Ariel's POV (won't change the whole chapter)
"Welcome to Capitol Network. I'm you host, Augustus Flickerman following the 100th Hunger Games settling down. I'm here with our victor, Ariel Poseidon. And doesn't she look absolutely beautiful? Definitely an achievement from our current District 4 stylists huh?"
Canned laughter bursts through the studio speakers.
I sit on the same ornate chair that was provided for the recap of the Games. The interview room is decorated with vases of blue roses, all of different shades tucked into woven braids of bright green sea weed and coral bits that cascade down the vases in a waterfall effect.
My dress this time is a shorter thing with blue and green pearls sewn into the seams and collar. It matches my crown. There is only one sleeve that flows down to a band that secures it like a curtain at my wrist.
And like the recap dress, this one is also annoyingly padded.
"Now, Ariel, I know the audience is dying to hear your story. But just to keep them guessing we'll start out with some of the simpler questions sent in by your fans and sponsors."
I had sponsors?
"Alright," I say softly, pasting on a smile like Finnick had instructed me.
Pretend that the catastrophe with President Snow never happened and the audience will forget it, he had said.
Sure, keep dreaming, Odair.
"So I noticed that you were quite handy with that harpoon gun," says Augustus. "Where in the world would a young lady like you learn to operate one of those properly, since it wasn't provided during training?"
"Well," I start, "before all the men in our family died in a fishing accident, my uncle and his sons taught me behind my father's back. He eventually caught me, but when he saw how handy I was with it, he allowed me to go shark fishing with him occasionally. Very rarely though."
"Fascinating." Augustus leans his chin on his fist which rests on his crossed knees in the most interested pose. "Now, what was your opinion about your fellow careers?"
"All of them were very well experienced in different weaponry, with clashing personalities. It's hard to speak positively since most of them tried to kill me."
Augustus "Mhmm's" and sits up again.
"And Ariel," he continues, "how are you taking Mako's noble sacrifice for you at the last minute?"
My words stick in my throat, strangling a sob. I try to keep my current demeanor, but I don't bother smiling.
"I can never repay something like that," I say. "Not for that, not for the other multiple times he saved my life."
"Mhmm." Augustus pauses for a moment as if pondering a question. "Now on the night of the recaps before going off air, your mentor, Annie Cresta made a comment about you, and I think you know which one I'm talking about." Yes, I do. "So, is it true? Are you expecting?"
And he drops the bomb on me. Thanks Augustus.
"Well, yes." I can just hear the gasps and murmurs on the other side of the television. "I'm having a baby. Annie actually figured it out faster than the Gamemakers monitoring my vitals in the arena."
I thank Augustus for taking a positive approach on this.
"Oh, this is so romantic!" he exclaims. "The love child of a victor and her lover, willing to sacrifice his life for her, unknowns to him that she carries his child! Oh, this will be the Games to remember. Not only was it the fourth Quarter Quell and the one-hundredth, but what a dramatic story in the arena. Tragic love and loss and hope for new life."
Well put Augustus, but that doesn't make me feel any better.
(Six months later)
My mansion sits comfortably between Finnick and Annie's and the mansion that used to be Annie's. It is huge and spacious and I am nearly alone. Mother and my aunt have left the house for the day. Mako's sister, Ray sits in the plushy chair in the sitting room, rocking her five-month-old daughter, Maggie; though everyone calls her Mags after one of the victors who passed away a few years ago.
"Hey, Ariel," says Ray quietly. "I have to go to the bathroom. Hold Mags for me?"
I take the baby in my arms and sit down on the couch as Ray disappears down the hall. My own belly is swollen late into my second trimester. The Victory Tour is coming up soon, less than a month. I wonder what the Capitol reporters will be saying about a knocked up Victor touring around Panem.
Surely it's not good for my health
Oh, what a tragic reminder of my fallen love.
I will definitely be remembered, not just by my baby.
That would definitely be true. Every night since I returned from the Capitol I've prayed that I could carry Mako's child forever, to not have them suffer the wrath of the Capitol and Agatha Snow.
