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The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Challenges 1
Something with Gia/Finn's dad; I'm very interested to see how their relationship progressed from how we saw it in the cove to having a child together for queen_bellatrix

"I don't understand," I say.

Gia Pepper -- or Carolyn Duffy, as her name has been since she finally came into our fair little town two weeks ago -- rolls her eyes. "It's not that tough, Doolin. Remember how cold it was on River Bay?"


"Remember how we warmed each other up?"

"Quite fondly."

"Well… do you understand biology?"

"I thought you had that thing in your arm!"

"I do have that thing in my arm," she says, rolling up her rough sleeve to show the last of her birth control implant. "Apparently, that thing was running out of steam early. It happens. No technology is perfect."

"And you're sure it's… well…"

She sighs and sits down. "Fair enough question. All you know about me is that I was feeling pretty liberated. But I assure you -- I hadn't felt at liberty to do that for a while. Too many people watching me."

"So it's not Blight's. Or --"

"If you so much as suggest anyone other than Ollie in this sentence, I'll slap you with a fish, father of my child or not."

I hold up my hand. She'll do it. I had her hidden in a shed down by the marina after I got back, for about six weeks -- we figured that would be long enough to throw off the scent if I miraculously "found" her -- and I know that, while she will put up with any number of jokes about her own character, she does not find it remotely amusing if I come close to impugning either of her victors. Which is sort of amusing, since I've known Blight Hedge longer than she has, and Haymitch Abernathy has been doing a spectacular job of impugning himself.

I sit down on a tackle box. "What do you want to do?" I ask.

"It would fit with my cover," she says. "Maybe I ran away from the out-district raiders to have my baby. And I guess you wouldn't obliged to do anything --"

"If you're suggesting that I'm going to watch you raise my kid and pretend he's someone else's, I'm doing the ritual fish-slap."

"So, do you want to get married? We don't know each other very well."

I'm not sure this is true. In the past two months, I feel like I've gotten to know her quite well. Keeping secrets together turns out to be something of a bonding experience. "It's what I want," I say. "I'll probably never do business with Blight again."

"I think that ship might sail when he finds out I'm pregnant, anyway."

"Okay," I say. "We get married. And we make it work. I can do that. You can do that. We'll be a team."

"Think you could ever love me?"

"Yeah. I actually do. I don't yet, but I think I will. You?"

"I think we can work on it. I think… yes. We'll get it working."


She sighs and sits down. "Not exactly the engagement I dreamed about when I was little."


"Not your fault."

"How do they do it where you come from?"

"Oh, people hire wandering musicians and hide expensive rings in expensive desserts. They film it and show it live -- "

"Wait… what if she says no?"

"Then the guy's out a whole lot of money, and he gets embarrassed on live television." She frowns. "Thinking about it… I think I'd feel kind of pressured."

"And you don't now?"

"No. Weirdly. Do you?"

"No. Huh." I reach across and take her hands. "We're doing this, right? We're going to make it work?"

She nods. "Yeah. I think we may have to tweak the birth date a little bit, though. And our back story."


"Just an extra layer of paranoia. If I show up with you out of nowhere, then have a baby exactly nine months after my supposed disappearance…" She shrugs. "It may not be a big deal, but why draw attention to the timeline?"

"So you want to hide the baby for a little while?"

"No -- the other way. I want him born a little earlier. I mean… they know I wasn't pregnant when I left. They've been keeping an eye on me. So if a baby is born in, say, June, then I couldn't possibly be Gia Pepper."

We spend the rest of the afternoon after our engagement plotting out how to tell this particular lie, though I think she's being overcautious. We finally decide to cover it by spending the summer on a boat -- I insist on letting my sister, a midwife, come along and letting her in on things -- and sending back word that the baby has been born, then not coming back until he's actually born. It happens. They have no way to check. I hope nothing goes wrong.

I don't actually kiss her that day, or hold her. She doesn't suggest that she wants me to. But somehow, we go a layer deeper into our shared world, our crazy maze of lies. We go out on the boat that night, and sit side by side, staring up at the stars and talking about the changeable future.

By dawn, I believe that everything will be all right.

Peeta's family's reaction while they watch when he's in the clock arena and tells Katniss "Nobody needs me"? for mariachillin

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Jonadab asks.

I look around instinctively for the cameras -- they've been hovering all day -- but it's late, and I guess they figured there was nothing interesting for us to respond to. Beside me, Ed is grinding his teeth. We're above his store. The bakery is bugged, but they haven't gotten around to the hardware store yet, so the family -- along with Prim Everdeen some nights, but not at the moment -- has taken to gathering up here. Sarey is asleep with the baby in her lap, but the rest of the Mellarks are awake and quite aware that Peeta has just told a national television audience that he thinks he's disposable to them. Katniss has her own response to this -- one that I think will kill any hope Gale Hawthorne is still harboring -- but no one in the room is paying attention to it.

