Cinna finishes fluffing his hair after his eyeliner is applied to his satisfaction. His reflection in the full-length mirror projects a confidence that he, at the moment, doesn’t feel. He touches his eyelid to be certain the gold, sparkling make-up is dried.
So focused on his physical appearance, he doesn’t see Portia approach until she speaks and Cinna startles. Perhaps he’s not feeling as confident as his image would portray, he thinks, deflating a little.
“You know,” Portia begins, adjusting her wig in the mirror behind Cinna with a small grin, “you wouldn’t have to keep checking your eyeliner if you tattooed it like mine.” Portia’s eyes gleam at him from under her perfectly shaped eyebrows, amid her false, but permanent long, blue lashes. Her hands fall lightly on his hips, still looking at him in the mirror. Portia drops a kiss on Cinna’s cheek, not leaving a mark as her lips are stained red.
“I promised my mother I wouldn’t.” is the only explanation Cinna gives her, as he turns from the mirror to face his partner.
Cinna was raised in the Capitol, but his father, who owned the fur industry conglomerate, married a woman, his mother, from District Four. Cinna’s father travelled the Districts, gathering materials, and fell in in love, according to him, with his mother’s golden-green eyes. Although Cinna has his father’s sense of style, he inherited his mother’s compassion. Cinna remembers fondly the hours his mother spent with him as a child, teaching him how to stitch and weave golden threads that made the nets she would send home as little presents for her family. He learned his skills with a sewing machine and how to work different fabrics at his father’s hand; Cinna was responsible for lining the furs his father produced.
It was his mother’s death last year that spurred Cinna to use his talents for the tributes in the Hunger Games, much to the consternation of his father, who wanted Cinna to work exclusively with him. Cinna, however, feels the need to distinguish himself from his father. From the Capitol.
The Hunger Games is a perfect venue for this.
He chooses to work with the tributes from District Twelve for several reasons. Cinna loves a challenge; he is much like his father in this respect. He is also inspired by Portia, who’s been a stylist for District Twelve for three years already and his lover for one. Cinna met Portia at last year’s post-Hunger Games party that most stylists and mentors attend.
Portia notices him thirty seconds before he does; she is already moving towards him with perfect grace, considering her five inch bright purple heels. Cinna is silently admiring her slim body and how it wears the electric blue dress that both clings to and swings on her long legs.
Despite her obvious Capitol influenced style, since Cinna is a minimalist and wears only a matching pale green, but unadorned, silk shirt and pants, Portia is open and gregarious as she sticks out a hand to him.
“I’m Portia. You’re Cinna.” She pumps his hand twice and he holds hers with both of his, “Thank goodness I’m going to have some fresh blood to work with me for District Twelve! Not like that old codger Varro, who you are replacing.” Their hands are still clasped as she continues, “Please tell me we can do something else other than those dreadful coal miner’s outfits?”
Portia speaks fast and bright, like most Capitol citizens, but with an intensity that appeals to Cinna immediately.
“I think… I hope,” Cinna looks in her eye and squeezes her hand, “we can create something memorable.”
Portia smiles and genuine emotion plays across her heavily styled face, “I hope so.” She gives his hands another squeeze and then tucks her hand into the crook of his elbow. “Let’s take you to Haymitch, District Twelve’s former victor and current mentor.”
Cinna is familiar with, even if he’s never met, Haymitch. Cinna watched, especially this year, the tributes from District Twelve die horrifically. This year the boy, who’d been only fourteen, died of starvation three days into the Games. Obviously malnourished before he’d been reaped, the official cause of death was listed as “exposure.” The girl, a sturdy looking fifteen year old, died with an axe to the head at the Cornucopia ten minutes in. Haymitch Abernathy, their mentor, was reportedly hardly seen during, or after, without a drink or an entire bottle of whiskey in his hand.
He’s standing with a woman that Cinna has to try and place to remember, but Portia is already making introductions, “Cinna, this is Haymitch Abernathy and Effie Trinket, District Twelve’s mentor and escort respectively.”
Cinna holds out his hand, which Haymitch regards suspiciously. Effie kicks him in the shin, hissing “Manners!” in his ear and takes Cinna’s proffered hand. Effie is almost ridiculously attired, even by Capitol standards, but her smile reaches her eyes, and Cinna decides to like her.
Haymitch raises his drink to Cinna, “So you’re the new kid whose gonna dress up the lambs to the slaughter, hunh?” He laughs at what he obviously perceives at his joke, spilling his drink down his shirt in the process. The bitter smell of alcohol permeates off him.
“Perhaps next year’s tributes won’t get slaughtered,” Cinna offers, but Haymitch is weaving and shuffling back to the bar to refill his glass. Effie totters on her impossibly high heels after him, with a wave back to Portia and him.
