the floor, head in his hands. I was going to turn the other way, not sure if I could deal with a sad Finnick. He heard my footsteps though and looked up.
"Katniss," he said, wiping his nose on his sleeve.
I took a few steps closer, "How is she?"
He breathed deeply, "Better. The doctors say she should be able to get through the ceremony tomorrow."
I sat down next to him. I never could understand Finnick's love for Annie. Perhaps because I had never known her before the Capitol had destroyed her mind. Finnick's resolve to protect her was unnerving sometimes. I wondered if that's how people expected me to act with Peeta.
"Finnnick," I whispered, "How do you do it? How can you stand to see her…like that? Peeta's only been sick for a few weeks now…and he might get better. But if he didn't…I don't know if I could…" I trailed off, not wanting to think of a permanently ill Peeta.
"If you could, what? Keep loving him?" he clenched his fists tightly, "Katniss, I could never stop loving Annie. She is…everything. No matter where her mind takes her, or what it makes her do, I know she's still in there, my perfect Annie."
His devotion caught me off-guard. I didn't know if I was capable of that. If Peeta hated me for the rest of my life, could I still love him?
After I left Finnick, I found my way to the Archives Room where they kept everything President Coin deemed important. Among them were all the past Hunger Games recordings. It didn't take long for me to find Annie's.
I pushed in her tape, feeling as if I was invading her privacy, much like when Haymitch caught Peeta and me watching his time in the Arena.
The tape began with all the Tributes surrounding the Cornucopia. They only passed Annie for a few seconds, her eyes were hard and when the sixty seconds were up she darted forward, snatching up a knife and bag before running into the woods.
It was strange to see a mentally sound Annie. I had to admit, she looked fierce. As I watched, an eerie feeling crept around me. Watching her evade the Career pack time and time again, foraging for food in the foreign landscape, one thing dawned on me: she acted like me. Or rather, I acted like her. Maybe that's why Finnick had agreed to help Peeta and I, because I reminded him of the Annie he used to know.
As the days wore on though, they began to take their toll. At one point, the Game-makers drained all of the water sources in the Arena, forcing the remaining Tributes to the middle again. An inevitable blood bath. Through it all though, Annie tried to her best to keep her mind. She whispered songs to herself and managed to portion out what little water she had left to last her a few days…more than the others at least.
Every now and again the cameras would show a shot of the each Tribute's mentors. District Four only had Finnick and Mags, so obviously they spent their time with Finnick. Each time they showed him, his eyes were glued to the screen, his mouth murmuring silent prayers for Annie. Looking at it now, it was clear that he was already in love with her.
Amazingly enough, Annie had yet to take one life in the Games. The others had managed to do that for her. Finally though, she and everyone else had made it to the center of the Arena. And by everyone else, I mean the two other Tributes still alive. The District 7 boy and District 2 girl. The boy was tall and strong, he wielded a massive ax, swinging it in a wide loop as he began walking toward the District 2 girl. The District 2 girl stood still, silently waiting as the boy moved closer. It seemed she was ready to accept her death. Blood stained his face and matted his hair, a wide grin on his face, the nearer he got.
About three yards away from the small girl he stopped, and began to wind up his ax for the fatal swing. It was clear that this was the weapon he had impressed the Capitol sponsors with, and I'm sure they were enjoying watching him use it.
But before the boy could even blink, the young girl whipped out a small knife and threw it straight and threw it hard, right into his heart. The ax landed on the ground with a thud and he collapsed to the ground. Ripping her knife out of his chest, the District 2 girl stared into the woods where Annie had been watching in horror.
"I knew you're out there District 4. And I'm coming for you." She said lowly.
She began walking towards Annie's hiding spot with the walk of a skilled hunter, "You are all that's left between me and a lifetime of glory. You may have been able to outrun us before…but not this time," blood dripped for the knife as she took another step forward.
I was literally on the edge of my seat, as I'm sure everyone else in the Capitol had been too. They flashed to a scene with Finnick and Mags. Mags had tears streaming down her face, "She was so close," the audience could hear her saying.
Finnick never tore his eyes form the screen as he squeezed Mags hand, "She's not dead yet," he said forcefully.
The cameras moved to Annie's vantage point, her breathing was slow and heavy. As the cameras moved behind her, they say her reach behind and remove a thick stick that had been sharpened to a point from the back of her pants. You could almost hear the collective gasp of the Capitol.
"You know, I'm not going to give you the luxury of a fast death like I did that boy," she spit, throwing her head back to where the District 7 boy still lay, "I'm going to kill you, up close and personal. I want my face to be the last thing you ever see."
Taking a deep breath, Annie stepped out from behind the brush, her hand still behind her back.
The girl chuckled, "I wondered when you would come out and face me. No sense in running. No where to run."
Annie nodded in agreement, her eyes staring behind the girl to where the boy's body was. His eyes were still open. "Then let's finish it," she said softly.
"My pleasure." The girl took three long steps and throttled Annie's neck between her hands. Annie began struggling for breath, her eyes wide and afraid.
"You don't know how long I've waited for this," the girl said, "District 2 could always use another Victor."
Annie tried to push her away, but the days in the Arena had made her weak.
The girl laughed darkly, "It's a shame you won't get to see your handsome mentor again," she bent her head close to Annie's, placing a kiss on the side of her mouth, "He was always so charming."
Annie grunted in frustration and managed to slip her hand back behind her back.
