Chapter 67: Augustus Braun-Montgomery


"Cavalier Career," Katniss murmured. "He volunteered eagerly, didn't he? Said he was 'pumped about finally being able to slash some throats', I remember that bit quite well." She practically spat out the last part of her sentence, disgust clouding over her eyes.

"We never know, he might've been forced into it by his parents," Peeta offered. "If that's the case, then it makes sense for him to appeal as much as possible to the Capitol in order to stay alive."

Katniss shrugged. "I hate that you have a point. But still, the way he treated the whole Games like it was just a casual vacation, like killing innocent kids was just a routine vacation activity. He might've had an excellent poker face, but I highly doubt it, given his attitude."

Peeta resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "You always think the worst of people, Katniss. If he's still alive, then maybe he'll tell us his story."

"I'm sure he'll throw in a sob story to make him sound like some sort of victim," Katniss grunted.


Augustus Braun-Montgomery

District 1

Aged 18

5 Kills


Hunger Games Through The Ages with Augustus Braun:

60TH GAMES:

"It's Reaping Day!" Augustus's brother Demantur shrieked, sheer excitement resonating like cymbals in his voice. The excitable, young boy clamoured down the grand staircase of their house like a triumphant war elephant, nearly bumping into a servant along the way. The servant yelped, his hands wobbling as he struggled to regain control of his tray, upon which rested a gleaming golden pitcher with the family crest hand-painted upon it with the finest ink in District One. Eleven-year-old Augustus immediately rushed over to help him stabilise it. This servant in particular was a new recruit, brought in just a couple of months ago from the streets of Billings as a homeless young orphan who'd worked odd jobs for the past year or so. He was only a year older than Augustus, and the same age as Demantur, yet his demeanour seemed infinitely more mature than that of the pair of them.

The servant bowed in gratitude. "Thank you, Master Braun," he said, his voice formal and polite as ever.

Augustus gave him a kindred smile, one that visibly stunned him. "Nah, call me Augustus."

The servant's eyes widened. Then, he blinked and shook his head. "I cannot do that. The masters of this house forbid me from doing so, even at your request. I truly apologise."

Augustus tapped his chin. "Ah, that sucks, but oh well."

"I have to go now, I will see you later, Master Braun," the servant informed him, before speedily making his way up the staircase, a concentrated look upon his face.

Augustus watched as he went, wondering if he was just as excited for the Reaping as his whole family was. All his life, he'd been told that the Reaping was an opportunity for District One to show the very best of its youth, the Hunger Games that came afterwards being a symbol of pride and honour for not only their District people, but for the whole of Panem as well. "It's the greatest honour of all to be chosen for the Hunger Games," his father had declared on one of their monthly fishing trips to the Snake River. As they sat on hand-cut wooden logs by the riverside campfire, watching Augustus's older siblings Psyche, Demantur, Zlato, Katya and Siebog chortling with glee while playing a game of football on a wind-swept meadow, Augustus's father had explained to him why the two tribute slots allocated for One were so coveted. Hernan Braun, a longtime friend of the Montgomeries due to banking and business connections, was an avid fan of the Games, often joining in on the betting events that sometimes happened among the pro-Capitol minority in One.

"You see, many years ago, when District One was faced with death and disaster, your ancestors-" He'd poked Augustus's belly as he said this, causing him to giggle in a ticklish episode. "-decided to save those who were starving on the streets, giving them jobs within the Montgomery estates and funding projects to rebuild their towns and homes. The people love us, and it is our duty to represent them on a nationwide scale, to showcase that we, District One, are head and shoulders above everyone else. You see, the other nobles, the Coopers, Ashtons and Carmichaels, they're allies with the mayors of Two, who brutally took power over their hapless, brainwashed people. They like to kill people for sport, and they want us to be portrayed as killers. Villains. People who should be tortured for their crimes. They want every last Montgomery to lose all their money, and when that happens, the people, they'll lose faith in us and they'll blow your brains to bits." He gave Augustus a dark, sombre look, one that had made him cower a little. "Don't be a coward, Augustus. Be a hero, be like Franc, Crystal and the others. Keep our family safe and secure by winning the Hunger Games."

