Notes: One last chapter, one last jab at a type of fanfic I haven't covered yet. Can anyone guess what it is, and which songs I am quoting?
Dream of her lips, of her soft and pure voice
Of a memory forever embraced, of this night, right by your side!
There was always something about coming home from an adventure that made people wonder if the entire thing had actually been a dream. A long, beautiful dream, so detailed that it made those people suspect that their minds had been tampered with.
But that was neither here nor there.
The point was, when Jennifer woke up on the couch in her study, seeing her computer screen still lit with the Fanfiction page up on the screen, she wondered if she had been dreaming.
Yet there was a difference between dreams and memories. You rarely remember dreams. You rarely forget memories.
Jennifer couldn't forget what happened to her, especially not when she looked to the side and saw Endland, sitting on top of a book. Her IAHF yearbook.
"Endland, you better make sure my mum doesn't find you, or she'll eat you for breakfast," Jennifer told the rice ball. Endland meeped and hopped onto her bookshelf, staring at her with his grumpy green eyes. Jennifer took the photographs and stilled frames in her mind; smiling at the memories, she put the yearbook on the shelf next to Endland.
One look at the clock told her that she would be in big trouble if her parents caught her in her study this late at night. Turning off the computer, Jennifer tiptoed upstairs to go to bed.
I dream, but still I complain, my heart indifferent to the life that awaits me tomorrow.
Like in all the dramatic films, there are moments in people's lives that required quoting song lyrics. Trying to adjust to mundane life again was such a moment for Jennifer. How could she ever begin to describe the dream-like adventure that she had? She could probably find Alexander at school, but he would probably pretend that his part never happened.
After all, it was easy to deny one's part in a giant shared dream. It was easy to make others look insane.
"Is there something wrong?" her friend asked her after history class. Jennifer had been notorious before for spacing out and for giggling at inappropriate moments in her history class. Now she knew everything before the teacher even talked about it, and she maintained such a serious demeanour throughout the class that even the teacher got worried.
"Nothing's wrong," Jennifer insisted.
On the way home, she passed by her neighbour's house. The camellias were in bloom. They reminded her of Workbitch.
Even far away, your soul is near me
Inside my dreams.
Homesickness turned into mild depression. It was strange, really. She had spent so much of her first semester wishing that the year was over so that she could get her license and write more fanfiction, but now that she had her license, she had no inspiration anymore. Funny how the grass could always look greener on the other side.
Besides that, how was she ever going to do the Nations justice? She had spent a whole year in their company, being taught by them. She had gained so much more respect for their history. She had so much left to learn about their relations in current events.
If there was one thing Jennifer had learnt from her experience, it was that life continued, whether she wanted it to or not. Even when the history book ended, history continued. Even when Alfred ended the last History class with the Middle East conflicts, he had made sure to say "to be continued".
History was one long soap opera, always ending each episode with "to be continued". That was one thing the Hetalia anime got right.
I was ready to share the world with you.
And maybe Hetalia didn't get everything right. That wasn't the point. The point was that Hetalia had taken history and made it fun. Hetalia made history personal. By creating national personifications that were young, energetic, and easily relatable, Hetalia further cemented the concept of history being a long soap opera.
Where the Hetalia canon left off, the fandom began. If there was another thing that Jennifer had learnt from her experience, it was that the Hetalia fandom was vibrant. It only took one flick of a paintbrush for them to see a fabulous world. The fans surged in where the canon couldn't go – the darker parts of history, the controversies in current events – and made those parts relatable.
Yes, there were still insensitive portrayals and outrageously terrible tributes, but most people had started out with good intentions. Some simply lacked the talent and experience to turn that good intention into a good portrayal.
After a moment, Jennifer decided that she had better stop wallowing in introspection and actually put her thoughts to good use. The music wasn't helping, even if the singer looked and sang like Francis.
And there she went again, relating everything to Hetalia. Once a Hetalian, forever a Hetalian.
Months passed. Finally, one day in Februrary – Valentine's Day, she remembered Kriss and Merka had started going out that day – Jennifer opened up her Hetalia fanfiction folder again and looked inside.
