Between Love and Warfare (A Hunger Games Fanfiction)

This is the story of young love, murder, betrayal, warfare, and learning to live again. This is the story of the the 68th Hunger Games.

Chapter 4

The Competition

“What do you want?” I ask quickly and harshly. “Where's Effie?”
The mentor smirks. “She got sent over to District 12. We have a new escort with us now. It seems the Capitol prefers the switch.” He steps into the room and walks in a circle around me, drinking in my presence. I simply glare as he moves around and fold my arms across my chest. “You are something of a looker, aren't you?” I growl dangerously and, even though he is behind me, I know he has stepped back a pace or two. “Vicious, though.”
I am repulsed by how pleased he sounds at this. Almost as though my aggression toward him depicts my character in the Games.
“I'll have to talk to your stylist about showing off a bit more skin for you. With some help with posture, you could pull off sexy during interviews and deadly in the arena,” he continues. I finally snap.
“And who says I won't die before I get to show the world just how 'deadly' I can be?” I hiss, whipping around to face him.
He smirks. “Looks like we'll have to work on manners, too.”
By this point, I am absolutely furious with him. Repulsed, especially. All I want is to take out a knife and slit his throat, but unfortunately, here, that isn't much of an option. Not unless I want to be killed off as well. Maybe at this point, though, that's what's best.
Biting my tongue to stop whatever harsh comment wants to fly off of it, I say, “I suppose you will.” I try to give a smile, but I know that I only pull off an angered grimace.
“Good girl,” he says with a pat on my shoulder. His touch makes my insides crawl. “Join us for dinner, now, and meet your competition.”
His hand tightens on my shoulder blade and he steers me out of my room. I want to stay, to crawl back into my bed, but unfortunately, he won't let that happen. So instead,a few moments later, I am sitting at a dining table filled with people. I only recognize Kipp and my other mentor. But the woman sitting between them is a mystery to me.
“There they are,” she says calmly, with a slight smile to the other mentor. When she turns to speak to me, though, her voice is completely different. “Hello. My name is Grandia Grace. I am pleased to meet you.” Her voice is slow and much louder, like I am hard at hearing or mentally incapable.
I sit down on the other side of Kipp and he whispers in a low voice, “She did the same thing to me. Don't feel bad.”
I suppress the urge to smirk and direct my attention back to Grandia Grace, who is attempting to show us the proper way to use a fork and knife in that same loud, slow tone. In the middle of her instructions on properly cutting meat, food was served by a young and smiling server. Without hesitation because I am so famished, I instantly pick up my fork and knife and begin slicing into the tender meat. I plop it into my mouth, close my eyes, and let the juicy flavors burst on my tongue. When I open them again, Grandia has her eyes trained on me in surprise. I finally feel the urge to say something to her.
“I'm a tribute from District 6. Not a barbarian. I know how to eat and use utensils and speak correctly. Kipp and I both do.” I turn to Kipp, who's also began to eat his food. “Don't we?” He nods a few times in reassurance. I fix myself back on Grandia, who seems to be collecting herself from my outburst.
“Well!” She stands huffily and flattens the bottom of her magenta blazer. Without further comment, she storms out, leaving Kipp and I alone with our mentors.
“It seems you've insulted her,” Kipp comments with a hint of amusement. I manage a slight smile – my first smile since chosen as tribute.
“I really do have to teach you manners, don't I?” the male mentor that visited my quarters says exasperatedly. I roll my eyes as my smile becomes non-existent again.
The rest of the meal was spent in utter silence other than a few attempts of exchange between Kipp and either of the mentors. I can tell that he's used to everyone liking him, but these mentors are the toughest eggs to crack. It is almost as if they are designed to hate everyone. Thankfully, I am used to this treatment, though, considering I only had one real friend and that was Judd.
After dinner, the mentors decide to leave us alone until it is time to watch the other Reapings on television. They want us to get to know each other, possibly form an early alliance, I think. Not having an issue with that idea, I do not complain as Kipp and I take a seat on a plush couch. He stares at me with charming eyes.
“I don't think we ever formally met in 6,” he says. Holding out a firm hand to me, he adds, “Kipp Hagens.”
I shake his hand with a slight smile. “Gemma Weiss.” We sit in an awkward silence for a moment until I break it. “You looked just as frightened as I was when you got Reaped.”
