Hey all. I wanted to write a Hunger Games fic, purely because I love Haymitch and got some random inspiration on a train. Enjoy?
His house was too big for one person, and as the sole inhabitor of this house, and the entire Victor's Village, Haymitch grew incredibly lonely.
A house this big should not belong to any one man – though technically it belonged to the Capitol. Exactly like him. So maybe he should own this house; they had that much in common, after all.
He then decided that he definitely needed more alcohol.
He groaned at the effort, rolling over on his alcohol-stained sheets. Stretching out noticeably shaky fingers, he reached for a bottle, pulling it to his lips.
It was empty.
He threw it onto the floor, where it rolled a few feet instead of providing him a satisfying smash. It was stopped by a layer of trash. He himself was tangled in his sheets, his thinning black hair plastered to his forehead. Unsuccessfully, he tried to stand up, but he fell out of his bed instead. He stayed on the floor for a few moments, before laughing. A small, bitter laugh. He was Haymitch Abernathy. Haymitch 'I won with my guts hanging out' Abernathy. Haymitch, who had won a Quarter Quell consisting of forty seven other tributes. And here he was now, living some sort of half-life fuelled by rage, alcohol, sorrow, and, admittedly, fear.
Pulling his body up from the ground, he staggered to the kitchen, missing a few stairs and barely regained his footing. More alcohol. That was all he needed to keep himself living for another day.
He knew he was pathetic, but drinking was the only way he wouldn't remember everything. Those faces. The ones he killed. The ones he'd tried to keep nameless, but just couldn't. The ones whom he'd had no choice but to kill. The ones he hadn't killed. The girl from one.
He took another long drink from the already half-empty bottle.
He did not want to remember her, especially.
But no matter how much he'd drink, her smiling face would still swim into his dreams. For a moment, it would be peaceful.
Then her scream would cut through his head, bringing with it all the horrors of the 50th annual Hunger Games.
He didn't mind drinking by himself. It allowed him contemplative silence. But not in a house this big.
He should have had a family, he thought. Children. A wife. Maybe he would have married his girlfriend, if she hadn't been killed.
As much as it seemed to go against Haymitch 'I can drink half the Capitol's weight before lunchtime' Abernathy's personality, in some alternate life – one where his name hadn't been pulled for that Quarter Quell – he believed he would have had a family. And he hated to think about her, his girlfriend, but he had honestly believed they would. And he would have had a life.
A full life, versus this sick, sorry half one.
But he'd made it clear to himself this could never be the case. Because anything Haymitch had loved, the Capitol had ruined.
Maysilee always swam into his brain. It was not love in the relationship sense, but in the sense that she understood what he felt in the arena. That they were allies. That he could not save her. That they would have been friends.
Throughout his time in the arena, there had been things the cameras had missed. Hushed conversations about the exact amount of terror they were feeling at that time being the main sort of conversation. The Capitol may not have wanted to hear it, but it meant everything to the two of them.
And when she had died, her eyes searching his face, the cameras had missed so much. It had just looked like a hug.
The punctures in her neck had been delivered with surgical precision. Haymitch's entire being had gone cold at the sight of her.
He'd dropped to his knees next to her, holding her cold hand with both of his. Her head rolled, so she was facing him.
"So glad you could make it, Haymitch. I was beginning to think you weren't going to come, join the party." She was trying to keep it light, but that was hard to do when there was blood seeping from her neck. Haymitch tried to smile, but it came out as more of a grimace.
"Sorry about the lateness. Something came up."
"I'm happy you're here, anyway," she said. He realised her white teeth were stained red. He leant in closer to her, knowing she was going to die at any minute. She pulled him nearer, in a sort of half-hug.
"Win for me, Abernathy. Give District 12 something to be proud of. Give the Capitol a giant middle finger from me. Start some shit," she whispered in his ear, barely audible. Only for him to hear.
As she pulled away, he realised her lips were glistening red, decorated with her own blood, like lipstick of a macabre kind. The moment her head hit the ground, a cannon fired. And she was gone.
Haymitch stared, her blonde hair corrupted by the blood from her neck. Everything was red. She was no longer Maysilee.
She was just another corpse from a particularly brutal Hunger Games. And suddenly, he couldn't look at her any more.
He stood, running an arm over his eyes. He wasn't aware that those were nearly tears – no, they were tears. But he didn't want people to know. He didn't want to know.
That was the Capitol's first strike.
And then, after he won, the Capitol continued to use him. Those rich women, those rich women who desired his body. But Haymitch refused.