Augustus had bought his every word, hook, line and sinker.

Today's Reaping was particularly special, because Augustus's eighteen-year-old brother Siebog had been selected as the male volunteer for One. When his family had heard the news, it was as though they'd just been crowned the leaders of the Montgomery clan. Such was the privilege, the rivalry that brewed even within family clans, that on the day of the Reaping, for breakfast, the Braun-Montgomery family had decided to throw an extravagant feast, their entire property down to every last square inch of their fencing perimeter adorned with expensive jewellery and decor, a splendid display of power and wealth that was certain to rub jealousy into the faces of the other Montgomery families, some of whom had failed to send a single child to the arena even after ten laborious attempts.

For Augustus, it just felt really nice to celebrate and party with his siblings.

As the festivities went underway, they were joined by the Pimenova, Leung and Starfelt branches of the family, all of whom had good connections with Augustus's part of the family. There was music from Psyche, who'd recently learned how to play the violin and had become a maestro at it, being able to skillfully play a wide array of both classical and modern music, including a few of her own original pieces. Alongside her was their Aunt Fleur of the Leung branch, a fun-loving woman who'd initially wanted to dance but her eccentric moves that sometimes included somersaults and wild flips pushed the adults to persuade her to instead play the guitar. Still, she managed to pull off a few tricks of her own, tap dancing while she strummed and even sang every note pitch-perfectly. Augustus had nothing but respect for this, not least because his own music skills, or lack thereof, had caused three of District One's most renowned music teachers to cut ties with the Braun branch in a fit of hefty frustration, only reconciling upon hearing Psyche's music, which they claimed rivalled that of District Seven's street violinists. Augustus had obviously never been to Seven, but the stories of a mystical forest filled with magical creatures and eternally graced with sweet melodies and harmonies that seemed to come right out of the trees themselves had absolutely intrigued him.

Maybe if I win the Hunger Games, I'll be able to go see Seven in my Victory Tour! he thought to himself, flushing with excitement at the thought.

His thoughts were interrupted as his mother, Grace Montgomery, tapped a spoon against a lustrous bronze goblet, one that was engraved with scenes from the finales of past District One Victors, including those from Onyx, Sterling and Cashmere's Games. Instantly, the whole banquet hall fell silent, everyone's heads whirling around to face her with rapt attention. Augustus spied a small smile of satisfaction tugging upon his mother's lips. She'd always enjoyed being in the centre of attention, relishing every chance she got to force an entire room to listen to her. "Ladies and gentlemen, this has been a wonderful morning for all of us," she began.

"I hope my wedding will be just as grand!" Aunt Fleur interjected with a giggle as several members of the Leung family laughed heartily. Augustus was a little confused at first, but then he registered that Aunt Fleur was getting married in a couple of weeks to a man named Alder Pierce, who'd seemingly come out of nowhere, but unlike some other Montgomeries (cough, his parents), he was genuinely happy that according to her, he was just as fun-loving as she was. She was a nice lady who truly deserved to be happy.

"But let us remind ourselves why we are here today," Grace continued, calmness flowing through her voice like a serene stream. "Our dear Siebog is going into the arena!"

Rapturous cheers broke out amongst the crowd, as the Starfelts began to raise their half-full glasses of wine in a toast to Siebog's surely imminent victory. Augustus stood on his tiptoes, trying to locate his brother at the front of the crowd. He finally stopped him, his signature cocky smile splashed out across his face, boasting great confidence in pulling off a quick, easy victory with plenty of kills along the way. Augustus had absolutely no doubt that he'd be able to accomplish just that. After all, their family was the best of the best, they were long overdue a Victor, and who better to restore the family honour than Siebog, a towering tank of a tribute who was capable of carrying out the most advanced of combat movements in high-pressure situations?

