Chapter Three:

Sponge Cake and the winners of the 75th Hunger Games

I had fallen asleep. I stayed up from seven o'clock in the evening (when I had came to Haymitch) and stayed up until about midnight. After the feast, when Thresh had let Katniss go, Haymitch quickly told me what to do about sponsors. I stayed on my phone, ringing friends and ringing about everybody I knew who could help. Only about half would help me. This shocked me.

At this time, some of the mentors- including Haymitch, decided to go outside. To eat something; get some more drinks. Apparently it's "highly recommended there's not drinks- especially water, in that room". Whilst all the mentors quietly decided to talk about anything other than the games, Haymitch pulled me aside and we both started walking outside of the buliding. "We can only be gone for about 10 minutes," he said, "sometimes mentors come out here to gain sponsors. During this time- we aren't really mean't to- as getting sponsors off the streets are hard. Only the really desperate ones do, in times of need. We only hope, Effie. Maybe you'll realise why, one day," he added bitterly.

We both went all over the street, and I even walked onto the next street alone. We ended up getting two sponsors- but they were generous. "This is a lucky day," Haymitch commented. I didn't want to correct him, that it was actually nearly ten o'clock in the night.

We got back inside, we had to hurry to get back to the room, so we wouldn't miss anything. Katniss has just gotten back to Peeta, panting and looked like she wanted to cry. And then we watched, Peeta waking up- Katniss healing him- them talking- them taking shifts as Katniss falls asleep. It was pretty boring, and then I realised... "Haymitch, you didn't eat anything."

"Yes, I did," he replied. His arms were crossed and he was intent on just watching the scene before him- the scene with Katniss and Peeta now filled half of the screen. "Sorry I didn't offer you any of that sponge cake I was eating... as you gained sponsors."

I know he's joking, but I think to myself... Does Haymitch do this all the time? Does he ever eat? It makes me respect him a little more. But I worry that just tomorrow, I'll see him again and he doesn't care. He's drunk. I don't understand it. It makes me want to cry.

And I fall sleep on the stupid, uncomfortable wheely chair with my arms and head resting on the edge of his table. I watch him.

I hate these restrictions. About sleeping. Food. How I'm positioning myself now, just to sleep. I hope nobody watches me...

I glance at the time on the screen- I've only been asleep for about an hour and a bit- it's 1:30am. I look around me. There are only two mentors left in the room. Haymitch tells me that mentors give up and leave when all their tributes are dead: their job is over until the next year when they have to go through everything again. I ask him why- why he spoke like that and all of a sudden, he snaps; "EFFIE, FOR GOD'S SAKE, WHY CAN'T YOU THINK ABOUT OTHERS BESIDES YOUR BLOODY SELF?"

I'm taken aback. I'm frozen on the spot. I can't move.

Haymitch rubs his face and takes his headphones off. "Come with me," he says and takes me out of the room. I worry- why are we leaving? What's going on with Peeta and Katniss? Did they die whilst I was sleeping?

We stand in hallway. "Effie, why are you here?" he asks, calm, again. I wander if there is something wrong with him- one minute he's calm, then he's mad and the next he's drunk. I don't have time to continue my thoughts when he shakes me, asking me the question again.

I shake him off me, and say, "Wh-what do you mean? I've helped you with sponsors! Of course I want Peeta and Katniss to come home!" Here it is, I think, the moment I learn if they've died or not... I can't brace myself because I don't know how.


"Why what?"

"Why do you want them to come home?"

Their alive, I realise. But then I don't understand why he's mad at me. What did I do whilst I was asleep? I don't think I sleep talk. "Why I want them to come home..." I say slowly. "Because I like them?"

Haymitch sighs and sits down against the wall. I know that if someone comes out of the door, and they open the door all the way, it'd smack him right in the face. I don't say this though, because he's mad at me and because I'm assuming he's not that much of an idiot.

"Effie, you like them... yes. But you care about them. They have a family, do you understand?"

I nod my head, wandering why Haymitch looks really good as he's sitting down in front of me... he's mad at me. Maybe it's because... I can't think of a reason. But I do think he needs a hair cut. Badly. I wander if he'd let even me, cut his hair...

"I'm taking the control of somebody's life. Can you imagine how that must feel? Having a family who loves you and you love them and somebody else, somebody you hardly know, needs to take care of your life? Life or death?"

