Wow, so, um…it's been a while? I'M SORRY. Summary of my life since last upload: school, school, school, school, insomnia, new job, school, school, school, exams in a week oh dear god. If it weren't for you kind souls reviewing and all the other stuff I would not have had the motivation to write, so thank you for supporting me even though I have been terrible. Enjoy, I hope.
Just before slipping out of the window, Annie thought twice and reached to grab a thin cardigan and slip on her sandals. It never got extremely cold in the District, but it was still late at night and winter time. She could taste the salt as the wind carried it from the shore battering waves across the town. The moon was waning, a half moon. Still the night held a glow. Hopefully the sound of the wind rustling would be enough to stop anyone from seeing them. They were both bleary eyed from exhaustion, and Annie almost felt as though she was in a dream.
They slipped away from the houses quietly, not daring to speak or even whisper. They kept away from the beach as they walked, sticking close to walls until they were finally away from any buildings. Finnick's grip in her hand was extremely tight, and did not loosen until there were leaves about their heads and the ground beneath their feet turned from concrete and to stone and dirt and grass.
Annie finally spoke up. Out of the town they must be safe.
"Where are we going?" Her whisper sounded loud to her own ears. "Finnick?"
They'd been walking for about ten minutes and he replied, "You haven't worked it out? You'll see, we're almost there."
He turned to her and his expression displayed confidence and reassurance, but she still felt nervous. The path was now leading them up a steep hill and she was beginning to feel extremely tired.
"It's just up here," Finnick said, as the trees began cleared and the hill flattened.
Annie shook her head as she realised where they were. She had seen this place from a distance so many time, glimpses of it behind trees, and yet not figured out until now where Finnick had taken her. It was the lighthouse, abandoned now after the ports were moved to the centre of town where all the residents could be more easily controlled. It rose to the height of the surrounding trees, and though it didn't look that tall from a distance, close up it was a great tower made of pale grey stone.
"I don't think I've ever been here before," Annie murmured softly as she looked up at it.
"Come on," Finnick said over his shoulder, "Let's go in."
"Go in," Annie echoed. "You can get in?"
He led her around the side and sure enough there was a battered door made of warped wood. The latch was broken, all they had to do was push it and it opened with a creak. The light from outside seeped in to gently wash over the wooden floor and questionable looking spiral staircase. Finnick stood aside, his expression unreadable.
She stood still for a few moments, and then realised that what she was seeing in him was in fact contained excitement. She entered, her foot catching on the step leading in and nearly tripping. She regained her balance and declined Finnick offer of help.
The door creaked as a light wind gently pulled it half closed and Annie jumped, tense from tiredness. She would have felt apprehensive moving further into the room if not for her trust in Finnick and his presence. She was looking up and around at the old walls, heavy wooden beams engraved with wave-like patterns rose up and out of sight along with a spiral staircase. The whole place seemed almost to creak and sway, groaning in weary protest against constant ocean winds.
"Are we going up?" she asked, feeling like her voice was out of place.
"No," his voice was laden with sarcasm, "I came to your house so that we could break curfew and walk all the way here, but we're going to turn around. Right now. Hurry Cresta, or else Ayla will come and strangle me with one of your nets when she discovers I've made you sneak out in the dead of the night."
A long absent but never forgotten smile graced his face and Annie felt a jolt. Could things really have changed so much that she had become unaccustomed to seeing him happy and joking? She felt relaxed at seeing it, bringing colour to his face in spite of the dark. It was such a change from his earlier demeanour, though, that she knew to be watchful of more shifts.
"I think the one you really have to worry about is Nonna."
He laughed, a simple action, and her body responded by making her feel as though she were floating. Her body and her mind had always been one: when she was nervous she would shake or fidget. When scared she would feel physically ill. When she was sad she felt it in her leaden limbs. But only Finnick had ever affected it so wholly and completely. She'd never felt joy or contentment the same as when it came from something he had said or done.
"That's true, what do you think I can do to convince her I'm a wholesome young man with the best of intentions?"
Annie rolled her eyes but couldn't stop herself from grinning. She turned and began to lead the way up the precarious staircase. At some point along the way they had joined hands. The stairs seemed to creak with each step and a few were even partly missing. The stairwell ended countless steps up, opening to a circular room with windows lining the walls, the rattly kind that opened outwards. In the centre of the room was the long broken light which had once guided sailors to shore.
She stepped away from Finnick, releasing his hand, and walked around the room. She looked at the peeling blue paint on the window frames and the white on the walls, the carvings which teenagers had put into the wood for years before. There were a few candles in holders on the walls. The noticed the glass of the giant light was smashed, on purpose, perhaps? Outside, the district slept a quiet slumber. The sound of the ocean was faint. She pressed her face up against one of the cold windows to look out and saw the dark sea not far away. She was oblivious to Finnick's eyes following her wherever she moved as he leaned against some railing.