After Grace's speech, Augustus wriggled his way through the crowd, trying to reach Siebog, who was bent down talking to the youngest child in the family, Marvel. If he was being completely honest, Augustus found Marvel a little annoying at times, always messing stuff up and blaming it on Augustus or Demantur, always barging into his room and bothering him, always stealing his favourite toys. Still, he had the good grace to allow Marvel to give Siebog a final good-luck message. He, after all, would be staying at home with one of the older servants.

Once Marvel had gone, Augustus walked up to Siebog, grinning broadly as he hugged his older brother. "You're going to win, right?" he asked, his eyes twinkling with hope and aspiration.

Siebog merely chuckled and puffed out his chest in a comical manner. "As if there was any doubt," he replied, giving Augustus a pat on the head.


65TH GAMES:

"It's Reaping Day!" Marvel sang out, prancing around the courtyard of their mansion. "Our big sis is going to the Hunger Games!"

Just as it had been five years ago, the Braun-Montgomeries had set up a huge party, with once again, the Starfelts, Leungs and Pimenovas in attendance, although this time, the newly-formed Pierce branch, consisting of Fleur, Alder and their two infant children, also came along to play with the Pimenova toddlers. This time, the decorations were a little bit different, and in Augustus's opinion, a little bit worse. The halls and various rooms of the mansion were decorated with ruby red bannisters and sculptures, with various anti-heroes from childhood novels depicted in every single one of them. There was an aura of bloodlust about the whole place, not least because of the trickles of crimson paint strewn around seemingly random locations, transforming their once homely mansion into somewhat of a token arena. A huge ice sculpture of Scipio MacAllister, the 17th Victor, had been erected as the centrepiece of the banquet hall, something Augustus found weird. Weren't District Two the enemies? Didn't this guy kill District One's children in the arena? Wasn't he the bad guy? Try as he might, Augustus didn't really know how his ever-arrogant family could even stand the sight of Scipio's statue gazing triumphantly onwards in their own home, looking as though he'd just successfully conquered the Montgomeries. It was clear that the Leungs and Pimenovas felt the same way, as they tried their best to skirt away from the statue at all costs, occasionally eyeing it with disapproving glances.

As Augustus entered the banquet hall by a back door, dressed in his finest tuxedo as usual, his eyes couldn't help but be drawn to the two thrones that had been set up at the front of all of the tables, styled with great pomp and splendour using the finest embroidery and jewellery in District One, according to his parents. A shimmering golden sceptre had been propped up next to the larger of the two thrones, topped off with a giant, finely-cut emerald stone.

But the thrones, decor and statue of Scipio all underlined a sombre preface to this party.

Siebog hadn't come home.

Augustus could still remember that fateful moment like it was yesterday. The Montgomeries, at the front of the Reaping Square, all screamed in unison, before letting out a loose cacophony of shrieks, wails, cries and a whole assortment of the most bone-chilling sounds of pain that Augustus had ever heard in his life. Augustus, meanwhile, had done nothing but stare in horror at the screen ahead, his mouth wide open in shock as beside him, Marvel whimpered and cowered in a nervous fit.

Siebog was dead.

All it had taken was an arrow to the back by a tribute, whose identity Augustus hadn't even paid attention to, for Augustus's once-lively brother to collapse to the ground, a strangled scream forever trapped in his throat, the life and confidence quickly vaporising from his eyes.

The boom of the cannon had driven everyone to pandemonium.

But today was the day where that nightmare could be brushed aside, swept under the rug as a one-off failure. Today was the day to dispel the ghosts of that era, to take revenge for what had happened all those years ago. Perhaps that was why his family had tolerated the presence of Scipio's statue, in the hopes that the revenge Victor's blessings would smile upon them.

Revenge for Siebog.

As for the other throne, that was meant for Demantur, who'd perished a couple of years ago. He'd disappeared one day, prompting a District-wide manhunt for the missing boy. Just one week later, however, a gem miner had discovered his body, badly broken-up and missing several body parts, by a forest which, according to the miner, had recently been infiltrated by a colony of monkey mutts.

In some ways, this was also revenge against the world for taking Demantur's life away before he'd had a fair shot at the Games.

