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Repost: The Golden Mean, Chapter 12 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Repost: The Golden Mean, Chapter 12
While I'm thinking on the other, I'll keep going here.

I had to fix part of Cinna's dialogue, since I have everyone know that Snow was the first Gamemaker. Also started to re-introduce Danny into the text.


Chapter Twelve
Ripper appears back in town at the beginning of March, claiming to have seen the light about the law. She says she will be holding meetings for those of us who want to change our evil ways. These meetings will be held in undisclosed locations, to preserve our privacy. We will all know the signs when we see them.

The signs are juniper berries, dropped at intersections. They lead to the abandoned sweetshop, where she's set up a new still. I decide to stock up before Thread wises up. She sends me away with twenty bottles wrapped up in cotton in my rucksack and a pamphlet about the evils of liquor. She tells me to let other chronic evildoers know that the next meeting will be in a new location, next week at the same time.

I spend the next week pleasantly buzzed, until Hazelle threatens to lock my supply up if she has to launder the same pair of pants again. This is an embarrassing enough thing to get me to hold off a little. She takes it upon herself to water three bottles and leave those in easy reach in the kitchen, while putting the good stuff in a high cupboard above my bathroom sink.

I dutifully drink the watered stuff for a week. It doesn't numb anything or make me forget anything, but it keeps the horrors at a little distance, at least.

My birthday comes and goes. Danny and Peeta bake me a cake. Danny stays around for a while after Peeta goes over to Katniss's, though we don't talk about much. He thanks me again for Peeta's life.

"I don't know how I can ever pay that back," he says.

I think about him cleaning me up after Digger died. About staying in the rooms over the bakery, while he and his parents listened to me screaming after nightmares. It all seems more distant than it once did, but it's still there. I was that screaming boy once, and he was the one who pretended to be my arena ally so that I could get back to sleep. I tell him that there's nothing to pay back, and Peeta saved himself. I'm mindful of the bugs, and I don't play up what Katniss did. Danny seems to understand that. He glances at the portrait Peeta made of Katniss and me, and nods without saying anything.

We sit together for a little longer, not saying anything important. Just before he leaves, he says, "Tell Chaff I said hello when you see him. He sent a letter… you know, because he couldn't order another cake. I guess he wanted one."

I look up sharply. "Yeah?"

He nods. "Yeah. Something about Cecelia's anniversary. He was going to send an order. That's when he found out about my license problems."

Since the others in the network have found tortured ways to communicate through Ed's hardware shop, I wonder what it means. For all I know, Chaff could have legitimately wanted a cake. He always liked that particular mode of passing messages, for reasons unrelated to the rebellion. On the other hand, there might not even be a letter. It seems like a strange risk for Chaff to take. The message could be for me. "Maybe I'll bring him one this summer," I say.

Danny nods. "Drop by, and we'll make a deal."

It's not the subtlest act we've ever done for the bugs, but there's nothing for anyone to pin on either of us. I'll drop by to find out whatever he needs to talk about once enough time has passed for Thread to lose interest. Hazelle comes in a few minutes later, and Danny leaves.

Two days later, I wake up in the early morning to the slamming of multiple car doors. I realize that I have forgotten entirely to tell Katniss that her photo shoot is early, and if I know Ruth, she stubbornly refused to discuss the subject. She seems to believe that if she doesn't talk about the wedding or acknowledge it in any way, it will go away.

"What are they doing over there, anyway?" Hazelle asks, breaking eggs into a pan for my breakfast (I have invited her repeatedly to eat with me when she's here, but she hasn't since the afternoon we spent together). "It can't be about the Games, this time of year."

It can -- when you work for the Games, all year is Games season -- but it isn't. "Wedding dresses," I tell her.

She wrinkles her nose. "You don't think they'll really force that poor girl to marry Peeta, do you?"

"Yes. And they'll force the poor boy to marry Katniss, too."

"At least she's the one he actually loves."

I choose not to engage on this.

My doorbell rings, followed by repeated knocking. From the other side, I hear "HAYMITCH!"

I yell back. "I'm up, Effie!"

