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HG: The Hanging Tree, Chapter Eight - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
HG: The Hanging Tree, Chapter Eight
Haymitch's mentor, Albinus Drake, interrupts a fight between Haymitch and his new escort, Ausonius Glass.


Chapter Eight
I have no idea what I'm supposed to say to Drake, who was my supposed mentor through the Games. He made no secret of the fact that he didn't care whether I lived or died, and treated Maysilee like she was a groupie. I just frown at him.

"Give it a rest, Glass," he says, and gestures toward the door.

"You can't dismiss me," Glass says. "You have no authority."

"You can take it up with the Gamemakers," Drake says. "Or we can just see whether or not my spear arm is still good. Your call."

Glass straightens up and turns, his nose up disdainfully. "I will most certainly discuss it with the Gamemakers," he says.

"You do that." Drake watches until he disappears down the hall, then closes the door. "Since I'm your mentor, let's get a lesson in. There's us, and there's them." He nods toward the closed door. "I don't like you much. I guess you know that. But you're one of us now, which means you outrank Glass."

"Wow. Thanks. I'm touched."

"Right. The attitude. I didn't miss that." Drake takes a seat. "The thing is, whatever one of us puts up with, eventually, we all have to put up with. Right now, we're doing pretty well with not letting escorts run the show. Glass always thought he should be in charge, but Duronda always kept him in his place, and last year, when he tried this crap with the District One victors, they collectively demanded that the Gamemakers reassign him. I believe Miracle Brea told them they could either reassign him or find him in pieces." He gives an indifferent shrug. "Of course, you're pretty much at the bottom of the barrel, same as Duronda was, so you won't stand a chance at something like that. You're pretty much stuck with each other. But you don't give him one more inch. Got it?"

"My stylist and my preps are scared of him."

"So?"

"So… can't he fire them if they don't put me in what he says?"

"Again, there's us and them. Guess which side your stylist and preps are."

"They're okay."

"Maybe. And honestly, whatever Glass has been doing, your tour just got a whole lot more interesting to people, so you should keep it up on your own. He knows the entertainment part of it. But you never ever let him think he can grab you or push you anywhere, or all the sudden, we're all going to be bowing down to jackasses in feathered pants. Cut him if you have to --"

"Isn't that the kind of thing even a victor could end up in jail over?"

"Maybe here. We have fourteen victors. They had to build extra houses in the Village. But you're the only victor from your district. Snow won't get at you for anything unless you actually commit treason. Taking a slice out of Ausonius Glass is more like a public service. They'd probably play it as you just having a wild and crazy side."

"I thought they were friends -- Snow and Glass. He made it sound like --"

Drake snorts. "Snow doesn't have friends. Just sycophants out to improve their position, and crazy acolytes like Glass. I bet Glass is crazy enough to believe Snow's his friend. He'd find out otherwise pretty quickly if he asked Snow to choose between a victor and an escort."

I let this sink in. "What about the speeches? He wants to write them. He wanted me to make fun of Bidwell."

"The Capitol can tell you what not to say -- you can't do anything about that, or about anything Snow takes it in his head to do -- but you can definitely control what you do say. And I promise you one other thing -- if you'd said that, he'd act like it was your idea. You know the rest of it is coming off as being your choice, now that you don't have Mama Hen telling you what to do now, right?"

"I've seen what they put on television. It's the same thing they did after you told me to have a drink at the banquet in the Capitol, and I didn't notice you going up and correcting anyone's impression."

"Exactly what would have been a correction? I told you to have one drink to deal with the pain issue. You're the one who decided to hit half the president's wine cellar. What are you -- one of those guys who just can't stop until the last drop is gone? I kind of thought so after you got drunk in the training center…"

"I can stop any time I want."

"Then it is your choice."

"Yeah. Sure."

He sighs. "I didn't come in to fight with you. I was actually supposed to bring a truce flag."

"Supposed to?"

"We had a meeting in the Village. There were only five invites to go around, so you won't meet everyone. But -- with one abstention -- we decided you might end up a decent ally."

"You were the abstention?"

"No. Brutus. He doesn't approve of the way you played the Game. Not that it kept him from taking the invitation. He loves anything to do with the Games. For myself, I think we could use someone who can figure out what the Gamemakers are thinking."

