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Stitching The Tears and Burying the Daggers

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There was confusion.

Gobber had heard the chatter while in the forge; there was a lone Outcast ship making its way to the docks. He had set down what he was working on without second thought upon hearing enough of the gossip, and hobbled out of there as fast as he could.

He found Spitelout, whom had also heard the news, and was on his way to the docks. The temporary chief had a grim look on his face as he quickly made his way towards the destination. He shared a look with Gobber, one that they had been sharing recently.

The riders and Stoick should have been back ages ago. If things had gone as planned, anyway. And now there was a lone Outcast ship making its way through Berk's waters. The scenarios dwindled down to hardly nothing. Either Alvin was here to wager for the captives, or to parade the bodies around. An ambush was one of the smaller worries here. Taking some of the most powerful fighting forces on Berk and then attacking was more Dagur's style, not Alvin's.

Suddenly, the chatter around them changed. At first it was uneasy and anxious. Now though, it was curious and concerned.

"It's the riders!"

"Stoick's at the front of the ship?"

"Why are they in a boat? Where are the dragons?"

Where are the dragons indeed.

Gobber and Spitelout were at the docks, just in time to see Stoick get off the boat. Gods, did he look terrible.

No, no chains or anything indicating he was a captive, but he still looked horrible. The bags under his eyes more prominent, tired and glassy gaze, movements like his body was running subconsciously. His cape was missing. It made him look smaller. He was carrying something too…. something metal and not a weapon.

Gobber hadn't seen the chief like this since the week Valka was taken.

The chief paid no mind to the villagers, asking questions and demanding answers, instead, he just held out his hands and addressed the crowd. "Make way! And someone get Gothi! Hiccup needs to get to her fast."

So Hiccup was hurt. That's why the air stunk of fear and anxiety.

Snotlout and Astrid were the next ones off. The Jorgenson made his way over to his father, walking with stiff posture and eyes never leaving the ground. Astrid sat on the dock next to the ship, prompting her parents, who were in the crowd, to come forward and kneel next to her, trying to get her to speak.

She punched the wood. Gobber recognized the metal in Stoick's hand as Hiccup's prosthetic.

So Hiccup was hurt bad, obviously. Gobber felt sick.

"What happened?" He called. He had weaved his way through the crowd and was now in talking range with the chief.

Stoick opened his mouth to answer. Nothing came out.

Then there was some more shuffling on the ship. Gasps echoed around the crowd as two strangers stepped off. Strangers who…..weren't fully human.

The female made her way over to Astrid. She grabbed her by her forearm and hauled her up, keeping her in a protective grip. The Hoffersons stumbled backwards in fear and bewilderment. She was Astrid's age, maybe a year older. Tall. The top of her head roughly reached Stoick's shoulder, and slender too, with obvious muscle and a nice body. She had nicely tanned skin, and golden blonde hair. Slightly unruly locks were left down except for a small braid that trailed back behind her right ear. She had Amber eyes, and a few freckles dotted her face and body. She was covered in a cream-colored tunic with brown pants and black boots, and what looked like a robe of see-through blue satin that draped around her hips and trailed off to her right. It's pattern closely resembled those of a Deadly Nadder's scales.

Nadder scales that were also on the wings and tail sprouting from her back. And a bit on her hairline, too. She had a crown of small horns sticking out of her golden hair as well.

Astrid clung to the stranger. Eyes staring at the ground, burning with anger and showing no feeling simultaneously. It was a weird combination.

"Those bastards did something so bad they're lucky I wasn't within close proximity of them, otherwise their heads would be so far up their asses they'll be able to taste last night's dinner." The stranger spoke. Or more growled. Literally. She swayed a bit too, as if she was getting used to walking on her own two legs.

Astrid scoffed a bit. Her eyes didn't leave the ground. She seemed to agree though.

Then the male who had walked off the ship (Gobber had just now realized that he had made his way over to Snotlout….why…?) Spoke up. He let out a laugh that had no humor in it.

"Why stop at last night's dinner, Storm? How about so far that they'll be flossing what's left of their teeth with their own hair?"

Storm? Storm as in—Dared he think it—Stormfly?

The male was tall, much like 'Storm', with fire-red hair. Said hair was pulled back into a small ponytail. He had a dark red tunic with sleeves cut off at the shoulders. A dark brown fur vest was thrown over it, and he had black pants with brown fur boots to go with it. He had a hooked fang from what liked like either a wolf or a dragon tied to a strip of hide around his neck.

A hooked fang. Hook fang. Hookfang. Hookfang.

The Nightmare wings, tail, and horns that the newcomer had were a dead giveaway.

Oh dear gods. So this is why the dragons were gone.

The entire village seemed to realize the same thing simultaneously, for there was a deadly silence that settled over the docks.

"…..Hookfang how would that even work. They can't floss their teeth if it's already—"

"Just revel in the saying, Storm. Just revel in the saying."

"…Yeah you know what I'm not gonna question it."

The village watched the exchange with wide eyes. None of them had the slightest idea of what to do.

The twins then appeared in Gobber's field of vision. With another set of twins with greenish hair and dragon features that had to have made them Barf and Belch.

Why Gobber was taking this so calmly, he'd never know. Even years from that day.

Fishlegs was off next. He was immediately brought into a bone-crushing hug by Mrs. Ingerman. She fussed over him for a full minute. The boy didn't have the energy to complain. A girl that could only be Meatlug stood off to the side. Short, curvy lass she was. Short chocolate hair that fell in two small braids down her chest. Brown wings protruding from a tan tunic.

The shield maiden stopped fussing over her son for a moment, and glanced over at the hybrid. The gronkle let out a small smile of recognition- which was returned- before she turned away. She visibly bit her lip, unsaid worries gracing her face.

 

Stoick sighed and looked to the ship. Hiccup and Toothless were the only ones still on. Ironic, considering that Hiccup was the one in most need of a doctor.

"Fishlegs, did Toothless tell you what's taking so long?" Stoick's gaze never left the boat.

The blond nodded his head. He swallowed. "He said he'd be out shortly. Hiccup fell asleep again and he wanted to make sure he wouldn't wake up."

Stoick nodded, and Mrs. Ingerman nodded to her son. He nodded back, and he and his dragon followed the woman off the docks.

Gobber could do nothing but blink for a minute or two. This was still all too much for him to comprehend. It was all happening too fast. He took a deep breath.

"…So…"

Stoick sighed for what seemed like the millionth time. Gobber, once again, was surprised he was still standing. "I know, it's a lot to take in. Just be glad you weren't there when it…happened."

Spitelout and Gobber both shot the chief with identical stares. How they were able to go so long without blinking was beyond even the author. (A/N Ahahahaha iM fUnNy riGhT)

"So you're saying there was screaming? From the dragons?"

Stoick didn't answer right away. It was enough to tell Gobber that there was screaming involved, but not from the dragons. Or at least, not a lot.

Hiccup was the one screaming.

And as if on que, there was said boy. Well, the boy in what could only be his dragon's arms. Toothless wasn't too tall, probably two or three inches higher than Hiccup. Hair long, but too short to put into a pony tail of any sort, so it just swayed unkept around his neck. They covered his unsettling green eyes somewhat. Eyes that looked like they had just witnessed the murder of a brother. Gobber hoped that that wasn't true.

He had obvious hidden muscle. He was wearing a dark grey tunic with black pants and matching boots. He had a strip of red fabric wrapped around his waist a couple times. He had the same wings, ears, and tail with the familiar prosthetic on the end. It was a bit bigger proportionally, as the dragon features had shrunk to support the new body.

Although, obviously that was the last thing anyone at the docks were worried about. The bundle that somehow was Hiccup but it looked nothing like him in Toothless' arms had drawn all the attention. There were gasps and exclamations all around. And even a few screams.

Gobber tried to pretend one of those screams wasn't from Astrid. He could just see her out of the corner of his eye. Stormfly and her parents had both had had enough. They refused to have the girl traumatize herself even more. No matter how much she claimed she was fine, she was going home. They quickly guided her off the docks and out of sight. Gobber was glad.

He could hear the muffled argument between Spitelout and his son. The man was ordering his son to go home. The boy refused. For some reason, he was quieter than his father. Gobber couldn't help but wonder why, until he turned his attention back to Hiccup. He could physically see him flinch unconsciously at the noise. It was heart wrenching.

Oh.

His apprentice was wrapped in Stoick's cape, making him look small. Well…smaller. He was covered in blood, almost to the point beyond recognition. It was matted his hair, and even stained the cape. Said cape was falling off his shoulders from the constant swaying of Toothless' steps, so it rested a few inches below his chest. It left everything above it uncovered. Which was also stained in crimson red. There was… something hanging limply between Toothless' left arm and Hiccup's back. It was too obscured for Gobber to see. Not that he wanted to. He felt like he was about to throw up.

And oh, the smell. The stench of copper was so strong, Gobber wanted to rip his nose off. And that was saying something. He was a seasoned warrior, after all.

What could have caused so much blood?

Hiccup's face was buried in Toothless' chest, preventing the bystanders from seeing it. His left hand was clutching to his dragon's shirt subconsciously. It reminded Gobber of the way the boy used to clutch to Valka's chest all those years ago.

Toothless didn't meet anyone's eyes as he stepped onto the dock. He made his way through the crowd towards Gothi's. He moved with purpose in a body that didn't have the energy to do so. He used his wings to shield Hiccup in the slightest from the shell-shocked gazes and questions, as if afraid the words would physically hurt his rider.

Stoick let out a self-sustaining breath. He looked around pointlessly before nodding after Toothless. "I want everyone to go back to their own business, I'll explain everything that's happened later." He addressed the crowd, who were still staring at their chief with bated breath. Waiting for answers that wouldn't be answered any time soon.

Gods, it was worse than the aftermath of the Red Death. The same shocked silence. The same feeling of fear and knowing nothing….The same feeling of grief.

Stoick seemed to be holding his breath. He looked around the docks, seemingly noticing the crowd for the first time. His shoulders slumped. He looked over to his best friend and step-brother. The two got the message, and followed the chief off the docks. They trailed behind Toothless, half willingly and half not. In fact, it felt more like they were being pulled by an invisible chain. A chain made of fear and sickening curiosity, wanting to know what happened, but scared of the answer.

Toothless could feel the gazes of the villagers as he made his way towards the healer's. He hated it. As if the smell of fear and the whispers of worry weren't enough to torture him. It wasn't doing too well for Hiccup, either. Even while unconscious he could still sense the emotions around him. Too many negative ones and it could lead to nightmares. Toothless learned that one from experience.

Every step he took upset him more and more. That one was too rough for Hiccup. Crap, he stumbled a bit. These stupid human feet were so weak. His knees were about to give out and he was going to gods-damned slow.

He had a permanent scowl on his face. He was determined not to cry. He was determined to keep going too. He knew that if he stopped he would fall. His legs felt like—like—some futuristic substance that is both liquid and solid at the same time. Maybe you could eat it too. In small cups and—no! Not right now. Hiccup first.

Toothless let out a tremendous sigh of relief when Gothi's hut came into view. At the same time though, he was nervous. No, he was terrified. Although the hut was the place to help his rider, it was also a place of answers.

Answers that Toothless was scared to know.

The Night Fury looked down at Hiccup. His eyelids fluttered, on the verge of consciousness and yet not wanting to deal with the pain of being awake. Toothless gave his rider a reassuring squeeze with his too-tired arms, and continued on his way.


 

The Thorstons were more than relieved when their son and daughter came in through the door into their home. Ironic considering that the two spent most of their time destroying things with their dragon. Really, the two had grey hairs solely from stress. None of it was from old age yet.

But then they realized there was something wrong. The twins were…solemn….silent. They seemed to be thinking. That was certainly new.

"Okay, something happened with the Outcasts. What was it?" Mr. Thorston asked, pulling back from hugging a complaining Ruffnut.

The twins glanced at each other. Neither of them could even begin to comprehend where to start. Heck, they could still barely comprehend what happened themselves."Um, well Hiccup got hurt. Like really bad." Ruffnut started.

"Yeah, it was pretty awesome at first but…." Tuffnut trailed off, and both twins scooted closer to one another. Mr. Thorston wasn't even sure if they were aware that they did it. They both kept looking down at the ground.

Mr. and Mrs. Thorston shared a horrified look. Hiccup must have been hurt really badly if it had shaken even Ruff and Tuff who, mind you, basically worship pain.

"But…what, dear?" Mrs. Thorston ventured, unsure if she even wanted to know.

Tuff took a sharp breath, and glanced outside as if waiting for someone. "Well….no one except Dagur actually saw what happened but…he was screaming for a long time."

"And when we finally got out and over to him he was just—covered in blood." Ruffnut wavered. "Like a more than cool amount of blood. It was just downright scary."

"And our Hiccup fellow is not a weak person. Well I mean he's weak, that boy can't pick up a sword worth crap, but he's not weak mentally." Tuffnut continued again, the two were on a roll.

"It was the first time we've ever seen him…cry."

"It was more of a sob, dear sister."

"Whatever! Hiccup was crying for gods' sake! It was scary!" Ruffnut finally snapped. She turned to her mother. "Mom, it was so scary." She quivered and held a hand to her chest.

Mrs. Thorston wasted no time in pulling her daughter into a hug. Her husband set his hand on her shoulder. The last time they had seen Ruffnut cry because she was scared was almost a decade ago, when there was a particularly nasty thunderstorm. Tuffnut had made fun of her for days after that. They had assumed that Ruffnut had sworn to herself that she would never show fear again.

The tears didn't last long though. In fact, they seemed to disappear before they even began. Ruffnut took a few deep breaths, before turning back to her twin. "There's uh…something else you need to know." She said, changing the subject.

"Oh ho, I've been waiting for this!" Tuff exclaimed, mood switching like a lever was pulled in his brain.

"What is it?" Mr. Thorston asked.

"Well uh, Hiccup….wasn't the only problem that happened on Outcast Island, Dad." Ruff explained. "There was a reason we returned on a boat."

Oh yeah. The dragons. Where was Barf and Belch? Was the Zippleback okay? The twins shared a look with each other, before moving back towards the door, opening it to reveal another pair of identical twins. Well, almost identical. Both boys had golden and green hair, but one had more dominantly green while the other had more dominantly blond.

Oh yeah, and they both had Zippleback wings and tails sprouting from their backs.

"Mother, Father, meet Barf and Belch!" Tuffnut exclaimed, throwing his arms out in a dramatic way.

The husband and wife blinked simultaneously. Eyes bulged out of their eye sockets. Mrs. Thorston could hear her husband swallow and whisper a…not so kid-friendly word.

…..They were going to have a lot more grey hairs than they were hoping for, weren't they?


 

Spitelout had ordered Snotlout to go home. Of course, he refused at first. His cousin was hurt and naturally he wanted to make sure he was okay. But even he knew when to call it quits. He was exhausted to his very core. If Hookfang was still a dragon he would have rode him to the house.

He had gotten home in fifteen minutes, even if it felt like an eternity. Hookfang squirming under the gazes of passer-by's didn't help much either.

Mrs. Jorgenson was cooking dinner when the two had entered. Despite the usual Viking stereotypes, the woman was an excellent cook. She had taken one glance over her shoulder, dropped the onion she was holding, and rushed over to her dead-looking son, pulling him into a bone-crushing hug. She didn't even notice Hookfang until he plopped down with an exhausted sigh by the fire.

It had taken some explaining (and yes, Mrs. Jorgenson yelled a few times; Spitelout didn't marry her just for her cooking. She had a fiery personality) but she eventually came to. Snotlout was surprised she accepted it as quickly as she did. She went back to working on dinner after a few minutes. So that's where they were now. Snotlout was in his room, passed out on his bed, and Hookfang was helping the woman finish the stew she was cooking.

"So….Hiccup isn't….human anymore?" She asked, dumping a bowl of carrots into the cauldron above the fireplace.

"Well, no and yes." Hookfang answered, sticking a cleaned finger into the broiling hot stew with no pain and tasting it, "Dagur fed him this potion made by a witch. It turned him into a Night Fury hybrid. Like how I look right now I guess." He added.

Mrs. Jorgenson pursed her lips, trying to process the information. "And is he going to be…okay?"

Hookfang swallowed, and watched the bubbles in the stew as they rose to the surface and popped. "I don't know." He then picked up a potato and started chopping it up. "Physically, probably. Mentally…." He trailed off. The woman looked over at the redhead.

"The transformation was terrible enough to listen to." Hookfang whispered, "I doubt he'll wake up feeling all fine and dandy."

Mrs. Jorgenson pressed her lips together in fear for her nephew. She decided to change the subject to a lighter topic. "You're cutting those potatoes wrong, you know." She said in amusement.

The former Nightmare blinked, and looked down at the plant in his hand for a moment, completely bewildered that there was a correct way to cut it.

The woman laughed, and moved towards him. She grabbed the knife in his hands and guided it, chopping the potatoes into smaller, neater pieces.

"That's how you do it." She mused, watching as the redhead followed her movements. He laughed, and scooped the cubes into his hand, dumping it into the stew. "I'm glad I was taught be the master." He joked.

Mrs. Jorgenson smirked, and they fell into a comfortable silence. Unfortunately, that meant that both had the time to think. The woman glanced out the window. The afternoon sun was seeping in through the glass, and cast happy, yellow, calming streams of light into the house.

….if only it could make it a happy day.

If only it could help her nephew.


 

Gobber, Spitelout and Stoick had gotten to the top of Gothi's tower and into her hut just as the woman happened to bustle by frantically. Her eyes were wide with a rare showing of concern. The amputee was hit with the smell of herbal medicine; pretty common for the elder so he wasn't really surprised. But then, it was mixed with the smell of blood from earlier. Suddenly, Gobber had a flashback to those times all those years ago when he had been sitting in that bed, covered in blood as Gothi worked frantically to stop the bleeding from his missing limbs.

Gobber shook his head, refusing to get caught up in the past. Right now, Hiccup was in dire need of help. And Gobber still didn't know why.

His apprentice was awake now. The blood-stained cape was left draped around his waist. He was shaking like his heart was stabbed through by a sword of ice. The paleness of his face was convincing to that scenario, too. His feverish emerald eyes darted around the room deliriously, recognizing the place he was at and why he was there, but too out of it to fully comprehend the thought. Gobber squinted a bit. Hiccup's eyes looked weird, too…. not dilated, like ones normally would when in shock…. something else. Something…unnatural.

Gothi shuffled to the bedside he was closest to. She had already started her work, apparently. The three adults and Toothless watched, frozen. The elder reached behind Hiccup for….something. Toothless was the only one with the advantage point of seeing what it was. He looked positively green. Gobber guessed the teen's back was what was injured.

The amputee's heart wrenched as he realized Hiccup had kept his gaze on Toothless. It was almost as if he thought the dragon would disappear and leave him forever if he looked away.

Then, Gothi finally touched the injury on Hiccup's back. And Gobber knew that she had only just then touched it because Hiccup had let lout a horrifyingly hoarse scream that ripped itself from his throat. He visually tensed up and doubled over in pain, letting out a quiet, pitiful groan.

Toothless immediately jumped up onto the bed and beside his rider. He put his hands on his shoulders, and rubbed them slightly as Hiccup stayed curled up in the fetal position. His hands were pressed between his legs and stomach. His forehead rested on the blanket beneath him. He whispered things into his rider's ear, trying to calm him down.

All Gobber could do was stare.

Hiccup had wings. Not just any wings, pitch-black Night Fury wings. There they were. They had so very obviously forced their way out of his tunic. Said tunic was now shredded and, did he even have to say it anymore, covered in blood. It was as if the material had physically fused with the liquid.

The appendages laid limply behind him. They were still half folded, and twitched occasionally. That was the thing that set Gobber off most. The fact that they were moving and physically part of Hiccup's body. He had wings and a tail, too. He could see the third appendage as it, too, twitched behind the teen, trailing off to the right and hanging off the bed slightly.

Gobber swallowed. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. Still at a loss for words, he turned to look at Stoick. The man's lips were pressed together in a thin line, and the hand that was still clutching the prosthetic had turned white because of his grip. Spitelout was looking at his step brother in horror, a rare emotion showed on the Jorgenson's features.

Dear gods, what happened on that damned island?

Gothi gave a silent apology, but otherwise continued her work. She was as gentle as she could be while prodding and stretching the appendages. The frown on her face grew more and more concerned with each minute that passed. She even picked up Toothless' arms and limbs and inspected him for a bit. This caused him to fidget like a toddler and grimace. When Gothi got to Toothless' face, he growled, and she slapped him on the nose. He jumped backwards, and it lightened the mood just slightly, seeing the exchange. It was only five minutes before Gothi turned to Stoick, not having to write anything down to ask the question on her mind.

The chief sighed, plopping down and told a story that Gobber had trouble wrapping his mind around. Witches and magic and Dagur and revenge and potions? What the literal actual fu—

"It was weird…" Stoick added as an after thought, "we only saw Alvin once. He took the vials of the other stuff and just…left."

Gothi seemed in deep thought, and moved back to Hiccup. The boy was now laying on his side, head resting on Toothless' lap. She poked up and down his spine for a few more minutes, causing a small, but heartless grunt to come from the boy. He obviously didn't have the energy to complain anymore. Gobber felt another pain in his heart for the boy.

"Well it's obvious we'll get no answers about Alvin; Dagur on the other hand, we do seem to have more information about." Spitelout said, glancing pitifully at his nephew. "Do we know his motives for doing this?"

"Revenge." Stoick said simply, voice shaking from slight rage. "He said it outright. And said something about wanting a Night Fury."

"But…when I was on my way to find Hiccup….Dagur was screaming." Toothless piped up. They were the first words Gobber had heard the dragon say. It was surreal. "The…I think the witch said the potion was only halfway finished. Dagur must have gotten too impatient…. I think his original idea was to make Hiccup a full Night Fury."

Gobber took a quick breath. No one knew what to say after that. Then Gothi piped up, with a bang of her staff. She then scribbled something on the ground, and Gobber stepped forward to read it.

"This magic I haven't seen in a long time, nor do I have that much experience with it." He read. "I have good and bar news. Bar? What's ba—OW!"—He was whacked in the head by Gothi—"Oh, bad. Bad news. There's good and bad news."

He rubbed his head a bit. Gothi erased the old runes and replaced them with new ones. Once she stopped, Gobber read once again after some hesitation. "The good news: From what I can tell, the dragons will be able to build up the magic to assume dragon form again, although it will take anywhere from a fortnight to a month."

Gobber heard Toothless sigh. "That's good to know." He mumbled. Gobber realized it was probably the first good news he'd heard in over a day. But since when did dragons have magic?