The door doesn't open. She knocks again.

"You going to get that?" Hazelle asks.

"It's unlocked."

"Haymitch, you don't have the manners for a pigsty." She turns off the gas on the stove and goes to the door.

I hear it open, and Effie says, "Haymitch, you didn't say a word to -- oh!"

I lean back in my chair and look toward the door. Effie looks stunned to see Hazelle there.

"That's Hazelle Hawthorne, Effie. Hazelle, Effie Trinket."

Effie smiles a bit madly and says. "You... live here?"

"I work here," Hazelle says. "Housekeeper." She gestures for Effie to come in, and for a minute, I think again that I called her "Effie" at a particularly bad moment. If I did, she doesn’t show any signs of remembering it, unless it's the sullen attitude (and I doubt she cares enough to bother pouting, honestly).

Effie looks around my living room, stunned. "Housekeeper? Darling, you are a wonder worker! If Haymitch weren't sitting right there, I'd think I wandered into the wrong house."

"Thank you, ma'am," Hazelle says, then goes back to the stove and starts my breakfast again. The exasperated and emotive woman I usually see disappears, and becomes the sort of withdrawn, sullen face that the Capitol always seems to see coming from District Twelve. They have a great fondness for showing us looking grim and standing in food lines, at least when we're not being rustically cheerful at a harvest festival or being maudlin star-crossed lovers. Hazelle, like many people from the Seam, is barely comfortable with the merchants in town, let alone a rich Capitol woman wearing an expensive dress and a tomato red wig. It's frustrating, and it doesn't help.

Effie just looks confused by it for a minute, then turns on me. "Haymitch, I told you to tell Katniss we'd be coming. Mrs. Everdeen said she'd hoped we'd change our minds, so she didn't say a word." This seems to confuse her as well, but she just shakes her head. "What am I going to do with you? Poor Katniss was taken completely by surprise when her prep team said hello."

"Is Cinna over there?"

"He's not needed yet. He wanted to have a walk around town while she's being prepped."

I have told him nothing about the new state of affairs in District Twelve. "I should catch up with him," I say. "Or do you need me over at Katniss's?"

"I can't think why we would."

"Do you want me to send Peeta over?"

"Peeta!" She holds up her hands in horror. "Oh, Haymitch, no! One of those dresses will be her wedding gown. How much bad luck do you think they need? He hasn't seen her try them on, has he?"

"I sincerely doubt it," I tell her, since I'm quite sure Katniss hasn't even looked at the dresses since they came.

She sighs. "I hope not. That would be just awful. Well, I should get back. But Haymitch, you are not out of trouble with me." She looks over my shoulder at Hazelle and says, "It was nice meeting you, Mrs. Hawthorne." She pauses and frowns, then chooses the worst possible thing to say to Hazelle. "Oh, wait. You're Katniss's aunt?"

Hazelle raises an eyebrow and says, coolly, "I'm Gale's mother. Your people have interviewed him."

"Oh, yes. He's such a handsome and well-spoken boy," Effie says. "You must be so proud."

"I am."

"Well, in that case it was doubly nice meeting you. Any family of Katniss's is family of mine!" She gives a cheerful wave and disappears toward the Everdeens'.

Hazelle watches her go, with a look of distaste on her face, and for a minute, I remember her stopping me on the road when I was a kid, having her friends hold onto me while she taunted me. I push it away. She had her rotten side then, but she's my friend now. And… whatever else she is. Or isn't.

"Is she always like that?" Hazelle asks, jerking her chin in the direction Effie went.

"Effie is... Effie." I'm not sure I want to engage Hazelle about Effie any more than I do about Katniss and Peeta.

"Guess so."

"She's a decent person. In her way."

"Maybe," Hazelle says, turning back to breakfast. "But I'm never going to like a woman who calls two kids up to die every year."

That's when the unbridgeable chasm opens up, the one I think Katniss and Peeta are both starting to discover, the one the rest of us have known about for years: the gap between people who've lived through the Games, and people who've only watched them. I'm sure that, to Hazelle, it's unthinkable that the woman who draws names out of the Reaping balls is a great comfort to the tributes put in her care (not to mention their mentor). But when you've been there, you know what it means to have someone extend a kindness of any sort in the middle of that hell. Effie extends a lot of kindnesses.

