The Luxury Of Knowing - Keith Urban.
"Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true, here is the place where I love you." - Suzanne Collins.
Four Years Later
That's what she was starting to feel right now.
And, normally, when she was running, she could care less about sweating.
But, the problem was, even though she was running, now was not the time to be sweating.
Out of all the days to be late for something, this was not one of them.
Actually, this really just wasn't her day so far.
First, they almost missed their train. Then, it was late getting from District Four to District Twelve. Four hours late to be exact. The problem was, they had to be in District Twelve by twelve, and it was now just after four.
And they were very late.
After they got off the train, they had to race across town, which was a horrible idea seen that she was wearing high heels and a skater shirt.
With her heels in her hand, the two pushed pass people as their destination, finally, came into view.
"Moms going to kill us." Hope breathed out as her and Finnick flew through the main doors of the school, slowing down to a walk.
"But we made it," Finnick tried to caught his breath as they walked to the gym. "Besides, he's last anyways."
"Still," Hope hopped on one foot as she put back on her heels. "We were suppose to be at the house for pictures at one and it's now 4:26. So, moms going to kill us."
As they came closer to the gym, they could hear clapping and names being called.
Cheers, clapping and whistles followed after the name as the couple finally came to the gym doors.
"Come on," Finnick placed his arm around Hopes waist, slowly pushing open the door.
Chairs were in two big rows on both sides of the gym, with an aisle in the middle and the first few rows of chairs in the front reserved for the students wearing their black gowns and caps.
On stage, the principal stood at the podium, called out for another name and clapping filled the place once more.
"Over there." Finnick pointed to his right, and when Hope looked, she saw the back of her mother's head, sitting a few rows back from the front.
Quietly, as another name was called, Finnick and Hope made their way over to the family.
Looking up at the stage one more time, Hope caught her brothers eye as he sat off to the side of the stage, in his black cap and gown, a yellow sash around his neck.
He raised an eyebrow at his sister, which she answered with a small smile that caused him to just shake his head, a smile on his face before he turned back to his classmates.
"Where have you been?" Katniss demanded in a low voice as Hope and Finnick squeezed pass some people before taking their seats.
"Train was late. Sorry." Hope smiled sheepishly at her mother.
"You should have come yesterday as planned." Katniss gave her twenty-year-old daughter a look.
"We're here now. We didn't miss Hunt and we can take pictures after. No harm done."
Katniss looked like she wanted to argue some more, but she ended up sighing and rolling her eyes before turning back to the stage.
"How many more?" Finnick asked as a boy walked off stage, throwing his fist in the air.
"Umm," Peeta looked down at his program. "Only four more."
"By the way Hope," Hope looked to her right and saw Tessa glaring at her a few chairs down. "Thank you for letting me know you were staying in District Four an extra day."
"Any time Tess." Hope smirked, which caused Tessa to glare at her even more.
"Like seriously. I could have stayed in District Seven an extra day and caught the train with you two."
"You know why they wanted to stay in District Four an extra day. Alone." Haymitch looked up from the chair at the end of the row, smirking.
"Shut up Haymitch." Hope, Finnick, and Peeta glared.
"Shut it guys," Johanna said, sitting up straighter. "It's his turn."
"And now, this years class valedictorian, Hunter Mellark!"
All nine of them jumped up out of their seats, cheering and clapping, along with the whole gym, as Hunter stepped forward and excepted his diploma before walking up to the podium.
Once the gym died down and they all took their seats again, Hunter looked around the gym before smiling.
"Most people, they like to start their speech with a quote. A meaningful quote that basically tells us to never give up and this isn't goodbye. Well, it's a good thing I'm not like most people." Laughter filled the room as Hunter looked over at Hope, Finnick and Tessa, smiling, before turning back to the died-down crowd. "I'm going to start my speech with a story. A story with a life lesson."
Hope could feel a smile started to form on her lips as Hunter looked down at the podium, before looking back up.
"Four years ago, I didn't go to school. I never really had many friends. It was mostly just me, my sister, and my two best friends. And yes, all four of us are Victors children." Another round of light laughter filled the room before Hunters face turned serious. "However, we knew nothing. We didn't know about the Hunger Games. So, we decided to take matters into our own hands and find out what the hell happened in the past.
"We watched tapes. Tapes about the Games. And, as we went behind our parents back, trying to learn as much as we could, and even after we got caught, I, we, realized something."
Hunter looked over their way again and Hope could feel tears start to fill her eyes as Finnick reached for her hand, giving it a little squeeze.
"Life is hard. Sometimes, when you fight to move forward, to look for answers, you get pushed back. And you keep getting pushed back. You sometimes lose hope, lose faith. You start to give up. But, eventually, after you fight back enough, you will break through and reach your destination, even if it's not where you thought you would end up.
