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Quarter Quell Try-Outs

May 1, 2012

Link will be in next update!

Claus Hendall, District 5

By PumpkinGrin

"Man is truly not one, but two."

—Robert Louis Stevenson

I'm running out. Running out of what, one would ask? Depends; time? Maybe, if you counted the time till my death. Perseverance? Most probably, as I feel the very will leaving my bones. Supplies? You can say that.

I'm doing okay, sort of, on water, seeing as how my canteen is half-full. Food less so, unless you count the slab of jerky and the small apple I have stowed away safely in my pack. I worry for the apple since it can spoil quickly and easily, but for now it's alright. What I'm truly worried about is my lack of a weapon and medical supplies.

My only offensive weapon is a flimsy club made out of some material that was not suited for attacking. I'm not even sure it's an actual weapon; it may be some sort of tent pole. Whatever it is, it won't protect me for long if the occasion arises.

And on the subject of medical supplies, I think I may just be paranoid. My jaw still stings from when that District 7 boy struck me across the face in the burning Bloodbath maze. I've gotten comfortable to the idea of painkillers being so readily available at home, so my yearning for them out here in the arena is kicking in. And that's not to mention the pains in my head and my stomach, which have been hindering me as I trek aimlessly around this arena. My weary body screams for medicinal aid, when it knows that it most likely won't get any.

There's also the issue of this strange...blankness in my head. I'm trying to remember something, but for the utter life of me I can't. I feel as if I've done something drastic - which is obvious when I notice all the bloodstains all over me. They're not mine...so whose blood is it? What happened to me? Why can't I remember? I feel strange as I walk across this field; it feels as if I've ran over it not too long ago. Why does it feel like that? I don't remember that. I don't recall anything from the last couple of days or so...maybe more.

I mentally tell myself to quit complaining and to keep walking. I understand why I've been complaining, since the awfully long walk to the Cornucopia, mixed with my mental distress, is not an enjoyable journey. I've been traversing this plain of grass for what seems to be a couple of hours, with the sun beating down on my neck like flashes of fire whipping down upon my skin. It's different from when I used to run back in District 5; when I ran, I was too preoccupied to notice the heat. Now, I'm walking, and the only thing I can focus on –besides finding the Cornucopia- is how unbearably hot it is right now. But I'm not much of a vocal complainer, not even when I'm alone, so I trudge on.

I look up at the sky wearily and instantly regret it; I let out a vocal grunt of discomfort as the bright rays of sun attack my eyes. Blinking rapidly, I shake my head in an attempt to get away from the heat, not caring that it wasn't working.

Smart idea, Claus, the mental voice within me remarks snidely. Staring up at the sun like that. Let's hope the Gamemakers haven't increased the radiation it emits; otherwise, you'll be dying a slow, painful, cancer-ridden death.

"When did you become so morbid?" I murmur through chapped lips. My breathing is hazy and thirsty.

I dunno. Maybe ever since you stepped out here in this arena and narrowly evaded death when that guy burnt down the maze. Maybe before that. Maybe after.

"Huh. You've been awfully quiet since then."

I don't complain as much as you do.

"Thanks for making me even more aware of my habit."

You should stop complaining, really. It's annoying.

"You should stop talking to me." I retort tiredly.

Can't stop talking to a subconscious, Claus. It's impossible; I should know. After all, you keep responding to me.

I groan and shake my head at myself, and force myself to soldier on while trying to ignore the voice in my head. Why was the voice starting to talk to me like this? It was never as rude as this before. And yes, I am referring to the voice as a separate entity. I've dealt with it –him- ever since I was a child. To me, he's just a voice I talk to that helps to stave off my loneliness. Knowing my estranged upbringing, he came to be a strange acquaintance of mine that I find that I would not be the same without. I've grown used to him, but not this new side to him. He's more assertive than ever. Has the Games affected him –me- to be like this?

I successfully ignore the voice as I continue across the plain. I try to focus on reaching the remains of the maze. Funneling my focus into finding the maze somehow automatically makes me remember the flames that erupted from it when the District 1 male had set it on fire. Remembering how the flames barely licked at my skin fuels my legs to hurry up and walk faster, as if escaping the memory itself.

