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A Glimpse of THE GAME Before the 3rd Quarter Quell. The Second Book of THE HUNGER GAMES New York Times Bestsel ling . Cutting down alleys and through backyards gets me to Gale's house in minutes. .. A holiday for the whole district with free food and entertainers brought in from the while ordering Prim to pull a series of her remedies from the medicine cabinet. so beaten-down. Prim's face is . nights when game has to be swapped for lard or shoelaces or .. quires us to treat the Hunger Games as a festivity, a sporting.


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It is written in the voice of year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the future. The post-apocalyptic nation of Panem in North America. The Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis, exercises political control over the rest of the nation. The Hunger Games is an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12—18 from each of the twelve districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle to the death. The book received mostly positive responses from major reviewers and authors. It was praised for its plot and character development.

Haymitch refuses to let anyone in to clean and does a poor job himself. Over the years the odors of liquor and vomit, boiled cabbage and burned meat, unwashed clothes and mouse droppings have intermingled into a stench that brings tears to my eyes. I wade through a litter of discarded wrappings, broken glass, and bones to where I know I will find Haymitch. He sits at the 12 P a g e Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins kitchen table, his arms sprawled across the wood, his face in a puddle of liquor, snoring his head off.

I nudge his shoulder. His snoring stops for a moment, questioningly, and then resumes. I push him harder. It's tour day! My feet shift through the garbage on the floor, and I unearth a tin coffeepot and fill it at the sink.

The stove isn't completely out and I manage to coax the few live coals into a flame. I pour some ground coffee into the pot, enough to make sure the resulting brew will be good and strong, and set it on the stove to boil. Haymitch is still dead to the world. Since nothing else has worked, I fill a basin with icy cold water, dump it on his head, and spring out of the way.

A guttural animal sound comes from his throat. He jumps up, kicking his chair ten feet behind him and wielding a knife. I forgot he always sleeps with one clutched in his hand.

I should have pried it from his fingers, but I've had a lot on my mind. Spewing profanity, he slashes the air a few moments before coming to his senses. He wipes his face on his shirtsleeve and turns to the windowsill where I perch, just in case I need to make a quick exit. He seems to remember. And longing. I might as well admit there's some of that, too.

Only it has too much competition to ever win out. I watch as Peeta crosses to the table, the sunlight from the window picking up the glint of fresh snow in his blond hair. He looks strong and healthy, so different from the sick, starving boy I knew in the arena, and you can barely even notice his limp now.

He sets a loaf of fresh-baked bread on the table and holds out his hand to Haymitch. He pulls off his filthy shirt, revealing an equally soiled undershirt, and rubs himself down with the dry part. Peeta smiles and douses Haymitch 's knife in white liquor from a bottle on the floor. He wipes the blade clean on his shirttail and slices the bread.

Peeta keeps all of us in fresh baked goods. I hunt. He bakes. Haymitch drinks. We have our own ways to stay busy, to keep thoughts of our time as contestants in the Hunger Games at bay.

It's not until he's handed Haymitch the heel that he even looks at me for the first time. Just as it's been every time I've spoken to Peeta since the cameras finished filming our happy homecoming and we returned to our real lives.

You two have got a lot of warming up to do before showtime. The audience will be expecting the pair of lovebirds who won the Hunger Games. Not two people who can barely look each other in the eye. But all I say is, "Take a bath, Haymitch. The snow has begun to stick and I leave a trail of footprints behind me. At the front door, I pause to knock the wet stuff from my shoes before I go in. My mother's been working day and night to make everything perfect for the cameras, so it's no time to be tracking up her shiny floors.

I've barely stepped inside when she's there, holding my arm as if to stop me. My mother gives an odd, breathy laugh and removes the game bag loaded with supplies from my shoulder. Did you have a nice walk? Then I see the man standing behind her in the kitchen doorway. One look at his tailored suit and surgically perfected features and I know he's from the Capitol. Something is wrong. It's really getting slippery out there.

Her face is too pale and I can hear the anxiety she's trying to hide. He gestures down the hallway. It's weird to be ushered around your own home, but I know better than to comment on it. As I go, I give my mother a reassuring smile over my shoulder. But as I walk toward the door of the study, a door I have never even seen closed until this moment, I can feel my mind begin to race.

