He just wanted to get out of here. Out of the fake Capitol lights and colours. Out, out, out to where he could fuck off and die in peace. He'd been stuck here for days – no, weeks – waiting, testifying, watching.
Ever since the damn girl had let loose that bow he'd had no bottle in his hand. Nothing to clutch and dampen his mind. He was strung tight and sleepless, restless and abusive. Nobody would get close to him – he preferred it that way. He just wanted to be left alone. Wanted to go back to his shitdump with its harsh clear liquor. Away from this ritzy wine that always tasted of death and terror. It was hard enough to get drunk enough to pass out here on an average day. Now it was near impossible.
He'd been summoned into the phony trial since the beginning – always having his flask removed from his grip. He'd been called on to drabble on about the horror – oh, the horror – of that precious traitor Coin. He'd thought she'd be a catalyst all along – knew she'd be the one to bring down the great Mockingjay – her own creation and yet her worst nightmare.
He wasn't being clear. Katniss Everdeen had killed the President. And not the demon one Snow, but the rebels' dear Coin – who was just as bad, in his opinion. Snow had died too – somehow – he just couldn't really remember that part. And now Everdeen was on trial pending insanity. You'd be a fool to see she wasn't a bit off her rocker what with all the singing and crazy shit happening in her cell. He was surprised she hadn't been successful in offing herself yet. He hated himself for that thought. He was jealous.
He just wanted to go home. But he had to wait – he owed that much to her at least.
She'd been the one they were waiting for. Cinna, who'd come out of nowhere in all his years of mentoring, had been the one to light the well placed match on her slowly building pile of kindling. She'd become the Girl on Fire and he'd stoked the fire until it was a blaze. A blaze that had burnt the Capitol to the ground and turned the world to ash. She'd nearly burnt up with it if only she'd gotten the little poison pill.
Damn him. He tried not to think of him. Tried not to remind himself of the gasoline that had burned so hot and bright and made the world watch the fire burn. He knew the boy had been necessary. Knew the boy would be left behind. He regretted that he'd failed in the second Arena to get him out. But the fire could not have been contained and once gas was burned, it was burned out.
Peeta Mellark had been the accelerant to everything. His words, his ridiculous obsession with loving this flame. He'd helped set the world alight with his love. He hated him for it. He was jealous of it. Peeta had been punished for his role – stripped of his sanity and sent to the hospital to recuperate. Sent to be forgotten as this flame began to burn out into madness.
The trial dragged on. The great filthy saga of the Girl on Fire who was now the Girl with the Arrow who was now the girl trying to hang herself with her shirt sleeve. He'd watched the trial with disdain and sobriety. He'd watched the girl try to slip away without notice. She wasn't successful. She wasn't successful each time she tried. He knew how she felt. That's why he stayed, too. He couldn't let her burn out alone. He'd caught fire too.
Today was the day. Today it ended. Today it would be decided. Today he'd be on a train heading somewhere.
When he walked in today he kept his flask. Nobody would challenge him on it. His rumpled form sat heavily on the benches in the back. He watched as Gale Hawthorne and his merry troop of family and friends sat in the front of the room. He'd brought his mother and oldest brother. He sat with Beetee and the broken doll Effie Trinkett.
His drunken soul cringed at how he felt for that ticking clock of a day timer. She looked more flushed out and pale than he'd ever seen her. And he'd seen her a lot.
His eyes scan the room. In the opposite corner he watches as Johanna Mason, the remnants at least, sit in a tight posture. She looks filthy. He's not the only one hiding out behind some crutch of a curtain.
The panel of judges enter the room and it's required that everyone stand. He stays sitting.
And so it begins.
"Today is the day to determine the fate of the nation's most infamous individual. We've collected much information regarding Katniss Mellark -"
He scoffs. They don't even see the truth in the girl.
"- And her current condition. We've examined her mental state prior to, and during, the assassination of President Coin. We have also considered the tremendous sacrifices that she has made to bring Panem into peace."
The room is silent. He can feel the alcohol-filled blood seep through his system. Stillness.
"While we can make no accommodations based on her sacrifices – as everyone of Panem citizenry has sacrificed – we do find Katniss Mellark to be acquitted based on a condition of insanity."
The judge pauses, expecting some reaction from the crowd. There is none.
"She will be released to District 12 to continue her life. She will be restricted to that District and will be able to apply for transfer, should she choose and it be approved, ten years from this date. Until then monthly check-ins with authorities and weekly counselling will be required as necessary. She is released into the custody of her mother, Lily Everdeen, who will maintain this guardianship."
There's the reaction they were waiting for. The room erupts into chaos as the Hawthorne boy whips to his feet and begins shouting. The Peacekeepers – no, the court guards – react by pushing him back down to his seat.
"She's not even here, sir! Her mother has no interest in returning to that District or in caring for her!" The shouts of the boy are all too true.
Lily Everdeen never came to the trials. She had disappeared off with Annie Cresta to District 4 before the trial had even begun. She'd given up hope on her one remaining daughter after losing the little one in the final bombing.
He'd called her twice, both times too intoxicated to do more than yell at her for abandoning her child. He was so bitter. He'd lost his family by force and here she was willingly giving hers away. She'd listened on the end of the phone and he had heard the quiet sobs.
He'd hung up still angry and still having gotten nowhere. He wasn't the only one frustrated with the Everdeen woman's lack of participation in her own daughter's fate. Clearly the Hawthorne kid was having a fit.
The guards had already returned him to his seat twice.
"Mr Hawthorne, we cannot release her to you. We require a previous guardian of Mrs Mellark in order to monitor her safety and behaviour. As you have not been her guardian before we have no precedent to impose this on you and we are otherwise unwilling to risk the safety of those in District 2." The Hawthorne both has stopped arguing.
"So what will be done with her?" Beetee, always smart Beetee. The judge looks baffled as he sifts through his papers. The rest of the panel shifts in their seats uncomfortably.
"Without a proper guardian she will be held indefinitely here in the Capitol."
His heart stops. The flame will be doused. Here, in the Capitol. Where so many others have lost their fight. The faces of his old friends and acquaintances flicker by. He can't let her stay here. She'd be better off dead. His hand shakes as he lifts the flask to his lips and downs the rest. He's grateful for the contemplative quiet of the court as options are thrown around during the confusion. He slowly lifts himself to his feet using the bench ahead of him.
The eyes flicker towards him. So many fools.
"Seriously, Haymitch? Sit your filthy ass down." He doesn't bother to look towards Johanna's crass voice from the corner.
"I'll take the little bird to her cage. I've been her guardian before, why not continue this charade?" He stumbles to the aisle way and he can feel the judgement. He's not drunk enough for this. He can't leave her here. What is he going to do with all the coal in District 12?
AN: So this is a companion piece to The Storm. It's going to run parallel but I'm going to steer away from redundancy and repetition in scenes so hopefully that's successful and not a terrible mistake.