Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games premise, or any character, place or event you may recognize from the books.
This story holds five books (yes, this isn't a story, it's a series. Blame Mags for living so long^^).
- The complete version of Mags' Games (chapters 1 to 25). If you expect this to follow the traditional arena scheme, you will be quite surprised.
- Mags' first year after her victory (chapters 26 to 44), where she struggles to be accepted as a Victor, to accept herself, to put her plans in motion and to hide her rebel ideals from the Capitol. Dissent, kidnappings, executions and a young Plutarch Heavensbee.
-Mags' life between the 10th Games and the 50th (chapters 45 to 63). The Hunger Games evolve, Four becomes a Career district, Mags fights to make Victors understand that they are not powerless, and a rebellion is afoot. Plans within plans, Hunger Games and avoxes, weddings and babies, canon victors, and a coup.
-President Snow's reign up to Mags' stroke (chapters 64 to 84). Watch Finnick and Annie grow up and train for the Games. Watch the Hunger Games be turned into a weapon against the Capitol by rebellious victors, Plutarch and their allies, and discover the far-reaching and sometimes tragic consequences of Finnick's victory.
-Annie's Games to Mockingjay (chapters 85 to 102) Mags' stroke is a blow to the rebels, but new players have revealed themselves. President Snow's hold on Panem is slipping, but he's not about to give in. Watch Annie win in the most twisted Games the Capitol has ever designed. Meet Johanna, Paylor, Coin, and learn everything you've ever wanted to learn about the rebellion Katniss sparked.
The late night breeze carried Esperanza's whimpers through the open window.
Lying in bed, Mags could almost taste the fear of the reapings in the tangy summer air.
Her lips twitched, bereft of any trace of mockery. Fear of Reaping Day, the luxury of those born in peacetime. The Hunger Games were monstrous beyond words, but the seas, hurricanes and long winters claimed more lives every year, many more. Yet, manipulating the defeated district crowds like ice-hearted puppeteers, the Capitol had succeeded in instilling a fear so deep in the annual games of death that few would sleep soundly tonight.
True fear was when your fingers had grown too stiff and raw to hold a needle, unable to mend the tears in your clothes and shield yourself from the cold's bite. Fear was when you ate little despite your ravenous hunger because growing out of your shoes in the wilderness would mean certain infection and death.
Fear was for war and dark times.
Mags remembered true fear, the one that clutched at your insides and never let go.
In the deep of winter, as the tides of the rebellion had turned in the Capitol's favor, hovercrafts had poured chemicals in the ocean and burned the beaches, cutting off Four's supplies. The flames had swallowed the seas like rabid demons and had long outlasted the Dark Days.
Freshly eight, Mags Peregrine had been scouting with her father and his brother's family in a sturdy boat when the ocean had burst into flames. They had crashed on rocky shallows, blessedly unhurt but stranded on the side of the poisoned water, with precious few supplies and arid ridges as their only shelter. They'd learned to swim fast, to dismiss the scorch of acid burning their skins, and to weave dried seaweed bags so tight they would capture rainwater. Medicine had healed her raw skin and wrinkled fingers and time slowly repaired her lustrous dark amber hair, but the sea had marked her. The taste of salt never left her mouth and no amount of restful nights erased the red hue to her green-flecked eyes.
There had been no adults and children in their harsh little world. Survival did not give the luxury of such distinctions. Eleven full moons had separated their shipwrecking from the day Mags had spotted a fishing boat heading for their barren island. Tightly holding her last surviving cousin's hand, Mags hadn't immediately recognized the beautiful woman on board nor the toddler squealing in childish delight as waves had splashed on her healthy round cheeks.
Angelites Peregrine had gone back to Angelites Abalone to avoid the attention her husband's name might bring upon the family and, just as a helpless Mags had watched the waves take her father from her, Mags accepted that the rebellion had failed and had stolen her last name. The war had taught the nine year old to accept many things. She had her mother back, and the tiny little sister she'd left behind had grinned despite how awful Mags had looked. Mags finally was safe, she was a child again. Nothing else had truly mattered then.
The ragged trio of survivors had smiled as they stepped off the dreary rocks that had claimed the lives of four of their kin.
Her uncle had left with cousin Lazuli the year before, freeing the house next to theirs for a family of three that had been living since the war under a makeshift tent. They, like Mags, had not been born in District Four but in One. Rebels to the core, the Peregrines had not hesitated to destroy all their earthly possessions to spring a trap on One's High Military Command. The rest of the rebellion had been one long guerrilla. Mags had been all of six when they'd hit the roads. She was a child of war.
