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HG: The Hanging Tree, Chapter Twenty-Five - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
HG: The Hanging Tree, Chapter Twenty-Five
Haymitch managed to find some happiness his last week in the Capitol, with his actress sponsor, Emiliana Meadowbrook (though he will have to forfeit her sponsorship to avoid the appearance of impropriety). Still, his main job is as a mentor, and he rides back to D12 in the "cold car" with Elmer and Ginger when the Games are over.

Chapter Twenty-Five
I spend most of the trip awake, talking to Elmer and Ginger. I tell them about the magician performing on the streets, and about Mimi, and how it turned out that Drake wasn't such a bad guy once I got to know him. I tell Ginger that I have a solid sponsorship for next year from the shampoo company. I assume that Elmer knows that Wiress won, and I apologize to him a lot for how he ended up in the crossfire. There's no Capitol staff in this direction, so I do leave once to go to the bar car and get a bottle of gin. I drink it while the three of us have our little conversation, and it finally knocks me out a little bit after we cross the Mississippi.

There's no fanfare when we get in. I wake up when they open the door to the cold car to take out the coffins. I stay in the car. A Peacekeeper tells me that I have to leave, but I don't want to. I'm cold, and it's too hard to move.

Ten minutes later, I hear footsteps. I look up and find Danny and his dad. They get me up and out of the car. I go with Danny to the cemetery, where there's no ceremony for the burial. The nameplates were already put up. I see Ginger smiling in the dress she wore for Caesar's interviews, and Elmer done up for the parade (thankfully, only from the shoulders up). The holes were ready for them, too, and by the time we get there, earth is already swallowing them up. Mr. Parton stands alone at the end of Elmer's spot beneath the memorial; the McCulloughs huddle together a few feet down.

Danny and I go to Mr. Parton. He looks about a hundred years older than he did when I left.

I look down.

"Your friend called. The one with the funny name, from District Three."

"Beetee?"

"Yeah. He called the mayor and had him bring all of us up. He was afraid you wouldn't tell us everything you did, and everything you fought for. He said you kept sober right up until the end for them. He said you went up against the Gamemakers themselves to make sure the little girl had a leg brace, and you asked a sponsor for something to keep Elmer's mind occupied."

"Miss Buttery asked if there was anything she could do, and I thought Elmer would like one of her puzzle books. That's all. It wasn't enough."

He blinks. "There was nothing you could do. And don't you start in thinking about that evil woman. I know what our local version did to Elmer, and how you told him you'd protect him from that happening again. And you did. I don't think he'd have liked it if you'd done something like that to buy him another day. Don't you give an inch on that."

I nod, but I can't say anything.

Mr. Parton continues staring at the earth being mechanically scooped over his son's body. "And you know you have a good friend here in this boy, too," he says, nodding at Danny. "He stood by my side the whole time."

"That one, I already knew."

"I worked with your Daddy in the mines, Haymitch. I don't know how much you remember of him, being so young when he passed. He had his problems, but he was a good man. Everyone knew Basil Abernathy would give you the shirt off his back if you were in need of it, and we still use the system he rigged up for letting each other know when there's trouble."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. He was a good man, and he'd be proud of you now, just like I'm proud of my boy." He swallows hard. "Elmer played honorable. He did right by his allies, and he never said an unkind thing to any of them. And that girl he helped, maybe she'll remember." He nods. "He was a good boy. And so are you."

I try to say "Thank you," but I can't speak.

A few minutes later, the McCulloughs come over and all they want to know is if she had any happy moments in the Capitol. I can't come up with anything happy, but I tell them that she was pleased to have gotten the shampoo sponsorship for District Twelve, which is renewed for next year. We all just stand close together until the graves are filled, then everyone walks away into a light rain that's started to fall.

I'll bring around some food for them later. It's always done after funerals, and I can give them better food than they've had.

Danny sticks by me for the day. I ask him to tell me what's been going on, and he seems to realize that I want to get as far from the Games as possible, since he tells me an impossibly convoluted story about his love life. He's been dating Kana Duffy lately. He still misses Ruth, but she's definitely with Glen now, and he's trying to deal with it, since he'd rather she was in his life than out of it, and as girlfriend-stealing bastards go, Glen's a pretty decent guy. Glen also is learning everything he can about the mines, now that he's working there. Danny's been writing some of it down, if I want to see. I start to ask why I'd want to see something like that, then I realize that they've been putting together a report on what passes for a District Twelve war chest for the rebellion. I allow that this would be useful information after all.