Just then, the banquet hall fell silent, all eyes on the tall oak doors that guarded the main entrance to this grand place. The doors had been carelessly flung open, letting in a howl of the outside wind, almost as if Siebog and Demantur's ghosts were screeching at them. Footsteps clicked down a path that the Montgomeries had created to allow the four Heads of the Braun and Starfelt clans to pass through, the only sounds that can be heard, ringing out like sombre heartbeats. Behind them, Psyche, Augustus's favourite sibling who'd always been a joy to have around, and Judas Starfelt-Montgomery, the male volunteer for the Games, shuffled in, mixed expressions on both of their faces. Unlike the festive mood at Siebog's party, this event was marred with a desire for nothing but revenge, crippled with the anger of the family rather than pride for Psyche and Judas. As usual, there was some festive music from Zlato, who'd recently learned how to play the piano, as well as Aunt Fleur with her guitar and vocals, however even the songs on display sounded violent and warmongering. Augustus didn't really pay attention to the speeches made by his parents, or those from Judas's parents. They were mere carbon copies of the ones made at Siebog's party, with the exception of a few bits to emphasize what was at stake during these particular Games.

Instead, Augustus's eyes drifted to Psyche, who was trying to maintain a calm, composed demeanour, although her face betrayed her distress. She was standing right in front of Demantur's throne, which, ever since it was put up at the banquet hall, had caused her to eat considerably less and occasionally relapse in panic attacks when she thought no one was watching. Demantur's death had taken its toll on Augustus's sister, who'd been very fond of their brother, always spending time to play with him and going on secret trips and adventures together at the recommendation of their Victor Aunt Crystal. Sometimes, they'd brought Augustus along for the ride, with Psyche teaching the two brothers some cool tricks and life hacks while out exploring some rather dangerous places, tips she assured them could save their lips if they were ever put into the arena. Even before Demantur was reported dead, she'd had a sense of dread and despair strewn across her face, her makeup often uncharacteristically messed up during the period of awaiting news of his fate. It was almost as though she'd had a vision in all the time she'd spent locked up in her room crying, and had known that Demantur was sure to be dead. Still, she'd tried her best to hide it around Augustus, who attempted to be there for her when Demantur wasn't, and after a while, the pair of them had become each other's confidants.

That was how he'd known that Judas wasn't exactly the nicest person in town.

"He's a misogynist," Psyche had told him one night, causing looks of disgust to form upon both of their faces. "And he's a bully. He bullied me when I was a little kid, and he's still bullying the younger kids in the Academy. Oh, and I don't think he'd like the fact that I overheard him saying he would love to butcher me in the arena to claim the glory for himself. Ugh."

Yeah, Augustus wouldn't say it right there and then, but he secretly hoped Judas Starfelt-Montgomery would go down early to give Psyche a better time in the arena.

"To the Hunger Games, and to victory! Let us avenge Siebog's demise once and for all!" his parents roared, raising their glasses in a triumphant stance. The other Montgomeries followed suit. Augustus locked eyes with Psyche, who shook her head a little as she gave him a smile, one he duly returned.

He was going to miss his sister, but hey, it was only going to be for a few weeks, right?


66th GAMES:

"It's Reaping Day!" he could hear one of the Pimenova children cheering downstairs, the sound of swift footsteps quickly followed by some heavy chastising. There would be a party soon enough, but Augustus didn't feel like celebrating.

Over the past year, the mansion seemed to have gotten darker. It was as though the sun itself had decided to steer clear of the Braun-Montgomeries, draining them of the golden light that had once bathed their hallways and corridors in lustre and splendour. Augustus couldn't blame it. Who wouldn't want to steer clear of their family, especially after Psyche's Games?

Augustus could still remember every last drawn-out detail of that horrific disaster of an event. He'd seen Psyche put on the typical District One flirtatious girl persona, one that he knew she vehemently hated, throughout the course of her pre-Games appearances. It felt so wrong to see her dressed up in skimpy attire and toying around with older men and women, all the while her eyes screaming for help. Of course, no one interpreted her expressions as desperate, because all they saw was a beautiful, flirty girl.

