Chapter 3

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  'Peeta Mellark!''

I know him. I spoke to him quite a few times at school. He's very kind, caring. I quite like him really, some days when I spent a lunchtime with him he'd bring in cookies from the bakery his family run, always soft and beautifully decorated, even though I was in an older year.

I watch him as he makes his way to the stage. He climbs the step steadily but I see in his eyes he's scared, despite his appearance of calmness.
Effie asks if there are volunteers but there are none. I know his two older brothers, being friends with the eldest as he's my age. They're both too old for the reaping though so they can't volunteer either - not that I think they would anyway.

The mayor finishes talking about the Treaty of Treason then motions for Katniss and Peeta to shake hands, which they do, then they turn to face the crowd. We're all stood when the anthem of Panem plays. When it ends, Katniss and Peeta are escorted into the Justice Building by Peacekeepers to say their final goodbyes before they head off into the games. The crowd is dismissed and everyone leaves, Effie telling me she'd see me on the train later on before she, too, departs, leaving me alone on the stage. I hop down the steps as best as I can in the heels and walk away. Better go find Haymitch.

I find him, still passed out on a nearby bench where the stretcher left him. I gingerly shake him awake, which takes several tries until he groans and rolls over and falls off the bench, flat on his face.

''Why'd you do that?'' he moans in pain, pushing himself into a sitting position. He peers up at me, squinting in the sunlight.

''Come on, Haymitch. We got a train to catch and Effie won't be happy if we're late,'' I tell him. I can smell the alcohol on him from here.

''Mfmdcds,'' he mumbles, trying to pull himself up using the bench.

''What was that?'' I raise and eyebrow at him, placing a hand on my hip.

''Nothin','' he grumbles, successfully standing/wobbling.

''Come on,'' I lift one of his arms around my shoulder and support him, walking away to the car waiting for us to take us to the train.

I step onto the train, the speed no longer amazing me after four years of this, although I notice Katniss is surprised by how fast it actually travels.
I spend the rest of the evening in my room, , although pulling on some black heels to please Effie. In all honesty - most of the shoes I owned were heels, having Effie dominated my wardrobe most often. I pulled my hair out of it's intricate updo and let the curls relax down my back. Much better. I couldn't be bothered to change my makeup so I just left it on. By the time I had changed and read my book for a little while, Effie was already calling me for supper. I walk into the dining room and join Peeta who so far is sat on his own.

''Effie?'' I ask him, folding one leg behind the other as Effie taught me how to sit my first time here.

''Gone to find Katniss,'' he smiles in reply and we fall into a short silence, soon broken by the sound of Effie's heels clacking on the floor, Katniss behind her.

''Where's Haymitch?'' Effie asks us brightly.

''Last time I saw him, he said he was going to take a nap,'' Peeta says.

''Well it's been an exhausting day,'' Effie says, still smiling as she and Katniss take their seats.

''Yeah, that's why he's asleep...'' I mumble quietly, although I think Peeta heard me as he let out a small chuckle that, thankfully, Effie didn't pick up on.

As usual, supper arrives in it's courses - a thick carrot soup which I always loved, green salad, lamp chops (not so keen) and mashed potatoes. Also cheese and fruit and - my favourite - chocolate cake for dessert. I smile a little as I notice Katniss eating as much food as she can. I like that.

''At least, you two have decent manners, just like Vivianna here,'' Effie comments as we finish our main courses. ''The pair last year ate everything with their hands like a couple of savages. It completely upset my digestion. Do you remember them, Vivianna?''

''I remember, Effie,'' I say through gritted teeth.

Last year the tributes were from the Seam, so naturally they barely had any food. It was horrible to watch them train, watch them die, just like the two previous years before that. The thought of this makes me lose my appetite and I set down my knife and fork. Katniss, clearly angered by Effie's comment, makes a point of eating the rest of her meal with her hands, wiping her hands on the tablecloth once she's finished. Effie purses her lips watching her and I smile again.

