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Fluffy Challenges 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Fluffy Challenges 1
Okay ... I'd like something about Haymitch and Digger, before they got together. Maybe throw in Haymitch's mom and Lacklen, if you'd like? for Anon
"Can I touch it?"

I look up.

Indigo Hardy is standing at the flap of my makeshift blanket tent, grinning. There's so little breeze outside that I didn't even feel her open it. She has her hair in pigtails, which probably keeps more of it off her neck than my short cut does. "Hey, Digger," I say. "Aren't you supposed to be at the Community Home?"

"It's hot in there. I snuck out. Figured you'd be sleeping outside, too. Where's your brother?"

I shrug. "He hates sleeping outside. Mom, too. So they're just practically hanging their heads out the windows inside."

"Oh." She comes inside and drops down beside me, looking over my shoulder at Dad's dictionary. "So… can I touch it?"

I hold the dictionary up. "Careful. It's kind of old."

She extends one finger and touches the crumbly yellow page. "It's just a list of words?"

"Yeah. With the meanings, and where they come from."

"Can't you get that on the computer at school?"

"They can change it on the computer if they feel like it. You'd never know better. Dad said to check the oldest dictionary you can find, and maybe a few more." I shrug. "Not that there are many more. There isn't even one in the school library. Just the computer."

She seems unimpressed. She's been in and out of my house for a year now, since we were nine, and I'm never really sure what she thinks. She leans back and drinks from a bottle of water that she has. "So, what does my name mean? I know it's a real word."

"It means someone who digs."

"Look it up!"

I do. "There are five definitions in here. First one, someone who digs. Second one, a machine that digs. Oh, here's one with a capital letter. A member of some tribe that digs for roots. And they called some soldiers… somewhere… diggers. And some people in a political party. But it's all about digging."

"What does 'dig' mean?"


She grins. "This is fun. And we have to do 'indigo,' too."

I look up "dig," which is a really, really long entry that ends with the disappointing word history of "possibly derived from OE dic, ditch."

"Great. I'm a ditch. How about Indigo?"

"It's a plant, and a dye, and a color." Before she can ask, I scan down to the bottom. "It's from the Spanish and Portuguese, which are from the Latin, which is from the Greek Indikos -- "

"What's Greek?"

"Old language, I guess. From somewhere in Europe. Lots of words end up Greek."

"Oh. What's Indikos?"

"Indic. Which means" -- I turn the page back -- "of or from India. There's a map up front." I turn to it and point to a triangle shaped part of Asia that's marked as "India." Dad or Granddad drew on it, trying to find the old lines, from before the Catastrophes. A note marks that there was volcanic ash there, and famine, and a plague, and a war. It also mentions District Three, but doesn't say why.

Digger takes the book gently and looks at it. "Of or from India. I like that better than being a ditch. Don't know what it has to do with my plant, though. Do you know anything about India?"

"Why would I know anything about India?"

"I don't know. You know lots of things. That's what I like about you."


"Yeah. It's fun."

"Well… I don't know anything about India. I could find out. You want to meet me in the library?"

She laughs. "Right. I'm going to go looking up old countries."

"Why not?"

She just laughs again. "You just tell me what you find. I bet it will be fun. Do you think, in India, they mined coal?"

"It looks like a big country. I bet they did somewhere."

"And played the fiddle?"

"No idea."

She thinks about this for a while. "I bet they read dictionaries, too. And slept outside when it got warm." She squirms around and lies down on her side. "Wonder if I'd be pretty in India."

"You're pretty here. Why wouldn't you be pretty there?"

She shrugs. "I'm too skinny. Everyone says so. And Granite Blythe says I'm bug-eyed. I think I'd be pretty in India."

"Then this tent is India, 'cause you're pretty enough here." I roll my eyes. "Now stop being an idiot."

She shakes her head. "You see, that's why no one else hangs out with you, Haymitch. You have to learn not to tack the word 'idiot' onto what started out as a compliment."

"Why would I want anyone to hang out with me?"

This gets a giant eyeroll. "Read me another word," she says.

"What word?"


"It's not a word. It's a name. Mom says it means 'James,' but that's just a name, too. And I can't tell how they got one from the other, anyway."

"What were you reading before I came in?"

"How long do you mean to stay?"

"It's hot at the Community Home," she says again. "I don't mean to go back until I get some sleep."

"Fine," I say. "I was reading about fire. It's got fifty-seven things listed under it…."

I'd like to see something between Ruth and Glen. for Anon
If there's one thing for sure in my life, it's that Ruth doesn't belong in this house. Nothing as pretty as she is belongs anywhere near the Seam. She shouldn't have coal dust mucking up her space, either. I decide that I can at least do something about that. I'll make sure that the house is as free of it as it's possible to get.

