Amy Hatake, 18
I sit up, my breathing heavy. Sweat trickles down my forehead and I wipe it away. Calm down, Amy. It was just a nightmare. Just a nightmare…
But it wasn't a nightmare. The dream really did happen; ten years ago, my father was whipped to death for stealing food for us. We were poor and starving, and he couldn't bear to see us in that state. Without telling us, he went out to the market and snatched a few loaves of bread from a stall. The owner saw him and yelled, "Thief!" A peacekeeper was nearby and arrested him. Stealing was a huge no-no in District Twelve, no matter how small the item stolen was.
My mother told me that the owner of the stall had tried to take it back. He had called out on impulse, and he completely regretted it. My father was taken to the town square and whipped severely. I had only gotten there when he was half-conscious. Being the stubborn child I was, I ran to him, past the surprised peacekeepers. I screamed for them to stop, that my father was in pain, but in his weak state, my father said, "Don't, Amy. Listen… to them. Take… care… of them…"
I was pulled away by the peacekeepers, kicking and screaming and crying altogether, until my mother grabbed me and pulled me away from the crowd, back home, and the last glimpse I got of my father was of him closing his eyes one final time and falling to the ground with a thud. Grief took over. I never have experienced a pain greater than losing my father.
I bury my face in my hands and weep silently. It was ten years ago, Amy! Get over it! But still, I can't move myself from my still position on top of the bed. I have no idea how long I stayed like that; knees to my chest, face in my hands, eyes watering. From the looks of it, it must have been a while.
Once I calm down, I lift my head and look around the room. Katie, my little sister, was sleeping soundly in her own bed near mine. She hadn't noticed me waking up from my nightmare. Good. She needed the sleep.
I drop my feet onto the cold floor and stand up. The sun is barely peeking through the horizon and the clock in my room says that it's five in the morning. Maybe I should go buy some breakfast for us, since there's no food in the kitchen cabinets. I grab my bow and arrow stashed inside our dresser and tiptoe out of the room. My mother, Sirius and Katie are still sleeping.
Once I'm outside the house, I look around for any peacekeepers. All clear. I jog past all of the run-down wooden houses. It was a public holiday in District Twelve and everyone would probably stay asleep until late in the morning to get ready. It was the day of the reaping, the dreaded day where two of the kids in the district will be chosen to fight in the Hunger Games in which they will more than likely die.
District Twelve has only had one victor since the second rebellion; Elinor Mursing, whose sanity was very questionable. I feel sorry for whoever is chosen to be in the games. Not only do they have pathetic chances of winning, but they get a crappy mentor and a useless escort. Well, escorts are probably useless in all the districts, but that doesn't make it any better.
The border that lines the district is easily passable. Now, it's actually legal to walk through the forest, though there's another boundary preventing us from going any further than five kilometres from the District Twelve border. I bet it's something to do with District Thirteen, but I don't want to get in trouble for asking questions like that. I run into the mass of trees until I can hear the satisfying crunch of leaves as I step on them and the light chirping coming from birds in the branches high above.
After a minute or two, when I'm in my preferred hunting spot in the forest, I slow down and hide behind a tree trunk. Wild chickens walk around the area nearby, oblivious to their upcoming deaths. I take out two arrows and align them both together. I estimate that I'd be able to shoot three of them, once they walk into the right spots.
I wait. One of the wild chickens takes a step forward…
And another… and I shoot.
I shoot down three of them, making the others scatter and run away. Clean cuts through the neck for each of them, giving quick deaths. I carefully pull out the arrows and stash them inside a sack that I always carry in my arrow quiver. Three chickens can probably buy me some breakfast for the next two days.
I sling the sack over my shoulder and take my time leaving the forest. I try to enjoy the beautiful day; it could be the last one I experience in District Twelve. Just because it's my last reaping, doesn't make the odds any better. Might as well be a realist than an optimist.
Damien Hatake, 18
Brushing imaginary dust off my shirt, I sigh. My last reaping. I'm supposed to be happy, right? But I'm not.
I think of all the possibilities. I might not get reaped, but then my little brother Miroku will have to take the tesserae, giving him even more chance of getting reaped. Maybe I will get reaped, and I lose, and my twin Sakura has to take care of the family herself. Maybe I will get reaped but I win, and we'll never starve again. The worst case scenario is that one of my siblings will get reaped. That would be absolutely terrible.
I would rather go into the Hunger Games and die than have any of my siblings go into the Games. After all, we only have each other. My father was killed by a peacekeeper during an uprising in District Twelve caused by shortage of food. My mother abandoned us when he died, grieving over his death in District Two where she works as a doctor of some sort. I don't really care; I don't care about her anymore. She left us alone and if anything, I hate her.
But no time to look back at the past. I go over to my brothers' beds to wake them up. Miroku groggily opens his eyes, while Danny just mutters incoherent words like, 'it's too soft here…' I push his shoulder again and Danny opens his eyes.
"It's the reaping, isn't it…?" Miroku says. I sigh, nodding. Miroku frowns. "I'll go get ready."
