A/N: I have added a little AU fact to my fic; Seneca Crane is President Snow's son (I know they have different surnames, but ssshh :P)
Chapter Nineteen; Honest Opinions Confessed to a Dishonest Listener
Haymitch glanced around the room uneasily. Stephanie still hadn't come back yet as she said. Haymitch cursed under his breath and resisted the urge to down another glass of champagne and go get her.
It is Stephanie's fault that I am still sober, he thought bitterly. If she isn't throwing disapproving looks and kicks then she is doing something like fainting that requires me to be sober so I can stop her from hitting the floor…Or even better yet, her latest antics where she herself is getting drunk! Ha; and then nearly gets carted off by some… Just as Haymitch's thoughts began to cloud over with anger and a strange protectiveness Isa popped out of nowhere.
"What?" he growled.
"Where is Stephanie?" Isa demanded eagerly.
"She will be back soon. She's freshening up."
"Seneca Crane– Head Gamemaker, was looking for her!"
Haymitch made no answer but his grey eyes immediately hardened and gleamed dangerously, his jaw rigid as his expression became notably darker.
"Oh Haymitch pet look; whatever grievances you have with Seneca forget them for now. We need to find Stephanie and quickly!"
Haymitch ignored Isa and pushed by her making for the exit.
Seneca Crane. The name was like acid on his tongue.
"Who are…you - you are one of the tributes! Aren't you? You must be the District 3 girl. What are you doing here for goodness sake?" Recognition dawned on Seneca.
The girl got up quickly, brushing the dirt from her scarlet dress.
"I got lost," she replied after a moment.
"And what? The greenhouse looked like the way to the party."
"I wanted some fresh air."
"It's a greenhouse, not a garden."
"I'm not blind!" The girl suddenly slapped a hand over her mouth, horror clouding her golden eyes. Seneca stared for a moment at the odd colour. This only seemed to make the girl more uncomfortable.
Deciding to have a little fun, Seneca continued.
"Well I'm in charge of this greenhouse. I used to be from District 1 but I was taken here after the Capitol seen my skills with gardening."
The girl's eyes flickered up to meet his; uncertainty in them.
"You are from the Districts?" she asked hesitantly.
Seneca nodded dumbly, extending a hand to her.
Her eyes narrowed as she observed him, slipping her hand into his.
He led her over to one of the long sofas and sat down, pulling her down beside him.
"So you are the District 3 girl?" he asked.
"Yes…" she began. "But how did you know?"
"How did you know?" she repeated.
Seneca thought fast. "I recognised your face from the Reaping videos," he answered smoothly.
She seemed a little relaxed but she still observed him sceptically.
"You don't dress like a gardener," she finally commented.
Seneca gave a little laugh and shook his head. "I was at the party."
"Why would they invite a gardener from the Districts to a grand party?"
Seneca faltered for a moment. "I know the Head Gamemaker. He was feeling generous."
"You know the Head Gamemaker. How?"
Damn, she was persistent, Seneca thought. But still, it was almost amusing.
"I tend to his father President Snow's gardens. His father is very fond of roses."
She seemed satisfied for a moment and dropped her accusing gaze.
"How odd," she said.
"That a murderer would like something so beautiful and full of life as roses."
"You think him a murderer?"
"Of course!" she cried indignantly. "Our people are sacrificed and made to endure horrible deaths for our families to watch for their entertainment!"
"You do not like the Capitol?"
"Dislike isn't a strong enough word," she replied dangerously.
Seneca wasn't naïve - He knew that the Districts disliked the Capitol. Why wouldn't they? The Capitol had everything. They had nothing. But no one had been brave enough to say it to his face, even if the girl currently was under false assurances.
"What do you think of the Capitol?" The question had been the most common one that night and yet he knew the answer that would be given would be far from common.
"I hate it. They destroy all that is good and I don't mean just for the Districts. How can they raise their children under the pretences that enslaving others so that never have to work for anything is good, and that murder is nothing but a game?"
That definitely hadn't been something Seneca was expecting. He felt something like admiration for the girl.
"What is your name?" he asked.
"Stephanie Trindlesworth, and yours?"
However Seneca never got to answer for just then someone appeared at the patio and Stephanie leapt to her feet.
Stephanie had never been so relieved to see Haymitch in her whole life.
However the smile was quickly wiped from her face when Haymitch entered the room with a murderous, dark look on his face, and grabbed her arm possessively, half dragging her away.
She was about to protest when she was interrupted.
"Haymitch Abernathy, 90th Hunger Games Victor, I thought you would be dead by now." The man behind her began to clap slowly and mockingly.
She ripped her arm from Haymitch's grasp and wheeled around to face the man.
"What do you mean?" she demanded angrily.
A sudden realisation dawned on the man's face.
"Oh don't tell me Stephanie that Abernathy is your mentor?" he asked incredulous.
"Stephanie," Haymitch warned sternly but Stephanie ignored him.
"And what if he is?" she asked.
"I was beginning to believe that you might actually have a fighting chance," he answered amused.
"What does that mean?" Stephanie fumed.
"Stephanie!" Haymitch called her sharply.
"My dear Stephanie I must confess, I was quite beginning to take a liking to you. But you see I haven't been entirely honest with you either. I'm not from District One and I am no gardener. I am Seneca Crane the Head Gamemaker, and I will be responsible for your death." Seneca had a smug smirk on his face.
Stephanie saw red in those moments. She was angry at herself for being so stupid and falling for his charade and in those moments she did what she normally and very unwisely does. She lost her temper.
She lunged for Seneca but as her arm rose to deal him a swift punch, Haymitch's hand caught her wrist.
"I never thought I would see the day that Haymitch Abernathy would protect me," Seneca said and then he let his gaze fall on Stephanie.
"You are quite attractive when you are in a little rage. We will have to speak again sometime soon," Seneca said arrogantly, and then brushed by them both and out of the patio.
Stephanie gulped hard but no matter how hard she tried she couldn't swallow her anger or her tears. They sprung from her eyes and she raised her one free hand to cover her face in shame.
How could I have been so stupid! The words burned in her mind as Haymitch released her wrist.
She turned to Haymitch.
He shook his head and pulled her into a tight embrace, rubbing her back soothingly as she clung to him.
"That is the last time you are ever drinking," he said after a few moments.
She laughed despite her tears.
"What was all that about with you and him?" Stephanie asked, pulling back slightly.
"It doesn't matter now," Haymitch said, pulling her tight against him once more as he brushed a kiss against her right temple.
About the perspective changing; obviously when I'm writing from a character's perspective it only includes things that the character would know, e.g. Stephanie at the start, doesn't know who Seneca is and so during her perspective she refers to Seneca as 'the man'. Just wanted to clear that up :)