Okay this first chapter is just a recap of my story Sacrifice since it is essential to the rest of the story, if you've already read Sacrifice, then just go ahead onto the next chapter, if you haven't, please read! Lemme know what you think!
Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games.
Sac·ri·fice [sak-ruh-fahys] noun- The surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.
Self-sac·ri·fice [self-sak-ruh-fahys, self-] noun- The sacrifice of one's interests, desires, etc., as for duty or the good of another.
It is Reaping Day.
I am all nerves and worry. Though, I don't sum up much uneasiness for myself.
When my name is called, I can hardly believe it, and my heart starts beating rapidly. When I realize my name is called for the seventy-fourth Hunger Games, I almost start crying.
I don't, but I can feel the tears threatening to spill. It's almost a reflex as I mask them and paste a fake smile on my face. To many years of interacting with Capitol people has groomed me well, I suppose.
When I stumble slowly up to the stage, my out of place smile never faltering, my legs are numb. It's a miracle I don't trip, but there is no one in my way to trip me either. Everyone in the crowd parts for me, scattering away as if I have a deadly disease. In my own way, I guess I do.
I feel my chest clench and my muscles contract in fear, but I try not to react. I keep my eyes off of the large screen portraying me to the audience in order to not intimidate myself. I purposefully avoid my father's gaze for the sake of keeping it together.
Effie Trinket babbles on about how much of an honor it is that I was chosen this year. She says it is just so wonderful that the mayor's daughter is representing District Twelve. Then she says how much pride I must have in myself because I was chosen. I yearn to rip her hot pink wig off of her head and shove it down her throat, but I don't, because I have manners. Because I am a politician at heart, just like my father, because it is what is expected of me, because I am the mayor's daughter.
Because I have no other idea how to act.
So I answer all her questions with that special smile I reserve for people like her. I grin to the crowd. I stand comfortably on stage, because I'm familiar with this. I'm experienced in the art of not showing how I truly feel. All the while, inside, I feel as if I am dying.
And nobody knows it.
The mass of people in front of me all look relieved. Some people look at me with contempt and others look satisfied. Only a few offer pity or sadness. The boys section still seems anxious. The male tribute hasn't been chosen yet.
I ignore all of this, and flit my eyes around nervously. It remains the only sign I'm not handling this as well as everyone thinks. As the male tribute is called, I feel my façade breaking down, piece by piece. My smile slowly slips away, my hands start shaking, and tears well up in my eyes.
Because it's Rory Hawthorne.
I don't know him very well, but I do know that he is a sibling of Gale's. I know he is one of the kids that Gale has worked all his life to feed and protect. I also know he is also only twelve and is being sentenced to death.
The crowd grumbles and curses; Effie deliberately stays quiet.
We are forced to shake hands and I finally manage to compose myself. I clasp his hand in my own and notice that his trembles. Other than the few tears I see filling in his eyes, I think that he is handling this relatively well.
As I'm lead into the justice building, I know instantly what I will do. I will protect Rory. I will get him sponsors. I will defend him in the arena.
I will die for him.
I will sacrifice myself for him.
Because, what do I really have to come back to?
A mother who remains bedridden all day? A woman who confuses me with Maysilee when she is rarely awake?
A father who is never home? A man who loves politics more than his family?
My one friend, Katniss, who I don't even talk to? A girl who would probably be better off without me bothering her?
No, I don't have anything to come back to. Rory has a family and a life. He has friends and school. He has love and a future.
I make up my mind. I will not tell anyone except my father. I can't risk anything. I will only inform him because I need the sponsor money for Rory.
I settle in for my final and permanent goodbyes. First, my father comes in. My mother is too sick to accompany him. We cry and hug. His hug is comforting, but it doesn't remind me of home. When we break apart, I update him of what I want him to do. It is hard to convince him, but once I have used every persuading bone in my body, he grudgingly agrees.
Then, Katniss enters. I am just a little surprised. I listen to her list all the ways to survive and to win. I'm only humoring her and I think she knows it. Eventually, she tires out and we cry in each other's embrace.
This is the first and the last time I will see Katniss cry.
