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The Last Tribute: Chapter Twenty - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
The Last Tribute: Chapter Twenty
Katniss has knocked Peeta out, and is preparing for the feast.

Chapter Twenty
Merle Undersee calls me from Twelve at around eight o'clock. They've cancelled school tomorrow, so Peeta and Katniss's friends and family don't have to pretend to be worried about math tests during the Feast.

"The bakery has to stay open, of course," he says, and I can see by the unconscious curl of his lip the hatred that the merchants have for this rule. The mines can run without an individual worker, if he decides to let them dock his pay for a day, but the shops have to stay open no matter what. Merle shakes it off. "Some of the older boys' friends are watching it, so Danny doesn’t have to, at least."

"And Ruth?"

"She's never exactly had steady business, and right now, no one's bothering her except the media."

"Good."

He looks over his shoulder toward a window that looks out on the square. "Haymitch… I don't know if it makes any difference, but they're waiting up with her out there. All the kids from school. Her friends from the Hob. Her family. Peeta's family. Everyone's in the square. Together."

I understand what he's really saying -- the town and the Seam, so often at one another's throats, are holding a vigil as one family.

"My wife wanted you to know," he adds. It's another loaded statement. He doesn't often talk about Kay as Maysilee's sister, for obvious reasons, but I know that it's the only reason she'd want to send me a message. It was Maysilee's dream, to have the whole district together.

I nod. "You give Kay my love," I tell him.

"I'll do that. They're out there. Kay and Madge. I'm going to join them."

We hang up.

"Isn't that lovely?" Effie says, looking up at the main screen, where I can now see what might well be all of District Twelve gathered together, a blanket of people covering the square. Some who are further from the screen have candles that twinkle in the darkness.

"It's a first, anyway," I say.

"No, it's not," Chaff says.

"What do you mean?"

He raises his eyebrows. "They did it for you. The last night of your Games, after your ally died. When you were sitting up and trying to get past that concussion."

"Yeah, right."

"Haymitch, I was sitting right here, watching. They sat there in the square all night. Your ally's sister was front and center, even though she was mourning."

"You never said anything."

"I assumed they told you at home."

"You don't know Twelve, Chaff. Once a thing is done, it's over. We don't talk about things like that."

Chaff looks confused -- probably the same way I look when he talks about the incomprehensible customs of District Eleven -- but I don't explain. In fact, I don't talk for a while. The idea that District Twelve rallied around me like this during the Games is completely alien. I never even suspected it. I'm not sure where to put the knowledge.

I'm not surprised that no one mentioned it. Running around bragging about having done something nice is considered in poor taste in Twelve. I don't recall ever being taught such a thing. It's just woven into the culture. Mentioning it would be like reminding a person of a debt he owes, like he's too dishonorable to remember it on his own. I imagine, if I'd tried to keep up with my town friends, I'd have picked it up by osmosis -- that's how most things like that are known in Twelve -- but I haven't exactly been on social terms with anyone.

They haven't done it since, but I haven't had a tribute keeping late hours and waiting for the dawn this late in the Games, either. Most of them have gone pretty suddenly.

But they sat up with me. I hope someone gave Mom a blanket. It was summer, but she got cold very easily by then.

I close my eyes. A moment later, I feel a warm hand on mine. Effie's. I squeeze it back.

The night passes slowly for everyone.

In the arena, Thresh booby-traps his camp, then starts a long hike around the lake, so he'll arrive at the Cornucopia from an unexpected direction.

Cato and Clove spell each other to stay awake. Their plan is for Clove to go to the feast. She promises to kill Katniss, which Cato "allows" if she promises to make it good television. I have no idea why she doesn't kill him in his sleep for that comment, but for whatever reason, she doesn't. I try to figure out how to warn Katniss, but I suppose she already knows it's a trap. There's nothing to tell her that she doesn't know. Finch -- brilliantly -- goes straight to the Cornucopia, and camps in its mouth for the night. I half expect the Gamemakers to set mutts on her to drive her away, but they don't. I guess they realize that she'd bolt and not come at all if they spooked her, and they wouldn't want to spoil their fun.

