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Challenges 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Challenges 1
I've always wanted to see Haymitch and Effie during one of the earlier Hunger Games and how they reacted to their tributes/tributes dying. for rosaxx50

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Finding Haymitch isn't much of a challenge after we've lost our tributes. There are only a few bars in easy walking distance of the Viewing Center, and he's not hiding.

He's picked the worst of the easily reachable ones today. Chaff figured he probably would. He also told me not to bother him, but I'm not going to be like my predecessor, Ausonius Glass, who made fun of Haymitch all the time -- on television no less -- for being a drunken hick. I watched his Games, and I know he's better than that.

The midnight call to the Morrison family went badly. Not that it could ever go well. I know some of the other escorts do it instead of the mentors. Strato Calmenson has a script he uses for District One, about how the children have given their lives for the Peace of Panem. Haymitch insists on doing it himself unless it's impossible for him. I understand Ausonius was not known for making particularly diplomatic calls.

Haymitch has his head down at a table in the corner, his curly black hair sticking up every which way. His hand is resting on a glass, His face is turned slightly outward, and I can see that his eyes are open.

I sit down across from him. "You need to sober up."

"Why?" He lifts his head. "Give me a reason. Got one? 'Cause I don't. Two more kids dead on my watch. Babra Kennedy. Told her to stay away from the Cornucopia, but they never listen. Trillium Morrison. Eighth place. Aren't you proud he got so far? Hell, they got the reporters out there for once. Well, maybe they did. Who knows? Maybe they hadn't made it all the way to Twelve before the spear -- " He makes an explicit sort of gesture with his hands, accompanied by a graphic sound effect. "Did they make it, Effie? Did they talk to Trill's parents? Maybe his big sister? How about his girlfriend? Maybe they were talking live when he died. That'd be good television, right there. Pretty little girl with her boyfriend's ring, talking about how they were going to go dancing together. Then his guts come out, stringing out behind him, while she watches. Can't beat the drama."

"I should write to his girlfriend. He told me a lot about her, and -- "

"Don't, Effie."

" -- and he thought she was so wonderful, I think she'd like to know it!"

"Not from the woman who called his name." He snorts. "It's a hell of a job you started there, Euphemia. What's it feel like, sticking your hand in a bowl to decide who dies next?"

"It's a chance to have a much better life."

"A chance?" He shakes his head. "You know, the damnedest thing is, you may actually be dumb enough to believe it. Are you that stupid, Effie?"

I stand up and turn around to walk away. I am not stupid. I was a year ahead of myself in school. The youngest escort ever named. He has no right.

He grabs my hand. "Sorry. I'm sorry, Effie, please don't leave. Please stay."

I sit down carefully. "All right. But I won't sit here and listen to you insult me."

He nods. "My friends are having kids now, you know. At least... people who used to be my friends. Danny's got two boys." He holds up his fingers. "No. Three. It was three as of a month ago. What happens when they get called up? It's one thing to call my friends' names. They'd forgive me for that. But if I dragged one of their kids up here and never brought him back?" He snorts. "Probably a good thing they aren't my friends anymore. Not really."

"Haymitch..."

"And of course, they'd love it if I tossed a kid out there, wouldn't they? They wouldn't bother putting anyone else's name in the balls."

I think about arguing. I know I don't do anything unfair with the slips -- no one even asked me to -- but District folklore is more convincing than the truth, and District folklore says it's rigged. It's not the time for it, though. I just signal the bartender to settle up Haymitch's tab, then haul him to his feet. He'd be too heavy for it if he wasn't doing at least some of the work.

I pull him back to the Viewing Center, and hand him over to Seeder. She said she'd know what to do.



Pearl, Finny and Caleb up to something. for beceh

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"We are so not supposed to be doing this," Finny says as he changes the Trident's course. "If either of you breathes it to your parents, these little summer jaunts are over. Indigo's already out of it."

Caleb snorts and flops down onto a bunk. "That's got nothing to do with you. Indigo is grounded until she dies of extreme old age."

"Why?" I ask. "What did she do?"

"You know those other girls in the show with her? They're older. They thought it would be funny to get her smashed." Caleb rolls his eyes. "Effie pulled her off the show -- Plutarch's fuming -- and Haymitch is threatening to pack her up and move her out to District Twelve. You ready for a neighbor, Pearl?"

"Like Haymitch should talk," Finny says, but he's not really paying attention. He's staring at the navigational readouts on his computer.

"She tried saying that. He told her not to even bother." Caleb yawns and stretches out. "Anyway, I can tell my parents anything. I'm eighteen. What are they going to do, send me to bed without supper?"

"Tell Katniss," Finny says. "And I don't fancy an arrow through my throat, and since neither of you can read a nautical map worth a damn, that would end your summer trips pretty fast. So as far as anyone off this boat is concerned, we had a nice little trip around the Florida islands, exactly as planned. I can't believe I'm letting you talk me into going to New York."

I make a great show of yawning. "You wouldn't let us talk you into anything if you didn't want to go."

"Sure I want to go. Dorrin and I go every year. It's spooky as hell with the face coming from the water, but it's cool. I guess what I can't believe is that I let you two talk me into bringing you along."

