She paid the ultimate price... she lived through Hell and back... but now, she emerged victorious. What will the Capitol think... as they see their victor give their final interview... and how will she cope... seeing the deaths of those who died for her? Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Isabella Rose's final interview of the 28th Hunger Games. Enjoy the show.
District 2: Isabella Rose
"Gosh, look at her little dimples... Isn't she adorable?" Vivienne cooed at me, and I swatted her hand away as she moved to pinch my cheek. I growled at her, but she just smiled awkwardly. Nobody knew how much I wanted to punch the small, white tattoos on her unnatural face.
"Isn't she?" The rest of the prep team chorused, and I rolled my grey eyes absentmindedly. I was dressed in a white robe, which was far too revealing for my taste.
"Let's have a look at her make-up... Adrianna, get the lipstick and the eye shadow. Oh, and don't forget the face powder and mascara. Perfect," Vivienne ordered as her stylist arrived at the scene holding a large make-up bag full to the brim with different colours and shades of every type of the Capitol-made stuff imaginable.
"Alaina, her eyebrows are dire. And look at her legs! This is a catastrophe – what was her old prep team thinking? They need to get their priorities straightened out, as it seems as though the only thing that's survived is her nail polish and manicure," Vivienne tutted to Adrianna's twin sister, Alaina, who seemed to be in charge of body preparations. Alaina nodded, and went off in search of some torturous device, probably.
"Yes, I wonder why," I muttered to myself, but nobody neither heard me nor cared what I was saying anyway.
"Lark, are you ready? If we add in some blonde highlights, they'll compliment the horrible ginger..." Vivienne's speech got no further as I pounced out of my chair and straight at her. Her eyes were wide and fearful as I pressed my face closer to hers, intimidating her.
"Don't. Call. Me. Ginger," I snarled, pushing her away and sauntering back to my chair, hips swaying. The rest of the prep team just stared as I clicked my fingers. "Just hurry up with the torment, already."
"Feisty," Lark commented as he grabbed a bottle of relatively normal looking shampoo from the counter he was leaning against. Adrianna gasped and stared at Lark like she had never seen him before in her pampered life.
"Lark! That actually made sense!"
"Jasmine and strawberry lace cocktails," Lark replied, turning back to my hair and lathering it in bubbles. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to enjoy the sensation without success. Every time I closed my eyes images of various tributes came into my head.
"You said it," Vivienne said, obviously glad that Lark was back to his old self and I was back to being tied to my seat.
"Perfect," Alaina said a few moments later, after plucking my painful eyebrows and waxing my legs. I had tried not to scream and strangle my prep team, but failed on numerous occasions. "Caesar's waiting, Bella!" Alaina trilled, and I gripped the seat as I saw red, before casually unfolding myself like a cat out of my chair.
I put on my outfit, and gasped.
It was cut into four sections. The sleeves were a beautiful, pale orange with leaves embroidered on them. The dress itself was a light, sunshine yellow, and the hem and the base had flowers and green grass on them. I wore a silver tiara, with pure, white icicles dangling down and matching earrings.
I was dressed as the 28th Hunger Games arena.
"Chop, chop!" I turned away from the mirror, and walked out of the door, head held high. I was not going to show I was weak; I was not going to show I was vulnerable; I was not going to show I was innocent; I was not going to show I was sweet; I was not going to show I was fragile; because I wasn't any of those things.
"Isabella! How nice it is to see you again!" Caesar turned towards me, and I instantly grimaced at his green lips, yellow eyes, white, icy hair and orange suit. It seemed as though he had also gone along with the four seasons' theme.
"Caesar," I said, nodding at him. He wasn't too bad, as Capitol people went. But then again, that was never really saying much.
"The interview's about to begin in just a few minutes, so feel free to look around or prepare yourself," Caesar told me, and he gave me a warm smile. It had been a while since I had seen a smile that warm and that sent shivers down my spine.
I looked around at the big room, with the audience just coming into their seats and gossiping. I felt the flash of cameras on my face, and I beamed at them sarcastically. Of course, they didn't realise, and I just heard the snap of more buttons being pushed.
The florescent lights caused me to squint, and I blocked a particularly annoying ray with my hand. Instantly, it disappeared. I smiled thankfully up at the lighting box and the men probably hovering inside, watching my every move.
"Okay, Isabella, we'll be starting in just less than a minute. Breathe, smile, and let the words form themselves. This'll be easy, trust me." And for some reason, I did trust Caesar. "Are we okay? Are we ready?" I nodded silently. "Good girl. Lights, camera, action!" The host grinned, and sat down on his seat with a flourish.
