Hello, all! I should first say that I do not own The Hunger Games, however, I do own any characters not in Suzanne Collins' world such as Ever Abernathy. Whenever I have writer's block, scenes not related to the main plot for Everlast sneak into my head, and often, I wish I could publish them. I then got this idea from Harry Potter writer AnneRG's Mia Black universe – simply write a companion collection of oneshots, deleted scenes, stuff with Haymitch's family before they were all killed, etc! – so that is what this is.
I decided to stick with the 'Ever…' theme for titling ad took a line from a Rise Against song, 'Everchanging,' to be the title for this collection. Hopefully you will all enjoy it, and during my fits of writer's block where I have little inspiration for my main plot but plenty of little bits like these, it will stop me from going insane!
Without further ado, here is the first one.
Main Characters: Haymitch Abernathy, Ever Abernathy
Ever Abernathy: Age 5
"Daddy, wake up!" an unusually high-pitched voice squealed in his ear. "Daddy, I gots to go to school now!"
Groggily, Haymitch rolled over and grabbed a pillow from what used to be Rose's side, and threw it at his daughter. As she always did, Ever took the 'go away' signal as an invitation to jump on the bed and chant, 'Dad-dy wake up, Dad-dy wake up!' never relenting until he finally bothered to put his feet on the floor. Admittedly, his daughter was much more adorable thing to wake up to than the alarm clock, which, by the way, her never bothered to set.
"Daaaddy," Ever whined. "Schooool, it's my first day eveeeer, you gots to wake up!"
He groaned, "No, no school. Not now, not ever."
He'd been dreading this day since the first time he held her. In fact, before she was even in the world for a quarter hour he'd made a list of the most dreaded days to come:
First time she says 'I hate you, Daddy'
First time he sees her kiss her boyfriend
Every time she gets pregnant, because that means she's been having sex
Reaping days, even more so than usual
The day she starts menstruating, because, how in the devils is he going to handle that
Her eighteenth birthday, because then she will be an adult and legally will not have to listen to him anymore
The day he finds her sneaking home with messy hair and a boy's shirt
The day some boy, who will never be good enough for his little girl because nobody ever will be, asks him for her hand and he has no choice but to accept because 1.) He has to sacrifice his will and happiness for his daughter's, 2.) He knows Ever loves him, 3.) He knows his daughter too well, she'd elope if he said no and he'd much rather be invited to her wedding, and 4.) Because that man will be closest thing to 'good enough.'
Her wedding day, for he knows no matter how hardened he is by then, he will cry. It will also be the day that he has to let her go once and for all, the day she trades the name he gave her for that of her husband, the day she stops being his and only his and becomes someone else's.
When she starts to dress 'sexy' rather than 'comfy'
The first time her heart gets broken, because not even he knows how to fix a broken heart.
The day she realizes exactly why she and her father live in such a nice house and eat such nice food.
And the one he faced that morning, her first day of school.
Selfish, an adjective Haymitch never denied described him in certain situations. That particular morning found him in one of those situations. He didn't want to send his daughter to that school with the teachers and other children. He wanted to keep her at home with him, like she had been every day of her life so far, and have her sucker him into playing tea party with her stuffed animals. The last thing he wanted to do was allow those strangers to watch over her when even in a slightly inebriated state he knew he could do it better.
Besides, what was he to do all day long without his funny, energetic, clever little girl to keep him company? Five years of being a father, more than four and a half of those years spent as a single parent, had made him feel like his only purpose in life – at least, the only purpose he was glad to have – was to be a dad to daughter. He liked being a father, the adventures were endless, even the messes promised at least a few moments of laughter, and he only really smiled when he was with her. Spending all day with his Ever Elizabeth kept the nightmares at bay until he fell asleep, and sometimes, on rare occasions, after. His life revolved around her, even during the Games. What was he supposed to do for eight hours a day five days a week without her?
Suffer endlessly, he concluded, finally putting his feet on the floor. He heaved a sigh and forced a smile. "Come on, princess. You can't go to school in your pajamas."
Ever looked up him with her mother's eyes and asked, "Can you bwaid my hair?"
"I'd love to braid your hair," he said, putting emphasis on the 'r' in 'braid.' He'd much prefer to be braiding it for another one of her tea parties, but alas, he was not.
