Authors Note: Well here's another new story from me. The idea for it occurred to one evening and kept me awake for several days straight. Like my HP & Pern crossover, it is a little weird and I admit that I do not like crossovers myself – but here I am writing my second. If you are not familiar with The Hunger Games in either book or movie format, please go and at least read the Wikipedia article before this.
You'll find more HP characters in here than Hunger Games ones with the exception of many of The Capitol people. I'm also trying to write in the first person narrative as in the books, which is something that I really am not used to – so please bear with me while I get used to it.
From The Treaty of the Treason:
In penance for their uprising,
each District shall offer up
a wizard and witch between the ages of
12 and 18 at a public "Reaping."
These Tributes shall be delivered
to the custody of The Capitol.
And then transferred to a public arena
where they will Fight to the Death
until a lone victor remains.
Henceforth and forevermore
this pageant shall be known as
The Hunger Games.
One of my ancestors was a witch but nobody quite remembers who it was. All I know is that because of that relative, my family was banished forever into District Twelve. It doesn't matter that we have never shown signs of magic since, no one makes it back to The Capitol once banished. I don't know why this comes to mind, today of all days. I shake my head, it's pointless protesting the injustice of our existence or the way that we are forced to live. No one cares, at least not anyone who matters.
Despite the season the splintery bare boards on the floor are still cold under my feet. Oftentimes it seems like I haven't been warm since my father died. I pull on my boots and the sturdy outfit that I wear when going into the woods, in fact it is what I wear most of the time. Spare clothes are a luxury that we can ill-afford. I slip my game bag over a shoulder and only then glance over at the other bed.
My sister Dawn is lying in bed snuggled up against our mother for comfort. Normally I would wake them to tell them where I am going but today I am loathe to disturb what looks to be peaceful sleep. I slip out of the ramshackle wooden house and move quietly into the silent, still streets. Normally at this time people would be leaving their families, going to work for a long day to earn a pittance but today is Reaping Day and work is cancelled, might as well enjoy the lie in.
It isn't long before I arrive at the fence that separates us from the forest; it is supposed to keep us safe from the wild animals that lurk within but in actuality is designed to keep people in rather than animals out. Just another way in which The Capitol tries to control this dangerous bunch of witches and wizards, most of whom have never even seen a wand let alone would know what to do with one. Rarely if ever is the fence electrified and so I have no compunction in slipping through the gap between the wires. A few running steps and I hit the safety of the trees.
If the Peacekeepers saw me entering the forest they would have no choice but to punish me; by whipping or even hanging me. In reality however they are some of my best customers, I have a family to feed and cannot afford the luxury of scruples. I grab my bow from its hiding place, it's one that my father made before he died and so I treasure it, despite the fact that I can make my own.
I might not be able to do magic but I am a great shot, no one can deny that. It's how I have kept my family alive since my father died and my mother retreated inside herself. I grew hard inside, I had to in order to survive. There are only two people in the world that I care about; my sister and a local boy a few years older than me, his name is Harry and he lost his father at the same time that I did. Like me he is almost solely responsible for his family, we bonded over that and have been friends for almost five years.
I am going to meet him now. It is our Reaping Day tradition, we spend the morning together hunting. Just in case we will not be around to do it tomorrow, the extra food or the money we could sell it for could help our families stave off starvation for a while at least. Movement ahead of me catches my eye and I pull an arrow from the quiver on my back.
The rabbit never knew what hit it. I pull a knife out of my belt and moving with the ease of long practice gut the animal and slip it into my bag. Harry and I normally meet at the ruins of an old building beside a lake, legend tells us that it is part of an old castle but in reality no one really knows for sure. All I know is that rabbits burrow under the stonework and it is a great place to shoot deer crossing the clearing.
Harry's sitting on some broken stonework when I arrive. He's toasting some bread that he must have traded for on a small smokeless fire. Bread, at least good bread is an expensive commodity to come by. I've some smoked meat in a food pouch that will add to his offering and afford us a good meal. "What did you trade for that?"
Harry grins without turning around, "A squirrel."
I place my bow ready on my knee as I sit down next to him. I'm not missing the chance of another deer if one walks into shot, Reaping Day or not there would be some way to sneak it back inside the fence. I hand him half of the meat as he shares the toast with me, years of being friends have made us aware of what the other is going to do before we do it.
There is another lame tradition that we have, as if on cue Harry turns to me, "Happy Hunger Games..."
