Over two years of my life, I've kept this in the back of my mind. Niggling, sometimes screaming, demanding completion. In the author note of the first chapter, I said (and I quote) "Believe me, I'm actually finishing this one." Well, doubters and supporters and people who read that first chapter, snorted in disgust (I'm amongst the latter group now; those beginning chapters, me from two years ago, are painful to look at), and discarded, I did it. I finished. It's done.
This is a compilation of a semi-full Moleskine notebook with a pocket of scraps of paper, this is the countless sheets around the house that I threw out, the first drafts, the ideas that I wrote years ago that came back, the chapter that I lost twice during computer troubles (for the curious, that was Chapter 14), the twenty-five documents ranging from "Dragon Keeper Ch6" to "dragon keeper ending final attempt" (there were about seven others), and the the 60,349-word document that sums it all up, officially long enough to be classified by NaNoWriMo as a "novel."
And, to my everlasting surprise and shock, every one of my reviews has been positive. Which is kind of unusual, in the cutthroat world of fanfiction writing. Whether you were congratulating me or begging for more or teaching me about the intricacies of time-travel or telling me how cruel I was to Hiccup or begging (again and again and again) to know what I'd done with Toothless...you guys have all been with me. And there are others, too, the ones I appreciate as well - the silent readers, the ones who have stuck with me just as faithfully, who stay up when they see a new chapter and try not to laugh at my jokes when reading it in the middle of class, who have never made contact with me. Because there are 59,721 of you, right now, as I post this last chapter. I credit you because, for countless stories, I am one of you, and in a lot of ways, I think I identify with you more than the reviewers! (But I love them too.)
So I guess this is a thank you. For staying with me. For supporting me through my mock-Hicmione, and my psychological torturing of Hiccup, and my assurances that Toothless is alive and he and Hiccup will see each other again.
And it's also a goodbye, in a way. To the old fandom. I started this in the very first throes of my obsession. I ignored it when I tried to fight the feelings that HTTYD was really too immature for me, when I struggled in "real life." The fandom that I found my place in, finally, and become close to many of you. This week, the second movie comes out. No matter what I do, my perspective will be changed.
So for the last time, I ask you to enjoy.
And remember that Rose is eleven and her logic isn't great, and that no eleven-year-old witch, who writes with quill and ink and parchment, has access to spell-check or autocorrect.
I was Sorted into Gryfindor. Tell Daddy that. It's really late now though, so I'll write in a few days. It's so fun being with all my cousins finally! Fred and James were being really mean tonight, in front of all my new classmates though. I know most of them from you guys, but there are two Muggleborn girls this year and one boy. They all seem really nice, though. I can't wait for tomorrow!
Tell Daddy I love him. Oh, and I forgot. Albus says hi. Love, Rosie.
I hate all the Gryffindor girls! They're so mean and all they want to do is talk about makeup and boys, but the boys don't even want to talk to them. And makeup is stupid. Albus made a new friend last night and we went to all our classes together. His name's Hayden or something, and he's really quiet. I think James scares him. I like my professors, though, and Neville smiled at me when I told him you give your love, but I think it's just because James didn't.
Albus spent all week with James! I was left by myself because Roxie and Dominique have too much homework and don't want me to talk to them. Hayden's really nice, though. Tell Daddy it's not LIKE that, we're just friends! We hardly even know each other!
Today some of the older Slytherin girls were being mean to me, making my books and things fly all around, and I was crying, and Hayden went right up to them and told them off and they didn't even hurt him.
I don't think anyone can even tell he's a Muggleborn anymore.
I heard Victoire talking today about something she was studying in Muggle Studies last year, about Muggleborns having parents who beleived in magic, or something, and that's why there's so many more of them nowadays. Hayden says there must have been a someone like that in HIS ancestry! I wonder about your side of the family, Mum.
It snowed today. Hayden, Albus, and I went out to have a snowball fight. I got cold really quickly, and Albus started whining, but Hayden just laughed and said he has Viking blood. That's so cool! It's almost Halloween, too. I can't wait to see the decorations!
Halloween was almost terrible! When we were going in, Aaron Goyle pushed Albus into one of those huge pumpkins and he fell and the candle caught his sleeve on fire and Hayden pushed him into the pumpkin juice. It totally saved his life, but Albus was really mad about it. He got burned and everything, though. Hayden said he'd have a cool scar, but when Madam Pomfrey healed it, it was just like before. I think I might love him.
I just can't wait for Christmas. I miss you so much! Even though I like Hogwarts, I can't wait to be home with you and Hugo. What's he doing, anyway? Is he hopelessly lonely without me? Is Lily?
