I board the train with Ron and immediately talk to him.
"I've got to speak to Katniss in private before we talk together, so can you go find us a room. As far as I am concerned we are married, and this will be our wedding night so you better get ready," I say with a sly grin.
It takes him a few seconds before he figures it out and then he puts on one of his trademark goofy grins and heads down the corridor of the train. I go into the entertainment car to find Katniss staring out a window at the passing country side. She has that same tired look that I had seen on stage. She looks up at me sensing another presence in the room, and I see a spark in her eyes.
"Hi," she says, "My name is Kat-."
I cut her off before she can finish, "Listen and listen carefully. You will protect Ron and Ron only. If I receive even one sponsor gift, I will personally toss it into the cornucopia. I am plenty capable of handling myself. Do you get what I'm saying?"
Wow, I think, no one has ever talked to me like that before. I look up at the fiery redhead and see the potential that I have always been looking for in a tribute. I know that she has the best potential out of all the tributes to succeed, and that includes her husband.
"Look," I start, prepared to lay down the law and take whatever verbal insults she will throw back, "for one, you don't get to make the rules. That is my job. Secondly, my job is to protect both of you, so if you do what I tell you, you will both have sponsor money to spare. But just realize this Kim, if you ever speak to me like that again, you will not like the outcome. Remember you're not the only one that has prepared for the games."
I get a look at her reaction, and it is a look of understanding but not fear. Last time a girl mouthed off to me my fourth year of mentoring, I gave her the same speech. She was so terrified that she didn't come out of her room until we had reached the Capitol.
Just then her husband walked in and she immediately ran over to him and gave him a hug. I look at the two intently and notice a few things. They seem to be perfectly in rhythm and compliment each other in every way. I began to have a few ideas on how to present them in public.
"SIt down," I say, "You two are obviously trying the same thing behind one another's back. Kim you have already approached me about it, and I'm sure that you Ron aren't gonna be far behind her." The looks of bewilderment on their faces as they look at each other confirms my statement.
"So," I continue, "I'm going to begin and listen up, I'm only gonna say this once. Rule number one, I am the law. Whatever I say goes, no: ifs, ands, or buts. Understood?" When they both agree I move on to my next point.
"Secondly, I know that you two are married judging by the rock on your finger there. I don't care what you do with each other in your private hours but don't you dare get pregnant. They are not gonna stop the games for you two, and I don't want to be responsible for another life in the arena. Two is already too much to handle at times. Plus with this year being my first year of being a solo mentor, we are all going to get some first hand experience on the games."
They blush quite a lot when I mention the pregnant part but totally agree.
"Third," I say, knowing that this is gonna be a tough one, "all of Panem knows you are married. My plan is not to emphasize that point though. Stay together if you want, through training, but it seems that you are already pretty comfortable with each other, and seem to know what the other is going to do. I want you two to learn as much as you can in training, split up, and relay information when you get done at night. This team has got to be perfect to work. The main point of this is that you have to be prepared for the other to not make it, and learn how to get yourself out alive. That is all I have for right now, get some food and I'll see you in two hours for the replaying of the reapings so we can get to know your competition."
WIth that I walk out of the room.
I stare at the door that Katniss walked out of for a long time, before Ron pulls me back into reality.
"KP," he says, "let's get some food. I think we have a bit to talk about."
"I think it's KS at this point Ronnie," I say with a smile and follow him to the dining car.
We sit at the table where many colorful dishes of food sit, waiting for us to try them. I put a little of everything onto my plate, wanting to have as much luxury before I could possibly die in the next couple of weeks.
"Kim," Ron begins and a red flag goes up. He usually never addresses my by my name unless he is going to say something very serious. "Do you really want to get married at this point? If one of us were to not survive the arena, it could cause the other to not make it as well."
I look at Ron with an alien look on my face, "Ron, I would want to marry you under any circumstance. I don't care about the games, or about what Katniss says. I'm here to protect you, and you're here to protect me. If we both do that effectively, we will both be coming home to riches galore." I finish my statement with a kiss and he puts back on that goofy grin of his and we tuck in to the meal, trying all the delicacies and enjoying every last bit of time with each other.
