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HG: Rites of Fall, Chapter Seven - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
HG: Rites of Fall, Chapter Seven
Danny has just opened a crate from District Eleven, and is not entirely surprised to find someone looking out at him from the shadows.

Part Three: Human Sacrifice

Chapter Seven
He needs help out of the crate.

He hasn't been in it all the way from District Eleven -- the rebellious worker from District Six let him out to stretch his legs last night -- but it's been a good number of hours, and by the time I get him extracted, it's obviously that he's in a significant amount of discomfort.

He waves this off with the stump of his right hand. "When some idiot from District Four has broken every little bone in your hand so it swells up like a lopsided balloon," he says, "a couple of leg cramps don't seem so bad. I just need to work them out. Chaff Leary."

I nod. "I guessed. Well, recognized. Danny Mellark. You want me to get Haymitch?"

"Go inside and wait half an hour or so. Do what you'd normally do after unpacking a crate. Then get him. And don't run back here, either; I can see you thinking it. Make it look like something a normal person would do, if that's not too much to ask." I don't know what's on my face, but it must look confused, because he lets out a frustrated breath. "What'll it look like if you unpack a crate then suddenly rush off to Victor's Village? Even the idiots they put in the Peacekeepers' ranks will spot that." He picks at some packing material caught in his fine suit coat. "Honestly, you kids. No idea. Grid codes. He's lucky we're not all hanged already."

I stay a minute longer, but he continues to ignore me and mutter about easy-to-crack codes and crazy kids, so I take it as a dismissal. I go back inside. Dad's still bent over the books. Mom's making hermit cookies.

"Did you get the shipment?"

"Yeah," I say. "I unpacked it right into the shed, like usual."

She narrows her eyes, but she knows something's going on. She nods. "Well, you get to your homework then, Dannel. I don't want to see another math test like the last one."

I go upstairs to my room and I do take out my math book, thinking that maybe I could say I need Haymitch's help with a problem. He's no great shakes with math -- books are his thing -- but everyone thinks he's a genius, and they think that geniuses are good at everything, so they'd believe it. And all they need to do is check the grade on my last test to know Mom's not kidding. I don't know how I'm supposed to run a business someday. I have no head for numbers. Dad's disappointed about this.

I don't start my math homework.

Instead, I reach into my desk drawer. I still have the code I sent for Haymitch. I should have burned it, and will before Chaff finds out that it's been sitting in the apartment above the bakery all this time, but now, I stare at it.

NEEANODLEARGODSPWCOEWOHPHENDWFULEKROHRREAEANAITADEMTTEHSPPPKTNEE

Sixty-four letters.

Haymitch's insistence on an eight by eight grid.

I open my sketchbook and draw the grid, then enter the characters in eight groups of eight, filling the square.



At first I don't see it, but once I do, I know Chaff is right -- it's easy. It's too easy. The words appear in the vertical lines. There are no spaces or punctuation, but it's perfectly readable: "New head Peacekeeper on rampage. Don't know what to do. Friends hurt. Help, please."

It's nothing new. Nothing revolutionary, even. Nothing I don't know. I doubt there's anything Chaff didn't already suspect. But --

Help, please.

What did it cost Haymitch Abernathy to write those words? For other people, it might not mean anything, but Haymitch has never asked for help in his life, as far as I know. He didn't ask for help in school, or when his house was falling apart, or when he needed new clothes because his old ones were falling apart and the whole school was laughing at him. He didn't ask for help in the arena, at least not that we saw -- and I kind of believe that he didn't. He didn't ask for help when his mother and brother died, though we offered it. And while it might technically have been asking for help when he asked me to send the cake, it felt more like he was asking for an ally.

But the message he risked everything to send was, "Help, please."

I only know of one thing that changed between the time he asked me to be his ally and the time he actually sent a message: I was nearly beaten to death.

And Haymitch swallowed his pride and sent out a plea for help.

I put the strip of paper and my decoded grid in my pocket and go downstairs. I make a show of checking the bread in the oven. I drop both bits of paper on the coals, and watch as they turn to ash.

"I think I'm going to go out and check on Haymitch," I say.

Mom nods. I see that she's already got a box of the new raisins, which means she's been in the shed. "I think that's a good idea. Why don't you invite him over for dinner?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I'll do that."

I go outside. There's a light snow falling from the dark gray sky. Everything is dusted in white, and the sounds of the world are strangely muffled as I make my way out to Victor's Village. Days are short now, and I can feel night starting to creep up on me.