Her uncle had fought and bled for District One. The nightmare of those ten months spent stranded, which had claimed both his wife and two daughters, had filled him with an unreasoned hate of the ocean. He had been a broken man without a home. No news of her uncle or Lazuli had reached Four yet. Mags fiercely hoped they had found something to rekindle the fire that had once burned bright in their eyes.
Mags remembered the grand warehouse where the tapestries narrating epic tales were hand-woven with gold and silver threads. Their family had been the keepers of legends as well as artisans of great renown. She held those memories dear, but Four, her mother's District, now owned her soul. The child had taken the hardships that had broken the adults in stride for she had known no other world. The sea had forged her and would never relinquish her hold.
Another badly stifled sob caused Mags to push the bed covers away and reach for the door. The rebellion was over and the war child had become Big Sis.
Caramel-eyed Esperanza was afraid of empty threats and shadows. Reaping Day was the worst thing she had to face. She was a child of peacetime. Mags' heart melted whenever she witnessed the sweet girl's frailty. She was perpetually awed by the existence of something so delicate. The seventeen-year-old never cried or shivered in fear; whatever trials she faced at home were nothing compared to surviving the roads and the poisoned sea.
Esperanza rubbed her eyes when Mags entered her small room.
"You always smile when I'm crying, Big Sis. You think I'm silly," the twelve-year-old said, annoyance creeping into her hushed voice.
Mags' endeared smile bloomed into a full grin. She sat on the hard bed and gently wrapped her arms around the younger girl. "I hope you'll always have the luxury to cry at such things, Angel. You're exhausted, sleep."
"But this could be my last night here. I may have forgotten important things to say, or to do," Esperanza said, her insistent voice heavy with fatigue.
"We wouldn't have let you. Why do you think we keep you so close and are so nosy about your friends? We protect each other."
"Do you think Dad would think I'm weak?" Esperanza mumbled, more curious than afraid. Mags and Angelites had talked freely about the man when Esperanza had grown old enough to wonder. She had been too little to remember their mourning, too little to ever know true darkness.
Circe, Mags missed him. It wasn't the violent pain, the helpless rage, of the first months, but she desperately wished the sea had spared him, for them, for her Ma. Her throat clenched, hate flashing behind her eyes. The sea had delivered the final blow, but it was the Capitol who had pushed him into Death's arms.
"He'd be thrilled to see you like this," Mags said, mustering a warm smile. "People who feel for small things are the happiest ones of them all."
"Reaping's not small, Big Sis..."
The child's protests died as she finally succumbed to sleep's call. Mags lingered, affectionately brushing her sister's long raven locks out of her face. Esperanza was so magnificently healthy in her innocence. Having never known true hunger or hardship, she would be shapely and fresh-faced whereas Mags was wiry and tanned, with fading thin scars riddling her legs and arms The war child wasn't envious: Mags had been forced to sacrifice her carefreeness at an age when most children struggled to write their names, but it had given her perspective. Nothing could taint the beauty of the days spend in the cocooning ambient of her wonderful family. Not even the Hunger Games, although they occupied her thoughts for very different reasons.
Esperanza would be safe even if her named was called in the middle of Lycorias'- the industrial main town of Four - crowded square.
Mags was unsurprised to find her mother waiting on the bed. The woman only feigned to sleep deeply to humor her daughter on her night escapades. Mags loved her all the more for it.
"You will volunteer." It was neither a question nor a reproach. Mags had made no secret of her recent training.
Her mother's words would have seemed unintelligible to any eavesdropper. Spanish, like any language other than English, had been outlawed long ago by the Capitol, for their overlords did not tolerate what they could not control. Speaking it was a crime punishable by death, just like traveling from district to district had become after the end of the rebellion. But even generations after the Cataclysm, few people from Four had forgotten their roots and whispers of old Mexico still echoed in the privacy of walled homes. It was the language of defiance and hope, the language that reminded Mags that the earth she was standing on had witnessed more years of freedom and peace than of Capitol dominion. The seventeen-year-old had inherited her father's golden-brown hair and clear eyes but she owed a stubborn womanliness which had bloomed despite poor nutrition to her mother's genes. Even in District One, people had whispered of the beauty of Four's curvaceous women.
Mags nodded, wrapping her arms tightly around her Ma and inhaling her soothing perfume. The words of District One's first victor had stirred something deep in her. The lethal Vicuña Chrysaor had been a predator among condemned chickens and called herself a Career. Pride instead of terror had lit her fiery blue eyes as the Capitol proclaimed her the winner of the seventh Hunger Games. Vicuña had saluted the cameras where most other victors had wept in bitter relief.
