Hello everybody! I've decided to take Maristela Freesia's Hunger Games 100 theme challenge. I have never attempted to write anything for this fandom yet, and I'm not too sure if I'm that happy with it. Just so you all know, I'm a huge procrastinator, and this probably won't be done for a loooooong time. Anyway… this A/N is turning into a novel.
I don't own the Hunger Games.
1. Love 2. Light 3. Dark 4. Seeking Solace 5. Break Away 6. Innocence 7. Breathe Again 8. Memory 9. Insanity 10. Silence 11. Blood 12. Tears 13. Sorrow 14. Happiness 15. Flower 16. Night 17. Stars 18. Eyes 19. Dreams 20. Waiting 21. Sacrifice 22. Fairy Tale 23. Magic 24. Mirror 25. Broken Pieces 26. Starvation 27. Words 28. Can You Hear Me? 29. Heal 30. Pain 31. Drowning 32. Last Hope 33. Puzzle 34. Solitude 35. Relaxation 36. Break 37. Mother 38. Want 39. Wrath 40. Moon 41. Walk 42. See 43. Die 44. Young 45. Need 46. Horrific 47. Snow 48. Storm 49. Alcohol 50. Alone 51. Gone 52. Wedding 53. Fantasy 54. Lock and Key 55. Poison 56. Sword 57. Bones 58. Chains 59. Rainbow 60. Midnight 61. Fear 62. Under Water 63. Wings 64. Unseen 65. Princess 66. Sharp 67. Fading 68. Dirt 69. What If... 70. Lace 71. Bird 72. Fashion 73. Bunny 74. Scars 75. Sparkle 76. Confusion 77. Freedom 78. Joy 79. Time 80. Warmth 81. Insomnia 82. Dance 83. Message 84. Imaginary 85. Underworld 86. Ice 87. Hope 88. Song 89. Fire 90. Lost 91. Play 92. Run 93. Wild 94. Morning 95. Loneliness 96. Sweet 97. Courage 98. Grandparents 99. Ocean 100. Forever
The chilly autumn wind plays across my face as I make my way down the path home. I close my eyes and trust my feet to follow the familiar route.
I'm testing my hearing. Dad has been helping me get better at listening for different things, and he says I'm learning very fast.
The other day in the woods he let me take the lead and listen for rabbits. I managed to catch a few, but after a while it was getting late and I had to let him lead again.
At the moment, all I can hear is my own footsteps, echoing across the pavement. A nearby tree ruffles its leaves in the breeze.
I try to listen harder.
It's odd for district 12 to be this quiet at this time of day. Even though the district is usually a little on the quiet side, it's normal for the other kids to be playing in the meadows or telling their families about their school days at this hour.
I slowly open my eyes.
Clearly, I don't know the way home as well as I thought I did. I've wandered along some sort of cobblestone path, and right ahead of me are the most beautiful houses I've ever seen.
My breath catches as I stand in awe of them.
They're enormous, and one is never quite like another. One has floor-to-ceiling windows; one has a built-in root cellar. Still another has glorious white columns up front, and I can make out a glimpse of a piano through the window of the one closest to me.
I stand there for a full ten seconds before I remember it's not polite to stare. I'm just turning to leave when someone calls my name.
"Katniss! Katniss, over here!" calls the voice.
I turn to face whoever's calling me, and I catch sight of a group of girls from school standing in front of one of the houses.
This alone is cause to be curious. I've never really got along well with the other girls, and I'm surprised that they even know my name. None of them are from the Seam, and I don't think I've ever even talked to any of them.
Days in the woods with my dad have taught me to always be careful. Before letting them know I heard them, I glance at the group from the corner of my eye. There're a few of the "popular" girls from my class, and a couple of them I only know by sight. I'm just deciding to pretend I didn't hear them when I realise Madge is with them.
Madge is the mayor's daughter, and she never talks much either. She's what my mom calls a "deep-thinker". I'm one too, apparently. Neither of us really have any friends, so we always end up in partners for projects and stuff. She has always been nice to me, and I suppose if there's anyone from school I can trust, it'd be her. She's standing near the edge of the group, clearly a little uncomfortable hanging out with the others as well.
Curiosity gets the better of me, and I walk over to join them.
"Yes?" I ask quietly.
"Abelia threw my stuffed animal over the fence!" wails one of the girls I know only by sight.
"It was an accident! I was just teasing!" says another one of the girls, shooting her a dirty look.
I raise my eyebrow, puzzled as to what this has to do with me.