I consider trying to explain it, but there's no time if I want to catch Cinna before he gets into town. I pull on my boots and coat and go out into the morning.

Cinna is walking slowly along the less than picturesque path into town, and doesn't seem surprised when I call. He stops and sits down on a dirty snowbank while I catch up. He grins. "Surprised to see us?"

"Totally forgot," I say. "Twelve's gotten a little chilly since the last time you were here."

"I guessed as much, with all the falling down on ice," he says and gets up. We start walking toward town. "How bad is the scar?"

"Ruth did a good job with it. Just a little red line under her eye."

"Interesting way to get cut falling on ice."

"Yeah, well, we're headed for the ice she fell on. It's sharp." We come into the square, and I point to the whipping post. "She was trying to help someone else who slipped."

Cinna stares at it with disgust, but not much surprise. "Suddenly, I'd rather go back to the Victors' Village," he says.

I shrug. "Suit yourself." We turn to walk back. When we're at that golden spot between likely bugging areas, I say, "What's really going on, Cinna? Why did they push the shoot up?"

He stops and looks up at the sky. "I don't know, Haymitch. But I don't like it. The Capitol's been voting on wedding dresses. We sent the last six up for the shoot. They'll be making the final votes the day after tomorrow and I've been told to make myself available tomorrow night--probably something airing live. It was supposed to be closer to the Games."

"Have you heard anything?"

"No. But the only thing I can think of is that they want it before the Quell card reading. I don't like that Snow's got them tied up in his mind."

I don't like it, either. Visions of Prim go through my head again. Pairing Katniss's supposed happiness about the wedding with a devastating announcement costing the life of her beloved sister... by Capitol entertainment standards, that's pure gold. "Are the Quells really set out?" I ask. "Or does he make them up for whatever he needs at the moment?"

He thinks about it for a few minutes, then says, "He was the first Gamemaker, Haymitch. Ultimately, he made all of them up. Maybe he was really prescient about when he'd need each one. Or maybe he remembers all of them and picks the one he wants. Or he writes new ones. No one exactly analyzes the age of the ink, and it's all his handwriting."

"What do you think, though?"

He shrugs. "Does it matter?"

"Who knows what matters?"

He thinks about it. "I think he chooses the card," he says. "I think he goes through all of them and he'll pick the one he needs. The first one was probably real enough, but it backfired."

"Backfired?"

"Whose kids do you think ex-rebels voted into the arena twenty-five years after they lost the war?"

I think about Hazelle standing at the stove, saying that she'd never like a woman who chose two kids to die every year. Of course. "Capitol sympathizers," I guess.

He nods. "And pacifists. Anyone who'd said it was a bad idea to rebel. In One and Two, it was the children of the people who originally rebelled against Thirteen. The Capitol lost the only people in the districts likely to be actually loyal. I think he's more careful now, rethinking ideas he had when he was seventeen. Looking for the ones that suit his needs in any given year." He wrinkles his nose. "But I think he does use the ones he came up with. I think he probably plays by the rules he made for himself. After all, it's a sport. Without rules, it's just a bunch of kids murdering each other."

"Why do you hate the Games, Cinna?" I ask. I have never asked before. It has seemed rude. But as long as we're talking treason on a sunny morning here in District Twelve, it seems like a natural enough thing to say.

"I hope you're not expecting some big story about how my life was ruined by Snow," he says. "I told Effie once. She didn't tell you?"

"You know the way she is now. She might not even have processed it."

He doesn't answer this. "I was working on a prep team for District Ten while I finished design school. Sixty-seventh Games. The boy I was working on was only a year younger than me, and I realized that he was no different from me. He wasn't seditious. He was a scared kid, same as I was. We even liked the same books. And I was prepping him to die. Which he did, at the Cornucopia. I couldn't see a single way it made Panem any safer to be rid of one teenage boy with bad acne and a crooked nose. If there was no way it made sense for him to die, then there was no way it made sense for the others."