When she turned around she saw that Finnick had been lighting candles which brought a flicking, yellow light to the room.
"What were you looking at?" he asked.
"Nothing," she shook her head, "Just thinking."
"Just that it's incredible that this place is still standing," she replied.
Finnick shook the match he had been using to light one of the candles.
"Yeah, I suppose it is."
"There was the rebellion and everything but it still hasn't been knocked down," she continued, "Why would they have left it standing? A beacon of hope…"
"Yes," he said, his face grave as he walked over to her and took her hand again. He couldn't help it. He needed her with him, feeling her hand in his. "That shines no more."
She looked behind him at the smashed light. It seemed like such a simple problem to fix.
"Only for so long…"
Her voice was barely audible, he couldn't hear properly. She shook her head and looked up at him, watching his eyelashes like thick cobwebs darkened with shadows. When they kissed there was little joy. Finnick sighed when they broke off and rested her forehead lightly against hers, his eyes closed, murmuring.
"Annie, my Annie."
"Finnick, why did you bring me here?"
She gently pulled his hands away and sat him down by one of the walls. His mood had changed again, dark and shut off.
"To talk," he said, as he absentmindedly stroked her hand and rested his head against the wall. "There's no one listening here, I'm sure of it. Don't you feel it? It's like a different world. Like our bay, it's separate."
Annie had to agree that what he said was true.
"Talk about what, Finn?"
"About us, about how to deal with things…"
"What do mean, 'deal with things'? We deal with thing just fine. It's not easy, but we manage."
"This entire situation is grossly unfair on you, Annie," he whispered.
"No more so than it is on you," she retorted. "I don't understand, Finn, I thought we'd been through this. There's so much I don't understand, so much"-
"That I can't explain to you," he replied.
"Well try," Annie said, "Take earlier today, for instance. One minute, you're kissing me, the next minute you walk away and leave me." Her irritation had arisen without her noticing. "You're right, this is unfair on me, but not," she cut him off before he could say something else, "For the reasons you say."
"I…" Finnick trailed off. He closed his eyes and sighed, sitting up, looking at her intently. "Annie," he began, "I love you. Firstly you have to understand that. Secondly," he hesitated, and continued. "I'm going to be blunt. Is that ok?"
"Be as honest as you need."
"You know what goes on between me and other girls. You know that I don't want to do those things, because I don't love them, or even like them. My heart belongs entirely to you. The thought of us being together like that turns sour as soon as I remember that it won't always be just me and you. I will have to go to bed with many more girls from now. And I can't stand that. I can't stand the thought that I would be the guy that does that to you. It would feel wrong and unfair and… selfish. So whenever things feel like they're escalating, even though nothing more is happening at this point, I feel like I have to stop it. Because you're not the same as the others, of course you're not."
Annie stared at her lap, thinking over his words.
"I don't know," he said, "If that explained it right. It was the best I could do. Does that make any sense at all?"
"Yes…" she almost smiled for some reason, "But, Finnick, you idiot, I don't think you know what I want, and what I think. And I don't care. I don't care about the others. You have to understand that. That's another world, that's the bad world. That world will never come between us."
"Hasn't it already?"
"No," she shook her head defiantly, "Of course not. I'm not leaving you."
"I read a story once," she began, struggling to stay focussed as she felt his warm breath tickling her ear. "It was about people who kept getting reincarnated and meeting in different lives, years apart. I think that could be us. We could have met in lives before this one, and then once we die we'll meet in lives after. I could never be apart from you long."
"I can't even think about that right now," he said. "How long will you stay with me?"
"Until I die, and after that," she replied softly, "Unless you leave me?"
"Never," he breathed, and she was very close now, curled up by his side.
He stroked her soft hair, her soft cheeks, felt her soft lips part under his. Almost everything about her seemed soft and gentle, but Finnick knew that this was an illusion. Annie's life had strengthened and hardened her, physically and mentally. Her callused hand and lean limbs were evidence of this, but even underneath that there was an extraordinary state of mind of someone who knew what it was to suffer. She was not weak, but she was not invincible. There were things that could break her.
They could never reach her.
When they parted, there was both contentment and disappointment at having to return back to the district.
"I wish we could stay all night," Annie said with a wistful smile, after they stood up. "I love you."
"I love you too, Annie," he replied, kissing her again, "Annie, Annie, Annie…" he was murmuring her name over and over again softly, then finally spoke clearly. "You are," his gaze was locked with hers, "The only constant light in my life, and the only one I ever will love."