Surprise flicked over Effie Trinket's face as she stepped out of the Train into the Station of District 12. She had never left the Capitol before and as the newest Escort she had been automatically assigned to one of the poorer districts.
It was implied, though not outright stated that if she did a good job over the next few years she would be bumped up to a better district once one of the other Escorts retired.
Her dark blue heels clicked on the dusty pavement and her light blue wig felt scratchy and uncomfortable on her head as she made her way over to the Justice Building. Though she had heard how poor the district was it was something of a shock to actually see it.
Thankfully it was distinctly cooler inside and she was able to quickly pull herself together before being taken through to meet the Mayor and the one living District 12 Victor.
After being assured that the Mayor would join her shortly she was shown through to a small but comfortable room. Her eyebrows raised slightly as she saw the man slumped on the couch in the corner.
He was attractive, or at least he would be if he took care of himself. She guessed about 5 years older than her. His blond hair fell almost to his collar and looked like it hadn't seen a brush in a while.
Though his clothes were of a good make they were rumpled as if they had been slept in and his chin was covered with stubble. Even from the doorway she could smell the alcohol on him.
"Haymitch Abernathy?" she asked tentatively, as if she was hoping he would answer in the negative.
He looked up, eyes flicking appraisingly over her. "That's me sweetheart…" he said, sounding almost bored.
"I'm Effie Trinket… You're not quite what I expected" Effie blurted out, only realizing as she said it that she was being a bit rude. Not that she imagined manners were particularly important to him… but still.
He looked slightly amused. "You're exactly what I expected" he said derisively. "Capitol barbie. Another mindless lackey. How do you even breathe in that ridiculous taffeta getup?" he drawled.
"Firstly… it's silk twill. Taffeta isn't nearly as nice. Secondly your assumption that any woman who follows fashion must be a bimbo is frankly insulting. And thirdly I prefer escort. Lackey sounds rather droll and uninspired. Now if you have any other mistaken snap judgments I'd be happy to correct them" she said quick but firmly.
He sat back in the chair, looking vaguely impressed. "A Capitol woman with a brain… how novel"
"A mentor with an attitude… how cliché" she shot back. He burst out laughing at her sass. "Well well Princess… maybe we will get along after all…"
"I doubt it… and don't call me that" she snapped. He just smirked. "Whatever you say… Princess…"
By the time Effie was due to go on stage her stomach felt like it was full of butterflies. All those faces, watching her as she pulled the names from the balls… as she condemned two of their children to almost certain death.
She had thought she was more than ready for this… but that was before she had seen the misery and hopelessness of the district. The very air was choked with soot and despair hung over everything like an invisible blanket.
As her name was called she wished she was back in the Capitol with is bright lights and brighter colors. Everything here was dull and grey. But she got to her feet and walked onto the platform to announce the video with as much enthusiasm as she could manage.
Her eyes swept the crowd, one grey haunted pair of eyes after another… all fixed on her. Then suddenly she met another pair of eyes. Blue like hers. Not wide in fear or narrowed in dislike but full weary acquiescence. A gaze that says the owner of those eyes knows there is no choice… and doesn't condemn her for her role in the whole thing.
She tore her eyes away from Haymitch's to start the drawing. "Ladies first" she said, her bright, cheerful voice a contrast to how she really felt.
Her hand felt clumsy as she rummaged around the ball but finally her fingers closed on a little strip of paper. "Ashley Sayers" she read out clearly.
A small girl in a fancy green party dress went white then started to trudge forward. She looked no older than 13, her long red hair in two braids down her back. Effie felt her stomach churn as the girl climbed on stage and there was a scattering of half hearted clapping.
The boy Cole was almost as bad, a thin lanky 15 year old from the seam who looked like he had never seen a decent meal in his life. A woman in the back broke down in sobs as his name was called and had to be dragged away.
Once the ceremony was over and the tributes had said goodbye to their families she was relieved to escort them onto the train. Though she tried to engage them in conversation they hardly spoke at all.
Haymitch was waiting in the dining car, a glass of what looked like scotch in his hand and a half full bottle sitting next to him on the table.
"Would you mind using a coaster?" she said, frowning at the glass. "That table is mahogany…"