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Challenges 10 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Challenges 10
What if Prim hadn't been killed in Mockingjay? how would that have changed things. for Anon

In my dreams, I see it flashing.

I am reaching over to help the small boy who is cradling his sister, and the parachute on the ground is the last thing on my mind. But a flash of light catches my eye, and my mind calls back the seal of the Union of Districts, lying against the wall of the train station. I look up at the hover craft. Around the Capitol Seal -- bolt marks.

"Get under cover!" I scream. "Hit the ground!"

In my dreams, there is no place to hide. The fire scorches out, and I feel my flesh burn from my bones.

In reality, I grabbed the boy away from his sister and rolled us beneath the platform from which Snow gave his speeches every year. We are jammed in behind others who heard me.

Not enough others.

I should have seen it sooner. Haymitch says he should have seen it, because Delly told him she saw people painting the Capitol seal in Thirteen. Gale thinks it's his fault because he coughed up an idea for a trap meant to be used in a military context. Somehow or other, Katniss has managed to twist it into her fault, as well, though I can't begin to follow the logic there.

All I know is that thirty-seven people are dead, most of them kids, because none of us had enough information to put everything together, starting with the piece of information that Alma Coin was a very evil woman. Haymitch says he knows that, but I think he was just irritated with her at the time and is interpreting it backward.

So, thirty-seven dead. Katniss saw me scramble and got down from the flagpole she'd climbed -- she ended up with a broken arm in the trampling, but she hit the ground, and the deadly flower of fire went over her. But others were injured badly. Peeta Mellark had most of the skin on his arms singed off when he tried to carry victims, though it got replaced by nice grafts before everything fell apart. Somehow, there was no nerve damage to his hands.

Someone shakes my shoulder and brings up to the waking world. "Prim?" Katniss is looking at me, concerned. "You okay? You were dreaming."

"The explosion again," I say. "I'm okay." I sit up and lean against the stone wall, looking up at the sky. "Where is everyone?"

"Gale's hunting," she says. "Peeta and Caesar are on watch. Effie and Haymitch are trying to contact Plutarch in Four. Delly and Octavia are foraging. Mom's trying to do something with Johanna's foot -- Jo's not taking it very well."

"It's broken, then?"

She nods. "Yeah. Pretty bad, I guess."

"Did Haymitch figure which side was in the hover crafts this time?"

"Snow's people," Katniss tells me dully. "He dropped me some roses again. Haymitch found them in the ravine."

"It's not your fault he got away in the chaos."

"No. But maybe it's my fault that when he got back to the Capitol, they welcomed him. I led a rebellion in the name of the people who firebombed their kids. I'd have come after us, too."

"But you didn't know that Coin would do that."

"Maybe I should have before I let them stick me out there in front of the cameras. This is because of me, Prim. I should have... I don't know. I should have said something! I should have... maybe I should have let them kill me."

"There's a good plan. They kill you. Then they decide that's not enough blood and kill Gale. Oh, and Peeta, too, because they know he'd pick up the mantle. I'm more or less a given, and Mom. But you know that wouldn't be enough. Maybe someone would say, 'The districts need to pay more for this.' And then every year, four kids get sent to die. Go on -- tell me why that wouldn't happen if you'd just surrendered."

"Because I'm not the whole rebellion. Everyone would keep fighting, just like they are."

"No, they wouldn't. You know that. They'd eventually surrender, and we'd be back where we started, except probably worse. You know Snow's going to annihilate Thirteen's arsenal as soon as he has the firepower back, and he'll probably take the district with it this time."

She takes a deep, shaky breath. "I guess. We're going to have to move on tomorrow. The attack knocked out a good part of the force field. One side or the other is going to send in troops."

"Is that what we're trying to reach Plutarch about? To find another arena to stay in?"

She smiles bitterly. "Yeah. Well stocked and well protected, and only Plutarch has the entry codes. Until they get bombed, of course. Or electrocuted. Or until someone decides to fry us inside."

"It won't be forever," I promise her. "Plutarch and Beetee will break into the airwaves again. We'll get people to calm down. There have to be people out there who don't blame you. Because blaming you is nuts."

"The rebellion thinks I betrayed them when I turned Coin in. The Capitol... well, I can't argue with the Capitol."

