Oh gosh okay here goes. (cut for long)
So, the thing about Sara is that she is the most BURN IT ALL DOWN Gryffindor human disaster zone like, ever. This makes everyone’s life really interesting.
So background, we assume that Sara’s parents (who in canon-adjacent universes work doing logistics for the Peacekeepers) get transferred to D2 when Sara’s about 7, and her parents are very proud of this and want to fit in and so of COURSE they put their kids in the Program and…
Sara is hooked because she can FIX THINGS when people pick on her for being ~not really Two~ or when older kids pick on little kids or whatever, the trainers definitely know how to channel Righteous Fury into something they can use. And she just….doesn’t really think about the world outside the Program, because she’s not on the trains here, she’s in her little bubble and that’s how the Centre keeps it.
So she goes in as Devon’s kid, and she pretty much casually flirts with everyone and doesn’t play the Pack power games. But then as the pack starts breaking up, instead of being sneaky like Devon she kinda goes, “OK, so we’re doing this.” And idk throws knives into like 4 people before disappearing and then tracking them down one by one
…so she’s sort of a cross between Devon himself and Selene as a Victor (if you’ve read those AUs).
And that’s all fine, and she doesn’t have a lot of Arena guilt, she’s just like “OK they threw us into a death match wtf was I supposed to do?” Everyone in the Arena is by default dead, if she didn’t kill them they’d die some other way.
This gets a little too close to “don’t blame me, blame the Games,” especially once she goes on her Victory Tour and sees how angry people are and a little bit of what Panem is like outside of Two.
….and then there are 2 versions of what happens next. So, Sara wins the 70th, then in one version Creed wins the 71st and Selene wins in 72 and Selene and Sara conspire to hook up Alec and Jake and it’s beautiful and hilarious and nothing bad ever happens.
In the other version, Rokia wins the 71st (or sub in random D6F it doesn’t really matter). And Sara starts to think about things.
And that is a problem, because she starts picking at “man, it was tough for me right after I won, the Victory Tour sucked, I’m glad I had Devon to spar with/sprawl on/etc, this kid has NONE of that, and she didn’t ask to be there, and it’s not fair. It’s wrong.”
And then she turns up at Claudius’ place at 3AM and tells him this and he’s like “oh fuck this is way above my pay grade” and calls Lyme and Lyme’s basically like “yeah, you’re right, but we can’t do anything about it. YET. Please save your explosions until they have a hope in hell of actually changing anything.” (see below for the long version)
I haven’t played that one out any farther, but basically Sara becomes this catalyst that pushes a whole BUNCH of the Two Victors into Traitor Lake, so when the 75th comes around, it’s like…. Lyme and Claudius and Devon and Misha and Selene (because she wins the 72nd in this one) and Emory and Enobaria and Nero and possibly Brutus (who is extremely conflicted and stuck between his very loyal Mentor and his traitor kids).
Which would make things…very interesting. Somehow. I just don’t know how yet.
And here have two random ficlet thingys from that verse (Claudius in 67, Sara in 70, Selene in 72) because they exist:
1. literally titled “traitor party” in my Scrivener file, happens after the 71st:
It’s literally never a good thing to get woken up at three o’clock in the fucking morning.
It’s an even worse thing to get woken up by the Village’s youngest Victor standing in your bedroom doorway.
“Fuck,” Claudius says, jerking upright and staring. “What the fuck are you doing?”
“I need to talk to you,” Sara says. She’s scowling the way she does when she’s confused about something, and her voice is the kind of sincere she only gets when she’s had too much to drink.
And it’s late summer, the Games ended weeks ago, she had her “oh shit I’ve been out a year” freakout already, and why is she here instead of at Devon’s place like she should be?
And now his brain’s pinged all the warning signals it needs to jar him all the way awake fast enough to give him whiplash.
“Okay,” he says. “Let’s go downstairs.”
She nods, but stays right where she is while he climbs out of bed and pulls on a T-shirt and pants.
She steps back to let him get through the doorway. “C’mon,” he says, and she follows, and he really doesn’t like how quiet she is.
Or the fact that instead of sprawling on his couch she sits, feet on the ground, bent forward, elbows in. He sits next to her, but he leaves some space.
“You said you needed to talk,” he says, when she doesn’t start, and he’s trying real hard to be mature and comforting but she woke him up at 3 AM, this is not the time to suddenly clam up.
She takes a deep breath, licks her lips, stares through the wall in front of her. “They didn’t ask for this,” she says, in a low voice. “The others, the outliers, they didn’t want this, they got thrown in, they have to live with it. We get training and mentors and it still fucking sucks and they get nothing, and it’s wrong.” Her voice rises as she says it, her face shifting from fear to anger. She sits up, looks him in the eye. “It’s fucked up, Claudius, we have to stop it.”
Oh, shit. This… this is so much worse than he thought.
“You know I’m right,” she says, looking away. “You saw that kid up on the stage, she’s tiny, D, she was shaking, there’s—they’re awful to outlier girls, and all of them on Tour it’s—they break people. You know they say the lucky ones die.”
