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.
Mags opened her eyes. Her hand had instinctively reached for one of the spare cleats stored in the small cordage warehouse they called home. The war was over, nine years officially over, but some instincts remained.
Whimpers floated through the cracks in the water-bitten wooden beams. Esperanza.
Lying in the rope-woven hammock, Mags could taste the fear of the reapings in the tangy summer air.
She sighed, her lips twitching into a smile. Fear of Reaping Day, the luxury of those born in peacetime. The Hunger Games were twisted, but the seas, hurricanes and winters were the death bringers. And war. A war the Capitol reminded them every day that they had lost. It wasn't enough to take everything from them. No, every year, the Hunger Games were there to remind them, to whisper threats and paralyze them with fear.
We'll murder your children. We'll twist them beyond recognition. And we could do so much worse if we so desired.
But even the Capitol's best efforts at fear were a pale shadow of what had been.
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.
Years ago, in the deep of winter, the tides of the rebellion had turned in the Capitol's favor. Hovercrafts, hundreds of them, had filled the skies, vomiting chemicals in the shallow coastal waters for a six days and seven nights. The beaches had burned, of a fire not-fire that smelled like nothing anyone could name. They'd named it Death. The flames had swallowed the seas like rabid demons, charring boat and fish and leaving Four to starve.
It had been almost a decade, and the fish were barely coming back.
Mags Peregrine had been scouting with her father, her uncle and her cousins the day the ocean began to burn. Other boats had been out, and they'd been swallowed in true flames as Hovercrafts freed their dragons: winged mutts that exploded in balls of fire. Mags and her family had crashed on rocky shallows in their haste to avoid detection. Mags remembered Dad kneeling by her, checking her for scabs with his loving calloused hands. She remembered all the relieved hugs at being safe and sound. 'They're just stalling, kiddo. They know they've lost.' Mags, freshly eight, had believed him. Even stranded on the wrong side of poisoned water, miles from the civilized but lethal peacekeeper-patrolled coast, with few supplies and only wilderness and arid ridges as their only shelter, she'd believed it. 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.
Black market medicine had healed her raw skin and wrinkled fingers and time had slowly repaired her amber hair, but Mags was marked by the sea. Day and night, the taste of salt burned softly at the back of her throat, 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 the reefs. Uncle had said not to hide, that if it was enemies, it was better to end it cleanly. It hadn't been enemies. 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 changed her name 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 months before, 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 tiny little Esperanza had grinned despite how awful Mags had looked.
They'd rescued her. She was a child again. Nothing else had truly mattered then.
Mags pushed herself out of the hammock, her hands her only guides in the cramped storage room. There was no electricity to light the way between the piled rigging and ropes. But they were lucky to have even this much. Mags was the daughter of a rebel. As Creneis Town had been rebuilt, was still being rebuilt, the houses went to the 'good' citizen. Her mother was allowed to work and feed them, and that made them luckier than some.
Mags had never asked what Mama had done to avoid the peacekeepers' wrath. To avoid being an example. It was her duty as a daughter not to ask, just like whatever Mama had done had been her duty as a mother. The Peregrines had been rebels, the Abalones were survivors.
Esperanza's soft sobs grew louder as Mags crawled over to where her sister's hammock lay concealed. It was no use trying to be quiet. The slightest breeze made the wood groan. Mags' feet drew agonized squeaks with every step. Noisy was good. It meant intruders could not sneak upon them. It meant Marlin's family could pretend Mama was needed at night to guard their valuable ropage, that allowing her, Mags and Esperanza to take shelter here was economically rational, because peacekeepers looked down on charity. It created bonds between people, and bonds made the Capitol weaker.
Uncle had left with cousin Lazuli two years ago, but their hammocks were still there, between ropes and rigging, like a promise. Mama hadn't taken them off, so Mags didn't either. The war had taught her that little symbols were good for hope. Uncle and Lazu, like Mags, had not been born in District Four but in One.
Uncle, Dad's brother, had fought and bled for District One. He blamed the sea for the nightmare of those long months spent stranded. For the death of his wife and two daughters. He and Mama had fought, with harsh words and worse silences, and even if they'd never come to blows, Mags had seen Uncle's wounds get worse and worse. Everything about peace reminded him of the war, of hopes crushed, and painted his days black. He and Lazuli had had to leave. It was that or breaking.
Mags grasped Lazu's dusty hammock and pressed her forehead against it. She missed them. The missed the good them of the war days. Circe, let them have reached One,. Let them have found a home.
Home. The sea was home now. Mama and Esperanza were home. But sometimes Mags allowed her mind to wonder. To fly back to her first home. The home her parents had not hesitated to destroy with fire to spring a trap on One's High Military Command. Mags had been all of six years old when they'd hit the roads and joined the guerilla.
