This is my first Hunger Games fanfiction, and is my longest fanfiction to date. Some of the details might be a bit iffy, but I hope you enjoy it. :-) The second chapter will be up by this time next week.
The rain in the Square did nothing to lighten the mood as the willowy five foot woman, made taller by three inch heels, graced the wooden stage and stood in front of the large crowd. The Mayor of District Twelve perched nervously on the edge of his plush seat, well aware of the fact that any of his two daughters and two sons could be chosen as tribute. There was no protection for his offspring, or for any of the children living in their District.
The kids of the District, from ages twelve to eighteen, stood in two different packs in the Square; on the left hand side was the girls, and on the right, the boys. The woman, who acted as escort, was known as Mara, and had been in her position for just two years, looked anxious and worried and her voice was shaky as she spoke into the microphone, every camera staring at her, awaiting her announcements.
It was even worse this year, it being the Quarter Quell, seeing as four tributes were being chosen rather than the usual two. The Capitol were a disgrace to most people, and what they were doing to their citizens was absolutely despicable. Most wanted, so dearly, to say something, to stand up to their government, but rebellion was punishable by death. Everyone knew so from the story they told every year before the Reaping. All stories. Everyone is a story.
He stood, in the midst of around two hundred other sixteen year olds, staring at the stage, his eyes wondering over the chairs that pretty soon he might be placed in. He had taken tesserae for him, his mother and his younger brother, just nine years old, too much of a child to be considered for tribute. His name was in there twenty times, too many than was sensible, but not as much as some others that he knew.
As usual, the ladies went first, and Mara tentatively called out the name Joules, a girl he recognized from school, but was in the year above him, and then Maysilee Donner. The whole crowd blew into uproar as the sixteen year old girl slowly made her way to the front of the Square, and the Mayor seemed fraught with despair, and was restraining himself from crying out and running to her. It had always been horrific when an official member of the government's children got picked.
Maysilee took graceful breaths and scrunched her face up to disguise how she was really feeling. He had never really spoken to her before, but they sometimes got paired up in class. She seemed strong enough to hold herself together for these Games. The girl Joules looked close to collapse, but at least she hadn't cried. That was the worst thing you could possibly do at a Reaping; you didn't half lose a lot of possible sponsors.
But he wasn't worried about them. He might be when this was over, but for now he was looking after his own skin. Mara seemed fraught with terror at her job as she pulled out the first of the boys names; escorts normally had to be confident, but she was a tad useless. She had a right though, the escort before the last one had been beaten to death when the tribute was so unprepared for the Games that they stepped off the platform before sixty seconds was up and was blown to bits.
The first name called was Adam, a thirteen year old kid who looked kind of skinny and a bit of a weakling, but he nodded his head and calmly made his way to the stage, looking in sympathy at the Mayor who was biting his nails at the back of the stage, darting looks at his daughter who was trying to keep all of her emotions in. Adam caught sight of his mother's eye, in the audience, and shook his head, trying to tell her that crying wasn't an option.
His breaths were beginning to be visible as the rain increased, and he saw a great number of people leaving to go home, now that they were sure that their children wouldn't or couldn't be picked. The camera crews were complaining loud enough for him to hear, but they certainly seemed a little entertained by the fact Mayor Donner's daughter had been chosen. That will be entertaining for all of Panem.
'And the last tribute chosen for the 50th Annual Hunger Games is...' Mara began, picking out a small bit of paper from the fishbowl, unwrapping it from the black tape, 'Haymitch Abernathy!'
He sighed out, and felt the cameras all turn in his direction. It wasn't all that shocking, he had expected this. He made his way through the crowd of boys, although he was close enough to the front not to be irritating for anyone, and he felt a few seventeen and eighteen year olds pat him on the back and squeeze his shoulder. Of course they felt bad for him, he was sixteen and was going to be launched into an arena with forty seven other people, all of whom wanted to kill him.
He looked the part of a tribute so much that it was hard to believe he hadn't been styled beforehand. He had short, tousled blonde hair, and calm blue eyes that concentrated all of his intelligence. His height was average, but he was muscly and strong, and already quite good at hunting. He was clever, sly, sarcastic, but family orientated, and he didn't want people to get hurt. If more people would join him, he would be the sort of person to reboot and start up the rebellion again. He just wanted a better world.
As he climbed the steps to the stage, what had just happened really sunk in. He was going to have to leave behind mother, and his brother, and Noe - maybe never see them ever again. Change was bound to happen; he would be trained to kill the people he met, even people he knew from his own District. The hairs on his arms stood up and shivers shook his body, and he clenched his fists tightly to prevent it from showing. The rain was a good cover-up in this instance. He hated this, he didn't want to be part of this kind of thing. But hey, no one had the choice, did they?
He sat down on his seat at the front, and began, for the first time, to size up the opposition. He was going to be fine with people like these, it was an awful thought, but it was the truth. The rest of the process continued as was normal, and before he knew it, Haymitch was being herded like cattle over to the Justice Building, where his mother and his brother were already waiting for him. He wondered how they had got here so quickly.
Before he knew it, his mother was hugging him senseless, crying her eyes out and begging him to try and win. He assured her he would try.