She glances over again when he stays quiet. What the fuck is he supposed to do with this shit?
Well. He knows what he’s supposed to do. He should send her to her mentor, he should’ve called first thing when she showed up like this.
She huffs a short breath, gets up, goes to the kitchen and comes back with a bottle of whiskey and two glasses. She doesn’t need any more to drink, everything about her—her voice, the careful way she’s walking—says “really drunk and trying to hide it.” On the other hand, letting her get shitfaced so she forgets any of this ever happened does not seem like the worst idea. In any case he hesitates long enough she’s poured, handed one glass to him and picked up one for herself, sips at it.
He ignores his. The last thing he needs is for it to be harder to think clearly. Instead he scrubs his hands over his face, through his hair. “You’re not wrong,” he says, “but there’s nothing we can do about it.”
That gets him a poisonous glare. “So we’re supposed to sit here and pretend everything’s fine?” She takes a long pull at her glass. “I’m supposed to keep smiling at these people and pretending I don’t think they’re evil scum? Mentor the kids who want to go in so they can kill the ones who got fucked over?”
Okay, fuck this, he can’t deal with this. She’s agitated and furious and terrified and spitting treason in his house and he’s in so far over his head he can’t even see the surface.
“I’m calling Lyme,” he says. He takes the bottle with him when he goes. Sara glowers but doesn’t fight him for it at least, just pulls her glass closer. He leaves his full glass and the bottle on the counter and grabs his phone.
Lyme picks up on the second ring.
“D, what is it?” Just hearing her voice, steady, over the phone lets him breathe a little easier.
“I—it’s not me, it’s Sara, she’s here and—I need you to come over.”
“You want me to call Devon?” Lyme asks, concerned.”
“No.” It comes out suspiciously fast.
Lyme just says, “Okay, be right there,” and hangs up.
Claudius takes a minute, counting it out, timing his breaths, leaning on the counter with his eyes closed, then goes back out.
“She’s coming over,” he says. Sara’s hunched forward again, elbows on her knees. When she looks up at him she looks relieved.
“You didn’t tell Devon?” she asks.
“Not yet,” Claudius answers, sitting back down. She sits up, leans back against the couch and stares up at the ceiling.
“I didn’t think,” she says, “I just—I wanted to win, and—” She swallows, goes silent.
And then the door opens, and Lyme walks in. She kicks off her shoes and comes over, raises an eyebrow at Claudius, who shifts over so she can sit next to Sara. She puts an arm around his shoulders even as she’s watching Sara, and Claudius can’t help the relieved sigh he lets out at that.
“What’s going on?” Lyme asks. In the full-on Mentor Voice she almost never has to use on him anymore.
Sara’s mouth pinches tight and she looks down, curls back over with her arms crossed across her knees. Claudius goes to explain, but he barely gets his mouth open before Lyme squeezes his shoulder and he stops. Okay. Better it come from Sara.
Finally she says, in a low voice. “How do you do it?” Lyme just raises an eyebrow. “The Games, the Capitol, everything…it’s fucked, they’re all…fuck them, we’re fine, we chose, but the others…fuck, I don’t know.”
She reaches for her glass, drains the last drops and glares at it, like she’s mad at the glass for being empty. Slides it onto the table, hard enough it slides all the way across and breaks on the floor. “Shit,” she mumbles, “Sorry, D, I’ll—“
“Sit,” Lyme says, before Sara manages to get up. Sara stops. “Do you think you, or me, or anybody can stop the Games?” Lyme asks, her voice steady. “Really?”
Sara shakes her head, still glaring through the floor. Then she bursts out, “But we should, we should at least try, there has to be something.” She looks up, like she’s begging Lyme to give her something to do.
Lyme shakes her head. “Not yet,” she says, and she’s never been this direct with Claudius, but then again she’s never needed to. “Meanwhile we save the ones we can.”
Sara looks away. “Mentoring.” Her hands twitch against her knees. “Isn’t that just making sure other kids die?”
Lyme shrugs one shoulder. “Not just,” she says. “We keep our kids safe, don’t we?”
Sara looks up, looks away, nods. “I already told Devon I wanna start mentor training,” she grumbles. “He says wait till after the Tour.”
“Okay,” Lyme says.
“But that’s— I don’t want to— Shit.” Sara shoves the heels of her hands against her eyes. “Doesn’t that mean I’m as bad as they are? Just playing their same stupid fucking Game?”
Lyme sighs. “No. You’re trying to help the only kids you can help.”
“Ours,” Sara says. Lyme nods. “Meanwhile everyone else keeps getting fucked over because nobody makes them stop.”
Lyme’s hand on Claudius’ shoulder squeezes again, and he realizes he’s wound up tight, takes a breath, drops his shoulders.
“We wait,” Lyme says. “You know what you do when you’re up against someone you can’t beat.”
“You watch for weaknesses,” Sara says, immediate, because some things you don’t forget. “You pick your position.”
She looks back at Lyme, and her eyes flash, wild and dangerous, but that’s way closer to normal than any-fucking-thing else she’s done tonight.
Lyme nods, and they smile at each other, wolf grins that make Claudius very glad they’re both on his side.
Whatever the fuck side that is.
Sara sits up, still grinning, still twitchy and wound up and everything else, but this time Lyme’s smile softens and she shakes her head. “Go clean up that glass, and then if you think you can spar without puking, I’m sure D would be happy to kick your drunk ass. And then go the fuck to sleep, and I’ll call Devon and tell him you came over here to pass out.”
Well that’s—okay, fine, it’d be better to spar with Lyme, but maybe a couple rounds with Sara will calm them both down enough to sleep. Sara stands up too fast, weaves a little before heading to the kitchen for a broom and dustpan.
Lyme looks at Claudius, raises an eyebrow. “You okay?”
He nods. “Am now,” he says, and she pulls him close, musses his hair. “Thanks, I was kinda freaking out, earlier.”
Lyme sighs. “Yeah,” she says, “She’s a firecracker, that one.”
“Hey,” Sara says, coming back and dropping the dustpan with a loud thwack. “I came here instead of setting things on fire, give me some credit.”
Lyme stretches out on the couch while they spar, feet on the coffee table. Sara’s wild and reckless—more even than usual—and sloppy and slow to react, and when he pins her she just laughs and makes him haul her back up. A couple rounds and she’s stumbling, goes down and lies flat, arms out. Lyme snorts, gets up. Claudius stretches out a hand and Sara takes it, makes him take most of her weight on the way up, overbalances and stumbles into him.
“Okay, kiddo, couch is yours,” Lyme says. “Get some sleep.”
Sara drops onto it, stretches out. “Yeah,” she says, eyes half-closed already. Claudius pulls the blanket off the back and tosses it to her. She kicks it ineffectually over herself, curls up and closes her eyes.
Claudius walks Lyme to the doorway. “What’re you gonna tell Devon?” he asks, while she’s pulling on her shoes.
She sighs, shakes her head. “I’ll tell him she showed up here drunk and you put her to bed,” she says. “Rest of it’s gotta be up to her.”
“But Devon’s…” He trails off. Brutus’ Victor, not dipping his toes into treason lake the way he and Lyme have for years. But he can’t say all that, so he just shrugs.
“Yeah,” Lyme says, like she got the gist anyway. “But she’s his kid, I’m not getting in the middle of that more than I have to.” She gives him a rueful half-smile, hugs him quick. “You okay?” she asks, stepping back and watching him.
Claudius thinks about it. “Yeah, guess so,” he says.
She ruffles his hair again. “Come by tomorrow and I’ll feed you ice cream and knock your head in shape,” she says. “Meanwhile, sleep.”
“Okay boss,” he says. As usual, she’s taking over, so he can stop worrying—mostly.
He closes the door behind her, turns around to lean against it for the length of three deep breaths, then heads back up to bed.
2. Right after Selene wins the 72nd, to end on a fun note:
The next afternoon Sara goes to find Claudius. She hears him first, practicing something on the piano, so she parks herself on his porch to wait. He gets cranky if she interrupts.
But he takes his time, and Sara gets impatient. The pine tree in the yard is good knife throwing practice for a while, and then she mixes it up by throwing from the tree into the wooden porch railing, until Claudius walks out and she can aim past his ear into the doorjam.
“Hi Sara,” he says, without even flinching.
“Hi,” she says, swinging down and dropping. “Devon says I can go out and celebrate tonight, but only if you come along.” She grins at him.
“So you thought you’d poke holes in my house so I’d remember how much I like you?” he asks, deadpan.
“No, I thought I’d come ask you, but then I got bored.”
He shakes his head, but he also cracks a smile, so she wins. “I’ll even buy you dinner,” she says, magnanimous. “I’ll come by around six?”
“Sure,” Claudius says, shoving his hair back with one hand. “Now I’m gonna go ask Devon what the rest of the rules are, because I’m pretty sure there’ll be some, and I’d rather not end up dead before I get to meet our new Victor.”
Sara sighs, collects her knives and catches up with Claudius. “They’re not rules, really,” she tries, “more like suggestions.”
“Yeahhhh,” Claudius says. “I’ll believe that when you go more than a month without getting grounded for something or other.”
But Devon’s mostly reasonable today. “No fighting—no, seriously, not today. And you come back with Claudius—tonight, not in the morning, and no that does not mean you can disappear for two hours and show up at 4AM, that means you don’t disappear at all.” He pauses. “And when he decides you’re done, you’re done, okay? I don’t want my phone to ring because you’re fighting him about it. Okay?”
Sara nods. It’s reasonable, and anyway she hasn’t been out really since the Games started so anything will feel like an escape. She doesn’t need to push it today.
Claudius doesn’t look thrilled, but he doesn’t look upset, either. “Sounds fine,” he says. He looks over at Sara. “Stop by when you’re ready,” he says.
“Yep,” Sara says, and he shoves his hands in his pockets and heads home.