Written for Gethsemane's challenge (which seems to be very popular :)) - just a random theory that occurred to me when I read Catching Fire. No major spoilers but will not make much sense if you haven't read the second book.

As ever, unfortunately I don't own the fabulous characters or setting - Suzanne Collins does.

Opal

As I follow the Peacekeeper down the vast corridor, my feet silent on the blood red carpet, I wrap my arms tightly around myself to try to stop my body from shivering. I cannot help thinking that the whole of this massive house is as cold as the man who lives here.

We come to a halt in front of a huge wooden door, and as my guide knocks softly upon it three times, I know for certain that there can be no turning back. I have made my decision and I am sticking to it. It is for the best anyway. What is the point of joining the losing side?

For they will be the losing side, I am sure of it. There have been rumours of rebellion for years, but in the few short days since the end of the seventy-fourth Hunger Games they have got stronger and more widely spread than ever before. There are people out there, including many of my fellow victors, who want to change the way of life in Panem, who think that the brutal reign of the Capitol should be ended, but I have always thought the opposite. Why should I seek the end of a regime that made me one of the richest and wealthiest people in my district?

It is because of that girl. The girl from District 12. Katniss Everdeen. The one who supposedly rebelled openly against the Capitol to save the life of her district partner who she was in love with to the point of insanity. If you believe that then you believe anything. I don't doubt that she acted in innocence and total ignorance, for I don't suppose for a second that she would have the intelligence to come up with such a plan herself, but there is someone pulling her strings and I have a feeling that it is very soon going to be up to me to find out who.

"Come in," hisses a voice from the other side of the door.

The Peacekeeper steps away and disappears as rapidly down the corridor as he can without running. It seems that even if my heart races slightly with unaccustomed fear then at least I can take comfort in knowing that I am not the only one who feels it. I push the door and it swings quickly open. It is only when I step inside the room and try to close it that it seems to get heavier, making a forbidding creaking sound as it slowly slides back into place.

I turn around, feeling strangely like I did as a child back in the Training Centre of District 2, called into my mentor's office to atone for some crime or another that invariably seemed worth paying the price for at the time. However the eyes that stare unblinkingly into mine aren't those of the man who trained me, but the other worldly, almost black eyes of the one who wields more power than I can even begin to comprehend.

"Enobaria. I cannot tell you how pleased I am to see that you are going to make the right choice," is the greeting offered to me by Panem's president, and as I take a seat opposite him, I find myself holding my breath against the overpowering smell of roses. I look at him for as long as I dare before returning my gaze to the mass of folders on his desk.

"This will be the last contact we will have directly. You will meet the one and only person who you will pass information to when you leave here. Do you understand?"

"Yes," I reply. Now that I have got used to the scent of the roses, I notice a heavier, coppery smell in the air that seems familiar to me but I cannot quite place. For some reason it makes me want to leave as soon as I can and prevents me from speaking again.

"They will rebel, sooner or later. It is inevitable. But if you do all that I require of you then you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams, and of course you will beā€¦spared any of the unavoidable consequences."

"I will not let you down."

"No, I don't think that you will. For you are intelligent and you understand the consequences that I refer to," he replies, raising a thin white hand to his throat in a gesture that is full of a meaning which doesn't escape me for a second. I think of the fate that will befall the people of the districts if they rebel, and I feel a very brief pang of guilt and regret as I imagine the only home that I have ever known lying in ruins.

It doesn't last long when I return my focus to President Snow though. My life in exchange for a little bit of information. Homes can be rebuilt. It seems like a fair deal to me.

The president rises from his seat and I do the same, hoping that I will be permitted to leave.

"Come here," he says, and I have no choice but to obey, yet another response that is unfamiliar to one who has grown used to everyone else obeying her. "Turn around," he continues once I have crossed to the other side of the desk.

I cannot help shivering when his cold fingers brush against the back of my neck as he moves my long, black hair out of the way so that he can fasten the clasp of the heavy gold necklace. I look down, raising my hand to lift the pendant that had settled just above my chest, and I am surprised by the beauty of what I see. I have never seen a gemstone like it. It isn't just one colour, it is every colour all at the same time, changing every second in the flickering light of the wall-mounted candles. I don't know what to say in response so I decide that it is safest to say nothing.

"It is a rare opal," says President Snow in answer to my unspoken question. "A gift. Think of it as a small, tangible reminder of the decision you made. The decision that few people outside of this city have the sense to make."

He is inches from me now, and as he speaks I can feel his breath on my face. The smell that I noticed before is suddenly stronger than before, and when I abruptly realise what it is, I have to use all of my mental strength to remain still. Blood. But why is it on his breath? I suspect the answer to that question is something that I really don't want to know.

When he nods once in dismissal, I nod back, making myself walk slowly and steadily across the room and out of the door. Once I have closed it, I lean back against the wall and let out a breath that I hadn't realised I was holding, my hand reaching instinctively for the opal pendant as I silently give thanks that nobody who I ever loved is still alive. I pity everyone who will feel the full devastating force of the Capitol when the time comes, but at least this way it will not be me who suffers the inevitable torture and pain.