Nameless Faces

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No one remembers the dead.

(Except.)

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It's the year of the 13th Annual Hunger Games, and it's being advertised as the "year of all years, the one to watch out for."

"What poppycock," she mutters under her breath as she watches the promotional videos on television. It'll just be another year of kids killing kids, of blood and death and the stupid Capitol getting an opportunity to show off the latest fashions.

"What's poppycock?" asks her younger brother, a little four-year-old boy named Cyril. "What's poppycock?"

"It's nothing, Cyril," she says, fluffing up his golden brown hair. Cyril nods and goes back to playing with his alphabet blocks.

She slumps back into the sofa, grateful that she's finally eighteen and after these games, she'll be safe. That is, if she doesn't get picked. But of course she won't get picked. Her family lives a fairly comfortable life in District Four, and her slip's only in the ball seven times—much less than those from poor fishing families. It must be selfish to think of saving herself at someone else's expense, but she doesn't mind.

Better them than her.

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"Marguerite Sween!"

Her name's been called, and it feels surreal—her parents and Cyril are crying, but that's about it. She'd never been liked in District Four.

"You have to try," her father, a rotund man with gray hair and brown eyes, tells her solemnly during the visitor hours. "Maybe District Four will finally get a Victor, don't you think?"

She nods, equally solemn. In twelve years of game history, District Four has yet to get a Victor. But this year it shall be different. Because she's coming back.

At the expense of twenty-three other children, her mind whispers. She crushes the thought.

Better them than her.

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Districts One and Two are the ones that are usually expected to win—already they're being called "Careers."

But, for the first time, District Four's high on the betting lists as well. No, not because of the boy—he's a scrawny fisherman's son with bad teeth. She hasn't even bothered to learn his name. It's because of her, of course. She doesn't have a mentor, but she doesn't need one. She's smart enough, and her stylist is delighted with her. And of course he's delighted. With her wavy bronze hair and sea-green eyes, she could be a model.

"You're golden, baby!" he screams after her debut at the chariot rides.

She smiles.

(Later, she'd learn that beauty would cost her.)

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She wins the Games, no problem.

(At the expense of twenty-three other children.)

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She'd killed four in the bloodbath alone—including her district partner. One and Two had seen her, gotten smart, and asked her to join the Career alliance.

From then on, it had been smooth sailing. She and the pack killed all the other children, and then turned on each other, and the boy from One killed the girl from Two, and the girl from One killed the boy from Two, and she'd killed the girl and the boy from One, and she'd won.

Easy.

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She has nightmares the night she wins.

The nameless faces haunt her. She remembers every death, in alarming detail. She remembers swinging the ax she'd found at the Cornucopia. The knife that had sunk into her district partner's heart. Blood. Oh, so much blood. She remembers disarming the boy from One and sinking his own spear into his stomach. She hadn't waited to make sure he was dead, hadn't seen his knees crumple or the blood stain the ground. She'd turned around and automatically done the same thing to the girl from One. They'd both been dead before they'd hit the ground. Fallen and forgotten.

Or so she had thought.

She wakes up crying and thinking of Cyril and her parents and wondering what they must think of her now. She doesn't want to see them—or rather, she doesn't want them to see her. To see what she's become. A monster. Not just a slightly selfish well-to-do girl from Four, but an absolute monster.

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The President's son takes a liking to her.

He's a gruesome boy, four years younger than her, named Coriolanus or whatnot, and he wants her body.

At least that's how his father, President Snow Senior, puts it.

"I could pay you to satisfy him," he says in his cold voice.

She looks behind her and sees the boy in the doorway, a little fourteen-year-old thing with a hideous smile and empty, lustful eyes.

She feels like throwing up.

"No."

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She never learns what her parents and Cyril think of her now that she's a monster, because they die before she reaches home.

