A/N: I'm not sure why I continue to make new stories before finishing old ones, but I couldn't resist. I'd say that the best way to describe this is that it's sort of a different look at what could've happened in The Hunger Games, but with some new twists so I'm harder to sue. Almost all of the story will be from Katniss's perspective. The other parts will be in 3rd person.
Disclaimer is on my profile.
Part 1: Tribute of None
The streets of the Seam were emptier than usual on this day, the day of the reaping. I silently walked across it, approaching the merchant sector of District 12. Usually the coal miners would be leaving for their shifts and I'd be helping Prim, my younger sister, prepare for school, but on this day most people slept in. What else could you do while you wait to see which two kids get taken to get killed? I soon reached the back alleys when I spot two people around my age talking. The one on the street is has a string of squirrels and rabbits on him while the other one trades him a loaf of bread. I walk up to them and the look up to the blonde one, who now had the squirrels.
"Hey Katniss. I thought you'd be home trying to comfort Prim. It must be tough for her, this being her first reaping and all." A glint of mischief passed through his blue eyes as I turn to the other one, Gale.
"What are you doing in this area so early? I thought you'd still be in the woods or the Hob." He shrugged his shoulders, signs of relief across his face as I remember: today would be his final reaping. The only down side is that after the Games he'd be working 12 hours a day in the mines.
"I thought I'd get everything done early today." Looked me up and down. "I'd need to get going soon. I'm not the only Hawthorn in the reaping today." He starts back towards his house. "Don't forget to wear something pretty, Catnip. Can't have you looking like you come from the woods." We watch him leave before Peeta makes a comment.
"I can't wait for the reaping to be over with. The whole waiting part is what unnerves me most." He pulled a blackberry from the sack hidden with the squirrels. "And may the odds—" I watch the berry arc through the air and catch it in my mouth.
"—be ever in your favor!" We laugh momentarily at my attempt of the Capitol accent before he looks behind himself.
"You should probably go. If my mom spots you, I guess it'll be worse than that day…" he leaves off as he returns to the bakery, leaving me alone in the alley.
I still remember that day. The rain was pouring in sheets and my family was starving. I was on the verge of death and desperately needed some way to survive until my birthday. In a foolish attempt to find food, I checked one of the near garbage cans to the spot I currently was in. As I did that, she came out.
"Get away from that, you useless urchin! I'll call the Peacekeepers if you don't scram now." I slowly backed away when I saw a young boy with blonde hair. He seemed so familiar, but at the moment I couldn't recall who it may be. Eventually she turned back to her house and I disappeared to the nearby apple tree, hoping I could get another chance to check the garbage. An angry voice sounded from the building and soon he was coming out, two burnt loaves in his hands. "Feed them to the pigs, you stupid brat! Can't believe you of all people would burn bread!"
Against all of the warning bells in my head, I approached him. He walked down to where I was standing and handed them to me. "I've noticed what's happening to you, and I guess you need it more than me." I stared up at him, my life literally now in my hands.
"What's your name?" I asked. I wanted to know who my savior was.
"Peeta…Peeta Mellark." He quickly stammered out before rushing back in. After that day we soon became friends. Eventually we snuck into the woods and soon met Gale. From then on, the three of us were considered inseparable. Peeta's witch of a stepmother still hated me, but I could live with that. For now.
I then remembered that I was still behind Peeta's 'house' and today was another reaping. And my sister would be in the crowd of those who are eligible with me. I rushed home, passing by old Greasy Sae and a number of other Hob locals. Soon I reach the small home in the Seam I live in, finding both Prim and mother eating.
"So Katniss, where have you been? Prim has been worried about you all morning and I've recently just settled her down." A sense of guilt passes over me. Between my father's death and Peeta giving me those loves, my mother had done little to keep us alive.
"Just checking up on Peeta and Gale before the…" I stop just short of mentioning what today was. Prim looks up at me, a small amount of terror in her eyes.
"It'll be alright, Prim. Children in their first reaping rarely get chosen." I'm sure what I said is more of a comfort to me than to her. She just smiles up at me.
"I hope your right, Katniss. I don't want to kill anyone." I smile from the glimpse of innocence she has…one I didn't have at twelve. My mother than sent me up stairs to clean up. I slowly lowered myself into the tub, removing the grime from my body. After a couple of minutes, I get out of the tub's dirty water and dry myself off, replacing the clothes I had on earlier with one of my mother's old dresses. The one she had worn during the Reaping for the 50th Games.
As I walk down the steps, I spot both Peeta and Gale already here, talking with my mother in hushed tones. One of them glances up and notices me, stopping their conversation. Prim soon comes into the room, wearing the blouse I wore for my first reaping. She comes over to me, a somewhat forced smile upon her face.
