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HG: The Hanging Tree, Chapter Twelve - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
HG: The Hanging Tree, Chapter Twelve
After pulling a stunt to destroy the records of his friends' petty rebellion, Haymitch is bailed out of jail by the head Gamemaker. He goes home and starts drinking.

Chapter Twelve
I don't spend too long in the fog after I get out of jail. Four or five days, maybe, before I get a sort of even keel -- enough liquor to keep off the demons, not so much that I'm non-functional. I can sleep. If I dream much, I don't remember it. I decide that I've finally found the formula, and carefully set out the right amounts for each day. I plan to stick to it, too. We're heading up for the Games now. I can't be passing out drunk for them -- or hallucinating -- no matter how much I'd prefer to be.

I start going into town. I do some of my allotted drinking at Murphy's pub, where the miners make up most of the clientele. Elsie Gownken is always around, trying to cadge drinks off of people. I have plenty of money, so I buy her drinks until the bankers determine that I'm spending too much in one place. They seem to have a morbid fear that I'm secretly paying off the merchants' loans and only pretending to buy the merchandise. They clearly do not know District Twelve. No true Twelver, town or Seam, would ever let me do such a thing.

At the bar, I pick up the fact that the uprising, such as it was, has ended. No one says it outright, but with the reaping casting its shadow darker every day, there's no talk about petty vandalism. My burning of the records seems to have driven home to the parents of District Twelve exactly what they were risking. I guess that's good. It's run its course, like Chaff said. What's not so good is that the bad blood with the merchants has lasted.

Old Murphy -- who is some relation to the butcher and to Danny's girlfriend, Mir, but I'll be damned if I know what -- is stone-faced as his customers complain about how privileged the merchant class is. There are many jokes about blondes, most on the theme that they're tighter with their money than their morals. ("What's the only way to get money away from a blond girl?" "Tell her to hold it between her knees.") Glen Everdeen decks an old miner who makes a lewd comment about Ruth Keyton, and it ends up in a pretty vicious brawl, in which I'm the only one fighting Glen's side. Both of us are pretty well dismissed, as he "ain't thinking with his brain," and I'm pickled enough that I've been "getting my tugs" from girls in Career districts and the Capitol.

Glen and I do manage to do some damage together, though, and after we're asked to leave the bar, I listen to him fume for about an hour about how easily they've all been played by the Capitol. He's no scholar, but I decide he's about a thousand miles from dumb.

The merchants, who feel personally betrayed, aren't much better. The Mellarks go on as always, but the butcher -- Mir's mother -- cuts off credit completely, which means there is no legal way for most of the Seam families to get meat, except on payday at the mines. The Cartwrights continue to make their charity shoes, but gone are the big smiles and cheerful conversations that always accompanied them before. Worst of all, the Donners -- whose shop windows were smashed by a handful of idiots after dark -- have withdrawn completely. I go in for some sarsaparilla candies on my seventeenth birthday (I have been drinking, and thinking in a maudlin way that I want to spend it remembering everyone I've lost in the last year in one concrete way or another), and the look Mr. Donner gives me before he realizes that I'm not a kid from the Seam anymore… well, I think maybe they ought to spend a little time remembering Maysilee, though I don't quite have the heart to suggest it.

I ask if I can visit Kay, who I saw through the upstairs window. Mr. Donner thinks for a long time before agreeing to it.

She doesn't stand up from the couch when I come up the stairs, though she makes a motion to do so. She winces and draws in a sharp breath, then sinks back into the cushions. She's lost a lot of weight, especially around her face, and her short, tea-browned hair seems listless. She doesn't even remind me of Maysilee right now. "Haymitch," she says. "Why are you here?"

"I was thinking about Maysilee."

She sniffs. "I think we pretty well established that I'm not her."

I shrug and sit down on the ottoman across from her. "So… what's going on here?"

She points to the couch, and the ratty blanket she has around her. "This?"

"Yeah."

"My back hurts. My neck, too. Ruth says that last time in the pillory, with the weights, I must have cracked something in my spine."

"You need real medicine? I can --"

"First, no you can't, you know they won't let you. Second… I have medicine. Daddy made nice with the Peacekeepers, and we got some from the liaisons' stores." She smiles, and I realize that her face has a rubbery, drugged quality to it. "Works great," she says. "Still hurts, but I just don't care as much."

"I fully sympathize," I say. "I don't mean to bother you."