There's a light on at Haymitch's, above the door. Inside, I can see the flickering shadows of the television screen. As I go up the porch steps, I can see it clearly -- Haymitch is watching Caesar Flickerman's winter special. I realize that this is where the first seeds are planted to get people ready for the Victory Tour, which will start next month.

I knock on the door.

There's no answer.

I open it. "Haymitch?"

He is sitting on the couch, and he leans his head back. I don't even need to wait for him to talk to know he's drunk again. "C'min," he says. "Have a seat. There's a big show coming up. Our grayed vigdor. Swinging through the districts. See whose kids he killed."

On television, Caesar is walking people through a fancy train, which will presumably be Haymitch's transportation.

"And here, you see, there's a banquet car -- fine food and drink every night. Fresh juices from District Eleven, fine sweet drinks from here in the Capitol, and the finest of all steaks from District Ten…"

Haymitch raises his bottle. "He's telling them no booze. Train's going to be dry as a bone."

"Maybe not a bad idea," I say.

"…and of course," Caesar says, "we'll finally get to learn what Haymitch's talent is! I had the pleasure of speaking to him, and with a mind like that, it could be anything!"

"What is your talent?" I ask him.

"It's on my desk. Have a look."

I probably will later, but this isn't the time for it. "Mom wants you to come to dinner."

"Not hungry."

I sigh. "Come on, Haymitch. We just got in some great fresh vegetables… in a shipment from District Eleven. Gotta share them or it's bad luck."

Haymitch raises an eyebrow at me. Even under the fog of drunkenness, he picks it up faster than most people. "Fresh vegetables, huh? Your mom wants to make sure I'm not starving to death up here?"

"More or less. Also, I think she wants help unpacking everything. It was a big shipment."

"Mm. I guess I owe you, then. Lemme… clean up…"

He sways to his feet, and I think he's going down again, but he manages to catch his balance, and walk with odd dignity to the stairs. He pulls himself up, leaning heavily on the railing.

I hear him moving things around. I'll go up and fetch him if it sounds like he's passed out again, but it seems the better part of valor to let him be. I go into his office and look on his desk.

There's a journal from Herk Donner's shop lying open, surrounded by scraps of paper, empty bottles, and pencils worn down to the nub. The journal itself is pristine, though, only written on in a neat hand with a fountain pen.

It's poetry. Haymitch has been writing madly, and as I flip through, I can see at least twenty different forms he's used, from a long chant to a simple haiku. I don't know if it's any good -- Haymitch reads a lot of poetry, but I just read the stuff they assign -- but I do know, from the acrostic on the first page forward, that it's going to get him into trouble.

In summer's height, the stench rose from lightning --

Wound through with acid metal -- eating through flesh,
incinerating bone.
Love ends in desecration and
life melts down into the filth.

No touch, no caress, slips so fully
over my skin as the unspeakable
Thin film that sinks into my flesh, the

final truth of the grave, the ultimate intimacy.
of all she was, only this
remains to me, and even this will wash away.
Grief is a word without meaning, a word of surrender.
I do not grieve. I will
Visit her blood on those who shed it,
even to the end of the world, and they will remember her.


I flip through the pages, panic bells going off in my head. He can't show this to them when they go on the Victory Tour. Victors are supposed to play an instrument, or dance. They aren't supposed to write things that get them thrown in prison… or make them disappear. He's written about his mother and his brother, several poems, including one called "Wolf Soup," which I don't entirely understand, but it's the culmination of the cycle about them. He's written about the arena in very explicit terms, about what it feels like to drive a knife into the neck of a boy he doesn't know. There's a whole series of poems about his nightmares. The last poem, which is written lengthwise over two pages, is called "Twenty-Five Lashes." Every lash elicits a promise of some kind of vengeance. The lines are written so they interlink at various letters. I'm not completely sure -- I haven't had a very good view -- but I think they're done to look exactly like the scars on my back.

"Told you I was working on something," he says at the door.

I close the journal and look up. Haymitch has put on clean clothes and a winter coat, and he seems to have at least washed his face. "That you are," I say. "Let's go."

I get him out the front door and into the cold air and snow, which seems to wake him up a little bit. When we're far enough from the green that I'm pretty sure they're not bugging it, I say, "They're not going to show that."

"So what? They'll just say I'm too dumb to have a talent."

