Disclaimer : cfr Chapter 1

Rating : T (although it might go up in later chapters)

A/N : back with Effie (I really find her easier to write than Haymitch, but maybe writing him will get easier with practice ;) ). Please, do leave comments, I hate not knowing how my story looks to others ;)

Chapter 4 : tributa Minotis

To say that Effie Trinket's first meeting with her tributes had been nerve wracking was quite the euphemism. Simply climbing on that stage and reaping children from the little, scared 12 years old to the proud, angry 18 was nerve wracking. Especially since she knew the odds were not in the District's favour.

Today, however, it had been worse than that. She had been feeling antsy ever since she had left Haymitch with Daphnis and Apollo. She had been more nervous than usual when she had climbed up the stage because Haymitch had not yet been there. But it was the Time of the Reaping and Haymitch Abernathy was late. It did not bode well at all for the rest of the day. His arrival was both a relief and a curse because he had to go and embarrass her in public, before all the citizens of Panem, no less.

Then, she had reaped a tribute : a Primrose Everdeen. When the girl had slowly made her way to her, Effie had felt her stomach contract into knots. The child looked scared, the silence was heavy. Primrose Everdeen would be another innocent taken away from people who loved her. But then, the sister had volunteered and Effie had been moved, really moved as she had not been in a long time. Hope had flared in her that Panem was not entirely rotten, that District 12, her District had a potential winner. Katniss Everdeen looked determined and strong enough to win.

And then, Haymitch had to ruin it by making a complete ass of himself again – as if the hug had not been enough ! She had been ready to murder him. Did he really have no sense of propriety, of self-respect ? Scratch that, did he really have a death wish ? Did he want to inflict punishment on all of his compatriots ? and her she wanted to add, but knew he barely tolerated her at best – and that was when she helped get sponsors to keep the children alive.

Oh! And the boy… Peeta Mellark had looked stunned for a moment, as if he did not fully grasp what had just happened when she had read his name. He quickly recovered however and joined them. He looked nice, sweet even, and looked fit enough to train with a career… Maybe he too had a chance.

Effie's relief had been short lived however when she had eaten dinner with them. Haymitch, probably raiding the bar car, had not appeared and, if the boy was nice – which confirmed her earlier thoughts, the girl was positively distrustful and defiant. And they both had no small amount of disrespect for their Mentor – truth to be told, he had quite the hand in that, too.

"Frankly, getting drunk as a skunk and then pass out in his own vomit right in front of two mocking teenagers ! I'm going to murder him tomorrow, as surely as I told them off today, or my name isn't Effie Trinket !"

They had dared laugh at him, and she had lost it. Not that Haymitch was not a misanthropist drunk, but she would be damned if she let two children make fun of him that way. And she really did not have to justify it ! In truth, her protectiveness towards him was not something she liked to dwell on. She had an inkling that she would not entirely like what she would find if she analysed it.

Effie closes her eyes and sighs. She really cannot just leave him to choke on his own vomit, however tempting that might sound to her annoyed and frustrated brain. She opens the door, ready to find Haymitch and put him to bed. Right before her stands Peeta, hand curled in a knocking position, looking slightly awkward. She arches one eyebrow.

"Effie, I just wanted to tell you that I took care of Haymitch and put him to bed."

She stares at him blankly for a few seconds : no other tribute has ever done that.

"Um… Thank you, Peeta, but you didn't have to do that, you know. I usually make sure that he doesn't die on us. It's part of my duties as an escort." she says with an awkward smile.

"It was no problem, really. Anyway, I needed to apologise for …"

"Just remember what I said, Peeta, he could mean life or death for either of you in the arena."

He quickly leaves after that and she battles with herself for what seems like ages : should she go check on him ? Or should she not ? In the end, she is so anxious to see if he is alright, that she goes.