Between Love and Warfare (A Hunger Games Fanfiction)

This is the story of young love, murder, betrayal, warfare, and learning to live again. This is the story of the the 68th Hunger Games.

Chapter 1

Lies of the Heart

There comes a point in everyone's life where they must decide between what is easy and what is right...
Yes, I stole that from a Harry Potter book, but ever since the Hunger Games began, reading has become a thing of the past anyway. Especially since not everyone can afford books. They're reserved for the richest and are considered a pleasant treat. I guess that's where dating one of the richest boys in District 6 comes in handy, though.
I curl up on the couch of his family's home, one of their newest novels in hand. Their house is not large, nor is it small. It's just big enough to tell all of the district that they are better than them all. The people who live in it can be monstrous sometimes, but they have a kind heart when it comes to their children. To me as well, since they truly believe that their son and I belong together. Sometimes I believe otherwise, but of course, I don't clue them in on it.
I sound heartless, apparently using their only son to read books to my heart's desire. That's not our relationship, though. Judd Pastor and I have been best friends since we were kids – eight years old if I remember correctly, which I usually do. Memory has always been a strong suit of mine. He asked me to be his girlfriend completely out of the blue when I was barely fourteen, he was fifteen. Now it's two years later and things have changed so much. Too much, really.
Now, Mother is sick and Father is nothing but an addict to morphling. It's my job to take care of them in these difficult teenage years of mine. It's why I depend so much on Judd now to make me feel the love I need. Judd's still the same boy that fell for me at age fifteen. He's still young and foolish and in love.
Speaking of the my loverboy, he comes through the door leading into the study I'd so recently secluded myself in. He just put his little sister to bed while his parents work in their small practitioner's office near the center of the district. Judging by the darkening bags under his eyes, it's about time for me to go home to check on Mother.
He leans down and kisses my forehead sweetly, gently. I close my eyes and smile. This is the closest I'll ever come to love with him, sadly. And every day I wish I could be as much in love with him as he is with me.
“How's the book?” he asks, feigning polite interest. I can always tell when he's pretending to like something just to please me and it never fails to bother me.
But instead of calling him out, I keep that smile plastered on my face and say, “Haven't even started it yet. Between getting your sisters ready for bed and getting all of the advertisements for the Reaping out of my head, I haven't really gotten a chance.” Judd would know very well about the Reaping commercials, especially considering he had his arms around me as I shuddered during each one.
The Reaping is tomorrow and although it is far-fetched that I'll get chosen, it is still a possibility. Never rule yourself out because that's when you get chosen and your life shatters into pieces...or you just lose it completely.
This year, I have my name put in twenty times, mostly to get the Tesserae my family requires to provide us nourishment. Each time that they slipped my small sheet of paper in with the other girls, it felt like a dagger was being twisted in my stomach.
“Are you ever just going to accept that it's just a part of life, the Reaping?” he asks.
I shrug impartially. “It wasn't always a part of our lives. It used to be non-existent, remember?”
“That was before we were born.”
I sigh and set down the unread book. Pulling on my ratty jacket, I stand from the couch and turn to him.
“I have to get home to my mother. She's probably wondering where I am,” I tell him. He nods sympathetically. He knows how my mother is presently, and it is not good.
“Alright. Do you need me to walk you?” he offers. I shake my head and kiss him on the cheek.
“I'll be fine by myself.”
He nods and gives me a soft peck on the lips. I leave quickly afterward and begin my walk to my home.
District 6 is a large district, often forgotten about, especially during the Games. It is mostly the Careers in District 1, 2, or 4 that win. We are the transportation district. The only thing we are particularly known for are our morphling addicts and instability as a district.
I arrive at my house about an hour later. The place reeks of rotten meat and I realize that Father must have forgotten to put away the meat I'd recently traded some of the Tesserae for.
