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These Are The Names, Chapter 26 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
These Are The Names, Chapter 26
After Annie's Games and the brutal attack on the tribute trains, the victors are taciturn and given to urgent conversations that Effie isn't hearing. They are all gone when Effie discovers that the Peacekeepers are looking for Haymitch.

Chapter Twenty-Six
It's sheer luck that I'm in the Viewing Center at all when I see them. Haymitch has been retreating to his bars and his chess games in the park and, for all I know, the pleasure palace at the lake side. I can't honestly say that he wouldn't go there, if he got drunk enough. His check-ins with me have been spotty and inebriated for three days. The last one was at my apartment. He showed up last night complaining about how hard it was to find my building when they all looked the same. Then he grabbed my shoulders and said, "I'm sorry, Effie. Sorry about everything. They… they aren't us. I won't let anyone hurt you. Why would anyone hurt you?"

Then he left.

He hasn't come for his medicine. The bottle is full on the shelf in the Training Center apartment when I go there looking for him to tell him I've managed to get him a sponsor meeting in the morning. His room hasn't been slept in, though the couch is in disarray and some of his clothes are on the floor. He's been here long enough that he's starting to make it look like his place in Twelve.

I go to the Viewing Center. I don't have a lot of hope of finding him there, either. There's a bar, but it's his least favorite one. He only goes there right after his tributes die, when he needs a drink more than he needs to get out of Games Headquarters, but it occurs to me that he might have left word, at least, or that maybe he'd come back to have lunch at the lounge, where no one will bother him. It's almost noon. I can wait for him.

When I get there, it's nearly empty. The victors are taking the opportunity of Annie Cresta's slow recovery to spend time in the Capitol. Gloss and Cashmere are having dinner with a pair of Capitol sponsors in the extremely exclusive restaurant downstairs. Mindwell Larue is catching up on her paperwork at the District Ten table. Brutus and Philo are having some kind of fight near the mentors' lounge. I realize that none of Haymitch's friends are here, and a part of my mind is suddenly very alert. They often go out one or two at a time, but I don't recall ever seeing all of them leave together, even though they're all, as some of the other Games staff puts it, "thick as thieves."

But I'm not really paying attention. I go to the District Twelve table. Haymitch has been here. There are, of all things, brochures about Capitol sightseeing out. He's long gone, though. The cut crystal whiskey glass is dry. I go back to the far end of the lounge, where the beds are set up, thinking he might be taking a nap down here, but of course, he isn't. Neither are the others, though I see a pair of heels kicked off under a chair. On the seat of the chair, there's a quickly discarded minidress made of thick, clingy white fringe. It's the style this year -- there's no underdress, and there's a certain element of danger in that it's held together by battery generated static, and sometimes the dress turns into a lightning show… and in a few cases, the cling has been known to give out and leave a lot exposed. I haven't worn it, but it's definitely Johanna's style this year.

There's no one in any of the beds. I start to head back, figuring I'll start with the nearby bars and work my way out, but when I get near the arched doorway that leads into the lounge, I spot white Peacekeepers' coats. They've got Brutus and Philo cornered. I fall back into the shadows to listen.

"…and you've got no idea where they are? Any of them?"

Brutus takes a step back. "I haven't exactly been on friendly terms with Haymitch lately. We had to put up with the tributes being allies this year, but I still think he's a cheater."

"How exactly do you cheat at the Hunger Games?" Philo asks. "There are no rules."

"We're not here to talk about Games," the Peacekeeper says, moving in threateningly. "We think they were in on your little adventure on the way here."

"No way," Brutus says. "Not a chance. I don't care who we're talking about, no mentor lets his tributes get hurt if he can help it."

"At least outside the arena," Philo clarifies.

"Yeah? Well, you want to explain why half of them went missing from their districts this spring?"

"No idea." Philo shakes his head. "They're all friends. I know Haymitch left with Johanna. I think they're showing her around the Capitol. He said something about showing her a place his escort took him once. They're probably all on one of those tours."

"What place, exactly, did he say he was showing her?"

