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Repost: The Narrow Path, Chapter 11 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Repost: The Narrow Path, Chapter 11
Adding a bit to Haymitch's crash course in being in charge of Peeta's recovery, a little adjustment with the back story, etc.

Chapter Eleven
Peeta becomes my full time business.

I work with the experts, learning their fields as well as I can in a crash course. I meet with them while Peeta's physical injuries heal. I read late into the night on a little handheld they dig up for me. It reminds me of the one I had to carry around during the Seventy-Fourth Games, to keep track of the kids while I was out raising money.

These are carefully guarded here, loaded in the archives and handed out with strict instructions for use. Mine contains textbooks on psychology and neurology. Military history. Cold reports from spies, with diagrams of broken bodies. Smuggled videos of Capitol torture chambers. I thought I'd known every sordid detail of Snow's Panem (and that of his predecessor), but the records they dredge up from the Dark Days, and from spies and defectors who've come to them since, make what I knew before look like child's play.

At first, I need help from Dalton with the basic concepts. I never studied biology any more than I needed to get the right medication for my tributes or my mother, except for the evening I spent in the hospital reading the nurse's textbook because I was bored. One night after curfew, using the light from the handheld's screen, Dalton walks me through what he considers "primary grade" biology. I point out that he took his primary grades in livestock country, where the government would consider it useful to have working knowledge of this stuff, and dare him to beat me on geology.

"I see your point," he says. "All I know about rocks is that some are reddish and some are grayish. But that ain't going to help you with your boy, is it?"

This kills my momentary rebellion, and I get back to work. By the time we get to breakfast, we're both bleary-eyed, and Dalton gets a citation for being careless at work with cleaning formulas. I have the vocabulary down, and enough of the basics to power through the textbooks over the course of a week, meeting with the team for two hours every afternoon, and watching Delly speak with Peeta for another few hours.

He's not getting better.

Physically, he's recovering at a fairly remarkable rate. He was healthy before Snow started in on him, and he was always strong. But mentally, it's becoming increasingly obvious that something has fundamentally broken inside of him. He abruptly starts weeping or cursing, and if Delly veers too close to the subject of Katniss, he starts in on a story about how a folder was "accidentally" left in his cell, and he knows the truth now, about how the real Katniss was murdered on the day of her first evaluation, and they sent up a mutt in her place. "I should have realized it," he says with conviction. "She came up and slammed the door and cried. That's not the real Katniss."

"She was a little stressed…" Delly tries.

"You don't believe me."

"I believe you saw a file."

"You think it's a lie. It's not a lie. It's…" And he is off the deep end again, raving about mutts and Capitol conspiracies.

At first, the military torture experts are hesitant to let me know the sorts of things they're aware of Snow doing, but they have orders from Plutarch to cooperate with me. They believe these orders originate with Coin, who has at least so far not interfered with this fiction.

In Peeta's case, they are able to piece together some of his experience by talking to Annie and Johanna, and some from his own deranged monologues. He was obviously exposed to constant psychological stressors. Johanna and Annie know these included twenty-four hour videos, including his Games and the bombing of District Twelve. Caesar Flickerman, who looked after Annie after Peeta was taken from him, told her that they'd been tormenting Peeta with images of his killing of Brutus. They shaved and cut Johanna in front of him, and murdered the Avoxes in the cell Annie wound up in.

"He still lied to Snow's face," Johanna says. She smiles bitterly. "That was the first day they had him in the cell. I really only knew him from the arena. I thought he gave in and told Snow where Gale might have taken everyone. Some story about how Gale and Katniss used to walk around on the railroad tracks."

"What are you talking about?" I ask.

"Snow," she says, as if it's obvious. "Snow was just about popping through his zipper to get hold of the survivors from Twelve and kill them before Thirteen could snatch them up. He dragged Peeta and wanted to know where Gale would take them. That's when they pulled me into it. They were about to tie me up in Beetee's wire and fry me, and suddenly, Peeta answered. A whole sordid story about how Katniss used to tell him about her dates with Gale, and the places they walked to." She grins. "I was convinced. I thought for sure Snow had broken him. Even after he came back throwing a tantrum over getting snaked. I thought Peeta had just been wrong."

