ஃ born in the capitol ஃ family is old old old money ஃ many year of unyielding support to the capitol ஃ family breeds pk like bunny rabbits ஃ brainwashed since young with capitol propaganda ஃ lied about his age to become a peacekeeper sooner ஃ his parents pulled strings to allow for this ஃ placed in 12
"you are weak but not foolish you have learned how to die."
"W"hy is it always cold here," he asked her, bending over to place chubby little boy hands on the hem of her long skirt. She smiled at him, six years his senior and far more knowledgeable in most things than him. She was twelve years old that winter and already beautiful. It was not a made-up beauty found in the magazines, her skin was not light blue and she did not have green hair, her's was a natural beauty, an ancient one. Even then, at age six, Leo knew that as her younger brother it was his duty to worship her, to protect that beauty. Thus, his small hands grasped the length of her skirt to lift it from the dirt.
She smiled at him then, reaching out, twisting the skirt around her legs. She had a lovely smile, like starlight. She lifted him up, placing him on her hip. He was heavy but she was strong and had been carrying him around so often that she was able to do so without him being a burden. "Leo," she said, (and the acoustics in the large room made her voice sound like bells) "Do you see how far away the ceiling is? All the hot air is up there, while down here on the marble it is freezing." He raised his eyes, looking up to where his sister pointed and saw the ceiling that seemed so unattainable and far away.
He looked back at his sister and watched the way her gaze seemed to paint everything they touched a brighter shade. There was no one else, sometimes his parents would come and visit with him but most often they were busy with various galas and work. Sometimes he forgot what his mother looked like, all he could remember was the shiny black of her sharp shoes and the powder on her face. Lilac, the sister who held him in her arms now was the only one who came everyday to see him. Otherwise, he was left to his various tutors, Nanny Anya and the Avox. None of them were very good for conversation, not like Lilac. "One day," he told her, voice too serious for a little by such as he, "I will find a way to make it always warm so you will never be cold again."
She laughed then. Not at him, never at him, but her voice tinkled and despite not knowing why she laughed, it brought a cautious smile to his own lips. She set him down on the floor and knelt in front of him so that their gazes were level. "Oh sweetie," she said, "If you did this thing then in the summertime we would be too hot! With high ceilings we can be cool when the sun shines."
He stood silent for a moment, hands clenching and unclenching as he tried to work this out. She waited patiently as he thought. He was smart, her little brother but sometimes he needed a little bit of extra time to fully understand things, as if his brain needed to open up every possible door before settling on the explanation. However, once he understood something, his understanding was concrete, correct. He remembered everything without fail and could recall the smallest things too easily, like it had only happened moments before. Give him an equation and he could recall a piece of paper and pencil in his head, give him a book and he could nearly recite it from memory. Paper and pictures were things he understood easily. Affection and ideas were different. "Either way," he said, face twisting up into a confused expression. "There will be times when we suffer? Why?" he asked Lilac, voice nearly pleading, he did not understand.
She smiled at him, understanding the unspoken words behind his question too easily. The coldness of the winter was not limited to the weather or the marble flooring but extended to the never present parents as well. She had also spent a childhood wondering why she was not important enough to love but it had only made her sweeter. Leo did not cry easily but sometimes in the dead of night the boy's nanny would arrive at her door with a tear-stained lion cub. She held her arms out to him and he stepped into them, letting her caress the back of his head as she rested her chin on his shoulder. "It is the human condition to suffer, Leo. That is why."
He stepped away from her, and she could see the confusion building up like an explosion inside of him. He looked towards the ceiling with furrowed brow and twisted lips and she watched him think. He was like an automation, one of those wind up toys that had littered her young years. She watched as he spun in a slow circle, and it was somehow incredible to watch the equation of what she had said fly across his features as he processed it and came to terms with it. "Even if you are rich?" he asked her suddenly, as if he was a system requesting further information.
