Disclaimer - Suzanne Collins owns the Hunger Games trilogy

Author - irmaida

Prompt - hard heart

Character - Enobaria

Heart of Feathers

She stares at the entrance to the training center, wondering if she should go in or not. She's only nine, but tall and muscular for her age with a mindset to match. Besides, most children go into the training center at the age of five, especially kids like her who come from rich families ready for fame and fortune. No, her real issue is that the idea of hurting other children and going into the Games quite terrifies her. It just doesn't seem... right.

"Forget what's right, Enobaria!" she scolds herself, her parents' words ringing in her head. You've got a heart of feathers, Enobaria. That's not good. One little breeze and poofyou're done and gone. Gone for good.

So she steps in, and she is thrown into a frenzy of sweat and tears and blood, yelling and mad chaos that it somehow all organized into navigational systems - for those who create it, that is. Her eyes widen as she takes it all in, tries to absorb.

Here are children who equal her, competition that makes her strive for more. There are weapons she's never seen before, even with her father's huge collection. There is so much to do, to learn, to be inspired by. She's in the middle of fighting a simulation of a muttation when the trainer, a tough-looking man named Grant, grabs her and points at the large ring in the middle.

"All right, rookie, I know you can arm wrestle and throw around weapons at targets and simulations. Let's see if you're any good at actual fighting. Hand to hand. And remember, no mercy."

Although she's reluctant to get away from her simulations and facing an actual person terrifies her, she agrees.

When she's in the ring - well, one of the many rings - she immediately sizes up her opponent. Because that's what she's supposed to do, right? And she knows this girl. It's Amala, a girl two years younger than her. Enobaria hadn't known that Amala went to the training center. She seems too small for that.

"I just started going today," says the tiny girl shyly, peeking from behind her hair. "I'm a little lost, actually."

Enobaria frowns sympathetically. "Really? I just started going here too! Maybe we can be fr-"

And then Amala is lunging towards her throat, and quicker than she can say friends (literally), Amala has her pinned to the ground. Enobaria is so bewildered that she can't react. And by the time she gets her senses and starts to fight back, Amala has already broken Enobaria's nose and possibly a few of her ribs.

The whistle blows.

"That's enough, Amala," says Grant, pulling the two apart. "Good job, Amala." And she sees a secret smile exchanged by the two of them.

Amala stands up and puts her foot on Enobaria's aching ribs. And she looks down at her and sneers. "You've got a lot to learn, softie. Rule number one, get yourself a heart of stone. Pity won't do anything here - or in the Games."

She goes home that day, with not only a bleeding nose and severely bruised ribs, but with a completely hardened heart.

You'll see, Amala. One day, I'm winning the Games.

Goodbye, heart of feathers.