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Challenges 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Challenges 1
A couple of Peeta AUs to start us off.

This one's heavily based on your answers about Haymitch's district life in As Happens Sometimes. Peeta and uncle Haymitch if he hadn't "broken up" with his friends, set anywhere in the timeline you like. I just keep wondering how different Peeta generally--which of course leads to a totally different pre-games lead up-- would have been with a third party adult support system that was outside his dysfunctional family. for queen_bellatrix

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We all know not to go visit Uncle Haymitch while Gia Pepper is in town "on business." That's how they always say it, though the way the people in town talk about it, I think it must be something else. This year, Jonadab has taken on a kind of worldly-wise look about it, and when I asked, he told me importantly that I'd know what it meant when I got older. I wonder if it's about the reaping. Jonadab will be old enough for the reaping this year.

Only people don't usually laugh and whistle about the reaping, so that's probably wrong.

But Gia's train left this morning, and that means that I can go out there again, and I do, as soon as school lets out. Mom and Daddy started fighting as soon as Uncle Haymitch and Gia left last night after dinner. Mom said it's a waste of food to have guests over, especially rich guests who could play hosts themselves without even feeling a pinch from the cost. Daddy said that it's rude to expect only one person to do the inviting, and we've been up to Victors' Village a lot this year, especially me. That started a whole new round about how I ought to be helping out in the bakery after school, not wasting my time with Uncle Haymitch. She doesn't believe I'm doing any real job out there to get the money he pays me, because I don't know how to do anything, and she wonders just what Uncle Haymitch is getting out of it. This came up last night, and it's when Daddy got quiet, which is the worst, because then he starts to leave, and Mom starts throwing things, and…

I stop walking. I don't want to think about that. I know sometimes there are men who hit their wives, and everyone thinks they're pretty awful. But Mom has hit Daddy with a rolling pin -- I saw her do it -- and everyone thinks it's funny. Every time he talks to a woman, someone jokes that he's going to get the pin again. It only ever happened the one time, four years ago. I was only four, but I remember everything. It made a sound like a breaking plate, and Daddy's nose bled for an hour, and Mom wouldn't let Jonadab go to the apothecary to get him something (he snuck out anyway, and I don't think Mom ever found out, but I don't really remember that part). Mom hasn't been that angry since, but I still see it in my head when Daddy goes quiet with his own anger.

I push all of it out of my head and start walking again. Pretty soon, the gates to Victors' Village come up, and I tell the Peacekeeper that I'm back on leaf duty. He pats my head and lets me in, telling me to save a pretty leaf for him.

Uncle Haymitch is already in the yard with a wheelbarrow and a couple of rakes. I take one, and we start neatening it up. I know that Gia makes him promise to keep it neat. It's really important to her that he go out there sometimes. I heard her tell Daddy once that it was because she didn't want him afraid of his own garden, which is kind of silly. He won the Hunger Games. He wouldn't be afraid of a few trees and a fence. She put up a big shed at one end, and that's where all tools are. It's a strange place for a shed. It blocks the whole view out into the forest.

He's in a good mood, like he usually is for a while after Gia's visits. He can be pretty sour other times, which is when I decide that my real job is cheering him up, but today, he's pretty happy. He asks me about school, and teases me about Katniss Everdeen, who is the prettiest girl ever. He tells me about the Capitol, and how people there even dye their skin funny colors, like orange and green.

"You ever meet an orange person?" I ask.

"Good number of 'em. Purple, too. Last year, I think every third sponsor was purple."

I close my eyes and try to think of Uncle Haymitch sitting across from a purple person, trying to be really serious with them. I can't do it. In my head, Uncle Haymitch has great big eyes and is trying so hard not to laugh that Gia has to do the talking. I laugh.

"Should I bring some dye back and turn you purple next summer? Or whatever color they want to make themselves by then?"

I shake my head and get back to raking. There's a specially pretty orange leaf, and I pick it up to save for the Peacekeeper. "I promised," I tell Uncle Haymitch.

"I think he might have been joking," he says, but when we go inside, he hands me an envelope to put it in before he gets a snack together. "So, how was school? Slay any dragons for the lady fair?"

"Not today. Just a troll under the bridge. And a bunch of giants with swords."

"Is that where you got that bruise on your wrist?"

I look down. "Nah. Eddie grabbed me too hard when we were wrestling. Jonadab made him do the next round with his hand tied behind his back. I won that one. But it doesn't really count like that."