"Oh, look!" she says. "There's a big cupboard over the stove. We can put in food, but there'll be room for my herbs, too. Dad says he doesn't mind if I help people down here."

"Guess it wouldn't exactly cut into his business."

"I'll have to keep it quiet, though. The Capitol doesn't like anyone helping out without being licensed."

"You weren't licensed to help me with those whip welts."

She shrugs indifferently. "Technically, I was Dad."

I raise my eyebrows. "I'm kind of disturbed by that image."

She laughs and spins around, taking in the sooty, spare little main room. There's a single bedroom off to the side, which she glances at, then grins at me slyly. She holds out her hand. "Shall we try that room out?"

"Let's check the rest of the house first," I say, though there's not much to check. "Once we get in there, I'm not leaving."

She runs across the great room to the window, which looks out on the forest. It's dirty and I can see a chip that's just waiting to be a crack. It looks like the house I grew up in. It doesn't look like hers, or like the house Danny could have given her.

She smiles brightly, resting her hands on the windowsill. "Mama's kitchen curtains will fit right here. You don't mind if I put them up, do you? I didn't ask if they were your style. She just wanted to give me something to start housekeeping with."

She turns and looks at her hands, which are now spotted with black dust. She frowns and wipes it on her blouse.

"Sorry about that," I say. "Most of the houses down here…"

She waves it off. "I'll get a bucket while you're at work tomorrow, and I'll scrub it down until you could eat off it. She goes to a little storage alcove on the other side of the room. "Glen, there's a little bench back here! We could do this up cute, and maybe you could play your banjo and sing at night right there. It'll be our family spot. The neighbors can come and visit, and we can have sing-alongs and maybe old Hick could play his fiddle again. She bites her lip and darts over to the stove, which looks about a hundred years old. "I'll cook whatever you bring me. And…" She opens the cupboard and claps in delight. "Look! Someone came here before us! It was Danny and Haymitch."

I go over. There's a loaf of fresh bread wrapped in a towel sitting on the bottom shelf of the cupboard. Behind it is a can of salt, and a bottle of white liquor. "That was nice of them."

She turns and squeezes my hands. "We're going to have a good life here, Glen. Can't you feel it? I still have some of my friends, and we have all of yours. And… what's wrong?"

"You should have a better house. You ought to have a palace."

She touches my cheek. "Got a husband I love. All the palaces in the world aren't better than that. And there's no queen that ever lived who heard music as fine as we'll have every day. And I mean that metaphorically as well as literally, in case you were wondering."

I laugh. "Ruthie, I have no idea what you just said. You're going to have to teach me to talk fancy."

"I don't want you to talk fancy."

"I'll talk as I like. And I like fancy. You make me feel fancy."

She bites her lip, then reaches over and takes my hand. "Well, then," she says, "I think it's time for you to get a little fancy with me, sir."

"Do you now?"

She crooks her finger at me and walks backward toward the bedroom, pulling me along with her.

I don't know how fancy we get, but by the time the sun sets, I'm pretty well convinced I'm in a palace.
10 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 11th, 2013 08:36 am (UTC) (Link)
So cute! Love everything you write but the sweetness is especially lovely after the sadness of the last story.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 13th, 2013 07:24 am (UTC) (Link)
It's a relief. I started just write a fluffy one-shot, but I found I wanted to do a bunch of them, so I figured a fluffy challenge call would feed the need.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 11th, 2013 08:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks a lot! I really enjoyed these two snippets :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 13th, 2013 07:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad you liked!
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 11th, 2013 08:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Haymitch's father reading (and explaining) a forbidden book to Haymitch! I'd like to see the seeds of Haymitch's morality in his father
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 13th, 2013 07:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I think that probably is the root of a lot of his beliefs.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 12th, 2013 11:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooooo.... what does District 3 have to do with India?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 13th, 2013 07:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I've mentioned a few times that (at least in my version), District Three has a strong south Asian influence after the ingathering. Most of the D3 names I've tossed in are bastardizations of Indian names (kind of like "Peeta" from "Peter" or "Haymitch" from "Hamish").
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 13th, 2013 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh I love this snippet of Ruth and Glen as newlyweds. I would love to see more of them, there isn't enough good 1st gen Everdeen fluff in the Hunger Games fandom.
gabrielladusult From: gabrielladusult Date: October 21st, 2013 02:09 am (UTC) (Link)
As much as I loved your Haymitch POV from Mockingjay, I haven't yet read The End of the World. Knowing how it ends makes me want to be really in the right place when I read it, I think. But I like how you have Haymitch here, reading a dictionary and educating himself. I like your take on his backstory and how you've made him more than just a broken alcoholic.

The gifts that Haymitch and Danny leave in "Palace" reminded me of It's a Wonderful Life -- which I guess the whole snippet sort of thematically reminded me of too. In a good way, just in case you have something against Jimmy Stewart or Frank Capra.
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