"Was he..."

"A complete stranger," Cinna says. "I told you it wasn't a big story."

"Sounds like it was big enough to you."

He doesn't comment. We get back into the Village, and Effie tells him that Katniss is ready for her dresses. She sends me to Peeta's to make sure he doesn't take it in his head to drop in. There's little danger of that. Delly Cartwright is there, and she has brought homework from school... and Peeta's niece. She is babysitting, and has been told by Peeta's sister-in-law that the baby would enjoy a brisk walk out to the Victors' Village.

"And I wasn't to take 'get out of here' as an answer," she says, smirking.

Peeta is too delighted to bother making an argument for his own martyrdom. He is reading Betony a story from Delly's textbook, complete with funny voices, though they don't fit the subject at all. When he excuses himself to check on some cookies he's baking, he hands the baby to me.

I am not at all sure what to do with it. Delly laughs at me, and says she needs to finish her trigonometry assignment, so I'll just have to figure things out myself. We barely notice when the cars leave Katniss's place. I walk Delly and the baby back into town.

"Thanks for doing that," I say.

"Peeta's brothers decided to stop humoring him. Actually, it was a whole family decision. There was a meeting in the bakery. We voted and everything. Sarey and Jonadab are going back to being Mellarks. Though they may have to move out of the inn. Her family's afraid of Thread."

This is a fairly reasonable fear, and I don't bother saying otherwise. I drop Delly off at the shoe store, where Sarey Mellark is waiting on the porch. She seems relieved to get the baby and disappears inside quickly.

I go home, trying to figure Peeta's family out. One minute, I hear Ruth's voice, talking about Glen finding Peeta wandering around with bruises on his arm. I hear Peeta saying bitterly that his mother expected him to die in the Games. Then I think of Ed and his fury on Peeta's behalf, of family meetings to decide what's best for him. I can't make sense of them, and I can't square them with the Danny Mellark I grew up with.

It's most likely Mir's fault, I decide.

When I get back, I find supper on the stove and a note from Hazelle reminding me that she'll be in early tomorrow to sweep the floors.

Peeta comes by in the morning with bread, and says he really should apologize for being ridiculous about the baby. He's her uncle, and Katniss will be her aunt, and I'll be her... something. He hasn't decided yet. He's going into town to spend the day with his family, sort of a command performance after yesterday. He's going to ask them if they mean to include Katniss in the baby's life, since she's in his, but he seems hopeful that they will. I have honestly not seen him so happy since the end of the Games. He greets Hazelle cheerfully as she comes in, and heads toward town with barely a limp on his bad leg.

By the time my doorbell rings again, I have eaten breakfast and had a drink. Hazelle is upstairs, sweeping the study energetically. I answer the door myself. It's Katniss. She bites her lip and says, "Can we talk? Peeta's not home."

I frown, wondering what on earth I've come in second to Peeta for, but judging by the look on her face, it's not about wedding gowns and photo shoots. I grab my coat and go out to the green with her.

"I've been watching television," she says.

"I noticed."

"Mostly the news. Mostly about District Thirteen."

Everything inside my head stops, and the world seems to freeze. "District Thirteen?"

She nods. "The day I broke my foot, I met two people in the woods," she says. "From District Eight."

I listen with increasing dread as she talks about meeting two women called Bonnie and Twill, who told her explicitly about the uprising, and that the Capitol cracked down with great brutality. They were heading to District Thirteen on the strength of an urban legend that all the footage from District Thirteen showed the same mockingjay. It may be true or not true about the footage -- Katniss says she's seen the bird a few times now -- but the last thing the rebellion can afford right now is to have any attention turned to the north. If Snow catches even a whiff of Thirteen, the whole thing will go down in flames. I do the only thing I can think of, and treat the idea with complete disinterest. Too many denials will only raise her suspicions.

She looks irritated that I don't care, which is fine. She has also, through her conversations with her preps, figured out that Three and Four are in rebellion. There is no point in denying it. She needs to know sooner or later, and if Cinna's right, "sooner" may be the operative word. I tell her there are rumors about Seven and Eleven as well, though I don't mention how I happen to come by these rumors. There's still the hard truth that here in Twelve, we're nowhere near prepared for an uprising.

