One Year Later
"Haymitch, Effie, I am delighted to have you back with us today." Caesar smiled at them and Haymitch found himself swallowing back a sigh at what would, no doubt, be a long and painful interview. "It's been two seasons since you've made your surprised comeback and… The first thing I need to ask is… How was Sotchi?"
"Cold." Effie giggled. "And eventful."
"Yes, I can imagine." the host laughed with her. "Still… Your first Olympic Games as trainers… How did that go?"
"Not so bad." Haymitch snorted. "We did come back with gold and silver."
"I think you had a point all those years." Haymitch mocked, leaning against the doorframe. "This room just lacked a few more medals."
Effie glared at him from where she was crouching in the trophy room, trying to make the new case stand straight. They had been moving furniture around and she was certain her father wouldn't be happy when he would come back to find his office completely turned into a trophy room this time around. The desk and the bookshelves had been moved to one of the upper rooms. She needed space to put up cases for Katniss and Peeta's trophies as well as Finnick and Johanna's. The children had a tendency to leave them in heaps on top of their dressers and medals should be displayed.
All the more so when they were Olympics.
She had rearranged everything so her mother's trophies were on one side, hers on the other and the children's in between. The black and white poster of her and Haymitch was on the wall, the first thing you saw when you walked into the room. She actually liked it better now. It felt less like a competition between her and her mother, displays of victories and failures, and more like memories to be proud of, memories that should be cherished.
"I noticed you are letting me do all the work." she pointed out.
"I was changing diapers. You want to do that, be my guest." he scoffed. "That kid can poop and his parents seem to mysteriously disappear every time he needs a fucking diaper change."
"Language." She clicked her tongue in disapproval and stood up, admiring her work. "What do you think?"
He walked in, his eyes stopping on the poster before darting around. Eventually, he came to stand behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist, propping his chin on her shoulder as he stared at the 2014 Games medals their children had brought back.
The last year hadn't been easy.
Coming back as Word Champions was a hard title to uphold as Katniss and Peeta had experienced, as for Johanna and Finnick, they were at the end of their competition days and they knew it. Their silver medal had been valiantly fought for and she was proud of the work they had accomplished.
"You know…." she hummed, studying Katniss and Peeta's golden medals. "We may not have won these medals ourselves but I feel as if we have all the same. I think that is something my mother never understood… Our children winning doesn't make us less of who we were, if anything it makes us more because we brought them here."
"You're getting wise." he teased. "Don't think too hard, you're going to hurt your brain."
"Awful man!" she laughed, whacking his arm.
"Shouldn't have married me." he snorted, pressing a kiss against her neck. "I'm gonna miss the desk though, sweetheart. I liked the desk."
"You liked having sex on the desk." she corrected.
"Yeah." he smirked. "That too."
"You did." Caesar nodded with a smile. "I must say, your skaters did our country proud. Katniss and Peeta were magnificent as always. And Finnick and Johanna… Such precision. Mags would have been so proud of them…"
"She truly would have been." Effie smiled, a little sad.
"I think I can safely assume she would have been proud of the two of you too." he added.
Haymitch glanced at her and smirked.
"Good morning." she hummed, half giggling, as his hands slipped underneath her nightgown.
He smirked. "I'm sure trying to make it a good one, sweetheart." She laughed and rolled on her back to give him better access, accepting the kiss he planted on her lips. He felt her mouth stretch into a grin and he drew back a little, brushing her hair away from her face. "Come on, say it. You're dying to."
The smile burst forth, just as wild and euphoric as it had been in their twenties. "We are twice World Champions!" She rolled her eyes. "Well, the children are twice World Champions." she amended. "And Johanna and Finnick did well too." She wrapped her arms around his neck, squeezing almost tight enough to suffocate him in her enthusiasm. "We are qualified for the Olympics! We are going to the Olympics!"
He chuckled and kissed her again, amused by how childish she could still be about all of that. "You brought them here."
"We brought them here." she corrected against his mouth. "I am so proud of them. All of them."
He nuzzled her neck. "I'm proud of us."
"Us, you and me, or us, everyone?" she asked.
"Both." he answered. And he meant it.
"I can't say Johanna and Finnick's decision was truly a surprise…" Caesar went on. "But could you shed some light as to why they decided to retire from competitions? They had a full career and I am sure a lot of beautiful opportunities are waiting for them but I personally think they could have gone another year or two?"
