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She's fearless. Mostly. Only one thing scares her. What is it? Falling in love. When Hollie participates in the 74th Hunger Games, the last thing she expected to do was fall in love. But that's exactly what she did.

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3. Posture and Declarations of Love

There was a girl. She had raven black hair and electric blue eyes. There was a boy too, standing across from her. He had light blonde hair and icy blue eyes. Tears were welling up in the girl's eyes as she whispered, "Just kill me. Kill me, and you can go home. I don't care anymore." The boy shook his head and held out two knives. "No. Together. It’ll be okay. I promise." The girl nodded and they raised the knives to their throats, just as a voice called out for them to stop. But it was too late. The knife slipped through the boy's throat, and he dropped to the ground, the life bleeding out of him. The girl screamed and knelt down beside him, the tears spilling over and streaming down her face.

~~~

I jolted up in bed, panting and sweaty. The dream. It seemed so real. There was no doubt I was the girl, but the boy was a mystery to me. Just then, Tallulah pounded on my door, squealing, "Wake up, wake up! Today is a big, big, big day!"

I groaned and stuffed my face back into my pillow. Tallulah must have hearing like a bat, because she stomped into my room and yanked the covers and pillow off of me, placing them on a high shelf where I couldn't reach them before stomping back out. I sighed and slowly got up, trying to force the grogginess away. I fumbled at the closet door and finally got it open, putting on this. (Here it is: www.polyvore.com/hollies_outfit/s...) I walked down the hall to the dining room and found everyone waiting for me. "Well, Sleeping Beauty has finally awaken," Ross teased as I sat down. "Shut up," I muttered, still groggy, but unable to summon any real annoyance. Heaps of eggs and pancakes and basically every other breakfast food imaginable were piled on the table. Suddenly, my grogginess disappeared and was replaced by amazement. So much food! I looked at Ross and saw an expression on his face that mirrored my feelings. Laughing, I dug in.

When Ross and I could eat no more, Tallulah gave us our training outfits and let us change. Then, she led us down to the training floor. There were lots of stations, some more practical for survival, others about fighting and exercise. None of the other tributes were there. Since there wasn't anything to do except wait, I figured I'd go to the archery station. It was only Ross watching. I picked up a bow and arrow and aimed at the target. It hit center, a perfect shot. I picked up another arrow and kept on shooting. I think Ross was at the sword-fighting station. I heard the elevator doors open and I put the bow back, walking over to the edible plants station. Beetee and Wiress had told us not to show our strengths until the private training sessions with the Gamemakers. The boy from 2, Cato, I think, came over and I focused on the edible plants, which I was horrible at. If I were starving without any weapons, I'd be seriously screwed. He sat down next to me. I looked back out of the corner of my eye and saw him staring at me. I looked away and stood up, deciding to join Ross at camouflage, when Cato called out, "Wait! Gwen, wait!" I spun around. Was he talking to me? My name wasn't Gwen. "Gwen, don't you remember me? It's me, Cato." I shook my head. "One, my name is Hollie. Gwen is my middle name, which you shouldn't know. And two, I don't know you." He looked sad and hurt. "But...it's me. It's Cato."

"Listen, I'm sorry. You must have the wrong person. I really don't know who you are." I felt kinda bad, but I really didn't know who the hell he was. "Don't you remember me? I'm Cato Hadley. Your boyfriend. We used to watch the sun set every day. Then you moved away and I tried to contact you, but you never replied." he pleaded. Wow. He acted as though we actually knew each other. But...I'd never seen him before in my life. He must have the wrong person. "Listen. I really am sorry. I don't know you. You must have mistaken me for someone else." Now, he looked like he was going to cry. I walked away and over to Ross. Ross looked at me. "You okay?" I nodded. "Yeah. Some kid just thought he knew me, that's all."

"Okay."