"It's fine. It's good to have someone to talk to. I haven't been to school for a while."

After this, we go a long while without actually talking. I think of a few things to say, but I decide it's Maysilee I want to say them to. Maybe I'll go to the cemetery.

I'm about to take my leave when she says, quietly, "If they reap me, I'm sunk. I can barely get up. I'd never be able to run." I look at her sharply. She looks back up. Her eyes are glassy. "I wouldn't expect you to be able to do anything about it. I just want you to know that. In case. I don't want you beating yourself up if you can't save me. Maysilee wouldn't want you to. And it'll be the same with anyone else."

"Kay -- "

"I dream about her sometimes. She's always worried about you and me. Always saying…" Her voice trails off and she sighs. "It hurts, Haymitch. It really hurts."

I go over to her and kiss her forehead, then leave. I decide not to visit her again. I don't think we're very helpful to each other.

I don't end up visiting the cemetery until the next week, exactly a year after the reading of the Quell card. For this particular occasion, I've allowed myself an extra allowance of liquor for the day, and I'm as numb as Kay was by the time I get there.

I sit down on the cold, muddy grass in front of the tribute memorial and stare up at the pictures of Beech, Gilla, and Maysilee, all in their parade costumes. I was with Gilla a year ago. I remember her asking what I thought the Quell would be, since I knew things. I was bored. Playing a game with my brother on the floor of the Community Home. It couldn't matter to me.

Now it will matter to me every year. Every name and every picture added to this memorial is going to matter, because they will never be strangers again. I'll know them all, and try to save them all, and fail them all, just like Duronda did. I lean forward, putting my head against the cold stone beside Maysilee's name. I imagine that I'm right above her bones now. Is she down to bones yet? How long does it take a body to break down completely? Why doesn't the Capitol cremate tributes? Do they just want the families to be tormented by seeing an actual body?

A cold rain starts to fall, and I want the blanket from the arena, the one that burned up against the force field. I want to be huddled under it with Maysilee, telling her all about my girl back home.

I try to talk to her, but she's never felt further away. I can't seem to get anything out, and eventually, I fall asleep -- or pass out -- there on the ground. I'm conscious later of someone putting a blanket around me and helping me up, but I don't know who it is until I realize I'm on the back of Merle Undersee's gardening cart. He gets me up the stairs to my room, opens up my bed, and dumps me into it without comment.

"What?" I say. "You're not tucking me in?"

He doesn't smile. He shakes his head and says, "You need to stop this, Haymitch." A few minutes later, I hear him doing something outside.

Two days later, I get a delivery of shrimp from District Four. There's a note from Blight in Seven with it. "I remembered you liked this when you visited," it says. "I heard it's your birthday. Sorry this is late. Hope it was happy."

I frown at the ice-packed case. I don't even remember shrimp in Seven, and, while Blight might be more likely than, say, the District One victors to wish me a happy birthday, I can't say he's the first one I'd expect it from, either. I open the box. There's a plastic lining under the -- fish, maybe -- and I see one long crease down it. It's been pulled up.

I dump the shrimp and pull out the lining. Under it, there's a note wrapped in plastic. I open it. It's written in my code, so it doesn't have much nuance, but I recognize the light touch of the pen on the paper, the airy feel of the writing.

Gia.

I stare at it for a long time before I try to read it.

She doesn't use the code expertly. We didn't exactly practice. But I can get enough from it. She's safe, presumably in District Four, given the packing. She has a new name. She's… I frown at the symbol. I never had a reason to make up some symbols, like the symbol for "married." Instead, she's used the symbol for "wife." She's a wife. There's also the symbol I used in history class for "heir."

Gia has a new name, a new husband, and apparently, a new "heir" on the way. I guess it's just as well she disappeared, or everyone would be speculating on whether or not I have an heir on the way, too. I try to pretend for a minute that this is possible, but I know it's not. Science wasn't my best subject, but I do know enough biology to know that two one-sided kisses and a handful of fantasies wouldn't get us there.

I decide it's good that she's got a life.

The writing gets a little darker after this, and I picture her in a fisherman's house, maybe with her hand resting on her expanding waistline, thinking about what to say. What she manages in code is, "See you television drink. Prefer stop. Not safe health. Young strong man. Love."

