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(Age 16, 67th Annual Hunger Games)  

I'd won.

I'd made it to day two.

And it cost me everything.

I didn't feel like the same sixteen-year-old girl that entered that arena. I felt like a wreck. I'd killed people. I just stood there, smiling and listening to their screams. Who fucking does that? What sort of a psychopath does that? Even now in the hovercraft I can still vaguely here it. A ringing mixed with screams. Shock, is what the medics are calling it. I'd beg to differ.

I looked down at my school dress. The bottom of it was burned and it smelt of smoke. My hair smelt like smoke. I wondered if I would ever feel clean again. Could I ever take another breath of air without my lungs choking up?

I could breathe normally. Air was going in and out, yet my breaths were shallow and ragged. Shock. It's going to pass.

By the time the hovercraft arrived at the training centre my breathing had stabilised. I could breathe without feeling as though I was choking on smoke. That's a good sign.

I tried to figure out what had actually just happened. I, Lyra Powell had won the 67th Hunger Games with no fighting or survival skills. I'd killed seven people. I had chosen to kill seven, decided that somehow their lives were less than my own. I felt like a mistake. No-one from Ten wins the games. No one from a district with double figures wins the games and if they do, they're never forgotten. 

A victor from one or two might be forgotten over time. But now I'll always be 'that girl from Ten'. There is only one victor in twelve, two victors in eleven and now there's two victors in Ten. They are never forgotten. Has District Ten even had a female victor before? By God, I didn't want to be the first.

Even worse. I wouldn't be just 'that girl from ten'. I'd be 'that girl from ten that took out the entire career pack'.

What are my parents going to think? They were so sure I'd lose. Would they be proud or disappointed I'd killed my way out of there?

I can't stop my hands from shaking. Okay, deep breaths the last thing I need right now is a panic attack. Maybe if I get out of this bloody uniform I can forget I was ever in that arena. After all I was only in there for twelve hours? If that. I can block out twelve hours of my life. Other victors have to block out weeks and yet I have a mere twelve hours. It's fine. I'm fine. I'm safe.

Peace keepers and medics escorted me out of the hovercraft. Standing there on the other end of the rooftop was Slendor and Blu.

I ran. I didn't care about the medics rushing after me. I couldn't do this alone and there's only one person I know that has gone through this exact same thing. I ran into Slendor and crushed him the tightest hug I'd probably ever given someone before.

A chuckle of surprise left his throat. "Whoa there Kido!. It's been a rough night now, you should take it easy". I looked up at him with slight confusion on my face.

"What happened to Beautiful?". I didn't have much to hold onto, but I could hold onto normalcy.

He shrugged with a smirk . "I see you more as a kid, had to make you confident in your angle somehow, right? But if you're so vain then I guess I can switch it up". He winked at me and then muttered. "Don't talk to anyone until we're on our floor, understand?". His tone was suddenly deathly serious, I gulped and nodded.

Blu then attacked me in a hug. "Ooo Lovie, you're the first off all my tributes to become a victor! Effie is going to be fuming with jealousy".

Yeah and it's nice to see you to Freaky! Was she acting at being nice when she sent me off? I genuinely couldn't tell if she was oblivious to what the games really meant or if she just didn't care. And what's an Effie?

I gave her what I hoped was a smile. "Uh-I thanks Blu".

Slendor then gripped my shoulders and started pushing us to the elevator. No one was around us, so I really didn't get why Slendor seemed to be just as on edge as I was. At least I had an excuse. Maybe he's just had one too many drinks today.

When we walked into our floor, President Snow was seated on the lounge we'd watched our scores on. Okay, well that explains Slendor.

Play it cool. My hands were still shaking. Why won't they stop shaking?!?

He stood and he seemed to radiate power. "Miss Powell, Congratulations on winning this year's 67th annual Hunger Games." I faltered slightly before thanking him. He looked at if he were taunting me. Almost sarcastic?

I shook my head and took a shaky breath. "Thank you, Sir."

He nodded. "Hmm Miss Powell, would you mind if we were to talk alone". He looked pointedly to Slendor who stood behind me. I turned around to see Slendor glaring fiercely at President Snow.

Dude what the hell?!?

He gave my shoulder a tight squeeze and muttered. "I'll be in the next room over if you need". He kept staring at me intensely, so I just nodded at him. Slendor, it's just the President. What's the worst that could happen?...

Once he was out of the room silence fell between us. "Take a seat Miss Powell."

I hastily moved onto a seat furthest away from him. I could hardly look anyone in the eye at this point. What did this guy think of me after killing seven people? Probably nothing he's from the Capitol afterall.

I could feel his gaze burning into my soul. "I don't always believe in underdogs Miss Powell. And make no mistake this year you were the underdog. A good one at that. The right kind of underdog. With a score of seven, the odds were against you and you prevailed in the right way. You fought in the right way. I applaud you for that. But I don't want you to become arrogant".

I tipped my at him confusion. "Arrogant?"

He smiled at me and it came off as casually cruel. "A victor from District Ten is very rare. Rare victors like yourself tend to tip the balance of things ever so slightly. Your job is to contain that balance and hope the scales do not tip. Arrogance will tip that balance; hope will tip that balance. And I'm afraid that if that balance does tip it will only end in devastation for you, my dear. Your brother is only twelve, right now he's walking home from school all alone. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to him, wouldn't it?"

I'm not a fool. No one in the poor districts are fools. We're just powerless. I sighed in the realisation it hasn't changed anything. Even as a Victor, I'm still powerless.  I knew what he meant, faces of Victors such as Slendor and Haymitch Abernathy coming to mind.

I took a shaky breath. "It would. What do you want from me?"

He shook his head. "It's not what I want from you, it's what I need from you. I need you to contain any tips that may happen. Hopefully, they won't occur but sometimes they do from underdogs like you. I do not want you to be one those dogs Miss Powell, I want you to be obedient. Can you manage that for me?"

I nodded at him.

Snow smiled evilly at me. He's the fucking devil. "For you Miss Powell". He handed me a white rose. "May you look at it and remember to stay balanced".

With that he stood and walked out of the room. I was gripping the rose in my hand so tightly my fingers were bleeding from the thrones.

"And Miss Powell?"

I gulped and whipped my head back to face him.

He smiled again, this one coming off so sincerely that it unnerved me. "Congratulations on being the first ever female victor of District Ten. I think you'll come to find it quite the honour". My shaking hadn't stopped. In fact, I think it's gotten worse. The golden doors of the elevator closed instantly. 

Turns out the only thing worse than the arena is the one who puts you in there.

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