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I got not one, but TWO stories for Yuletide! Awesome!

The Mountain and the Hawk (Ellen Kushner - The House of the Nine Doors) - First of all, OMG OMG OMG! SQUEEE! Someone actually wrote fic for this non-existent fandom, and that alone would send me completely through the roof! But moreso, I love the fic so much! I love getting a look at Eyas' background, I love the additional history and sense of place the author brings to the world, the contrast between the mountains and the city, between Eyas and Gwai, between Vrel and Eyas. And it's hot! Eeeeeee!
The mountains are a ring of teeth surrounding the city, sharp and broken and impassable in most places. They have, at different times in the city's history, been shield and sword, cocoon and cage, boon and bane.


Pipe Dreams (Nana) - And then someone wonderful wrote me a treat for Nana! Yaaaaay! I love how it gets at Punk Nana's vulnerabilities, the ones she doesn't know how to deal with, and I love that it fits in both Cute Nana and Ren, how it takes all those hints in the narration of the manga and makes them text.
His fingers are rough, the tips calloused. Underneath, she feels the lingering traces of soft hands and hesitance, and she arches into his touch, willing the dream to fade.


And now for the other stories! I start my way at the bottom of the alphabet and work my way up.

Houses and Rain (xxxHolic) - I love this fic so much. SO MUCH. I love the bittersweetness of it, the description of chocolate, the assorted spirits trying to be human, and the prickly, grumpy ame-warashi, who I don't actually remember from the canon, but this story makes me want to go back and reread it for all the bits she's in. I love the bits of Japanese folklore and how the little oden fox gets a bit, and did I mention the bittersweet wistfulness?
Foxes always know where to find good paper. It's because they hang out with scholars so much of the time.


Beginnings (Discworld) - Aww! Death, once again lost with those strange human customs.
As the stove began to heat up, he set to work on the tiny lives swarming within the kettle's water, releasing them each as it came closer and closer to boiling.

It was easier to make tea when one considered all the deaths required.


The Birthday of Eternity (Discworld) - Death + the witches! How can it be bad? Also, this has got awesome Nanny Ogg voice, and I love Nanny Ogg to bits. I think the Death-Nanny Ogg conversations may have already slipped into my personal canon, along with Nanny Ogg's topologically odd socks.
Death stared at the jug. It had a little porcelain udder, complete with four ineptly paint-splotched teats. The milk, however, was clearly meant to pour out a hole in its nose. Nanny Ogg did not seem to find it out of the ordinary.


Fiddler's Went A'Courtin' (Sandman) - I was a little wary of the premise, but the author carries it off beautifully. It's Fiddler's Green, in love, but wonderfully, delicately, and gently so.
Life as an occasionally anthropomorphic personification of an imaginary land means not having a particularly subtle subconscious.


Winter Words (The Blue Sword) - The quote I picked for this doesn't really illustrate why I love this fic; its voice is less obvious than some of the prior stories. But it feels like McKinley in how it focuses on the small moments, on the "after" part of "happily ever after," how both Harry and Corlath are trying so hard.
Harry's brother, Richard (who kept his honor so close Corlath at first mistook it for disapproval), spent much of his time in those long halls.


Petition (The Rabbi's Cat) - OMG! OMG! Someone wrote fic for Rabbi's Cat! Someone wrote GOOD fic for Rabbi's Cat! I was almost afraid to read this because I love the original so much, but I love this fic. It gets the rabbi down, but more importantly, it gets the cat perfectly. The cat's cat logic and cat theology is just wonderful.
"Cats know things," I inform him, smugly. It's true; we do. We hear more than people imagine. "Didn't you know, there is a feline Torah, and these are the stories we yowl to one another at night in the alleys of the city."


Once Upon a Bird (Princess Tutu) - I love the language and the imagery in this one, the way it feels like a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, only through a warped mirror.
You follow a trail of shining pebbles, or maybe they are candy eggs, the kind that taste of sugar and cream and fruit from the summer's first harvest, the kind that witches tempt children with. Even in a dream you know better than to stop and taste one, just to see.
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