"Haymitch, they'll arrest you for treason."

"No, they won't. If they arrest me, they'll have to say why, and that would mean telling people."

"They'll just make you disappear."

"I can think of worse things than disappearing. Maybe they'd let people alone back here if I disappeared." He shrugs and changes the topic before I can address this. "What came in the delivery?"

"Chaff."

He stops. "What?"

"And he says your code was too easy. Come on."

There is no further discussion of poetry or anything else. Haymitch takes the lead. I have to force him to slow down. We make a perfunctory stop inside, where I get Mom to play along with the fiction that she just wanted a little extra labor unloading, then I take Haymitch back to the shed.

Chaff is sitting on top of the crate he came in, reading the inventory list from the shipment. He puts it down when we come in, and gets down from the crate.

"Hey, Chaff," Haymitch says.

Chaff nods, then looks at me. "This boy really your friend?"

"Yes."

"Then he won't have anything to say about it while I deliver Seeder's message." He comes over to Haymitch and puts his arms around him. "You're doing all right," he says. "You hush now, and we'll help you out."

Haymitch takes a few deep breaths, and I can almost see him relaxing. He pulls away and swipes at his eyes. "Thank Seeder for that, okay?"

"Okay. If it were up to me, I'd punch you flat out. One single person intercepting a code that simple, and everything would have gone up in smoke."

Haymitch sighs and leans against the wall. "Well, anything hard to crack, and we'd both have to know it going in. I took a chance that if it was written on the underside of something you had to eat to get to, they wouldn't find it."

"Unless they intercepted my mail and decided it looked tasty." He grins at me. "Which, by the way, it was. Seeder and I enjoyed it quite a lot. I may hire you to send some real presents around."

"Thanks," I mutter. I feel acutely like an intruder. "Should I, um…?" I indicate the door.

"Well, that depends," Chaff says. "You in or out of this business?"

"He's out," Haymitch says. "I'm finding some other way."

"I didn't ask you." Chaff looks at me. "That business of yours could be real useful if we can get workable codes going. I know you did this for your friend -- "

"I'm in," I say. I hope it sounds more courageous than I feel. "And I'm not doing it for Haymitch. I'm doing it because two kids disappear out of my school every year. This year, we had a victor, and we still lost three -- and one of them was another one of my friends."

I don't know if this is true or not. I always tried not to think about the tributes as I walked past their pictures in the entrance hall at school. I haven't exactly been thinking of them now. But they're there. They're always there, a nagging sense of loss that we all feel and all tune out because there's nothing we can do about it.

"You know what it means, though," he says. "You play nice with these people. You --"

"He knows," Haymitch says. "Half the town's treating him like dirt because he's acting like he's too scared of them to be part of their crap."

This gets Chaff's full attention. "Part of what crap?"

Haymitch and I take turns filling him in on what's been going on in town since Haymitch's return from the Games. I tell him what the others are doing -- harassing the Peacekeepers, mostly -- and Haymitch tells him about Beckett.

Chaff grows grimmer as we speak, and he finally says, "I don't think you can make this stop until it's run its course."

"We don't want it to stop," I say. "We want to get rid of Beckett."

"An understandable goal, but right now, you're just provoking her, and making her pay more attention than Peacekeepers usually do." He sighs. "I got a new head Peacekeeper after I got back, too. Snow didn't trust me after I refused to let them give me a hand."

"A fake hand?"

"You' d be surprised what they can do in the Capitol," Chaff says. "I maybe could have learned the piano with one of their fake hands. Or the violin. But then, they'd own it. They'd be inside my body."

"They could control it?"

"No, but…"

"Then you should have taken it. Strangle them with it."

Chaff raises his eyebrows and looks at Haymitch. "If the reap this one next year, you might have another victor."

Haymitch pales. "They wouldn't…"

"Oh, yeah, they would." He looks at me again. "You know that, right? You're not out of the reaping, and they'd love to watch Haymitch lose another friend in the arena." He turns back to Haymitch, which is just as well, since I'm not sure how to respond to this. "You understand what's going to happen next year, right? They're going to put you in charge of people you know, people you've been in school with."

"I know. But not Danny. Not if he keeps his head down like he's been doing."