"Mm-hmm." He looks at the bruise carefully, then goes digging around in his medicine cabinet. Capitol people don't like bruises, I guess, because they have a funny little thing that he attaches to my wrist for a few minutes. It buzzes and shakes, and when he takes it off, the bruise is gone. "Stops the blood pooling," he explains. "Gia brought it. It's brand new from District Three. My friend Beetee invented it."

"He did? Is he a victor, too?"

"Sure is. He won about ten years before me."

"Wow, he must be rally old."

He snorts. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm old, so he's ancient. You ought to meet Mags. She won the Seventh games. How many years ago was that?"

"I'm not good at math."

"You can do it. Last summer was the Sixty-Sixth. What's sixty-six minus seven?"

"Um…"

"If you put sixty-six cups of flour in the mixing bowl, and your dad told you to take out seven, how many would be left?"

"A mixing bowl wouldn't hold sixty-six cups. Even the really big one. And it would never mix right. Or is it a magic mixing bowl?"

He smiles. "All right, all right. I'm no one's math tutor. But your mom's worried about your math grades, and I'm worried she might not let you come out and rake if you get bad math grades."

"Fifty-nine," I say quickly.

He raises his eyebrows. "You're faking being bad at math?"

"No. I just figured it out. I like coming out here. Can I help you decorate for the harvest festival? We could make a scarecrow and dress it up fancy."

"And paint it purple?"

I nod. "Yeah. Could we put it in Capitol clothes? And a wig?"

He laughs. "I'll have Gia get the silliest wigs in the Capitol. We'll make a bunch of scarecrows and put one on every porch in Victors' Village. That'll take us a while."

"We could name them, and make up how they all won their Games. There'll be a blue one over there" -- I point to the empty house across the way -- "and she won by planting a magic wall of flowers that kept her safe. And next door, he'll be orange, and he won by…" I stop, because I notice that Uncle Haymitch isn't laughing. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," he says. "Sure I am. Magic flowers? I think her orange friend next door will think that's no way to win the Games, and he'll have a whole straw arsenal out there. We'll call him Brutus…"

We go out on the front porch and decide on a scarecrow and a story for every house, and Uncle Haymitch says we can even make a scarecrow of him, though he says it'll have to be passed out while something else does the work of winning. Some of the scarecrows don't get along very well with the other scarecrows, and Green and Purple have a feud going over who gets to name the ducks in the duck pond. Victor feuds, Uncle Haymitch says, can get pretty intense. Green and Purple play pranks on each other all the time, but Green has a whole team of allies (Yellow, Orange, Pink, and White), so Purple never gets away with anything.

"Can we get inside the houses?" I ask. "We could make them wave out the windows, so you could have someone to wave hello to."

"What?"

"Daddy says you could do with a body to wave hello to when you get home."

He rolls his eyes. "Your daddy's got an opinion on everything."

"Maybe I could be a victor and I could live here, and you could wave to me."

His smile disappears like it was cut off with a knife. "Never wish for that," he says. "These houses cost too much. I don't even want to think about you going through the arena."

"You don't think I could win?"

"I don't ever want you to have to." He turns our porch chairs around so we're looking at each other. "Don't you ever start thinking that it's funny stories. I never want you do what I had to do. Okay?"

I nod, because he looks really serious about it.

He shakes his head. "Now, I'm thinking about that house by the duck pond. I don't know about the pet fire breathing dragon. I think the rest of us will just have to do something about that. Unfair advantages and all…"





what would've happened if Haymitch had been in the Third Quell instead of Peeta? for Lise

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Just tell her, I think wildly, watching Katniss storm up the beach, firing random missiles at Haymitch as she goes. So far, they're pretty harmless things, like seashells and pebbles, but sooner or later, it's going to escalate.

Of course, Haymitch can't tell her, not right now, given that everything they say is going straight to the Gamemakers.

As far as he knows, I don't know anything. And Dad could only slip me so much in the box of cookies he sent with me: They're getting both out. And others. No known details. TAKE NO CHANCES WITH THEM. Love you always. Burn this.

I gave it to Portia. She burned it. I still don't know what's happening or who I can trust, but I've decided to trust her. After what Cinna did with Katniss's dress, I think it's a safe bet that they're on our team.