"I think when it is time for you to bow down, you know it, Caesar." Effie replied with a polite smile. "And I think it takes a lot of courage to stop while you are at your best. It is difficult to keep up with fresh blood coming up every year."
"That's for sure." the host nodded. "But I was wondering if the recent changes in Finnick's life had influenced that decision at all… His wedding to Annie Cresta last year made a lot of people talk…"
Being summoned to her own living-room wasn't something Effie particularly enjoyed but the text she had received from Finnick had been specific. It called for an urgent group meeting in the smallest living-room at two p.m. sharp. She met Peeta on the way there but when she asked if he knew what it was about, the boy simply shrugged.
The children had come back from their respective holidays only the day before – and that very morning in Katniss and Peeta's case – ready to start training for the next season. It would be an Olympic year and Effie was bursting with ideas to make training that little bit more challenging, that little be more effective. She and Haymitch had been talking routines, figures, wow and risk factors for weeks now. They had browsed possible songs in small coffee shops in Paris, they had talked about themes and possible character pieces as they had strolled along the Seine, they had discussed the children's respective strengths and weaknesses as they toured the Louvres – and they had agreed to leave work behind for the rest of their honeymoon when they had kissed under the Eiffel Tower.
Haymitch, Katniss and Johanna were already there, bickering about something or other as was the norm. Peeta dropped on the couch next to Katniss, greeting her with a bright big smile that was rewarded by a smaller but no less sincere one. Johanna rolled her eyes, muttering about how she hadn't missed being surrounded by lovey-dovey couples all the time. Effie perched herself on the armrest of Haymitch's armchair, answering his wink with a disapproving pout – riling Katniss and Johanna up was one of his favorite hobbies.
Annie and Finnick came in at that point, hand in hand, and glowing just as much as they had been when she had picked them up from the airport the previous day. They looked even more in love than usual and it made Effie smile to look at them.
"Oh, you're already all here." Finnick grinned.
"Can we get the show on the road already?" Johanna sighed.
Effie's eyes snapped to the young woman, not exactly surprised that she seemed to know what it was about – she was his partner after all – but wondering at the slight apprehension on Jo's face.
"What's this about?" Haymitch frowned.
Finnick looked at Annie and then at Jo with a small wince. "Do you want to…"
Johanna rolled her eyes, slumping a little further down her own armchair, glaring at everyone with a defiant attitude. "We're retiring from competitions after this year. Sotchi will be our last. If we get there."
"What?" Katniss frowned.
"You can't!" Peeta protested.
"You're sure, kids? You've got a couple of years ahead of you still…" Haymitch intervened and Effie sensed it would quickly turn into chaos so she placed her hand on his shoulder.
"I do not think they are done." she cut in, making everyone fall silent.
Jo shrugged and nodded at Finnick and Annie. "That's for you to say."
Finnick and Annie exchanged a long look and small tender smiles.
Instinctively, Effie squeezed Haymitch's shoulder in excitement. He shot her a look that clearly meant she was crazy but she didn't even mind because she could make an educated guess and there was a ring on Annie's hand that hadn't been there before…
"We eloped this summer." Finnick declared with a happy smile.
That wasn't what Effie had thought he would say. Engagement, yes. Elopement?
"You got married without us?" she clarified, hurt and a little disappointed.
"I was there." Jo snorted.
"You could have said." Katniss sulked. "We would have come."
Haymitch rolled his eyes. "Come on, enough whining. That's good, right? Who cares if we were there or not…"
"We would have liked you to be there but it was kind of a spur of the moment thing…" Finnick apologized. "And Haymitch and Effie were in Paris…"
"We would have come back." Effie insisted.
"And we didn't want to spoil your honeymoon." the boy retorted. "And like I said… Spur of the moment. We grabbed Jo and we went."
"On the beach." Johanna snorted. "You would have loved it, Trinket. Classier than your garden thing."
"Anyway…" Finnick cut in again, shooting a warning glare to his partner. "There's more."
"More than you quitting competitions and getting married?" Katniss scoffed.
"Oh!" Peeta gasped before a wide grin burst on his lips.
"Oh, indeed." Haymitch smirked.
Effie simply frowned. "What is it? Why are you all saying oh?"
Katniss looked just as confused as she was.
"We are expecting." Annie said softly, placing a hand on her stomach.
