Whoa, apologies from us at Nightlock Recs for totally skipping out on you for a month: rest assured in the next couple of weeks I'll be working hard to bring you some new THG fic recommendations. Please excuse my lack of segment banner, also, as my internet connection is so silly and slow that it would take me forever just to put a picture in.
Today, here's a great one for Career fans!
Title: Until Your Last Heartbeat
Summary: And this is the price of the thing on her wrist, the thing she will take into the Arena with her to remind her of her oaths and vows and the weight that they carry.
I found Until Your Last Heartbeat ages ago while searching for fics to read on the Mockingjay livejournal, but put it away n my 'to-read' pile since Cato/Clove fics aren't really my thing (or my thing, at all. Period.) I'm such a Katniss lover that I'm always a bit like, why am I reading fics about these monster children? (As you can tell, I did not agree with the Cato-wahh-redeem-me speech in the movie.)
But the popularity of this ship and this fic series in particular drew me in. I really enjoyed the dark, twisted love these two have, and I admire the way azelmaroark can turn a reader into feeling sympathy for these two and the way they act in the Games.
The first installment in this series is called "Token". Until Your Last Heartbeat has it's own little AU universe for its characters. What really struck and stayed with me about this series is all of the frankly awesome, original District Two backstory the author has created. It's inventive and could totally be mistaken for canon. This backstory kicks off straight away in "Token", displayed through a much younger Clove's ambitious obsession already with bracelets that equate to Hunger Games skill level:
That summer at Reaping Day, Clove starts noticing the bracelets and suddenly sees them everywhere. It’s like a secret game, picking them out of the crowd of kids. She’s too young to stand in the square, so she points them out to Mommy and Daddy in a hushed whisper before the ceremony starts. She feels very important.
When I think of Clove, I think of her as an ambitious little bitch. This fic does me proud, then. The characterisation hooks you right in! I like that her family isn't a crazy bunch of ambitious ignorant people too - I think it gives the people of District Two a bit more heart than some authors (cough, cough, probably me) would give them. Although saying that...
“May your every heartbeat bring honor and glory to District Two and to the Capitol,” the trainer says as the blood on Clove’s palm stains her clean, clean fingers. It’s chipmunk blood. They put the body in a black bag to be dumped into the incinerator at the end of the ceremony.
...fits neatly in with what canon tells us about how Panem society is manipulating people to be semi-psychotic, seeing death as sport. I think the way Cato and Clove's friendship is built before the Games was a really cool idea, and plays out for the rest of the story quite well. azelmaraok's writing is simple, clear, straightforward, much like how you expect her ruthless characters to be - but there are moments of such emotion and clever, wonderful writing that really sold this fic for me.
She stands solemnly with her eyes focused on the wall in front of her as they repeat the process with Cato, as he swears to kill her or come home in a coffin. And this is the price of the thing on her wrist, the thing she will take into the Arena with her to remind her of her oaths and vows and the weight that they carry. Of the thing she will be brought home wearing, one way or another, dead or alive. Of the words she’s said all those years and all the times she signed away her chance to say no. This is what they’ve always meant when they talked about honor and dedication and a servant’s heart and how the Capitol wants everything you can give them. And now they want the only thing she’s ever loved.
"Token" is just the first part in this awesome Cato/Clove series. I hope you enjoy reading Until Your Last Heartbeat as much as I did.
~ Little Miss Mionie