Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cinna, The Boy Who Played With Fire

So, in the terrible agony of wanting to find out who is going to play Cinna, I decided to cope by writing fan-fiction. Yeah, I know, I have better things to do. But I don’t have more AWESOME things to do. Thank you, Cinna, for being so incredibly awesome. After the jump to read the story:

Main Character: Cinna

Warnings: A Little Violence

Setting: Pre-Hunger Games

Cinna, The Boy who Played With Fire

I, the son of a Victor, was born on the day after my sister won the 49th Hunger Games. The labor came on so suddenly that my mother and father had no time to fetch a midwife. Born two months premature, I was a sickly, weak child. My parents were not sure I would last the day.

But my mother, with the memories of her time in the Arena fresh in her mind, knew right away what my fate would be if I survived. As the son of one Victor, and the brother of another, I would find myself in the Arena sooner or later.

So my mother did what any mother might do for her child. She hid me. It was not difficult to convince the community I had died shortly after birth. Most premature children did. A funeral was held and the world forgot my parents ever had a second child.

My father, who worked occasionally as a carpenter, built a false wall into the back of my parent’s room. The room he created was perhaps three feet wide and six feet long. At one end, my father modified the fireplace so that the glow could light my hideaway. It was in this room that I spent the first eight years of my life.

Most days my mother would sit and knit just outside my room, with the door half open so she could watch me and talk with me. I knew nothing but this life and was content, in my way. I wondered about the things I read about in the books my father bought for me. I wondered what the wind felt like. What the shining on a meadow of wildflowers would look like. What an ocean sounded like. Yet, I did not truly know what I was missing. But there was one wonder which was my constant companion, that satisfied my deepest desires for beauty.


The fireplace which formed one end of my room was almost always lit, even in the summer when it would grow almost uncomfortably hot. I could lay in the dark and watch it for hours. The way the light danced across the walls and ceiling. The way the tongues of flame engulfed the wood. It was light, and warmth, and happiness to me.

One of my earliest memories is of my sister, face already stretched and thin from her morphine addiction, presenting me with my first box of colored pencils and a stack of drawing paper.

“Cinna, would you draw me a pretty picture? Draw Lara a pretty picture.” I picked up a bright purple pencil in my small, weak fingers, and I suddenly felt whole.

From that moment on, I would spend hours on end drawing. Bright, colorful pictures for my sister, earth-tones for my mother, and charcoal for my father. Of those, my early works, nothing now remains, for they were burned almost as soon as I gave them out. My parents were very careful to conceal any evidence of my existence, as the Peacekeepers of District 3 have always been strict.

But the thing I drew for myself, was fire. It was eternally changing, but still I tried to capture it with my paper and pencils. I would sometimes ask my mother to open the glass front of my fire place, so that I could better examine it. I experimented with prodding the logs and making sparks, burning my fingers countless times in the process. I doubt any child has ever experienced such joy as I did, though.

I remember very little else about my childhood, except for the fact that I believe my father was, even then, involved in an underground, revolutionary movement. Some nights I would hear men’s hushed voices conversing in the room below me. It saddens me to think that I do not even remember my father’s name.

There is a day, though, a few weeks after my eighth birthday, that is forever branded into my memory. Mother was in her rocking chair just outside my room when we both heard a violent pounding on the door downstairs. Mother started and rushed over to me. She knelt to press a kiss to my forehead, whispered a command to be silent, and closed me inside.

I heard raised voices downstairs, a scream and a gunshot. And for the first time in my life, I disobeyed. I found the spring which would open the door from the inside, and crawled from my room.

My parents bedroom was the only other place I had seen, so when I got to the door, I was unsure what to do. I stayed on my hands and knees and crawled towards the stairwell, from which sounds were issuing. Tentatively, I peaked my head around the corner. Below I saw the first human beings, outside my family, I had ever seen. Peacekeepers. There were six of them, all large and imposing, especially to a small child. But they were not what my eyes were drawn to.