"Another good reason to keep the act up." Chaff thinks for a long time, then says, "The point I was making was that these Peacekeepers -- Snow knows they're the type to crack down and get attention. Anything to put attention on the Capitol instead of a shiny new local hero, unless the hero is loyal to Snow. They know Haymitch isn't, thanks to a whole lot of stunts in the arena that didn't make it back here. Seeder was loyal at first, so they let her be. Even let her get married and made a big fuss over it. Three months later, at the Games, she lost her head when her tributes died, starting screaming for the end of the Games. Her husband had an 'accident' in the fields before the sun set that day. He was my big brother. I got reaped the next year." He shrugs. "Point is, they brought in the new head Peacekeeper for me because I got mouthy in the Capitol, same as Haymitch did. He made everyone's lives hell for a while, but then Snow moved him on to the next place he needed to intimidate. They pass. We go on."

"So your plan is to do nothing?" Haymitch asks. "Nothing at all? Just let it pass?"

"The plan is to not be seen doing anything. We're working up a network. Beetee from Three. Me and Seeder. A handful of transportation techs from Six… that's a real loss, that they don't have any victors, but Snow knows what a valuable place they're in, and I don't know if he'll ever let them have victors we could work with."

"He doesn't trust the victors?" I ask stupidly.

"Trained and experienced killers who have every reason to hate him?" Chaff snorts. "He trusts us less than he trusts his advisors in the Capitol, and believe me, that's saying something."

"So what good would it do to have victors from Six? He still wouldn't trust them."

"Even Snow can't control everything we say when we're face to face. That's why I'm here now. There are places in the Capitol we can talk. Allies there."

"Allies in the Capitol?" Haymitch repeats. "I… Gia's letter, there were mockingjays…"

"Gia's new, and they're probably keeping too close an eye on her right now to make much use of her, but yeah. She's with us. And there's a boy who's wormed his way in to spy on the Gamemakers. He's no older than you two, but he's got all sorts of grand ideas in his head."

"What about Caesar Flickerman?" Haymitch asks, to my surprise. "Caesar was… well, he was nice to me in the Capitol."

"I don't know anything about where Caesar stands, other than with the tributes as much as he can. He's never said anything that makes me think he'd rebel, though. Too bad. Someone in a place like that could do a hell of a lot."

"Are you sure? I mean -- being on the tribute's side…"

Chaff sighs. "There are good people who haven't quite come around to the idea that the system needs to be knocked down." He sits down. "We got Woof -- he's a District Eight victor from maybe thirty years ago. Old man's got plenty of built-up anger, but Eight's not in a strategic position. Even the Capitol wouldn't care that much if it lost some cloth for a while. District Nine's about two inches from rebellion, but their victors are loyal. Don't know that story, but if I were living in their Victors' Village, I'd be watching for a knife in my back."

"I guess there's no trusting the career districts," Haymitch says.

"I imagine they've got their malcontents same as we do. And there are a few victors from Four I'm wondering about… they've always been the redheaded stepchild of the career districts. Almost as bad as Three in the inner districts altogether, except that Four didn't bring Capitol tech to a grinding halt during the Dark Days. I do wonder about them. And Ten's just an inland version of Four. You'll see when you get there. Five has a couple of victors, and they're angry enough, but with the power sources up there, the Capitol keeps them under real lock and key."

"Well, you have a victor in Twelve now," I say.

"What the hell good is Twelve, if Eight's useless?" Haymitch asks. "At least Eight's the only one that produces most of the cloth and uniforms. Five does more energy than we do. They could live without coal for a long time."

"Yeah, but see… Twelve's got a resource Snow's actually afraid of -- a damnably smart victor who swore to kill him."

No one says anything for a little while. It all seems much bigger than it did this morning.

Finally, Haymitch says, "All that's well and good in the long run, but do you know what that woman's doing to the boys she gets in trouble? She's got that Cray guy doing to the girls now, too. And the whippings… Danny, show him your back."

"No need. I've seen whip scars. Got a good handful of them myself, from before I was reaped. I still had some fresh ones when I got to the Capitol. They have some great medicine for the cuts there, but my stylist was furious about having to hide the scars. He'd wanted to send me down in just a pair of work pants, but he couldn't." Chaff shakes his head. "Is this the first time you've had a crop of dirty-minded Peacekeepers out here?"

"First I've heard," I say. "Well, there was one that had an affair with a girl, but nothing like this."

"An affair." Chaff snorts. "Sure it was."

I feel my cheeks get hot. For all my dislike of the Peacekeepers, it had never occurred to me for a second that the story of Mir's parents was anything but a love story, albeit a seedy one. That would explain a lot about the letter she got.

