First up are the judges' picks. Check out what these esteemed ladies had to say...
Naelany's Pick: Strings by TKegl
You know how sometimes you get put into a situation that you just can't see being any good at all? And then something happens that makes it all worthwhile? Yeah, that'd be Bella right now. And the 'something' that happens to help change her mind about things, that would be Jasper. But y'all knew that already from the prompt, right?
I wish I could tell you why I loved this story so much, but doing so would be revealing too much, and then what point would there be in you reading?
Trust me, though; it's awesome. And Jasper? Besides being his fuckhot delicious self, he totally made me swoon. Several times. For several reasons. You'll understand what I mean once you've read it. Oh, panty-change, aisle 2 please! ;-)
MsKathy's Pick: The Other Side of Night by yogacat
I love this story so much. Each of the individual characters here has a glimmer of characteristics that transferred from the original series. I love that Bella is lost. Not just in a small way, but in one hundred small ways, each of which most people can relate to. She's uncomfortable in her own life, awkward and not quite fitting in anywhere she tries.
The author made excellent use of so many secondary characters, as well, woven seamlessly into the story.
I don't mind a damn bit that this one-shot doesn't include wrapping and a pretty bow, because SO MUCH is resolved. It's like a great book - the chapter has ended, but the story has only just begun. I felt like the story was well-suited to a one-shot, as well, even though there are things unresolved. I would not mind at all if the author continued this, but I also felt like it stands alone perfectly.
I really wanted to give "Peaches" by hyacinthgirl18 the "Kick You in the Cooter" award, but I could only give one. It was a VERY tough choice, though. There were so many great entries. Every author should be proud of their submission; that selecting just one was such a tough choice is a sign of just what a great job they've all done.
Ahizelm's Pick: The New Normal by faite-comme-moi
Well, let’s start with the actual plot bunny for my Judge’s Pick, shall we?
Jake/Edward. Rated M. Jake imprints on Edward but since Edward isn't human, the imprint doesn't bind him to Jacob. So, Jacob has to make Edward fall in love with him the old fashioned way. With his charm and sparkling personality. ;) Angsty, UST, eventual HEA.
Sigh. Pardon me as I sing a line from a song for you:
You made me love you. I didn’t wanna do it.
I know, you’re all thinking, “Uh, Ang has officially lost her mind,” but I promise there’s a reason I’m including that here.
I am, shall we say, rather vocal about the fact that I don’t generally ship vamps and wolves in an AU setting. My very long list of reasons why can be most easily summed up by simply saying that I don’t feel that Meyer’s canon allows it to reasonably work. And yes, I know using reason in a world where vampires and werewolves exist is maybe a little batty, but that’s a conversation for another time.
So, back on topic.
“The New Normal” by faite-comme-moi was assigned randomly to me, and I won’t lie: when I saw the pairing, I knew I’d be a hard sell. I don’t have a lot of hard limits regarding fic, but I’m also not completely closed-minded, so I carried on.
Anyway. I begin to read and, instantly, I have to admit that the voice assigned to Jake is spot on, in my opinion. Here’s a snippet of the introduction:
I'm proud as all hell to be Native American. My people have been on this land, the exact fucking dirt where our house sits, for hundreds of years. Nobody gets to say that but us. Plus, my people invented the word 'brave'. Our men are fierce, cocky, bold and 100% men.
We pwned macho.
Oh yeah…some of our men also burst into fur when we got too pissed. And by some, I mean me. And it seemed like everything pissed me off nowadays.
So, all in all, I considered my life pretty normal. Whatever the hell normal was supposed to be.
Then 'normal' went all to shit.
I read that, and I thought, “Hmm. I might have something here.”
I keep reading.
Faite-comme-moi develops a version of the Quileute/Cullen situation that I find extremely plausible, all the while keeping Jake quietly (and sometimes not-so-quietly) snarky. He explains their background and then explains the Pack is meeting up with the Cullens to discuss some things.
And then, cue Edward.
