Chapter 1

~ Prologue ~


Days have been busy in the Capitol. Workers were clocking in at dawn and out at midnight. Cars of different colors and sizes flooded the streets of the city. The more wealthy folk planned parties and gatherings in their respective mansions. Everyone was invited, and the main topic over wine was always the same. The Capitol was never more alive than this time of year because as summer draws to a close, the season of the annual Hunger Games begins.

Amidst all the activity bursting about in the Capitol, a man at twenty-five sat behind a newly varnished mahogany table in a luxurious office covered in velvet. His blank eyes focused on the flat screen television as blaring music began to play and Caesar Flickerman appeared sitting comfortably in his chair with aqua colored hair slicked black and navy blue lipstick. Beside him on another chair sat a beautiful lady of eighteen with short brown hair falling above her shoulders in ringlets and bright bronze eyes shaded with blue makeup.

"Good morning, Panem!" Caesar greeted the camera with a winning smile. "Please welcome our guest for today's interview, the one and only victor of the fifty-second Hunger Games, Erizelda Morrison!"

Cheers and applause followed after Caesar's introduction. Zelda hopped up on her feet and curtsied. She blew kisses at the camera and returned to her seat.

"You look stunning, Zelda," Caesar complimented her after gently kissing the back of her hand. Back in the office, the man who watched rolled his eyes. "Of course, I'm not surprised," Caesar continued with a chuckle. "You've always looked beyond perfect."

"You flatter me, Caesar," Zelda said, her voice echoing like Christmas bells from the speakers. "You'll have to thank my stylist. She did well, but I'm starting to get curious about all the blue."

"That is for me to know, and for you to find out." Caesar winked. "Although I would have expected you to know by now. You have been very cozy with the Head Gamemaker for the past year."

"It hasn't been a year yet," Zelda answered. "Almost. But no, he hasn't told me anything. He's very secretive when it comes to his work."

"Is keeping secrets good for a relationship?" Caesar asked with a raised eyebrow.

"I think it goes both ways. It can be good and it can be bad too. There are just some things that are better left unsaid."

Caesar gave her a sympathetic look. "I know how you feel."

He didn't.

But nevertheless, Zelda nodded with a smile and Caesar continued on with the interview.

"Enough about your love life. I'm sure Panem gets enough of that from the paparazzi following you two around everywhere you go!"

"They're rather distracting when we go out for brunch," Zelda answered with a nonchalant shrug.

"Exactly," Caesar chuckled. "Let's talk about your time here in the Capitol! How did it feel to make that decision of moving out of District Eight and with Mr. Creswell here?"

"It was difficult," the brunette sighed, "but I knew the right answer the second I was asked that question the first time. There was nothing left in District Eight for me except for all the bad memories and the person I had been before my Games. I wanted to start a new life, a new me, and I believed the Capitol was the best place for that."

"What about Franco? Did put an influence to your final decision?"

"Of course he did," Zelda added in hurriedly. "He's a really good man, and I feel completely safe with him. My brother didn't quite approve of my decision, but I still visit him every month."

"Do you miss District Eight?"

The victor smiled. "No."

"I'm glad you found a home in the Capitol then, Zelda." Caesar returned the smile. "Now what are you expecting for the fifty-third Hunger Games? We all know you'll be mentoring for one of District Eight's tributes alongside Roman Valdez."

"I definitely am expecting a lot from this year's Games," Zelda answered somewhat hesitantly. "It's going to be a big one, and I'm sure that Franco has some big plans. I'm excited to mentor too. Teaching tributes and all that... Hopefully they don't die fast..."

Caesar seemed to have noticed the change of mood in his interviewee and hastily changed the subject to her parents. Knowing what was coming next, Franco raised his remote control and switched the television off. The door suddenly burst open and the real Zelda Morrison stormed in. She threw him a glare and closed the door behind her with a loud bang.

"Who said you could watch the replay?" Zelda snapped irately, gesturing to the blank television. Franco innocently blinked at her.

"I'm not watching anything."

"Don't even try lying to an expert liar, Franco. I could hear my own voice from the receptionist's table."

"I missed it yesterday, okay?" Franco tried to reason with her, getting up from his seat.

"You always miss the live airing of my interviews," Zelda grumbled.

Franco crossed his arms. "So it's my fault now?"

"I didn't say that."

"Implied," Franco mumbled.

Zelda threw her hands up in the air. "You know what, whatever. I didn't want you seeing that interview anyways because it was embarrassing."

"Your answers are the same all the time," Franco replied with a roll of his eyes. "I don't understand why you think it's so embarrassing."

"You're just lucky I'm a good liar, Franco. If the Capitol weren't so daft, they'd be seeing through my answers soon enough."

"Well the Capitol is daft so nothing to worry about."

Franco walked past her and swiftly left his office. Zelda sighed and crossed her arms.

"That new uniform isn't working for you!" she yelled before he was out of earshot.

He shouted a swear word back, but Zelda could hear the smirk in his tone.

She had gotten used to his behavior by now. Franco will always be Franco, and he always had the tendency to dramatize things. The past year had not been too bad on her. In fact looked back, she realized it was rather thrilling. It all started when she ran away with the Head Gamemaker in the dead of night without telling anyone where she was going. Franco had revealed to her the president's plans for her as victor, and he shared his clever idea to keep those plans from pushing through.

Instead of being forced into bed by a random stranger from the Capitol, Zelda settled as the Head Gamemaker's lover. She moved into a fancy apartment in the city with him, and modeled for fashion magazines. When she wasn't working, she was with Franco as he accomplished his duties as Head Gamemaker. During the first few weeks of living together as an actual couple, it had been too uncomfortable for the pair to even sleep in the same room. It was only two months later did Zelda actually feel things for the man, and she had the most awkward first kiss in her entire life. But despite their dysfunctionalities, Zelda still considered it her longest lasting relationship, and she had been with a lot of men. This made Franco very special to her.

Now that the scheduled reapings were in a few days, both Zelda and Franco were busier than ever. Zelda was in demand to model for the cover pages of a variety of magazine companies. They all wanted the latest victor for the month's issue. While Zelda answered calls back and forth, Franco put his last minute changes on his arena that Zelda was yet to see. But based on Caesar's new look and the sudden change of color of the Gamemaker uniform, Zelda could safely assume that there was going to be a lot of blue.


Author's Note:

I said I'd upload this in a day or two, but I got excited. Anyway it's back to the beginning from here.

Hello there! You may not have read my first SYOT, Our Last Days, so I'll introduce myself again. My name is Jess. This is my second SYOT, and though it is a sequel to my first, you're not obligated to read it if you don't want to. I'm starting fresh with new characters and I would be very happy if you think of submitting.

All the details are already on my profile, but please note that there is no rush in making a tribute since it is technically NOT first come first serve. The list of accepted tributes will be posted in a week so you have one week to make your tribute and send it to me. This system was borrowed from TallTalesInk. Tales makes SYOTs too so check that out!

Hopefully I do get enough tributes in a week. Anyway again, all the details are on my profile so go check it out if you're interested! Zelda by the way was the victor of my last story. I'm pretty confident that this story will have a victor too. I'm just saying, I don't plan on abandoning this. :)

~jess

P.S. The quote in the story summary is from Ernest Hemingway. He's a brilliant American author.