She was a child of war.
Mags remembered the grand warehouse where the tapestries narrating epic tales were hand-woven with gold and silver threads. The Peregrines had been the keepers of legends as well as great artisans. She held those memories dear, but Four, her mother's District, now owned her soul. The war child had taken the hardships that had broken many 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 shake herself and squeeze through the last two rope piles separating her from Esperanza. The rebellion was over, they slept in a rotting warehouse, and the war child had become Big Sis.
Caramel-eyed Esperanza was afraid of threats and shadows. Reaping Day was the worst thing she had to face. She was a child of peacetime. She only knew war through stories and Uncle's bitter ravings. She'd only seen death wrapped in funeral boats. Esperanza smiled, wondered and cried with an ease that filled Mags with wonder. Esperanza was whole, passionate and innocent, and Mags' heart melted whenever she witnessed her sweet sister's frailty. Her normalness. It was something the war, the Capitol, had not been able to taint.
"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, betrayed by starlight filtering through the roof, bloomed into a full grin. She leaned against the hammock and wrapped her arms around her baby sister. "I hope you'll always have the luxury to cry at such things, Angel. You're exhausted, sleep."
"But, what if, Big Sis? What if -" Esperanza said, her insistent voice heavy with fatigue.
"Not ifs," Mags promised. "We protect each other."
"Do you think Dad would think I'm weak?" Esperanza mumbled, more curious than afraid. Mama had wanted Dad's memory alive, and Uncle, for all his pain, had never hesitated to join his voice to Mama's stories.
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. Esperanza had been too little to remember their mourning, too little to ever know true darkness. "People who feel for small things are the happiest of all."
"Reaping's not small, Big Sis..."
Esperanza'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. 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 mattress by the big wooden doors. If the heat didn't keep them awake, the creaking would do it. Angelites 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 wasn't an accusation. Mags had kept no secrets.
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 scent. "We need a home," she whispered.
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 victor 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. She had shown the Capitol that the tributes could be interesting and had been the first ever to receive medicine for her wounds in the arena. Instead of a ride of shame to the Tributes' Tower in armored vehicles, the tributes of the eighth Games had been granted four more days to live. Three days of 'training', and interviews -where Vicuña had pledged allegiance, but many still cursed the Capitol to oblivion- had changed the stakes. New words, like 'stylists' and 'sponsors', had joined 'gamemakers', 'mentors' and 'bloodbath'. Lies had become part of the game. Before, no tribute had cared to be popular. Now, they needed the Capitol to like them.
Before the eighth, many had still clung to the hope that the Hunger Games wouldn't last. That the Capitol would have had its fill. The eighth Games had murdered that hope. The Games were evolving. They were here to stay. 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.
Those whispers were claws around Mags' neck. They were the worst betrayal of the dead. They were surrender. They made her boil with rage. Dad, cousins Freya and Ebony, her aunt, their house and everything they'd sacrificed... She had to silence those whispers.
"I've survived worse odds," Mags pointed out. "District Four needs a victor, to give the children hope. Vicuña is right. Not for the right reasons, she's a loyalist, but she's right. We must 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. We can use the Capitol's Games against them."
She didn't want any kid to be afraid of being reaped. 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 Mama, no matter how supportive, was viscerally terrified to lose her. "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, 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 Dad to grab Mags. She remembered Dad, 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.
"Mama, how much longer until we are blamed for some rebellious act we didn't do?" Peacekeepers needed to make arrests when someone sabotaged the trains or broke into the classrooms to burn the Capitol's nauseating 'history books', and her family was exactly the type that would make do if the true culprit wasn't found. Or even if it was.
Mama knew that of course. She still flinched, because she hated it. Mama was stronger than Uncle, but like Uncle, she'd fought so hard and lost so much, and now she had so little power. Mags couldn't contemplate a world where Mama snapped. Where Mama disappeared.
Mags had to act. "We live for the districts' freedom; we die for the districts' freedom," she 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 worth dying for.
Angelites' hands crushed hers, her dark eyes glistened with unshed tears, but it was a small smile on her face. "You must. 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." Mama's low chuckles wrapped Mags like a soft cloak. "She'll have planned an outrageously ostentatious welcoming party by tomorrow night."
Mags kissed Mama's tanned cheek. Her mother's selflessness was the one thing that made Mags feel small and frail. Mags could not fail her.
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 like it does in Katniss' time. The war is still fresh in everybody's minds. The tributes aren't 'stars' yet, this isn't a grandiose show (although it's becoming one as the years pass). The majority of the Capitol wants the tributes dead even more than they want the entertainment.