"It's just not unusual," Chaff says. "Good for District Twelve, wanting to fight back -- most places don't even bother -- but I doubt it'll do any good. She'd have to be fiddling on your victor for it to make a difference to the Capitol."

"She tried," Haymitch says, and shudders. "Gia told her she better lay off. That's when she started in on everyone else. If I thought she'd stop if I…" He looks away.

"She wouldn't. She's got a taste for it now, and I doubt she'd take it as an offer."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, much as I'm sure you're thinking it, that it's not her not being able to resist your pretty… face. She's out for power, and power over a victor is what got her revved up. If you offer, then there's no power." He considers this. "That's also why it would get her in trouble. Snow doesn't want anyone other than him having power over the victors. Otherwise, his power isn't absolute."

"Snow wants to… I'm supposed to…"

Chaff laughs at him. "No. Thank the skies for small favors, Snow doesn't indulge himself. It's a long running game, figuring out where his son came from. No one's seen him that close to anyone in his whole miserable life. There's not even a rumor about it. The man probably gives serious thought as to whether or not his left hand is worthy of touching his esteemed self at all, and his right hand's just a mercy date."

"Then how would he… What about the power?"

"He's got his ways. It's different with every victor." He looks at Haymitch appraisingly. "You keep up with the smell drunk act, and maybe put on a few pounds, and hopefully, he'll settle for just making fun of you. I think that would suit his purpose better -- defanging you, rather than turning you into an idol."

"Great," Haymitch says.

"You can't ask him to do that," I say. "No one deserves the way they've been treating him."

"And your friend Maysilee deserved to be attacked by mutt birds? You deserved a whipping? My brother deserved to die in the fields? There's no deserving about it. But we're going to put an end to it, eventually. We just need to get a coalition together. We need to be able to fight together instead of being taken down one by one. The victors are in the best place to do it, because we can see each other and talk every year, then get back to our districts. Beetee's trying to work out some kind of code that we can activate electronically and --"

Haymitch laughs. "Electronically? Chaff, half the time, we don't even have electricity."

"In Victors' Village?"

"I'm willing to guess so."

"You have a better idea?"

I step in. "He has a code already."

"No grids."

"No grid. Here, give me that." I take the inventory slip and use Haymitch's school shorthand to write, "Can you break this?"

Chaff stares at it for a long time, then hands it to Haymitch. "This make sense to you?"

"Yeah. He's asking if you're breaking it. But this is just shorthand. It only makes sense to us, because we made it make sense. Sometimes it's words and… well, 'can' is just a squiggle and --"

"That's called a code," Chaff says. "And the less logical sense it makes, the harder it is to break. You teach me this. I'll get back and teach it to Seeder. And when you swing through Three, you find a way to get a face-to-face with Beetee and get it to him without anyone noticing. You smart enough to do that?"

"But what about Beckett?"

"If you can get these kids to stop provoking her, she'll get moved on anyway."

"I can't. And I wouldn't. It's about Maysilee as much as anything. They want to fight."

"Then they're going to keep right on taking the consequences of fighting."

"I tried to teach them how to not get caught --"

"Which would be a good strategy in an arena. Or in a real war, where they had somewhere to retreat. But do you really think this woman cares whether or not she whips the right kid?"

"I can't let her keep hurting my friends."

"Haymitch, you know why you won?"

"Lucky ricochet on the force field."

"You won because you think like a Gamemaker. The good part of that is that you can think your way around their traps. That'll be more useful than you imagine in years to come. The bad part is that you think you can control what other people do, if you're clever enough about it. You can't. Your friends are going to do what they have to do. It's not your choice or your call. It's also not your fault."

"If I hadn't spouted off in the arena -- "

"Then they'd have waited a few months, maybe, before sending someone. And their other friend would still be dead, and they'd still be angry. Wouldn't you?" He looks at me.

I'm not sure -- a lot of people became enraged when they started killing Haymitch's family -- but I nod enthusiastically anyway. "Yeah. You know we would."

Haymitch looks at Chaff. "You better find someone other than Danny to back you up. Everyone knows you can't believe but one word out of ten that comes out of his mouth."

"Well, it sounds like he'll be a good ally, then," Chaff says.

I don't know why, but somehow, this is funny. We all laugh, and suddenly, we're not two scared kids looking for an older advisor to help. We're three people all in on this mess, and we can see that there's a certain absurdity to the whole thing.

