Always and Forever

A Helpful Discovery

“What are you going to open it with?” Madge asks once we are all gathered around the old chest.

“This!” Finnick replies, holding up a large, heavy rock.

“A rock?” Annie looks unconvinced.

“Yes honey, a rock.” Finnick lifts the small boulder up in the air to bring it crashing down on the lock. We all cover our ears when the rock comes in contact with the metal, making an unpleasant sound for our ears. Finnick sets the rock down and inspects the metal lock.

“Well?” Peeta asks for all of us.

Finnick shakes his head, “It sort of cracked but not enough for us to get it open.”

“Here, let me try.” Gale moves closer and picks up the rock. We all cover our ears once more as he smashes the lock, making Finnick look like a girl trying to open a jar.

“All done.” Gale smirks and wipes his hands on his pants.

“So, who will do the honors?” Peeta asks.

“How about Gale and Katniss, since they are the two that actually found it.” Annie suggests.

“Catnip is the one that found it, I just helped carry it out.” Gale explains.

“I guess that settles it, Katniss.” I shrug and come down on my knees in front of the chest. Brushing the last remains of the lock away I push the lid, wincing as it groans and creaks on its way up.

“What’s inside?” Madge asks excitedly.

“Hold on.” I tell them then after lifting the lid all the way up everyone gathers around me and the chest.

An old army blanket covers the top, sporting anoter thick layer of dust. “Well more blankets are always appreciated.” Annie says, lifting the dark blue material up and shaking out the dust. “All we have to do in give it a good scrubbing in the salt water then in fresh water and it’ll be as good as new.”

“Great.” I reply with a small smile and continue to reach inside and retrieve the contents of the chest and one by one set them on the ground for all to inspect.

Second I pull out an old book, also covered in dust, and handing it to Peeta he brushes the dust off the top and opens it up.

“It seems to be a ship's log of some kind, from quite a long time ago.” He explains and continues to flip through the worn, yellow pages. “And there are a lot of names on the pages as well, probably the passengers of a ship.”

“Maybe the captain of that ship was stranded on this island for a while and left the chest here when he was rescued, or died.” Finnick ends in a quieter tone.

“Died?” Madge shrieks and Gale puts an arm around her shoulders, “Don’t worry sweetie, we’re not going to die here, I promise.”

“But how do you know?”

“I just know okay? Trust me.” Madge quiets down after that and we continue looking through the contents of the chest while Peeta tries to decipher the writings and names in the captain’s log book.

The next thing that my hands find is a small pouch of coins. Passing it to Finnick he in turn carefully dumps the contents into his lap. Sure enough about a dozen silver and bronze-colored coins with pictures of old men on them fall out.

“They look to be some sort of old currency.” He says, bringing a small coin up close to his eye for a better look. “And it has a picture of a man on the front and there are words along the top.”

“What do they say?” Annie asks impatiently.

“It says: ‘In God We Trust.’” Finnick replies, reading the words out loud for all to hear. “And on the back there is a picture of a building with many columns and the words: ‘ONE CENT’ are printed along the bottom and at the top it says: ‘United States of America’, is that a place?”

We all shrug, not sure what to make of the coins until Madge stands up quickly.

“I’ve read about America in one of my books back home that we found after the rebellion! And apparently we live in a small part of America but we all grew up knowing nothing about the countries around us. I don’t know where the United States is but I’ve read about it, and a little about their money as well.”

“Wow.” I breathe as I take it all in. “I never knew.”

“None of us did.” Gale replies, pulling his wife back down beside him.

“Wouldn’t it be amazing to visit this place, to see how other people live and all that.” Finnick exclaims.

“It would.” Annie agrees smiling.

“Okay, we can study these more later.” I say. “Let’s see what else is in here before it gets too late.”

“Yeah, I’m getting hungry.” Peeta says frowning and rubbing his tummy.

“You know what, how about I go and check my traps and hopefully we can have some stew tonight for dinner.” Gale suggests.

“But you’ll miss all the excitement!” I protest.

