I know the 2nd Quell has been done before, but I felt the need to do my own. Hopefully it's still good!
Disclaimer- I do not own the Hunger Games or any characters, situations or dialogue you might recognise from it. Credits for those go to Suzanne Collins.
My hand sneaks toward the bowl of candy-pink boiled sweets on the counter.
Another hand smacks mine before it has chance to reach it.
I pull my own hand back and caress it gently.
"Maysilee!" My father scolds. "Unless you're going to pay for those, you can't eat them!"
"I helped set up the display." I grumble, nodding in the direction of the window. It's true; I pinned up three of the candy-canes in the border to the wall before Mum realised having me near my sister Macy with a box of sharp pins wasn't her best idea and took over from me.
"Mm," Dad thought for a moment, and I mentally crossed my fingers. "No."
"But it's Reaping day!" I insist. "What if I go to the Capitol? Then you'll feel bad."
"I'm sure I'll manage." Dad says, though his voice sounds a little doubtful; the terms for this year's Quarter Quell were broadcast on TV last night; twice the number of tributes from each district.
"You're despicable." I tell him, sticking my tongue out at him rudely.
The bell rings as a customer enters. It's Anise, the daughter of the pharmacists who work in the apothecary. She's also my best friend.
"Hello, Mr. Donner." She says brightly, blonde hair plaited into two braids. She looks at me. "Mays, you're not even dressed!"
"I'm trying to get sweets out of Daddy." I tell her innocently, punctuating the end of my sentence with a glare in my father's direction. He sticks his tongue out at me.
"Well," She bounces up to the counter and pulls a few coins out of her little pink purse. "I'd like to buy some humbugs please, Mr. Donner."
He takes the coins from her and grabs a paper bag from the shelf behind his head, filling it with humbugs from the humbug jar and handing it to her.
"Thanks," Anise beams, holding the bag out to me. I take three sweets from it and shoot Dad a wry smile.
He rolls his eyes, but he's smiling, so I don't think I'm in too much trouble.
"Go and get dressed." He scolds, still smiling, so that I know he's not genuinely angry. "Honestly, stealing sweets from customers."
"I'll come and meet you at yours." I tell Anise, who nods and heads out.
I head into our home, which is behind the shop, and find my twin sister Macy. She's in our shared bedroom, already dressed in a black-and-yellow dress that reminds me of a bumblebee. I don't like bumblebees. When I was little, one chased me all around the playground at school. Anise thought it was hilarious. Sometimes I really wonder why we're friends.
Macy is trying to sort her hair out for the Reaping. When she sees me, she shakes her head.
"Mays, honestly, you're not even dressed!" She scolds.
I ignore her and fling the wardrobe open, pulling out the first dress that come to hand- a red and black striped one, like a ladybird.
I change from my pyjamas into this dress and leave Macy to her hair-styling; I've always found it boring. Instead, I creep up to my canary, who sits in a cage in the corner of the room, watching me curiously.
"Hello, Melody," I say brightly. "How are you today?"
She lets out a high-pitched note in response. I grin at her and grab my brush from the dressing table, raking it through my hair.
Before I have chance to get to it, Macy's swiped the golden pin from the table and is pinning it to her dress. It's a little game we have; Grandma gave the pin to our mother when she was a child, as it was passed to her from our Great-grandmother. Apparently, it's some sort of tradition; give the pin to your daughter. Only our Mum had two daughters, so she had to make us share it. Macy and my system is basically 'get hold of it first and it's yours for the day'.
I huff at her, but say nothing.
Macy and I leave for the Reaping before our parents, as we have to go through all the hassle of signing in, finding our area, squishing in behind the roped 'fence'.
We head to the apothecary and open the door. It doesn't have a tinkling bell like our sweet shop does, and it smells of a strange mix of mint and rosemary, but it's the place Anise calls home; I'm sure she finds our little shop just as peculiar.
"I'll just go get her." Mr. Pottingner, Anise's father, tells us. He heads into their home behind it. We don't hear what he says, but Anise comes bounding out a moment later with a smile on her face.
We line up at the sign-in area for sixteen year old girls. Macy goes first. They prick her finger, press it down below her name in the register booklet, and then tell her to move along. Anise's next, then me.