"He said they went out on the tracks?" I shake my head. "Even I know there's no hunting out that way. No one goes there. I think Peeta's dad took a hike out there once, on a dare."

Johanna shrugs. "Yeah, well, I've been talking to Gale. He says they never went down the tracks in their lives. Peeta must have made that up from whole cloth while Snow was torturing him and threatening to kill me in front of him. Not bad for little Prince Charming."

Dalton tries to get me to sleep, but I can't. I lie awake at night until I hear him snoring, then get the tablet back out. Finally, he gets up and starts going over the gene scans in Peeta's file. I don't know what he thinks he's going to get from that. He quizzes me about Danny's family, and I feel disloyal even discussing it, especially since Dalton's findings are pretty useless. He can't see anything that explains Mir's fits of violence (I was mortified to have to explain to a doctor that an old fractured cheekbone and a badly healed dislocation didn't come from the Hunger Games), or Peeta's ability to rise above it. He says there are some anomalous markers, when compared to the handful of other District Twelve merchant scans on file. I don't tell him about the possibility that Mir's father wasn't from Twelve.

The one useful thing he finds is some kind of pattern he associates with allergies, which leads to a new treatment schedule for the tracker jacker poisoning. Peeta's behavior starts to calm somewhat, though his delusions don't go away.

Ruth Everdeen purses her lips when I talk to her about it at the hospital. "What's wrong with that boy has nothing to do with anything that was wrong with Dannel and Mirrem," she tells me. "At least not at the moment. This has nothing to do with his genes."

I agree, but I am grateful for Dalton's desire to help.

The psychiatrists, all of them refugees from the Capitol, want Peeta to open up about his feelings. Since his feelings are exactly what's been tampered with, I'm not sure this is a good idea, but they remind me that a few nights of cramming for a test don't stand up to their years of education. I agree to let them try it for one day, and it ends with Peeta weeping and screaming that he was taken in by a mutt. After that, I have a Reflection time conference with Ruth, Prim, Delly, Greasy Sae, Hazelle, and Gale in an alcove off the Promenade. Peeta may be from the merchant class, richer than most, but he's also of District Twelve, and his habits aren't the habits of the Capitol.

"They just have him in there gnawing on his own bones?" Gale asks, incredulous. "What kind of plan is that?"

"It's a kind of therapy that they're used to," I say. "They don't mean harm by it. But it's not working."

"Of course it's not," Sae says. "Boy needs to stop stewing in his juices, if you ask me."

"I don't think he can just stop," Delly points out. "It's not like he got a bad grade, or lost a wrestling match. They did something to his head." She holds off the protests. "But you're right. He needs to feel like there's some reason to get better."

"What about his painting?" Prim asks.

"I doubt they'd get him supplies," I tell her. "It's expensive. Dalton has to have permits for it. Maybe we could get him a pencil and paper to draw, though. If they'd let him have something sharp."

"Should we let him have something sharp?" Ruth asks.

No one quite answers. I can't completely convince myself that he won't stick a pencil through his eye socket.

"Baking," Delly finally says. "He always loved to bake. He and his dad used to work together."

This makes sense to everyone. It's a perfectly Twelve-ish response to anything: Keep your hands busy at your work. Unfortunately, he's not in physical shape yet to move around a kitchen, and -- though no one says it -- it's probably not a great idea to put him near fire.

Sae suggests getting him to write down recipes from the bakery. Delly seconds this enthusiastically, and after the psychiatrists spend the morning uselessly trying to explore his delusions, Delly goes to him in the afternoon.

"I was thinking," she says.

"What?" he asks nervously. "Do you want to know what Snow told me? Do you want to see the burns? Do you want to know how it feels? They keep asking how it feels."

"No. I was thinking about the soda bread your dad used to make. Do you remember what was in it?"

His hands, which have been flexing nervously, quiet themselves. His eyes stop searching the corners of the room for phantoms. "I… I think so. I made it sometimes, too."