On the stone floor of our entry way, lay my sister. She was in her early twenties, but drug-addiction had transformed her body to look much older than that. Yet, she looked young and child-like, lying there with a bullet hole in her temple. My mother was weeping hysterically, kneeling beside my sister’s body.

An argument broke out among the Peacekeepers below. One of them, the leader apparently, was scolding a younger officer for killing my father before they could interrogate him. Then the leader turned to my mother and asked her if she knew who my father’s contact in the rebellion was. Between her sobs, my mother managed to shake her head and choke out one word. “No.”

The Peacekeeper casually discharged a bullet into my mother’s head and she fell beside my sister.

Years of silence trained me well. My tears came without sobs and the scream that fought to escape stayed trapped inside, reverberating through my mind with soul crushing intensity.

The Peacekeepers acted as if nothing had occurred. The leader asked, “Were there any more? Or have we got all of them?”

“That’s the whole family. The man, the woman, and the girl.”

“Check the house, just to be sure there’s no one else here. Then torch it.”

Somehow, those words registered. The terror that filled me at the mere thought of these men finding me was enough to send me scurrying back to my room.

I pulled my door shut with a gentle click, and huddled in the darkness, tears streaming down my face and muscles shaking

Strange footsteps and voices entered my parents room and then left a few minutes later. Still I sat, motionless, trying to make my mind work. It was not until I smelled the smoke in the air that my body agreed to move again. I fumbled for the spring, panic making my fingers clumsy. Finally I managed to get the door open. I grabbed my drawing supplies and crawled out.

The doorway and half the room was already burning. Smoke invaded my lungs and left me coughing. I looked around desperately for some escape. The window was not burning yet, so I wrestled it open. The effort left my small arms shaking, but the fresh outside air gave me renewed energy. A wooden trellis ran up the wall, covered in flowering vines. The distance between the second story window and the ground seemed immense. But the flames were crawling closer as I watched.

I straddled the window sill and placed my bare foot on the top of the trellis. My entire body was shaking, from fear, from exhaustion, from cold. But that first breath of wind on my face was so heavenly, I almost forgot where I was.

I began to climb down. As I got lower the wall grew hot. Before I had time to do anything, I felt a searing pain in my leg, looked down, and saw flames smoldering on my pant leg. My hands instinctively reached for my leg and I fell to the ground. The wind was knocked from my body, but I managed to put out the fire on my leg. My drawing pencils and paper were scattered on the ground around me. My lungs gasped for air as I pulled my precious belongings close and stumbled to my feet.

My knees threatened to collapse as soon as I stood, but I forced myself to go on until I was out of immediate danger. Tall bushes rose up before me, frightening and comforting at once. I dropped to the ground, crawled underneath them, and pulled my knees to my chest.

I wept.

My leg still felt on fire and my lungs hurt from the smoke. And I could feel the pressure of my mother’s lips against my forehead. I tried to wake myself up, knowing this must be some horrible nightmare. But I didn’t wake up. I lay in the bushes and watched my entire life be consumed by flames. And then, I fell asleep.

My heart tells me I spent years under those bushes. But my mind tells me it could not have been more than a day or two. I lay there, as if wishing I’d joined the rest of my family in their last journey.

I was awakened in the black of night by voices. Men’s voices. When I sat up to look around, I could see their silhouettes, observing the glowing embers which used to be my home. Their voices barely reached my ears, but I could tell they were talking about my father. And they were not Peacekeepers.

A debate raged in my head. I knew if I stayed where I was, I would die. But if I emerged and these men were not my father’s friends, they would kill me. My mouth was dry as paper and thinking was difficult. But I knew enough of death by dehydration to know that a bullet was a kinder way to go. So I went to them.

When they heard rustling behind them, they jumped, and drew pistols. I tried to look small and unthreatening.

“Put your gun away, Plutarch,” the older man said. Both of them wore black scarves over their faces, but I noticed wisps of white hair escaping from beneath the shorter man’s hat. “It’s only a boy.”