"Me too," Danny mutters, half asleep. I laugh and help him up before he shuffles into the bathroom. Miroku opens the chest of drawers to look for his nice clothes and I leave the room for him to change.
To my surprise, my sisters Sakura and Grace are already awake. There's a large plate filled with fried eggs in the centre of the small dining table and each of them are eating their breakfast. I smile and give Grace a kiss on the top of her head.
"Morning, cupcakes," I say and grab my own plate. I fill it with eggs and sit down to dig in.
They're both dressed and ready, and Sakura smiles slightly. "Are the boys awake yet?"
"Yeah," I say. "They're getting ready."
Grace bites her lip. "I'm nervous, Damien."
I look up and watch as she stares down at the table, fingering her left braid. "Why?"
"It's the reaping," she replies. "It's your last one, which is good, but it's also the year where you've got your name in the bowl most. Sakura's eighteen as well, but you take the tesserae for the entire family, so you're the one with the most chances. In fact, you should be nervous instead of me."
I sigh. "Grace, you don't have to worry about me. There are plenty of other eighteen-year-olds out there, and some of them even have larger families than this one. They have it worse than us."
Sakura puts her hand on my shoulder in a reassuring way. "Damien, she just cares about you."
I ponder on her remark. I suppose it was good of her to have cared for me; at least I have a loving family to look after me. Defeated, I nod. "I'm sorry, Grace."
"Don't be," Grace says. She stands up. "I should be sorry for bringing it up."
"Then all should be okay," Sakura says. She takes hers and Grace's plates and goes over to the sink to clean them. Grace goes to the bedroom to check if Danny and Miroku are ready yet. I finish my breakfast and help Sakura clean the dishes.
Danny and Miroku sit down to eat their breakfast. We all sit around the dining table together, talking about school, friends, and the usual. It felt nice being able to chat with my family before I left for the reaping. Most of the time, we're all too busy to ask each other about our personal lives.
We clean up after ourselves and walk out of the house together. I remember what I said, about other families in District Twelve being larger than ours. That was hard to believe, since we were already quite a large family, even without any parents. Sakura and I act as our siblings' guardians, becoming the parents that they never truly had.
At some point, we cross my cousin, Amy's house. Their home is not much different from ours, and they're just leaving to go to the reaping. Amy has a younger sister, Katie, who she holds hands with. They walked with their mother, Remy. Remy is the first one to notice us, and she smiles. Her husband was killed ten years ago, and I can tell that she never really healed. But Remy was still quite nice. She helped us around if we were in need, and Amy helped too.
"Hello, Damien and Sakura," Remy says. Amy turns her head to look at us and grins.
"And Danny, Miroku and Grace," Remy continues. "How are you?"
"Good," Sakura repliess. "How's work?" Sakura and Remy are pretty close; ever since our mother left several years ago, she has been looking up to Remy for advice and help.
Amy walks over to me and lightly punches me in the arm. "Hey, Damien."
Amy and I are fairly close as well. Even closer than I am with Sakura. We both have the same long black hair and blue eyes. Most of the Hatake family have dark hair and blue eyes, but Amy and I look most alike. We even act alike; we both hunt in the woods, together sometimes, and we're both protective and responsible for our families.
"You nervous?" Amy asks, hands in her pockets. She's dressed in her regular shirt-and-trousers attire, not being bothered to wear something nicer for the reaping. Amy was never one to care what she looked like.
I shrug. "I suppose, but mostly for my siblings."
Amy nods, understanding. "I feel the same with Katie."
There is a short silence, until I notice someone was missing. "Where's Sirius?"
"He's too old for the reaping, and he has work today," Amy says. It's strange how he was working on a public holiday, but I don't question it, for we've arrived at the District Square.
We register at the counter; a prick of our blood, a tick next to our name. Sakura, Amy and I wave to our families as we go to the eighteen-year-old section and they go to their lines. Remy stands at the back with the other parents. Sakura and Amy go to the girls' lines and I go to the boys'. I find Jordan, one of my friends, and stand next to him.
He smiles at me and we talk for a while, but then it drifts to silence. I take these last few seconds to think. Once this is over, I'll be able to work as a coal miner and earn a bit more money for the family. Sakura might also get a job, so we can actually earn a reasonable amount of money for the family. But it still wouldn't be enough, and maybe Miroku would have to take the tesserae. And then, Grace would take the tesserae, then Danny, and then when they're all old enough no-one will take the tesserae, but then everyone would be working, so we would have enough money for the whole lot of us…
That is, assuming that none of us get reaped.
But that's negative thinking. I think good thoughts, of finding a good future, of everyone being safe from the reaping, until the mayor walks onstage. He makes his speech; it seems to zoom past. Near the stage, I see Elinor Mursing, the only victor of District Twelve we've had since the second rebellion. She looked like most people from the seam, with short dark hair and grey eyes. Her face was stone cold, her legs crossed, her eyes staring at the ground like she's being punished by an elementary teacher. To think that she would be mentoring, not just one, but two tributes in the next week or so. Hopefully, she would be at least a bit helpful.
