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Fluffy Challenges 6 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Fluffy Challenges 6
I don't know how fluffy this would be, but I'd love more of your AU where Prim, Ed, and Madge were Reaped! for mistralcat
"You think this was supposed to be a cave?" Ed asks, ducking under a few steel beams.

"No," Madge says. "I don't think this was supposed to be a natural formation at all. Most of the vines and stuff are pretty haphazard. Just draped over things. I think it was supposed to be an urban mock-up. That's why everything is so square. It was going to be buildings. Instead, it's a construction site."

"Which is more original, anyway." I sit down on a beam that never went into the structure. "I've never seen one in the Games, and they're plenty dangerous."

Ed heaves himself up onto the beam he ducked under and looks around. "I think you're right. I actually think it might be a City Center mock-up. The bones look like what I saw from the training center."

Madge sniffs. "They'd never show a Capitol mock-up getting destroyed on television."

"Sure they would," I say. "The price of rebellion is destroying a really pretty city."

"A really…" Madge shakes her head. "I don't know about you, Prim."

"Well, it is pretty. And besides, maybe they think the Capitol audience needs a reminder sometimes, too. What better way to do that than to show how a war would completely wreck a house that might as well be the one they're living in?"

"I see your point. And anticipate mutts in three, two…"

No mutts take her bait. I'm guessing the cameras haven't even been listening on this one. The three of us have mostly been looking for a bunker to hide out in until Katniss and the others do whatever they think they're going to do. That, of course, is a subject no one needs to be told to leave alone.

This place seems as good as any, as long as we're the first ones here. The half-grown, tangled vines make it hard to see inside, and it's open enough that setting fire to it wouldn't do much good before we could get out. It's up on a slight rise, but not the most attractive one. Enough that, once we set a watch, we'll be able to see people coming from a good distance. And the "monster pack," as Haymitch calls the army from Two, went the other way, so that's handy.

Ed moves a few things around and makes a little platform between two beams. He sits down. I assume he has a view through the break in the vines. "This'll do," he says. "I'm hungry."

"We're all hungry," I say. "But we didn't get anything at the Cornucopia."

"So… let's find something distracting to do."

"We are the distraction," Madge says.

"Less universal concern, more immediate," Ed says.

"I'd like to learn to play the piano," I try. "Katniss says you tried to teach her."

"The piano?"

"Yeah." I pick up a stick and start drawing keys in the dirt. "I can sing for the sounds."

"You sing?" Ed asks, sounding surprised.

"I sing! I am my Daddy's daughter."

Madge sighs. "Okay. Let's try it. Sing a note. I haven't got perfect pitch, so whatever you sing, we'll call it middle C. So put it right in the middle of your range."

I pick a note that's right in my comfort zone and sing, "La."

Madge kneels down and wipes out the keys I've been drawing. She re-draws them, presumably in the real order of a piano. She puts her thumb on a key somewhere in the middle. "Sing it again." I do, and she taps her thumb on it, then moves up to a little in between key, which she hits with her index finger. "Now, go up half a step."

"Half a step?"

She winces. "Okay. I have to sing. Don't laugh. Um… La, la…" Her second note is just a fraction higher than the other.

"I get it," I say, and I run up a series of the notes, going in the little half steps. I think I remember Daddy doing this with Katniss before he died. He told her to keep going until she hit a note that sounded just like the first one, but higher. I do this. Sort of. I can sing, but I'm nowhere near as good at it as Katniss is.

Madge grins. "You've got an octave there, Prim."


She points to the first key she hit. "La." Then she follows the pattern up to a place where it looks the same -- a wide key just before two narrow keys. "Um… I was going to sing it, but I don't really have the pitch. You do it." She points to the lower key, and I sing the low "La," then to the upper key, and I hit the higher one.

Madge laughs. "Are we still clear, Ed, or are people coming to hear our little bluebird?"

"We're completely clear. I don't see a mutt mouse moving out there for a mile."

"Why don't we all just sing, then?" I ask. "Come on -- the valley song, or the one about Adelaide, or that one about the card player on the train. What do you guys like?"

"Just sing?" Madge asks. "Come on, Prim, we don't have a guitar or a banjo or anything."