"Oh, come on," Brutus says. "He's got a little girl who follows him around like a little puppy? What do you think he's showing her, the art museum? Oh, I know. The library." He makes an unpleasant face.

I doubt he's covering for Haymitch. I'm pretty sure Brutus actually believes that Haymitch is off seducing a sixteen year old girl. But whatever he's doing, he's keeping the Peacekeepers occupied. Since I've been brought up, I decide it's better not to be seen.

I go back to the lounge and quickly switch into Johanna's discarded dress and shoes. We are very close in size, and it's not particularly tailored. I take off my wig. I feel acutely exposed. I haven't been without it for years. But when I walk by, they don't even give me a second look.

I get outside into the sunshine before the panic hits. What am I doing? That Haymitch has seditious thoughts is something I've always known. That they go beyond thoughts, I've suspected, and he's more or less confirmed.

But if I try to find him and warn him that they're after him, it's treason.

I stop.

I can feel the breeze from the lake on my head, shifting the fringe of Johanna's dress. My breath wants to come in whistling gasps, but I force it to go in and out at a normal speed. I can't do anything about my racing heart.

The Peacekeepers want them in connection with the attack on the trains. With the men who wanted to take turns with me after murdering Haymitch and the children.

I think about Haymitch's empty house when I got to District Twelve in March. About how he was immediately concerned when the train was late, no matter how often trains run late.

And about him swearing that these weren't his people, that he wouldn't let anyone hurt me.

I think about him protecting Olla and Briar, and about the flash of the knife when he killed the man who was threatening me.

They aren't his people. I'm sure of that. Like Brutus, I know that no mentor would deliberately put his tributes in danger, and Haymitch would never expose me to it.

But he could know something. And if the Peacekeepers take him, then knowing something would be just as bad as doing something.

I take a deep breath and swallow hard. Haymitch saved me on the train; I'm sure of that. And there are the others to consider as well. Finnick will be there. Johanna. Chaff and Seeder. Jack. Beetee and Wiress.

I think their politics are dangerous, but none of them deserve what will happen if the Peacekeepers catch them at anything more sinister than sightseeing.

I know where they are.

I don't know if Haymitch deliberately let it slip, or if I've been handed a piece of luck on par with winning the lottery, and I don't care. I have spent a lot of time with Haymitch over the last eleven years, and in many places, but I've only ever showed him one place.

I head for the lake.

I make one stop along the way. Going bareheaded and unadorned is not in fashion this season, and isn't a way I'd show up somewhere. So I go to Philippa's studio, and tell her that I need to take some victors on a tour. She asks me no questions. She just gives me a white hat with a scarf under it, a pair of designer sunglasses, and a quick fix on my makeup. She hands me a large tote bag and quickly stuffs it with brochures and cameras and maps. Then she offers me a ride. I take her up on it, at least to the edge of monument park, then I send her back.

I follow the cracked stone path past the overlook where I once sat with Caesar Flickerman, then down through the valley of the statues. I see them together at the wall overlooking the lake, under the statue of Mother Laelia. Haymitch is crouched by the wall, his hands on his head, looking like he's thinking so hard that his head will start leaking. Mags is bent over him, her hand on his shoulder.

They're obviously arguing. Johanna, dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt, is standing on a bench, gesticulating wildly toward Beetee, who looks cross with her. Chaff grabs her wrist. The District Six mentors, Berenice and Paulin, and Cecelia are saying something urgent -- I'm guessing that they want her to calm down -- and Seeder is having a huddled conversation with Finnick and Wiress.

I go toward them.

Haymitch looks up and sees me first. He cuts off the conversation before I can hear words above the crash of the lake. He calls, "Effie! What are you doing here?"

My hands are shaking. My knees feel like they're made from overcooked pasta. I feel like I should run, but I couldn't if I tried.

I walk to them, smiling. "Sightseeing with you," I tell him. "Like we all talked about."


I look at Johanna. "Remember? I told you we'd see the sights."

She looks at me blankly.

I smile more. "Sorry I'm late. I forgot where we were meeting. Luckily, Philo overheard you say where you were going, when the Peacekeepers asked him."