Who is here? What do they want? Why is my mother so pale? I twist the polished brass knob and step inside. My nose registers the conflicting scents of roses and blood. A small, white-haired man who seems vaguely familiar is reading a book. He holds up a finger as if to say, "Give me a moment. I'm staring into the snakelike eyes of President Snow.

It's jarring to see him surrounded by the ordinary objects in the room. Like taking the lid off a pot and finding a fanged viper instead of stew.

What could he be doing here? My mind rushes back to the opening days of other Victory Tours. I remember seeing the winning tributes with their mentors and stylists. Even some high government officials have made appearances occasionally. But I have never seen President Snow. He attends celebrations in the Capitol.

If he's made the journey all the way from his city, it can only mean one thing. I'm in serious trouble. And if I am, so is my family. A shiver goes through me when I think of the proximity of my mother and sister to this man who despises me.

Will always despise me. Because I outsmarted his sadistic Hunger Games, made the Capitol look foolish, and consequently undermined his control. All I was doing was trying to keep Peeta and myself alive. Any act of rebellion was purely coincidental. But when the Capitol decrees that only one tribute can live and you have the audacity to challenge it, I guess that's a rebellion in itself. My only defense was pretending that I was driven insane by a passionate love for Peeta.

So we were both allowed to live. To be crowned victors. To go home and celebrate and wave good-bye to the cameras and be left alone. Until now. Perhaps it is the newness of the house or the shock of seeing him or the mutual understanding that he 17 P a g e Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins could have me killed in a second that makes me feel like the intruder.

As if this is his home and I'm the uninvited party. So I don't welcome him or offer him a chair. I don't say anything. In fact, I treat him as if he's a real snake, the venomous kind. I stand motionless, my eyes locked on him, considering plans of retreat. I'm expecting snake lips, which is to say none. But his are overly full, the skin stretched too tight. I have to wonder if his mouth has been altered to make him more appealing.

If so, it was a waste of time and money, because he's not appealing at all. I said any girl who goes to such lengths to preserve her life isn't going to be interested in throwing it away with both hands.

And then there's her family to think of. Her mother, her sister, and all those Well, it's all on the table now. Maybe that's better. I don't do well with ambiguous threats. I'd much rather know the score. Like our home, this is a place that he has no right, but ultimately every right, to occupy.

I sit in front of the desk on one of the carved, straight-backed chairs. It's made for someone taller than I am, so only my toes rest on the ground. But he had an unfortunate sentimental streak. So here you are. Can you guess where he is? I nod because, by the way he says it, it's clear that Seneca Crane has been executed. The smell of roses and blood has grown stronger now that only a desk separates us. There's a rose in President Snow's lapel, which at least suggests a source of the flower perfume, but it must be genetically enhanced, because no real rose reeks like that.

As for the blood I don't know. And you were pretty good, too, with the love-crazed schoolgirl bit. The people in the Capitol were quite convinced. Unfortunately, not everyone in the districts fell for your act," he says. You have no access to information about the mood in other districts. In several of them, however, people viewed your little trick with the berries as an act of defiance, not an act of love. And if a girl from District Twelve of all places can defy the Capitol and walk away unharmed, what is to stop them from doing the same?

Then the full weight of it hits me. But they'll follow if the course of things doesn't change. And uprisings have been known to lead to revolution. How many people would die? What conditions those left would have to face? Whatever problems anyone may have with the Capitol, believe me when I say that if it released its grip on the districts for even a short time, the entire system would collapse.

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As if his primary concern is the welfare of the citizens of Panem, when nothing could be further from the truth. I don't know how I dare to say the next words, but I do. Then he simply says, "It is fragile, but not in the way that you suppose.

I would like tea," says the president. The door opens wider, and there stands my mother, holding a tray with a china tea set she brought to the Seam when she married. My mother sets the tray on the desk. It holds a china teapot and cups, cream and sugar, and a plate of cookies. They are beautifully iced with softly colored flowers.

The frosting work can only be Peeta's. You know, it's funny how often people forget that presidents need to eat, too," President Snow says charmingly. Well, it seems to relax my mother a bit, anyway. I can cook something more substantial if you're hungry," she offers. Thank you," he says, clearly dismissing her. My mother nods, shoots me a glance, and goes. President Snow pours tea for both of us and fills his with cream and sugar, then takes a long time stirring.

