He watched with horror as she mounted the stage, deceiving everyone watching with her proud, unyielding expression, which she had mastered over the years with him. They had mastered everything, it seemed—from making sure to demonstrate their strengths to securing that no one ever found out they had weaknesses. She was already acing her act, her strategy. Smiling her deep, evil smile that told the population that she was going to send a knife flying into someone's eye as soon as she got the chance, she was already convincing the Capitol not to overlook her. But deep down he knew she was afraid, no matter how trained they were for this. Nobody quite knew her like he did. Nobody else knew that her favorite color was red, her real-life hobby was reading, and her dog was her most prized possession. Nobody loved her like he did.
So before they could ask for volunteers for the boy tribute, he was there, lunging forward, wearing a mask of arrogance. To the casual observer, he was eager to be a part of the bloodbath and bask in all the glory. However, his pounding and his head throbbing, he had no thought but: he couldn't let her go in there alone.
"Show no weakness," he remembered telling her every time. He was breaking his own rule, because what choice did he have, when his only weakness was her?
There had been the initial shock when her name got called out, but it was quickly replaced by all the gears shifting into place inside her, working in a precise clockwork manner, telling her that this was the chance of her lifetime. It was alright; she would win and go home and have everything she wanted.
Deceiving the crowd with her deadly smile. Still smiling. But the grin vanished as soon as he lunged forward to volunteer for the male tribute. Cato.
You can't be doing this, she cried out in her head. But he was, and she couldn't stop him.
It didn't take long for her to understand what was going on. Suddenly, she was in the Training Center with him, and he was telling her, "You and me, we're gonna keep each other safe, no matter what happens," and she was saying, "Let's swear on it." And they swore it on their own lives, sealing the promise.
Well, Clove never knew it would be this hard to live with the fact that they would keep their promise but it wouldn't work out, eventually. Not where they were going. Only one could win.
Her emotions racing, Clove watched as he mounted the stage like it was his sole purpose in life. They shook hands. His was cold as death itself, and she was guessing that the same was true with hers.
Oh, Cato, she thought. We've come a long way to die.