Augustus, on the other hand, had seen his sister stuck in the worst moments of her life, at least, before the 'arena shenanigans', as she had often called them in their early childhood, kicked off.

And then when she was finally in the arena, the entire brood of Montgomeries had screamed and cursed her name as she teamed up with some poor juvenile fisher kid from Four to betray the entire Career pack, including Judas, who'd been punched repeatedly by Psyche, all while she screamed and accused him of doing various unspeakable things to other kids in the Career Academy. Of course, the other Montgomeries bought none of this, screeching about how she was a lying brat and throwing rotten tomatoes at the screen, much to the amusement, Augustus noticed, of the common citizens of One. Weren't they supposed to be backing the Montgomeries? If so, why did it seem as though they were revelling in their moments of distress?

The next few days had been torturous to watch, as Psyche ran off with that kid from Four, who'd been absurdly named Finnick Odair. What even was that name? It sounded like some trashy Outlier concoction from the local mud seller. All the while, the Starfelt branch hurled abuses towards the Brauns, vilifying their very names and dishing out insults aimed at each and every single one of them, including Augustus himself. Not that he cared, his eyes were fixed upon his sister doing her very best in the arena.

And then the monkeys...

He was snapped out of his thoughts when Marvel started calling for him. "Augustus, hurry up! Mom and Dad will be furious if we're late!"

Augustus sighed. He really didn't want to go to the party, but what choice did he have? Putting on his usual tuxedo, he dragged his feet down the grand staircase, which had been left unusually undecorated for this year's edition of the Reaping party. Perhaps his parents were, like him, slowly losing their morale when it came to the Hunger Games, which had already snatched away two of his siblings' lives. Or perhaps it was just that Siebog and Psyche had been the most artistically gifted of the bunch, and in their absence, no one really wanted to step up and think creatively for a mere party that only the Pimenovas had bothered showing up to.

As he reached the banquet hall, he gazed around lazily, staring at the decorations that had been hastily put up just last night. He didn't have a clue who'd designed them, and whether they were still employed by the Montgomeries, because they looked absolutely hideous. A bunch of mismatched tapestries were loosely hung upon the walls, depicting scenes of battles from random Hunger Games with random tributes whose names had been lost to time. A painting of Hassan Greenwood riding a mutt to victory sat in a dusty corner, a memoir depicting how Siebog and Psyche's Games should have ended, had they not been killed early on in the fray. Hassan had died a couple of weeks ago, according to the newspapers, after a battle with lung cancer, and the painting was a symbol of begrudging respect, although its position in the hall underscored the Montgomeries' opinion of him and the other Outlier Victors.

The number of thrones at the front of the hall had increased to three this year, the third throne decorated with hand-made laurel wreaths, collections of wildflowers and an old, half-broken violin that slumped against one of the throne's legs, ghosts of the past and what could have been. Augustus stood beside it for a moment, briefly pausing to feebly attempt to communicate with Psyche's spirit, not that he believed in spirits, of course.

"Psyche, if you're out there, please, I don't know or care how, let Zlato or Katya come home, please," he whispered, the heat rising in his face out of the sheer ridiculousness of begging a chair for help, but he sincerely hoped Psyche's spirit had heard him and was on her way to dump acidic saltwater on the other tributes and mentors.

