Caesar gestures for Cinna to rise. He does, and makes a small, gracious bow. And suddenly I am so afraid for him. What has he done? Something terribly dangerous. An act of rebellion in itself. And he’s done it for me. I remember his words …
“Don’t worry. I always channel my emotions into my work. That way I don’t hurt anyone but myself.”
… and I’m afraid he has hurt himself beyond repair. The significance of my fiery transformation will not be lost on President Snow.
Shit, shit, shit, Cinna what have you done? Is this why he asked for District 12? Did he predict that he could facilitate an uprising with his clothing, that Katniss could become the face of the rebellion with his help?
“We’re already married,” says Peeta quietly. The crowd reacts in astonishment, and I have to bury my face in the folds of my skirt so they can’t see my confusion. Where on earth is he going with this?
He’s making everyone feel even worse! They may be the most tragic tributes of them all, the star-crossed lovers, now married, soon to be facing each other in the arena again only a year after they won. And Peeta is just rubbing their noses in it!
“I’m not glad,” says Peeta. “I wish we had waited until the whole thing was done officially.”
This takes even Caesar aback. “Surely even a brief time is better than no time?”
“Maybe I’d think that, too, Caesar,” says Peeta bitterly, “if it weren’t for the baby.”
PEETA YOU GENIUS. Now they’re married, AND they’re expecting?
As the bomb explodes, it sends accusations of injustice and barbarism and cruelty flying out in every direction. Even the most Capitol-loving, Games-hungry, bloodthirsty person out there can’t ignore, at least for a moment, how horrific the whole thing is.
Hmm, sending previous victors back into the games is beginning to sound like less and less of a good idea, huh, Gamemakers?
And then it happens. Up and down the row, the victors begin to join hands. Some right away, like the morphlings, or Wiress and Beetee. Others unsure but caught up in the demands of those around them, like Brutus and Enobaria. By the time the anthem plays its final strains, all twenty-four of us stand in one unbroken line in what must be the first public show of unity among the districts since the Dark Days. You can see the realization of this as the screens begin to pop into blackness. It’s too late, though. In the confusion they didn’t cut us off in time. Everyone has seen.
But what does this mean for the tributes? Are they going to stay this united once the gong sounds and they’re in the arena? I can’t imagine every single tribute would be on board for a sit-in, but DEAR GOD how I’d love a sit-in.
We wait for the others to return, but when the elevator opens, only Haymitch appears. “It’s madness out there. Everyone’s been sent home and they’ve canceled the recap of the interviews on television.”
Peeta and I hurry to the window and try to make sense of the commotion far below us on the streets. “What are they saying?” Peeta asks. “Are they asking the president to stop the Games?”
“I don’t think they know themselves what to ask. The whole situation is unprecedented. Even the idea of opposing the Capitol’s agenda is a source of confusion for the people here,” says Haymitch. “But there’s no way Snow would cancel the Games. You know that, right?”
Either way, they’ve done something. They’ve stirred something in the other districts, and even the Capitol. Everyone saw what happened, they’re going to remember it, and they’re going to do something about it. I just feel like this is the turning point for all of Panem.
“Then we’ll never see Effie again,” says Peeta. We didn’t see her on the morning of the Games last year. “You’ll give her our thanks.”
“More than that. Really make it special. It’s Effie, after all,” I say. “Tell her how appreciative we are and how she was the best escort ever and tell her … tell her we send our love.”
Effie! I never thought I’d get upset over Effie! :(
For a while we just stand there in silence, delaying the inevitable. Then Haymitch says it. “I guess this is where we say our good-byes as well.”
“Any last words of advice?” Peeta asks.
“Stay alive,” Haymitch says gruffly. That’s almost an old joke with us now. He gives us each a quick embrace, and I can tell it’s all he can stand. “Go to bed. You need your rest.”
I know I should say a whole bunch of things to Haymitch, but I can’t think of anything he doesn’t already know, really, and my throat is so tight I doubt anything would come out, anyway. So, once again, I let Peeta speak for us both.
“You take care, Haymitch,” he says.
We cross the room, but in the doorway, Haymitch’s voice stops us. “Katniss, when you’re in the arena,” he begins. Then he pauses. He’s scowling in a way that makes me sure I’ve already disappointed him.
“What?” I ask defensively.
“You just remember who the enemy is,” Haymitch tells me. “That’s all. Now go on. Get out of here.”
What the…yeah. The Capitol, right? Or does he mean the other tributes? Is he disappointed in their striking back at the Capitol? He was never on board with a rebellion, but does he still expect them to “play” the Games and kill each other? After all this? I just wish I new what Haymitch meant and how he really feels!
“What do you think?” I ask, holding the fabric out for Cinna to examine.
He frowns as he rubs the thin stuff between his fingers. “I don’t know. It will offer little in the way of protection from cold or water.”
“Sun?” I ask, picturing a burning sun over a barren desert.
Oh yeah, I just remembered, where are they going to go? Where will the arena be? Did I ever say it might be in District 13? Because I feel like it could be there.
We sit, as we did last year, holding hands until the voice tells me to prepare for the launch. He walks me over to the circular metal plate and zips up the neck of my jumpsuit securely. “Remember, girl on fire,” he says, “I’m still betting on you.” He kisses my forehead and steps back as the glass cylinder slides down around me.
Suddenly the door behind him bursts open and three Peacekeepers spring into the room. Two pin Cinna’s arms behind him and cuff him while the third hits him in the temple with such force he’s knocked to his knees. But they keep hitting him with metal-studded gloves, opening gashes on his face and body. I’m screaming my head off, banging on the unyielding glass, trying to reach him. The Peacekeepers ignore me completely as they drag Cinna’s limp body from the room. All that’s left are the smears of blood on the floor.
NO. NO NO NO. WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?
THEY’RE GETTING BACK AT HIM FOR THE COSTUME.
OH MY FUCKING GOD, PLEASE DON’T LET HIM BE DEAD.
Sickened and terrified, I feel the plate begin to rise. I’m still leaning against the glass when the breeze catches my hair and I force myself to straighten up. Just in time, too, because the glass is retreating and I’m standing free in the arena. Something seems to be wrong with my vision. The ground is too bright and shiny and keeps undulating. I squint down at my feet and see that my metal plate is surrounded by blue waves that lap up over my boots. Slowly I raise my eyes and take in the water spreading out in every direction.
I can only form one clear thought.
This is no place for a girl on fire.
I’m still shaking from Cinna’s attack.
But what the hell? Where are they? The ocean? Do they have to swim around and tread water until they get too tired and drown?
What the fuck just happened?
What the fuck is going to happen?