We're in my room. It is not as nice as my actual bedroom in my own home, but it is more luxurious than what I imagined Snow provided for the tributes.
I get out of the shower, put on some clothes and lay on my bed. I desperately want to sleep but I get the feeling that's the last thing I am going to get.
I am not a real tribute, I know that. My father will get the richest sponsors and if not, he'll be my own, I know he often bets on the tributes, though he denies it. And I'll have Anakin to protect me. I have no doubt he won't let anyone touch even one hair of my body… but I am afraid. Terrified. I hate the Hunger Games. I always had. They're senseless. Cruel. Unhuman. I hated them since I knew what they were.
They opened the real world for me. They let me know that, outside of my rich little home, there's a world of torment and injustice out there. And I am—technically—a part of them. I am a piece in Snow's games. And the thought of stepping into that arena mortifies me.
I have not regretted my rash decision, the sound of the bathroom door being opened reminds me that. Anakin walks out, wearing only a towel that covers his lower half. I look down just in case he can notice the happiness he brings me. Which of course, he does, anyway.
He jumps on the bed and immediately tries to grab me, oh I desperately want to let him! But I don't.
The minute we were first left alone he gathered me in his arms and kissed me. Intense, needy, desperate were his embraces, much like mine. I couldn't resist him then, but now, my head a little clearer and myself somewhat cooler, I manage.
"Are you still angry?" he asks without letting go of me, a little boyish laughter slipping through.
"Ugh!" I grunt. "Leave me alone, Anakin!" I cry, enraged. I'll never admit it, but I don't have to. He knows I'm burning with jealousy.
"My love," he softly says. "Don't hate me, but now you know how I always feel when those stupid Capitol boys chase after you!"
"That's different!" I fight. "I never give any attention to them!"
"No!" even I am surprised at my outburst. "You were looking at her."
"So were you. So was everyone, what then?"
"I don't like it."
"Padmé," he laughs and I get a sudden urge to slap him across his face. "She's got nothing on you." He says and that cools me down but I don't show it. Let him fight for me.
"I was staring at her, my love. I don't deny it. But did you see with what emotions? Pleasure? Admiration? Love…? Of course not! Those are things that only show in my eyes when I have YOU in front of me… like right now."
Oh, I hate how willingly I have let him lay me down on the bed as he positions himself on top of me. His face an inch from mine. My arms wrapping his neck. His lips nearing my own as he speaks—
"You seem to forget, my love, I'm going to kill her."
I know that wasn't his intention, but that completely kills my mood.
"Oh Ani…" I mutter, sadly. I keep trying to forget the arena till we're actually there. Why does he mention killing Katniss?
My previous jealousy transforms and I realize… I don't want her dead.
I envision her as she was earlier, beautiful, her hands clasped with those of that handsome boy as people clapped for them, watching them shine as if they were suns… Oh and to think Ani is going to kill them! He's going to kill everyone, I just know it. And that itself kills me.
He's kissing me now, caressing me, and yet… tears stream down my cheeks.
He holds my face in his hands, trying to calm me down, telling me that he loves me, and that he's going to protect me till the end.
"And what then?" I ask, choking on a sob as I think of the possibility. "Anakin, after you kill everyone, they're going to expect you kill me! Or that I kill you. Otherwise… they will kill us themselves! What are we gonna do? I don't want you to die. I beg you, when the time comes; kill me!"
His grip on me tightens to the point of agony as I speak. I know I'm angering him, and that's not really my intention—but these are things we have to discuss.
"You know I won't kill you, Padmé," he says, his face hard and intense. "You know that."
"And do you think I will kill you?" I ask, despair reaching me.
"No," he answers simply.
"Oh come on," a new voice says, appearing silently before us. Uninvited and careless. Our mentor.
I look down, trying to disguise how much I despise him, and also trying to lift myself from the bed. I am embarrassed of my state, and Anakin's, who's practically naked. I know we don't have to hide from him, but that's my first impulse.
"Maul, couldn't you at least knock?" Anakin says angrily as he slips some clothes on.
"Oh you wouldn't have heard me either way," Maul says, mockingly, his yellow eyes burning onto my skin. Pleasure written all over him.
