A/N: This is dedicated to my real life best guy friend; one of the most amazing people I've ever had the honor to meet. :)

Also, thanks to my wonderful betas: Snow, Joyce, and Sky, who caught all, if not most, of my mistakes. Cheers!

Without further ado, I present you my latest work of fiction. Enjoy.


Dignity

written by silentsings


She was a cold-hearted murderer, a thief that slinked around the neighborhood through the night. She handled knives with great skill and didn't even bat an eye when the blade passed through a victim's vocal chords.

She was a high class outlaw, and no one –no one– would pass up a chance to get her executed.

The sky was a dark shade of gray that fateful day, the clouds almost completely blocking the sun. Contrary to the usual blue skies, the weather seemed like it was set to fit the mood for the death sentence.

The girl passed through the crowd in handcuffs, her dark hair pressed flat against her pale forehead. It was beaded with sweat, and she was quivering slightly from the pressure that the crowd gave her, though no one noticed. Their faces were pinched with hatred and disgust for the young criminal, their eyes burning into the back of her skull. Some vendors, who'd brought old rotten, fruits and eggs, flung them at her back. The girl jerked her head sideways to avoid a broken eggshell, only to get hit on the left cheek by a rotten tomato.

She gritted her teeth and tried to force a wail down her throat. She was hiding behind a facade all those years. She used to be like the little girl she'd killed, just a few nights ago, for protection. Innocent. Charming. . When her family first got slaughtered by the Capitol, she was taught to kill by agang of robbers. She was taught to be detached from people's emotions in life. She was taught to put aside the past, take vengeance, and cover up her weaknesses.

She was shoved forward, and up the wooden, molded steps, into what would be her own death. The crowd below her began chanting her demise, and a few rose up to scream at her, their fingers pointed roughly at her chest. The guards pushed her down until she was kneeling, and an old woman spat at her,her breath smelling of onions.

The mayor stepped up onto the old stage, his voice booming as he spoke. He talked regarding to how they finally caught her,how the justice finally arrived for the people that died at her hands,how grand celebrations would follow after her death. He continued droning on and on with his speech while she knelt there, breathing in sharply as she stared blankly at the deteriorated wood beneath her.

She pressed her hands together until her elbows were touching from behind and clasped her sweaty palms together in an attempt to prevent herself from shaking, but it was no use. She was panicking again. She was going to die any minute. Die, just like the people that she'd killed. A knife in their gut, their heads slashed off. She remembered how she liked to take the dead body and carve intricate designs on the lifeless face of her victims.

She gnashed her teeth together, and tried to stop from trembling, but, really, it was no use. From the back of her mind, she remembered herself watching the bloodshed at the age of eight. The blood stains, smeared on the tiles; the motionless bodies lying on the floor, spilling crimson liquid. The wicked aura around the assassins with their beady eyes that glinted maliciously at the bodies in the candlelight.

She was found in the room, screaming, her hands pressed to her head, her eyes wide with terror, when they came in. The bandits. They had helped her, said they wouldn't hurt her. For a while, she hadn't believed them. But after that period passed, she decided that they were the only ones she could really trust. They became what she hoped for as a "family".

They had laughed, when she told them that she was scared of death. 'You've killed so many,' one had said. 'And you're scared of death itself?'

'My reputation after death,' she had replied. 'I've established a status for a lying, cheating, good-for-nothing. After my death, I want the truth out, because I'm not who I seem. I came from a good family.'

They had laughed at her. 'And if you don't die, you would still be a lying, cheating, good-for-nothing. What's the use?'

'Because I will change,' she'd snarled. That night, she killed them off, soundlessly, one by one. Her rage was probably the reason as to why she killed.

And now, here she was, before the whole city, ready to be decapitated. She hadn't "changed". Not at all. She was going to die, and people would only remember her as an outlaw, not the sweet, merchant's daughter in the past. She'd failed her goal - failed her family.

She was petrified with terror of the death that awaited her. I'm going to be in hell. I won't be accepted.

She lowered her head, trying to maintain her normal breathing pace, before her head snapped back up in pain. One of the guards was holding the end of her braids. "You're able to escape, darling," he whispered in her face, still clutching painfully to her hair. "The mayor's orders. If you can get out, you're free." He smiled nastily and let go of her hair.

The girl, not believing the words, looked up, past everyone and into the dark trees. Usually, they were her shelter, but right now, they were so dark, they looked almost like death itself. But she could be safe in there.

If she could get out freely.

She stood up, feeling everyone's gaze on her, as she directed her stare at the crowd, scanning every face. She could feel their anxiety for her to run away and be shot down. She could feel them holding their breaths, watching her decision.

Either way, I will die.

The minutes ticked by. She took a deep breath, still unsure. If she got away, she could run off. And change herself, possibly. Like her dream. If she stayed here, she would die.

What would they want? She looked off, far into the distance, still contemplating her decision, and finally, straight at the mayor's face. She was trembling again, from the fear of what was to happen and from what she was going to say.

"I will stay."

They were clearly shocked at her answer. The shuffling of the feet grew louder, and she caught a few wide-eyed stares at her. The crowd started to murmur and whisper, their voices hoarse, raspy, and full of doubt. "She's not a hero," one hissed. They grew silent, as the cloud passed over the sun, and the axe rose into the sky, ready to be set into action.

On signal, the ax was swung, and her life was cut short.

Madeline Callahan died with her last shred of dignity.