Thank you for your reviews everyone and for satisfying my curiousity. From the reviews, I think Effie painting Haymitch's nails was the favourite. Personally, i like the itching powder!
Anyway, the epilogue!
A little while down the road…
"Well, how about this dress, then?" Effie asked, holding a burgundy dress up for Haymitch to see.
"Okay," he spared a glance in Effie's direction and answered non-committedly. "Where're you going?"
An exasperated huff escaped her lips. Despite her telling him of the forthcoming event last week, he was asking her again, even after knowing of her famous dislike of repeating herself.
"Marcus's and Anna's 25th anniversary party will be next week," she reminded him.
"We're going," she answered simply as she hung up the outfit back in the wardrobe.
Effie shot him a look and Haymitch chuckled. He leaned against the headboard and watched as Effie went over to the closet looking for the appropriate shoes to match her dress. Unlike Haymitch, Effie liked to pick her ensemble earlier whenever there were any special occasions to dress up for.
"How'd they end up with each other in the first place?" Haymitch questioned curiously out of the blue.
"Like any other story – they met, fell in love and got married," came her short reply. Effie tapped a finger on her lips as her eyes browsed through her shoe collections.
"Obviously," he drawled. "My question is how did they meet?"
"Why are you so interested?" Effie frowned. "I don't know which shoe matches my dress!"
Haymitch ignored her distress call and shrugged his shoulder instead. "It seems too much of a coincidence – the whole Marcus-meeting-Anna situation. If I didn't know better, I would say it had Effie Trinket written all over it."
There was a pause in her movement as Effie's hand hovered over a pair of heels. She shook her head and laughed.
"Don't be ridiculous! It's all them. Although…," she paused and her eyes twinkled mischievously. "… I might have had a hand in setting them up."
"I knew it!" Haymitch exclaimed. "Meddlesome human being! Why would you set them up?"
Effie averted her gaze and blushed, a sight which made Haymitch insanely curious.
"Well... Marcus was alone after he broke off our engagement and as far as I know, Anna had no one either. It seemed perfect," she started.
"And?" Haymitch smirked, knowing that Effie had barely scratched the surface of her tale.
Effie threw her hand up in mock frustration.
"I didn't want Anna to pursue you! You might get distracted and you know…" she waved her hands and went back to perusing her shoes collection.
His eyes lit up at the news and Effie wondered if the smirk was going to become a permanent fixture on his face that night.
"You were jealous," he stated, complacently. "You were jealous of her. I knew it!"
Effie rolled her eyes at the smug tone in his voice.
"I've told you countless times, Effie. You're possessive of me," he teased. Upon Effie's refusal to rise to the bait, he snorted. "Cunning, though. I've got to give that to you."
"Thank you," she replied, throwing a grin in his direction before disappearing into the adjoining bathroom.
"Ohhh," he heard her coo. "Haymitch, did you get these for me?"
Effie peered out of the bathroom door, dangling a pair of heels on her fingers. A shoe box was tucked under her arm.
"You know it's from me. You've gotten a pair every month for the past – what? 27 years? Why do you still ask?"
"Just," she said, smiling. "These are perfect, thank you, darling. I think this one will go nicely with the dress I just showed you."
Effie kept the heels carefully back in the box that came with it and walked over to where Haymitch was already lying under the covers. She stooped down and gave him a chaste kiss on the lips.
She walked back to her closet, a joyful smile plastered on her face and carefully kept the new pair on the top shelf; another pair from Haymitch to add to her collection. Effie had never asked for those shoes but she figured it was his way of compensating for the heels he destroyed so many years ago, when they were intent on getting back at each other.
It meant a lot to Effie because it was an unspoken understanding of his acceptance of her. He understood that even if he had taken her out of the Capitol, there were still parts of her that he couldn't change – her love for shoes, for example.
Haymitch had his own way of telling her silently, through the things he did that he cared about her. Effie could count on her fingers the number of times Haymitch had actually spoken those words out loud. It didn't come often but when it did, it was usually because he was so overwhelmed that he had said it without fully realising.
Her favourite memory would always be the night she had given birth to their eldest son. He was in bed beside her at the hospital in District Twelve, cradling a baby in his arms, watching over Effie as she tried to sleep. He had kissed her forehead and told her so softly that for a moment, she thought she was hallucinating from the painkillers.
The most enjoyable bit about getting those shoes was the thrill of not knowing where she would find them. They would most often than not be in places Effie never expected them to be. It was always a good surprise to open the kitchen cabinet one morning and find a box of shoes in it. Effie didn't seem to mind when she couldn't find a pair for that month because she knew she would eventually find it sometime in the future. She had once went two months without successfully finding her routine box of shoes, but had managed to find three boxes in three different places consecutively on the third.
"It's triple the surprise," she told her daughter once.
Haymitch had groaned in disapproval when he found out that Hayden, his only daughter, who despite having his Seam grey eyes, had inherited her mother's love for shoes. As Hayden grew older, Effie had begun to share some of her shoes with her daughter and to Haymitch's surprise, had also generously given some away to Hayden and her friends, ensuring that there would always be enough space in her closet for new pairs of shoes.
Effie had long concluded that it was in his nature not to make things easy for her. She had complained, only on one occasion, when she discovered that Haymitch had placed the shoebox in the geese pen. She refused to get it and had sent her son to retrieve it for her while Haymitch laughed at her raucously.
Over the years, Effie noticed how the heels that he bought for her became shorter in height as they grew older together. When she had asked, he told her rather honestly, "You're not that young anymore, Effie. Six inch heels? I don't think so."
Effie had sulked the entire day at how insensitive he had been. Honestly, he doesn't have to remind me I'm getting old!, she furiously thought to herself as she combed through her hair and looked sadly at the strands of grey hairs.
With Haymitch finally agreeing to attend Marcus' and Anna's wedding anniversary, Effie could now focus her attention on the family lunch that weekend.
Their youngest son, who had only turned 20 a few months back was chattering excitedly over the phone about a piece of news he couldn't wait to share with his parents.
"I have some interesting news for you, Mum! I can't tell you now over the phone but just you wait for it! I'm really excited about it."
Their son's enthusiasm had been too infectious for Effie. It had reached a point where Haymitch could barely tolerate being in the same room as her as she relentlessly spent her time randomly guessing the news.
"I've had it with you, little dove, really. Is it possible for you to calm down? The children will be here in a few hours and you'll know by then," he pointed it out to her as he slipped off the bed that morning.
Ignoring his complaint, Effie pulled the covers back and continued sleeping. When she woke up next, it was Haymitch who was gently shaking her shoulders asking her to get out of bed.
"You've got two hours before they're here," he said, brushing the hair out of her face. Haymitch noticed how tired Effie had been lately, silently acknowledging the fact that age had finally caught up with Effie Trinket. It was about time that she slowed down.
"Oh, you're back."
Haymitch had left for town that morning claiming there was something he needed to get. "Just something for the kids," he said as he put his jacket on. Effie had no idea what he wanted to get since the children had told them not to prepare anything for their potluck lunch.
"Is everything ready? You haven't messed up the house, did you?" she asked.
"You have so little faith in me," he joked, pushing her lightly towards the bathroom. "I'll be on the porch with my bottle."
Effie was standing in front of the bathroom mirror with a towel wrapped around her having just finished showering when she realised that something was missing. She opened the cabinet and frantically searched for it, hoping against hope that it was there.
"It was here yesterday! I know I put it there," she mumbled. "Haymitch!"
"Haymitch," she called out again when there was no answer. She waited for a while before his footsteps could be heard approaching their room. The bathroom door opened and an irritated Haymitch poked his head in.
"What?" he asked.
"Where are they?"
"Where are what?"
"My upper set of denture, Haymitch!" she snapped, pointing to her mouth. Effie's upper gum were empty, displaying the missing teeth which was the reason she had dentures in the first place.
"How would I know?! You expect me to keep track of that thing?"
"No, I don't expect you to keep track of that thing but it was here yesterday night!" she gestured towards the empty space beside the sink. Effie usually clean and soak her denture with an overnight solution in a glass which she placed by the sink. "And it's not here now."
Effie glared at him and he returned her glare with the same ferocity. "I'm detecting some tone of accusation in your voice, sweetheart."
"Oh good, if you've detected it. Give it up, Haymitch. I've lived with you long enough to know when you had your hands on something. You took my denture for reasons I cannot fathom, now return it to me."
Haymitch smiled, showing off his own set of teeth. "Not a chance," he said as he walked out of their room.
"You haven't changed one bit!" she shouted at him.
"Isn't that a good thing?"
"Please, Haymitch, they'll be here anytime soon! I can't look like this. What would your grandchildren say?"
Haymitch shrugged, never taking his eyes off the road leading up to their house as they sat and waited by the front porch for the arrival of their children and grandchildren.
"They won't think of you any different. You'll still be that insane grandmother they've had the misfortune of having," he teased.
"I've looked everywhere! Where could you possibly have hidden it?" she asked desperately, knowing that Haymitch would never tell her.
Haymitch was spared from answering her when two cars drove into the driveway, honking as they do so because their eldest son knew it irritated Effie to no end.
Hugs and kisses were exchanged and a string of "I miss all of you," from Effie were rained down on their grandchildren. Haymitch clapped his sons warmly on their back and accepted a hug from his daughter and daughter in-law.
"You're talking really funny, grandma," one of them commented as they all settled down at the table for lunch.
Haymitch choked on his drink as he looked over at Effie who had turned red at the comment. She had been trying not to talk too much and only mumbled softly when being spoken to, too embarrassed to open her mouth. As a result, her words were not enunciated properly and Haymitch had gleefully asked her to repeat her words on multiple occasions.
"I can't really talk, I have ulcers," she lied.
Erasmus, their eldest son – Peeta and Katniss had joked that Haymitch had been too drunk when Effie picked out the names of all their children - was about to scoop a piece of chicken onto Effie's plate before Haymitch put a stop to it.
"You should give her more mashed potatoes. Your mother is on a soft diet. That reminds me…," Haymitch pushed his chair back to retrieve something from the kitchen counter. He placed it in front of Effie, smiling smugly as he did so.
"I bought you porridge from town earlier. Can't eat without teeth can you, little dove?" he whispered the last part so only Effie could hear.
Effie glared at the back of Haymitch's head as he sat down on the chair across his daughter.
"Aww, look at that. Ain't your grand-daddy the sweetest?" Hayden teased.
"That is a terrible misconception," Effie muttered.
Lunch went on with its usual boisterous affair. Effie had learnt to let go of her tight leash on manners and proper etiquette. She still demanded that her children behaved properly when they were outside but in the privacy of their own house, she was less stringent with them.
"Okay, okay everyone, pay attention to me!" cried Lucas, the youngest child in the family. His sea blue eyes twinkled with excitement and winked at his elder brother who had been holding court for the past ten minutes. "Nobody wants to listen to your boring job at the Capitol, Erasmus."
Haymitch leaned back with an arm slung over the back seat of Effie's chair. Effie had her hand on his thigh, squeezing it gently. "It's the news he wanted to tell," she smiled at him, showing off her upper gums.
Effie snapped her mouth shut when she noticed how Haymitch had looked at her comically, no doubt, finding joy at how ridiculous she look.
"…so Uncle Plutarch set up an internship at the office and it's all being arranged now. I'll be working with the committee soon, just like mum had. I'll have my own office before long!"
"And you said my job at the Capitol was boring?" Erasmus taunted, interrupting him.
"Your job is. My job isn't. Unlike you, I get to travel all over Panem," he brushed his blonde hair out of his face and smirked; the same smirk Effie had seen on Haymitch's face countless of time. "Oh, and another thing, Finian will be joining me! He'll be leaving the sea, finally, and we'll be going to the Capitol together."
"What about Prim?" Hayden asked curiously as she scooped Erasmus' daughter onto her lap.
"I don't know what that girl wants, seriously," he shrugged. He thought Prim and Finian should just get married but he kept it to himself. "You don't seem too happy, mum."
"No, of course, I am! I really am happy. It's just … I'll be seeing less of you, now," she said sadly, leaning her head on Haymitch's shoulder.
Erasmus fished something out of his pocket and slid an envelope to Effie across the table, hoping that it would cheer his mother. "Thought you might want to see this. I went to the old media office, east of the Capitol. Someone there happened to know you both and told me to pass them to you," he grinned.
There were moments when Effie had mistaken him for Haymitch. He had his father's dirty blonde hair; grey eyes that belied his real emotions, his father's physique when Haymitch was younger and his mannerism are so similar it was slightly disconcerting. It was like seeing Haymitch when Effie first met him as an Escort all those years ago.