“It’s fine, I’ll check it all out later. But unless you all want to go to bed hungry tonight I’m going. Besides, it won’t take long at all.”

“And I’m coming with you.” Madge states confidently, standing up and brushing the dirt off of her pants.

“I don’t know Madge.” Gale starts.

“I’ve done it before and I can be almost as quiet as you, come on please? I need the practice and you promised you’d teach me!”

Gale of course can’t resist her and relents, “Okay, but only this once, come on.”

Grinning with victory Madge takes his hand and together the two of them walk out and into the woods.

“Let’s get on with it.” Peeta says impatiently, setting the book down and scooting closer to the chest.

We go through the rest of it rather quickly, wanting to save the real inspecting for when Madge and Gale return. We find another army blanker towards the middle of the chest exactly like the first and Annie places it on top of the other to be washed later. Two golden colored wine goblets also are extracted from the chest and placed with the other dishes. Finnick pulls out another book and hands it to Peeta to check out, then comes, wrapped in a strip of leather, a foot long dagger, the hilt incrusted with different special gems and tiny stones.

“It’s beautiful.” Annie whispers.

“Yeah and I’m sure it’ll make skinning fish a lot easier than what I’ve been using.” Finnick jokes.

Nearing close to the bottom of the quite spacious chest, I pull out another something all wrapped up. My breath hitches when I realize what exactly it is. Unwrapping it from the old fabric I examine the small bow, it looks like it and the dagger came as a set because they are both beautifully made, handcrafted with intricate designs all along the length of the bow and even the arrows are amazing to look at.

“Looks like we’re going to be eating well from now on.” I announce smiling, cradling my newest treasure.

“May I see it?” Peeta asks and I hand it over to him then continue digging towards the bottom of the chest. We find an old coat that probably belonged to the captain himself rolled up at the bottom and also a women’s dress.

“We can use those for fabric.” Annie suggests, taking them from me and going over the material.

“Is there anything else?” Peeta asks, handing my bow and small quiver of foot-long arrows back to me.

“Yes, one more thing.” I reply.

“What is it?” Annie asks, peering over my shoulder.

“Looks just like another blanket.” I say, taking it out and handing it to her.

“Yes, it appears so.” She remarks, and standing up begins to shake it out like the others but this time a piece of folded up paper falls out and Finnick quickly retrieves it off of the ground.

“Does it say anything interesting?” I ask him.

Finnick unfolds the old and worn sheet of paper and spreads it out on his lap.

“Well?” Annie starts, looking at him curiously.

“It-it’s a map of some sort.” Finnick replies.

“Like a treasure map?” Peeta proposes.

“Maybe, I’m not sure. We can study it more later but for now while Gale is out catching the animals for our stew I’m going to see if I can catch a few fish to fry along with it. Coming Annie?” Annie nods and stands up. “Sure, let’s go. Katniss, you can take the chest back with you.”

“Are you sure?” I hesitate.

“Yes! It’s yours.” Annie insists.

“Thanks Annie.” I smile and Peeta and I watch the two of them walk across the beach and into the water part way where they lower the net Finnick constructed and wait for the fish to come.

“Want to bring this stuff back to our place?” Peeta asks.

“Sure.” I reply and begin placing the things that we will be taking with us back into the chest. The bow and arrows and the logbook for Peeta to look at, leaving the blankets for Annie to wash before bringing them back to our bed. Then we leave the dagger, map, and the coins at the Odair’s for us to look at later and set aside a blanket for Madge and Gale along with the second book for Madge to inspect. Then, after closing the lid Peeta and I each grab one of the handles and lift the chest off the ground and bring it the short distance to our temporary home.

We set the chest along one of the walls and then I take out my weapon and place it in the little box that we had made the day before, and in turn put our clothes and belongings into the chest.

“There, that’s better.” I sigh contentedly and sit down on our one blanket.

“Are you tired?” Peeta asks quietly, settling down beside me.

“Yeah, a little, it’s been a long day.” I reply, resting my weary head on his shoulder, he automatically wraps his arms around me, pulling me close.