At any rate, he was going out with Reen Gormley for a while, but she thought he was spending too much time at the butcher shop. Since we have to visit said butcher shop to pick things up for the families and I see a full-out two-sided flirtation over a hock of ham, I have a feeling I'd side with Reen on this matter.

Mir gets out a bit of brown wrapping paper and weighs the ham carefully. "So, the news this morning said you've been making friends," she says. "An actress? From a soap opera."

"Mir," Danny says sternly. "Leave it."

"Just curious."

"When did that make the news?" I ask. "I thought we'd managed to avoid the vultures."

Mir finishes weighing and writes a price on the wrapping. "It was all over this morning. Someone caught you going into her house. They interviewed her. Was it supposed to be a secret?"

"It was supposed to be private," I say, and pay her for the ham and half a gallon of milk. I leave without waiting for commentary. My guess is that Mir wants an introduction and thinks Mimi can do something for her own acting career.

Danny follows me out. "Sorry about that," he says. "It's people's five-minute interest. You know the gossip shows. They'll have moved on to something else before you get home."

"Why did that get out now? What's Snow's game? Did Mimi seem okay?"

"She seemed fine. Said you were a great guy and she likes you a lot. How big a thing is this?"

"I like her a lot, too. And she's a Capitol girl, and she's loyal, so I guess she won't just disappear."

Danny doesn't press for more details. In District Twelve, prodding for private details that haven't been offered is considered bad manners. In the Capitol, I guess it's practically a social sin not to.

We walk toward the collection of ramshackle booths outside the old coal storage house, where I figure I can buy some fresh vegetables on the black market. "Are they mad?" I ask Danny after a while. "I mean, two kids died, and the next week, I was… you know… with Mimi."

"Did they seem mad?" He sighs and makes me stop walking. "Haymitch, everyone knows that this is going to happen every year. No one expects you to stop being alive just because someone else is dead. Do you get that at all? The only person who's blaming you for things that happen at the Games is you."

"I mean, it just happened because I was looking for sponsors, and she knows people, and…"

"Haymitch, stop. You've got a foot in the Capitol. There's a life you have to live there. It's okay. Live it." He grins. "And I've seen that girl. I wouldn't turn her down, either."

I roll my eyes. "Danny, you don't turn anyone down. That's your problem. Come to think of it, I think I won't introduce you to her."

He laughs, and we manage to get to a somewhat better place. I get some fresh peas and little wild onions from Jerrick Pride, and two baskets from Misty Magoffin. Then we go to the bakery, and I get a few loaves of bread and two sour cream coffee cakes. Danny helps me separate it out, a big meal going into the larger basket for the McCullough family, and a smaller one into the littler basket for Mr. Parton. Danny adds a cinnamon roll to this one at no cost, and with no comment. He has to work the rest of the day. I deliver the McCulloughs' first, so Mr. Parton won't see the size difference. Mourning homes are the only ones that don't cause a fuss about having food brought, though I get a reproachful look at the size of the offering, since it's obviously meant to last longer than the funeral day. They take it, though. So does Mr. Parton, who says that Mom would also be proud of my good manners, which is sort of funny, given that he's talking about me, and Mom always despaired of my manners. Lacklen was always the one with manners.

I guess I can't put it off anymore.

I go back to Victors' Village.

Before I left, I did a quick and half-baked house cleaning, and I expect the place to stink from the garbage I left rotting where I hid it in a closet with my dirty laundry.

It doesn't. There's a note on the table from Merle. Sae came out with him and cleaned up "a bit." She wanted to do it for free, but the Peacekeepers would only allow her as an employee, so Merle paid her, and he wouldn't ask for it back, since I didn't ask for it, but things are tight.

I'll have to go to the bank in the morning, but I'm pretty sure I can pay Merle back without much trouble.

I settle back into my life outside the Games.

