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Send Her Off In Style

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When he returned to his studio he couldn’t help but stare at the wedding dresses - his own creations - in distaste. It was obvious now that the excitement for a wedding of two fairytale like lovers had been turned into a weapon against their cause. President Snow had taken another step to ensure that Katniss would not be remembered as a symbol of hope. And the public loved tragedies. It was what had made the romance between Katniss and Peeta so popular in the first place. Star-crossed lovers.

His assistants had unpacked the dresses while he had been away, part of the television program that had revealed the potential wedding dresses to the public, but had also seen the announcement of the Quarter Quell. Katniss had worn the dresses only hours before, not knowing what would be announced today. Cinna felt anger rise in his chest when he looked at them too closely.

For a little while it had seemed possible that together he and other conspirators would be able to get Katniss through this safely. For her own protection the girl herself didn't know exactly, how important she was to the budding rebellion as a symbol of hope and defiance. Cinna had done everything in his power to give her a fighting chance in the last Games, to make people inside the Capitol and inside the Districts notice her. Later he had even given her a girlish dress to make her look like less of a threat. All to keep her alive.

Because Cinna knew how important image was in a world where the media rarely – if ever – showed the simple, honest truth. You had to exaggerate, you had to play it up, you had to tone down in the right places and always you had to play along. His creations were part of that and had helped Katniss until now.

The whole wedding had been a design to keep her safe. Cinna knew that Peeta had proposed for one purpose only. He had been ready to die for her during the Hunger Games, and he had asked her to marry him to make it easier for her to go on playing her role – to keep her and her family safe from harm. Now the wedding gowns Cinna had made were about to be tuned into a weapon against both of Peeta and Katniss.

The announcement of the Quell had not followed the pictures of Katniss Everdeen in her shiny wedding dresses by accident. The president was sending them an unmistakable message: Hope could be squashed so very easily.

Cinna sat down in between his creations.

They had been played.

And now what was he supposed to do about it?

&&&

The anger didn't leave him. The Quell was the talk of the Capitol. Still nobody was talking about the unrest in the districts, only about the small inconveniences that people suffered due to strange problems with supplies. Cinna was one of the few people who know what was going on, that rebellion was looming on the horizon. There was a reason he had taken the job as District 12 stylist in the games after all. But now this had become so much more than a job.

For him Katniss was more than a symbol, a pawn in somebody's games. She was a friend, and he knew she trusted him.

Cinna heard back from Haymitch a few times a week. They both knew that the president had set this Quell into motion as a way to get rid of Katniss. The opportunity to stage a Quarter Quell just one year after Katniss' little act of rebellion must have seemed like the perfect opportunity. But it wasn't unlikely either that Snow in his arrogance had underestimated how this would affect other people's lives, too. Plans were already set into motion. Many victors had reason to hate the Capitol.

The kids would not hear of it. If anything went wrong it would be better if neither Katniss nor Peeta knew what was going on or what part they were supposed to play in all of this. And after all things might not go as planned and they might just face the Hunger Games again, but with less chance of coming out of it together.

For Cinna and Portia it hadn't been a problem to decide what the costumes for the opening ceremonies should look like this year. The tragic lovers had a right to feel betrayed. They were the unlucky ones.

A few days before the big show would start all over again a message arrived. Cinna felt his skin crawling when he picked up the envelope. “We should give the audience a chance to see Katniss Everdeen in her wonderful wedding gown. It is payed for already. And we gave them the chance to vote after all. We don't want anyone to be disappointed,” it read.

There was no name on the little card, but the presidential seal was unmistakable. He looked up and over to where the dress the audience had chosen for the wedding of the year was propped up. His own creation would be used to mock Katniss one last time.

Suddenly Cinna hated the dress with a passion. He had made it. He had made all of them to keep Katniss safe, to keep Capitol interest on the love story and away from the truth. The wedding should have been a way to protect the children. Now the dress would send them of to their likely deaths.

Let's send her off in style. Hadn't Caesar Flickerman said something along those lines when he'd asked people to vote on the final dresses? “Send her off in style,” Cinna whispered into the silence of his empty stufio. Somewhere in this city President Snow was probably laughing at his own cunning. No more girl on fire. Just a tragic little bride, sent off in style to her inevitable death.

Cinna's fist smashed into the wall, before he had even realized what he was doing. But the pain in his knuckles helped him clear his head.

His eyes settled on the dress again.

Let's send her off in style.

An idea was forming in his head. He still had more than enough time to make a few changes. Right in this room he had all the materials he needed.

If Katniss had to put her life on the line for the rebellion, without even knowing what was going on, then the least he could do, was putting his own life on the line, too. At least he knew what he was doing. He had a choice.

If it was up to him, Katniss Everdeen would not be remembered as an unlucky bride. She was the girl on fire. The Mockingjay from District 12. And everyone would see it.

&&&

He wasn't the only one ready to challenge the President. This year the Tribute interviews were quite different from most year's, but Cinna had known they would be. The public already knew these people, all of them victors of previous years. He knew that the audience would be ready by the time Katniss stepped out onto the stage. Cinna remembered the nervous, defiant girl from last year, the girl who had trusted him enough to speak her answers right at him him to forget about the audience.

She had changed, matured, learned a bit more about acting for the cameras. Not enough to hide the real Katniss from anyone who cared to look, though.

And she was still putting her trust in Cinna, following his instructions.

When finally the wedding dress burned away to reveal the Mockingjay dress beneath, Cinna felt nothing but pride. This was what people would remember Katniss for. People dissatisfied with Capitol rule all over Panem were seeing this at this very moment, knowing what it meant. She was doomed, but not going without a fight. Whatever happened now, whatever the Capitol would want them to see, Katniss would be the Mockingjay to them.

There was no way to take this back.

It was clear that Ceasar knew it, too, and so did Katniss. But they had to continue, playing their parts. Cinna got up from his seat to make a bow towards the audience when Ceasar asked him to.

This was his proudest moment. As far as this audience was concerned, this was also his final goodbye, Cinna thought briefly.

Portia was staring at him, a little paler than usual beneath her make-up. Katniss was looking up at him with a strange look. He set back down. Suddenly the audience broke into applause, going crazy, cutting the interview short.

“Don't worry,” he told Portia. “She's going to be fine.” But that wasn't what Portia was worried about at this very moment.

No way back now. The rebellion had reached the Capitol, and without knowing it the masses were cheering them on.

Cinna was smiling. Maybe he wouldn't get to see the new world, but he had done his part.