One day Toad said, "Frog, my bestest of froggy friends, I think we should do Yuletide."
"But it is only October!" cried Frog. He hurried to his calendar just to make sure he hadn't accidentally hibernated through the holidays again. "We still have Halloween and Thanksgiving before we can even think about getting ready for Yule."
"Not the Christmas sort of Yuletide," Toad said, after a moment of confusion. "Yuletide the fanfic exchange. Stories," he added as explanation. "About our favorite books. People sign up saying what they want to have someone write for them, and what they can write for someone else, and then magic happens that matches people up, and lots and lots of stories get written."
"I do so like stories," said Frog. "But I am not sure I could write one alone. Can we sign up together?"
"Of course we can. I can help you, and you can help me, and together we will write the best story in the world, and it will be fun."
Frog clapped his hands in excitement. "That sounds good to me. Let's sign up right now!"
And so they did.
It took days for them to actually finish signing up, because there were so very many books to choose from. A lot, of course, were ones they hadn't heard of, but there were plenty that they were familiar with.
("And look," exclaimed Frog in astonishment, "we ourselves are on the list!" And indeed they were: Frog and Toad - Arnold Lobel.
"Who is he?" asked Toad. "I've never heard of him."
"I think he publishes our stories for us," Frog said, but he wasn't quite sure.
"Will he be doing Yuletide too?"
"I doubt it.")
Of course there were other categories too: movies, and TV shows, and even songs. ("And RPF," Toad said, pronouncing it rip-iff because he didn't know what it was. "You could RPF, I'm sure, Frog, since you rib-it so well in spring." But luckily they decided not to.) But Frog and Toad both just wanted stories of stories, because reading was one of their favorite things to do together.
Besides, narrowing down just what they wanted to request and what they wanted to offer was hard enough as it was.
They hadn't quite come to a complete agreement by thirty minutes before deadline, but then they both decided it was better to submit something, even if it wasn't perfect, than nothing at all. "And the servers might crash," Frog said, and Toad winced to imagine what a great loud clanging noise that would make.
In due course they received their assignment and began to discuss what story they would be going to write together. They had matched on Winnie the Pooh, a series of books they both had read many times over, but their recipient had also requested stories about a particular TV commercial, "which," said Toad, "would be easy to catch up on even though we don't know it."
"But we know that we know Winnie the Pooh; oughtn't we stick with something safe?"
Back and forth they went with their discussion, but neither could decide. By the time Frog had convinced Toad that his idea was better, Toad had gotten around to thinking Frog's plan would work, and by the time he had talked Frog back into doing that, the doubts that Frog had raised made Toad rethink his stance. On and on their discussion went, back and forth, hither and yon, with no end in sight.
In the end they wrote two stories, figuring that at least one would work, and anyway writing was much better than arguing about writing. One was a 2,310 word story, written mostly by Frog, about Pooh enjoying the various uses of hunny. ("You spelled honey wrong," said Toad when he read it, but Frog insisted that 'hunny' was the way Pooh spelled it, and therefore was right.) The other, written largely by Toad, was a 1,012 word story where Rabbit and Piglet had a very nice picnic lunch with the Concerned House Hippo from the TV commercials, who had a fondness for parsley ("Do hippos even eat parsley?" Frog wondered, to which Toad pointed out that the commercials didn't show him *not* eating it) and turned out much like Eeyore in personality.
And then Toad took the two stories and smushed them together into one larger one. It was a bit awkward, "But," said Toad with satisfaction, "this way they get both things, rather than just one or the other, and two is always better than one. Wouldn't you agree?"
"Yes," said Frog, "except for sneezes and tummyaches."
The next morning, Toad woke up and stretched and then remembered the story they had written and posted. "Has anyone read our story yet?" he asked as soon as he saw Frog.
Frog, who was not a morning person, yawned before answering. "No," he said. "It is still hidden."
"But we posted it last night! It's been ages!"
"The archive hasn't opened. It won't for a while yet. Do you remember when you wanted a garden like mine, and so you planted seeds, but they did not immediately become plants?"
"Oh!" exclaimed Toad in understanding. He remembered how very, very much effort he had put into those seeds. "Yes, I see now. The archive needs to grow! Let me get my violin out so I can play songs that will help it grow faster."
"I have a better idea," said Frog, before he could do that. "Do you remember that stories about us were an option when signing up?"
"Yes, but that was not our assignment," said Toad sadly. He had secretly been hoping to match on that possibility, because after all they knew the material well.
"Yes, but we can write treats. Extra stories. Like when you think you are getting one birthday present and then there is a second one also."
"I do like birthday presents," mused Toad. "Especially when there are two. But it is not my birthday."
"But it isn't you that you'd be writing for. It's whoever requested more stories about us. We can write a story about ourselves," Frog explained patiently, "and give it to them as an extra gift."
"Ohh," said Toad, "and that will also help the archive to grow!"
"Yes, it will," said Frog.
So, working together, they wrote a story about themselves, and it began with the words 'one day', as many good stories do, and ended with the words 'the end', as all good stories should, and they submitted it to the archive as a treat; and that is the story you are reading right this very minute.