I sense he has had his say and is waiting for me to respond. It doesn't matter. Your stylist turned out to be prophetic in his wardrobe choice. Katniss Everdeen, the girl who was on fire, you have provided a spark that, left unattended, may grow to an inferno that destroys Panem," he says. Ill do it," I say.

Your mother made these? I reach for my tea but set it back down when I hear the cup rattling against the saucer. To cover I quickly take a cookie.

How is the love of your life? How's the handsome cousin? I don't Him I can easily kill off if we don't come to a happy resolution," he says. And how does he know it? Many people could tell him that Gale and I spend our Sundays hunting. Don't we show up at the end of each one loaded down with game? Haven't we for years? The real question is what he thinks goes on in the woods beyond District Surely they haven't been tracking us in there.

Or have they? Could we have been followed? That seems impossible.

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At least by a person. That never crossed my mind until this moment. The woods have always been our place of safety, our place beyond the reach of the Capitol, where we're free to say what we feel, be who we are. At least before the Games. If we've been watched since, what have they seen?

Two people hunting, saying treasonous things against the Capitol, yes.

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But not two people in love, which seems to be President Snow's implication. We are safe on that charge. It only happened once. It was fast and unexpected, but it did happen. First there were the obligatory celebrations. A banquet for the victors that only the most high-ranking people were invited to. A holiday for the whole district with free food and entertainers brought in from the Capitol. Parcel Day, the first of twelve, in which food packages were delivered to every person in the district.

That was my favorite. To see all those hungry kids in the 23 P a g e Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins Seam running around, waving cans of applesauce, tins of meat, even candy. Back home, too big to carry, would be bags of grain, cans of oil.

To know that once a month for a year they would all receive another parcel. That was one of the few times I actually felt good about winning the Games. So between the ceremonies and events and the reporters documenting my every move as I presided and thanked and kissed Peeta for the audience, I had no privacy at all. After a few weeks, things finally died down.

The camera crews and reporters packed up and went home. Peeta and I assumed the cool relationship we've had ever since. My family settled into our house in the Victor's Village. The everyday life of District 12 — workers to the mines, kids to school — resumed its usual pace.

I waited until I thought the coast was really clear, and then one Sunday, without telling anyone, I got up hours before dawn and took off for the woods. The weather was still warm enough that I didn't need a jacket. I packed along a bag filled with special foods, cold chicken and cheese and bakery bread and oranges. Down at my old house, I put on my hunting boots.

As usual, the fence was not charged and it was simple to slip into the woods and retrieve my bow and arrows. I went to our place, Gale's and mine, where we had shared breakfast the morning of the reaping that sent me into the Games. I waited at least two hours. I'd begun to think that he'd given up on me in the weeks that had passed. Or that he no longer cared about me. Hated me even. And the idea of losing him forever, my best friend, the only person I'd ever trusted with my secrets, was so painful I couldn't stand it.

Not on top of everything else that had happened. I could feel my eyes tearing 24 P a g e Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins up and my throat starting to close the way it does when I get upset.

Then I looked up and there he was, ten feet away, just watching me. Without even thinking, I jumped up and threw my arms around him, making some weird sound that combined laughing, choking, and crying. He was holding me so tightly that I couldn't see his face, but it was a really long time before he let me go and then he didn't have much choice, because I'd gotten this unbelievably loud case of the hiccups and had to get a drink. We did what we always did that day.

Ate breakfast. Hunted and fished and gathered. Talked about people in town. But not about us, his new life in the mines, my time in the arena. Just about other things. By the time we were at the hole in the fence that's nearest the Hob, I think I really believed that things could be the same. That we could go on as we always had. I'd given all the game to Gale to trade since we had so much food now.

I told him I'd skip the Hob, even though I was looking forward to going there, because my mother and sister didn't even know I'd gone hunting and they'd be wondering where I was. Then suddenly, as I was suggesting I take over the daily snare run, he took my face in his hands and kissed me. I was completely unprepared. You would think that after all the hours I'd spent with Gale — watching him talk and laugh and frown — that I would know all there was to know about his lips.

But I hadn't imagined how warm they would feel pressed against my own. Or how those hands, which could set the most intricate of snares, could as easily entrap me.

I think I made some sort of noise in the back of my throat, and I vaguely remember my fingers, curled tightly closed, resting on his chest. At least once. Despite the fact that the sun was setting and my family would be worried, I sat by a tree next to the fence. I tried to decide how I felt about the kiss, if I had liked it or resented it, but all I really remembered was the pressure of Gale's lips and the scent of the oranges that still lingered on his skin.