"We begin in 5, 4, 3..." one of the main cameramen said, before raising two fingers, signalling the number two, and then letting one drop, and the number one flashed in my head. Then the cameras started to roll.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here with the victor of the 28th Hunger Games, Isabella Rose of District 2!" I smiled at the cheering crowd, and I could imagine the whole of Panem watching me, just me. I was a victor. I was a champion. I was their winner.
"Isabella, you've proved almost the whole of Panem wrong! You've gone from the scrawny thirteen year old volunteer to this strong-willed, beautiful young woman in the space of just over four days. How does that feel?" I scowled at the word scrawny, and then continued with my answer.
"It feels as though it was meant to be. I was perfectly ready to enter the Games when I did, and it shows. I was always going to be a victor, Caesar. The only question was when," I replied, and then gave another smile at the cameras for the Capitol magazines and newspapers tomorrow morning.
"I think everyone did and does admire your confidence. Now, what was your relationship with Trista? What did you think happened when she died?"
"Trista was my best friend and my sister, my confidant and my ally. But I never killed her, Caesar. It was just the rules of the Game, and there were still three of us left. One of us was always going to die." I had sworn to myself that I would not cry, and so I blinked back any tears that might have threatened to fall. I smiled wearily, just to cover my true emotions.
"Do you wish that she had won instead?"
"I would like to say that yes, I loved her enough to give my life up for her, but that isn't true. She was just an ally Caesar, and I've been in it to win it from the beginning. That never changed." He did say to just let the words form themselves, and that's why the lies just came spilling out of my mouth easily. I had always been a good liar.
"How does it feel to know that you're going home, back to your friends and family, in one piece?" Caesar asked, leaning forward. It was such a Caesar-like movement a bubble of laughter caught in my throat, but I swallowed it hastily back and turned on my signature, arrogant smirk. They couldn't know that I was broken, inside, beyond repair.
"Well, I can't say I'm surprised. It's just overdue, really." I laughed idly, and looked back down at my small, bare feet.
"You certainly put up one heck of a fight to get here, Isabella. Now, let's watch a recap of that epic fight. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your 28th Hunger Games!" A screen came down behind me, and I turned to watch it. I took a deep breath, and started to dread what memories I would see again.
As usual, they began with the Reapings. My own was shown first, and I saw myself smile broadly and saunter onto the stage. I casually told the escort not to call me Bella, and waved snootily, like a queen faced with a crowd of subjects. I didn't believe that that was ever me.
Next shown was District 4, and I watched Storm's handsome face drop as Mylene's name was called as the extra tribute. I had only spoken to her a few times, while trying to convince her to join the career pack, actually. I saw the audience of District 5 mutter about Nico being chosen, and the same with the crowd of District 6 as Rosemary's name was called. Schatten, Shadow Girl, was shown from 8, and Cori volunteered for her friend in 10.
Subsequently were the chariot rides, and I grimaced at the array of colours on screen. Ivory and Sequin were shown glaring at each other, and poor Rosemary whimpered in her test tube dress. District 9 appeared on screen, with the cheese, tin and a spaghetti dress. I noticed, for the first time, that there were cuts all down small Tanya's shoulders. I gulped as I looked as the sharp metal that probably felt like a thousand blunt axes digging into her skin.
Then, the interviews began. They showed Trista's interview first, and again, I found tears pricking in my eyes. I cursed, and a few heads turned towards me, but I kept looking at the screen. They were talking about Lily, just before the timer rang. I knew more about Trista than Caesar was ever told through his small, gossipy ear-piece.
My face flashed on screen, and I gave an arrogant reply about being pegged as a victor from the age of five. Mylene then appeared, and I held my breath. She had defied the Capitol, and had stood up for the other tributes. Her family back home was probably in for some surprise soon.
Wolf was shown, his sarcastic reply sending shivers down my spine. Last year had sparked some rebellion throughout this year's tributes, especially in the interviews. Lacey was shown talking about her twin brother and her family, or in her case, lack of such. Schatten was dodging Caesar's questions, announcing that her secrets about getting out of a fire were "highly classified". Highly classified my golden crown, that is.
Brook was moaning about her pink dress and Tanya burst into tears, knowing that she was going to die. Annaliese gave her theory on life, saying that it was like an elevator, and Sam talked about little Sam being born back in District 12.