"...And may the odds be ever in your favour," I continue, mimicking the outrageous accent of Evvie Trinket the Capitol escort who announces the names at The Reaping. It's almost funny now but later it will be anything of the sort.
"Hermione, do you ever think about running away?"
"With Dawn and my mother? Heading off into the woods, hoping that The Capitol does not fly over in a hovercraft and cut our tongues out before killing us? Dragging your mother and brothers? Come on Harry be sensible."
"Well what if no one watched the games? It's only entertainment after all."
"Too much gets bet on it and The Capitol uses it as a way to control us." It's true. The poorer families like ours are the workers, in District Twelve we are coal miners but there are some families who call themselves pure-bloods. They have money, not a lot of it but they are the shopkeepers and store owners – descended from all-magical families they normally only mix with each other.
The fact that all children between twelve and eighteen have to be involved in The Reaping brings us together. But the fact is that poor kids are more likely to be picked, simply because they are poor. In exchange for extra rations we have the choice to have our names entered an additional time for each family member that we wish to feed. In my case I feed three people.
The names in the lot are cumulative; my name has been entered once every year since I turned twelve. Five times in total, the same as any sixteen year old in all of the Districts. But the untimely death of my father left me with no choice but to take the extra rations. Starvation is all too common here in twelve. Bodies are not an unusual sight, especially in a hard winter like the one in which my father died. And so every year my name is added to the bowl an additional four times.
This year Hermione Granger appears twenty times. The odds are not in my favour. Harry's situation is even worse. The rich pure-bloods will never be entered more than seven times. It breeds resentment and ensures that we will never band together and rebel like we did eighty years ago.
Here in the woods with Harry I can be myself. Everywhere else I worry about the cameras, about people reporting me for my critical views or worse that Dawn will hear me speak and repeat something in public. I couldn't bear it if I lost her. So in public I present a neutral face, I hold my tongue and just move about my business in a quietly rebellious way.
Once we finish our meal we go about the serious business of hunting. By the time that we head back towards the fence at noon we have a number of rabbits and several squirrels, some wild greens and berries. Some of it we will trade in the market, aiming for money and non-perishable items. Our deal means that we will split the remaining food and all profits in two before going home to our families.
My sister Dawn will be waiting for me. Today is the first time that her name has been entered and she is as safe as it gets but she will be worried. At twelve I was made of sterner stuff but she has always been sensitive. I'm right; as soon as the door closes behind me she comes running into my arms like a child half her age.
"I'm scared Hermione."
"Don't worry. Everything will be ok. Odds are in our favour remember?"
"Yep." Her tears dry up with a great effort. I give her another hug and head into the other room to bathe, knowing that my mother would have left me some water. The tradition of cleaning and dressing in fancy clothes is stupid to my mind, the first thing that they will do in The Capitol will be to throw out our clothes and dress us in something outrageous. Our garments are too old-fashioned and subdued for good television viewing.
Nevertheless I scrub my body, making sure that I will not be an embarrassment to my mother. Even the poorest children in Panem will be looking their best today. She has laid out a dress for me, one of her own carefully hoarded dresses from her youth. Jean Granger is a blood-traitor, born into a pure-blood family she married a poor coalminer. Her family never spoke to her again and did not even leave her their apothecary shop when they died, as far as I am concerned they were dead long before they actually were. They stood by and watched their grandchildren almost starve to death before I found a way to support us.
I pull on the blue garment that she must have worn to Reapings at my age and go into the other room. Dawn laughs at my pathetic attempt to put my hair up and pulls me into a chair so that she can put it up in an intricate braid. The only reason I allow it is that it is distracting her from what is coming this afternoon – that and I could never deny my sister anything.
My mother cleans my game and prepares a sparse lunch for us, knowing that neither of her children will be able to eat much. The threat of imminent death will do that to you. Before we know it the mine whistle sounds, normally it's a sound of joy – meaning that someone you loved has finished a shift and is returning shortly. Today it is a mandatory summons to the square in front of the Justice Building and is a sound that will have mothers weeping.
I tidy Dawn's clothes making sure that she looks her best. In fact she looks like a baby in her best skirt and blouse with two pigtails hanging over her shoulders. I hold onto one of her hands and lead her the short distance to the square. "Can't I stand with you?"