"I guess, what I'm saying, is to keep fighting for what you want. Keep pushing and moving on. And remember, not everything is going to go the way you planned it.
"Four years ago, I didn't go to school. I didn't really have many friends. But now, now I have a High School diploma in my hands, and I do have many friends. And I learned, to keep fighting. Which is what got me here today, in front of all you."
Looking over at her mother, Hope say that Katniss' eyes were never leaving Hunter, tears shining in them as she gripped onto Peeta's hand.
Her face said it all. Hope never seen her, and her father, look so proud, except where she graduated, but still. Hope wasn't valedictorian.
Turning back to her brother, Hope saw a big smile start to form on his face.
"Most people, they would now tell you all congratulations, we did it. Well... Congratulations graduating class. We did it."
The cheering and clapping was louder there before as Hunter walked off the stage and joined the rest of the grads, but not before looking over at his sister, Finnick and Tessa, winking.
"Well. Only one thing left to say." The principal smiled as he took to the podium again. "Ladies and gentleman, I would like to present, this years graduating class!"
"Can you believe it?" Finnick smiled, looking around the table that himself, Hope, Hunter and Tessa sat at. They were in the town square where the District was hosting a party to congratulate the graduates. "All of us are graduated. From high school."
"Well what else would we all be graduated from?" Tessa rolled her eyes, taking a drink.
"I mean," Finnick glared at her, but the smile quickly came back on his face. "High school, as in not from being home schooled."
"You're right," Hunter agreed. "That does seem weird."
"Wait a minute." Tessa looked up, eyes narrowed. "What do you mean all of us? You didn't go to school."
"I would have if I wasn't already eighteen when we had the option to go." Finnick snapped, causing Tessa to roll her eyes.
"No you wouldn't have."
"And how do you know?"
"It's good to see nothings changed over the years." Hope shook you head, smiling as Hunter laughed.
"The day Finn and Tess stop fighting, is when I'll start to worry."
"You guys are so funny." Tessa grumbled, crossing her arms.
Hope turned to Tessa and smiled, causing her to stick her tongue out. However, before Hope could comment on how immature Tessa was, two boys and a girl walked over to their table.
"Hey Hunter," a tall, red-head boy said before turning to Hope, Finnick and Tessa. "Hey."
"Hey Ty," Hunter smiled as the others just smiled back a hello.
"We were wondering if you'd like to come get a drink with us."
"Sure," Hunter stood up, before turning to Hope, Finnick and Tessa. "Catch you guys later."
Once they all nodded, Hunter turned and walked over to the drinks with his friends and, just as he disappeared in the crowd, Tessa sighed, standing up.
"Well. See ya."
"Where are you going?" Hope raised an eyebrow as Tessa shrugged.
"Don't know. But, I'm really not in the mood to be a third wheel. So, later."
Hope and Finnick watched as Tessa turned around and walked off.
"Alright then," Hope said, not really sure how to react.
"Good riddance I say." Finnick smirked, causing Hope to give him a glare before rolling her eyes, a smile tugging at her lips.
Turning away from Finnick and looking out into the crowd, Hope suddenly felt her chest tighten and she was hit with the image of her sixteen-year-old self running through this very spot, only to be knocked over by eighteen-year-old Finnick.
"Why is this place called the Victors Village, Finnick?"
"Because the sign we just walked past said so?"
"What are you thinking, beautiful?"
Snapping out of her thoughts, Hope turned to Finnick to find him watching her with an intense look, as if he was trying to read her mind, his brows narrowed slightly.
Shaking her head, Hope felt a smirk start to pull at her lips. "You can be some saucy, you know that?"
"What?" Finnick titled his head to the side slightly, confused.
"Four years ago, I asked you why that," Hope nodded her head towards the Village. "Place was called the Victors Village. And you said because the sign told us so."
The confused look fell off Finnick's face as he started to smirk. "That's not being saucy. That's stating the obvious."
Hope couldn't help but laugh and roll her eyes as she turned back to watching the crowd of people dancing on the dance floor.
"What?" Hope turned back to Finnick, confused, as he smiled a crocked smile at her.
"Ask me again."
With her eyes narrowed slightly, Hope titled her head to the side before fully understanding with he was saying.
"Why is that place called the Victors Village, Finnick?" Hope smiled.
Leaning towards Hope more, Finnick answered. "Because it's were the survivors of the Hunger Games live after they make it out alive."
A full blown smile broke out on Hope's face as she let out a light laugh.
"I love that," Finnick said, smiling. After seeing Hopes confused look, he explained. "Your smile, your laugh. I love you Hope Ember."
Just like whenever Finnick said those things to her, Hope's heart started to speed up as the smile stayed on her face.
