A/N: Thanks to coolcattime, mangesboy01 and Clato Kentwell for reviewing! :)
This chapter was submitted by mngesboy01. I hope that you all enjoy reading it :)
"We're so happy, even when we're smiling out of fear."
- Lorde, 2013.
The 139th Annual Hunger Games
Mahogany Dupont (18), District 1 Female
Lorde - Tennis Courts (2013)
Sunlight comes creeping in, illuminating the crystal chandelier hanging overhead. The shimmering pieces of glass remind me of the elaborate silver dress I wore during the night of the interviews. Soon, I'll be back in front of Peeta Mellark once more, and I know it. Only this time, I'm dreading the whole charades we will both ensue; dreading the crowing ceremony and late parties with all my adoring fans. Fans, that have already begun their bidding on me for when I return home.
Bile rises in my throat as the memories replay, swirling around and around inside my head like a broken record. No matter how hard I try, I can't keep them from sobs of my mother are forever burned into my mind.
Over and over again, I thought about their conversation that night. And with time, their fears became my own.
"But she's our baby!" my mother cried.
"I know," my father whispered to her. I imagine him cupping her hands, reassuring her. My father was always the more compassionate of the two. Sadly, I am not my father's daughter.
"Then do something, Sheen!" my mother screamed. "Tell them that your daughter is not for sale! That she will not be a courtesan!"
"I've..." my father's voice broke. "God, you know I've tried. . . "
Whimpers. That is what interrupted him from finishing his sentence. Until then, I had never heard my father cry. Never wanted to either. "And now, I don't know what to do. . . " my father continued.
"We can talk to Obsidian," my mother begged. "Maybe set up an arranged marriage between him and Mahogany."
"Splendor, you know Dorian Bloom wouldn't accept that," my father replied. "He's had his eye on Mahogany since she was seventeen. He even approached me after the tribute parade."
"Please," my mother whimpered. "You're her father; you have to do something. . .The Capitol people. . . they love us . . . they'll be willing to understand our wishes for our daughter."
"I know!" my father screamed, frustration bleeding into his tone. "But my hands are tied! Our lives hanging on a thin line because of the previous request we made!"
There was a crashing of glass, and then my father went scurrying over to the elevator, leaving my broken mother on the violet couch. The whole time both were oblivious to my presence. Something, that I indeed was grateful for. Because I didn't want them to know I had seen them at their weakest, and I didn't want them to know that I was now terrified of the people who had named me when I was a baby, not to mention, showered me with many luxuries as I grew into a young lady.
The perks of being the only child of two living victors were once wonderful. That, however, changed once the coos blossomed to winks and mischievous grins, and the stares started to linger downward, courtesy to puberty for running its course.
Truly, I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I volunteered. Not even during the trials did I understand the game that is played once the last canon sounds throughout the arena. But after hearing my parents speak, it became clear. Everything that was plastered with glamour was now transient. I could see the fear that my parents camouflage with smiles.
Before, I believed I had a choice. That I had wings that could fly, that could take me places that only other victors could soar to. But now, as I stand here on the granite tile floors in the president's mock mansion, I know my freedom is slipping away as the minutes dwindle down and the finale approaches. My wings, like my parents', will soon be clipped. I'll be flightless.
And for that, I don't know if I want to return home, anymore.
Because what life is worth living where you're passed around like a cheese tray at one of the Capitol's fancy dinner banquets?
Truthfully, I don't know if it is. Although, the longer I live in this arena, the more time I have to think about what life will truly be like when I escape these Games. And I think I've come to the realization that I'll never be a player, too, but a pawn. After all, the Capitolites have always influenced my life. Picking my name at birth. Choosing my dresses for the balls and banquets. Making appearances at my birthday parities. From birth, I've went down the path that they've highlighted.
And now, they expect me to be just as obedient. They predict me to act like the pretty blonde lapdog that they've groomed into the ideal victor.
"Mahogany, dear," cuts in a voice, breaking me from my thoughts.
Shaking away the potential nightmares, I look up to see the handsome girl from District 2, Morrigan.
"Morrigan," I purr, attempting to hide the fear that's prowling up my joints. "What a pleasant surprise?"
"Let's cut the act," she demands. "With only two of us left now, I'm beyond ready to end this."
I smile pleasantly. "If that's what you wish," I stutter, my voice betraying my fearless act all too quickly.
Readying myself, my eyes flicker over Morrigan. A broad shouldered girl of normal height with dark eyes that don't leave me for a second and unruly brown hair that could use some brushing and conditioner.
Morrigan lashes out, a scream piercing the air as she does. Expecting her blow, I duck, and then slide a few feet across the cool tile. Regaining my balance, I then turn and catch the vile smirk smeared across her face. No doubt she's enjoying this. From the start she's hated me, and honestly, I can't say I blame her. Because if truth be told, I'm everything she's not.
She rushes at me again, swinging wildly and with so much force that I imagine her axe would cut off a limb upon impact. Again, I expect her viscous blow, and side step out of the way. I go to counter, to slash her across the back with my dagger, but she catches my hand in the process. I scream as Morrigan applies pressure to my frail wrist. And then, her forehead comes colliding with mine, and I swear I see stars. Darkness itches at my vision, but I do my best to fight through it. I grit my teeth, tasting blood, before trying to knee her in the stomach. When the blow doesn't connect, panic starts to surge through me, and I begin to thrash crazily. Desperation consumes me.
Chuckling. It comes with the blackness that slowly paints over my surroundings because of another head-butt. The pain in my head is now unbearable. I feel tears whelping up in my eyes as the room starts to spin. Surely, this is where I die.
When Morrigan grabs my hair and tosses me to the ground like a rag doll, I know she's broken my nose. Laying there, streams of warm liquid start to pour down my face. They mix with the tears.
"Aww," Morrigan coos. "Are you going to cry for mommy and daddy to save you?" She gives me a kick to the ribs and I scream as the pain rips through me.
"Such a shame that two victors produced something so pathetic," she continues. "I guess all that pampering didn't do you much good in the long run, now did it?"
Another kick. With it, I feel my thin ribs shattering like glass. I taste the metallic taste of blood, too. This time I don't scream though, I merely stay silent.
Because now that I'm thinking about it, death could be the answer to all my problems. To all my parent's problems.
If I'm dead, my parent's will no longer live in fear, and I won't be rewarded with victory by selling myself to the highest bider. With death, there will be no more worrying about choices and consequences. For once, I'll be free from the chains that come with my surname.
I close my eyes, allowing a smile to slip across my lips. If honest, I believe I'm ready now. No more fighting or struggling. Come to think of it, I don't even know why I fought this far to begin with.
"This was far too easy," snips Morrigan.
Suddenly, there's a violent shake that cruises through the room. I hear the ringing of glass overhead. Opening my eyes, I see the immense crystal chandelier rocking back and forth, and then, as if it was given the order from Dorian Bloom himself, it falls, and I hear a scream. Yet, this time it isn't mine.
A solo canon echoes through the air, announcing the obvious.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to present you the victor of the 139th Annual Hunger Games, Mahogany Dupont of District 1!"
Grudgingly, I attempt to pull myself to my knees. I'm a victor now, I tell myself weakly. Yet, if it was up to me, I'd be just another dead tribute.
A/N: If you enjoyed this chapter, please review! As ever, constructive criticism will be welcomed :)
Just going to give another mention to the chapter concerning the Sixth Quarter Quell. Would anyone else be interested in getting involved with the proposition mentioned a couple of chapters ago?