The phone rings. Effie picks up beside me. "District Twelve! This is Effie Trinket. Did you want to discuss a sponsorship?" She raises her eyebrows at me to see if I want to talk to this one, but she takes it all right when I shake my head. Haymitch told me to let Effie handle the sponsors, since she knows all the ins and outs. He also made a point of saying something along the line of, "If I had to knock Effie out to get her out of trouble, I would." I take the hint. I have a dose of sleep syrup ready for her.

He's wearing a gold flame bangle (we all have gold tokens, to match Katniss's mockingjay), but I noticed on the first close-up that, sometime between the interviews and his leaving the next morning, a thin gold necklace of Effie's has been woven through its design. She hasn't mentioned it. I also know that she wasn't in the escort's quarters any more than I was in the mentor's that last night before the Games. We just went out after they were taken away and stood together in the living room, then she reached over and squeezed my hand before we both went off to get dressed. Neither of us has mentioned this.

I notice that, while she's still wearing a nice outfit -- with many layers on it -- she's also wearing flat shoes, and Haymitch's old district token. To my shock, there's no carefully maintained wig. She's got a gold-woven scarf over her hair, and is claiming that she's trying to make a fashion statement. Personally, I think that statement is, I'm ready to leave.

Of course, I can't ask her, because I'm not supposed to know, and she can't tell me, because she's probably not supposed to know either.

While she wrangles out a sponsorship, I watch the screens. They're only slightly different angles on the same scene: Haymitch picks Katniss up and carries her back to the shelter that Finnick and Mags have made, putting her down unceremoniously on a pile of fern leaves beside Johanna and Blight, who casually cross a pair of axes in front of her. Mags hands her some water on a leaf. She takes it with something like grace. She genuinely likes Mags and Beetee, and I think that's all that's really keeping her in the alliance right now. She's convinced that the others -- by whom she means Finnick and Johanna; should couldn't care less about Wiress or Blight -- will kill them if she leaves. No amount of obvious affection toward them from Haymitch makes a difference.

I doubt she thinks they'll kill Haymitch if she's not there. She seems to think he's invincible, if anything.

I admit, he surprised me. I saw the way he collapsed during training, and I was sure I'd lose him right away if he ran for the Cornucopia (against his own standing order), which of course, he did, since was apparently where they all decided to meet. The water slowed down enough of the tributes that he was only the fifth to reach it, and he came up out of the sea fighting, dragging Cashmere down and stunning her on the rocks. He didn't kill her. So far, he hasn't killed anyone. But he's been very effective at getting enemies and mutts out of the way, and keeping himself between Katniss and anyone who actually means her harm.

Just like he promised.

Not just like he promised me, either. He promised the whole country at the interviews. He wasn't going to, but I pushed him. Dad told me last year how much he worked for us, how much the country had taken to him again for it. So I told him to make the same promise to the country that he made to me, and they loved it, which I knew they would They've been absolutely eating up the character of Papa Haymitch. They've actually started calling him that on the street. The Gamemakers keep playing the line, and the street interviews are ecstatic over it. Snow must just be thrilled, but even now, as the camera cuts away from the argument, they play it again:

"You can screw around with my life, but anyone who tries to screw around with my kids is going to pay for it."

For this particular narrative, Katniss's furious outbursts are as effective as the hug she gave him on the stage. She was still exuding smoke from the feathers of Cinna's gown -- Snow made her wear one of those wedding dresses, which I was supposed to comment on in some witty way while they filed in, but he burned it away to a mockingjay costume -- and the white wisps circled around both of them as her new black wings enclosed him. This is also a favorite shot. It evokes them in the chariot, burning like coals. The parade outfit was obviously meant for me, since it looks like last year, but Haymitch tricked me. He spent the time in between the Quell card reading and the reaping learning exactly how to out-volunteer me, and I had no way to get around it.

So this year, Katniss's fire isn't passion or romance, but the comfort of a family hearth, and the image of them on stage together, wreathed in white smoke, evokes it even more. It's already been made into a popular poster. I bought one, in case I lose them.

The tenderness lasted through the recaps, during which they held each other's hands reassuringly, right up until he started pushing her to take allies again. The fights started with that, and have kept up on the same subject ever since. Now, she's coming off as his headstrong teenage daughter, and he as her exasperated father, trying to keep her alive in a deadly situation. Carrying her out of the poison fog last night and purging it from her system before he purged himself certainly helped. I don't think either of them is doing it deliberately, but it's working. The whole country is seeing what it's like for parents to see their children in the middle of all of this. I'm working the angle as hard I can with Caesar, too.