We head to our area together, bunching in side by side.
"I'm so nervous!" Anise gushes. "Aren't you guys?"
"Of course!" Macy assures her. "Who isn't?"
"And twice the number of tributes!" My best friend continues. "I just hope it isn't some little twelve year old kid; it's always so sad when that happens. You know they never really have a chance. Oh, and I hope it's not one of us three too." She says the last bit hastily, like it's an afterthought.
I open my mouth to say something, but promptly shut it again as District 12's Capitol escort, an annoyingly eccentric lady called Delicia, trots to the centre of the stage. She's wearing a dress a shade of yellow that makes my eyes hurt, and a wig a hideous shade of neon green.
"Hello, District 12," She shouts into a microphone. "And welcome to the 50th Annual Hunger Games. Isn't it exciting?"
No-one says anything.
"Well, then." She huffs, stepping aside as Mayor Strawt takes her place.
He gives us the same speech he does every year, and I honestly zone out. I only focus on the stage once more as Delicia shoves him aside and says
"Ladies first, as per usual." She scuttles over to the girls' reaping bowl. I think about the five slips of paper bearing my name, Macy's name, Anise's name. I cross my fingers and hope it isn't one of us.
"Betony Cliff." She reads out.
I relax, but feel Anise grip my hand as a small Seam girl shuffles up the stairs from the front of the square. She's clearly from the twelve year old section. Still, at least it's not me. I feel horrible for thinking it, but it's true. Anise, Macy and me; we're safe. Assuming one of us isn't picked for the second female tribute, but what are the chances of that.
Delicia pats Betony on the shoulder as she walks past and dips her hand in the girls' pot again. "Maysilee Donner."
It doesn't register. Not for a moment. Before I know it, Anise's holding my arm in a vice-like grip, Macy's hugging the other in a similar fashion, and both are telling me how they'll never, ever let go.
"It'll be alright." I tell them, thought I think I'm trying to convince myself just as much as I am them. "Just let go of me, okay?"
They keep holding on, but the nearest Peacekeeper begins to stir. Anise must catch it too, and she knows the extent of wounds they can inflict better than anyone; it's her parents who have to clean the wounds from the whippings, after all.
She let's me go. Macy hesitates for a moment, but she eventually let's go too.
I speed-walk to the stage, aware of everyone's eyes on me at this moment. And not just in District 12; watching the Games is mandatory, so literally everyone in all of Panem must be watching me now.
I stop beside Betony, feeling incredibly numb all over. Something in the back of my mind insists that this is all a crazy dream, one I'll wake up from in a few hours. I know it can't be.
The top of Betony's head just reaches my shoulder. She's tiny. Delicia gives us both a brief smile before hurrying across to the boys' bowl and dunking her hand in, pulling out a slip and opening it: "Baxter Barnes."
Uh oh. Baxter's mother is friends with mine and, as a result, Macy and I spent a lot of time with him when we were younger. He's a sweet guy, almost like a big brother to us. I can't stand the thought of having to kill him, annoying as he may be.
Baxter stands beside me. He's almost a whole head taller than me, and he looks nervous. I think he's… Trembling…
"Any volunteers?" Delicia shouts.
Of course, there are none. There are never any in District 12. Just like there wasn't one for me, for tiny little Betony.
Delicia pulls out another slip of paper. "Haymitch Abernathy."
It's a name that rings bells. As he takes to the stage, I recognise him vaguely. I've never actually spoken to him. He's a Seam boy in my year at school, with dark curly hair and stormy grey eyes I'm not sure I can trust.
Delicia asks for volunteers, but there are none. I feel my shoulders involuntarily shiver at the silence.
"Panem," Delicia shouts from behind us. "I give you your District 12 tributes!"
I think she's expecting applause, and it comes. But it's quiet, strained, and undeniably forced. My eyes search for Anise and Macy in the crowd. They aren't clapping. They're hugging each-other tightly. I pull my eyes away before they start tearing up. I do not cry.
A squad of peacekeepers lead us to the Justice Building. They're armed with guns; we have no choice but to comply. But I can't help but feel scared out of my wits.