A roar of the masses was unleashed upon his ears as his feet set down on the carpet path that would soon lead him up to the podium where Caesar Flickerman and President Snow awaited him. People of the Capitol passed by him in squeals of excitement and zeal for a new victor, yet none of them seemed to realize that the smile he wore wasn’t real. Cameras flashed and followed his face as they greeted him, hugging him and some touching his natural ginger hair – probably something that many of them were dying to have. And as he laughed it off, he tried to dismiss the empty feeling in his stomach as their meaningless greetings disheartened him.
The spotlight was literally wearing him down, destroying his mind and wading through it as if the damage didn’t exist. The only thing that truly made him smile was the little blonde girl that stopped to hug him, only tall enough to wrap her small limbs around his legs. Caught off guard he could only look down in surprise to greet the blue-eyed baby in a warm smile. She didn’t know any better, but one day she’d be one of these demons, going on as if nothing bad were happening. Giving a small wave to her, he waited for those around him to stop laughing at his discomfort to walk on his silence.
How in the hell did Calloway make it through this torture?
At last he found himself on the podium, standing beside Caesar with the biggest smile he could muster. “MAGNUS WHISHART, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!” The blue-haired man roared as the crowd rejoined back in their own screams of adoration and splendor. Without even noticing it at first, the man held him by his arm, holding it high into the air as the crowd began to crescendo louder in their applause. Heart sending fast palpitations of adrenaline through his body, Magnus felt more out of place now than he’d felt during the entire victory tour.
Seating the pair of them, he was thankful that the man knew what to do and when to do it, for without him, he’d be lost. “So tell us, Magnus, how does it feel to be not just a victor, but a victor from Twelve for the second consecutive year in a row?” The man asked, sending a bolt of unwillingness down his mind. For the rest of the tour he had prepared speeches, some given to him by the Capitol. But never had he been completely left in open water to think for himself.
“Um, it’s a miracle. I feel like a miracle, I meant.” he stumbled, his words thick with nerves. “And I feel lucky. We’re lucky to have such good odds, Caesar. But most of all, I’m thankful that I can help my District with another year of extra food and supplies.” he finished, daring not to look out into the crowd again.
With a smile, Caesar applauded him – much to his shock – with another round of applause following in the crowd and then continued on. “Yes, very wise, Magnus. And tell us, what it was like to be face to face with a career as your opponent for the final two? I bet that was terrifying, yes?”
If only he knew. Magnus thought to himself.
“It wasn’t very ideal, let me tell you.” Magnus said as an attempt to be funny. Lightening his mood would be the only way to end the feeling of oncoming disaster. “Topaz had me scared shitless, that’s for sure.” the victor answered, allowing a soft chuckle to leave his mouth afterwards. At least Caesar made him feel a little better.
“I’m sure it did. I’d never dream of having to face that giant, either!” The man laughed, turning to the crowd as they laughed in return as well. Then the man grew grave, his face questioning as a warning of an uneasy subject. “Though it wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. We all had our doubts that you wouldn’t hold on much longer with so many inflictions. So tell me, Magnus, what you think it was it that gave you the strength to win?”
There. That question was the one he’d been hoping to avoid, craving the answer himself. “I’d like to say that it was luck, Caesar, but I know that it was Lena’s promise holding me on the thread of life. If it wasn’t for making that promise with her I wouldn’t be standing before you today. I owe everything to her sacrifice. Hers and many others, really.” Magnus stated, his emerald eyes glazed over in the threat of tears.
With that, he was thankful to see a comforting smile grow on the other’s face. “And I’m sure you won’t let them down, Magnus. But now that you’re victor, what’s the first thing you plan on doing when you get back in District Twelve? Any special plans in that head of yours?”
Thankful for another topic change, Magnus shot back a quick answer to avoid embarrassing himself on national TV. They’d already seen him cry more than he would’ve liked. “I’ll tell you what, I plan on kicking my big brother, Tiberius, in the balls. Then I’m going to hug the rest of my family and laugh at how stupid he was for doubting me.” the boy stated, a silly smile cornering his laugh.
And then he saw the reporter give a genuine smile himself, a real flux of laughter coming from the man as he turned to the laughing audience. “Be sure to let us know how that goes my boy. But before you leave us, I have one last question for you. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since surviving this experience? We’re all anxious to know.”
After a long pause filled with thought, Magnus spoke up, his voice soft at first. “I’d say that would be that everyone is important, Caesar. Little or small, they hold relevance to someone, somewhere out in the world. Don’t ever forget it either, because once you do, you’ll regret it. It’s because of these people that we have the chances to live on, surviving day to day.” he ended, a small nod following his thoughts.
“And forget we will not. Thank you, Magnus.” Caesar finished, then turning back to the crowd. “Your victor, Magnus Whishart from District Twelve! Let’s hear it for our lovely new addition!”
Another roar of excitement escaped those in the audience; painted faces alight with the joy of the moment. He was sure that afterwards there would be a celebration of some sorts, but he didn’t care. He’d be on his way home, miles away from their corruption and cold hearts and falling into the hands of people that truly loved him.
Following the interview, Magnus was guided back to a higher platform rimmed with banners of the Capitol seal and brazen lights, cameras all aimed on him and the President.
The man, cloaked in a solid white ensemble, slowly made his way towards him with the crown of victors in hand. At last it was over. “Congratulations Magnus,” the President said into his ear as the man adjusted Magnus’ tie. “Your win was quite surprising, but we will not be forgetting the remarks you made in your time inside the arena. We here at the Capitol don’t take them too lightly.” the man said, a threat lingering in his words. But once he felt the crown fall atop his head, he no longer cared for any threat the man had to offer. “Be careful, Mr. Whishart. We’ll be watching you.” the man spoke softly, his voice smelling of sweet, deadly roses.
After the crown was in place, the President took to standing by his side, a practiced smile surrounding his face as the cameras zoomed in to capture the final moments of his victory tour. It didn’t matter what Snow said now, he was going home.