Gothi then tapped Gobber's shoulder with impatience. She obviously wanted him to get on with the next sentence. Gobber took a deep breath, steadying himself. "A-and for the bad news…." He swallowed. "Hiccup's transformation is parmesan? Isn't that a cheese? Gothi, honestly the last thing on my mind right now is foo—" He was hit with twice as much force as she had before. Gobber did a double take at the runes, and his lips pressed into a thin line. He gripped the side of the bed, glancing over at Hiccup. His apprentice was gazing tiredly at him through half lidded eyes. His wings twitched behind him as Toothless anxiously, yet carefully, rubbed a joint on one of them. Oh, gods….

"Hiccup's transformation…is permanent. There's no reversal. From the…" Gobber's throat tightened, lump forming, but he swallowed it down. "From the information from Stoick, and from what Gothi's observed, the potion fed to him was only half finished. It would be too risky to remove the magic even if we could; a half-finished potion is unstable it…was a miracle that Hiccup even made it out alive."

He finished the last bit with a whisper. Gobber could almost hear everyone's hopes shattering. Not from the fact that Hiccup was now not fully human. In fact, half of Berk was certain the boy was part dragon before this, anyway. It was the fact that the trauma couldn't be reversed.

Under different circumstances, Gobber was sure Hiccup would be fine. Heck, he'd probably even be ecstatic about getting his own pair of wings. But here, Dagur had invaded his mind and body. He forced him to undergo something so utterly terrible, that he would certainly have nightmares for the next month. Maybe even year. His body will be limited for gods know how long, just trying to get used to this. There were so many more scenarios that made Gobber too sick to even want to dwell into.

The amputee watched as Stoick, the great Stoick the Vast himself, set his head in his hands, and let out a shuttering breath. A sight he hadn't seen in fifteen years. Toothless was staring at his rider, Adams Apple bobbing up and down in the attempt not to cry. He kept rubbing the joint of Hiccup's wing. He needed to be strong for his rider.

Hiccup's reaction, or more accurately, lack of reaction, was the worst. He just continued to stare, as if he already knew what the answer was going to be. He had already lost all hope. Had already gone to the most logical answer before anyone else had. It was terrible. Gobber felt like crying.

Gothi shuffled over to Stoick, handing him a bottle of medicine. Gobber recognized it as a pain relieving remedy.

Stoick thanked the elder, no emotion in his voice as she shuffled away. She went over to a nearby desk to write down some recipes and other things that would need to be used in the month(s) to come. After handing the list to the chief, she nodded and headed out of the room. She left an unspoken sentence in the air.

That was all she could do.

Stoick stayed on the chair for a few minutes after she left. Spitelout excused himself to go to his son. After what he had just witnessed, Gobber couldn't blame him from wanting to be with him.

Stoick sighed after a while. He stood up and walked over to the bed. He stopped by the side of it, and Gobber and Toothless watched as he used his free hand to comb through his son's matted hair. Hiccup sighed as he did so, closing his eyes. Gobber pretended not to notice the ear plates sticking out of his hair.

"I'm going to go make the announcement to the village." Stoick said, to who, Gobber didn't know. "After that, I want to get Hiccup cleaned up. Red isn't a good color on him…" He trailed off. He then bent down and scooped the boy into his arms.

There was a protest from Toothless, and the hybrid shot up. He obviously didn't like the situation. One glance from the chief though, and he quieted down.

They had been walking through the village for quite a while before Gobber spoke again. "I don't think you could carry him, even if Stoick allowed you to, lad." He stated, watching Toothless as he trudged next to him. "You look dead on your feet. And that's saying something, considering I've seen Hiccup in the forge after going on four days with no shut-eye."

Toothless cracked a weak smile. His shoulders slumped a bit. Gobber wanted to pretend that it was from tiredness instead of defeat.

The house was dark and cold when they entered it. Gobber immediately went to get a fire going. Toothless plopped down next to the fire pit. He had taken one look at the stairs and realized they were too much of a challenge for that night. Stoick had come down from Hiccup's room just as Gobber got the fire going. He left without so much as a word. Instead, he glanced back up the stairs before walking out.

Gobber and Toothless sat in an uncaring and exhausted silence. For how long, neither knew. The sun had just dipped below the horizon when Gobber stood up. It grabbed Toothless' attention, and the poor boy snapped to attention. The amputee realized the Night Fury had been dozing.

"Well." He said, popping his back, "Why don't we get that bath ready for Hiccup for when Stoick returns?" He ventured.

Toothless blinked, and then nodded. "Yeah, o-okay." He stuttered, standing up.

Gobber smiled, and he and the former Night Fury went to collect some water. Both unknowingly wished that it could wash away more than just dirt and blood off of Hiccup's body.


 

Stoick had gotten home later than expected. The sun had set a long time ago, and of course, Berk's reaction was typical. The outraged cries and death threats to Dagur were more comforting than he would like to let on.

But there was also the side of the village who came up to him after and promised to protect his son. They promised to help Hiccup get through this, even if that meant doing nothing but staying away. Stoick felt nothing but gratitude towards them.

And then of course there was Mildew. The old coop didn't say anything towards the chief…yet, but he knew whatever the farmer had in mind was coming soon. And Stoick was certain it didn't have anything good for Hiccup. He'd need to have some people keep an eye out for him.

He sighed, and braced himself before opening the door. He was hit by a wave of warmth from the fire. It relieved him from the cold air of the evening outside. Gobber was resting in his chair, almost asleep. Stoick would have chastised him if he wasn't as tired as he was.

Gobber looked over to the chief, alert clear in his eyes. Stoick realized he must have caught him off guard.

"Hey, Stoick." He mumbled, standing up.

The chief looked around, noticing a trough near the fire pit, filled with what looked like blood.

"Uh, Gobber what's that?" The question sounded more like a statement. He was too tired to make his voice sound like anything more than a monotone.

The blacksmith looked over at the trough, and then back to Stoick. "It's left over bath water. You were later than expected so me and Toothless decided to clean him up for you."

Stoick nodded. And sucked in a deep breath. "Where's Toothless?" He ventured.

"Upstairs. He crashed as soon as his head hit the pillow." Gobber answered with attempted humor.

Stoick immediately made his way upstairs, walking over to the bed as quietly as possible. Gobber followed, his peg leg clicked every other step.

Hiccup looked a lot better now that he wasn't covered in blood. In fact, he even looked a bit peaceful. But that may just be because he was sleeping. It was relieving to see him wearing clean clothing, although there were some slits that had to be torn in his tunic for the wings. Said wings were pressed against Toothless' chest. The dragon had Hiccup pulled close against him, nose buried in his son's auburn and not blood-stained hair.

Stoick watched as both hybrids breathed calmly, lost in the realm of unconsciousness. Hiccup's new appendages twitched every now and then, much like Toothless'. Suddenly, Hiccup jerked harshly and let out a whimper.

Nightmares. They were happening already.

Stoick stepped forward to wake his son up before it got any worse—

But Toothless, in his sleep nonetheless, seemed to sense the situation too. He mumbled, and curled around his rider, arms tightening around Hiccup's waist. The man heard a small reptilian rumble start up. Toothless was purring.

And evidently, it worked. Hiccup calmed down, visibly relaxing and falling deeper into sleep.

Stoick sighed, backing up. Gobber set a hand on his shoulder.

"We're going to get through this, you know." The blacksmith whispered, "Hiccup's going to get through this. We'll help him. The Gang will look after him. The dragons will look after him."

Stoick nodded, watching Hiccup as he slept. He could have sworn he saw him smile a bit in his unconsciousness.

"Berk. Will look after him." Gobber finished.

Stoick smiled finally. It was small, but it was enough for Gobber.

"I know."

Chapter Text

It had been a week. A hectic week, too. Hiccup was positive that it was longer than it actually had been.

He had been bed-ridden for the first three days. Not that he really wanted to; both Stoick and Toothless had threatened to tie him to the bed if he so much as tried to get out of it.

His dragon had stayed with him for those days. He kept him occupied with small talk and jokes, some of which referenced dragon culture. Hiccup wanted to dwell into it more, but Toothless had refused. "Saving that for a rainy day." He had said, "When you're better and actually want to learn instead of just distract yourself."

They didn't touch the subject after that.

By the second day, Hiccup was already bored, and had considered sneaking out of the house early in the morning, when Stoick was out and Toothless was still asleep. As soon as he had swung his leg-and-a-half over the bedside though, he found his legs were still too weak to support him anyway. So, that left him complaining, hoping that the two other members of the house (or even the other teens, when they came to visit) would let him get up and about.

And by complaining, he didn't mean the usual snarky comebacks and eye rolls, no. It was obvious that it was unsettling to watch. Hiccup had found out the hard way that, if he wanted to speak at all, he could only whisper. Well, scratch that. He couldn't even talk the first day. His voice was raw from the screaming. Screaming that he….didn't even know he had done. The only reason he knew now is because his too-sensitive hearing could pick up the conversations from downstairs.

Even if he wanted to talk at full volume, Hiccup found that it sent a stabbing pain through his skull from the noise level.

All in all, it sucked.

On the fourth day, when his dad finally let him wander around the house, he found more problems at hand.

First, his balance was off. The new weight on his back was offsetting. Hiccup found himself tilting backwards if he stood in one place for a while. Second, he couldn't exactly move too fast. He found that anything above a walking speed would send a shock-wave of pain up and down his spine.

And his tail.

Although he didn't really want to think about that.

So, add that together with the first problem, and you can basically put the pieces together. He would quickly jerk to remain balanced when he felt himself falling, and hence the tidal wave of pain. Admittedly, it wasn't as bad as they were on Outcast island, but they reminded him so much of it.

The next thing he found out was that everything was disorienting and tiring. He had gotten his wish to get out of bed, but he might as well have stayed in it. Seriously. He found himself constantly dropping things; his whole body was shaky, and he was in a constant state of drowsiness, falling asleep at random times and waking up an hour or so later, feeling extreme hatred for allowing his body to succumb to the cat-naps. But no matter how hard he tried to stay focused on something, he couldn't get rid of the drowsiness.

Gods, it was so frustrating to feel like you got less than an hour of sleep the night before every single day. Well, that was kind of accurate too. The nightmares were terrible. Hiccup remembered vividly the first night after they had gotten home. He woken up in a cold sweat with the feeling of everything burning. It was the same nightmare that he had had for months after the Red Death, but this time the falling and burning alive was accompanied with the smell of blood and the ripping of skin.

Can you really blame him for screaming? Well, it wasn't really a scream…now that he thought about it…

Still hurt like Hel though.

The last, and two most annoying things Hiccup found were the bane of his existence.

First, and the worst by far, was the fact that everyone was, for a lack of better words, babying him. He knew that he was in a terrible state, heck, everyone who was on that island were probably in a bad state, but the constant checking up on him and telling him he's going to be okay in that voice was just plain frustrating.

Especially since he couldn't find an argument against it. The fact that he found it comforting and calming was just as terrible.

Yes, he wanted to be independent, Thor, did he wish he could just get up and go to the Academy and be perfectly fine. But, try as he might, he just couldn't bring himself to do it. Damn it. He was the son of Chief Stoick the Vast, the first ever Viking to ride a dragon, and had even been through bodily mutation before for Odin's sake! (Right?) Why couldn't he be stronger.

His mind was jumbled and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't get that darkness to go away.

And then lastly, was the fact that he got cold way more easily than he used to. Now, it wasn't as bad as the previous problem, but because it was so damn persistent, he couldn't do anything about it. And because of that, it was definitely the most annoying thing. He would be perfectly fine one moment and then not sooner than a minute later, he would be shivering out of his skin. Whenever this happened Toothless insisted on hugging him until he got warmed up. Hiccup thought it was weird at first but, it seemed to be the only thing that worked, so he grew to accept it.

It would happen multiple times a day, completely randomly. Toothless told him it was normal, that it was the body's natural reaction to this sort of thing, but he didn't tell him why it was normal.

Speaking of…

Hiccup shivered as the coldness suddenly set in. He had been drawing, you know, just to get his mind off of things, when it hit. He scooted closer to the fire, not wanting to stop, but not wanting to continue to feel like he was slowly turning into Berk during winter, either. It was late in the evening, and Toothless was out; his dad was writing a trade agreement to another chief at the table. He could hear the scribble of his pencil way louder than he should be able to.

He clenched his jaw, to prevent the chattering of his teeth, and resumed his drawing.

….only to have the pencil slip out of his tired hand and roll onto the floor.

Hiccup stared at the pencil for a moment, the statement "are you shitting me" clear on his tired features, before shivering again, and closing his journal. He set it to the side, and hunched over, stubbornly refusing to get up and get a blanket of any sort.

Stoick at some point, glanced up and realized what he assumed to be a position of sulking coming from his son, (he had been doing that a lot lately, hoping it would guilt trip the chief into letting him outside) was actually a vain attempt to keep warm.

He set down his pencil and stood up, grabbing a blanket off a nearby stool, and draped it over his son's shoulders, careful to avoid the wings that still hung limply behind him. Hiccup mumbled a thanks, and Stoick resumed his position at the table, starting the letter back up from where he left off.

The blanket didn't seem to help Hiccup though. In fact, it seemed as the minutes rolled by, his shivering only got worse and worse. Stoick had seen Toothless warm his son up by simply hugging him, but the winter blanket he had just draped over him seemed to be doing nothing.

The logic in this situation meant that there was obviously something he was missing. He would have to ask the Night Fury once he got back.

Not sooner than five minutes later, the raven-haired teen entered the door, took a deep breath, and immediately made his way over to Hiccup, enveloping him in his arms. Stoick watched, paying real attention to the action for the first time, and noticed that maybe it was Toothless that was keeping his son warm.

At first, Hiccup did nothing but continue to shiver in his dragon's arms, but then the shaking got less violent, and soon ceased to exist all together. The chief watched in amazement as Hiccup relaxed, and leaned back into Toothless, falling asleep as if he hadn't been freezing a moment before.

Toothless audibly sighed, and rested his chin on Hiccup's shoulder, eyes lazily watching the fire as it flickered lazily in the dark room.

"How do you do that?" Stoick finally asked, wanting to know the practical magic that had taken place in front of him.

Toothless blinked, surprised, before looking between Hiccup and Stoick, as if confused by the question. "What, you mean warm him up?" He asked, sounding genuinely surprised.

Stoick nodded, giving a look that obviously meant 'duh'.

Toothless tilted his head, brow furrowing. "I thought Vikings did this too? Isn't that why mothers carry their infants around for a year or two?"

"Toothless, what are you talking about?"

The same look on the Night Fury's face was mixed with a one of revelation, like one someone would use when they learned they had been mispronouncing a certain word their whole life. "So you don't….huh."

"So we don't what, Toothless?" Stoick asked, getting slightly annoyed by this point.

Toothless smiled, glancing at Hiccup a moment before turning back to Stoick. "Hatchlings can't regulate their body temperature, Sir." He said.

Stoick blinked a few times, before setting his pencil down and shifting in his seat, setting his forearms on the table and quirking his eyebrow in a disbelieving glare at the dragon. "They don't….what….Hiccup isn't a hatchling, Toothless."

Toothless snorted and rolled his eyes, shrugging his shoulders. "Well, duh, not mentally, physically, yes."

Stoick gave a look that told Toothless he needed more information. Hiccup may be as light as a toddler, but he didn't have the body of one.

"I mean, his dragon features, Stoick."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Well….c'mere, I'll show you."

Stoick sighed, and stood up, walking over to his son and his dragon. Toothless leaned back, and pulled back the blanket that was still on Hiccup's shoulders, allowing one of his wings to be visible. The Night Fury the stretched out one of his own wings, and brought it next to Hiccup's.

"There's a difference." Toothless explained in the vaguest explanation Stoick had ever heard. At seeing the man's face, the teen rolled his eyes. "Look."

Stoick stared at the boy, wondering if he was serious, before peering at the two wings. He was surprised when he actually found a difference between them. Hiccup's wing, while Toothless' held shiny, pitch black scales that looked like they could resist the blade of a sword, actually wasn't as black as they had all originally thought; it was more of a really, really dark grey. The scales looked soft, and they didn't have the shine that Toothless' had. They looked more like….fingernails, instead of the gem-like structure of Toothless' scales.

"He has the scales of a hatchling." Toothless explained, "And the smell, too, but that's beside the point. Hiccup's wings are soft, weak." The dragon explained; Stoick reached out and rubbed one of the scales, finding in fact that they did feel soft, not like fur or anything, but they definitely weren't the same texture as any adult dragon's scales that he had felt before. Hiccup shifted and mumbled a bit at Stoick's touch.

Stoick thought back to all of the hatchlings on Berk. He had only gotten into contact with a couple, but now that he thought about it, they did have a different feeling to them, and they never strayed far from their parents, no matter how rambunctious they were.

"That means that, his scales aren't fire proof. Which also means that they let heat through them almost as much as human skin." Toothless explained, "Dragon scales aren't just for protection from outside heat, they help keep the fire within us inside as well. The scales of a hatchling just let the fire within them out like an open flame, which weakens our fire. Almost like when we reach our shot limit, except there's no way to stop the flame from escaping in this case."

"So…."

"So the parents have to keep their hatchlings warm by transitioning their heat to them."

"And that's why you…"

"Yeah."

"And he could essentially freeze to death if he doesn't…"

"….yeah."

"Oh."

"Oh, indeed."

The two glanced at Hiccup, who was snoring slightly, head resting on Toothless' shoulder, unaware of the conversation happening around him.

"Have you told him about that yet?"

Toothless sighed, bringing the blanket back up around his rider. "Nah, not yet, he's still really frustrated about everything. I can smell it. Just adding another thing to his list would just….make him see more helpless."

Stoick nodded in understanding. "He claims he doesn't want to be stuck in here anymore, and I know that that's true, too, but what he wants isn't always what he needs. He's in a worse condition than he's letting on, not just to us but to himself, too."

Toothless pressed his lips together, replacing his head on Hiccup's shoulder. "Yeah. He's more stubborn than a...well, viking, I guess."

Stoick snorted, before turning back to the table, sitting down and picking his pencil back up. "You should be heading to bed, it's late."

The Night Fury grumbled a bit, something about him being a creature of the night, but stood up anyway, swinging Hiccup into his arms, and made his way up the stairs.

"G'night, Stoick." He called after a moment, startling the chief for a second. The man shook his head, smiling after the boy. It was weird. A year ago he wouldn't even have thought that dragons could be good, yet alone that he could have conversations with them.

"G'night, Toothless."

Chapter Text

"OW! Toothless!"

"Sorry!"

"You of all people should know those….things don't bend that way."

"Hiccup, it's physical therapy, it's not supposed to be painless."

"Wait so they….do bend that way?"

"uh…."

"Toothless you said you knew what you were doing."

"I do! Just…not as much as I would like to know."

"You useless reptile…why do I let you do this?" Hiccup arched his back and shifted uncomfortably as Toothless continued handling the new limbs on his back. He hated the feeling of the muscles in the wings interacting with one another.

The two had been doing therapy for a better part of a week now; Toothless had gotten tired of watching Hiccup drag his extra limbs around the house like dead weights, and insisted on teaching him how to keep them folded up against his spine like one is supposed to. Of course, it wasn't going to be easy. Just because Hiccup now had the muscles, didn't mean he had the muscle strength to do—anything with the wings, really. So, hence the hour taken out of each day to work on his rider's new limbs' strength.

Hiccup hated the sessions, that was no surprise. Not only was it still disorienting to feel two new limbs shift and stretch and move around behind him, but experiencing the never-ending alarms in his brain insisting that the sensation was wrong and the wings shouldn't be there was torture. There was also the fact that the sessions always frustrated the living Hel out of him. Every time Toothless instructed him to move the limbs on his own, it felt just like he was moving his…wings….through tree sap. Or lava. It was the equivalent of trying to move your arm after sleeping on it all night and having it fall numb. How could it be so hard to do something as simple as moving limbs?

And, although Hiccup had gotten significantly better at it, enough so that he had gotten to the original goal of keeping them folded against him, he still had a long way to go. He had to deliberately think about keeping his w—extra limbs…folded up, otherwise they would fall limp; and if he left them there for too long, they got tired, and he'd have to let them hang. He had to continue to remind himself that he was getting stronger, even if he felt like he wasn't.

If there was any good news from this day, it was that Stoick was finally finally letting Hiccup out of the house. It had been two weeks, and with the disappointing news that Toothless (and most of the other dragons) hadn't redeveloped the ability to transform back into their dragon forms—would most likely be another two weeks or so—the only kinda exciting news was that Hiccup had seen a grand total of four other people besides his dad and Toothless during his entrapment. Those people were Gobber, Gothi, and Snotlout with his father, who had dropped off a few things for Stoick. Hiccup had tried to avoid the last two by staying in his room. Snotlout came up anyway, sat on the foot of his bed as Hiccup drew; the two had a slightly awkward conversation until Spitelout called his cousin to leave.

That was the last person Hiccup had seen, and that was roughly five days ago. But now, he would finally be let out of this prison, and start being independent again. Well, as independent as he can be with Toothless at his side all the time. That was one of the requirements Stoick had made to him. He can't be alone. The babying still hadn't stopped. Gods, he hated it.

"Hiccup!"

"Wha- yes! I'm listening, sorry." Hiccup had started at Toothless' voice, which had scared him more than he'd like to admit. Damnit.

Toothless blinked, an ear twitching. "That's…not what I asked, but okay."

Hiccup pressed his lips together, feeling a bit guilty. He had been caught up in his thoughts a lot more than he cared to be these last few days. "Sorry, Bud, I didn't mean to zone out. I'm just…bored." He answered truthfully.

Toothless let out a reptilian rumble in his throat, feeling sympathy for his rider. "Well, at least you're getting out of this place today, right?" He said, moving from behind Hiccup to his side, swinging his legs over the bed and leaning into him. "I bet the Gang's gonna be excited."

Hiccup snorted, and he found that his tail involuntarily flickered with self-depreciating humor. "Yeah, and Mildew will wake up in a good mood today. Trust me, I have a feeling they're gonna be more than a little freaked out when they see me…"

Toothless wrinkled his nose a bit, not liking the response. Hiccup had been thinking like this far more often this last week than he wanted him to. It was completely irrational. Sure, they would be surprised he was out of the house, but he knew the human teens. They would be happy Hiccup was making progress.

"You don't…really believe that, do you?" At seeing his rider's face, the night fury furrowed his brow, grabbing his shoulder, and turning him towards him. "You do know they were worried sick about you, right? They would have visited if your dad had allowed it, heck when I would go out and about, you were all they would talk about! And before you get it into your mind, it was out of worry and concern, not fear and disgust." He added as a second thought.