She stumbles into her new home in Victor's Village and collapses onto the sofa. She looks around at the fancy house, and once upon a time, she would've been delighted at all the rich, exquisite things, but now all she feels is a hollowness in her stomach. They're dead. How can they be dead? Little Cyril, only four years old. It's impossible.

The phone rings, and she staggers over. "Who is it?" she rasps.

"So sorry about your family, Mrs. Sween," says a cold, falsely-sympathetic voice on the other end of the line. "I mean, dying in a fire. How tragic."

"You," she says, suddenly angry. And she screams into the phone, "You did this! You killed my family! You—You're a monster!"

The voice on the other end sounds amused. "On the contrary, Marguerite, you did this. Aren't you the one who refused to satisfy my son? Had you been less selfish, your family would be alive right now, don't you think? But no. Ah, of course you're selfish. I saw the way you killed on television. No mercy. It seems to me that you are the monster."

She hurls the phone with all her might.

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He's right.

Had you been less selfish, your family would be alive right now, don't you think?

It's because she's selfish that her family is dead. It's because of her that twenty-three other children in the arena are dead. It's. Because. Of. Her.

She is a monster.

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She learns all their names.

Her district partner, the fisherman's son with the bad teeth? His name had been Ace Graceling, and his father had drowned himself when he'd learned that his only son was gone. His mother now lived alone.

The ones from One and Two, who had offered to ally with her? Riley Hirsh, Palmer Ennogen, Melina Endogen, and Jena Kinkaid. And the other ones she'd killed—Callidora Alistair, Albert Perley, Petrov Courtney, Lue Concetta, and Corrine Denhold.

Now when she has nightmares, the faces aren't nameless. She doesn't know if this makes it better or worse.

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She never forgets the names of the children she mentors, either.

It's torture, mentoring. But as she's the sole Victor so far, she has no choice. She tries not to get attached to the children, as she'll lose at least one of them. But it's difficult. The names, the names of the fallen but should-be forgotten, all stick. Each one comes with a face, a story, and heartbreak.

Jasper Oakden. Isais Buck. Majory Meadow. Marianna Fira.

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Eventually, Four becomes one of the Career districts, which means more children are coming home. It means that she'll be free of the burden of mentoring. But when she watches the children come back, hollow-eyed and forever broken, she can't. She has to mentor, because if she doesn't, they will. She can't be selfish anymore.

Trixie Ettie. Kio Zella. Percival Heatcoathe. Forrest Odgen.

She also learns that the President is selling more of the Victors now, and she feels absolutely sick, because she's the one who started it.

Had you been less selfish, your family would be alive right now, don't you think?

She is not selfish anymore, but it is obviously too late.

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Years pass.

She is an old woman now, but she continues to mentor, except on occasions when she can't, like the year she got her stroke. She's one of the longest surviving Victors, and the younger Victors all look to her for advice. They call her selfless, and kind, and motherly. They don't know what a selfish murderer she was. Is.

Quinteen Kyrie. Dollie Kasey. Eleanora Janie. Bernardo Harley.

"How do you survive it?" one of the Victors ask her one night. He's one of the newer Victors and the Capitol's newest plaything.

She grunts, as really, that is all she can do.

He scowls. He's fresh back from "business" in the Capitol, and he reeks of perfume. "It's horrible, Mags. Knowing that, if I don't go, they all die." He closes his eyes. "Annie dies."

Her heart wrenches. She's the one who started this whole buy-and-sell business. And no matter how many children she mentors, how many she saves, she is an absolute monster.

"I'm sorry," she manages to get out.

"Why are you sorry?" he asks. "You have nothing to do with it."

If only you knew, Finnick. If only you did.

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Rebellion.

The word had been floating around for a while, but it wasn't until Katniss Everdeen came along that it became possible.

She dreams of a better place, where there are no Games and no buying and selling and innocent children dying or becoming murderers. She wonders if she can, finally, make up for her crimes by participating in this.

Of course she participates.


(A/N: And well, we know what happens next. Written for Starvation's October prompt: fallen and forgotten. R&R, please?)