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we must be killers

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Effie screams and tugs and kicks when the Peacekeepers come to take her away. She doesn’t mean to, she wants to be strong, but it’s innate. Their hands are unrelenting and bruising and they’re dragging her out of the penthouse and no one can hear her. She knows what she signed up for, what Haymitch had meticulously planned out for her.

“When they ask you if you knew of this beforehand, you say yes,” he said, handing her a tumbler of some ferociously blue liquor, “Do you understand me, Eff? Don’t fight them. Agree with everything they say.”

He tucked a strand of golden blonde hair, her own hair, behind her ear and his fingertips continued their path down the column of her throat and back up again, cupping her chin. She was tipsy and she leaned into his hand, chuckling. “And what if I don’t? What if I say no? What if I want to keep you fools alive for just a few days more?”

Haymitch dropped his hand from her face immediately. “They’ll kill you, Effie. They’ve got no qualms about it.”

The games were playing on a screen behind her, and at that moment, both Peeta and Katniss were sleeping, with Johanna on watch. Haymitch kept eyeing over her shoulder every five seconds, lines of worry permanently carved into his forehead.

“I’m of no importance to them, in the end,” she breathes, before taking a sip of her drink.

“And that’s a problem because in the end, you are everything to me,” he murmured, and Effie nearly blanched by his forwardness.

The same Peacekeeper that shoved her into a cell days ago, shows up without a warning and sets himself on a stool across from her. She hasn’t particularly bothered moving from her cot since she arrived, and he knows this.

He has dark skin, but it’s in patches and makes Effie think of scarecrows. He smiles uncomfortably, and extends a hand out to her. She merely turns over.

“Miss Trinket, your reputation is not preceding you,” he sighs and she can hear him fiddling around with something on his belt. She tenses.

He asks her whether or not she knew of the magnitude of Haymitch and Plutarch’s plans, in a cold, gruff voice, like he had been smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes every day. It makes Effie’s stomach turn.

“Answer me,” he bellows, and it nearly makes her jump out of her skin. Her knuckles scrape up against the concrete wall, blood dripping slowly from the new wounds. She looks at it, glistening and red and taunting her, knowing that it was just a foreshadowing of what was to come. It burns but she clenches her fist, twisting her wrist so she wouldn’t have to look at it. Not yet, not now when it reminds her of the same blood falling from the throats and backs and cracked skulls of the children whose names she pulled out of a glass bowl. The ones who looked at her with such contempt behind their wet, red-rimmed eyes.

She thinks of them often. She thinks of what would have happened if she twirled her finger around a few more times and pulled out a name far different from Primrose Everdeen. It makes her wonder how much one movement has changed the world she lives in. It all comes back to her, and a noise so strange to her comes out of her throat.

She’s laughing.

“We’re not so different,” she says to the man behind her, struggling for breath, smile plastered on her face.

The Peacekeeper grunts, and she can hear his hands sliding up and down whatever weapon he held in his hands.

She sighs, trembling with her inconsistent emotions. “Killers, you and I.”

A whip snaps through the air, and it’s demanding an answer.

A shaky breath, a near slip of a staggered, choked sob, and she replies.

“No. I knew nothing.”

Effie hears the crack of the whip again, smells the iron scent of her blood pooling on her cot, and yet screams out a few seconds too late. She couldn’t feel it. She knows she’s dying. She’s dehydrated, starving, and so weak. Her body wants to give up but she can’t.

Loyalty is unbearable, Effie figures, eight lashes in.

Still, she doesn’t say a word. This isn’t about her.

She’s just a pawn, in the end.