Rue's Lullaby

I hope you enjoy this story. As you can probably tell, it's Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games in the POV of Rue. (:
Please, please, please leave an honest comment for every chapter. I love hearing from readers, even if it's just a smiley face to show that you're still reading the story! :D
Enjoy!

Chapter 1

The Reaping

“Rue Outterridge”

All is silent as the masses of gathered people turn their heads in all different directions, searching for their female tribute. I could say my legs feel like jelly, or I could say that it takes my mind a few seconds to process the words spoken by Penny Howler, District 11’s escort, but all that would be a lie. The only thing I feel is an immense wave of fear and when someone gives me a reluctant prod in the middle of my back, I manage to shuffle my legs forward, one in front of the other.

A low murmur of disapproval breaks through the crowd when they manage to spot my small, twelve year old head bobbing into view as I ascend the stairs leading to the stage. Penny grins happily at the appearance of my young, cute face ready to be spoilt in the Games.

“Aw!” she exclaims, as she ruffles my hair, ignoring the scowl dawning on my face. These Capitol people are so conceited, and their faces so masked that you cannot tell the truth beneath their heavily accented words. “Con-grat-ooh-lation-ss,” Penny pronounces the word slowly, as though talking to a four-year-old, her large painted lips forming every syllable so that I cannot fail to miss a vowel.

I gulp back my nerves, my heart beating wildly. I nibble at my tongue, trying to stop my knees from knocking together- a nervous habit- and turning eighty degrees to face the crowd, trying to keep my emotions from my face.

Only a quarter of District 11 is gathered in the large courtyard, but still the cobbled yard is so crowded that no patches of concrete can be spotted amongst the large quantity of citizens. Towards the back, squashed against a small, run-down mill, I spot my own large and poor family. Mother’s face is a ghostly white colour, glossy tears running down her cheeks and I spot Marie, second eldest to me, bent over, sobbing in remorse. Marie is too young for the Reaping, only ten years old, but she still knows the meaning of The Hunger Games and she watches every happening on the screens; I hope she doesn’t see me die.

Of course, poor little three-year-old Annabel had no idea what is wrong. Her round, innocent eyes take in the wreck of my mother and the pure shock reflected on father’s face and the horror shown by my three brothers old enough to know the meaning of the Reaping. And then as Penny Howler calls out the name of the male tribute, Annabel’s eyes widen in recognition when she spots me standing on the stage. I want to call out her name; I want to run down and scoop her frail body up and guard her from the world, but it’s no use. If I die in The Games, Annabel will have no memories of her lost sister Rue.

I tear my eyes away from Annabel, when I hear Penny exclaim, “Congratulations Thresh!”

My head turns to my left, to see the newcomer, but all I see is a pair of large legs clothed in simple, brown trousers, so my eyes dart upwards to be greeted with the site of a humungous boy the size of a thick tree. Of course, the only thing I can compare this Thresh to is a tree. I’m not experienced with objects and animals and I see only plants and flowers and wildlife every day. But Thresh is one seriously one large human being. By the size of him, he should be twenty or thirty years of age but his still young and handsome face reveals the youth behind his looks.

How funny it is, that such a small person can be paired with someone as large as Thresh. He could easily lift me like a pebble and toss me into the crowd, but I sense something inside this human mountain that reflects kindness and characteristics that make him trustworthy.

My thought is confirmed when Penny requests that we both shake hands. Thresh takes my small, fragile hand in his and gives it a soft squeeze, meeting my scared eyes with his. The skin on his hands are rough, a few scabs caked with mud; it’s natural for most of District 11 to be dirty from the fields, but somehow I think that this Thresh does more than his fair share of work. Which other way would he get the muscles to resemble a body-builder?

But this person is my district partner, and body-builder or not, I will have to spend an amount of time with him throughout our journey to The Hunger Games and in this moment, he is the only person who can relate to how I’m feeling right now, even if he- unlike me- can mask his fear with bravery.

As the crowd begins to part, chattering with relief of another safe year, free from The Hunger Games’ wrath, Penny strolls efficiently around Thresh and I blocking any escape, and a group of Peacekeepers move onto the stage to safely escort us to the Mayor’s hall. I’ve never liked the Peacekeepers; one foot out of place and you are given a harsh whipping. I can’t help but tread carefully while I enter the rarely used Hall, and I think- I know- I’m going to have much more careful treading ahead of me in the 74th Hunger Games.

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