"Oh!" Effie squealed, bolting to her feet to embrace them. "Oh, how delightful! We need to start planning a baby shower! And a nursery! We will need a nursery! And clothes and…"
"Would you breathe?" Haymitch scoffed, tearing her away from the both of them so he could clasp Finnick's shoulder and take his turn hugging Annie. "You're crowding the kids. It's their baby, not yours."
"Well, maybe you should do something about that while she still can." Johanna joked.
"We've already got our hands full with the lot of you." he retorted smoothly.
There was a tinge of disappointment but Effie chased it away.
They had enough of an extended family anyway.
"Finnick and Annie are very happy." Effie replied firmly. "They are a charming little family and they are dotting parents. Little Finn is a delight to have in the house, truth be told. I am afraid we are all quite wrapped around his little finger."
"I can imagine." Caesar laughed. "What about Katniss and Peeta? Can you tell us what they are planning to do?"
"Take a holiday." Haymitch snorted. "It's been a long season."
Long but not as difficult as their first one in a professional competition setting had been. They worked well together now, they were a well-oiled machine. And as far as Haymitch could tell, they were happy together.
"And next year?" the host insisted. "Can we be assured to see them back for the next season?"
"Why, we are certainly aiming at a third World Champions title." Effie declared.
Haymitch smirked. "You know, Effie, she's the overachiever."
"I do know Effie indeed." Caesar chuckled. "And if you have set your eyes on another World title, I am certain we will meet again next year to celebrate."
"At last someone trusts in my abilities." she joked, patting Haymitch's arm. "Do you see? That is what being supportive looks like."
"I'm supportive." he snorted. "I'm supportive of the kids you will try to kill during training and of me who will have to follow them 'cause you'll drag me jogging and what not."
"You are a drama queen." she accused, before turning back to Caesar. "I can assure you Katniss and Peeta plan to be competing for a few seasons yet. We are not ruling out the next Olympic Games."
The host was looking at them with this particular twinkle in his eyes and Haymitch inwardly sighed, knowing what would follow.
"Well…" Caesar said. "We talked about Mason and Odair, we talked about Everdeen and Mellark… Isn't it time we talk about Fire and Ice?"
"This ship has sailed." Effie shook her head. "I am afraid we are not very interesting to talk about."
"An interesting thing took place last summer and you have been very good at eluding questions about it." the host pressed, clucking his tongue in mocked disapproval. "No confirmation or denial… And yet there are rings on your hands."
"That's our private life." Haymitch cut in. "And we like our private life private."
"But you did get married, did you not?" Caesar stated, placing a hand over his heart in mocked pain. "And without inviting me, I must add. I thought we had an understanding, Haymitch… Wasn't I supposed to cover your wedding?"
Effie sighed, searched his eyes and when he shrugged, she breathed out. "It was a small affair. We truly did not want a fuss."
"Still think we don't have the same idea about small." Haymitch snorted.
He and Effie didn't have the same idea about what small looked like.
Not that he was surprised really.
His idea of small was them finding the nearest justice of the peace willing to marry them, probably with the kids, and be done with it. When he had suggested it she had laughed in his face, had kissed him on the lips and promised she would come up with something he wouldn't hate. So far, he didn't hate it. At least, she had kept to the private part of the deal.
She had turned Aspen's backyard into a wedding scene – Johanna had suggested they should get married in the rink, on the ice, which he had actually found funny and could have gone behind but Effie had glared so hard he had lifted his hands in surrender and told her to do whatever she wanted as long as he didn't have to do anything. There was a huge arch with lace and white balloons and flowers everywhere, chairs forming a small aisle leading up to the arch…
He shuffled on his feet awkwardly, uncomfortable standing there, under everyone's eyes, waiting for the ceremony to actually start.
Johanna and Finnick were already sitting first row, with Peeta and Plutarch just behind them – Katniss, Annie and Prim had been roped into being bridesmaids, Johanna had not so politely declined. There were two empty chairs on the other side of the aisle that were supposed to be reserved for Elindra and Tadius. Elindra had been invited – he had kept his peace on the subject because she was still her mother and he figured it was normal that Effie wanted her there – but had declined to attend. Her precise words had been: "marry him and you might as well take his name because I certainly won't let you tarnish mine anymore, I have a legacy to uphold". As far as ultimatums went, it was ridiculous. Effie had decided she would keep her maiden name just to spite her. The other chair remained empty for now.
"You're nervous?" Chaff asked, clapping him on the shoulder.
He was nervous about the whole circus of getting married in front of everyone. Everything else… He was sure of everything else.