I look at the two young people sitting at the table after their serious talk. I had simply been sitting on a chair on the opposite side of a wall that split the dining car into two sections. Over the years I had still obtained my skill of elegance and grace that allowed me to sneak around without most people hearing me. Ron sounds truly convinced about the plan and is seeming to go about it with no problem. Kim, however, sounds as if she is still planning the same thing she had originally wanted to do.
It was going to take some convincing to get her out of that mindset.
Later that night we all gathered in the entertainment car for me to tell and show about the Reapings. District 1 was rather surprising; that one, there were no volunteers, and two, the two teens looked relatively non-athletic. Both looked skinny, and exhausted. Their names were Bella and Edward.
"Interesting," I say about to give some advice, "these two won't likely be a challenge. They look lethargic and lazy to say the least. There is a good chance that they won't be in the career pack this year, but you never know. Keep your eyes open on this one, but I think you'll be okay."
Two brings on the most interesting pair for me. There is a brute of a man reaped, and he almost looks to big to be 18. You can see tattoos peeking out from under his black shirt, and by my estimation, his entire back is covered with them. That is not what I am worried about though. The girl next to him has a look to her eye that makes me worried. She is smaller than Kim, but looks fairly athletic. The look though, I've seen it before. Then I place it, Clove. The girl from 2 in my games. She looks like an exact copy of her.
"Tributes from 2, Tobias and Tris," I say, "Do you see anything particularly interesting about them?"
Ron speaks up first, "The guy is large, built, and appears to be very strong. We will have to watch out for him."
"Sounds about right," I say, "you are going to have to watch him. Kim?"
"I don't think the guy is the one we need to worry about," she says and I smile because she got exactly what I was thinking. She continues, "that girl has a particular look to her. A look of pure willing to do whatever it takes to get home. The look of a killer that isn't trying to hide it."
Ron looks confused and speaks up, "Kim she is tiny and not absolutely muscular. I bet you could take her easily."
"Ron, she is absolutely correct," I say, "I've seen that look before from the girl from 2 in my games. She was the only one that had a chance to kill me. She was on top of me with a knife against my throat until I was saved. Watch her the closest, I have a feeling she will be one of the final 5."
The rest of the reapings are uneventful, no real surprises from anywhere. From 3 there was a boy with black hair named Harry and a girl with a nose in a book named Hermione. From four another pair of no volunteers so it appears that there will be no career pack, which will make life easier for my tributes. The tributes from four are named Daniel and Catherine. From five, a couple of 14 year olds named Robert and Sandra. From six I see another challenge, a relatively built kid named Fierro. His partner was so sickened at the announcement, she almost turned green. Her name is Elphaba. From 7, two 16 year olds named Anna and Christoph. From 8, another challenge. The girl was 18 and had snow blonde hair, very attractive, easily getting sponsors; her name is Elsa. The boy is a 17 year old, named Henry, according to the screen but looks about 23. He is wearing a hat that I recognize from a book I read about the time before Panem. It is called a fedora, and he seems pretty attached to it. From 9, Jim and Cindy are reaped and my heart sinks because they are both 12 years old. Every time I see a 12 year old reaped, my mind immediately think of Prim. Except on every occasion, apart from today, only the wind was there to take their place. From 10 and 11 relatively normal results with TJ, Gretchen, Ameer, and Denice. Then Kim and Ron make their debut, and the announcers love it. They immediately compare them to me and Peeta, I think, I wish you were here with me. Snow's message airs and Caesar says how these will be the best games ever, and the feed is over. After the recap is over I look over to Kim and Ron.
"Get to bed you two," I say, "you've got a long day tomorrow and I have a feeling that you are going to stay up a little later than normal." With that I get up and leave the room. Not before I hear Kim say under her breath to Ron though, "She has been through a lot Ron. We should be thankful for the time we are getting. We need to be ready for her to be done abruptly, and frankly, I don't blame her.