A/N: Happy Valentine's. Maybe it's repetitive, but thank you so much for alerting (It's actually the highest I've ever had), favoriting, and reviewing. I usually don't reply to reviews, but I do appreciate every single one I find in my inbox, and I wish I could copy and paste all of your names here. You're all amazing for wading through all that angst with me. A favorite chapter? Least? Let me know.

More Haymitch stories to come? Most likely. Feel free to alert me if you want to read them. In the meantime, however, you could always check out brightside or Canary Yellow.


Juliet, the dice was loaded from the start
when are you going to realize?
it was just that the time was wrong.

~Dire Straits, "Romeo and Juliet"

Forty-six kids. He may have been drunk, but he still remembers all of their names. And faces. He closes his eyes and talks; words flowing out as if it would hurt less if he talked faster.

A week later, the girl and the boy show him the book.

He flips past page after page quickly, because he knows their faces more closely than he'd care to admit. It's ridiculous to think that he could ever forget, even with the liquor.

And then one particularly catches his eye. Blueberry sucker eyes, yellow curls. She almost looks real, still sixteen, instead of just a drawing and his ineloquent words in a depressing book. A familiar gold pin is attached to the corner.

He slams the book shut. He knows who will be on the next page and he wants to see her and doesn't.

He walks out of their house—"Looks like you don't have boy trouble anymore, huh, sweetheart?"—and to the graveyard again. But this time, he buys something along the way. He sweeps away the rubble and ashes of a ruined district until his fingers blister. And then digs, in front of every single grave. To the Meadow, where there used to be a gaping wound full of corpses, covered by hurriedly-shoveled-in earth.

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. Someday. In a few weeks, the grass is almost as green as it was in his Games, and the flowers burst like overripe fruit, sunny yellows and dark, bruised purples, all insanely bright in the midst of everything else that's utterly dark.

There are no roses.

Years later, when he's already gone back to their book and stared at all those people he lost, the girl asks, "Are you happy, Haymitch?" A hand on her round stomach, the boy wearing a proud smile. They want him to say yes, because they are.

He just laughs.