Disclaimer: Welcome, welcome! Sorry Suzanne, I've absconded with your characters, but they are still yours.
A/N: Hello everyone! Here's the third and final chapter of this little fic! I hope you enjoy it, please let me know what you think if you have a spare minutos!
(Also, if you're into all that M-rated shenanigans, look out for my new one-shot, Injected, that I should publish later tonight too! ;) )
She heard him before she saw him, and despite the vulgar words coming out of his mouth, she could feel her heart rising up her throat. She walked precariously down the steps inside the Halls of Justice, hearing his voice echo in one of the large side chambers.
He couldn't be as bad as they made out on TV. It was all for the public; they probably played it up. He would be fine. They would be great. She had come for him, like she always said she would.
It'd be so long. Nearly 15 years.
Her 7-inch heels clicked across the marble floor towards the archway, her hands nervously smoothing down her dress. . . she released a shaky breath, a million thoughts running through her head.
The double doors flew open all of a sudden, a dishevelled, angry Haymitch Abernathy barging out, two Peacekeepers slamming the doors behind him. He was armed with a bottle of amber liquid- most of it gone- along with the lid. Haymitch tossed his long, dank hair out of his face, yelling abuse through the thick wood before turning around and being faced with her.
Haymitch met her eyes. . . and she nearly recoiled at the hatred burning there. He sneered as he looked her up and down, taking in the bright purple outfit and fluorescent wig. . . before pushing past her towards the stairs.
She felt something inside her crack, but followed after him, "Haymitch Abernathy, I'm Effie Trinket, the new District 12 escort-"
He spun round, and she could smell the alcohol on his breath, his eyes clouded and unfocused, "Well congratulations, sweetheart, must've been really difficult for you to get this position. . . the esteemed District 12. You want to see the animals before they get slaughtered?"
Effie heard the malice in his voice, and she felt her stomach drop like a rock, "I've been selected for the job. I hope you and I can work together."
Two other words dissolved on her tongue: It's me.
"Oh. . . let me guess. . ." He tapped his chin in faux-thought, "You got the job because you were born into some cushy, high class existence, spent years simpering and sucking up to twisted creeps like Seneca, and because you think you're going to be the next big thing to hit the Capitol. . . I've heard it all before."
Her lips were parted, her eyes darting over his face.
"You're probably like every escort before you, Effie." He drawled her name out, mocking her, "Empty, brainwashed and taking every opportunity to laugh at me and my District."
Haymitch watched her expression change as he moved towards her, from shock to hurt. This one really was a delicate Capitol butterfly. . . she wouldn't last.
He came infinitesimally closer, his voice dangerous, "So, Effie Trinket. Keep out of my way."
Haymitch started to walk away, but she couldn't let it drop, her hope dying quicker by the second, "I'm not like that. I'm smart, and my manners wouldn't allow that-"
He looked back at her briefly, the colour assaulting his eyes again- she was a Capitol girl through and through- "You're no different."
The spite pierced her heart.
He was sprawled out flat on the sofa, dragging his hands slowly down his face. It couldn't be her. It just couldn't. His mind was whirring, names and faces spinning behind his eyes.
Dr Egidio Trinket
Trinket. Trinket. Trinket.
Euphemia. . .
The little girl with the long blonde hair and the starry blue eyes danced in his mind. . . and he remembered the sadness written across Effie's face the day they first met, when he'd walked away. Well, the day he thought they first met.
It was all a mess. A terrible mess. Part of him wished he'd never opened that file; now he felt like two of his worlds were colliding. Egidio and Euphemia had been a happy blip his life, sandwiched the Games and the hell that he'd been suffering ever since.
She came down from her room, and she realised he'd obviously been dismissed from the Clinic earlier in the morning. He looked a sorry sight, his hands drawing down over his face.
Effie wondered if maybe he was still a little drunk from last night; he'd certainly put enough away to make that a possibility.
Haymitch heard her before he saw her, and she saw him gulp, his eyes not shifting from the ceiling, "I'm sorry Effie."