"Not really." he shrugged.
"Good, 'cause if you had tried to run I would have kicked your ass back here." his best man chuckled. "That woman is the love of your life and you were an idiot to let her go in the first place."
"Preaching to the choir." he snorted.
"Well, I am happy to hear that." a male voice declared and Haymitch startled, turning around to find himself face to face with Tadius. The man was in a tuxedo, a yellow rose pinned to his front pocket, looking as impeccable as ever.
"You came." Haymitch said, relaxing a little. "Good. She'll be happy."
Tadius had said he would try, which, as he remembered from their shared youth, meant he wouldn't be there at all. Effie had been neither surprised nor disappointed, she had been expecting it.
"I wasn't about to miss giving my only daughter away, Haymitch." Tadius replied with a small smile. His expression soon turned serious. "Be sure to make a better job at keeping her happy this time around or I swear I will sue you for everything you have worth. Now, where is Euphemia?"
"In the house." he answered. "Our room."
A room he had been chased from two days earlier – bad luck to see the bride the day before the wedding or something.
"It's the lamest 'if your hurt her' speech I've ever heard." Chaff commented.
"Yeah." he granted. "Finnick's was better."
He spared a thought for Mags who would have probably given him a terrifying speech about hurting Effie and would have given Effie the same one about hurting him… Mags should have been there, he thought. She would have been if they had done this fifteen years earlier.
People filled the remaining empty chairs, guided by Prim – why Effie had wanted to invite Enobaria and Brutus was anyone's guess but Brutus, at least, looked happy enough to be there, waving at Haymitch from the back row.
"You never said you had a gorilla friend." Chaff laughed.
Soon enough everyone was settled and they were ready to start. The music picked up, traditional and classic – he only had a vague idea about how the whole thing would go since he hadn't wanted to go into details such as music, food or entertainment. If Effie wanted a party, she could organize it. He wasn't surprised by her choice of music to walk up the aisle.
He watched Prim, Katniss and Annie slowly come up first, enclosed in their pink bridesmaids dresses with their small bouquets. Prim and Katniss took their seat in the audience but Annie remained under the arch since she was the maid of honor.
He waited for Effie to appear but she didn't. The song finished and people started whispering.
"Tell me she's not pulling a runaway bride act…" Chaff muttered. "I swear I'll kick her ass back here."
"I don't know." he frowned. "I should go see…"
He took one step down the aisle when Bon Jovi burst through the speakers and she appeared. Everyone looked puzzled but Haymitch simply started laughing like an idiot.
Only her, he thought, only her…
She advanced down that aisle like a queen, barely holding on to her father's arm – who looked appalled that his perfect daughter could get married on rock and roll – a bright satisfied grin on her face. She looked beautiful like he knew she would. The dress was all lace and pearls and he loved it.
He couldn't stop smiling as her father let her go and she took her place next to him.
"I am told I give love a bad name." she declared, her eyes twinkling, as the music slowly faded to an end. "I thought I should honor that."
He shook his head, amazed that she could still surprise him and amazed that she was his to keep.
"Marry me." he demanded.
"That is certainly the plan…" she grinned.
"I am happy to see you two so happy." Caesar declared, putting an end to their shared moment. "I must say I am partial to love stories that end well. And yours… Well, yours had always seemed to me the stuff of legends."
"Let's not exaggerate." Haymitch snorted.
The host shook his head with a small indulgent smile. "It is time for us to part now but I certainly wish you the best."
"Oh, I think the best is yet to come." Effie answered softly with a secret smile for Haymitch.
He smiled back in answer, his eyes automatically falling on the charm bracelet on the hand she was rubbing her stomach with. He had brought more charms in the last year: Olympic rings, a baby bottle for Finn, a small bride and groom, a white stork…
"Well, dear viewers, this concludes today's show!" Caesar called to the cameras. "Until next time!"
I am sooo sad to see this story end... "As Time Goes By" will go on for a little more but I still find it very sad to say goodbye to Fire & Ice. It was just a crack idea and I didn't expect anyone to like it. It brought me amazing friends and it became a very special story to me. I hope you enjoyed the last chapter, let me know what you thought!
There will be a new hayffie story next week called "The Dragon and The Mockingjay". It's based on Archervale (you can find her on tumblr and deviant art) 's drawings of Haymitch and Effie taking care of toddler Peeta and Katniss. It will be a modern au and I hope to see you there!