Just then, the oak doors of the banquet hall flung open, although no one really turned to look at it. Everyone had been a little shaken ever since last year's Games, both by the betrayal and by the graphic nature of Psyche's demise. For the Braun-Montgomeries, they had merely rubbed salt into the old wounds of Siebog's Games. Augustus could hear faint shuffling as cloaked figures entered the banquet hall. He finally turned, and as expected, there was his mother, once again trying, but this time failing, to make a grand, pompous entrance. Her face spewed annoyance that she'd hardly drawn anyone's attention, smoke almost billowing out of her nostrils. Behind her, Katya marched into the hall, chin held high in a show of confidence, while Zlato trudged behind her, the poor kid having never been one for social interactions and preferring to stick to the fighting bits of being a District One Career. The procession went on with a rather heated speech by Augustus's mother, one that even made his father flinch at his wife's tormenting rants and slicing words. When some of the guests seemed a little bored of her, however, her tone only got angrier, until she was straight-up yelling and screaming about pride, honour, and all that kind of stupid stuff. Sure, their honour was at stake, but come on, it wasn't as big of a deal as she often made it out to be. Augustus managed to catch Zlato's eye, and the pair exchanged nervous glances as Augustus's mother slammed her fist against the table in frustration over literally nothing, before storming out of the hall, his father rushing to calm her down.

Katya sighed. "Everybody tuck in, I guess. I have a feeling that if we don't finish this food, she'll turn all of us into a gigantic, human stick of kebab."


67TH GAMES:

"It's Reaping Day," Augustus sighed, groaning as he rubbed his sleep-deprived eyes with his fists. From outside his window, faint rays of sunshine began to seep into his bedroom, slowly illuminating the dark walls with messy piles of boxes lined up against them. He hadn't bothered to clean his room, why should he? No one really cared much about housekeeping these days, the once-hallowed halls of the Braun mansion now sitting in a crumbling, dilapidated shell of its former glory. The nightmares had taken their toll upon the entire household, the ghosts of Augustus's siblings a constant plague upon their eroded minds. What had once been a large, thriving family had now been brutally reduced to a small, mediocre unit of four, consisting of a father who was becoming increasingly violent towards Augustus and Marvel, a mother whose health had begun to deteriorate rapidly over the last few weeks, Augustus, who was about to get shipped off to the Games himself, and Marvel, who'd grown to be quite erratic and often unpredictable with his mood swings.

It was no wonder no one really wanted to be seen near them anymore.

His aunts Crystal and Valkyrie sometimes came over to discuss the Games with him, but whenever they were around, they often opted to meet him in the courtyard, never quite willing to cross the threshold. Augustus really couldn't blame them. Even Aunt Fleur, happy-as-a-lark Aunt Fleur, had once told him she hated what they'd become over the years, although she did still have a soft spot for Augustus and regularly baked cookies for him, which tasted much nicer than the ones the servants sometimes were instructed to bake for his parents' 'dinner parties'.

Oh, the dinner parties.

It was a real testament to how far their family had fallen. On some nights, when his parents were feeling especially tipsy, they'd drag the five thrones representing each fallen child over to a singular, wooden table in the banquet hall, before offering them cookies, growing quite livid when no one accepted their offers and often resorting to hurling the cookies straight at the thrones, all while their father screamed in rage at the thrones, cursing the 'stupid little brats' for being complete and utter failures at life.

By the morning of Augustus's own Reaping, the thrones that sat in a cobweb-filled corner of the banquet hall were all stained a sickly shade of brownish-black from all of the cookies that'd been thrown at them. Augustus tried to avoid staring at them, but how could he? Not when the two newest thrones brought back horrible, horrible memories of that menace from Six...

He took a shaky breath. No, now was not the time to wallow in his own sorrows and self-pity. He sat on a rickety, ancient chair, and awaited breakfast. There was no party, no celebration, nothing, this year. They were simply not in the mood. His parents entered the banquet hall, still dressed in their nightgowns, before sitting down on the opposite end of the dining table, some distance away from where Augustus and Marvel were. Their mother squirmed uncomfortably in her seat, her face deathly pale as beads of cold sweat trickled like blood down her face, while their father rested a hand gently on her lap, his vision, piercing and cold, falling upon Augustus, daring him to utter a word. Augustus remained silent, and for once, so did Marvel, who'd learned his lesson after being whipped the last time he'd made a half-hearted cheeky remark at the dining table. Breakfast went on in almost complete silence, the faint sound of spoons gently tapping against golden plates being the only occasional disturbances to the deafening silence that echoed ripples throughout the lush, grand hall. If he listened closely, Augustus could almost hear the faint, ghostly sounds of laughter in the wisps of the wind, the sound of wine glasses clinking in a celebratory toast booming though the soft breaths of memories.

