Dreams by Eleos
Summary: Dreams aren't all what they are cracked up to be. A Hunger Games-esque AU fic. Oneshot. JPLE.
Red lips slowly curve into a smile. An eye winks at the crowd. No one breathes. A hand reaches into a glass bowl, plunging into the sea of names. Finally, it selects a sheet of fine, white paper, and the Escort reads out the first of the two names: "Lily Evans."
Lily can hear the sighs of relief from families, the soft "oh thank God"s of worried guardians. She can hear the heartbreaking sobs of her mother ("I never wanted to hurt you," she almost says, but then she's being pushed forward and becomes too far away to say anything, slowly moving towards the stage in snail steps, too far far far outside of her comfort zone to do anything) and the cold, hard stare of an estranged sister who doesn't want to let herself cry (somehow, Lily isn't surprised). Her breath hitches and she freezes.
"Lily, come up, dear. Please hurry."
She still doesn't budge.
"Come now. Come closer, yes, that's it, almost there…"
There is a strange buzzing sensation in her head and a ringing in her ears.
Lily shuffles forward, almost shyly—but no, that isn't quite it. She looks back at her older sister Petunia, who is now nineteen. Too old for the games. Safe.
She sees that Petunia has now broken down: She is weeping silently and hiding her face (ashamed, most likely, she thinks. After all this time and her sister is still ashamed). Lily wonders if Petunia would have volunteered for her the previous year if she had been picked then. But the Escort never says "picked," for that sounds cruel. Forced upon. Chosen, they say. "You've been chosen." What bullshit, she thinks instead. What complete and utter bullshit.
And then life fast forwards itself and she's missed the greeting of the Capitol citizens and the fancy brunches that she'd heard about on her family's small TV that was only used to watch the games once a year. All of the time had gone and passed and Lily hadn't noticed.
She is in the arena now. It is unfamiliar, like she had expected, but twisted and difficult to understand. Lily makes a mental map and tries her damndest to take in the information like a sponge. (Spoiler alert: She fails.)
There is a forest where it rains all day long. Then a mile away, a giant lake lies. (They drained it the next day, she remembers vaguely, the facts blurring in her head. No, maybe they drained the other pond. Or the river. She decides it takes too much effort to remember and so she forgets.)
The only thing she can picture clearly is the sun: It burns hot and hard and never ceases except at the precious hours of night that only lasts a few hours each day.
Then, her mind goes black and her vision goes black. She forgets it all.
Lily Evans wakes up screaming.
"I had the dream again," she confesses to her boyfriend that afternoon. "And it was worse than ever."
He doesn't quite answer her, but angles his head away from her, just a little bit, but it is enough so that she can't see his worried frown. She doesn't have to see his face to know it, though.
She sighs heavily in return and leans her head against his shoulder. "Reaping's Friday," she says conversationally.
"This is just so stupid," she announces angrily, suddenly; she surprises James. "This is just—ugh!" Her face turns red with fury, and she can't seem to put together a coherent thought. "It's just the games are shit. Everything's shit."
James only nods and lets Lily continue. He's familiar with this Lily. The passionate and angry Lily. The fiery and opinionated Lily. Still, she rages on. "I mean I don't want to die. I really don't want to die and I sure as hell don't want someone else to die instead of me dying, too!" She lets out a third and final sigh. "I just. I feel like I've lost before I've even had a change to fight."
For once, James doesn't know what to say to cheer her up.
The next dream starts as they all do—with the Reaping.
She goes through the usual bouts of emotions. She hears her name called and gets frightened; walks up to the stage in shock; goes to the games with anxiousness. She's used to this. She's okay.
But then the dream goes on. She doesn't forget and wake up. Lily remembers the details and they stay remembered, always crisp and fresh in her memory.
Now she is unnerved. There are new obstacles, each more real and terrifying than the previous.