Effie hangs up. "We can send them bread," she tells me. "Or maybe a decent shelter. What do you think we should send them?"

I'm at a loss on this. They seem pretty self-sufficient, and I don't know what hints to send them, since I have no idea what Haymitch's endgame is here. I got them a spile for the trees when Haymitch flat out said, "I bet Peeta could get a good deal on a spile from his brother's store," but other than that, I'm useless. "Suggestions?" I ask Effie.

"I can't think of a thing. Haymitch would want to make sure we don't send anything that they'd have to leave lying around." She puts her hands up in surrender. She's very good at this -- I've leaned on her from day one -- but even if the real Games rules were in play, we wouldn't know what to do.

Instead, we just sit and watch. The team eats dinner. Mags tries to get Katniss to sing. I send them marshmallows on a whim, which they toast over a small, sheltered cook fire. Effie says this means they must feel pretty safe in their numbers. I think maybe they're trying to draw in Seeder, who fled into the hills when the District Nine tribute chased her from the Cornucopia. Chaff didn't make it. He saw Haymitch and tried to run for the alliance, but Brutus took him down with a spear. This probably has something to do with Haymitch's sunny disposition.

They put the fire out at dark, kick sand over the ashes, then move north along the beach, toward the big tree that lightning hit last night. If anyone is following their fire, they won't be at it.

Katniss takes the first watch after the day's deaths are tallied. Haymitch watches her until the others are asleep, then goes over to join her. "Glad you're sticking around," he says.

"I don't want to."

"I know you don't, Sweetheart, but that's the way we're playing this."

"Until when? Until I have to kill you?"

He frowns at her, and I guess this is the first time it's occurred to him that this has even crossed her mind. "Well, it could be worse. I could be Peeta."

She gives him a disbelieving look. "You think I'd be any happier to kill you?" She stands up and crosses her arms over her chest. "I hate this, Haymitch! I hate all of it! I can't do this. I can't kill Mags or Beetee, and I definitely can't… I couldn't…"

He gets up and goes to her, putting his arms around her. "You won't have to, Sweetheart. No matter what. I won't put you in that position."

She turns to him and lets him comfort her, putting him in a very small circle of people allowed to do that. "I hate this," she says again.

"I know. But just… hang in there with us, okay?"

I have an angle on her face. She closes her eyes and nods. Haymitch seems to take it at face value, but I don't.

He goes to sleep.

Five minutes after she's sure he's gone, she pokes Mags until she's starting to wake up, whispers, "Goodbye," and dashes off into the jungle.

Mags is immediately awake -- Katniss wouldn't leave them unguarded -- but it takes her five minutes to convey to the others what's happened.

By then, Katniss is halfway around the arena, hiding in tree a little bit south of where the lightning struck, on the other side. She binds herself in while they mount a search party.

Ten minutes later, the wave hits.

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18 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 7th, 2015 09:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant cliffhanger on the haymitch quell one . What would the end game be . Will their be another short or will the end be unknown?

Liam
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 8th, 2015 12:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure -- it's not a very sensible set up. It's likely that Katniss is dead from the wave, which would be a pretty complex set-up for a short.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 7th, 2015 01:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yikeees! (Haymitch one)

It's kind of crazy she went in not knowing. I know there's the issue with the bugs but why couldn't he have found a minute to write and then burn a note on the train?
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 7th, 2015 01:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Also, it's interesting to see how the switch of one person affected who lived and died.

That was me above.

Aylat
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 8th, 2015 12:25 am (UTC) (Link)
That was a nutty choice in canon, too. But the same decision making strategies would be in play -- the thought that Katniss and Peeta would be dragged in right away.
redrikki From: redrikki Date: August 7th, 2015 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, man, what a set. The wee!Peeta one was simultaneously sweet and horrible with the domestic abuse and Games trauma mixed with fluff. Nice touch with the hypocrisy of woman-on-man abuse being funny when man-on-woman isn't.

Haymitch in the Quarter Quell was certainly interesting in terms of how it changed everything from who lived to Haymitch's relationship with Effie. Too bad leaving Katniss out of the loop gets them all killed.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 8th, 2015 12:30 am (UTC) (Link)
The hypocrisy of that is often striking to me, but it's almost certainly what would happen. And a rolling pin is actually a pretty nasty weapon. So's the old comedy standby of a cast-iron frying pan. You could absolutely kill someone with either of those implements.