Effie picked the envelope and slid out the bundle of photos from it. She threw her head back and laughed before passing it over to Haymitch. His face had contorted into a mask of disbelief as he flicked through the old photographs.
"I thought these were destroyed! I'm gonna burn them," he announced, his voice laced with irritation.
"No, don't. They're so precious," she said, taking the photographs back from his hold and pressed them protectively to her chest.
It was the first time that either of them had seen the photos. Effie smiled fondly at the picture of Haymitch with a scowl on his face as he sat nursing a drink at the bar in the Seam, minutes before he destroyed the camera of the paparazzi team Effie had set on him. There was also a picture of them, her hand in his as he dragged her away from the reporter. She made a mental note to frame that picture up.
"Grandma! What happened to your teeth?"
The smile slid off her face as Effie looked up, mortified. She had forgotten about the situation with the denture and had not realised that when she laughed, everyone could see it.
"Your grandfather," she mumbled.
"Oh, mum," her daughter said sympathetically.
"Dad… Really? After all these time?" Lucas asked, exasperated. Lucas was Effie's baby, her precious son and he protected her with a fierce ferocity that made Haymitch proud.
"Always. Especially after all these time," Haymitch replied, baiting Lucas. "Now that you're all grown up and we don't have to take look after your sorry asses, what's your mum and I gonna do at home, huh?"
"At least it's just your dentures, mum. He hasn't hidden your brassiere or something equally embarrassing," Erasmus pointed out, trying to placate his mother.
Effie turned a bright shade of red and Haymitch smiled arrogantly at his eldest son.
"Oh my god, you did it, didn't you?" "Dad! You're terrible!" "Oh, wow, old man. I never thought!" exclaimed three different voices expressing their disbelief and amusement.
"When was this?" Lucas queried.
"Ten years ago, or something," Haymitch shrugged.
Lucas gasped as he realised the significance of it. "That was the day mum refused to leave her room! She was supposed to meet my teacher at school but you attended in her stead, dragging Erasmus along, if I remember correctly."
"And, aren't you glad that I did, kid? As I recalled, you released the rabbits in your school backyard that year."
Lucas thundered down the steps to the sitting room where his family had gathered. In his hand, he carried the glass where his mother denture was floating in the overnight solution.
"You put it on my dresser! In my room! Why would you do something like that?" he asked, traumatised.
Haymitch's lips quirked and Effie could see the beginning of a sneer forming.
"Because it was your fault that she couldn't shut up about how excited she was with the whole highly-secretive news you've been keeping from her. And I had to endure it, Lucas. Me. Your mother talked my ears off for a week before you arrived."
Erasmus snickered and Hayden shook her head at what was now a very common family situation.
"I'll just…," he said shakily. "I'll put this in your room, mum."
As he climbed the stairs back to his parent's room, he heard his entire family laughing at his expense. Being the youngest meant that he was used to being teased and most often than not, it was always his mother and him that were picked on.
His sister usually chose to sit on the side lines. Lucas was beginning to think that she was the only sensible person in the family. Erasmus, who inherited most of their father's temperament, had silently formed an agreement with Haymitch to work together. It was them against him and Effie.
He heard his mother's footsteps behind and waited for her to catch up with him. "Don't worry, mum. We'll think of something for them. Just like always, eh?"
Effie smiled, causing the wrinkles on her eyes to crinkle. She looped her arms around her son who was now so much taller than her. Her eyes watered at how far she and Haymitch had come together. It had always been just her and Haymitch, but now, she had someone to plan all of these with together.
And that's a wrap! Live A Little was one of the most enjoyable multi-chapter fic I've ever written, and your reviews and support made it all the more brilliant. I truly enjoy brainstorming on those 'pranks' that our favourite pair could do to each other. So thank you, very very much. I can't convey how thankful I am that people like what I wrote and continued reading it until the end.
I have plans to make a second instalment for Live A Little which would basically cover the timeline from Chapter 23 to this epilogue but I would only do so if there are people who is interested in reading. So, if you do and you have something that you want to see in the second instalment, you can send me a PM or an ask at my Tumblr, (allonsysilvertongue) whichever convenient! Or if you have any prompts for a one-shot, you can tell me, too :)
Goodbye and thank you, again!
Update: If your favourite prank was the frogs, I made a gifset of it on my Tumblr. You can check it out!