I guess her meaning is clear enough, even if my code doesn't exactly lend it the right syntax. And of course, she couldn't have been much clearer about her preferences regarding my drinking. I try to work up the anger I've felt at her about the medicine she gave me, but sitting here, holding her clumsy note in my hand, knowing that she used this many channels -- even going through her ex-lover -- just to send it… all I can really work up is a vague sadness.

I move the note aside, figuring that I should put the shrimp in my freezer until I'm ready to eat them, and I notice something on the back.

In perfectly normal, recognizable script, she's written. "I love you. PLEASE take care, and try to have a happier seventeenth year." It's signed with the initials "C.O.", which must be for her new name. Doing that was dangerous beyond all reason, and I can't even see how I could use it. I don't exactly have a full listing of District Four names to work with. But the Capitol does. She can't do things like that. I'll have to get word to her through Blight.

I try to get up, meaning to put away the shrimp and write a note to send Blight in a box of cookies, but I can't seem to move very far. I put the note up against my face, hoping it will smell like her perfume or her shampoo or her lotion, but of course, it just smells like fish. Maybe Gia smells like fish now, too. I guess I'll never know.

Outside, I hear Merle drive away as the sun sets. I sit in the dark of my hall, not fumbling for the lights. So many dead. I've pushed Danny's family so far away that I haven't spoken to him for a month. Gia has a whole new life, where she's married and taking care of someone else now. The only people I see are the ones I drink with at Murphy's, and most of them despise me.

I am utterly alone.

Except I'm not.

I look at the frozen shrimp on the floor and start gathering them up and putting them back in their box. It's like Drake said -- there's us and there's them, and, for good or ill, I'm part of an us.

I pick up the box of shrimp. It seems very heavy, and it takes a long time to get to my feet and carry it to the kitchen. I finally make it and manage to get to the freezer, then I limp to my study. The phone has been sitting here, silent, for months now. I don't know who to call, or how. Finally, I look at the invoice from the shrimp packaging. Blight's number is on it. It seems as good a place to start as any.

I dial.

It rings four or five times, then I hear a double-click when he picks up. I'm guessing both of our phones are bugged.

"Hello?" he says warily.

"Hi," I say. "It's me. Um, Haymitch Abernathy. In Twelve?"

"Hi, Haymitch."

"I got your birthday present. Um, thanks." I stare at the phone. I don't think I've ever seen a device less conducive to talking. I know some of them have video screens, but this one doesn't, and I have no idea whether or not Blight wants to be talking to me, or is just being polite. "It was nice to hear from someone," I finish.

"Trust me, I know," he says. His voice is friendly enough. "I live up here alone, too, and there's not even a logging camp nearby this year."

"Nearby?"

"Oh, they go up and down the district. Closest camp is about three miles from the Village, but they haven't been there for two years. Sometimes I drive into the city just to see someone's face. And I bet you remember how bad it smells there, if that tells you anything…"

Blight is better at this than I am, and I let him talk about whatever he wants. A few times, he tries to prompt me to say something, but I can't think of anything that doesn't sound like "Poor me," so I just put it back in his hands. We talk for maybe fifteen minutes. I feel a little less alone. I give him my phone number, in case he ever wants to know anything about Twelve.

Half an hour after I hang up, I'm still sitting at my desk, staring at the shrimp invoice and trying to think of what else to do. The phone rings loudly. I let it go three times, then pick it up. Again, there's a double-click.

A nervous little voice says, "Haymitch? Beetee… from Three? I heard you had a birthday."

Beetee's as bad as I am on the phone, and that doesn't last long, but the word apparently is going out. Mags Donovan calls me, and so does Saffron Abatty (again, with the suggestion that I quit drinking). Woof from Eight has a funny story about the kids I was with in the snowstorm, and how they all built a fort out of the snow later that day. Earl from Ten has just gotten a new horse, and been riding around on the range all day. Finally Chaff calls me, tells me to watch for a birthday present, and teases me mercilessly about my string of "conquests" on the tour. In all, I spend about an hour on the phone with other victors. All of them close with a variation on, "Hey, I'll see you in a couple of months, right?"

Like I'll have a choice.

But I feel a little bit better, and a little bit worse, because there's something sick about looking forward to the Hunger Games. I bet they'd all understand me if I said that -- and I bet I don't really need to say it.

When I go out the next day, I feel different -- maybe not as miserably lonely as I was, but not quite as connected to District Twelve, either. This is probably good. The fewer people I have here, the fewer anyone can target. I drop by several shops to spend money, and spend a little while in the bakery with the Mellarks. Danny is seeing a new girl, Looz Magaverty, and his parents are delighted, but he bristles at them when they say they're glad he's done with Mir.

