Author's Note:- Here's another story, guys! Again, I know I shouldn't try to write so many stories at once, but this one nagged me until I finally had to give in. It just got really hard to deal with its persistent nagging.
I'm not sure how to explain this one...it's a series of one-shots, but for all of them I'm going to go with the same timeline/storyline, if that makes sense? Basically, it's more flexible than my other stories, so you guys are welcome to suggest things, and if I like the idea AND it fits with the rough story idea I have planned, then I'll use it. If I don't, it didn't fit with what I was planning, so I apologise in advance!
But enough of me burbling. Here it is!
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in this story, except for the ones I created myself. The others belong to Suzanne Collins!
School had never been Portia's favourite place.
It wasn't that she found the lessons difficult, or that she didn't get good grades. On the contrary, her teacher said that she did very well, particularly in art class. Sure, the lessons were dull sometimes, especially math, but that wasn't the problem.
It was the people. In the seven years that Portia had been on this planet, she'd had difficulty making friends. She tried to fit in with everyone, but she knew from a very early age that she wasn't an ordinary Capitol citizen; there was just something about the place that she disliked, but as of yet, she could not put her finger on it.
She only had one or two close friends, but if one or all of them were off sick that day, she was on her own. The other children regularly avoided her, and the ones who didn't picked on her and called her names. They had probably picked up on the fact that she could see through what they believed was a perfect place to be brought up; not having to worry about the reaping every year, and then the vacation from school and the celebrations that came with The Hunger Games.
Portia only watched the games because in her house, it was mandatory, but she'd much rather have been sat in her bedroom, drawing. She loathed the games. She always had.
That was probably another reason why so many at school didn't like her – almost everyone she came across loved the games.
It had been a school day on the day she met him, and not just any school day, either; it was the first day back at school after summer vacation. The weather that day was certainly an sign that summer was over for that year – it was still dark when she had reluctantly woken up that morning, and as she walked through the school gates, it began raining. Hard.
Holding her sketchbook close to her chest, she groaned, and pulled the hood of her sweatshirt up and over her head to stop her hair from getting wet, and ran towards the entrance. She had only just made it half way across the playground when the sixth grade boy used his foot to trip her up. As could be expected, she topped, and fell, straight into a muddy puddle, her schoolbag and sketchbook coming along for the ride.
The boy who had tripped her and his friends simply laughed at her and hurried inside to get out of the rain. Portia didn't get up right away; she was covered from head to toe with muddy water, as was her bag, and most importantly, her sketchpad. She reached out to pick it up, and her heart sank when she saw the harm that had been done to it. Even if she could dry it, there was nothing that she could do about the mud – it was ruined.
"Are you okay?" A voice nearby asked. Portia looked in the direction of the speaker, trying desperately not to cry, especially in front of people. The boy looked sincere enough – he was even holding out his hand to help her up. He wasn't bad looking, either – the thing that instantaneously caught her eye about him was his eyes. They were a beautiful shade of green; the kind of green that reminded her of nature.
"Thank you..." She mumbled, taking his hand and allowing him to pull her to her feet. He bent down and retrieved her backpack and her soggy sketchbook.
"You need to go and see the nurse." He nodded to her knee; she hadn't noticed it before, as she had been too busy mourning the loss of her artwork, but she was bleeding, and the instant she saw the blood, her knee began to sting.
"I'm fine, honest." She said, promptly. "It's just a scratch." The boy just raised an eyebrow. As if to prove a point, Portia began to walk towards the front doors, but as soon as she put weight on the affected limb, the stinging in her knee increased. Something like this wouldn't have hurt much to a grown up, but for a seven year old girl, it was agony.
The boy sighed, and walked over, taking Portia's hand in his, and not seeming to care about the fact that Portia's hands were covered in mud.
"To the nurse we go." He assured, cooly, and led Portia inside.
Waiting at the door was none other than the headmistress herself – Mrs. Napier; old, intimidating, and dressed in one of the crazier Capitol fashions; today she was wearing a bright red wig, a dress to match, and pink and red based make up. She never looked happy, but she looked even worse when she saw the state of Portia's clothes and shoes.
"You're not coming in looking like that. You'll get mud all over my brand new carpet." Portia had a vast urge to point out to the headmistress that the carpet was the property of the school, and technically not hers, but the boy spoke before she could.
