Hermione : Hermosa
After the announcement was made District 3 didn't bother wasting any time. Two days into January every single tribute—from age 11 to 18—had already been chosen, each selected from the worst schools in the district as the strongest and brightest of the 'won't amount to anything anyway' crowd. Generally they tried to avoid that—volunteers who weren't good weren't appreciated by the Capitol—but the Centennial was too important to take such risks.
Three days later, then, they were all in training, to make sure they didn't shame the district too much before they were inevitably killed.
In addition, District 3 had learned its lesson from the 75th Hunger Games, when two of their best and brightest had died on the same day—the first day—doing irreparable harm to the District's reputation.
No, this time they'd play this smart.
They had three living victors now; Serafina, who was nearing eighty and had gone mad long ago, Alanza, who'd won the 82rd Hunger Games, and Feron, who'd won the 80th. The district leaders—a group of five who were chosen as the best and brightest available—decided right off the bat that Serafina was worthless and would be saddled with the worst of the teams (11, 12, and 13), Feron's mental issues weren't going away any time soon so he should be saddled with the next worst (14 and 15), and Alanza—a fairly successful inventor in her own right who, despite being incredibly introverted and anti-social, had her own cult-following of Capitol supporters—would be assigned the only teams that actually had a chance of winning: 16, 17, and 18.
Hermosa, of course, messed that up.
The crowd didn't know what to think when she volunteered. Neither did the escort, or anyone else. District 3 rarely if ever had volunteers, and then only too keep someone smart—someone who attended PATT—someone who attended her school from dying.
And then she'd volunteered.
The boy who had been supposed to volunteer—she thought his name was Blue, but she couldn't be sure—volunteered right after her, but it was too late. The District 3 rules were clear: whoever did it first was the tribute.
Stunned silence filled the air as she climbed to the stage, as she introduced herself, as she gave her reason for doing what she did as "reasoned logic" and nothing else.
The silence grew as each Victor came out to choose their groups and Serafina (old, blind Serafina who needed to be prompted three times to even say anything) chose the 11 year-old. Feron followed by choosing the 15 year-old, then Alanza went—18. It held as Serafina chose 12, Feron 16, and Alanza 17. It cemented into place, almost as quiet as District 9, when Serafina chose 14.
And then Feron (because the District had three victors, and only eight tributes) passed.
And then Alanza—Alanza, the closest thing their district had to a Capitol favorite—chose 13.
The message was clear: her mere presence, as well as that of the other 13 year-olds, made them a hell of a lot more likely to win then the day before.
The third district was not only fighting based on historical data—not only choosing which teams to bother with due to which ages were most likely to win in the past, who were objectively the most likely to win now— no, somehow the upswell of '13', of her age, of her group (Fred and George and Neville and Luna and Katie and Alicia and Oliver and Angelina and Harry and Percy—) was enough to make District 3 act in a way that was, on the face of it, irrational.
Because the string of volunteers (with the exception of five, because Potter Luck was the most dependable thing in the multiverse) should have in no way effected their chances.
Everyone thought they were thirteen, for God's sake! Thirteen years old and they were competing with teens many years their senior, teens who were (supposed to be) stronger and smarter and faster than (Panem at large) thought they could ever be.
Nearly every Victor was at least 17. Those younger could literally be counted: the single living victor who'd won at 13 was a member of District 8. She'd found herself in a rainforest and spent no time ingratiating herself into a clan of apes and had used them as a natural defense until only two others were alive, at which point she'd quickly and efficiently killed both in a massive, terrifyingly large forest fire while she stood, perfectly safe, in the middle of a lake with a sponsor-given gas mask—no face-to-face confrontation to speak of.
The next youngest were both fourteen, from 3 (Alanza, actually) and 6 (Gerik, their only surviving Victor following the morph overdose in '96 and the death of the other two in the 75th.) Both had fought in exactly one desperate physical altercation while in the Games; Alanza had relied on her brains the rest of the time, duping her competitors, while Gerik had a nearly impossible streak of luck which saw him through 90% of the Games.
Keeping with the trend there were only four surviving fifteen year-old Victors, seven sixteen-year old ones, and a grand total of 26 who had been at least seventeen—fifteen of which had been eighteen.
So yes, everything pointed to thirteen year-olds being almost as unlikely to win as twelve year-olds, who had won a total of one game in the entire history of Panem—and that victory had been almost as unexpected as Gerik's. (Who had, at one point in the game, looked between two berry bushes and decided to eat from only one of them by using a children's rhyme and therefore narrowly missed out on the absolutely gruesome death that the other berries would have provided.)
District 3 knew that.
District 3 taught statistics in their classrooms.
District 3 trained their children to endure the horrors of the Games by focusing on the math and science and psychology behind the Games.
And so, when Alanza stood there and chose 13 as one of the groups that could keep her alive?
Hermosa stared over the crowd, and the crowd stared back, each and every one more sure than ever that something was changing, that something would never, ever be the same.