I shake my head. "Kids from District Twelve wouldn't stand a chance at melee with District Two. I wouldn't have made it past Bidwell and his friends from Four if they'd realized Maysilee was nearby and neutralized her."

"We can talk about that at the Games," he says. "Meanwhile, truce?" He holds out his hand.

"The things you said to Maysilee…"

"Maybe I was a little out of line. And maybe I'd been drinking a little bit, too. You'll see. Time goes by. You'll see."

He continues to extend his hand. I look over it and say nothing.

He grinds his teeth. "Fine. I apologize. I'm sorry. Is that what you want?"

I nod and shake his hand. It's nowhere near enough, but I can't think what else he could do. It's not like Maysilee's here for him to apologize to.

He leaves and Lepidus comes in with tonight's costume -- a tight, glittery black suit, with a weirdly oversized velvet jacket. I ask him if he can back off on it, maybe get something a little looser and without sparkles, but he goes into such a panic attack that I let up and just put the damned suit on. Medusa puts glitter in my hair as well. I start to tell her not to, but then I see that she has finger-shaped bruises on her wrist. She vehemently denies that Glass had anything to do with it. Her hands are shaking so badly that as much glitter lands on the rug as in my hair. She starts to cry. I take her hand and squeeze it until she calms down. She kisses my cheek, then goes back to my hair.

Glass comes back just before the banquet.

"I hope," he says, "that you didn't take the experience of District Two as a template. There will be somewhat less leeway in a… more rebellious district."

I stand up. "I don't believe you." He opens his mouth to argue, but I shove him against the wall. "And if I ever see Lepidus or any of the preps with bruises again -- you know, never mind 'again.'" I grab his wrist and squeeze until he cries out. "If they show up with bruises, every single bruise is getting paid back to you. Clear?"

He pulls away from me, rubbing his wrist. "Get ready for the procession. We'll have another discussion later. You're going to learn your place."

"I think my mentor just taught me my place," I say, and head out without waiting. He insists on going immediately ahead of me. I go in last, of course -- the star of the show.

District Two doesn't so much host a banquet as a lavish party. Buffet tables are set up, and people drift around, eating whatever is put out. I run into Brutus, who says that victors here pool half a month's salary each to make a better Victory Tour. He also gives me a recipe card for Danny, which he says comes from another victor who couldn't get a ticket. I check it for feathers or birds -- nothing… though there's a wavy line at the bottom, like someone started to draw, then stopped.

Since Brutus is last year's winner, there's a lot of press around to record us talking to each other. Brutus seems to thrive on it. He leads me around the party, dropping nuggets of wisdom with great largesse… mostly his opinion on the best stores to shop from in the Capitol, the best restaurants to go to during the Games, and which, of all the Capitol celebrities he's met, is most likely to "go tails-up" for a victor.

"They think it's exotic," he says. "Doing the deed with someone from the Districts."

"Do those get set up for you?" I ask, thinking about Gia's warnings.

He laughs. "I see you've been listening to rumors. Don't. That's way overblown. Someone got his nose out of joint because someone said something wrong… well, not his nose, I guess… and the next thing, we've got an urban legend. Trust me, I don't do anything I don't want to. Or anyone. The Capitol treats me great. I got everything I ever wanted. That kind of stuff is just icing on the victory cake." He looks at me. "They hit you because you didn't play right. If you're good from now on -- if you stop playing with Snow's head -- you don't have anything to worry about."

"And what are they giving you for telling me that?"

"Just telling the truth. Why, do you want to give me something for it?"

"Not really, no."

He slaps me on the shoulder, hard enough that I actually trip a step, though I cover it up. "Let loose and have a little fun," he advises. "Come on. Let's get a drink."

We go up to the bar, and he orders me his favorite whiskey, which, in all fairness, is some damned fine whiskey.

Things get a little fuzzy after that.

At some point, they turn down the lights and a glittery dance floor lights up. Roaming colored spotlights catch it and throw out sparkling beams. Somewhere or other, I lose Brutus, which doesn't bother me too much, since I know what kind of whiskey to order and he didn't seem to have much else to offer. Someone -- either Drake or Glass -- tells me to get out on the dance floor.

The closer I get to the Capitol -- with the weird exception of the staid District Three -- the tackier it all seems. I thought the girls I slow-danced with in Eleven were aggressive and almost threatening, but compared to the District Two groupies, they're demure and reserved. This is apparently one of the districts where boys are welcome to make moves, because the crowd around me is about half and half, all of them groping at me and rubbing up against me and bringing me drinks. Warm hands are pretty much warm hands, and pretty much have the same effect.