'Mum, I'll be alright. You have to make sure he goes to school, and make sure there's enough food, okay? If you don't promise me then I'll just worry the whole time I'm there,' he said seriously, although there was a hint of humour in the latter of his sentence.
His mother was shorter than him; a small, mousy woman with hair to match. Her clothes were made of what she could afford to buy, and her shoddy stitching was obvious. She had spent most of their money trying to keep them going when his father died. She did a good job though, and he wasn't going to lecture her - she knew how important food was.
'Don't worry darling, I can take care of him just fine,' she murmured, and patted him on the cheek, wiping her eyes with her free hand.
His brother was just a year out of being too young to understand what was going on, so he shook his hand formally and said nothing, too upset to try and say goodbye.
'Make sure you show up those Capitol idiots,' his brother whispered quietly and he smiled timorously, checking the rest of the lavish hall for whether anyone was listening in, 'Make them look stupid. Make them see that they can't own you forever.'
Haymitch patted his brother on the head and hugged him closely, feeling a lot of love for his sibling at this moment. He was a quiet kid, but he wasn't half intelligent. He wasn't brawny and sly, but skinny and kind and he was a great person to talk to. He would miss him in the few weeks he was away. If he didn't come back, his brother would look after his mother, and they would be fine.
'Don't worry, I'll look after her,' his brother whispered and with that, and a last kiss on the cheek and hug from his mother, Haymitch's family disappeared. There was still twenty minutes before he had to leave, and so he made himself comfortable, and fiddled with a piece of string in his pocket. He didn't really mind killing someone if they tried to do him in first, but he didn't fancy being responsible for murdering forty seven people. Not being arrogant here, but he was pretty sure he was the one people would come after. The strong ones from weaker Districts always got targeted first.
Suddenly, with twelve minutes to go, someone appeared in the doorway and came running over to him. He immediately saw who it was and stood up, and opened his arms and clutched onto her as she wrapped her arms around his torso, resting her chin on his shoulder, and twirling the strands of his blonde hair around in her fingers.
'You'll be okay Haymitch. You're going to be fine,' she whispered into his ear, smiling kindly, stroking the back of his head, making him feel so much more halcyon than he had before. Her name was Noe, she was only a year younger than him, and he really did believe that he loved her. She was beautiful to him, she had long dirty blonde hair, and she was about two inches shorter than him.
'You sure about that? There's forty seven other tributes in there; twelve Careers who will all be working together in one huge pack,' he replied quietly, voicing his concerns for the first time. She pulled away from him and smiled widely, her eyes twinkling. 'You're going to be fine. I know you can do it,' she reassured him, kissing him gently on the forehead. She hit him on the arm and grinned, 'You got to promise me you'll win, eh?'
He smiled at her. He knew she wasn't going to come close to breaking down because she really did believe he was going to win. And who was he to even think about letting her down. 'I promise I'll win,' he said clearly, and she hit him again.
'Ow, what was that one for?' he complained loudly and she smirked. 'That's what I'll do if you don't,' she muttered, placing her hand on his chest.
'If I don't win then I'll be dead,' he said obviously, but she shook her head. 'No, they'll send you back to me, that'll be more painful than being killed in the arena,' she muttered, and she clipped him fondly on the ear and kissed him again on the forehead.
Mara appeared in front of the couple and hurriedly interrupted, trilling along with, 'Come along Haymitch, we've got to go. The train is waiting!' She smiled unconvincingly at the two, and then gave them ten seconds to say bye. That was never enough, but it was better than absolutely nothing.
'I'll come back for you, I promise. I'll be back,' he breathed into her ear, and he kissed her chastely on the lips before hugging her tightly and beginning to move away. Before he left though, she ran towards him and pressed something into the palm of his hand and called, 'Use it for your token. Think of me. I love you, fool.'
He didn't even have the opportunity to respond as he was ushered out of the door towards the train, but he looked back through the final gap and briefly saw Noe collapse to her knees and start to sob her heart out, weeping because of the fact he might not come back. He promised he would, but with forty seven other people, what kind of chances did he have? His chest constricted at the sight, and he opened his palm to reveal a tiny metal pin badge, with the words cofiwch fi imprinted upon it. Remember me.
He stepped onto the train, for the first time catching sight of his mentor, Bay. He was an older man, a competitor from the second Hunger Games, before the Careers were formed and before the richer Districts knew that they had an advantage with training. Haymitch hadn't seen him during the Reaping, but then again he had been too busy concentrating on whose name had come out of the bowl. Haymitch hadn't been alive when Bay had been Victor, but he had always seen him as quite inspirational. He went to introduce himself, and said, 'Hi, I'm Haymitch,' not knowing what else he could possibly say.
Bay turned around as the train began to hurtle off, and they both stumbled at the speed, but his tired eyes rested on Haymitch's youth and he smirked. He seemed to know Haymitch's plan to get him to like him, as it were. 'You don't need my help lad. You're going to be fine,' he croaked, and his breath stank of tobacco. Smoking wasn't something that many people in District Twelve could afford - tobacco was exclusive for the Capitol and then just rich people.
With that one reply, Haymitch knew he was going to be pushed to the side and ignored in favour of the others who were weaker than him. Screw mentors, screw escorts, screw the Capitol and the rest of Panem; he was in this alone from now on.