It was a rather beautiful day. The sun was shining brightly, it was warmer than usual for the time of year in District Eight. As he watched the clouds slowly pass by over the clear blue sky, Kurt Hummel couldn't help but smile softly, glad that he had the day off. It wasn't for a pleasant reason, of course; a holiday of sort, but the only people who could really call it one were those in the Career Districts. It seemed both ironic and strangely mocking of the world to make Reaping Day so outstandingly gorgeous.
Just reminding himself of the events that would be happening in the main square made his stomach tie in knots. He'd been one of the many to enter his name in for extra drawings. While it may have only been he and his father for years, the food rations were still too small to fully sustain either of them. He'd been ordered against it, of course; his father didn't want to add any more risk to his name being picked than was already there. At seventeen years of age, he was rebellious, though - and more importantly, worried for his father's health which had not been particularly good lately. So he had ignored the threads of eternal grounding, never seeing his friends or participating in any singing sessions ever again, and done what he knew was the right thing.
Closing his eyes, he let the sun heat his skin, feeling the small beads of sweat forming on the back of his neck just from lying still. He liked the heat. It might not have liked him or his pale skin very much, but it kept him grounded. He knew he had to get up soon, go and find his father so they could go to the square together. He wanted to keep those moments at bay just a little longer, wanted to keep himself lost in happier times. He could almost see his mother's smile shining in front of him, hear her laughter in his ears, the smell of her perfume overtaking his senses. He reached out a hand in front of him, going to touch a strand of her long hair, shining golden in the bright sun.
But he was jolted from the thought as his hand reached nothing, falling into his lap instead and pulling him back to the need to get up. The need to go find his dad. The need to go to the Reaping.
Sighing, he pulled himself up out of the grass, brushing it off of his clothing. He stared back from the field towards the more crowded sections of District Eight. He was barely on the edges of the district and he knew he could get in trouble if he wandered to much farther off. Grabbing his satchel from the ground, he trudged slowly back towards the buildings, his stomach growling for the lunch that he'd skipped to guarantee he could get some fresh air.
The center of the district was already starting to crowd with people as Kurt made his way through the door to his small home. He placed his bag to the side, smiling some as he saw his father putting away the last of the freshly cleaned dishes into the cupboard. He dug into the satchel, pulling out some flowers (or more like somewhat pretty weeds) that he'd plucked while he was out in the field.
"Hey, Dad. I got these for the table. I thought it'd be nice to add some color to the house." He grabbed a cup, filling it with water and placed it in the center. He smiled proudly, thoroughly convinced that it improved the room ten fold.
Burt didn't look quite as impressed. He snorted softly. "The table cloth you made had plenty of color," he muttered, thought a small smile still tugged at the corner of his lips. Kurt's constant need to brighten the house was something he had grown used to, even come to cherish. It had been hard at first, reminding him too much of his late wife, but it had helped almost helped to heal the pain faster in some way.
"It'll look nice with the feast tonight." Kurt shrugged, flattening out a non-existent wrinkled in the table cloth. Despite the light conversation, he could feel the tension radiating off of his father. He was scared; and rightly so. If Kurt's name was drawn in the square today, it could very well be the last time he ever stood in District Eight at all. He wasn't strong or fast, he didn't know how to work a weapon - he wouldn't even survive a day in the arena.
"We should probably get going," Burt grumbled, wiping his hands on his pants and sighing. "Don't want to piss of the Peacekeepers by being those late stragglers." Putting an arm around his son, he guided them both out of the house, locking the door rather unnecessarily behind them. They didn't have anything worth stealing. Scraps of fabric from the factory that had been put together to make a few decorative clothes, maybe, but Kurt was sure no one would want to go out of their way to snatch up his creations.
With his stomach still growling, Kurt made his way to the section in front of the stage where those who could be drawn were supposed to be gathered. He watched as the area filled with other children from the district, children he'd grown up with and cared for in school. He smiled softly at a girl his age who had shared his love of music; Rachel Berry was... well, nice enough, he supposed. She was a little bossy and came from one of the wealthier families in District Eight. Still, they'd bonded by sharing lyrics and tunes with one another during lunch or breaks at the factory, and because of that, he considered her a friend of sorts. She had considered him at least enough of one to smile back when she caught his eye.
He could barely focus on the speaker - they'd chosen some man, Will Schuester, whose abundance of curls was more distracting than even Kurt's desire for the dinner - as they began in the usual speeches that accompanied the Hunger Games. The discussion of the Dark Days, the Capitol's constant reminder of District 13 and the reasons for the Games all together. The sign of what happened when you tried to rebel against the highest power in Panem. He tried to stifle the yawn behind his sleeve, wishing that they could hurry up and draw a name so that he could get back home and start to help his father cook for their feast. Not that it was much of one, but it was at least more food than they were normally allowed on any other given day.
It was then that he heard the words. "May the odds be ever in your favor." The phrase so often mocked by the youth of the districts. They were drawing the girls first - he heard Rachel's name echo through the square and he could feel his heart drop into his stomach. He'd never had a friend be drawn before. He didn't know if he could handle watching her go through the Games on the small television back at their home. He was sure it would make him sick if he were to die in front of him. He swallowed roughly, watching as she took her place on the stage, hands shaking. They waited, but no one volunteered. She was stuck in the position of female tribute.
He watched as Mr. Schuester's hand disappeared into the bowl again, his fingers immediately crossing, though he knew it would do nothing to help his odds. He'd either be picked or he wouldn't. Still, his eyes were shut tight, and he was muttering small pleas to be safe under his breath. His stomach was tied in knots, he could feel sweat gathering in his hands that wasn't just because of the overwhelming heat from the weather and the number of people gathered around him. He was fully willing to admit he was terrified.
Will stared at the slip in front of him, holding out farther so he could see the letters more clearly. When he spoke, his voice rang loud and clear through the audio system;
Kurt finally knew what it meant to have one's blood run cold.