Having been through prep with Flavius, Venia, and Octavia numerous times, it should just be an old routine to survive. But I haven’t anticipated the emotional ordeal that awaits me. At some point during the prep, each of them bursts into tears at least twice, and Octavia pretty much keeps up a running whimper throughout the morning. It turns out they really have become attached to me, and the idea of my returning to the arena has undone them. Combine that with the fact that by losing me they’ll be losing their ticket to all kinds of big social events, particularly my wedding, and the whole thing becomes unbearable. The idea of being strong for someone else having never entered their heads, I find myself in the position of having to console them. Since I’m the person going in to be slaughtered, this is somewhat annoying.
omg lyke i am so sad u guize, my favrt victor is goin bck in2 the hunger gamez 2 almost die agen, dis is so sad 4 me, how wil i evr get ovr dis, how cud dey do dis 2 me, mi lyf sukz u guize.
The costume looks deceptively simple at first, just a fitted black jumpsuit that covers me from the neck down. He places a half crown like the one I received as victor on my head, but it’s made of a heavy black metal, not gold. Then he adjusts the light in the room to mimic twilight and presses a button just inside the fabric on my wrist. I look down, fascinated, as my ensemble slowly comes to life, first with a soft golden light but gradually transforming to the orange-red of burning coal. I look as if I have been coated in glowing embers — no, that I am a glowing ember straight from our fireplace. The colors rise and fall, shift and blend, in exactly the way the coals do.
He turns me toward a mirror so that I can take in the entire effect. I do not see a girl, or even a woman, but some unearthly being who looks like she might make her home in the volcano that destroyed so many in Haymitch’s Quell. The black crown, which now appears red-hot, casts strange shadows on my dramatically made-up face. Katniss, the girl on fire, has left behind her flickering flames and bejeweled gowns and soft candlelight frocks. She is as deadly as fire itself.
I just, I didn;t think anything could top their costume in the last games, but this definitely takes the cake. Oh man. I can’t wait to see this in the movie. Assuming they make the next two books into movies?
“Want a sugar cube?” he says, offering his hand, which is piled high. “They’re supposed to be for the horses, but who cares? They’ve got years to eat sugar, whereas you and I…well, if we see something sweet, we better grab it quick.”
I…what…was that….was that like…a pick-up line? Because it was truly awful. Plus, isn’t he like, in his mid twenties?
Tall, athletic, with golden skin and bronze-colored hair and those incredible eyes. While other tributes that year were hard-pressed to get a handful of grain or some matches for a gift, Finnick never wanted for anything, not food or medicine or weapons.
So basically, if you’re good-looking, you get to live. Or at least, you’ll get a lot of sponsors to give you whatever you damn please so that you can live.
When he received a silver parachute with a trident—which may be the most expensive gift I’ve ever seen given in the arena—it was all over. District 4’s industry is fishing. He’d been on boats his whole life. The trident was a natural, deadly extension of his arm. He wove a net out of some kind of vine he found, used it to entangle his opponents so he could spear them with the trident, and within a matter of days the crown was his.
Wait, hang on, did I read that right? A trident? He used a fucking trident to kill his opponents? I don’t even, what? This is pretty badass!
He’s draped in a golden net that’s strategically knotted at his groin so that he can’t technically be called naked, but he’s about as close as you can get. I’m sure his stylist thinks the more of Finnick the audience sees, the better.
“Then how do they pay you for the pleasure of your company?” I ask.
“With secrets,” he says softly. He tips his head in so his lips are almost in contact with mine. “What about you, girl on fire? Do you have any secrets worth my time?”
SECRETS DON’T MAKE FRIENDS. But seriously, he could get just about anyone to spill their deepest darkest secrets. What kind of secrets is he keeping in that beautiful head of his?
I climb up and pull him up after me. “Hold still,” I say, and straighten his crown. “Have you seen your suit turned on? We’re going to be fabulous again.”
“Absolutely. But Portia says we’re to be very above it all. No waving or anything,” he says.
GOOD. Don’t give those fuckpieces the satisfaction or the attention that they don’t deserve. I like this angle. Because the audience is going to love them no matter what they do. They were the most recent victors, and the “star-crossed lovers” on top of that, and now they’re going back to the games immediately after that. So they already have the sympathy of the crowd. Now they’re going to refuse it. Show them they they don’t need anything from the Capitol. They are better than the Games, and can win it again if they have to.