"Daddy didn't have one since I was a baby, and we still sang every night." I smile. "And, hey, maybe Katniss can send me one. Then again, maybe she ought to send one to someone who knows how to play it."

"I can play one," Madge offers. "Haymitch? Can we see about a guitar?"

Ed laughs. "I doubt anyone's ever asked for a guitar before."

Madge shrugs. "Well, if worse comes to worse, we can break it. Little shards of thin, hard wood. Plus the strings. The strings are not to be trifled with. So, it's completely a request for a weapon."

"I'll settle for it if it'll kill a couple of hours," I say. "But I think maybe we ought to not count on it. What should we sing?"

"We could make up our own ballad," Ed suggests. "Ballad of the Also-Rans."

"I'm not an also-ran," Madge grumbles.

"We could do a Games ballad," I say. "Start with the ashes from the parade. Let's see…" I hum to myself. It pretty much sounds like "The Valley Song," but it's slower and I make a point of making it sound a little mournful. "Let's see… On a warm night in springtime, in the city's glittering lights…" I hum a little bit. "Well come on, chime in any time, allies."

"We can't write our ballad," Ed points out. "We don't know how it ends."

"Oh," I say. "That's true. So who's for the forget-me-not song…?"

How about some exploration? Some sort of expedition post-series to the Old World, perhaps with either some hope of expansion or the discovery of more humans? for thornyrose42
I always had a choice of whether to keep acting or go to the university. Or do some other job in the Capitol, whatever I liked. Mom and Daddy are very open to a lot of thoughts.

Neither of them was especially open to me deciding to go off with Finny and his wife Dorrin on this little trip. I'd guess Delly's not real thrilled with Cully being here, either, though she and Leo both put on a better show than Katniss and Peeta did when Charlie wanted to come. Charlie's twelve, though -- Finny backed them up. I hoped Pearl would want to come, but I think she took one look at her mother's face and decided that it was better to ask for pictures. She's only fifteen, though. Finny probably wouldn't have let her on board, either.

As it is, we have a crew of a dozen. Finny wanted to take his ship, the Trident, but Annie's outburst was worse than Katniss's, so we've been traveling on a hover craft provided by the government, which he insists on calling Trident II. It's faster and safer than going by sea, and we can get to more places. Finny's disappointed, though. I think he had visions of lashing himself to the wheel to survive monstrous storms in the middle of the ocean. I did a movie about a captain who did that (I played her plucky pre-teen daughter who was trying to fix her up with the first mate, one of many such challenging roles I played before my breasts showed up). Finny saw it twelve times. He knows the lines better than I do.

He's trying to make up for it by choosing insane places to land -- mountaintops, tiny islands, a narrow neck of rocky land -- but I don't think it gives him the same thrill. Today, he's balanced us precariously on a cliff overlooking a narrow strait, in the part of the world Cully's books say was once Scotland, where Daddy's people supposedly came from. It was also supposedly just a series of freshwater lakes running down the land, but these days, it's briny, and it cuts straight through.

I don't feel a big ancestral connection.

Cully is sitting on a rock under a tree, sketching a new map over the old one. I go sit beside him. He's the only person like me that I know -- one parent from District Twelve, the other from the Capitol. His real name is Aesculapius, which means "healer." His dad's a historian who came to research Katniss and Peeta. The story goes that he kept finding reasons to "interview" Delly until Peeta made him ask her out on a date instead. Cully thinks there's some drama there that he's missing, but he doesn't ask about it. This strikes me as a sensible approach.

He looks up when my shadow falls over his map. "Hey, Abernathy," he says. "Do you have some great desire to play the pipes and wear a war skirt?"

"Nope. I'm contrary that way."

"Is there some way that you're not?"

I turn up my nose.

He laughs. "I've been comparing Finny's navigational charts to the old maps and the landscape. I think we're sitting by what used to be land between Loch Ness and Loch Oich. Well, it wasn't totally land. There was a canal. It just got really, really flooded. But there was a monster up there." He points north. "It was very famous."

"Well, I guess if it was a freshwater monster, it probably didn't take too well to getting salted. So we're probably safe to start building a new district here."

"Not without a lot more fresh water. And the land that's not salted is pretty rocky. I think we need to look a little further. I mean, come on -- we only just got across the ocean last week! And maybe Finny will find some people somewhere with Sherlock."

