Fallen from Grace (Hunger Games)

68th Hunger Games

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3. Entering the Capitol

    ”You seriously got lost getting home . . .?” Liam asked her.

    Emily didn’t answer him as they both walked to school. They lived close enough to their school, better to guide the redheaded girl to school since she had no idea where she was. She looked around to make herself familiar with the area just in case she would get lost again, knowing very well that her pursuers would come at her again sometime in the future. That part of the district that the Aldairs lived in looked so much more pleasant to live in . . . she couldn’t help but be jealous of that family . . .

    “You don’t talk much . . .” Liam commented.

    Emily only twiddled her fingers.

    “Felt like exploring and didn’t pay attention to where you were going?” he kept on going.

    Still as silent as a newborn lamb.

    The boy sighed and shoved his hands in his pockets to keep warm. She didn’t feel like being cooperative and no reaction out of her was boring. Emily looked at the dark haired boy then back at the ground as they tread the cold concrete. She wanted to defend herself so he wouldn’t think she was stupid, but he was mean and it wasn’t like they were going to see each other in the future . . .

    “Nothing looks familiar?”

    The red headed girl shook her head. “I only know how to get home from work and school . . .”

    “She SPEAKS!” he emphasized in an annoyed tone. Emily pursed her lips immediately and felt herself shrink. So mean . . . “We’re almost there anyway. Say something when you recognize something or when we get close to the factory.” She nodded. “Bet your parents will be mad you didn’t come home,” he teased.

    It was official. He was yet another bully in her life. “No . . . they won’t care . . .”

    “Why not?”

    Emily lazily shrugged. “They just won’t . . .” she muttered.

    Liam glanced at the six-year-old curiously and stared for a couple seconds and looked away. Weird . . .

    The redhead and the dark haired boy walked around the next corner and Emily immediately recognized where they were. “Oh, yeah, I know where I am now. Thank you,” she nodded to Liam and quickened her pace toward home.

    “Hold on, I should at least walk you all the way there,” he called after her and quickened his pace to catch up. “Just in case you get lost again.”

    “That’s okay,” she shook her head. “You don’t have to.”

    “No, I have to. My mom will know I didn’t walk you home and she picks up on when I lie,” Liam sighed.

    Emily slumped her shoulders down and pursed her lips before they continued onward. She really wished he didn’t have to come with her . . .

    Liam followed her in silence until they reached the poorer part of their section of District 8. Emily lived in one of the rundown apartment buildings that was in dire need to be cleaned, it was hard for Liam to believe that the quiet girl beside him lived in a dump like that. The two of them went inside and climbed up three flights of stairs, Liam noticed that her pace slowed drastically the closer they went and then stopped in front of her door.

    “You can go now . . .” she muttered and stayed frozen in place. “You know where I live . . . so . . . bye . . .”

    Liam blinked at her and slowly turned away to leave. When he disappeared, Emily looked back at the door and turned the knob, but it was locked. Her heart stopped for a moment and her whole body went cold as she pulled away and readied herself. She raised her trembled hand and knocked on the door and waited for the storm to come. There came the heavy footsteps behind the door . . . Three . . . Two . . . One—

    The door opened. There stood her finely haired father glaring down at her. “Where have you been?” he demanded in question.

    “I—I—I—” the little girl stuttered, keeping the tears in that threatened to spill down her chubby baby cheeks. “I—I—I’m sorry—I—”

    SLAP!

    Emily’s cheek stung and burned, the large red handprint taking up half of her small face. The little girl didn’t dare allow her cry in pain to come out, but only let out whimpers and tenderly touched her face. “Quit you babbling, you’ll make a scene,” he growled angrily and grabbed her wrist in a tight death grip before yanking her inside so hard he could have pulled her arm from the socket.

    Her head fell back from the pull and caught sight of Liam looking toward her and her father before the door slammed shut. 


    “Time to get up,” Liam whispered soothingly in her ear.

    “Ten more minutes . . .” Emily muttered sleepily and nuzzled her head onto his chest.

