Thanks to those who have decided to read and to those who have left reviews. Pretty much all the characters from the books will make an appearance throughout this story. Warning things may get a little dark at times.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
The prep team had spent every minute they could afford putting Katniss through more hell re-doing her make-up. Her newly appointed stylist had then come in to force a dress onto her. It was bright red, and hugged all her curves. It was low cut enhancing the cleavage Katniss never knew she had. She knew the dress was designed to make her look as desirable as possible. The slit that travelled from the bottom of the dress to the top of her thigh was the thing she hated most about it. It meant her leg and practically her ass was on show but again she knew this was how it was supposed to be. The dress made her realise how much she still missed Cinna, she knew if he were here in this situation with her he would have dressed her in something elegant but nothing that made her look like some piece of meat ready for the taking.
She was sat backstage with five the Peacekeepers whom had been assigned to guarding her at all times. She felt so alone here, last time she had been in this place Effie had been by her side offering last minute advice. Haymitch had been there being his drunken usual self but even that she wished she had right now. And Peeta, he had been there too. She wondered how he was doing, she wondered if he still hated her, still wanted to choke the life out of her. If he still did she figured he would be happy watching the next games she was about to face, he could watch someone else kill her for him. If that were to be the last thing she could do for him to make him happy she hoped he wouldn't be too disappointed not being the one to kill her.
She suddenly looked up to a screen that hung on the wall opposite her. She was watching Caesar's show, watching him announce the players she would be facing; the winners of the bidding for a chance at the games, a chance at killing her. She watched as one by one they took to the stage. She counted fifteen males so far, all aged between 18 and 45.
Next came two women the second of which confessed she wanted a go at killing Katniss because her husband had become so obsessed with the girl-on-fire that he had fallen out of love with her. He had left her because the only woman he wanted was Katniss and he would do anything to have her. He was the sixteenth male to be interviewed and he confirmed everything his wife had just said, as well as adding that he felt like he was under some sort of spell, he couldn't help the way he felt, Katniss had forced him to feel that way. Katniss knew all this was to get people to feel sorry for him, to get sponsors for himself and to make people hate her more.
Great, she thought to herself, make me out to be some sort of witch and then burn me at the stake in the games; the girl-on-fire on fire!
Two more women came out, both with similar tales to the previous woman. Three more men came out and that made it twenty three players, Katniss made it the twenty four players that the Hunger Games required.
Finally it was her turn on stage. The Peacekeepers led her onto the stage and she was met with silence, something she had never received when walking onto this stage. The previous two times the crowds had loved her, well, something like that.
"Please, take a seat Katniss." Caesar said to her.
She did so and the Peacekeepers all moved to stand just a little way behind her, near enough to launch at her if she tried anything.
"Katniss, you look as beautiful as ever." Caesar said to her.
Katniss was sure she could hear something in his voice, see something in his eyes…was it sympathy? "Thank you." she said to him.
"I have to admit after the Quarter Quell I never expected to see you sat on this couch again, certainly not because you were facing the Hunger Games again."
"You probably didn't expect to see Peeta either but you did, around the time he was being hi-jacked to hate me, to want to kill me." Katniss replied angrily. Her anger wasn't totally meant for him but just the whole situation in general made her anger hard to control.
Caesar just looked at her and she could see that same look of sympathy in his eyes. "What do you think he will feel when he sees you back in the arena?"
Katniss didn't know what to say, she had no idea if Peeta would even care that she was back in the arena fighting for her life. "I just hope he remembers how much I love him and how much I always will." she replied.
Caesar gently laid his hand on hers and said, "For some there can be a true love so strong that nothing or no one can break it."
Katniss was a little shocked as she knew such a comment was a risk for Caesar to make. Again all she could do was say, "Thank you." And she truly meant it.
"Well I think that's all for now Katniss. I truly do wish you the best of luck in the arena. You're certainly going to need it," he said to her. "Ladies and gentlemen," he said as he turned to face the audience, "Katniss Everdeen – the girl-on-fire!"
Katniss was sat in District twelve's assigned quarters, eating her meal alone. She glanced around the table that usually she had sat around with Haymitch, Effie, Peeta, Cinna and the rest of the prep team and stylists assigned to twelve. Usually the table was laid full of food but tonight there had just been a lamb broth and a bowl of creamy rice pudding, a cup of hot chocolate and a small bread bun. Just enough for one.
Two Avoxes stood at the end of the table and Peacekeepers stood in different places scattered around the room. Despite being hungry Katniss just couldn't stomach the food. She wouldn't be going into training tomorrow but she could watch on television her fellow contestants in training. Still, just the thought of watching the others left her feeling frightened and she knew she would have difficulty sleeping tonight. "I'm going bed," she announced to no one in particular.
Once inside her room Katniss had been pleasantly surprised to find that the Peacekeeper guards that she had to have were happy to just stand outside her room. Finally alone she stripped off her clothes and made her way into the bathroom. In there she jumped into the shower and fixed the settings so they were just right.
She stood there for ages, allowing the warm, soothing water to wash away all her makeup. She began thinking of all her loved ones back in District 13; Prim, her mother, Gale, Peeta…even if he didn't class her as a loved one anymore.