Haymitch goes pale and quiet. "Effie…" he whispers.

"I brought the cameras," I say, and reach into the bag Philippa gave me. There aren't enough for everyone, but I guess it'll do. I hand one to Haymitch, another to Finnick, and the third to Beetee.

They all look at each other. Seeder blinks rapidly, then finds a very large smile. "Well, I'm sure glad you found us. I've been coming here for years, and I still haven't seen half of the historical sites. I'm not even sure I could find them -- like I said the other night."

"Nice dress," Johanna finally says. She falls into the personality she puts on for interviews, a sharp half smile curving up on her face. "I should get one like it."

"Well," I say, "you know how I like to be inconspicuous."

There is a screech of tires on the street not far away. It might be Peacekeepers, or it might be a traffic accident. Whatever it is, it seems to remind them that they can't stand here looking like I surprised them in the middle of… of whatever they were arguing about.

Beetee examines the camera. "Clever," he says. "Much better viewer than the ones we can buy from the machines here. I hope it didn't set you back too much."

I hand around the bag, and everyone pulls out brochures and maps. Johanna has a pair of sunglasses, which she puts on, and makes a great show of posing for pictures that Finnick takes. Chaff and Jack start laughing over absolutely nothing. Seeder starts talking loudly about how Berenice should paint the lake. Cecelia grabs her purse and starts frantically showing Paulin pictures. (He's dazed and out of it, and I think just assumes this is the new activity.)

Haymitch takes my hand. "Effie, you… "

"My job is to keep District Twelve out of trouble," I tell him. "I thought you could use a little distraction."

He pulls me to him and hugs me. "You're kind of amazing," he says.

"I'm scared to death," I whisper.

"That's why you're amazing."

The Peacekeepers don't come right away. I have no idea where they look first, and I don't care. The victors all maintain a manic act, pretending to be fascinated by the statuary, then playing at the beach. Johanna and Finnick jump in the water and push big fans of it at each other. Mags keeps an eye on them like a watchful mother hen. She tells me that Finnick was always an only child, and is now enjoying having a spoiled little sister. She also tells me that he's worried sick about Annie, but we don't get into that too deeply. Worry isn't supposed to be in the picture we're painting.

Haymitch spends the day close to me, sometimes with his arm over my shoulders in a protective way, sometimes reaching over to squeeze my hand, but mostly, he's just close, always where he can see me. He's nervous when I go to the ladies' room in the art museum, even though I have a bevy of female victors with me. He reestablishes the sightline as soon as he can, and stays between me and the museum guards while Beetee gives an impromptu lecture about the technology employed in a modern laser sculpture.

We go to the Museum of the Ingathering after the art museum and look at everyone's ostensible ancestors. Haymitch makes a great show of considering buying a war skirt, like his Scottish forefathers wore. He's afraid he doesn't have the knees for it. Finnick pretends to play the Irish harp, and Beetee turns out to be quite independently knowledgeable about the artifacts from India. Johanna doesn't know where her people are from, but decides that she feels Australian, and is most likely descended from a convict shipped there for labor. She picks a random face out of a photograph and declares it her great-great-great-great-great-grandmother. "I'll bet she was a murderer like me," she says. "Maybe she even used an axe."

Seeder rolls her eyes and moves us on to another part of the world. She's also in the dark about her ancestry (I've never even particularly wondered about mine), and pricks her finger on a gene sequencer to get an idea. The map lights up all over the place, which is somewhat unhelpful. She suggests that Chaff try it, but he's not interested. I reach out, feeling like a princess in a fairy tale reaching for a spindle, and it tells me that, at some point, my people came from far in the north of Europe.

Johanna and Finnick seem to have almost forgotten that all of this is for show. They both try the sequencer and get mixed results like Seeder's, though Finnick's is much more concentrated around Ireland. They go to all of the stations and start deciding that the artifacts really belong to them. Seeder seems quite fascinated by all of it. It's almost like a real sightseeing trip… except that I don't generally spend my sightseeing time with my knees knocking together and my palms sweating. Haymitch isn't entirely committed to the pretense, either.