Leaning forward so there was only inches between her and Finnick, Hope replied. "And I love you Finnick Lake."
"Okay, good." Finnick let out a breath. "I was starting to have my doubts."
Narrowing her eyes slightly, Hope let out another laugh as she shook her head.
Just as she was about the close the gap between them, a voice broke through their little bubble.
"Excuse me," Pulling apart, Hope and Finnick looked up and saw Annie standing by the table. "I was wondering if I could steal my son for a dance?" Annie smiled at Finnick, who lightly groaned, causing Hope to laugh.
"Of course Aunt Annie."
Finnick turned to Hope, wide-eyed, but he still stood up. "Do you like causing me pain or something women?"
"Oh stop being dramatic," Annie rolled her eyes, a smile tugging at her lips. "You love to dance."
"Do you know everything about me or something." Finnick smirked as Annie grabbed his hand, pulling him away from the table.
"Well I am your mother."
"This is true." Hope heard Finnick say before they disappeared into the sea of people.
Shaking her head at her goofy boyfriend, Hope looked down at her cup to find it almost empty.
Throwing back the last of her drink, she stood up, deciding to heading for a refill.
Walking between people to make her way to the drink table, Hope was just about there when a tall, dark-haired man suddenly turned around and walked straight into her.
"I'm so sorry," the man, who Hope could now see had grey eyes, apologized as he looked down at her. "I didn't see you there."
"It's fine," Hope smiled. "You get that a lot when you're small."
The man let out a deep laugh and Hope couldn't stop her curiosity from building up. She lived in District Twelve her whole life, and never seen this man before.
"Are you from here?" She blurted out before she could stop herself. "I'm mean, I haven't seen you around before."
"You could say that," the man continued to smile. "I'm just visiting with my son."
Hope opened her mouth to comment on this, however, before she could get a word out, the strange man beat her to it.
"If you don't mind me asking, you look very familiar," he furrowed his brows slightly. "What's your name?"
"Hope." That was all she could get out, for some reason she couldn't bring herself to say her last name.
"Well Hope," he held out his hand for her to shake it, which she did. "It's nice to meet you. I'm Gale."
As they let go of hands, shock came over Hope's face as she stared up at the man, at Gale. However, he either didn't notice, or ignored it.
"Now, if you excuse me. I best be going."
And before Hope could never blink, Gale smiled at her one more time before walking off into the crowd, leaving her just standing there, her mind working overtime but she couldn't think of anything as shock and surprise took over her face and filled her mind.
"Hope? Are you okay?"
Shaking her head slightly to snap herself out of it, Hope saw Tessa standing in front of her, looking worried, with a tall dark-haired man behind her.
"Yeah." Hope replied, shaking her head once more. "I'm fine."
"You sure? You looked really out of it."
Hope nodded her head, and, to change the subject, Hope turned to the dark-haired boy, who looked about the same age as Tessa, and held out her hand, smiling.
"Hi, I'm Hope."
"Quentin." The man smiled back as he shook his hand.
"Quentin's visiting here for a while, and I'm going to help him around tomorrow." Tessa explained and Hope narrowed her eyes slightly.
This was oddly out of character for Tessa Foss.
Tessa Foss didn't help anyone.
"We were just about to get something to eat," Tessa continued. "Would you-"
"No," Hope shook her head. She didn't know what was going on here, but she wasn't about to ruin it. "No, I'm good. You two go on. I'm just going to get something to drink."
"Are you sure?"
"Positive," Hope smiled at Tessa before turning to Quentin. "It was nice meeting you."
With one more smile at the two of them, Hope turned and continued making her way to the drink table, when she heard her name being called.
"Hope." Someone grabbed her arm and spun her around, until she was standing face to face with Tessa. "Are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine Tessa." Hope tried to reassure her. "I'll tell you later. Now, go enjoy your time with Quentin. He's cute, and I can tell you like him."
"I do not." Tessa crossed her names and glared, but Hope could just make out the pink on her cheeks.
"Whatever you say Tess." Hope rolled her eyes, a smile on her face. "Have fun."
And with that, Hope walked off and headed over to the drinks.
As she was in the middle of pouring herself and drink, she felt someone come up and stand next to her.
Looking up, Hope smiled when she saw her brother standing there, a drink in his hand.
"Hey." He smiled back, but it wasn't his normal 'hello' smile. It was his 'I-want-to-tell-you-something' smile.
"What is it?" Hope asked, crossing her arms as Hunter raised an eyebrow at her.
"What are you talking about?"
"Hunt," Hope gave her brother an 'are-you-serious' look. "You're my brother. I can tell when you have something to say."