Katniss remains awake at Peeta's side. There's nothing for her to do except wait.

I wait with her. Others come and go through the night, but I keep a pot of coffee beside me and remain at the table for all but tiny breaks, during which I take my handheld screen. It makes no difference at all. There's nothing I can do as a mentor, nothing to give her a hint, nothing to allay my fear that Clove will make good on her threat.

But I don't leave her.

After mandatory viewing ends, the Gamemakers keep these views running in the corner of the screen, but go to highlights from previous feasts.

At around ten, Finnick comes in. He's been out with one of Snow's cronies, and before that, he put Annie and Mags on a train back to Four. Neither of them has any duties. Mags is tired, and Annie is becoming increasingly agitated. The Capitol considers them poor prospects for entertainment and "suggested" that they'd be more comfortable at home. This is, of course, not an option for Finnick. He sits down on the couch behind our table and doesn't say much. Johanna comes in from the party scene, dressed in something black and skimpy. Cecelia wanders down from her apartment. Seeder spells Chaff. Gloss and Cashmere come in to help Brutus and Enobaria. Berenice Morrow from Six manages to tear herself away from the morphling dealers to help Faraday Sykes. The escorts all go home for the night, except for Effie. Effie remains at my side. She falls asleep a little before two with her head on the table. I put my coat over her shoulders as a blanket.

At three, they finally break away from the coverage (though I still maintain a hold on my screen) and play a Games-based movie. It's a historical romance about the first victor, a girl named Edith Alleman (District Seven), who supposedly fell in love with her stylist and jumped over many hurdles to live happily ever after in the Capitol with him. It's true that the barriers were lower then, and it was once possible for this to happen -- the total prohibition on District citizens moving to the Capitol was enacted between the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth Games -- but I know too much about the history of the Games themselves to believe it. For one thing, there were no stylists in the first Games. They took place right after the war. The Capitol was smashed to rubble, and no one was pretending it was an amusing pageant then.

The stylists didn't show up until the sixth Games, when the people of the Capitol were starting to tire of revenge. The president at the time, Antonius Clemm, wasn't tired of keeping his boot on anyone's neck, and the first Gamemaker -- an up and coming wunderkind named Coriolanus Snow -- enjoyed his job too much, so the Games were repackaged and re-marketed to the Capitol as an exciting sporting event, with only a ceremonial reminder of what they were really for.

The districts were never allowed to forget, of course, even as they were forced to perform in the pageant.

The movie is utter, impossible nonsense. Even without historical knowledge of the Games (which is actively discouraged -- the average Capitol citizen thinks last season's fashions are the extent of history), they must realize that a District Seven victor in the Capitol wouldn't have been invisible all these years if she were busy living happily ever after. In fact, Edith died two years after the Games from a recurring infection she picked up in the arena. It's the closest thing we victors have to a ghost story. Victors' Village in District Seven is even more isolated than it is in Twelve, and she died alone. She was found in the spring, when they came to gather her for the reaping. No one had seen her since the second Victory Tour. The winter's cold kept her partially preserved, but it had been starting to warm up. Her nose and ears and fingertips were gone, according to Blight. I reflect on this any time I consider dying in my house. It would be very easy for me not to be found. No one comes to see me.

Jack Anderson swears her house is haunted. He lives next door to it, and he's seen the shadow of a woman drifting along the hallway. I suspect it's just Johanna having some fun with him.

The movie finally ends around four-thirty, half an hour before dawn in the arena. They run a news show, which is largely a recap of the circumstances leading up to today's feast, though it's interspersed with entertainment gossip and a piece about a litter of kittens who can mew the national anthem in four part harmony.