Last of all, Gale. I am honestly not even aware he is even able to acknowledge me outside of selling to my family and insulting me. By the looks of his confused expression, he wasn't expecting to visit me either. He lashes out at me, even yells at me. I want to tell him my plan, I really do. I want to reassure him that Rory will be alright, but I don't want the Capitol to hold it over him. I don't want him to be held accountable for anything treasonous or dangerous I may or may not do. Even my father doesn't know the whole extent of my plan, but it is treacherous. As far as I know, my stand will be the only of its kind. But I am not doing it for any rebellious reasons.
No, I am doing it for Rory.
When Gale is done shouting at me, he apologizes. Over and over again, saying sorry for everything he has ever done. I'm shocked by this weakened state of Gale. I have never seen him anything less than hostile and harsh. I end up being the one embracing and soothing him.
We end up kissing. I don't know how or why, but we do. All I know is that I'm glad I don't have to die without having my first kiss. I can't believe it is with him, but I'm not complaining in the least. It seems right in a way.
I realize in that moment, that I love Gale, if only a little bit.
We break apart right before the peacekeepers burst in. They take him away. He is shouting and fighting them, but I don't think anything of it. Gale is not the compliant type and I wouldn't expect to go without a fight. Maybe I notice a glimmer of a feeling similar to mine in his eyes, but I brush it off.
Because if I don't, then it will hurt too much.
Then I am swept off to the Capitol, and so begins my death sentence.
It is time for us to be introduced to the crowds.
Our costumes are beautiful. I am shocked we were actually assigned good stylists. Or as Cinna says, they were not assigned, they chose this district.
The costumes we have on are on fire, a fire that covers every inch of our bodies. Only our faces are kept blaze free. I wear a crown that is alight with flames and Rory is adorning one too. Rory seems nervous, and to be truthful, so am I. Cinna orders us to hold hands, and I gladly accept. Rory is hesitant, and I can only imagine what Gale's told him. I smile warmly at him. The uncertainty vanishes and he grasps my hand in a death grip.
Before our carriage is wheeled out and displayed, I tell Rory to smile and wave. I order him to do whatever it takes to appeal to the crowd, because he needs the sponsors. He studies me with a complicated expression I can't decipher, but complies with a nod. He, with all his puzzlement and confusion, stays silent.
When we go out, a surprised hush runs over the mass of people. It lasts only a second before everyone is cheering, twice as loud as before. People throw flowers eagerly. They go crazy when we wave. I rein my enthusiasm in and let Rory have the spotlight. He needs it.
We get into the Training Center and Haymitch and Effie are smiling. A commodity for Effie and a rarity for Haymitch.
After we are pulled away from the glaring tributes and taken to our rooms, I seek out Haymitch.
I explain to him everything. He doesn't want to do it. He tells me that if he even pulls himself out of his alcoholic state, he will only help me. He thinks it will fulfill some strange duty he has to me. I grow mad and throw the closet thing near me at the wall.
I don't even notice that in my rage, the knife sticks. It splits the wood. Haymitch notices it though, and assures me he will stay sober enough to help. He doesn't promise anything for Rory.
It isn't enough for me. I pull out the big guns.
I remind him of Maysilee. I remind him of my mockingjay pin that preserves my strength and is a symbol of everything my family went through. He looks incredibly guilty. I tell him he owes me this one thing as a favor to my aunt. He finally agrees to my original plan and says he will do everything he can to get Rory out.
That is all I can ask.
It is time to receive our training scores.
Sitting here on the couch, I'm not worried about my training score. I'm worried about Rory's.
I learned everything possible at every station. I exceled amazingly at the knife station. My skills don't surpass Clove's, but I am as about as good as a regular person, who hasn't trained for the Games, can get. When I went in for my session with the gamemakers, I showed them what I could do. I tried to downplay it. I refuse to outscore Rory.
I helped Rory the best I could, offering any assistance where I could give it. I picked things up quicker than most people and I aided him with anything I already knew. When it came to weapons, Rory showed his skill with a bow. He admitted to sneaking out occasionally and going into the forest to practice with Gale's. He isn't as good as Katniss or Gale, but he's decent. At least, decent enough for a pleasant training score.