“What are you about, lad? Wandering around out here? Where are your parents?” The taller man, Plutarch, asked.

It took a few tries before my voice began to work again and I whispered, “Were you friends of my father?”

Instantly both men moved closer, and the older one knelt down to look me in the face. There was kindly, concern in his eyes. “Did your father live here, son?”

If I had been able to cry, at that point, I would have broken down. But there was not enough liquid in my body for tears. I nodded.

“But, sir, he didn’t have a son,” Plutarch said.

“I was a secret,” I whispered. “Mother told me I must be a secret so that I would be safe.”

Understanding registered in the man’s eyes. “Where is your mother, boy? And your sister?”

Thinking of them, my knees grew weak and I wobbled on my feet. The man’s hands reach out to steady me. “They’re dead, sir.” I am not even sure if he heard me. But the answer was obvious. “Water?” I manage to gasp out.

“You poor boy. He must have been hiding out here ever since the fire, Plutarch. Can you carry him? He’s such a small thing. We’ll get you some water, child. Don’t you worry.” The man’s voice was soothing and his eyes were kind.

Still, I shrank back when Plutarch tried to pick me up.

“What is this, child?” The older man pointed to my drawing materials which were pressed to my chest. “Do you like to draw? You come with us and we’ll take you to a place where we’ve got some fresh paper and pencils you can use. Would you like that? And we’ll get you something to eat and drink, too.”

Reluctantly, I allowed myself to be scooped up into Plutarch’s arms. I may have fallen asleep, but the next several days are a blur. I know that Plutarch Heavensbee and the old man whose name I never learned, fed me, clothed me, and cared for me till we reached the Capitol. Thinking back on this, I am not surprised I remember little. My mind must have been in the most severe state of shock a person can endure.

The Capitol, with all its thousands of colorful glamourous people, was the polar opposite of my life before the fire. The most coherent thought I remember having about The Capitol, in those early days, was how much my sister must have loved this place. With all the colors, and bright lights, and wealth, it must have been like a dream to her morphling eyes. I cried myself to sleep every night for years, thinking of her.

When we got off the train the old man disappeared from my life. Plutarch took me home the first night and then took me to a orphan school in the morning. As I would learn later, most of the children in the home were not truly orphans. They were mostly bastard children of the wealthy Capitol citizens. Plutarch was kind enough to imply he was my father and footed the bill for my education.

And for the next ten years, the orphanage was my home. It took me years to adjust to being around other people and I never fit in with my fellow students. I was always a thin, delicate boy, and didn’t care for the amusements of the other residents. Many times in those early years I would hide under my bed, desperate to feel safe and enclosed. Once again, my only solace was in my art. I exceeded all of my peers when it came to all kinds of art and now that I was out of my dark room, the world was my canvas.

I avoided ever drawing fire, though.

Plutarch would come to see me every so often. He rarely mentioned his work with the rebellion, but he would remind me that it was my job to reach a position of distinction. Infiltration. I was to reach somewhere of power so that when the rebellion needed me, I would have influence.

On my eighteenth birthday I left the school with all my possessions in two large cases. In the six years since, I have gone from a humble intern, to lead stylist for one of the Tributes in the Hunger Games. When my application was accepted I thought long and hard about which District I would request. I placed fourth in the competition, which meant I would choose fourth.

There would still be nine Districts in the pool.

But before I chose a District, I decided to consider the costumes I might design for each. I went through Districts 1-11 and though each sketch was beautiful, nothing was truly inspiring or moving.

When I started on the costume for District 12, a lump rose in my throat. My fingers moved without my direction, drawing something I never wanted to draw again.


And it was perfect. The figures which grew up out of my paper were clothed in living flame, not the dreary coal dust of years past. It was a spark to set flame to a nation. It was something I knew better than anyone else. Something I could pour my heart and soul into, despite the pain it caused. If the District 12 tributes wore those costumes, they would never be forgotten.

I had called the Head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane, before I realized what I was doing.

“Crane, I’ve made my decision. I want District 12.”