"What do you think they'll do, Haymitch? To the districts that are rebelling?"

I look at her. All the wheedling in the world wouldn't move me, but Katniss isn't wheedling. She's looking at me like she thinks I'm someone who can actually help her. Dammit. I sigh. "Well, you've heard what they did in Eight. You've seen what they did here, and that was without provocation. If things really do get out of hand, I think they'd have no problem killing off another district, same as they did Thirteen. Make an example of it, you know?"

"So you think Thirteen was really destroyed?" She looks crestfallen, and I can tell she's been envisioning a land of magical elves who would solve all of our problems. "I mean, Bonnie and Twill were right about the mockingjay."

I toss out a few reasons that the Capitol might use stock footage, hoping to discourage her, and basically call her desperate for believing it. She looks like I've killed her pet canary.

We talk a little more about her whirlwind visit from Cinna yesterday. She is annoyed that they barely got to talk. She invites me to have lunch with her and Ruth, but I'm sure Hazelle has already started on mine.

"I'm sure glad you hired Hazelle," she says. "Sounds like she's got you eating right."

"I'm glad I hired her, too. It was a good idea. Thanks."

She smiles and goes home.

I am right. Hazelle is actually cooking up a good-sized midday meal when I go in. Chicken and dumplings, with boiled onions and carrots. I ask her to eat with me and take a page from the Mellark family book, refusing to humor her refusal any more. She laughs and sits down with me. We have a pleasant conversation and drink to each other's health. There's no fresh fruit to be had with Eleven in rebellion (or, as the Capitol insists on putting it, with the bad weather in Eleven), but I have some canned fruit, and we split it for dessert. I am just settling in to it when the phone rings.

"I never should have let Effie fix that thing," I say.

Hazelle laughs. I feel good. I like having Hazelle here, and Katniss came to me with her problems, and Peeta's family is actually working to help him out.

I answer the phone. It's Merle Undersee.

"Haymitch, there's mandatory programming tonight," he says. "No idea what. But if Hazelle Hawthorne is there, could you ask her to spread the word down at the Seam? I'm sending Madge out to the Square."

My good feelings disappear. Cinna mentioned that he was expected to be available tonight, probably for something to air live. The wedding shoot. And if they were pushing it up because of the Quell, then I can guess what the actual mandatory viewing is for.

"Sure thing. I'll ask her," I say, and hang up. I turn to Hazelle, who is frowning. "The Mayor wants you to tell people on the Seam that there's mandatory viewing tonight."

"Great."

I approach the next part cautiously. "Hazelle, those dresses they were trying on Katniss yesterday--"

"The wedding dresses?"

"Cinna said the Capitol's been voting on them. They'll probably show the finalists tonight."

"What?"

"Well... you might not want Gale to be taken by surprise by it. I'd guess that wouldn't feel too good."

She stands up, looking furious. "I can't believe this! Not only are they forcing her to get married, they're inviting themselves to dress her up! Like a doll, or one of those stupid little dogs they carry around."

"Hazelle--"

"And don't pretend you're worried about Gale. I know where you stand on this." She grabs her coat. "Your floors are done. I'll be back tomorrow afternoon to do your laundry." She storms out.

So much for our pleasant lunch. I climb up and get one of the un-watered bottles of white liquor. Stare at it. Put it down unopened. I will want it later, I'm sure.

I lie down on the couch and turn on the television, even though it's four hours until the broadcast. I am unsurprised to see a report "from" District Thirteen, with its smoldering Justice Building, and the flap of a mockingjay's wing in the corner. They return to a show about fine architecture. After it, there's a reminder about mandatory viewing, then a Games movie, which just increases my dread. It's about a victor who falls on hard times and becomes a drunk, only to be helped by the largess of the Capitol. They don't say what district he's from, but the actor has black hair and gray eyes, and speaks in a bad imitation of a very familiar accent.