Chaff goes to the crate and starts digging around. "Now, if we're going to make this work, you have to not be on the best terms with this family, Haymitch. You know that."

He looks at me awkwardly. "I know. But they've been good to me. I don't want them to think I'm ungrateful. Danny, you'll make sure your parents know I'm not… ungrateful?"

"I'll make sure," I say."

"Good." Chaff fishes out a jar of orange-colored fruit. "Now, I think the best thing is for Haymitch to wander off now. Maybe he's sick of you lecturing him about his drinking. Would that work?"

"I'm the first person he got drunk with."

"Even better. You've gotten in trouble for it."

"That works."

"Hey!" Haymitch puts in.

"No, it's good," I say. "Everyone knows my mom was mad at you about that. I can get Ruth to start a rumor that she broke up with me because I was drinking with you again. And have you got a bottle?" He reaches into his coat and produces one. I grab at it, but he pulls it away. I make a more serious grab, and push him before he can get it back. "You brought this out here and were trying to get me drinking again, even though I've already got in trouble for it. Half the drama club can back up the idea that I'm not sober all the time."

"He's good," Chaff says. "Anyway, you storm off home, he goes inside for supper, and sometime after dark, you slip out of Victors' Village and come back here to teach me that code. The train will be loaded up at dawn, and I have a tech waiting to pack me in with a coal shipment, so it'll have to be quick."

Haymitch looks mutinous, but goes along with it. I make a huge amount of noise, and I think I actually make him angry when I smash his bottle of white liquor on our back fence. He goes away. I go back into the shed and start packing things randomly into a burlap sack, so it looks like we've been doing the shipment the whole time.

"You got a spine," Chaff tells me. "And this isn't going to be easy."

"I know."

He holds out the jar of fruit. "These are peaches," he says. Picked from Seeder's tree. A thank you for that fine cake you sent… and that's all. No codes. Just peaches. And they're for your family to enjoy, not to go into baked goods for other people."

I take it. "Thanks."

He smiles. "If you like them, peach cobbler is damned fine baked good, and there are farmers in Eleven that could use the order."

I smile. "I'll talk to Dad about it. We'll see."

Chaff nods.

I go inside and unload the baking supplies in the kitchen, passing the peaches off as a kind of advertisement. We have them after supper. We'll be buying more, if there's money.

I don't go to bed right away, because my bedroom's in the front of the house. I wander around the bakery, setting up for tomorrow's work. Sometime just past midnight, I see a shadow pass under the back window, then there's a tiny spark in the window of the shed. This is covered up quickly, and world is dark again.
17 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
danel4d From: danel4d Date: December 8th, 2013 10:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know why I stopped reading your HG fic for a time.

I'm really glad that the release of Catching Fire motivated me to start again.

One mistake - right at the end Chaff mentions farmers in Twelve when I think he means Eleven.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 8th, 2013 10:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
:facepalm:

Yes, of course. I'll fix that.
beceh From: beceh Date: December 8th, 2013 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just wanted to say that I'm enjoying this story!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 9th, 2013 01:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad you're liking it!
seta_suzume From: seta_suzume Date: December 9th, 2013 12:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I particularly liked learning about the link between Chaff and Seeder and Chaff's comments on the situations of the victors (or lack of victors) regarding rebellious leanings.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 9th, 2013 01:25 am (UTC) (Link)
He's had a couple of years to get the lay of the land.
mirandabeth From: mirandabeth Date: December 9th, 2013 12:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Argh, of course Haymitch is going to know the first batches of kids he mentors! I hope that's part of the story you're planning to tell (your writing is absolutely just as canon to me as the books)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 9th, 2013 01:25 am (UTC) (Link)
There's a loose plan in place, and it will involve Haymitch's first games as a mentor.
mirandabeth From: mirandabeth Date: December 9th, 2013 01:35 am (UTC) (Link)
So pleased to hear it! I've just re-read all your other HG stories.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: December 9th, 2013 05:25 am (UTC) (Link)
This is one of my favourite installments on this story. Probably because no one dies or gets beaten...

At one point you've got "more less" where I think it should be "more or less".

The next time you're calling for challenges, I hope I remember to ask for something with Haymitch on his victory tour!!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 9th, 2013 05:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Picked up the "more less."