And then his mother was killed.
His brother, too, for that stunt with the force field. And Haymitch's girlfriend.
He swallowed hard. He couldn't bring himself to remember their names. He could. But he didn't want to, because it would just drive him insane. She had had nothing to do with it.
He got angry then, kicking a nearby chair so hard it skittered across the floor.
And after that, any person he'd ever cared about was a constant bargaining tool. No matter how he tried to shelter them, it always resulted in them dead, or him in some painted woman's bed.
And he was so ashamed. He was guilty, or so he thought, and incredibly ashamed.
No one wanted him like that anymore. They probably would if he stopped drinking and took care of himself. But no.
The Capitol could still control him though. They knew how.
Because of them. Anyone he had ever cared about. Maysilee, his mother, his brother, his girlfriend. His friends. Distant relatives. And now, at a later date, and even though it pissed him off that he cared about her so much...Effie.
He refused to ever let her know, because then she would be in danger, too. Ever since that Hunger Games, his life had been controlled by –
He was jerked from his reverie by a slamming door. And in his kitchen doorway stood the self-same woman, precariously balanced over broken glass on her ornate heels, green dress both outrageous and form-flattering. Her hair was surprisingly her natural brown, and piled atop her head, though she held a pink wig in one hand. She wore pale lipstick, and her face was powdered to a pure white. Spidery eyelashes danced as she blinked, and she looked like some weird doll.
But he could see the Effie underneath as well. Desperate. And scared of the Capitol, too. She knew what they were like, somewhere deep down, even if she only had inklings of what was going on.
She held an intricate handkerchief to her nose, the smell of his house too much for her. She frowned in dismay.
"Haymitch! Thirty minutes until you're supposed to be on TV, and look at you!" She hurried over to him, wrenching the bottle from his hand, and splashing water on his face. He sat still, letting her clean him up for once – maybe she could make him presentable. She paused as she was fussing with his collar.
She could smell his skin, seeming to have been soaked in alcohol. She opened her mouth to speak, but Haymitch raised one hand to her cheek, resting it there for a moment. She frowned slightly, unsure of what he was doing. He then wiped away some of the power, with a few sweeps of his thumb, revealing her normal skin, olive toned but pale from powder residue. She went to protest, but then just shook her head as she reapplied the powder. It was no use arguing with him right now.
"You look better without it, Effie. You don't have to impress everyone. I know you hate District 12, but you don't have to walk around like you're better than us."
She looked him straight in the eye, and he could see sadness. But the Capitol was all she'd ever known, he supposed.
She didn't even respond to him.
"You haven't been sober in days, Haymitch, have you?" There was none of her usual gusto or bravado. She just sounded tired. And he liked to imagine worried, also.
He shook his head. She sighed, moving to open a window.
"Every time I see you, Haymitch, you're like this. I can try and help, you know," she sounded almost desperate, and he was surprised. Taken aback, he stared at his shoes. Which she had put on him. It was an incredibly pathetic show on his behalf. She found him some food from somewhere, and forced him to eat. But this all meant nothing, because this year would be the same as any. The 74th annual Hunger Games. And that marked the death of two more of District 12's finest – that was to say, children.
Effie offered him a hand, gently pulling him to his feet and helping him towards the car that they had waiting outside. The smile she offered him was genuine. He realised, then, that she knew what she was doing. That she was aware of the way she was to the camera, such a different persona. That camera persona was not the real her.
This Effie right here was. But maybe only he got to witness it.
As they drove past houses, and people making their way to the ceremony, Haymitch's eyes rested on Mayor Undersee's wife. Maysilee's sister. And he remembered her once again. Maysilee was not coming back, but why did her memory affect him so?
It was Effie who kept his mind off her, whether she knew it or not. At the Reaping, he embarrassed her, hugging her before stumbling away. She conducted the name-calling with her wig tilted slightly to the left, and he smiled. That was at least something to smile at right now.
The names were called, and his smile faded. Two kids. One girl volunteered for her sister, which surprised him. Maybe there was something to hope for this year after all.
It was then he decided he needed to stop being so pathetic. The boy – Peeta? – jolted him to reality on the train to the Capitol, and between the two they finally managed to convince him there was something to fight for this year.
The girl, Katniss, honest to God scored an eleven. The boy was smart. Lovesick, but smart. Charismatic. But smart.
The girl on fire, thanks to Cinna, and the baker boy, coined by himself.
Maybe, with their help, he could finally give the Capitol that giant middle finger they deserved.