"There were plenty of people there who didn't blame you for anything until Snow came back. They wanted you in the government after you handed Coin over. They listened to our evidence. They convicted her legally. They pardoned you for everything to do with the war!"

"Those people were executed."

"Not all of them. They can't have been. You had a lot of support in the Capitol, and there's no way Snow really killed that many people or got them to actually change their minds."

"Do you really believe that, Prim?"


She pokes at our campfire. "Think you can make me believe it?"

I smile. "I usually can. Where do you want me to start?"

Gale/Prim/Delly's reaction to see Katniss in the Chariot fire-getup or her first interview dress? for Anon

There are cameras on me from three angles when the parade starts, so I can't show the one thought that's been going through my head all afternoon: Don't let them be naked.

Partly, it's hoping that they won't humiliate my sister that way -- they've done it to tributes before -- but mostly it's that if Katniss is put into a chariot with a naked boy, she'll probably faint, and that won't make her look good to sponsors. I don't understand why she's like that -- we've had plenty of naked people in the house when Mom takes care of them -- but my sister, who can put our whole lives back together out of absolutely nothing, face the Games with her head held high, and risk severe punishment every day to get us food just can't deal with nakedness. I'm not sure she looks at herself when she has a bath, to be honest.

But whatever it is they do, even if it's a whole lot of skin with a coating of coal dust, I will have to treat it like it's the most amazing thing I ever saw. Everyone is watching. Waiting to see what I'll do. Because I'm the one who's supposed to be up there, and Katniss threw herself to the wolves for my sake.

Everything I do matters now.

District One comes out, sparkling in fur and jewels. District Two, a pair of granite statues. District Three, a lot of wires. District Four, mermaids.

The commentary as they pass through the crowd is typical. The coverage moves on to City Circle and the usual nattering that goes on about the Capitol socialites in the audience -- the biggest would-be sponsors. Their great charitable works through the year are extolled, and their fashion sense is praised, even though they look perfectly ridiculous. Every now and then, they cut to the crowd along the parade route. It's all like any other year. Except that it's my sister who's going to be coming out last.

"This year," Claudius Templesmith says, "we're seeing a sophistication from our stylists, a certain mythical understanding. District One's references to ancient monarchies, District Two -- " He pauses. "Ah, I understand there's some excitement along the parade route. Let's cut to the training center."

The camera switches over to the crowd, where many people are suddenly standing up. Children are raised over parents' heads. A girl faints.

"What have we here?" Claudius asks. "I think it's... well, hello -- it's District Twelve! And... and..."

For the first time since I've been watching the Games, Claudius Templesmith's words fail him.

The camera pans over to the entrance of the training center, and my hand goes to my throat.

Flames stream up into the Capitol twilight, and my sister, burning like torch, is smiling and waving to everyone around her, catching kisses thrown by the crowd. Beside her, Peeta Mellark is smiling and waving as well, on fire as well, but he's stepped back, just a little bit -- putting her subtly ahead of him, making her the focus of the cameras.

He's holding her hand, and the fire wraps around their fingers.

Katniss raises her arm higher, then touches her fingers to her mouth and throws a kiss to the audience. They go wild, trying to catch it like it's a physical thing. The crowd is ignoring all of the others, ignoring even the screens high above them, showing the triumphant entrance of the chariots into City Circle. Katniss is holding them in her hand; they belong to her.

"That's my sister..." I say.

This will be caught later, played over and over through the Games. I look wildly happy when I say it, and I will see it and wonder why I look that way, because what I feel is a kind of superstitious awe. I am seeing a ghost -- a ghost of a girl who I haven't seen for years -- and feeling a ghost as well. I don't even feel like I've really said it out loud, though in the clip, I seem to be shouting. Katniss is barely human on screen, wreathed in flames, while Peeta drops almost imperceptibly behind her, always moving her toward the cameras.

I look around the square at my friends and neighbors, the ones who've grown so used to the sullen, cold Katniss who's had to take over the family that they've forgotten this one. Katniss has forgotten her, I think.

I haven't.

I was only seven when Daddy died, but I remember him walking Katniss home from school. She would wait for hours in town for him to get out of the mines, and they'd walk home together, coming down along the Seam, singing at the top of their lungs. Daddy would swing her up onto his shoulders, and she'd laugh and wave and smile just like she's doing now. He'd come into our house -- she'd duck a little to get under the door -- and then he'd swing her down and bow to her, and she'd twirl and laugh and I'd get laughing, and he'd pick me up as well and ask how his little princess was feeling today, and then Mom would come out and she'd be smiling and wearing something pretty, with her hair all combed out and soft and he'd bow and say, in his special voice, "And of course, her highness, the queen..."