"You don't even know what you're apologising for." She said bluntly, walking past him towards the dining area.
"I can remember you threw a vase at me, so it must have been bad. You using furniture as a weapon. . . is something I would not expect. Plus I have the souvenir as a reminder." He said, pointing to his battered arm.
He heard her coming back towards him, turning his head as she came and stood in front of him. She was wearing a bright green and white dress with matching heels- ridiculous as always- yet her eyes were challenging and her mouth twisted down with displeasure.
He felt his lungs turn to concrete, he saw her there. . . the mannerisms . . . she was under it all.
"You look exhausted." She said, her voice level, emotionless.
So did she, probably because of him. But he wasn't going to say that. He felt awful, sluggish.
"Despite your drunken ways, I do forget what a way with words you can sometimes have. You came out with some very colourful insults last night."
"I suppose you're not going to repeat them?"
"No. I'm not."
After a beat, she came and perched on the edge of the sofa next to his hip. Her shimmering blue eyes searching his face, "You're a useless man, Haymitch Abernathy." The normal vitriol was drained from her voice. Now, she just sounded tired, "We all want the best for you. I hope you understand that."
Haymitch nodded, swallowing. He felt that terrible feeling rise up in him again like a heavy bubble- guilt.
"I know. I'm sorry." She looked taken aback by his apology- the second one in minutes- it actually sounded sincere. She covered her shock well as he continued, "Look, I know I get on your nerves sometimes-"
She gave him a pointed look.
"Ok, well, most of the time. . . but I know you care about me to some extent, even if it is to keep this team semi-mediagenic-"
"I just want to make sure there's no vomit on the carpet." Her eyes betrayed her voice.
Haymitch shrugged, "The feelings are mutual, if you're wondering."
"The getting on your nerves or the caring?"
"The nerves." He smiled at his own joke.
She smiled back at that, one that reached her eyes for a moment.
"I don't care about you Haymitch, it'd just be nice to see you living-"
"You do, and you know you do."
She looked slightly affronted, but she didn't question him. She looked away, something surfacing in her eyes. Vulnerability. Secrets. Remembrance.
"Well, I'm glad we sorted that one out." She added sadly.
He sucked in a breath, her eyes glittering and the shape of her lips- elegantly curved in a troubled frown.
"What did you think when you first met me?"
Effie looked confused, it was so unlike him to question her, but she acquiesced, "I'd heard you'd got a bit of a reputation, the District's drunk. But I was still excited to meet you, I'd seen you on TV. . ."
"No. . ." He whispered, "When you first met me."
He saw her eyes widen almost imperceptibly, and his breath caught in his throat as he waited for her to say it, his heart pounding through his skin
"I saw your father's name in my medical notes."
He could see Effie's breath grow shallower; her eyes bright with pain.
She stood up and started to walk away, "The Halls of Justice. That was the first time, Haymitch."
He pushed himself off the sofa, grabbing her arm and yanking her around to face him. She looked shocked, their faces inches apart.
"Why can't you tell me the truth Effie? Can you not give me that?" His voice came out harshly, but she could see the desperation in his eyes.
"I don't know what you're talking about Haymitch!" Her walls were crumbling, and she tried to shake her arm free from his grip.
"Tell me you were her! Don't make me feel more insane than I already am!"
She shook her head, her shining eyes never leaving his, "I can't."
"Did you know I looked for you when I first became a mentor? I tried to find you. There's no trace of you- no one's heard of you or your father, and I thought you'd been killed! I thought you were dead. The amazing, beautiful little girl who looked after me when I thought it was all over!"
Effie finally broke her arm free and she stared up at him, her lips parted and tears brewing in her eyes, "You. . . what?"
Haymitch tried to reign his emotions, but his body and voice were shaking, "I spoke to every official, went to every register office that would allow a District 12 citizen to look at their records, search their databases. . . you were gone."
