Chapter Eleven

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**Celestia**

I step up to the stage. The spotlights all focus on me, and blinding lights flash in my eyes. I smile, nervous and excited at the same time.

Once I am sat down on the sofa, Caesar smiles at me. "Looking good today Celestia," he comments.

"Why, thank you Caesar," I reply. "You flatter me too much." I wonder if I'm laying it on too thick, but after years of living in the Capitol I'm sure they will just lap it all up.

"Ah no, you look beautiful," Caesar says. I try my hardest to blush in what I hope seems like a polite, touched way.

"So, let's talk about your score. An extremely impressive ten. Care to let us know the details about your private session? What skill did you show the Gamemakers?" Caesar asks. I don't know what to say; I don't want to give too much about my strengths and weaknesses away.

"I'm sure you will be able to tell what I did when I get into the Games. It's...a rather impressive skill of mine." I hope that will be enough information to satisfy the crowd. I don't want to say anything more.

"Is that so? And what plan do you have for the Games? Any allies, or are you going solo?" I even don't know why Caesar bothers to ask that question. As if I would share that kind of knowledge with the whole of Panem, not to mention the rest of the tributes, who would probably only use that information to kill me.

"I think you know that I can't tell you that. But I will say a lot of tributes want to be allies with me. They saw my talents at training. They know I have a pretty good shot at winning." Not true, but the crowd don't know that, do they?

"And what will you do if you do win? The rest of the tributes have families to go back to, but you don't, do you? You lived with your grandfather, President Snow. Then he was assassinated by Katniss Everdeen...so where will you go? Where will you live?"

Ah. I'm stopped short. I don't know what to say - this was one question I had not prepared for. Should I lie? Or should I tell the country, the world, that I am unsure, that I have worried constantly about this question even after Bryony's mother offered to let me stay with her?

"I'm sure I will find a place somewhere." I don't know if that was the right answer. Maybe I should've just lied.

"Of course you will, of course." Caesar sounds like he is trying to convince himself. Suddenly, there is a loud buzz - my time is up. Phew. Caesar rises to his feet and grabs my hand, lifts it high. "Celestia Snow, ladies and gentlemen!"

The crowd looks a little unsure, but there is still an applause. I guess the last question was a bit awkward for everyone. Luckily, Opal chooses that moment to turn on my dress; the crowd is mesmerised by the kaleidoscope of changing colours. I get a deafening cheer as I leave the stage.

~~ Bryony ~~

After the interviews, it is easy to leave Marco's side for a minute. He's too busy chatting up Violet to take any notice of me.

I look around, and spot Celestia next to her mentor, Kingsley, and her team partner. They look pleased about the interviews. Apart from that difficult question at the end, both Celestia and her partner's went very well - surprisingly, the boy hadn't come across as weak at all. He's wearing contacts, and without his big framed glasses his entire face looks different and a lot more confident.

I don't want to reveal our plan in front of him, so I don't go up to her. Besides, I have already said goodbye. I can only hope it will only be for tonight - not forever.

I try to stop myself thinking like that. My mother always used to say, 'think positive, act positive, and it will come out positive in the end.' It's a phrase I try to live by.

I decide to keep my mind busy, and walk over to Marina. She congratulates me on my successful interview.

"I'm sure the crowd loved you, Bryony. I'm so proud."

Just then, Marco comes over too, evidently finished with Violet, for today. I hope their endless flirting won't make me so sick I have to give my game away early.

"Well done, Marco," I say as sweetly and innocently as I can.

"Thank you. You did well too," he replies, and gives me a smile that sends my heart fluttering, even without having to act.

"You both did amazing. Should we go back to our floor?" Marina asks.

I take one last look at all the tributes, my gaze settling on Celestia, who is laughing loudly at something her mentor said. I nod. Until tomorrow.

~~~~~

I'm in the arena, on my pedestal. I'm at my home, in the Capitol, in the big square in front of Celestia's grandfather's house. In front of me is the Cornucopia. I can hear a voice overhead, counting down the final few seconds of my life.

Eons later, it seems, the voice reaches zero and a loud buzzer goes off. I race forwards to the Cornucopia, grabbing a dagger on my way. It feels heavy in my hands.

I reach the Cornucopia first, and race inside to grab some food and medicine. I find a green camouflaged backpack and sling it on my shoulder. I stand up straight, and in front of me is Celestia. Only it isn't the best friend I know - erupting out of her mouth are two long fangs, dripping with blood. Her irises are blood-red, and she is holding a throwing knife.

I try to make a sound, terrified. "Cee, no..." I can hear my voice wavering; I can smell my own fear.

It is no use. I see Celestia smile, an evil grin that will haunt me forever, and she lifts the knife high. The picture seems to slow down. I can see the knife gliding through the air, and I should dodge it, move out of the way, but my feet are stuck to the floor and I can't move, can't move...

The last feeling I have before I black out is a sharp burst of pain in my heart as the knife connects.

~~~~~

Celestia's grin, the wildness in her crimson eyes, seems to be permanently embedded in my eyelids. However much I try to distract myself with breakfast, I can't shake the image out of my head.

I try to shove a bowl of cereal and a glass of water down my throat, knowing I will need it for the Games, but my stomach doesn't want to know, refusing anything I send down. I have to rush to the toilet, where I quickly see my breakfast make a second appearance.

Shaking, I follow Marina and Marco into the room that holds the tube that will take me up, into the arena, into the Games. I'm more nervous than I have ever been in my life. Within the hour, I could be dead.

We hear the five minute warning, and Marina wishes us luck. She is crying, as am I. I don't want to leave; I don't want to go into the Games. I don't want to die, but I know it is going to happen.

We step into our podiums, and a transparent wall slides up behind me, separating us. I can see Marina telling me something but the only thing I can hear is the pounding in my head. I think she mouths something like 'stay alive.'

I close my eyes after that, the blackness comforting in an odd way, until Caesar Flickerman's voice comes onto a speaker. "Sixty seconds. Fifty-nine. Fifty-eight."

Suddenly, the podium begins to rise, taking me into the Capitol Games, the arena in which I will surely die.

Author's note: That end bit always gets me really emotional, for some reason. I'm getting too attached to Bryony, and all of my characters! I don't want to have to kill any of them off :(

How exciting, we are now in the Games!! Sorry for the short chapter, but I didn't want to make it any longer.

What did you think of Celestia's interview? What should she have said to the last question, do you think?

Please vote/comment if you enjoyed!

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