Someone -- I have no idea who -- is dragging me off to a coatroom when Drake pulls me out of things. He's about as drunk as I am. We're having a very meaningful conversation for a long time before I realize that he thinks he's talking to Brutus, and I'm giving him a long and detailed social history of District Twelve and why Maysilee was crazy to have ever liked me. I point this out, and we both start laughing. The room is spinning slowly. Out on the dance floor, Brutus is doing the dance they made up for him, which appears to be his only talent.

"Which is one more than you have, Genius," Drake points out, then cracks up and promptly falls asleep with his head on the table.

I order another drink, but Saffron Abatty, who won the ninth Games, decides I've had enough and hauls me outside into the cold mountain air. There's been a snowstorm lately and the plows have dredged up long, triangular snowbanks against the side of the Justice Building.

I can see a little trolley car headed up a mountain. I try to tell Saffron that Mags and Duronda played a prank on Candria Light while she was in the arena, but I can't seem to get the details right. She grabs a fistful of snow and presses it against the back of my neck. I have the impression for a few minutes that she's Mom, and I apologize to her for the drinking, but she breaks it by shoving me down into the snowbank. The world clears up a little, though it's spinning crazily. I throw up in the snow.

She yanks me away from it before I pass out on top of it. She looks at me coldly. "I'll help you stop," she says. "There are a few of us who can help you stop."

"Stop what?"

"If you haven't figured out what you need to stop, then I can't do anything. I didn't figure it out until I woke up in a Capitol hospital half-dead."

"Already did that," I say, and try to get to my feet. I can't quite do it. The snow is uneven. I fall back toward it. "Only it was more than half."

"Yeah, it was. I stayed in town. Word was, your heart stopped three times and they barely got it going again. And now, you're doing your damnedest to finish the job."

"I promised I wouldn't."

"Well, you're breaking that promise." She pulls something out of her coat pocket and puts it in her mouth. There's a little flame in the night. I realize that it's a cigarette. She takes a long drag. "I don't really care, personally, but I don't like giving anyone else a win. Shape you're in, as soon as you get on the train, that escort of yours is going to be all over you."

I scramble around in my brain. Something seems important about this. "He said he'd pum… put me in my place."

"And he will. He put Duronda in hers once, as I understand it." She digs around in her purse. "Duronda was my friend. I know she stayed armed. And I know you aren't." She pulls out something heavy and hands it to me.

I look at it -- round hilt, serrated edge, heavy steel. "An arena knife?"

"Mine. I bought it from the Capitol years ago. No one's trying to put me in my place anymore. You keep it."

I feel the weight of it. It's not like holding a knife the night I got Gia off the train. It's more like holding it in my nightmares of the arena. "I don't want it," I say. "I put one in Crispus Bidwell's neck, and it wouldn't come out. It was… there was… stuff on it."

She drags her cigarette again, then pulls it out of her mouth and stomps it moodily into the snow. "We've all been there," she says. "Even Brutus. He pretends it doesn't bother him, but I live next door to him, and sometimes he sleeps with the window open. It doesn't mean you can't defend yourself. Keep the knife. And if you ever get around to figuring out that there's something you need to fix, you talk to me. A bunch of us have a little club at the Games." She thinks about it. "Bring your friend Chaff, too."

I laugh. I can't imagine telling Chaff that a gray-haired woman from District Two wants him to join a stop-drinking club.

She pulls me up and finds some way to arrange my jacket that will hide the knife, as long as I don't move around too much, then she leaves me standing there at the stone rail, staring at the mountain that overlooks District Two's main town. There seem to be lights inside of it. I guess that it's probably just ice reflecting the moonlight.

I let the cold air wake me up a little bit. My stomach is queasy, and I hope my preps have something for that. I feel the weight of the knife in my jacket. When I go back in, I have my hands in the pockets to hide any distortion. It's eleven o'clock when an honor guard from the local school arrives to escort us to the cars. I pretend to be half-passed-out all the way to the train, so I don't have to answer Glass's string of insults.

I fall into bed still in my clothes, but I stay trapped in the strange drunk-land between waking and sleeping. I pull out Saffron's knife and hold onto it. It helps, somehow. I feel the train start to move.