I fall asleep briefly and dream that the actor has taken over my life. He's welcome to it. I wake up to the sound of the national anthem, and make myself sit up.

Sure enough, there's Caesar Flickerman, and there are the wedding gowns. I wonder if Peeta is excused from mandatory viewing to prevent bad luck, and somehow doubt it. Effie is probably beside herself with anxiety. Caesar shows sketches of about two dozen gowns, a dozen mock-ups on foolish looking Capitol models, then six of them on Katniss. All of them are beautiful. Katniss looks scared to death in them, even though Cinna managed to somehow tease smiles out of her.

"Don't forget," Caesar tells the Capitol, "if you want to cast your vote, you have to do it by noon tomorrow. Let's get Katniss Everdeen to her wedding in style!"

I wonder if anyone is fooled into thinking this was the entire purpose. Caesar certainly doesn't miss a beat before reminding people to stay tuned for "the other big event," which is, of course, the reading of the card for the third Quarter Quell.

I remember mandatory viewing twenty-five years ago. The card saying that there would be twice as many tributes. I didn't think anything of it at all. So there'd be four instead of two. I never for a second thought I'd be one of them. No one ever does. It's always going to be someone else, or someone else's child. People pay lip service to how horrible it is, but the main reaction is always, "It wasn't one of mine! It was someone else."

Only someone else is always someone, and that year, someone else was me. And Maysilee, and Beech, and Gilla.

Everyone else felt like they really dodged a bullet, with the odds that bad.

The anthem plays, and Snow comes out to give whatever version of history seems good to him. This year, he pounds on the issue of the Dark Days, and the creation of the Games and the Quells. All to remind the districts that the price for rebellion is too high, the blood too dear. So of course, the Quell will find some way to make it even worse, to "freshen" our memories.

The camera moves briefly to Caesar during this history, but cuts away quickly. His usually cheerful expression is gone. I can't quite read what's in its place, and I decide to hell with Plutarch -- I am going to try and bring Caesar on board. No one with that expression actually loves the Games.

"And now we honor our third Quarter Quell," Snow says, and calls forward some poor little boy who's been recruited to carry twenty-three death sentences. Or more. There are stiff standing envelopes in a box, marching forward to who knows how many Quells. There have to be several centuries worth.

I am disgusted and bored. I want to turn off the television, but whatever horror they have in mind, I'm going to have to mentor two kids through it, and pretend that Katniss is mentoring one of them.

Snow pulls out the card, and I lean forward, waiting to see what sadistic twist I'll have to work around. Snow doesn't hesitate. "On the seventy-fifth anniversary," he says, "as a reminder to the rebels that even the strongest among them cannot overcome the power of the Capitol, the male and female tributes will be reaped from their existing pool of victors."

The world goes silent around me, balanced on the point of a needle.

I have thought of a thousand horrors they could inflict, a million vicious turns of mind. Prim being thrown in for Katniss to mentor. Family members of rebels. District partners forced to fight one another. Tributes having to be sibling pairs.

But I never thought of this.

And it's not a Game meant to prove anything to the Districts, or to the Capitol audience. This isn't one of Snow's mind games at all.

He knows what we've been doing, and he means to kill us all.

I start drinking.
6 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
sonetka From: sonetka Date: April 4th, 2015 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Still just as good the second time around -- the changes were seamless (as in, I wouldn't have known what they were if you hadn't mentioned them). Just out of curiosity, and I probably missed an earlier mention, but why does Haymitch take it for granted that he'll be mentoring this year along with Katniss? Peeta would be a fantastic mentor, insofar as anyone *can* be good at that sort of job.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 5th, 2015 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
He and Peeta discussed it briefly (though I'm blanking on where) -- Peeta asks which of them will be mentoring, and Haymitch tells him, basically, "I know what I'm doing; you're not ready. Neither is Katniss, but I guess I'll hang her face out and do the real work."
From: queen_bellatrix Date: April 7th, 2015 06:31 am (UTC) (Link)

A Few Catches/Feedback

Just in case you haven't archived:
found about my license Just missing an out before about.

anything to districts Just missing a the before districts.

