A/N: I was wondering… is this moving too slowly? Should I speed things up? Please let me know!

And a huge thank you to everyone who's followed/reviewed/favorited my story. Words cannot describe how much that means to me. Thank you so, so much! =)

Chapter 7

Arthur's POV

It was at least twenty minutes before my father came to see me.

In the meantime, I had been visited by several other people- my friends and teachers, wishing me well, telling me that they were sure I would be the victor.

Over my sister. It made me feel ill.

Finally, the door opened and my father walked in. It seemed as though he had aged several years between that morning and then. His cheeks were sunken, and dark rings were around his eyes, which were torn and world-weary.

I felt a stab of guilt at his appearance, but I pushed it away. I was doing this, sacrificing my life, for him and for my sister. Because deep down, I had always known it was Meghan that he loved, Meghan that he cherished above all else.

Including me.

It no longer bothered me, or at least not nearly as much as it used to. I had grown accustomed to the idea since the day I had figured it out several years ago.

So now, I looked up at him and simply said, "Father."

He shook his head wearily. "Arthur," he whispered. "Why?"

I made no reply.

"Was it not enough that your sister is going?" His voice broke slightly, but he quickly recovered himself. "Do I really have to watch both my children suffer?"

"Father," I said quietly, "I'm going for Meghan."

He looked at me in silent surprise.

"I'm going to make sure she doesn't get hurt. That she's the victor," I told him. "I had no intention of volunteering until I found out she was going." I decided not to mention how long it had take me to make that my intention.

He just nodded numbly, then whispered, "Thank you, Arthur."

I looked up at him, taken aback. My father never thanked. He never praised. He never gave compliments. The most I had ever received from him in gratitude or approval was a nod. Which is why his next words shocked me even more.

"I'm proud of you, my son."

To my dismay, I felt tears well up in my eyes. No. That would not be my father's last image of me. I swallowed them back and whispered, "Thank you. I will not disappoint you."

"I know," he murmured, then leaned forward and hugged me. He actually hugged me. This time, a tear did escape the corner of my eye. But only one.

A peacekeeper knocked on the door. "Sir," he called through, "it's time. He has to be taken to the train station now."

"Goodbye, Father," I whispered as he pulled away.

"Goodbye, my son."

It was drizzling as two massive Peacekeepers escorted me to the train station. A fitting beginning of the end, I thought.

At the station were crowds of cameramen and other people, seeing us off. The amount of tributes from our town this year had to be some sort of record. I found myself wishing, not for the first time, that our country would divide into districts and take two teenagers from each, as Panem did across the sea. Then my sister would still be safe, and so would I.

I watched the other peacekeepers approach with the tributes from our area, trying to judge the people who would soon be my enemies.

A pretty, dark-skinned girl with curly hair- she had a gentle face and soft hands, I doubted she would pose a threat physically, but she looked intelligent. I would have to watch out for her.

Merlin's friend, who had been standing near me during the Reaping. He was not especially big or muscular, but he looked strong.

Maralyn. I did not want to think about her right now. I quickly looked away.

A dark-haired, pale girl- the one Merlin had thrown such a fit over. She did not look threatening in the least bit. She only had one peacekeeper to lead her, and she was trembling and trying not to cry. No, I didn't think I had much to fear from her.

And then, finally, Merlin himself- the skinny, dark-haired imp. His appearance was hardly intimidating, but with a frame like his, he could be quite fast. However, his obvious lack of intelligence, as displayed yesterday, would decrease his chances of winning a great deal. I wished now that I had fought him yesterday- it would have given me a feel for his style. Then, as I watched, he tripped and landed on his knees. He had tripped over air- he must be incredibly clumsy. I felt a small sense of relief. He was nothing to be afraid of. He'd probably be killed off in the initial bloodbath.

At the thought, a fierce wave of protectiveness washed over me, and my hands unconsciously balled into fists at the thought of someone hurting the boy. What was that?! I wondered. Why did I care what happened to the boy? Yet, even as I tried to dismiss what I had just felt, Merlin tripped again (over nothing), his hands smacking down hard on the concrete, and I had to fight the sudden urge to rush over to him and ensure that he was alright. What was going on? I analyzed my feelings carefully and realized, to my surprise, that they were very similar to the way I had felt when I heard Meghan volunteer and saw her up on that stage. I was starting to feel a little alarmed, so I quickly pushed them into the back of my mind and resolved to ignore them. I had more important things to think about.

I was escorted into the most luxurious train car I had ever seen. Seats lined each wall, their cushions so plump it looked as if they were about to burst. The tributes from our area were already there, with the exception of Meghan and Merlin's friend. The floor was some expensive type of wood- I wasn't quite sure which one, mahogany perhaps? In the middle of the car was a table filled with delicacies in expensive glass dishes. The expression fatten for the slaughter ran through my mind, and I pushed it away, sitting down and trying, with little success, to relax.

Then Meghan walked in, with Merlin's friend on her heels, and they sat down silently, Meghan at my side, Merlin's friend beside Merlin himself, who was sitting across from me with the girl he seemed so attached to.

I felt Meghan's hand reach for mine, and I stiffened in surprise- we rarely touched, and I seldom had physical contact with anyone. Then I saw how pale she was, how her lips were pressed together so hard that they had turned white, and I squeezed her hand and held on tighter.

The train lurched, and we began speeding away from home, all but one of us never to return.

A/N: I was going to put in several new characters in this chapter, but it turned out longer than I expected. Sorry. I promise you'll see them next chapter. =)

By the way, has anyone else heard about the Merlin trilogy? I was all excited for it, and then I found out today that Bradley James said he wasn't going to do it, and Colin Morgan said there probably wouldn't even be a movie, and if there was, he didn't want to do it. *sobs* So now I have been extremely depressed and addicted to Merlin all day…. =(

What did you think of this chapter? Is Arthur OOC? I always get nervous about writing from his POV… Please review! It only takes a minute and means the world to me! :D