I snap out of my memories when I hear a strange shuffling against my shoes. It strikes me as strange, seeing as how I've been wading through quiet waves of grass up until now. I look down and see flecks of grey amidst the faded green. Amongst the blades of grass are whitened strips of burnt grass that are noticeably wrinkled and lifeless. Some even have frayed edges, as if they were eaten away by something. Something like fire.

My breath catches in my throat as I look up. In the near distance, I see large mounds of grey ash piled up, smothering the grass underneath. Smack dab in the middle of the ghostly graveyard of the maze is the golden Cornucopia, standing in all its untouched glory like a proud phoenix bursting from the ashes of death and chaos. My heart leaps at the sight of it, grateful for its potential to help me. There has to be something left there, something for me to use. It is (hopefully) unlikely that anybody else has come by and already raided what's left in the Cornucopia, unless someone else has already been thinking along the same lines I have been. There's no way to find out until I get there.

I break out into a jog, steadily using up my stored energy that I've accumulated through walking the whole way. Keeping a brisk pace, the Cornucopia and the ashes start creeping closer to me until I can practically smell the lingering traces of the fire in the air around me. My shoes kick into the mounds of ash that increase in size as I start running. The Cornucopia is so close, I'll be able to touch it in a few minutes.

I'm strategically running through the paths of dead grass in between the walls of leftover cinder, trying to keep the residue out of my shoes and the pants of my trousers. I recall running through these same paths earlier, but instead of ashes I was surrounded with tall leafy hedges that were ablaze with fire. Comparing the two scenes is eerie to say the least; the memory is of a hellish nightmare that I barely escaped, and the current moment is the unnaturally-quiet counterpart that haunts my mind and distracts me from my goal.

"Stop it," I say quietly, my voice rustling amidst the slow breeze that wafts through the remains of the maze. I've said this to myself this time, not to the voice in my head. "Focus, Claus. Focus." I pat my face a couple of times, wincing as my hand claps against the bruise, and break out into a run.

I skid to a stop just several meters away from the golden, curved Cornucopia, waves of cinder flying away from my feet. Blinking in case the ash has reached my eyes, I cautiously approach the giant horn as if it is a beast of melted gold. What if I find nothing in there? What if another tribute is inside, currently shifting through all the supplies I could be taking? What if the Gamemakers have rigged it to explode or something, expecting tributes like me to come and scavenge for anything valuable?

Panic starts setting in, and my hands find the sides of my head. "Oh no, what if…oh, God…" I murmur to myself, feeling my dirt-matted hair brush in between my fingers. My throat suddenly feels dry, but not from thirst. I feel my heartbeat quicken as I go over all the possibilities that might await me if I step inside the Cornucopia.

This is when the voice in my head decides to make a comeback. Claus, stop whining and get in there! You'll never know if you don't step inside!

"But what if I end up being blown to bits, or-or I trip and impale myself on some spear someone left behind?" I worry aloud, feeling my chest rise and fall rapidly with my hysteria.

Well, you won't know unless you GET IN THERE, now won't you?

"I don't…I don't know. I don't know."

Oh, quit the act. You're just overreacting—probably because you haven't had a full meal for once in your life. If you just go see what's in there, maybe you'll find something to shut you up.

"Ohhh…if I die, I'm blaming you."

Hey…at least I'll be out of your life when you do.

"You're not helping!"

The voice snickers and vanishes, leaving my hyperventilating self alone. I feel slightly ashamed as I realize that since I've been with this voice for most of my life, I kind of hand-wave all of the things he's ever said to me. Especially all these sardonic remarks he's making now. I tell myself to deal with it later and instead focus on controlling my breathing. Just listen to what he said for once; just go in there. If I die, well, then I won't have to go out by someone else's hand. Unless, you count the Gamemaker's involvement as a murder. Which I do, now that I think about it.

"Claus, just get in there. C'mon! Just get it over with," I tell myself harshly. Swallowing and taking a deep breath, I blindly jog over to the opening of the Cornucopia.

And then, suddenly, I feel something smooth and hard slam against my shins. The ground then rushes up to meet my face, and we collide.

Once I get past the buzzing in my ears from the collision, I hear a voice above me. It sounds blurred and faded, like a faraway memory. But I don't recognize the voice at all and struggle to do so.

"...kay? Are…ay?" The voice blurs in and out of clarity.