"Sherlock" is really an advanced heat sensor, tracking groupings of creatures at roughly human body temperature. It scans in one mile squares, and we wait long enough for him to nine times, making a square around us, before we move on. Dad named it after old books, and Dorrin (who also reads them) promptly knitted it a hunting cap and stuck a paper pipe in one of its drives. Sherlock has so far found a huge colony of rats in Norway, and a pride of feral cats in Ireland. No one really thinks we're going to suddenly find someone after all these years; the Capitol scanned regularly in the hopes of dragging in a bigger breeding population. Thirteen had done a few sweeps as well. Now we're doing them. Unless people were magically hiding from dictators they had no way of knowing about, we probably won't have any more luck than our predecessors

"Where are you so anxious to get to?" I ask Cully. "I mean, if you don't want to settle here in my ancestral homeland."

"I don't know. Greece, maybe. But we should probably be practical and go someplace where there's good soil, so we can grow things."

"What kind of food do you want to grow?"

"Wheat. And corn. And raspberries. I don't want to live in a world without raspberries."

"How many would we need, anyway? To start a colony."

"They started with a hundred and fifty down in Fourteen. They've had some people move in, and they've had babies down there. It seems to be working. Nobody's starving, and they've got sugar can to export."

"Yeah, but Fourteen's practically on top of Eleven. A day's sailing. If we started something out here, we couldn't count on people just deciding to move in. I think it would be smarter to start colonies going south from District Four."

"Well, if you don't think we should be planting colonies out here, why did you want to come so bad that you put your foot down with your parents?"

"I wanted to see it. Isn't that enough?"

He looks at his map. "Yeah," he says. "Yeah, that's enough." He offers it to me to look at, and I scoot closer so he can show me things. He points out where old cities were, and castles, and famous events of Scottish history. We speculate on where to convince Finny to go next (I'm keen to see him try to land on Mount Everest). I help survey the land, because my eyes are sharper than Cully's, thanks to a little surgical enhancement I had when they started to get a little fuzzy.

We're laughing and sketching and speculating when Finny and Dorrin drive up, the rest of the team in tow, and tell us to stop flirting and get to work, or we'll have to find our own ride home. This is the accepted ritual to end any given day, so we beg forgiveness with exaggerated bows and scraping, until everyone is laughing along.

We go back to the Trident II and plan the next step.

8 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 24th, 2013 09:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Damn, you have a great hook. Now my mind's going to be churning through these bits of stories all night. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 24th, 2013 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mine went through them for a while... :D
redrikki From: redrikki Date: October 24th, 2013 01:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Indigo was a child actor turned explorer? That's vaguely hilarious. Also, music is a dangerous weapon.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 24th, 2013 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
At least during her college years. She may go back to treading the boards once she's got it out of her system.
hymnia From: hymnia Date: November 10th, 2013 03:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, this is a tiny nitpick, and probably not worth mentioning, but...I found it distracting. I'm a lifelong singer/musician, and describing middle C as "the middle of your range" to a thirteen year old girl just doesn't work. It's a comfortable note, true, but it would be near the bottom of Prim's range. At that age I couldn't sing more than about a third below middle C before I bottomed out, and while I am, granted, a soprano, the altos I sang with in middle school choir usually bottomed out around F3 (a fifth below middle C), and could usually go at least an octave above. Some adult altos might have the C3 (the one below middle C), so I suppose you might call middle C near the middle of their range, but for *most* girls and women, it's going to be solidly in the lower end of their range.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 10th, 2013 04:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I think what Madge was saying that, in this circumstance, whatever Prim's middle tone was would be called middle C for the purpose of the "piano" lesson, no matter what the actual note was, so she could go up and down the intervals on the keyboard drawn in the dirt.
hymnia From: hymnia Date: November 10th, 2013 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, okay, that makes sense. Somehow I read that line as Madge advising her on how to approximate middle C rather than just saying they would pretend that whatever she sings is middle C even if it's no where close. It's pretty common for singers without perfect pitch (like me) to approximate pitches based on how it feels in the range, so that was just automatically how my mind processed it.
mistralcat From: mistralcat Date: November 19th, 2013 04:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm back, and thank you so much for mine! I'd love to read the whole AU if you ever want to write it. I assume it wouldn't be fluffy. :-)
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