The Peacekeepers finally find us at the mutt zoo, where Haymitch is tossing peanuts at golden squirrels and taunting them about not being able to have his tasty earlobe this time. We have pictures to show what we've been doing all day. I tell them everything we have left on our itinerary. They insist on "guarding" us for the rest of the day, what with madmen trying to kill mentors on the loose. It seems to make it harder for everyone to forget that we're trying to keep prying eyes off of them.

Johanna finally complains that it's no fun with chaperones, and Finnick makes a bawdy joke about it. We head back for games Headquarters.

I stop at the gate. Most of them go through, toward their apartments. I lean against the wall and wait for Haymitch, so I can say goodnight.

"What is it?" Haymitch asks.

"Well, I can just go home."

"Effie, I want you to stay."

"I --"

"Effie, come on. Please." He looks at the Peacekeepers, who are only a few feet away. "Do you guys mind?" he asks.

They don't move.

"Can we have two seconds of privacy?"

"What for? Making up a good cover story?"

"Yes. I’m trying to get a beautiful woman back to our bugged apartment so that I can tell her my master plan for world domination."

The Peacekeeper rolls his eyes and takes a few steps away, but keeps us in sight.

Haymitch leans in, putting his hands on the wall on either side of me. "I'm sorry," he whispers. "I shouldn't do this." He kisses me, leaning in close. I feel his lips against my ear, then he says, "Effie, don't go back to your apartment."

I bury my hands in his hair, kiss his cheek, tug on the earlobe that he denied to the squirrels. "I'm not going to sleep with you for this."

He draws away a little bit, then leans his forehead against mine. He kisses me again. "You don't have to. We can talk. We can play chess. We can watch something ridiculous on television. But don't go back to your place, Effie, please. Stay with me tonight." He comes closer again, and I know that it's not all an act. I know that if I go back to the apartment, we are not going to spend the night playing chess. I can feel him against me, and I want to go back with him. I want to go everywhere with him. He presses his lips against my ear. "We'll get you out of the Capitol."

I pull back, my heart leaping into my throat. I know he means it. I know why he means it, but I think I'm all right. No one saw me. No one has any idea that I went to find him. Leaving the Capitol would mean admitting to something… it would mean hiding. It would mean never seeing him again, like his first escort. It would mean giving up the idea that I would ever be this close to him again.

And I am a Capitol woman. I can no more change that than Haymitch can stop being a victor. To live my life pretending to be something else would be impossible.

Haymitch takes my hand and presses it against his lips. He looks miserable. I kiss him, then duck under his arm and raise my arm for a taxi. As I get in, I look back at him. He's still standing there in the gate, Peacekeepers on either side of him.

I give the taxi driver my address, and he drives me away.

When I get home, I find messages from friends at Capitol dreams, and Barnabas, and even Caesar Flickerman, all telling me that Peacekeepers are trying to get in touch with me. I return the calls. Junius is terribly concerned about me. Caesar tells me to be careful. Barnabas asks if I want to go out and talk about it. I don't.

I take a shower and put on my pajamas, my head wrapped in a large soft towel. I make myself a cup of tea, and cuddle Sweetheart while she purrs and kneads against my chest.

We'll get you out of the Capitol.

I start to cry.

It's not dramatic. I don't wail and weep. I just sit on my sofa, cuddled up in the corner with my cat, tears sliding down my face. Sweetie licks at them, and bumps her head against my chin until I pull her closer.

I'm not even sure why I'm crying. I'm safe. Haymitch is safe. So are the others. They have a perfectly good excuse for having congregated all day. No one is going anywhere. And if I want to, I know I could get dressed, call a cab, and go back to the Training Center, to Haymitch. I know he wouldn't turn me away tonight. I doubt we'd even waste much time talking about getting me out of the Capitol, or anything else for that matter. And it won't be about covering up clandestine political meetings, either.

Where would it go, Euphemia? Do you imagine there would be some long, happily-ever-after life?

I try to push away the image of Mimi Meadowbrook, lying at the foot of a statue, writing the word "Reaped" on it as her last action in life. It doesn't work. She knew it was impossible. Haymitch knows it, too. And I know it. I could go tonight, but then what?