"I'd guess flour," Delly says. "And yeast?"

"Not in soda bread. It's baking soda that makes it rise." He bites his lower lip. "I could write it down, maybe."

Delly pulls out her school notebook, rips out the pages she's used, and hands it to him, along with a pen, which we're all keeping a careful eye on. I'll find her more paper somewhere. Peeta bends over the notebook and starts, hesitantly, to write. His hand is still shaky, and I'd guess the writing isn't very neat, but he covers the whole first page in forty minutes, then looks up at Delly. "Could I keep this? I should write down the others. Dad only had them handwritten. He got them from my grandfather, and my great-grandmother. They were secret. I know them, though. He taught me. I remember that he taught me."

"Of course."

He turns the page and scribbles at the top for a second, then looks up at her. "Thanks. And… thanks to whoever came up with this. It's good."

"I guess I should have told you it was to occupy you."

"You can tell me when you're trying something. I believe you're trying to help me."

"Everyone is, Peeta."

"Why won't you believe me, Delly? I saw the file!"

Delly stands up and kisses Peeta's forehead. "Everyone loves you."

He frowns. "You… you loved my brother. Right?"

"I still do. He's just not here."

"Do you think you'd have ended up my sister-in-law?"

She sighs and sits back down. "The subject had come up a few times. He gave me a ring, but I hadn't given him an answer yet. I think… yes, maybe. Probably."

"Can we pretend, then? That we're family?"

"I'm not pretending," Delly says, and squeezes his hand. They don't talk anymore, but Peeta is calm for the rest of her visit, as he scrawls another recipe down in the notebook. After she leaves, I watch him for a while, but he doesn't seem to be thinking of using the pen to harm himself. He just spends more time scribbling on the paper. He scribbles on the splint they have around his knee stump while his prosthetic connections heal. It's a small, human figure. The surface isn't right for his usual precision, so I can't tell who it's supposed to be, even when I use the camera to zoom in.

He hears the hum of it and looks up, straight at me. I take a risk and turn on the microphone. "I'm here, Peeta."

He doesn't answer, but he nods and goes back to his scribbling. By the time he puts the pen aside and goes to sleep, the splint is covered with rough figures, seeming to dance along his leg.

The next day, Delly puts her ring back on, this time on her finger instead of on the chain. Peeta over-extended himself with yesterday's drawing, and his hands keep going into spasms.

Nevertheless, he spends the morning laboriously practicing his handwriting with a pencil one of the nurses fetches for him, forcing his hands to be still. The doctors aren't sure what to make of it, as the shaking problem is supposed to be a matter of medicine, not will. The tremors don't actually disappear, but as I watch Peeta through the observation window, I see what he's doing. He's learning to anticipate them, move the pencil from the paper, and stay as still as he can while they pass. By the time Delly arrives for her afternoon visit, he has switched to her pen and is carefully writing out another recipe, this time in an even, legible hand.

We take it as too good a sign. After three hours of calm conversation, Delly leaves for the evening, and Plutarch goes in. He brings up Katniss. Peeta's responses start getting faster and faster, until he is screaming and jabbering at the ceiling about how the real Katniss is dead, how she died a long time ago, and her brains were on the floor in front of her and he saw the picture. "They took her and made her a mutt! Like the wolves! Just like the wolves!"

"No one did that," Plutarch says. "I was there…"

"You helped them! You carried the body out! There were pictures!"

Security extracts Plutarch from the room while Peeta continues to rave. Guards and medics rush in to get him sedated. Once he's down, I go in. Straighten his blankets. Brush his hair back off his forehead. Feel useless.

I visit Johanna. Gale is there already, taking notes about something. He closes the notebook when I come in.

This late at night, they're starting to take her down toward sleep with a heavy dose of morphling, after which they'll wash her hair and give her a sponge bath. She can't tolerate water when she's not sedated. She blinks at me oddly when I tell her what happened, then mumbles, "Mockingjay project."

"What?"

"They asked me about it. A lot. But only when Peeta was listening. Darius, too." She yawns, then goes under.