Later, over the kneading table, he says, "She's not that bad! Honestly, I can't believe I broke up with her just because my parents wanted me to."

I pull myself up onto a counter. "Your parents are smart."

"You don't know her. She's… okay, she's not sweet. But she's not a monster. People just treat her that way."

"You're still…?" I make a non-descript motion with my hand.

"Not really. Not much, anyway."

I have nothing at all to say to that. I figure that eventually, he'll figure out who she is. I change the subject and ask if anyone's talking about the reaping yet. Without the Quell card this year, people are putting it off, though a few girls are already talking parade costumes.

"Are you okay, Haymitch?" he asks out of nowhere.

"What?"

"You haven't been by in ages, and you seem… a little out there."

I shrug. "Thinking about who's going to die on my watch next isn't a lot of fun. And you haven't been out to the Village, either."

"I'm not allowed. You know why."

"I guess."

We talk a little more about not much of anything. I don't have any messages for him to pass, though I might have more, once I've had a chance to talk to everyone this summer. I tell him about my phone calls.

He looks down at the bread he's shaping. "Must be nice. Knowing people on the outside." He laughs. "You know, it's funny that you don't like Mir. And she doesn't like you. She feels like District Twelve is too small for her, too. I think she'd kill to know people on the outside."

"I did," I remind him.

He looks up, abashed, then goes back to work, changing the subject entirely.

I leave the bakery a little bit later, and go for a walk down on the Seam. People watch me curiously, but don't interfere with me. I see dirty kids in the road, tossing handmade balls around. A girl leaning heavily on a crutch stares at me from her door. A miner's wife with a baby at her breast nods a cool greeting to me. I pass a group of boys I used to know in school. Elmer Parton is sitting out in the last light, finishing his math homework. We pass a few words. He's really hoping to start at the mines in training for blasting. He sounds genuinely enthusiastic about it. Clay Hawthorne is home from the mines for the night, and is sitting in front of his house and whittling. I can't tell what he's making. He looks at me with only the vague recognition that I got in other districts.

This becomes my habit for the next few weeks. I get up in the early afternoon, have a smaller drink or a watered one, then go to the school. I sit on the far side of the fence and watch people in physical education. This one could make a go of it. That one wouldn't make it off the platform. She'd find allies fast. He'd last a while in the wilderness, as long as I make sure he gets food. If it's the tall girl with the too-small skirt, I could use that speed she has running -- coach her on how to get off the platform. If it's the boy who lifts a smaller kid over his head, I can teach him to fight off attackers. If it's one of the starving, sickly, or injured ones, I don't know what I'll do.

The next train into town brings me a present from Chaff -- a chess board. I call him, and we play a long distance game. He beats me, but says I did better than he'd expected. He'll teach me real gambits when I get to the Capitol. There will be time while the tributes are being prepped. He does not say that there will also be time after they die, but I guess we both know it. I think about saying hello to whoever is listening in from the Capitol -- Mom always said it was rude to ignore even a shy visitor -- but I decide that might be pushing it.

The weather gets warmer. A Seam girl named Brosia Creelman, blushing crazily, asks me if I'd maybe like to take a walk with her sometime. I say no without giving it any thought, and later, when I do think about it, I find out that she's going out with Moose Makemie. It's just as well, probably.

There's another brief flare-up between the town and the Seam, ending up with a brawl outside the school. I don't know who started it or why, but it's a pretty vicious fight, and I guess either of the girls in it might last at least a little while.

I'm rough on my clothes when I drink -- which is still every day, and no matter how well laid-out my plan is, I always end up drinking more at night than I mean to -- and I go to the Breens' tailor shop pretty frequently. They have a fifteen year old daughter named Violet. She's very pretty, and for the first time since Gia disappeared, I find myself having occasional pleasant fantasies. Before I can decide on my own that it's a bad idea to ask her out, her parents make the decision for me by very deliberately removing her from the room every time I come over. I take the hint and keep my mouth shut.

Despite the constant thoughts about the Games, Reaping Day still manages to sneak up on me. Caesar Flickerman calls me two days before, telling me to be ready for a quick interview as the "departing victor." Apparently, Glass was supposed to warn me about this. "I had a feeling he might have forgotten," Caesar says. "So I thought I'd warn you -- be sober and cleaned up."