I look down at Mags sadly. I pray she is not affected by my foolish savagery on the night I watched Mako take his own life for me to live. Her mother would never forgive me. Mako's family would never forgive me. I'm already responsible for his death.
Although they haven't shown their grief around me.
Ray emerges from the hall and relieves Mags from my arms. Before she returns to her seat, she glances back at me. It's a bit awkward. I've had enough attention for a lifetime, but nonetheless, Ray comes and sits next to me on the couch. I tear my gaze from the floor to meet hers. She really isn't that old. Only just turned twenty. We aren't that far apart.
"Hey, Ariel," she says softly. "Are you alright?"
I place a hand on my stomach, but remain silent. I haven't been one for talking much lately.
"Ok, Ariel, just listen to me for a while alright?"
I just nod. It's not like anything she will say will matter.
"None of us blame you for Mako's death." My head jerks back up. "We all know he loved you. We all knew he planned to marry you. We've all known that he would give his life for you under any circumstances. It's not your fault."
"Yes it is," I mumble.
"Ariel, listen to me," she says taking my hand. "Mako loved you. We all still love you. To us, you were already a part of the family before he proposed to you. You are part of our family, and no matter what happens after the baby is born, we will be here for you."
"That's what I'm afraid of," I say quietly. "After what I did to Snow, there's no telling what kind of danger you will be in. What danger you are in. The last thing I want to see is anyone else I love get hurt."
Ray squeezes my hand.
"We won't be hurt." She smiles warmly. "Don't worry about us. It takes a lot more than a silly 'in-law' to hurt the Hydra family."
(Twelve years later)
I sit with Finnick on the two Victor's seats next to our mayor as Pearl Korl steps up to the two Reaping bowls once more. My son, Hake shifts nervously among the other twelve-year-olds. Off in the thirteen-year-old girl's section, Mags is putting on a big smile for her friends, trying to act brave like she always has.
"Happy Hunger Games!" cries Pearl Korl. "What a magnificent day for the reaping!"
Gray clouds loom over ominously. I have a pretty good idea she was scripted on this year.
"Here we go, ladies first!"
Pearl squeals with sickening glee as she fishes around in the glass bowl. My stomach churns. What girl will I have to mentor and watch die now because of my lack of survival skills. Finnick can only do so much.
My heart plummets to my stomach. Of course the Capitol would do this. No doubt the reaping is rigged this year. I hear a ragged cry in the back of the crowd as Ray watches her baby girl timidly walks up onto stage, the smile wiped clean off her face.
"Any volunteers?" asks Pearl.
Of course no one will volunteer. They know Maggie's relation to me, and what I've done. The Capitol doesn't want anyone to volunteer this year, not for District 4.
"Now let's pick our gentleman tribute!"
Pearl's high squeaky voice rings throughout the town square as she grumbles to herself, digging through the glass bowl of boy's names. I don't even have to listen to know who they will pick. I've been dreading this day for twelve years and it has just gotten a whole lot worse.
I hear the name before it is even called.
A/N: I suppose it is obvious that I will be making a sequel about Ariel's son (and her daughter-in-law...kind of?)
Thank you all for supporting and sticking with me through this story. I appreciate all of your support, and I hope to see you in Hake's adventure.
Special thanks to:
Montreal's Song for your undying devotion to read and review EVERY chapter with well thought and meaningful reviews.
Kallypso for enduring my rants about my fanfictions at camp and then reading them despite my overbearing requests. Miss you girl!
RueofDistrict11 also for faithful chapter reviews.
Turq8 for guessing Ariel's pregnancy so quickly.
Take Life's Chances for crying multiple times apparently. That means I've acctually accomplished my goal with this story.
Analyn Lana Ruse for giving a flattering excuse for not reviewing. ;-)
melliemoo for realizing my stupid character name mistake. (which I have still failed to correct and probably never will)
And EVERYONE else who stuck through and wrote awesome reviews that made me smile. I love you all. Hope to see you in generation 2!