I lift my head up slightly, fighting against the urge to bring it back down to the dirt and ash. "Whuh?" I reply; I realize that my blood is leaking from my nose and down over my lips.

"Are you okay? Are you alright?" the voice asks me again. It sounds interrogative, demanding an answer of sorts.

"Uhm…I-I think so." I draw my arms up and push myself up, but my elbows wobble and I find myself collapsing to the ground again.

"Huh. I didn't think I hit you that hard," the voice –a female, I realize- says. I groan in response.

The voice is quiet for a moment. "Alright, up we go." Then I feel something loop under my elbow and attempt to tug me upwards, but I'm not entirely cooperating, so it's futile. A sudden rush of willpower courses into me –accompanied by the voice in my head muttering, Come on, get up,- and my other arms helps to push myself up.

Oh, now this is sad. You can't even get up by yourself? Come on, now.

"Leave me alone," I blubber through a mouthful of coppery blood.

"Sorry?" The girl says.

Claus, just…just let me take over, okay?

"W-what d'you mean?" I mumble.

Just let go. Let me take care of this.


And then suddenly, I feel myself falling down again…except, I know I'm not. I'm sinking down and down into…something, but I don't know what.

Then something cold rushes up past me, taking my place. I stop falling and start floating, or at least it feels like I'm floating. But I still feel myself hunched over on the ground, with the girl's arm looped under mine. The only thing is that my body doesn't feel like it's mine at the moment.

"Let me show you how this is done," I hear myself mutter, but it doesn't sound like my voice. I mean, I know it's my voice, but it doesn't sound like something I'm saying. It feels detached, but I can feel my lips moving and saying them.

It dawns on me before I can vocalize it, but my body moves without my consent. I feel my torso leaving the ground and twisting towards the girl tribute; my arms fly towards her and my legs contract and launch my body off of the dirt. The wind zips past me as my hands clench around something. The mere force behind my launch knocks whatever it is I've grabbed over, and it isn't until it yelps when I realize it's the girl's leg I have in my grasp.

"Agh, get off!" The girl screeches, kicking at me. I ignore it and crouch over her, my blunt club in my hands now. I raise it over her head, my fingers tightly wrapped around the weapon and preparing to bring it down onto her skull. I visualize the blood spilling from her head and bits of brain poking out amidst bone fragments. I can see her body convulsing as she breathes her last…

Stop it! Stop it, no! Don't do this! This time, the voice in my head is actually mine for once, and it feels strangely tranquil. It's the first time in a while that I've actually thought in my own voice. Then I remember that the voice that usually occupies my mind is now taking over as me, and he's not listening.

Leave her alone!

"Claus, how stupid are you?" He asks, a twisted smirk creeping across his lips. The girl stares up at me/him with wide confused eyes, as if she wasn't expecting this from me/him. "This is a fight to the death. The only way to make it out alive is to kill anyone you can. Here's the perfect opportunity."

No, I don't want to kill anyone! I'm NOT going to kill anyone!

He scoffs. "Claus, this is for your own good. I'm surprised you haven't seen this sooner," he croons, tilting his head at the girl as if she were some object of interest. She struggles, attempting to strike at him yet missing, which is odd since he's right over her. He notices.

"Aw, are you trying to scare me off?" he swats away at one of her hands with the club and utters a short laugh. "I'm afraid it's not gonna work."

"Who are you?" the girl demands, her wise brown eyes wide and demanding. "You aren't him. What's happening to you?"

He grins, fighting back a laugh. "Aw, you don't remember? I'm kinda hurt. I'm Claus, too. I've always been with him. Just ask him yourself." He closes his eyes, and I find myself rising up into warmth.

I'm back in my body; there's no filter between me and it. I am me, and he is back in my head. Taking the opportunity, I practically leap away from the girl and throw the weapon away.

Hey, HEY! What're you doing, Claus? I let you take over so you could tell her the truth. I didn't say you could come back!

"I didn't say you could be here in the first place!" I cry out in response.

Aw, don't hurt my feelings. I'm just here to help you out. You need to kill that girl. Since you won't do it yourself, I'll do it for you.

"No!" I grasp the sides of my head and bow over, as if I'm about to vomit. I feel as if I am, but I'm too busy keeping my mental state in check. I feel him pressing against the boundaries of my head, begging to be let free. Through sheer mental willpower I hold him back, muttering "no" over and over. I'm rocking slightly back and forth until I feel like I'm going to fall off of a cliff if I lean in one direction too far.