"I hope you aren't picked for the Games. They always put me in a bad mood." My hand slides under her chin, lifting it up until her eyes meet mine.
"I do too, Prim. I just can't imagine having to kill other humans." Gale makes a quick comment I don't catch. "What was that Gale?"
He looks at me, almost startled. "It's just like hunting. Pull a string back; watch your target go down. I doubt it's too hard." I'm stunned by this remark of his and it appears that only Peeta is too. I hope this isn't a sign of what's to come I tell myself. I don't need to go to the Capitol just to kill other kids. After a quick lunch of rabbit and goat cheese stew, we all walk down to the square in front of the Justice Building. A good portion of the eight some thousand residents of District 12 are already there. Around the time we enter the square, Gale comes up with an idea.
"What do we do if any of us are picked to be a Tribute?" I stare at both of them for a while.
"You should stay, Gale. You're way better at hunting than both of us. If I'm drawn and so are you, I think Peeta," I glance at him quickly, "should take your place. He's better at hand-to-hand and knives. Plus, I doubt they'll have a lot of line or multiple bows." The both think about it before nodding. I hope that my idea isn't foolish, but I just don't want Gale to be forced into those horrible Games after so many years of dodging them. And if my logic isn't sound…then I'm sorry.
Soon it's just Peeta and myself, forced into the pack of sixteen year-olds. Gale is at the front of the mass of candidates while Prim is way in the back, where she belongs. As we wait in the crowd we spot both the mayor and the district escort to the Games, Effie Trinket with her pink wig. She steps up to the mic.
"Welcome to the drawing of the Tributes that will represent District 12 in the 74th Hunger Games." She says cheery, her Capitol accent very obvious. To my disgust, she continues. "To those who await their fate this year, good luck. And may the odds be ever in your favor!" The mayor, who'll talk about the causes for the Hunger Games, soon replaces her. I start to talk with Peeta in whispers.
"I have a really bad feeling about this. For some reason it just seems like nothing will go right today." He gives me a sympathetic look as Trinket takes back the mic in an unprofessional way.
"Thank you mayor for that speech, but we are behind schedule. Now, I'd like to introduce the victor of the 50th Hunger Games, Mr. Haymitch Abernathy." A portly man stumbles onto the stage, cursing under his breath. Right before he reaches Effie, he stumbles over his feet and crashes to the ground. I'm certain the people in the Capitol are laughing at our only living victor. Effie soon decides to ignore the man and starts to move the container with the female names. 20 out of the thousands of them have my name, Katniss Everdeen, clearly printed on them.
The Capitol lady pulls one out and clears her throat. "The female Tribute for District 12 is Katniss Everdeen!" Peeta murmurs good luck as I take to the stage, absolutely terrified. I had never truly thought I would be picked in the reaping. I can spot Prim crying in the back of the group while my district watches. "Any volunteers?" And like usual, nobody runs up to save me. Part of me wishes some foolish girl would run up and let me free from my upcoming demise. I'm led to a seat while Effie starts the container for the males. Between Gale's 42 and Peeta's 5, I guess Peeta will be one of the most likely contenders for the other Tribute. And then I realize I could never kill him.
My train of thought is interrupted by Effie's voice. "The male Tribute for District 12 is Gale Hawthorn." He walks up onto the stage, looking like he expected to be called up. He stands near me as we wait for Peeta to soon come up, pain crossing his near-perfect features. I'd admit that the girls of this town have good reason to attempt flocking around him.
"Good luck, Catnip. And remember this: trust Peeta, no matter what he may do. His heart is right." I stare at him confused before the voice sounds again, asking for a volunteer and not surprisingly, Peeta walks up. He looks very similar to that day we first met, except for the bruises from the lashing.
"And who are you?" My two greatest friends exchange a quick glance as they fulfill my silly idea. I'm filled with a sense of dread and happiness. I can't explain the latter one.
"Peeta Mellark, miss." He is led to the chair next to me as the mayor returns to the mic and reads through the Treaty of Treason. Our new mentor, Haymitch scans us.
"Looks like I got some useful kids this year, I guess." A group of Peacekeepers escort us into the Justice Building as every member of our district kisses their middle three fingers and hold them up for us.
But that doesn't matter now. What matters is Gale's warning and my future in the Hunger Games. 'I'm never going to see Prim after today.'
A/N: thanks to the stupidity of a Mac with Microsoft programs, I had to rewrite the entire chapter, or at least part of it. But I guess it's better for it.
Chapter 1 edited at: 9:18 AM PST on 30 DEC 2010.