From "Mockingjay" we learn that a Victor's life was difficult after winning the Hunger Games. There is a price to be paid for new found fame and riches on top of dealing with the nightmares of what happened in the arena. To keep real to the world which Suzanne Collins created, bad things happen to our Victor of the Quarter Quell. But rest assured I don't go past the boundaries Collins set as far as violence level and suggestive material.
Yes it will be a bit choppy, but I did that on purpose since I'm covering many years and events (including the rise of Pres Snow).
Enjoy (and comments appreciated).
PART 1: GROWING NIGHTMARES
Sometimes I wake up wondering if the tracker venom has left me yet. That I've finally woken up from the nightmare. My father will be there to hug me before I go off to school. Boron and I will race through town, late again because we stayed too long at his house listening to funny stories from his older brother, Gray. Back home, father and I will dance on the floor after dinner and on warm nights climb up to my tree house to sleep.
I thought it was over when I left the games, that at last I was awake. But it turns out my hope is only a brief respite before I plunge into one more nightmare. All I can do is just play along.
Only a few times have I been able to sleep at night. Jay tries to get me through a peaceful night's sleep, but I just can't. Instead I spend the night fiddling with my experiments downstairs. I may be a little absent minded, but if I'm putting something together or taking it apart and examining it I can stay focused and controlled for hours.
I could tell Jay needed time away from me. It was too depressing as it was with my crying out at night, daily flashbacks, and long periods when I am lost to the world. I told him he needed time with his friends or to even go back to work if he wanted.
He agreed so long as there was always someone at the house with me. The Welkins were the first volunteers. Our families had been friends since before I was born. Rose Welkin comes over in the morning just as Jay leaves. Her son, Gray, arrives shortly after.
Other volunteers include two of my friends from school, Cody and Kyle. Despite their falling out before my games, they have since learned to be civil around each other for my sake. In fact many people are civil around each other when I'm around. The others may like to sugar coat things, but Gray is honest with me. The district feels sorry for me… again.
In their eyes I volunteered to become tribute in the Hunger Games because I couldn't stand the rift created prior to the Quarter Quell. This was true, but slowly I realize that what I told President Galba wasn't entirely a lie. In fact there was a lot more truth to it than I realized. I really did want all of it to be over. But this I've told no one, not even Jay.
Three days a week it's the same routine. Rose arrives and Jay leaves. We sit and chat for awhile about different things, mostly about what I'm working on. One time she thought I'd get in a lot of trouble for disconnecting a phone from one of the other houses to fiddle with. But I had it back together and hooked it back up before anyone knew it was gone. My house was the only one permanently occupied in the Victor's Village.
During the time I would've left for school, Gray arrives. We eat breakfast together and talk about things. Afterwards, Gray and Rose look at the things I'm working on and give suggestions on how to make it work better. After a few more hours, Gray is exhausted and goes into one of the spare bedrooms to sleep. With sunlight filling the house I feel calm enough to fall asleep myself and go upstairs to my room.
When I wake up some time in the late afternoon, Rose has something ready for me to eat. Gray is usually up around this time as well and we have a small lunch together. If the weather is nice we go outside to enjoy it since it's not long until winter. The occasional visitor comes to chat and update me on the district until Jay and Elian Welkin arrive.
After dinner, the Welkins all leave and I'm left with Jay. A few hours pass and it's time for bed. I try for a few hours, but still I can't bring myself to sleep at night. Quietly I sneak downstairs and fiddle with my experiments again.
Because of my newly acquired riches I am easily able to support Jay, the Welkins, and the Norths. If not for their objections I would, but I guess we all have stubbornness issues.
Part of it has to do not wanting blood money and the other part of it probably comes from knowing that once I'm dead they'd all have to go back to work anyway and there's no point in getting comfortable.
Even I don't want the money. I don't want anything from the place that sends children into an arena to die for entertainment and control. It took a good few weeks after the cameras left for the officials to keep me compliant about using my new house in the Victor's Village. Most sneak a smile at me once an official is done lecturing me again that I no longer live in the run down house with the leaky roof and the cracked floorboards or the tree house in the back yard.
Honestly, eight out of ten times is because I forget. I know in the Training Center I forgot which way to go to get to my room. It was right down the hall for crying out loud. How could I forget so easily and so frequently?