Let me do this!


Claus, I'm warning you, let me do this.

"Go away, I don't need you!"

Stop lying to yourself. You've ALWAYS needed me from the start. Who else was there for you as long as I was?

"That's in the past, not now. I don't need you now! I don't!"


"Go away!"

It's as if a gunshot has gone off in my mind. There's a deafening silence that rings endlessly in my ears and my head. My mouth opens and closes in a weak attempt to form words to express my shock, but I'm failing hopelessly. My hands are trembling at either side of my face, hovering over my ears like hummingbird wings. My breathing is shallow and rushed like I have just run ten miles without stopping. But besides the sounds of my exhaust, all is quiet. I can't even hear the girl behind me.

Turning around slowly, I cautiously look over to the District 3 girl, who is now sitting up and staring at me. Her entire form is still, as if the slightest of movements will provoke me. She appears to be studying my facial features for any complexities that'll give away my mental condition. As if that bizarre display of murderous intent wasn't enough. But it appears that she was listening to him, because she doesn't look at me with terror or anxiety. It's more like she's curious. Her name is on the tip of my tongue, as if I once knew it. Her face is familiar as well. But I don't recall a girl with short brown hair and matching eyes like her. Why is that...?

I suddenly feel weak and collapse to my knees. My shoulders sink, relieving a great emotional burden. With my head bent downward, I turn it a few degrees towards her direction and murmur, "I'm…I'm sorry."

The girl blinks and looks away in contemplation. Grimacing, she looks at her left leg and begins to pull it up. However, she flinches and hisses in pain as her hands fly to her ankle. Gritting her teeth and furrowing her brow, she proceeds to investigate the injury.

I gaze at her ankle with guilt. "I'm sorry," I repeat quietly. My body suddenly feels drained of energy as I watch her attempt to massage her ankle.

What she says is something I don't really expect. "So, what the hell was that? Dissociative personality disorder or something?"

I pause. "H-huh?"

"Dissociative personality disorder. Or split personality disorder or whatever. Is that what you have?" She asks, looking up at me.

I blink profusely. "Uh…I don't…know?" I reply, sounding awfully unsure.

She frowns. "It looks like it to me. Looks pretty serious, too," she notes aloud. "So that's what it is...anyway, are you alright?"

She was asking me if I was alright? "Yeah. But…what about you?"

There's a momentary silence as the girl examines her leg some more. "Well…" she hums. "It looks like you've given me a sprained ankle. It's not too bad, I don't think. It'll hurt for a while, but not long."

Shame washes over me. "I'm sorry," I say for the umpteenth time, but I mean it like the other times I've said it.

The girl from District 3 raises a brow at me. "You say that quite a lot, don't you?"

I have no choice but to nod.

"Is that you or the other guy talking?"

I start to nod again, but I immediately stop myself. "M-me. It's me talking. I, uh, I don't know where the other me went. Somewhere far away, I hope." To my surprise, he doesn't respond to my comment. Maybe, hopefully, I'm right.

There's an awfully uncomfortable silence between us, but she snaps it in two. "You're from District 5, right? The name's Claus?" the girl queries, as if this is any ordinary conversation.

"Yeah. Claus Hendall," I confirm before my voice dies away. I want to ask her, but I feel my nerves dying away as well. For God's sake, we're out here in the Hunger Games, a fight to the death, and I can't ask her for her name. I'm pathetic.

But I try anyway. After all, if I almost killed her, I can ask for her name. "And…and you?" I venture warily, keeping my gaze away.

The girl looks up in surprise; not even she was expecting that out of me, and she seems to understand my mental problem. "Jules Surket, District 3," she answers amiably, as if it's the most ordinary question in the world. Well, it is, but considering the current circumstances…

"Hey, can you bring me that?" Jules points over to her right, away from me. "Over there, in the ash?"

"What?" I sit up and look around, failing to see anything of importance. I just see mounds of burnt hedge maze and faded, scorched dirt. I push myself up off of the ground and brush my hands off on my pants.