Hiccup refused to meet his gaze. Deep down, he knew Toothless' words were true….maybe a part of him just wouldn't accept it. Mostly because of the 'worry and concern' part. Why was everyone so insistent on thinking he was so weak?

"Yeah, you're right." He lied, wanting to drop the subject. He stared down at his prosthetic. His dad had given it back a week ago, when he had first started walking around the house (they had taken it off during….that day….because he had been thrashing, apparently, and they didn't want his metal leg to hurt him even more)

The two hybrids sat on Hiccup's bed for a moment in silence, before Toothless stood up, turning and holding out his hand. "Welp, we'd better be going. You do want to be out of here today, right?" He added in amusment.

Hiccup rolled his eyes, and stood up. He swayed, and his dragon started to grab a hold of him, but at one glare from his rider he stopped, and allowed the teen to regain his own balance. Once that happened, the two made their way down the stairs and to the front door. Hiccup took a giant breath, hopefully one of happiness, and exited the house for the first time in two weeks.

Gods, it never felt so refreshing to be able to feel the climate of twelve days north of hopeless and a few degrees south of freezing to death.

For about five minutes, anyway.

The surprised looks of the villagers as they made their way to the academy weren't the best thing in the world. Not so much the fact that they stared in undeterred awe and pity at his…..new attachments, but the gazes of the usual hard-headed and stone-hearted Vikings of the Hairy Hooligan tribe showed that they were genuinely surprised to see him.

As in they expected him to take longer to recover. They thought he was weak. Just like the riders did—

No! Odin, Hiccup. Why do you do that to yourself? They don't think you're weak they just…just….

That's exactly what they think, isn't it? Gods, this is what he gets for being 'Hiccup the Useless' for the first fifteen years of his life. Maybe he deserved it. Why did they show pity to him again? Since when did they care about him…?

The gazes stayed constant, and suddenly Hiccup was more than aware of every little twitch and nerve in his new appendages. He tried to keep them as close to his body as he could, hoping that maybe they would fall invisible to the villagers like he was to them up until recently.

Toothless noticed his riders discomfort. His ears were pulled close to his hairline, shoulders hunched, gaze on the ground, and body (new appendages, too) stiff with discomfort. The smells of anger, discomfort, and….to be frank, self-loathing, were pouring off of him. Toothless instantly connected it to the Vikings around them. He reached out one arm and pulled Hiccup close to him; he opened one of his wings, shielding Hiccup the best he could.

He then turned to the people nearby, some of which he had actually talked to in the Great Hall before, and growled, causing them to quickly resume whatever they were doing before their chief's son had come into view. Seeming to make him almost as invisible as he so obviously wanted to be.

Hiccup didn't say anything, kept his gaze on the ground instead. Toothless was torn between feeling extreme disappointment and fondness as he felt his rider shift and lean in closer to him. They stayed like that through the whole way to the arena. It wasn't until they were outside of the academy that Hiccup seemed to brighten up. Seemed to. Those were the key words there.

Astrid, Stormfly, the twins, Barf and Belch, Fishlegs, Meatlug, and Hookfang were all there, having been stuck on the ground because of, well, you know. Snotlout had gone out hunting with his dad earlier that day and wasn't expected to be back until late, so the Nightmare had decided to occupy himself by hanging with the others.

All nine teenagers looked up at the two with wide eyes as they entered. Their faces lit up, and all scrambled to their feet or set down their books or weapons or whatever they were doing, to make their way over to Hiccup. Toothless watched everyone bring their leader into a hug and begin to chatter about random things, all with a big smile on his face and a purr threatening to make its way out of his mouth.

He hadn't seen his rider this well, alive, since before Outcast island. He knew that this would most likely be the reaction that would have happened, but it was just so relieving to see him interact with the other teens, albeit timidly. Well, really, really timidly, actually. At first, Hiccup would just stand off to the side and talk, trying to sound casual as the teens tried to pull him into—whatever they were doing—and denying politely. He would flinch when someone would get too close to him, Toothless noticed; the hugs from earlier, although they meant well, caused Hiccup discomfort, he could tell.

But as time continued, Hiccup grew a bit more comfortable. He would still avoid eye contact when someone stared at him longer than usual, (they tried not to, but could you really blame them?) or when they would fall into an awkward silence, but soom it would always start back up again with a snide or sarcastic comment from his rider. Which of course would make everyone snort or show some kind of amusement, and it would in turn brighten everyone's spirits.

And as time went on it seemed as if everyone fell back into their usual ways, well as usual as they could be now, anyway. Tuffnut cracking jokes, Ruffnut kicking him, the two ending up fighting; Barf and Belch cheering them on, Astrid and Stormfly talking to Hiccup with casual conversation, and Fishlegs geeking out over…whatever it was he was geeking out over with the teen and Meatlug. To Toothless it sounded like the Gronkle was the only one at the moment who could transform back into her dragon form. Lucky. Well, kinda. Toothless wasn't even sure if he would transform back as soon as he could when he built up enough magic. He could feel it within him now, slowly gaining power; gaining potential.

But anyway, they had stayed in the arena all day, and Snotlout even joined them later on. Soon, the whole gang was gathered in the arena, sitting in a circle and just….talking. About anything and everything, it seemed like. (Well, despite the blatant factor that was Hiccup's current situation but, no one really wanted to talk about that anyway)

For the first time in what seemed like forever though, there seemed to be a sense of normalcy with the twelve in the academy. It gave all of them hope that one day things would go back to the way they were before; maybe even better than the way it was before. Toothless was already thinking about teaching Hiccup how to fly. (He was really ecstatic about it but he would never admit it) His rider was already getting the hang of his wings. Toothless looked over at Hiccup, who was talking to Tuffnut with a simultaneously amused and irritated glint in his eyes. Well, almost…..

"Hey, Hiccup."

"Yeah, Toothless?"

"…you forgetting something?"

"Uh…noooo?"

"You sure about that?"

"Absolutely positive, Bud…"

"Hiccup."

"Gods—What, Toothless?"

"Wings~"

"What about the—oh."

"You absolutely positive now?

"Oh you know what you can go—STOP LAUGHING YOU USELESS REPTILE!"

Chapter Text

Three days had passed since Hiccup had been let out of his house. Astrid was…what was she, exactly? She didn't even know herself. Maybe if she summed up what had happened in those three days she'd know.

So, what were the major points of the past 72 hours?

Well, Hiccup had come to the academy, obviously. That was a good thing. They talked. Another good thing. He was….anxious, timid, not himself. That wasn't a good thing. He tried though, or he hid his negative emotions well enough to make it look like he tried. So…..that was an indifferent thing, maybe?

Stormfly regained the ability to transform back into a dragon again yesterday. So that was a good thing. But she also was attached to her human form and promised she'd stay in it occasionally. That was a good thing too. But none of the dragons had explained why they hadn't transformed before this, either. Astrid took that as a bad thing. Or, maybe that was a good thing? Or…or—

She was indifferent. Let's go with that.

Well, she would be, if it wasn't for the most recent turn of events that had just happened.

The blond sighed, the first noise besides the constant breathing that any of them had heard in the past hour. She leaned back on Stormfly, who crooned and nudged her on the arm, prompting the shield maiden to lift said arm so the dragon could nestle her head underneath.

She, Stormfly, the Twins, Barf and Belch, Snotlout and Hookfang, and Fishlegs and Meatlug, were in the cove. Why? They had no idea. It was quiet and peaceful and seemed to be the only place in which they could actually find those qualities on Berk at the moment. So….hence the getaway.

Hiccup was back at the village. Not with them. Which wasn't right but….

"So…any of you going to tell me what happened?" Fishlegs piped up suddenly with his nasally-as-always voice.

Oh yeah. Fishlegs wasn't there when it happened. Astrid grazed the grass with her toes (she had taken her shoes off earlier. Sue her) and stretched out, gazing up with blue eyes at a sky equally as blue.

"Well, I can tell you one thing, it definitely wasn't my fault." Snotlout, as stubborn as ever, answered. He crossed his arms and leaned back against the log he and his dragon were sitting against. He kept his gaze on the ground though, obviously he didn't believe his statement.

"Oh, yak crap!" Astrid didn't care whether he believed it or not. "I know for a fact you're the one to blame!"

"Not true!" The raven-haired boy defended, "I wouldn't even have said it if you hadn't overreacted, like you do about everything!"

Astrid felt rage bubble up inside of her like boiling water, and she almost jumped to her feet. "I wouldn't have been 'overreacting' as you so loosely put it, if the twins hadn't shot fire a centimeter from my head while I was caught off guard!"

"woah woah woah, hey!" Tuffnut joined in, "Don't go bringing me and my dear dragon into this! We already said we were sorry!"

"Oh and what am I, chopped uh….chopped li…lint, no….liver! There we go." Ruffnut rounded on her brother, reprocessing herself. "and what am I, chopped liver? That was both of our's masterpiece! And Barf is not your dragon!" She added as a second thought, tugging the twin with dominantly green hair towards her.

"But it wouldn't have been possible without Belch here!" Tuffnut countered, almost completely forgetting the argument he had gotten involved in thirty seconds prior.

"You know usually my sibling and I—"

"would be totally down for this arguing—"

"but we think that—"

"—now's not the best time."

Barf and Belch said, slightly uncomfortable, both turning yellow orbs on a scowling Astrid at the same time.

The second set of twins both looked at the blonde with slight dismay, as if suddenly re-sensing the tension in the air.

And yet, even with the amount of the suffocating feeling, the ten in the cove found themselves in an equally uncomfortable silence, unable or unwilling to put any of their feelings into words.

"I'm sorry this…still doesn't clear anything up for me." Fishlegs said again, "All I know is that something happened in the academy today while me and Meatlug were out, something bad, obviously."

The remaining eight all let out a simultaneous sigh. One of defeat, stubbornness, and resent.

"The twins unreasonably shot fire at my head. I justfully got mad, and started yelling at them for it. Snotlout butted in with a really, really stupid—even on his standards—thing to say, which caused…it uh…" Astrid swallowed. She would not let herself cry now, not after successfully holding back for over two hours.

And yet, she couldn't bring herself to finish the sentence. The lump in her throat was too big.

"…Hiccup had a panic attack, 'Legs." Snotlout finished, guilt practically dripping off of his tongue. Ironic considering he was so insistent that it wasn't his fault. "Toothless had to take him home."

There was a pause as the smartest one in the area took in the statement. He blinked a few times in surprise. "O-oh."

"You don't sound as surprised as I thought you would." Astrid questioned, "Why?"

The shield maiden watched as the other teen swallowed, and petted his dragons head anxiously. "No no, I'm surprised, just, not at the fact that it…happened."

Everyone squinted their eyes at the teen, who gave his telltale nervous laugh followed by a squeak. "Wh-what I mean is, I'm surprised it happened so soon. See, I've noticed a pattern between people who have been through extreme traumatizing conditions. Their neurological patterns change when they experience something that reminds them of the event that they went through, which can result in flashbacks, nightmares, distress, avoiding things and people related to the event, depression and all the effects that come with it—" he noticed the gazes from his audience, who were obviously confused.

"…I'm thinking of calling it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder." He finished, "It's…pretty serious, and I'm not surprised Hiccup's developing it."

"…so what you're saying is…."

"That it was all of your faults." Fishlegs said with no amount of remorse, "Barf and Belch's fire, on top of, whatever Snotlout said—I'm not even going to ask what it was—must have caused something to click in Hiccup's mind."

"….Gee, Fish, that makes us feel so much better."

Fishlegs rolled his eyes, crossing his arms. "Was it supposed to?"

Astrid sighed, and sunk down so that the bottom half of her back was on the grass. She dug her toes and fingers into the dirt and grass beneath her again, and clamped her eyes shut, blocking out the darkening sky. The blonde took a deep, self-sustaining breath; the sharp, biting sensation of clear, early fall (it felt like early winter for most other places) air stimulated her racing nerves a bit.

Suddenly she spoke. She didn't even know why she did it. If she hadn't recognized it as her own voice she wouldn't have even known she had said it. It had just…slipped out. "….I thought he was getting better…I thought he was healing. Gods, why am I such an idiot?"

"You're not an idiot." Astrid almost passed off Snotlout's comment as another attempt to flirt with her, until he continued, "I thought he was getting better, too."

Astrid opened her eyes and stared at the blue-eyed Viking in a mixture of bewilderment and skepticism. Snotlout shook his head in the slightest, picking up a rock and rolling it around in his hand. "I…wake up every morning…waiting—hoping—that this is all just some…crazy, insane, terrifying dream and that I'll walk out and head to the arena and see Hiccup already there with an annoyed scowl on his face because I was late, but he never is anymore."

Astrid couldn't believe her ears. In fact, it seemed like no one could. Snotlout was actually….expressing his feelings for once. And not just arrogance. He was showing a whole new side to himself. One they hadn't seen since Hookfang had almost…ya know…

"I know what you mean." Tuffnut agreed, "Every time Ruff and I do something totally awesome, we expect Hiccup to come up and…I dunno, yell at us or something."

"And when he doesn't it just kinda…takes away part of the fun." Ruffnut finished. Astrid was floored.

Sure, she knew that they were all upset that Hiccup was well…not Hiccup, she didn't know that it was to this extent. In some weird, sentimental way, they all missed the old Hiccup. They missed him dearly.

And if her assumptions were correct, they all knew, to some extent, that they would never fully get him back. Much like how his demeanor had changed for the better after the Red Death, Hiccup had changed once again at the hands of Dagur. It was up to them now to make sure he didn't completely lose himself.

She suddenly stood up. Stormfly started. She felt the tears she had been denying for almost two and a half hours finally spill over. And she…found she didn't care anymore. She was tired of pretending to be tough when she wasn't. She was tired of pretending that she was fine when she had had nightmares no later than the night before and she was going to have more tonight because Hiccup had screamed again today and it scared her so much.

"A-Astrid?" She didn't know who asked it. Nor did she care. What she was about to do addressed all of them. She clenched her fists so tight she could feel her knuckles turning white.

"Promise me."

The other nine in the ever-darkening cove stared up at the only one who was standing up. The tears making her icy gaze glisten.

"Promise what, Astrid?" Hookfang asked, concerned, and scared for his sanity at the same time. (seriously since when did the Astrid Hofferson cry?)

"Promise me that whatever happens in the future, whatever challenges that face us or people we meet or things that happen, this," She gestured around to the gang gathered around her, "Won't just disappear. Promise me that we'll be able to grow old together and fight like the old villagers we make fun of all the time and be able to look back on good and bad times and make fun of each other because we can."

She was finding it hard to breath, she almost couldn't see, but she continued. "Promise me that I can wake up in the middle of the night dazed and half-awake and scared out of my mind because of a nightmare knowing I can always count on scowling at hearing you boast, Snotlout; or knowing I'll be able to yell at you two for blowing something up again, or that I'll be able to be bored to death hearing you geek out over dragons, Fishlegs. Promise me that we'll be able to trust each other with our lives. That we'll be able to trust each other with secrets. That we'll protect each other no matter the cost and that we'll help each other get through this no matter how long it takes."

She took a deep breath. Stormfly nudged her in the side. She smiled thankfully and scratched her neck. "Promise me that we'll help Hiccup get through this. Please. Promise me that we'll all get through this because even though I can't stand you all at times, I couldn't stand not having you be in my life even more. So please. Just promise me."

She was met with stunned silence. No—stunned is too…weak to describe the type of utter amazement the nine in the cove were feeling, staring at the fearless Astrid Hofferson as she hiccupped and held her breath, chest heaving in concealed sobs. It was an alien sight, seeing the shield maiden so vulnerable. There wasn't a word powerful enough to describe what they were all feeling. Even the twins were stunned into silence and deep contemplation.

Snotlout stood suddenly, and hesitantly walked to Astrid. (something that he had never experienced in his body posture beside the first time he really got to know Hookfang at the hands of Hiccup) He hesitated again when he was right in front of her. He watched in suspended and bated silence as she bit her lip, almost hard enough to draw blood. The raven-haired teen swallowed, knowing he was probably going to regret what he was about to do, considering he only tried these things when he was flirting. He hoped that Astrid got the message that that wasn't what he was doing.

He reached up and brushed the tears from her cheeks. She seemed like she wanted to punch him. Or maybe she wanted to punch herself? Maybe both. It was such a rare sight to see Astrid so vulnerable, just as such as it was to see Snotlout so compassionate. And the twins so aware, Fishlegs so solomn, and Hiccup so….broken.

It was as if the world had flipped upside down. But maybe that's what it had needed.

Snotlout pressed his lips together, bringing his thumb down from Astrid's cheek, and crossed his arms over his chest.

"Astrid…I promise." Did his voice really crack on that last word? Oh gods, it did. Great.

Suddenly Ruff and Tuff were beside him, both smiling like goofballs. "We promise, too." The first time Snotlout had ever heard them agree on something at the drop of a pin.

"Me too." Fishlegs had joined them as well.

And then the gangs' dragons came up, both the ones in human form and dragon form. "And even though you didn't ask us…we promise too." Hookfang said, slinging his arm over Snotlout and Fishlegs.

"Yeah. We weren't able to tell you all before, but—"

"—we love you guys. All of you. Seriously—"

"—it's annoying how much we do."

The humans laughed, including Astrid. She sniffed, and slung her arms around Fishlegs' other shoulder and Ruffnut's shoulder. That prompted her to put her arm over her brother's shoulder, and Tuffnut put his arm over Belch's, who put his over Barf's and so on until every human—or half human—in the cove were in a small group hug.

"…I think it's safe to say that this gang isn't going anywhere anytime soon." Snotlout laughed, looking around at the group in front of him. "And, I think I speak for all of us when I say: we're all going to do our best to be there for Hiccup. No matter what that will take."

No one needed to confirm that statement to know it was true. And everyone knew that they would do their best to stick that statement as well. Ironic, considering it came from Snotlout, of all people, but still. Let's not ruin the moment.

Suddenly a gust of wind blew by, ruffling everyone's hair and fur on their clothing; it made everyone realize that it was in fact, night now. The sun had set long ago, leaving purples and indigos in its wake.

"Wow. I didn't realize it had gotten so late." Fishlegs commented, gazing up at the stars that were beginning to appear. Everyone agreed, and looked up into the universe as well, not wanting the moment of bonding to be over.

It was only when the crickets started chirping and the wind got too cold for the dragons to handle, that they decided to call it quits and head home. The gang left that cove that night differently as from when they had entered. Changed, connected, they'd dare think. They had a better understanding of one another, they felt. As if…the only word that came to anyone who had been in the cove that fateful day was that an unbreakable bond had been struck that day.

And it would take years from then for them to realize that it was just like the one struck between two equal souls in the same cove a few months prior. Two souls that changed all of their lives forever. Two souls that allowed that evening to be possible. And two souls that the gang were now determined to help through this difficult time with.

Because that forbidden friendship that was struck all those years ago had manifested itself into a beautiful sun that burned with more intensity than any dragon's fire. And with every life it changed, it would only grow brighter and brighter.

Suddenly, Hookfang sneezed, shooting a stream of fire in front of the group as they walked through the forest back to the village. The redhead then shivered, and lit himself on fire, and upon seeing the questioning gazes given to him by the others, promptly said: "What? I'm cold, sue me!"

He then flared the flickering flames, causing a burst of heat to wash over the group. (not that it wasn't appreciated)

Well, maybe the flame of the forbidden friendship had one rival.

Hookfang sneezed again. Barf screeched. Astrid snorted, and pumped her fist in the air.

"Sweet, sweet revenge!"

Chapter Text

Tuffnut would never be the first to admit that he had done something wrong. Crazy, sure. Awesome, definitely. Explosive, absolutely. Wrong? Never.

But, he did have to admit that maybe this situation had gone just a bit overboard. Hilarious, but overboard. He shared a glance with his sister as the two and their dragon watched the situation from their perch on one of the forges tables. They had somewhat haphazardly cleared a space on the crowded surface so that they wouldn't interrupt the absolute beauty of the chaos that was taking place.

There was the crashing of weapons and tools accompanied by the screaming of some choice words as Astrid, Meatlug, and Fishlegs attempted to round up the heart of the situation. Snotlout was wheezing in one of the corners of the forge with Toothless, and Stormfly (in human form) and Hookfang were a complex knot of limbs on the floor from an attempted dogpile on who they were trying to catch. They were emitting screeches and sounds that made them sound more like they were in dragon form than human form.

Ruffnut threw back her head and cackled, clapping her hands together excitedly. "Oh, this is great! We should have done this ages ago."

Tuffnut snorted and nodded, and equal smile on his face. Who knew something so small (and accidental, but this was too amazing for the four to admit that) could cause such a catastrophe? They had been rough housing in the forest with Barf and Belch—they were really supposed to be hunting for the preparations of winter but the twins will be the twins—and stumbled across the Dragon Nip field. Of course, Barf and Belch automatically collapsed in a demeanor that was a mixture between a drunk Viking and a five-year-old on a sugar high. Ruff and Tuff wasted no time or expense messing with the second set of twins, and they ended up spending most of the morning running through the shoulder tall grass.

They had gotten back around one in the afternoon, and upon discovering that no one was back at the Academy, the four decided to go find Hiccup, who had briefly mentioned that he was at the forge. Stoick had finally allowed him to start working in it again and he had wasted no time in heading towards the place.

So that's where the four went.

They arrived to find Hiccup hammering at a sword, ears pressed tightly against his head to minimize the crashing of metal against metal with his oversensitive hearing. Toothless was behind him, sitting on a bench and flipping through his rider's journal with interest. He was subconsciously biting one of his nails as he did so, deep in concentration.

Ruffnut had greeted Hiccup, who had started more than a usual person would, (Tuffnut noticed with a hint of envy that his pupils converted to slits for a split second. He also had a slight growl to his voice now. Tuff found that immensely cool) and held a hand to his heaving chest for a moment, before he recognized the four in the doorway.

He had greeted them quickly, before returning to the sword he was mending. Toothless cast a concerned glance at the second night fury hybrid, before nodding to the newcomers as well and returning to his page flipping.

They had talked briefly for a moment or two as Hiccup finished up, and then they followed him into the back room, littered as always with drawings and extra parts. Hiccup seemed wary of the situation, but the twins insisted that they would die of boredom if he left them alone, so he somewhat reluctantly gave in. That's where the six sat for the next thirty minutes, sipping some water and exchanging small talk. They had been talking about the Book of Dragons, when Tuffnut had just so happened to run out of water.

And he was still thirsty.

