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Fluffy Challenges 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Fluffy Challenges 3
How about something with Katniss and her dad? for Anon
"How come we don't have the banjo anymore?" Katniss asks out of nowhere, as I walk home from the school with her. I was late from the mines, and she must have waited an hour for me, but she stood up and cheered and ran over to me like she never had a better present in her life. I know I never did.

"You remember the banjo?" I ask, figuring maybe I can distract her from it. "You were awful little when we had that. No bigger'n a fat raccoon."

"I remember. You sang the song about the lady and the brand new fishies in the old man's hat."

"In old Manhattan," I say. "I still sing that."

She frowns at me. "But it used to be with the banjo. I remember because you made fishy sounds on the strings." She mimes plucking the strings, though honestly, she looks more like she's about to fire an arrow at herself. "Blub, blub-bub-blub-bubba…"

"You got one too many blubs, there. It's just, blub-bub-blub-bubba… the ba is really loud. We can sing it later."

"But how come there's no banjo?"

I sigh. "Well… do you remember when Prim came along and Mama had to walk her around sometimes at night, with the steam going?"


"She needed some medicine. We didn't have a whole lot to trade for it, but my banjo… that was just about enough."

"Oh. You traded the banjo for Prim!"

I consider this. "You know, that's kind of a fair way to put it. I think it was a good trade. Prim's much better than a banjo."

Since I know Katniss thinks Prim is the best doll ever made, I know she's not going to argue with it. At seven, she doesn’t know enough to wonder why I'd have to make a choice like that, either. The world just is the way it is. She walks along quietly, then says, "What's a hattan?"


"You said it's not an old man's hat. You said it's his hattan."

"Oh, no. It's not an old man's anything. It's old and then, an island that's mostly not there anymore. It was called Manhattan. Used to be covered with buildings as tall as mountains."

"Were they so heavy they made it sink?"

"No. It was right by the ocean, and when the waters came up, it went under."

She walks a little way. "Wait. If the buildings were big as mountains, wouldn't they still be above the water? Couldn't people just live in the top of them?"

I smile. Katniss isn't given to flights of fancy -- even when she tells Prim stories, they're about things she sees every day -- but when she does fly off on them, they tend to be dillies. "I imagine you could," I say. "Why, you could just set it up so's you swim from building to building. Just jump out the window and swim out to school, then off to work."

"But then, everybody'd show up in their skivvies."

"Well, maybe everyone has a fine suit of clothes waiting for them at school."

"Hmm." She nods solemnly, then sings,

Pretty lady liberty in robes so fine
Took a swim into town along the subway line…

She stops again. "What's a subway line?"

I shake my head. "That one, I don't even have a guess about."

"You don't?"

She looks so crestfallen that I reach for anything. "Maybe… well, 'sub' usually means 'under.' So maybe there's a line or something under the ocean. When we're digging for coal, there's sometimes lines of other kinds of rocks. Maybe she's following a line like that."

"Oh. That makes sense. But why is the lady, Liberty, wearing robes to swim in? Wouldn't they get heavy? Is it like Mama's bathrobe?"

"I don't know."

"I think she ought to take off her fine robes and swim in her skivvies like I do. She'd get real clean that way, too."

We reach the square. I glance up the bakery. If Danny's there, we generally make an effort to sound like we're the best friends who've ever lived. The thought is that if we do that often enough, people will stop treating my blond little girl as if she has the wrong last name, which Ruth and Danny both assure me isn't even possible.

Danny isn't out, though his littlest boy, Peeta, is sweeping the porch. He stops and stares at us. I wave to him, and he smiles like he's just gotten a personal visit from his favorite television star, or maybe even that weird little animated owl that the kids all watch on Sunday mornings. He runs inside.

"That's Peeta," Katniss says. "He's in school with me."

"I see."

She goes back to singing, taking lady liberty to visit her friends the fishes (though Katniss insists that they're "fishies" and always has).

By the time we get back to the Seam, we're blub-bub-blub-bubbing at the top of our lungs, while the lady does her fish dance, which involves shaking her tail. Women like to do this song with bawdy dance moves, and Ruth wasn't happy when Katniss started singing it, but Katniss is seven. As far as she's concerned, shaking her tail is just acting like a fish. It's always accompanied by a fish-face with puffed out cheeks. She also tends to flip her arms around like fins.

"Blub-bub-blub-bubba, blub-bub-blub-bubba…"

We reach the house as the neighbors are starting to come out and clap along. I invite them to sing along, which they always do. They clap. Ruth comes out with Prim balanced on one hip, and they dance along as well.

No one misses the banjo.

Can we have something happy with Haymitch after everything's over? You have him with Effie, and a daughter named Indigo? Finding love again/ having a child/indigo/ quitting drinking must have brought back a lot of feelings he'd suppressed. Can we see some healing with his family? for ~Karen
I figured Effie would want to be in the care of the best doctors in the Capitol after the baby was born, but she didn't. She was the one who wanted to come out to Twelve and stay in my house in Victors' Village -- now called "Old Village" by the locals -- for her six month leave of absence.

