More Than Meets the Eye

Chapter 1

I am in district 12 and the reaping for the 74th Hunger Games is about to take place. It is Prim's first year to be in the reaping bowl because she just turned twelve. She is afraid she will be selected as the female tribute for District 12. She had a nightmare last night about that. She won't be picked though. If anything, I am more likely to be picked than she is. I hope that doesn't happen. The only good that could come of such a horrible event would be meeting Haymitch Abernathy. I have always wanted to meet him. He may be a drunk, but there is more to him than that. I'm not sure what, but I know he is more to him than what people see. People see him as a deadbeat, but I see him as a strong man who survived the Hunger Games. This is how I know he is more than just a drunk.

The reaping is now starting. First, we watch this stupid video from the Capitol about why we have the Hunger Games every year (as if we need reminding). I hate how they say "Happy Hunger Games and may the odds be ever in your favor!" There is nothing happy about the games. The only people who think so are people from the Capitol. This is entertainment for them. It's sick. If it wasn't mandatory that we watch every year, I wouldn't do it. I guess I could go to a different part of the house, but that wouldn't do any good. Well it's not a house, it is more like a shack. It is small and cramped and the sound carries throughout the house. It has 2 bedrooms. Prim and I share a room and my mom occupies the 2nd bedroom that is on the other side of the shack. It's not much, but to me, it is my home and I don't particularly mind. I don't need much and I can do what needs to be done. As for the odds being in my favor, my name is in 15 times this year because I have been signing up for tesserae since I was 12 so I could feed myself, my mom, and Prim. To receive tesserae, my name is put in the reaping bowl an additional 3 times per year. It is cumulative, so it just keeps adding up. The odds aren't exactly in my favor. Prim is now old enough to sign up for tesserae, but I won't let her. The tesserae I receive is not enough to feed my family, though. To feed my family, I hunt in the woods outside the fence of District 12. I'm fairly good with a bow. Before my father died, he taught me how to hunt and gather various plants and other things that could be used for food. I typically go to the woods once a week with my friend Gale. I met Gale one day while hunting when I was 11. My father had recently died in a mining accident and I had to take care of my family. My mom was too depressed to pull herself together, much less take care of me and Prim. It is a good thing that I knew how to hunt because we would have starved if I didn't. I wasn't old enough to receive tesserae, so we didn't have anything to eat. Gale is in the same situation as I am. His dad died in the same mining accident as my dad. That is why he hunts. His mother takes care of him and his siblings unlike my mom. We both know if we were ever caught by peacekeepers, we would be killed or worse. For most people, nothing is worse than death. As for me, while I don't want to die, there are worse things that could happen. If anything happened to Prim or someone else I care about, that would be much worse than death. The peacekeepers in 12 are relaxed and they buy the animals I kill and don't object to my illegal hunting activities. The fence around the district is electrically charged and one zap could kill you. But it is never on, which makes hunting possible without the worry of being electrocuted.

After the end of the film from the Capitol, Effie Trinket is preparing to draw the person's name that will be this year's female tribute for district 12. Like every other year, I am holding my breath. I look around in the crowd surrounding me and find Prim. I give her, what I hope, is a reassuring smile. The next thing I hear is Effie Trinket announcing the female tribute for this year's Hunger Games.

"Primrose Everdeen!" She says excitedly. The world stands still and my heart skips a few beats. I must have heard wrong. I'm just anxious and I am probably daydreaming of the worst thing imaginable. It can't be real. She didn't actually say Prim's name. I look around and see Prim walking up to the stage. It is real. My baby sister is going to be this year's tribute. Before I have time to process what I am doing, I find myself running towards Prim and screaming her name. Peacekeepers try to stop me and I struggle as I try to get to Prim. Next thing I know I am yelling.

"I volunteer, I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!" Everything goes quiet as if the world has stopped and time stands still. Everyone is staring with shocked looks on their faces. Nobody has ever volunteered for someone in District 12 before. Not even family members.

"It seems as though we have a volunteer." Effie says with disbelief. It sounds more like a question than a statement. As I walk up to the stage to take Prim's place, I notice everyone's eyes are fixed on me. I am now on the stage standing next to Effie.

"Let's have a round of applause for our first volunteer!" Effie exclaims in her irritatingly happy voice. Instead of clapping, the residents of 12 put 3 fingers to their lips and put them up in the air directed towards me. There is silence at this gesture that signifies respect in our district. I am touched by this sign. It is not a sign that is seen very often. Nothing needs to be said, no applause to be given; this action expresses all that needs to be said and more.

That is when I see Haymitch. He is a little late to the reaping and he is plastered. He gets up on the stage next to me and puts his arm around my shoulders. A shiver runs through my body and I'm not sure why. He smells of liquor, soap, and maybe something like smoky mesquite wood burning in a warm fire. Surprisingly, this smells nice. It doesn't overpower the stench of the booze, but I focus on these other scents that come off of him. His hand is warm on my shoulder and it feels good, and for some reason, safe.

"I like this one. She may be a winner!" he says slurring his words. He then proceeds to almost fall off the stage. Because he has his arm around my shoulders, I pull him back before he hits the ground. We both fall on the stage with me on top of him. We hastily get up and not even a full second has passed. In that split second, we made eye contact and I saw his grey seam eyes. His eyes are oddly mesmerizing. They are, in their own way, beautiful and warm. We get up so quickly that I don't have time to process what I think I just saw. His eyes are now cold and steel grey. I know now that I must have been imagining things.

The next name to be called is Peeta Mellark's. He will be the male tribute who will represent District 12 in this year's Hunger Games. I recognize Peeta as the boy who threw me half a loaf of burnt bread a few years ago when he saw me by a tree looking hungry on the verge of death. He purposefully burned the bread, which earned him a hard smack from his mother. He went outside to feed the burnt bread to the pigs, but he threw me the rest of the burnt loaf when his mother wasn't looking. He saved my life and those of my family. I only knew him as the boy with the bread until now. I am in debt to him and I don't know how or if I can ever repay him. I can't kill him. My only hope is that someone else will. I can't leave Prim alone though. But, if it did come down to the two of us, I would have no choice. However unlikely that may be, I have to mentally prepare myself for the possibility that it might.

When Prim comes to say goodbye to me, I promise her that I will try to win for her. I don't think I have a chance in hell of succeeding, but I have to at least try. Gale also comes to see me. He tells me to get to a bow and I protest that they probably won't have a bow. He says that they will if I show them how good I am with a bow and that they just want a good show. I realize he is right. He tells me if they don't have a bow then I should make one. I know how to make a bow but not like my father could. Besides, when will I have the time to make a bow? I will be too busy trying not to get killed. We hug each other goodbye before a peacekeeper comes in telling us our time is up. Madge, the mayor's daughter also comes in to see me. We're not exactly best friends, but she is nice and we used to play together when we were little. She gives me a pin of a mockingjay. She asks me to wear it in the arena to represent our district. I agree and thank her. After all my visitors have come and gone, I am put on the train that will take me to the Capitol and eventually, my death.

A/N: This is my second fanfiction. I hope you like it and I would appreciate feedback so I can know if I should keep writing this story. I thought I could give you something else to read. I also wanted to share this idea to see if it is any good. School is starting tomorrow and I probably won't be able to update as frequently. However, I am going to do my best to update fairly regularly. So, tell me what you think and I will try to keep updating as much as time permits. I do not own The Hunger Games or any of the characters. That ownership belongs to the talented and amazing author, Suzanne Collins. Also, if there are spelling or grammar errors, please feel free to correct me.