Author's Note: This was written for the Starvation Monthly Challenge. The prompt was "home." I'm always trying to improve my writing, so feedback (especially constructive feedback) is fantabulous. Also, in case you can't tell, this is based on the children's rhyme "The House that Jack Built" and also a children's book called "The House that Crack Built" (and yes, I'm mean crack, as in the drug). "The House that Crack Built" is actually pretty awesome, and you can find videos of it on youtube if you want to check it out.


This is the house that greed built.

It's a large, sprawling mansion near the heart of the Capitol, not more than a ten minute walk from the city circle and the municipal buildings. Everyone in Panem would recognize it; out of all the colorful buildings in the Capitol, it is the only one that's white. A white house for a man whose soul is blackened with a greedy lust for power and wealth. Ironic? Definitely, but Snow has always had a bit of a twisted sense of humor. It's only right that his house—his home—reflect that.

The crisp, clean lines of the outside of the house hide the labyrinthian halls that twist and wind throughout the house. There are stairways to nowhere and rooms that were built for purposes that no one should ever have to think about. But those rooms, the rooms where the dirty work is done—the torture of prisoners, the brewing of poisons—are hidden beneath rooms where his children and grandchildren stay when they come to visit. Torture chambers are hidden beneath rooms where he has watched his smallest granddaughter open her presents and squeal with delight on Christmas morning. The horror is hidden beneath a layer of seemingly perfect goodness. This is the house that greed built.

These are the soldiers who guard the man who lives in the house that greed built.

Just like the house, the soldiers wear white. Well, the official ones do. But the real soldiers—the inadvertent ones who actually guard the man that lives in the house—rarely wear white. Usually the soldiers that are protecting him are the ones who don't want to be here, and they rarely where white anymore. By the time all is said and done, these soldiers are wearing red. Occasionally, they wear it in tiny red dots on their foreheads, but it's rarely ever that neat. They usually wear it like a necklace, or like a giant red stripe across the center of their chests. Sometimes, they wear it like a second skin and are covered in red from head to toe.

While Snow can sit at home and watch these soldiers—young though they may be—fight and inadvertently protect him, these soldiers will never have that luxury. These soldiers won't ever again sit at home with their families and watch the Games. These soldiers—no, children—wearing red, will go home in pine boxes. These are the soldiers who guard the man who lives in the house that greed built.

These are the eyes that watch the soldiers who guard the man who lives in the house that greed built.

Snow can sit at home and take pleasure in watching the children that die to unknowingly protect his regime. But there are those who sit in their homes—the ones that won't ever really feel like home anymore because it's missing someone—and watch in horror as their children one by one don the red mantle that christens them as being one of Snow's "soldiers." Home will never be the same for them because they'll always remember the way that they sat on that sofa and hoped above all hope that their little "soldier" would be the one that was still standing at the end of the day. And then when their "soldier" doesn't come home, they remember that this was the place where they watched their child earn their red badge of courage.

These are the vengeful mothers with childless hands. These are the broken fathers that will never smile again. These are the brothers and sisters who can't sleep at night because the bed that they once shared with a sibling feels heart-wrenchingly empty. These are the eyes that watch the soldiers who guard the man who lives in the house that greed built.

These are the cries that open the eyes that watch the soldiers who guard the man who lives in the house that greed built.

Always, without fail, a scream will shatter the silence of a home as a parent watches their child die. Never once has a parent remained silent as they watch their child die on national television. The cries of pain—a mother's high-pitched shriek of horror, perhaps, or a father's low roar of disbelief—will forever echo off the walls of their home, invading their minds and stealing any comfort that these families could have. Because, really, what comfort is there to be had?

It's these screams and shrieks and cries of pain that make people wonder. It makes them try to remember what the point of these games is, and then they remember. They remember that this is meant to punish the rebels for fighting the Capitol. And as they remember this, people also remember that they weren't the ones who rebelled. They remember that the cries of grieving parents and dying children are not their fault. These are the cries that open the eyes that watch the soldiers who guard the many who lives in the house that greed built.

This is the rage that comes from hearing the cries that open the eyes that watch the soldiers who guard the man who lives in the house that greed built.

