The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Novel) (The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Novel) (The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins

Author:Suzanne Collins [Collins, Suzanne]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi, azw3
Publisher: Scholastic
Published: 2020-05-19T03:00:00+00:00

What had he done? What on earth had he done? His heart raced as he blindly turned down one street and then another, trying to make sense of his actions. He couldn’t think clearly but had the dreadful feeling that he’d crossed some line that could not be uncrossed.

The avenue felt full of eyes. There were few pedestrians or drivers out, but even their notice felt glaring. Coriolanus ducked into a park and hid in the shadows, on a bench surrounded by bushes. He forced himself to control his breathing, counting four in and four out until his blood stopped pounding in his ears. Then he tried to think rationally.

All right, so he’d dropped the handkerchief with Lucy Gray’s scent — the one from the outside pocket of his book bag — into the snake tank. He’d done it so they would not bite her as they had Clemensia. So they would not kill her. Because he cared about her. Because he cared about her? Or because he wanted her to win the Hunger Games so that he could secure the Plinth Prize? If it was the latter, he had cheated to win, and that was that.

Hold on. You didn’t know if those snakes were going to the arena, he thought. The assistants had, in fact, told him otherwise. There was no history of such a thing ever occurring. Perhaps it had just been a temporary flight of madness. And even if the snakes did end up in the arena, Lucy Gray might never encounter them. It was a huge place, and he didn’t think snakes just went around attacking people right and left. You had to step on them or something. And even if she did run into a snake, and it didn’t bite her, how would anyone trace that back to him? It required too much high-security knowledge and access that no one would presume he had. And a handkerchief with her scent. And why would he have that? It was okay. He was going to be okay.

Except that line. Whether anyone pieced together his actions or not, he knew he had crossed it. In fact, he knew he’d been dancing on top of it for some time. Like when he’d taken Sejanus’s food from the dining hall to feed Lucy Gray. It had been a small infraction, motivated by his desire to keep her alive and his anger at the Gamemakers’ negligence. An argument could be made for basic decency there. But it was not a lone incident. He could see it all now, the slippery slope of the last few weeks that had started with Sejanus’s leftovers and ended with him here, shivering in the dark on a deserted park bench. What awaited him farther down that slope if he was unable to stop his descent? What else might he be capable of? Well, that was it. It stopped now. If he didn’t have honor, he had nothing. No more deception. No more shady strategies. No more rationalization.


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