DISCLAIMER: I do NOT own the Hunger Games. Here's the final chapter, guys! Thanks for reading!
Effie was not sure exactly what to do with a crying baby. Ever since she retrieved him from his cradle, Benjy would not stop crying. Effie had wrapped him in a blanket and had managed to give him another bottle. Neither went over well, for he threw them to the floor. The teddy bear did not work magic like it did with Haymitch, and he refused another cookie as he wailed.
The ex-Capitol lady pursed her lips and just tried to walk around with him, hoping that he just didn't like standing still. She wasn't sure what to do, and Haymitch and Lily, who were both sitting around the coffee table playing some sort of game of cards, were not helpful.
"Your turn, Uncle Haymitch," said Lily, looking intently at her cards.
"What are you playing?" Effie said loudly, looking over Lily's shoulder.
"Poker," Lily said nonchalantly as she switched out three cards from her hand for those on top of the deck.
Effie looked quickly at Haymitch, who was rearranging his cards, and said quickly, "You're teaching her how to play Poker? Haymitch!"
"She's good at it," Haymitch replied, switching out four cards for four on top of the deck. "See that, Lily? You can only do that when you have an ace."
Lily nodded understandingly as Effie huffed and said over Benjy's wailing, "Haymitch!"
Haymitch ignored her as he and Lily played out their game. Effie pursed her lips and flounced away. Back in the Capitol when the citizens played poker, it was a big, crazy game where there was betting and drinking and cursing and all sorts of things that Effie knew was not for her little goddaughter. There was nothing she could do about it, though, for Haymitch was merely playing a game of cards with her, and there was no alcohol or money anywhere around them.
Effie turned to Benjy, who was still crying, and said, "Oh, dear, what do you want?"
Benjy could not say anything, being a baby, and instead screamed.
Effie frowned as she hurried over to his blanket and blocks and bear and placed him amongst them. He still cried as she squatted, looking lost as to what to do with the little baby. She was not sure what Katniss or Peeta would do. Whenever she and Haymitch came over here and Benjy cried, Katniss or Peeta would always take him into another room, or pat him on his back and whisper something to him.
What did they whisper to him, though? Something like "Shhh, and I'll get you a teddy bear?" or something?
Effie cleared her throat and bent forward to the baby. She must not yell at him, she knew. She had to be reserved, for he was only a little child that didn't know any better about crying for no reason.
"Benjy, dear, can you please be quiet?" Effie asked him.
He only cried, looking somewhat depressed despite his bright blond hair.
"Does he need his diaper changed?" asked Lily from the table.
"No," said Effie, for she would have immediately taken him to Lily if he had. She pursed her lips and said, looking over her shoulder, "Haymitch, what time is it?"
"Eight fifteen," said Haymitch before looking back to his cards.
"Oh, Lily," Effie said as she scooped up the crying baby, turning to the two playing cards. She took in a sigh of relief, knowing that Katniss and Peeta would be back soon and they'd be able to take care of the crying baby. "It's time to get ready to go to bed!"
"Just wait until this game is finished," said Lily. She didn't look from her cards as she added, "Uncle Haymitch, can I go out and see the fireflies before I go to bed?"
"Don't see why not," said Haymitch.
Effie sighed and said, "But Lily, you must go take a bath!"
"Mom says I don't need a bath everyday, and I had one yesterday. She said that she had only once or twice a month when she grew up," said Lily, revealing her hand. "Two pair."
"Just because both cards are hearts doesn't mean that they're a pair," Haymitch said. He laid down a full house and said, "Doesn't matter. I win."
Lily groaned as she leaned back against the sofa. Effie smiled as Haymitch stood up. She turned to him and said, "Would you please take Benjy while I help Lily get into her pajamas?"
Haymitch rolled his eyes and took the baby. Effie, as soon as her hands were free, fluffed up her wig and blew out a sigh of relief as she turned to Lily and said, "Come on, Lily. Let's get you to your pajamas. We must remain on schedule!"
"You and your damn schedule," Haymitch muttered as he went into the kitchen, Benjy crying over his shoulder. "Shut up, kid."
"Haymitch! Do not yell at the baby!" Effie told him severely before she turned to Lily. Smiling, she bent and said, "Come now, Lily."
Lily had her arms folded and she let out a grumble as she stood up and headed to the stairs. Effie followed her and they made it to her room.
Effie glanced at the clock as Lily went to her dresser. Clapping her hands, she said, "It's eight twenty!"
Lily threw a short sleeve nightgown on her bed along with a pair of bed shorts. Effie frowned and said, "Lily, we must not toss our clothes onto our bed. It's not ladylike."
"So?" said Lily as she began to tug off her shirt. Effie quickly turned and said, "It's not a way to treat clothes." She couldn't help but remember all the times that she did that and her corsets would get ruined, or her new party dress would get wrinkled and she had to wear something that everyone had already seen her in to a party. That was one of the most humiliating things that had ever happened to her!
"Why not? They're durable," Lily said. Effie shuddered at the thought.
After a moment of shuffling clothes, Lily called, "I'm dressed." Effie turned to her, her heel clattering, to Lily. The little girl put her hands behind her back and said innocently, "Can I go see the fireflies now?"
Effie glanced at the wall clock and shifted uneasily on her heels. Her hands clasped together as she said, "But-but it's getting terribly late! You have to be in bed before your parents come. We must follow the schedule, Lily!"
"But I want to see the fireflies," said Lily sourly. "Mom says that they only come out for a few weeks a year, and I haven't been out to see them yet." She shifted slightly as she said pleadingly, "PLEASE, Aunt Effie?"
"I . . . . suppose . . ." Effie found herself saying after a moment.
Lily smiled and said, "Thanks, Aunt Effie," and rushed past her, nearly sending her into her closet.
"Goodness!" said Effie as she quickly regained her footing. She fanned herself with her hand to recover as she slowly moved out of the room. She needed to get outside, for she did not want Lily out there all by herself when she was under her watch.
With her hands balled up and her feet on her tiptoes in her usual walking fashion, Effie made her way carefully down the stairs. She frowned when she came down to see that all the lights except for a small light in the kitchen were out.
In the darkness she could locate no one. She didn't hear Haymitch or Benjy, and she hoped that the old mentor was out with both of the children. Still, in the dark, she couldn't help but whisper loudly, "Haymitch? Benjy? Lily?"
She hurried as fast as her nerves and heeled feet could get her to the front door. Her hand reached out and opened the door, and she quickly walked onto the lighted front porch.
Before her early dark was coming. The sun had gone down and the earth was a sort of dark color that still seemed to light the front yard. Ahead of her in the quiet darkness was Lily, walking around carefully. She was behind a glowing, flying light, and Effie could only wonder what the child wanted a firefly for.
"You going to sit down, princess?" Effie looked down to see that Haymitch was sitting on one of the porch steps.
She quickly and stiffly sat down next to him, still carrying a bit of Capitol reserve.
She looked to him and said, searching him quickly, "Where is the baby?"
Haymitch pointed ahead. Benjy was slowly walking to his sister, who was holding out her hands excitedly, about to close in around a firefly.
"Haymitch!" Effie said quickly, and she quickly stood up, but before she could move, Haymitch grabbed her wrist.
"Princess, relax. He's fine," said Haymitch. Effie looked at him for a moment. He looked sincere as he said, "Sit down."
Automatically, without really thinking, Effie did what he said. She sat back on the porch step and shifted for a second to get comfortable.
She cleared her throat as she watched Lily bend down to show Benjy the firefly she caught. Though she wasn't sure she was quite the best at it, Effie felt like she should be out there, guarding the children.
Whilst Effie had never grown attached to any of the kids during her years as escort for District 12, she had grown quite attached to Lily and Benjy. Since she had been pronounced their godmother, she had considered herself one to protect them.
Seeing them just standing out a few yards away in the dim dark was quite unsettling to her, but she knew that Haymitch had a bit of a point, so she sat still.
They sat there for a few minutes, watching the two kids run about, trying to catch the glowing bugs. At one point, Benjy was handed one by Lily and almost ate it. Effie almost stood up to stop him before Haymitch yelled, "Benjy, kid, that's nasty. Don't eat it."
Lily noticed and made him stop. Effie sat back down and looked at Haymitch.
"You know, Haymitch," she said, "you're not as quite as gruff as everyone thinks you are."
"Why does everyone think I'm gruff, princess?" Haymitch asked.
