A/N: Welcome to my second fanfic! This is a sequel to my story 'Second Time Unlucky', although you don't need to have read that to enjoy this! However, I would recommend it. Regardless, let the story begin!
POV: Ludovic Robertson (16), Hunger Games Victor
District 4 Comprehensive School, District 4
11.35 am, Tuesday 12th October, year of the 66th Hunger Games
"...and so when y is equal to four times x over three..."
I'm quick to drone out Mr Taylor's ramblings. Sitting at the back of the class, I can get away with amusing myself, staring at the clouds out the window. Let the other kids pay attention. After all, an education actually matters to them. I never have to work again.
I hate this petty law of the Capitol's creation. Compulsory education until the end of the school year in which you turn sixteen. Being the eldest of our year, I turned sixteen a month ago. I don't pay attention at all; I don't need to. Victors aren't expected to work.
Looking around the maths classroom, I see faces creased in concentration. I don't see the point in maths. No practical skills come of it. The three Sciences or New Anglish would be much more beneficial lessons. They at least hold real-world context. Maths is useless. It's not like I needed simultaneous equations to escape the arena.
"...well done, Cresta, I'm pleased you can see that..."
Ugh. I don't know why I even bother to try and tune in to Mr Taylor's talks. Half the class sit focused, trying to comprehend today's mental challenges.
At the front of the class sit Brandon Mullery and Dylan Cresta, two lads who always seem to put in effort at school. Dylan doesn't even seem to try at times. Know-it-all.
I move my gaze backwards from the front of the class. There's Harrison, a tall lad who always seems to show off. We're polite to each other, but I won't pretend that we're friends. He's too arrogant for me. After the arena, I think I've seen enough arrogance for a lifetime.
Grace Tyler sits next to him, trying to grab his attention all the time. Harrison might pass off as better-looking than most of us, but he wouldn't go for Grace. Too clingy. As such, she's the subject of a lot of mockery at school. Of course, she's only after Harrison because she knows that Finnick is out of her league.
Sitting in the corner opposite me is Finnick Odair, my best friend and fellow victor. He looks like he's threatening to appear even more bored than I am. This won't do. I quickly reach down for my schoolbag, pull out a sheet of paper (which is actually weeks-old homework from History) and scribble a quick note on it:
Think Tyler will ever give up?
I fashion the sheet into decent enough paper aeroplane, and once Mr Taylor turns his back on us, I throw it at Finnick. Sadly, paper aeroplanes don't fly as straight as knives do, and the plane veers to the right, hitting Dennis Orman, the boy who sits next to Finnick, on the side of the head. He gives a rude gesture under the desks in my direction before unfolding the plane.
I watch him glance over at Grace and I catch him smirk before passing the sheet to Finnick. A similar reaction is forced from Finnick, who hastily scribbles something down before folding up the plane and returning it to me.
Underneath my own writing, I can see Finnick's reply:
Just because I'm too good for her.
I sigh in mock disapproval and shake my head in Finnick's direction. Jokingly, I receive a flirtatious wink as a reply. I roll my eyes and return to staring out the window, but I can still see Finnick sniggering out of the corner of my eye.
The lesson passes slowly, and by the time we break for lunch, I'm completely bored out of my mind. I head outside with Finnick, Dylan, Brandon and another lad called Elliot Goodwin, and we find a spot in the open yard at the front of the school. I perch myself on the four-feet-high brick wall that lines the perimeter of the yard, and start to peel an orange.
"Damned maths lesson," mutters Elliot, fed up. "I didn't understand any of it."
"Take a page out of my book, Goodwin," replies Finnick. "Don't bother trying. If you don't try, you can't fail."
"I didn't have any problems," chips in Dylan.
"Well, you wouldn't, would you?" replies Brandon. "We're not all geniuses, you know."
"I never said we all were."
"Come on, there's no point arguing!" intervenes Finnick. "We all know that-"
Finnick stops speaking as he notices to tall, burly lads from the top year approach our group. Intimidated, Brandon and Elliot quickly leave before trouble arises.
I find that I know one of the two older boys by name. Karl Fisher. A complete imbecile. One of the drop-outs from school, a waste to society. Forced back after no qualifications meant no work, and in the savage environment of District 4, no work means poverty and eventual death.
He's as dumb as anyone, but people steer clear of him because he's six foot four. A menace to school society, Karl and his cronies were the school bullies in their younger years. I'd hoped they grown out of such activities, but something about the way that they swagger over to us tells me that they're looking for a fight. And I doubt they're here for Dylan.
"Oi, Robertson!" hollers Karl. Oh, no. What does he want now?
I'm not surprised Brandon and Elliot have left. They don't want this sort of interaction, and I don't blame them. But Karl Fisher wants me to stay.
I drop down from the wall and walk confidently towards him and his equally malicious-looking friend.
"What do you want, Fisher?" I taunt, already knowing that they're after a fight. "Haven't you got bigger fish to fry?"
Karl laughs before replying. "Bigger fish to fry than the latest Hunger Games victor? I think not. What we want, Robertson, is know how you, a complete runt, managed to survive the arena."