"Eighteen," Caleb reminds him.

"Twelve," Finny points at me. "What's next? Charlie wants to go see the underwater bridges by District Seven?"

"Actually," I say, "My brother wants to go to Ireland. We still haven't found it. There's a picture of the shape, but all the shapes changed. We're pretty sure it's up north in Europe somewhere, but the maps are pretty screwed up. It's an island, though. All the stories say it's an island. Dad says there's a stone there that if you kiss it, you get a silver tongue. It was in one of Haymitch's books."

"In that case, I'm never taking anyone named Mellark to Ireland, wherever it might be. You people don't need to be any better at that."

I go to my bunk. Finny's wife, Dorrin, did it up for me special, with the wall beside it painted purple and pictures of Mom and Dad and Charlie put up for me to say goodnight to. This is the first time I've traveled without them, at least that I remember. I guess until I was four, Mom wasn't allowed to leave District Twelve. We still don't leave it very much. Just our summer trips on the Trident, around the Ghost Sea. That's what this was supposed to be. But I figure Finny wouldn't have brought up the whole business of statues that peek up and look out over the sea if he hadn't meant to show them to us. I mean, he even said the statue's face looked a little like Mom's. Was I really supposed to pretend he didn't mean to take us there?

He didn't have to say yes, and no one forced him to. Finny is like a really old big brother for everyone. Charlie and me, Caleb, Indigo, Lila Benz, Rebekah Paylor, Caleb's cousin Abraham... it's handy. A grown-up who isn't anyone's parent. (Yet, I remind myself glumly. There's a reason Dorrin's not along, and I bet Finny won't be as much fun next summer.)

Sailing up the coast is harder than sailing around the Ghost Sea. The water is rougher, and Caleb and I both get a lot of seamanship lessons as we go. There's a storm going on when we pass by the old Capitol, so I can't see any of the things that Finny says are poking out of the water. We pass a large old city, with a lot of rusty spires sticking up, but it's not the one we're going to.

Our destination is mostly another collection of rusty support beams coming up out of the water, exactly like every other drowned city we've been in. The only thing that makes it stand out is the corroded, barnacle-encrusted statue that stands up to its shoulders in the sea. It's lifting a very corroded torch, but I can still see its face. Finny's not wrong about the resemblance, though Mom isn't quite so rusty, and doesn't have a healthy growth of algae coming out of her ears.

"Okay," Finny says. "You've seen it. Now, let's turn around."

"Aw come on," Caleb says. "We've come all this way. We're going to dive, aren't we...?"
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Comments
dragonzair From: dragonzair Date: May 31st, 2013 07:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh god, the one with the kids (and the mention of the other kids) just make me want more future fics with all of them!
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 31st, 2013 07:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Charlie. They named him Charlie. Damnit Fern, I can't make up anything new in the HG world now, cause your versions become canon.

-Maraudercat
dragonzair From: dragonzair Date: May 31st, 2013 09:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh my gosh, I just got that now!
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 31st, 2013 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't get it.

who's charlie?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2013 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Caesar's real name, from "House of Cards."
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2013 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, by that point, I'm far enough away from canon that I probably ought to write something I can sell with it.
redrikki From: redrikki Date: May 31st, 2013 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like your portrayal of Effie. She tries so hard but ultimately just does not get it. Also, the fact that Peeta named is kid Charley is kind of heart-wrenching.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2013 03:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Effie strikes me as very naive.
shortysc22 From: shortysc22 Date: June 1st, 2013 02:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh Effie, she's just so trained in her Capitol ways that she's clueless to how the world revolves outside of the Capitol.

I'm loving these challenges and am sad I missed out on the submission.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 1st, 2013 04:44 am (UTC) (Link)
She's definitely insulated. On the other hand, to be fair, Katniss is just as insulated. She even notices it when she finds out Peeta doesn't eat fresh bread every day, though I doubt it occurs to her much to think about the everyday life of people in the Capitol.

patita_fea From: patita_fea Date: June 4th, 2013 05:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love, love, love that Katniss resembles Lady Liberty. With that strong nose, the uncompromising eyes...

PERFECT.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 5th, 2013 05:38 am (UTC) (Link)
It was just a random thought when I was looking at a picture of her. I think it kind of works!
rosaxx50 From: rosaxx50 Date: June 5th, 2013 09:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, thank you for this! I echo what everyone else has said. I love your Effie, who means well, but there's a jarring disconnect with the reality for the Tributes that makes her efforts almost more painful. Where Haymitch tries, as cruel, as clear, and as pointed as possible, to make shake her world view, and Effie starts to leave instead... I loved that. And I always love how you write Haymitch and Effie's relationship, where he still decides that, naive or not, being in company is better than being alone.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 5th, 2013 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
While I think there's a point to shaking her worldview, I also think that not letting herself be verbally abused is probably a good thing. And who knows? She may be right about the rigging. Unless there's some specific reason to do it, I'd guess it would be less trouble to do the drawings honestly. Most years, there probably isn't a particular target, because I doubt Snow cares who he kills.
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