I think if he'd ended up in the arena, Haymitch would have pretty much given up on fighting with his own feelings.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 8th, 2015 12:30 am (UTC) (Link)
I like him. :D
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 8th, 2015 07:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh wow. First of all, Purple People was very sweet. I mean, it was sad to see little Peeta having to deal with the disfunction of his family, but since we know he went through that already, I was just happy that he had another adult to depend on. And Haymitch. Haymitch was...dare I say...somewhat happy? The combination of Gia to look after him, and being able to look after wee Peeta (and probably Jona and Edder too) has given him something to focus on rather than drinking.
For Papa Haymitch...well I'm torn between loving a fatherly Haymitch and frustration at Katniss's choices. The beginning of the story was so true to form of their relationship (and how Peeta sees them). Katniss throwing things...Haymitch finally just picking her up and plopping her down. I love the little touches; Dannel's note to Peeta, Effie's necklace entwined with Haymitch's bracelet, Haymitch's line to the capitol, Peeta's always-brilliant attention to the narrative, Katniss hugging Haymitch on stage, Haymitch saving her from the fog. So many things I loved...then that ending. I have to say, I'm really not sure of Katniss's thought process here. I get that she does want to kill Mags and Beetee and would never kill Haymitch. This is before the wave ever hit? Does she know about it? Is she committing suicide rather than have to kill someone? Is she so confident in Haymitch's abilities that she figures it will be down to the two of them? That ending...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 8th, 2015 05:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
It would have been nice if Peeta and his brothers could have depended on someone (their dad seems very nice in canon, and in my 'verse, he's definitely a super good guy, but there is something wrong in that house), so yeah, that was good to write. And Haymitch strikes me as the sort of person who won't shape up on his own account, but readily cleans up his act for other people.

Katniss didn't know yet about the wave; Wiress, safe, hadn't immediately figured out the clock. She was just trying to separate herself from the group so she wouldn't have to deal with killing them. I don't know that she's so convinced of Haymitch's abilities (though she kind of is), so much as not being willing to take the chance, just like Maysilee wasn't when she left him.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: August 8th, 2015 07:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Today was insanely long, and I'm just now getting to sit down and read these, though their existence has been taunting me since this morning. ;) Anyway, will be back after a few hours of sleep/readings for a substantive comment, at which point you're totally welcome to delete this one. I've just been the writer of prompts waiting for acknowledgement too often, so I loathe leaving the person on the other end without at least the confirmation that I've seen something while I make my way through the goodness. And oh Gods, the first paragraph of minealready has me grinning like a lunatic, and I can tell goodness is going to fit aptly here!

Edited at 2015-08-08 07:15 am (UTC)
From: queen_bellatrix Date: August 9th, 2015 06:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Feedback Part 1/3

Gaaah, Fern, gaaah. Thinking about this piece's been enough to summon a delighted smile all day, because not only did you expand the verse, which will never fail in making me over the moon, but then it was such a fantastic expansion!

Your povs are so consistently spot-on, and the way you write very young Peeta is perfect. Not just Peeta's speech patterns, though you have such a knack for the cadence of how people of different ages speak, but the way he perceives the world.

I love how well you've done at giving us a sense of the shape of Haymitch's life now while preserving those very child-specific blinders. I'm thinking of things like Peeta's confusion over Haymitch being afraid of his own garden, or the way that, as is so often the case for kids, the significance of certain things registers so differently e.g. the magic flowers comment. It registers as significant because Haymitch is upset, but he's not at a point where he can put it into context and figure out that since they were talking about the Games, Haymitch must be upset about the Games. As someone who struggles a lot with having my povs be too uniform across generational lines, I'm just really impressed with how well you differentiated this one through thought patterns as well as language.

With that said, ah eight-year-old Peeta, you are one of the most wonderfully perceptive kids. He may not know why something is upsetting Haymitch, but he has an almost intuitive way of stepping around or deftly moving back from minefield subjects. And sure, part of it's just a kid's shorter attention span, but it's a wonderful display of the budding people skills that're going to serve him so well later on. And thinking about this as an AU: I can't even quite wrap my head around just how good this Peeta, exposed for so long to Haymitch, would be with the narrative, and he was damn good to start with.