At five o'clock sharp, they pick up in the arena. There's a display effect of the four factions going in for the race, each in a corner of the screen. Katniss is preparing to leave. She puts on her jacket and Peeta's, and puts Rue's socks on her hands as gloves. She starts out, then remembers to go kiss Peeta. Somehow, the fact that she's risking death to get his medicine is a more convincing display. Thresh is approaching the Cornucopia from deep in the woods at the northeast end of the lake, the exact opposite direction from what they'll expect. ("I'd send him a present for being smart," Chaff says, "but I don't want to risk giving his location away.") Finch is waking up inside the Cornucopia. Clove and Cato are checking each other's weapons.

They go to individual shots, and talk about what's at stake, aside from Peeta's medicine. There's a pack full of food for Finch. I hope it will wake her up and help get rid of her paranoia. Cato and Thresh both have body armor, since they've had run-ins with Mutts and with each other. Clove has nothing, even though she's the one headed for the Cornucopia, as Cato heads for Thresh's camp to intercept him. I don't know why the Gamemakers haven't sent anything for Clove, unless it's for the symmetry of both girls risking a second bloodbath for their respective boys. If that's it, they don't mention it.

By the time the sun rises properly, Katniss and Clove are at the edge of the forest, looking out across the barren ground around the Cornucopia from different vantage points.

A table rises up from the ground.

Finch ducks out of her hiding place, grabs the backpack labeled "5," and runs before anyone else has processed what's happening. I know the tactic.

Katniss makes a break for it next. Clove isn't very far behind her and starts to throw a knife, but Katniss senses her -- it can't possibly be hearing at this point -- and blocks the knife with her bow. She fires an arrow quickly. It grazes Clove's arm.

While Clove looks down casually to check the minor damage, Katniss grabs the tiny pack with Peeta's medicine in it and shoves it roughly onto her arm.

She's barely gotten it when Clove throws another knife.

This one would have hit her in the back, but she's faster than Clove anticipates, and she's already half-turned and crouched. The knife hits her sidelong, cutting a gash across her forehead. A curtain of blood comes down over her face. There's no way she can see to aim.

I stand up. My hands are buried in my hair, though I don't remember actually reaching up. Across the room, Brutus is giving me a smug grin. Enobaria isn't smug. She's watching her tribute very carefully.

Clove tackles Katniss to the ground and sits down on her chest.

"Where's your boyfriend, District Twelve?" she asks lightly. "Still hanging on?"

Katniss lies, but Clove doesn't believe her for a second. Her voice seems to echo in my head as she goes slowly through her knife collection, and chooses one to kill Katniss with. I can't think of a thing to do.

Katniss continues to struggle, but Clove must have forty pounds on her, even after the time in the arena. "Forget it, District Twelve," she says. "We're going to kill you, just like we did your pathetic little ally… what was her name? The one who hopped around in trees? Rue…"

Chaff taps my arm with the stump of his wrist, but I can't look away.

He shoves his handheld in front of me. I don't register it at first.

Then I see it.

Thresh is moving in silently. He's hearing all of it.

Clove is entirely focused on her task, trying to think of clever ways to hurt and disfigure Katniss before killing her. Katniss's struggles are weakening.

Clove touches the blade to Katniss's lips.

Thresh rushes her. He picks her up and yanks her off of Katniss, as easily as he might pick up litter. Clove, so much stronger and more formidable than Katniss, is reduced to kicking uselessly at his legs. He flips her around and flings her to the ground, stunning her and knocking all of her knives away.

"What'd you do to that little girl?" he demands. "You kill her?"

Clove scrambles away, terrified -- but also heading for her lost blades. "No. It wasn't me."

"You said her name. I heard you. You kill her? You cut her up like you were going to cut up this girl here?"

"No! No, I -- " She begins to scream for Cato.

The coverage cuts to him just as he's reaching Thresh's empty camp, realizing that he's been tricked. He's too far to do any good at all.

Thresh sees Clove reaching for her knife, and slams a huge rock into her head. She drops to the ground like a puppet with its strings cut, and begins to twitch.

Then he turns on Katniss.

"Don't do it," Chaff whispers. "Please."

I don't answer. We both know they aren't both leaving the arena, and we both want our own tributes to come home, but there's a difference between that and them killing each other. So far, our tributes have never been responsible for one another's deaths.

