Twenty-four teenagers sat silently in the Great Hall where an incredible breakfast was spread out before them on one of the long house tables, but no one had the stomach to eat. Was eating even possible in this new world? Life seemed to have changed so dramatically in the last few days that surely something as normal and mundane as breakfast no longer has any place in it.
No, no longer students. They were all Tributes now--those schoolyard friends, budding romances, even those bonds of blood; all severed.
Only one can survive.
Lord Voldemort's vengeance was most heavily directed at the house of Godric Gryffindor which during the war had provided the majority of the rebel force. Of the twenty-four, over half wore training uniforms of scarlet and gold, their chests emblazoned with the image of a dying lion being consumed by a snake. The children of Mudbloods and blood traitors, sentenced to be slaughtered in retribution for the acts of their families.
A mishmash of other colors surrounded the Gryffindors: the blue and bronze of three Ravenclaws, the yellow and black of two Hufflepuffs, and even the soft periwinkle of Beauxbatons and the blood-red of Durmstrang.
All had been anticipated, even expected-- all except for the four figures who sat stone-still in uniforms of silver and green.
Lord Voldemort had said they would show the power and might of Salazaar Slytherin. That their ultimate triumph would be the final display of the Dark Lord's complete victory. However, regardless of what Voldemort said, he cared very little if the Parkinson girl or the Malfoy boy lived or died in the Arena. All of them would die eventually--even the Victor would have to be disposed of in the end if they did not prove useful to the Dark Lord's aims.
There was no contest, no winner-- this was thinly veiled malice; and the true goal of the Games, revenge, was no secret to anyone, spectator, mentor, or tribute.
Along the table, most of those reaped had already resigned themselves to their fates; made internal vows to try their best not to kill friends or family; said their goodbyes to those they loved back home. Pale faced and red-eyed, their heads hung low as they stared into their hands, wondering if they would be able to cast the killing curse when the moment called. But amid all of the despair, at the end of the table, two students sat across from each other, heads held high.
Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood, misfits and outcasts who understood all too well the cost associated with succumbing to bullies and oppressors, made an unspoken promise to themselves and to each other that they would not become pawns in the Dark Lord's game. Together they would fight back and protect as many of their classmates as they could along the way.