One of the things I've been reading is an intro to basic psych, and you hit on so many things here that had me squeeing over their accuracy. People've mentioned the heightened abuse, or at least the more frequent mentions of it. I don't know how conscious you were of this--though I'm guessing quite a bit--but that jives so much with the concept of safe spaces. Because he has another adult as part of his familial safety net, he can actually let himself register just how fundamentally off Mere is when she's having one of her horrible moments, as opposed to the way he felt had to mentally downplay it when it was just Danny and Mere as safety--though of course his downplaying it actually didn't help as much with the stability as he needed to convince himself it did.

The scarecrows; you have no idea how much I adore the scarecrows. Not only because Haymitch conveying/interacting with or within stories/anything imaginative is invariably the best thing ever, but because it does so much to enrich what Peeta's already getting from Danny. I loved--and I think this was in another challenge--your anecdote about Danny making up these grand adventures for entirely fictionalized geese to cheer Peeta up. So having Haymitch be able to continue that sort of tradition A. lets Haymitch slot wonderfully into this family dynamic as someone Peeta would logically turn to, and B. just provides such interesting Peeta possibilities.

We've always known that Peeta has an active imagination, as shown by all the jabberjay drills, but canonically, it's limited by finances; there's no way for him to really be artistic, or even to explore other people's fiction because money is a tremendous glass ceiling. I love that there's a very high chance he'll have both here because of his connection to Haymitch; one of the delighted thoughts I kept having while reading this was that he would actually have a sketchbook before Cinna gave him one in the Capitol!

And omg, Haymitch's comment about the maiden fair? Is Peeta actually friends with Katniss in this verse? I can definitely see Haymitch advising him to become friends, considering how his relationship with Digger blossomed from that.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: August 9th, 2015 06:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Feedback Part 2/3

Oh, the teasing; Haymitch, you have no idea. I'm now gleefully imagining the years passing and Haymitch's mental eyebrows getting higher and higher because Peeta's Katniss adoration would be equally amusing and far harder to shrug off as a phase at 14 than at eight. :)

Speaking of things that made me laugh: I need more 12-year-old "worldly-wise" Jona in my life! And the simultaneous images of Haymitch trying to hide his incredulity over purple people and inevitably bringing back dye for Peeta after the next
Games have had me suppressing giggles all day, along with the idea of the inevitable pictures Haymitch can keep of colorful Peeta. That safe can finally actually hold something other than tribute photos.

Which leads rather neatly to Haymitch. I love that you kept expanding the theme that an infinitely better life didn't mean a perfect one, and that it certainly didn't somehow vanish PTSD. But oh God, did it help. Someone above phrased it perfectly when they were talking about how with Gia in the picture and Peeta/the Melarkes in the District, he finally had something to focus on. Going back to my current psych geekery for a minute, but it's blowing my mind reading how much a full life can help to combat mental illnesses of all sorts while reading/thinking about your HG fics. So I freaking loved seeing things like Haymitch's casual assertion that he'll get Gia to get some of the most ridiculous Capitol clothes for the scarecrows. Gaaah, to actually see him doing what he said in EOTW: not forgetting what the Capitol's capable of, but not letting remembering sap all the joy, either is so incredibly fantastic! I love your excellent showing of the fact that a lack of booze and steady people in his life does so much to bring out Haymitch's natural empathy. And that that empathy reinforces Peeta's own e.g. the envelope for storing the leaf for the peacekeeper. (And yeah, he probably was joking, but I like to think he liked the gesture anyway.)

You do such a fabulous job showing the way that the AU changes everyone, not just Haymitch and Peeta. Because yeah, it would gall Mere so much that they were doing quite well, but not because of any of her schemes, but because of the generosity of someone she loathed. And the pettiness about dinner invitations; that is so entirely Mere. On the bright side, Danny as the greatest Haymitch champion in the District is a joy to behold. (And oh, the foreshadowing, with Peeta's innocent waving comment and Haymitch's fantastic speech about never thinking the Games were stories; that was some brilliant and angsty foreshadowing.)

"Your Daddy has an opinion about everything, doesn't he?" is one of the best dialogue lines in this, precisely because of how fantastically spot-on it is. (It's also awesome to see some of that softened Haymitch snarck we were talking about in Happens.) And you kept the importance of the promises motif between Haymitch and Gia with that mention about the garden in an AU setting; your transposition of that made me so happy on a thematic level.