I feel something sharp, and I realize that I'm squeezing Sweetie tightly enough that she's trying to get away. I let up a bit, and she re-settles in my arms. I carry her back to my room, look at the pictures on my wall. Some are old pictures of me from Capitol Dreams. Some are magazine covers I've done. There's even a picture of me with Haymitch at one function or another -- I can't tell which, but I'm guessing it's one of the post-Games meetings, since Haymitch looks a bit drunk.

I take them all down and put them in a drawer. I try to imagine an Effie who didn't march in parades as a child, an Effie who lives somewhere else, whose life isn't wound up in Haymitch Abernathy's, more tightly with each passing year, to the point where he thinks I need to leave my home… to start over somewhere else, like Pelagia Pepper did.

Maybe I'd be the next one accused of killing someone in a distant district. Would they question Haymitch about it again?

The air conditioning comes on. I feel it play over my skin like cool, comforting fingers. Someone has perfumed the air tonight. There's a high, sweet smell in it. I lean back into my pillows and breathe it in deeply. Sweetie falls asleep against my side.

I stare at the ceiling.

I could go to Haymitch. I want to go to Haymitch, but I know I can't live with it just being tonight. He wants me to leave the Capitol. Maybe we could leave together. Maybe we could both become someone new. I could become a district woman, with a new name. Maybe we could go to District Seven, where it would be easy to get lost in the constant migration from camp to camp. We could see Johanna and Jack sometimes. Haymitch could put his restless mind to work solving survival problems again. We could…

But I can't picture it. Not really. My face is unremarkable when I'm not made up, and maybe I could pass, but Haymitch is a victor, and has been on television all over the country for two decades. He'd have to have extensive reconstructive surgery to disappear, and that can only be done in the Capitol, which would make the whole issue moot.

I could go alone. Find my place among the lumberjacks, or maybe working in the smelly paper mill. Or I could go to District Ten, and learn to ride a horse. I could divorce myself from Haymitch's life, and let him go his way, while I go mine. We've had a good, long contract together. Nothing lasts forever.

The sweet perfume from the air filters is making me foggy. The lines on the ceiling seem to bend.

I could just stay here. Nothing really happened. I don't need to do anything. I can love Haymitch until I die, and nothing will ever come of it, not really. So why not just let it be?

Somewhere in my cloudy head, I hear a faint humming sound. My hands and feet feel very heavy. I look up at the vent. There's a faint, misty substance now.

I should panic. But my heart has slowed too much for it. Sweetie is breathing slowly beside me, her head pushed under the covers. If there's poison, it could kill her a long time before it hurts me. I should open a window.

I try to sit up, but my body doesn't move. I think as hard as I can about pushing myself up, but my arms don't respond. My legs seem to be sinking into my mattress.

I am breathing in slow, shallow gasps. Above me, the lights on my ceiling seem to expand and contract with my pulse. The edges of the room grow dim, the shadows closing in around me. I feel the warmth of the cat beside me, but it is only us in the world.

Then the shadows advance, close the loop around us, and I know no more.
18 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 26th, 2014 01:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gah!! Did you really have to cut the chapter there?! You evil cliffhanger monster.
-Papillon82 ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2014 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Bwa-ha-ha. :D
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 26th, 2014 01:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

you've done it again!

You have written another great chapter! For the past few weeks, I have been checking for new chapters and reading them as soon as I could, each time finishing up and dying to know what happens next. I guess this is where Effie gets a shot in the arm of reeducation. Love seeing the victors together and doing the "sightseeing" it is fun to get a glimpse into what they are like in the downtime. Is this one going to end with the next chapter? I believe that will be chapter 27?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2014 01:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: you've done it again!