Rory finally trusts me now. I think he realized I am only helping him. He sometimes mutters things about Gale being blind and stupid, about how Gale is crazy to dislike me. I always laugh. Gale was the reason he was so scared to meet me.
When the screen pops up with our scores, I wait patiently. Everyone in the top districts secures high scores, but the rest are either rated normal or terrible numbers. As I observe lower and lower districts receiving lower and lower scores, I start to feel anxious.
Finally it is us and they're showing my score first.
It flashes a seven. I nod my head. It's not too terrible.
I don't feel any relief though, because I'm waiting for Rory's.
When it pops up, I smile satisfactorily to myself. Everyone else gapes, but this is what I wanted and expected. I don't think it exactly makes him a target, but it doesn't matter. I anticipate the willing sponsors will love it and that's all that matters.
It is a nine and my proud face makes Rory blush. He turns away, but I see the satisfied grin. He's the first twelve year old in history to obtain a score above an eight. I smile secretly as Haymitch glances at me.
It is the interviews.
I've thought of every way to make him seem more desirable to the sponsors. He is too young for romance, he is too old to be my child, and he is too different to by my sibling. I am at a loss. I even discussed it with Haymitch. He didn't know either.
As I'm sitting there, they summon Rory up. He does remarkably well, even with his painfully shy demeanor. The audience can't help but love him. He is adorable in a childish way, and with his amazing training score, that is a very odd mix.
I stride to my seat and I find that the atmosphere isn't nervous. Not for me anyway. Caesar chats about my score, my dad, and my clothes. I am wearing a black dress, a flaming crown is placed on my head and my dress's train is flaming. Rory matches me. He is dressed in an all black tuxedo. His crown is on fire, along with the cuffs of his jacket. We both look unbelievable.
In my interview, I try to play up Rory as much as I can. I sound like a proud sister, but the audience adores it. When I'm done, we walk back together. Effie conveys that we did well and Haymitch offers a half smile. Rory stares at me. I notice the grim lines on his face and the understanding in his eyes. He knows.
He yells at me, tells me how I shouldn't be sacrificing myself. He has a startling amount of wisdom in his voice for a twelve year old. I tell him I'm not, but we both know it is a lie.
By the end, I still will not admit to anything and he is getting frustrated. We are about to stamp off to our room when I turn around with a thought. I ask if he'd like to form an alliance. He smiles widely, the fight forgotten. He thinks he can protect me, I can tell, but it's really me trying to protect him.
I tell him to get some sleep. Tomorrow, we go into the arena.
It is the day, the day that we start our survival and show what we are worth.
We all stand silently on our blocks. My pin glints in the sun, but I only can glance it once quickly before my eyes scan the arena. Haymitch ordered us to stay away from the cornucopia. It is only a bloodbath and a trick for the lesser districts. I agree.
The countdown starts.
When it ends, I'm off. I stop to grab a backpack and a coil of rope. They are the only things nearest to me. I run out of the vicinity of the fighting. I'm anxiously waiting for Rory, who I know is safe because I see him far away from the bloodshed, when it happens. Someone sneaks up behind me. I hear them before it is too late. I whip around to nervous girl holding a shiny knife, not yet used. It is the girl from District Six. She's inexperienced with the weapon and holds it awkwardly in front of her, as if she doesn't quite know how to handle it.
She lunges at me and I leap away quickly. She topples over. I stare at her for what seems like an eternity, but she doesn't move on the ground. I advance forward calmly, but with a churning stomach.
As I turn her over, I see the knife in her chest. I don't know what to feel, because she just essentially killed herself, even if it was on accident. I feel little guilt and a whole lot of regret, but the rest is undistinguishable. I retrieve the knife with unsteady hands, wipe it, and stash it in a pocket of my back pack. I don't have time to think about this, but I know it will haunt me forever.
Rory runs up, and even though I can tell that less than a few minutes have gone by, it seems like ages. He holds a blue backpack, and with one sick and pained glance at the girl, we both escape. I can tell he's shaken. He doesn't mention it though and we move on.