I look at myself in the full length mirror in the bathroom. For weeks, I've thought I was doing pretty well, but when I see myself, I see I haven't. My shaving has been haphazard since I gave up on Violet Breen, and stubble is growing unevenly all over my face. My hair is a matted mess. My clothes are covered with stains, and when I take them off, I see that the body under them is filthy. I don't remember the last time I used my shower, but I'm guessing it's a good three weeks. I stink. I'm drunk again, despite a good-faith effort not to be. It's no wonder no one has talked to me in town. What do you say to someone who looks like this?

I lather up my face and shave, which helps a little, and then I get into the shower, which helps more. I can't do too much with my hair, other than get the tangles out. Maybe Medusa can help, but she'll be assigned to the boy tribute now, not to me.

I don't have time to properly clean the house, but I throw all the windows open to get the stench out the next day, and shove most of the piles of clothes and garbage into a closet.

I lock myself out of my liquor cabinet and throw the key out the window in the garden I don't visit. By three in the morning, of course, I'm out there, crawling around in the shadow of the fence where Digger died, pawing through the grass looking for it. I don't find it.

I'm a little wild when the interview team gets there at eleven-thirty, but they're from the Capitol, and they think nothing of it. Someone hands me a pill, which I dry swallow. Things clear up quickly. Thankfully, my preps are with them, and Medusa is able to give my hair a once-over. There's no time for anything complicated with my skin, though Igerna looks at me like its state is a personal betrayal of her. Lepidus has sent along a clean suit, but he's busy arranging the wardrobes on the train.

The reporter is a young woman who I've seen on television pretty frequently. She asks me if I'm glad the year is over, and if I have any thoughts to summarize it all. I tell her that I plan to think as little as possible about this year in the future, and I am entirely sincere in this intent.

"Are you ready to be a mentor?" she asks cheerfully.

I lie and say that I am.

I hop a ride into town with the production crew. People are already being gathered. I go up to the stage and take a seat beside the mayor. Glass is surveying the reaping balls. He turns and looks at me with flat hatred in his eyes, then goes back to his business. I see that, while his casts are off and he seems to have some function in his hands, his fingers are permanently curled, and he's carrying a little pinching device, which he uses to practice pulling a few cards. He ostentatiously remixes the bowls when he puts them back.

The ceremony is shorter this year, since there's no Quell to explain. Glass just berates us for a little while about rebelling, tells us that we owe blood for it, and reminds us how merciful it is that the Games prevent "even more bloodshed" and allow us to live in peace.

"And now," he says, "it's time to choose this year's tributes. Because the treason began among women, a young woman will be the first called." He reaches into the reaping ball, pulls a slip from somewhere in the middle, and reads, "Ginger McCullough!"

The name is familiar. I know it from somewhere, but I can't place it. Not one of my friends. I am breathing a sigh of relief when I first see the girl.

She stumbles out of the crowd of fifteens, looking terrified, and limps up toward the stage, leaning heavily on her single crutch.

I have to help her up the stairs.
17 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
mirandabeth From: mirandabeth Date: February 13th, 2014 10:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I aww-ed so much at all the victors calling Haymitch. I'm sure Snow will find a way to put an end to it at some point, because Haymitch can't have nice things, but aww. And Gia!

Love how completely Haymitch's life has been taken over by the Games. Drinking seems entirely reasonable from that point of view: drink, or spend all your time thinking about which children you're going to get killed. He can't even be properly relieved by not knowing the tributes well, like the rest of them can, since they can pretend it isn't really happening and he doesn't have that option.

This story is building so well, I once again can't wait for the next chapter.
mirandabeth From: mirandabeth Date: February 13th, 2014 10:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Actually, it occurs to me that "Haymitch Can't Have Nice Things" would be a perfect subtitle for all Haymitch's backstory. :p
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2014 03:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh, true that.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2014 03:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Snow will eventually put the kibosh on it somehow -- Haymitch has torn his phone out by the canon timeline -- but for now, he needs to interact with someone, and he's utterly refusing to deal with his old friends!
gabrielladusult From: gabrielladusult Date: February 13th, 2014 01:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ok - in think this may be my first comment on your Hunger Games fics, but I have enjoyed them all. They are easily my favorites of all your writing.

I was convinced that they were going to capture Gia and executemurder her in front of Haymitch when he got to the Capitol. I'm so glad you didn't go there. Is she Finnick's mother? That makes me happy and sad on so many levels, but I look forward to more - always.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2014 03:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I'm glad you've been enjoying them.