"Susanna Sparklestar Kirkland-Jones and Australia luv story?" she asked Endland, who was perched on her shoulder. "Time to clear out the skeletons in my closet, hm?"
"Meep," Endland agreed.
And over the span of four months, Jennifer wrote and wrote. Some would agree that the best source for inspiration comes from memories and experiences, and Jennifer certainly had enough memories and experiences for her story. She learnt to take note of every little detail of the world around her; sometimes it was the details that made the story more enthralling.
Soon, she was looking at the final curtain. Somehow, ending the story felt like leaving IAHF again. Jennifer didn't want it to end. She never wanted anything good in her life to end.
"Another turning point; a fork stuck in the road," someone noted in a jarringly familiar voice. Jennifer spun around, surprised. Endland meeped happily and bounced onto Mr. Hugh's head. The Course Coordinator laughed, taking the Mochi off his head and petting it.
"Time grabs you by the wrist; directs you where to go," Jennifer replied, looking up at him confusedly. But Mr. Hugh chose to delay.
He quoted another stanza of the song. "So make the best of this test and don't ask why," he murmured, taking a seat on her couch as Matthew had done so long ago. "It's not a question but a lesson learnt in time."
"It's something unpredictable," Jennifer guessed, "but in the end it's right."
"I hope you've had the time of your life."
Jennifer smiled a little and saved her document. "It's nice to see you again, Mr. Hugh."
"And you, too, Miss Chang." The IAHF Course Coordinator smiled again, as Endland wriggled out of his arms and hopped up to his bookshelf perch.
"You do know my parents are in the dining room with my grandparents and my brother, and if they hear you –"
"No worries," Mr. Hugh smirked. "If they come in, they will think you are simply talking to your muse."
"They will think you're batshit insane." Mr. Hugh cracked a smile. "But that's of no big importance. You see, the reason why I bothered to pay you a visit is because I am giving you a job offer."
"A job offer," echoed Jennifer, feeling as if her brain had frozen in place.
"Yes. In fact, I don't even think it's an offer. You've been appointed to the Group of Eight."
Jennifer stared. "Come again?" she asked.
"The Group of Eight! Are you daft?" Mr. Hugh flapped his arms in a very un-Mr. Hugh-like manner. "We have decided to hire eight IAHF alumni to better represent the students on campus. They will be required to attend all Staff meetings and will enjoy all the benefits of being an IAHF non-canonical Staff member. They will offer suggestions for improvements, and create bimonthly reports on the status quo of the students. In short, they will act as my cabinet advisors and… diplomats, if you will extend the analogy."
Jennifer frowned, nodding nonetheless. "I see."
"And I suppose I will have to add in another reference to Hetalia in order for you to accept the position?" Mr. Hugh continued breezily. "The Group of Eight, in your world, is a meeting of heads of state from eight major economies. Guess which ones."
"France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Russia."
"Oh good, you paid attention to Francis." Mr. Hugh clapped his hands. "We have decided to give each seat on the IAHF G8 the name of each country in your world's G8. You may take the position of 'United Kingdom', if you accept this spot."
"Who else will be in the group with me?" Jennifer asked hesitantly.
Mr. Hugh rather predictably pulled out a document from thin air – or a plothole – and handed it to her. "Jennifer Breigher has been appointed as the 'United States', Kriss Kross will be 'Japan', Taylor Drews-Garcia will be 'Italy', Franklin Mycroft Livingston will be 'Germany', Charlie Tenterden will be 'France', Sara Parker will be 'Canada', and Loki Shadow Reave will be 'Russia'. We tried to select students who will work well together and represent a variety of Hetalia fans, from the fangirls to the nerds."
"Oh," Jennifer said softly. "And why was I selected?"
Mr. Hugh smiled and took the paper from her. "You know, I used to hate you," he said. "But you seem to have matured during your time at IAHF, and you had the courage to face your own fears in that maze. You seem capable enough for the job. Will you take it?"