I don't know how long it's been moving when I hear the door open, and a shaft of light from the hall falls across the pillow beside me.

I feel the bed shift. "I owe you a lesson," Glass says. "About staying in your place."

I turn over and show him the knife. I'm glad I have it. Glass is wearing brass knuckles and carrying a chain. I raise the knife slowly, taking long enough for him to remember who I am. "Consider it learned," I say.

He looks at the blade, then at me, then gets up and goes to the door. He leaves. I hear the door lock behind him. I am not surprised to find that I can't get out. It's all right. I didn't want to get out, anyway. I curl up around the knife and go back to sleep.

The next morning, there is no further talk about who belongs in what "place."

My team is somewhat subdued when they prep me for District One, but they do have something to settle my stomach, and Medusa gives me a little scalp massage when she does my hair. Lepidus, looking kind of green, tells me that he's going to give me more comfortable clothes today, no matter what Mr. Glass says. The comfortable clothes turn out to have a place where I can hide the knife.

There was never a chance that District One wouldn't be a disaster. I probably knew it before I saw the giant picture of Filigree Simms flying over the square, but seeing it really brings it home. This isn't District Two, with a pragmatic approach to winning. District One really believes the crazy girl should be here instead of me. I manage to make it through the script I wrote for myself (I let Glass hand me one, but I ignore it), then go to prep. The most recent victor from One, Wealthy Gibson, visits me while Lepidus is getting me ready and gives me the bread recipe. She doesn't have much to say, except that most of the district's eight victors had other pressing engagements today. "Don't take it personally," she adds. "Filigree was not well loved among us. But neither is your escort. He made a pest of himself last year."

"I believe that."

"Yeah… yeah, I'll bet you do." She leaves, and doesn't make an appearance at the banquet.

The only victor present is Majesty Gallivray, from the Sixteenth Games. She is happy because her youngest child has just aged out of the Reaping and is still alive, though he has to leave her house in the Village and go back to Furriers' Row. "I do not miss the smell of tanning hides," she says emphatically. That's about the only thing I remember. They have a green, anise-flavored local drink, and it's stronger than anything else I've tried. There's not much nonsense about dancing, and I apparently get somewhat taken in by a groupie, because the next morning, there's a picture on television of me throwing up on the back of a girl's neck. Her face is in my lap. I very honestly remember nothing at all about this.

Lepidus, thankfully, must have secured my knife at some point, as I woke up with it in my hand, even though I was in my pajamas.

The stop here was overnight, as they are cleaning up the train for our grand entrance into the Capitol. I can see attendants outside the windows, scrubbing it.

Glass is sitting at the far end of the dining car, watching the news and smirking unpleasantly. I consider asking who the girl was, but decide not to. He hands me the Capitol schedule without speaking to me.

I am not prepared for our first stop, because the schedule doesn't tell me about it. The car takes us through the cheering (and occasionally jeering) crowd at the train station, and straight to the Training Center, to the quarters where I once had to listen to Beech Berryhill trying to figure out the Capitol shower, where Gilla Callan spent her last full day on earth playing at being a fashion model, where I sat across from Maysilee Donner, joking about how the arena might be a formal ballroom this year. I can see her in the dark, with the flickering shadows from the television playing across her face.

I go straight to the bar and pour myself a drink.

"What a shock," Glass says dryly. "Well, not to worry -- Caesar's handled drunk interviews before. Have at it. I have business to attend to." He claps his hand, and an Avox appears. "Keep the bar stocked," he says. "Our victor has earned his party, I'm sure."

With that, he leaves me alone, and locks the door behind him.

I put the bottle down and cap it. I'm not joining Saffron's quit-drinking club, but I'm sure as hell not going to get drunk just because Ausonius Glass wants me to.

I go to the window. There are people gathered outside with cameras, but there's nothing they can take a picture of. The glass is one way here. Many of them are laughing and some pantomime throwing up on each other. I don't feel like watching them, and I want to steer clear of the bar for a little while, so I turn on the television. It's not much better. The thing I have no memory of doing is all over. I am about to turn it off when Ausonius Glass appears on screen, side by side with a young reporter. They are both laughing.

"So, it's been quite a ride?" the reporter asks.