The math thing was perfect. Not only because it had Peeta mentioning magic mixing bowls (your wee Peeta is a serious contender for cutest child ever, imho), but because it's brilliant subtext. We've been seeing throughout the piece that it's coming to Haymitch's that lets him put Mere out of his head, and then his comment about just figuring it out because he liked to come clenched it; this entire piece had so many layers and was such a great example of showing an not telling. And there're so many other textual references buried in here; it took me until the fifth reading just now to pick up on why the "wall of magic flowers" upset Haymitch so much, and I know that the scarecrows, or at least some of them, represent different victors, but I haven't entirely put my finger on who, yet.

Unrelatedly: that bruise machine of Beetee's is seriously cool; I love all your Capitol tech inventions, and am now wondering if it has more purposes? Or was it just a cool gadget; the equivalent of letting Haymitch poke his head into open doors, as Digger put it?
From: queen_bellatrix Date: August 9th, 2015 06:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Feedback Part 3/3

Like all your best AUs, this leaves so many interesting crevices. Especially if Peeta/Katniss are or become friends: their Games would be so narratively explosive, for reasons that were both similar and different to cannon. Because they'd come in with that Haymitch and Maysilee friendship element that a certain sector of the Capitol adored, and then you'd get the romance going, which draws in even more. But the familial Victor connection; that would be a fascinating narrative element. Peeta, up on stage, talking both about Uncle Haymitch and his romance with Katniss; Caesar would think he'd died and gone to heaven. And then of course there's Katniss, who'd bring so many variables. Because if she knew Peeta even a little more and Haymitch were sober, her mistrust issues would be somewhat easier to deal with, which opens up even more possibilities for it being much easier for her to play the romance within the arena, and for she, and especially Peeta, to maybe make different alliances or ally with one another. This verse is so multifaceted. Thank you so much for indulging this particular plot bunny; reading it was better than coffee and chocolate combined for making up for a long, exhausting week, and now I have such fascinating things to ponder!

The second one: that ending! I just sat there and flailed my hands around, trying to figure out if she were dead or who might have been swept away while searching for her. I didn't actually think it could get darker than the actual quell, but I think you've managed it. And it's so entirely plausible. Because she always intended to send Peeta home, and that didn't even keep her in the alliance; without that, and wanting to go home herself and fearing what that'd make her do, no force on Earth could've kept her there.

But before the dark, there was the interview line that was a perfect mirror to his interview at sixteen for snarck, with all the maturity inherent in saying it about your kid; no wonder the Capitol ate it up. And the mockingjay wings enveloping him, when he came so close to being an open symbol for the rebellion himself was completely perfect.

In this one, and I don't think I've seen anyone mention this yet, I loved how the change of victor snapped Effie out of re-education so much earlier. Just such a well-thought out AU extrapolation. And what a wonderfully fitting token! Also, that image of Effie and Peeta, illicitly coming from rooms they shouldn't have been in and clinging together was incredibly powerful.

Also, Peeta admitting to buying a poster just a few paragraphs before Katniss probably died made me so, so glad that I'd employed the philosophy of delayed gratification and read mine second instead of first so I could sleep thinking of purple people. Because I think that was almost more awful than actually thinking of her death; but then, it's always worse for the people left behind.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 9th, 2015 11:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Feedback Part 3/3

Thanks for bringing up the plot bunny. These little bite sized AUs are fun, just because it's a question of how to pick a scene that will show a lot without stopping to explain it!

On the second one, I can't imagine what Peeta will do, since Katniss, most likely, is about to drown. The Rebellion will be kind of screwed, too, because unlike Katniss, Peeta doesn't care a bit about it in the abstract, and his primary motive at that point -- fury -- is out of tune with what he's best at projecting.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 9th, 2015 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Feedback Part 2/3

far harder to shrug off as a phase at 14 than at eight
Of course, if she hadn't been unreachable, if they hadn't had the bonding experiernce of the secret helping with the bread, would it have ever become love? It's an interesting question. I'm not convinced that it wouldn't have, but the childhood friend pattern becomes so different from the ardent admirer pattern that the sense of the 'ship would change.

I like the idea of Haymitch dyeing Peeta, though I hope the dye fades faster than the one Octavia used!

