Title: The 94th Annual Hunger Games
Based on: Hunger Games
Narrator: Katniss Everdeen
Summary: Let's say Peeta Mellark had died to let Katniss live in the 74th Hunger Games, and there was no rebellion. The 75th Hunger Games was not for past victors, and Katniss goes on to be a mentor for District 12 along with Haymitch Abernathy.
CHAPTER 1: PRE-REAPING
Beep... beep... beep...
I rolled over in my bed and slammed my alarm clock with my palm, shutting it up. "Happy Hunger Games... and may the odds be ever in your favor," I mimicked to the ceiling, stressing the word ever. Effie Trinket's unusual high-pitched voice and accent has always stuck in the back of my head, but every year in the reaping, her voice is all I can think about. Major hallucinations.
The sound of small feet thumping against the tile floors around my house (or should I say, mansion) woke me up completely. I braced myself for the screeching that was to come. Absolutely, positively.
"Auntie! Auntie Katniss!" shrieked little Eva, Prim's youngest child. Eva barged in my room and lurched herself into my open arms. "Good morning, Auntie Katniss!"
"Good morning, kiddo," I murmured into her ear, stroking her hair. I broke our embrace and looked deeply into my skinny little niece's blue, blue eyes, just like I did to Prim when she was a girl. Doing this, I got a wave of bittersweetness. Prim was all grown up now, a beautiful strong woman, married with children. If it hadn't been for Eva, who resembles her mother unbelievably as a child, I don't know how I would've coped with the fact that Prim didn't need me as much as she used to anymore.
Eva gave me her well-known toothless grin. "Auntie Katniss, Mommy's going crazy!" she declared, bursting into giggles.
"Is she now?" I said, concerned. Of course Prim was going crazy. It was her eldest child's first reaping. "What's going on?"
"She tried to milk Lyla's goat but accidentally knocked the full bucket over, so we don't have milk today. Then Rob ripped his collar on his white shirt, and she tried to mend it, but..." Eva rambled on and on as I got up, lead us both downstairs into the kitchen, and prepared a hefty breakfast for my guest.
"Come on, you goose, eat up," I said, placing a bowl of cereal of rare cow milk and Frosted Flakes, a special cereal only the rich can afford; a huge stack of microwaved pancakes with butter and maple syrup; a piece of toast; and a glass of hand-squeezed orange juice in front of her.
Eva giggled again. "Silly! I can't eat all this!"
I smiled faintly to see someone so joyous. Usually on reaping days, everyone is usually either very serious or in a huge frenzy. But of course, Eva, at the age of five and a half, still does not quite see the misery in Twelve. "Eat as much as you can, sweetie," I prodded, knowing that Prim's family didn't have much to eat, since her husband was just another ordinary low-class coal miner raising a family of six.
Eva dug in, and I asked, "How's your mommy's new job, Eva?" Prim had recently gotten a part-time job at a local clinic near the town square to make some money for her family. The clinic was new, just under six years ago since it opened.
Through a mouthful of pancakes, Eva replied, "She doesn't say much about it. I have to stay home alone sometimes, though. No one's at home to take care of me from noon to three. Then Rob, Lew, and Lyla all come home from school to take care of me."
"So I heard." I knew that Eva could be a bundle of fun mostly, but she is smart enough to take care of herself. Ever since she's been required to stay at home alone three hours a day, three days a week, she hasn't had so much as a paper cut. "Done, Eva?" She nodded vigorously, looking satisfied with her full belly.
Of course, Eva didn't finish the entire breakfast I had set up for her, so I covered the remaining pancakes and untouched toast in plastic wrap and told Eva to wait while I made myself presentable. Then we both headed out hand-in-hand to Eva's home, or shack, at the Seam, each carrying a plate.
"Good morning, Thompsons," I called out, letting myself in through their battered screen door. I ducked under the doorway.
"Katniss?" Prim came out of the nearer of the two rooms, dragging Rob, the twelve-year-old, who seemed very irritated and too clean, behind her. Eva dropped my hand and ran to her mom. "Hey, honey! Did you go to your auntie Katniss' house without asking me again?"
Eva tittered nervously. "Umm... I love you, Mommy!"
"Love you too, dear," Prim said, planting a kiss on the top of her head. "Why don't you go get some breakfast?" She saw the plates I was holding. "Or did you eat already?"
"I ate, Mommy."
"So I see. Well, go play with Lyla for a while, okay, dear?"
"Okay, Mommy." She dashed off.
I set the food I brought for Prim's family on their kitchen table, which was also where the older kids do their homework and artwork, Prim does her needlework, and Prim's husband, Lare, plays cards with some of his coal miner friends, whom Prim hardly approves of.
"I hope Eva wasn't a handful," Prim said to me, fussing over Rob's mended outfit, which he was wearing. "Today just wasn't a good day for me - turn around a sec, Rob, dear - and I lost track of Eva. I didn't know she was gone until about fifteen minutes before you two arrived, so -"
"It's okay, Prim," I said, rubbing her shoulder affectionately. "Really. Eva was fine. And... Mother used to be frantic sometimes, too, on reaping days. Remember?"
Prim froze at the mention of our mom. Mother had died just four months ago from skin cancer. She'd been living with Prim and the family when she got terribly sick, and even with all my victor money, we couldn't afford any of the Capitol medication that she needed. So within only three weeks since she was diagnosed, she passed on.
"Prim? Are you okay?" I said quietly, mentally scolding myself for bringing back these painful memories that Prim had been trying so hard to move on from.
She took a deep breath. Lew, Prim's second-eldest child, age ten, said, "Mom?" with concern, as he walked in the room to get the toast I had brought.
"I - I'm fine."
She didn't seem so. "Prim, if you want to, I can -"
"I'm fine," she said to me firmly. Seeing that his mother was back to normal, Lew left with the toast. Prim looked at Rob. "Your collar looks okay now, dear. Take good care of it."
Take good care of it? For five hours? It was only nine o'clock, for heaven's sake. The reaping doesn't start until two. I reminded Prim of that.
"Oh, all right. Rob, you may change into your everyday clothes - carefully, dear," Prim compromised. Before she even finished her sentence, Rob disappeared, leaving my sister and I alone.
"Well, I brought breakfast," I said to lighten up the mood. "And I thought I'd treat you and Lare and the kids to an early lunch later. In celebration of this year's Games."
Prim smiled sadly at me. "At least Rob doesn't seem as nervous as I am about the reaping" was her reply.