"Oh, believe me," Glass says, "the public has only seen the half of it with this one…"

The door opens. I don't turn around. I assume it's my preps.

"Quite a show," someone says.

I sit up straight, then turn very slowly, sure that I'm wrong about the voice. I'm not. President Snow is standing just inside the apartment, looking at me with great amusement.

"Really, you've outdone yourself," he says. "I was concerned at first. You were coming off as quite sympathetic with Miss Pepper holding your leash. Or whatever it was she was holding."

"Hey!"

"But now that my old friend Ausonius has set you free to be yourself, I can't see anyone taking you seriously. I congratulate you. You've neutralized yourself far more effectively than any of my agents could."

I turn back toward the television, where there's a mock commercial running for "District Twelve Deep Conditioner." "You know Gia wasn't… holding anything. There's no way you don't have that train bugged, and all the prep rooms."

"I would point out that there were several other venues, most of which I would not take the trouble to bug, but of course, you're quite right. Miss Pepper was decent to fault, at least on non-political matters, and I am well aware that she wouldn't take advantage of your besotted state. Where is she?"

"No idea."

"We both know that's not true."

"We both know where she got off the train, too, which means you know as much as I do. She'd never tell me anything that would get me in trouble."

He sniffs and sits down across from me. "Please, Haymitch. You were watching her every move. She may not have told you anything, but you are more than bright enough to figure these things out on your own. I don't deceive myself about that, though I imagine the constant pickling is slowing even you down. Where is Pelagia Pepper?"

I don't answer.

"I understand that you are not fond of your new escort. Tell me where your old one is, and I will assign you someone perhaps more to your liking."

I think about Glass coming into my car. Then I think about my knife. "I can handle Glass," I say. "But if he ever touches me again, I'll kill him."

"Fair enough," Snow says amiably. "He knows he has no leave to do that, and I will personally enforce it."

"If I tell you something you want to hear?"

"No -- that deal is already on the table. I will transfer him if you give me the information I'm seeking. But I will rein him in, both for you and your future tributes, if you agree not to propagandize for the seditionists I'm quite sure you've met."

"I have no idea where Gia is."

"You know I don't believe you."

"Believe what you want."

"Very well. And the other deal on the table?"

I watch television for a few minutes. There's a lurching, twisting dance, done by boys in terrible costumes. Glass is laughing with the reporter.

No one takes what I say seriously anyway, and I could probably do a lot more if I weren't running around spouting propaganda. "Deal," I say. "But you better mean it about him not touching my tributes."

"Oh, I assure you, they will be sacrosanct." Snow stands up. "Well, with that, I believe your prep team is calling for the elevator, to get you ready for Caesar. Don't break our deal, Mr. Abernathy. I will be watching."
17 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
redrikki From: redrikki Date: January 28th, 2014 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Man, Haymitch. And Drake, god. He's being pimped out and trying to convince himself he's okay with it. I liked how chummy they were when they were both too trashed to know who they were talking to. I like the comradery of the Victors in general even when they don't like each other and the fact that they are trying to look out for Haymitch as best they can considering how messed up and broken they all are.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 28th, 2014 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
In Brutus's case, it might be true that he's not being pimped. He doesn't need to be disciplined or humiliated. (I kind of suspect that fandom may overestimate how often it happened.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 28th, 2014 07:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

That Was...

Fascinating. And Horrible. And Wonderful.

I take it that Duronda's daughter is the result of Glass "putting Duronda in her place"? Makes my flesh crawl.

Drake's right that Glass is delusional if he thinks that Snow is going to put a mentor before a victor, but I also realized that Glass' take on the Games is essentially the same as Snow's, stripped of the political agenda and double-speak.

Too bad we didn't get to see Lyme (I assume she sent the recipe), but Saffron was great. I love the way you give the Career districts the "Slytherin" treatment and make them relatable and three dimensional.

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 28th, 2014 09:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: That Was...

Snow is probably less emotionally invested in the Games than he is in the political agenda and double-speak by this point. He just doesn't seem the type to care all that long about personal tragedies... he's more about using them to get more power.

Yeah, it was Lyme who did the recipe, but since Haymitch didn't remember her in GM, I figured she needed to stay home. She was probably not in a rush to do Games-related stuff anyway.

I take it that Duronda's daughter is the result of Glass "putting Duronda in her place"?