"They're good about keeping the photographers away out there," she said on the train out here, holding Indigo to her breast. "Besides, it'll be good for Katniss to have a baby next door."

"Good for her?"

She smiled slyly.

The train got us in this morning, and Effie wasted no time getting "Twelved Up," as she puts it -- switching from her Capitol dresses into jeans and button up shirts, and soft leather boots. These boots have high heels. She says she's worn heels for so long it hurts to wear flats. Katniss was the one who first "styled" her this way, back on our first visit out here as a couple. The two of them had a good time deliberately reversing every step of Katniss's styling for the Capitol. And at the end of it, I have to say, Effie looked even prettier than she usually does. Her hair is covered with a simple scarf, and she's not as worried about hiding it. That seems to be a concern she has in the Capitol.

There's no way she'd pass for anything but a Capitol woman playing dress-up -- she can't carry herself as a District native for anything, and I wouldn't want her to -- but she does look good. If it hadn't been for the wonders of Capitol medicine, Indigo would have an older sibling started out here a long time ago.

At any rate, she didn't wait for Katniss to style her this time. She just switched up, and now she's singing softly and rocking the baby in the old wooden rocking chair that I've had forever and never used.

I think it was just waiting for this.

I fade back to the kitchen and watch them there. I could go over. I could ask for the baby. She's done nursing, and other than that, there's nothing I can't do. But I like looking at them. My wife. My daughter.

I wonder what Digger would make of it -- this child with her name, born to a woman who couldn't be less like her if she tried. I didn't even bring the subject up, because I figured women would all be annoyed about other women I mentioned. But Effie knew the story. Effie knew the whole thing, even the parts I hadn't told her. She was the one who said a girl should be Indigo Maysie. (We tried "Indigo Maysilee," but it sounded off somehow, so we cut off a syllable.) She wanted me to honor the girls I loved once. This sort of thing is why she's the woman I love now, I think.

We talked about my mother's name as well -- Rhona -- but I couldn't quite do it. I couldn't imagine telling a girl named for my mother to go clean up her room, or so help her, she'd be in trouble. Effie has no family left, either, but she wasn't close to them. Snow's regime liked to interfere with that kind of bonding, and Effie is not the only Capitol native I know who thinks of her parents as vaguely fond memories, and not much more. She says she hates that she feels that way, but can't do anything about it at this late date. She wants to make sure Indigo is raised the District way.

There's a knock at the door. I signal Effie that I'll get it, and she doesn't need to get up, but she's already standing when I open it.

Peeta smiles widely as soon as he's through the door -- I love seeing him smile so much -- and barely says hello to me before making a beeline for Effie and the baby.

Katniss shakes her head and gives me one of her stiff and awkward hugs. That she even tries to hug me is enough to say she's glad to see me, but she's never become particularly skilled at it. "Welcome home," she says.


She reaches around the door and pulls in a wrapped package that I know is a painting. I've seen quite a few over the years. Peeta has made them. He has a high tolerance for watching Games footage -- the supplementary stuff, anyway -- and he's painted each of the District Twelve tributes. I gave these to the local museum (a concept that still manages to startle me). He also painted Mom and Lacklen from their interviews, and me as a kid, sitting with them, looking comfortable and more or less innocent. He said getting that expression on my face was kind of alien. That painting is at home in the Capitol, over the mantel.

"Baby present," Katniss says, and hands it to me.

Peeta, who has easily swiped the baby from Effie and is now cuddling her tightly, says, "I thought it was something Indigo Maysie might like to see."

I unwrap the canvas, which is just tied on, and catch my breath. Peeta has painted Digger and Maysilee sitting together on the steps of Maysilee's old store. In real life, I only remember the two of them having a single conversation, but he's painted them like they were friends, easily talking. Maysilee is smiling brightly. Digger is talking about something, her hands in the air the way they always were when she got excited. He must have watched hours of interviews to catch her as accurately as he did.

I set it down. "Thank you."

"Well, don't get so excited," he says, grinning.

Katniss, who's always understood me better, rolls her eyes. "He likes it, Peeta."

I'm not sure that "like" is the right word. I love it, in a kind of painful way, and I love Peeta fiercely for giving me this, but all through dinner, all through the long, playful conversation after it, I find my eyes wandering to it, thinking about those long-lost girls, about the lives they might have led.

It's the small hours of the morning before Katniss and Peeta go back to their house, and Effie has long been asleep (she says she really was too old to have a baby, and it's taking a lot more energy than she anticipated). I feel good. But my eyes still wander to that canvas, which I've leaned over the fireplace here.

I hear the baby fussing. Not crying yet, but fussing. I go to her bassinet and pluck her out of it, holding her tightly against my chest.

She stops fussing immediately. It's like magic.

I walk with her, talking softly about nothing. She likes this. I can't believe there is a human being in the world who finds my voice comforting.

I go past the windows I watched through when Digger was murdered, but there's no longer anything to see except the back of a new-built house. I'm glad of this. I go to the fireplace, and I turn Indigo around a little bit, so she can see the painting.