So he grabbed Hiccup's mug and took a long gulp out of it, unaware because of the auburn-haired teen's protests and grumbles that a blade of grass had fallen off his vest and into the water. And of course, Hiccup then took a sip of the water, successfully swallowing the blade of grass.

Aaaaaaand then found out too late that it was, of course, Dragon Nip.

Tuffnut snapped back to the present as Hiccup suddenly streaked by them, tripping over Hookfang's splayed wing, falling, and skidding out of the way a millisecond before Astrid full on belly flopped in the place he was.

The hybrid laughed carelessly, before streaking off through another part of the forge again with a cry of 'WHOOOOOOOOOO'. Astrid slapped the ground with a curse, and got back to her feet, running after him.

"TUFFNUT I'M BLAMING THIS ON YOU!" She screeched as Hiccup threw his arms and wings out simultaneously and started singing a frankly, really catchy, song.

"SOOOOAAAAARRRRIIIINNN, FLYYYYIIIIIINNNNNN, THERES NOT A STAR IN VALHALLA THAT WE CAN'T REEEAAACCCCHHHHHH!" He caterwauled between giggles, spinning around like a spinning top. Hiccup came to a stop when Snotlout appeared magically in front of him, having gotten over laughing and decided to actually help the three. The insane hybrid skid on his heel, swinging around and hitting his cousin in the groin with the tip of his tail. The blue-eyed Viking hunched forward, cheeks puffing, and let out a wheezing breath.

Fishlegs let out a gigantic bark of a laugh, before blocking the exit to the rest of the village. If Hiccup got out, they wouldn't be able to stop him. Toothless was laughing so hard his cheeks turned purple from lack of air.

"J-JUST MAKE SURE HE DOESN'T….DOESN'T H-HURT HIMSELF." He demanded between wheezes, clutching his stomach.

"Yeah. Yeah THANKS FOR THE TIP." Astrid deadpanned, lunging at the practically airborne Hiccup, who was now singing a different completely unrelated song.

"TAAAAAAAAKKKKKKEEEEE ONNNNNN MEEEEEEEE—"

Astrid stopped to take a few gulping breaths, leaning on the table the twins were sitting on as Meatlug ran by behind her, right on Hiccup's tail. There was a loud crashing somewhere to their right. "Tuffnut are you absolutely positive that there was only one blade of Dagon Nip in that thing?" She asked.

"TAAAAAAKKKKEEEEEE MEEEEEEEEE ONNNNNNNNNNNN—"

"I'm pretty sure, Astrid."

"WAKE ME UP, WAKE ME UP INSIDE—"

Snotlout chased after Him as he streaked the opposite way. "yes, yes please wake me up." He pleaded.

"CAN'T WAKE UP—"

Stormfly screeched exceedingly loud as Hookfang pulled her wing in an awkward angle, trying to get free.

"SAVE ME!" Both she and Hiccup screeched at the same time.

"…That plant must be much more powerful than we all originally thought." The shield maiden growled, wiping sweat from her brow and tossing her hair over her shoulder.

"SIT DOWN, JOHN, YOU FAT MOTHER-"

"OKAAAAAY!" Fishlegs interrupted, clipping Hiccup's tunic. Tuffnut heard Belch snort.

"Seriously, that plant should be banned or something." Astrid scowled.

"P-E- TO THE -T-T-Y, I'M PETTY, YEAH YEAH I'M PETTY."

"No it definitely should stay legal." Tuff and Ruff said at the same time, "This is too funny."

"AND IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUUUUUUUUU"

"The only up hand I can think from this is that this is the happiest I've seen Hiccup, ever." Astrid admitted.

"PERRYYYYY PERRY THE PLATYPUSSSSSSSS"

"What is a platypus?" Barf whispered in pure awe.

Suddenly Hiccup ran face first into a wall beam, rebounding so fast it didn't even look like he hit it. He blinked for a moment, before swinging around it like a stripper, kicking a newly free Hookfang in the face, causing the Nightmare to fall flat on his back.

"OH GODS." Toothless screeched, aware that Hiccup had literally just ran full force into a pole. "My hatchling's hurt! My motherly instincts are kicking in!" He then arched his back and pulled his feet beneath him in a terrible attempt at a bridge. "I can see every equation!"

"YO DANNY FENTON HE WAS JUST FOURTEEN WHEN HIS PARENTS BUILT A VERY STRANGE MACHINE, DESIGNED TO VIEW A WORLD UNSEEN, HES GONNA CATCH EM ALL CUZ HE'S DANNY PHANTOM"

"great! He's possessed on top of the dragon nip now." Snotlout groaned as he ran around a table, trying to catch up with Hiccup, who was at the opposite side of it.

"…maybe we could use it as a stimulator." Astrid thought out loud, "You know, for when he has panic attacks and we can't calm him down."

Toothless was up now, and vaulted over Snotlout's shoulders and across the table, tackling Hiccup, who hissed, and hit a second person in the nether areas in the expanse of two minutes. Toothless let out a choking sound, and collapsed face first onto the ground, planking.

"Toothless help me!" Snotlout yelled, before he tripped over the multiple tools strewn on the ground, feet slipping out from under him and causing him to flip as Hiccup jumped over him.

"Y-yeah I'm just gonna….lay here for a bit." Toothless' muffled voice sounded strained, as if he was choking on tears, Tuffnut couldn't blame him. "Ya know, down where my dragonhood won't get mauled."

Snotlout let out a groan in defeat.

"TIKKI, SPOTS ON"

"Who is Tikki!" Stormfly screamed.

"Yeah you know, I'm gonna get back to helping them." Astrid said, charging towards Hiccup with a battle cry.

"NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP NEVER GONNA LET YOU DOWN NEVER GONNA RUN AROUND AND HURT YOUUUUU"

"Oh, Gods damnit."

Ruffnut and Tuffnut watched the chaos continue for a minute more, before Ruffnut turned to her brother. "Yeah, we definitely need to do this again." Tuffnut could only nod in agreement, and they turned their attention back to the chase.

Hiccup made the mistake of pausing in his sprint, looking up at the roof as if he was looking at Thor himself. He took a giant breath, wings spreading out with every molecule of air he took in, before throwing his arms back in a full on yell.

SOME—"

Snotlout and Astrid both slammed into him simultaneously from different sides, bringing all three to the ground in a spinning hurricane just as Hiccup yelled:

"—BODY ONCE TOLD ME…" He wheezed as the rest of the air knocked out of his lungs; Snotlout and Astrid both screamed in victory and high fived. Fishlegs and Meatlug appeared next to them, helping them wrangle a wriggling Hiccup into a chair, then having Toothless sit on him to keep him pinned to it.

"If you love me let me goooooOOOOOOO!" Hiccup giggled, throwing his head back and almost tilting the chair over. His tail wagged like a kittens.

"He's gone insane! Completely Insane!" Snotlout exclaimed, throwing his arms out and leaning against a nearby table.

Fishegs picked up a sword that was at more of a health risk than others, putting it some place safer. "Don't worry, The dragon nip should wear out of his system soon."

"It's fun to stay at the YMCA…" Hiccup deliriously laughed, tossing his head from side to side.

"I hope it wears off faster than soon." Toothless growled, still nursing his crotch. Hookfang couldn't conceal his silent chuckles. The night fury growled. "You'd better be lucky I'm the only thing keeping Hiccup on this chair, Fang. Otherwise you would be in the same pain I am."

That shut him up pretty quickly.

And so the gang decided to sit and wait until the dreaded plant was flushed out of Hiccup's system. Tuffnut wasn't sure if it was annoying or hilarious, considering that it took roughly three hours. About half of the way through those three hours, Hiccup had tried convincing them to let him up.

"No, Hiccup."

"But I wanna foorrrgggeeeeeee" He whined like a baby, ironically looking like a drunk Viking.

"You can't work with molten iron and fire like this Hiccup." Snotlout hid a snort in attempt to remain serious—Tuffnut was outraged by the statement, but thought better than to irk Hiccup on.

"But I wanna make a flying mermaiiddddddd!"

Astrid wasn't too lucky with keeping her short and surprised snort quiet.

"Hiccup you will burn yourself."

"You can't stop me!"

"Hiccup you're supposed to be the responsible cousin here. You are the responsible one. You should know even in this state that forging without being fully alert is dangerous."

The auburn-haired hybrid grumbled like a toddler, crossing his arms over his chest, ears twitching in annoyance.

Thirty minutes later, he had settled on flirting with an iron rock. His pickup lines that he had probably pulled out of Hel itself would have been infuriating if he wasn't literally flirting with a rock.

Tuffnut lost it after holding back for nearly two and a half hours when Hiccup finally leaned in seductively and whispered: "I can make you rock hard, baby." A pun and a pickup line all in one. It was as if Loki was with them in the flesh.

"Hiccup NO!" Tuffnut was laughing too hard to know who said it.

"HICCUP YOU KINKY LITTLE SHI—"

"Snotlout!"

"I DIDN'T KNOW HE HAD THAT IN HIM."

"Snotlout seriously, don't encourage him!"

"I'M PROUD, I REALLY AM. HOLY CRAP."

"SNOTLOUT."

"C'mon, iron I just want a little loooooooove~"

"Hiccup please."

"I'M GONNA SHOVE THIS BLOCK UP MY A—"

"HiCCUP!"

Suddenly Meatlug's stomach growled. She stared at one of the smaller iron rocks near Hiccup's 'beloved'. She picked one up and popped it in her mouth, chewing with little difficulty. Hiccup gasped and yelled 'no' in the most dramatic voice any of them had ever seen.

"OUR BABYYYYYY NOOOOOOOOO—"

"Hiccup that is a rock."

"—OOOOOOOOOOOO—"

"I don't think he's listening."

"—OOOOOOOOOO!"

Hiccup lunged at Meatlug, (Toothless yelped at the sudden jerk) who squeaked and fell back into Fishlegs, out of his reach. She swallowed, and Hiccup looked like he wanted to actually cry. He looked at his outstretched arm, and noticed a few small scratches from when he had clipped the door in his house that morning. (Not that he remembered that in his current predicament) He blinked a few times, before turning back to the gang.

"…do you wanna know how I got these scars?" He asked in all seriousness in the most ridiculous voice possible.

Everyone sighed simultaneously.

The next thirty minutes passed faster, as Hiccup seemed to become more aware with every minute the Dragon Nip wore off. And soon, he was completely back to normal, sporting a permanent blush on his face. He swallowed a few times as he looked around at the group gathered around him, and Toothless sitting in his lap.

"….No one tells Dad."

Chapter Text

Hiccup was walking through the streets of Berk, looking for Toothless, who wasn't at his side for what seemed like the first time in forever. His dragon had taken off at a full on sprint a few moments ago, and basically just disappeared into thin air at the speed he was going. The teen scoffed at the memory, and called out the Night Fury's name in slight annoyance, cupping his hands over his mouth to magnify his voice. Villagers glanced absentmindedly at him, hearing the noise. He had the mind set to ask if any of them had seen where Toothless had gone. Sadly though, he got no real answers as the Vikings would just shake their heads, clueless, and shrug their shoulders in sympathy. Hiccup didn't mind too much though, a dragon ripping through Berk at full speed wasn't exactly something any of them paid much attention to anymore.

Pretty common, actually.

Suddenly there was the familiar roar of his best friend. Hiccup smiled and rolled his eyes simultaneously, a weird combination, and headed off in the direction of the noise. He ended up between two houses close to the forge. Said houses were so close together, most of the space in between them was covered in shade instead of what should be the afternoon light. Perfect place a Night Fury would want to take cover for a quick nap during the daytime.

Hiccup called out Toothless' name, jogging into the alleyway, where he could make out the dragon's silhouette. His best friend turned towards him, all smiles, and bounded up to him, circling around him a few times like an excited toddler. Hiccup couldn't be annoyed with him for too long for running away, he guessed.

Toothless sniffed and licked him for a few seconds, greeting his rider with enthusiasm as if he was the one that ran off instead of the night fury.

"Yeah, yeah. Nice to see you too, Bud. Now c'mon, we're late for training." Hiccup said offhandedly, more worried about what the gang was doing unsupervised at the Academy, now that he had found his best friend. He moved to hop on top of Toothless, before the dragon suddenly stiffened up in what looked like either fear or shock.

"Toothless? What's wrong, bud?" Hiccup asked, just as suddenly concerned. Toothless never really showed any negative emotions besides maybe jealousy in such calm situations. He reached out a hand to set it on Toothless' snout, but he jerked back, emerald eyes turning to slits almost immediately. The dragon let out a low growl, eyes unfocused, and started swaying. Hiccup felt a slight trickle of fear build up within him. It looked just like the Red Death was trying to take control of his best friend again, but that wasn't possible. The 'queen' was dead, there was no possible way for her to be able to control any of the dragons on Berk—

Wh-why were they…on Dragon Island…? They were in an alleyway on Berk a second ago. Hiccup felt his heart start pounding, and vile rise up into his throat as he gasped, stumbling to the ground, looking around at their fog-covered surroundings that were very much Dragon Island.

Or at least, he thought….they had been…on…Berk…?

Suddenly, as if the situation couldn't get any worse, a terrifying, bone-chilling, excruciatingly ear-busting roar echoed through the air, riveting off of anything that got in the way of the blast of sound. Hiccup could have sworn he felt his heart stop in his very chest. He could physically see the soundwaves.

That was the scream of the Red Death. The dead Red Death. O-or was she never dead at all? N-no he distinctly remembered defeating her—wh-why was she here—why were they here?!

Suddenly, with ground-shuddering steps, the giant tyrant came into view. Hiccup didn't have any time to even breath before he was up in the air. When did he get onto Toothless? When did they get—so—high…? They were up in the near pitch black clouds now. How had he missed that?

There was another bone-cracking screech behind them—they were plummeting? It was…if Hiccup wasn't nearly paralyzed with fear and disoriented beyond belief he would have been severely confused.

Suddenly he shouted 'now!'

Why did he do tha—

Toothless whipped around, a severe sense of déjà vu washed over Hiccup in a sickening way but he couldn't place why, exactly, and fired a plasma blast into the beast's gaping, tooth-filled mouth, which instantly imploded upon impact with the flame.

There was a neck-breaking jerk as Toothless snapped his wings out, bringing their decent to a near stop and shot to the side—which was impossible because the dragon needed Hiccup to turn anymore but then again Hiccup's seemed to be running on automatic, as if they had done this…bef…ore…?

Like a memory.

Hiccup didn't have time to process the thought. The mace-like tail, bigger than his entire house, had come into view. Toothless roared. Hiccup frantically snapped is prosthetic, (He had a feeling that he shouldn't quite have it yet but he didn't know why) shifting the gears in Toothless' tail by mere instinct, pushing down the overwhelming feeling of dread and defeat that he knew he had felt before as if it had happened in this instant in the past, and prayed.

Miraculously, the fin worked. Hiccup let out a gigantic breath of relief as he and his best friend angled up, out of the reach of the tail. They kept on traveling up, up, up and the small Viking was positive that they were in the clear; climbing away from the suffocating, burning, terror-inducing flames that were building at feet per second, literally right on their tail. They were home free, they were gonna head back to Berk and go into the arena and train and— and then Toothless let out a roar.

No, a scream.

But Toothless can't….scream.

Suddenly, Hiccup was suspended in air, Toothless was nowhere in sight.

Or maybe it was the fact that he was, Hiccup just couldn't process the fact that it was him.

A boy his age, maybe a few months older at the most, was beside him, obviously in shock. He was staring down down down at the building inferno beneath them, gaze one of pure terror.

It was as if they were suspended in time. Hiccup could do nothing but stare, heart pounding out of his chest, not sure whether to focus on the building chaos and certain death below them or the boy beside him, in the same predicament as he was.

They locked gazes.

He had Toothless' eyes.

Suddenly, everything snapped into time again, and they started plummeting at a sickening rate. Toothless screamed something to Hiccup, he couldn't hear over the deafening roar of the fire that was now coming closer at double the speed.

The raven-haired teen reached out frantically to grab him, flailing in the air, but it was too late.

Hiccup didn't even know how to describe the feeling of the flames engulfing him.

The flames were suffocating. They were blinding. They hurt. Still pretty weak descriptions.

He was being burnt alive.

Still didn't describe the full extent of it, but he supposed that was close enough.

He was falling and being incinerated simultaneously. The twisting of his gut added to everything around him and part of him wondered how he had even survived that long to be feeling any of this. Surely in any normal situation he would have already been dead.

Oh gods, why him.

And then, just when he thought it wouldn't get any worse, Hiccup felt something tense up. Something that felt wrong and couldn't place, but he knew that it somehow was coming from him. Then he felt three things rip painfully out of his back. He didn't hear it. The fire was still raging all around him. It probably would have been more painful if he wasn't already being burnt alive. That didn't stop him from screaming.

He couldn't hear it.

"Hiccup, wake up!"

The younger hybrid shot straight up, cliché position and all. The scream he couldn't hear previously suddenly came into full volume, ripping from his throat. His nerves burned as his mind replayed the dream, convinced that he was actually living it out. Hiccup gripped at his tunic as he gasped out of fear, rolling to his side, doubling over and almost throwing up. He felt Toothless wrap his arms around him and lean into him from behind. (it pressed the wings on his pack together awkwardly but he didn't really care at the moment)

The raven-haired hybrid sat up, bringing Hiccup with him, and shifted so that there was enough room for him to realign his rider's wings comfortably against his back before pulling him closer than before. He rocked slightly as he continued to breathe raggedly.

Amidst the disorientation and the burning of his limbs, Hiccup felt Toothless take his hands in his own, crossing them over his chest and forcing him to focus on breathing. It was a welcome distraction, and his vision eventually cleared up. For him to realize he was in his own room.

Toothless was mumbling in his ear, talking in that half-asleep voice that someone uses when they're woken up in the middle of the night. The night fury pressed his temple against his own in a nuzzle of some sort. Hiccup could still feel his heart pounding out of his chest.

Just a dream just a dream, just a dream, just a dream it's just a dream, Hiccup you're fine I'm right here you're safe you're okay I'm not gonna let anything happen to you."

Toothless' words blended in with his frantic repeating in his head, taking it over completely. The small Viking took a couple more deep breaths before leaning into his dragon, the adrenaline rush leaving his body and resulting in a major lack of energy.

At least he was safe.

Stoick came up a few seconds later, stumbling a bit over a discarded journal that laid in the middle of the floor out of his haste. He carried a cup of water in his hand. Hiccup uttered the smallest thanks ever as he took it. He didn't feel like drinking (in fact he felt downright sick to his stomach) but it was the routine. Why? He didn't know. Maybe it had to do with the coolness of it. It cleared his head.

Nightmare, water, talk for a bit, then try and get some more sleep.

Although that last one never really turned out very successfully. No one in the Haddock household had gotten a good night's sleep in over a month.

Hiccup looked around tiredly. The moon shone through his window, the early autumn breeze blew lazily.

He took a sip.

"The same one again?" Stoick asked in that voice. He felt Toothless wrap his tail around his own in a sort of hug.

Hiccup nodded.

And so the routine continued.


 

Astrid was sprinting. She was running as if the Red Death itself was behind her. Her lungs burned, her legs ached, she had one of those foot cramps that make you want to scream louder than Thor's thunder.

She didn't know how long she had been running. A couple hours at least. All she knew is that she needed to get to the end of the hall.

That sounds really easy, right?

Wrong.

This particular hallway was a pain in the ass. No matter how long she ran it seemed that it would never end. Its torments were as crude as the cuts on the rock walls it was made out of. It would twist and turn and even go up or downhill some times, but as soon as it would look like she would see the exit, it would expand out of reach again.

The blonde skidded around another corner, hand scraping the ground as she lost her balance. She knew if she stopped now she would collapse in a dead faint.

There was the sound again. A mixture between a tortured scream and a terrifying roar. It made Astrid want to turn around and sprint in the other direction as fast as she could, but something kept pulling her towards it. It was like…she knew who—or what— was behind the scream.

Obviously it was a friend, maybe a family member. Otherwise her instincts wouldn't be screaming for her to help.

She always trusted her instincts.

She narrowed her eyes, grimace turning into a scowl as the hallway elongated again. Another scream echoed through the rock tunnel.

Except this time it was female. It was Astrid's own scream as she tripped, flying a few feet because of the speed she was going before landing with a giant 'oof' that knocked the breath out of her for a few seconds.

She lay there, heaving for breath, lungs seeming to never get enough air into them. She was done for.

Whoever was screaming, they were done for. She couldn't reach them. She didn't have the energy to even push herself up onto her knees.

She had failed.

Astrid Hofferson had failed.

The shield maiden screamed again, fist hitting the rock ground weakly. The scream of the other thing answered back, closer this time, louder. Tormenting her.

She had been so close to it.

The scream echoed again, hurting her ears. She flinched. Her heart wrenched. Where had she heard that scream before?

The scream echoed again, even louder. Astrid started to get scared.

Again, and again, and again it screamed, each one louder in intensity until Astrid found herself shaking her head and crying for it to stop. It filled up her head and rang in her ears and she could have sworn her heart beat along with the sound of it.

She begged and begged for it to stop, as if she was feeling the pain behind those screams.

The last one she heard lasted even after she gained consciousness.

Astrid let out shuddering breaths as she laid still in her bed, feet tangled up in the blankets from what she assumed was tossing and turning. She laid there for Odin knows how long, a silent string of tears leaving her crystal orbs. Stormfly woke up a half an hour later, and squawked concerningly upon seeing her rider in the state that she was.

Astrid finally sat up, shaking her head and scrubbing her eyes. She looked out her window.

The moon was shining, the breeze was blowing.

"I'm fine, Stormfly." She said in a low voice. Hiccup's scream echoed in her mind.

"Just fine."


 

They were in the cell back on Outcast island. Snotlout was proud of himself for having recognized that.

…but he…couldn't remember how they had gotten there.

No matter, if anyone asked he would make something up and hope they took it. If not, a few punches will make 'em forget.

Wait, why were they here?

The raven-haired Viking looked around at the gang. Hiccup, Fishlegs, the Twins, and Astrid were all there. All of them seemed to be in a terrible mood.

"No, Fish that'll never work!" Hiccup snapped, totally unlike him, "We can't bribe them with Icelandic cod if they've taken all of our stuff!"

Snotlout had to agree with his cousin on that one. But since when was Fishlegs so unobservant? Surely he of all people would have known that their stuff was gone. And Icelandic cod, seriously?

Astrid was tapping her foot impatiently by the bars. Snotlout noticed that her knuckles were bleeding, probably from trying to escape. He walked up to her, leaning on one of the bars across from her. She turned her scowled (yet still beautiful) face on him when he asked: "So how long have we been here?"