Yes, though I don't think Haymitch will ever put that together. I think he is happier believing it was a beating he fended off.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 29th, 2014 02:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: That Was...

Yes, much happier, although given his experience with Beckett, one might think that he'd be more "aware" of the possibility. Then again, out in the Districts, they don't have much of a "bi-sexual" mindset in general, let alone for abuse of this kind.

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 29th, 2014 02:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: That Was...

I think it's more inability to conceptualize himself as a victim of that kind of crime. He thinks of the Beckett thing as blackmail, corruption, whatever... not that.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 29th, 2014 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: That Was...

Also a good point. And I'm perfectly willing to let Haymitch use as many non-alcoholic defense mechanisms as he can to deal with his situation. It's a miracle that he keeps his sanity to the extent that he does.

Sara Libby
mirandabeth From: mirandabeth Date: January 28th, 2014 09:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh my gosh, this story just gets better and better with every chapter.

Love this! Even Brutus makes sense... I'm quite sure his life was far easier than most of the other victors, because why bother to torment someone who's playing along so nicely? (And clearly, by the time we meet Haymitch, he's pretty much worked that out - he's firmly in his assigned role by then.)

And wow, the tension between Haymitch and Glass. I'd be cheering Haymitch more if I wasn't so sure he'd end up paying badly for every time he does something awesome. Although I suppose they'll have to find some kind of balance, because I know you have Glass as escort for quite a few more years. Guess Haymitch's habit of sleeping with that knife must be pretty firmly ingrained by then, though.

I do love this idea of the bond between the victors, even the ones who you wouldn't expect to get along. It's not just being the only ones who really understand about the Games and the districts and the Capitol (and this other idea I have about how it's really not safe for the victors to have people they care about, except other victors, who are so much less expendable to Snow than other people are) but this solidarity as well. Very nice.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 28th, 2014 09:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that, shockingly, Drake gave him good advice -- Snow's not actually going to pick an escort over a mentor. So, while Glass can make Haymitch miserable, he can only go so far.

Haymitch is firmly in his role to an extent. I never sensed that Katniss was right about him not being a good a mentor to the other tributes (though he undoubtedly got smashed as soon as they weren't there to worry about), and obviously, while Snow was busy laughing at him, he remained pretty deeply involved in the rebellion. After all, he didn't promise Snow that he wouldn't be a rebel, just that he wouldn't propagandize.
mirandabeth From: mirandabeth Date: January 28th, 2014 09:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wonder if Haymitch did stop trying quite so hard with his tributes over the years, as he got more and more jaded and more and more sick of getting to know them and then watching them die. But yeah, I don't think Katniss is right about him being the reason Twelve never has any victors. And I don't think he got less rebellious, just smarter about it (although I suppose with that comes a necessary slowing down of any actual rebellious activity).
sonetka From: sonetka Date: January 28th, 2014 10:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, 12 was what, 1 for 49 previously? They had more problems than Haymitch, though I agree that as the years rolled on and his tributes consistently got mowed down, I can see him tuning out to some extent -- not refusing to help them, but trying to block off any emotional involvement.
patita_fea From: patita_fea Date: January 29th, 2014 01:57 am (UTC) (Link)
With seventy five years of Games, if every district had equal numbers of victors, they'd have about six each. Over those years, Twelve managed four of them.

It's a bad record, but it's not as abysmally awful as Katniss seems to think. There's just a lot of competition.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 29th, 2014 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, up until Katniss, there'd been two in 73 years, so she can be forgiven for that. :P

I actually did a list to account for all the known victors and see how overwhelming the Career lead could be. The highest I could tweak two was 19 winners over 75 years, and that's limiting three districts to two winners each.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: January 28th, 2014 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good God, poor Duronda -- she never gets one single thing that goes right for, does she? (even winning the Games is a mixed blessing, to put it mildly). Does Glass know what resulted? I hope not. And while it's a little weird to be putting the words "Drake" and "awesome" in one sentence, that's what he was here. Yeah, they'll never be friends, but he'll have Haymitch's back against the non-victors, and that has to mean something. ("Jackasses in feathered pants", *snerk*)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 29th, 2014 01:35 am (UTC) (Link)
She did eventually manage to get the upper hand with him. That helps a little. I doubt Glass would care... he'd have been pulling all of his BS while his own grandson was in the arena.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: January 29th, 2014 03:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Catches and Thoughts

all the sudden This bit got a bit garbled in editing; I think you meant to say something like all of a sudden?