Portia shakes her head and looks back to Cinna, “Well, there’s who we have to work with.” She grabs his elbow tighter, “Let’s get out of here. We can discuss who you’ll pick as your prep team, and I have a great view from my apartment.”
Cinna regards Haymitch and Effie, who seem to be in another verbal altercation. “Let’s go then.”
Cinna takes Portia’s hand as they leave the dressing area. “I think,” he says, “the live broadcast from the reaping at Twelve is about to begin.”
Portia squeezes his hand, “Let’s go then.”
They enter the common area where they stylists sit to watch his first reaping as a stylist. Since they air them in order by District, Twelve is last. Portia and he sit beside each other, their hands still intertwined.
There’s Effie, pink from head to toe, and Cinna smiles. Made more ridiculous by the drab surroundings of Twelve, Effie seems nonplussed as she twitters on about the Hunger Games and the history behind them. And there’s Haymitch, drunker than Cinna saw him last year. He topples from the stage and Cinna shakes his head in disgust as all the other stylists look back at Portia and him with pity in their eyes.
Effie expresses the disgust he feels as she waves for the Peacekeepers to drag him away. Then back to the regularly scheduled reaping and Cinna gasps as the first name she calls produces a smallish blond child, only twelve quite obviously. No! His head shouts. I can’t present this little girl as a tribute! Portia actually moans beside him and holds his hand tighter.
Before Cinna can formulate a verbal reaction, suddenly there is a shout in the crowd. A volunteer! A slight girl stands in front of the little girl shouting her willingness to be this year’s tribute from District Twelve. Peacekeepers bring her to the stage where she stands, her face frozen in shock, but her back is straight, her chin held high. Effie confirms what the murmurs of the other stylists in the room have been postulating. This girl, Katniss Everdeen, has volunteered to be tribute in place of her little sister.
This is who he will style; a tribute, maybe a victor, and definitely brave, girl. Cinna lets out the breath he wasn’t aware he was holding when the little girl’s name was called and relaxes his grip on Portia’s hand. Katniss Everdeen. He can work with her, especially once Octavia, Flavius and Venia perform their magic.
Cinna is planning a wardrobe and working through a mental list of potential materials that will flatter the girl’s coloring, when the boy’s name is called. Portia has shifted to the edge of the cushion where she sits, waiting. Peeta Mellark arrives on stage bearing the same state of shock on his face that Katniss wears. But, like her, he stands straight. A stocky boy with wide shoulders, he looks strong.
They both look to be about sixteen. Portia relaxes beside him. She styled last year’s smallish fourteen year old whose suit she had to pad. This strong boy will give Portia the opportunity he has; tributes to style and give their talent to, to help them along the difficult path that is set before them.
Tributes with potential.
Cinna and Portia are sitting up in her bed; sketchbooks sit on their knees as they begin to bounce ideas for their opening ceremony outfits. Their noses touch as they look at one another’s work. Cinna occasionally touches his lips to hers which alternately makes her giggle and irritates her. Thus far, no inspired ideas have come to them.
The train carrying their tributes to the Capitol will arrive tomorrow afternoon, when both Cinna and Portia can finally meet these two teenagers from District Twelve after their prep teams are done with them. Cinna has drawn a slight woman’s figure. He taps his piece of charcoal against the pad.
Portia has done the same with her male figure. “Absolutely no coal mining outfits.” She affirms.
“Absolutely not.” Cinna agrees. He taps his charcoal again. “But we have to incorporate coal.” He rolls the charcoal in his hands. Soon, if he’s not careful, he will smudge Portia’s sheets. Then there will be hell to pay. “So what does coal do?”
Her eyes roll up slightly to the left. Cinna notices it’s something she does when she’s creating. “It warms, it heats, it burns, it ignites…” Portia begins before he interrupts.
“It ignites!” Cinna exclaims, and starts sketching madly.
Portia is trying to peek over his shoulder. “What are you thinking?”
“Something memorable.” Cinna replies, his piece of charcoal flying.
After his initial meeting with Katniss, Cinna is absolutely, without a doubt certain he, with Portia, made the right decision about their opening ceremony costumes. “You’re not afraid of fire, are you Katniss?" Cinna asks.
The look she gives him only makes him surer. This girl is not one to let fear overcome her senses. A perfect attribute for the Games. Cinna may actually have a winner his first time out of the gate.
He allows himself a small smile of self-satisfaction.
Cinna begins down the long hallway from the elevator, a garment bag slung over his shoulder. This corridor will lead him to the penthouse common room of the Training Center, where he needs to meet Katniss for her fitting. The black suit must mold to her body effortlessly, which of course, takes effort.