They're all looking at me expectantly, and I shrink back a little under their gaze.
"Wh… what?" I ask uncertainly.
"Well, you're good at climbing, right Katniss?" asks one of the girls confidently, putting her hands on her hips. "We've been trying forever! None of us can get it!"
"I already told you," says Madge, firmly. "None of us can go in there! Why would you call me over to tell you about the house if you didn't want…"
"But Katniss is really fast!" Says the first girl, looking at me pleadingly. "And strong!"
Of course that's how they know me. I'm that girl who always got all the ribbons on the school's field days.
"I… I still don't think I should be hopping fences," I say defensively, and it's a bit of a silly argument because I slip under the fence to the woods almost every day with my dad.
"Puh-lease Katniss?" begs the first girl. "My mom made that stuffy for me!"
I glance to Madge for help. It appears she's only here since they called her over for information about the house.
"I really think you'd better leave it," whispers Madge. "That's… that's crazy Haymitch's house."
Some of the girls look confused at this, but I watch as sudden recognition flickers in a few of their eyes.
"Like… the one from the hunger games?" one whispers after a short silence.
Madge nods, staring towards the house.
I follow her gaze and can't help staring again.
But it's for an entirely different reason.
While mostly well kept, fancy houses dot this area, I'm surprised the one before me is still standing.
It gives off a harsh feeling of darkness and neglect. The sides of the house seem to be groaning under the weight of the second floor, and the paint is peeling off all over the place. The shutters on the windows are hanging vertically, and the drainpipes are broken and have spewed sludge down the greyish paint. Suddenly, I remember whom it must belong to.
Crazy Haymitch is the only living hunger games victor of district 12. He's always on stage when we meet in the square for the reapings.
I shiver slightly at the memory of that awful time of year.
Haymitch is always drunk when we see him in the square, and he always ends up making a fool of himself. Other than that, he locks himself up in his house and no one ever hears from him.
"I've heard he has a big oven just for cooking children," one of the girls whispers.
"That's ridiculous," another says, with a nervous laugh.
"He eats them RAW!" giggles the mischievous girl who threw the stuffed animal over the fence, lurching forward to surprise her.
"He doesn't eat anyone!" Madge says, appearing annoyed at the girls. "He used to be… my aunt's… friend…"
Madge fades off as the mischievous girl giggles some more, dashing up to the fence.
"Come on, Katniss! You can see the thing from here!"
I carefully walk up to stand next to her, and catch sight of a stuffed bear wedged in a bush near the front door.
The first girl looks at me, begging with her eyes.
I sigh inwardly, slipping off my backpack and handing it to Madge for safekeeping. I wordlessly hoist myself up.
I'll be in and out. No stopping for anything except the toy.
I realise I'm shaking slightly as I hop down on the other side of the fence. I'm suddenly remembering rumours about Crazy Haymitch that have been bouncing around the school for years.
Some of them are obviously lies. For example, there's no way he's a wizard with lots of spells just for torturing his victims.
But what if he actually did laugh at Hunger Games reruns?
Or maybe he didn't care about any of his tributes, and it was his fault when the boy died of thirst that one year.
They say the Games do weird things to people.
I break into a nervous run now, sprinting over to the stuffed bear.
I grab the bear by the arm, but it turns out it's wedged in the bush pretty well. I get a couple scratches, and just manage to pull the bear free when I realise the ribbon around its neck is frayed, and it's unravelling as I walk.
The bear's owner is nervously signalling me from the fence, begging me not to wreck it. I hold back the urge to roll my eyes, and double back to the bush to try to figure out how to unsnag the ribbon. All I do is manage to tangle the frayed bits of the ribbon even worse around the bush's branches.
I panic a bit, sure that Haymitch'll look outside and see me any second now.
The others cling to the fence fearfully, holding their breath for me.
I finally manage to get the bear untied, and loop the frayed bits of ribbon around my hand, preparing to run back.
Suddenly, the front door opens.
The girls at the fence all frantically take off, putting as much distance as possible between themselves and Crazy Haymitch.
Only Madge remains behind, but she ducks behind some shrubbery, and I realise that I'm entirely alone.
My heart thumps wildly as I reel around, trying to make a break for it.
"Hold it!" says a gravelly voice from the front door.
I brush my sweaty palms off on my pants, and slowly turn around to face him, blood pounding in my ears.
Haymitch is even scarier up close than he is from the audience at the reapings. And that's saying something, considering in the latter he's about to ship children off to their deaths.