I'm sorry I haven't written much, school's been so BUSY! I'm all signed up to come home. See you on Tuesday!
"Mum. Hey! Mum!"
Hermione turns, noting the change from "Mummy" to "Mum," wondering when that happened, as Rose jumps eagerly down from the train, robes and hair flying as she races across the platform and launches herself into her parents' arms.
"How was school?" Hermione asks eagerly as Rose squeezes her hard around the waist. She's received dozens of letters from her daughter during the year, of course, but it's nothing to seeing her baby home for Christmas.
Hermione laughs, pulling away and transferring Rose to Ron for a daddy-daughter hug. "That's not what you've been telling us."
"But it is! It's hard to write everything in a letter, I'm always so busy."
"And you've grown, young lady," Hermione says, looking at the offending inch of ankle below the hem of her school robes. "We'll have to see about new clothes for Christmas."
Rose groans, dreams of toys and candy vanishing, and Ron interrupts, "And how's my girl? Gryffindor, right?" He's half joking and half serious, and Rose hugs him, muttering exasperatedly, "You know that." She looks up into his face and grins. "Where's Hugo? I have so much to tell him."
The question alerts Hermione to the disappearance of her son. Ever since James had caught Victoire and Teddy at it, Hugo and Lily had been going through a spy phase. No one can have a private conversation – that is, unless they block them out with magic, whether by "proper" methods or a trick or two of the Prince's. The children will never find out, Hermione, Ron, and Ginny are confident. Harry isn't, though. Ever the conspiracy theorist – what makes him such a good Auror – he's convinced they're up to something. Hermione tries to refuse to consider the possibility that he's right.
Ron shrugs. "He's probably with Lily. Are you ready to go, Sweetheart?"
"No – wait-" Rose twists and almost falls in his arms, looking back at the train, and saying over her shoulder, "I want you to meet my friend – my best friend. Hey! Get out here, what are you still doing on the train? I told you I wanted you to meet my mum and dad!" She beckons impatiently, but she's smiling.
Hermione looks. A boy is standing in the doorway of the train, most likely the last person on it. He scans the crowd hopefully, then seems to sag slightly as he doesn't see whoever he's looking for.
Her heart turns over. He's so short, much, much shorter than he will be in a few years' time, if she has anything to go by. He sees her hand holding Rose's and smiles nervously, his two front teeth a little overlarge and titled endearingly in opposite directions.
Rose doesn't appear to notice a thing, still chattering wildly as the boy makes his cautious way through the dispersing crowd and stops hesitantly beside her. "This is Hayden, Mum, Dad. Hayden Haddock – he's a Muggleborn, I told you all about him; I've never even heard of that surname – he says it's Norwegian, so I don't think you'd know his parents-"
Ron shoots her a look, and Hermione chooses inelegantly to ignore it. She smiles at the boy as he tentatively looks around at these people – parents to Rose, and most likely already celebrities to him – and Hayden grins shyly back. "Oh, I think I might know one of your ancestors, actually."
His eyes widen, and Hermione wants to laugh. "Where are your parents, Honey?"
With that, Hayden deflates. "Um, not here, obviously. Mum lives in – uh, I'm not sure. Right now. Dad's up in Glasgow for business, and they said my uncle – well, he's not really my uncle, but he's their best friend – would be here to pick me up for the holidays, but…" He sighs. "I don't see him. He probably forgot again."
Reaching out her other hand, Hermione draws him toward her, rubbing his back. He stiffens at first, then seems to realize it's all right and relaxes somewhat. She wonders what type of mother he has, that she's moving so often he doesn't have her whereabouts, and that he's not used to physical affection. "Don't worry, we'll find him. Maybe you could call? Or-" Hermione turns to Ron, daring him overtop Hayden's head. He wanders off to find Hugo. "You'd be more than welcome to stay with us for Christmas."
"Really?" He looks for permission from Rose, who beams, and Hermione knows she's seconds from jumping up and down. "That's so great! Thank you so much." He pauses, then asks her skeptically, "And…did you really know an ancestor of mine? How is that possible?"
"He's still learning about magic," Rose confides in a too-loud whisper to her mother. "He's always surprised."
Hermione can't keep it in this time and lets herself giggle. "Magic," she whispers to him, and as she leads her daughter and Hayden out of Platform Nine and Three Quarters and into King's Cross Station, she starts.
"A long time ago, before Hogwarts was founded, when England was unformed and times were dangerous, lived a little Viking boy about your age, named Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third…"