After our meal, we enter a new compartment to watch the recap of the reapings in all the other Districts. One by one, starting with District 1, we go through the reapings, name being called, volunteers stepping forward if there were any. This is literally this is the fifth Hunger Games I'll ever watch. I watched my own, then years 71-74 and now, 74. I couldn't bare the thought of watching all those people die, so when I moved here all those years ago I never watched, always occupied myself otherwise. I can't even remember anything about my old district, only the distant memory of my parents faces and the smell of blood and roses still lingering. I don't know if I had any friends, maybe I had more family. I find it strange that I can't remember, but after all, I was only six and now everything's changed, my life hasn't necessarily been easy here in District 12, but I have nothing else to compare it to. Who knows if District 4 was pleasant or not for me - I certainly can't talk about it. I'm never allowed to mention anything about where I used to live, not like I can. Haymitch is the only person alive who knows about me moving, and I suspect he knows a lot more about why I moved than I do. All I know is that my parents died. And now I'm here, in a compartment with an overly bubbly escort and two teenagers probably doomed to die.

The screen then moves on to showing District 12. We watch as we see Katniss' little sister's name be called, then her volunteering. We then watch Haymitch fall off stage before Peeta's name is called.

''Your other mentor has a lot to learn about presentation. A lot about televised behaviour,'' Effie huffs to Peeta and Katniss.

Peeta and I let out a laugh. ''He was drunk!'' he says. ''He's drunk every year,''

''Every day,'' Katniss chips in, smirking a little. I grin at them both as they are right.

''Yes,'' Effie hisses. I drop my smile and opt for a more serious look. ''How odd you two find it amusing. You know your mentor is your lifeline to the world in these Games. The one who advises you, line up your sponsors, and dictates the presentation of gifts. Haymitch may well be the difference between your life and death! Thank Heavens you have Vivianna to take over!''

As if on cue, Haymitch staggers in to the compartment, still clearly drunk. ''I miss supper?'' he slurs before he throws up all over the carpet and fall in his mess. I roll my eyes and throw my head back, sighing in exasperation.

''So laugh away!'' Effie declares, stepping over Haymitch and his pool before quickly exiting the compartment, leaving Katniss, Peeta and I looking at each other as if to say What just happened?

Nodding at each other, we haul Haymitch up by his arms until he's on his feet albeit unsteady.

''I tripped?'' he asks. ''Smells bad.'' he wipes his face but only ends up covering it with his own vomit.

I wrinkle my nose at it. ''Let's get you back to your room, clean you up a bit.'' Peeta says before he looks to me. ''You know the way?''

''Trust me, I've dragged him back countless amounts of times to know the way by heart,'' I joke as we lead him towards his compartment and straight into the bathroom. We sit him in the bathtub before turning on the shower directly on him but he pays no attention to it.

''It's okay,'' Peeta tells Katniss and I. ''I can take it from here,''

''I'm staying. I'm used to it,'' I tell him firmly but Katniss seems grateful.

''All right, I can send one of the Capitol people to help you two,''

I shake my head as Peeta says ''No, I don't want them,''

Katniss nods before leaving, probably to head to her room.

''You really want to help?'' Peeta asks me as he pulls Haymitch's top over his head, discarding it across the floor.

''Like I said, I've done this countless amounts of times. I'll wash his hair for him,''

Peeta begins washing the vomit from his chest as I grab a cup from the bathroom and fill it with water, washing through his hair for him.

''You're close to him, aren't you?'' Peeta asks, after about five minutes of cleaning.

I pause for a second to look at him. He's staring at me, as if he's trying to figure me out. I nod my head. ''He's the only person I have left,''

His eyebrows knit for a second before he continues. ''What do you mean?''

I place the cup on the side, finishing his hair and sigh. ''I lost my parents a while ago. Then my carer died a year after my Games. Now Haymitch, in a way, is like a father to me. A flawed father, for sure. But a father nonetheless,'' I explain, missing out my old District details.

Peeta smiles at me as he finishes too. We lift Haymitch from the bath and begin toweling him cry, me still focusing on his hair. Once he's dry, we pull him back into his bedroom and tuck him into bed before leaving him to it. By the amount he's had to drink today, he won't remember any of this tomorrow - which is honestly fine by me.

''Thanks for your help,'' Peeta thanks me as we turn to say goodnight.

''Technically I should thank you. It's your first time,'' I smile before waving, turning around and walking back to my own compartment. I change quickly before falling into bed for yet another night full of nightmares...  

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