Mr. Mellark sits forward , his hands covering his face. Mrs. Mellark looks furious -- it's the first time since Peeta got back from the Games that she's had this look, but I know it. She wants to hit him, or say something poisonous to him.

"I don't think he meant that you don't love him," I try.

"Really, Delly?" Jonadab says. "You think so? Because whatever he carried into the arena to give him strength, it sure didn't seem to be about us."

"It's not to give him strength," Mr. Mellark says, looking up vaguely. "Did you miss it, Jona? He made a deal with Haymitch to save Katniss. Again."

Mrs. Mellark stands up and starts pacing. "I don't accept that. The girl made the same deal, remember? And Haymitch owes you, Dannel."

"If he owes me anything, he owed it last year, too, and he still played the Game the way Peeta asked him to. Haymitch puts his tributes above his friends, and you know it."

"Giving in to his stupid death wish isn't putting him ahead of anyone," Ed points out. "And I'm still stuck on this crap about none of us needing him."

"When was the last time any of us acted like we needed him?" Mr. Mellark asks. "I haven't even had him in to work. I haven't asked him for anything. I haven't told him…"

"Asked him for anything?" Mrs. Mellark screeches. "Dannel, you don't ask a boy for things when he's been through…that."

"Except that he sees Katniss helping her family. Helping Gale's family, for that matter. But we don't ask him for help. That's why he thinks we don't need him. We act like we don't need him."

"I don't need his help," Ed says. "I need my brother. I need to finish fixing things with him. Obviously, we didn't get very far."

"Are we sure this isn't just part of the game?" I ask.

They don't dignify this with an answer, and I guess I don't blame them. Even I don't believe it. Maybe I believe it even less than they do -- I'm the one Peeta came to when he couldn't deal with them anymore. I don't think he's felt for even a second of his life that his family needs him, that he has any purpose in their lives except as the one who happens to fill the front bedroom.

The problem is, that's not actually true. They don't need him to hunt for food for them. That's true. They can handle the bakery without him -- that's true as well. And it's not his responsibility to be there so that Ed and Jonadab can make amends.

But they do need him. I've realized that since I started spending time with them. Peeta may not bring them freshly killed meat from the forest, but he does ground them, at least some of the time. Except for Mrs. Mellark. He sets her off… which is the only thing he really understands about what he does in his family. He doesn't see the way Mr. Mellark looks at him with pride, like he has one son that's fully his. He doesn't see the way Ed will hold back his outbursts if he thinks they'll hurt his brother. He doesn't see the way Jonadab views him as his first real experience with taking care of anyone.

And I think, given that, that Peeta would want me to at least try to derail this. What he said, he said for Katniss's benefit, not as a weapon to bludgeon his family with.

I take Ed's hand and urge him to sit down again, then look at the others, who are all fuming silently in their own ways.

"Peeta's wrong," I say. "And I hope we can show him that when he gets back."

"If he gets back," Jonadab says, "then he's not going to care, because he wants her to come back instead."

"What if Haymitch means to keep both his promises?" I suggest.

"The Gamemakers will never allow it," Mrs. Mellark says.

I see Mr. Mellark's head come up. He looks at Ed and me, and I think we all understand -- all three of us know something about Haymitch that the others don't. Ed's been passing him messages from other rebels for a year, and Mr. Mellark passed them for ages before that.

The Gamemakers might not be interested in letting him keep both promises again… but then, he might not mean to ask their permission this time.

Of course, that's not anything we can dare say, and it doesn't matter right now, anyway.

When we look back to the broadcast, Peeta has tucked Katniss in for the night, and is keeping watch with Finnick Odair. The question of who needs whom is not raised again.
19 comments or Leave a comment
mirandabeth From: mirandabeth Date: March 26th, 2014 11:47 am (UTC) (Link)
So lovely! I can totally see those two as Finnick's parents: that humour and practicality and love. What awesome people for him to be raised by. (And clever way to make the timeline work! I've been wondering about that.)

As for the second one, I spent most of it being deeply sad at the general fact that they're so worried for Peeta's life when Peeta is the only one of them who's going to live longer than like, the next day.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 27th, 2014 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. I want to scream at the ones who know about the rebellion -- read between the lines and make an exit plan!

I'm glad Gia and Doolin came off as likeable and loving, given that it's not the most romantic history for them.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 27th, 2014 02:39 am (UTC) (Link)


Can be over-rated (not to mention being a social construct).

