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Fluffy Challenges 4 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Fluffy Challenges 4
Sorry, took a break to read the new Percy Jackson.

Something about District 8. It doesn't have be about Cecilia specifically, but I crave anything about District 8. for Sara Libby
For the wedding of Panem's first democratically elected president in centuries, it's awfully low key. Keeping it out here in District Eight instead of in the halls of the Capitol is probably part of that, but it's also just the way the president is. She doesn't have a lot of patience with pomp, which drives me crazy, trying to strike a balance with her sensibilities and the expectations of people meeting with a president.

Not that there's not plenty of food and finery and dancing. Baize Paylor's dress has been the stuff of national gossip for weeks -- it's made by one of my favorite among the new district-based designers, Jakob Kann, and it's a complete dream in white and silver, with specks of sapphire woven into the lace. Jakob worked in the textile mills, and as soon as District Eight was free of the Capitol, he began designing his own fabrics. Baize insisted on a District Eight designer -- she thought I'd try and argue -- and I was glad to have Jakob to hand to her. It's simply divine.

It's just that… the food is very plain, and the dancing is wild and unplanned, some kind of traditional District Eight thing. When they did a huge circle dance where the music kept getting faster and faster, I nearly fell. Haymitch tried to make me feel better by reminding me how many times he fell on his backside on national television, but, for all of his wonderful qualities, I'm afraid that being able to make people feel better about embarrassments is not one of them.

I slink over to a corner and hope the news crews don't notice me. They seem at a loss with nothing extravagant to film. Some of them have just taken up Baize's invitation to join the party. I can see the spinning circles now, moving around each other, mostly people's backs. Haymitch has rejoined them at my insistence (I love it when he's happy) and I can see Johanna Mason as well -- she's also lost hold of the circle, but rather than falling, she's dancing happily between the two circles, spinning like a top and laughing. No one seems to be in a hurry to put her back where she belongs in the circle.


I look up, then stand up quickly. "Baize! My heavens, shouldn't you be up there dancing with your husband?"

"I have the rest of my life to dance with Dowlas. Today, we're both dancing with everyone we love. And I didn't get a chance to dance with you yet."

"Your secretary?"

She rolls her eyes. "Effie, you've been at my side ten hours a day for five years. You're way more than my secretary. How's the ankle?"

I shrug. "It's fine. Just a shock."

"Well, you need to take off the heels for that one. Go on. Kick them off."

"You're not wearing heels?"

"I asked Jakob to design the dress so I could wear shoes that let me dance as long as I wanted to."

"I never think of things like that."

She reaches down and takes my hand, pulling me up. "Come on," she says. "We'll go to the ladies' lounge and try this."

"The… ladies' lounge?"

She laughs. "The hall outside the restroom. There are about a dozen conversations going on in there, plus a card game. And a few kids who are trying not tip over on the fast steps. We can dance with them."

"I don't know, Baize…"

"Well, I do. Kick off those torture devices you call shoes and come dance with me."

I give another token protest, but I know I won't win. I kick off my shoes and head out on my tiptoes. One thing I don't think a lot of the district women I've become friends with understand is that I've worn heels since I was ten, and my feet are used to them. Having my bare feet flat on the floor feels very strange, and later, I'll feel like I pulled a tendon. Haymitch thinks I should have a doctor look at that.

On the other hand, I'm not likely to twist my ankle.

Baize leads me to the "ladies' lounge." It's a hall, technically, leading from one reception room to another -- we have all of them rented out today, but the one at the far end is functioning as a cloak room -- but it's as wide as the room we just left. It's high-ceilinged, with tall windows set into the walls. The building is one of the few old ones left in District Eight, and the disturbed dust of the years hangs in the bars of sunlight in golden motes.

There's a line of women by the restroom, which includes Annie Odair (Finny is beside her, hopping anxiously from foot to foot), but it's a small minority of the women in the area. Most of them are just parked on the stairs, chatting amiably, or playing cards in the little alcove under the stairs. A group of girls in long dresses, with flowers in their hair, have made a little circle at the far end, and are moving slowly through the steps.

"Shallo!" Baize calls to them -- an odd greeting that I've only heard from District Eight folk. "Can we join you?"

The girls look up eagerly, and one even claps. Baize is the president, but in terms of celebrity, the fact that she is The Bride is clearly more important to them.

"My friend Effie needs to learn the dance as well," she says. "We'll take it slow, all right?"

