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Disclaimer: Not my characters. I just like making them cry. Title from Laura Marling's My Manic and I.
Summary: "Did you love with Annie right away, Finnick?" "No," he pauses. "She crept up on me." Finnick waits in District 13. Spoilers through most of Mockingjay.


He is placed into a bed and arms are holding him down. He knows he’s stronger than them, could probably break loose, but he doesn’t try very hard.

He thinks in the back of his mind: this has all already happened. He is fourteen years old, and he has just won the Hunger Games. He is bruised and gashed and bone-thin, but the trident still clutched tight in his hand says he is beautiful. He is in the Capitol, safe in the most dangerous of places—he screams to feel the rawness of being alive scratch up his throat until the sedative kicks in.

No. No. That’s not right.

He is twenty-four years old. He has escaped the Quarter Quell. He is in District Thirteen. He has aided and abetted a full scale, honest-to-fuck rebellion, and (so far) lived to tell the tale. He is free as free can be, but--

He scream scream screams for her, for air, for water, for something.

It’s no use.

They have sedatives in District Thirteen, too.
***

1.
When Finnick Odair meets Annie Cresta, he is 14 years old and already a Victor—stripped and hollowed out, cleaned up and made shiny-new. She is 12, impossibly bright, all of four-foot-ten-and-a-quarter, if she’s standing up perfectly straight.

“What are you doing?”

“Sitting on the dock.”

“By yourself?”

“Guess so.”

“I’ll race you to the first buoy and back.”

Annie wins that race because she is the better swimmer; she almost always is. She hits the dock five seconds before him, her smile wide and triumphant. He smiles back because he still thinks he is allowed that much.

(He was wrong, but he never could bring himself to care or stop clinging to that moment for dear life or something like it.)

2.
This is how all hell begins its gentle journey towards breaking loose:

It is the year before Snow will begin regularly sending for Finnick in the Capitol. For now, Annie is young and foolish. Finnick is freshly scarred and righteous. They are 13 and 15 (respectively), and they understand the world with such a fierce assurance that only a young teenager can possess. They were friends—now they are cohorts, partners in treason and dreams.

It is raining that day—not a storm, but the steady kind with heavy, fat droplets. They meet in a cave by the sea— later, he won't remember why that cave or if they planned to meet or if it was by chance, he will just know that they did, and that will be enough.

Finnick’s hair stuck in wet, sloppy curls to his forehead. Annie was barefoot, because she’d worn a hole in her good boots the week before. This matters-- later, this is how he reminds Annie it really happened.

They say things, words that mean nothing and everything, more and less than they could possibly imagine. Words at the Capitol. Bastards. Controlling. Evil.

“I don’t want to go back this year, for the Games,” Finnick is scared. He says it with all the defiance he can muster, but he is scared.

“What if we could run away?” she says, because she is young and because she believes in goodness, still. “Let’s. Let’s swim away,” she giggles, twirls, kicks a pool of water to splash him.

“If only,” his smile is tired and old. She sits on his lap as a child does, because she is a child, and traces the curve of his lips. He kisses her then, short and dry but alive, all the same.

Finnick should have known better, had more of a chance to know better. She could have been safe, maybe, if he had known better. He hopes she has the sense to hate him for it, at least a bit.

3.
There is a woman (there were women and men, endless) once (twice, thrice, a thousand times). He loved her like he ought, with every visible fiber of his being, no more, no less.

She runs the flat of her palm, uncalloused but rough where it counted, down the bare of his chest. Her fingers curl up then down, slowly, scratching tailored nails down to leave a mark that would be erased for the next patron’s clean canvas.

She says: “You, my dear, are immortal.”

He smiles easily with nothing of what he believes and says: “You have no idea.”

The awful part is that it’s true.

4.
Annie’s hair was always tangled, he remembers. Before, in the sea. All salt and clumps when it’s wet, twisted into gritty knots when it’s been out in the sun for a few hours.

He memorizes the feel of it on the train to the Capitol, before they take her, scrub her down, clean it up. He knows this is the last chance he’ll get, so he commits every bump and snag and knot to everlasting memory and begs it stay.

After, when she is fished out of the arena, hollow and dripping with victory, of all things, it is matted and soaked chilling down to her skull, dirty river water still running out the strands, too much for her to soak up. The only salt runs in tear tracks down her face.

He takes her home to the sea—he takes her again and again and again and washes her clean each time. He combs her hair himself with a hand he forces steady. She doesn’t cry or yell, even when he yanks on a knot. It’s the only time she never does, at first.

They say she’s mad.

They say she loved him.

They say he’s a whore, everyone’s but hers.

They say a lot, but they don’t know a damn thing, do they?

5.
Once, after the Capitol’s taken everything they have but each other and Mags’ visits like clockwork for afternoon tea, she asks him why he still lets the Capitol do that.

(That is never given a name in their house, never truly let in to soak through the imagined safety of its walls. He’s not sure if it’s for Annie’s sake or his own.)

“They’ll kill you.”

“But Finnick, I’m half dead already.”

He thinks but that means you’re half alive and maybe I’m the mad one.

***
He feels the weight on his bed, the hands on his shoulders and he thinks let me die, already. He hears his name, and he is awake, and he thinks as truly as he’s ever thought anything this is cruel.

Katniss says: “They’ve gone to the Capitol to rescue them.”

He’s not sure if this is hope or its opposite, but either way; something knotted tight and tangled unfurls inside him.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
sabaceanbabe
Feb. 9th, 2012 02:44 pm (UTC)
Holy frak. You just killed me. In the good way. This just ripped my heart out. Oh, Finnick. Oh, Annie.

This line, this one line is absolutely perfect Finnick:

He thinks but that means you’re half alive and maybe I’m the mad one.
fragilesymphony
Feb. 9th, 2012 03:56 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you, I'm glad you liked it!
rosehiptea
Feb. 9th, 2012 02:46 pm (UTC)
This is beautiful. It just encapsulates their personalities so well and shows me something of Annie. Excellent.
fragilesymphony
Feb. 9th, 2012 03:57 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks!
xxx_angelin_xxx
Feb. 9th, 2012 04:44 pm (UTC)
This is amazing. I love how you manage to capture Finnick's personality here- very few authors get him so well:D
fragilesymphony
Feb. 9th, 2012 05:52 pm (UTC)
ah, that's such a great compliment, thank you! He's my favorite character of the series, I'm glad you think I've done him justice!
zorabet
Feb. 9th, 2012 05:09 pm (UTC)
tl;dr flawless, your favorite could never, etc
dangermousie
Feb. 10th, 2012 01:17 am (UTC)
I got linked to this and I am so glad. This is so hurting and a little hopeful and just plain amazing.
downbythebay_4
Feb. 10th, 2012 03:14 am (UTC)
Poignant and beautiful. Brava. Thank you!
century_fox
Mar. 11th, 2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
He’s not sure if this is hope or its opposite, but either way; something knotted tight and tangled unfurls inside him. This was a perfect way to end this story- it's so beautiful and descriptive and hopeful yet painful at the same time. This fic is fabulous- I love it and Finnick/Annie so much!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )