This was a very haunting tale about what goes on after the Games. You set the stage perfectly at the beginning. The glorification of the dead, the families expecting to be "honored" by their dead children, and the completely tone-deaf people from the Capitol... all of it truly resonated with what we know from canon about the sadistic culture of Panem. The notion that dead tributes get buried in the Capitol rather than their own district seems like the exact type of thing the government would require to add more salt to the wound. (If this is something that actually happens in canon, I forgot about it; it's been far too long since I've read the books!)
This obviously takes place years before the first book, but you still managed to keep Haymitch in-character. He's snarky, stoic, and a realist, just like in canon, but I like that you gave him a tiny bit of optimism. It makes it all the more painful, knowing how the small amount of spirit he has gets erroded by the time he meets Katniss and Peeta. And I really liked how you used Dara's character in this. Yes, she's upset about the death of her sister (who wouldn't be?) but she seems so... passive about it. I know that isn't the right word, but I can't think of any other right now lol. Like, she knew it was coming and prepared for it long ago. She cries a little and inflicts self-harm in the immediate aftermath, but aside from that, she sees no need to grieve. It just really illustrates how in Panem, it's almost universally accepted that grieving is moot, because the Capitol always wins. Gah, hopefuly that makes sense and I don't sound like a total moron!
Favorite line: "How was it that we finally got a victor, but somehow ended up with one more dead kid than usual?" I never thought about the Quarter Quell like that. Wow. Poor district 12. Even when they "win," they still lose...
This was an excellent read. Well done!
Thank you so much. This story needed some love and all the kind words are much appreciated:)