Hey, it had just occurred to him that he didn't know how long their visit had been, either.

Astrid stared at him for a full thirty seconds, and Snotlout was sure he wasn't getting an answer from her and was about to go ask someone else, when she said, "One week."

One week? Where had his mind been for that expanse of time?

He gazed over the remaining people in the cell, slightly dazed. (he kept his sight on Hiccup slightly longer than normal because he was almost positive something was missing from him) They sure did look like they had been there a week. Dirty clothes, dirt covered skin, messy hair….Suddenly he was aware that someone was coming down the hallway. Alvin the Treacherous came sauntering in, evil smile clear as day on his ugly features.

"Do we have a deal yet, Dragon Conqueror?" The Outcast chief asked, leaning on the bars. Dang, everything seemed to be going pretty fast for Snotlout. Then again, he still didn't know what exactly was going on. It was almost like a dream.

Snotlout's cousin scoffed, obviously the beginning of a 'no' statement. "Do you really think we would even consider trading our dragons' lives for our freedom, Alvin?" He deadpanned.

The Viking tilted his head to the side in a sort of half nod, before saying, "I suppose it was a bit of a stretch…no matter, I've come to offer you another bargain." He paused, letting the words sink in. Snotlout felt his hopes rising, and it looked like everyone else did, too. Alvin then lazily glanced at Snotlout, almost pointedly.

"In exchange for your freedom, you all will have to leave one of your members behind." The Outcast began, making sure Hiccup was listening. Snotlout almost snorted, knowing there was no way on the entire earth that Hiccup would agree to it.

"And who, exactly, do you want to stay?" Astrid asked, clearly annoyed.

Alvin chuckled, before pointing lazily towards, what Snotlout realized with growing dread, was him. Why would Alvin want him of all people anyway? Snotlout was sure he would have wanted Hiccup.

There was stunned silence.

Then Hiccup started laughing. A disbelieving laugh. A hysterical laugh….no it wasn't that it was….

"Deal!"

…it was a relieved laugh.

"What!?" Snotlout cried, suddenly feeling lightheaded. Surely his cousin was joking.

But then he noticed everyone else nodding along, almost enthusiastically. It didn't take long for him to realize they were serious. One-hundred percent serious. They were leaving him here. Oh gods, this was really happening. They couldn't abandon him! He was Snotlout! They needed him!

The raven-haired teen felt his breath pick up in anxiety. It was a strange feeling. Alvin unlocked the gate without another word, and allowed five of the six dragon riders to be let through. Snotlout slammed against the bars just as the Outcast shut it.

"You traitors!" he yelled, anger flooding his system as the five were escorted away. Not a single one looked back.

"You disgusting sons' of half-trolls!" he continued to scream, "You'll regret this! You need me! You'll be back!"

He kept on screaming insults and profanities and even bribes after them, waiting for Hiccup to double back, tell him to go with a plan he had created, or for the Twins to come in with Barf and Belch and blow him out of there, Fishlegs to come with a key and throw it at him, or even Astrid to come and punch him in the arm and tell him to shove off would have been nice.

But there were no answers.

And that's when it sunk in that they were actually gone. They had actually left him. People he had considered friends, heck one was even family, abandoned him.

Snotlout slumped against the wall in utter defeat, stunned. "Y-you can't just…leave me here!" He called out. His words echoed off the walls, uncertain. Snotlout almost laughed when he noticed his voice was strained, on the verge of tears. This really was unrealistic. It really was like a dream.

…maybe he deserved it. All those years of teasing and bullying had finally caught back up to him in the worst form of karma that could ever be experienced. Well, to him, at least.

It was dark. Snotlout swallowed. It had been hours since he had heard any noise. A lousy meal was tossed through the bars. A meal for one.

"…Guys…?"

"…"

"…."

"….."

"please, don't leave me."

Snotlout woke without a start. He sat up slowly, feeling no form of sleepiness. He got up out of his bed, almost on reflex, and walked downstairs, careful not to wake his parents or Hookfang, who was sleeping on the floor in his room. He opened the front door, and stepped out into the early morning world. He didn't bother closing the door all the way, and sat down on the grass outside, ignoring the dew that clung to his pants and tunic.

He sat like that for a long time. How long, he didn't know. He didn't say anything. He kept his head in his hands, elbows resting on his knees.

Sometime during his thoughts he came to recognize just how much dewdrops look like tears.

He didn't cry though.

Snotlout took a deep breath. He could hear the distant waves of the ocean crash onto the shore, concealed by the walls of the house earlier. It mixed with the sound of his dad's snores coming from inside the house.

The moon was shining, the autumn breeze ruffled his hair.

He wasn't fine, but he was going to be.

After all, he knew he would never be alone. Or at least, he hoped.

It was only a dream.


 

Tuffnut loved his sister.

Or course, he would never admit that out loud, but he did.

And he knew that she loved him, in some weird, twisted way.

Of course they didn't tell each other this, their equivalent of hugs were punches to the face so hard that a few teeth would be knocked loose; their equivalent to figuring out a problem was to find the most destructive way to get rid of it, their sibling bonding was bickering and blowing said problems up all while screaming curses at one another. Their equivalent to saying I love you lied somewhere in that spectrum.

But it was pretty hard to figure out why he loved her at that exact moment.

There was another boulder hurdled at him, followed by a cackle from Ruffnut.

Really. Hard.

"Dear sister, stop this foolishness at once!" Tuffnut demanded, puffing out his chest and raising a finger in a demanding manner.

Of course, normally he would be all for being nailed by a boulder or two, but these just so happened to be on fire.

Covered in yak dung.

Thrown by Barf and Belch at Ruffnut's command.

Against his will.

Oh yeah, and it was raining like Thor had decided to take all of the twins pent up karma and release it on this very day. It was a wonder that the deadly boulders weren't extinguished as soon as they were lit.

"No!" Ruffnut cackled over the sound of the rain, another rock was chucked Tuffnut's way and managed to hit him in the head. "It brings me joy watching you in pain."

"Well it certainly doesn't bring me much j—OW, okay! That was like—an uncool amount of pain. Give me back my dragon!"

"uh, it's our dragon, you moron, which means he's also mine! And I say no!" Another rock was chucked.

Tuffnut slipped on the mud, feet coming out from under him and landing with a giant 'oof!', causing a tsunami of mud to explode in his wake. He saw stars, and not the good kind.

A smaller boulder hit him in the stomach, knocking any leftover air out of him.

Ruffnut laughed somewhere amidst the downpour.

Tuffnut sucked in a big gulp of air for the purpose of sighing really loudly. He got up, and charged in the direction of his sister, tackling her off of Barf before she could even react, bringing both of them rolling down into the mud of the cove.

"Hey! Uncool, I was just having a little fuuun!" She whined, chucking a fistful of mud at him. Tuffnut snorted and chucked two fistfuls at her, resulting in a Thorston-style mudfight.

By the time the siblings where wiped out and laying on the ground (which was just plain mud by then) the rainstorm had started to clear up. The two laid there for a bit, just letting the rain wash the mud off of their bodies.

"…okay I guess that was just the tiniest bit of fun." Tuffnut said after a while, rubbing the growing knot on his forehead. Ruffnut laughed, and punched him in the face with one more ball of mud.

"But we should probably be heading back. Hiccup's gonna be pretty mad if we don't show up for patrol like last time." Ruff admitted. Tuffnut had to nod in agreement.

And so, the two got up, and started heading over to their dragon—

Only to find that Barf and Belch weren't anywhere in sight.

Tuffnut narrowed his eyes, looking around the cove to see if he had missed something, or to just plain find a way out. See, while Hookfang was known better for leaving Snotlout in places, it wasn't unheard of for the Zippleback to leave the twins in random places as well. So it was totally a reasonable (that was a first) for Tuffnut to be looking for an alternate way out of the place.

The two called their dragon's name for a bit and, coming up dragonless, Tuffnut eventually turned to Ruffnut to ask her if she knew a different way out of here.

Buuut of course, Ruffnut had disappeared too.

"That devious female!" Tuffnut exclaimed, stomping back to the edge of the pond through the mud and putting his hands on his hips, "She must have found our dragon and left without me! NO MATTER, FOR I SHALL BEAT HER TO THE ACADEMY WITH NOTHING BUT MY BEAR HANDS!"

He then pulled a stick out of his boot, and stared at it for a while.

"Along with this stick!"

Then his feet were swiped out from under him.

And a cackle rang through the air. Tuffnut was sure he had heard the laugh before—or maybe even the voice that the laugh belonged to. He was just certain that it wasn't Ruffnut.

"Hey! Let me go!"

Yeah, why would Ruffnut be yelling at herself to let go? Tuffnut turned in the direction of the noise to find frankly one of the most bizarre things he's seen in his life. And he's seen a lot of bizarre things, let me tell you.

Ruffnut was suspended in air. No, not like her clothing or hair was caught on anything, she was literally floating in the air. Tuffnut felt a giant tidal wave of jealousy wash over him as he jogged up to her.

"Hey, buttelf, what are you doing up there?" He called up to her.

"You think I asked to be up here?" She called back down to him. "It's really uncomfortable when you have to pee!" She said the last part deliberately, turning her head to look at the third person in the cove that Tuffnut just now realized was there.

It was a woman, middle aged, probably, skinny with brown clothing on that matched her equally brown hair and eyes. A green pendant hung from her neck. Tuffnut recognized her as the with from Outcast island that happened…..happened…..he couldn't exactly remember but that was pretty normal. So anyway—

"What are you doing to my sister?" He asked, in slightly disgusted confusion. "Seriously, what are you doing with her I mean, she smells gross."

"IT'S THE FISH OIL!" He heard Ruff yell.

The witch didn't say anything, which Tuffnut felt was kinda weird but he didn't think anything of it.

Before he knew it, there were choking sounds from behind him. They started up so suddenly, he wasn't sure what they were for the first few seconds. He whipped around to find Ruffnut suddenly thrashing in the air, kicking her legs as her hands gripped at her throat, panic clear on her usually carefree features. Tuffnut swallowed.

"Hey, seriously, stop. Only I'm allowed to do that to her." He felt a wave of anger wash through him. The witch still didn't answer. Her amulet was glowing so intently it reminded Tuffnut of Toothless' eyes a bit.

He felt his heart beat faster as his sister still continued choking. Her face was turning blue.

"S-seriously!" he yelped, "Stop, just—" he lunged at the witch, not bothering to finish the sentence, realizing that his sister was in actual trouble.

To his terror, he found he fell right through the woman. Right through her.

The witch cackled again. Over and over again Tuffnut lunged at her, trying to grab something, anything, to make her stop whatever she was doing.

Somewhere in his frantic fighting, he managed to clip the amulet on her neck with his wrist. It ripped off her neck almost too easily, falling to the ground.

And just like that, she was gone.

Tuffnut stood, breathing heavily for a second or two, before he turned back to Ruffnut, who was still suspended in air with the remaining magic in the air.

The blond automatically knew that something was wrong with her, with growing up in a Viking society that was attacked by dragons every other week, usually resulting in injuries. He wasn't that stupid, he just wouldn't accept it. His sister's eyes stared foreword, blank. Her body was limp, like a ragdoll. Her face was frozen in a permanent fixture of panic. All telltale signs of the thing he didn't want to believe.

Tuffnut let out a cry as his twin's lifeless body hit the ground with a sickening thud, as if wanting to drive fully into his brain what was wrong with her.

Dead.

Suddenly he was in a dark room, three figures hovering over him, talking frantically and shaking him repeatedly. It felt like an earthquake. He found that he couldn't breathe. He quickly shot up, pressing against the headboard of his bed. (he vaguely recognized that he was in Ruffnut and his room, that's why it was dark) He found he was cold, he was shaking uncontrollably and he was covered in goosebumps. He could hear the blood rushing in his ears.

His eyes focused enough for him to realize that the people crowding him were Barf, Belch and his sister. They were chattering and spitting out question after question so fast Tuffnut could hardly understand them.

He took a couple deep breaths, forcing himself to calm down and take some air into his lungs.

Ruffnut was here. She was alive. It was a dream. Calm down, Thor, calm down. It's a godsdamned dream.

"Hey, numskull, what was that about?" Ruffnut sneered in a good-natured way, something only the Thorston's had mastered.

She was given an answer when Tuffnut tackled her. She was all ready for a full-on fist fight—

But this was different it….was a….hug?

Her brother's skin was clammy. She could feel his heart beating a million times a minute, it almost completely drowned out the sound of Barf and Belch's questions, now in the background. He was shaking, too. She was surprised his spine hadn't fallen out yet. (that would have been so awesome)

"H-hey…" She stuttered out, unsure what to do in this situation. She awkwardly wrapped her arms around her twin. "Hey, idiot, what are you doing? This is the worst wrestle I've ever experienced if—"

"Don't scare me like that." Tuffnut choked. Ruffnut was floored. He actually sounded like he was going to cry.

Ruffnut found her arms wrap tighter around him, this one more natural. She leaned into the hug, pressing her cheek against his shoulderblade.

She could hear the breeze blowing outside. The moon shone through a few cracks in the roof. (that may or may not be a result of the two horsing around) Tuffnut's breathing eventually returned to normal.

"Well, I'll only scare you if it's reasonable." She anwered after a while. Whatever nightmare her twin must have had, it was obviously terrible.

Tuffnut snorted.

They kept hugging.


 

Meatlug was really annoyed.

She rolled over in her makeshift bed, glaring at the other side of the room, where Fishlegs was currently sitting at his desk, reading quietly.

Usually she wouldn't be bothered by this. But it had been happening for a whole week now. And it was like, four in the morning. She was seriously annoyed. Maybe even a bit worried.

"Fish, go to sleep." She whined for the umpteenth time, pulling a pillow over her head as she tried to block out the light of the candle. There was a sigh, followed by the turning of a page.

He was ignoring her.

Meatlug let out a low reptilian growl, squeezing her eyes shut, picking up the pillow with her right hand, and chucking it at him.

She heard the pillow make contact with what was probably half her rider's shoulders and half the backside of the chair he was sitting on. He continued writing without even acknowledging her or her crappy assault.

The Gronkle stayed laying down for a moment more, before sighing in defeat and sitting straight up. She swung her legs over the side of her cot and stood straight up, marching over to the other side of the room with what felt like a life or death purpose at that moment.

"Fishlegs, seriously." She sighed, rubbing her eyes so she could glare properly. "You need to sleep. For the love of Thor, I need to sleep." The blond pretended he wasn't listening. Meatlug knew he was pretending because he had gone from a normal pace of flipping pages, to turning the pages of the book every five seconds, which definitely wasn't long enough to read the runes on the page.

Meatlug took a deep breath, calming down and crossing her arms over her chest. (it was a weird sensation, being able to bend her arms in new ways, but she was getting used to it) "This isn't…Fish this isn't just about me being annoyed anymore, I'm worried about you!" She admitted, watching him closely. "You haven't slept in over three days, 'Legs. Three. Days. And what, humans start going insane after like, five?" She remembered briefly reading something about that from somewhere. (Fishlegs had taught her to read early on. She was a really fast learner, apparently)

Fishlegs didn't answer. Well, not right away. Meatlug was about to actually drag him to his bed and tie him down with the closest thing she could find when he finally spoke. He leaned back in the chair he was in, and slowly shut the book with one finger, closing his eyes and tilting his head back until the back of his skull rested against the top of the chair. He let out a long sigh, a defeated one. Meatlug finally noticed just how sleep deprived he actually was. The bags under his eyes were terrible, if that was anything to go by.

"Meatlug it's not that easy." He whispered.

Meatlug swallowed, pressing her lips together and leaning against the desk slightly. Her arms tightened around her waist and she grabbed a bit of her tunic. "What do you mean." She whispered back, gaze trailing to the back of the book that was lying on the desk.

There was silence for almost a full minute. The brunette flickered her gaze up to watch her rider for a moment. His Adam's Apple was bobbing. "It's—I…Meatlug the dreams are…" He trailed off, gaze trailing to a dark corner of the room.

Meatlug felt any hard feelings towards her rider drop like a pin at the sentence. Oh.

"…Nightmares?" She asked, more of a statement than a question. Fishlegs nodded anyway. The gronkle stared at the floor.

"...What…happens in them?" She ventured, unsure of what she was saying, "Maybe if you talked about it…it'll help you cope with them." She was just spitting out nonsense now, but if it got her rider to sleep…

Fishlegs swallowed, and continued watching the dark corner of the room, as if a shadow creature would jump out at them if he looked away. He took a giant breath, as if he was preparing to take a dive underwater, before starting.

"It starts out in the Academy. Everyone's there and we're just…talking. I don't really know what we're talking about, but it sets a calming feeling to the setting."

Meatlug waited for him to continue, her gaze also trailed to the corner of the room. They just stared at it for a while. "Then Hiccup says something and we—we all laugh, y'know? I don't hear the joke but somehow it's just really funny…"

He trails off. They sit in silence for a whole minute. Meatlug knew that was the end of the good part of the dream. She needed him to continue though. "And…?" She asked.

"…And…and then there's this…terrifying screech, like Loki himself had arrived at Berk." Fishlegs continued, "And then suddenly I blink and everyone's in a different part of the arena, all pinned to the walls and—and—"

"Fish, breathe. Remember it's just a dream."

The Viking bit his tongue. Meatlug saw a flash of what looked like guilt in his features. She sure as Hel smelled it.

"…It looked like we had all been mauled by a dragon." Fishlegs whispers out. The gronkle felt her heart almost stop. A chill ran down her spine, causing her wings to flutter a bit. "A-and then I realize that Hiccup's not there like he's nowhere in sight."

Fishlegs was starting to babble now. Meatlug didn't stop him because she knew that this was the only way he was going to be able to talk about this. She would just have to listen harder, if that was even possible.

"And then Dagur comes in like he just appeared out of nowhere, Hiccup's at his side all dragon-ed out and Toothless is gone. He says something but I don't understand it, the Gang answers back but I can't understand it either, and then Dagur says something to Hiccup and he just—he lunges at Astrid and he—he—he rips her throat open like it's nothing a-and then He does the same to Tuffnut and then Snotlout and then Ruffnut but every time he does it to someone else it becomes slower and more agonizing and his teeth are bared and his eyes are slits and I could smell the fire on his tongue and oh gods."

Fishlegs came to an abrupt stop, covering his eyes with shaky hands. Before Meatlug could consult him he continued. "I always wake up right as he slits my…" He gulped, and let out a shaky breath. Meatlug leaned forward and placed her hands on his shoulders in an attempt to comfort him.

"Fish, Fishlegs, it's okay." She choked out, still in shock. That…that wasn't just a dream that was…that came straight out of Hel.

"The thing that irks me the most is that I don't realize where it's going or don't recognize it until it's too late and can't do anything about it." The Viking rambled, fiddling with the book he had taken up in his hands in an attempt to distract himself. "And I just feel so guilty because any time I look at Hiccup anymore it just brings me back to the dream and just the blood and the murder that was in his eyes, Meatlug it was terrifying. Like I know he would never do that in his own will but Dagur or someone can always—mind control him or something I—"

"'Legs, that's never going to happen okay?" She pushed the thought about the Queen or even the rumored Kings she had heard so much about that had mind control powers out of her mind. "Toothless would never let that happen and I'm positive your chief wouldn't either."

Fishlegs was staring at the cover of the book. Meatlug finally realized it was the book of dragons, as he had flipped it open to the (now revised) page of the Night Fury. Meatlug read the runes at the bottom of the page.

Unholy offspring of lightning and death itself.

"…but what if it does?" He croaked out.

Meatlug only swallowed. She didn't know how to answer that.

"We'll just have to hope it doesn't." She whispered.

There was another long silence. The candle flickered, casting dancing shadows on the wall that Meatlug liked to watch since she was a hatchling. Suddenly, he rider yawned, which caused her to yawn, too. The two stared at each other for a moment before bursting into snickers, which was caught up by another round of yawns.

"Seriously, Fish. Go to bed." Meatlug tried again after a bit. She was surprised when the boy actually nodded, getting up and stumbling over to his bed. Meatlug picked up her pillow as her rider kicked off his boots.

She had settled down on her cot when she heard Fishlegs mumble: "Thanks, Meatlug."

The brunette smiled, and flicked her gaze in the general direction of her rider. "No thanks needed." She whispered back.

She was met by a sigh from her rider. One of relief this time. And even after she had settled down, she stayed awake for a little while more, staring at the ceiling for quite some time. It was about thirty minutes into this demeanor that she realized the candle that her rider had lit was still burning. Meatlug sighed, and tilted her head to look over at the candle.

Suddenly, a cool autumn breeze blew through the room, blowing the candle out with a simple whisper.

The moon shone through the window as if answering the whisper of the candle. Her rider's soft snoring reached her ears. Meatlug felt a smile grace her lips as she drifted off.

Chapter Text

"Toothless."

"Nnnyyyeah?"

"W-what you doin' there, bud?"

"Eating."

"…a raw salmon?"

"….yes."

"With a spoon?"

"…..yesss?"

Hiccup almost burst out laughing, and rolled his eyes so far back he was sure they would sink into his skull. He had to admit, one of the better things of this….situation—was Toothless' antics as he tried to live as, well, a human resident. Half human resident. Whatever.

Hiccup had to feel guilty, of course, and constantly had to remind himself that his dragon simply didn't know these things, but it's kind of hard not to laugh when you see someone try to balance a fully in tact dead fish on a spoon.

…make that, glare sadly at the floor as the fish flopped off the spoon and fell with a splat at his feet.

This time Hiccup did snort, mostly at Toothless' face, which was basically one of pure misery as he dropped to his hands and knees, placing his right cheek on the ground, and poked the fish with the tip of his spoon.

"Bud, you do know a fork or even knife would be a more suitable option for that." Hiccup announced, tilting his head to the side.

Toothless sat back on his haunches sending a glare at his rider over his shoulder, mimicking the other night fury hybrid with a few poorly accented grumbles.

"Hi, I'm Hiccup and I think I know soooo much more about human eating utensils than my awesome Night Fury bróðir simply because I've been human longer than he has!" He said, mixing a bit of dragonese into the sentence.

Hiccup scrunched his nose in a 'playfully annoyed' kind of way. "Okay, first off, I don't sound like that—that character is someone you obviously created up in your head." The auburn-haired teen stated, standing up and walking over to the cupboard and pulling out a fork, "Second off,"—he walked over and thrust the knife into his friend's face—"try this, oh utensil master, and see how it works"

Toothless snatched the fork from Hiccup in a bout of annoyance, and stabbed the fish.