When we are far enough away and somewhat safe, we cry and hold onto one another.
Because we're all we have.
It is four days into the Games.
So far, it's as if we're sitting the games out. We move from place to place, but never far from each location. We have enough knowledge between the two of us to survive on the little food we found in the backpacks and the food we capture in the forest. Between the two backpacks, we were able to gather a water purifier, a thermal blanket, and the basics for a few snares. We have a good amount of water and never seem to have dry throats, though we ration it out. The blanket is useful because we take turns sleeping and keeping watch. The snares catch dinner on a good day and we don't go very hungry. We live as comfortably as anyone can in the Games.
I have a theory as to why we haven't been bothered. The gamemakers don't bother us because we hold the audience's attention. When there is a period of time with no deaths, they cut to us. There have been slaughters each day, but usually far apart in time. I estimate that there are seven or eight are left. When the action becomes slow though, they can switch to our silly banter and amusing jokes. We act very much like a brother and sister, and I suppose it's cute.
If they knew truth though, they would see that, emotionally, we really are brother and sister.
I know our pleasant times are almost up. More than half have been killed off. They are bound to send something or someone our way soon.
A day comes when I hear a rustle in the bushes, and I know that that time is now. I pretend not to notice, but years of playing the piano have crafted sensitive ears. It didn't take me long, maybe a day, to adjust my ears to the sounds of the woods. It is easy to pick the difference in the nature and human.
I slowly unsheathe my knife that I've kept in my belt loop. I go on gathering the berries that I'd been focusing on before I heard them. I wait for some sort of attack or confrontation.
When Glimmer walks out with Marvel, I can't help but feel relief that Rory isn't near. I turn around and peer at them darkly under my lashes. Dropping the berries, I wait for them to speak. Glimmer taunts me with a threatening smirk while Marvel glares sinisterly.
When Marvel goes to spear me, I jump out of the way. He continues, trying to get at me, but it's fruitless. While he is decent with the weapon, I am too quick. Glimmer knocks a few arrows with difficulty and she obviously knows nothing about how the weapon. When I'm far enough away from Marvel, I see just how much Glimmer is struggling with the bow. She has moved off the side and has an annoyed expression as she fiddles with it. She is confident in her partner and pays me no heed. Marvel is frustrated and it is ruining his sharp senses. I jump behind Glimmer.
I stab her in the back. She looks at her district partner, absolutely stunned, before falling to her knees. She keels over and is still, lifeless and limp. The life visibly drains from her. It is a quick death, and in the arena, that's all you can ask for. I don't have time to ask myself how I feel about it. I pull my knife out and look at Marvel.
He stares at his district partner, shock evident in his eyes, before snarling at me and attacking with passion. I jump and step away and cleverly avoid the spear. I notice a few openings, I just need to get the resolve and do it.
He's tiring and I'm not. I've been resting and growing stronger. I position my knife and ready my counterattack. I think I might come out of this.
Then I feel the spear rake across my stomach. The cut is deep and painful and I can't help the horrible scream that comes out of my mouth. I fall slowly to the ground a sick gurgle coming from my throat as the scream dies away. The whole time I'm struggling and trying to stay on my feet, but it's hopeless.
I lay on the ground with blood staining my clothes. I'm helpless and tears are in the corner of my eyes, though they stubbornly refuse to spill. He walks over to me slowly. He's going to draw this out, I can tell.
As I'm cringing and leaning away, my abdomen searing with pain, Rory appears through the brush. I know the horror is clear on my face. Marvel mistakes my distress for fear and pain, and he grins. I set my mouth, focusing my gaze on Marvel. I want to cry and scream and give up, but I won't, not while Rory is still alive.
I keep him busy. I taunt him and insult him. I make him so angry he can't see straight. While I do this, even with the agony radiating throughout my body, I silently beg Rory to get out of here. He doesn't, instead, he slowly takes the bow and arrows from Glimmer's lifeless grip. He remains quiet and steely, but I detect the cold fear in his eyes. Rory hesitantly readies an arrow in the bow. He aims it at Marvel.