I love that you kept expanding the theme that an infinitely better life didn't mean a perfect one, and that it certainly didn't somehow vanish PTSD. But oh God, did it help.
Nothing fixes everything, but so much of how bad it got with Haymitch seems to me to be because of how godawful lonely he was. Part of the whole theory of AA is that support from a group of understanding people genuinely helps. One of things that appeals to me in writing Haymitch (and this universe in general) is that I've often been stuck with this -- I swear, one of the reasons I write fanfic instead of huddling up and getting serious about original fic is the fact that I can put it on a blog and talk to people -- and that sense of widespread, dangerous levels of loneliness in Panem is incredibly striking. It's clearest with Katniss and Haymitch, but the way Peeta is able to manipulate it for the narrative suggests that they aren't the only ones who are starving for some kind of connection.

Personally, I think that loneliness has, at this point in time, become a public health issue in America, and that's a lot of the fuel that's burning with THG. Our old communities are breaking down, and the new ones are so fragmented and transitory, in a lot of cases, that dysfunctions are getting amplified. We know it's a problem, but no one knows what can be done about it. I may actually just turn this into an essay, because it's more than just this.

And yeah, he probably was joking, but I like to think he liked the gesture anyway.)
I kind of imagine the Peacekeeper as making a joke at his own expense, with the image of the Peacekeepers as needing to be bribed. Maybe it was even Darius.

Unrelatedly: that bruise machine of Beetee's is seriously cool; I love all your Capitol tech inventions, and am now wondering if it has more purposes? Or was it just a cool gadget; the equivalent of letting Haymitch poke his head into open doors, as Digger put it?
It's just a cool gadget that occurred to Beetee one day.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 9th, 2015 08:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Feedback Part 1/3

I'm glad you liked it, and thanks for the HUGE comment! Wow.

At some point very early in my writing life -- like, high school early -- I got obsessed with speech patterns. The way people choose to express themselves in the smallest things rather than the largest is so telling. Are they careful about exactly what words they use? Do they naturally default to crassness? Are they, like, TOTALLY SUPER-EXCITEABLE? What's the natural vocabulary range? Voices, even in third person narration, have so much to say. I'm an inveterate eavesdropper on strangers (never on people on people I know, because he who listens at keyholes will be vexed), and I try to listen to odd speech quirks, or generally speech patterns. I'm lucky enough to work with kids, so I get to hear the way they talk frequently. Of course, what's in their heads is, to them, perfectly reasonable, so if you're writing for adults, you present it as perfectly reasonable... but lacking knowledge that will come later.

One of my first writing projects with a friend was one of these switching first person POV things, and I was confronted with the bizarre task (for a sixteen year old girl) of writing a boy in first person. Could I say "I" for a dude? And then that thing clicked in my head: Dudes are individual humans, with that Y chromosome forming part, but not all, of their personality. Did I think about being a girl all the time? Of course not. So I just wrote what the individual person happened to be thinking, and that became my general philosophy. Now, one of the great joys of writing for me is that "I" -- even when "I" become hidden behind close third person -- can be anyone at all, just by kind of slipping sideways and seeing what the world looks like from a different angle. Which is a long way of saying, I'm glad you enjoy the voice. It's my favorite thing about the psychological part of writing.

The other fun part, technically, about close POV is getting the audience to see what the character might miss.

One of the things I've been reading is an intro to basic psych, and you hit on so many things here that had me squeeing over their accuracy...I don't know how conscious you were of this--though I'm guessing quite a bit--but that jives so much with the concept of safe spaces.
I studied a little bit of psychology in college, but nothing particular with safe spaces. It seemed to make intuitive sense, though. Aside from it being a safe space, it's also a different space, where he can see that this is not just the way grown-ups are. The Mellarks in canon seem pretty insular (all too often true in dysfunctional situations; the same is true of the Everdeens), and it's very easy to just start assuming, okay, that's what life is, make the necessary adjustments.

I hope Haymitch does help financially with Peeta's creativity, though of course, the tyipical Twelve culture of not wanting to take help means he'll have to be creative about it himself. Being around another creative person will probably help both of them, though. I can see Haymitch starting to write again in this 'verse.

And omg, Haymitch's comment about the maiden fair? Is Peeta actually friends with Katniss in this verse?
I hadn't thought about it, but I can see it. If they became friends before her father died, she might even permit it. It would be a very different set-up.
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