"You know the rules, we're ranked by ages. You need to stand with the little kids in the back. You'll be able to see us from there though, both Mum and me. You won't be alone." I stay with her until we get to the registration desks, she barely manages to contain the panic that is flowing through her veins. I've kept the realities of our world from her as best as I can but there is nothing that I can do to protect her from this. Once last squeeze of my hand tries to reassure her before I walk towards the table for sixteen year olds.
An anonymous low-level Capitol employee takes a blood sample to confirm my identity and ticks me off of a list. The woman barely even looks at me; I am a name, a number in a book. To citizens of The Capitol we scarcely exist but to provide them with goods or entertainment. She calls, "Next," before I have even left the folding table.
My eyes alternate between looking at the ominous facade of the Justice Building, built in Capitol fashion – deliberately imposing concrete. The red banners with the seal of Panem on them hang above the entrance, reminding us of who is in control here. This is the place where I collect our monthly food allowance in return for putting my name in more times. It is the symbol of everything that is wrong with our world.
And with my family, the trembling form of my sister lined up with other kids her age furthest away from the stage because they have less chance of being picked and crying, puking kids does not make great television when they are in the front of the shot. I'm also exchanging glances with Harry who is in the boys section, there are thousands of slips of paper in the bowls in front of us but between us we account for over sixty of them. The odds are not exactly in our favour.
By the time that the second whistle blows we are all in position and all but the youngest of us are silent. No one wants to cry, to be seen as weak could get anyone of us killed if we are unlucky enough to end up in the Games. Almost as if on cue a squad of peacekeepers appear, they line up between the boys and girls and in front of the makeshift stage. Moments later the door of the Justice Building opens.
Effie Trinket walks out of the building and waves gaily at us her captive, unwilling audience. As usual she is wearing some absurd suit of Capitol fashion, it's bright green and badly clashes with the pink wig that she is wearing. There is so much paint on her face that it is hard to know what she really looks like and the scary truth is that she tones it down when in District Twelve but even still we are not used to that much colour and so she looks ridiculous.
Her Capitol accent is even worse, highly pitched with the emphasis on the wrong sounds. It makes her words comical when they are anything but. "Welcome, Welcome, Welcome to the Seventy Fourth annual Hunger Games!"
She pauses expecting a response but none is forthcoming.
"But before we choose the lucky young man and lady I have a special treat for you... All the way from The Capitol."
This is where they show us the propaganda video, the one where they detail the crimes of our ancestors against The Capitol. Where wizarding kind fought to overthrow the muggle government, starving and poorly trained we could not stand against the might of the muggle war machine. Harry catches my eye and sends a smile my way, it's the same video that they show every year.
"War, terrible war." Pictures of skulls, explosions, snapped and burnt wands. "Widows, orphans, a motherless child. This was the uprising that rocked our land. Thirteen districts rebelled against the country that fed them, loved them, protected them. Brother turned on brother until nothing remained." Bodies shown wearing cloaks, ridiculous outfits that seem more Capitol than District but are still forbidden. "And then came the peace, hard-fought, sorely-won. A people rose up from the ashes and a new era was born." Pictures of endless crops, tall buildings that few of us will ever see.
"But freedom has a cost, when the traitors were defeated, we swore as a nation that we would never know this treason again." We are not taught the reason for the rebellion but my suspicion is that years of being caged in Districts and deprived of the most basic necessities made us fight back.
"And so it was decreed that each year the various districts of Panem would offer up in tribute one young man and woman to fight to the death in a pageant of honour, courage and sacrifice. The lone victor bathed in riches would serve as a reminder of our generosity and our forgiveness. This is how we remember our past. This is how we safeguard our future."
"I just love that." Effie breaths obviously believing the dogma that The Capitol spout at every opportunity. The Hunger Games are really an excuse to kill twenty three young people and ruin a twenty fourth, for the entertainment of muggles and to remind us who has the power.
"Now it's time to find out who the lucky tributes are from District Twelve." She crosses to one of the huge glass globes on the stage. "As usual, ladies first." My heart begins to pound as she reaches in for a folded slip. My name is in there twenty times, it could be me. Those four words begin to spin around in my head, over and over again as I watch her gloved hand pull a slip out.
She opens the seal and brings it closer to her face.
It could be me.
Please don't let it be me.
The name that sounds strangely twisted when uttered from her lips is... Dawn Granger.
A.N. I borrowed the character of Dawn from Tigertales, with her kind permission