It is not pleasure at seeing me, exactly. Anakin would kill him if that were the case. It is the pleasure he gains from others' discomfort and suffering, which only angers my boyfriend, but not to the point of attack.
"Mr. Darth Maul," I say, as professionally as I can manage. "This is not a very appropriate time for a meeting. And if you wanted to speak, you should've summoned us to your presence; not breaking into my personal bedroom."
He laughs demonically and against myself, I shrink in fear.
"Miss Padmé," he says, mockingly mirroring my previous tone of professionalism. "I thought you were smarter than that… Do you really think our conversation can take place in a public place?"
I know he's right, but I don't hate him any less for it.
"What do you want?" Anakin inquires, harshly.
"Oh just to discuss the very same thing you two were—I mean not the girl on fire but the outcome of the Hunger Games."
My cheeks turn crimson, realizing he must have been watching us for a long time…
He gives me that look that always lets me know he can read into my thoughts. "Haha," he smiles and lowly laughs. "You must at least be thankful I entered before things escalated to a much… private situation—"
"All right!" Anakin pushes him. "You cannot talk to her like that—"
"Anakin," I try to calm him down. "Let it go. I don't care."
He growls but steps back. "Give your damn advice and leave us."
Maul's face loses all previous amusement, his new dark countenance under his red skin frightens me, and I just wish he was gone.
"My master is expecting you to kill all the other tributes," Maul states darkly. "And rich old Mr. Naberrie has ordered you to keep Miss Padmé alive."
"I am aware of both," Anakin says and I am shocked since I didn't know of either mission my love has.
"Skywalker," Maul says. "If she doesn't make it out of that arena. You'll be killed, I am sure you know that?"
My mouth drops in astonishment as he nods. He never looks at me as he speaks to Darth Maul.
"You have to find a way to please both Palpatine's and the Capitol's agendas. And that you'll do on your own."
"Yes," Anakin says simply, his voice devoid of any emotion.
"H—how?" I mutter, and they seem to finally remember I am also in the room.
"He'll figure it out. Don't put obstacles in his path," Mauls says, his grim yellow eyes hurting me. "Don't interfere… if he is who we think…"
I am not sure of what he's talking about but Anakin seems to see as clearly as the sky's blue… my first guess is they're speaking through the Force.
I know I shouldn't but I speak again. "Ani… Anakin. You know you can't use the Force in the arena—you'd be caught."
I am suddenly shaking as his eyes darken like Maul's. "I'll be… discreet," he says, grimly.
Maul doesn't smile nor frown, but I can tell he's pleased with Anakin. Finally he leaves and I can breathe easier. Anakin doesn't speak about it when we're alone—and I am thankful for it.
When he's deep in sleep I realize I can't find any peace.
I pass my hand across his cheek, I lay a small kiss on his lips, and I rise from the bed.
I walk around the hallways but I am invaded by an awful gut feeling that I am being watched. Of course I am. And I don't want any cameras catching any of my emotions. But I also don't want to return to my room just yet, I might disturb Anakin's slumber. I get a sudden idea and without thinking too much about it, I escape toward the roof.
I desperately want to breathe in the cool night air, the quiet and loneliness of that reserved place… but this long day has been hard not just for me. I take a trembling step back and the beating of my heart is suddenly faster—I am not alone. I can distinguish two people sitting by the edge, talking in low voices. And then I realize. It's the girl on fire herself! Katniss and Peeta are also running away from the cameras. Will this couple ever stop surprising me?
It is so unusual… the tributes are usually enemies from the start. They barely have anything to do with each other… and then I think, perhaps me and Anakin aren't the only star-crossed lovers in this competition. Are they discussing the desperate endings that Anakin and I were discussing just before? I can remember now, too, the kiss Katniss gave him after they paraded themselves before the whole nation. It was only on the cheek, but still… wearing matching outfits, holding hands and kissing… these tributes are not the regular kind, they've showed, but I can't help thinking… are they in love?
I desperately want to think they aren't because otherwise… I am sure I am going to end up begging Anakin not to kill them.
The thought almost drives me to insanity, distracting me so, that when they get up to leave, I can't be fast and silent enough. With wide eyes, they see me. Fuck.
