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Tell Me the Meaning of Victory

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She would die on her own terms, undefeated in her own small way. The Gamemakers couldn't take that from her, she wouldn't let them. She'd beat them at their own game. Neither a murderer nor murdered, leaving the world unburdened by the guilt of taking the life of another, something most so-called "victors" could never claim.

Would everyone think it was an unfortunate accident, a simple mistake, to befall such a cunning and sly girl who was so close to going home and living happily in the Victor's Village of District 5? What a joke, she'd still be a piece in the Capitol's game, having her body sold to the wealthy or maybe waste away numbing the pain with alcohol or morphling, because no matter what they say, victors aren't allowed to be happy. Did it even matter? She had no family to go back to, nothing to return to (power station accident, very tragic, witnesses later said.) No one they could hurt.

So when she finally found them by the clearing, she knew it was her time.
A small chance to rebel, to prove she wasn't just another cattle led to slaughter. Even if it was such an insignificant gesture, lost in the blaze that was to be Fire Girl and Lover Boy's victory, thanks to the last minute rule change made by those crafty Gamemakers.

She watched Bread Boy gather the berries, hidden in the scrub and waited til he let his attention shift away from his task at hand, towards the other side of the clearing, no doubt Fire Girl was off somewhere hunting in that direction. Taking this opportunity, she quickly scanned the area for something, anything that could bring death one step closer. She was considering her last option: walking out there and beg for the end, when she saw it. The perfect opportunity.

Quickly and most importantly, without drawing any attention to herself, she darted out from her hiding place, and grabbed a small portion of cheese, a rarity in her home of District 5, a delicacy even, after starving in the arena. She'd allow herself this small indulgence. Her mouth watered at the sight and smell of the food, having run out of supplies a while back (she lost count of the days.) And even though just about every idiot in Panem knew they were deadly, she grabbed the poisonous nightlock berries without hesitation.

She felt her features twist into some kind of expression, anticipation, longing, relief or maybe something else? Maybe even happiness, at the fact she'd leave this world behind, and all it's misery. She pondered these feelings for a moment, deciding the emotions felt alien and unknown on her face. Turning her attention to the berries and admiring the lethal beauty they held, the ability to release her from this hell, she almost missed Girl-On-Fire stalking her way into the clearing.

She let her mind wander for a second, while loud voices arguing about previously agreed upon signals drifted from the clearing nearby, idly pondering if Lover Boy would blame himself for his first "kill." He didn't deserve the guilt, then again none of them did. If only she could tell him it was a choice of her own. But life isn't that fair, and they all needed to realize it.

She gathered all her strength, deciding she wants to meet the end unafraid and ready to leave this life behind, she whispers a quiet thank you, not sure if it was meant for Bread Boy providing her with a way out, or to the berries themselves.

Suddenly she didn't want to go, she had so much to do, perhaps fall in love one day, and finally have a family to call her own, once more. She took a deep breath in as her eyelids flickered shut. Ignoring everything, that little voice in her head, Fire Girl's suddenly panicked voice and even the mockingjays singing away in the tree tops, she ate the cheese slowly to savor the taste; firm, tart and tangy. She could feel the sunlight, warm on her pale skin as she brought the berries to her lips, a reminder of summers with her family, before she was sent to a Community Home. She felt them crush in her mouth, almost smiling at how something so lethal could taste so sweet. She finds it kind of ironic, the end is always bittersweet. She met the ground as her legs buckled and she turns her head, hoping to get a last glimpse of life. Her eyes open, she wants to live her last moments fully. She sees hands stained with berry, red hair splayed out on the ground underneath her catching the sun, in those loose auburn curls her mother used to brush through when she was a small child, much to her sister's jealousy. And at last she realizes how beautiful the forest could be when you didn't have to worry about fighting for survival, as the sun shone through the trees. Somewhere in the back of her mind she thinks that this isn't such a bad way to die after all.

Then once her vision starts to fade, she allows a small smile to grace her face as she whispers her last words. "I've won."

The cannon goes off, just like it has so many times before, for the past 73 years, signalling one more has left this world.