"That stick-thing you almost killed me with, over there." Jules repeats the gesture, nodding in the direction for extra measure. She seems to be patient and level-headed, which in turn reassures me. I'm extremely confident that she holds no hostility towards me, only the opposite. Then again, it could all be a ruse, but I push that unpleasant thought away. I walk over to the designated hill of ash and notice part of the club protruding from the peak. I tug it out and clean it on my shirt before going over to Jules and handing it to her.

"Thanks," she simply says, focusing on her ankle as I rest the club in her outstretched hand. She takes it from me and lifts her right foot up; after placing the club under her foot, she steps down and pulls up both sides of the weapon. It takes a few moments and some physical effort before the club snaps in two.

"There's a medical kit in the Cornucopia," Jules says, nudging her head over into the opening of the giant structure. "Could you go get it for me? I think there's some elastic tape in it."

I nod and start jogging into the Cornucopia. It's dark and smells metallic, but I pay no mind to it and venture inward. I rely on the light shining in from the entrance to illuminate the ground. It doesn't take me long to see a plastic first-aid kit tucked away into a dark corner deep in the cavern, and I immediately take it.

"Here, this is it, right?" I pull out a small roll of medical tape.

"That's the one. Thanks, Claus," she says with a hint of gratitude, accepting the tape.

I kneel beside her, watching silently as she tears away a long strip of the tape and sets it on her bent knee. Then she takes one end of the divided club and presses it against the side of her leg. Taking the tape, she winds it around the club and her leg. Stopping halfway, she takes the other end, places in on the opposite side, and wraps the rest of the tape around it before securing it in place.

"There we go, that oughta do it." Jules finishes, nodding at the impromptu splint with an air of triumph and finality. She claps her hands together to further conclude her task, clearing them away of any dust that isn't there. Her hands slow and finally become still as she looks at me. "Are you sure you're alright? Physically, too?" She gestures to her nose, referring to mine. I absently touch it and wince, my eyes squeezing shut at the unwelcome sensation.

"Whoa, looks like it's broken," Jules squints and peers at my nose; I recoil slightly out of embarrassment and look away under her investigative gaze.

As I'm looking away, Jules begins to rummage through the medical kit that's placed on the ground at my side. Peering at multiple bottles and containers, she grabs one and spends more time reading it than with the others.

"Ah, painkillers. There's nothing that can really help broken noses in here, so you're just going to have to use these," she murmurs, tossing me the bottle. I catch it out of reflex and scan over its basic functions.

"Er, are you sure you don't need these? At least, more than I do?" I inquire timidly, glancing at her uneasily. My gaze travels to her ankle in particular.

Jules purses her lips in thought, then takes the bottle back. She tears it open and dumps out half the pills into her hand, then hands me with bottle with the other half. I peer inside it and count six pills.

"Now it's even, and we both get what we need." Smirking slightly, she looks at me. "Seems like a fair compromise to me."

It takes me a second to respond. "Yeah, it does. Thank you, Jules."

Jules somewhat smiles. "Nah, don't mention it. Just helping out a fellow tribute."

A thought then crosses my mind after she says that. Swallowing and readjusting my posture, I ask, "Why're you helping me in the first place? Why didn't you kill me when you knocked me down?"

Jules takes the time to place her share of the pills into her pocket. "I didn't know it was you that I had hit until I had, well, hit you. I just thought you were some other tribute."

"That I understand. But why not finish me off?"

She stops, only managing to get out a word. Her eyes seem to go distant and focus on some little pebble off to my right. "I guess…it's kinda hard to explain. It's like I don't want to kill you." Then her tone takes a turn for the light-hearted. "You should be thankful that I'm not killing you right now, now that I think of it."

Widening my eyes, I stammer out, "I-I am, re-really. Thank you, Jules. For not killing me," I add as an awkward afterthought.

Jules stares at me, analyzing my facial features and my words. "You know, it's kinda something that you've survived this long."

Noticing my awkward expression, she then adds, "But it's a good thing, though. That's cool. It shows some hidden depths to you…and the other guy in your head."

I grimace at the mention of him. "Luckily, he's not here. He might've come back after you said that," I say in my way of trying to get along. I don't think it was a good example.

"Hm…you should thank him one day."


"He could help you out later if you happen to run into one of the Careers. There's no telling how pissed off they'll be when they see you again."

I furrow my brow. The void in my head stings. "Again?"

