Save some face, you know you've only got one
Change your ways while you're young
Boy, one day you'll be a man
Oh girl, he'll help you understand
- The Killers, Smile like You Mean It
If you asked Caroline what she most loved about living in District 4 then it was fairly simple – it was the sea. Her house was in town and it was quite a bit of a walk from there to the harbor but it worth it because the view was absolutely breathtaking with the green waves crashing against the shore, the salty air and the sun shining brightly in the blue sky. Sometimes she went just when the sun was setting in the horizon and the seas were darker and the skies a blending of oranges and pinks.
She'd sometimes try to paint it on her sketchpad and then hang the pictures all over her room so when she woke up, it would be the first thing she saw.
Caroline was a member of one of the richest families in District 4, her parents owned a jewelry store, buying all the treasures from the sea they bought from the fishermen and selling their crafts to the wealthy families in their district such as the wife of the mayor, Carol Lockwood, whose son Tyler gave her a painting set when they were ten and inspired in her a love for the art. Sometimes their work was even sold to the Capitol and this was when they earned the most money.
They were fairly well-off so to speak and Caroline never had to starve or worry about her clothes getting to small not like the other children from the poorer districts. But being wealthy didn't exclude someone from being reaped in the Games. You were just a statistic after all and when her name was called, her mother's strong grip on her hand almost felt like it could break her bones.
Not looking at her mother, she loosened her mother's grip and trying to stifle all emotion from her face, she went up the stage and stood beside Tyler Lockwood whose face had gone several shades paler than his usual tanned complexion. She offered him a small smile, trying to give comfort even when she needed it too and grasped his hand tightly and he squeezed back, gratefully.
From the corner of her eye, she saw Finnick Odair smiling at her, at first it looked like his usual charm but the sadness in his eyes was unmistakable. She frowned at him and he cocked his head to the side.
"Smile for the cameras, doll face."
The 69th Hunger Games had officially began.
The first night on the train, Finnick talked to them about their abilities and what could help them survive in the games. Tyler had the physical advantage and he had a strong stamina and could wrestle and was quick to learn weapons. He was raised as a Career after all, he was made to fight.
Caroline wasn't. Her body was soft and pliant, a complete merchant girl but she knew how to use her hands and could learn to fasten anything to something useful and she was a fast runner. And Finnick thought her looks made her look harmless and the others would probably not consider her a threat.
"You look sweet like a doll," He said. "That's your biggest asset."
Her stylist was a flamboyant man with hair the color of rainbows and had silver tattoos all over his body. His assistants were annoying little purple-haired twits who looked like they could be triplets.
"Aren't you a pretty thing?" The stylist first remarked upon seeing her. "My name's Silverfox."
Capitol people and their weird names. She inwardly rolled her eyes.
She watched as the stylist looked her up and down, twirling her on the spot to complete his inspection before finally making up his mind on what to do.
"Mermaids," He told her. "We'll transform you into one."
She raised both her eyebrows.
Her top consisted merely of sea weeds, shells, and pearls that protected her breasts from showing but showcased everything else with cruel abandon. There was some gold material for her skit that looked like scales of a fish and her hair and her skirt was put up with pearls pinned into them with a crown of coral. They put some kind of gel unto her skin that made her skin shimmer like she was an otherworldly being.
Tyler had stared at her in astonishment the first time she saw her and she didn't even bother hiding her laughter when she got a good look from him. If she looked ridiculous than so did he, his stylist collaborated with hers after all and the both of them looked like buffoons.
Finnick upon seeing them had raised an eyebrow and asked, "Sea monsters?"
She didn't stop laughing for a while.
Her interview went well. She wore a gown that shimmered between blue and green like it was made almost of sea foam. She wore a winning smile and charmed the audience with her blunt and borderline careless answers. They still seemed to find it appealing.
"So, Caroline is there anyone you have your eyes on?" Claudius Templesmith asked her, eyes twinkling as the audience held their breath.
She pretended to think for a moment, pouting her lips and looking up at the ceiling. She sent a sly smile at Finnick before answering. "I don't know, I'm in a bit of a dilemma."
He looked more intrigued. "And why is that?"
"I have a lot of competition for his heart."
The crowd was practically in uproar now.
"And do we know who he is?"
"Yes." She giggled. "He's signaling for me to shut up right now."
Everyone looked up at Finnick and she inwardly cackled at his red face.
"What was that about?" Finnick asked her as they were back on the train.
She shrugged carelessly. "I was just having some fun."
Tyler rolled his eyes.
As the Games approached, the pressure rose in intensity and Caroline barely had time to let it sink in when she was so busy with training and learning all of what she can from Finnick. Unlike Tyler she wasn't trained for the Games, she was the obvious weaker of the two and she'd be an easy kill when the time came.