Mayor Undersee From what I can remember and what I've been able to find through the text search function, he seems to usually refer to Merl as Merl in his thoughts, though of course he'd be more formal to Hazelle later on, because of the bugs.

The one big continuity thing is definitely a subjective one...the convo with Cinna about how/why Snow deals with the quell cards felt...out of left field. I'm having a hard time putting my finger on why, so a bit of rambling ahead. We've seen Haymitch actively shun conversations about the games; and freely admit that he does it (I'm thinking of the net demonstration during Finnick's games where Chaff was surprised that he didn't already know what sort of fighter Finn was). Even with Hazelle, he gives himself an out by catching up with Cinna in this chapter. My initial thought about the convo was that Haymitch was maybe...trying to get Cinna's measure. It especially occurred to me because he's thinking so much about Maysilee; I'm remembering that really iconic (or maybe it was just iconic for me because it was one of the first places where we saw how whip-smart Haymitch was) chat with her where they're talking about how "coincidental" it is that the second quell card said what it did. So, was it maybe that Haymitch already has an opinion, but wants more of a measure of Cinna's intelligence/steel/just general personality, especially because it comes just before Cinna's rebellion revelation? If it is, maybe link it back a bit; if you didn't want to go a quarter century back, there've certainly been enough incidents he's witnessed as a victor to make him suspicious of Snow's motives. Like I said, very subjective, and I may be over thinking.

Damn, all your edits are so consistently good; I don't get to sit down and write the kind of long feedback I want to all the time, but you're just doing such a seamless job. Loved Danny's reintroduction in this so much; very plausible and just a really nice way to show the depth of what they've shared. It may not be the subtlest act for the bugs, but they still work surprisingly well together, and for a bond to still be that strong, it has to have been really forged in hell. Also speaking of edits, I adored all the added stuff with Hazelle last chapter, which I meant to comment on...way too long ago. But, just everything, especially with Posey; he's so good with kids, and the sheer normality he had their for a bit with the family foreshadows/highlights the normality he craves in his own life.

And the normality made the stark chasm in this chapter even sharper; Danny said in, I think, HT that Haymitch had half a life in the Capitol; you did such a good job showing how, when the Capitol part's not involved, they're quite good together; but the Capitol influence is so large, it can't just be swept under the rug.

Also really loved how you changed the content of the movie in this chapter; oh yeah, Snow, no pulling himself up by his bootstraps for Haymitch. That might give him too much credibility; that sobriety streak for Kattniss's got to be courtesy of the Capitol. And Cinna's whole thing about Snow following the rules he set for himself and the reasons behind it; best damn line of dialogue in the whole chapter.

Forgot too how much I loved the old stuff, from Caesar's expression when the camera cuts and Haymitch's resolution to Haymitch's whole rationale for not telling Katniss. Just a really brilliant chapter. And the Digger feels; every time you mention Digger or Mimi in this, I miss them so much; hell, that goes for all Haymitch's ladies. You've done such a brilliant job of crafting them all. But especially in these last few, it's gone to Digger; I'm currently reading bits of EOTW because I needed happy Haymitch/Digger.

P.S.: Just wanted to make it clear, and it's been long enough it would be silly to edit: my last comment on your Big Empty post wasn't criticizing your James stories; I haven't read them; just musing on the difficulties that writing in that era of Potterverse must have presented. Only realized in hindsight that that could have come out very wrong.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 8th, 2015 04:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: A Few Catches/Feedback

I'm not sure about the Cinna thing. On the one hand, it's no longer the first time that we're seeing Haymitch interact with the Capitol rebels in a meaningful way. On the other, he really hasn't asked Cinna the very personal question of why he's a rebel in the first place. He hasn't asked Plutarch, either, though I suspect that's for fear of a six hour philosophy lecture. ;p