    “We should be going out to eat. And I recall you didn’t eat anything yesterday,” he reminded her. Emily always snuck away to Liam’s home and had breakfast with him and his brothers, especially on reaping day. In fact, most of the time she had slept over with them and was hardly ever in Harmony and Cece’s shared apartment. It was better to assume she lived with the Aldairs with her being close to the family.

    “You know I don’t eat breakfast . . .” she answered. “I get sick the rest of the day.”

    “I meant you didn’t eat at all yesterday . . .” Liam rolled his eyes.

    Emily didn’t answer him for a couple of seconds before she gave an exasperated sigh. “It wasn’t exactly the best day to eat . . .” She then sat up and gave him a grim look. “Do I get a pass?”

    “No,” the man answered without hesitation and chuckled lightly. “Come on,” he smiled and nudged her to the door. Emily groaned playfully as he kept pushing her until she finally got out of bed.

    “Now get out, I have to change,” she nodded.

    “I practically live with you.”

    “Get out!”

    Liam chuckled and walked out the door, sliding it closed behind him and Emily quickly changed out of her reaping dress into something else in the drawers. Thank goodness the Capitol thought of loading their cars with new clothing for the tributes to wear and completely throw away their reaping outfit, not like they would need it again whether or not they come back alive.

    Emily changed into something yellow; something soft colored and comfortable and clean. She came out of her room as she pulled her hair back in a ponytail and entered the dining car where Thorburn and Phox ate at the table. Phox, the Eight mentor, looked up from his plate and immediately noticed Emily’s red hair. “Well look who crawled out of their hole,” he commented.

    “Sorry . . .” Emily muttered and pursed her lips while she timidly took a seat. Emily felt embarrassed that her escort and mentor haven’t seen her since the reaping; she should have stayed in her room until they got to the Capitol.

    “Had any time to think about what you were going to do to get sponsors while you were in your room?” Phox asked. Phox had won the 55th Hunger Games by strangling the last tribute with thread that he made by hand. 

    The car door opened and Liam came in in a clean linen shirt and pants. Emily glanced up his way and then back at Phox. “No . . . not yet . . .” she answered while Liam sat beside her.

    Phox leaned back in his seat and observed Emily while she and Liam filled their plate with food and began eating. Liam stabbed his fork into a sausage on Emily’s plate and took a large bite of it, Emily glared at him and smacked his arm with the back of her hand. Phox blinked at the two and furrowed his brows at the sight of the two. Liam chuckled at Emily and added one of his pancakes onto Emily’s plate to trade for stealing from her plate.

    “Are you together romantically?” Phox asked.

    “Ew, no,” Emily chuckled and raised a brow at their mentor and bit into a piece of bacon. “We’re just friends.”

    “Friends don’t act like that,” Phox said grimly.

    “We’ve known each other since we were kids,” Liam shrugged casually.

    “I think it’s adorable,” Thorburn smiled at the two.

    Phox suggested, “We could always play the lovebird card for the Capitol to eat up—”

    “No,” Liam interrupted him. “Besides, we don’t act like a couple. The Capitol aren’t THAT stupid to believe the act, are they?”

    “Oh no, trust me. They’re idiots—”

    “Hey!” Thorburn said shrilly.

    “No offense, Thorburn,” Phox rolled his eyes. “It was a suggestion. We’ll think of something to get people to want to throw their money at you two.”

    Emily kept on eating and glanced up to Liam, giving him a silent thank you for declining the “suggestion” to use their relationship as an idea to make them popular. It wasn’t that she didn’t want any sponsors; she just wanted to get some without being used as a prop. The whole car went dark and Emily stopped to look out the window. Light broke through and she was able to see again. Her green eyes caught sight of the Capitol, all clean and shiny surrounded by the mountains. Oh god, they were there already.

    Suddenly Emily couldn’t eat another bite and put her fork down on her plate and wiped her greasy lips on her napkin. Liam’s large hand slid into hers under the table and gave it a reassuring squeeze. His hand felt cold and it trembled with her already shaky hand. 

    He tried to act brave too, glad it wasn’t just her . . .

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