Chaff always gave him hell for knowing how to do hair, but Mags all but forced him to learn. 'You have a daughter, you need to know how to do everything with hair that a woman does,' and by the devils did he learn!
Haymitch grabbed a yellow floral ruffle skirt, a plain black shirt, and a pair of black sandals from her closet. Five years of parenting had given him an unsettling amount of confidence in his children's fashion skills. Capitol gossip rags almost always had dozens of pictures of Ever in them, and it never failed, the captions praised her 'style,' which Haymitch would never admit to choosing. The thought that he should have bought her clothes in the usual drab colors of 12 crossed his mind, but only briefly. When he took Ever shopping, she told him she wanted colors, lots of them, and her wish was his command. He hoped her obvious wealth would not cause her peers to ostracize her. It wasn't her fault.
"Go get dressed, then I will do your hair," Haymitch said as he handed Ever the outfit he picked out. "Assuming you don't need my help."
"I gots it by my own self, Daddy!" Ever assured him, throwing off her fleecy green nightgown. "All done," she announced after a couple of minutes.
"Backwards," Haymitch chuckled, grabbing Ever's skirt and turning it so that the seams were where they should be. She would come home from school with the skirt backwards, sideways, maybe inside out, and would still be the most adorable thing he'd ever seen.
"I gonna go to school twooday!"
"Yep," Haymitch tried to be happy. "You are."
He must have failed, for next thing he knew, Ever was frowning. "Daddy is sad, isn't he?"
"No," he lied, plastering a smile onto his face. "Not at all, baby. Daddy's happy, see?"
"Okay," Ever said, skeptical, but not reading further into it.
Mrs. Lysher was the name of her teacher.
He didn't like the sound of it, sounded too much like Lasher, the surname of one of the tributes who tried to kill him in his Games. But he smiled anyway and tried not to take advantage of the fact that woman was stuttering and utterly terrified of him. It is one thing to intimidate one's child's teacher by existing, but another thing entirely to do it on purpose.
Ever let go of Haymitch' hand as soon as she caught sight of Ivy Hopeflame, her playmate from the Hob, and her twin brother. She ran to them, high-fived them, and then the most incredible thing that Haymitch had seen in a long, long, time happened. She turned around again and ran back to her father.
"Daddy, Daddy," Ever cried, grinning ear-to-ear. She raised her arms, demanding her pick her up and he gladly obliged. "Daddy, you is sad. I knows it, I can see."
"No," he lied. "Of course not."
"You don't want me to go to school," Ever said, frowning.
"I do," he lied again. "It's just…Daddy's going to miss you, that's all."
Ever's eyes widened in fear and she could barely form her question. "I…I'm not c-coming back home?"
Haymitch chuckled at her and kissed her nose. "Silly girl, of course you are coming home. It's just that it will be at the end of the day. You will not be home until a little before dinner."
"You're not gonna miss me," Ever giggled, her braided bun bouncing as she shook her head. "I'm coming home! You just said, silly Daddy."
The victor laughed to keep from crying – damn those emotions that were so unlike him – and lightly patted her back. "Of course I will, sweetheart. I always miss my princess when I don't get to see her," he kissed her forehead and forced another smile. "But you are right about the coming home bit."
"Don't be sad. I'll tell you everything about school when I get home, okay Daddy? Will that make you happy?"
No, you staying home all day will, though. "You know what, I think it will. I have to go, it is almost time for school, but if you promise to tell me all about your day, I won't miss you too much."
Ever smiled and nodded. "Okay, Daddy! Daddy's gonna be happy, you'll see," she pointed to the ground and after one final squeeze and peck on the cheek, he put her down to join her classmates.
"I love you, sweetheart," Haymitch said, crouching to her level.
"Love you too, Daddy! I pwomise I'll be a good gull for Mrs. Lysha'," the little girl said, waving goodbye to her father and once again joining the Hopeflame twins.
Haymitch left the classroom as quickly as he could, after all, it wasn't exactly socially acceptable for victor's to have watery eyes. She'll be fine, he told himself, once the wateriness had gone away. She's an Abernathy, of course she is going to be all right. Though, he wasn't quite able to relax until he picked her up from school hours later, and when she was unable to shut up about her fantastic day, he knew that she could handle it.
He, on the other hand?
A work in progress, he admitted to himself. A serious work in progress.