"What'd she mean?" Thresh asks. "About Rue being your ally?"

"I -- I -- we teamed up," Katniss says. She tells him the story in gasping breaths -- the raid on the Career supply pile, finding her in Marvel's trap, killing Marvel (Thresh seems pleased at this). She even mentions the flowers, though I'm the only one to hear it properly, through my console. The Capitol has a convenient "glitch" as those particular words come out. No funeral rites in the arena. They do allow her to mention singing.

Thresh listens to all of this, weighing it as she speaks.

Finally, she says, "Do it fast, okay, Thresh?"

Chaff and I look at each other.

Thresh lowers the rock. "Just this one time, I let you go," he says. "For the little girl. You and me, we're even then. No more owed. You understand?"

Katniss nods. She's a Seam girl. She understands owing.

From a distance, Cato yells for Clove. Her cannon hasn't gone off yet.

"You better go now, Fire Girl," Thresh says.

Katniss pulls herself to her feet and runs. Thresh takes both remaining backpacks and runs off in the other direction.

I realize that I'm shaking badly, and I sit down like an old man. Effie puts a hand on my neck. I look at Chaff. "I'm going to call that an alliance."

He nods. "Let's hope they stay out of each other's way now."

There is nothing else to say.

The main coverage focuses on Cato holding Clove as she dies. It's the most human I've seen him, and I feel for him. I've been there.

But I somehow doubt he'd be wasting any tears if Clove had murdered Katniss, and, indirectly, Peeta.

Once her cannon goes off, he charges after Thresh. It's the best I could hope for. If he'd gone for Katniss, it would have been over.

She is struggling back toward the cave, her head bleeding profusely. She stumbles into the creek and starts walking downstream, pulling off the socks she's been wearing as mittens and using them to apply pressure as well as she can. Her path becomes increasingly loopy, bouncing back and forth between the banks as she loses her balance.

She finds the cave almost by luck and crashes into it.

She rips the little backpack from her wrist, opens it up, and takes out a syringe. I hope it doesn't need to hit a vein.

She jabs it into Peeta's arm and pushes down the plunger.

Then she passes out.

The Gamemakers are apparently planning to give updates on her condition, because her tracker data appears on my screen. Her vitals are surprisingly steady. A medical commentator points out that scalp cuts bleed heavily, but aren't necessarily deadly. And since he loaded Peeta's syringe personally, he believes that Peeta will be in good shape to help her in only a few hours.

Thresh apparently spent part of his traveling time last night setting booby traps, and Cato sets off several. He's finally stopped by a fire Thresh sets in a ravine. Cato goes off somewhere to mourn. Thresh heads for some high ground that he hasn't explored yet. Finch eats her food too quickly and promptly throws it up, then sinks to the ground beside it, weeping.

The remaining tributes, except for Katniss and Peeta, are fully separated again.

I turn to Effie. "Draw up alliance papers with Thresh, okay?"

"But --"

"We have some money. I was saving it for Peeta's medicine. The Gamemakers provided it."

"What do you need papers for?" Chaff asks.

I smile. "I can get a good deal on the best cinnamon rolls in Panem."

He laughs weakly. We both made it through.

Unfortunately, by the time we get the alliance papers signed, the Gamemakers have forbidden gifts from one district to another. I check my sponsor boards from home and see why -- people from Twelve have been trying to send a donation to Eleven pretty much since Katniss fled into the woods.

They understand owing.

The Capitol doesn't understand it the same way, at least not for themselves, but they know us well enough to know that it will rankle, not being able to pay back, even in a small way, the enormous debt we now owe.

I decide to circumvent the arena rules. I call Merle Undersee, and have him send someone to get Danny. While we're waiting, Merle tells me that the people aren't sure what to make of what's happening. I let him know what Katniss's vital signs are.

Danny comes in, looking spooked. "Haymitch! What is it? Peeta's… he's not having a reaction to the shot, is he?"

"No. Danny, he's going to be all right. This is the good stuff."

