Chapter 1

I crouched down and loaded my bow, aiming straight for the squirrel I could see in the tree above me. Waiting until the last second, I released the arrow and watched as it sailed straight through the air and pierced the squirrel straight through the heart. I walked over and picked up the small creature before turning to my younger brother.

"You happy?" I asked, throwing the dead animal at him. He was two years younger than me but somehow still seemed to think he was much better than me at everything.

"Yep," he grinned, picking up his bag and throwing me my jacket.

Aiden was 15 years old and at the stage in life where he wanted to be much better than his big sister. He looked a lot like my dad. Same blonde hair, same build. The only difference was his grey eyes that he had taken from my mum. Though, instead of my mother's fire- which he was named for- his eyes contained my father's kindness.

I slung the bow over my shoulder and sighed. There was no need for animals to be killed now. Since the revolution, things had gotten better and none of the districts went hungry. I felt bad for killing a defenceless creature- especially when there was no good reason for it. Aiden had always said I'd be an amazing hunter if I didn't feel the guilt afterwards.

"Cassia! We're going to be late! Stop moping!" Aiden shouted from a little bit in front of me. I rolled my eyes. He was exactly like my dad- he too would be terrified to be late to dinner with my mum.

I jogged up to him, flicking my brown hair over my shoulder as we reached the edge of the forest. The fence that had once held my mother into District 12 was gone, but hardly anyone went into the forest. The fence may have been gone, but the creatures that lived there were not.

Together we jogged the rest of the way to our house. The large building was in Victor's Village; our only neighbour was Haymitch who was more like a lodger in our own home.

"Where have you been?" Dad asked as we tumbled through the back door into the kitchen. "You're mother's going mad! She told you not to go hunting today!" he said looking pointedly at the squirrel my brother still clutched in his hand.

"It was his fault!" I said, pointing at my brother who was scowling at me. "He said I couldn't shoot down a squirrel from a distance!"

My dad just laughed at messed my hair. "Well, dinner's ready." He smiled.

Taking on my mother was a different story. After 15 minutes of ranting we were allowed to sit down for a family meal. Little did I know it would be the last…

It was a Saturday. But no normal Saturday. It was the anniversary of the last reaping of the Hunger Games. Once every year, the whole district fell silent to honour those who had died in the Arena.

My mum and I sat in the living room. I was drawing in a sketch pad and my mum was attempting to read a book, though every few seconds her eyes would dart to the picture I was drawing on the page.

Both me and my brother had inherited my father's artistic talent. My brother was amazing at any form of art and could sit and do it for hours. I, on the other hand, often got bored within a few minutes meaning that my bedroom was littered with half-finished drawings. So when I did start to draw, my parents would encourage me to work at it and finish it. 'Better that than hunting!' my dad had said.

My brother and dad where at the bakery. A few years before I had been born, my dad had decided to re-open his family's bakery. Now almost everyone in the District could afford the treats supplied there or if they couldn't, my dad would give it to them for free- it wasn't like we needed the money.

I completed the outline of my picture- a pond with a large willow tree hanging over it. I turned it towards my mum and she smiled at me. "Now you just have to colour it and I'll have something to hang up on my wall!". I wrinkled my nose- I wasn't finished yet.

I stood up and stretched and was just about to go and get my pencils when I heard something in the kitchen. It sounded like someone climbing in the window then crashing into the table. They made no efforts to cover their sounds and that worried me- they weren't scared of being discovered.

My mum stood up and I edged towards my bow and arrow that was lying at the base of the fireplace. My mum had picked up another bow which had been hanging on the wall and I threw her an arrow. Just as she loaded it, three men stepped into the room.

All of them were wearing black outfits that reminded me of the ones worn by the Capitol during the revolution. Each of them carried a gun and none of them so much as flinched at me and my mother's position.

"Cassia Mellark. Come with us. Now." Said the man in front. He was at least six feet tall and when he stepped towards me, I was forced to act.

"Stay back! I'll shoot!" I said, completely honestly. I wasn't scared if sending an arrow straight through the intruder's heart.

I saw another man edge into the room and head towards my mother. I started to panic a little. We couldn't keep our arrows trained on four people. It made me consider not doing anything, just going with them.

It's amazing how one moment can change a rational decision into a very irrational one.

A fifth man came into the room through the door behind my mother. She couldn't see him and the other men seemed to be more concerned with her than me. The fifth man raised his gun and pointed it at her head. I saw his finger tense on the trigger and at the same moment released my arrow. It flew straight through the air and deep into his chest. With a gasp of shock and pain he fell to the ground. I don't know whether he died or not, I had bigger problems.

When I had released my arrow, my mother had released her own. We had gotten rid of two men, but more poured in and now my mum had no arrow.

I hesitated- the worst decision of my life.

The man who had spoken originally, pointed his gun at my mums head. As he did so, every other man in the room also did.

"Drop your weapon, or I put a bullet through your mothers head." He spoke calmly, in a soft and dangerous voice and I had no doubt he would not hesitate to kill her.

I dropped the bow and the sheath of arrows at my feet and put my hands in the air in defeat. My mum was glaring at the men with fury, but in her eyes I also saw fear.

Another man stepped towards me and tied my hands behind my back with rope. Then the first man walked over to me and grabbed a fistful of my hair and dragged me out of the house.

I kicked and screamed and twisted, but I couldn't get lose. Every time I tried to free myself my captor would laugh and twist my hair harder. I gave up- we weren't leaving the District yet so there was no point in panicking.

I was taken to the Square. In front of the justice building was a makeshift stage and assembled in front of it were the people of District 12, looking scared and upset.

I was dragged onto the stage and pushed to the front. I saw my mum running out into the square, her eyes frantic with worry.

Across the other side of the square my father and brother were being dragged out of the bakers. My brother was brought up onto the stage next to me, my father kicked down at my mother's feet.

The man who had originally grabbed me walked forward to a microphone.

"Thank you all for gathering here today. To explain, I invite to the stage Miss Effie Trinket!"

Effie, my almost-aunt Effie, walked onto the stage in her usual over the top clothes. But her usual confidence was gone and I saw a gun was trained at her head. She wasn't here because she wanted to be.

"Welcome, welcome to the 76th annual Hunger Games." She said, her voice shaking from fear and pain. My heart stopped. If me and my brother were on the stage that meant that…

"Our tributes: Aiden and Cassia Mellark!"

A/N- Hi! So thanks for reading! This chapter's been a bit slow, but I promise after this it gets much better I would love to hear what you think, so please review! Next chapter up very soon!