He laughs. “I wasn't frightened. I was just surprised.”
“Mhm,” I say doubtfully. He smirks.
“So why were you so frightened by it? I mean, you must have known there was a chance that you would have been called.”
“That doesn't make it any less scary,” I admit. I think for a fraction of a moment of telling him of Mother and Father – of admitting to him my life's story in short – but decide against it quickly.
Almost as if my feelings were transparent, he asks next, “Was your family scared for you?”
I shrug. “My mom was more than my dad.”
“Aren't moms always?” he chuckles. “My mom nearly had a panic attack in the private room. She got my baby sister all worked up, too. Do you have any siblings?”
I shake my head. “None. My parents were planning to once I got old enough to help them out with it, but...well, things didn't exactly go to plan.”
“What do you mean?”
“My mom got sick.” Wanting anything but that sympathetic look forming on his face, I quickly lie, “She's doing much better now, though.” His sympathy turns back into charm as we continue our conversation. Though Kipp seems to be a fairly nice boy with a keen mind and strong personality, I can not see myself aligning with him in the Games. I settle with terming us as friends until the Games begin. Then I am not allowed a friend unless I want a knife in my back.
Eventually, our mentors and Grandia file back into the room and join us on the couch. I am forced in between the male mentor and Kipp with very little wiggle room. Grandia turns on the television just in time to watch the other tributes get Reaped.
They go in numerical order – District 1 to District 12. In 1, two obvious Careers are chosen, the same with 2, especially since the boy actually volunteered here. In 3, I notice the boy that was chosen had to get literally pushed onto the stage. An instant pang of pity for him hit me and I make a mental note to meet him when I reach the Capitol.
District 4 was one of the stranger, more emotional Reapings. It appeared as if the two that were Reaped knew each other and were very close friends by the way that they openly comforted and embraced each other on stage. The girl was a former winner of the Games' daughter. Her name was Melissa Odair and she resembled her father, Finnick, very closely, except for the eyes.
In District 5, neither tribute stuck out to me as much as the others had. And then Kipp and I were on the screen. Me in my blue dress and neat bun. Kipp in his tucked in dress shirt and black slacks. I don't know about Kipp, but I know that the camera didn't nearly catch how upset and scared I was. In fact, I looked positively calm walking up there. I notice a hush in the room as they show my lips moving silently to speak to Mother. Absentmindedly, I fiddle with the chain of my locket.
I continue to watch silently as District 7 pulls out two very short tributes, the boy 14 and the girl my age. District 8 is the worst one to endure, simply because a twelve year old girl was Reaped. I could barely watch as her small legs carried her onto the stage so instead, I bury my face into my hands until she's off of the screen and the next district is on.
In District 9, the girl practically ran onto the stage, seemingly thrilled, whereas the boy simply meandered, appearing calm and collected. In District 10, the tributes seem fairly normal, so I pay little attention to them, but remind myself to keep an eye on them both in training. Both tributes from 11 were fairly young still and looked fairly innocent as well. It threw me off in how to really react to them.
Finally, we watch as District 12 endures their Reaping. Effie, looking very upset over having her district switched, is giving the same announcement she used to give for us. For the girls, an older, attractive girl was chosen. I see Kipp grin next to me and he whispers, “Looks like I'll be getting to know her.” I smirk and return my attention to the television just in time for the boys. The boy chosen was tall, muscular, and, I admit, very attractive. He walked his way confidently toward the stage and stood by the girl, Arishana I think her name was, and their district gave them a polite round of applause.
And just like that, the Reaping ends. Twenty-four have been chosen. One will live. And by this time tomorrow, we will be sizing up our competition, trying to pick out which ones are a direct threat and which ones will inevitably kill themselves.
Kipp excuses himself to bed, as do our mentors, leaving me with Grandia. Not wanting to be alone with her for too long, I go to my bedroom as well. As I crawl under my sheets and rest my head on the pillow, I can't help but think about Mother and Father back home, without me. I silently pray that the are doing much better than I am right now as I close my eyes and nod off into a sleep I wish I would never wake from.

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