Yup, she's Finnick's mother.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: February 13th, 2014 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Gia. She's such a lovely girl, but she'd have made a terrible rebel liaison in the Capitol. Her new initials and everything! I am terribly curious to see how things shake out with her eventually, I doubt it's all that happy but at least she's alive. As for Ginger -- you know, I started reading this chapter thinking "I hope Haymitch doesn't dive back into the bottle at the end of it" and finished wishing that he would.

Am I completely off-base in thinking that Glass is a massive victor wannabe? He probably spent his teenage years writing fics about how awesome it would be to be reaped and the things he'd do in the arena, then he got the escort job to be as close as possible to the real deal? Only after that, of course, he felt massively inadequate because of course, as Albinus says, you're either in or you're out, and he's definitely out. So he compensated by trying to be more brutal and badass than the victors themselves. His poor tributes!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2014 03:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Gia's very young, and very impetuous in a lot of ways, and yeah... she'd never have survived as rebel in the Capitol.

Glass may have some victor envy, but mostly, I think he was being perfectly honest about hating the "rebels," a word he interprets as "anyone from the districts." He may well think they all should have gotten the D13 treatment.
vesta_aurelia From: vesta_aurelia Date: February 14th, 2014 12:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Between the redhead and the initials...

I have a feeling Gia is Finnick Odair's mom.

Why am I thinking Snow knew all along?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2014 03:18 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know if Snow knew or not, but Finnick's her son -- dear gestating lump, you will grow up awesome and die too young.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: February 14th, 2014 04:13 am (UTC) (Link)
It wouldn't surprise me at all if Snow had, shall we say, suspicions. While I don't think he could "know", with what Fern's said about erasing Gia's genetics, I do remember Kattniss talking in cannon about them taking censuses of the D12 population. Even if Gia did nothing that required her DNA (fairly easy, since she's past reaping age), she would have had to have had papers etc. etc. to remain in D4, which of course would have had to have been forged. I've a feeling Finnick's dad had to pay a pretty penny to get the officials to ignore a woman suddenly appearing as his wife who'd never been seen in the District before (lucky he had a shellfish fortune!:), and while I'm sure the papers protected her from arrest, if Snow ever got his hands on a D4 census, there had to be suspicion at the sudden addition of a person. Not enough to actually *do* anything about, not after a certain point when her memory would have faded for Haymitch and her arrest wouldn't do anything except make him look like an idiot, but I can see a germ.

Btw, hope you don't mind my constant speculations, Fern, and complete agreement with your message to the gestating lump; Finn was probably my favorite secondary character while reading, and I cried my silly eyes out in MJ.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2014 04:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Not at all. That kind of thing is part of the fun! :D

I have a way that Four might have people occasionally appearing that might hide her (alas, no way in Haymitch's POV to get there) -- the line of mines that keep them from just sailing away from Panem is probably more porous than the fences, and people who got kidnapped in the out-districts might well make their way back through that line more often than they could show up elsewhere. Snow might even brag about how much better Panem is -- see how people are risking their lives to get in? -- and might miss a particular one.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: February 14th, 2014 04:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, that is seriously cool! Not only is it a really clever bit of authorial logic that immediately made complete sense to me, but it explains why Blight bargained specifically for passage to 4 for her, which always confused me; I thought it must be because of finn's dad's relative flushness, which translated in to an ability to bribe, but that works much better, and makes Blight damn smart to boot. And yes, I agree absolutely that Snow would brag about refugees; it's just too good a PR opportunity to miss!
From: queen_bellatrix Date: February 14th, 2014 04:49 am (UTC) (Link)
First off, the only typo/catch I found was more a bit that confused me than a typo, though it may have been a reader thing rather than a clarity one. You say: There's a plastic lining under the -- fish, maybe --, but earlier, you identify it as shrimp, and then have Haymitch referr to it as such later. If he found the lining, wouldn't he have seen that there were indeed fish in the box? This is probably something obvious (were you trying to tip us off that he was twigging to the fact that Blight might be sending something rebellious?), but I was thrown for a loop when first reading.