Danny takes a few deep breaths and sits down in front of the telephone. "You calling during the Games is a little nerve-racking."

"I'm sorry. But I wanted to thank Thresh. We can't send anything to the arena. So I wanted to send something to his family. A dozen of those cinnamon buns, if you can." Chaff looks over at me. I mouth, "Address?" and he starts scribbling.

"Oh. Do you need a message in it?" Danny asks.

"Just thank you. Put it on my personal tab."

"Like hell," Danny says. "You can pay for the shipping. The food's on me. It's my boy he saved by letting Katniss go."

I give him the address. I hope Thresh's family will understand that it's not meant to be equivalent, just symbolic.

We hang up.

There's nothing I can do now for Katniss or Peeta, and the sleepless night is starting to catch up with me. Effie sends me off to the lounge. I tell her to keep an eye on both of them, and send me word when either of them is ready to wake up.

I'm asleep before I can even kick my shoes off. I dream about District Twelve staying up with me while I sat alone at the edge of my cliff. I walk among them like a ghost. They don't see me, but I see them. I sit down with my family and my girl for a long time. Danny joins us after a while, though he's the Danny of today, worried sick about his boy. The Undersees come as they are now as well. I start to look around, and I can no longer tell when I am. My family is gone. Instead, Katniss and Peeta are sleeping nearby, ghost-like as I am. I put a blanket over them and lay my hands on their heads.

I look up.

Maysilee smiles at me, then touches my shoulder and shakes me.

The dream falters.

Someone is shaking my shoulder.

I open my eyes. It's Johanna Mason.

"Are they awake?" I ask.

"Nah," she says. "But Finnick's in jail. I have to go bail him out."

I sit up. "What?"

"It's raining in the arena. Someone caught Annie on her way into her house and asked her what they should do if the Gamemakers flooded the arena, like they did hers. She started screaming. Then the colossal idiots told Finnick that they asked her. It's a good thing he was unarmed. He did enough damage with his fists, apparently."

"Are they going to let him out?"

"Oh, yeah. They're never going to admit in public that Finnick's really a one-woman guy. They'll slap him with a fine and call it good. Effie told me to let you sleep, but I figured you'd want to know."

I sigh. "You were both right. But you're more right." I check my watch. It's evening. I've slept the day away along with the kids. "Besides, it's almost mandatory viewing."

She yanks me out of bed and makes a show of helping me to the table, as her bound duty to the elderly. I stick my tongue out at her.

She heads out to take care of Finnick's problem.

It's really pouring in the arena. They're trying to put out the fire Thresh set, as far as I can tell, but it's not going all that well.

It does finally wake Peeta.

He screams when he sees Katniss. Luckily, the other three tributes are a fair distance from him. He goes to her and picks her up, cradling her and begging her to wake up.

"You're freezing!" he says. "She's freezing, Haymitch!"

I try to put in an order for a fresh blanket, or even a little heating device, but all parachutes are delayed until the Gamemakers decide to stop the rain.

Peeta improvises.

His infection may be cleared up -- his vitals certainly suggest it -- but the muscles in his leg are clearly stiff and painful. He lurches around the cave, trying to find things to get her warm. There's her sheet of plastic, along with the sleeping bag, and he wraps her up in them. He takes off her wet shoes and socks and rubs her feet. He tries to give her his own socks, but they're pretty well destroyed. He throws them away.

He climbs into the sleeping bag with her, promising her that she'll live, that he'll take care of her now, as she took care of him. (The people on the street are practically in ecstasy at this development.)

The picture of them slides to the corner of the screen. Thresh is shown destroying the second suit of armor and putting on his own. Finch starves in a little cave, shivering in the rain. Cato sits alone in the Career camp, sharpening his spear.

