Mercy (A Hunger Games fanfic)

Avea Thatcher isn't like most careers from District 4, she has no interest in the games or the fame and glory that come with being Victor. But after her twin sister, Lyra, is executed, her older sister, Xanthe, decides to volunteer for the 56th Hunger Games as a form of suicide. Avea knows she has to be the one to fight in the games if she is to save her sister and keep her family together. Seen as a traitor by the careers, Avea struggles to stay alive in the arena while keeping a vow she made to Lyra and herself to not let anyone suffer before they die.

"Before I black out I make a vow to myself: 'I will never let anyone suffer like she did. I will never let anyone suffer like my sister did.' And then I'm pulled into the blackness."


9. Chapter 8

I walk into the dining room ready for the day. This entire day will be spent preparing for the interviews, first I will work with Jay and Grace on my interview content and then with Felix on etiquette.

There are even more delicious options at the buffet today so I load my plate with little bit of everything, some ham, a little bit of some sort of breakfast cake filled with cream, an english muffin, at least a dozen flavors of jelly, a fruit that looks like an apple but is a dark purple color, and many other things. My food is gone too quickly and I'd get seconds if I weren't so full.

I take in the view from outside the window, the Capital stretches as far as I can see in a rainbow of colors shimmering in the morning sun like dew on leafs. I try to imprint it into my memory in case I never see it again. I look at the people around me and try to remember their faces for when I'm in the arena, for when I feel the end is near and I need comfort. I'll remember the sad way Jay smiles, I'll remember the silver tattoos on Junia's arms and neck and how they intrigue me almost as much as she does, I'll remember how quickly Grace can switch from comforting to serious and back again, and I'll even remember Felix's bubbliness and his tendency to over exaggerate things. I bite my lip, the games don't begin until tomorrow but I'm already falling apart. Jay puts his hand on my shoulder and I follow him and Grace to another room while Zale goes with Felix.

"Right now the Capital image of you is beautiful and fierce," Grace begins, "and we'd like to keep it that way. Beautiful and fierce is not a bad image to have in the arena, it will get you lots of sponsors as long as you keep it up."

"People are comparing you to the likenesses of a lion," Jay says with a wink, "and a storm which will go perfectly with your interview outfit." A storm I'd never thought about myself in that way, but I like it.

"So, do I answer the questions fiercely or beautifully?" I ask though I'm not sure how to answer a question beautifully.

Grace gives a small laugh and says, "Your job is to act fierce and look pretty like you did for the Opening Ceremonies."

"We're going to ask you a few questions and you need to answer fiercely while maintaining a calm body language," Jay says.

I do my best to answer the questions fiercely, but I apparently come off awkward, we try again and this time I come off cocky. Grace keeps telling me that fierceness comes from strength within and that I have to show everyone how mighty I am, the way she describes it I feel like I should be shouting and possibly even throwing things, I honestly have no idea what she wants from me. Jay finally asks Grace to leave for a moment so that he can work with me.

"To be fierce you have to think about what drives you. Think about all of the things that have brought you to where you are now, everything you fight for and will die for. That's how I won, all I had to do was think of Marilla and it gave me strength to fight and the ferocity to win. I thought of everything that had brought me into that moment, I thought of what my opponents did to Marilla and about what the Capital did to all of us. I thought about my family waiting for me at home. And because of all of that I fought and I won," Jay says holding my hands in his, " I want you to remember that now and when you're in the arena, OK?" All I can do is nod because I'm to mesmerized by what he just said. "Now let's try those questions again and think about your sister and what the Capital did to her, to you, and your family. It will make you strong, I promise."

"Avea, what has been your favorite part of the Capital?"

I take a deep breath and think of Xanthe, my dad, Selene, and even Vivien. I think about how they'll be expecting me to come home, how they can't lose another sister, another daughter, another friend; I let these thoughts fire up my adrenaline and my will to fight. I'm not just acting fierce anymore, I am fierce. I sit up straight, a slight glare comes to me naturally and a smile plays on my lips as I say, "My favorite part of the Capital has been impressing our Gamemaker friends. I wasn't sure if they would think I was fierce enough, but now I know they do. They know I'm ready for the arena!" I stand up and throw my fist into the air.

Jay smiles and pulls me into a hug, "That was perfect. You showed not only that you're fierce, but also that you have an impressive skill set by bringing up your training score and that you're ready for the arena all without being overly cocky. It was a great response. Keep this up and you'll have more sponsors than Grace and I can sign." I can feel my smile stretching from ear to ear. Jay gives me another big smile and we continue the questioning.

"Tell us about your family back in District 4?"

I bite my lip at first not sure what to say but then I know, "I have father, an older sister named Xanthe, I also had a twin sister her name was Lyra and she was the amazing and beautiful person I'd ever known, but she passed away a few months ago. I miss her so much but I know she's watching over me and that she'll give me strength in the arena. I'll do whatever it takes to keep my family from losing another daughter."