Gia!!!:d:d Impulsive as her message was, it was awesome, both for Haymitch and to have a Gia cameo. I'm glad that she and Finnick's dad are happy (what an awesome cover to have them be married, though it also seems to be based on real feeling?; they had quite good chemistry in the cove. Not only does he have the funds to keep her safe, but it'll help to be connected to someone in the Districts, in terms of modeling behavior etc. etc.; the Capitol behaviors/affectations are so ingrained, even in rebellious people, that that transition is going to be so hard)

I love how you're showing here what Chaff was saying about the way Haymitch thinks being a disadvantage to him, from him immediately taking the responsibility of trying to warn Gia about impulsivity onto his shoulders (I realize she's young/impulsive, but I seriously doubt she'll be doing things like that on a regular basis, which in no way lessened the awesomeness of his immediate concern, as well as the disapation of his anger) to trying to evaluate the potential tributes. Both activities, in their differing ways, are so completely fruitless/ineffective (there's no way you're going to be able to evaluate and strategize for tributes in a randomized drawing, and sending a note to warn her could be as dangerous as letting it slide), and being unable to control things is slowly driving him a bit crazy. It's eerie how much he and his dad are mirroring each other, able to think their way out of situations, but helpless to implement anything concrete.

And Ginger, oh damn it, this is going to be awful; she's as sunk as Kay prophecied herself to be, and trying to help her could drain resources from the boy who might have a chance (I remember from NP that niether of them do, thanks to Snow, but the moral quandery is just going to make things so much worse for Haymitch.)

I think, of all the awful things the Capitol's done, the way they broke Kay is one of the worst for me; impetuous and infuriating as she can be, I like her a lot, and seeing her defeated is nightmareish.

And okay, I'm beginning to take back my flippancy about Glass, and hoping Haymitch makes no more deals with Snow; I understand Snow did it to show Haymitch who was in charge, but how terrifyingly overboard. And Glass, broken and vindictive, I'm terribly afraid Haymitch is going to regret that deal.

I hate the divide between seam and merchant (though it's terribly plausible), and Maysilee's dad made me want to smack him! And Danny, oh Danny, stop walking toward the cliff; you wanted Haymitch to listen to you, and now you need to do the same to him, not to mention your incredibly smart parents! (I still just absolutely adore the grandparents you've crafted for Peeda, at least on Danny's side.)

And the victors calling Haymitch is so totally awesome; I love all your portrayals, but your Chaff is especially wonderful, and I'm always grinning gleefully when he appears.

I love what you're doing with Haymitch as unreliable narrator, especially lulling us in to a false sense of security that Haymitch could marginally control his drinking, and then let the mirror reflect for both us and him how much it's out of control. And Caesar knows him so well already, with his admonition.

And oh, poor Haymitch and Violet; I remember from NP that he doesn't go out with her until she's seventeen, clearly thinking she only has one more reaping and will be safe, and then has to lose her too, on top of knowing the dates didn't even work out!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2014 05:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I wondered about the "fish, maybe." It's mostly that, while he knows what shrimp is as a shrimp, he hasn't the faintest idea what kind of animal a shrimp is. Waterbugs? Fish, maybe? Never being exposed to seafood, he has no idea what most of its categories are. But I'm bothered by the flow there, too, and it's not important, so I'll take it out.

Alcoholics, at least when they're willing to admit that there's any problem, are always full of plans about how they they stop drinking. Sure, just cut back a little there, trim it here, and voila, I'm perfectly healthy, and there's no problem here, move along. Everything's always on the verge of turning around, if they can just do X. Sigh.

I think that Danny's not entirely wrong that Mir and Haymitch have a lot in common -- both outcasts in Twelve with some unpleasant personality traits, both talented in ways that are (in her case) or would have been (in his) in their proscribed roles in the district, both of them considered unsuitable companions for him (ironically, most vocally considered this by one another). The main difference is that Haymitch has to drink himself numb to shut out empathy -- and he's not always successful at it even then -- while Mir is a mostly-well-adjusted sociopath.
redlily From: redlily Date: February 15th, 2014 09:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ohhhhh no. I wonder if it truly is a "clean reaping," and Ginger just got very unlucky.

One nit: Your nth birthday is the start of your (n+1)th year, so Gia ought to have wished that Haymitch's eighteenth year is a happier one.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 15th, 2014 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Technically true, but I don't think many people would say it that way -- "seventeenth year" is generally going to be "the year you're seventeen."

I think it was a clean reaping, but if they'd had the rigged one with the rebel kids, the person reaped might have stood a better chance.

Edited at 2014-02-15 11:29 pm (UTC)
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