Marvel turns around, hearing Rory snap a twig. He is just in time for the arrow to hit him in the throat. He dies gradually. His death is not as quick as Glimmer's, as the arrow didn't hit him quite right. He backs up a few wobbly steps before collapsing. I know Rory is trying to process what he did, but I also know he won't be able to, at least, not right now. Maybe not ever. Killing something isn't something anyone, much less a twelve year old, can work through.
As Rory looks back to me, that line of thought leaves his eyes. Worry fills them and he runs over to me.
"Madge!" he sobs. I see tears and panic in his steel eyes as he frantically studies me. I grab his hand when he falls to his knees beside me. I think my wound is survivable. It would take a lot of work, medicine, money, but it might eventually heal.
But I don't want to weigh Rory down by tagging along with him, barely walking and offering no assistance at all. I would use up all our resources and it would be selfish. It wouldn't matter in the end anyway.
Only one will win.
I decide to do the right thing and set him free. I can't do any more for him than be a burden. I love him like a brother and if I can't provide for him, then I am endangering him.
"Rory," I say weakly. I want to cry too, but I hold it back. "You're safe," I whisper more to myself than him. I can't help but check over him, just in case.
"I was supposed to protect you. I needed to protect you," he cries. I wish I could break down at his desperate and lost voice. Instead, I smile at him and reach an arm up to run a hand through his hair affectionately. "I didn't… I didn't protect you."
"You did protect me, sweetie, we've been great. We've had food, shelter, water. I couldn't have done all of it on my own. You helped me, more than you know. You were there for me, you protected me," I reassure him. I want to cry, because he gave me so much more. He gave me a friend, a confidant, a brother.
"No," he denies, deadpan.
He doesn't believe me, but I can't spend my time on that. Someone might have heard the cannon booms and go searching. "Rory, listen. I need you to listen, okay?" I demand sternly.
He nods with tears streaming down his face.
"I want you to leave and-"
"No, no Madge, I won't," he cuts me off, a frown on his face. It makes him look so much older. Though, the tears and the loss in his eyes somehow seem so young.
"Listen!" I order. "There aren't many left. Go hide. Hide, and protect yourself with the bow. Take the rest of the food and supplies." He's shaking his head and biting his lip, trying to keep from sobbing loudly. "Rory, you can make it!" I reason.
"You can too, Madge. Don't give up yet," he pleads. I see the desperation in his eyes. I see how much he wants me to stand up and brush myself off. How he wants this all to be a bad dream.
"I want you to make it," I smile sadly. "You know I can't do anything when I'm like this. You have your family and your friends and a home to go back to. I want you to win. Win for me."
I see my reasoning get through to him and relax internally. "Please," he whispers one last time, futilely.
I shake my head. "I'm sorry."
It takes a moment, but then a dark look passes over him. He straightens up and there is no more youth in his eyes.
"I'll win. I'll win for you Madge. I'll go home and make sure no one forgets you. No one," he vows determinedly. He leans down and gives me a kiss on the cheek. "I'm so sorry I didn't get here sooner… I could've… I would've-" he chokes off with fresh sobs, but they are more controlled.
"No. Don't say that. You would've gotten hurt," I state seriously.
He presses another kiss to my cheek. I finally let my tears fall and kiss him on the forehead. "I love you, Madge. You're my best friend and you're my sister."
I smile and cup his cheek. I give it a little pat. "And you're my little brother. Don't ever forget that," I whisper. Everything's blurry through my tears. I manage to come back to my senses and blink them away. "Go now. Be safe Rory. Take everything we have. I'll be okay. I promise."
He gets up solemnly. Every step is forced and stiff, but he's separating himself from me. He'll be okay now. He disappears through the brush with one long last pain filled glance at me. And I can tell, he's no longer a child.
When I'm alone, I can only focus on my pain. It's not pleasant, or even bearable. I have to work my way through the pain and the agony filled haze. Maybe I was in shock or maybe Rory kept me from my pain, but now he's gone now and it hurts.
When I can't take being a sitting duck anymore, I drag myself to the stream. I know it is near. We used to go there every day for water. It hurts with every movement and tears streak down my cheeks. I want to scream and shout, but I manage to keep my volume down to whimpers and snivels.