"Then how else is she meant to get to the nurse's office? She's cut her knee. That sixth grader, Gregory Morstan pushed her, I saw him." Though she could tell that the boy was getting irritable, Portia noted that he didn't even appear to be in danger of raising his voice.
"I don't care who pushed her." The old woman scowled, coldly. "She's not treading mud into my new carpet. I expect my students to remain clean and neat at all times, between the hours of 8.30am when they arrive, and 3.00pm when they go home. No exceptions." Anxious that she would have to wait outside in the rain until going home time, Portia chewed her bottom lip, blinking back, tears.
"As you wish." The boy shrugged, and then lifted Portia off the ground, and starting to walk with her towards the nurse's office. "She's not ruining your carpet now!" He called over his shoulder. In less than a minute, they were outside of a door, which was clearly labelled 'NURSE'. He kicked the door lightly a couple of times, as he had his hands full. The door opened, and the nurse, Mrs. Collit, invited them in and put down some paper for Portia to stand on.
"What happened to you?" She sounded almost bored. No one could blame her, really. Rumour went around that she had wanted to work in one of the fancy Capitol hospitals, but instead she was landed with a job as a school nurse, dealing with vomiting children and cuts and bruises all day. It got tiresome, doing the same thing every day.
"Um...somebody pushed me." Portia stammered, softly.
"Gregory Morstan pushed her." The boy elaborated on her answer. Mrs. Collit ignored him, and addressed Portia again.
"You can't go to class in those clothes. Take that dress off and I'll wash it." After Portia just stood there, looking puzzled, the nurse snapped at her, "I don't have all day!" She glanced at the boy, who instantly turned his back to give her some privacy.
Once she had stripped until she was down to just her underwear, the nurse bandaged her knee, and disappeared to put the dirty garment into the washing machine. Portia didn't like this. At all. She felt so...naked. It didn't help that it was freezing in this room.
"Pink panties, huh? Nice." The boy chuckled, clearly thinking that he had the right to look now. Portia folded her arms, and tried to glare at him, but when her eyes met his, she couldn't manage it. She just huffed and sat down on the small, metal stool, covering her flat chest with her arms.
"What's your name?" She asked, after a few minutes, having gotten fed up of being mad at him.
"Cinna." The boy shrugged. Cinna. The name suited him, actually. It wasn't a name she had been expecting to hear, but she liked it. "What's yours?"
"Portia." She sighed; when she thought about it, her name didn't sound as exciting as his. Cinna nodded, a small smile playing on his lips.
"Pretty name. How old are you?"
"Seven...and a quarter." She replied, shivering a little from the chill of the air conditioning.
"Oh. I'm nine...and a half." He responded, smugly, mimicking her pause. He looked over at the ruined sketchpad, which he'd placed on counter by a sink. "You know...I don't think you're going to be able to draw in that, anymore."
"It doesn't take a genius to work that out." She grumbled, in both irritation and sadness. That sketchbook had meant a lot to her...not the book itself, but the things that she had drawn inside it. She'd never be able to replace them.
"So, you like to draw?" He enquired; looking the most interested she'd seen Cinna since she met him. Then again, that was only a few minutes ago.
"Yeah...I guess." She mumbled, self-consciously. "Do you?"
"Yep." He beamed, eagerly. "I've got loads of drawings at home. My mom calls them masterpieces."
"Oh...so you want to be an artist when you grow up, then?" She sat up a little straighter, suddenly forgetting about how cold it was in the room.
"Well...not exactly." His smile faded, and he trailed off. The next thing he muttered was something that sounded like 'You'll laugh at me'.
"I won't." And she was telling the truth. The last thing she felt like doing right now was laughing, even if he was trying to make her laugh. "Tell me."
"Well...I suppose I've always wanted to make clothes, and open a store or something. Or become a stylist. I don't like talking to people about it. Last time I did, they called me gay."
"What's gay?" Portia asked, her interest piquing. The corners of Cinna's mouth twitched.
"I'll tell you when you're older...maybe." At that moment, the door opened, and the nurse tossed Portia's clean and dry dress at her, before rounding on Cinna. "What are you still doing here? Go on, off with you. You're late enough as it is!" Cinna blushed slightly, and rushed to the door, only looking back when Portia had pulled her dress over her head.
"It was nice meeting you, Portia." He smiled, and then he was gone.
Author's Note:- Well there it is! The first meeting! Mud, cranky headmistresses, sketchbooks and semi-nakedness! Poor Portia. But it's all in good fun! I really hope you enjoyed it. Please review!