I do not own The Hunger Games nor any of its characters, I'm just writing this for fun. I hope you like the story and please feel free to review!
I sit with my mother, my younger brother, Layle and my girlfriend, Tilly in our small excuse for a living area. The chairs are wobbly and on the verge of breaking, the whole place feels cold and it's covered in coal dust.
We are gathered together around our old television to hear what this year's Quarter Quell will entail. The picture keeps moving around but none of us care; we don't want to watch this any more than everyone else in Panem. Except, maybe Districts 1 and 2, I bet they're besides themselves with excitement.
President Snow, a short man in his mid-sixties with greying hair and large lips that are pulled tight across his face, takes to the stage. I can feel Tilly pulling closer towards me and I can't help but kiss her soft, brown hair. She's petite and looks like a doll but we've been together a year now and I know better than to get on her bad side; she may look innocent but she's as fiery as they come.
A small boy is standing next to Snow, holding a large box of cards that reminds us that there will be no end to the Hunger Games. Each card represents a twist that occurs every twenty five years and there appears to be at least fifty cards in that box. My blood runs cold but I try not to show it to my family. Layle may be ten years old but on occasions like this he allows himself to climb on to my mother's lap and holds her tight. I would usually mock him for such childlike behaviour but not today.
Snow clears his throat and begins his speech. "People of Panem, it has been fifty years since the Capitol triumphed over the rebellious districts and so this means that the Hunger Games' second Quarter Quell will soon be upon us! We must remember the importance of the Quarter Quells as they are meant to be fresh reminders of what can happen when the districts become selfish, rebellious tyrants."
He pauses for a moment and picks up a card from the box with the number '50' written on to it. I can see Tilly's face growing in anger so I plant another kiss on her face, it might not calm her down but it definitely makes me feel better.
Snow clears his throat again and begins to read from the card. "To remind the districts that for each Capitol citizen killed in the rebellion, two rebels died, twice the number of tributes will be reaped."
My mother's hand flies to her mouth as she gasps and Tilly buries her head in my chest. Snow has exactly the kind of face you want to punch, even if you didn't know about the torture and oppression he has inflicted over his country for decades. I have always vowed that if I ever got close enough to punch him, I would. Of course, the only way that would happen is if I entered the fight to the death that is the Hunger Games and there's no way I would come out of that alive.
Tilly's cursing under her breath and Layle is asking mother if I'm going to be safe for another year. She doesn't say anything, she simply pushes back his light brown hair behind his ear.
"Everything is going to be fine, Layle," I say, "I haven't been reaped so far and I have no intention of changing that."
This brings a smile to his face and my mother looks at me with such concern that I know I can't stay here any longer.
"Tilly and I are going for a walk, I'll see you both later."
I grab Tilly's hand and lead her out of the house, it is mid spring so it's just about warm enough to walk around without a jacket as long as you're back inside before it gets dark.
I've known Tilly all of my life; we both grew up in the Seam and kids from the Seam tend to stick together. She lives with her parents and her older brother, Drake, and ever since we were five years old we have spent almost every day together. It wasn't until my fifteenth birthday when she turned up at my house looking amazing in a teal coloured dress that I realised how in love with her I was. Thankfully, she felt the same way, too.
We walk in to town without saying a word, I can tell that she needs some time to reflect on what's happened and I also know that she's more worried about me being reaped than herself.
"Tilly," I say, stopping on the path in to town. "We're going to be okay. There's going to be thousands of slips in that bowl."
"I know," she says. "It's just…I can't lose you, Haymitch. I can't." She has to stand on her tiptoes to kiss me so I bend my head to make it easier. She has such soft lips that feel so perfect against mine.
"You won't," I say and kiss her again.
It's the day of the Reaping and my mother is straightening up my grey shirt, which apparently matches my eyes perfectly. I still don't understand why we all get so dressed up for this; four children are going to be taken away and sent to their deaths yet we feel as though we should look presentable for the occasion. I think we should all turn up in our oldest, shabbiest clothes and see how much the Capitol likes that.
"I think you're all set," says mother and steps back to take a look at me. "You look just like your father."
I smile because I don't want to upset her but I never felt any real connection to my father. He died when I was nine and the only thing he seemed to enjoy was drinking white liquor, even though we barely had enough money to feed us all. Both of my parents spent all day working in the mines but whilst my mother's priority was trying to find some sort of food for me and Layle, my father's was to get to The Hob as soon as he could and buy some booze. He's one of the few people in District 12 to ever die from liver poisoning; a rich man's disease in my eyes.