I mean, it's easy to spin Gia and Doolin's story as not romantic (one night stand leading to pregnancy and business-like proposal), but I think it spins just as effortlessly the other way (boy rescues girl, physical attraction combined with mutual understanding drawing them closer together). Not all "arranged" marriages are loveless, particularly when there is real willingness to make things work (plus the aforementioned physical attraction).

Sara Libby
redrikki From: redrikki Date: March 26th, 2014 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, capitol proposals sound like every bad romantic comedy cliché all rolled into one. Somehow I am not surprised.

Oh, Mellarks, your dysfunction hurts although I did like that Delly and Ed and Danny have faith in Haymitch's ability to start a revolution for their boy. Too bad it ends with them dead.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 27th, 2014 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I wish just one member of Peeta's family could have survived, so he could have gotten some closure there.
gabrielladusult From: gabrielladusult Date: March 26th, 2014 08:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had to laugh at the beginning of the first one. "I don't understand." Gia probably was reminded of talking to Haymitch about shots and not wanting to see his children reaped from another district... All men can get clueless when it comes to connecting those dots. He rallied quickly, though.

The second one just makes it so bittersweet that Peeta never got to talk to his family again. I hope Delly is able to relate some of her insights to him when he's a little more stable.</p>

Looking forward to more.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 27th, 2014 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, men. You do understand biology, don't you? And that technology doesn't always defeat it? :facepalm:
sonetka From: sonetka Date: March 26th, 2014 10:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love them, especially the first. Very clever of Gia to want to move the birth date forward (though ... June? Does this mean that when Finnick is first eligible for the reaping he's still technically ELEVEN years old? Eek). It's a nice inversion of the couples back in the day who would go an "extended wedding trip" and return with a baby who was suspiciously advanced for its age :).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 27th, 2014 02:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah -- I re-did my math and realized that Finnick would have had to be conceived in September or October at the latest to be fourteen for the 65th Games, so his birthday needed some tweaking. In a career district, it would usually be a good assumption that that eighteen-year-olds would out-volunteer a "twelve" year old old, anyway, but it means he went into the arena when he was actually thirteen; they just thought he was fourteen.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 27th, 2014 02:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I was disappointed to have missed the challenge call, but I am really looking forward to reading what you do with the ones that made the cut. I love both of these. Gia is smart to cover all of her bases. Although I suppose if Snow ever found her, he might assume the baby was Haymitch's or Blight's. I'm guessing this didn't happen, though as Snow certainly would have used Gia as leverage against Haymitch if he could have. In your mind, was Finnick's reaping just a coincidence, or did someone put two and two together?

The second one was just heartbreaking. I think Delly is right that Peeta's problem with his family predates the Games. After all, I doubt the Hawthornes asked Katniss to help them. She perceived the need, so she helped. If Peeta had thought his family needed him, he would have been there whether or not they asked. I am curious as to what you think the cause of the friction between Peeta and Mirrem is. Disappointment that he wasn't a girl? Is he too much like Dannell? Do you see it as having something to do with the trouble she had giving birth to him?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 27th, 2014 02:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure about Finnick's reaping. There's something -- excuse the pun -- fishy about a fourteen year old being sent from a career district in the first place. On the other hand, I'm not sure I want to set it up that every paranoid thought is true. I'll see when I get there, I guess.

The Mellarks' problems absolutely predated the Games, but a long shot. If anything, they were trying to make things better after the 74th games, but of course, they run out of chances. I think the difference is that Peeta's right about them not needing him in any kind of survival sense. How many of us are needed for that? But he may not have been seeing the wider issues, because unlike every other relationship in his life, he's not the adult here. He's the kid who desperately wants his family to express that they need and love him.

With Mir, I think it's probably a lot of things. He's Danny's favorite, Ruth had to help with the birth (which had a lot of complications), he's a diehard romantic, he seems to crave more affection than the other two... altogether, it's just a toxic situation, and she's not the most stable human being out there to begin with.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: March 27th, 2014 10:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Completely understand why you wouldn't want to set up the scenario that every paranoid thought is a reality. Even in HG fics where that's not set up, I catch myself falling in to the mindset, simply because of Collins world-building.

