I'm going through a bit of writers block right now, but I know I left you hanging last chapter so I'm going to try and write a chapter anyway.
Hopefully it won't be too terrible...I don't know we'll see :)
As always thank you very much to everyone who has read and/or reviewed and please continue to do both.
Song for this chapter is "The alleged paradigm" by Epica. and "Supremacy" also by Epica.
I stare at the note for a long time, my body frozen, but my mind racing furiously. What do I do? How does he know? What does he want from me?
Finally I look over the capitol information again. Alright my train leaves in a few hours, that doesn't give me much time. I crumple the note in my fist, and throw it away, then I take off running for the Cresta's house. I knock on the door quickly and Mags opens it.
"Finnick, what are..."
I shake my head quickly, cutting her off.
"I don't have much time, tell Annie to meet me at my special place in half an hour."Mags looks confused, but she sees something in my eyes; fear. She nods slowly.
"Alright, half an hour."I nod.
"Tell her to hurry."I shout over my shoulder as I turn and run towards the beach. It takes me a little while to get to Calypso's cliff, I know Annie is already on her way but she won't get here for about half an hour. I pace back and forth on top of the cliff, trying to figure out what to do. Annie arrives sooner than I thought and I help her up onto the large rock I'm standing on. She's gasping for breath and she looks worried.
"Finn what's going on?"
Before I say anything, I kiss her, knowing I'm running short on time, I make the kiss last as long as I dare, then I pull away and start explaining quickly.
"Annie, I got a letter from the capitol."
Her eyes immediately fill with tears and she wraps her arms around me tightly.
"No...it's too soon..."I pull her away and hold her shoulders.
"Annie...that's not what has me scared."She sees the fear in my eyes, and she grows anxious.
"Finnick what's wrong?"
I take a deep breath.
"With the usual information, there was a note..."
I pause, wondering how she's going to take the news.
"Finn you can tell me, I can handle it."
I sigh heavily.
"It said, "naughty boy, now you have her involved."Annie's eyes grow wide, and she covers her mouth with her hands.
"Finnick...what does this mean?"
I shake my head slowly, holding both of her hands in mine.
"I don't know. It means the president knows about us, what he's going to do about it is something I don't even have the slightest idea of."
I hesitate before saying something that breaks my heart.
"The only way to keep you safe..."
She shakes her head, tears growing in her eyes as she wraps her arms around me.
"No Finn, I won't lose you again."I rest my cheek on the top of her head, holding her close.
"Annie...we can't be together...I can't put you in danger."She sobs against my chest, shaking her head.
"No! I need you."I feel a heavy weight in my chest, and I swallow hard.
"Annie I love you more than anything, and that's why I can't put you in danger. I can't."She lifts her head and grabs my face in her hands, kissing me with more desperate passion and love than she ever has. When she pulls away, she rests her forehead against mine.
"I would rather die than have to live without you...because you are my life, my love, you have my soul. Screw the risks, I don't care what happens to me, as long as I have you."
I open my mouth to protest, but she silences me with another kiss.
"Don't try to talk me out of it Finn, no matter what you say, I will love you until the world ends, and nothing can take that from us."On the one hand, I'm overjoyed that Annie feels the same way as I do, but now we're in a horrible situation, we can't live without each other, and the president holds our lives in each hand, demanding that we stay apart.
"Annie, what are we going to do? I won't let him hurt you, I would rather him just kill me."
She shakes her head.
"Please don't do anything stupid Finn, if you die I won't be able to go on without you."
Great, we are stuck.
"All I know is I will do everything I can to keep you safe. The president will not touch you."
She wraps her arms around my waist and rests her forehead against my chest.
"I love you Finnick...please stay safe."
My time is running out, I need to get to the train station before the train leaves, or we'll both be in even greater danger.
"Annie...I have to go."She nods slowly, but her grip doesn't loosen at all.
"I can't miss the train...maybe he'll tell me what he wants from us."
Annie finally releases me, looking up into my eyes.
I slowly close the gap between our lips, and kiss Annie, pouring all my love into the kiss, and I can feel her love in the kiss as well.