Lyla, a Peacekeeper and a friend of Jay's, drops me off at the house for the third time that week. Jay stayed at the door to talk after hugging me and ushering me inside to thank Lyla. She has dropped by my home every morning to make sure I didn't wander there during the night. Better that she quietly bring me back to the house before I embarrass myself again.
Jay comes down briefly to kiss me good-bye and tell me that Rose is here. For awhile I tinker away at my latest inventions. On the table is a puzzle I've done so many times I now do it to see if I can beat my best time. But there's a problem. I can't figure it out.
Anger at my inability to remember anything clearly comes to a boil. I know I screamed, and that I threw things across the room, but until Gray's arms wrapped around me anchoring me I didn't know that everything I've been working on lay in pieces on the floor. Thank goodness the notes were all upstairs.
It was different, having Gray hold me instead of Jay. A few months would pass before I figured out why it felt so different. Why he had flipped out at me when he learned I volunteered to be tribute. The hug I got when I returned home and why he would come over every day even when it was Jay's day to watch me.
I remember Marlin Oleander's question if there was someone who would be jealous of Colvin Donner of District 12 kissing me in the arena. Had I figured out Gray's feelings for me, I would've needed to answer that question differently. It made no sense for Gray to love me, but all the sense in the world for me to have feelings for him.
And the thought scares me. It takes me awhile to piece together how it happened. Sure I had a crush on him since I was a little girl. He was older than me, very good looking, and funny. But I was a child to him, his brother's tomboy best friend and I eventually put thoughts of him out of my head.
As the years passed I became more and more like one of the boys. I didn't like dresses, never talked about boys, and most certainly didn't flirt with one. That was gross.
But then my father died in a tracker jacker attack, one that left me the sole survivor out of fifteen people. The only survivor because the other two that had lived went mad and took their lives, just as Blaze did in the arena to make me Victor. Things changed after that. My mind was broken and emotions that I had been able to temper and dismiss as me just being silly stayed at the forefront of my mind. Boron fought hard for me to come back from the frightened emotionally scarred survivor. Another year would pass before we discovered that friendship wasn't enough for either of us.
If not for the Hunger Games, we'd probably be talking of marriage soon. Everyone knew we were headed in that direction. Sometimes I wish they would've told us so we didn't feel so awkward around each other when that sort of thing was going through our minds. But he's gone now, murdered in the Twenty-third Hunger Games, something that I wish happened to me in the Twenty-fifth. That had been the plan.
Gray and I were there for each other during and after that game. They were close and I know Gray hates himself for not being able to take his place. But he was nineteen, one year too old for the arena. We became friends of sorts, but I had no idea Gray felt anything for me. And every time I thought something for him I hated myself feeling it a betrayal against Boron.
I don't know. I just don't know anymore. So when Gray kisses me for the first time I freeze not sure what to do next. I've kissed only two others before this, Boron and Colvin. Boron I kissed long and good as he left for the arena as a plead for him to come back alive. Colvin surprised me in the arena when emotions were running high and the sensation so welcomed that I leaned in and kissed him back.
With Gray it was a light kiss, but it was enough for me to know his feelings. Friendship isn't enough for him. And it scares me that I might feel the same way. The people I love have a habit of dying and I swear I won't let that happen.
I spend the next few weeks turning my schedule around. Night still terrifies me, but if I'm to protect Gray I must overcome it. Eventually I can almost make it to a full night's sleep. Once I have enough energy I ask for my old shift back at the plant.
Jay and I would walk there together in the mornings. We'd pass Gray on the way, but would only have a short conversation before entering the plant. I quickly realize how much of a distraction this is from all the bitter memories that assault me. My old coworkers are an even more welcome sight and I feel myself getting better and better.
Mind you there are a few times that I can't bring myself to go in, but then I'm not required since I'm a volunteer. Those times Gray is right back with me keeping me calm. I've been told that I know when to fight and when to wait for the right moment to fight. However I discover a whole new method and just give in. Gray has thrown his lot in with mine no matter what I do. So one day I decide to kiss him. It was bound to happen anyway and as the sensations flow through my body I wonder why I was so stubborn.