Jake’s initial thoughts on Edward are a mix of quite a few emotions, which is fitting. Here’s a piece of his initial thoughts on Edward:
This vampire looked like any other of his kind: pasty white skin, artificially buff body, schmancy clothes, his body language broadcasting arrogance. There was one important difference: this one was gorgeous. The longer I stared, the more I noticed. His movements were fluid and graceful, reminding me of the natural beauty I experienced every day in the forest. He had high cheekbones that gave his face a regal peace, broad shoulders tapered to a trim waist and slim hips.
Just as I had begun to question what the fuck I was doing noticing shit like that, he raised his eyes to meet Sam's. My Adam's apple bobbed heavily as I struggled to stifle the gasp developing low in my throat.
Edward was beautiful.
From there, faite-comme-moi weaves a tale of slowly burgeoning, old fashioned romance. The boys go on runs together, and day by day grow closer and closer. She deals with every single thing on my list of reasons why I don’t normally ship Vamp/Wolf pairings in an AU environment. Literally every. single. one. of them.
By the end of “The New Normal,” I was anxious with Jake, hanging on Edward’s every word, and hoping he would come around. And when he did (as is prescribed in the Plot Bunny), it was so satisfying for me, so absolutely fantastic. I won’t ruin the details for you - it’s incredibly worth reading, and Jake and Edward’s baby steps are believable and giggles-and-grin inducing. There is only one other Plot Bunny Contest entry that evoked an actual emotional response from me comparable to the way I reacted to “The New Normal,” and you can read about that fic in Naelany’s Pick (for the record, if I’d have written that one up, the award would have been “The One That Reminded Me of Why I Started Reading Non-Canon Pairings in the First Place”).
Go. Read “The New Normal,” and leave faite-comme-moi a ton of love. The story is worthy of praise on every level and may very well have opened up a new set of fics for me to read.
Jessypt's Pick: The New Normal by faite-comme-moi
I loved this story because the plot bunny was a stretch. It forced the writer to think outside the normal parameters to come up with a way to make this pairing work. I loved watching Jake struggle to deal with his feelings and how he pursued Edward. Their runs, their quiet talks in the woods, and the moments where they were bare - physically and emotionally - before each other made me feel all warm and tingly inside. I wanted this to keep going so I could see where their relationship would go! Please continue this and tell me who you are!! Great job!
EchoesofTwilight's Pick: Strings by TKegl
Anyone who knows me knows that I am really anti-non-canon, unless it's slash. Even then, there are only a few pairings I enjoy. My friends know Jella pairings squick me out, seriously. So, when it came time to judge this one, I started to read it through a gap in my fingers.
And then, very quickly, my hand dropped to my keyboard and I just read and enjoyed. I loved this story. The Bella is identifiably Bella without being irritating, and this Jasper is utterly swoon-worthy. Other characters (Emmett, Rosalie, Alice, Angela) are incorporated really well, and in particular I loved that Alice was there as Bella's friend, but her romance with Angela meant I wasn't thinking "Jasper and Alice should be together!" the whole time I was reading.
This whole story is sweet, sexy, funny, and by the end my heart was breaking at the idea of these two not ending up together. Jasper's line as he stops the car completely killed me in the very best of ways, putting the biggest smile on my face and giving me heart palpitations.
I think I need to tear up my canon-only card for good, now. It was looking a little frayed since I started reading slash anyway. ;)
araeo's Pick: Drink Me by KCerena
This entry has it all, including a couple things I could have done without. But in spite of the squick-out moments, I kept coming back to this story. I figured that if I could still like it, even after the Incident that Shall Not be Named, this one has to be a winner. I am an animal lover - I bawl at ASPCA commercials. There was animal-related violence (aside from the Cullens' diet) that was pretty disturbing to me, and almost knocked this one out of the running. But I gave it a shot, again and again, and you should, too.
"Drink Me" by KCerena manages to deliver an interesting take on a challenging little bunny, and makes it fit within canon rules! There are times that you won't believe what you're reading - and it's not always a good thing - but it fits. You're laughing one minute, cringing the next, and then laughing even harder than before. She also turned Charlie into the smoking caterpillar, complete with mustache. If that's not complete win, I don't know what is.
All in all, it's a great little side shot into the canon world, and perfect for a fast, entertaining read.