"I'll be back soon."
She nods slowly.
"I love you."
She runs her hand down my cheek, and gives me a quick kiss.
"I love you too."
The pain of having to leave her becomes unbearable, and I can't help giving her one last kiss.
I say quietly before turning and running back towards town. I barely make it to the train station in time, and run aboard just as the doors are closing. I go immediately to my bedroom, and collapse on the bed. First I feel the heartache of leaving Annie, the hopelessness of our love, and the desperate want to have freedom. Then I feel deep hatred for the president, how could he do this? First send all those children to die for entertainment, then when the last one standing is promised a life of leisure and happiness, he tears their illusions away, revealing the true life of a victor. A living hell, forced to do whatever the capitol chooses, and do it all with a happy smile. At least in the arena you had the freedom to do as you wanted, you could live or die on your own terms.
My anger and hate grows stronger and stronger, and if it wasn't for Annie, I would take the next chance I got to kill the president, to take him down with me, because if there is a hell, he has a special spot reserved for him in the deepest vilest corner. But I can do nothing against him because I know Annie would be punished and most likely killed. Hopeless despair blends with the hatred, and finally I can't take it anymore, I scream.
I scream as loud and long as I can, my whole body shaking with the force, the sound filling the room. I use all my pent-up rage and desperation in the scream, venting all my emotion and energy. I don't remember how long the scream lasted, all I remember after that was Julia was there, and then I fell asleep.
The next morning I wake up and walk zombie-like into the dining room. Julia is waiting anxiously for me, and she looks at me questioningly. I shake my head.
"I can't tell you Julia, it will only get you in trouble, possibly danger."
She nods slowly, sadness in her eyes.
"I'm just tired of everything...that's basically it."
She nods again, and motions that she has some work to do, I nod and she disappears through a door. I hurriedly order some breakfast, and think over the information I received last night.
I'm going to be staying in my usual hotel, and my first date is sometime tonight. We arrive in the capitol this afternoon, which means either I have time to kill, or I will be given some more information at the hotel, which seems the more likely.
I lay on a couch and stare out a window all morning, holding the gold chain around my neck in my fist tightly. Closing my eyes I let my mind wander, thinking about Annie, and what our future holds. I can never give her the life she deserves, we can never get married, at least not publicly, we can't have a family...I would never risk having one of my children entering the arena. Our whole relationship will have to be always kept a lie. Annie deserves to have a family, she's always wanted a family, she used to say she wanted twenty children...I don't think she ever thought that they would risk going into the arena. If it wasn't for the games, I would want more than anything to marry her and have a large family...but I know that can never happen.
Before I know it we're pulling into the capitol train station, and I have to push my way through the camera crews and reporters just to reach the car sent for me.
"Finnick do you have any thoughts on the sixty-ninth games?"
"Are you going to mentor this year?"
"Do you know anything about the girl claiming to have your child?"
"Did you have anything to do with the Johanna incident?"
I smile and wave, refusing to answer any of their ridiculous questions.
"Thank you, I'm going to be late."
Is all I say, this sets off a fresh barrage of questions but I don't have time to listen to them as I get in the car and the door is shut behind me. I exhale slowly, as the car pulls away from the station.
"I don't suppose you'll tell me where we're going."
I say to the driver. He turns his head slightly, and I am surprised when he replies.
"We are on our way to the president's mansion mister Odair."
I raise my eyebrows, more surprised that the driver actually talked to me than at where we're going.
"You can talk."
I say with an over surprised voice, adding a gasp. The driver nods.
"Yes, your usual driver is an avox, he um...well he doesn't work for the president anymore."
I force myself not to imagine what happened to the poor man. Soon we arrive at the mansion, and the driver gives me some brief instructions.
"Once inside, a servant will tell you where to go, once your finished return the way you came, I will be waiting here to take you to your hotel."
I nod and thank him before climbing out of the car and walking up the large steps. I am ushered inside and a young girl in a maid uniform is waiting for me. I give her a friendly smile.
"Hello, what's your name?"
I almost slap myself in the head for sounding seductive, once I'm here, capitol Finnick takes over. The girl glances towards the usher fearfully, and shakes her head.
