Originally intended to be a smutty oneshot explaining that mark on Effie's leg during the reaping (I paid close attention during the movie, lol), this is now a chaptered fic. What if Haymitch and Effie were secretly together during The Hunger Games? Movie compliant for now, but I may decide to merge both book and movie canon. Beta'd by supershipper, who also gets credit for the title. I hope you like it!

Chapter 1: Dark Paradise

She steps off the train in District 12, eyes roaming over the unchanged, dilapidated landscape. Years ago she would have wrinkled her nose at this place, but she's come to love it. She inhales; muggy and dusty in contrast to the artificially-clean air of the Capitol, and allows a smile to grace her features. She continues to smile as she leads the camera crew towards the eroding stage. One of them asks her why she's smiling, she lets them believe it's because of the reaping rather than she man she's about to see for the first time in months. She'd never truly smile about the reaping anymore - she would have once...before the gut-wrenching deaths of children who'd done nothing wrong became too much. Now she hides behind her eccentricities; never tells anyone too much save for the one man she can trust; always plays the perfect glittering escort to the public.

Later, after surveying the square with her umbrella shielding her from the sun, her lips pursed in displeasure as she thinks of the children she'll be sending to their deaths, she makes her way to the Victor's Village; the selection of those innocents mere hours away. The one place of luxury in this dying district, you'd think she'd love it but truthfully she's disgusted that only the children who are forced to be murderers get to experience such extravagance. Haymitch's door opens almost before she's stepped onto his porch, and he pulls her inside, enveloping her lithe body in his arms the second it closes.

"Haymitch," she breathes, burying her face in his shoulder, her arms splayed against the back she hasn't held in months.

"Eff," he mutters in response, ignoring how his pulse speeds up at her touch.

He's spent the morning making himself look presentable for her, not for the cameras. He isn't going to attend the reaping this year, something that he knows will piss off the capitol, but he knows that he can't bear to attend another one. Sure his government won't like it, but they've taken everyone he cares about away from him - except Effie, but no one knows their truth, in public they can't stand one another. She's the enthusiastic escort who adores the games and he's the drunken mentor who can't cope. He doesn't know how she does it –

A smile on her face is her weapon, her makeup is her war paint, her optimism is her alcohol.

He pulls her even closer, his mind briefly thinking over the possibility of losing her, but he knows that won't happen, and as much as he cares for her, he hates the reaping more.

"Haymitch... I can't breathe!" she squeaks, and it's only then that he releases her, meeting her worried gaze. Her hand comes up to cup his chin, manicured nails grazing his stubble. "Are you alright?"

He pauses a moment, thinking of the fretful nights alone, the memories of the slaughter, of the following slaughters, of the slaughters to come, and shakes his head. "No, I'm not," he tells her, no point in lying to the only person he knows he can completely trust. She may have been a Capitol girl, and still is in many aspects, but she's so much more, and he thinks that if she had grown up in his district she'd have been his sweetheart... Except then she'd be dead at the moment, and he doesn't want to think about it, almost pulls her in for another reassuring hug.

Effie nods in understanding and leans into him, her dark pink lips touching his for a brief, perfect moment. He sighs, and the corners of her lips tug upwards when she doesn't taste alcohol on his breath -

She visits him before every reaping so that she can get through the ceremony; he remains sober for her, before drinking so that he can get through the games.

"How... How has your year been?" She asks, her voice choking up ever so slightly over all the time spent without him.

"The same as always. I still haven't thought of a decent reason for you to come visit me."

Effie thinks he pouts slightly and laughs. "Maybe I'll have to come back later this year to retrieve the bracelet that fell off when I slapped you."

"Now why would you be slapping me?" Haymitch growls, his hand sliding along her arm.

"Because you're oh so infuriating," she teases and he laughs, and for a second he forgets everything except her. She loves it when he's sober - he's not an asshole, and she knows he means everything he says. He just wishes he had the courage to be sober all the time, but he thinks he used up all of his courage twenty four years ago.

"I'm infuriating, am I?" he eventually replies when their laughter has died down and sadness is creeping back into their eyes.

"Incredibly!" exclaims Effie, and he retaliates by picking her up around the waist and carrying her squealing into the living room. His furniture is sparse, but somehow she manages to scrape her leg against something and groan in pain before he deposits her on the couch.

