The Mercy Games

My name is Ever Mellark and I'm a District 12 Tribute for The Mercy Games, along with Chance Hawthorne. I refuse to let Snow's granddaughter win. Things have changed and are corrupt once more. All of the eyes in tainted Panem are on what the star-crossed lovers' daughter will do in the face of a new Games created by Kerra Snow. I have one promise I will keep: Save Chance or die trying.


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4. Honest

Posy and Aaron left long ago with the twins. I feel slightly relieved to have seen the babies and know that they’re here to make sure, regardless of what happens in the arena, everyone still has them to look after so they can’t stop living.

There’s a light knock at the door then a man in the white Peacekeeper uniform enters.

“Your brother dropped this off for you,” he says, placing something in my hand then shuts the door again.

I open my palm and find a knotted rope bracelet with a brass compass attached to it. Of course, it doesn’t work but it’s a piece of home, a piece that sat on my father’s desk for years. A piece of paper tells me ‘it’s so you can find your way home, love Cal and Brae’.

It brings a lump to my throat. This will be my last tie to home, to Brae and to Cal. I take another look around the room to occupy my mind so that memories can’t. The velvet sofa and curtains make me shudder as night falls outside and I realise for the first time that I’m cold. I suppose in both senses. I’m chilled by the evening air but I’m cold for letting my family believe I’m going to try and get home if the Game is real and not the electronic haven we’ve been led to believe. They will realise my intentions in the arena, I guess. Mom will be the first to see it then Dad but I’m hoping Cal won’t. I find myself staring at the navy blue wallpaper, wondering how I’ll die protecting Chance. An arrow through the heart, perhaps, how romantic would that look? Show my true devotion to Chance, the Capitol would love that like the rest of Panem. Or, maybe, a fellow tribute will end my misery with a knife across the throat? No, that wouldn’t make a show of the star-crossed lovers’ daughter. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll force Chance to do end it all. Force him to pierce my heart or worse, beat me to death. That would be an excellent finale, possibly the best Games ever. The audience can watch me fight to save Chance heroically until I’m left begging for my life at his hand.

Two Peacekeepers come to escort me to the train. It’s only a short walk but it feels like an eternity. I catch sight of Chance, kissing his mother goodbye and sharing a hug with his father. Gale is crying, surely this cannot be the same man who had threatened me with death an hour ago? Even if he never directly said he’d kill me, he heavily implied it. My parents and Uncle Haymitch wait in the doorway of the train for me so I focus on walking to meet them than looking at Chance play happy families.

“Come on, sweetheart, smile for the cameras and in a few minutes, we’ll be on our way,” Uncle Haymitch says assuring me, he places a hand on my shoulder.

My mother takes my hand and my father kisses my head lightly from behind. Cal stands tall next to me. I know that they mean it, that they’re doing this to be supportive but I can’t ignore the fact that this will make such a pretty picture to put on every television screen in Panem.

Chance walks over, wiping his cheeks subtlety of tears. “Can we go?”

I can hear Brae calling out for him to go back to her. I try to avoid looking at her but it is impossible. Her desperate, tearstained face cries out Chance’s name over and over. Her grey eyes are red and glistening from the camera flashes. She manages to slip out of Gale’s arms, running directly for Chance but he sees her and dives straight into the train by pushing past Uncle Haymitch. Brae doesn’t slow down. Instead, she’s determined to either jump over us or flatten one of us to the floor. She launches herself at me, encasing me in her arms. My legs are completely covered by Brae.

“Don’t go,” she begs me.

I sink to my knees to be at her height and take her hands in my own. “We don’t have a choice, Brae.”

“You can’t leave, you and Chance are getting married!” Her small features screw up in horror. “Aren’t you, Evy?”

I kiss her cheek lightly. “Brae, I need you to do something for me.”

“What is it?”

“I need you to look after Cal for me, you know how he can’t look after himself.” I force a smile. “And if you do, I’ll send you something really pretty from the Capitol.”

She returns a watery smile to me. “Deal but he has to give me all of his chocolate.”