She nodded solemnly at him in response, "Even the rich may suffer, nobody is /that/ wealthy." She may have been the fourth daughter of the Fenwick family and therefore in the top point five percentile of the Capitol's wealthiest families, but there are many ways for a person to suffer, too many ways. Hr life was not her own. Neither was Leo's. As the third son, he would be trained to enter the military, with no choice. He would be made to kill and maim and hurt and then he would be congratulated for it. He would never understand, not fully.
He thought about that for a while again and then eventually waddled over to plop into her lap. His tone was serious, formal as he nodded his head up and down, "I understand," he said. He often said so, but he so often really did not. His teachers always believed that he did, his parents didn't care either way. As long as he did as he was told, they would never truly care. He was a possession, a prize, not a boy just as Lilac was not a girl.
"No you do not," she said softly, ruffling his hair. "It is okay not to understand sometimes Leo. You do not have to pretend for me."
He smiled at her gratefully then, relief spread clear across his features. One day that openness would be trained out of him until he was nothing but a cold piece of stone. One day he would become like their uncle, fierce and proud to have brought death to an entire District. Until that day, he was her little brother, sweet and too smart for his own good.
Alas; it would come sooner than expected.
She would not be there to see it.
ஃ ஃ ஃ
He threw the pencil across the room in complete disgust with himself, the paper before him nearly brown from the markings, letters and numbers that he'd drawn and written in a flurry of motion. The pencil hit the wall point first and fell to the floor, only to roll underneath an old chest of drawers. "I was right the first time, Li. I was right the very first time," he said, slumping over the desk dramatically, letting his head fall on the wood with a soft 'thud'. They'd been in the room for three hours, Lilac draped elegantly on the window seat, a book of poetry in her lap and a cup of tea to guard against the cold rain slamming itself against the windows. She smiled slightly against the outburst but for the most part kept her attention fixed on the pages in front of her.
He became like this in the rain, horribly moody and obsessive like the beast he was named for when caged. Her brother had been allowed to roam free for too many years and it was evident in the way his hair curled wildly, light blonde and long from the top of his head. He was ten years old then but already showing signs of the same beauty that his sister was known so well for. His features were strangely delicate for a boy but not something to dismiss. The slant of his jaw was something from a classical painting and there was a certain way that he held his hands that lent strength and beauty.
Currently they were wrapping themselves around the hilt of a double-edged knife that was kept inside a drawer in the small, study room. Many might say that he was far too young to be holding a blade but in a family such as his, it was considered wrong for a boy not to begin training early on. Truly, he was known well within his family for his development with his training. Neither of his older brothers before him had shown such promise at such a young age. It was said to Leo often that his father had high hopes for him. Leo wished he could hear it from the lips of his father as well. It had been three months since they had last conversed.
He flopped down on the other end of the window seat, wetstone in hand to sharpen the blade. As he worked he stared moodily out at the dark sky, brows narrowed in annoyance. Lilac only smiled, glancing up slightly to let her eyes catch on the row of diamond studs in his ear. Her own ears were only pierced once, their family preferred the women to look strangely blank, like an empty canvas. Adornment was reserved for the men and therefore Leo sometimes looked like an abstract piece of art. His fashion taste was highly traditional, even at his young age. He wore black mainly, in different fabrics that draped across pale skin and little boy muscles.
He looked like an angel to her and when she'd read Peter Pan she'd misplaced her brother inside the book. There was something archaic about him, pure. Many thought him simple but he was far from it. It was like he was above human emotions sometimes, he didn't understand them. He was fine though, as long as he had Lilac to explain things to him, he could understand or at least try to. Without her, he would be lost.
He turned to look at her, but her gaze was focused on the lines of the poetry book. Ulysses. It seemed strangely fitting for the moment. The rain that was pouring down could fill an entire ocean right up, she was sure, not that she'd ever seen one. "Lilac, explain it to me again, why the Districts are bad?" he asked her then. This was an idea he'd been struggling with for a very long time. Lilac could only tell him what she had been told, which wasn't much.
