This year I wrote two treats in addition to my actual assignment, all for book fandoms.
The assignment I picked was Frontier Wolf by Rosemary Sutcliff, for which I wrote He Who Waits (note: rated E on AO3, although I would describe as a "hard R"). I had actually matched my recipient on two fandoms, the first time that this has happened to me. I was feeling blocked on the second fandom, The Silver Branch by Sutcliff, because I had also requested it! Mysteriously, I could not be sure I had read FW: it's one of Sutcliff's later books, written the year I graduated college, and even after reading the second-hand copy I bought for the challenge, I wasn't sure that I had read it before: some of the details about Connla and what became of him are the only things that seemed familiar.
I took the book with me when we took an impromptu trip out of town for a week, read it through again, and by the time I came back, I had the rough outlines of a story. My recipient was interested both in the possibilities of a romance between Alexios and Hilarion and in a look at the implications of a male/male relationship in the Roman culture. I wrote mainly the former, but I tried to give a nod to the more serious issue as well. I really have to thank my Beta readers, smillaraaq and carmarthen, on this one: in addition to the basic SPAG, they pointed out a couple of serious canon violations, vetted my Roman cultural and language details, and helped make the last section less hurried and more amusing, authentic, and romantic.
While I was working on the FW story, a question my recipient had asked about The Silver Branch kept tickling the back of my mind: if one assumes that Flavius of SB is Alexios' father, how does the family tree work out, and what becomes of Justin and Cullen? I realized that by focusing on this, I could avoid skirting too close to my own request. I wrote the treat Coming Around Again from Justin's POV, because I've always felt very close to him, and I included a scene with Aunt Honoria because she is awesome. It turns out that she is one of my recipient's favorite characters, so that made everyone happy!
I saw a request for P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath flash by on the Pinch Hits mailing list. I was too slow to pick it up (and at that point, I was not at all sure that I would be able to finish a real pinch hit in time), so I went back and wrote a treat. Those Who Help Themselves is fluff: a romp involving cold weather, the smell of hot, tasty food, and a squad of always-hungry military academy students.
After I finished "He Who Waits," I realized that its last few words are identical to the last words of another story of mine. I'll write short fic for the first person who correctly identifies the other story. I will be asking for a prompt for this.