Before I realize that the mayor has finished, our escort, Tulia Bronze, walks on stage and beams for the crowd – well, more like for the cameras. Her skin is dyed bronze; not like a tanned colour, but actually dyed a shiny bronze, like she's literally made of the metal. She had a curly purple wig, and her makeup and clothes are overly exaggerated, just like any other escort we've had.
"Welcome, District Twelve, to the one-hundredth Hunger Games, also known as the fourth Quarter Quell!" Tulia's voice doesn't have a heavy Capitol accent, but she still sounds extremely posh compared to any of us lot. "This year, to replicate the rule adjustment made in the 74th Hunger Games as to warn everyone not to defy the Capitol yet again, two tributes from the same district are allowed to win!"
No clapping. Nobody in District Twelve likes the Hunger Games; who would?
"As tradition follows, ladies first!" Tulia says with enthusiasm, which contrasts to the crowd's lack of. I almost find it funny, but then she walks over to the glass bowl.
I suck in a breath. What are the chances that someone I care for gets reaped? One to several hundred, I think. The odds are in our favour. But still, someone has to get reaped…
Amy Hatake, 18
"Our female tribute for District Twelve is… Sakura Hatake!"
I panic. Everything inside of me is screaming for me to do something, but I stay, my feet glued together, my lips glued together, my hands glued together. It's all a big mess as there's screaming, and yelling, and I see my cousin Sakura walk closer and closer to the stage, and then my hand is suddenly unglued, and it shoots up in the air, and my lips become unglued and I yell, "I VOLUNTEER!"
Oh, Amy, what have you done?
People turn to me. The looks on their faces are all different; shock, terror, pity. But then… there's hope. People have hopeful looks, their eyes wide, their mouths slightly ajar, and their eyes reading; This kid has a chance.
I remember now. The last time we've had a volunteer in District Twelve was in Katniss Everdeen's games, and they all remember how that turned out.
I walk to the stage. At the base of the stairs, Sakura hugs me, clinging onto me tight, and I honestly don't want to leave. But then she lets go, tears in her eyes, fear written all over her face. I could imagine my own face mirroring her expression. Hugging her one more time, I go up the stairs, slowly, and then I find myself next to Tulia Bronze. She asks me my name and I tell her. I stand and stare at everyone in the district.
What have you done? What have you done?
I barely notice when Tulia walks over to the boys' names. I stare at the ground. My mind is racing, my heart is pumping. I don't care who the boy is. I just want to get back home to my family, alive, and then we'd be able to live together in a big house were there's plenty of food for us, and we'd never starve again…
And then I snap out of it for a second, because Tulia has started reading out the name; a boy with a name beginning with the letter W. But suddenly someone snatches their hand up and yells, "I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!"
That voice. Oh hell, no, not that voice.
He walks on stage as I did. He tells the escort his name as I did.
Tulia beams at the crowd – or at the cameras, whichever – and says, "Two volunteers! How exciting!"
Yeah, exciting, sure. I hate you.
We are pushed into the Justice Building. In the crying room, I only get a second to sit down before my mother and Katie rush in and hug me.
We cry. We all cry. We hold each other close and don't let go. We sob, and mourn, and cry while each of our hearts are, again, torn into little pieces by the hands of the Capitol.
Katie grips my hand. "Amy, that was so brave of you," she cries, her face covered in tears and her eyes red.
My mother sits up on the couch and wipes her eyes with the back of her hand. "It was, Amy," she said. "It was brave."
I push a strand hair out of Katie's eyes and stare at the ground. "There's a fine line between bravery and stupidity," I say, not looking into their eyes. "I don't know which of those I have done."
Katie puts something in my hand. I open my palm and see that it's a shape attached to a string. I wipe my eyes to see what it is; a butterfly. It's made of wood, maybe, and painted black. "Oh, Katie," I say, and I start crying again.
It feels like such a short time before a peacekeeper comes in and tells Katie and my mother to leave. Katie hugs me one more time, and the two leave the room. The peacekeeper brings me to the train. I have to pass the crowd again; they are no longer in lines, but are mixed with parents in little groups talking to each other. They look at me. I don't look at them.
But I look at Damien. He and his peacekeeper bring us to the train, where we wrap our arms around each other and stay like that for a long time.
"This sucks," he says. I just nod.
Then I pull away and take his hand. "Partners?"
Damien nods. "Partners. For life."
Here's the edited author's note. Since now I have no-one to submit the D11 tributes, I'll need some other people to submit the tributes for the district eleven male and female. I will give two people a chance for this, one tribute per person, but this is only open to people who haven't submitted to this SYOT before. This will be a first come, first serve thing since it's urgent. I'll keep you updated about the spots. PM me if you'd like to submit a tribute and I'll give you the form. Original characters that are not in any other SYOT's, please, and please use my form. I'll also give you guys a smaller form if you'd like to give an escort, stylist or mentor.
D11 Female - TAKEN
D11 Male - TAKEN
D11 Stylist - OPEN
D11 Mentor - OPEN
D11 Escort - OPEN
Try to match your tributes with what the district specialty is, which is agriculture, but for the stylist and escort the choices are open. Thanks, and I'll see you guys soon!