"I can't wait to tell him all about how I killed you," the girl snorted, "And after that, we'll fu-"
Before she could finish Annie thrust her make-shift spear through the girl's stomach with amazing strength. The girl gasped and fell away from Annie, pulling out the spear. Blood poured from her wound and she collapsed, dead.
The camera closed in on Annie, the announcer proclaiming her victory. But all I could focus on was Annie's eyes, fixated on the District 2 girl's dead body. Her hands began to shake and tears streamed down her face. Falling to the ground she placed her head in her bloody hands, sobs racking her body, "I'm so sorry. So sorry," she screamed, again and again.
That was it, I knew. That was when Annie had lost herself. Most shocking of all, that she had done it for Finnick, to defend his honor in a twisted way.
"Sometimes I wonder if she wishes she had died that day," Finnick walked into the room, pulling out the tape.
"Finnick! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to…"
He waved me off, putting on a forced smile, "It's ok. Sometimes I watch it too. Kind of masochistic of me, really. Just like that day, I can't seem to stop watching."
He took the tape and began walking out of the room, "Better get some sleep, big day tomorrow," he grinned, still looking down at the tape, "No need for this anymore."
That night I watched Peeta sleep. His jaw was clenched as tight as his fists and he thrashed around for hours. His muscles strained as he pulled against the restraints. I didn't know how much more I could handle when the screams started. I wanted to rush in a wake him the terrible nightmares, but the door was locked specifically to keep me out. I sank to the floor, a spitting image of how I had found Finnick earlier tonight.
"Miss Everdeen?" I woke up to a young guard kneeling in front of me. I had fallen asleep outside of Peeta's room.
"Sorry, I'm awake," I mumbled.
"Haymitch said to be ready in 45 minutes. That's when the ceremony begins," he reported.
I nodded my thanks and made my way back to my room. After I had gotten dressed I made way down to Haymitch's room where my breakfast was waiting.
"They kicked us out of the cafeteria early so they could set up. I saved you some food," he gestured to his dresser.
"Thanks," I said grabbing some toast and settling on the chair in the corner.
Haymitch began to tie his bowtie, "You should really think about trying to get a good night's sleep. Watching him isn't going to help anything."
I picked at my toast, crumbs falling to the floor. "I know, but I can't sleep knowing he can't sleep either."
Haymitch didn't say anything after that and we both sat silently until it was time to go.
For a District that had been isolated underground for so long, they had managed to put together a beautiful space for Annie and Finnick's wedding. Blue fabric was swathed over the chairs and ceremony space. Candles let the aisle and the air smelled like the seaside.
Finnick was already at the alter, his smile a mile-wide. As the final guests filed in, the music began. We all stood to look at Annie. Haymitch was escorting her down the aisle, but no one was looking at him.
She was a vision, her hair gently curled and pulled away from her face. She wore a simple white dress, probably the closest thing to a wedding dress here in District 13. She carried a ceremonial piece of coral that was typical of District 4 weddings. It was a soft pink that sparkled in the candlelight.
Haymitch kissed her cheek as they reached the altar and Finnick took her hands. When he sat back down next to me, Haymitch wiped his eyes with the corner of his sleeve. I shot him a look.
"Not a word," he whispered, sniffling. I stifled a smile and watched the ceremony.
President Coin conducted the ceremony. She said moving words and lovely things about Annie and Finnick and their relationship. Of course she slipped in some political propaganda since the wedding would later be televised. I didn't hear much of what she said, my eyes fixed on Finnick, as his eyes were fixed on Annie.
When it was time, they each took a side of the coral and snapped it in half. The pieces of coral were meant to symbolize their souls, and the only person who could complete them was the person who had the other half.
Next came the vows. Finnick was first, and I wasn't sure if he would make it through.
"…I love you, Annie. From the first moment I saw you. I love you," he kept repeating as he slid a ring on her finger. Annie's eyes never left Finnick's face even as he put the ring on her finger. She gave his hand a comforting squeeze and he had to blink back more tears. Annie picked up Finnick's ring and cleared her throat. For a moment, she was that intelligent, fierce woman again. Her voice never wavered in her speech of unending love and devotion until the very end.
"Finnick," she began slowly, "I know I'm not always here," she glanced down shyly. Finnick squeezed her hand gently and she smiled up at him. They both had tears in their eyes, "But you have to know, that wherever my mind takes me…it's always with you."
Finnick smiled a sad smile and there wasn't a dry eye in the cafeteria. I stray tear slid down my cheek and I wiped it away before anyone else could see. Embarrassed I looked around to find Gale staring at me from across the room. He held my eyes until I had to look away.
In my hands I clutched the pearl Peeta had given me, rolling it in-between my fingers, remembering that beautiful night. I had never been so sure of my feelings for Peeta, never wanted him more than I had that night. Watching Annie and Finnick though, I realized what that pit in the bottom of my stomach was: longing. A deep longing to experience the same kind of love and devotion…and it wasn't with Gale. Finnick was right. Even if Peeta never found his way out of the reality the Capitol had created for him and even if he never said my name again without a curse word directly after it, nothing could ever change how I felt about that night during the Quarter Quell, how I feel right now.
I loved him, unconditionally. Slipping the pearl into my pocket I stood and clapped as Finnick and Annie made their way down the aisle. As Finnick passed me, he winked his swoon-worthy wink and glanced behind me. Curious, I turned around. In the back corner, surrounded by three guards, and with his wrists and ankles still bound, was Peeta. He was staring at me with the same look I'm sure I had throughout the whole ceremony.
A moment I'll never forget was when he smiled back at me.