Jules opens her mouth to say something, but then looks at me in a second evaluation. She decides against whatever she was about to say. "Just...make sure you keep on your toes, alright? Him, too."

I sense her encouragement to switch to the current subject, knowing that somehow my apparent memory loss must be uncomfortable for her to bring up. It still bothers me that she knows more than I do, but I don't want to aggravate her by pressing the matter. "You talk about him as if he's another person." I realize.

Jules looks at me knowingly. "You do, too."

I realize that she's right.

Taking note of my silence, she uses the rim of the Cornucopia to pull herself up to a shaky stand. "I can't stay here forever. It's starting to get dark, and I bet the audiences are getting tired of all this non-violence," Jules states, glancing around at any hidden cameras that might be posted on or in the Cornucopia. I start to do the same when she starts to limp away.

"You're leaving?" I foolishly ask her.

Jules looks back at me with a half-smile. "Can't stay here forever, Claus. I've gotta get moving. Besides, we apparently weren't the only two who thought of coming back to the Cornucopia. There's pretty much nothing in there."

My spirits sink even lower. "Oh," is my simple reply.

Noticing my dismay, she suggests, "You know, there's probably some supplies that the Gamemakers may have left alone after they collected the bodies. You'll find something."

I nod once. "Yeah, maybe."

Jules mimics my gesture before turning around and limping away. But then she stops yet again. "Hey, Claus?"

I look up on cue. "Yes?"

"Thanks for not killing me, too." There's a strange melancholy to her words. It sounds like she's talking to a memory. She sees something in me that reminds her of something.

I try to ignore it as best as I can, and my mouth falls open a bit before a small smile graces my lips. "You're welcome."

As she begins to continue on her way, she calls out, "And don't forget to tell that to the other guy too!"

My smile widens just a bit as I watch her leave. Pressing my lips together, I close the medical kit and tuck it into my pack. Noticing that Jules has taken the weapon that she attacked me with, it dawns on me that I'm now defenseless.

Then Jules' advice replays in my mind, and I let go of my initial fears. Taking a deep breath and releasing it, I decide to go in a different direction, keeping in mind the suggestion I was given. "Hey, are you still there?"

Maybe. I'm not forgiving you for that little stunt, if that's what you're here for.

"Not that," I shake my head. "How do you feel about…working together from now on?" It feels like I've swallowed a vial of snake venom as I say those words, but Jules' advice serves as an antidote.

...Together…? As in, you and me? Me and you?

"Yeah, but…within set boundaries."

Huh… I can tell the voice is interested in my offer. You and me. Why? Is this a set-up?

"No, nothing like that. I want to know if you want to work together. It'll help us, that's what Jules said."

Hmph. I still think I should've killed her a while ago.

"She's not dangerous." I remind. "She had helpful advice. I think we should be taking it."

A thought runs across me. Jules' behavior prompts me to ask, "Why didn't she attack us? Me, I mean. She had the perfect opportunity."

You mean while you were cowering like a wimp over there? I agree, why didn't she kill us?

"I dunno…does she know me? She has something to do with why I can't remember anything. Would you know anything about that?"

For once, the voice is quiet. I can still feel him, though. He seems uneasy.

I narrow my eyes. "You know something. What is it?"

...That's not important. I'm interested in your offer.

So, another person –entity, I should say- is keeping something from me. What happened? "So, you do want to cooperate."

Well, the voice hums. It does sound rather enticing, that offer. I did like having a body. I understand why you want to keep me out all the time now.

"Do you want to try and survive this thing together or not?" I ask wearily, about ready to strangle myself. "And if you agree, you have to tell me what happened."

Another silence, contemplative in nature. He thinks. He wonders. I can hear every single thought.

Finally, his hollow voice that sounds so eerily like mine echoes in my head with satisfaction.

I like the sound of that.

And then, I feel both of us smiling as we walk away from the strangely-familiar Cornucopia. Step after step, until the memory floats into a faraway sky, waiting to be caught again.

Closing A/N by PumpkinGrin:

And here is the start of Claus and Other-Claus' "partnership" of sorts. I plan to take this to a new level if Claus survives even further. Maybe he can score his first skill soon? I'd like to hear what you guys think about this; I wanna hear your thoughts and opinions and whatnot. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Fritz for letting me use Jules in this chapter! I hope I did her justice; I find her to be a much more complex character than I thought!