There goes another source of food, I think. Sighing, I locate and toss out the rotted meat. I call out to Father with just silence as a response. I step into what we call our family room – it's the farthest thing from what Judd's parents own as their own family room – and find Father passed out on the sofa, a syringe practically glued into his hand that dangles off of the couch. I can't help myself from glaring at him.
He and I may share the same dark hair and tan skin, but our personalities are like Venus and Mars. We're two completely different people. Especially now in the time of Mother's sickest.
“Gemma,” I hear Mother weakly call from her bedroom. I drop the glare I'd held for so long on my father and run to her side. When I reach her, I kneel beside her bed.
Even in sickness, Mother is still one of the most beautiful women I'll ever know. With her silky blonde hair and beautiful green eyes, she is a rarity in the district. Before she became ill, nearly every man wanted her. She only had eyes for Father, though. That all became a thing of the past after she fell ill.
“Yes, Mom?” I ask her. I keep my voice kind and soft, almost as if I'm talking to a small child.
She smiles weakly when she sees me. “I thought I heard you come home. Were you at Judd's all this time?”
I nod. “Yes. How did you and Dad get along without me?”
“He managed walk me to the healer sober enough. Fed me, too. Don't worry.”
My initial thought is that Mother is too forgiving for her own good. My second is of the healer.
She is an older woman – she couldn't be more than fifty – who is particularly fond of Mother. With short, spiky gray-black hair and dark skin, she could easily pass for intimidating if you didn't know her. Though she is very skilled, she is not like Judd's parents, whom we cannot ever dream of affording for healers.
“What did she say?” I ask, readjusting the pillow under Mother's head.
She shakes her head and I know that it isn't good. “She said, 'The good news in this is that you won't suffer for too long.'”
Tears spring to my eyes, but before I let one slip, I look away. I feel Mother's eyes on me the entire time though, studying my reaction.
“At least you won't have to witness another Reaping. Or Hunger Games for that matter,” I tell her. At this point, I am only hoping that I can choke back the tears.
“Tomorrow will be my last unless...” Mother stops herself before she finishes the sentence. I know how it will end though.
Unless we find a way to afford a new doctor.
Previously, I'd tried numerous times to get either of Judd's parents to just look at her. They are very strict on their rules, however, and kept refusing. I'd tried hunting for money, but the prices for fresh rabbits and ducks are surprisingly low. Nothing seems to make us enough.
I force myself to smile, just as I do with Judd, and kiss Mother's forehead. She closes her eyes slowly.
“I think I'll head off to bed. There is a big day tomorrow. Goodnight, Mom. I love you,” I say, crossing to the door.
“Goodnight, Gemma,” she replies.
I close the door behind me as I leave and somehow manage to hold it all together...that is until I get to my room. I feel myself slowly having a mental breakdown as I collapse on my bed, not able to stop crying for more than thirty seconds at a time. My breathing becomes shallow after a bit and I begin to swallow the air in gasps. Hours later it seems, I finally stop. I stand from the ball I was huddled in in the corner and begin to pace instead, now thinking of ways I could get money for Mother's health bills.
There's still hunting, but no amount of hunting could ever afford a great healer. Not the way Father spends all of our money at least. I suppose there is stealing, but what good will I be if I'm caught? I would be dead and mother would have no one to help her.
I spend the next half hour like this, pacing and shooting down my own ideas. Eventually, I give up and retire to bed. As I give into my heavy eyes, I can't help but think of my life as of late.
Mother's sick, Father's slowly destroying himself, and I am pretending to love someone I know I never will. Only one thing could make this entire scenario worse, but what are the odds of that with thousands of other slips surrounding my mere twenty. There was no way that I would be chosen tomorrow. Everything will be the same even after the Reaping. Nothing will change.
Nothing.


Please, please let me know what you think in the comments! Tributes have been chosen, they are in the other story set (: Thanks for reading! Love you guys!

Gemma's outfit: http://www.polyvore.com/gemmas_outfit_first_chapter/set?id=46291084

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