The fish stayed on the fork as he lifted it up off the ground with no difficulty.

"….This changes nothing." Toothless said after a moment, taking a bite out of the still raw fish. Hiccup shuddered, and went back to the seat he was in, picking up his journal and continuing to draw.

Toothless eventually sauntered over to Hiccup, fish-kabob still in his right hand, and watched with a tilted head as Hiccup continued doodling. This continued for about half an hour, (Hiccup drew a very detailed fork just to spite Toothless) before Toothless plucked the remains of the skewered and slightly slobbery fish off the fork, and plopped it in Hiccup's lap.

He was met with a bunch of groans and exclamations of 'disgusting!' and 'Toothless!' from his rider. He stared in confusion as Hiccup picked up the fish's tail between his thumb and pointer finger, throwing it into the fire. He then proceeded to grumble and wipe his hand on his tunic.

"Why do you do that?" Toothless asked. He actually sounded offended.

"Do what?" Hiccup asked, now actually annoyed, "Throw away dead fish carcasses that you throw on me?"
Toothless nodded in a 'duh' kind of way. Hiccup stared at him in an 'are you kidding me' look.

"What, did I just flip the bird to the gods or something in doing that?" Hiccup asked jokingly, until he saw the night fury's face. "oh, wai—is….is it actually flipping off the gods?"

Toothless snorted despite his obvious negative emotions, and shook his head, sitting down beside his rider. "No, nothing like that, but it is considered inconsiderate or even rude among dragon cultures to not accept a fish."

Hiccup blinked. He shifted so that his tail wasn't so much underneath him. (it was starting to fall asleep) He squinted his eyes and leaned forward, facing his dragon who was directly in front of him.

"..You're not serious."

"I'm as serious as the Red Death was about filling her fat ass up with food." 

Hiccup continued staring, half in a not-believing state, and half in concentration to not burst out laughing at Toothless' analogy. "Wh-why is it so important like, what does it even stand for?" Hiccup asked, suddenly intrigued.

Toothless hummed, tilting his head to the side a bit and shifting. "Well, it can mean a lot of things. A show of gratitude or friendship, wanting to strengthen relationships, a show of trust, a sign of courting, or even love between mates and family members. It was a pretty considerate thing when we were under the queen's rule, considering she ate 99% of our food."

Hiccup furrowed his brow as he thought. With every passing day, dragon culture just seemed to get more and more complicated with the more he figured out. Of course, with the things Toothless referenced or explained, Hiccup would gain knowledge of it too, but then a new thing would be thrown in and set him back on the scale on 'dragon culture expert'. Suddenly something occurred to him.

"So…that day in the cove. And on the day after our first successful flight"—he ignored Toothless' grumble of 'I wouldn't consider that successful, we almost died'—"You were…showing gratitude?"

Toothless shrugged, flexing his cramped wings. "More or less. Was also kinda concerned for your weight since you basically weighed less than a hatchling. Wanted to make sure you were eating."

Hiccup rolled his eyes, but felt slightly guilty as well. "So, when we…don't accept those 'gifts', does that offend you guys?"

Toothless exhaled sharply, and readjusted so he was sitting criss-cross-applesauce on his chair. "Well, admittedly not as much as it would for a dragon to do it." He began, "But you humans do it to each other, too. You give each other food and stuff. Like dragons get that some of the stuff we eat aren't edible for the others to eat, but you guys eat fish. You even ate the first fish I gave you."

Hiccup understood Toothless' confusion, and he heard the hurt in his voice, so the night fury hybrid decided to explain some things. "Well, first off, before I get into things, I went home and puked up that fish because my body couldn't handle it so I mean—"

"—but you ate it!"

"I was scared out of my mind! I literally had what I believed to be the unholy offspring of lightning and death cornering me against a rock—"

Toothless interrupted with a laugh followed by a long sigh "I always loved the overdramatic names you Vikings gave me."

Hiccup glared. "Did you really think I was gonna consider disobeying you?" He finished in a deadpan question. Toothless straightened his back, grabbing his ankles and looking up at the ceiling. "I suppose that's a valid point…"

"Anyway…" Hiccup continued, "We usually cook our fish. And most aren't covered in dragon saliva." He emphasized, "I know dragons don't really mind it but humans don't really appreciate fish being wet in anything other than the sea water they came out of."

"Really? Honestly I think saliva is great, gives fish a bit of a—"

"I don't need to hear the end of that statement, Toothless!" Hiccup yelped, feeling a slight gag escape his throat. Toothless grumbled. "But you're right. Humans do share food, just maybe not to the extent that dragons do. As far as I know we don't use food to propose a marriage or to ask someone out on a date…" Hiccup added as an afterthought.

"Like you would know anything about dating."

"Shut up, you godsdamned cat with wings!"

"You take that back!"

"Cat with wings~, cat with wings~, cat with wings~!"

"You helvíti!"

"That better not mean what I think it means!"

It took them fifteen minutes (and a few yells from Stoick, whom had come back to pick something up before heading back out) to settle back down so Hiccup could continue.

"So basically like, food is used to show friendship and love between family and lovers on dates and stuff. Although we don't really consider it rude if you don't accept it unless like, you made an entire meal specifically for that person and they end up complaining about it…"

Toothless snorted at that. Hiccup couldn't help but let one of his own escape too. "But anyway yeah. It never occurred to us that we could actually be offending you, I don't think."

Toothless looked like he had just learned something entirely new, similar to the time all those weeks ago when he found out that human hatchlings could actually keep their body temperature at a constant level (Hiccup had learned a long time ago about the difference between humans and dragons in that situation. To say he was pissed was a slight understatement)

The two fell into a comfortable silence as they listened to the birds chirp from outside, joined by the occasional squawk of a terror. Suddenly something occurred to Hiccup. He glanced up across at Toothless, who was picking some dirt out from under his nail.

"…Toothless?" He asked, His dragon looked up at hearing the tenseness in his voice.

"Yeah?"

"…Could you turn back into a dragon, if you wanted, that is?"

Toothless blinked, not fully processing the question until a few seconds later. Then he jumped. "What, you mean right now?"

At his rider's nod, Toothless gulped. "Oh, uh…why?"

Hiccup shrugged nonchalantly, rubbing his arm where the fire was over exposed to it, making it feel a bit more uncomfortable than he would care for. "I dunno it's just, every other dragon has done it by now, some even multiple times. Why haven't you? I doubt you're still unable too."

Toothless avoided eye contact. "I uh…yeah I could transform back. I just don't…want to."

Hiccup shifted, leaning forward, feeling confusion bubble in his chest. "Why?"

Toothless rolled his eyes and threw his hands up in the air, shrugging as his tail swished in slight agitation. "I dunno, Hic, I just, I don't feel as connected to you as a dragon as I do as a human." He started, "I'm not able to comfort you or have conversations like this or anything as efficiently as I can in this form." The night fury let out a huff and slumped in his seat.

"So…if you feel that way…why didn't you just transform sooner…?" Hiccup asked, genuinely curious as to what his dragon's answer was going to be. He wasn't blaming him or accusing him of anything, he trusted Toothless too much to do that, but he was curious as to the explanation behind it.

Toothless picked up Hiccup's pencil and twirled it in his fingers. "The queen banned human forms during her reign." He began, "Said they were weak and insignificant forms. I don't know why she banned it so late, it happened when I was only a hatchling and quite frankly, the human forms helped us a bit. We would hide our dragon features and some knights and squires would head out to the mainland or nearby islands, trade some stuff we've found over the years for some other stuff like food or information…" He trailed off.

Hiccup was floored. So there were possible chances that they had interacted with dragons in human form before this whole…thing even happened? His ears twitched as he processed the information. Toothless continued.

"The last time I transformed I was like—two years old. I don't remember much, just maybe my mother or sister or someone convincing me to walk towards her…" There was a slightly melancholy silence as Toothless seemed to recall the memory. Hiccup knew better than to ask his friend about it. The night fury shook his head to clear it.

"Anyway…after that I guess it just kinda…slipped into the back of everyone's minds. Like we knew we could do it, we just never really processed that we could put it into action after the death of the queen. I guess some of her thinking kinda lingered in our minds."

Hiccup nodded. He could understand that, and it sure as Hel settled some nerves in his stomach about distrust between him and his best friend. Toothless settled into a solemn silence, hands resting in his lap.

Hiccup watched for a moment, before scooting his chair beside his dragon's, leaning in and resting his head on his shoulder. "Hey." He said, catching Toothless' attention, "for the record, I think we communicated pretty well when you were a dragon." He flashed a smile that Toothless returned.

"Besides, who knows? Maybe I actually will be able to understand you now." He flicked one of his ear plates as a reference. Toothless laughed, slightly sad but mostly amused.

"We've already tried having you listen to dragons to see if you understand them. You said you couldn't."

Hiccup shrugged, leaning further into Toothless with the intent of pushing him off his chair, only succeeding in making his own chair push out from underneath him a bit. "Well, that was a week ago. I'm able to pick up a few words like 'mom', 'dad', 'fish' and 'fly' now.

Toothless instantly stood up, causing Hiccup to screech and fall onto the floor. The night fury instantly turned, grabbed the younger teen by the wings like a hatchling, and hauled him to his feet. "You mean to tell me you're starting to understand Dragonese and you didn't tell me?!"

"…nnnnnoooooooooooo?"

"I can't believe you."

"I'm sorryyyyy. But hey, you wanna hear my theory as to why?"

"NO I'm mad at you."

"…It'll let you call me hatchling."

"…I'm listening."

Hiccup smiled and shook his head at Toothless' reaction. "So it's like—you know, how you learn to speak." He began. Toothless gave him a skeptical glare. "I'm serious! Think about it, you never really learn your native language. You just pick it up as a baby when people speak around you, and you eventually start talking in it."

Toothless had to admit that was a very valid point.

"So I think, the more I hear dragons talk, the more my ears will be able to adjust to it and understand it. And then of course talking might be a bit of a struggle but it can't be any harder than learning how to talk as a baby and—"

"Hiccup is this just a big antic to make me transform?"

"…maybeeee?"

"Why didn't you just ask me to transform outright?"

"Uhm…well I wanted to fly but I didn't know if my dad had asked you to not let me fly…"

"…he doesn't have to know."

"Wait he actually told you not to let me fly? How fragile does that man think I am?"

"Well in all fairness—"

"Don't finish that sentence."

"Fine."

"…can we go now?"

Toothless sighed, rolling his eyes good naturedly as he backed away from Hiccup, standing in a cleared space in the room and stretching his wings out.

Before Hiccup knew it, there was a full night fury Toothless before his eyes. He couldn't resist running up and hugging him around the neck.

"I gotta admit, I missed this version of you. It talks less."

Hiccup was met with a series of growls with a few words mixed in that he happened to understand. Hiccup chuckled. "That doesn't mean I don't like your other form either, bud."

Toothless gave him a look that said 'get on my back, you idiot.' Hiccup obliged, heart skipping a beat in longing excitement as he hopped onto the saddle that had magically appeared on Toothless' back. Dragon magic logic, amiright? It took him a while to find a way to position his tail. He eventually decided to keep it draping on the opposite side of where the most mechanics were.

Stoick had a heart attack approximately three minutes and twenty-three seconds later when he heard the unmistakable sound of a night fury ripping through the air at near speed of sound, accompanied by the shout of a certain son of his.

The bellow of 'TOOTHLESS YOU ARE SO DEAD, YOUNG MAN!' Was only rivaled in hilarity by the statement of Gobber saying 'Stoick, you do realize he's not your son, right?'

Chapter Text

This situation was a lot better than it could have been. Stoick knew that.

Hiccup could have been alone on Outcast island when it happened. He would have been trapped there, with nothing but Dagur and Alvin to comfort him. (the man knew that those two would be the last thing anyone would consider 'comforting'. Below even the Red Death, if he did say so himself)

The potion could have killed Hiccup. Not only leaving Berk heirless and without a now major defense system, but rendering Stoick with no immediate family and Toothless with no best friend. The gang wouldn't have had a leader anymore, either.

…it could have happened while Vikings were still at war with dragons.

Stoick shuddered at the concept. He didn't like that one whatsoever. He had no doubt in his mind of the horrors he'd come up with that his past self could have done to his son in that state. That his past self would have done to his son, with no remorse or second thought whatsoever. His mind would have only been focused on the fact that this boy was part beast and…

Stoick may have changed his ways, but he never forgot the mindset he had grown up with. It was plain disturbing to think about now, and even more so to think that it could have actually happened half a year ago.

The chief didn't want to admit that he had had a few nightmares about that, too.

So, even though in theory the concept of PTSD is a scary, painful and downright sad thing experience or watch happen to another person—especially a loved one—Stoick had to thank the gods for not making it worse.

Of course though, he had never actually seen Hiccup when he had a panic attack. The defeat of the Red Death had given him terrible nightmares, sure, and the pain of missing a limb, but Hiccup had the comfort of knowing that she was dead. Neither Dagur or Alvin were. Well, to their knowledge, anyway. They had assumed that they would have heard from the Outcast or Berserker by now, but nothing had come. Stoick was sure that the witch had something to do with it—but it didn't help the fact that Berk sat in the constant fear of an attack from either tribe every day.

Stoick wasn't sure Hiccup could handle a situation like that.

The two previous panic attacks his son had had were the first time, at the Academy, and about a week ago, in the middle of the night.

The second one was induced by a particularly bad nightmare, and by the time Stoick had gotten up the stairs, Toothless had calmed Hiccup down to the point of shaky breathing rivaled only by the shaking of his body.

His son looked so much like a child instead of the sixteen-year-old he was, it unsettled Stoick. He remembered he didn't get any sleep for the rest of that night, wishing not for the first time that he could rip Dagur and Alvin's spines out and shove them back down their throats.

And yet…and yet he was no better than them now.

Stoick stood with wide eyes and growing guilt in his gut as he hesitated by the side of the dinner table Hiccup was at. His son was shaking like a leaf. He clutched his head in his hands, ripping at his hair. His pupils were unnaturally slit, and that horrible day almost a month and a half ago flashed across Stoick's vision for a millisecond. The hybrid was near hyperventilating, staring at something that wasn't there. He whispered something to himself every now and then. Stoick realized with a sharp pang and a very uneasy feeling that it was more as if his son was talking to a startled dragon instead of trying to calm himself down.

Stoick shared an uncertain glance with Toothless. The dragon crooned, before gently nudging one of Hiccup's elbows. The Viking jumped and let out a shriek. The other two in the house started in fear that he was going to fall out of his chair and hurt himself.

Hiccup let out a stuttering breath, terrified eyes making contact with Toothless' worried ones for a few moments. In those moments, while his son was frozen in terror, Toothless managed to growl out a few things. Whether or not Hiccup understood it was beyond Stoick, but whatever he had heard, it calmed him down.

The chief breathed a sigh of relief as the hybrid's pupils dilated to near normal size. The little Viking let out a gasp before curling in on himself, pressing his forehead against the top of his dragon's, which was resting on his lap. The two stayed like that for a few minutes. Stoick stood to the side in his own stupor.

All he had done was raised his voice.

Hiccup had deliberately disobeyed orders when he had gone flying with Toothless. The night fury knew that, too. Stoick had given him the 'stay on the ground' orders first.

So, of course once the two landed and got back home, Stoick was waiting with a frown on his face. It had started off as a stern scolding—it felt odd, since it was mostly aimed at Toothless, who was in dragon form the man might add, for even allowing to happen in the first place—but then Hiccup predictably stood up for his dragon.

It had then escalated from there until Stoick had yelled at Hiccup, and his too-sensitive hearing and shaky mental state led him to the state his son was in now.

Hiccup swallowed and sat up, rubbing the scales on the bases of Toothless' ears. He let out a quick sigh, throwing his head back and closing his eyes. "Sorry 'bout that." He said in a monotone. There was a slight edge of anger in the undertone.

The chief ignored the unnecessary apology, and instead opted to set a hand on Hiccup's shoulder, taking extra care to avoid the wings, as the hybrid was still skittish. The teen flinched for a moment anyway. "You don't need to apologize. I'm sorry I raised my voice at you, son."

Hiccup didn't answer, instead just swallowed again. Toothless crooned, and Hiccup scoffed—not in a good way—before standing up and making his way upstairs. "I'm gonna go to bed early." He stated, taking a step up the stairs. Stoick quickly trailed.

"Hiccup, are you okay?" He asked, concerned. He heard the boy let out a sharp breath, turning around to face him with an annoyed scowl on his face.

"I'm fine, Dad." He said, brushing off the question. Stoick knew it was a lie. "I told you, I'm just going to bed."

"Hiccup, you're not fine, come on, talk to me." Stoick suddenly remembered he wasn't exactly the 'talk about your feelings' type of man. "or Toothless." He added as a second thought.

Hiccup didn't turn around this time. His tail twitched in annoyance and he hung his head in an agitated way, bobbing it up and down in a half nod.

"Dad." He said, obviously done with the conversation, "I'm fine, okay? Please, just stop."

"Hiccup, I'm not going to stop." Stoick scolded, "not when something like that just happened."

"Dad—"

"Hiccup, you aren't going to get any better if you don't—"

"Dad—!"

"I know you aren't in the best place right now but you need to learn that—"

"For the love of Thor, Dad, shut up!"

The chief stopped talking. Toothless, who was trying to calm Hiccup down by licking his hand, suddenly froze. He took a few glances from a furious Hiccup to an equally as so Stoick, and slowly backed into a darker corner of the house.

"What did you just say to me?" Stoick asked in a dangerously low voice. He saw his son cower a bit.

"I'm tired of the—the treating me like a piece of broken glass!" Hiccup strained, scowling in anger. "Yes, I know I weak. I know I'm hurt, I know I'm broken, I know I'm useless, but that doesn't mean you have to swaddle me in a blanket and cradle me like a baby every time I so much as get a paper-cut!" He yelled, eyes blazing.

"You were yelling at me all but ten minutes ago, and as soon as I freaked out you instantly hushed down like I was some—some hurt animal! The regular Stoick the Vast wouldn't have done that." Hiccup added with all the disgust in the world dripping from his words like venom. At himself or the chief, Stoick didn't know.

The man took a breath to contain the growing anger in his chest. "Hiccup, this isn't some paper-cut okay? You want to know what I just saw just now? I saw a little kid hunched over the table, muttering brokenly and on the verge of unconsciousness because someone raised their voice over a regular volume!" He stated.

Hiccup was starting to grow furious. His fists were clenching and unclenching, and his wings fluttered in anger. "Yeah?! So what! That just proves my point! I'm a worthless, humiliating, weak, useless, scared, broken freak with no hope of a promising future because I'm better off dead!"

"I didn't say anything about any of that." Stoick refuted, voice growing to a dangerously low volume. "So help me, Hiccup, I will ground you from a lot more besides just flying if you so much as think of putting words in my mouth or accusing me of things I certainly didn't do."

Hiccup opened his mouth to let out a response, but Stoick continued before he could speak. "But yes, Hiccup. Despite all of those qualities you claim are true about yourself, I can tell you one thing that is a fact. You are broken. No, worse off. You are broken, and you won't let anyone help you because you're too stubborn to admit it even to yourself."

Hiccup was shaking profoundly now, angrier than Stoick had ever seen him.

"So, yes. I will continue 'babying' you." Stoick said, stalking closer to his son, "I will continue making sure you're okay and being a good father because gods damnit, Hiccup, I care about you. And if it comes to locking you in your room and 'swaddling you in a blanket and bottle feeding you' like the father I am, then you'd better get ready for it. I am going to help you get through this if it kills me." The chief said in finality, trying to come to a more reasonable and calm ending to this argument.

All Hiccup did was stare in disbelief. Stoick thought he was actually considering the things he had said in a new light.

And the hybrid had, just not in the way his father had wanted him to.

Hiccup started laughing.

A cold, unbelieving laugh that unsettled Stoick more than the panic attack had because it was so genuine. The man backed up in slight horror as his son continued laughing. He laughed even as tears of—not laughter, but grief—formed in his eyes and slid down his cheeks.

"Fifteen." He stated, and laughed a few more times. He never wiped the tears from his face. "Fifteen years I've waited for you to say that to me. To tell me those words I've been craving since I could talk. Fifteen long, messed up years, I've yearned for those words in the deepest part of my being and now?"

Hiccup walked down a few steps, so that his tortured face was inches from Stoick's own. "And now you use them as a weapon against me." He finished.

He gave out a few more chuckles, before turning on his heel and making his way silently upstairs, leaving the chief frozen where he was.

The hybrid stopped two steps short from the loft that served as his room, looking over his shoulder slightly, just enough to catch both his dad and his wings out of the corner of his eye.

"I wish this would have happened sooner." He whispered, gaze locked in a limbo between the appendages and his family. "At least then I would be dead."

It wasn't until two a.m. that Stoick had fully processed the message. That was when Hiccup's terrified scream echoed through the house.

Stoick didn't get up to help.

He stayed hunched by the fire, gazing into it with tired eyes as he listened to it crackle, drowning out the heavy breathing coming from upstairs.

There was a creak.

It was followed by footsteps.

Stoick felt Hiccup's presence before he saw him. He was standing at the bottom of the stairs hesitantly, blanket wrapped loosely around his shoulders.

Stoick turned to his son slowly. They made eye contact. They stared indifferently at one another, from both a mixture of disorientation and the after effects of the fight.

"…I didn't want to wake Toothless up." Hiccup whispered, feeling the need to explain himself. Stoick could just see the dragon's sleeping figure over the edge of the loft.

Stoick nodded, and gestured to the chair that Hiccup had been sitting in that evening. His son stared at it apprehensively. He swallowed nervously, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down. Hiccup's gaze trailed back to Stoick a moment more. The man couldn't help but hold his breath in anticipation of what he was going to do.

Hiccup all but fell into his father, bringing the blanket with him and nestling under his sturdy embrace, pressing into the fire-warmed body. Stoick sent a silent thank you to the gods as he pulled his son into a massive hug, leaning back into his chair and cradling him like he hadn't done since the teen was two.

"I'm sorry." Hiccup choked into Stoick's tunic over and over again, "I shouldn't have said that, I sh-should have just—"

The chief silenced the boy and rubbed his lower back, right under his wings, sending a silent 'it's alright' through the action.

That's how the father and son stayed for the rest of the night. Resting in each other's arms in a warm embrace of forgiveness and, yes, the occasional dragon purr. (although don't tell Hiccup that. He'll blatantly deny it)

Somewhere amidst the crackling of the fire and the silent tears of regret, Hiccup whispered three words into Stoick's chest. The man's heartstrings were played like a harp, singing a beautiful melancholy melody when the words reached his ears. He couldn't help but think back to the first time he had held his son in his arms, the small premature babe he was, no heavier than a feather.