The anthem plays, and the day comes to an end.
23 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
willowlistener From: willowlistener Date: November 1st, 2014 01:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
One too many Cato's here

Cato apparently spent part of his traveling time last night setting booby traps, and Cato sets off several. He's finally stopped by a fire Thresh sets in a ravine. Cato goes off somewhere to mourn. Thresh heads for some high ground that he hasn't explored yet. Finch eats her food too quickly and promptly throws it up, then sinks to the ground beside it, weeping.
willowlistener From: willowlistener Date: November 1st, 2014 01:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
And this one:

sharping his spear.

I'm sure Bella will get the rest
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 1st, 2014 02:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
One too many, and doing Thresh's job!



Edited at 2014-11-01 02:34 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 1st, 2014 01:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
YAY

The part about Haymitch dreaming that he's walking through the crowd in 12 and sitting with his family brought tears to my eyes.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 1st, 2014 02:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
The poor guy can't deal with the idea that they've supported him all along.
redrikki From: redrikki Date: November 1st, 2014 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved the bit about 12 staying up with Haymitch during his games. I like the world building involved in how 12 reacts to things and I like what it says about him that he's so surprised. Like Katniss, he doesn't really get the effect he has on people and is a bit too wedded to the idea of himself as outcast and screw-up.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2014 12:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I think it's having been bullied and ostracized as a kid -- the emotional fallout is hard, sure, but the real fallout, the whole mental structure that comes from it... that's the killer. Being absolutely sure that no one wants you around, no matter what anyone tries to say. Everything that supports that worldview is accepted. Everything that challenges it is rejected as not "real."
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 1st, 2014 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Excellent chapter

The details you included in this chapter make so much sense given what we get hinted at about each character in the books. I loved the idea of 12 supporting Haymitch all along and Chaff whispering for Thresh not to kill Katniss was gut wrenching but totally in line with the idea of mentoring being forced to watch the Hell they lived.

You seriously have a gift!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2014 12:54 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Excellent chapter

Thanks. It's got to be hellish for the mentors who are each other's truest friends, if it comes down to what their tributes do to each other.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: November 1st, 2014 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Poor Finch -- I had wondered why, if her pack had food, she was desperate enough to be going after Peeta and Katniss's food a day or two later at most. From the sound of it, she should have been able to make that pack last for a week, but once you start under those circumstances it has to be desperately hard to stop.

Nothing for Clove, then -- that sucks. I wonder if Cato knew that.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2014 12:56 am (UTC) (Link)
She's been hungry, and she's also been alone. People in isolation start to do very weird things anyway. I kind of wonder if following Katniss and Peeta around had less to do with stealing their food than in being on the edge of their company.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: November 1st, 2014 10:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Couple of quibbles, just because they've been niggling at me:

If Thresh destroyed Cato's body armour and things happen as they did in TFE with Finch pushing Cato off a cliff into a river, how does he get back in time to get Thresh's armour before they remove the body?

Which previous recent Games in this version of the THG world had feasts? Katniss knows what they are and why and what happens with them, so presumably she's seen them during mandatory viewing.

It's odd with this one how the events don't seem to surprise Haymitch very much -- not sure if that's because he's seen it before or we have, in the book!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2014 01:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Doylist reason: Obviously, I forgot to mention them. They just weren't on my radar.

Watsonian: Most likely occurs in the end stages of the Games, when Effie and Haymitch don't have tributes left to be tempted to them, so they haven't concerned themselves overmuch with it. The 72nd and 73rd Games are both glossed over in Effie's voice, and could easily have had a feast. Gloss and Cashmere's Games could have had them as well. Effie doesn't have much to say on the subject.

Good point about the armor.
willowlistener From: willowlistener Date: November 2nd, 2014 10:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I figured you had changed your mind about the armour. Thresh gets armour, and a second set. What use is it to him? Of course he destroys it. Would be downright silly for him not to do anything else.
beceh From: beceh Date: November 1st, 2014 10:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great chapter.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2014 01:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!
From: queen_bellatrix Date: November 2nd, 2014 05:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Some Catches/Feedback

her up yanks her Think you need an and before yanks. And in IE, there's an extra space between yanks and her. (there's also one between up and yanks currently, but I figure that'll get resolved when you insert the and.)

out the scalp cuts Think the the there should maybe be that?

wraps her up them Just missing an in before them.