I drink, but not as much as before, because Mimi and I call each other pretty frequently. I'm sure people are listening in, but it's not like we're talking rebellion. Being physically apart actually gives us a chance to get to know each other. It's mostly dumb little things we actively find out. I learn that she and her friend Clara like to go hiking in the foothills, and I tell her how Lacklen and I used to build elaborate traps for each other. She talks about how her brother Pertinax is studying medicine, and I tell her about the clothes I buy. She laughs at me for being as big a clothes horse as she is. But the little things put together start turning into something fairly big after a month. She says she loves me. I don't say it back, because love is bigger than what I'm feeling, which is just… good. She doesn't push.

I spend some time in town, though once I read Glen's research on the mines, which Danny gives me, I decide to keep both of them out of the range of the Capitol's curiosity by not treating them as anything special. Danny gets it. Glen was never a close friend, anyway.

I watch television. Danny was right about the public interest level in my great romance -- it lasts a week, then the gossip moves on to a few of the Games escorts who seem to have a social club together. After that, the Capitol is fascinated with a designer named Hierocles, whose entire fall line seems to consist of strategically placed glitter. Mimi assures me that it's on a thin, almost invisible webbing that keeps it in place. She warns me that there's going to be a picture of her in one of his pieces, and there certainly is. It's quite possible that I can see more of her in that dress under the lights than I saw in the dark in her bedroom. I drink a lot after that particular view.

I watch cartoons, and kids' shows. I still don't know why they fascinate me, or what I'm trying to get out of them. They don't have much to offer. Merle drops by now and then with news from town, and always thinks it's funny to find me watching cartoons.

I sometimes have calls with other victors, mostly to keep in touch. Chaff and I play some long distance chess, and I finally beat him. Drake tells me about life in the Village in District Two. Woof just calls for a casual chat. As far as I know, there's no reason at all for the ruling that comes down on the thirtieth of July, blocking district-to-district telephone calls. Every call must be routed through the Capitol, and an operator there will decide whether or not it's such an emergency that it needs to be put through. Calls to the Capitol are still allowed.

In town, the people and Beckett seem to have an uneasy peace. They hate her like poison, but the bits of vandalism have ebbed enough that she doesn't feel a need to make an example of people. There are still whippings for stealing and time in the stocks for insubordination, but it's not as frequent. The only real eruption is in late August, when she accuses Buckeye Doherty of trying to bribe her with sex (most likely, he refused it), and gives him thirty lashes for prostitution. Meanwhile, her lackey, Cray, has taken to "dating" starving girls who he magnanimously allows to eat. Though they gather at his door to offer themselves, no one presses charges.

I sign up to get some lectures on television about the pre-Catastrophic history of North America. It's obviously Capitol-approved history, but I figure I might get some basic facts from it, and extrapolate the truth. I also hope to get some geography, but they show no maps of the full country. I'm beginning to think they don't want people to have a good idea of where anyone else is. I do pick up that we're mostly in what was once the middle of three large countries on the continent. It was called the United States, though the professor refers to this jocularly as "ironic," since it apparently had only a barely functional central government, and fell apart along all of its poorly stitched seams as soon as the Catastrophes broke the infrastructure.

I watch Seagull Point a lot, though I can't say I enjoy watching my girl doing nearly naked scenes on the lake shore with Valerian Vale (even though she assures me, with a snort of laughter, that Val is not likely to express interest in her any time soon). I notice her tells more, now that she's pointed them out. Hair twisting. Foot jiggling. She says she just gets bored with the inane dialogue, and I can't say I blame her, but it occurs to me that, for all her good qualities, she's not really a great actress.

I decide it would be better not to share that information.

I start drinking a little more in the fall, when Mimi's calls start to wind down. She says she's in another filming cycle, and she has a billion things to do in the evenings. She's got a movie coming out, too. It's not that she doesn't love me or wouldn't rather be talking to me, but it is her job.

Danny breaks up spectacularly with Kana Duffy, who tells everyone in earshot that he's doing too much business at the butcher's again. Danny is eighteen now, as of September the ninth. He comes out to my place after this break-up, which he swears isn't based on reality, and says he's going to drink no matter what his parents say. I pour.

It's mid-September when I realize that I haven't heard from Mimi for an entire week. I've been drinking, and not paying attention, but I have calls marked out beside the phone. I call her, even though it's her turn. She sounds tired, and says she's been a little bit sick. She wants to sleep. She loves me.