The shower suddenly began to feel like it was smothering her and Katniss had to quickly get out. She dried herself off and walked out of the bathroom. She just about caught a glimpse of an Avox leaving the room, closing the door behind them. It was then Katniss turned and noticed the pyjama's that lay on her bed. She also noticed the steaming mug of hot chocolate that sat on the bedside table.
She changed quickly and climbed into bed with her hair still slightly damp. She put it into a braid and then sat and drank her hot chocolate. It tasted as good always. When it was gone she sat the mug back down and then turned off the bedside lamp. With just the city lights pouring into her room she tried to close her eyes and let sleep take her away but it refused.
She felt so alone, so vulnerable, she knew she was going to be plagued by nightmares. The last time this had been the case when she had been at the training centre she'd had Peeta there to hold her through the night, comfort her; soothe her after the nightmares. Hating that he wasn't here now and knowing she may never feel his strong arms wrapped safely around her again made her tears burst from their banks and a strangled sob escaped her throat.
With her tears falling fast and hard and her sobs echoing around her she was able to cry herself into a sleep that was filled with nightmares. Nightmares of what she was to face, of Peeta trying to kill her, of Prim and her mother being killed by Snow, Gale killed by the Peacekeepers….on and on they went and sleep was determined to keep pulling her back so it could force her to endure even more nightmares.
The next morning Katniss felt both exhausted and starving. She had eaten every last bit of the breakfast laid out for her. She had then moved over to the couch and prepared herself to watch the first of the training sessions. She had wanted to skip watching them but had quickly figured it would give her an advantage if she knew her opponents strengths and weaknesses; even though part of her wasn't sure why she cared. She figured if they killed her quickly at least it would all be over with.
She wondered if maybe Snow would leave Prim and her mother, Peeta, Gale and the others alone once she was dead; or would he continue to torment them after she was nothing more than a body rotting in the ground.
Her thoughts came to an end as the TV sparked to life and the Capitol anthem began. She watched as the other players were named one by one, she tried to remember them but it was hard. She kept imaging the things they wanted to do to her and then as the training began she began to realise just how powerful they were. It shocked her that people of the Capitol had such good fighting skills. She guessed years of watching the games had taught them a thing or two.
"Oh, someone please help me!" she begged quietly as she curled into a ball on the couch and continued watching.
"You've seen what they're planning to do her!" Gale yelled. He was seething mad. He couldn't understand why President Coin wasn't rushing straight into action to save Katniss. He hated that her attitude was all rather flippant towards it.
"If I send all our people in to save her we will lose any advantage we had on attacking the Capitol when we intend to take it out once and for all." Coin argued.
"Well let's do it now! We can take the Capitol out and rescue Katniss all in one shot."
"I'm sorry, Solider Hawthorne but my answer in no."
"You're not going to do anything?!" Gale yelled, infuriated.
"There is nothing I can do right now."
"Then you're sentencing her to death!"
"I'm sorry. I know you two were friends." Coin replied.
"We still are, she isn't dead yet!" he growled before he stormed out.
Gale knew President Coin had no intention of helping Katniss but he knew enough other people who would help her, and there was one in particular he needed, but first he had to bring him back from where the Capitol had sent him. Somehow he had to find a way to heal Peeta from the hi-jacking because even if he hated to admit it, he couldn't get Katniss back without him.
After a day of watching the others train and having then sat around doing nothing Katniss had eaten and gone to bed. She lay under the duvet pretending Peeta was there with her, desperately trying to convince herself of it.
Once more she had to wonder about what was being done to help him. She wondered if in the last couple of days they had been able to actually do anything to help him.
She rolled onto her side and sighed heavily. She knew then she wasn't going to get any sleep tonight so she pushed herself up off the bed and made her way out of the bedroom. It shocked the Peacekeepers to see her up but she simply informed them she couldn't sleep and just wanted to watch some TV and to her surprise they let her do it without comment. They didn't even crowd her in the living room like they usually did, watching her every move.
Once on the sofa she grabbed the remote and switched on the TV. She pulled her legs up close to her body and wrapped her arms tightly around them, her chin she rested on top of her knees. She then began to watch the replay of the training sessions. As she watched she began to take in more, more about each individual's skills, more about their personalities. The ex-husband and wife seemed to be competing at every skills station, they seemed to be matching on their skills but then a new piece of footage was shown where the wife took to the knives.
Katniss watched in horror as the woman threw each knife with ease at the different targets that appeared. All of them resulted in fatal blows. Katniss remembered the last opponent she had face with knife skills, Clove, from District 2, but her skills were nothing compared to this woman's, and that scared the hell out of her.
She continued to watch, noticing which opponents seemed to be grouping together. One group had five men in it, another consisted of three men. There was a group consisting of all the women, one of them the wife who Katniss learned was called Zira.
Seeing them all, seeing how well trained they were becoming made Katniss realise that if she truly wanted to stand any chance at beating the games a third time that she too would have to train. She climbed off of the couch and lay down on the space on the floor between the couch and the coffee table, then she began to do sit-ups, they were followed by push-ups. After them she found two heavy stone ornaments and used them as weights, she was training for hours and when it was over and she could do no more she ran to the bathroom and threw up.
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