I'm going to burn, I think fearfully as I prepare to walk into the Training Center. I want to trust Cinna, mainly because I don't really have a choice, but I can't help the rapidness of my breathing and the shakiness in my steps.
"Oh relax, Katniss," Portia says as she finishes a few details on Peeta. "You're going to be fabulous! Both of you, why Cinna is brilliant! Don't you agree?"
Peeta smiles encouragingly, but I still have my doubts.
Fabulous? That's not a word I've ever associated with myself, but today, I have to.
Competition is fierce, even before the arena. We need sponsors and I have a feeling we can't really rely on Haymitch for that. So we do have to look our best—even better.
"I'm ready," I say confidently, although I cannot say for sure I really feel it, seems like since I have no choice; might as well act the part.
"Katniss, you two look so wonderful. You're even more stunning than Miss Amidala herself!" Octavia blurts out.
The words impact me, and I can easily tell, everyone deeply.
I have to admit I am curious to see her—I have a feeling even if me and Peeta burn to death no one will pay us as much attention as to Miss Amidala.
I can hardly believe it even though I know it's true.
One of the tributes is from the Capitol! The words feel wrong, just thinking them… How? How is that possible?
It must be a trick, I am sure. But why? What are they trying to accomplish?
It completely defies the point of the Games.
They're supposed to represent the dominance the Capitol has over the Districts… Why would they send one of their own then?
Oh she volunteered, of course. But I don't buy that.
She's probably a trained assassin, a deadly lunatic or something—that'll show us.
Instead of killing each other in the arena, we'll be slaughtered by one of the Capitol's best! I can still remember her perfect-pretty face on the screen. Smooth skin, clear of any imperfection. Cascading brown curls. Small waistline yet feminine form. Wide dark eyes. Expensive clothes. I have to admit, they weren't the lavish ridiculousness the Capitol usually displays—her looks were even sweet… Sweet!
That's the word! Someone from the Capitol sweet? Ugh, I am sure she's spent every year of her life watching us die like wild animals, slowly going insane till someone's still standing and then crowned victor. Is that what she wants? The glory of being the winner? That seems stupid to me but I could expect such thing from her.
But I seem to think it was her choice only… No. That can't be. Nothing ever happens without the president's blessing. Did he force her? Maybe trained her from birth?
It seems so unlikely, she does not look like a killer. But perhaps that's the point.
Make her seem harmless and then give us the greatest show ever. Maybe. I certainly wouldn't look at that face and think her first impulse is to kill me. Unlike the male tribute that accompanies her…
Another novelty in the Games.
His name was called when he was out of his District, which apparently was legal since he worked in the Capitol for some rich guy who is very close to the president. And as of lately, he worked as a bodyguard for sweet-sixteen Padmé Amidala. Hmm, great. I can imagine what his actions are going to be like in the arena.
He's probably there only to make sure Padmé isn't injured as she sweeps through the tributes. I am not going to lie, I am deadly afraid of him.
He's the top age someone can be to participate in the Games, yet he looks so much more mature. He's tall, taller than Gale even. Above his black clothes, I could easily see the huge muscles that grace his beautiful body. Oh I cannot lie, he's the handsomest man I've ever seen—even on TV.
He has a shaggy mess of dark golden curls, some of them fall rebelliously down his forehead. His tan skin almost glistens from the screen to my eyes. His blue eyes held such darkness I never knew was even possible.
He didn't react to it but I am sure Peeta was afraid of him, too.
I didn't mention it, mainly because it embarrasses me, but when I die in the arena, I pray it isn't Anakin who finishes me.
"Katniss," Peeta calls me, and I am glad because images of Anakin's great heavy fists on my neck are flooding my mind. "I thought you said you were ready?"
In spite of myself, I laugh. Nervously, yes, but I have to thank Peeta, otherwise I don't think I would've been able of putting on a smile as I finally face the great crowd. The fact that he eases me for a while makes me angry. I'm going to have to kill him soon—I wish he'd stop being so nice!
We're in our chariot pulled by four strong horses, I take a last look at Cinna and Portia; then my gaze fixes only on Peeta. "What do you really think about the fire?" I whisper in his ear as my old worry finds me again.
We make a deal in which either one has to free the other from the cape, should it really sets us on fire.
I don't know how I am holding it together, maybe it's the fact that Anakin is standing next to me, because I can hardly believe they have allowed me to carry this so far.
I thought President Snow would have me executed immediately for defying his mighty games. In truth, I hoped they would kill me and not force me to see the man I love kill on that arena. Because that's what I feared the most: watching Anakin become a cold-blooded murderer.
Which I am about to, in a few days.
I don't know what force took over me as I volunteered for that little girl. I suppose I was too desperate when my father told me there was nothing he could do to save Anakin and keep him out of the Hunger Games.