Miss Pepper was decent to fault, You missed an a before fault.:)

I really like the hierarchy you've set up here between the escorts and the mentors, and the slippage that can happen depending on how forceful/timid the individual mentors and escorts are.

Glass is simply appalling, and the fact that he "put Duronda in her place" and then let his grandson die just caps it; I am glad though that after that incident, Duronda ensured that she had the upper hand, hopefully by cutting him or doing something else that displayed her skill as a victor.

I like that Drake finally gave Haymitch some proper mentoring; even more though, I like that his motives felt so completely IC for Drake. There was no sudden realization of Haymitch's gifts; just the need to protect his District's chances of winning in the arena, and what autonomy victors have outside it. He also made some interesting observations about Haymitch's alcoholism. I'm not anywhere near ready to absolve him of blame, but I hadn't entirely considered (mostly due to the fact that you write a wonderfully tight Haymitch pov) that he did just tell him to have one drink. The melding of free choice with people like Drake and Glass practically forcing him headfirst in to a bottle is very intriguing, here. I also very much liked Saffron, and wish so much that Haymitch would heed her advice.

The victor solidarity, as others have mentioned, is absolutely wonderful here, and I love seeing the genesis of Haymitch's tradition of keeping a knife from the other fics! Also, all his confrontations with Glass were excellent, but I especially loved the moment he defended Lepidus and the preps. And that sort of kindness, as we see later in the chapter, tends to be repaid with loyalty and kindness.

Also, I love the depths you're giving the career victors, and the fact that, while they may be brutal in the arena, they're as much people as anyone outside it. I really, really like your portrayal of Brutus, and his attitude shows so well why he and Haymitch so clearly loathe one another by Final Eight.

Your portrayal of Snow continues to fascinate and repulse in equal measure. I know you've talked before about how the qualities necessary for dictatorship almost automatically ensure that there's a serious emotional/psychological problem that makes understanding one's subjects intensely difficult, and you showed it to such good effect here. Snow's second deal was actually good; intelligent and likely to work, because it got at the heart of something the other person wanted. (I love that, even after making that deal, he's fully aware that Haymitch never promised not to rebell, as epitomized by Plutarch's statements in GM about how closely Haymitch's being watched, and Snow's own statement in House that he'd been in the rebellion's inner circle for years.) But, Snow's first "deal" shows so well how much he will never understand emotional attachments, and how that inability eventually means the rebellion's victory. In a dog-eats-dog world like the one he wants to create, and perhaps believes he has, loyalty to others, much less self-sacrifice is inconceivable. It particularly struck me when he used the word besotted to describe Haymitch even as he was making his deal. Realistically, no matter how bad Glass was, no one that's besotted's going to take that deal, unless he was maybe counting on Haymitch to feel abandoned, but that seems like a stretch.? And he understands nothing about Twelve, especially its pride. Even if Glass had done to Haymitch what he did to Duronda, I can't see seam pride letting him reveal Gia's location even if he were frightened; he owes her too much. It fascinates me that if Snow could have stepped back enough from his ego to show the sort of calculation he did with his second bargain, things might have gone very differently.

Am very much looking forward to seeing Glass when he's "put in his place", as well as Caesar's interview.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 29th, 2014 04:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches and Thoughts

"All the sudden," while technically incorrect, is common usage. It felt more natural in context than the more proper "All of a sudden."

Definitely missed the "a," though.

Addiction is a weird place with free choice. There's some kind of wonky brain chemistry; that much they know. What might well be innocent partying for one person is a self-built prison for another. How many drinks after the initial one is the alcoholic really responsible for, and how many are inevitable once that "on" switch has been flipped? That's why recovering alcoholics frequently are even careful about what kind of mouthwash and cough syrup they have in the house. And "It's totally my choice, I can stop whenever I want to" are practically the theme song, up until they get dragged to detox. So Drake -- who implies here that he suspected Haymitch's alcoholism -- and Glass, who certainly knows, are morally implicated for putting him in the environment. On the other hand, Haymitch also knows. He may not admit it in so many words, but he knows, and the refusal to take responsibility for it is on his own head.

And yeah, Snow just does not get it. Probably just as well. He'd have been able to hold on tighter if he had even an intellectual understanding of things like this.
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