"Hi…" I awkwardly blurt out.
Katniss doesn't immediately say anything, it is the boy who greets me first.
"Hello Padmé," he says, and there's so much kindness and friendliness in his voice that I overcome my embarrassment. I feel guilty that for the moment I can't remember his name. I tell myself it is the shock.
"I'm Peeta," he reminds me without looking bothered. "I'm sure you remember Katniss…"
"I'm going to sleep!" she suddenly cries, clearly in some distress. I feel like that's how I would react if somebody caught me alone with Anakin. My previous suspicions grow as I see the jacket she's wearing. It is masculine and way too big for her. Peeta isn't wearing any… What a gentleman, I think and briskly smile at him.
"I'm sorry," I quietly say. "I didn't mean to pry. I couldn't sleep and I was in need for some fresh air… I was going to leave as soon as I saw you, but—"
"It's all right," Peeta says, saving me the trouble of think of an excuse. Katniss shoots him a look of un-maskable anger.
"We were leaving any way," she says, looking around every direction except my own. "Good night."
"Oh don't leave," I say, feeling bad for ruining their moment. "You got here first. I should be the one to leave."
"Like she said," Peeta says, his voice calm. "We were leaving any way. Don't worry about it, Padmé."
I like my own name on his lips. Apart from Anakin, I am not used to talking to people outside the Capitol. I never knew much about District 12, but if the people are anything like this young boy, I say I like them.
Without thinking, I praise them for their earlier success, Peeta thanks me and says I was pretty good myself, which is of course a lie since I was practically shaking with my nerves on edge, fearing the Capitol and President Snow. Still his intentions seem nice and I can't stop smiling at him, he responds with the same friendly curtesy which I have heard no one on the Districts had.
Katniss stands there next to Peeta almost like an outsider, which you really can't blame on me or him, since she herself provokes that by not speaking. She viciously removes the jacket and gives it back to Peeta without thanking him. "Good night," she repeats and flees.
"Good night, Katniss…" he says but she is gone before the words, which come with a bit of sadness, leave his mouth.
I can immediately realize, he loves her.
He sighs and I am not sure why but I feel a bit guilty.
"Are you leaving, too?" I ask, breaking him from his gloomy state.
"I think so," he struggles but he smiles at me, and I can tell, Katniss left him injured.
I bite my lips as I speak, "She's a remarkable girl," not as nice as she was in front of the cameras, though… "You must really like her."
He coughs awkwardly and only then do I realize my words.
I seem to have forgotten that though I am still in the Capitol, I am on a different level now. We're all supposed to kill each other! Oh how cruel must my words have sounded to Peeta! I immediately try to apologize, but once again, he eases me with his words, even though I don't deserve it.
"You're a remarkable girl yourself, Padmé. What you did is not something many people would've dared do…" he stops, as if considering the danger of his words, for a moment, I get the feeling he trusts me. "In the Districts, at least in Twelve, we usually think the Capitol people see us only as circus animals—not people. Some dispensable tool for your entertainment. When you volunteered to save that little girl, you showed Panem we're still people. I thank you for that."
His words make me feel strange—again, guilty. I only volunteered for my own selfish reasons…
He sighs again. "Good luck, Padmé. I'll leave you to rest now. See you tomorrow."
I didn't expect it but he smiles at me again as he puts on his jacket and leaves.
I don't know why I like his smile so much… Maybe because it feels so genuine, even though he's probably faking it. Or perhaps he really admires what I did to save Rue, since he has no idea of my true intentions when I made that rushed decision…? Nevertheless, I saved a little girl from death.
Is that why he can stand me even though I am from the Capitol? Because I remind him of what Katniss did to end up in these ruthless Games?
Despite her dismissal attitude toward me, I can't help but to also admire Katniss more than anyone right now.
I have been so preoccupied with my own woes, for the first time I take in what she did for love. I remember that small blonde little girl, her pale face, her endless tears as she saw her older sister walk practically toward death. What was her name? Primrose! She must be watching at all times, praying she didn't cause her sister's death.
By the time I reach my bedroom and climb next to Anakin, I can't help but to over and over again wish Katniss wins these Games.