"Are you okay, Mimi?" I ask. "I mean, aside from being tired."

"Fine. Do you love me at all?"

"I don't know," I say.

"Am I your friend?"

"Of course you're my friend."

She's quiet for a minute, then she says, "Okay. That's good."

I let her go to sleep.

I go to sleep myself. I dream about Digger in the Justice Building, kneeling in front of the fire. I knew I loved her. I told her so. That made sense. I'm not sure that this does. It doesn't feel the same.

When I wake up, the news is on, leading with the gossip report. Mimi has gone into the hospital for some kind of cosmetic procedure. The reporter speculates that she's doing something about the dark circles under her eyes, though there's hope that she'll get this year's hot tattoo, a series of gold circles radiating out from the eyes. The next day, they say that she's staying in the hospital for "exhaustion."

I try to call at the hospital, but the doctors won't put me through. Her brother Pertinax, the one studying to be a doctor, tells me that she'll be fine if I let her get some rest.

I start drinking in earnest, though I still try every day to get through to her. Pertinax is becoming very tired of listening to me, and tells me that if I don't sober up, he'll never put a call through. This is not helpful.

Days blend together into a week, then weeks into a month. The weather is getting colder. My house has plenty of heat. I lurch from room to room. The place is a pigsty again. I don't care. No one visits.

It's a chilly night in late October when my phone rings again. I drag myself into the study and plop down at the desk. I press the button to answer it.

"Haymitch?"

The voice is cheerful, perky, and full of energy, not at all like last time. "Mimi? I've been calling."

"Are you drunk?" she asks lightly.

"Little bit."

"Well, I guess there's no harm in it." She sighs. "Naxie told me that he hasn't been putting your calls through. I slapped him. Right across the face."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. I mean, I guess it was for my own good -- I was so tired for a while there, I was thinking… oh, the strangest things."

"What do you mean?"

"Just craziness. I was… tired," she says again. "But they've been taking care of me here."

"Where's here?"

"It's a rehab ward in the hospital. There are so many nice people here, Haymitch! The Capitol is full of nice people. I can't wait to introduce you to them!"

I frown. "Mimi… are you okay?"

"Oh, I feel wonderful! Like I said, they've been taking such good care of me. My group, I mean. I can't wait to see you next summer. They have parties all the time. And cruises on the lake. You could meet so many sponsors."

I close my eyes and imagine the patio in front of the Viewing Center, sitting with Plutarch and Fulvia and drinking coffee. "This group," I manage. "What kind of group is it?"

"Oh, they do so much. They help people who are tired and sad. And they're a social club, and they do charity work, too. I remember them from back when I was in school. I thought it was just a school thing, but it's not -- they help everyone, just like the Capitol does. That's what it's called. Capitol Dreams. The president himself invited me to join!"

I put my face in my hands. In my head, I hear Plutarch's voice echoing up: That's what you need to watch for. With all of us -- me and Fulvia included. If you see us anywhere near Capitol Dreams, do not trust us... Capitol Dreams is the line I won't cross.

"Haymitch? Are you okay?"

"Yeah, Mimi… I'm just relieved to hear you sounding so happy. I've been worried."

"Oh, you don't need to worry about me. You should get together with your friends. Did you ever tell me who your friends are there?"

I grind my teeth together tightly, not wanting whoever is listening in to know that I know exactly what's going on. "I don't think I did," I say. "Mostly because I don't have any friends here. And you know who my friends are in the Capitol."

"What about your old escort? Could you reach her?"

I press the heel of my hand against my eye. So this is Snow's play. For Mimi to spy. I have a feeling that if I could see her right now, she'd be twisting her hair and bouncing her knee. Even if she's working for them now, she knows she's lying. "Wish I could," I say. "But I don't know where she is. She's definitely not in Twelve, and I can only call the Capitol now."

"Oh, that's too bad. Look, I have to run. I have to meet some friends on the barge."

"Any of your friends a guy?"

"Lots of them, but you know you're the only one who matters!"

"Maybe I shouldn't be," I say. "It sounds like you're happy with your new friends."

"I am, but I don't want to hurt you."

I dig into my hair, pulling at it until I feel the pain. "Yeah," I say, "but come on. I know you already gave me months more than the president thought you would. He did warn me."