It made his heart yearn for an era that was long gone, but never forgotten.

After breakfast, in the absence of a party, Augustus had a full five hours to do whatever he liked around the mansion. District One Reapings took place in the late afternoon, when the sun wasn't glaring upon the entire Reaping Square, so he could afford some time to do what he needed to do.

In a cruel twist of fate, the lack of a celebration, spurred on by the deaths of his siblings, could have been the defining factor that saved Augustus's life in the arena.

Over the next four-and-a-half hours, Augustus pored over vast collections of journals and diaries that had been left behind by fallen family members and fired servants, examining every little bit and detail that stood even the slightest chance of being useful in the arena. After all, nobody, not even the rich and powerful Montgomeries, could predict how the arena would look like this year. It could range from a killer toy factory like the one seen in Ragnar's Games to the cold, wintery hellhole in Ampere's, to a pheromone-infested romantic paradise like in Valkyrie's Games, so he had to absorb as diverse an array of knowledge as he possibly could.

Psyche's diaries commenting about how District One's tributes were constantly expected to put on a glamorous, flirtatious show gave him ideas about a particularly unique angle that might give him a boost amongst the pool of tributes. A carefree, nonchalant attitude, against the vehement wishes of his father, was the one Augustus chose to portray upon arriving in the Capitol. It allowed him to be himself, something that made his whole act a lot more natural, believable and to some extent, relatable to the Capitol audience. After all, he didn't care if he won the Hunger Games. If he survived, great, he could go home and have a good night's sleep, if he died, he could be reunited with his siblings in the world beyond. It was a win-win for Augustus, really.

Demantur's plant journals allowed him to identify nightlocks within a batch of food that the Careers had collected on the third day. They looked like normal berries. but upon closer inspection and following Demantur's scribbles regarding the colour of their juices, he realised just how deadly they were. Of course, he hadn't uttered a word to the other Careers, merely watching in bemusement as his District partner and the boy from Four succumbed to the fatal berries.

A deceased, elderly servant's torn-up notebook revealed how to make some simple medicines. This, complemented by Augustus's analysis of Ampere's antics while in a cave in his arena allowed Augustus to create some bottles of liquids that were unfamiliar to the rest of the Career pack, but served them all well by keeping them in good shape and in fighting form.

Furthermore, upon close listening to audio recordings of past Games, he could recognise the sound of an axe being thrown into the air from a distance, and easily caught it mid-air on the fourth day in the arena, before hurling it straight into the chest of the shocked girl from Seven. The audio recordings had increased his perception, further proved by the fact that he'd been able to locate the sleeping pair from Six after hearing the faintest rustle of leaves. Having memorised where Ampere planted his hits during his final fight the year before, Augustus managed to kill both of them without either of them even suspecting a thing.

Close analysis of Siebog's spear-fighting technique allowed him to easily dispatch and kill the strong, burly boy from Three on the fifth day. Siebog's diplomatic skills also aided him in helping to cool down Career Pack tensions throughout his time in the arena, although a particularly heated argument between the girls from Two and Four had been a really close call.

Katya's notebook revealed that she'd noted down several key statistics in the Hunger Games, including the fastest running speeds from tributes and the terrains they were on, and close revision of their running techniques and styles allowed Augustus to chase down the girl from Two, who'd tried to betray the pack, before allowing the girl from Four to finish her off.

Zlato's trap-making skills, depicted intricately in the form of sketches and guides in his journals, allowed Augustus to trap food throughout the course of his Games, and at one point, even managed to severely injure the girl from Five, although she was able to escape, eventually dying of infection the day after.

But finally, the number-one trick that sealed him the Victory was a rather unexpected one.

