GoodbyesI walk into the Justice Building with my heart pounding. There must be some mistake. Henry and Lucy couldn't have both been picked. But here I am, about to get ready to go into the Hunger Games. I'll probably die because I'll do whatever I can to protect Henry, but if I die with him still alive, it is worth it... sort of.
The peacekeepers lead us to our rooms. They point at one for me to go into.
"Can't Henry and I be in the same room?" I protest. Then I realize that I just talked back to a peacekeeper. "Since we're family," I add.
The peacekeeper looks at me sympathetically. They can do that? "Sorry, but the tributes have to be in separate rooms during this part. They always have been," she says.
"Well, has this ever happened before?" I mutter, but walk into the room anyways.
I sit on the couch there thinking about what to say to my family. Then Jenny walks in. I run to her.
"Jenny!" I cry.
"Shh..." Jenny says. "We don't have much time." Then she looks me in the eyes. "Your parents told me to tell you that they're going to Henry first."
"I figured they'd do that," I say.
"I-I know that you'll try and protect Henry," Jenny begins. I look at her sadly. "I would do the same if I were in your position. But just remember this. You're in the arena, too."
"Of course I will. It's sorta hard to forget," I interrupt.
"I know," Jenny continues, "but I just don't want you to forget about keeping yourself safe as well as Henry. If you aren't thinking about yourself and die, who will protect him?"
I stare at her. She knows I won't come back. I do too. "Jenny," I say. I pause. "I will protect myself just as much as I do Henry." I'll probably protect Henry a little more. "I just want to say how much it's meant to me to have you as a friend. We've known each other for as long as I can remember, and I'll never forget you." I can see tears in her eyes. "Jenny don't cry, you'll make me cry," I say.
She lets out a faint laugh. "Sophie, I-" she begins, but is then cut off when a peacekeeper comes in. She quickly hugs me tightly and slips me something. "Look at it later, when the peacekeeper is gone," she whispers quickly. "Maybe it can be your token, but use whatever you want. Like if your parents give you something." Then the peacekeepers take her away. "I feel the same way about you!" she calls back.
The peacekeeper is gone. So is Jenny. It's probably the last time I'll see her. I look at the thing she slipped me. I blink tears away from my eyes. It's a wooden ring we made together when we were little. We were passing it back and forth until we forgot about it. I guess she had it last. Then the door opens.
"Sophie," my father says. "What you did, th-that was very brave of you. We will never, ever forget."
"Nor will we ever forget you," my mother adds. They think I won't come back either. "If you do come back," she adds, "we won't forget what you were like before the games either." Never mind.
I know what she means by "before the games". When victors come back from the games, they aren't the same. Some change a lot, and some only a little. But everyone always changes.
"Sophie," Lucy says softly. "Th-thank you for taking my place." She looks up at me. "I was surprised first when Blossom was doing boys first, and then that she called Henry. When she called my name, I didn't know what to do. Then you came..." she trails off. I know what she's trying to say.
"Lucy, I know I promise that neither you or Henry would get reaped. I guess I was wrong, but at least you don't have to go," I say.
"But I might have to later," she replies. Of course. Even if I don't come back, or if I'm a winner, she still gets placed in the reaping.
"Yes, but you'll know what to do." I don't promise her that she won't get picked again. "Listen, I love you all so much. I won't stop thinking about you in the arena, and I'll do my best to protect Henry."
My parents stare at me. "What?" I ask.
"Don't forget about yourself," my father says. "We love Henry so much, but we love you the same amount."
"Yes, if, if you can't save Henry," my mother says, "start trying to save yourself." Then she hugs me.
My father and Lucy join as well. Then we release each other and I see my mother crying silently. I kiss her on the cheek. Then I do the same to Lucy and my father.
"We don't have a token for you," my father begins, "because we know that Jenny came and gave one to you. Take it in with you, to remind you of home."
"Of course," I whisper. I look at my family. My heart breaks to leave them, but I have to. To protect Henry.
A peacekeeper comes in to tell my family it's time to go. I hug them one last time, and then they are taken away. Henry is my only family member I will ever see again. Hopefully everything will work out that way. I look out the window, sad about what I was thinking. Then I was taken to the train.