"Here are the girls you're named for," I say. "Do you want to hear about them?" She doesn’t start crying or fidgeting, so I go on. "The first one is Indigo Hardy. She's the one with the big eyes. She always wanted to know new things…"
25 comments or Leave a comment
From: tree_and_leaf Date: October 14th, 2013 08:17 am (UTC) (Link)
The second one brings tears to my eyes! (HG fluff is bittersweet fluff...)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 14th, 2013 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's definitely not like other fluff. :D
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 14th, 2013 10:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh god, I'm tearing up over the last one! But it's wonderful to see Haymitch happy (or kind of happy, at least) :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 14th, 2013 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think he's genuinely happy. He just has a hard time recognizing this foreign emotion sometimes.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 14th, 2013 11:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I love both of these. After End of the World, it's nice to fast forward and see Haymitch get his happy ending. And I loved the bit with Katniss and her dad. (I was the one who requested this one.) It makes me wonder how things might have turned out if he hadn't been killed in the mining accident.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 14th, 2013 05:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
A more content Katniss might not have been able to be the symbol she needed to be. On the other hand, if she was put in that position, having daddy around might have kept her a lot more grounded.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 15th, 2013 12:00 am (UTC) (Link)
A more-content Katniss might not have had the skills and desperate survival drive that got her through the first Games to begin with. Which is it's own bittersweet ending to think about.
vesta_aurelia From: vesta_aurelia Date: October 14th, 2013 12:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, my.

The first one was adorable--Katniss before her world fell apart. The second was so very Haymitch--everything lightly edged with the memory of pain, even when he's happy.

I like how you made Glen's voice so different from Haymitch's, but clearly shaped by District 12.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 14th, 2013 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks -- I was trying to do that. They'd have all the same accent tics, I'd think, but they're very different men. (Hmm. Katniss had a love triangle with her father figures, too.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 14th, 2013 03:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

Haymitch and Effie

Haymitch and Effie are so calm with each other, could you maybe do a little short of haymitch proposing to Effie?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 14th, 2013 05:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Haymitch and Effie

I doubt it was anything that would make a story. They'd been living together for a while, and just one day, they realized there was no reason not to be married.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 14th, 2013 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Love it

i love mine, thank you! I've read it three times and enjoyed it more with each. I love that Katniss and Peeta are part of his family too, and I really like Effie. She's so good for him.

Loved Katniss and her dad too.

Thank you ~ Karen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 14th, 2013 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Love it

Glad you liked it! I got a few comments in the epilogue that it was too bad Peeta and Katniss weren't there, but I didn't see it that way. They were just family who happened to live at a good distance... but they were always family.
redrikki From: redrikki Date: October 14th, 2013 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Now there's some quality fluff. Katniss trying to do the fish dance is hilarious and Peeta's bizarre fanboying of Glen was adorable. The tiny Abernathy family was a sweet bitter-sweet.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 14th, 2013 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I did get the impression that, crush on Katniss or not, as a little boy, Peeta was very impressed with Mr. Everdeen as well. (His dad must have been thrilled.)
vytresna From: vytresna Date: October 14th, 2013 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I envision the songwriter of "In Old Manhattan" as sort of a Schoolhouse Rock-style chappie who'd be very disappointed at how thoroughly the song would outlive its meaning. No wonder Katniss would become historically incurious; few people really know anything about the beforetimes anyway, especially in a place like the Seam.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 14th, 2013 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I must admit, this is the Lady Liberty I saw in my head:

It's sad how few people seem to have the slightest idea about history. Plutarch had to tell Katniss that there was a Roman empire.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: October 14th, 2013 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, these are wonderful -- love seeing a happy Katniss and Haymitch not trying to (literally and figuratively) wall himself off from everything.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 14th, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the best thing Haymitch can do for himself to keep out of his little self-imposed prison is to surround himself with people who need him, and who he needs.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: October 15th, 2013 05:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, and you don't get much more openly needy (and appealing) than a newborn :). I have to say, I do wonder what the other D12 inhabitants think about Effie living there, especially the families of the tributes she called before Katniss and Peeta -- though I'm guessing a combination of Haymitch's protection and just talking to her would probably put her in a much more favourable position than she'd been in previously. (And come to think of it, there's a good chance that most of those tributes' families weren't there to complain anymore -- sigh, thanks Snow!)
redlily From: redlily Date: October 15th, 2013 01:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Tearing up from the second one.

If it hadn't been for the wonders of Capitol medicine, Indigo would have an older sibling started out here a long time ago. -- ??
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 15th, 2013 03:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Um... Haymitch considers her especially attractive out here.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 16th, 2013 04:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Birth control, not abortion, I think, is what you're referring to. Yes?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 16th, 2013 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Top of the line birth control, yes.
redlily From: redlily Date: October 17th, 2013 01:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, OK, I interpreted "a long time ago" as a really long time ago; I thought he meant that Indigo would've had a half-sibling "started" when he slept with Digger three decades back. But then I thought, hey, it wasn't Capitol medicine preventing that pregnancy, right? Wasn't it Katniss' mom providing herbs? So I was confused.
25 comments or Leave a comment