It's my sister up there.

I don't know how she found her way to that girl again, but I know her. I'd know her anywhere. I wonder if there's some way that Daddy is helping her again, helping her be loved.

Because she is loved. The crowds continue to go wild all the way to City Circle. The other chariots barely get a second glance. Even when the president is speaking, the cameras keep going back to Katniss and Peeta, smoldering in the night. And, to be honest, it's mostly Katniss. The camera, if anything, loves her even more than the crowd does. She tries to pull Peeta forward once, but he stays back. I don't know what he's doing, but I love him for it.

I glance over at the Mellarks. Mrs. Mellark seems confused, but then I see the baker's face. He's seen what I've seen, but he doesn't love Katniss. It's his son he loves, and he realizes that Peeta is making a sacrifice play. He's weeping openly.

I take Mom's hand and lead the way over to them. She balks for a second when she realizes where I'm going, but I don't let her stop.

We're in this together.

Just like they are.
17 comments or Leave a comment
cleindori From: cleindori Date: June 18th, 2013 05:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Prim... *sniffle*
beceh From: beceh Date: June 18th, 2013 05:57 am (UTC) (Link)
My reaction exactly.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 18th, 2013 02:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I like her. :D
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 18th, 2013 11:22 am (UTC) (Link)


Be careful what you wish for. Change something small to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy and the entire universe goes to hell in a handbasket.

You are past mistress in this art. Now I don't even want Prim to have lived!

Although I did think it was clever for Plutarch to hide them in Arenas.

Sara Libby
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 18th, 2013 12:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Man...

I´m kind of confused why it would end up with everything going to hell in a handbasket.

I mean how do we go from prim being alive to katniss handing in coin and snow taking over again?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 18th, 2013 02:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Man...

Well... it wouldn't be a very interesting AU if the only thing that changed was a character being alive. So I thought about what might lead to that character being alive, and how that might change things.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 18th, 2013 02:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Man...

Well, it's not about Prim living so much as the whole business having blown up in Coin's face.

I rarely do fluffy AUs. (Ref: "By the Grace of Lady Vader." :p)
redrikki From: redrikki Date: June 18th, 2013 02:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Prim. I like in the second one how observant she is about her sister, about Peeta, about Peeta's family. Even at 12, she's a whole lot more self-aware than Katniss ever was.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 18th, 2013 02:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Being more self-aware than Katniss isn't very hard! :D

Prim is quite observant, though. I liked in Mockingjay how she was able to suss out Katniss's situation in about two seconds and give her better advice than most of her other mentors combined.
barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: June 18th, 2013 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know how she found her way to that girl again, but I know her. I'd know her anywhere. I wonder if there's some way that Daddy is helping her again, helping her be loved.

Oh. Oh my.

I'm going to steal some of this for My Papa's Daughter.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 19th, 2013 01:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I think Mr. Everdeen casts a bigger shadow than is verbally acknowledged in the books.
valerie_valerah From: valerie_valerah Date: June 18th, 2013 04:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I absolutely adore your Prim. She is the essence of goodness without being annoyingly fluffy (as portrayed in Star Crossed: The Musical).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 19th, 2013 01:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I think Prim would have turned out a pretty extraordinary young woman.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 18th, 2013 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)


Both super strong Prim stories. I really like the way you have her steadily maturing in your stories, becoming the amazing woman she would have been. Felt a little twinge at the possible future. Bad for Panem, still at war and fighting but ultimately better for Katniss (even with the guilt). She has Peeta, Prim, her mother, Gale. All whole and loving her. Better ending for her.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 19th, 2013 01:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Prim

In a lot of ways, yes.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 19th, 2013 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
the prim and everyone watching the girl on fire segment was so great.

really liking that detail of prim noticing happy katniss. even when katniss thought it was just acting- her sister can see it´s not

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 19th, 2013 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it is just acting (she's heading out to die, as far as she knows), but it's a character that comes from a real place and, I think, probably emerges from having someone there who wants people to love her.
17 comments or Leave a comment