Haymitch craving normality -- I think that's exactly it. He never had much in his life that would be considered normal, no matter how hard his mom tried. He was way too smart for his own good as a kid, then the Games took over his life. When we do see him offered normal relationships (weirdly, despite the circumstances, his relationship with Katniss is largely normal -- a girl who lost her father looking to a man who lacks his own children to... well, father her a little bit), he takes them. Snow keeps him off-balance by taking away everything that could stabilize his life, and he does it often enough that Haymitch doesn't even try to reach out for what he wants anymore by the time canon rolls around.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: April 8th, 2015 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: A Few Catches/Feedback

I love this reply, mostly because it let me shift perspective a bit, and realize that my primary problem with that chat stemmed more from me forgetting a couple crucial Haymitch things than it did from the text. I occasionally forget that Haymitch is insatiably curious (this is a credit to your pov skills, I think; Haymitch suppresses it so often that we almost forget it's there) But, he's also got that seam reticence about prying into others business. So, instead of just opening with asking about Cinna's motivations--not, as I originally thought, to get his measure, but because he was just curious--he comes at it from an indirect route, talking about the mechanics of the games first. It was that first part that threw me really, because his own views on Snow's manipulation of the system are already set. But it makes a lot of sense that he'd use that as an opening to try not to be a bull in a china shop when asking about personal things.

Along similar lines, I realized that there may've been a deeper motivation for asking about the rigging that I was overlooking. In terms of non-victors in Haymitch's corner who understood the fundamental wrongness of the games: he had Maysilee and Danny in D12. And then, for the quell and its aftermath, he had Gia. And barring the periods where she was blocking it out with pills, up to her stint in CD, Effie knew the games were fundamentally rigged. They may've disagreed about district reapings being fiddled with, but they both had a silent understanding about the deeper mechanisms being so entirely stacked against everyone; was he also looking, pre-going into the mentoring nightmare that would be a quell, for that understanding from someone amidst his team/allies that wasn't a victor; needing to reaffirm, if only subconsciously that Cinna got it?

Gaaah, yes, about Haymitch being too smart for his own good. I love that one of the things we're starting to get from Big Empty and the challenge shorts is that Duronda could turn her brain/empathy off for a while to survive what she needed to (she had her own flaws, of course, with that temper being foremost). That right there says everything that need be said about why they faired so differently as victors, especially in combination with the fact that Snow's power didn't extend the way it does in Haymitch's time, and Clemme doesn't seem to have engaged in the same victor BS as Snow? Snow still screwed things up, naturally, with assigning Glass etc., but at least there wasn't as much scope for the sort of thing Haymitch goes through. Which is, now that I ponder, what most probably made "Capitol loyalists" like Mags eventually become rebels; she may've never been especially loyal, but it was worth going along to get along and then it just became too much. But yeah, the ability to numb his brain without self-medicating would have made things so much easier.

And word on the Plutarch philosophy thing. Especially because the one time he did ask about it during the 51st, Plutarch rambled about the law and entirely forgot people in his equation; so yeah, run far from asking Plutarch anything for your sanity.:d
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 9th, 2015 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: A Few Catches/Feedback

I think Haymitch makes up excuses for himself about why he's curious at this point. Yeah, it's about the war. Mm-hmm, makes sense. ;p I think there are a lot of things about himself that he doesn't examine too closely -- like happening to know when the escorts joined the field, or what the early Games were like, or just how engaged his brain really gets in the Viewing Center. (He gives it lip service, but I think the less attractive reason for his sobriety is that, during those few days or weeks, he's not bored.)

His original query was probably more like "How do you think it's rigged? Crazy luck or rigging with cards he wrote years ago? Or is he just drawing blank cards and saying whatever he wants, anyway?" I doubt it's crossed his mind that it's not rigged at all. (On the usual reapings, I tend to agree with Effie. On the Quells? Cinna's probably right that he thought of a million of them and just picks, but I wouldn't put it past him to just make it up, either. I think Snow likes to feel like he's won, which means that he's managed to outwit and defeat... which means he has some notion of rules. No rules, no winning. Granted, the rules are utterly skewed in his favor, but his outrage at the way both Haymitch and Katniss worked outside the rules of the Games suggests that, on some level, he recognizes said rules.

Snow probably realized fairly quickly that the victors had to be gotten under control, before they started thinking they were as good as real people.
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