Yup, the next chapter is the last one -- it should take us up to the reaping of Prim.
istarni From: istarni Date: July 26th, 2014 08:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi, I have been an eager reader of your stories since the "Golden Mean", but never left a single comment:( My apologies, because your stories are great, with great detail and touching personalities, and you are one of my favourite authors now)

I admire your writing about districts, but pieces of Capitol and Capitolites are my personal favourites, may be because it is more relatable to our world. You capture the feeling of this place, eerily beautiful, greatly skewed, shallow and subtly dangerous, and still it is possible for humans to express (a bit) of human goodness. I remember the other bits of your stories well, beautifully written and stirring: conversation of Haymitch, Plutarch and Fulvia on the rooftop, Haymitch's thoughts of him being a creature of Capitol, Effie not sleeping while party goes around her…It is beautiful, and sad, and skewed, and you are a great author to capture it all.

Of course I would be especially interested in this story)

And…well, the end. I wonder if Haymitch asked Effie to stay because he suspected that something will come, or if he just wanted to be with her after that day. And the saddest thing is that even if she went to him, she would still have got a drugged air conditioning the next night…It is a miracle that she, unlike Mimi, had managed to recover at all, given the circumstances.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2014 01:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for saying hi. :D

I like writing about both -- I've been a city woman for most of my adult life, but grew up out in the toolies, so I've been in both places, and Panem just amps it up to an almost unbelievable degree. Watching reality TV, I can totally believe that, in the right circumstances, people would totally go for this kind of thing -- it wouldn't be the first time in human history that we went for blood sport. And it wouldn't even have to be that many people liking the really sick part -- people would love the accoutrements of it, like the parade and the interviews and the spectacle, so much that they'd turn a blind eye to the end result. It's like having gladiators in the Olympics.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: July 27th, 2014 04:59 am (UTC) (Link)


ca wait for Think the ca should be can?

under a chair Just a missing period.:)

a quickly discarded a Think you can delete the second a.

Pauling pictures Just the misspelled name.

back our bugged Think you're missing a to before bugged.

I get to District Think the get should maybe be got?

Gaaah, Fern, gaaah! You hit every right note here; I first read this late last night, and dreamed I was Effie in that bed, with everything slipping away. What a powerful, pervasive, terrifying image.

I'll be really interested to see whether or not whatever chemical it was was meant simply to sedate Effie, or if it was a murder attempt gone wrong. Snow, you really are a piece of work if it was the latter, because she was kissing Haymitch outside the gates; a lover's quarrel that drove her to suicide would fit perfectly with the official story.

It's funny, because we know Effie will be in the next story, and you'd think that'd decrease the tension, but in so many ways, it increases it, because the question becomes how broken she'll be, and it's terrifyingly easy to break a human mind.

I suppose Haymitch is lucky, in truth, that she's even the Twelve escort by THG; or is that Snow's special early birthday present: to make him see her be entirely bubbly and reeducated and even work with her, when she's so totally not herself? Rebelling like this would be one of the most terrifying actions I can think of. It wouldn't be me I was scared for; I mean, they can only kill you once, and if I were reeducated, well, I'd be happily oblivious. But all the other people, and the ways I could hurt them, just by intersecting with them; and then you bring romance/deep affection in, andit becomes a nightmare. What Haymitch and the others do takes such a strength of personality.

Reeducation's been this terrifying spector since HT, and it's become progressively worse, seeing Mimi in this, even if it's a sidelong view. It's the thing Haymitch has been avoiding, or at least not having to deal with head-on, since Gia's narrow escape, finally come home to roost. Which is just reinforced by all the Gia parallels here; but then, I suppose those parallels are inevitable. Haymitch is attracted to a certain type; smart, perceptive, a little bit of an outsider in one way or another, and eventually, that type sees the flaws in their society. And now Haymitch is going to be in almost as bad a situation as Blight, and he'll handle it about as well, just with drinking instead of sex. All the little mentions make so much thematic sense, knowing this was always the endgame. I'm glad you're only going to give us one chapter of CD-influenced Effie; to have that pov, that has always been so perceptive, become entirely unreliable as she loses parts of herself is going to be such a gutpunch. And would be almost impossible to maintain past a few chapters; much easier to show the changes more fully in recaps from Haymitch.

This happening now is especially awful, with the contrast of Finn being so happy, and Haymitch grinding his teeth and wanting to punch something.