Jay seems amazed by response and can barely say, "That was amazing! I know it's hard to talk about Lyra, but Caesar will most likely ask you about her if you mention her, so you'll have to get personal which will get you a lot of points with sponsors. You don't have to talk about Lyra if you don't want to, but if you do just remember to stay strong and remember you have people who are looking out for you." I nod trying to fight back tears. Jay gives me a comforting hug and we walk to the dining room.

Grace is waiting for us in the dining room, I thought she'd be angry for getting kicked out, but when she sees our huge smiles she pulls me into a hug and whispers, "You did it. I'm so proud of you." I cherish the hug as long as I can. If Jay is like a brother to me then Grace is like the mom I never had and I don't want to let go. Eventually I have to let go of Grace and eat lunch, but that's another thing about her that I'll have to remember about her while I'm in the arena. I'm so happy in this moment because I feel that no matter what Grace and Jay will look out for me, they are my family away from home.

Lunch consists of smoked turkey on a fluffy white bread with a slight bitter taste to it with a cheese so rich and creamy it melts in my mouth. I try to drag lunch out so that I don't have to practice etiquette with Felix. It's not that I don't like Felix it's just that we never really connected in the same way I connected to Grace, Jay, or even Junia and not to mention my etiquette will probably give him a a heart attack, I have horrible posture, can't stand smiling for too long (it makes me feel fake), and I have never walked in heels. Felix finishes and patiently waits for me, but by the time I'm done he's practically dragging me to the room where we'll practice etiquette.

"You're posture is pretty bad, so we'll start there, " Felix says. 'Saw that coming,' I think to myself.

Felix has me sitting up so straight I'm afraid my back might break and apparently posture doesn't just include my back but also my neck, my head, the position of my arms, and my legs. We go through several different, but according to Felix, like my answers to the interview questions, some are too awkward or too cocky. Felix finally decides on one where I have my head tilted up and my back relatively straight, but my arms crossed.

"Remember you're fierce. You have to sit up straight to make yourself look bigger, but have your arms crossed so you look confident. If  I had you relax you would look way too cocky," When Felix puts it like that it makes sense, but it doesn't make sitting like this any less uncomfortable. 

Felix wants to be absolutely certain I look fierce and beautiful so he has me maintain the posture while saying something fierce, giving a beautiful smile, giving a fierce look, laughing beautifully, doing a fierce hand gesture, doing a beautiful hand gesture, and so on and so forth, until I'm practically bleeding ferocity and beauty. At this point I've convinced Felix I am fierce and beautiful or at least I hope I have.

Next, we work on the smile. Felix doesn't want me to have a big smile unless I'm talking about something pleasant like the Capital, not that I'd call the Capital pleasant, and the rest of the time I should just barely be smiling. If over smile then people will think I'm too cheery which means I'm weak, if I don't smile at all that means I'm cold and can't be friendly towards an audience making me boring to watch. I never would have thought that smiling too much or too little could seriously affect what people thought about me, but again it makes sense when Felix says it. We practice this until I've mastered being friendly to the audience, but not being cheery at the same time.

I may have gotten through the last two phases, but I'm a complete disgrace when it comes to wearing heels. Felix has me in an ankle length dress and 4 inch heels, which should be pretty easy to walk in, but I wake it look close to impossible. I almost fall a few times and manage to catch myself, but when I do a face plant on the floor I'm about ready to quite.

"Felix," I moan, "is there any way I could wear shorter heels?"

Felix sighs, "You're taller than most of the other female tributes, but they are all going to be wearing heels much taller than the ones you have on now, so I think we're going to just have to keep practicing."

I moan into a pillow, but then I remember that I have to be fierce and if that means walking in heels then I'll do it. This time when I stand up my legs wobble a bit but I force them to move normally. I'm walking relatively normally for a while but then I trip and barely catch myself on the dresser, I force myself to stand up straight and keep going. Once I've circled the room a few times I look to Felix and he nods approvingly. It's a small accomplishment but it feels good. I practice walking in the heels until our time is up and I can walk normally in them. I give Felix a hug, I didn't think I'd ever bond with him but I did.

"Thank you Felix," I say to him, "you've done more for me than I can possibly say." And that's  true Jay has given me a friend and ferocity, while Grace has given me comfort and authority, but Felix has given me a new kind of confidence, not just confidence in my abilities or my looks, but also the confidence to know that I can do anything no matter how unfamiliar or hard it is.

"I'll do anything I can to help you, don't tell Zale this but you've always been my favorite," Felix replies and I smile. I guess Felix is a part of my family away from home too.

The interviews will be tomorrow but I'm ready for them now. This entire day has given the confidence and ferocity for whatever is to come, not just tomorrow but for the arena and whatever comes after, whether that is life as a Victor or death.


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