"Okay!" One of the girls, who introduces herself as Begga Barsh, takes my left hand, and Baize takes my right. We close the circle.

"First step," Baize says. "Left foot behind the right foot. Slowly…"

I take the step. I am still on my tiptoes, and the little girls ostentatiously go up on their toes as well.

Baize rolls her eyes, but joins us. "Then move your right foot so it's beside your left. Good. Now, left foot in front of the right foot… see how we're moving in the circle now?.... another step, left foot behind… give it a little kick…"

We go around in our circle, moving clumsily through steps whose origin no one recalls, adding hops and kicks, then moving to the center and calling out "Hey!" Baize leads us in a backward step, then speeds the whole thing up.

After a while, the ladies in the lounge begin to clap in time. Annie and Finny join the circle, then Baize's sister does. We dance together among the glowing dust motes, beating out the ancient rhythm with the soft thump of our toes.

How about a "philosophical" discussion about fashion between Effie and Cinna? for sreya
"I think it needs a little…more," Effie Trinket says, circling the jeweled dress like a predator trying to tire it out before striking. "It's beautiful of course, and the jewels are spectacular, but after the fire… well, Cinna, they'll be expecting you top that."

I smile. "And therein lies the problem with the Capitol approach. Sooner or later, you run out of embellishments to add, and then it gets ridiculous."


"Oh, come on. Look at some of the get-ups they've put you in."

She straightens her shoulders. "I work with some of the finest designers in the Capitol!"

"And they put you in stained glass knee-length knickers last year."

She considers this. "Well… that was possibly not the best season they've had. And there was cloth between the panels! Also, it was unbreakable."

"Oh, good -- so it wasn't see-through and didn't pose any danger of cutting your femoral artery. Not exactly a recommendation."

"It was an experiment, Cinna. Sometimes, they like to see how far they can push the boundaries of fashion."

"But fashion is an art that uses the human body as its canvas. An artist who ignores his canvas to that extent isn't very good."

"For someone who sent my tributes into a parade on fire, you seem a little judgmental."

"Costumes aren't fashion," I tell her. "It's hard to tell the difference in the Capitol sometimes, I know, but that's where I come in. I sent them into City Center in costumes. I plan to send them onto Caesar's stage in fashion."


"Also, I plan to be dressing Katniss Everdeen for the entirety of her very long life. I want her to establish herself as someone who will still be wearing clothes and caring what they look like a month from now."

She sits down at my work table and sighs. "But Cinna, it's a show. You gave such a good start… people will be watching her."

"That was the point."

"So you have to outdo yourself. You can't just rest on your laurels by giving her a pretty dress with a flame pattern on it. Not when they've already seen her actually on fire."

I sit down across from her, on Portia's chair. "And what would you have me do?" I am genuinely curious about this. Effie is a bit of a sheep, but she does follow what people have to say.

She brings up my news screen and touches a few buttons, bringing up the fashion pages. "Look," she says. "People have been sending in their ideas for what the tributes should wear for the interviews. Almost all of the drawings are of Katniss. See?" She points to a screen full of thumbnails. "They're expecting something amazing from you.

I pull the chair over and start looking at the pictures. Most of them would require actually using Portia's fake fire as a textile, which is somewhat hard to do with a material that is, essentially, a plasma. It doesn't exactly hold a stitch, or a shape. One dress is a full length gown with cascading levels of flames (in alternating colors, no less) and a flame veil. Another is subtler, with flame piping, and a little crown circlet (made to look like the victor's crown) made out of flame. There are tiny flame miniskirts, and flame pantsuits, and many, many versions where the flames are her only clothing, and they just circle around the three points that need to be covered on television. These often include elaborate headdresses. None of them seem to realize that the flames need some kind of solid platform to originate on.

I can see why Caesar Flickerman never approved any of these stylists for spots in the Games.

"Any of these would make her look absurd," I say.

"But it's what the people want."

"It's what the people have been trained to want after years of watching designers try to out-embellish each other. I'm going to give them what they need instead."

"Don't you think that's a little condescending?" Effie asks. "You telling people what they need, and ignoring what they say?"

"No, not at all."

"Oh, really?"

I nod and go to the window. Down on the street, I can already see it. I gesture to Effie and bring her to the window. "Look at that," I tell her. "Under the flames, those jumpsuits were very basic. Very simple. Plain. What do you see down there this morning?"