"What is it?" he asks, and he swears he sees a blush under her white mask as she points at the barely-there scrape - the skin's turning pink and he can see speckles of blood, and he chuckles. She giggles along with him, knowing it's nothing, but that she has an extremely low tolerance for pain - something she attributes to her Capitol upbringing, something she thinks about more than she should. She wouldn't last two seconds in the arena -

She doesn't know how she got so lucky as to have the victor hovering over her think as highly of her as he does.

"Poor baby," mutters Haymitch as she pouts. "Would you like a kiss to make it better?"

Another laugh escapes her throat and Effie wonders why every day can't be like this moment. "Yes pwease," she mumbles, her hands finding the clean collar of his shirt, pulling his lips down to hers. He shifts above her, their lips touching softly at first, and then more and more fervently. His tongue brushes her bottom lip, slips inside her mouth and seeks out her tongue, his right hand roaming her side, his left elbow propping him up. Her legs wrap around his, her hands sliding through his hair - longer than last year - and down his back to grasp his ass. He makes sure to stay in okay shape, knows Effie appreciates it.

Her hands move to his front, unbuttoning his shirt, and he bites down on her bottom lip with a smirk, pulls the pink-tinged white wig from her head and allows her natural dark blonde hair to tumble around her face. He discards her wig on the floor, earning him a gasp and he can't help but laugh.

"Oh, Eff," he says with a smile, planting kisses along her jaw. She sighs in response, and then shares in his growl when he can't get to her neck because of the flowery choker she's wearing. She pushes him back onto his knees, unbuttons his shirt as he undoes her jacket, tugging hard on her sleeves to get it off. He discards his shirt, she removes her choker -

Her Capitol fashion is something he hates and loves. It's crazy and often unattractive, not to mention a bitch to remove, but it's a part of Effie that makes her who she is. He knows that it's artificial, but he loves it anyway, and he can't deny that she looks adorable most days.

Their clothes are finally discarded onto the floor around them and Effie's running her tongue along the shell of his ear, sighing softly as his fingers probe her wet folds. They're kneeling on the couch, facing each other, and she runs her hands down his back to grasp at his ass. Haymitch smirks, kissing her jaw and sliding two fingers up inside her, his thumb circling her clit, making her gasp. His left arm comes around to cradle her body and he dips his head to kiss her breasts. He's sending soft ripples of pleasure through her body, and she reaches around to stroke his erect cock.

Groaning in pleasure, he lowers her down on the couch, his fingers still pumping inside her as she fondles his dick. He slides his tongue over one of her nipples, grinning as he feels the response between her legs, even more liquid pooling in her hot centre. She runs her fake nails over his length, and he responds by biting the underside of her breast gently. Effie gasps, spreading her legs wider, allowing him to slide another finger inside her, his thumb still grazing her clit.

"Mm, Haymitch... I need you," she moans with a squeeze of his balls, and he can't see why he shouldn't comply with her very agreeable request.

He lets her guide him to her entrance, and kisses his way up to her lips, catching her half-lidded gaze as he slides inside her with one long thrust.

Effie's hands grasp his shoulders and she adjusts her legs to wrap around his waist as he rocks his hips against hers, driving his cock in to the hilt. They kiss messily, her breasts rubbing against his chest, his dick easily sliding in and out of her slippery pussy.

"Ohh, I've missed this," Effie manages to get out before he slams his hips hard against hers and she gasps.

"Me too," he says, pressing a kiss to her temple, changing the angle of his thrusts so he hits her clit in the process.

Minutes later and she's scraping her teeth into his shoulder, gripping his biceps tight as her orgasm rushes through her, making her head spin. He comes a few thrusts later, her walls still contracting around his dick as his cum spills inside her. He stills, kisses her softly, and collapses on the couch to the side of her, his cock still lodged between her thighs. Effie runs her hands absently through his hair, smiling at how good she feels.

"Mmm, I wish we could stay like this forever," she says; all husky and thoroughly-fucked.

"So do I, Princess," he murmurs, kissing her arm, blocking out all thoughts of the impending horrors. He's thankful that at least he has her to survive them with.

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