I think this one will end with Haymitch leaving, and the next story will pick up back in Haymitch's head on the tour.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: December 9th, 2013 08:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Excellent -- I still can't help hoping they'll make it work somehow, even though twenty-five years later they obviously weren't exactly where they wanted to be ... (I also liked how Chaff's cynicism went wide of the mark just the one time. Granted, Justinian Benz and Mrs. Murphy weren't exactly Hero and Leander, but their relationship was, for a change, voluntary).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 9th, 2013 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think there's definitely a sense that maybe there's a little too much assumed cynicism about the Capitol in the rebel ranks (though sadly, not when it comes to trusting D13).
From: queen_bellatrix Date: December 9th, 2013 09:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Typos/thoughts

Just a few typos I haven't seen anyone mention:

and by the time I get him extracted, it's obviously that he's in a significant amount of discomfort. I think you meant to have obvious here.

"If the reap this one next year, you've might have another victor." I think you meant they instead of the, and you instead of you've?

"You' d be surprised what they can do in the Capitol," Just wanted to let you know you'd put a space between the ' and the D there.:)

"You keep up with the smell drunk act, and maybe put on a few
pounds, I think smell may have been supposed to be smelly.

and world is
dark again. I think you meant to have a the before world there?

Someone else said this was one of their favorite installments, and I have to echo that sentiment. It's very clear from this that you have a plan in place for how Haymitch becomes the way we see him in HG, and I'm almost scared to read the next story; can we have lots of fluff in between, please? I don't even care what fandom it's in; I just...the next story's going to be hard, because I have a feeling it's going to strip away much of Haymitch's idealism. Seeing his friends keep "taking the consequences of fighting" and seeing those consequences be seemingly fruitless *sniffles* No wonder it took the victors so long to begin meeting again and make contact with Plutarch.

I love the way that he's still so young here, declaring that he won't stop them all from fighting, which is in such sharp contrast to what he does regarding Kattniss in Golden. There are so many elements being foreshadowed here, from the importance that the morflings from District 6 eventually play (thank you so much, with Chaff's mention of needing victors there and Haymitch's mention in Golden of the woman helping him ride the rails for making them important, even as they were damaged) to why it takes them so long to overthrow the Capitol. It really strikes me, reading your fics, what incredible odds they faced and overcame to eventually win liberty.

Chaff is just wonderful here, and I don't think I'm going to be able to read Golden for a long time without crying miserably because you make him so vivid, and his death will be so wrenching. And Cedar, and that wonderful message.

I love what a crucial role Danny's playing, coming up with the code, and just generally being awesome. I am really, really beginning to love Danny through this fic. It's also awesome to see him through Chaff's eyes, because genuinely brave people so rarely see themselves as brave, and then, when Chaff lists his actions and strengths, we're suddenly confronted with what a great amount of courage he possesses.

And all Danny's insights about Haymitch not asking for help in all his struggles and why he would ask for it now were just pitch-perfect. And oh Gods, what he obliquely offered to do with Beckett...what you allude to Snow doing in Narrow Path when he didn't entertain someone is going to rip him to shreds.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 9th, 2013 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Typos/thoughts

Fixed, thanks. I thought I'd grabbed a lot of things, but see... other eyes. Necessary. :D

I spotted another one -- it's supposed to be a spy on the Gamemakers, not the Peacekeepers... that would be Plutarch. But he's going to get caught and re-educated for a while before they can contact him.

It's a sharp learning curve, about rebellion, I think. And I think probably part of what made it take so long is what's implied about the Dark Days. It's not just that the Capitol is incredibly harsh, it's that Jerkass Has a Point: The Dark Days wrecked the districts. The taste of that failed rebellion (which might well have not been as deserved as the later one) would still be in people's mouths.

I really would have liked to know Chaff more in the books. At the same time, having this character established as a major friend of Haymitch's and never getting to see him much implies all sorts of other things outside Katniss's range of vision, which gives implied scope. There are many important things going on beyond what we can see. So, I can sort of see the point.
redrikki From: redrikki Date: December 9th, 2013 04:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Everything about this chapter was brilliant from Haymitch's angry poetry to Chaff's cynical info dump. I especially liked Chaff's interactions with Danny and how they both refused to let Danny's involvement be about Haymitch. I did, however, notice a spelling error but the commenter above me also caught it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 9th, 2013 07:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Extra eyes=helpful.

I think it's very tempting for victors (or people in key positions) to assume that their behavior is influencing other people more than it actually is. That's why Katniss gets a huge guilt complex about things that happen that are really other people's choices.
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