The Hunger Games (A One Direction Fanfiction)

I make my way back to my room. I half expect to lay awake all night fretting, letting in all the emotions that have been strangely absent so far, but when I lie down, I’m out almost as soon as my head hits the pillow.

I’ve always been a surprisingly good sleeper. I wake easily, but I can stay in that twilight place between dreams and reality for as long as I want. In the morning, I choose to stay and try to relive all my happy memories of childhood.

In fact, I don’t even get out of bed until well past noon, when our train arrives at the Capitol. I feel sluggish, and slightly sick to my stomach with fear. This is it. I am now officially a tribute in the Hunger Games.

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1. Chapter 1

Ina's POV

The morning pokes through my thin, linen sheets, the sunlight hugging my face. I reach out next to me and brush my fingers gently across Anya’s cheek.

“Mm...” she mumbles, her eyes flickering open, “Sleep well?”

I shake my head in a reply, fixing my eyes on the soft features of her face. She laughs and batts my hand away, slowly rising from the old matress we shared. Her skin is sticky with sweat. We didn’t have any ventilation in our run-down hut. We couldn’t afford any.

She gets up on her feet and walks to the kitchen, speaking over her shoulder, “Well, you’d better get ready. We have to leave in an hour.”

I don’t feel like getting up, though. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave the safety of our hut. What if I never see my home again? What if I never see Anya ever again? I glance up at the small wooden table next to our matress. A clean, white shirt and beige jacket is nicely folded and placed ontop of it, along with my torn jeans. Those were all second-hand. I can’t bear to wear any of my other clothes. Not even my favourite dresses. They would bring back too many memories.

I finally build up the courage to get up onto my feet. I drag myself towards the entrance of our home, peering into the bright, red bucket near the door. It’s half-filled with water, enough for Anya and I to have a quick rinse. I haul it over my shoulder and into the living room, being careful not to spill any of the precious liquid. I set it down on the wooden floor and pull out a stool. I sweep my matted, dark brown hair into a high ponytail. I glance at my reflection in the ripples of the water. My whole face is red and my eyes are slightly swollen. That was the first time I had ever cried in my sleep. I cup my hands and bring the water up to my face, washing away all the dirt that has piled up over the past few days. I then run the water over my arms and my feet, scrubbing away the grime until I’m clean.

Anya walks into the room, holding a plate with a small loaf of bread.

“I was saving this for today. I wouldn’t want you to be nervous and hungry,” she pulls out another seat and sits down beside me. I choose to remain silent, reaching out to pick off a piece of the soft, warm bread. Right now, I don’t feel like eating, but I don’t want to seem cowardly. I promised Anya that I would be brave.

We finish off the bread in silence and I slip on my clothes while Anya washes herself. I slowly make my way to the window and stare outside. I see people setting up the stage in the middle of our village and my stomach churns. I feel sick. My knees are wobbling and I try my best to hide my anxiety. Anya shuffles towards me and places a reassuring hand on my shoulder.

“You won’t go today,” she speaks in a monotone voice that is soothing, yet brings chills up my spine, “They won’t pick you.”

I continue looking outside. I place my palm on the window pane and it feels as cold as ever. Slowly, I glance up at Anya and whisper, “But what if they do?”

“Ina...” she sighs, pulling me into a tight hug.

But maybe she’s right.

--------

The central square of District One is packed. The heat of the morning sun, combined with crowd of warm bodies, is raising the temperature to an almost unbearable level very quickly. The high levels of anxiety aren’t helping either, leaving me with the very strong feeling that I may faint at any moment.

I run the back of my hand across my forehead, wiping away the thin sheen of sweat that clings to my skin. Anya keeps her arm wrapped protectively around my shoulders, disregarding the heat and stickiness. My sister laughs at me gently, and tosses out a few teasing words, trying futilely to get me to relax. I can’t; today is just too stressful.

Today is the Reaping Day.

Anya brushes a strand of my hair behind my ear and whispers, “Don’t worry Ina. We’ll get through this, and it will be just another day.”

I try and believe it, but Anya’s name is in so many times this year.

Other eligible teenagers, everyone between the ages of twelve and eighteen, are pressed close around me, with more coming in with every passing moment. I hate this. I hate crowds. I huddle close to my big sister, finding comfort in her tall, lanky form.

Up on the central stage, I can see the two glass balls, one with the girls’ names in it- five of those have my name written on them in careful handwriting- and the other contains the boys’ names. I’m more worried for my sister than for me. Anya took out tesserae for both of us when she was twelve, so her name is in eighteen times. She isn’t a Career Trainee, either, so if she gets reaped, she’s dead. Unless someone volunteers for her, which has about one in a million chance of happening.

