Chapter Fifty

District One

Johanna slumped off the train after another almost sleepless night. She had debated calling Jason at certain times but didn't want to risk waking him up. He was hardly a happy bunny when she did that. Two had been a disaster, she had been continuously questioned about tactics and how it felt to win the Games and she'd had to smile and lie and pretend that everything was fine and freaking dandy.

She was expecting similar problems in One. She was now used to the flashing cameras that greeted her when she exited the train and walked along the unusually shiny platform. Questions bombarded her and she knew she was meant to stop and answer a few but today she just couldn't deal with it. She wanted to be home, and safe in Jason's arms and forget about this other world that wasn't hers. She let her head drop and ran a hand through her chocolaty hair that had grown surprisingly fast in recent months.

Addie paused to apologize to the confused Capitol reporters, saying her stomach still wasn't used to such exotic foods and she was having a hard time coping. She would have punched him if it wouldn't risk Jason's life. She kept walking briskly until she reached the car that would transport her to the training center where she was to make her second last speech of the tour.

When in the safety of the car she pressed her head back into the headrest and sighed heavily, letting the release of pressure flow through her. Blight sat next to her quickly, his eyes also showing the obvious signs of lack of sleep and the pair sat and waited for Addie to finish attention seeking.

"You could at least pretend to be grateful you know," he snapped at Johanna as he took a seat opposite her. She didn't give a reply, deciding instead to simply roll her eyes at him. "People come all this way to see you, to catch a glimpse of the great Johanna Mason and this is how you repay them?"

"Trust me, she's holding back what she really wants to do to them," Blight defended her, rubbing his eyes heavily like it would help their darkened appearance.

Addie simply huffed in reply and they made the rest of the journey to the training center in silence, not that any of them complained about it. Johanna had her speech written out as always was demanded now and she was also expected to take questions from any curious learners in the young crowd. She clenched her teeth together at the thought.

Prima met them at the training center and she was quickly ushered into a small room to prepare. Prima produced a beautiful, long shimmering gown for her. The underlying gold material was coated with thousands of tiny beads, all added to make her look far more well endowed than she was in reality.

"It's beautiful," she reassured Prima as she shrugged the thick straps of the dress over her shoulders and admired herself in the large mirror in front of her. Despite Addie's claims that she just wasn't used to the food she generally looked far unhealthier than she had before the Games. Her collarbones were far too obvious and as Prima ran around her adjusting the last few areas of the dress let her know the weight loss wasn't just a figment of her imagination, which had become far more active than she would have liked.

"Only if it looks beautiful on my dear," Prima replied, still running around and fixing her as she spoke.

Johanna did what was asked of her obediently, closing her eyes, looking up and holding loose bits of fabric when requested. Prima was one of the few people she had no problem obeying, and the only one from the Capitol. She knew she was loosing herself, not just in the fabric, but also in everything. She was a trace of the girl who was raised passionately in the woods of District Seven.

When Prima seemed satisfied with her work she nodded a few times before a peacekeeper interrupted them to let them know they'd be ready for her in two minutes. Johanna mumbled a thanks to Prima and the woman prayed that the young girl she'd seen before the Games was still in there somewhere.

She exited the room and stood out on the balcony overlooking the large area she assumed was the main training room. Hundreds of curious eyes looked up at her all wondering the same thing. How had she managed to kill their tributes? In all honesty she didn't think she wanted to answer that question.

She opened her mouth once, expecting the words she had memorized just to flow easily out of her like all the other lies she had told. But they didn't. The words choked in her throat and she stood for a moment, mouth partially opened and staring into the judgmental faces of the children around her.

"I wish there were more words that I could use to describe how I feel about standing here before you. A victor. Triumphant. Proud. Honored. None of them seem enough. Because there are no words for being a victor. It is something you have to fight for with everything you have to deserve it; only those who truly earn the right to win the Games can begin to experience it. It is not something to be shared with the weak; it is something that only the strong can handle. So fight for your right to feel the way I feel," (she tried so hard not to let sarcasm ooze in her voice as she spoke) "for each of you has the potential. It is just how you use it that shall be the deciding factor," she finished her short speech and looked over the faces, waiting for the real hell to begin.

She could see the questions they really wanted to ask appear and then disappear from their faces.

"What made you go on the cornucopia?" one girl asked, she was maybe about 7 and already Johanna could see the lack of emotion in her eyes that was typical of careers.

"I needed the element of surprise," Johanna lied. She lied awfully. She went on the Cornucopia because she prayed that by staying there she would be out of the way of the things that attacked her and that maybe her leg injury would kill her before Silk got the chance. "With my injury and lack of training I knew I wouldn't have lasted against Silk. My only chance was to attack her someway she wasn't expecting."

"Had you ever trained before the Games?" a boy asked, he was younger still.

"No. Training is banned for my District," she mumbled, her eyes narrowing slightly at the unfairness that the Career districts were allowed a fighting chance at surviving whereas the outer districts were forced to accept their punishment.

The questions continued, some about axe technique, some about what she though the important parts of the Games were but all of them were pointless. It wouldn't make a difference. She wanted to scream at them that it didn't matter how prepared they thought they were the Gamemakers would pick a favorite and they were the most likely ones to survive. She had just been lucky.

Author's Note: Ok so I know I am awful at updating! But I hope you all are still there and still enjoying the story, there is only one more chapter of the victory tour and then it will be back to District Seven. There isn't much left to go of this Fic, but there will be a sequel which I will need some time to work on before it goes up. Either way I hope those of you that are still reading enjoyed this and I will have the next chapter up ASAP but that might still be a while away.

-R