The muscled blonde had changed the Games in a bigger way than any could have predicted. She had shown the Capitol that the tributes could be interesting and had been the first to receive medicine for her wounds in the arena. Instead of a walk of shame to the tower where they were granted a mockery of a chance at training, the tributes of the eighth Games had been paraded in front of the Capitol in great chariots and interviews had been organized to give them a chance to shine. Stylists had been hired for the interviews, sponsoring had instantly became a fashion and the tributes had swiftly learned to lie to curry favor. Those Games had been the biggest blow to morale since the end of the rebellion: the beastly Capitol invention had just become institutionalized. A Games-centered culture was appearing. Haunting whispers traveled the districts, carried by the very people who had bled for freedom during the rebellion, whispers that all their sacrifices had been for naught.
Mags boiled in rage at the mere thought. Dad, cousins Freya and Ebony, her aunt, their house and everything they'd sacrificed... She had to silence those whispers.
"I've survived more terrible odds," Mags pointed out. "District Four needs a victor, not to condone the Games in any way but to give the children hope. Vicuña, no matter her ruthlessness and misguided fascination with the Capitol, is right. We should train. We shouldn't let the Capitol make us feel weak and, when the time comes, hundreds of trained citizens, young and old, will know what to do to claim their freedom."
She didn't want any kid to be afraid of being reaped, ever again. She wouldn't let the mere thought of the Capitol make her sister cry.
"Vicuña wants children to make their lives about the Games. Those Careers," Angelites spat, "would forget all their parents have taught them, all we have fought for."
"Then I will make sure the children who train here do it in a way that makes them strong and weather life without breaking. There will be three glory-seeking idiots and foolish rebels for each true tribute, but it won't matter, Mama. It's the ones who will remain unseen by the Capitol, the trained ones who will have never taken part of the Games, those will make the Capitol rue the day they unofficially gave us leave to bear weapons again."
"Tridents and nets against automatics?"
Mags shook her head slightly. They had already had this conversation, this was not about her motives. Mags knew that her mother, no matter how supportive, was viscerally terrified to lose her child. "Really, Mama, who cares if it's knives or grenades? Training is about discipline, about resistance and courage. It's about making you a fighter instead of a bitter and broken coward who dreams of ancient times."
"Mags, you may very well lose. There will be others who have trained, and for less noble reasons. There is always misfortune, or simply gamemakers meddling to have their favorite win, and where would that leave us? Your confidence is a marvel, but please don't turn it into your greatest flaw."
Angelites was struggling to keep anger out of her tone. Mags swallowed, feeling the familiar scorch of salt in her raw throat. It only strengthened her resolve. Her family, her mother, and every rebel, had sacrificed so much and gained so little; Mags could never accept defeat. She would have to kill and kill innocents, but the tributes would already have been marked for death by the Capitol. Mags had seen a lot of death: she remembered her mother on that terrifying night, her knuckles white on the knife, blood splattered over her clothes, shouting at her husband to grab Mags. She remembered her father, red-faced and shaking, the explosives tearing through the peacekeeper camp. They'd killed for their family, for their allies, for freedom, they'd had to.
The Capitol was responsible for their pain, the Capitol had their blood on its hands. The Capitol had to be stopped.
"We live for the districts' freedom; we die for the districts' freedom," Mags recited, a burning flame in her green eyes. "The fight isn't over. I will live to see a second rebellion. I will win the Ninth Hunger Games."
There were things were dying for.
Angelites' hands were crushing her daughter's, similar passion lighting her features, but her dark eyes glistened with unshed tears. "I suspect you will. I would have made the same choice in your place. We cannot give up, not ever. I will make sure Esperanza doesn't feel betrayed." Their mother chuckled. "She'll probably have planned an outrageously ostentatious welcoming party by tomorrow night."
Mags kissed the older woman's tanned cheek. Her mother's selflessness was the one thing that made Mags feel small and frail. She would never fail her. They couldn't give up, but Mags would fight her hardest to spare her Ma and Esperanza the terrible grief of burying another loved one.
The first chapter to a brand new fic that will revolutionize your conception of the Games^^. The T rating is for violence and horror theme and later non-explicit adult themes.
Discrepancies with canon on the pre-Games are intentional. The Capitol doesn't treat tributes as well during the train-rides/Capitol part as it does in Katniss' time. The tributes aren't 'stars' yet, this isn't a grandiose show (although it's becoming one as the years pass). They're seen as the offspring of the people who killed the Capitolites during the Dark Days. The majority of the Capitol wants them dead even more than they want the entertainment.