"You know why, Leo. Father says that everyone used to live in harmony, until one day, the people of the Districts betrayed us. We went to war and they lost," she droned, rattling off the facts for the umpteenth time. He could spend hours on this subject, arguing about how not everyone in the Districts could be bad. Leo's favourite argument was that little boys like him could not be evil, it was impossible to be evil so young. Lilac's regular argument was that it did not matter, they were paying for the sins of their ancestors. They learned to be rats as they grew.
Leo's problem was that he was always trying to save people. He always believed that he could help them, the people in the districts and had an odd fascination with the household Avox. He liked to watch them speak with their hands and was always trying their symbols. On an extremely rare visit, their father had caught him at it and had had the Avox he had been speaking to removed. Lilac knew that this meant her father had lost use for the Avox, it was dead. Leo simply thought that he had been relocated to another area of the house. Lilac let him think this.
"If we hadn't won, maybe you or I might be the Avox right now," he muttered sourly, breath fogging up the glass. Lilac nodded at this. It was something that she thought about often as well, almost as much as she thought of running away. She wouldn't leave Leo, not ever. He was too dangerous to be left on his own, the way he spoke was likely to get him killed but she could not bear to silence the inquisitiveness that he had so naturally grown. Words like his somehow made her feel hopeful, even if it was dangerous.
She was glad for his fairness. Their older brother, Nial was ruthless and cold. She'd often asked him about the Avox, asked about why it was that they were punished so. He'd told her off and said that he'd tell father if he ever heard such traitorous words from her mouth again. At the time, she wasn't even certain of what she'd said wrong. She opened her mouth, about to mention the appreciation she held for him when her younger brother suddenly pressed his nose against the glass. "It's father!" he said excitedly, slipping off of the window seat and placing the blade and stone on the cushion at her feet, as if in offering. "He's got the new Avox he promised, looks like ten of them," he said as he pulled the poetry book out of her hand and gripped her tightly, pulling her off of the cushion with impatience.
Their father had been promising them ten new servants for the household, this time to act as guards. There had been reports of a troupe of thieved moving through the wealthy neighborhood and their father was not one to take chances. Lilac was not so excited. She'd heard that the stronger, more capable Avox were the ones to be afraid of. People were Avoxed for a reason after all.
"We've got to go see!"
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The screaming woke them all up, like a cloud of dust off a carpet being shaken out. The room was dark when he fumbled for the lamp on the bedside table, hands wrapping around the glasses he wore at night after he took his contact lenses out. The digital clock read 'three am' in a dull blue glow and for a moment, he'd thought he'd only dreamed it. The large house was empty save his sister and himself. The Avox were around but his parents and older siblings were all at their apartments because they were closer to work.
Leo rolled out of the bed, toes curling slightly as they hit the marble. A banging came at his door, loud and angry and he only froze in fear for the smallest of moments. This was out of the ordinary, nothing like this had ever happened before. Sometimes when he was younger and he'd had a nightmare he would go to his sister's rooms but she had never ventured to his. No Avox had ever disturbed him in the dark before either. Mira would come in to stoke up the fire in the winter but that was all, and she was always quick and quiet, nothing like this.
He opened the door to find Mira in front of him, her face pale and tear-streaked. Her eyes were red with them and somehow she looked old. A lot older than she ever had before. Fear gripped him tightly and he asked her then, "Mira? What's wrong?" but he didn't actually want to know, not really. He was hoping that it was nothing big, that maybe she had been spooked by a ghost in the largeness of the place but somehow he knew that it was something bad, something completely life changing and wrong. He followed her anyway when her hands shook out the simple word, - come -.