Finally, the 36 of us were shown on our metal plates. There were eager tributes and scared tributes; nervous tributes and excited tributes. And then the final gong sounded. Michael Rubins from Three was the first to die, with the word Loser scraped across his forehead. He was Sequin Allure's first victim.
Next was Nico O'Malley from Five, with a blunt knife stuck in his chest. He was Morganna Ren's first victim.
The third to die was Wolf Spanes from Six, with his body looking like a piece of Swiss cheese. He was Anya Rayne's first victim.
Fourth was Charlie Haven from Eight, with an arrow in his forehead and hands around his neck. He was Ivory Noire and Rolf Cadomay's first victim.
Then was Annaliese Braeburn from Eleven, with a trident plunged into her chest. She was Perkele Fin's first victim.
The final cannon belonged to Perkele Fin, with an arrow in his heart and the revenge of a lover. He was Ashton Samuels' first victim. And then the bloodbath was over, just like that. It had been a lot slower when I was there in real life, I was sure.
Mare Warrens was next to die after her fight with Sequin, when Floyd intervened and killed her for his "girlfriend". She was Floyd Barabe's first victim.
Then Marta Wren Harris' face was shown on screen, fearful and cautious as she took the knife from the big alliance's camp. And Ruse's scythe came down. As far as I knew, that was the first and last time he ever used it. She was Ruse Kennedy's first victim.
Next up were the girl alliance and a yeti-type monster, and Azalea, apparently. It was a good fight, and it was a shame I wasn't there in person, really. Azalea sacrificed herself as the three other girls got away virtually unharmed.
Poor Tanya's cannon sounded next, and I watched as vines slowly suffocated her. I always wondered how she had actually died, in the end. There was the fight between the two alliances, Gisli and Somber and Brook and Morganna. Morganna's death hit Brook hard, it seemed. I had never realised. She was Gisli Raylor's first victim.
Lacey's perfect aim made a debut appearance next, hitting Mylene in the neck and sending poison shooting through her veins. Her reaction to the poison would have been comical if she hadn't have been in mortal danger at the time. The note was the best thing, though. "In case you get thirsty."
Next were the secret lovers, Sam and Kelby, both murdered by Rolf. Poor Kelby had to watch her boyfriend die, and the pain was written clearly all over her face, intermingling with the blood. Sam and Kelby were Rolf Cadomay's second and third victims.
Schatten Tomar was shown next, and was given a mercy killing by Tristan. I was so surprised that he could ever kill anyone, especially armed just with a boomerang. She was Tristan Workle's first victim. Then there was our fight with Rolf, which started with me and Trista aiming punches and kicks at the District 1 tribute. Tara, garden girl, finally killed him, and Rory threatened her as we all stalked away from the body. He was Tara Green Flowers' first victim.
Next was the second betrayal of Anya from District Six, who stabbed Derek Tyras in the chest as he slept. He was Anya Rayne's second victim. Then there was the first appearance of Wolfotaur, or as Ashton called him, Wolfy, which Ash tricked, in a dramatic, clichéd way.
Then yet another Gamemaker trick reared its ugly head. Mylene and Rose were left to battle the Dragorpion – half dragon, half scorpion. They survived, just.
The next clip they showed I remember all too well. It was the revenge of Rory, using Quin's necklace. Only Allure would bring poison and antidote into the Hunger Games only for it to be used by somebody else. She teased garden girl, and Tara fell over trying to reach the poison antidote. Rory dropped it onto the ground, breaking the glass, and claiming that it was for Rolf as Tara's cannon sounded. She was the second victim of Ivory Noire.
The wave came crashing onto the screen, and I saw the careers part, of which most people will always remember. Trista and I, Quin and Rory, and Floyd. One large career team sharpened down to three small, deadly packs.
Floyd tried to grab Sequin's neck but she fought back, kicking and biting, before finally piercing his foot with her thigh-high boot. Good ole' Quin. She carved patterns into Floyd's body, before leaving her now signature mark on his forehead. He was Sequin Allure's second victim.
I watched as Kendal pushed Anya Rayne into the water, her screams muffled under the pressure of the liquid –they were just bubbles, pockets of air rising to the surface. She was Kendal Resista's first victim. The remaining members of the big alliance cornered Brook, but she fought back, killing the earlier murderer in the process. Kendal was Brook Callins' first victim.
Trista's voice rang out across the arena, the one word that made the fights begin. Bang. Mimi's knife, the one intended for Somber who disappeared at the last moment, pierced Kiera May, and Keira May fell. She was Mimi Madeline Lombardi's first victim.
