You've been acting awful tough lately, smoking a lot of cigarettes lately

But inside, you're just a little baby

It's okay to say you've got a weak spot, you don't always have to be on top

Better to be hated, then loved, loved loved for what you're not

You're vulnerable, so vulnerable

- I am not a Robot, Marina and the Diamonds

I woke up the following morning feeling as though someone had bashed my head repeatedly with a pan. I groaned and rolled over, but the movement just upset my stomach.

I made it to the bathroom just in time for the alcohol from last night to come up. As I lay on the cool tiled floor, the nights events began to creep back to me. Drinking, dancing, more drinking, more dancing, this time with Gale. Kissing Gale, half nakedly dry humping Gale on my sofa.

I groaned again, this time out of pure embarrassment. Why did I always make a complete idiot of myself in front of him? He probably hated me even more now. It was no secret he had a thing for Katniss, and I had gotten him drunk and taken advantage of him.

I slowly stood up and went downstairs, making sure not to move too quickly. Surprisingly, Haymitch was already seated at the table. I was about to comment, that was until I saw the time.

"12.45, shit!" The Reaping started at 4, and Haymitch and I were supposed to get there early to be briefed for the ceremony. On what, I don't know. I thought sitting on a stage and looking pretty was an easy job, but apparently you needed a half hour meeting to qualify.

"Food?" Haymitch asked, holding up a piece of toast. I was hungry but I shook my head. Anything to enter my stomach today would likely just come backup. Nerves and a hangover were not a good mix.

"Do you... Remember anything from last night?" I tried to sound indifferent, but my curiosity crept through.

Being Haymitch though, he didn't push it. He just laughed and answered my question. "I remember drinking, and I remember a pig. I don't even remember coming home."

I let out a small sigh of relief. "It was a fun night," I said, successfully hiding my blush. If it wasn't going to be so awkward next time I saw Gale, I would've allowed myself to enjoy in the post make out bliss. But I knew his eyes would hold their usual guarded cloud as they met mine across the square later today.

I took a mug of tea but the slight sweetness to it made me feel even more sick than before.

"Ugh, how do you cope with this hangover thing everyday?" I asked Haymitch.

"Hair of the dog," he replied simply, pulling out a flask of whiskey. "You know what to do."

I took a shot of the whiskey and stirred it into my mug. The tea tasted a lot nicer with it in.

"I heard you throwing up this morning," he commented with a lazy grin.

"Just keeping up with the tradition of hurling my guts up every reaping day."

I drank the rest of my tea in silence, my thoughts trailing from Gale, to the Games and then to Runt who was still asleep in the corner.

I needed to offload him to someone so he could be looked after during the games. I assumed Gale would but now... I didn't think he would bale. He loved Runt, he would always play and pet him. With his hands. Gale's hands... Gale's hands on my waist...

I shook my head, trying to get dirty thoughts out of my mind.

Gale would have to look after Runt. There was no where else he could go. It would be unhygienic having him run around a bakery, and pets weren't allowed in the mayors house. It was Gale's or nothing.

I excused myself from the table then went upstairs to take a shower. I looked in the mirror and cringed at my reflection.

There were dark bags under my eyes, my skin was blotchy and my lips chapped. Probably because I was kissing Gale. His lips tasted so...

I threw water on my face and stepped into the shower as quick as I could. As of tonight, two people's lives would be in my hands. I couldn't get distracted by anything.

That didn't last long. I spotted light bruises on my hips from Gale's finger tips, which just provoked frenzy number four.

I took a long shower, making sure I was all shiny, including shaved legs. I would get a slight primp at the Capitol, but I still had to look clean for the reaping. All eyes would be on the new victor. Just another year of this, then I would be old news as someone else took over the role of rookie.

My tangled hair took a while to dry and my the time it was straightened, it was already 2.30.

I picked out a flowery dress that fell to my knee and a low pair of heeled sandals. Surprisingly enough I was ready on time.

As always, Haymitch waited at the bottom of the stairs. And as always, we barely spoke on the way into town.

He seemed to have taken 'hair of the dog' a tad too far. I watched in mild amusement as he staggered down the road, his flask popping out of his pocket. The Capitol wouldn't be happy but it was out of my control. This would probably be my only amusement of the day, I may as well enjoy it.

Runt walked by our side on his leash to the justice building. The peacekeepers didn't want to let him inside, but I kicked up such a fuss they had no choice. Point to me.

I shut him in one of the spare rooms with a treat and promised to collect him later and hand him to Gale. If Gale hasn't been reaped.

I mentally slapped myself. No one was getting reaped. Not Gale, not Peeta, Madge or anyone else I knew.