"You think I'm flighty!" she says, laughing. "Well, if you want to take some time off to try your charms on girls from home, I can be big about it. Go on."

She laughs a little more. It's an empty, awful sound, and I think again, crazily, that she really is a terrible actress, when it comes down to it. The girl who once lay beside me in the gray dawn, with the white lights twinkling above us like stars -- the girl who said that she had to work at this being a better person business -- is gone. The girl laughing now in the Capitol is a girl who feels like she doesn't need to work on anything. She's exactly right, and no longer thinks about crazy things.

She doesn't say that she loves me. That would be crazy.

We hang up.

I pick the phone up off the desk, yank its leads out of the wall, and throw the whole works into a corner, where it shatters.

Over the next week, I drink myself so far under that I have no idea where I am or what I'm doing. Every day is the Reaping, and every day is the Games. Mimi is a tribute, and I have to save her, but she just smiles emptily and blows herself up getting off the platform.

Merle finds me passed out naked on the green, and manhandles me into his cart. Ruth Keyton has to treat me for cold exposure in places she really has no business seeing. She asks if I've been taking anything along with the booze. I don't think I have. I don't remember for sure, but I don't think I have anything else to take.

Her father marches me over to the bakery, and Mrs. Mellark installs me in their extra room again until I dry out. For a while, I have the idea that I'm at the Training Center, and they're testing new mutts on me. People keep handing me dead children, and I can't do anything for them. I sweat a lot and my heart races. I wonder if it will just blow itself out, and I think it would be a relief if it did.

I dream a lot, mostly about the arena, but also about the Capitol, and playing chess in the park, and talking to little old ladies with puppies. I fall from the patio of the Viewing Center into the blackness of the Lake before dawn and I think, That's it. That's finally it.

But a hand reaches down into the blackness and pulls me up. Don't you ever climb that hanging tree again, Gia says. Haymitch, please. I need you to promise.

I break the surface of the water, and it's cold and sharp and painful on the outside. I get up. Get dressed. Go downstairs and help Danny in the kitchen.

They make me stay a few days, and when I do go back to my house, I find that someone has rid the whole house of alcohol, right down to the vanilla extract on the spice rack and the mouthwash in the bathroom.

I stay sober for two months. There's a half-hearted threat from the rabble-rousing crowd to disrupt the Victory Tour, and a full-blooded crackdown from Beckett in response to it. Three people are hanged.

There is no demonstration when the train arrives, carrying Beetee and Wiress. I am invited to the banquet, though it's made clear that this is only because I am the outgoing victor and people want to see me pass the torch to Wiress. That they are afraid she will provide dull television on her own is left unstated. I'm happy to spend the evening with Beetee, and I dance a little bit with Wiress. District Twelve can never afford to put on much of a show, so I kick in a few things, too. Wiress is strange, but I like her, and I hope she'll be part of our group in the Capitol.

After they move on, I start drinking again, though not to the extent I did before. I police how much alcohol I have in the house. I don't need to end up sleeping naked outside again, especially now that it's January.

It's a harsh winter. A blizzard collapses most of the black market booths, and for a while, there's no place to buy a lot of what they sell. One day when I walk into town, I notice that a window on the roof of the old coal storage building has been broken. I go in. Sae is huddled beside a big cookpot over a fire contained in a metal bin. Someone's brought her a raccoon, and she's covered with its fat from the butchering. She's making a stew of it, and selling it. I buy a bowl. She thanks me kindly. Others move in over the next few days. It starts to become a place for people to be together and keep warm, though everyone is careful not to let Beckett know about it. They call it the Hob, after the shelves some people have in their fireplaces to keep things warm, though some of the older booth-keepers joke that it's also a word that means devilry.

A girl just out of school last summer decides to avoid working the mines by building herself a still and making white liquor. I am a regular customer as winter turns to spring.

I begin to haunt the school again, wondering who will come with me to die this year, whose coffins I will sit with on the long, silent road home. Danny tells me that I should stop doing this -- it makes people uncomfortable -- but I can't.

The Reaping is coming again.
15 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
sonetka From: sonetka Date: March 19th, 2014 07:08 am (UTC) (Link)
[Every expletive ever created]

I'd rip the telephone out too. As soon as she went into the "hospital" I remembered that conversation -- you planted that one fantastically. And oh, hell.