"Sounds like this was pretty carefully planted," Gale says, as we head for dinner. "You think there are records or something you could show him to convince him?"

"If there are, we don't have any access to them." I look at his notebook. "What were you talking to Jo about?"

"Just a few things Beetee and I are working on," he says. "In her Games, she tricked people pretty well. We're trying to figure out if that's anything we can use."

"Use for… what?"

"War tactics." He sighs. "Katniss didn't much like what we were talking about, either."

"Really?" I say. "I wonder why."

Gale looks down, then changes the subject. "Plutarch says he's going to call her after dinner. Could you let me know how she's doing?"

"I'm sure they'd let you in on the call."

We reach the dining hall. "Mom says I should give her a little space," he says. "When my dad died, Mom… well, the last people she wanted to talk to were old boyfriends."

"Peeta's not dead."

"I didn't mean --"

"He's not dead, and she's not a widow, so you can stop circling like a damned vulture."

"Haymitch…"

"He is not dead." I excuse myself and go to sit with people from my hall. I realize immediately that I was harder on Gale than necessary, but I can't quite make myself go apologize.

After supper, I go with Plutarch to call Katniss in Two. I tell her that he's calmed down a little bit, but I can't very well be much more hopeful. Her voice is still sounding harsh, but I can't tell if it's from the injury or from crying.

For the first time since the Quell, I have a nightmare about Digger Hardy. In my dream, she's lying in the hospital, in Peeta's room, while we watch through the observation mirrors. Peeta is sitting with me, making notes in Delly's notebook. Digger is thrashing as she dies, cursing me, cursing all of us.

I wake up before wall-Effie thinks I need to, and I go to the hospital. Peeta woke up for a little while during the night and asked for the notebook, but had to be sedated again.

I pick up the notebook. The first two pages of recipes are almost illegible. The third is shaky. The fourth is all right. I turn it over. On the fifth page, he's drawn Katniss, her hair in jagged feathers, her mouth cruel and predatory, her hands sharp like talons.

He's scribbled over it, but I can see it well enough, tell what he's getting at. His talent is still there, but, like the rest of him, twisted into something ugly.

He is still clutching his pencil. It's too close to his face. I go to move it gently, but when I look up, his eyes are open, and he is glaring at me. I let go of the pencil.

"I was worried that you'd hurt yourself with that," I say.

"What do you care?" It's the first thing he's said to me directly since I sent him into the arena.

"I care."

"You lied to me."

"Yes."

"I wouldn't have left the others. They wouldn't have taken me."

"Peeta -- "

"You said you'd tell me everything. You lied."

"It was so… Peeta, you have to understand. It was -- "

"Go away. Drink yourself to death or something."

He puts his arm over his eyes.

I leave the room and go to observation.

We go on.

Every few days, there is a new propo from Katniss in District Two, where we are trying to get the average citizens to rally against the military installation in the old mine, the one they've taken to calling the Nut. Lyme is not letting her into any of the skirmishes, but she goes among the wounded, helping where she can, and feeds people at a soup kitchen. She's even shown hunting to get extra food for the rebels. She relates news from the other districts, all now mainly calmed down and under rebel control, and from the slow strangulation of the Capitol. She's reliable, even inspirational if you don't notice her unfocused eyes, the hesitation in her words. Other people don't seem to notice. There are interviews with people on the street who are devoted to her as much as her sponsors ever were. Lyme tells us that only the people working in the Nut and their closest allies are really fighting now.

Unfortunately, that's not a small contingent, and they have better guns.

Every day, Delly sits with Peeta. He's managed to recover most of the family recipes from his head, and is trying to draw more. I manage to get him a sketchbook.

He makes Delly a picture of herself with Ed, sitting on the steps of the shoe store. It's almost like the old Peeta, but it's followed by a series of monstrous drawings of Katniss. Plutarch tries to reassure Katniss in their phone calls, but I don't. After the initial improvement, Peeta has remained very steady. He lets me in sometimes, but he doesn't let me talk to him much, and when the subject of Katniss comes up, he goes wild.

