Haymitch groaned, and checked the clock next to his bed. Half past five. He'd been tossing and turning all night, but as the sun began to stream through the gap in his curtains, he admitted defeat. There was no chance of getting any sleep now. Not that he'd been expecting much sleep anyway. All night, the second he began to close his eyes, he'd seen them. Hundreds of young children, underfed and unhealthy from a life in the Seam, their grey eyes staring up at him, helpless. Or large, blue, merchant eyes, brighter and healthier, but in the end just as helpless. One boy, and one girl. Pleading to him... Haymitch rolled over and pulled his pillow over his head, fists clenched over the material. This was going to be a long day.
By seven o'clock, Haymitch was washed, dressed, and downstairs, clearing up empty bottles from the night before. He sighed, picking up a few too many empty glasses. He had to try not to make a habit of drinking that much, even if only to avoid the awful headache currently clouding his thoughts. Thoughts that all led back to the same thing.
Today was the Reaping Day in Panem. At different intervals over the day, in every district, one boy and one girl would be chosen to compete in the Hunger Games, for the Capitol's entertainment. The unlucky two to be chosen from District Twelve would be mentored by Haymitch Abernathy, District Twelve's only living victor, and whatever Capitol drone they sent to help out this year. They'd go through a few weeks of training, and spend a few hours in the public eye, before being thrown into an arena to fight to the death. Being from District Twelve, they'd probably die in the first few days. Then next year the whole process would start again. Haymitch had almost given up on training them.
It wasn't like he knew much to teach them anyway. Sure, he knew how to handle a few weapons, and could fight well enough. But Haymitch had used brains to outsmart his enemy. He'd used the Capitol's own restraints against them, and it had caused him to lose everyone he loved. There was no way he'd advise any young tribute to do the same.
Hours passed, and Haymitch tried to keep himself occupied. He cleaned the rest of the house, checked the garden, made lunch - anything to stop his mind wandering back to the afternoon ahead of him. But by half past noon, he'd done everything he could think of, and failed to stop himself thinking about the young boy and girl he'd soon be meeting. Giving in for the second time that day, Haymitch headed for the square, and prayed for an easy escape. Maybe an orphan, with no family to mourn them. Or at least someone infuriating.
The square was separated into it's usual pens; boys on one side, girls on the other. The oldest at the front, the youngest at the back. Like animals waiting for slaughter. A few children had arrived early, possibly unable to stand waiting around at home. They stood in their designated areas, awkwardly spread out. Some were looking around, taking in another reaping day, but most had their eyes firmly stuck on the ground, defeated. Haymitch took his seat on stage, and watched the square fill up, a few children here and there catching his eye. The girl who had to detatch herself from her crying younger sister. The boy who tried to walk bravely to his area, but tripped over the rocky ground on the way. The girl with tired, red eyes who turned up only a second before the reaping, and had to push her way through the crowd.
His thoughts were interrupted by the voice behind him, and Haymitch turned to find the mayor behind him. They nodded hello and shook hands before the mayor headed to the microphone to begin the reaping - Haymitch knew that was all the mayor could handle today. This was his sons final reaping, meaning he had worse odds than ever before. Still not as bad as those from the Seam, however, but no good could come from reminding the mayor of that today. Whoever got picked, got picked. In the end, the odds barely mattered.
As the mayor finished his speech, a young girl in a white blond wig, too high heels, and a dress long enough to trip on walked up onto the stage, and towards the microphone. Obviously the Capitol drone for this year. Haymitch was sure someone had told him her name, in one of the hundred of calls from the Capitol to prepare him for today, but he'd obviously not been paying attention. Peppy... Emmy... Weffie... Some ridiculous Capitol name anyway. He'd tried not to roll his eyes as she began speaking in her silly Capitol accent:
"Welcome to the 55th annual Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favour!"