Chapter Ninety-Seven; The Net Closing In


The young man made his way swiftly and silently down the marble corridors, the orange gleam in his otherwise dark hair flashing like a tongue of flame in the daylight sun.

He halted outside the large imposing oak door. The scent of roses already hung heavy on the air even here.

He rapped twice, sharply and smartly.

The door opened almost automatically.

He stepped into the office, nodding respectfully to the man behind the desk who hadn't looked up, ice blue eyes perusing files in his hands.

"Good morning Sir." The young man's voice was one of polite civility as he shut the door after him. "It really is a lovely day…"

"Don't waste my time with idle chit-chat."

The young man shared a brief understanding smile with the elder.

"We have found a solution to our troublesome rose," the young man announced softly.

The older man looked up from his files for a fleeting moment, a dull flicker of curiosity in his eyes.


The younger man dropped himself into the chair in front of the desk as the elder eyed him warningly, but the younger man's entire air exuded one of risk. He was pushing things and he knew it.

"Well, I was thinking about what you said, that it can't be a professional hit," the younger man drawled out as he looked towards the elder.

The elder's lips had the slightest of twitches as he decided to play along, leaning back comfortable in the wide-backed, imposing armchair.

"And why can't it be a professional hit?" he intoned.

The younger's smirk widened considerably as he answered with a tone of faux cheerfulness. "Why it can't be a professional hit because then it would be obvious that you had ordered it President Snow."

"And?" President Snow prompted, lacing his fingers underneath his chin.

"And your opponents wouldn't like it because they have already invested money in these Century Hunger Games. Money they would lose if it was known that there was an organised kill on a tribute. The entire Games would have to be scraped and started over again because of prejudice; a waste of time and money, and a great source of embarrassment for you Sir," the younger man finished, a look of quiet victory about him.

President Snow drummed his fingers against the glossed mahogany desk in a neat rhythm, before the amusement was wiped from his face and the air in the room was suddenly cold.

"Wirin, if you have come here to waste my time by reiterating all that I already know…"President Snow left the threat hanging in the air.

Wirin's expression immediately sobered as he lowered his head respectfully. "Of course not," he murmured quietly.

President Snow sent him a cool look. "Well, get on with it then."

Wirin cleared his throat, lifting his head before he began. "If it couldn't be a professional hit, then it would have to be a personal one."

President Snow arched a frosty brow in impatient, silent question.

"The little rose is all alone. She needs someone to trust," Wirin said, his eyes gleaming with malice.

"And you have someone who could work their way to be close to her?" President Snow questioned sceptically.

Wirin nodded with a grin. "She'll never suspect a thing."

President Snow allowed himself a small smile as Wirin grinned widely, showing all his teeth right to the gumline.

The smugness returned to the young man's countenance.

"Why don't you just let the Games take care of her?" Wirin inquired cheekily.

However the icy look President Snow wore immediately let Wirin know his mistake and the young man coughed awkwardly, averting his gaze.

President Snow rose from his chair behind his desk, standing to tower above the seated Wirin.

President Snow silenced anything Wirin was about to say with the slightest narrowing of his eyes, as President Snow walked over to the huge window in his personal study that overlooked his private gardens.

"My son is very unpredictable Wirin. I have seen him hold grudges against those he hates for years letting them build and build, and then adversely I have seen him completely lose himself to blind rage in seconds…"

"You fear that the damage would already be done if it were left as late as the Games to deal with this troublesome girl?"

President Snow turned on his heel sharply. "I fear nothing Wirin."

Coriolanus Snow had fought his way to the top and there had been none left to counter his claim to the Presidency…well, none left alive.

But power breeds many things…jealousy, fear – enemies.

There were many who wanted to lead, many who had the means, few who actually had what it took to be President of the Capitol holding the districts of Panem in the palm of their hand.

Seneca's little infatuation had gone on long enough, President Snow thought coldly. And now it was time to end it before any real harm could come of it.

Up until then no one had even thought to accuse the President's son of having anything to do with the slip of a girl from District 3.

The girl herself meant nothing. She was merely a pawn that his opponents would use against him; to claim that Seneca had decided from the start that she would win – that the Games were rigged. And if these Games were rigged, then all of the Games under President Snow's rule had been rigged.

Ironically Capitolites didn't care that their lifestyle came at the result of the slavery of the twelve Districts of Panem, but they sure cared if they thought that they themselves had been personally cheated.

Half the fun of the Hunger Games was guessing the outcome, watching them unfold, paying generously for parachutes to get the outcome they wanted…to find out it had all been a farce?

President Snow inhaled deeply. The reports showed Seneca devolving more and more into carelessness and now Seneca had made a grave mistake in postponing the training.

Infatuation, lust even obsession was one thing but…there was that one crippling thing that Coriolanus Snow had seen topple great men, reducing them to weak pathetic shadows of their former selves: love.

Yes, they needed to get rid of her before the Games began, before Seneca did something that was truly irreparable.

The Capitol would probably mourn her like hypocritical imbeciles, bemoaning how she didn't even get to the Games; as though she had a chance in the first place.

A personal hit; seemingly the work of one person for personal reasons – it would solve everyone's problems.

Seneca would be the next President. He had proven his skill and brains by working his way to becoming Head Gamemaker. Seneca couldn't afford to stray from the path now.

The higher up one was the harder they fell, and if it came to the worse President Snow was determined not to fall with his son's foolishness.

President Snow gave a half-hearted shrug. "It would be such an inconvenience to lose my only son."

"I'm sure Seneca would agree," Wirin added with a sly grin.

President Snow let the insolent remark slide as he returned his sharpened gaze back to his gardens.