After a week of this, Prim comes up with the idea of trying to re-drug him, to re-associate his memories with good feelings. The torture experts seem to think the idea has merit. Either that, or they just want to have a whack at hijacking someone, and this seems like a good opportunity. It's always hard to tell with government scientists.

The doctors prepare a mild dose of morphling, and a tea made with herbs Ruth uses to help melancholy, then they cue up a video from the first Games. I go in and sit with him, and he's mellow enough to let me. They've chosen the story Katniss told him about how she bought Prim's goat.

Peeta watches it silently. It ends.

"Does she look like a mutt?" I ask. "Peeta, you saw it. It's not altered."

He blinks rapidly, opens his mouth, closes it.

For four hours, this continues, this fish-mouthed stare at the now-blank screen. I go to Prim in observation.

She shakes her head. "I don’t know, Haymitch. He's not raving, anyway. But…"

I go back in. Finally, around lunch, Peeta asks how the goat is. I tell him we don't know.

"The bombs," he says. "The goat's dead, isn't it? And don't lie to me anymore."

"We don't know," I say. "But probably. No one's seen it."

He makes a choked kind of sound.

"Do you want to try again?" I ask.

He shakes his head. "They… they gave her Katniss's memories. Obviously." There is no vitriol in this. It's more like he's trying to convince himself.

The morphling takes over, and he goes back to sleep.

He's still fairly calm the next day, and he accepts a visit from Annie Cresta. She gives him a shaky smile and says they haven't been properly introduced, which I suppose is true. I doubt Snow or the Peacekeepers were worrying about social niceties when they held a gun to her head to make him behave. She thanks him for making the Peacekeeper give her a coat.

"I don't remember doing that," he says.

"You did, though. They were hurting you, but you made them cover me. It was very gentlemanly."

He nods. They talk for a few more minutes. Annie leaves without incident.

I go in. Peeta's face is turned away from the door.

"That was good," I tell him. "Annie's been looking forward to saying thank you."

He doesn't say anything.

I turn to go.

From the bed, I hear, "My dad always said to be a gentleman."

I turn back. Peeta has pulled himself up, and is halfway sitting. "You were always good at it," I say.

He blinks at me a few times and says, "I want my dad, Haymitch."

I nod. "Yeah. I know you do. I miss him, too."

"I really want my dad." He starts crying, and sinks into the pillows, holding the notebook of recipes against his chest, and not acknowledging me any further.

Later, Delly goes to visit him. She tells him stories about his father. He keeps begging for more of them, and by the time she leaves, she is exhausted and teary herself. I sit down and have a glass of water with her (about the only thing that can be consumed outside the dining hall).

"They think we need to lock him up with the crazy people," she says. "I heard them. The other doctors, the ones that aren't on the team. They don't think this is doing any good."

"I wondered about that."

"We're using too many resources, they say. It's all very sad after everything he did for them, but really, all there is for him is sedating him and sticking him in a padded room somewhere."

"Yeah."

She looks around shiftily. "I looked at files, Haymitch. I wasn't supposed to, but I was all alone, and no one saw me. There are a lot of people in the crazy ward. Way more than there should be in a population this size."

I take a more careful look than she did, decide no one is paying attention, and say, "What are you thinking, Delly?"

"I don't know yet. But I want to find out. Before they decide to wrap Peeta up in cotton and call it a day."

I nod. "Be careful."

"Yeah." She bites her lip. "And Haymitch -- let Plutarch give them the reports about Peeta. He's more cheerful about it than you are."

I agree.

The next day, I'm scheduled at Command for the first time since Peeta got back. We are studying the problem of the Nut, or "Capitol Strategic Command," as Coin calls it. Katniss is rallying District Two nicely, and keeping the other districts at high energy, but none of it will do any good if we can't break the back of the Capitol's military holdings.

"I don't think we can work this without the District Two leaders," Beetee says. "We should send in some of our strategists."

"They can work from here perfectly well," Coin says.