He walked behind her through the dimly lit hallways, bare feet uncertain against the carpet that ran down the middle of the floor. He was the man of the house but also only eleven years old and all he had on him was the pocketknife that had been on the bedside table beside the glasses. He wasn't sure he could deal with a robber, not when they were so big and he was so unnaturally small. Still, he had to do what was expected of him.
The Avox in front of him hurried along and dread dragged at his feet with every step they took. He knew this path well. It was the way he got to his sister's rooms. It had been a year or two since he'd had to crawl into her bed from nightmares but he knew the path too well. There had been screaming, there had been screaming in the night. He didn't think Avox could scream.
He pushed past Mira, speeding up as realization hit him. Panic gripped him and he shouted out Lilac's name, everything else dripping away as worry made him weak. He slipped lightly on the carpet, the shift sent him tripping forward but he regained his footing easily enough.
He kicked the door open, splintering the wood against the lock. It was cold, the window was wide open and the glass was shattered everywhere. Bloodstained the floor, too much of it. He knelt in it, cradling his sister's head in his lap, her body spent and lying unnaturally on the cold marble floor.
ஃ ஃ ஃ
He was beautiful when he was in motion. To liken him a cobra would be wrong, he was less a predator, more just a force of nature. His eventual win seemed inevitable, the reason to lift up a weapon and fight him somehow became lost just to see him purposefully move forward, the staff held tightly in two capable hands. At fifteen years old he was a masterpiece in the making and just as cold as the flakes of paint that made him up.
He lifted the staff, pointing the back end up and was only centimetres from tapping the tip against the floor. Gracefully, he moved into a fighting stance and waited there for his opponent to come forwards. The other boy seemed wary, like a child playing at war in his father's shoes. They fit too big and made his movements awkward. Leo waited quietly, his patience dragging the fight on. He was not known for his prowess because he was reckless.
The boy pushed forwards suddenly, feet making the loose sand they sparred on spray outwards. Leo was ready for him and wood met wood with a loud 'thwack'. The sound came again only seconds later as the boy tried again and Leo deflected the blow. He twisted carefully, raising the pole up over his head in order to get around the back of the boy. Just as it went up, he brought it back down, hitting the pole with force against the back of the other boy's legs. The blow made him stumble and Leo wasted no time, bringing the wooden pole hard across the boy's back with a crack. his opponent fell on his chest, his own weapon rolling out of his hand.
To his credit, he desperately crawled forwards in an effort to retrieve it but Leo was faster. He broke the boy's fingers with a snapping movement and watched impassively as the boy curled in on himself over his damaged hand.
ஃ ஃ ஃ
Mira placed the tea tray beside the fair haired boy, and he smiled briefly at her before returning to the large book in his lap. Mira no longer only worked nights. There were not enough Avox in the household to leave time for rest. She did not seem to mind so much but she also had no ability to complain. The house was quiet these days, like a sleeping giant. Only a small portion of the building was used anymore, Leo's siblings lived in their apartments and though his tutors and servants took up some space, the building was quiet. Only ten or so Avox remained from the seventy-five that used to live in the building.
He licked his index finger and turned the page. They were thin, old pages and slippery. It was one of the books from the library that his sister had loved well- a book full of ancient gods from hundreds of years passed. Lilac never could figure out if it was a religion she was reading or a story.
The false gods they spoke of made his bones brittle with lust for their stability.
What he would not give to drop a coin on a mantle and pray for the gods to bless him as well, to be recognized. He wanted the chance to step down into the underworld too. He would pay anything- his soul even -to see the smile of his sister once again. If only his parents had had the forethought to name him Orpheus.
If he saw Lilac again, he did not know what he might say to her.
He thought about it often, what he could say to appease her. He had been made to love and protect her and he had failed her in the confines of their own house. What does one say to someone that they have failed so miserably? He sighed and let the book fall out of his lap. It tilted forward and hit the carpeted floor with a muted 'thump'.