“It sure has, and an exciting day as well.”

“I can’t wait to get back to the pool and water fall.” I murmur.

“Soon, we’ll do it very soon.” Peeta assures me softly.

“Do you miss home?” I ask all of a sudden a few moments later. Peeta sighs and looks off into the distance, “I don’t know, I guess I miss our house and real bed, but my home will always be where you are Kat.” He leans down and plants a soft kiss on my forehead.

“Me too.” I answer and reach up to give him a real kiss. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” He whispers and kisses me again.

“I could really do this all evening but my stomach has other ideas and needs to be fed. Want to see if Annie could use some help with dinner?” I ask.

“Good idea, let’s go.” He stands up first then pulls me up as well. We walk silently to Finnick and Annie’s home where we find Annie sitting alone over a pot of boiling water and sorting through the herbs we collected earlier. Finnick is still visible a little ways away, knee-deep in the water.

“Hey Annie! Can we help with anything?” I greet her.

“Sure, that’d be great. I could use some help with identifying some of these plants and what would go good with our stew.”

“I’d be glad to.” I reply with a smile and sit down on the log beside her. I then begin sorting through the different familiar plants and herbs. Before long Madge and Gale arrive with their game all skinned and ready to be cooked: another squirrel, and a plump rabbit, enough for dinner along with Finnick’s fish, if he catches any.

But none of us are surprised when just a few minutes later Finnick comes walking up the beach, a string of half a dozen large trout strung and dangling from his arm.

We each take a large pointy stick and stab the fish on it then proceed to cook it over the open fire.

“I’ve never eaten fish like this before.” I say while rotating my stick slowly over the bright orange coals.

“We used to all the time when we were younger, before the rebellion and all that.” Finnick informs us while expertly cooking his fish then when it is all finished he shows us how to slice it down the middle and pull out the backbone then eat the meat around it. Even without salt and other spices I do have to admit that the fish is quite delicious. The stew is equally as flavorful and we all congratulate Gale on his hunting skills.

“Oh Gale!” I say excitedly between bites of fried fish. “What is it Catnip?” He asks curiously.

“You won’t believe what I found in the chest after you left!”

“What?”

“Bow and arrows.” I reply proudly.

“How in the world did it fit in that chest?”

“Well the arrows were only about a foot long and the bow itself barely fit but now I can help you hunt!”

“Great, it’ll be like old times when we were kids in District 12.” He grins and takes a bit of fish.

“That’s what I thought too.” I reply with a smile. We all finish the stew and fish, dumping the remains a little ways off then we share the last three mangos for dessert.

“We’ll have to get more of these and fresh water tomorrow when we explore more of the island.” Finnick declares while peeling the delicious, juicy fruit.

“I agree.” Gale says. “Maybe we can have Peeta, Madge and Annie do that tomorrow while you fish and Catnip and I hunt.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Peeta agrees. “You’ll just have to point us in the right direction.”

“I know where the trees are.” Annie tells him.

“Okay, well that’s settled. I think that Katniss and I are going to head back now, we’re both really tired.”

“Same here.” Gale replies yawning.

“Here, I washed the blankets earlier and they are dried now since I’ve had them drying here by the fire.” Annie says handing us a blanket and one to Madge and Gale as well.

“See you in the morning.” I give Madge and Annie each a hug then we part ways.

“Good Night!” Annie calls after us.

Once Peeta and I are inside our shelter I help him pull the branches in front of the door, leaving the window as the only open part for air. I spread our new blanket down over top the other so that we sort of have a two-person sleeping bag now. I slip into Peeta’s t-shirt again like last night; it comes about mid thigh and makes a good nightgown. After letting my hair out of its braid I climb in beside him pull the second blanket over both of us.

“Good Night Peeta.” I whisper, cuddling up to him.

“Night Kat.” He murmurs into my hair, wrapping his arms around me, entrapping my body in a sort of warm cocoon. I could sleep anywhere if he is beside me so once again I fall almost instantly asleep, lost in a whirlwind of strange dreams.


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