~~~

I looked around the room nervously. It was time for the private training sessions. "Hollie Austin." the automated voice spoke. I swallowed nervously and stood up. "Hey," Ross said. I turned around. "Shoot straight." I grinned weakly and walked into the room. The Gamemakers were up on their little platform, drinking wine and eating. I looked up at them. "Hollie Austin. District 3." Seneca Crane and a few others looked at me. I walked over to the bow and arrows, picking up the bow. I strung an arrow and shot, hitting the center. A couple claps sounded and I strung another arrow. Lots of eyes were on me and I tensed up. I let the arrow fly, but completely missed the center. The Gamemakers laughed and turned back to their food. A huge pig with an apple stuck in its mouth arrived, completely capturing their attention. I grabbed an arrow and shot it, straight at the apple, pinning it to the wall. The Gamemakers turned around, shocked. "Thank you," I said, bowing. "For your consideration." I put the bow back and walked out of the room, storming up to our floor. When I got onto the elevator, the tears started. I'd get a low score for sure. Shooting an arrow at the Gamemakers. What was I thinking?!

~~~

“Open your eyes!” One of my prep team members, Fiona, I think, squealed. I opened them hesitantly and immediately gasped. I didn’t look like myself. My outfit (polyvore.com/hollies_first_interview_outfit/set?id=110179576) was gorgeous. I looked like someone who was beautiful, someone who belonged here. I turned around and smiled at my prep team and Josh. “This is amazing. Thank you so much.” They all smiled at me. “You do look amazing. Now, I believe we have interviews to get to,” Josh said, leading me to an elevator with Tallulah, Ross, Rachel, Wiress, and Beetee. At the mention of the interviews butterflies fluttered in my stomach. What would I say? What if I messed up? Stop that, I scolded myself. Calm down. It will all be perfectly fine. Ross smiled at me as I sat down. “Nervous?”

“You wouldn’t believe," I said, the butterflies getting worse as the elevator stopped and the doors opened. I stepped out and waited until it was my turn. I walked to the side of the stage and waited. My heart was racing and my palms were sweaty. God, all this just for a silly interview. “And now we have Hollie Austin, from District 3!” Caesar Flickerman called out. That was my cue. I took a deep breath and stepped out. And nearly ran right back off. All eyes and lights were on me. I forced myself to go to my seat. Sitting down, all I could think about was the crowd and how big it was and how all of Panem was watching me right now. Caesar looked at me expectantly, snapping me back to reality. “Well?” he asked. “What?”

“I said, that was quite a costume you wore at the tribute parade. Care to tell us more?”

“Well…it was very uncomfortable,” I said. “How so?”

“Um, it was really hot and heavy, and just unpleasant to wear.” Caesar smiled and the crowd laughed a bit. “Now tell me, who was that girl you volunteered for? A relative? A friend?”

“She was Delia, my niece.” I murmured sadly, thinking of Delia watching me now. “Ah. And, if you don’t mind, why did you volunteer for her?”

“Well, all I could think was that I couldn’t let her die, that I needed to protect her from the Games. That she was just too fragile and too young.” I replied softly. Caesar smiled and I heard the crowd sigh. “Well, you win these Games and return to her and keep on protecting her, okay?” Caesar said. I nodded. “I will.” He stood up. “Hollie Austin. District 3!” The crowd cheered and a hurried offstage, grateful that it was over. Ross grinned at me. “You did great.” I grinned back. “Thanks. Good luck,” He laughed. “I’ll need it!” Ross was called onstage and I walked back and watched from the backstage TVs. He and Caesar chatted a bit, before Caesar asked, “So, tell me, is there a girl back home?” Ross smiled a tad and shook his head. “No, not really,” Caesar turned to the crowd. “I don’t believe it for a second! Handsome boy like you, there must be one girl!”

“Well, there is this one girl. I’ve liked her for years, but I don’t think she really knew I existed until the Reaping.” The crowd sighed. “Well, tell you this,” Caesar said, “You go out there, you win this thing, and then she’ll have to go out with you!” Ross shook his head. “No, I don’t think that’ll work.”

“Now, why not?”

“Because she came here with me.” Surprise shot through me. Me? Ross liked me? “That’s too bad,” Caesar said and Ross nodded in agreement. “Ross Griffin. District 3!”

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