Hunter didn't say anything, he just stared down at his cup. And, after a few short moments of silence, Hope really did think he was going to keep quiet, when he finally opened his mouth and spoke.
"How did mom and dad take it when you told them you were going to District Four?"
The question took Hope by surprise, but she quickly recovered.
"They were upset," she explained, remembering the night of her graduation when she told them she was leaving District Twelve. "Upset that I was leaving, but they understood too. Of course, dad was mainly upset and angry because I was leaving with Finnick." Hope smiled slightly when the realization of the question suddenly hit her and she turned so her full body was now facing her brother. "Why?"
"Well, I was... I'm think of going to District Three."
"Really?" Hope asked, wide-eyed as Hunter nodded, turning to his sister.
"They have the top science school in all of Panem. And, I have talked to Beetee over the phone a lot and he said he could help me get settle in and look out for me."
"So you want to go study science?" Hope questioned and Hunter nodded, causing Hope to smile.
"That's great Hunt."
"Thanks." Hunter smiled back. "And you don't think mom and dad will be upset with me."
"Of course not." Hope shook her head. "They'll be upset that you're leaving, but they'll understand. Just, don't tell them tonight."
"I wasn't going to anyways, I'm not stupid enough to do that." Hunter laughed and Hope glared at him.
"Whatever." She rolled her eyes, but a smile still formed on her lips and she leaned in, hugging Hunter tightly as he returned it.
"I'm happy for you Hunter."
"Thanks sis," Hunter smiled, pulling out of the hug. "I'm going to head back to me friends now."
Hope nodded and, as she watched her brother walk away, she smirked. "Say hi to Charli for me."
"Shut up!" Hunter called back and Hope laughed light as she pictured the light pink that, nine chance out of ten, formed on his face at the mention of the girl he was crushing on.
As Hope stood there, alone, watching as the sea of people laughed and talked in front of her, she was suddenly hit with so many emotions and she could a feeling of 'I can't believe it.'
Four years ago.
Smiling to herself, Hope looked around the crowd of grads, families and friends once more.
She spotted Finnick, on the dance floor, laughing and smiling as he spun his mother around, and Hope couldn't help but feel her heart speed up every time a beautiful smile formed on his lips, and every time Annie laughed.
Looking to her right, she spotted Hunter, now standing with his friends as they laughed and talked about all their high school memories together.
Not even a few yards away, Tessa sat with Quentin, the two of them looking close as Tessa laughed at something he said.
And, then she spotted her parents, sitting at a table with Johanna and James. Laughing, talking, looking happy.
You would never say, that they went through something called The Hunger Games.
As light, warm breeze blew around Hope, she started to, subconsciously, play with her necklace.
Her mockingjay necklace.
The necklace that her parents gave her on her graduation day. Made out of her mothers mockingjay pin.
She was sixteen. Sixteen four years ago, where they started watching the tapes.
And watching those tapes had to be the best thing they ever did.
Sure, there was still some things they didn't know. How Prim and Finnick died exactly. What happened between the last tape and the end of the war. Who exactly Finnick Odair Sr was. What happened to Peeta to make him lose it sometimes. Why the Mellark's couldn't leave District Twelve for years. Who killed Snow - though they had a pretty good idea on that one - the list went on and on.
But, they were soon enough going to get the rest of their answers, and, even though they all wanted to know, that's not what matter.
What mattered now was the bond between the parents and children. The understanding they all had for each other.
The peace that was shared around them all.
Hope was suddenly pulled out of her thoughts when her eyes caught Finnick walking towards her.
"My lady," He held out his hand, smiling his breathtaking smile at her. "Would you care for a dance."
Letting out a light laugh, Hope placed her tiny hand in Finnick's, smiling. "I would love to."
The smile stayed on Finnick's face as he wrapped his rough, yet gentle hand around Hope's and lead her to the dance floor, pulling her into his arms as they got wrapped up in their own little world.
Four years ago.
Finnick, Tessa, Hope and Hunter. They were teenagers looking for answers.
Some questions they got answered, some they didn't, and some more were even added to the pile.
They went behind their parents backs. They break the rules.
There were tears. Voices were raised. Hugs and kisses were shared. Drinks were drank - mainly by Haymitch - and lessons were learned.
And, because of all of this, the families were never closer.
There were no more secrets. There was now an understanding between the kids and parents.
They bond between them all couldn't be stronger.
And that, that was the luxury of knowing.
I would just like to take this time and say thank-you. This has been the most amazing journey and I'm so glad I got to spend it with all my amazing readers. This story would not have gotten were it is today if it wasn't for all you guys.
All of you are the most wonderful readers in the world, and thank you for stick with this story though everything.
I love you all to the moon and back, never forget that, xoxo
Again, thank-you, so so much.
And don't forget to review, one last time.