“I think that’s a fair deal.” I shake her hand on it.

“It’s time to go,” Mom says to me.

I notice everyone is already on the train, except Cal who waits patiently behind me. “Go with Cal, he’s staying with you until the Games are over.”

Cal steps forward, wrapping his arms around me in a tight embrace. “I’ll see you soon.”

I nod, releasing Brae’s hand. I pull away. “Look after her.”

He smiles at me and picks Brae up. “You know I will.”

I turn away from them, knowing I’m not strong enough to watch them walk away from me. That’s when I see Chance. He must have been watching from the window as his sister clung to me and not him. I can almost see the anger go through him because he missed that chance to hold his baby sister.

Once I’m on the train, the doors close and it starts moving. I can’t bear to watch the platform disappear.

I enter the carriage where my parents are waiting with Uncle Haymitch. They’re deep in talks about tactics and ways to keep me alive. I want to ask them to pretend they believe the virtual story so we stop speaking about death. I notice Chance hasn’t joined them.

“Where is Chance? I should probably–”

“That’s not a good idea, kid. He doesn’t want to talk to anybody except Katniss.” Uncle Haymitch shrugs as he swirls a crystal glass filled with his white spirit.

I look at my mother. “Why?”

“He claims you’re a real Daddy’s girl and reckons Haymitch dotes on you too much,” she says, a hint of a smile forming. “He’s not really wrong.”

“I need to talk to him, I was harsh and—”

“You can try it but he won’t open the door to you, Ever.” Dad sighs.

I ignore his warning so instead, I approach the carriage containing our compartments. I find one door is open while the other is firmly shut, that one being Chance’s.

I knock politely knowing I can’t kick the door down right now. So I sink down the door to sit on the floor.

“Chance?”

“Leave me alone.”

I run a hand through my dark hair. “I want to apologise.”

“What for, exactly? Being self-obsessed, self-righteous or for stealing my last moments with my sister?”

“All of them, I guess.”

He laughs, sounding like he’s directly behind the door. “You are not sorry at all, Ever. What’s the point in pretending? You’re going to try and win this thing. And you know what? I think you can do it.”

“I’m not going to win it,” I reply.

“You will because you’re a survivor. You’re going to fight tooth and nail to stay alive even if the thing isn’t real. You’ll come home and you’ll move on with your life.” Chance is gritting his teeth. “Just do me a favour, don’t forget me when I return home as dead as your emotions are.”

“I didn’t come here to fight. I’m sorry if you can’t see the bigger picture rather than thinking about yourself.”

I bet Chance rolls his eyes like he always does when he thinks I’m wrong. “You almost did it, Ever. You almost apologised like an adult. Come back when you are acting your age.”

“Is this all because you marched off when your sister tried to come to you? You’re taking this out on me because of what you did?”

“You told my family to leave during our time with them.”

I shake my head, sighing. “You had time alone with them after.”

“You’ll watch Cal grow up, get married and have kids of his own-”

“Imagine little Calens and Callies running around—”

Chance snaps. “You just don’t get it, Ever. You’re going to see home again, you’ll get to have a family with any guy from the entire country of Panem—”

“Maybe not the married ones or that could cause some issues,” I say sarcastically.

“I’m bored of your attitude. You’re acting like a spoilt child now. I’ve only got a few days left and you are acting like a clown.”

“Unless you can prove to me we’re going to die, stop acting like you’re a martyr.” I can’t help but smile at how the next words will hit home for him. “I suppose being a clown is better than being a cheat though, Chance. I know all about you and Delly Cartwright’s daughter, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. So before you climb on your high horse, you should look at yourself rather than sitting there judging me like you have lived a blameless life.”

I climb to my feet, walking into my own compartment and slamming my door to illustrate my annoyance.

He’s out of his room, shouting the odds about how childish I am. That’s until I hear good old Uncle Haymitch tell him to shut up ‘for the love of Pete’.

But then Chance comes to my door and lowers his voice so I’ll listen to him.

“You don’t know what you saw in the courtyard, Ever.”

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