I step into over the threshold and into the President's mansion. I'm greeted by attendants who usher me into the ballroom, motioning for me to pause before they announce my presence.
"Ladies and gentlemen, your victor of the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen!"
Thunderous applause comes from the crowd below as I'm blinded by the flashing lights of the cameras.
As I make my way down the staircase and into the ballroom, I catch Cinna's eye.
"Congratulations again, girl on fire," he says when I reach him.
"Thank you. I'm just glad to be done with the recap."
I think back, it was only a few hours ago but it feels like an eternity. I'm haunted as I think of Rue's lifeless body being carried up by the hovercraft. I push the thought out of my mind, there's no time for that tonight.
Cinna leads me over to the buffet, overflowing with Capitol delicacies, there's more food laid out than I've ever seen in my entire life. I feel guilty for being responsible for all this waste, even though they would have had this banquet even if I hadn't won. Cinna hands me a plate of food, I thank him and begin walking around the room while silently munching on the food, hors d'oeuvres, I'm told they're called. Once I'm done I a wondering servant with a tray takes the plate from me, an avox, probably. I admire the artwork that adorns the room. For a dictatorial leader the President does have a refined taste in art.
Someone comes up beside me.
"Do you like the art?" the voice asks.
"Yes," I finally stammer out.
"So do I. I'm Peeta," he says, shaking my hand, "Peeta Mellark. Let me give you a tour!"
"Oh, I don't think we should, it is the President's private home," I say.
"I don't think grandfather will mind."
Oh no, I think to myself.