There were so many things I loved about this. But the way you brought so many things full circle from EOTW (Maysilee's dream, etc. etc.) made what was a powerful sequence in FE phenomenal here; this is another of those points where your work is paying off splendidly. And more generally, the way you're weaving in so many cultural things like the owing thing for Twelve, and how insular the Districts have become, each of them these small communities with their own customs loosely bound by the Capitol is really amazing.

*shudders* In both the story about Edith and the scene with Clove, you proved you can write understated horror like nobody's business, but especially with that Edith story; I'm not squeamish, but I just about had to skim there. And that's far too realistic of a scenario for how Haymitch might've ended up.

Haymitch just shown in this chapter, from giving Kay his love to that line about the best cinnamon rolls to his empathy for Cato; so many moments here that reminded me yet again what a remarkable man he is. And Danny; Danny is pretty extraordinary, to immediately go from fear for Peeta to being subversive as hell by both paying for the food and asking if Haymitch needs a message.

And all the history; you make this world feel so solid and real, not just at first glance, but all the way through. Everything about when certain elements of the Games came into being and why makes so much since. And wow, these people just went from bad to worse without a break; first Antonius and now Snow. And seriously, what do you have to have been studying in school to become the first Gamemaker?

Speaking of history, hope you don't mind an odd question. So Gia applied for Blight to move to the Capitol; did she just not know about the prohibition, or was she applying for something like we would think of as a temp visa to get him through for a little while after losing his nephew? And on a related note, just what was the news making up on very little rumor? I could never quite figure out if it was that she was involved in Blight, or something sleazier; trading sex for sponsorships or something.

Speaking of sleaze, I love what you're doing with Finn here. He seems to be reaching a breaking/boiling point, which makes a lot of since. I mean, how long can you go having those you love used as weapons without an explosion? I really like all the factors that went into this one; not only the question itself, but that he'd just been separated from Annie, and that he was probably dealing with the fact that while it was good to have her there, you know his dates had to be a thousand times harder with her in the city. Though, I'll admit I let out a relieved breath at the fine news and thought that that could've gone so much worse in so many ways. And the Capitol "suggesting" that Mags/Annie leave; bastards.

Also in unrelated miscellany, I'm so glad Haymitch is getting to spend so much time with his friends sober this games, knowing what's coming. And I love how obvious it is they have no idea how bad things are in Twelve; that explains a lot about why they don't make a concerted effort to rally; even if they can't call, I was always surprised in your stories that they weren't writing etc. etc. especially extraverted people like Finn. I'm wondering if that would've changed if the Games had continued, now that certain things were starting to come to light in this one.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2014 06:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Some Catches/Feedback

To some extent, all communities are insular (that's almost what makes them communities!). But coupled with the total lack of communication in Panem, it's surprising the districts were able to work together at all after a while.

It was cheeky of Danny to ask about a message, though easy for Haymitch to cover with the "message with a gift" meaning.

In my head, Snow was in the school that was bombed, and led kids out of it -- that's how he got on people's radar. That he was a sadistic little prick came out when he came up with the idea of the Games and ran them, but no one cared initially, after a horrific war. But most of the Capitolites we see among the Games fans don't seem to be overly concerned with revenge. It's almost a side-note for them that tributes die. (I mean, how many losing Olympians do we regularly check in on, anyway?)

Hmm. Gia. I have to re-read on the little rumor part, but as for asking for him to move to the Capitol, she knew it was a longshot, but she was young and in love, so of course it was all going to work out. She'd just make a really good argument! (Yeah.)

I expect Finnick thought it was a sort of implicit deal that, as long as they weren't showing Annie as his partner, they'd leave her alone completely. Finding out that they'd triggered her about her Games? He's the sort who would put up with injuries to himself, but messing with Annie? Nuh-uh.