Karl flexes his muscles and looks back at his fellow thug, who stands by his shoulder.
"Ain't that right, Foster?"
The other lad grins and looks at me maliciously, trying to stare me out. It's not like I'll give him to his type. I've faced worse.
"Do you really want to know how I won, Fisher?" I say. "Because other people actually liked me. They were willing to protect me. I was never physically capable of killing some of the other tributes, like that lad from District 1, Robin. Or his district partner, the incredibly arrogant and violent Pearl. But when I needed help, I had allies who got me through."
"Ah, yes," Karl replies. "Gotten over Harper's death yet?"
He did not just mention that. Yes, I had allies, especially my district partner, Madelaine Harper. We'd been friends for years. And I had loved her. I'm not going to let him taunt me about her. I'm amazed even Karl Fisher would sink so low.
"Lay off it, Fisher," says Finnick sternly, leaning again the wall, five years behind me. "Don't go that far."
"And what, Odair?" he taunts. "You wouldn't stand a chance against us."
He turns his attention back to me.
"Even if your friends here-" he gestures to Finnick and Dylan- "put up a fight with you, you're no match for us."
Then Dylan does something I never expected of him. He walks strongly up to me and stands by my side, staring down Karl. He might not be strong, but he's definitely brave. He's slightly taller than me at five foot five, but still no match for the two boys who square up opposite us. He tries to be strong, but I see a flicker of fear in his green eyes.
"Last I checked, there's three of us, and only two of you," says Dylan, unsuccessfully trying to sound threatening. His voice is wavering too much for anything he says to be a threat.
"And what exactly are you going to do, Cresta?" taunts Karl. "You're just as flimsy as Robertson here."
That stings, but it's true. Physical strength has never been my forte. But it just terrifies Dylan, and I see him drop his gaze for a few moments.
"You lay off them, Fisher," says Finnick, walking up confidently to stand on my left. "Or you'll have me to answer to."
"Oh, goody!" says Karl in mock excitement. "Two victors for the price of one!"
"Pushing your luck, Karl?" taunts Finnick. "Don't you think one is enough of a threat?"
"Lay a finger on me, Odair, and you're dead."
"Dead, I hear you say? My dear Karl, I think you're losing your memory, my friend," taunts Finnick patronisingly. "Last I checked, me and Robertson were the murderers here."
Finnick's words ring true, and for a moment, Karl's stern expression falters.
"Do you want me to mess up that pretty face, Odair?" sneers Karl.
Ouch. That hurts, I think. My right hand subconsciously tightens around the handle of my knife in my belt. After three months, the memories of the arena might be slowly starting to fade, but the paranoia has never left me. I never go anywhere unarmed. Not even school.
In the face of Karl's threats, Finnick just smirks.
"Come at me."
The throbbing in my head starts to diminish as I come to my senses. The faint memories of the dream evaporate as I come round. I always relive my memories in my sleep. It's been nine months since Finnick and I were excluded from school, after pinning Karl Fisher and his burly friend to the wall, our knives at their throats. During the fight, once the adrenalin started flowing, was the only time since the arena that, for a brief moment, I was prepared to kill again. Luckily for Karl Fisher, the teachers were upon us before I could carry out my half-formed plans. He was a threat. He needed to be eliminated. I allow myself a small smile as I savour the memory.
It served them right.
At least I was spared Maddie's death in my dreams this time.
I can feel the cool sea breeze against my face, and as I roll onto my back I can see the tall trunk of a tree, and I remember where I am. I'm in the woods that line the sea cliffs, getting fresh air before the day that lies ahead. I always do the same thing on reaping day; take a walk in the early morning with Finnick. So that if we are chosen, our last memories of District 4 will be happy ones. Even though neither of our names remain in the reaping bowls, old habits die hard.
Above me I only hear laughing, and I can see Finnick, delirious with laughter, trying to keep his balance in the beech tree fifteen feet above my head. And I begin to understand my current situation. I must have climbed the tree with Finnick and drifted off to sleep in its branches. But then I fell out. It's odd, because I can't remember climbing the tree. That being said, my head still hurts and I doubt I'm thinking straight.
Finnick drops down beside me, his laughing fit over.
"You complete idiot," he chuckles, pulling me to my feet.
"How was I meant to know I was going to fall asleep?" I complain.
"I don't know, but you should have," he jokes.
"By realising that you couldn't keep your eyes open?" jokes Finnick and he punches me on the arm playfully, and I sigh disapprovingly.
"Never mind," he says. "We've got a big day ahead, and I heard yesterday that Julian wanted us all back in Victor's Village for eleven."
He's right. We have got a big day ahead. We've come full circle. It's Sunday 14th July, and that only means one thing. The second Sunday of July. Reaping day.
Today, the 67th Annual Hunger Games begin.
A/N: And so ends Chapter One! If you haven't yet read it, I would recommend reading 'Second Time Unlucky' whilst waiting for the next update. Updates should be twice weekly, and I aim for 27 chapters in total.
If you've enjoyed this Chapter, please review! Constructive Criticism is welcome :)