So, one night, just feeling depressed about it all, she drunk a little too much wine during dinner and continued drinking some more after with Finnick as he told her humorous stories that made her giggle like a fool. He was in the middle of a story that she interrupted him with a kiss. He's quick to push her away and shook his head at her as she tried to go for another one.
"Why?" She pouted petulantly at him like a child and he sighed.
She shut her mouth when his eyes become serious, green like the sea she missed so much. Slowly, steadily, he said, "Things are a lot more complicated than you know, doll." He stood up and turned to leave the room. "Go to bed. You have an early day tomorrow."
She woke up the next morning, wishing she wasn't able to remember what happened last night and her face flushed in embarrassment at her actions. She'd been so forward and stupid. Finnick must think so lowly of her now. And it was all because of too much wine.
She was never drinking again.
Caroline had been one of Finnick's many admirers, especially in District 4 where he was a practical hero. Every little girl in their district grew up and hoped of marrying Finnick and becoming his Mrs. Odair. Caroline had even written 'Mrs. Caroline Odair' in the back of her sketchbooks and daydreamed of their wedding someday.
Granted, she was younger than him by two years and there were other more beautiful and wealthier women out there for him to choose from and she'd given up on the farfetched dream when she was thirteen. But three years later, here she was, with him next door and so close to her reach.
But he still didn't want her and it hurt like a deep wound.
Things were awkward between them during breakfast and lunch and dinner. She didn't know what to do with the situation she caused and decided to just take the coward's way out and feign ignorance. Tyler knew something was up and tried asking but was just rebuffed.
She found she could not sleep in her bed as thoughts about the mess she made raised through her head. She was just so stupid, always ruining everything because she did things without thinking. She was so rash and stupid. She wanted to scream into her pillow from all the anger she felt inside.
And she almost fell off her bed in surprise when the compartment door opened and Finnick entered the room. She stared with wide blue eyes as he stepped forward and took a seat on the foot of her bed, avoiding making eye contact with her as she sat up and hugged her pillow to her chest like a shield.
They were enveloped in complete awkward almost suffocating silence before he sighed and spoke. "Look, let's just forget about it, Caroline."
Caroline. She blinked. That was the first time he called her by her real name and not 'doll' or 'doll face'.
Finally looking at her, his eyes were clear and green. "Let's just be friends, please?"
His smile was hesitant, apologetic. And she nodded in acceptance.
"Do you think Tyler will win this?" She asked one morning. Tyler was sleeping in and Finnick was hung over from a party last night. She was in the best state out of the three.
Finnick looked up at her and raised an eyebrow. "You don't think you can?"
She cocked her head to the side and snorted. "Let's not be delusional."
It was the night before the Games and she found she couldn't sleep. So she wondered the length of her room before finding herself in the hallways and heading towards Finnick's. He's not asleep either when she entered or he didn't seem all that surprised to see her.
"Can't sleep?" He asked and she nodded. He patted empty side of his bed and she silently slipped under the covers. He pulled her closer and she nestled into his arms and enjoying the comfort he offered.
She signed wistfully. "How did you feel the night before?"
He understood what she meant perfectly and answered. "Scared." He looked down at her and continued. "It's okay to be, you know."
"I am going to die in that arena."
He didn't deny it. They both knew it to be true.
The day of the Games finally came and Finnick came to see her before she was off. He was handsome as always but his smile was sad and she tried not to cry, knowing this would probably be the last time she'd see him. It was unfair because she only got to know him now and he was nice and funny and everything she ever wanted.
"I'm not really into goodbyes." He told her, voice oddly constricted.
And she nodded, feeling tears pool in her eyes. She hated goodbyes more than anything else too.
He scratched his head for a moment, feeling awkward. "Well, it was nice knowing you, Caroline."
In a second she was running towards him and hugging him, him automatically responding and hugging her back tightly, his warm breath on her neck. And she breathed in his scent, the wonderful salt of the ocean and she sighed in contentment. It felt like her last reprieve before the slaughter.
"I'll miss you." She said into his chest and his chest rumbled as he chuckled.
"I'll miss you too, doll."
She lay dying on the ground eight days later, a knife jammed to her spine and Tyler's regretful eyes staring down at her. She swore she could hear Finnick's voice as her body died.
"Smile for the cameras, doll face."
And then it was all gone.
"Ladies and gentleman, the 69th Hunger Games have officially ended!"
Finnick closed his eyes in shame.
Written for Day #11 of The Month of Caroline challenge with the pairing Finnick/Caroline.
So I did the math, if Finnick was 24 in Catching Fire at the time of the 69th Hunger Games, he would've been 18. I chose the 69th, the one before Annie's, reaping because I didn't want to deal with the Finnick/Annie storyline and I didn't want to interfere with that either.