Not My Game

Gale Hawthorne sat out in the woods, the same place he had sat with Katniss Everdeen exactly a year ago to the day. Today was the Reaping, the day that Panem would find out who the unlucky kids would be who would be tributes for the Third Quarter Quell, the 75th Annual Hunger Games. Gale could clearly remember the announcement of the Quell; it came on just after the photos of Katniss in her wedding dress, the wedding dress that was for her to marry Peeta in, not him.

The pictures of Katniss faded away and the screen flickered to life once again. President Snow appeared on the screen to make the Quell announcement, "Citizens of Panem, it is now time to reveal the Third Quarter Quell for the 75th Annual Hunger Games!" There was a load roar of cheers from the crowd in the Capitol, of course they would be happy, it wasn't their children being slaughtered in an arena.

Snow smiled wickedly and walked towards the box that held the themes for the Quarter Quells, clearly they had planned for many more of these "games." He reached inside and pulled out the envelope that had the number "75" written on the front. After opening it, his eyes travelled quickly over the paper, his smile grew even bigger, "To show that even the best of us cannot always save the ones we love, each of the twenty four tributes must be related to a past victor of The Hunger Games."

There was a collective gasp in the audience, there was no more cheering, only silence. "Happy Hunger Games and may the Odds be ever in your favor!" Snow shouted almost merrily. The screen then flickered blank again.

Gale stood up as the bell rang to signal that people had to gather for the Reaping by the Justice Building. He reached the Justice Building in a matter of minutes and headed towards the male section of the roped off area. Only five others stood there: Mr. Mellark, the eldest Mellark son, the middle Mellark son, Rory Hawthorne, and Vick Hawthorne. Vick was clearly too young to be reaped normally and Mr. Mellark too old, but in Quarter Quells, it doesn't matter your age, as long as you meet the requirement for the Quell, and the Hawthorne family were katniss Everdeen's "cousins."

Taking his place between the ropes Gale pulled Rory and Vick close to him in a protective manner. He couldn't let it be them, he just couldn't. Gale looked to where the female family members of victors stood, only Mrs. Mellark, Mrs. Everdeen Mrs. Hawthorne, Posy Hawthorne, and Primrose Everdeen stood there. What if it was Posy? Or his mother? Or even Prim? Gale could hardly think about what it would be like in the games for them, especially Posy, after all she was only five and there was no way in the world she could ever make it past the bloodbath, unless of course people thought she was "just too cute to kill," but that wouldn't happen, especially not if she was faced with a career.

Effie Trinket walked, more of bounced actually, onto the stage. "Welcome, welcome to this year's District 12 reaping. This is an extremely special occasion, for this year is the Third Quarter Quell, an event that happens only every twenty five years! Now before we select who will be representing District 12 in this Quarter Quell we have a short video for you all!" Effie announced in her usual bubbly manner.

The video played and ended after a few minutes. Effie then walked back towards the microphone, "Let me introduce our current living victors. Haymitch Aberthary, the victor of the second Quarter Quell! Then there is Peeta Mellark, and Katniss Everdeen both victors of last year's Games! Their family members' names are all in these two bowls, all are able to reaped!" Effie said as she gestured to each victor respectively and then the two glass bowls.

"Ladies first!" she said joyfully and reached into the glass bowl. She fumbled for a moment, but then was able to grab a small slip of paper, her eyes scanned over the paper and her smile faded for a moment, "Primrose Everdeen!"

Gale looked to where Katniss was sitting on the stage; she looked as if she may be sick. He felt a sting in his heart as he watched as the girl he was in love with hear her little sister's name be reaped for the second time.

Effie, clearly upset about Prim being reaped again, hurriedly and hopefully asked, "Are there any volunteers?"

No one moved, no one spoke, the only sounds were the strangled cries of Katniss as she buried her face in Peeta's shirt, and Mrs. Everdeen's helpless cries.

Sighing, Effie waved her hand towards Prim, "Well, come up here then dear." Prim slowly walked up the steps up towards stage and stood by the pink haired woman.

"Now for the men," Effie once again fumbled for a slip of paper and pulled one out, "Aaron Mellark!"

The middle Mellark brother began to step forward, but suddenly Gale shouted, "I volunteer!"

Effie looked taken aback, "Well, well al-alright, come up here then."

Gale made his way to stand behind Prim. Effie turned to him, "What is your name dear?"

"Gale Hawthorne, I am Katniss Everdeen's… cousin… Prim's cousin," he choked out.

Effie nodded and smiled sadly, "Alright ladies and gentlemen, there you have it. District 12's tributes: Primrose Everdeen and Gale Hawthorne! Happy Hunger Games, and may the odds be ever in your favor!"

Katniss then looked up from Peeta's shirt, "No, no Gale! I can't lose both of you! I can't Gale, I just can't! I can't lose you and Prim!" she sobbed while running to him and Prim.

Gale put his arms around her and said, "Shh, you're not going to lose both of us, only," he paused for moment, "me, you're only going to lose me. I'm going to protect her Katnip, I'm going to save Prim. It'll be all right, I promise."

End of Chapter One