But it would be someone's Gale or someone's Madge, someones daughter or someone's cute little neighbour you had seen playing in the street. It sucked, but what could I do.

We were told the obvious. Sit quietly, then we have half an hour after the ceremony before the train leaves. That would be the time for me to get rid of Runt, and for Haymitch to drink another keg.

Just as we were lining up to get on stage, Haymitch began to back away.

"Where are you going?" I hissed.

"Erm... Bathroom," he said, before running back inside.

"Bathroom my ass," I mumbled, walking up the steps to the stage and taking my seat next to Mayor Undersee.

I smiled politely and said hello, but this wasn't really time for chit chat. The square was filling up, and the reaping would be starting in a few minutes.

My legs jiggled about as I nervously twisted my earring. This would be the moment of truth, where I would find out who I would be protecting for the next few weeks.

I scanned the crowd, spotting poor Prim near the front looking petrified. I gave her an encouraging smile which she did her best to return. First year was always the worst but there was little to worry about. Her name was only in their once. Runt probably had a better chance of being reaped than her.

I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see a peacekeeper standing beside me, an envelope in hand.

"Message from the Capitol, Miss Abernathy," she said, handing it to me before shuffling away.

I eyed the envelope emblazoned with the Capitol seal suspiciously. What could be so important to interrupt the reaping.

I tore open the letter and read it through. Then again, then again. On the fourth read it finally sunk in. I froze, I could feel the colour draining from my face.

You say there is no one you care about, we shall see if that is true.

A single rose petal was glued to the bottom of the card.

I looked around frantically, trying to locate Peeta and Madge in the crowd. I was an idiot to think I could keep my friends. My selfishness has put them in danger. Because of me they were going to die.

My eyes suddenly met Gale's. He was standing tall at the back, his eyes questioning my frantic expression. I sighed and composed myself before smiling at him slightly. He didn't look convinced.

He looked tired, like I did this morning. Obviously the alcohol didn't agree with him either.

I thought to last night, then froze again. There were camera and microphones everywhere in the house. What if Snow knew what had happened? What if reaping Gale was punishment for defying his order to be a courtesan? Gale was in the bowl a lot; many people were expecting him or one of his friends anyway. It was the perfect murder.

At that, Effie trotted up on stage, the annoying tap of her heels echoing throughout the square.

"Welcome, Welcome to the seventy-fourth annual Hunger Games." She was met with no applause.

As the usual video about 'war, terrible war' played, I looked at the empty seat beside me. Where was Haymitch?

Maybe he bailed. There was no need for him now there was a sober mentor around.

Just as Effie stepped back up to the microphone, Haymitch staggered onto the stage, bumping into Effie as he went. The crowd sniggered as he yelled nonsense at the camera. I made no move to stop him, it would only make the situation worse, if that was possible.

When he got to my side I yanked his arm down so he sat on the chair.

"Jesus sweetheart if looks could kill," he said loudly, as I glared at him.

I rolled my eyes and turned my attention back to Effie who had her hand in the girls reaping bowl.

My legs began to jiggle again as I stared intently. It seemed to take her an eternity to choose one. Slowly, she unfolded the slip and went back to the microphone.

"And our female tribute is... Primrose Everdeen."

I was on my feet before I even knew what I was doing. I couldn't focus. All I could think of was Prim, little Prim, who had innocently starred in my stupid play. The play that had now gotten her murdered.

Haymitch pulled me back onto my chair as people began to stare, but they weren't looking at me anymore. They were looking at Katniss as she was fighting her way to the stage.

I couldn't hear anything, just the muffling in my ears that usually played before one of my episodes.

I took deep breaths and watched as Katniss walked up to the stage. Had she volunteered to save her sister. That was brave.

"I bet that's your sister," Effie said to her, as my hearing returned.

I had a sudden flashback to last year.

"I bet my vintage McQueen's that you're Haymitch's daughter..."

I could feel the sweat dripping down my forehead.

"Keep it together sweetheart," Haymitch whispered to me.

I looked over and saw Effie fishing through the second bowl. I had no time to worry or pray or wish for a miricle. There was nothing I could do, it would all be in vain. I was numb as Effie pulled the name out.

"Peeta Mellark."

I felt my sharp intake of breath, before everything went black.


And that's the end of the story! I've posted the prologue for the sequel, titled 'WAR GAMES', on my profile and the first chapter will be up in a day or two.

Thank you so much to everyone who has reviews and read this story. And also a quick shout out to Cometas Por El Cielo who went and reviewed every chapter.

Hope to hear from you all again in the sequel. Thanks for Reading