While in Training, the boy from Two had seemingly harmlessly told Augustus that he had quite a huge fear of mockingjays, of all things, owing to some childhood trauma regarding his father that he didn't really feel like going deeper into. But it was all the information that Augustus needed to win the Games once and for all once in the arena. All those years ago, on one of Psyche's adventures with him, she'd taught him how to whistle tunes to mockingjays to get them to repeat them over and over again. While he was all alone in the wooded arena, the boy from Two seemed absolutely terrified to hear a sudden chorus of mockingjay whistles that emerged from out of the blue, echoing through the trees like a ghostly cackle from the past. This moment of distraction had been all that was necessary for Augustus to pounce upon him and wrestle him to the ground, the mockingjays whistling in their ears throughout the entire final battle, which only unhinged the poor boy from Two even further.

In the end, one slash to the throat was all it took for the trumpets to sound.


Katniss and Peeta held a rather awkward moment of silence for Augustus Braun, a man riddled with controversy amongst the Districts. Whether he was a cruel, bloodthirsty Career or simply a misunderstood Victor, it was unclear, but he'd won his Games, and that was pretty much the only thing that really mattered. Outside the window, the train had already begun to pull into the fringes of the Capitol, the outermost houses and crumbling ruins of war forts coming into view. Katniss caught a brief glimpse of a bomb squad dressed in their thick yellow suits, hunched over a particular spot on the ground next to a couple of shattered pillars that might have once been a shophouse. They seemed to be searching for mines that hadn't detonated throughout the course of the war, or worse still, an uncharted pod.

The thought of bombs made her shudder.

Peeta saw her discomfort and quickly flipped the page, revealing the next Victor. Instantly, a smile broke out across Katniss's face. "Oh, her."

A chuckle escaped from Peeta's lips. "As far as Victors go, she was pretty cool, I've got to admit." He turned to gaze upon the Victor's picture, which showed a tall girl with strawberry blonde hair that fell just below her shoulders in lush, beachy waves. Her shimmering hazel eyes gazed slyly ahead, a mischievous tint permanently embedded in them. She stood on the stage with her arms crossed, exuding confidence and cunningness for all to witness and behold. "Demeter Jarvinen."


VICTORS

District 1-Sapphire Huntington(4), Onyx Hibonite(9), Franc Montgomery(14), Crystal Montgomery(21), Sterling Jones(25), Luxe Carmichael(36), Geneva Cooper(37), Cartier Cooper(44), Valkyrie Montgomery(54), Gloss Irvine(63), Cashmere Irvine(64), Augustus Braun-Montgomery(67)

District 2-Ragnar Sveinsson(5), Reyna Boudicca(6), Draco Hadley(10), Scipio MacAllister(17), Freya Carson(22), Hercules Nichols(28), Julia Dawson(39), Brutus Gunn(42), Lyme Sveinsson(45), Evan Fortis(55), Enobaria Golding(61)

District 3-Nikola Johnson(13), Gadget Schroeder(24), Beetee Latier(40), Wiress Jansen(47)

District 4-Marina Bluebell(1), Mags Flanagan(11), Jolien Fisher(31), Timmy Fisher(32), Iris Fisher(33), Rafael Fisher(34), Coral Thiller(41), Poseidon Nakamura(58), Nemo Williams(62), Finnick Odair(65)

District 5-Shocker Crimson(8), Switch Kim(19), Flash Morrison(27), Porter Tripp(38), Marie Meredith(52), Ampere Chang(66)

District 6-Ford Hamilton(20), Kimi Bentley(51), Audi Lando(59)

District 7-Hassan Greenwood(2), Jill Wilson(15), Olive Sanchez(26), Birch Davison(35), Blight Gavin(53), James Silva(60)

District 8-Woof Casino(16), Calico Pepper(48), Cecelia Rheys(56)

District 9-Gwendolyn Whitfield(18), Laurel Flamsteel(29), Miller Thompson(49)

District 10-Ringo Alvarez(7), John Gatwick(23), Mare Trybull(43), Colt Dias(57)

District 11-Orchid Bloom(12), Seeder Crue(30), Chaff Mitchell(46)

District 12-Axel Millar(3), Haymitch Abernathy(50)

Victors that are underlined are deceased.