I do not own the Hunger Games or any of Suzanne Collins' characters.
Don't Say A Word
She was quite possibly the most beautiful young woman anyone in District 10 had ever seen. Her hair was as red and radiant as the rising sun. Her eyes reflected such a brilliant green that the forests seemed to lose their splendor by comparison. Then of course there was her voice. It had a certain charm to it. A sweetness that could draw men in to her every word. There was no doubt that Lavinia's beauty opened doors for her in life. But it was also a curse. A curse which condemned her from the start.
It all began when a Capitol representative took notice of Lavinia. Like most men, he was first mesmerized by her beauty. But when she spoke, the melodic sound of her voice was so captivating that the representative was convinced he needed to bring her back to the Capitol. So he made her an offer. He told her he could rescue her from the deprivation of the Districts. He even promised her family that he could give her a life far better than the one they could provide her. And so a door opened which would change Lavinia's fate forever.
Upon her arrival in the Capitol, Lavinia was made to look like one of them. Her beauty was hidden beneath a dozen layers of makeup. Her skin was coated with so many inks and dyes that she couldn't remember what her own skin looked like anymore. One glance in the mirror and Lavinia had no idea who the woman standing before her was. All that remained of her was her hair, her eyes and of course her voice.
Shortly after her transformation, she was sent to visit a wealthy man across the city, as a condition for her wonderful new life. When she arrived he had given her the most beautiful jewels she had ever seen, followed by the most magnificent dinner she had ever imagined. The food was extraordinary. His house was extravagant. His clothes were perfect. But the man was not.
He put his hands along her back. She inched away from his touch.
He leaned in to kiss her lips. She pushed him away.
She tried to run for a way out. He threw her into the bolted door. "You are mine," the enraged man said. "I spent good money on you, and tonight you belong to me."
She couldn't believe it. She had been purchased. Just as someone in District 10 would have purchased a goat or a cow. Filled with regret, all Lavinia could think of was that this is the life she had chosen. The Capitol had allowed her to escape starvation and poverty. They allowed her to live a life of excess. But in exchange, her life would no longer be hers to live.
As the years passed Lavinia had hundreds and hundreds of admirers throughout the Capitol. Each had owned her for at least one night or another. But she wasn't alone. There was no shortage of misfortunate fools who fell into this life. People from every District of Panem. Most were recruited from District 1. That's where the Capitol sought most of their admired ones. Like Lavinia, they were all once stupid enough to believe that their beauty had actually earned them a better life. They were all wrong.
Then there were the Victors. The brave ones who had chosen this life by simply refusing to die. If that ever failed to work, the Capitol would find other ways to motivate. The brave Victors, who did not fear death, stayed simply to ensure the protection of the ones they loved most. No matter what the conditions were, everyone was the same. Everyone was trapped.
Lavinia was tired. Tired of this so called better life. Tired of the Capitol. Tired of not recognizing that stupid girl in her mirror. So one night Lavinia washed away all of the makeup and all of the dyes and the inks. She said she was done and she wished to return home. Instead, Lavinia returned to her room; her skin now layered with shades of black and blue. And she knew what she had feared most had come true. She could never leave. This was her home now.
Lavinia wept until there were no tears left to cry. And just as she had finally given up someone came to save her. His name was Antony. A man from District 2 who, like Lavinia, fell into this life the same way she did. He was her only ally in this entire city. He was her only friend. And throughout her years in the Capitol he was the only man she would willingly allow to come into her bedroom.
Antony sat down beside Lavinia. He kissed her bruised cheek and then offered her the one thing she wanted more than anything. "We can leave tonight. Do you have everything you need?"
Lifting her tearstained face, Lavinia smiled and nodded. Then she held Antony tighter than she ever thought would be possible to hold onto another person. Together they were going to escape.
The timing could not have been more perfect. Antony had been preparing this departure for years. Every corner. Every street. He had planned out the perfect route to break free of the Capitol. No one would ever know they had fled until it was too late.
They took the train to District 1. District 1 was the least suspicious destination. It never had any shortage of Capitol visitors, since so many wanted to get their luxury goods straight from the source. From there, they stocked up on food and continued their journey on foot. District 2 was easily avoided, since Antony was so familiar with the area. And with that the hardest part of their escape seemed to be over. They snuck past District 3, hitched a boat ride across the waters in District 4 and within a couple weeks, they had arrived at District 10.
Lavinia was home. All she could think about was rushing to her family and wrapping her arms around them all. But she couldn't. Returning home would mean putting her family's lives in danger. Lavinia knew the only way she and her family would all be safe was if she left Panem completely. So without a word, Lavinia and Antony continued past District 10.
Then came District 12. The last District. They were so close to their freedom, they could almost taste it. They could smell it in the air. They could hear it in the cheerful chirping of nearby birds. For the first time in years, Lavinia felt hopeful.
Then the birds stopped, and just like that it all faded away.
A single bird sounded like an alarm. As if it was a warning to every living thing in the forest. That's when the hovercraft appeared. Immediately a net was cast, and Lavinia was caught. Before Antony could react, a spear was fired and his fate was sealed. What little hope Lavinia had left disintegrated into nothing, the moment she saw the spear impale her companion through his chest.
The net lifted her into the air slightly, and Lavinia's eyes locked. But not on Antony. Hidden amongst the trees she noticed a small girl with a hunting bow, crouched alongside a young boy, beneath some foliage. The girl was pretty. All Lavinia could wish for was that the Capitol wouldn't find her too. That the little girl would stay safe, starving in her own district like everyone else. That the girl would never have to learn just how terrible things could get if she ever left the security of her impoverished district.
And with that thought, Lavinia felt the net tighten and her body soar upward into the hovercraft, where she watched in horror as Antony's eyes gazed at her for the last time. She screamed his name over and over as the hovercraft returned to the Capitol, but it was too late. He was already gone, escaping to the one place where even the Capitol couldn't reach him. And just like that Lavinia was alone.
A day later Lavinia awoke in a darkened room, strapped to a table. A cold man approached her with what looked like shears for pruning rose gardens.
When the man asked her to hold out her tongue, she screamed and she yelled and she tried to break free. But it was no use. She had to give in.
"Don't say a word," the cold man said.
And so Lavinia said nothing. Not a word. Never again.