Then, when I meet the water, I pull myself in completely. I submerge everything but my face. My wound is being gently cleaned by the soft current, but I know it is only temporary. I need to treat it, but I don't know how nor do I have the supplies I would need. I sweep mud, leaves, and twigs over my body and face. When I'm fully covered, I wipe mud over my eyelids and close them. I just want to stay alive long enough to see that Rory gets to the very end. Then I'll get the weapon in my belt loop and end myself. Or maybe I'll be able to let go and die by sheer will, I don't know.
Either way, I lay and wait, because it is all I can do.
It is near the end.
Each day, time slowly passes by. I know it's only been two or three days by the anthems that play nightly, but the agony makes it so much longer. I survive on the water from the stream. I can't sense parts my body sometimes. It is a relief from the pain, but a relief that worries me. On one cold night, I couldn't feel my body at all, everything went numb. I couldn't even muster up the energy to speak, but I survived.
I only open my eyes to check the anthem each night. It is suspenseful. It goes by district and ours is always last. I feel the greatest sense of relief and fear when I see Rory's face isn't up in the sky. I feel relief because he is alive and fighting. I feel fear because it's getting closer to the end. This is when people start hunting each other.
Cato, Thresh, and Rory are the only ones left. There is me, but I am just barely hanging on.
I don't even count myself as alive anymore.
It is the final three.
It's Cato, Rory, and I. We are the only ones. I know what I have to do now. I saw Cato pass by my stream earlier. He carries an arrogant ring to him. Even as he sauntered silently by me, I could sense the smugness and overconfidence. He didn't see me and he doesn't suspect anyone is near him or that he is in danger.
The sky has turned completely dark and even the little firelight bugs offer no flashes of light. I slowly pull myself up. I don't know what scares me more, the pain I do feel or the pain that I don't. I look terrible. I'm covered in who knows what and the grimace planted on my face would crack a mirror. I crawl out of the water and onto land. It's odd at first, not being in the water, but I get used to it.
When I can move again, I slowly sit up. I retie my ragged and dirty hair. I rid my body of most the mud and leaves. I appear somewhat human again. When I'm as clean as I can get, I study my cut.
It is terrible. I conclude my oozing wound must be infected. It didn't scab over quite properly and is still bleeding a bit. I examine little marks and red lines going up and down my stomach. I don't know much about injuries, but I'm sure I have blood poisoning.
I take off my jacket. It uses a lot of strength, but I summon all my will power. I whimper as I gently touch the slice in my abdomen and immediately pick up a small branch near me. I bite the stick while slowly breathing in and out. When I get control of myself, I tightly wrap my stomach in the fabric of my jacket. I need to staunch the blood and the pain. I close my eyes as the pain shoots through me. When I'm done, I take out my knife.
I hate the difficulty I have getting to my feet. I'm fighting gravity and gravity is winning. I keep the stick in my mouth as a reminder to stay silent through the pain. It is agony getting to my feet and remaining silent, but Cato's camp is set up near here and I need the element of surprise. When I'm finally upright, the world is a little blurry and I'm dizzy.
With silent footfalls, I make my way to Cato's camp. I am worn out already and I am light headed, but I persevere. I maintain all my concentration on being quiet. Somewhere along the way, when I have gained complete controlled of myself, I spit out the small branch.
I glimpse his blond hair up ahead. He is staring into the fire, caught in between sleep and consciousness. There's no movement from him. He doesn't see or hear me. I am a little lopsided in my steps and movements, but I manage to come up behind him without him knowing. Perhaps exhaustion dulls his senses or perhaps he and his cocky attitude just don't expect anyone to attack him right now, but whatever the reason, he doesn't notice me.
I stand behind him. It only takes one simple jerk of my arm and it is over. He is over. I don't even know if he feels the pain. There's almost no sound. A slicing sound, a slight gurgle, and then silence. It is a quiet way to go.
I analyze his hunched over body carefully as the canon goes off in the distance. Red is seeping out of the slit throat and pooling onto the ground. I don't regret what I did, but it causes so much grief.