"Flames," she says firmly, pointing at streaks of orange and red and yellow. "Everywhere I look, someone is trying to make their outfits look like flames."

"But putting simple embellishments on simple clothes. They can't do that with their usual frippery. Today, they're being very literal about it. Cutting out flame shapes and ironing them on. The knock-off houses must have worked like crazy to make those decals overnight."


"Tonight, I'm going to show them that it doesn't need to be so very literal. Katniss will be on fire again, but in a way that they can emulate more easily, with cheaper stones than I'm using. They'll know that the secret will be in the way she moves, and the way the dress moves with her body."

"Of course the dress moves with her body. It's hardly going to move on its own!"

"Look at your dress, Effie. It may as well be made of solid rock for all it moves. You bend, and it very reluctantly follows. It wants all the glory for itself." I hold my hands up and frame her with my fingers, cocking my head like I mean to take a picture. "You're a very lovely woman," I say. "If I were to dress you, I'd put you in clothes that show how nicely you move, how nice the shape of your body is."

"If my body had a nice shape, that would be one thing…"

"It does, though. I saw the picture one of the tabloids caught of you in your slip last year."

"Miserable things, they were practically stalking a wedding, and I was just getting up from a nap…"

"They're miserable things, but that's not the point. You were absolutely beautiful. And I would dress you to show it instead of hide it."

She doesn't look like she believes me, and goes back to circling Katniss's dress.
22 comments or Leave a comment
vesta_aurelia From: vesta_aurelia Date: October 18th, 2013 12:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, looks like I get the first *legitimate* comment. Sorry about the spam, there.

A double dose of Effie! Plus, CINNA!

And I do enjoy how much critique of fashion you managed to slip in to Cinna's mouth. I follow fashion for my employer and it can be so, so very horrible about the bodies underneath it.Once they get a fully functional mechanical body that moves like a human? Fashion models are gone. They spend design energy removing the human element from the model's apperance...to show off human clothes. It's an appalling thing.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2013 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know. I was so excited to wake up to five comments, too.

That's one thing that's come out of me watching Project Runway obsessively. I see so many designers who seem to object to the concept of curves that disturb their clothes. (One actually got a big-bosomed woman during the real world challenge and asked Tim Gunn what he was supposed to do with breats. Tim: "I haven't had a lot of experience.") Another complained that he couldn't possibly make his geometric patterns work if they were disturbed by the model's body.

I think these people need to have a different career. Maybe some kind of fabric art -- build up wire frames, dress them as they want to, then put them in a museum where no one will disturb them.
redrikki From: redrikki Date: October 18th, 2013 01:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Are the folks in 8 dancing the Horah? 'Cause that's exactly what it sounds like. Post-apocalyptic Jews?

I like Cinna's ideas about fashion and clothing and wish todays designers felt the same. Then I might actually find clothes that fit and look good.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2013 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yup, that's what they're dancing! I've typically written District Eight as Jewish. Hey, their district bread in the books appears to be matzah!

Sure would be nice if designers thought about clothes that flatter the body, instead of searching high and low for bodies that flatter their clothes.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 18th, 2013 03:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Woo Hoo!

I get first comment on my story request! It was great. And being set well after everything, is 100% comfort fluff.

And it was very satisfying on all levels, including the little, perfect characterization details of Joanna dancing between the circles rather than as part of the group -- very much her own, non-conformist self.

Is Jakob the boyfriend of District 8 tribute, Ms. Green?

Thanks very much.

Sara Libby
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 18th, 2013 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Woo Hoo!

Well, I thought it was the first comment. My computer hadn't processed that you already had some comments.

But it was still just fantastic!

Sara Libby
vesta_aurelia From: vesta_aurelia Date: October 18th, 2013 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Woo Hoo!

You missed all the spam, too, so kudos to your computer :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2013 06:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Woo Hoo!

Yes, Jakob is Kersey's old boyfriend. He meets another girl and they live well and happily.