Though I do now wonder with Effie: How much are K/P going to bring her back to herself, especially with what you were saying about them hitting Capitolites on a very primal level?

Aside from looking forward to Haymitch's pov because 27 will be rough, I'm looking forward to the recaps of all the rebel bits we missed.:d My best guess about the lake chat was that some of them wanted to ally with the Outer Districts?

Effie's entire scheme was brilliant,nd really showed her core of steel. I entirely agree with Haymitch's sentiment when she first arrives. Loved seeing him being so protective of her; gaaah, she would have been so much better off if she'd come to the apartment!

Also just loved seeing all the Victors "sightseeing" And loved Philo's rejoinder to Brutus!:d And thank you Brutus, amidst all your awful, for sort of standing up for another victor.

Edited at 2014-07-27 05:01 am (UTC)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2014 05:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Flailing

I think Snow's plan is to re-educate Effie, and force Haymitch into a position where he feels it necessary to cut her off himself -- make it his choice to lose one of the women in his life. After all, with Mimi, he barely thought about it. He just kissed her goodbye and never looked back. Make him break Effie's heart. That's about Snow's speed.

I think that the idea of using psychology as a weapon -- which we see so horrifyingly in canon -- is one that scares the crap out of me. Because sometimes you do need help... but what if the very person who's supposed to help you is deliberately hurting you instead? While telling you that he's helping and any discomfort you feel is just part of the healing process?

I'm not sure I could do more than one chapter of brainwashed!Effie. Even that, it's only going to be part of it, since the brainwashing takes time. But writing a character who almost willfully sticks to the surface of any given issue is a lot harder than writing one who opens up and thinks. (For one thing, no more giveaways; what she sees at a sidelong glance, she absolutely can never comment on.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 27th, 2014 06:04 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Flailing

Effie in _THG_ always struck me as a) clueless and not bright; b) scornful of Haymitch. Is this how Effie will wind up by the end of Ch. 27?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2014 06:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Flailing

The clueless and not very bright was I think a result of the Katniss filter -- she's in a pretty responsible job, and presumably, she had to work for it. But yes, she's about to have a major attitude adjustment.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: July 27th, 2014 07:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Flailing

The idea of psychology as a weapon hits especially close to home for me. I grew up lesbian in a very conservative church, and there was a lot of pressure on my Mom to send me to so-called X-gay therapy, which is essentially as close to Capitol-style reeducation as we have in this day and age. I was lucky; she left rather than bend to the group pressure. But, I know lots of people who weren't nearly so lucky. So, yeah, profoundly, viscerally terrifying. And I can say from experience, you've done a really excellent job writing an atmosphere in the Capitol where reeducation as a prevalent, almost normal, solution is entirely possible.

And damn, that is Snow's speed. Okay, Haymitch's self-recriminations in GM/NP are making way too much sense now. And like with so many things Haymitch-related, it's a grain of truth mixed with far too much self-loathing. Because no matter how careful he is, there's way too much she could pick up from those side-long glances and report to CD.

Also wanted to mention in my first comment and then forgot: I absolutely loved how you slipped in the mention of Haymitch not being at his house in March. I'm now assuming he was either just getting off a train he'd hopped, or the "shipment" was actually one of the other rebel victors he was going to talk too, and then just talked to the next day when Effie was at the inn? (I'm hoping the former, and that the shipment was just flour or something, because of Danny bouncing the crate like crazy when he ran back to the bakery after what happened to Peeta.)

And I was wondering how you were going to fit two Games in one chapter, even glossing over. And then you mentioned superficial Effie and I realized: it'd be pretty easy, when she was skating along the surface, especially because she just wouldn't be noticing as clearly/invested in the things she once was, like Haymitch's well-being or the Victor dynamics, especially once he cuts her off and she's angry at him/hurt. And of course, the idea of her being hurt is about a hundred times worse because I can't stop thinking about her cuddling the kitty and crying. I'm a cat person, and when I had one, I did the same thing more than once, so that image especially resonated.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2014 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Flailing

Yeah, Haymitch was on a little walkabout at the beginning. No one knew except Danny, who was to receive him as a shipment in the crate, then pretend he was "helping" to return the heavy box of flour and so on. But playacting ceased being important when he heard about what happened at the bakery.

