Hey, this one shot has been written for the All Hallow's Eve contest on the Starvation forum. I hope you all like it, it's in Flavius' point of view but I've given him a slight twist to his personality, one that I think works, so enjoy :D
I remember when I was first called upon to beautify tributes into stars; I never realised the darkness behind each cut of hair. With every snip from my scissors, with every moan from the tribute as I waxed the hair from their bodies I never seemed to realise what we were leading them into.
As I grew up and watched the Games on the TV my parents used to tell me how we should worship what the event stood for. It stood for peace amongst us all, the Districts rose in rebellion and in the ashes of our country the Games were started to maintain a peace we wanted to keep forever. This description of the Games stuck with me throughout teenagehood, into my adult years and even as I began to help the tributes in their journey from their departure off the train and through to the launch.
I became quite popular, after grooming and trimming every corner of the tribute I was sent for five years I was offered a promotion to head stylist. The others were clearly jealous, even under the red skin of a stylist I used to work with it was clear her cheeks were burning with anger. I declined however, the prospect of leading the group wasn't for me, I preferred the more laid back and submissive approach to my work. I am fine following instruction and in my mind of those days it was quite enjoyabe to be given a command and for me to follow obediently.
This was the Flavius for ten years, I enjoyed how I could change a hideous being into a thing of beauty. I loved seeing hope in the tributes eyes as they looked in the mirror and thought 'wow'; being beautiful in itself is a core part of the Games, they need the sponsors to survive and the money spending fanatics tend to sway towards the eye candy of the competition.
Then it changed. The old me changed into something much more pessimistic and downright solemn. I was sent a little girl of twelve from the worst District of them all. She lived in something she called the Seam, rats scurry on the bodies of the dead as they rotted away after perishing to starvation, she told me how flaps of skin fell to the dust because the teeth of the vermin had pecked away the flesh to the bone because they too were hungry. Life in Twelve didn't seem a fairytale, it seemed like the horror books we were read when we wanted a fright. I used to giggle, my orange hair bouncing along to the jumps of my shivering body.
Her eyes were the saddest. Blue orbs of dread mixed with tears so delicate. They fell from her pale cheeks as she realised that no matter how much we tried to perfect her frail being she would die.
She was the reason I can't look at the Games the same way. On the outside I may seem happy, outgoing and determined to do right by my assigned tribute, but on the inside terror worms its way through my body as I realise how who I am caring for will be dead in a matter of days.
The little girl died. Bloodbath. An axe to the head. The camera took relish in this bloody display and zoomed in on those orbs of hers. A mixture of terror and loss on her face, her death had been so fast that her face was still scrunched up in fear as the sound of the axe came rushing to her neck.
That face. Those eyes still haunt my nightmares. I had spent ages perfecting the way her face shined in the light. I had spent ages trying to tell her that she was a beautiful little angel but within minutes it was ruined. The boy even smiled as the metal tore through flesh and bone, I think he was a career. It was obvious by the way his eyes glinted with pleasure of killing someone so innocent. They pride themselves in the glory of murder. That's why I am happy with styling those from Twelve. They never have that overwhelming arrogrance about them.
The Games that year finished and the worst thing except for the death of that sweet angel was the fact the career won. He won and even mocked her death in the re-caps. But we as stylists can't afford to mourn because the next year we would be given more tributes, and the next year and the next.
However no matter how hard the others tried to push on the fact that I should not feel sympathy for the girl I couldn't help it. How can someone so small and so innocent be allowed to suffer a fate like that? Justifiable, I think not.
The next year I was sent a boy. Seventeen years old, much fitter. Before the little girl's bloody end I would never pick up on the sorrow in their eyes. But I could see clearly how the way his eyes lacked a certain degree of light showed the fact he was scared and knew his death was coming.
Next year my tribute died.
It kept going.
I couldn't do it any longer, I tried to quit but once you're a stylist you can't just get up and leave unless you are executed or dismissed. The Hunger Games has invisible ropes tied around you that won't go unless for good reason.
I smiled and carried on working even though the horror of the Games still creeped through me. Because, well, I had to. I had to at least show some optimism to the tributes who lacked faith in their chances of winning.
But at the end of the day. No matter how hard you try to make them beautiful. No matter how many times you give their hair the whole snip snip, they will perish within the Arena.
No amount of hair cutting will change that.