"Don't bother with that little bird, she wont ever sing again. Will you birdy?"
The usher says with a sneer, I turn to look at the young girl and she drops her head, a tear falling to the carpet.
"Just follow her, she'll take you where you need to go."
The girl turns and starts walking, I follow her quickly. Once we're out of earshot of the usher, I put my hand on the girls arm, stopping her.
"Are you an avox?"
I ask slowly. She peeks out from between her teal bangs, and nods her head slowly. I stare at her in shock.
"How old are you?"
She seems scared to be communicating with me, but finally she holds up both her hands.
She nods. I wonder what she could have possibly done to become an avox, you become an avox by betraying the capitol, surely one so young couldn't have done that. I lift my hands, and slowly sign.
Can you sign?
She looks surprised, and signs quickly.
I can't be talking to you.
I know, just one question.
She hesitates, then nods.
Why are you an avox?
She lowers her eyes, and another tears runs down her cheek. Then she slowly lifts her hands and signs.
I am an orphan, people came to the orphanage and said that some of us could work in the president's mansion, and we would get to stay in the servants wing, it sounded much better than the orphanage, so I volunteered. Once we arrived they drugged me and when I woke up...
She stops signing as she puts a hand to her lips and closes her eyes, more tears falling from them. When she opens her eyes again, I notice for the first time they are large and dark brown. Not some artificial color from the capitol.
Where are you from?
She hesitates again, then quickly signs.
District six. We can't talk anymore, I'll be punished. Follow me.
She turns around and starts walking again. I follow, thinking over this new information. So instead of hiring new servants, the president sends people to the poor orphanages in the weaker districts and collect young children to work for him with promises of enough food and a comfortable place to live, not telling them that they will lose their speech forever. It makes sense, this way they can't tell anyone information they may learn in the mansion.
The girl stops in front of a large wooden door and points to it.
I say, then I lean forward and whisper softly.
"What's your name?"
She hesitates, then quickly signs.
She nods and then I look over my shoulder.
"How do I get back?"
Robin quickly motions that she will wait here for my return. I nod and with a deep breath open the door. One inside, I get a chill down my spine as I smell blood and roses, dreading what I know is somewhere inside. I take a deep breath, and push further into the room. It appears to be some sort of library, but it's so poorly lit that I can't see much.
"Glad you could make it mister Odair."
I hear the smooth voice almost purr to my left. I put on a smile and turn towards the voice, as I do a light is switched on, and I see President Snow sitting in a large leather chair, he smiles and motions to a similar chair across from him.
"Have a seat."
I sit down and continue to smile.
"Good afternoon mister President, I feel very honored to keep getting called to your lovely home."
The president knows I'm putting on a show, and he narrows his eyes slightly.
"Yes, I've grown quite fond of you my boy."Oh good, he knows how to play this game.
"Is that so? Well I've become fond of you as well mister president. May I ask what I'm doing here?"
He sits up straight in his chair and smiles.
"Oh yes, I had almost forgotten."
He picks up a large envelope from the coffee table in front of us, keeping it to himself as he asks.
"I was very interested in how Miss Annie is doing, have you seen her lately?"
I shrug, leaning back in my chair.
"A bit, we don't really hang out anymore. She has school and such, and I have the wonderful capitol to visit so often, it doesn't give us many chances to see each other."
I grossly emphasize the word 'wonderful' when I'm describing the capitol, but the president doesn't react at all. He nods slowly at the information I've just given him.
"Oh? That's not what I heard. In fact I've heard you two are quite...close nowadays."
I appear surprised, and raise my eyebrows, feigning indifference.
"Really? That's interesting, I wonder where you get your information because it's not very good."He sets the envelope on the table, and slides it across to me.
"Does this look familiar to you?"
I open the envelope, and force myself not to react as I pull out pictures of Annie and I. As I flip through them I wonder how he could have gotten them. There's one of us going to the dance, one of me buying her bracelet, then a close up of her wrist while she's wearing the bracelet, there's a picture of us as I lead her to our date. I set them back on the table.
I say cooly, still smiling. He returns my smile, and holds up several more.