It's hard in this situation to draw a distinction between healthy, helpful mental health measures (Effie could probably use actual help with her depression) and the kind of nasty, politicized crap that's going on. I'm glad that you're seeing that I don't mean to be down on mental health (I think Thomas Szasz was just as much of a crank to say there's no such thing as mental illness). But that's not the business the Capitol is in. Even in the real world, people have a hard time distinguishing. There's the issue you brought up, and there are also issues like whether or not the rapid diagnosing of childhood social adjustment syndromes is (a) a great advance in helping kids who might fall by the wayside at school or (b) pathologizing of normal ranges of behavior and trying to force all kids into a single mold to make them easier to handle. Or the argument about cults and deprogramming (which side is being more manipulative?). I'm sure that most people involved in this in the Capitol would be simply horrified by the terrible tragedy that has overtaken Effie's mind, and would love to see her "recover" and function among "normal" people again.

After all, when the whole society is freakin' insane, the sane person looks pretty crazy.

Edited at 2014-07-27 08:50 pm (UTC)
redrikki From: redrikki Date: July 27th, 2014 04:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Covering for Haymitch and the other victors here is a major and brave step. I like that it's done, not out of any political conviction like Plutarch, but out of personal loyalty. She loves Haymitch, she's friends with the other Victors, she likes people like Merle and Danny back in 12 and she's protective of her tributes. I like that her human connections is what makes her dangerous to Snow and his policies of deliberate human separation and mind games. Of course, that's why she has to brainwashed and that makes me sad.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2014 08:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that's what evil always fails on -- there's a lot of bad in human nature, sure. But when evil oversteps and tries to control those basic human connections, to break them and reform them to its desires, then it's always going to break, because in the end, people are social animals first, and not recognizing those bonds as, well, binding, always leads to failure. (Which of course makes it infinitely more dangerous when someone uses those bonds to do evil, but even then, eventually, people will see the clash between what they're being told to do for themselves and their neighbors... given what they're being told to do to their neighbors. You can use the bonding instinct to expand, but once people are settled and start to form bonds with their new neighbors, it falls apart. Hence the half-life of true evil being relatively short.)

Edited at 2014-07-27 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 27th, 2014 11:53 pm (UTC) (Link)


And that is what ultimately destroyed Voldemort. He demanded that his death eaters be wholly loyal to him. That any other loyalty they might hold was held as treason. But the death eaters still married and had chidlren. Psycho's like Bella were all for it, she would have killed Narcissa happily if demanded and was all for Draco being sacraficed, but even she protected Narcissa otherwise. So Snape was placed in a psoition that he had to choose. Voldemort or Lily. Narcissa was put in a poisition she had to choose between Draco & Lucius or Voldemort. And Draco and Lucius also had to choose between the Malfoys and Voldemort. And all four of them chose the people that really mattered to them over ambition. Really, its like taking a Slytherin and taking them to ultimate breaking point to see what would happen.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 28th, 2014 12:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Voldemort

Star Wars, too. If the Emperor hadn't deliberately set out to make Anakin kill his own son (probably on the notion that it would prove his loyalty or something), then he probably would have kept right on being an unhappy but perfectly loyal right hand man, since he had nothing else to live for.

That's why this sort of thing is our modern mythology. They tell us the truths that we hold self-evident in a very visceral way.

And since it's a Hunger Games fic, let's not forget (a) why Katniss volunteered, (b) why Peeta's narrative was such a resounding success with the public, and (c) why Katniss killed Coin instead of Snow.

Edited at 2014-07-28 12:42 am (UTC)
patita_fea From: patita_fea Date: July 28th, 2014 01:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Lots of admiration for your work, your expansion of canon into a completely realized world, and the dimension you've given to the somewhat cartoonish Effie in canon.

It's always, always a pleasure to see new installments from you.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 28th, 2014 05:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I figure that almost no one is a cartoon in her own head. Always good to go in and find out. :D
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