Effie bit her lip, a single tear dropping from her eye; her china doll make up was cracked, ". . . I'm sorry, I tried to tell you-"
He stepped back, his voice thick, "Why didn't you say anything?"
Haymitch saw Euphemia on the platform all over again, another tear falling, "I thought that you might recognise me when we first met but. . . why would you? I was so different as a child. I looked so different. . . We both changed."
Effie moved towards him, tried to reach out and touch him, he jerked away, putting more space between them.
They were both still for a moment, Haymitch's breath coming out in shuddering waves; Effie silently crying.
"You were special, you know?"
She nodded softly, and he watched how she squeezed her eyes shut tight, as if she was willing to make it all go away.
He felt his heart grow sick as he walked off.
Haymitch woke up later on in the afternoon in the middle of his bed, everything silent apart from the noise of the Capitol outside like a dull ache. His arms were wrapped round himself protectively, the hangover had burnt off a little, but he felt worse than he did before.
One of the few people he'd ever really connected with. . . a little girl he'd searched for. . .
He closed his eyes, grief clasping holding of his breath. Every feeling from the Games, her, his family rising to the surface. Haymitch couldn't do this again.
He felt empty. As if his soul was seeping out from him.
Haymitch saw a shadow at his door. Effie. She'd stripped her make-up, her eyes red, her blonde hair falling out its pins. It pained him how beautiful she looked, how unfair this all was.
She walked over to his bed, slipped off her shoes, and lay next to him without asking.
They were facing each other, not speaking for a few seconds as they studied each other's blue eyes- sky and sea meeting on the horizon.
"You have a right to be angry with me, I know. I didn't realise. . ."
She sighed to herself, disappointed.
"Why couldn't I find you?"
"I made a new life for myself. The Capitol gave that to me. I thought it was a blessing but-"
Her eyes fell to her fingers that were gently playing on a loose bit of string from his bedding- pulling, unraveling.
"You told me you were going to be a doctor."
"I know. I was. It's what I loved doing."
"Why didn't you?"
"My father, he. . . he committed suicide after the 60th Hunger Games. . . he was unable to save the victor and he got to himself before they did-"
"What?" Haymitch choked out.
Effie caught his eyes, and he could see something hidden, shining and scared, "What happened Effie?"
He saw a look rise within her that unnerved him- the fear passing- dark and vengeful, "The Capitol aren't kind to all their citizens you know."
Haymitch felt something surge in him, instinctively wanting to pull her closer. He remained stock still though as he watched her thoughts flicker behind her eyes.
She mashed her lips together, breathing through her nose, "You know the victor that died after the 42nd Hunger Games? Ursule Erable? I only found out recently, but her surgeon's hands were chopped off. . . and then he was executed immediately afterwards by Peacekeepers. . . in that operating theatre. The rioting that stemmed from Ursule's death didn't die down for months. . ."
She licked her lips, pale and pink.
"Very few people knew what actually happened to that surgeon though- my father was one of those people who actually discovered his fate. My father. . . he was the best emergency surgeon in the city once that surgeon died. . . and he was brought in by the government as the Games Surgeon every year. I never understood why he was so scared. . . They made him bring me every year and I think he was worried they would punish him through me. As I got older though, they started to realise my worth. . . that I might become a surgeon too."
She had to stop, pausing for a moment and gulp back the tears.
"I remember standing outside that great glass window, the heart monitor slowing, he turned to me, his hands covered in blood . . . the look in his eyes it-"
Haymitch watched as a lone tear escaped from the corner of her eye, and she wiped it away quickly, not meeting his gaze.
"I didn't know what would happen if one of them died, but my father had spent years so fearful, trying to avoid it. . . as soon as it happened I knew the consequences would be terrible. I banged and banged at the glass, crying, begging my father to let me in. Then I saw him pull a pill from inside the stitching of his sleeve. . . He put his hand against the glass, and I felt like I was going to be sick. I realised I was about to lose the last thing on the planet I truly loved when I put my hand on top of his."