Even if they did write to Haymitch, letters between them would certainly be opened, which makes meaningful communication fairly awkward. And, hey, maybe they did write, and just figured Haymitch was a bad correspondent, but really, the letters got detoured into a brush fire someplace.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 2nd, 2014 09:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Haymitch grows up

It's interesting what you're doing with Haymitch now (74th games). We already know his future -- his future with Katniss and Peeta, and the Rebellion, and Effie. And we've seen his past -- from the Second Quarter Quell to today (74th Games).

Here's a man who at sixteen had all that potential. If the Rebellion had happened then, who knows what 16-year-old Haymitch would have grown up to accomplish? But instead, he was forced to mentor twenty-four years' worth of (literal) cannon fodder. He got the idea that whatever he did didn't matter, and he became a self-pitying drunk.

Of course, he was wrong about his limits. Whatzername at the Daughters Of The Founding always believed in him (even while she rolled her eyes at his drunkenness), and Effie loved him so much that she had to be drugged out of it.

Still, at the moment that Primrose was Reaped, Haymitch had very little to offer the Rebellion. Mainly because Haymitch _believed_ that he had very little to offer the Rebellion.

But now, Haymitch sees that Katniss is depending on him, Peeta is depending on him, and Danny is depending on him. Either Katniss or Peeta can be Victors, if Haymitch doesn't screw up. And if Haymitch plays a top-notch game, K&P can _both_ be Victors. In short, what Haymitch does now _matters_.

So Haymitch is stepping up to the plate. And in the process, he's finding out that he's the only person who thought he was worthless.

And one year from now, Katniss, Peeta, Effie, and the Rebellion will all be better off for it.

-- Tom
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2014 07:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Haymitch grows up

I think having people need and depend on him, and actually being about to do something about it, makes all the difference in the world. He "wakes up" a little bit during every year's Games (and how sick is that... that the only time he feels like he really exists for twenty four years is during the annual child sacrifice? I'd be wondering about my desire to exist, too), but mostly lives an entirely futile life. He has tons of money that he can't use, people he cares about and therefore keeps far away from himself, and things he wants but doesn't dare have. All the brains in the world couldn't save anything for him. Until now.

I think the victor culture is very much a reflection of the real world, not just celebrity culture (thought that's the most obvious parallel), but of shared culture. For the first time, we're all raised with these incredibly high expectations, gold stars all around... but for the first time, even simple things like land ownership are beyond the reach of a lot of us, let alone serious opportunities for meaningful action. Meaning is very much lacking, which an extremely dangerous thing (people will go off and find meaning somewhere, and it doesn't always lead them to good places). Haymitch pays lip-service to the rebellion, and commits little provocations, but until Katniss comes along as a symbol, the rebellion itself can't get any traction, so nothing Haymitch does can matter. Now, boom. Everything matters.

Time to grow up.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 2nd, 2014 09:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
we're so close to the end and I'm terrified.

Because We all know what happened to Seneca. and I don't remember reading anything in your other hunger games fics about the Daughters so I'm terrified Snow will 'off' them too.

From: (Anonymous) Date: November 3rd, 2014 11:12 am (UTC) (Link)
No, not the Daughters, please!
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 12th, 2014 07:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

I Imagine...

That it's very little consolation to Thresh's family, given that he's dead and they had to see it happen, but I hope they do take some comfort from the way that he comported himself in the arena. It not only shows the kind of really good and strong person that he was, but reflects well on his family for having brought him up to be that kind of person.

Loved how Peeta and Katniss' snark made Effie genuinely happy (was she "sober" for that moment? -- I remember you had Haymitch ask her to cut back on her pills for the Games). Also loved the whole conversation with Finnick and Jo, comparing notes on how they cope with the Games, how the Districts have different relationships with Victors, and the idea of Finnick picking up gossip about Haymitch from Mags.

Finch's slow descent is one of the ghastliest things about this Games and you describe it very well.

I almost feel that I shouldn't appreciate this so much (since it contributed to his mental disintegration) but I'm really glad that Peeta will be the one to kill Brutus in the next Games.

I know I haven't been commenting much, but I'm reading very faithfully and enjoying every word!

Sara Libby
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