"You liked those? I saved the best for last."
He sets the pictures on the table, and I pick them up, silently cursing him as I look through them. They are picture of that night at the Cresta's old house. There's one of us kissing on the floor, another one where Annie is taking off my shirt, another when I was pulling her shirt over her head, several of us when we're kissing on the bed, and the last one is when we are asleep in each others arms.
"I would say you're finding plenty of time to 'hang out' with miss Annie. Although I don't know how much time you're spending actually hanging out, from what I know it seems you two just prefer to suck on each others faces."
I slowly raise my eyes from the pictures, glaring pure hatred at him, all pretences of our act long gone.
"How did you get these pictures?"
He raises his arms in the air briefly.
"I have my ways. Just remember you're not as alone as you would like to think."I keep the pictures grasped tightly in my hands as I spit out at him.
"You are the devil."He settles back in his chair, pressing his thin finger tips together, replying with a smile.
"Why thank you. Now as you and Annie seem to be very clearly involved with each other, that means you lied to me."
I feel anger boiling inside me, and I refuse to let it take over, I can't turn into arena Finnick here, there's no knowing what he would do, and I made a promise to Annie."So I lied, it seems we can both do that very well."He raises his eyebrows and pretends to look surprised."My dear boy, I have never lied to you."
I smile grimly, shaking my head.
"Oh yes you have, you're whole life is a lie. Just tell me what you want already and get it over with."He sighs, and crosses his legs, rubbing his hands together slowly.
"What I want? No It's what I need to happen to keep balance in the capitol and districts. I need you to remain single and available, because if you are in a relationship, it discourages the women in the capitol to call for you."
I shake my head.
"I'm not in a relationship."Snow raises his eyebrows and points to the pictures.
"And what do you call that?"
"Love. Annie and I love each other, there's nothing you or anyone can do to change that."
The president leans forward and his eyes narrow.
"Love? So you think that a little attraction to a pretty girl is love?"
I smile, and lean back in my chair, crossing my arms.
"Oh I wouldn't expect you to understand, but yes Annie is my one true love."
Snow remains quiet for a moment, then he says.
"One true love. I wonder what would happen if one of you, oh I don't know...died."He says it threateningly, but I have my answer ready, and I reply to him in a strong and cool voice.
"It wouldn't matter, something as trifling as death can't destroy true love, nothing can."
His eyes are glowing hotly with anger."Love is a weakness."He hisses, I shake my head, sitting up straight in my chair and staring hard into the presidents eyes.
"No! Love is the greatest power there is, and you are angry because there is nothing you can do to manipulate it!"
As I finish my sentence, his expression changes, and he sits back in his chair, the slightest ghost of a smile on his face.
"Manipulate love? No, that's not possible...Mr. Odair, I expect you to carry out your requirements as usual, and keep whatever you have with miss Cresta under lock and key. Understood?"
I nod slowly, looking at him suspiciously.
"So you just want us to keep it a secret?"
"Yes. As you said there's nothing I can do to either of you that would sway your 'love' so there's no point in wasting my time trying. Just keep it from the capitol and carry out your home life however you wish."
I frown, puzzled.
"Alright...and you're not going to hurt Annie?"
He laughs slightly and shakes his head.
"My dear boy, what would be the use? Run along now, you have a busy couple weeks ahead of you."
I slowly stand up from the chair, still confused, and suspicious of some trick. I know he still has a card to play, but unfortunately I don't have the slightest idea what that would be. I start to walk back towards the heavy wooden door, and I hear Snow call after me.
"Oh and make sure to tell Annie I said hello."I shudder and quickly open the door. Robin is braiding her smooth teal hair, standing stiffly when I walk into the hallway, she leads me back to the front door, and I get in the car. The driver doesn't attempt to talk to me and soon we are at my usual hotel. I ignore the shouts of greeting from the staff, and just quickly get in an elevator, pressing the button for the top floor. Once inside I switch into Capitol Finnick, and just go through the motions, barely remembering anything for the next couple weeks, the only thing I'm constantly aware of is; the president seems to be leaving Annie and I alone.