He may have been a killer and Career, but he was someone's son or brother or friend.
I let the weight of every death and everything I've ever done crash down on me. I start sobbing. I'm crying and the tears flow freely, I don't try to hold them back. I can't stand anymore. I collapse. I'm sitting against a tree with my gash ripped open from my physical exertion. It is bleeding heavily and it causes me a great deal of pain, but somehow my emotional stress is worse.
I wipe Cato's blood off my knife. I stare at the cold metal in my hand for a good amount of time, just thinking. It has killed a total of three people.
I'm quiet, and I feel out of place in the cold night air, as I say my goodbyes.
"I love you, mom. So much, I know you were in pain a lot, but you were still a good mom. I don't want you to watch. I want you to look away." My voice is steely, but my resolve is weakening. "Dad, don't let her watch."
I bring the knife closer and see my reflection in the dying light of Cato's fire. "I love you, dad. You gave me everything. I'll always wish you could have been around more, but you were the most wonderful father." I bite my lip and take a deep breath. "Don't watch either," I command in a quiet but firm voice. Tears stream down my cheeks and I don't bother to wipe them.
"I'll miss you Katniss. You are my friend and you're true and good hearted. Keep in good care." I find my hand is shaking and try to steady it.
"Haymitch, you're an ass. But when push comes to shove, you're there for everyone. You were there for me. Your debt has been paid." I run my finger along the blade that has killed others and is now about to end another life.
"And lastly… Gale. You and Katniss are both the strongest people I know. I feel honored to have even met you. Tell Rory…" I trail off, holding back a wave of sadness as I nearly choke on a sob. "Tell him he's the only person I've ever truly felt connected to. He's my little brother. You need to protect him with everything you have. Tell him I'm sorry, but I don't regret this. He needs to go home. He is my brother. And make sure that he remembers-" I cut off in a sob. My throat is thick and my breathing is shaky. I compose myself enough to continue. "Tell him that I love him."
I raise the knife to my own throat. My hands lose their shake as I feel a serene calm come across me. I'm deathly still. I already decided that this is how I would go and I will carry out on it. Rory will win. The tears stop and I'm not sobbing anymore.
I feel the bite of the knife against my throat. It draws blood and I grit my teeth.
I stop when I see a parachute fall from the sky. It drops directly into my lap.
I don't know what this is. I open the box hesitantly. I told Haymitch not to send me anything. What could he even send me now that would matter?
As I open it, I see a vile. Its sugary scent, even with the lid on, overwhelms me. I scan it and see a note I hadn't noticed, attached with the parachute. I open it slowly.
"Just like going to sleep, sweetie. Don't let them get the bloody death they want." –Haymitch
I smile into the sky and mouth a thank you. I clutch the note in my fist tightly, savoring his last words to me, before throwing it into the fire.
I tip the fluid to my lips. I drink it all, until there is nothing left. It doesn't even take a second for the effects to take hold. The bottle rolls away from my hand as my hold slackens.
I smile as I lay on the ground. Everything's warm now. It is comfy and the world goes blurry around me. The pain and the hurt and the numb are gone. In its place rests a hazy warmth. I close my eyes to the bright fire in front of me. Everything is swirling in a confusing, but strangely comforting, way. I don't have a worry or a fear in the world. Only peace and happiness.
I feel when my heart starts slowing down. I don't mind. It feels peculiar, but it is not unpleasant. I'm already sleeping as it is. Or I'm going to sleep. It is all very confusing. I hear the slow thumps get further and further apart. It thuds in my ears now, my beating pulse. Instead of the light of the fire shining dimly through my eyelids, it is an endless abyss of black now. I can't feel or hear or see anything. The sweet flavor from the medicine doesn't even linger on my tongue anymore.
Everything is nothing.
It comes to a point where the only thing my mind comprehends are the slow thumps. I know they are important, but I don't remember why. The distance in between the beats is great and it is getting harder and harder to wonder why they're important. They slowly get farther and farther apart, but I still can't understand their significance. I settle for listening to their comforting and sluggish rhythm.
And then there is silence.