It was pointless comparing it with the many kisses I'd exchanged with Peeta. I still hadn't figured out if any of those counted. Finally I went home. That week I managed the snares and dropped off the meat with Hazelle. But I didn't see Gale until Sunday. I had this whole speech worked out, about how I didn't want a boyfriend and never planned on marrying, but I didn't end up using it. Gale acted as if the kiss had never happened. Maybe he was waiting for me to say something. Or kiss him back.

Instead I just pretended it had never happened, either. But it had. Gale had shattered some invisible barrier between us and, with it, any hope I had of resuming our old, uncomplicated friendship. Whatever I pretended, I could never look at his lips in quite the same way. This all flashes through my head in an instant as President Snow's eyes bore into me on the heels of his threat to kill Gale.

How stupid I've been to think the Capitol would just ignore me once I'd returned home! Maybe I didn't know about the potential uprisings. But I knew they were angry with me. Instead of acting with the extreme caution the situation called for, what have I done? From the president's point of view, I've ignored Peeta and flaunted my preference for Gale's company before the whole district.

Now I've endangered Gale and his family and my family and Peeta, too, by my carelessness. He's been my friend for years. That's all that's between us. Besides, everyone thinks we're cousins now. Ill be in love with him just as I was," I say. I will. Ill convince everyone in the districts that I wasn't defying the Capitol, that I was crazy with love," I say.

President Snow rises and dabs his puffy lips with a napkin. How can I aim higher? He drops the napkin and retrieves his book. I don't watch him as he heads for the door, so I flinch when he whispers in my ear. What does he do? I think. Drink it?

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I imagine him sipping it from a teacup. Dipping a cookie into the stuff and pulling it out dripping red. Outside the window, a car comes to life, soft and quiet like the purr of a cat, then fades away into the distance. It slips off as it arrived, unnoticed. The room seems to be spinning in slow, lopsided circles, and I wonder if I might black out. I lean forward and clutch the desk with one hand.

The other still holds Peeta's beautiful cookie. I think it had a tiger lily on it, but now it's been reduced to crumbs in my fist.

I didn't even know I was crushing it, but I guess I had to hold on to something while my world veered out of control. A visit from President Snow. Districts on the verge of uprisings.

A direct death threat to Gale, with others to follow. Everyone I love doomed. And who knows who else will pay for my actions? Unless I turn things around on this tour. Quiet the discontent and put the president's mind at rest. And how? By proving to the country beyond any shadow of a doubt that I love Peeta Mellark. I'm not that good. Peeta's the good one, the likable one. He can make people believe anything. I'm the one who shuts up and sits back and lets him do as much of the talking as possible.

But it isn't Peeta who has to prove his devotion. It's me. She can't know, I think. Not about any of this. I reach my hands over the tray and quickly brush the bits of cookie from my palm and fingers. I take a shaky sip of my tea. We never see it on television, but the president always visits the victors before the tour to wish them luck," I say brightly. My mother's face floods with relief. I thought there was some kind of trouble. How I will always have to protect her. Since I've been home I've been trying hard to mend my relationship with my mother.

Asking her to do things for me instead of brushing aside any offer of help, as I did for years out of anger. Letting her handle all the money I won. Returning her hugs instead of tolerating them.

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My time in the arena made me realize how I needed to stop punishing her for something she couldn't help, specifically the crushing depression she fell into after my father's death. Because sometimes things happen to people and they're not equipped to deal with them.

Right now. Besides, there's one wonderful thing she did when I arrived back in the district. After our families and friends had greeted Peeta and me at the train station, there were a few questions allowed from reporters.

Someone asked my mother what she thought of my new boyfriend, and she replied that, while Peeta was the very model of what a young man should be, I wasn't old enough to have any boyfriend at all. She followed this with a pointed look at Peeta. There was a lot of laughter and comments like "Somebody's in trouble" from the press, and Peeta dropped my hand and sidestepped away from me. That didn't last long — there was too much pressure to act otherwise — but it gave us an excuse to be a little more reserved than we'd been in the Capitol.