Did he ever tell Ginger's family what actually happened? I can see how it might be hard to pick the exact right occasion for that sort of news.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 19th, 2014 04:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure if he would think to tell them or not. To him, it was so obvious that he may assume (possibly rightly) that they also know.

So much for the safe option of dating Capitol girls.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 19th, 2014 12:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Blech...

Well, at least Haymitch had a few nice months. And at least he understood what was happening.

Now I'm wondering less how Fulvia managed to undo any of the damage done to Plutarch and wondering more how on earth they got Haymitch to trust him again afterwards.

Sigh...

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 19th, 2014 04:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Blech...

And at least he understood what was happening.

I'm completely sure that's why Snow directed Mimi to ask that particular question about Gia, in case Haymitch hadn't already figured it out. If he'd been too dumb to pick up on that, maybe Snow would have used Mimi for real spying, but his main point, I think, was to take something good away from Haymitch, just to remind him where the power is.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 19th, 2014 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Blech...

I've been thinking, since I posted, how much more indescribably awful it would have been for Haymitch (and Blight) if Snow had managed to do that Gia, as he originally intended.

But seriously, how did Plutarch get Haymitch to trust him again and how many years did it take?

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 19th, 2014 06:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Blech...

It probably took a long time, and losing a person in the Capitol in a linchpin position -- and not knowing who he told about what... that would put off the rebellion for a very long time.
mirandabeth From: mirandabeth Date: March 19th, 2014 11:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Blech...

That's what I thought was going on. There was no way Haymitch was going to fall for that, so it was just a way of rubbing it in.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: March 19th, 2014 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
First off, no typos that I could catch!

My reactions to this chapter are all over the map. I loved the people of Twelve, particularly Mr. Parton, trying to give Haymitch touchstones and making it clear they don't blame him for the tributes' fates. The way that Haymitch and danny are so clearly seventeen-year-old boys together is always awesome; one of the few things in this that unfailingly brings some rays of joy/hope, which are desperately needed. And the way that so many people try and come together to dry him out was surprisingly moving; they care so much more than he realizes, which is, I think, one of the saddest elements about his entire trajectory.

After finishing this, I imagine you'll be in the mood for another Fluffy Challenges only template; Lord knows I'm in the mood as a reader for some fluff (naturally understanding that it's HG fluff, with all its limitations.) I didn't think it could get any worse than Haymitch and Gia's farewell, but then there was this. I think part of the reason it made me so completely miserable was because Mimi was a complete innocent. Even if she were having some far future daydreams in which she and Haymitch could see one another more frequently/permanently, she was thinking nothing worse than when Gia applied for permission for Blight to move to the capitol, and she wasn't even acting on them; it's not even clear if she was having them. Snow "reeducated" a completely loyal citizen, simply because she loved someone he loathed. He had no evidence that her "working on this being a better person business" would lead to anything rebellious; all of Haymitch's old ladies work on being better people, and none of them get reeducated.)

And the District-to-District phone calls; seriously? He limited *everyone's* access just to deny Haymitch a support system? I've said this before, but his sense of proportion is so completely skewed! I mean, would it not make more sense to leak the thing about Mimi and Haymitch, just to prove where the power lay, and then ask Haymitch once more about Gia, making it clear this would be the last time and Haymitch wouldn't like the consequences; it might have actually gotten him somewhere, since he collapsed a house on Haymitch's family the last time he made that statement. The fact that he goes in to full attack mode is so characteristic of dictators, and so pointless.

The way she was, after reeducation, was terrifying; I made the mistake of reading this just before bed, and that awful laughter was woven through all my dreams. That entire last conversation was as eerie as anything King's ever done with dialogue/interaction. What finally made me start crying was how he had to dump her, how callous it had to be, and the fact that it couldn't be any other way, because there was no way to reach her anymore; it was as shallow as she'd become. And then his comment about her not saying she loved him, because that would be crazy; are you trying to break us? So much self-loathing and sadness combined. I don't know what their relationship could have become; I completely agree with your prior comment about her initial attitude becoming a problem, especially with how infrequently they could see one another and the distractions in the Capitol. But, they deserved to find out if there could have been love on both ends, eventually!