A young girl was murdered mere feet from her. Lily could hear the scream, ear-piercing and pained, burning into her skull and boring into her brain. (She won't be able to forget it, she knows. Not ever.) She was fictitious, yes, but Lily cried all the same into the night or the dream-night, but really, Lily couldn't tell the difference anymore.
Lily kills for the first time the next day. Or dream-day. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that Lily killed someone, real or not, in cold blood and, bloody hell, she just wants to real-life die.
But she doesn't because this is a dream and she doesn't know how to wake up and killing yourself in a Hunger Games-esque dream seems to be a really morbid and scary way to die and Lily never liked pain much anyway.
Then, the world goes black and Lily almost cries in relief until the shock of consciousness hits her and blinds her and she wishes she was real-life dead for the second time in a row.
She awakens in James' arms. Lily quickly jumps to the ground and rubs at her eyes—there are no tears, she reminds herself. So I am okay.
"I'm sorry," she mutters, angry at herself and the world and the whole goddamned universe.
A ghost of a grin crosses her lips as James smiles wholeheartedly at her. "It's fine," he replies easily, throwing an arm around her shoulder. "I didn't mind."
She just nods and blushes and smiles crookedly at James before pecking a quick kiss onto his lips.
"Hey!" he protests. "I deserve more than a bleeding peck! You nearly fell off your bed; I saved you!"
He is grinning and laughing, and Lily can't restrain her smile. Her lips quirk upwards and she squints up at James, happy for once.
She almost forgets about the games, so caught up in James and the searing kisses he places along her jawline, but only for a moment.
Still, she indulges herself and smiles for a tad bit longer.
The Escort raises her hand in a quiet, quiet please movement and the crowd's low whispers gently fade and vanish, leaving the cluster of people far too quiet for Lily's comfort.
She shifts awkwardly and steals a glance (or two or three or ten) at James. She winks at him and then turns away.
Before she knows it, the Reaping begins.
"Yes, now, now," the Escort says, her words overly rehearsed and boring, the same speech read year after year. "Settle down now." The crowd has been silent for a while, but every year their escort, a women named Jamille who wore enough make up for ten self-conscious fifteen year olds, insists on repeating her same speech.
"We welcome you on this wondrous occasion of the 64th annual Hunger Games!" She applauds herself and the games, just as she had done for last five years. A few people pity clap, but mostly the little kids cry and sniffle and the teenagers glare.
"Let's get on with it, shall we?" And she does. "Ladies first!" Jamille says excitedly. Her hand hovers over the bowl for a suspenseful moment, like in the dream, but then she chooses a singular piece of paper and reads aloud: "Mary-Lee Harods."
Lily Evans almost allows herself to sigh, but she stops herself at the last minute. I am safe, she breathes, scolding herself for her selfishness, but oh so relieved anyway; her voice is barely a whisper. I am safe, I am safe, I am safe.
But Mary-Lee Harods isn't and so Lily Evans stands straight and solemnly, watching a quivering girl walk up to the stage. She clenches her fist and breathes deeply through her mouth. Out. In. Out. In.
The boy is soon picked and all Lily can think is not James, not James; please not him, oh please. It isn't James and Lily feels a sickening sense of solace. She wants to run away right then, run to James, run to her family, run out of District Four and keep running forever.
She stands there in the crowd and blends into the hundreds of faces. Tears leak from her eyes, silent, and for a moment all she can think about is dear God, I am not going to die, not yet, not now, but then the guilt washes in, the oh my, I am so sorry. But Lily Evans knows no one wants her pity, and so she keeps it locked up inside her.
She knows that if there were such a thing like Hell, she would burn in it.
That night, Lily Evans does not dream at all.
A/N| I know, I'm back so soon! I just deleted my old stories and now a new one. It's an I'm really sorry forgive me please piece. I hope you forgive me.
Please review! Yes, favorites are nice and all, but a review with some critique would just be the best! Even a three-worded one would be amazing!
AND: I know, yes, it is heavy on the swearing and OOC, but remember: It's AU so characters are in different situations, mindsets, and settings.