I wanted to at least spend a few more moments before watching him transform into 11's tribute—I wanted my Ani with me, alone, and they left me no choice.
Snow's next action was unprecedented, though. I am sure he will punish me when I am in the arena, but as of now, he seems to not care what I do. Seems to. That's the thing. He'll be watching me, enjoying my agony and fear. Knowing he's making my last days complete torture. There's no way I am making it out of that arena alive. I've come to accept my death. Only one person will remain alive by the end of the Games. And I have no doubt, I am determinate, it will be Anakin.
Things are going on as usual, I wave to the crowd and I try to smile, which Anakin doesn't. They call my name, but I am sure they don't like seeing me there. It is strange, perhaps weirder for them than me. I wonder how the people in the Districts feel about me. They're probably going to enjoy my pain as much as Snow.
Things happen like I usually see on my screen. Except I am one of the tributes. People across Panem are watching me—my family included. I am sure the Capitol hates me for what I've done—they probably fear I might have started something and soon the Capitol will always be included in the Games. The rest of Panem… they definitely hate me, too.
I take a deep breath when we've finally made it. The cameras will be off of me and Anakin for some moments. It is District 12's time to take the attention. As little as they can. I admit, even at home I never watched them much.
I pity them as much as any other District, but they always were sadder to me. Having old drunk Haymitch as their mentor, which results in never getting any sponsors. I make a mental note, to later remember I tell my father he helps them a little.
They're the only tributes from this year I am not very well-familiar with, having had a mental breakdown before they showed 12's reaping, just hearing Anakin's name being called.
I know their names, Katniss and Peeta, I think. The boy was… Mellark? I can't seem to remember them well—poor things, the rest of Panem is probably thinking the same.
I stare at the floor but as the cameras lay off me for a moment, I decide to finally look at Anakin, and to my surprise, he's not watching me. Like everyone else, his eyes are deeply set on District 12's tributes. I hear their names well now, especially hers, as now everyone is shouting it with supreme admiration. And as I lift my face to see them, I can't help to be fascinated as well, watching their bright forms, literally on fire.
I have been so afraid of having the cameras on me at all times, being the girl from the Capitol and all… but now I am thinking, I'll be lucky if anyone spares a glance from Katniss, the girl who was on fire.
For a second, I am actually preoccupied watching the tributes from District 12… they're on fire! I know the Capitol values the tributes' lives as much as they would value dirt—but seriously, what the hell?! Then I remember, what do I care? I'm going to have to kill them anyway, they might save me the trouble.
But soon I realize, they're not burning… I mean they are, completely engulfed in flames but without injury. How do they do that? I wonder as I watch them from afar. The girl is dazzling, no wonder they all focus more on her than on the boy, even though he's also burning up, his outfit practically the same as hers.
"Katniss! Katniss! Katniss!" you hear from the crowd and she smiles beautifully as she receives her flowers and blows kisses into the crowd.
"She's good," I mutter lowly, feeling in the Force the effect her presence causes in everyone. Particularly one person and… oh. That's odd, the two tributes are holding hands.
I am pretty sure that never happens, usually tributes don't interact with each other much. I have tried will all my strength to remain as far from Padmé as was humanly possible since we're standing so close to each other. I didn't want to break more rules but as I see them… I get a spontaneous and rebellious desire to kiss my girlfriend in front of everyone—but I don't. I'm sure that wouldn't be good.
Next thing I know, President Snow is welcoming us from his high balcony. The sight of that powerful man makes me ache, because it reminds me the kind of people that are now above us. Where Padmé should be. She should be safe in her home, watching the games in her own television, a spectator and not a part of it, as I see her now, next to me in the wide screen.
My anger returns stronger than ever, I try to conceal it, but I am sure murder is as noticeable in my eyes as the blue that accompanies them. I am not too worried though, the camera barely lands on us now, when before we were the biggest thing. Everyone is still too focused on District twelve. The daredevil pair that paraded themselves engulfed in flames. Katniss and Peeta. And amazingly, they're still linked together. Their hands never stop touching. I try to reach for Padmé's small palm but she slaps me away. She's right, I think. We don't want to anger Snow more than we already had… and then I realize. She's not thinking of Snow. Like everyone else, Padmé is focusing on the girl on fire.
I try to hold it back but I smile. Usually I'm the one who's jealous, having to stand the incredible amount of suitors that chase around Padmé's beauty—having her be jealous is something I rarely if ever have, so I choose to enjoy it.
"Anakin," she harshly says without facing me. "Erase that smug look from your face or I will reconsider everything and actually kill you on that arena."
I clench my fists and my teeth, and much like Katniss, I feel I am on fire. Not so literally of course, but still… I don't know how longer I am going to stand this. The urge to kiss Padmé is so strong, I fear that's what's actually going to kill me.