A couple questions:
When she said she was tired, was she just lonely, or was Snow making her ill to get her to hospital?
And, what exactly was she thinking about; was it just love for a District boy, with all the ways it could be subversive, or had Plutarch/ Martius or someone done something stupid and tried to get her in the rebellion?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2014 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!

After finishing this, I imagine you'll be in the mood for another Fluffy Challenges only template; Lord knows I'm in the mood as a reader for some fluff (naturally understanding that it's HG fluff, with all its limitations.)
Well, I'm reserving the first one for you, so you can ask for anything you want! :D

Snow really is appalling, isn't he? I hate Coin so much by the end that it's easy to forget how hateful Snow is. The next story is going to take place mostly in the Capitol, and I think we'll see a lot more of Snow's pettiness.

Haymitch wasn't the only one being targeted by the district-to-district ban. All the victors are being cut off from each other, and from anyone else they do business with. (If Snow had thought to trace Blight's business calls, he might have been able to figure more out.)

When she said she was tired, was she just lonely, or was Snow making her ill to get her to hospital?
She was tired and lonely and depressed -- basically feeling kind of punk -- and Haymitch really didn't help when he didn't just say that he loved her in some manner (he's an idiot about this).

And, what exactly was she thinking about
Most likely, the Games, the fear that the District parents have about losing their children. She is starting to realize exactly how disproportionate it is, and that it's real, not an act, not an entertainment. Say something like that to the wrong person in the Capitol and you're pretty much guaranteed a quick appointment with the re-education team.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: March 21st, 2014 08:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry for the lateness of this; meant to reply yesterday and then RL got away.
It's interesting how the entire Capitol system is like dominos. I'm beginning to see, more fully, why District boys, even victors and maybe especially victors, are just "for fun" When you start seeing one victor as a person, start being as invested in their joys and hardships as you are any of the other people in your life, the whole thing comes crashing down. Because if they're people, then the kids being wreaped are people...and it just keeps going in this endless cycle that makes you question everything. And in the Capitol, where there are no coping mechanisms for exestential crises, it'd break you unless you really had a core of steel underneath.

(he's an idiot about this)
Almost an idiot on two levels, at least if I'm reading it right. An idiot for not just giving her the comfort she clearly needed, and an idiot for not realizing that he was starting to love her at least a little? The only reason I started thinking about this is that it takes him so long in NP to realize he loves Effy, and he just keeps referring to it as "feeling good" He seems to have idealized his relationship with Digger (understandably) to the point that he doesn't realize that you love people, even romantically, in different ways and with different intensities. If it's not exactly what he feels for her, it's not love. Like I said, completely natural, considering she was the only real experience he had, but Rona was right when she said there were so many things he didn't understand.

Well, I'm reserving the first one for you, so you can ask for anything you want! :D
Your mentioning this made my day; I'm on a different timezone, and getting challenges in has been really hard.:D And after reading the latest chapter (I'll be back with proper comment/catches tomorrow; short version: it was fantastic, and I'm now a wreck!) I have so many new ideas.:)
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: March 19th, 2014 10:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great stuff as always -- I am constantly awed by the way you manage to write something this good at this pace. Even if it was another wince-inducing chapter of Why Haymitch Can't Have Nice Things. It's like Snow's out to get him personally ... oh, right.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2014 04:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that's about the sum of it.
mirandabeth From: mirandabeth Date: March 19th, 2014 11:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's easy to see the doors closing so firmly. The only thing Haymitch is going to be left with is the Games, the only thing he has any kind of control over (and then, it's really just an illusion of control). And being left with nothing but the Games is a pretty awful place to be.

Still, it's nice to see Twelve pulling together in a less rebellious way, finding ways forward. There are much worse places to live. (Possibly, pretty much everywhere else in Panem is worse, eventually!)
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 19th, 2014 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

I Don't Know...

As described by Fern, 10 and 4 seem kind of nice too. And if you only factor in the pulling together of the community (and leave out the physical environment), 8 can't be beat.

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2014 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)
In terms of economics, it's bad. But Appalachia has lived with a lousy, deathbed economy for a long time, and the customs evolved to deal with it. Plus, that old, rural and small town sensibility is still there, for the good and the bad. In this case, it's very much the good.
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