He's middle-aged and round, with a worn face. He's holding a bottle of something, and scowling at me.
I do my best to shrink back, letting him know by my body language that I'm no threat. I avoid eye contact and try to back up a bit. This is one of the ways my father's taught me to act around predators in the woods.
"Calm down, kid. What are you doing here?" He asks, eyeing the stuffed animal and handful of frayed ribbon.
"I… I just wanted… to get this," I manage, shyly holding up the toy.
He smirks at this, and I tremble slightly.
"Bears aren't cute, kid. They're dangerous. But of course, you wouldn't need to know that."
I dare to look into his eyes, and suddenly I'm not as afraid as before. The way he handles himself is tough, and he talks bluntly, but his eyes are empty. I recognise them as Seam eyes, but there's not a sparkle of personality behind them.
My dad's eyes are warm and kindly. But Haymitch's eyes are hollow and blank, as if they'd given up on seeing reality long ago.
It's actually kind of pathetic. You'd think someone with so much money; someone who always has a full belly, would have cause to be happy. Especially in District 12, where money is so unheard of.
He stares at me coldly, as if willing me to try to respond.
I gather up all my courage.
"I know more about the woods than you'd think," I bite back.
He actually laughs at this, and his laugh, like his eyes, is empty of all emotion.
"Sure, sweetheart. Let's just hope that never has to come in handy."
I'm still trying to work out what he means by this when he addresses me again.
"You watch the Hunger Games?" He asks.
"Wha… of course I do!" I splutter, wondering where this is coming from. "You have to!"
"You're pretty scrawny," he remarks. "I figured you might not be old enough yet. At least not old enough to understand."
His cold eyes bore into me, and I desperately try to break the silence.
"I understand fine!"
I'm not sure if I should say more than this, since I don't know who he could be in contact with.
"We all do, sweetheart," He says, with an edge of bitterness.
I wonder why he's bringing this up. I know if I ever had to be in the Games, I would probably try to think of them as little as I possibly could.
"You know Calathea Wright?" He asks.
I shake my head no, trying to think of a way to break off this conversation and go home.
"She was the girl tribute last year. She kind of looked like you. You're sure you two weren't related?" He asks.
Suddenly, I know who he's talking about. Calathea was from the Seam, too. I only really knew her by sight, but it was still pretty sad to see her have to go to the games. I guess I'd mentally blocked her name.
"She might have been from the Seam," I whisper.
"Yeah, I s'pose so," Says Haymitch, taking a swig from his drink.
There's another silence, and I'm just deciding to break off the conversation and walk away when Haymitch speaks once more.
"It's not fair, you know. I never get to meet any of you until it's too late. It's like, it would be good if I could somehow make your pathetic lives better, but at the same time…"
He takes another swig from his drink, and I figure his money must be going elsewhere.
"They dress you up all pretty, and haul you off to your death. None of you are ever strong enough. Or smart enough. What do they even teach you in those schools?"
I figure it's a question I'm not supposed to answer.
"You know, once you're a tribute, you're always a tribute. Alliances, decisions, fighting for your life…"
I don't see how Haymitch is at all fighting for his life. He doesn't even have to work to feed himself. I just let him continue, hoping he'll stop talking soon.
"I guess you have friends at school?" He asks me.
I nod, choosing the answer I hope will end his rant sooner.
"You think they'd say goodbye? Or would they just leave you to those horrid pink birds?"
I guess he's drunk, since he's not making any sense.
"There isn't a single victor who doesn't wish it had ended differently sometimes. 'Cept maybe district 2," he says, chuckling slightly.
There's another silence. Haymitch sighs.
"But you have no idea what I'm talking about, do you sweetheart?"
I shake my head no, hoping he'll let me go now.
He chuckles a little, taking a swig of his drink.
He sadly shakes his head, and shuts the door, ending the conversation.
I stand there in confusion for a bit. He really isn't as scary as the others thought. He's actually kind of pitiful.
I mean, sure, The Hunger Games are awful, but I'd think someone as old as Haymitch would have found a way to rebuild his life by now.
Personally, I can remember watching seven Hunger Games. Sure they're scary, but over the years I've learned how to deal with them. I still have to look away sometimes, but when the Games are over, I'm not scared of them anymore.
Turning away from the house, I set off to find the girls who sent me here in the first place.
At least they were right about one thing.
He is crazy.
Sorry if that seemed a little OOC to you. I always pictured young Katniss as being wordy and serious. Not as much as 16-year-old Katniss, but not your usual giggling little schoolgirl either. Thanks for reading!