rabbitworthy: (hand wringing)
It’s his first Reaping.

Not really. If you want to be technical about it, it’s his 20th Reaping.

But it’s his first Reaping from this side of things. His first Reaping in District Twelve.

In District Two the Reaping is, if not quite a celebration, at least a much anticipated event. Having your name drawn just about guarantees you will not be a Tribute. Not if you don’t really want to be. The youths who are sent are tough, brutal, bloodthirsty, eagerly looking forward to their first kill in the arena. If their parents mind them being sent, they don’t dare show it.

Here it’s…very different.

Darius is there for crowd control, though the crowd is already very controlled. Subdued. A mask of studied indifference.

He had some idea of what it would be like, of course. He’s seen the footage. Still, it’s something of a shock to witness it in person.

When the name of the first tribute is called—a plump, blond girl from a merchant family, soft and gentle seeming—there is absolutely no reaction from the crowd. Impassive faces surround him.

When the second is called—a very young boy from the Seam, so thin Darius thinks he can’t ever have had a proper meal—his only clue to who the child’s parents are is the flutter of movement he catches out of the corner of his eye of a hand coming up to muffle a quiet gasp from the boy’s mother. The man next to her, who Darius assumes is the father, is stone-faced, staring straight ahead.

Darius should be doing the same, but he can’t seem to draw his eyes away from the woman’s face, her determined silence as tears slide down her cheeks.

Reaping has never seemed a more appropriate term. These children are being cut down and sent as a sacrifice, and there is nothing he can do to stop it.

For the first time, Darius understands the looks of hatred cast surreptitiously in the direction of his uniform. He can’t blame them, but he does wonder if he can survive weeks and months of them without end. He wonders if this really is better than the alternative.

It’s the first time he’s not sure about that either.

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Darius

September 2012

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