He had whispered those exact words to him then, too.

Stoick stared at his sleeping child, broken and bruised that he was, but stronger than the fiercest warrior on Berk.

He whispered those words again.

Chapter Text

"How tall do you think the tallest mountain is?"

"Gods—I don't know, Toothless, will you just go to sleep?"

"Do you think it reaches high enough to touch a star?"

"Toothless, I can physically hear the sleepiness in your voice."

"But I'm serious! I wanna touch a star."

"If you can fly far enough up into the sky to touch one, be my guest. Can you please shut up now?"

"Mmmm fine. I'll let you get your fegurð sofa."

"feguro…what-a? What does that mean."

"it means 'beauty sleep', Hic."

"Riiiiiggggghhhttttt."

"Yeah."

"…what are we going to do tomorrow?"

"I thought you wanted to get to sleep."

"Eh."

"Hiccup I swear to the gods—"

"Well what are we going to do tomorrow?"

"I dunno. Personally I've been craving some bread. Might transform to have some since I can't digest it in this form…it's like a curse or something."

"And yet you can still eat raw fish in hybrid form…"

"Hey I didn't invent transformation physics."

"okay okay okay. I guess tomorrow then, we'll binge-eat bread until we puke."

"That sounds like a beautiful plan."

"G'night, Toothless."

"G'night, Hiccup."

Stoick was at the table eating breakfast when Toothless came down the stairs, nearly giving the chief a heart attack when he literally transformed halfway down them, and then tripped over his human feet and fell the rest of the way because of his changed center of balance.

Stoick got halfway out of his chair to go see if the dragon was okay, when Toothless did a very ungraceful summer sault, grunting with the effort, and somehow ended up next to Hiccup's chair, which he promptly pulled himself up on, and rested his elbows on the table, setting his chin in his hand.

The two males sat at the table, Stoick in confused and slightly astonished silence, and Toothless with still half lidded eyes and the worst case of bed head that the chief had ever seen. The night fury smacked his lips a few times, obviously tasting a bout of morning breath, before yawning and glancing up at Stoick, who was still staring at Toothless with his fork in a limbo between his plate and mouth.

"Morning, Sir."

"…good morning." Stoick answered, although the way he worded it made the last part go up in pitch, making it sound more like a question.

Toothless glanced around the table some more before reaching over and grabbing a piece of bread that was in a nearby bowl, tearing off a piece and popping it in his mouth.

Stoick turned his attention back to the loft when he heard Hiccup groan and the telltale rustling of blankets as he rolled over, either on the verge of waking up or trying to go back to sleep.

"What do you two have planned today?" Stoick asked, resuming his task of eating breakfast. Toothless hadn't been in hybrid form since he first transformed back a week ago, so for him to do it now meant that they had something planned that required him to be partially human. Or so Stoick assumed.

The night fury spit a strand of hair out of his mouth, grimacing at it slightly before answering. "We're going to eat bread until we implode." He said in slight humor. That, ironically, was how the chief knew the night fury was 100 percent serious.

"Why?"

Toothless picked another piece of bread and popped it in his mouth, rolling his eyes to the back of his head at the taste. "Because bread is amazing." He answered simply.

Stoick, knowing better than to question it any further, simply decided to go along with it. "You going to invite the others to join?"

"Maybe," Toothless shrugged, "all depends on if they're free and willing. The twins probably will, maybe Hookfang…"

Stoick pushed his plate to the side, and took a swig out of his mug. "Well, although I'm a bit reserved of you making yourselves sick, Hiccup could benefit with some extra meat on his bones."

"Yeah I guess he could. But honestly I love bread so much I wouldn't even mind eating it until I get sick. I would eat it for the rest of my life if I could." Toothless stated, and then reprocessed the sentence.

"Wait, Hiccup's a fishbone no matter the amount of food he eats. Why is bread any different?" Another piece of bread was popped in his mouth. Stoick raised an eyebrow.

"Bread makes you fat, Toothless."

Toothless stopped chewing mid-sentence, mouth falling open and letting the bread roll off his tongue and onto the table. "It makes you fat?!" He exclaimed, Stoick nodded, staring in slight disappointment at the wasted bread.

Toothless stared down at the remains of the loaf in his hands in a look of betrayal, before sighing. "I'm already too far into it." He whispered, this time just taking a giant bite out of it, "I can't back out now, it's taken me hostage with its tastiness."

Stoick shook his head and stood up. (slightly thankful that Toothless hadn't taken the opportunity that Hiccup would have and make a crack about his weight) He placed his helmet on his head and headed towards the door just as Hiccup walked down the stairs, rubbing his eyes and nearly tripping over his tail and creating a sequel to Toothess' entrance.

"Morning, son." The chief greeted, picking a list up off a basket.

Hiccup yawned and waved to his dad, brushing a hand through his hair. "Morgunn." He responded. Stoick stopped as his hand rested on the door handle, and turned back to his son. Toothless was frozen with wide eyes, lips twitching in slight confusion and what looked like realization, but he obviously didn't want to jump to conclusions too fast.

"What was that?" Stoick asked. Hiccup grabbed an apple from the table, taking a bite out of it.

"Eg sagði góðan daginn, hvað er ég ekki að tala Norse?" Hiccup asked. The only way Stoick knew it was a question was because his voice went up at the end.

…That was not Norse that Hiccup was speaking.

Toothless burst out laughing, and that caused Hiccup to realize just what was wrong. His eyes shot wide open, and he dropped the apple. He let out a yelp, followed by another string of words that Stoick didn't recognize. The words only caused Toothless to double over in more laughter, banging his head on the table.

The man knew that Hiccup could speak a few foreign languages—Latin, French, and a bit of Spanish—but these words weren't from any of those speech patterns. In fact, they were like nothing Stoick had ever heard before. The words sounded like a meld of noises than actual syllables and letterings.

Somehow Toothless managed to say something back to Hiccup after he calmed down, in that same language. It rolled off his tongue naturally, even more so than Norse. Stoick figured then, that it was most likely Dragonese.

"Ég trúi ekki að þetta hvernig þú gleymir hvernig á að tala eigið tungumál?" Toothless asked in too much amusment. Hiccup let out an actual dragonic growl, something Stoick hadn't heard before, and then made a lunge at Toothless, who jumped out of the way and sprinted across the room before he could get to him.

"Ert þú ekki þora hlaupa í burtu frá mér, Toothless! aftur hingað hér og laga þetta!" Hiccup yelled, which only caused Toothless to burst out laughing again, doubling over and collapsing on the staircase, burying his face in his hands as his face turned slightly red.

Hiccup then hurled himself at his dragon again, all the while yelling in a language Stoick couldn't decipher, and they rolled on the ground in a tussle emitting sounds of laughter and dragonic noises. They finally came to a stop when Toothless shoved the rest of his loaf of bread in Hiccup's face, effectively shutting him up.

Stoick blinked at his son, who was sporting a permanent blush on his face. He ripped the piece of bread out of his mouth, and literally hissed something to Toothless, who's shoulders were bobbing with concealed laughter.

"Um…" Stoick said, the silent question ringing in the air. Hiccup opened his mouth to answer, before realizing his predicament and sighing long and hard, placing his head in his hands and letting his wings sag behind him.

Toothless stepped in after realizing he was the only one that could translate—apparently. "Hiccup's stuck talking like this for a while. He can't seem to switch back to Norse for some reason..." He started laughing again, and leaned up on Hiccup's shoulder, who promptly stood up and let his dragon's head fall to the floor with a painful thud.

"ó goðin hata mig..." He groaned, pressing the top of his head against Stoick's stomach. The man chuckled and ruffled his hair, scratching a bit behind his ears. He didn't have to know dragonese to know what he had just said.

"You'll be fine, Hiccup." The chief said at the sound of Hiccup's groan. "Let's just hope it'll pass soon."

Stoick was getting too old for this. He learned to just go with the flow at this point.

"Yeah, besides, I can translate for you." Toothless added. Hiccup sighed again and moved over to the chair that had been knocked over in Toothless' attempt to dodge his rider. He stood it up, and plopped down in it, tilting his head back and groaning pitifully as Stoick walked out the door.

Toothless, who was still on the floor, crawled over to the place in front of Hiccup and poked at his bare foot. "I guess binge-eating bread is out of the question, then?"

Hiccup sent him an 'are you serious?' look as an answer. Toothless pouted and looked down at the ground. "Aw man…"

"Hversu lengi telur þú að þetta mun endast?" Hiccup asked.

"Dunno, bud. You are the only human that's been changed like this. All us dragons are kinda just going with the flow here when it comes to you." Toothless said truthfully, "Could just last today or could be weeks."

"ekki hjálpa."

Toothless sighed and stood up, leaning against the table. "I know."

Astrid looked up to see Toothless and Hiccup enter through the Academy entrance, Toothless in hybrid form. Hiccup had a deep, deep scowl on his face; his arms were crossed over his chest, and his ears were pressed flat against his head.

If the shield maiden was honest with herself, it was quite adorable. You'd think someone who had the genetics of the offspring of life and death would be a bit more terrifying when they're mad.

"What's up with you, Toothpick?" Stormfly asked the question for her rider, setting down the axe she was trying. Hiccup huffed and turned to Toothless expectedly. The night fury looked lazily between his rider and Stormfly for a few seconds, before jolting. "Wait you want me to translate for you? Dude she can understand you, you know."

Hiccup huffed again, and rolled his eyes. Astrid was severely confused—well she was until Hiccup answered, and then she started laughing, which caused him to send her a death glare that rivaled her own.

"Ég mun persónulega myrða þér með brennandi hatri sem eldsneyti tilveru mína." He hissed. Stormfly choked and Toothless facepalmed.

"That wasn't very nice, Hiccup."

"Ég ætla að myrða þig líka." Hiccup said in reply, dead seriousness in his voice.

All Toothless did was snort so loud he started coughing.

Astrid had to leave the Academy to compose herself before she looked Hiccup in the eye again. And even then, through what ended up being the entire week of Hiccup-being-unable-to-speak-the-language-he-grew-up-speaking-in, she couldn't help but snigger any time the thought came to mind.

Bodily transformations and new instincts aside, just the idea of Hiccup, one of the smartest people in the archipelago, being physically unable to speak his native language—something not even the twins drunk could do, (and they had experienced a drunk set of Ruff and Tuff before when they had snuck an entire barrel of mead into Barf and Belches old cage in the academy) was plain hysterical.

Especially so because Hiccup hated it. Obviously, they weren't laughing at him—the teen being able to speak two other languages and working on a third meant that he would sometimes have trouble transitioning back to Norse, particularly if he was interrupted while reading a book in a different language—but this was different. It was a whole other species language. Of course they found it funnier and more awesome than the other languages Hiccup occasionally spoke. But they couldn't exactly laugh with him about the situation either, because he refused to laugh at the situation at all, which just made the situation twelve times funnier, of course. So they were laughing at the situation that Hiccup refused to find funny in the slightest bit.

Ruff and Tuff were the second to find out after Astrid. They, unsurprisingly, made it their mission to learn every cuss word in the dragon language—especially after learning that human vocal chords could actually speak Dragonese. (Astrid took into consideration learning the language herself when she learned that information too) Why they hadn't asked Barf and Belch about the inevitable task earlier was beyond Astrid.

Hiccup gladly obliged to cursing in Dragonese in front of the Thorston twins, as it let him get out the anger and frustration he had obviously had a tendency for building up that week. But being the salty Viking-dragon hybrid he was, he refused to tell them what word meant what.

Not that he could, anyway.

So basically, any time Hiccup and the twins were alone that week, it consisted of Hiccup streaming the dirtiest and most clever streams of words he could think of in a language none of them could decipher, and then having the twins take turns shouting out just as equally offensive streams of words and terrible attempts at some of the things said in Dragonese back in an attempt to figure out what it meant.

Astrid noticed most of the older dragons that were nearby during one of those sessions tended to stare at the three in horror—well a dragon in dragon-form's equivalent to horror. The few with hatchlings even ushered them away.

It was really ironic that it took a human becoming less human to realize that dragons were more human than the archipelago originally thought, as Berkians who were nearby did the same thing, too.

Toothless tended to look like Stoick did on days when Hiccup practiced new aerial stunts before Outcast Island during those sessions: completely and utterly emotionally exhausted and on the verge of pulling out his hair.

Stoick eventually got complaints from villagers about the sessions, and obviously washed Hiccup's mouth out with soap sometime between the fourth and fifth day, as he was hiccupping (hah…Hiccup having the hiccups) up bubbles for a solid twelve hours.

The sessions stopped after that.

Snotlout made it his mission during that week to try and find the weirdest-sounding word in Dragonese, which resulted in Hiccup streaming out any word he could think of, and having Snotlout judge it on a scale of 1-10 on weirdness. Toothless and Hookfang would usually compete in involuntary staring contests with the most done expressions Berk had ever seen, only rivaled by Hiccup's own, during those times.

Astrid would never admit that she laughed at a few of the words too. Stormfly thwacked her on the back of the head when she found out.

Fishlegs' actually understood a bit of what Hiccup was saying, to everyone's surprise. Apparently as a repayment for teaching Meatlug to read, the gronkle started to teach her rider a bit of Dragonese. Okay. Now Astrid was really intent on learning Dragonese at some point. She would have to ask Stormfly about it sometime.

All in all, to Astrid, the week passed both too fast and agonizingly slow at the same time, so that by the time Saturday rolled around, she was both disappointed and relieved simultaneously. On one hand, the hilarity that was Hiccup being stuck in one language and unable to change it was over. On the other, she could understand him again.

Of course, no one was more relieved than Hiccup himself, who, upon discovering he could reprocess his brain to speak Norse again, promptly screamed a thank you to the gods and planked in the middle of a training lesson, refusing to get up the rest of the time.

Toothless' remark of 'well at least you can understand Dragonese fully now' was met by the loudest and longest groan any of the Gang had ever heard.

Chapter Text

Two months had passed. Two long, eventful months that were a mixture between Hel and a stand-up comedian's show run completely on a mixture between mead and coffee.

Toothless was utterly exhausted, and he knew that there was still a long way to go before this blizzard was over with. It was just the beginning of the race to Hiccup's recovery day.

Autumn had set in full on now. The isle of Berk—well the side of it that wasn't covered in pine forest and other coniferous plants—had turned into an array of warm colors despite the ever growing (or should I say dropping) cold weather.

The few farmers on Berk had picked their crops in prepare for winter, bustling them off to their houses or marketers further into the village to prepare food for the upcoming feast and store for winter alike. Some were chewing on pieces of straw as they did so. Why, Toothless had no idea. He guessed it was the texture, as it was pretty fun to chew. They whistled along with the breeze that nipped at their noses and turned them cherry red. It was a good type of cold, just enough to make one shiver, but not out of uncomfort.

Dragons were helping out, too. Both those in full form and hybrid form. Ever since the not-so-pleasant reminder eight weeks ago, dragons were reconnecting with or finding out about their hybrid forms all around Berk. It was weird at first, for both species, but both were starting to adapt just as they did for the weather.

Children of both Vikings and dragons darted in front of Toothless' path, causing him to skid to a stop for a moment as they weaved through his legs, apologizing, before jumping into leaf piles and letting out shrieks of laughter. The then popped their heads out of the little hills like cuter versions of Whispering Deaths, shaking their hair, fur coats, and scales clean of the leaves. There was a crisp smell in the air—one of Toothless' favorites—that was a mixture of the sweet musk of decaying plants and the even fainter one of sweets being cooked (a rarity in Berk), and the sharp cold of the air around him. Toothless took a big inhale of air before trotting into the forest.

Trees and bushes alike created their own flames as their leaves lost their green hue and turned into the colors of a fire. Reds, Oranges, Yellows, the occasional Purple, even. They flickered like flames in the wind and looked like fairies as they were plucked from their parents and gracefully danced to the ground, joining the others in an on-growing red carpet that Toothless was walking on.

Toothless felt like anything but a star, though. (not that he understood the author's metaphor anyway)

No, Hiccup hadn't had a panic attack, nor had he snapped at anyone or even woken up from a nightmare last night. In fact, he was helping Stoick and the others with preparations right now somewhere in the village, hanging lanterns across the streets and directing people on where to go. Hiccup was just being a normal teenager doing preparations for a party with his family and friends.

And especially with all of the dragons in various forms, it actually helped blend him in a bit more. Toothless should be thankful that Hiccup was actually being able to experience a sense of normalcy.

The night fury didn't have any discernable reason to feel the aching melancholy in his chest, but he did. Despite the buzz of the oncoming celebration of the harvest and the cheerful preparations all around, Toothless was just having a bad day.

Okay well maybe that's not 100 percent true.

Yes, he was having a bad day, yes, the village did have an abnormally large amount of cheer in its atmosphere, but no, Toothless didn't not have any clue as to why he was feeling down.

As in, he could target the main area in which the unpleasantness was, but he couldn't quite grasp at the stick in the murk.

"Duck!"

Toothless immediately and instinctively pressed his body to the ground as a red mass flew over him, hitting the ground with enough force to send most of the leaves on the trees around him to the ground.

Toothless sneezed at the knocked up dirt, before his companion sat up off the ground, shaking the leaves off of his head.

"Hookfang, what are you doing?" Toothless asked, annoyed.

The nightmare clambered to his feet—feet and wings that is—and answered after a significant delay. "Well, I was going to catch you by surprise, but you ducked out of the way too fast."

Toothless rolled his eyes, reaching a paw up to knock off a twig that had gotten stuck between his ears. "You do realize yelling at someone to duck out of the way of your ambush is not the best way to take you by surprise?"

Hookfang paused for a moment, as if confused. Finally he answered. "Oh! No I wasn't yelling at you to duck I was yelling because there was a duck."

Just like Clockwork, a duck fluttered in and landed in front of the Nightmare, quacking in a way that could have been a laugh.

"...Snotlout asked me to get it. Why? I dunno." Hookfang explained after the silence that followed.

"I'm more surprised that we have them this far up during this time of year." Toothless admitted, maybe or maybe not calling the author out on her sense of logic, "Aren't they supposed to be flying south?"

Hookfang shrugged, transforming into Hybrid Form so he could pick the duck up, which promptly let out a honk of surprise when he did so. "What are you doing out here, anyway?" He asked, preferring to stick to Dragonese.

Toothless shrugged, trying to brush off the negative emotions. "I'm just going on a walk. Clearing my head, y'know?"

Hookfang squinted his eyes, ignoring the quacking of the duck in his arms as he watched the Night Fury walk past him into the deeper part of the woods. As the autumn wind blew by he caught a whiff of sadness in his scent. The red head sighed for a moment, grumbling under his breath as he swiveled his head from side to side, from the village to the forest to the village and then back to the forest again. He finally shrugged, and turned and ran to catch up to his fellow dragon. Snotlout could wait for his duck—whatever it was for.

It took him a bit to catch up to Toothless (he realized that the other dragon could cover a lot more ground in Dragon Form a lot faster than he could in his human form, but Hookfang had already transformed twice that day, having slept in Human Form last night, and was already feeling the magic drainage from his body.) The Nightmare jogged to catch up to the Night Fury, who only twitched his ears as an indication that he knew the other dragon was coming.

"Hey, hold up. Look something's wrong I know it is. You alright, T?" Hookfang persisted, still in Dragonese. Why he called him T was beyond him. He was probably spending too much time around Tuffnut, who would almost exclusively call Toothless that.

Toothless didn't answer, only gazed up at the trees with squinted eyes, as if looking for something, before continuing on his way.

"Nothing's wrong. I just wanted to get some quiet place to think for a bit."

Hookfang rolled his eyes, shifting the duck to his other arm as he continued to walk behind the Night Fury. "Nah, something's definitely wrong. You're literally the only one on this island who is acting like this today. Well, besides Mildew but, he's like that every day the mother—anyway…" Hookfang censored himself, watching as Toothless stopped at an obstacle in the path: a tree that had fallen down, but managed to hit a steadier, thicker tree on its way to the forest floor, preventing it from actually reaching it. It hung at a position that was too small for a human to crawl under, but too tall for one to climb over it, eithe.

Toothless in his dragon form though, merely hopped over it like it was nothing more than a hurdle. Hookfang rolled his eyes, before jumping and using his wings to propel himself over to the other side. It was different and he hadn't really gotten the hang of it, considering his wings were on his shoulder-blades instead of attached to his arms. It was one of the reasons that Nadders and Nightmares refrained from transforming unless absolutely necessary. Not only was flying different, and quite frankly, annoying in that form, but they also grew an extra set of limbs so they could function properly as a human. It took a lot more magic than dragons like Toothless and Meatlug, who already had all the limbs they needed and would only require changing the shape of them.

Hookfang didn't even want to know what it felt like to be in Barf and Belch's, Timberjack's, or a Whispering Death's place when they transform. That must be one hell of a lot of magic used.

Toothless had led the two to a small ravine, which slowly dipped down into an evident pathway cut through rock by water over thousands of years, as the top of it was a considerable distance above their heads. It narrowed and widened and curved like the obvious creek that it obtained during the rainy season, forcing Toothless into his hybrid form when it got too narrow.

They finally popped out on the other side (they had to duck under a shield that was stuck in between the rock walls, thoroughly imbedded into it) and into the cove, as Hookfang now recognized.

"I never knew that was there." He thought out loud, turning to look back at the little 'pathway', "I always just flew in from the top, or crawled down from the top like the humans did over on that side…" He trailed off, gesturing to the little nooks and crevice's that had been chipped into the rocks a few months back for humans to crawl in and out easily.

Toothless snorted, and banged his boot on the ground, causing his heel, which had been slipping out of it, to go back into place. "Hiccup used to take that rout every day, showed it to me a few weeks back when we wanted some alone time away from Stoick."

Hookfang nodded, storing away the knowledge for later use. The duck quacked quietly, having given up struggling a while back. "So seriously." Hookfang pressed on again, watching as Toothless scaled a pile of boulders and laid down on the top of one, spreading his wings and arms out and humming as the sun hit his body. "Are you gonna tell me what's wrong or what?"

Toothless sighed audibly, tilting his head to the side as Hookfang came up beside him, setting the duck down on a place beside them. It immediately started picking at the remaining bugs that nestled between the cracks in the rocks.

"I dunno, 'Fang." He finally admitted, brow furrowing, "I just—can't place it…"

The Nightmare could have sworn he heard a pang of guilt in his voice. He frowned, and laid down next to Toothless, looking up at the grey-yet-happy-looking clouds of autumn above them.

