Fred & George : Sean & Conor
The First Centennial Censure began with a bang.
The Reaping itself would not, as usual, be held until May, but on January 1st the Capitol released its first promotions about the event.
By Heron's Victory Tour—the District 1 tribute had had no problem adjusting to his new life of fame and stardom— all of the details (each more horrifying than the last) had been released.
Some parts, Conor supposed, were good.
There would not be separate male and female tributes.
Up to twelve of the tributes would be allowed to live.
That was about it.
The bad news was a bit more lengthy: each District would be forced to give up eight tributes, one of each age from eleven to eighteen.
As if that weren't bad enough, Game Master Thrax apparently really wanted to harken back to every previous Quarter Quell, so on top of being the largest Games to date (to evoke the 50th) the Centennial Censure would also split the Victors into teams with the oldest being allowed to choose one age group first and so on (and then circling back until all age groups had been selected), and only if their group won would they be allowed to live (as a nice reminder of the 75th.)
And then, because of course the First Quarter Quell must be mimicked too, there was the requirement that each and every district had to send up at least one volunteer; if they didn't tesserae portions would be halved for three months in retribution.
And the worst part was that both Conor and Sean knew that this was the absolute best Quell for getting as much of the team as possible together, the best Quell for beginning the end to this farce of a regime. They had always known, too, that there was no chance they'd both go up—a fact which made their parents happy but them more than a little upset.
Instead, they had decided, whoever wasn't selected would run into the woods as fast as his little legs could carry him, straight to the land-formerly-known-as-District-13. Possible allies could never be ignored, after all.
Except now the game had changed. Now they weren't just waiting for one of them to inevitably be selected (it wasn't as if either were skimping on tesserae portions, either) but rather them literally wanting to participate in this Game instead of any of the others.
So, they'd both decided to give District 12 its sorely needed volunteer.
But only one of them could volunteer.
And both agreed that volunteering, compared to running around in the woods (a habit that both of them had regularly undertaken since they were three) was what they wanted to do.
So, as might be expected, they were now in the middle of a months-long argument over who got the right.
"Rock-paper-scissors?" Conor offered.
Sean frowned. "We always chose the same thing."
"I could flip a coin?" Sean asked.
"You'd weight it!" Conor protested. "I'll flip the coin.
"You'd weight it!" Sean protested. Then, "whoever can do it fastest?"
None of these suggestions were new ones, but after weeks and weeks of rehashing this conversation at this point they were debating just to debate.
"What a stupid suggestion!" Conor jeered, apparently having completely forgotten that he had been the first to bring it up in January. "Fist fight?"
"No point in weakening either of us." Sean said. "Talk about stupid suggestions." He'd first offered it himself in February, but that was irrelevant.
There were only two more days until the Reaping, and they were still no closer to finding a solution.
"The handsomer brother should volunteer!" Sean said.
"Exactly!" Conor agreed. "Me!"
They were in the woods now, actually. It was more peaceful there, and the air was far preferable to what they were used to in the mines, for all that both of them were kept far away from the worst parts of the mines, where only the oldest of the workers actually operated.
"Wait." Sean said, coming to a stop beside some katniss plants that lined the edge of the water. "Wait." He began to smile. It was a slow thing, but as it spread across his brother's face Conor grew more and more worried. "Do you know what the main difference between us is?"
"You've been alive for longer."
"So, you know more than me. I mean, you've told me stuff, but that's not the same as actually experiencing it, is it? And you're the one that has more experience being on the run, the one that knows better than I do what it's like to help run an insurrection.
Your experience, Forge my boy, is literally more useful if you're not the one that volunteers."
"That's a stupid argument", Conor snapped, "and you know it."
"But it has a hell of a lot more merit than any of our other suggestions."
"So? It's still useless!"
"Look, you know that we can both argue about this until we're blue in the face, but at the end of the day my suggestion, regardless of whether or not it happens to benefit me, is the best one we've got. If you come up with a better one, then great, but until then I win and I get to volunteer, okay?"
"They're all expecting me!" Conor said, desperate.
"And I'll get to see Alicia." Sean pointed out. "I mean, I know you miss Angelina, but there's a difference between consensual long-distance and death."
"Low blow." Conor grunted.
"You're the one that made me do it." Sean said. Then he grinned. "Don't worry, I'll give Angelina all my love too."
"Keep your hands off my wife!" Conor snapped, tackling his brother.
"See if I do!" Sean said, fighting back. "One look at me and she'll realize I'm far handsomer than you ever were, and she'll be all over me like that!"
"As if!" Conor laughed. "You're a brute! I'm refined masculinity!"
"Sure, why not?"
Both were gasping in laughter by that point, but Conor really wanted to win one argument that day, so without a second's hesitation he shoved his brother into the lake.
"I still won the war!" Sean said, trying desperately to get his balance on the slippery surface.
"In your dreams, maybe!"
"Oh, in my dreams I win so much more than a war!"