"Are you kidding? Of course I will!" It was like feeling a balloon of happiness expand in her chest; Jennifer felt as if she had temporarily defied Newton's laws and learnt how to fly. She was going home. After all of this time, she was going back to where she was accepted for who she was (by Workbitch and so many other people); where historical knowledge was valued more than popularity (after all, if the Nerd Group was the most prestigious club on campus…); where it was okay to run through the halls yelling about alpacas (she remembered hearing a rumour about the Headmaster keeping alpacas in his office); and where everyone, no matter what race or gender or sexual orientation they were, was accepted by everyone else because of their mutual love for Hetalia.
That was the beauty of the fandom, and Jennifer wanted to keep it that way.
"Pack your bags, then," Mr. Hugh replied, brushing imaginary dust off his trousers as he stood up and shook her hand. "You will be allowed to take vacation leave and see your parents from time to time, but for the moment we have arranged a story for your disappearance." His eyes twinkled. "Alfred contacted the admissions office at Princeton University. Your parents will believe that you're off to be the youngest graduate at that school. Do try to come up with good stories for them on your visits home, won't you?"
Jennifer snorted. "I never knew you had a sense of humour, Mr. Hugh," she said as she helped him work the Remote Activator. The blue portal opened up, and Endland eagerly bounced through. Jennifer took her nearest and dearest belongings, and looked back at her study. "Bye," she said softly to her computer.
The computer only flashed two words in reply:
Some say I'm a bit of a fool,
sitting on a hill and counting raindrops.
Keep thinking that I just want to go
to the peaceful place I know,
that I call home.
But oh, oh, oh,
It's time to go
I'll see you; I'll see you soon
Because I can't wait for tomorrow
To say the things I want to say
Your smile will always lead my way
I can't wait, I'm coming home to you
I just want to see your face again
I'm coming home
END INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY OF HETALIA FANFICTION
Additional Disclaimers: I do not own the song "Sognu" by Amaury Vasili (I used the English translation), "Time of Your Life" by Green Day, "Marukaite Chikyuu", or "Coming Home" by Sjonni's Friends.
Notes: First off, a big thank you to Hidekaz Himaruya for creating Hetalia, and Studio DEEN for turning it into an anime.
Thanks are also in order for Miss Cam, Meir Brin, and everyone at the PPC for providing influences, information, and inspiration.
History also has my eternal gratitude for being so amusing. Google Lord owns my soul for research; Wikipedia God can share my soul with Google Lord for providing basic information. Additional acknowledgements go out to Arthur Hermann (To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World), Winston Churchill (The Great Democracies), the writers of my AP Euro textbook (The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures), the writers of the REA AP Euro book, Sean Lang (British History for Dummies, European History for Dummies), Hugh Cortazzi (British Envoys in Japan), Mary Crawford Fraser (A Diplomat's Wife in Japan and all of her other books), the writers of all of the language books I checked out, and the writers/editors of TIME Magazine.
I would also like to thank my Journalism teacher, my Brit Lit teacher, my debate coach Matt, and my AP Euro teacher for providing information and inspiration. Merci beaucoup, Madame, pour corriger le français dans cette histoire.
And now, I would like to thank everyone who has reviewed, recommended, favourited, drawn art for, wrote fic for, and (most importantly) read this story. I hope the trip has been educationally cracky, just like the Hetalia canon itself. I wish you all the luck with your own stories.
That being said, if you have some last-minute feedback to give me, I would be more than happy to read it. I want to know your favourite parts, things that could use some improvement, classes you would have liked to see, and so forth. (And before you ask, Bled's origins will forever be a mystery. Unless you are thecorruptedquietone, that is)
I am toying with the idea of a sequel, but with the current state of affairs at home (I'm college-browsing right now; can you see that I have my sights on Ivy League wet-dream schools?), that is really a hypothetical situation. My parents want me to put all of this on hold until I cross the college applications bridge. Still, I'm considering something, I guess, even if it's going to just be a drabble collection.
But I am rambling again. Thank you all, once more, for sticking with my blantant self-insert and her crazy adventures at IAHF. I love you all (in the platonic way, mind you).