At first, the Games were dispiriting; they were more than that. The first Games very nearly broke the people of Panem. And for years, they sat in their homes that would never feel right or comforting or safe ever again, and they watched thousands of children choke on their own blood while trying to say any last goodbyes to the family that they know is watching. At first, people sat in their homes—their now broken homes—and were demoralized into passivity.

But now—after too many years of choking, dying children—the people of Panem are done being crushed. They want to be able to sit in the safety—yes, safety, if you still remember what that feels like—of their homes—yes, homes, if you still remember what that is—and know that their children will be safe. They want home to be where the heart is, not the place where they were when they wanted to tear their hearts out so that they wouldn't have to feel the hurt of losing a child, brother, sister, friend anymore. And so instead of being crushed, the people are angry. This is the rage that comes from the cries that open the eyes that watch the soldiers who guard the man who lives in the house that greed built.

This is the age when people express the rage that comes from hearing the cries that open the eyes that watch the soldiers who guard the man who lives in the house that greed built.

Before now, people were angry. They've been angry for a long, long time. But now, they're acting on it. This is a time when people are leaving their homes—there was no comfort there, anyway—so that they can fight for everything that home is supposed to be. They're making their anger known through uprisings, the likes of which the Capitol hasn't seen since before the first Games. They're pushing the Capitol people from their homes—the only true luxury of the Capitol—and into the streets. The rebels are making the Capitol realize everything they've ever taken for granted, the most important of those being the luxury of a home. The rebels are fighting back, and they're doing it well. This is the age when people express the rage that comes from the cries that open the eyes that watch the soldiers who guard the man who lives in the house that greed built.

This is the peace that comes from the age when people express the rage that comes from hearing the cries that open the eyes that watch the soldiers who guard the man who lives in the house that greed built.

After the Rebellion, Panem isn't pretty. It isn't pretty, but it's better. There is peace now that hasn't been seen in over a hundred years. People are rebuilding, and as they rebuild from the destruction of war, they're finally getting what it is that they've wanted for far too long. They have peace that doesn't come at the expense of their children's lives. There won't be anymore little "soldiers" with their gruesome red badges of courage. There will be families—some happy, some not—and they will have a space where they can be together in safety.

There are no more bombs and no more Games. There are reminders, though, like the fine gray blanket of ash that covers the meadow in District 12. But at least now children can walk down the street without wondering if they'll have to go into battle for a cause they don't know anything about. Children aren't walking down the street, clutching their parents hands in fear; instead, they're holding them with love and joy in their hearts. This is the peace that comes from the age when people expressed the rage that comes from hearing the cries that opened the eyes that watch the soldiers who guard the man who lives in the house that greed built.

This is the house that is full of peace that comes from the age when people expressed the rage that comes from the cries that open the eyes that watch the soldiers who guard the man who lives in the house that greed built.

This little house is like many others in Panem. It isn't white or large and sprawling. It's a small, modest house—the perfect size for the family that lives there—where a mother and father have two children. It has more windows than any house built before the Rebellion—the second one, that is—had; the front door is a simple wooden door, not the awful red that says "we lost a child here." This house actually has running water and electricity that is on more often than not.

The parents living in this house are happy to have two children because they know that they will never have to sit in their homes and watch as their children are murdered for everyone to see. They're happy to spend time teaching their children to play baseball or to chase butterflies. They're happy that they won't have to see their children lose their innocence at the age of twelve when they realize that they're to be cannon fodder so that a greedy, bitter old man in a far off city can continue to rule Panem with an iron fist.

They aren't a perfectly happy family—not all the time. But they're close. Little arguments—like when the little boy doesn't want to wear his rain boots, or when the little girl wants to wear her best dress to school—can be fixed. Little arguments are part of everyday life, but they aren't terrifying like they used to be; not when they know that they'll have plenty of time to make things right. Life is less terrifying because now they have a house—a home—where they can live out their lives without the fear of losing each other. They are no longer afraid to love, because they know that they aren't going to be violently separated from their loved ones, and that brings them peace. This is the house that is full of peace that comes from the age when people expressed the rage that comes from the cries that open the eyes that watch the soldiers who guard the man who lives in the house that greed built.

This is a home that love built.