Tristan was shown next as Trista and I hunted him down. Poor, kind Tristan. My rock tore at his stomach, and he fell. I never thought the simple weapon would actually kill him, but it did, against most beliefs. He was my first victim. Then the Dragorpion attacked us once more.
Somber was shown sitting in her cave, waiting for something, anything, to happen. And the feast-fight began. I saw myself stab Mimi, and I cringed as the blood splattered my black dress. She was my second victim.
Ivory and Mylene were fighting as Ashton cheered on the sidelines. Poor Rory never saw the blow coming; she was Mylene Frostblight's first victim. I looked on as, again, I saw myself stab another innocent tribute, another naive girl. Rosemary Angel was my third victim.
Lacey's dart shot Ruse in the neck as he clutched the pieces of paper from home. He was Lacey Kalex's first victim. Gisli was reading her papers next to Cori from 10, and they were both crying, tears dropping onto the ink. The knife came down so suddenly, I don't think either one of them saw it coming. She was Gisli Raylor's second victim.
The District 7 tribute, her eyes vicious and angry, killed Gisli instantly. She was Lacey Kalex's second victim. Then Wolfotaur arrived at the scene, and Lacey fell into the endless hole of mutt poison before Somber, her district partner, killed the girl quickly, and quietly. She was Somber Thrax's first victim.
Various, seven to be exact, home interviews were shown. Sequin's trainer and stylist gushed about the now-dead tribute, and Trista's foster siblings hoped that their sister, their Twista, would come home. My own family stood up for me confidently, as did Mylene's family.
Somber's friends cried for her and her parents regretted leaving her for so long. Brook's brothers were pining for her return and Ashton' siblings were finishing each other's sentences as the youngest wondered why nobody was playing hide-and-seek with him anymore.
The home interviews ended, and I saw myself and my ally approach Ashton as he cowered at my feet. Then, like a coward, I let my best friend kill him. He was Trista Angel's first victim. Mylene cornered Somber in an icy cave, and her final words were to tell some guy that she loved him. She was Mylene Frostblight's second victim.
And then Mylene got her just desert as Sequin cut out her heart while she was still alive, and again carved that dreadful word into her kill's forehead. She was Sequin Allure's third victim. I gasped as I watched Brook Callins, a fourteen year old girl from District 7 murder Sequin Allure, a seventeen year old career from District 1. Loser, she wrote on her forehead. Quin was Brook Callins' second victim.
I turned away from the final moments; I knew what they were already. There would be an image of me hitting the tree and throwing my token across the arena. Then I would chase after it, and then I would cut Trista's wrists. She'd walk over to the lake and drown herself. Brook would be left with me, and then she would hang herself at the entrance of the cornucopia. I would collapse, and then my body would be lifted, alive, by the hovercraft.
A song began to play as the final credits were shown, one that I remembered slightly, but didn't know completely.
Papa, don't leave me, Mama don't cry. Papa stay strong for me; Mama don't lie. Papa, don't leave me here, Mama, dry your tears. Papa, don't leave me, Mama don't cry. Hold my hand, and watch me die. Don't leave me, don't cry.
"Well, Isabella, those were your Games! Would you like to add any more comments?"
"I just want to go home, Caesar. Just... just let me go home." Suddenly, a message appeared across the screen as the rest of the room went dark.
We are now one. We were once 36. We kept fighting, we tried to make it out alive, we tried to win. We were inches away from death. And then 35 of us died. We are now one. We were once 36. This was how 35 of us were murdered by our friends, out fellow tributes. This was our story.
We are one. We were once 36. The Games are not over yet.
Well, it's officially over. The 28th Games have been and gone, but in the words of the mysterious black screen, they're not completely over yet! Fly Only to Fall will be posted as soon as I start to write it! Please look out for it!
I'm sorry for not doing the victory tour, but I think that this is a long enough chapter already! There was a lot to fit in. Isabella Rose, what does go through your head? She's lost a bit of her sparkle, but don't worry, it'll return shortly!
Thank you so much, everyone, for reading, for reviewing, for favouriting, for alerting, and for just being plain amazing 24/7. You guys are fantastic and I could never in a million years ask for better readers. This has been a long, and sometimes painful, journey, but exciting and fun as well, I hope. And now it has come to an end! Adios, my loyal subjects/readers. I shall miss you all unless you read FOtF, then, not so much.
Down with the Capitol!