His prep team, especially Venia who has a gift for it, took her measurements while they were preparing her and Cinna retook them visually the first time he met Katniss. But the suit must be fitted to her proportions exactly. According to Effie, she’s been eating well since she boarded the train, and even better in the Training Center. Portia has already had to refit Peeta earlier this morning.
He finds her on the couch dressed in a casual leisure outfit of yellow, her eyes closed as she rests against the cushions. Or is she resting? He thinks. Perhaps she’s back in Twelve for the moment, remembering that blonde slip of a child. Her sister.
Cinna is loath to interrupt, but he has a job to do and she does as well. Be memorable. Get sponsors. Stay alive.
“Katniss,” he says and her eyes snap open and she looks up. Not asleep then. “Ready to be spectacular tonight?”
She stands to face him, a wry grin on her face, “Peeta complained at lunch that he felt like a mannequin after his fitting.”
Cinna laughs. Portia is a wonderfully talented stylist, but she relies more heavily on pins than perhaps she should. “Trust me. Tonight, you both will look very much alive.” He follows her lithe form towards her room; mentally adding a few more sequins to her interview dress that he’s still creating to flow with the way she moves.
Katniss and he enter her room as the door closes behind them. She turns to face him, her arms spread wide, “So, what do you want me to do?” Her expression is open, waiting.
Encouraged by her trust in him, Cinna opens the garment bag, “Here, go put this on.” He nods towards the bathroom and holds out her one-piece undergarment that will accentuate her new curves. “Then we’ll get started.” Cinna smiles while she takes the fabric from him, “No mannequin pins. I promise.”
The girl on fire is spectacular.
Cinna sits in the crowd, his arm fitting around Portia’s waist tightly as he feels the screams from the crowd vibrate through his body. His blood pumps with excitement and Portia is practically out of her seat, she sits so close to the edge of it.
Their tributes and the costumes that they designed are perfect. Even Flickerman and Templesmith are speechless.
Peeta plays the crowd immediately, but soon Katniss catches on and is even blowing kisses randomly into the audience.
That’s my girl, Cinna thinks with pride, as everyone around him chants her name. Katniss! Katniss! Katniss!
Cinna is even prouder, still, when she receives her score for training. Unheard of – 11!
His grin can hardly contain his face when he gives her a little spin, “Katniss, The girl who was on fire!” Cinna hugs her and they laugh easily.
She will be radiant in her interview dress that he finished the previous evening. Just wait until the sponsors get a look at her then! He thinks, grinning rather foolishly as Effie and Haymitch surround Katniss now. Cinna is beginning to truly believe she might survive.
Which is something Portia warned him about, this being his first Games. Getting too attached to your tribute when the odds are the stylists will never see their tributes again. Portia, one night in bed, whispered to him to be cautious about one thing in particular.
Under the arena, Katiniss is dressed while Cinna pulls out the final adornment to the outfit that is specially made for her Games. He attaches her pin to the under flap on her jacket’s lapel.
Katniss traces the golden circlet and its enclosed mockingjay with the pad of her forefinger. She looks up to Cinna and softly says, “Thank you.”
Cinna touches her cheek before they sit to await her call to the arena. He holds her cool hand in both his warmer ones.
“Do you want to talk?” He asks and she quickly shakes her head, “Then allow me.” Cinna starts. He doesn’t know how much time he has, so Cinna gets straight to the point. “I want to thank you, Katniss, for inspiring me.”
Her eyes snap to his at this, but he continues, “Yes, Katniss. Your bravery; your sacrifice for your sister inspired me to present you as that: brave, fearless, a tribute to be reckoned with.”
“I’m not so brave.” Katniss says quietly. “In fact, I’m terrified.”
Cinna puts her hand to his lips and holds on tighter, “Of course you are. You wouldn’t be human if you weren’t. But I just want you to know that…” Cinna leans down and kisses the top of her head and whispers, “You’ve given me hope. Hope that I’ll see you again, Katniss.”
The voice from the speaker breaks into their quiet moment, alerting them that it’s time to move to the tube.
They stand together, their hands joined. Katniss steps on the metal plate and Cinna kisses her forehead. “I’m not allowed to bet, but if I could, my money would be on you.”
The glass cylinder lowers around her and Cinna mouths one last message for her. “Good luck, girl on fire.” He chokes out while tears gather in the corner of his eyes.
But Katniss is gone.
Cinna walks to the main viewing area for the mentors, stylists and sponsors to watch the Hunger Games. There he meets up with Portia, who looks just as gutted as he from saying goodbye to Peeta. They hug, he kisses her lightly and then they head towards their assigned seating. Cinna just has a moment to locate Katniss still running on the huge multi-view screen when Haymitch drops into a seat beside him.
He is just about to protest, not wanting the negativity to cloud his hope, when Cinna notices the difference. He is stone cold sober.
Apparently, Haymitch is betting on them, too.