Volunteering isn’t a new thing. It has always been allowed, but because the odds are only one in twenty-four that you’ll come out of the arena with your heart still beating, it wasn’t a popular thing to do. Then last year, the first Quarter Quell, all of the Districts were allowed to choose their tributes. Most of the districts were horrified at the prospect, but some of us saw it as a blessing in disguise. If we could nominate two strong, clever, ruthless kids, then we might win, and get a years supply of gifts from the Capitol. We might make surviving from day to day just a little bit easier. After all, isn’t risking your life worth it if you can survive and go home to family and friends and neighbors who have finally had enough to eat?

So our District came up with a plan; why stop choosing who could go? If every year we trained a few elite fighters, then we would tip the odds in our favor. The well-trained, well-fed kids would volunteer at the reapings, and more often than not, we would get a victor.

That was the plan, and I hoped that, since neither Anya nor me had made it through the training, we would be spared.

Anya is forced to go and stand with the other seventeen year olds. I can still see her, though, and the sight of her skinny frame is comforting. She is standing near Amanda and Emily, two trainee girls who are casual acquaintances with us. I’ve seen Amanda practice with some of the weapons at the training center before, and she is an incredible fighter. She moves like a cat, balanced and quick.

Up on stage, Tina Collett glides up to the center of the platform, and taps the microphone with her fingertip. It gives an annoying squeal of feedback. She has read the reaping names for as long as I can remember, and hasn’t changed a bit the entire time. As always, her pale brown hair is pulled back in a tight bun, and she is clad in a plain dress that is an awfully sick shade of green. She is shockingly bland to look at for someone who was born and raised in the capitol.

“Happy Hunger Games everyone, and may the odds be ever in your favor!” Her voice is robotic and slightly pitchy. It has the intonations of someone who has said the same speech over and over again. She begins to blather on about the Treaty of Treason and the Dark Days. I tune out, having heard it all before, just wishing that she would hurry up and draw the names already. The longer the ceremony goes on, the more anxious that I get. What if I do get picked? What if Anya does? My blood runs cold. What if one of us gets reaped, and no one volunteers for either of us?

Tina seems to move in slow motion as she walks towards to ball with the boys’ names. It’s hard to hear what is going on over the buzzing in my ears, and I call I think is please let it not be anyone I know.

It isn’t. There is a flurry of motion on the boys’ side, but I am too relived to care pay attention to what is happening.

I snap back to attention as Tina reaches the glass ball containing the girls’ names. For a moment, I’m distracted by the sunlight glimmering off the glass- its painfully bright- but then I focus back on her hand. It dips into the ball, and pulls out a slip of paper. She walks back to the microphone, and pauses for a moment to let the cameras center on her, that insufferable smile still in place on her face. I can feel my heart speed up in one last little bout of fear. Please let that not me, or Anya, please, please, please. It’s five in thousands, so let the odds play out how they should, and please, please let that not be any of us.

Tina snaps the paper open with a flourish and reads the name in a commanding voice. “Amelia Harvey.” I feel a wave of relief wash over me. It’s not me, or Anya. It’s not even someone that I know. I am a little bit ashamed, because some family will be crying over the loss of their child tonight, but I can’t pity everyone because I would have drowned in sorrow years ago if I let myself feel grief for everyone who was reaped.

I wait expectantly for the inevitable cries of anguish, whether from Amelia herself, or her family members. There’s nothing, and I notice that no one has moved to walk towards the stage.

Then one of the Peacekeepers darts up to the stage and says something in Tina’s ear, too quiet for anyone else to hear. I look at Anya in confusion; where is the female Tribute from District One? She looks just as lost as I do.

The Peacekeeper moves away and Tina speaks again. “It seems that Amelia Harvey has been severely injured in a factory accident, and is no longer eligible for the reaping.” Her bright, cheerful tone is at odds with the horrifying words. They barely have time to sink in before she has grabbed another name out of the reaping ball and is flicking the folded paper open. “Your new female tribute for District One is Ina Williams.”

My world spins and all of the sudden, I am on my hands and knees, on the ground. It was a sick twist of fate that I thought I was safe, only to have it snatched away from me at the last second. Someone behind me grabs my arm and pulls me roughly to my feet. I don’t know who. Probably a Peacekeeper.

I must have walked to the stage, because the next thing I know, I am ascending the stairs. Tina’s smile is still obnoxiously happy, and I am surprised to realize that underneath the thick blanket of shock that seems to be shorting out my senses, I still have it in me to be irritated at her. I feel oddly detached as I take my place on the stage, as though I’m still down in crowd, watching this happen to someone else. Because this can’t be real. I must be having a nightmare. Any second, Anya will shake me awake and make the demons go away, just like she does every morning.

The male tribute, Frazer, is standing calmly beside me, smiling out at the crowd with a confident smirk. This close to him, I can see the tight, corded muscles that line his athletic frame. His blonde hair glints like gold in the sunlight, and his grin is predatory.

He frightens me.

Tina finishes her concluding speech and gestures for us to shake hands. We do, and I am surprised that, underneath the calluses, Frazer’s hands are soft and gentle. Our eyes meet, and this time his smile is much more mischievous, as though we are in on some giant joke.

I wish.

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