And maybe it can help account for how little I've been seen in Peeta's company since the cameras left. I go upstairs to the bathroom, where a steaming tub awaits. My mother has added a small bag of dried flowers that perfumes the air. None of us are used to the luxury of turning on a tap and having a limitless supply of hot water at our fingertips. We had only cold at our home in the Seam, and a bath meant boiling the rest over the fire. I undress and lower myself into the silky water — my mother has poured in some kind of oil as well — and try to get a grip on things.

The first question is who to tell, if anyone. Not my mother or Prim, obviously; they'd only become sick with worry. Not Gale. Even if I could get word to him. What would he do with the information, anyway? If he were alone, I might try to persuade him to run away. Certainly he could survive in the woods. But he's not alone and he'd never leave his family.

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Or me. When I get home have to tell him something about why 30 P a g e Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins our Sundays are a thing of the past, but I can't think about that now.

Only about my next move. Besides, Gale's already so angry and frustrated with the Capitol that I sometimes think he's going to arrange his own uprising. The last thing he needs is an incentive. No, I can't tell anyone I'm leaving behind in District There are still three people I might confide in, starting with Cinna, my stylist. But my guess is Cinna might already be at risk, and I don't want to pull him into any more trouble by closer association with me. Then there's Peeta, who will be my partner in this deception, but how do I begin that conversation?

Hey, Peeta, remember how I told you I was kind of faking being in love with you? Well, I really need you to forget about that now and act extra in love with me or the president might kill Gale. I can't do it. Besides, Peeta will perform well whether he knows what's at stake or not. That leaves Haymitch. Drunken, cranky, confrontational Haymitch, who I just poured a basin of ice water on.

As my mentor in the Games it was his duty to keep me alive. I only hope he's still up for the job. I slide down into the water, letting it block out the sounds around me. I wish the tub would expand so I could go swimming, like I used to on hot summer Sundays in the woods with my father.

Those days were a special treat. We would leave early in the morning and hike farther into the woods than usual to a small lake he'd found while hunting. I don't even remember learning to swim, I was so young when he taught me.

I just remember diving, turning somersaults, and paddling around. The muddy bottom of the lake beneath my toes. The smell of blossoms and greenery. Floating on my back, as I am now, staring at the blue sky while the chatter of the woods was muted by the water.

He'd bag the 31 P a g e Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins waterfowl that nested around the shore, I'd hunt for eggs in the grasses, and we'd both dig for katniss roots, the plant for which he named me, in the shallows. At night, when we got home, my mother would pretend not to recognize me because I was so clean. Then she'd cook up an amazing dinner of roasted duck and baked katniss tubers with gravy.

I never took Gale to the lake. I could have. It's time- consuming to get there, but the waterfowl are such easy pickings you can make up for lost hunting time. It's a place I've never really wanted to share with anyone, though, a place that belonged only to my father and me. Since the Games, when I've had little to occupy my days, I've gone there a couple of times. The swimming was still nice, but mostly the visits depressed me.

Over the course of the last five years, the lake's remarkably unchanged and I'm almost unrecognizable. Even underwater I can hear the sounds of commotion. Honking car horns, shouts of greeting, doors banging shut. It can only mean my entourage has arrived. I just have time to towel off and slip into a robe before my prep team bursts into the bathroom. There's no question of privacy. When it comes to my body, we have no secrets, these three people and me.

Her aqua hair has been styled so it sticks out in sharp points all over her head, and the gold tattoos that used to be confined above her brows have curled around under her eyes, all contributing to the impression that I've literally shocked her.

Octavia comes up and pats Venia's back soothingly, her curvy body looking plumper than usual next to Venia's thin, angular one. But what am I going to do with these nails?

No, her skin isn't exactly pea green now. It's more of a light evergreen. The shift in shade is no doubt an attempt to stay abreast of the capricious fashion trends of the Capitol.

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It's true. I've bitten my nails to stubs in the past couple of months. I thought about trying to break the habit but couldn't think of a good reason I should. I hadn't really been spending much time worrying about how it might affect my prep team. Flavius lifts a few strands of my wet, tangled hair. He gives his head a disapproving shake, causing his orange corkscrew curls to bounce around.

I did remember that. It's more like the issue never came up. Since I've been home, all I've done is stick it in its usual old braid down my back. This seems to mollify them, and they all kiss me, set me on a chair in my bedroom, and, as usual, start talking nonstop without bothering to notice if I'm listening.