I look up into those blue eyes that no amount of dramatic makeup can make truly deadly and remember how, just a year ago, I was prepared to kill him. Convinced he was trying to kill me. Now everything is reversed.
IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL AND YOU BOTH HAVE COME A LONG WAY AND I AM SO PROUD OF YOU BOTH.
We star-crossed lovers from District 12, who suffered so much and enjoyed so little the rewards of our victory, do not seek the fans’ favor, grace them with our smiles, or catch their kisses. We are unforgiving.
And I love it. Getting to be myself at last.
This is why I like it so much. There’s no faking it. District Twelvers don’t front. District Twelvers are keeping it real. They’re probably the only “real” people in this joint.
I know Chaff by sight because I’ve spent years watching him pass a bottle back and forth with Haymitch on television. He’s dark skinned, about six feet tall, and one of his arms ends in a stump because he lost his hand in the Games he won thirty years ago. I’m sure they offered him some artificial replacement, like they did Peeta when they had to amputate his lower leg, but I guess he didn’t take it.
Suddenly I’m wondering if Haymitch will have a hard time supporting Peeta, and even Katniss, when he has friends in there fighting against them. Will he be able to overcome his friendship with Chaff and the others, knowing that for Peeta to live, they all have to die?
The woman, Seeder, looks almost like she could be from the Seam, with her olive skin and straight black hair streaked with silver. Only her golden brown eyes mark her as from another district. She must be around sixty, but she still looks strong, and there’s no sign she’s turned to liquor or morphling or any other chemical form of escape over the years. Before either of us says a word, she embraces me. I know somehow it must be because of Rue and Thresh. Before I can stop myself, I whisper, “The families?”
“They’re alive,” she says back softly before letting me go.
Phew. Well, at least Rue and Thresh’s families don’t have to suffer any more than they already are. And I wonder if Katniss and Peeta will befriend Chaff and/or Seeder. Them being from District 11. Or at least as much of a friendship you can have in the Games.
Johanna Mason. From District 7 Lumber and paper, thus the tree. She won by very convincingly portraying herself as weak and helpless so that she would be ignored. Then she demonstrated a wicked ability to murder.
WATCH YOUR BACK, BITCH.
While we wait for the elevators, Johanna unzips the rest of her tree, letting it drop to the floor, and then kicks it away in disgust. Except for her forest green slippers, she doesn’t have on a stitch of clothing. “That’s better.”
“It’s you, Katniss. Can’t you see?” he says.
“What’s me?” I say.
“Why they’re all acting like this. Finnick with his sugar cubes and Chaff kissing you and that whole thing with Johanna stripping down.” He tries to take on a more serious tone, unsuccessfully. “They’re playing with you because you’re so…you know.”
“No, I don’t know,” I say. And I really have no idea what he’s talking about. “It’s like when you wouldn’t look at me naked in the arena even though I was half dead. You’re so…pure,” he says finally.
“I am not!” I say. “I’ve been practically ripping your clothes off every time there’s been a camera for the last year!”
“Yeah, but…I mean, for the Capitol, you’re pure,” he says, clearly trying to mollify me. “For me, you’re perfect. They’re just teasing you.”
“No, they’re laughing at me, and so are you!” I say.
So…people are messing with her because she’s PURE? I just can’t think of anyone who’s won the Hunger Games as anywhere near pure. It’s the whole thing that’s been messing Katniss up! And what is teasing her going to accomplish, exactly? I’m pretty sure her sexuality isn’t going to matter much in the arena. Is it for intimidation? Because anyone who knows Katniss should not waste their time.
Then a chill runs through me. Because I know him, too. Not from the Capitol but from years of having easy conversations in the Hob, joking over Greasy Sae’s soup, and that last day watching him lie unconscious in the square while the life bled out of Gale.
Our new Avox is Darius.
WHAT THE FUCK? The old Peacekeeper guy from District 12? The one who was at gale’s whipping?! Did he get punished for interfering, or was it something else? If it were for that, you’d think Gale, who actually committed the crime, would have become an Avox. Maybe because of his leiency over the years? Or to make an example out of him? I don’t know but this is just fucked.