Disclaimer : Hunger Games and all its characters and plots all belong to Suzanne Collins (and I am not she)

Rating : T (although it might go up in later chapters)

Summary : On the day of the Reaping for the 74th Hunger Games, Effie Trinket is struggling. This will follow the original plot quite closely, but will fill the longs gaps between each of Effie's appearances.

Et in Arcadia ego…

Chapter 1: ibat obscura sola sub nocte per umbram


The scream echoes through the room and Effie Trinket awakens with a start. District Twelve escort looks quite a sight. She is drenched in sweat, the bedsheets and her nightwear are sticking to her skin and restrain her.

She gently lays back on the bed, her head resting on the wet pillows, and she tries to put her breathing back under control.

"IN, OUT, IN, OUT, IN, OUT…" she thinks, and her respiration quietens progressively, the pain in her chest recedes as she does not feel like her heart is going to rip through her chest. Shakily, she sits up and removes the tangled bedsheets before getting up on less than stable legs. Her hand holds onto the wall as she makes her way to the bathroom, grateful that no one rushes to ascertain the origin of the scream. She knows she would not have managed to lie.

She turns on the faucet and cold water runs and falls on the porcelain basin. She puts her trembling hands under the stream and splashes her face. She closes her eyes and sighs.

Then, back in her bedroom, she glances at the clock : 3.30 am. Effie knows she will not fall back asleep. As she begins her routine, she hopes that there will be plenty of coffee at breakfast and during the rest of the day.

First, she checks her schedule three times, even though she knows it is as perfect as it could be. Then, she does some sort of physical activity. At home, she would go for aerobics or even fitness, but her bedroom on the train simply does not have enough space. She ends up doing a stretching session between her bed and her desk. Absentmindedly, she notes the softness of the dark purple carpet. Finally, she rearranges the room and chooses her clothes for the day before taking a much needed shower.

Today is Reaping day, so her outfit has to be particularly bright and extravagant. It not do to look anything but perfect in Capitol escort fashion. Effie Trinket, escort, is used to it now, and everything, from her pink wig to her puffy plum dress and painted lips are chosen accordingly to make sure she looks the part.

For a fleeting moment, Effie regrets that she has quit using sleeping pills. Then, she remembers that, a few years ago, she also had to quit the "antidepressants" – more like drugs inducing euphoric states, really. Her body had gotten used to the active ingredient in the sleeping pills and their effect on her body were blunted, at best.

Two months ago, Effie had almost slipped. The mistake averted, despite the exhaustion, she had decided to stop taking any substance altogether. Now, foundations and concealers were her best friends. She caked it on heavily, grateful for the very colourful make-ups that had been in fashion for a few decades. The make-up did its job perfectly, hiding the dark circles under her eyes.

And it is fortunate, for she knows she doesn't have the strength to weave lies and craft words like she did when she first began as an escort, during the 61st Games, at the age of twenty-two. Then, the lies flowed easily, silly, convincing. Then, it made sense that she would be so worked up over losing a pair of unique shoes to an adversary, wearing an outfit screaming last year so much that she would be ostracized, or that she would be nervous yet excited at the prospect of reaping victors and be promoted.

Not anymore. The lies, the crafted words, she would make up would be excuses too vain even for her little brain to see as valid. None of those things could actually produce nightmares, not like the ones she has. Indeed, they have nothing to do with the nightmarish visions, the gruesome tableaux, the grotesque operas of decay, blood, poison and rotting flesh that sing the names of her fallen tributes. Nothing to do with those hellish pictures fuelling her guilt and her fear. The plagues of unrest and constant tension, constant vigilance.

For in the Capitol, no one was allowed to be affected by the games, more so an escort, the epitome of bubbliness, of chirpiness and excitement, the archetype of the Capitol citizen in the Districts, the paragon of loyalty to Games and President. Any chink in the armour, and you would disappear without the slightest murmur.

7 am finds Effie Trinket in the restaurant car, positively ravenous. Her food intake remains nevertheless ladylike, despite the exhaustion induced hunger. As the attendants slowly join her, the escort puts on her most cheerful mask. She looks positively radiant, she smiles like a brainless puppet, her best excited mask on – who knew those acting classes would pay off so much?

She laughs away the remaining time before their arrival to District 12, and renews her ever optimistic wish that this time be the one. Trying to forget that she will most certainly reap two children unfit for both Capitol smoke and mirrors and arena, Effie focuses on making up cutting or sarcastic remarks for her meeting with Haymitch Abernathy, the district's only living victor. With a fondness she did not wish to examine, she thought uncharacteristically that the annoying and sarcastic drunk might just manage to distract her from the ice engulfing her a little more as they approached District 12.