"Can we eat now?" Asks Layle and my mother nods.
We sit down and eat a bread roll each; I dread to think how much this has cost my mother. But it's reaping day and everyone across the district will be sitting down to as good a meal as they can afford.
It doesn't take us long to finish and then we're heading off towards the town square. The entire district is heading in the same direction and there are cameras everywhere to capture the moment. Not one person has a look of happiness upon their faces.
Layle virtually jumps at me and throws his arms around my waist, trying to hold back the tears.
"I'm going to be fine," I tell him. "I promise."
He pulls away and my mother gives me a hug, telling me to stand tall and wishing me luck. I say thank you and scan the crowd for Tilly. I can see her hugging Drake so I make my way towards her, shouting her name. She turns around and flashes me a gorgeous smile, albeit with a sadness in her eyes. By the time I reach her she has ran into my arms and I'm holding her close, kissing the top of her head.
"We'll get our blood taken, stand there and then when it's over we'll have a feast, okay?" I say to her and she nods before standing on her tiptoes to kiss me.
We hold hands as we queue to get our blood taken and only separate once we have to stand in the boys and girls section of the sixteen year olds' area in front of the stage that has been specially erected for the occasion. My eyes follow Tilly as she takes her place amongst her friends and I give her a cheeky wink to let her know that we're going to be okay. They won't call our names.
There are three people sitting on chairs on the stage with peacekeepers in white uniforms surrounding them. The first is Mayor Clarkson, the second is our only victor, Titam Noss and the third is the tributes' escort, a woman from the Capitol called Marsella Plush who always looks displeased to be in 12.
The clock strikes two and Mayor Clarkson approaches the microphone to tell us all about the Dark Days and reinforces the power that the Capitol has over us. There used to be 13 districts all under the control of the Capitol and fifty years ago they rebelled, only to be brutally defeated and district 13 was wiped off the map. The Hunger Games was born and since then every year each district has had to give one male and one female tribute to the Capitol so that they can fight to the death on television.
The Mayor reads out our supposed list of victors, which only has Titam's name on it, a broad an in his mid-fifties who is still lucky enough to have his thick, dark hair on his head, albeit with streaks of grey.
The Mayor hands us over to Marsella who totters over to the microphone in her ridiculously high heels. She's wearing head to toe lime green and her chest looks like it's about to burst out of her dress, it's that tight on her.
"Hello!" She says in her strange, Capitol accent, "And happy Hunger Games, may the odds be ever in your favour!" She pauses so that we can cheer but all she hears is silence, as usual. "Let us begin! As you know, this year will be very exciting with two female and two male tributes entering the arena!" Again, no one cheers so she continues. "Ladies first!"
She puts her hand in to the ladies reaping bowl and plucks out one of the pieces of paper and holds it up to her face.
"Clo Dawnson!" She shouts with delight and a small cry comes from the fourteen year old section. A girl is making her way to the stage, she's surprisingly tall for a fourteen year old and has long, blonde hair. She's keeping the tears back it's easy to see that she's struggling.
"And now for the boys!" Shouts Marsella once Clo has climbed on to the stage. She plunges her hand in to the bowl and for a brief moment I remember that it could be my name that she calls. "Dinium Hawkes!"
I let out a sigh of relief as I see a tall, muscular boy take the stage. I've seen him around school, he's a year older than me, but I don't know him. I think he's one of those sporty types who is on every team you can imagine. He's composed as he takes his place next to the slight Clo.
"And now back to the ladies!" Squeals Marsella, she's enjoying this far too much. I hate those Capitol people. I hate them. "Maysilee Donner!"
I hear a shriek and my head twists to the right to see a girl clutching at her twin and another girl sobbing next to them. I know how painful it would be to see Layle called up on that stage but I can't imagine how devastating it would be if it was your twin that was reaped.
Maysilee pulls away and looks confident as she walks on to the stage, there is no sign that she's terrified about what's to come and that worries me.
Now it's time for the second boy's name and I can feel my palms getting sweaty. Every year I tell my family that it won't be me but, of course, I'm still scared that it might be. I don't want to die. I don't want to kill anyone.
"Haymitch Abernathy!" Marsella booms and I'm suddenly pulled away from my thoughts and back in to a harsh, evil reality.