While Venia reinvents my eyebrows and Octavia gives me fake nails and Flavius massages goo into my hair, I hear all about the Capitol. What a hit the Games were, how dull things have been since, how no one can wait until Peeta and I visit again at the end of the Victory Tour. It's the best I can do. In a normal year, being a mentor to the tributes is the stuff of nightmares. I can't walk by the school now without wondering what kid have to coach.

But to make things even worse, this is the year of the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games, and that means it's also a Quarter Quell. They occur every twenty-five years, marking the anniversary of the districts' defeat with over-the-top celebrations and, for extra fun, some miserable twist for the tributes. I've never been alive for one, of course. But in school I remember hearing that for the second Quarter Quell, the Capitol demanded that twice the number of tributes be provided for the arena.

The teachers didn't go into much more detail, which is surprising, because that was the year District 12's very own Haymitch Abernathy won the crown. Haymitch has never mentioned his personal experience in the arena to me. I would never ask. And if I ever saw his Games televised in reruns, I must've been too young to remember it. But the Capitol won't let him forget it this year. In a way, it's a good thing Peeta and I will both be available as mentors during 34 P a g e Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins the Quell, because it's a sure bet that Haymitch will be wasted.

After they've exhausted the topic of the Quarter Quell, my prep team, launches into a whole lot of stuff about their incomprehensibly silly lives. Who said what about someone I've never heard of and what sort of shoes they just bought and a long story from Octavia about what a mistake it was to have everyone wear feathers to her birthday party. Soon my brows are stinging, my hair's smooth and silky, and my nails are ready to be painted. Apparently they've been given instruction to prepare only my hands and face, probably because everything else will be covered in the cold weather.

Flavius badly wants to use his own trademark purple lipstick on me but resigns himself to a pink as they begin to color my face and nails. I can see by the palette Cinna has assigned that we're going for girlish, not sexy.

I'll never convince anyone of anything if I'm trying to be provocative. Haymitch made that very clear when he was coaching me for my interview for the Games. My mother comes in, somewhat shyly, and says that Cinna has asked her to show the preps how she did my hair the day of the reaping. They respond with enthusiasm and then watch, thoroughly engrossed, as she breaks down the process of the elaborate braided hairdo. In the mirror, I can see their earnest faces following her every move, their eagerness when it is their turn to try a step.

In fact, all three are so readily respectful and nice to my mother that I feel bad about how I go around feeling so superior to them. Who knows who I would be or what I would talk about if I'd been raised in the Capitol?

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Maybe my 35 P a g e Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins biggest regret would be having feathered costumes at my birthday party, too. When my hair is done, I find Cinna downstairs in the living room, and just the sight of him makes me feel more hopeful. He looks the same as always, simple clothes, short brown hair, just a hint of gold eyeliner. We embrace, and I can barely keep from spilling out the entire episode with President Snow. But no, I've decided to tell Haymitch first. He'll know best who to burden with it.

It's so easy to talk to Cinna, though. Lately we've been speaking a lot on the telephone that came with the house. It's sort of a joke, because almost no one else we know owns one. There's Peeta, but obviously I don't call him. Haymitch tore his out of the wall years ago. My friend Madge, the mayor's daughter, has a telephone in her house, but if we want to talk, we do it in person. At first, the thing barely ever got used.

Then Cinna started to call to work on my talent. Every victor is supposed to have one. Your talent is the activity you take up since you don't have to work either in school or your district's industry.

It can be anything, really, anything that they can interview you about. Peeta, it turns out, actually has a talent, which is painting. He's been frosting those cakes and cookies for years in his family's bakery. But now that he's rich, he can afford to smear real paint on canvases. I don't have a talent, unless you count hunting illegally, which they don't. Or maybe singing, which I wouldn't do for the Capitol in a million years.

My mother tried to interest me in a variety of suitable alternatives from a list Effie Trinket sent her. Cooking, flower arranging, playing the flute. None of them took, although Prim had a knack for all three. Finally Cinna stepped in and offered to help me develop my passion for designing clothes, which really required development since it was nonexistent.

But I 36 P a g e Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins said yes because it meant getting to talk to Cinna, and he promised he'd do all the work. Now he's arranging things around my living room: I pick up one of the sketchbooks and examine a dress I supposedly created.

I may have no interest in designing clothes but I do love the ones Cinna makes for me. Like these. Flowing black pants made of a thick, warm material.