I thought about doing something with Kersey, but the end of her life would weigh a little too heavily for fluff. So, hey... Paylor!
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 18th, 2013 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
These were so sweet. Your Effie is surprisingly vulnerable in both of these, both in the way she thinks and the way she acts. I really loved the way Cinna was so sweetly adamant about what he was going to do and I loved that he saw right through her so reassure her about her body. I was happily surprised by District 8 (like that you're going with happy thoughts right now :)) I thought it was hysterical in your stories that you made her a former kinder teacher. You've added a human element to her - kindness and compassion - that make her very appealing.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 18th, 2013 06:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Meant to clarify that it was Paylor, I was speaking of in the last few sentences of my last comment.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2013 06:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Effie in canon, despite her job, strikes me as oddly... innocent. There's a shot in the trailer for the new movie, where she's doing the D12 Reaping, that really captures how I feel about her when she's really forced to confront the meaning of things... I think the only way she can survive what she does is by disconnecting. Until she can't.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: October 19th, 2013 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just saw that new trailer. Giving so much focus to Katniss getting Reaped and going through parade, interview and training was a mistake, I think; people who haven't read the book are liable to think it's one of those cheap rehash sequels.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: October 19th, 2013 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm ... where did your entry on the new Carrie movie go? I read it last night but was too blitzed to respond and now I can't find it. Just wanted to say that I fully agreed with it -- it's really all about confidence when you're that age, not looks, unless there's something very very unusual about your features. Also, that picture of high-school Fern is adorable :).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 20th, 2013 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I just decided it didn't really need to be out there. This is mostly an entertainment blog. Figured that's not what people come here for.
sreya From: sreya Date: October 22nd, 2013 04:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wonderful scene with Cinna and Effie! The stained glass knickers cracked me up. Thank you!
nevrafire From: nevrafire Date: October 23rd, 2013 03:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

What Did you Thought of House of Hades?!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 23rd, 2013 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought it was good, but more disjointed than most of Riordan's stuff. And a whole lot of fan sops, which would be fine if they weren't so, well, visibly fan sops.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 23rd, 2013 07:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
What's a fan Sop?

Never heard of that word.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 23rd, 2013 10:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Like, "I'm doing this in order to please the fan base, because I know they want it to and will eat it up like little chocolate candies."
nevrafire From: nevrafire Date: October 23rd, 2013 10:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
like the "Nico has a crush on Percy"?

That one been driving me up the wall since I read the spoiler.

(not so annoyed at it being Nico-YA lit needs more of that. Annoyed that it the crushed-on had to be PERCY- who is 100% in love with Annabeth. and fandom is going all Percy/Nico! Percy/Nico! Booo Annabeth??Percy/Annabeth!!)


That had Fandom Troll smeared all over it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 23rd, 2013 10:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
That (and for those reasons), and also Frank's Suddenly Studly moment. The quick whisk-broom getting Piper off the page for most of the book since fandom didn't take to her. And, while I love the part with Leo and Calypso -- it's well done -- I can also see the wheels turning: "Everyone sees Leo as the best of the new characters -- about which they are not wrong -- and yet he's the one with no romantic hope... I know... He'll get himself a really cool girlfriend and deserve her way more than another demigod who got a chance."

The Nico thing was the oddest, because it was literally completely out of the context of the story. Why in the hell would Nico need to admit his feelings to Cupid in order to raise a dead army? He's raised them before without going through a gatekeeper. And then it went nowhere, and it can't go anywhere, since Percabeth is decidedly canon and important to the plot.
nevrafire From: nevrafire Date: October 23rd, 2013 11:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
oh. Didn't really thought of those that way.

well the Frank one I didn't saw. I mean the fandom really loves his huggable-panda!man sweetness. I don't think anyone needed him to turn into buff action hero. and it's not that he changed-- too much. He doesn't looks like a huggable panda!man anymore but he's still sweet.

. The Leo/Calypso sort of saw it but frankly I don't mind it a bit- because I quite like Calypso and I think she Deserved something good.

I knew of Piper!hate. but I don't really paid attention to it (I had Enough character bashing Drama in the HP fandom to last a milenium). although it kind of backfired- because I thought piper was badass in her quiet way.

I just hopes that next book Riordan has Nico find Someone Else who can reciprocate And/Or has percy found out and say "Um sorry Man- I'm straight & in love with annabeth" or something like that.

Because I swear I will smash things if percy/nico becomes the Harry/Draco in terms of popularity & bashing of the love interest.

*FUMES* like Why would Riordan do That to his Own canon ship that He wrote & developed for 9 frikking books?!

Frustration at a fandom is something I did Not missed.

also like, is there any chance of you writing Percy Jackson stuff- after Hunger Games- runs its course? It be Totally Awesome!

22 comments or Leave a comment