I shake my head. "No, it makes a difference to be there. Boots on the ground. Get a feel for the place."

One of her colonels, named Cochrane, agrees. "We ought to send a few of the young folks. They're fast thinkers."

"Gale Hawthorne," Beetee says. "He should go, certainly."

"Soldier Hawthorne has duties here," Coin says.

"But he would be more useful there."

She sighs. "Very well. Hawthorne will go. Maybe Colonel Cochrane here. Soldier Bruce has also been showing a good deal of potential, and she hasn't had an opportunity to test it in the field…"

In the end, they choose a handful to go, and they are put into a quick training schedule about District Two.

I go back to the hospital.

Finnick and Annie join us in observation now. Peeta has broken through the tears for his father, but is developing a peculiarly sullen attitude. He claims that no one is listening to him, everyone thinks he's crazy. They're all crazy. He's not. He doesn't consent to another test with the morphling.

I join Plutarch for his call to Katniss. He tries to be positive, as usual. I tell her about Prim's idea, and how it worked out. She doesn't sound hopeful. Maybe it's because I don't sound hopeful. I tell her that Command is sending out some of the brains to help out with the Nut. It doesn't occur to me until after I hang up that I haven't mentioned that Gale will be among them, but I somehow doubt she'll be surprised. Gale is in his element here, doing what he always wanted to do -- trying to overthrow the Capitol. I guess Katniss will be expecting him no matter what I forget to say.

I visit Johanna. She is recuperating, and hasn't had a seizure for days. They've lowered her dose of morphling.

"I wish they wouldn't do that," she says. "I still hurt. My arms. They hung me by my arms, and my shoulders hurt. I need the medicine. Will you tell them that?"

I frown. I recognize the tone in her voice. I've heard it from Berenice Morrow and Paulin Gibbs from Six.

Hell, I've heard it from myself.

It's not the sound of someone who's not getting enough medicine. It's the sound of someone who will never, ever get enough.

"Haymitch?"

"Johanna, I think they're pretty careful about that kind of thing."

"I need it."

"I know you do. Trust me, I know."

She gives me a disgusted sounding snort and rolls over, moaning dramatically.

The next morning when I go to visit her, Gale is there, saying goodbye before he leaves.

"You just keep fighting," he says. "You'll be fine."

"I don't know how to do anything else," she says. "Well, that's not true. Maybe someday I'll show you my other skills."

He rolls his eyes hugely, gives her a smart wave, and leaves.

"You know he's in love with Katniss," I say.

"I know he thinks he is. He told me so on our last go-round about it. Notice that he came back." She presses down on the needle in her arm. "Come on, give me another drop…"

I ask the doctors if they could give her a little increase. They promptly test me to see if I've been taking it from her.

I go and sit with Peeta. He's still angry with me, but he's not explosive about it. He just doesn't talk to me.

I talk into the silence. I tell him about the rebellion, about how angry victors started to meet clandestinely, riding the rails to our secret spots in the out-districts. About how Plutarch grew up a rebel, was brainwashed, and came back. About how they took Effie and stole her mind. He seems to absorb this, though it didn't occur to me when I started talking that it was applicable to him.

He doesn't talk.

I open my mouth to tell him about my friendship with Danny, about the things we did together, but I'm a coward in the end. I don't want to start him crying again. I tell him about my mother and brother, and Maysilee, and Digger.

"I guess it's strange to think of me ever loving anyone," I say. "But I did. I never was any good at it. Not with Digger. Not with…" No response. "I wonder sometimes what it might have been like if she hadn't died. If we'd have had kids. Maybe I wouldn't have been drunk so much. Maybe…" I sigh. "But it didn't happen. Everything I did after that was about paying the Capitol back for what they did. Everything until you two came along, anyway." I have learned not to say Katniss's name. He can deal with the obvious thought of her without flying off the handle, but her name will send him over the edge. "After that, I might have given it all up if I thought it would help you. But I didn't think that. I thought the best thing for you was for us to win the war."

He gives me a guarded look. "Yeah?"

