Disclaimer: Yeah, not gonna bother, since you should be fully aware of this.
Note: I'm so sorry for that last chapter. Truly, I am. But it had to be done, and I hope you understand why Cameron did what he did. Well, this is the final chapter in The Hunger Glee Games. Thanks for reviewing, favoriting, and the like. I will be starting a NEW full-length story on August 1st, after I get back from my vacation to Canada with my best friend. Keep an eye out for it!
Are you, are you coming to the tree?
Wear a necklace of rope side-by-side with me?
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be if we met up at midnight in the hanging tree
I don't know if I want to live without Cameron. I contemplate jumping out of this tree from the highest height in an attempt to break my neck, but before I can do anything of the sort, an announcement is made.
"Congratulations, Damian McGinty. You are the winner of this year's Hunger Games." I can hear a hovercraft above me, and I am sucked into its powerful beam. I try to touch Cameron one last time before they take me away, but they get me before I can reach him. People are tending to me, taking the tracker out of my arm and tending a few minor wounds. They are congratulating me, fussing over me and praising me for a job well done. I don't want to talk to them. I just want to be left alone.
Or better yet, I'd rather be with Cameron.
Apparently I am decreed healthy enough not to warrant a hospital stay, so it's back to District Ten with me. I'll stay there for a while before heading on the Victory Tour to the other Districts.
I don't think I can face Cameron's parents and sisters after he killed himself for me.
Actually, I don't think I can face any of the tribute's families. Is there a way I can get out of this? There must be a way. What do you say to a parent whose child you watched be killed right in front of you? Are there any words of comfort I can bring?
What will I say to Lindsay's parents when I am faced with them shortly? Their only daughter died in my arms. I don't think I can say nor do anything to help them, except give them the small comfort that she was not alone when she breathed her last.
I do not say anything on the agonizingly long ride back to Ten.
If I were not so closely monitored, I would try to take my own life. How do winners of the Games deal with this? How do they live with knowing they killed people, that they saw people die brutally, that they made friends only to see them perish?
I sit and stare vacantly out the window. Cameron is dead and it's all my fault. Why? Why would he do that? He tried to explain, but I still do not understand. Why was this the only solution? I would've rather had the Game-makers stir up something to kill both of us and die together than see him hanging there in the tree.
"The Hanging Tree", the song he had sung to me that night in the cave. Had he known, even then, that he would sacrifice himself for me? Had he meant to leave it behind as a message for me to decipher? Was it something to take with me, to store in the recesses of my memory until I wanted to take it out again on a desolate day? I don't eat, even when lavish meals are prepared for me. I spend my journey back to Ten sleeping and staring out of the window in the observation compartment.
The horrors of the arena, I realized, were never really over, and they never would be over. They would always be there, haunting my dreams, terrorizing my waking moments, lingering around me like wisps of smoke even until I entered old age.
I swear to myself that I will never love again.
When I arrive back in Ten, I am greeted by my family. My mother, tears streaming down her face, embraces me at once. "I thought I was going to lose you," she murmurs in my ear. "I'm so glad you're home safe and sound."
I don't say anything. I'm afraid she's going to mention Cameron. Why is everyone treating me like a hero? If I were a true hero, it would have been I who took his life, not Cameron. I'm a coward. I didn't fight; I hid. Even when I was in an alliance with Marissa, it was she who fought to the death, not me. Everyone else was fighting. I was hiding in a cave, or in a forest.
I never wanted to be a hero.
I step back and my father now embraces me. "I'm so proud of you, my boy."
Proud of me? What a joke. I'm a joke.
"Hi," Gemma, my sister, says breathlessly. "Sorry we're late, but the strangest thing happened to us on our way here." I blink at her. "We were just about to leave, but we found a baby on our doorstep. There was no note, and we don't know how he got there or who his parents are." Sure enough, there is a baby in her husband's arms.
"Baby?" I breathe. Cameron's words ring through my ears. Perhaps when one person dies, another person is born, and the deceased is, in turn, reborn.
It's too coincidental to be true.
"Are…are you keeping him?"
Gemma frowns. "I don't know."
"Please," I say hurriedly. "Let's keep him."
She exchanges a glance with her husband, who shrugs. "I suppose if we can't find his birth parents, we can keep him, yes. Would you like to name him?"
"Yes," I say. "Cameron. His name will be Cameron." Everyone is silent. I know what they're thinking. I know that they saw me and Cameron together, that they knew we were in love, that they know how he died for me. I wordlessly take the baby—Cameron, I think to myself, New Cameron—from my brother-in-law and walk away from them, away from all of them. I walk until I can't walk any longer. I kiss my lover's namesake on the top of his head. "Cameron," I murmur. "I promise, this time around, it will be I who will protect you."
He looks at me with his blue eyes—startlingly similar to Cameron's—and smiles, and I know he understands.
And already, we love each other.
Just as it was always meant to be.