I don't nod or say a word because I understand. And that fact only confuses me more. Therefore, I want him to explain it to me. Make me understand why. I know it all makes sense, what he's saying... But I'm almost trying to fight it. Because if I understand it, I don't know how I'd react.

"And Katniss and Peeta aren't the only people in this case that I'm talking about. It's all of the tributes of these games and past games. And the games in the future. Do you understand? This is against peace. And love. They die and we don't even think about how it must effect the ones of their family. And even if they don't die- and they survive... what they must have done. To know that they have caused that to other people because of what they've done in the arena...

"Do you understand?" He says. I hestiate and then I nod my head."Do you see why I'm mad?" I hestiate before nodding again.

But I've been brought up this way... it's just... 'almost like actors on the screen' my dad told me when I asked what the hunger games was. This was years and years and years ago. Before he died. And I liked the game- because it was just television and it got my adrenaline pumping as I watched it.

But now... 'almost' actors... They aren't actors. They're people. But then... I still don't understand. I always knew that they were real humans but... I never... And I have too many questions on my mind that I want to cry. I like Peeta and Katniss. I don't want them to die. And at this very moment, that's what I think of and I ignore everything else and walk back into the room, careful not to slam the door on Haymitch's head.

"No, wait, stop! I am pleased to present the victors of the 74th Hunger games; Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark!"

Haymitch throws down the headphones from his head. I'm aware of the tears in my eyes.

"You… stayed this whole time," he says.

"I did," I say back. Nobody else is in the room. I allow myself to sob. "I don't understand," I say.

Haymitch sighs and gives me half a hug."I just…" I trail off.

"You'll learn," Haymitch says.

I wait for an apology for yelling at me a while ago. But of course, I don't receive one. I'm not sad about that. So, wrapped up in my own world I say, "I like you, Haymitch."

He lets go of me and sits back in his chair. After a long moment he says, "I like you too Effie… but… last time I liked somebody, they were killed because of me. So we are friends, Effie. Friends, because I really do like you."

I'm surprised at how those words make me want to sob even harder- let the ground eat me up. He stands up. He says, "But… I'm going to keep loving my alcohol, Effie," he keeps talking, and I'm just stunned into silence. "Because it's the only thing I can afford to love. Do you… Do you understand?"

I've never seen Haymitch cry before. But he looks really upset. I wander why. I wander why I feel like this way all of a sudden. Like I suddenly just want to embrace him. I don't want to leave this room… It feels safe.

He just stands there, looking at me. And after a moment I stand up as well. I think I'm overwhelmed by Katniss and Peeta's scene. I really panicked- I really though they were going to eat the nightlock. But they've won. I've helped. They're safe. Their families would be crying in joy at home...

Haymitch suddenly laughs, saying, "you better get your act together…" he steps close to me. I'm shaking, not making a sound as tears roll down my cheeks. I can't tell if I'm happy, sad or upside down or the right way up. But nonetheless, he keeps talking. "Because… you're Effie Trinket- and you've strong." And then he kissed me.

I feel my world shatter around me, and I realise why I like him- he's strong. He's the strongest person I know and he's letting me go. I start to sob and lose my breath so he lets go and puts an arm around me as he leads me out of the room. We don't talk as he takes me into the cafeteria. Nobody is here- why would anybody be here when their tributes have died?

Haymitch lets go of me and walks towards a counter, ordering something. To make time, I sit down at a random chair in the room. It looks weird empty, even besides the fact that I haven't been in here before. I wipe my face and take a shaky, deep breath. I allow myself to think over the kiss, realising Haymitch was a good kisser, before knowing I had to calm myself down.

I looked up, just in time to see Haymitch walking towards me with a bottle of whiskey. "Cheer up, sweetheart!" He says loudly, as if he's announced something amazing to this empty room. "Your tributes are alive. So… are you ready for next year?"

A/N: So, this story's finished! Thanks to everybody whose favourited it- viewed it- and especially reviewed it! I really appreciate reviews! It lets me know I'm doing okay or not. Sorry about the chapters being so short; this was originally dedicated to a friend and it was a one-shot... but it seemed too boring and long and weird just in one chapter. Please review this chapter too- I'd love to know what you think of this story all together- and this chapter! This chapter was personally my favourite of all three chapters, so I'm excited to know your thoughts!

~ Lightning And Blossoms