"Yeah. We're making it up as we go along. I wish we weren't. I wish I had a grand plan. I wish I'd let you in on it. I was afraid of what would happen to you if you knew."

He snorts. "Good job with the protection," he says.

"I know. I screwed up."

"That's an understatement." He picks at his blankets listlessly. "Are we going to win?"

"I think so."

"Will it matter?"

"What do you mean?"

He shrugs. "My family will still be dead. Your family will still be dead. District Twelve will still be dead. Does it matter who's in charge of the ashes?"

"Maybe not to us."

He looks away. "You spent too long in the Games, Haymitch. You think like a Gamemaker."

There is no more conversation. I stay until he sleeps.
9 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
redrikki From: redrikki Date: November 10th, 2015 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like the additions. They're subtle but they help add to the world building, like the differences in curriculum in 10 vs. 12.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 11th, 2015 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I imagine Haymitch getting peevish about things his education missed (though, to be honest, he tended to study only what was relevant to him at the moment, anyway).
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 11th, 2015 07:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
When Johanna first talks about what happened to Peeta, she says they "dragged" him, but I think you mean they "drugged" him. Either that or you need an "in" or "around" or something.

Other than that, it's perfect. Haymitch really is very smart when he has something to focus on.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 11th, 2015 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Also, I thought of you at work yesterday when a man named Millard came into the office and I thought he said his name was Millet. I thought, Fern should use that for someone from the grain growing district!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 11th, 2015 11:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll grab that.

Yes, Haymitch applying his intelligence, unimpeded by booze and with a real motivating factor, is kind of voracious about the knowledge acquisition!
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 13th, 2015 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yknow, if you ever combined the text for all of these fics into PDFs and made them available, I'd definitely download them and read them all the time! I enjoy reading your fics as much as the original books, tbh. -Kate
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 14th, 2015 01:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, this one is a chapter of a novel (part of a series of nine), all available at AO3, which does let you download, but I'd wait until this one is finished with its edits, since the whole thing is a little disjointed just now.

The ficlets are just me goofing around. If they ever amount to something, they'll end up, in some form, in the long stories.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: November 15th, 2015 06:50 am (UTC) (Link)

A Few Catches/Feedback

after which, they'll Think you may have a superfluous comma there?

mild dose of morphing Just missing the l in morphling.

sticking him a padded room Just missing an in before padded.

what it might been like Just missing a have before been.

I really like what you're doing with the edits. Some really fabulous expansion on the every day ins and outs of D13; I loved the explanation about the use of the handhelds.

And I really liked that the people from Twelve--especially people like Sae you didn't really get to play with much in the original version--are getting their moment to shine.

This chapter does such a fantastic job showing that awful limbo period, when they're doing everything they can, and they're pretty much at the mercy of a miracle that probably won't come. Trying to spin that in any way that could be construed as positive would be frustrating beyond belief.

Also: loved the added sentence when he was talking about Digger about never being good at love with, and then just trailing off. Because there are so many people Haymitch would feel he'd failed, and Effie being in the Capitol would be bringing it back. As far as he'd be concerned, it's far better to just stop than to give the laundry list--especially of people Peeta doesn't know. But that was so sad and poignant, especially since he didn't actually fail any of them--even the things that could be seen as failures like abandoning Mimi post-reeducation were fundamentally Snow's doing.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 15th, 2015 06:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: A Few Catches/Feedback

mild dose of morphing Just missing the l in morphling
Just slipped into the Teddyverse for a minute there. Peeta's a metamorphmagus, and he'll totally feel better if he changes his hair color. ;p

There's so much about mental health that's more cultural than medical. What might work really well on a rich movie star from California (or a Capitolite) isn't necessarily going to do much for an old Puritan farmer in rural Maine, because all of the associations are different. So I think the people from Twelve are on the right track, trying to tie Peeta back to his real identity instead of putting him through by-the-book psychotherapy.

Haymitch does feel like he's failed all the people he's loved -- Peeta maybe most spectacularly -- but I feel like here, he's maybe doing the best he's ever done at it, giving Peeta the stable strength that he needs most.
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