"Well . . . um . . ." Effie said, not ready for that. "You're . . . . sarcastic."
"So is Katniss. Saying she's gruff?" Haymitch said, pointing to the two kids who were giggling.
"Well, no . . ." Effie said quietly. Katniss did yell at her time to time, but she always apologized. She also had two sweet little children that were not gruff at all. "Well, you drink too much."
"Noticed? Yeah, sue me," Haymitch said. He sighed and said, "When are the kids getting back? I need a drink."
"Well, I'm sure they'll be back soon," Effie said quickly. "Did they say they'd be back before Lily went to bed or after? Oh, goodness!" Effie became flustered as she stood up and said, "Lily needed to get to bed at eight thirty, where has the time gone?"
She turned to Lily and was about to call her in with Benjy but before she could, she heard the little girl yell, "Mom! Daddy!"
Effie could only assume that Peeta and Katniss were at the gate and she hurried to Benjy so that he wasn't unsupervised.
"Come along now, your parents are here," Effie said as she gently picked up the child. He squirmed in her grasp as she headed back to the house where everyone else was going to.
Effie bent down to Haymitch as Lily walked ahead with Peeta and Katniss. He was still sitting on the porch step.
"Come along, Haymitch," Effie said quickly, still anxious over how Lily had not gotten to bed.
"I'll be there in a minute, princess," Haymitch said, and Effie pursed her lips and hurried into the house.
Katniss had turned on lights as she put the picnic blanket on the counter. Peeta had scooped up Lily and was holding her, even though she was getting big.
Effie hurried over to Katniss, who was starting to unload the picnic basket, setting knives and blankets down, and said, "Oh, Katniss, I'm terribly sorry about not getting Lily to bed. She wanted to go see the fireflies and-"
"It's okay, Effie," Katniss said wearily as she turned to her. Benjy whimpered and Katniss quickly held out her hands and took him into her arms, leaning her head against his. "She's fine."
"Well, I feel perfectly horrid. Especially since I'm so good with a schedule," Effie added.
"Hey, thanks for trying, Effie," Peeta said, joining them, Lily hanging on to his shoulder. "It's the thought that counts."
"Well, I suppose," Effie said quietly as they heard the front door open.
"Are we done here?" asked Haymitch, leaning over the counter top.
Katniss threw him a look as she ran a hand soothingly down Benjy's back and said, "You're released from your duties, Haymitch."
"That's what I thought when you were tributes," Haymitch said, looking from Peeta to Katniss. He straightened and said, "I'm heading home."
Effie smiled and said, "Thank you for letting us watch them. They were perfect. Though, Katniss, Benjy kept crying." Effie looked at him leaning against Katniss's shoulder, sleeping.
"I think he just needed his mother," Peeta said quietly.
Effie nodded and kissed them all on the cheek before she hurried after Haymitch. Just before she closed the door, she heard Lily call, "Night, Uncle Haymitch, Aunt Effie!"
Effie hurried as best as she could down the walk and to the gate. It was just a few yards down the road to their house, and she quickly caught up with Haymitch, who dearly needed a drink to make him less sluggish.
Falling into step with him, Effie said, "Lily said good night to us, Haymitch."
"Isn't that sweet," Haymitch said sarcastically as he opened the gate. Effie frowned at him as they walked up the walk to the dark front porch.
"You really are a gruff person, Haymitch!" she told him.
He shrugged as he pulled out his house keys. He inserted a key in the doorknob and turned to Effie. He looked annoyed, but he said, "That's why you like me. Eh, princess?"
He entered the house, leaving Effie sputtering on the front porch. That man!
She hurried in and turned on the light. He was in the kitchen as she said, trying to think of something that would make him feel the way he made her feel, "Well, Haymitch, you're good with children!"
"No, I'm not," Haymitch said quickly.
Effie smiled to herself as she said sweetly, "Yes you are."
"You are too, and don't use such bad grammar."
"Effie . . ."
Effie smirked, knowing she won. "Okay." It didn't matter. She was right.
She hurried off to her bedroom to take off her makeup. She smiled to herself and thought that the two of them had done quite a good job of babysitting their godchildren.
There you go. I imagine Benjy to be about fifteen to seventeen months old. I hope you liked it, God bless!