When she was still living, Lilac had often reminded him that it was bad to live in the past, that one needed to look to the future if they hoped to go forwards but it was as if his world still revolved around that night. He was doomed to walk circles around it forever, unable to let it go. One night, it had changed his entire world.
They looked so harmless in their uniform white and sullen expressions, Leo had never considered the fact that the women and men who worked so tirelessly in his own house might be dangerous. He had forgotten the link that was there, the thing that had brought them to the Capitol in the first place; their status as criminals. Even the most seemingly harmless of creatures were capable of bringing destruction if given the chance.
Leo had brought justice to the murderer himself, executing the Avox in broad daylight via decapitation wwith his family sword. The head had rolled across flagstone, right to his mother's feet before stopping.
Even five years later, he did not feel anything but hatred roaring loud beneath his skin. He'd never believed his father's teachings about the districts until the moment they became vivid. Too late. His sister was dead because he had not understood just how despicable and disgusting those from the Districts were. It was his folly that had led to her death. He hadn't believed her, what she'd told him about the Districts. Now anger was the only thing that guided his heart. The perpetrator was extinguished, but the hatred burns bright and horrible still.
He clutched his head in two scarred hands and rocked forwards slightly as the tea grew cold on the try beside him.
His heart was full of questions but there was no one left to hear them.
ஃ ஃ ஃ
He stood in black boots that shined like the silver on his shoulders.
The sun was hot; sweat painted the nape of his neck and light locks of hair curled over his collar like tendrils of sunflower petals. A bag stood at his side, solitary and quiet. He waited patiently, a stillness to him as his father walked towards him from the house's gate. He was a sight in a Peacekeeper's formal whites. Still a year too young, his father had pulled some strings in order for his son to enter the ranks of the Peacekeepers. There was no doubt in anyone's mind as to whether he was ready or not, his prowess with weaponry and cold demeanour was well spoken of in most popular circles.
If any were uncertain about his ability, it was due to his short stature. Due to his height, he could be mistaken for someone much younger, if it were not for the ice in his gaze. He was a boy once, but it had been years since he had identified as anything less than a soldier. It was evident in the way he stood so straight, back stiff and hands folded humbly in front of him. He was the epitome of what was expected in a third son.
Leo's father was glad that it had been his daughter who had died and not Leo himself. Where a daughter was useful for marrying off, a boy like Leo would bring fame and pride to his family name. The death of his daughter had tamed the Lion cub and made a predator out of his son.
"Leo," Robert Fenwick said, greeting his son, "You must be sure you do the Fenwick name proud. I had to pull quite a few favours to get you conscripted so early." At Seventeen, his son was just as handsome as he had always promised to be. He could not help feeling a hint of pride as he looked at the boy he had helped create. Still, he barely knew the boy, having lived apart from him for many years. His son had been raised by strangers and a daughter who had been dead six years. He was still his.
Leo raised a gloved fist to his heart, bowing respectfully at his father. Tendrils of hair fell over his forehead as he did and the silver on his shoulders refracted sunlight. "Yes Sir," he said, voice oddly gentle for a young man known for the cruelty he could show. In his testing, Leo had scored a perfect score when it came to following orders, no matter how ghastly. He had already pulled his first tongue- all without batting an eye.
With orders given, Leo turned smartly on one heel and lifted his case off of the ground. The car had been waiting for twenty minutes for his father's arrival to take him away. He was off to the train station and then to District Two. He had been placed in the Detention Center as an assistant in the interrogation department.
Leo had shown neither excitement nor annoyance at the prospect, his expression reming rather neutral. However, Mira had been standing in the corner of the sitting room when his father had told him the news; she had not liked the way his eyes had glinted.
It had frightened her.
ஃ ஃ ஃ
He didn't watch his house disappear from view as the car took him away, he had lived there for seventeen years but it had not been a home to him. He had yet to experience one, the emotional attachment that he held for the place was nothing but a ghost. The only rooms that mattered were haunted.