Although the room I am sat in is not cold, it is not exactly welcoming. Three white walls, one mirrored. I sit on one of the plush mint green chairs around the glass table in the centre of the room, my back to the door. I hear a click as the door opens, followed my a gasp.
"Dark hair!" I hear an excited woman squeal behind me. I turn to see what I guess is my prep team filter into the room, followed by a sandy haired, middle aged man.
"Oceana," My stylist greets me, holding out his arms. "My dear, what gorgeous hair!" I knew that this was likely to be a shock and I don't suppress a smile. The people of district four are traditionally tanned with golden blonde hair, and with my pale complexion and dark locks it is easy to see that I don't follow that quota.
"Simos," I grin. Although we have never met before, I recognise him from the television. Simos has been dressing the district four tributes for as long as I can remember.
"You recognise me?" He asks. "Well I must say I'm flattered." He beams. "But now, let's talk about you. Are you ready to see what we have planned?"
Hours later, after lots of painting, plucking and playing Simos announces that he is finished. The prep team step beck to get a full look at their work. I too take in my appearance in the large mirrored wall. My hair has been puffed up, tinted and is topped with a silver tiara, teh top of my body is bare except for a lace purple band stretching around my chest and my legs have been forced together and squeezed into a lilac fish tail. "A mermaid, right?" I ask. I have seen these creatures before, read about them in books and so on.
"You like it?" He asks, his eyes full of hope.
I nod with a smile. "But how am I to walk?" I quiz.
At my question, his face drops, and I can tell that this is not a point that he has considered. Which means that I will have no means of getting to the carriage. A brisk tap on the door disturbs our thoughts. The door opens to reveal Caspar, my escort in a bright flowery suit.
"Where is she!?" He rages. "They are ready to go!"
"We can't think of how to get her through." Simos snaps back.
"For the love of- Julius!" He calls over his shoulder. I can't help my face lighting up as I see my favourite (and most handsome) teacher from the academy come to the door. I was disapointed when I found that he was to be mentoring Jase and not me. It had meant that I hadn't seen him much since the reaping day. "Can you get her down to the chariots?" Caspar asks in an exasparated tone.
"Sure," He smiles, and walks forwards, scooping me into his arms. It takes all my effort not to blush as he touches my bare skin. "Come on Ariel," He chuckles as he begins to walk me through to the chariot hall. My heart sinks when he calls me the wrong name. Am I really that insignificant to him?
"Oceana," I remind him quietly. "My name's Oceana."
But I am greeted with his laughter. "I know that!" His body shakes gently with the giggles. "I was talking about your character!"
"You're the little mermaid! You know, that old tale about the mermaid princess and the prince? That was the inspiration for you and Jase!" He explains. Of course! "Here we are," He says, gently setting me down on the rock that is our carriage. Jase offers me a small grin from where he lies on the top of the rock, wearing nothing but a golden crown and a pair of white shorts.
"You look gorgeous." Yinna, my mentor flusters, stoking my hair. "Now get out there and make us proud!"
There is barely a minute between us arriving and the chairots leading us forwards to the training centre. I wave to the cheering crowds from my rocky seat, which seems to grab people's attention. It seems that somewhere in the audience bubbles are erupting, showering our float until I realise that they are infact escaping from the rock beneath me. The crowd screams out to us, chants the number four in our honour.
Before long we pull to a stop outside the training centre, where we are briefly welcomed my the president before the huge golden gates swing open. We ride directly into the brick garage before we finally slow to a stop. I hear a few tributes let out sighs of relief, whoops. After a few moments, each district's teams begin to arrive to escort us to our floors. The district four mentors join us, grinning ear to ear.
"Nice job!" Julius grinns, clapping Jase on the arm. Then he looks at me. "You ready to come down Ariel?" He asks me. I nod, desperate to feel his arms around me again. "You're freezing!" He laughs as he pulls me closer into his warm body. "I'll be having a word with Simos and tell him to dress you in something more weather appropriate next time!"
It is only when we have reached the fourth floor that he sets me down on the deep purple setee and takes a seat next to me. The rest of the team sit themselves around us.
"You two had better go and get changed before the chariot replay is aired." Yinna points out. "You don't want to miss that!"
No! I want to protest. If it means Julius carrying me around all the time, I'll happily leave my legs in this tail. Jase stands up and makes his was towards a door which an avox is holding open for him. "Sir?" I ask quietly.
He laughs again as he pulls me up. "You can call me Julius now you know." Again, I try not to let the blood rush to my cheeks when he says this.
"OK," Is all I manage to get out.
He carries me past the avox and sets me down on the white sheets of the bed. "I'll let you get on with it then." He smiles and leaves the room. I sink back into the sheets once the door is closed, my cheeks burning and a huge beaming smile on my face. I may be going into an arena to fight other tributes to the death in just a few days, but right now, I don't care. If that is the price I must pay to feel this close to Julius, then so be it.
@topaz-39 @princessbrievel @ancalime5