She looked at him now, her eyes puffy, "They spared me. I convinced them I wasn't cut out for medical school. I didn't want to go through what my father did- what if I wanted a family too? I couldn't give them that chance to take that away from me. I told them I was desperate to go back to school. . . I thought I was free. . ."
Haymitch thought back to their conversations over a decade ago. Things seem different when you get older. She'd been so clever, so natural. . . so full of innocent hope. They'd taken that from her. She'd turned into everything she hated, just to survive.
He knew the feeling.
"My father, ruined and murdered, would've been erased off the records. It would be like he never existed. It's what happens when you annoy the government, you just. . . disappear. They took me off the register too- as a threat. If I stepped out of line, they could make me vanish just as easily, and no one would know. "
She let out a bitter laugh; another tear dotting his pillow.
"I didn't tell you it was me. . . because I was ashamed. Ashamed at myself. No family, aged 17, I went to one of those fancy Capitol fashion schools and got swept up in it all. I became Effie- the Capitol coquette- like one of those girls who used to laugh at me at school. The cliques, the blinding colours, the special parties. . . I thought I was top of it all. In my final year, I got invited to one of those sponsor parties- all the big names were there, drinking cocktails and passing money around as kids bludgeon each other to death on a big screen. I'd feel sick and scared, but only for a moment. . . then I'd receive a mink fur pouch or something else from an admirer across the room, and the sickness would pass. I thought I was playing the Capitol. . . the girl whose father had been killed by them was going to become powerful and successful."
Effie drew in a hiccoughing breath, "I vowed I'd never work for the government after my father's death. But Snow had enticed me without me realising, the low class Capitol girl mesmerised by all those pretty things. . . Some of his disciples charmed me. I was young and easily influenced. . . They said I would make the best escort ever! You'll shoot straight to the top! It'll be so glamorous! I was stupid enough to believe them, believe they would treat me differently from my father. I got the job at District 12, and I was so excited to see you, the first time I got off that train. . ."
Effie searched his eyes, waiting for some kind of response- anything. Haymitch stared back at her, his eyes impassive. She felt her heart sink when he looked down.
Shifting almost interceptibly closer, she touched her hand to his face.
Her voice was so quiet, he could almost feel it in her breath more than hear it,"Snow had let me go. . . just to laugh when I would walk back in willingly. When I saw you. . . it all hit home. I realised how angry my father would be, how angry you would be. . . at what I'd turned into. And I hated myself for it."
Effie's heart raced, her whole being on edge, whilst she waited for something, anything.
Haymitch slowly met her eyes, and what she saw there sucked all the air from her body. He reached up and gently pushed her soft hair from her face, studying the angelic structure that was always hidden beneath the make-up, beneath the lie she'd been forced into. She trembled at the gesture, trying to squeeze the tears from her eyes when he wriggled closer to her.
She released a quaking breath when he pressed a lingering kiss into her hair, and she pulled hold of his shirt, her eyes closed as she kissed his neck, her lips resting there.
He had wanted the truth. He had wanted Effie's truth. And it turned out, they were the same thing.
"You don't have to be strong all the time, you know." He murmured into her hair.
She let out a breath of a laugh, which was followed an overwhelming desire to cry again as she nuzzled further into him, "I can deal with hate better than disappointment. I couldn't see that memory crushed. . . not you. . . it's the only thing I have-"
"You haven't disappointed anyone Effie."
He could feel her warm tears in his shirt, her face buried out of sight, "My father. . ."
"No." He cut in gently,"He wouldn't be."
A shuddering breath was followed by a quiet sniff, and he felt her calm in his arms. Something shifted, and they felt the world slowing for a moment- for the boy and the girl in the bed.
A/N: I'm just a big ball of feels just orbiting the Hayffie globe! Hope you all liked it. . . and maybe see some of you later. . . Minx will have her minx on! ;) (Love Minx xxxxx)
*Bonus shout-out for someone called "theinfalliblesnaps" on tumblr who quoted a bit from my last chapter literally as soon I finished proof reading this one. Hayffie makes the world go round. 3