A comfortable white shirt. A sweater woven from green and blue and gray strands of kitten- soft wool. Laced leather boots that don't pinch my toes. He hands me a small stack of cards.

Try to sound like you care. Effie's the only reason we got anywhere on time in the Capitol, so I try to accommodate her. I start bobbing around like a puppet, holding up outfits and saying meaningless things like "Don't you love it?

Now she stands in the kitchen, being interviewed by another crew. She looks lovely in a sky blue frock that brings out her eyes, her blond hair pulled back in a matching ribbon.

She's leaning a bit forward on the toes of her shiny white boots like she's about to take flight, like — Bam! It's like someone actually hits me in the chest. No one has, of course, but the pain is so real I take a step back. I squeeze my eyes shut and I don't see Prim — I see Rue, the twelve-year-old girl from District 1 1 who was my ally in the arena. She could fly, birdlike, from tree to tree, catching on to the slenderest branches.

Rue, who I didn't save. Who I let die. I picture her lying on the ground with the spear still wedged in her stomach Who else will I fail to save from the Capitol's vengeance? Who else will be dead if I don't satisfy President Snow? I realize Cinna's trying to put a coat on me, so I raise my arms. I feel fur, inside and out, encasing me. It's from no animal I've ever seen. Leather gloves. A bright red scarf. Something furry covers my ears. They make it hard to hear, and since I was blasted deaf in one ear in the arena, I dislike them even more.

After I won, the Capitol repaired my ear, but I still find myself testing it. My mother hurries up with something cupped in her hand. It's the pin Madge gave me before I left for the Games. A mockingj ay flying in a circle of gold. She said the pin was the reason she'd decided to trust me. Cinna fixes it on the knot in the scarf.

Effie Trinket's nearby, clapping her hands. We're about to do the first outdoor shot, where the victors greet each other at the beginning of their marvelous trip. All right, Katniss, big smile, you're very excited, right? For a moment I can't quite see right because of the snow, which is now coming down in earnest. Then I make out Peeta coming through his front door. In my head I hear President Snow's directive, "Convince me.

My face breaks into a huge smile and I start walking in Peeta's direction. Then, as if I can't stand it another second, I start running. He catches me and spins me around and then he slips — he still isn't entirely in command of his artificial leg — and we fall into the snow, me on top of him, and that's where we have our first kiss in months. It's full of fur and snowflakes and lipstick, but underneath all that, I can feel the steadiness that Peeta brings to everything.

And I know I'm not alone. As badly as I have hurt him, he won't expose me in front of the cameras. Won't condemn me with a halfhearted kiss. He's still looking out for me. Just as he did in the arena. Somehow the thought makes me want to cry. Instead I pull him to his feet, tuck my glove through the crook of his arm, and merrily pull him on our way.

The rest of the day is a blur of getting to the station, bidding everyone good-bye, the train pulling out, the old team — Peeta and me, Effie and Haymitch, Cinna and Portia, Peeta's stylist — dining on an indescribably 39 P a g e Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins delicious meal I don't remember. And then I'm swathed in pajamas and a voluminous robe, sitting in my plush compartment, waiting for the others to go to sleep. I know Haymitch will be up for hours.

He doesn't like to sleep when it's dark out. When the train seems quiet, I put on my slippers and pad down to his door. I have to knock several times before he answers, scowling, as if he's certain I've brought bad news.

I nod. The train starts to brake and for a second I think President Snow is watching me and doesn't approve of my confiding in Haymitch and has decided to go ahead and kill me now. But we're just stopping for fuel. It's a harmless phrase, but I see Haymitch's eyes narrow in understanding. When he wrestles it open, a blast of snow hits us.

He trips out onto the ground. A Capitol attendant rushes to help, but Haymitch waves her away good-naturedly as he staggers off.

Only be a minute. He's drunk," I say apologetically. Then he turns on me. About the president's visit, about Gale, about how we're all going to die if I fail. His face sobers, grows older in the glow of the red tail- lights. You and Peeta, you'll be mentors now, every year from here on out. And every year they'll revisit the romance and broadcast the details of your private life, and you'll never, ever be able to do anything but live happily ever after with that boy.

Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss Everdeen. The final book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins will have hearts racing, pages turning, and everyone talking about one of the biggest and most talked-about books and authors in recent publishing history!!!! Click This Link To Download https: SlideShare Explore Search You. Submit Search. Successfully reported this slideshow.

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The Hunger Games

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