On the subject of Finn, a couple possibilities I've been mulling about how a fourteen-year-old got reaped; feel free to use any of these that catch your fancy if any do. I don't write in the fandom, and don't have plans to start, so no idea overlap.:)

1. Could it have been something Doolin/Gia did later? Especially Doolin, with how you have it set up that he routinely slipped the mines? Maybe he was almost caught, had just enough of a plausible cover story not to be arrested, but the District officials decided to punish him anyway. This would both fit with the premise you've set up that the Capitol mostly expects District officials to monitor trouble and reap accordingly on the rare occasions it is rigged (I agree that most years, it'd be easier not to) and with the story Snow sets up for the Districts about their children paying for their wrongs.
2. What if Finn actually did volunteer? In CF, Kattniss never says if victors were volunteers or not, which would make sense both with her lack of interest in the outside world and the fact that no one can watch the reapings from everywhere due to outages and getting ready for/participating in one's own. She was highlighted as a volunteer because of Prim in the coverage surrounding the games, but a D4 kid, even a young one, might not be as much because they're careers. If his family had hit hard financial times/their was an illness that required large amounts of money to fix...a charming boy who knew he was good with weapons might very well take the arena as a way to try and help. A fourteen-year-old that was lithe and quick could get past the older tributes to volunteer before they realized he was going too,, or if Four is like two with Drake, just yell until he was picked.
For that matter, whose to say someone didn't try to volunteer? Can't you imagine how much he would've already been an in with the audience if he out-shouted the volunteer to get in the arena?

Just a couple of things that've been rolling about in my brain that the discussion brought up.

Also speaking of Finn, I'll be really interested since you're covering three games to see if you cover the actual victories of a rebel victor or two, or the games directly after their victory, when they begin to work with Haymitch as a fellow mentor as either would be very interesting in Effy's perspective.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2014 06:36 am (UTC) (Link)
We will see Finnick's Games. I'll be making three stops. The first isn't a known victor, just Effie's first Games as escort. The others will be Finnick and Johanna.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: March 27th, 2014 02:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Guh, Fern, these are both so good!

I've been rereading the first time in all my brief blocks of free time today and enjoying it more and more the more I do. I love Gia--she's rather like Ruth in your Teddy fics for me; the minor character that completely stole every scene she was n, and that I could never get enough of. Gia's so clever and funny and strong, all highlighted wonderfully here. And I like Doolin (he must get ribbed so much, with his given name being the surname of a victor:d) and the way he immediately rallied when he realized it was indeed his kid. The banter between them is fantastic; I have a feeling fish-slapping's going to become their in-joke. And they're both so smart, in their various ways. I can see a fourteen-year-old raised by these two winning the games. Reading Doolin's line about her being overcautious, I felt so sorry for him, knowing what's to come.

And his sister is going to slap him upside the head so hard, iether for smuggling a runaway or having a kid with her or both.

Thank you so much for creating this, especially with my admittedly scattered prompts; there were just so many directions/scenarios to go with where she was concerned.:)

And the second one; I love your Deli, which I don't think I've ever said before. And yes; yes for Danny making everyone think about the fact that they weren't showing Peeta they needed him. I'm so glad Deli could start to rectify things, even if they never spoke to him again. And Meer; thank you for your one moment of humanity, in which you acknowledged what Peeta'd been through; it was just a really nice humanizing moment.

And the last couple of lines; completely priceless!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 27th, 2014 02:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad you enjoyed yours.

Heh, I forgot about Hennessey Doolin! But I'll say it's a safe bet that they're related somewhere, maybe on a matrilineal line.

Yes, his sister is going to smack him, bigtime. Maybe not for helping a runaway, but certainly for getting her knocked up during the first week they knew each other.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 27th, 2014 03:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Gah! Now I want to read more from your Finnick (hint hint) with his parents.

On his reaping, I always imagined D4 being a little less volunteer-enthusiastic, to the point where if they had a few bad years (nasty Arena deaths, ally betrayals, etc) that they might not get a volunteer from time to time. Especially if the reaped person looked like they could do all right. I've met a few 13/14 year olds that could pass as adults.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2014 06:34 am (UTC) (Link)
We'll see more of Finnick in the next story. I don't know how much interaction with his parents, but...
jedi_chick From: jedi_chick Date: March 28th, 2014 04:47 am (UTC) (Link)
The first challenge, with Gia and Doolin, may not have been conventionally romantic, but I think it's all the more romantic for the practical way they approached things. Planning and conspiring together, and dealing with what life has thrown their way, is a lot more romantic in my mind than all the crazy Capitol proposals that could have been thought up. ;) I love the easy humor they have between them--and I had to laugh at Doolin's opening line. Typical male. ;)

I loved that you had Delly narrate the second challenge. She definitely has the best perspective on the Mellark family for something like this. I loved the insight Delly had into how Peeta fits into the Mellark family, and how much they do need him. It makes me so sad that they never got the chance to fully work things out :(
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2014 06:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I know. I wish one Mellark had made it through so Peeta could at least get a little bit of closure.

Gia and Doolin may not be in love yet, but I think they're well-suited, and willing to work on that part, so they're in decent shape.
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