"Why do you care so much, anyway?"

"Because we're friends? And friends don't like to see other friends sad?"

"We're friends?"

Hookfang paused at the Night Fury's question. When…when had he started considering Toothless a friend? Certainly not when the Queen was still alive… Toothless had become an orphan early on in a situation that Hookfang couldn't quite remember. Both the haze of the Queens control and his young age were factors in his lack of memory from back then.

Hookfang's mother, who had been the highest rank under the Night Furies and the Queen herself, had agreed to take Toothless under her wing back then. Hookfang couldn't stand it, having a night fury as his step brother. (Not that he considered him a brother at all. Not even an acquaintance.) He was constantly one-upped by him. Hookfang learned to fly? Hah, Night Fury learned to fly and caught a fish on the same day. He had been praised by a Knight? Night Fury got thanked by the Queen for his contribution in the fishing unit today. He got accepted to be a Squire? Nope, Night Fury had already been on multiple raids.

No, despite the fact that Hookfang and Toothless shared the same parent since they were four, Hookfang hated Toothless with a deep, deep passion.

It wasn't until the Red Death was killed that Hookfang actually started tolerating Toothless. At first it was because they had to, as their humans had formed a group, and then eventually an academy.

And then when they started training and working together and having to communicate, Hookfang found the Night Fury was growing on him just like the name his rider had given him was.

He had to guess it subconsciously grew into a friendship from there, without either one realizing.

Hookfang brought his arms up and crossed his hands over one another, setting them behind his head. "Yeah. Yeah we are friends."

Toothless was surprised that he found himself smiling.

"So you gonna tell me why you're sad now?"

Toothless huffed, flicking the tip of his tail and watching as the prosthetic didn't move as lively as his real tail fin did. "…It's stupid…" He said after a minute.

"Nah I don't think so." Hookfang said, watching the duck flutter to another boulder and peck around some more."If it's making you this upset it's gotta be somewhat plausible."

Toothless glanced to his left at the nightmare for a moment, before looking back at the sky, finding it easier to say it to something non-living. "…It's just…Hiccup—Hiccup isn't…" He huffed, agitated, and punched the rock beside him. "Hiccup isn't healing as fast as I want him to!" He admitted.

Hookfang pressed his lips together and picked up a pebble, tossing it at the duck and hiding a snort when it quacked, surprised. "Well he did go through a very painful species change, Toothless, and he was conscious the entire time on what he knew to be enemy territory and surrounded by said enemies. I doubt that he's going to just wake up one morning and go: hey Tooth, I want to learn how to fly! Can we do that today? Yah know?"

"Yeah, I know!" Toothless said too harshly, sitting up and throwing his hands out, shoulders hunched and wings shuddering, frustrated. He instantly checked himself with a fast huff. "I know." He said in a calmer manner, turning back to Hookfang. "I know that it's not the-the transformation itself that put him in that state, it was the circumstances they were in that caused the PTSD or whatever the Hel it's called, it-it's just I-I-I…"

Toothless took a shuddering breath and cupped his head in his hands, putting pressure on his temples until he felt his head would crack. He felt his eyes watering.

"I heard him call himself a monster, Hookfang." Toothless barely got out. Hookfang had to sit up using his shins to process the sentence.

"Oh." Was all the nightmare croaked out in the end.

Toothless got up and began to pace on the boulder, taking three steps to the left then turning and taking four to the right and then repeating. "L-like I know he doesn't mean like—but I just there's so many things I think of when I hear that and I know they call me the offspring of lightning and death itself and I just—" Toothless was just stuttering from one thought to another, not even bothering to finish his previous thought. Finally he stopped, forearms coming to rest on the top of his head as he took a giant breath. "What if Hiccup still thinks I'm a monster?" He thought out loud, "Gods, I know it's not true but I can't shake the idea of him waking up one morning and blaming all of this on me like he should because if I had smelled the witch in the first place then she wouldn't have taken my magic and would have never made that potion and Dagur would have never given it to him and he wouldn't even be in this situation a-and…"

Toothless trailed off.

"Sometimes I wish he had killed me in those woods."

Hookfang felt a sickening thud in his stomach at those words. He couldn't move.

"It would have been better, for everybody…he would have gotten all of Berk's respect and…and he would still be normal and he wouldn't be having this trouble- and I would be with my…"

Parents. He was going to say parents. Hookfang felt like puking.

The nightmare didn't even know how to respond. He didn't know if he could. This was nothing he had ever dwelled into before. Especially not with Toothless.

Suddenly his body was moving. Standing up, walking over to Toothless and setting his hand on his shoulder.

All on instinct. All without knowing what he was doing.

"…But the Queen would still be in reign. Vikings and dragons would still be at war. Hiccup's and our own loved ones would still be at risk every day fighting a battle we had no control in. And knowing Hiccup, he wouldn't be…happy…killing dragons."

Toothless was quiet. He was shaking and so very obviously trying not to. His fists clenched too tight, drawing a bit of blood. Hookfang could still see a bit of the rope-burn scars he had from that bola.

"Toothless, Hiccup—needs you. Not only because of this, but because you are his best friend. Hel, you're his brother." He was certainly a better one to Toothless than Hookfang was, that's for sure…

"Toothless…I—I think…" Hookfang was running out of things to say. He wasn't good with emotions, yet alone talking about them. He grew up under the influence of the Queen and now lived with Snotlout, of course he wasn't good with comfort.

Nonetheless, Toothless slumped, and brushed Hookfang's hand off his shoulder, looking down at the ground and letting out a huge sigh. Somehow, by a miracle of the gods, Hookfang's words reached the Night Fury.

"Thanks for that…I needed it." Toothless said awkwardly. "And sorry, about all the dark stuff…I'm a creature of the night, it's part of my nature." The night fury said in an attempt at a joke.

Hookfang simply nodded, even though his conscious was screaming at him to dwell into it more. It could wait for another time.

"There you are!"

The two dragons and duck started and turned their attention to the entrance in which they had come.

Hiccup was standing there, a smile on his face and a perky jump to his step. "We need your help in the village, we're running short on people."

"How did you find us?" Toothless asked in Dragonese, half because he wanted to see if Hiccup could understand and half because he was too exhausted to speak Norse, even if it was only three in the afternoon.

Hiccup's ears twitched as he processed the sentence, taking a bit longer to respond, although still in Norse. "I followed your scent—gods that's weird to say. Actually, it's weird to do, too…"

"Nice to see you're embracing your inner dragon, Hic." Hookfang called out. The Viking only rolled his eyes.

"Oh yeah, by the way Hookfang, Snotlout asked me to tell you that he really needs that duck? Whatever it's for? Why do we even have a duck this far north during this time of year? Aren't they migrati—"

"I think the duck's sole purpose is to integrate a bit of humor into this angst chapter." Hookfang said, "I think the author just wanted a reason for me to appear this chapter, but didn't have an idea as to how. Hence, the duck."

There was silence all around the cove as the two other hybrids and the duck itself tried to process the sentence.

"Wow. You've been spending wayyyyy too much time with Tuffnut."

"I really have! Just today I called Toothless 'T'. Only Tuffnut does that!"

Hiccup snorted and rolled his eyes, stretching his wings a bit. "Well anyway, get back as soon as you can. We would really appreciate the help!"

"We'll be there in a few minutes!" Toothless called after his rider's retreating form. The two dragons watched the cave entrance for a minute before the night fury thought out loud.

"…This is going to sound bad but...I'm- glad that Hiccup shot me down. And that I stuck around. I know now that not only could he not survive without me in the long run, he wouldn't. I think...it was fate."

Hookfang looked over at his step-brother—he was suddenly growing a liking to the title—who was looking at the creek entrance as if he could still see Hiccup there. A flame of pride, sadness, and love all in one flickering emerald green.

"I wouldn't live without him, either."

Chapter Text

"Please, you gotta try it."

"Ew, no, Toothless I would rather eat eels than try it again."

"Oh come on! Do it for me?"

"No."

"Please?"

"No, Toothless."

"Not even with a cherry on top?"

"Not even with a cherry on top."

"You suck." Toothless grumbled, then promptly took a bite out of the raw fish he had been trying to get Hiccup to try for the past five minutes, causing the auburn-haired teen to crinkle his nose and gag as the night fury smacked his lips.

The two surrogate brothers were sitting under a tree at the edge of the forest, watching the sun set on the darkening horizon and watching as the houses' fire places and the lanterns strung over the streets slowly but surely became the only light sources in the village. They were spending some downtime away from the festival, out in the crisp air as the distant sound of laughter and singing was heard from the Great Hall. The reason being Hiccup's head starting to hurt like it did if he spent too much time around a bunch of people.

That's also where Toothless managed to snatch the fish he was snacking on as well.

"So." Toothless said. Hiccup snorted.

"So." The auburn-haired teen responded, both relishing the moment of serenity.

"I've figured out something." Toothless said, stretching, and slumping down against the tree they were leaning on, crossing his legs over the other and propping his head up with his hands. "Autumn's my favorite season by far."

"Why?" Hiccup asked, tilting his head to watch as a few kids ran by, laughing as they played hide and seek in the lengthening shadows. Toothless watched with an ear twitch or two before responding. "Summer's too hot, winter is death, spring is just—too much allergies…" He trailed off, watching as the kids changed their attention to the few fireflies that were still flying around this time of year.

"Autumn's a perfect experience y'know? Everything's a pretty color and the air just smells good in general, the harvest happens, too. And it's like the perfect temperature every day."

Hiccup flexed his wings, spreading them out behind him to let the breeze hit them, sending chills up his spine. "Honestly? I've never thought of it that way before. To me it was just the season where everything starts dying…"

Toothless rolled his eyes, taking another bite out of the fish he still held. "Why do you have to be so morbid all of the time?"

Hiccup chuckled and shrugged. "I'm part lighting and death now. It's in my biology."

Toothless felt a purr start up in his throat at the statement for reasons he didn't think he could put into words. "You are indeed, dear bróðir."

The two lapsed into another bout of silence for a moment before Toothless spoke up again. "What is your favorite season, then?"

"My favorite season?" Hiccup asked, surprised at the question. At the night fury's nod, Hiccup blinked, before sitting up and plucking at a clump of grass, tearing it apart and resulting in a sweet scent as he thought.

"It would…probably be Summer. Yeah." The Viking said after a moment, throwing the torn apart pieces of grass a few feet away from him.

"Why?" Toothless asked, aware of a certain thing that had happened during summertime.

Hiccup coughed, shrugging before taking a sideways glance at his best friend through his bangs. "Because that's when I met you."

"Oh, man. Now I need to one up you on the cliché sappiness."

Hiccup fidgeted, blushing in an embarrassed way "Okay, okay," He laughed, "I'll never talk about that again."

"No, no! That was really heartwarming, really." Toothless protested, "I'm sorry. That was really sweet."

"I'm just messing with you." Hiccup laughed, nudging the night fury with his own shoulder. "But really. That is the reason why Summer's my favorite season…"

Toothless smiled, tail intertwining with Hiccup's own as a substitute for a hug. "Thanks, Hic. And if it's any constellation, Summer's my second favorite season for that reason, too."

Hiccup hummed, before turning to look at Toothless, using his hands to support his upper body. "It's consolation, not constellation, you useless reptile."

"It's a holiday and Norse isn't even my first language so I'm sorry if my grammar is subpar!" Toothless defended, crossing his arms over his chest and grumbling, causing Hiccup to laugh.

"Subpar's a pretty good word to use, I'm surprised you—"The auburn-haired hybrid was cut off by a fish to the mouth, which he instinctively took a bite out of before spitting it out in disgust.

"Ew! Toothless that's so gr…oss…?" Hiccup stopped mid-exclamation as the taste actually settled into his mouth, pausing as it lingered for a moment and tasted stupidly good instead of disgusting and salmonella-inducing.

Toothless seemed to catch on to what was happening and instantly sat up, clasping his hands together. "oh my gods, please." He prayed to no one in particular, watching as Hiccup gave an experimental chew to test the texture before swallowing.

There was a beat of silence as Hiccup seemed to process what had just happened before he bolted straight onto his foot and a half. "NO!" He screamed, throwing his hands up as Toothless echoed him, albeit with an exclamation of 'YES!'.

"I won't accept that!" Hiccup yelled again, pointing to the still raw fish laying on the ground again, "I won't accept that that actually tasted good!"

"Don't just accept it, embrace it!" Toothless cheered, still snarky that he had been right in the fact that Hiccup could eat raw fish, "Embrace the fish, Hiccup."

"Shut up." Hiccup said, trying to hide a smile behind the grimace that was slowly fading away.

"Oh gods, thank you for this glorious momen—"

"No, I mean it!" Hiccup said, clamping a hand over Toothless' mouth, who quickly ripped it away and opened his mouth, only to be shushed by his rider again.

The auburn-haired teen was looking in the direction of a few trees to their right, just on the treeline behind a few houses, ears perked and eyes laser focused on something that he wouldn't have noticed without his dragon senses.

There were two kids—seven or eight years of age it seemed—that had separated from their group of friends. They were sitting in the holly bushes near them and talking, oblivious to the world around them.

One was a red-headed boy—Toothless recognized him as one of the villager's kids but couldn't place the name—and the other was a little girl with lime green eyes and little Nightmare horns poking out of her purple hair. He couldn't see her wings and tail from below the leaves, but he knew they were there.

Toothless and Hiccup exchanged curious glances as the little boy spoke. "I think it would be cool to breathe fire. I tried to once by eating a leaf that was on fire, but Momma said that was dangerous."

The little girl laughed before cupping her hands together and staring at them hard, concentrating. "Breathing fire is real easy." She said, never taking her eyes off her cupped palms, "Lighting yourself on fire is hard."

"Well, yeah but you're a dragon, it's supposed to be easy!" the boy laughed, leaning in closer to watch the girl's hands in anticipation, "You can do it!" He urged on as the purple nightmare pursed her lips in deeper concentration.

Suddenly there was a small glow, then a whoosh as a small flame ignited in the girl's hands. Both squealed in delight as the flame bobbed, pale yellow flame dancing as the girl held her arms out so the boy could get a closer look.

"Don't touch it." She warned, "Mummy told me it was dangerous for human's skin, even though we can touch it."

The boy seemed slightly disappointed, and stated that he knew that, even if his hand was slowly making its way back to the ground in a discreet way. His brown eyes watched the little bulb of light with undeterred wonder, the kind only a child can produce.

The girl held the flame for a minute more before extinguishing it, waving her hands as if she was flinging water off her fingertips. (a very amateur way of doing so, but she was only eight after all) "My mummy's still teaching me how to control it. She says that soon I'll be able to light up my whole body, just like she and Poppa do! And then soon I'll be able to become a squire and then a knight and—"

"What's a squire?" The boy interrupted, prompting the girl to look up to the stars and hum.

"It's a Knight, but not trained yet."

"What's Night?"

It's a Knight. With a K. It's kinda like…" The nightmare trailed off, at a loss of what to say. "It's like Mr. Hiccup and Toothless." She explained, "Working together to defend the island and tribe."

"Oh, so Knight's are like warriors?"

"Yeah!"

Toothless and Hiccup shared another smile, knowing that the two didn't know they were listening and not wanting to give away their position.

"So they like, fight monsters in cool armor and save princesses and get true love's kiss?" The boy asked, wriggling in excitement as he listed off some of the fairy tales that some parents liked to tell their children.

The nightmare cocked her head to the side, eyebrow quirking. "What's kissing?" She asked, emphasizing the word roughly, as it was obvious that it was the first time she had heard it.

The red-headed boy seemed to blush slightly, and tore a leaf off one of the Holly bushes, shearing bits of green bit by bit. "It's where two Vikings press each other's lips together and make this sound:" The boy then puckered his lips and imitated the sound of a kiss with his own lips. "Usually a Princess does it to thank the er, knight, for saving her and stuff."

The boy looked up at the nightmare, who had wide, doe-like eyes as she listened to him talk. "My momma and papa do it when they see each other at the end of the day, but that's gross." The boy said, crinkling his nose and sticking his tongue out. The girl laughed at that.

Then she leaned forward and pecked the red-head on the lips, pulling back as he shrieked. "What was that for?" He asked, wiping his mouth on the back of his hands. The purple nightmare shrugged.

"You said the princess kisses the knight as thanks for saving her! So, I'm thanking you for saving us from the Queen!"

The boy blinked, confused. "But I wasn't there, the grown-ups wouldn't let me go…"

The purple nightmare replied. "So? Mr. Hiccup and Toothless still freed us from her, and you all let us stay on Berk! Plus, you're like my best friend." She changed the last part to a whisper, cupping part of her mouth with her hand, as if she didn't want any spectators to overhear. (It didn't work too well, as we all know kids are terrible at whispering.)

"Really?" The boy asked, swiping at a firefly that had flown into their path.

"Really!"

The two kids lapsed into a bout of silence as they took turns trying to catch the firefly, trailing it's blinking path with their eyes as it buzzed away.

"Can I tell you a secret?" The boy asked after another minute, and Toothless immediately turned back around to listen again, as the teenagers had thought the conversation was over. Hiccup joined him too, but not without a remark that this wasn't for their ears. Toothless only shushed him.

"Yeah?" The nightmare asked, lime green eyes wide.

The boy leaned in close too, so that he could talk quieter without having to whisper. "You're my best friend, too." He said with a smile.

Hiccup and Toothless watched with equal smiles as the nightmare gasped in delight, clasping her hands together and squealing. "I knew it!" She said, jumping and hugging the red-headed boy, who hugged back fondly.

Toothless felt Hiccup lean into him a bit as a silent reminder of their own friendship as the two in the brush pulled away.

The Viking boy pulled back and quickly kissed the nightmare, who blinked and put a hand to her lips. "What was that for?" She asked, sitting back on her haunches. The boy smiled.

"A thank you for being my best friend." He said bashfully. The girl giggled again, standing up and prompting the boy to stand up, too.

"Let's play Knight's and Princesses!" The girl exclaimed with the enthusiasm only a child could conjure, grabbing a stick and thrusting it in the air.

"Yeah!" The boy yelled, grabbing another one and joining her. "I'll be the knight, and you can be the princess!"

"No, I should be the knight, because I'll actually be one someday!"

"Okay, we can both be knights, and we can save each other!"

"Okay!"

The two then ran out of the brush with their 'swords' and chased each other as one tried to save the other, yelling and laughing like only children could, disappearing into the lantern-lit streets.

Hiccup watched with a warm, fuzzy feeling in his chest. He relished in it as it warmed his body and sent warm vibrations through—

"Do you know you're purring?" Toothless asked, looking at his best friend as the low rumble in his throat cut off almost as soon as he mentioned it.

"Aw no! Don't stop!" Toothless laughed as Hiccup slapped a hand over his mouth and flushed cherry red. "It's a normal dragonic bodily function!" He persisted as his rider started walking away. He let out a purr of his own, trying to show Hiccup that it wasn't something to be embarrassed about.

Hiccup only rolled his eyes, too happy at the exchange to be too embarrassed, and sat down at the tree they had been at before. Toothless joined him, and they watched as the two kids darted between houses and crowds of people and dragons alike, shrieking with laughter as they fought off imaginary monsters in the hopes of winning a kiss of victory from the other.


 

Hiccup was helping clean up decorations with Stoick and Fishlegs when Mildew interrupted them a couple days later.

Well, it wasn't really an interruption, as they could hear his grumbling and complaining from halfway across the village and knew that he was coming, so they decided to take a break as they waited for the inevitable nagging that was going to come their way.

And so there came the old coop, as sad-looking and bitter as always. Stoick asked Hiccup and Fishlegs to go into the Great Hall and put up some stuff while he dealt with the stick-in-the-mud's complaints.

(Hiccup let it slide that it was probably because his dad didn't want him and Mildew in the same place at the same time, after all that's happened. If he thought the old man hated him before? Oh Odin, he didn't want to know what he thought now.)

So he and Fishlegs walked into the Great Hall, and set the supplies they had used on a nearby table to be collected before venturing over to Astrid, who was having some trouble taking a decorative assembly of leaves off of a pillar.

She greeted them as they got closer, waving, and almost losing her center of balance as she was standing on the very edge of a table; she was leaning most of her body weight on the pillar she was trying to un-decorate, while her feet were planted on the very corner of the table.

"What are you guys up to?" She grunted, stretching and managing to clip her finger on the very edge of the leaf bouquet, causing it to topple and fall to the ground.

"Mildew's talking to Dad," Hiccup explained, "and I'm about 83 percent sure he sent us in here solely because of this." He said, gesturing to his body and managing to swish his tail out of the way just in the nick time, as someone tripped and stepped right where it was a moment ago.

Astrid hummed in acknowledgment, and hopped down from the table top, picking up the leaf assembly and placing it with the others she had collected.

"He's just trying to protect you, you know." Fishlegs remarked, crossing his arms over his chest.

Hiccup sighed and rolled his eyes. "I know, I know. It's just annoying—sorry, I've been saying that a lot lately."

"I can understand how you feel Hiccup—well, I can't understand completely, but like, I know it must be hard for you. I don't think I could stand having my mom and dad swaddle me like Chief is doing to you." Astrid said, clapping her hands together to shake any dust from them and flicking her bangs out of her eyes.

"Yes, thank you for the words of comfort, Astrid."

"You know what I mean!"

Hiccup sat down on the bench that was behind him, slumping and putting his head in his hands. "Yeah I know." He grumbled. Astrid sighed, feeling sorry for her friend, before plopping down next to the auburn-haired teen and setting a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"It'll get better, you know." She ventured, and Hiccup scoffed, which prompted her to urge on. "It will!"

"That's what everyone keeps saying!" Hiccup complained, huffing in frustration, "I just wish it would happen sooner."

"I think everyone thinks that." Fishlegs stated, "But you can't bend time, sadly."

Hiccup suddenly got a determined look on his features, one that the two instantly recognized as his inventing face.

"NO!" The two shouted at the same time, causing Hiccup to jolt harshly and nearly fall off the bench. The shield maiden and bigger Viking winced at the realization of what they had done, but knew better than to apologize, as Hiccup was already straightening himself up.

"Hiccup, you are not going to try and bend time, it's not possible."

"Watch me."

"Hiccup."

"Okay, okay! Joking, I was only joking…maybe."

Astrid facepalmed, pursing her lips to hide a smile that was forming. "So where's Toothless and Meatlug?" She asked, changing the subject.

"They're off taking down the roof decorations and stuff." Fishlegs explained, "It's so much easier managing village preparations with dragons in Hybrid Form now." He added as a second thought.

"Wait, Toothless can't fly. How is he helping with roof décor?" Astrid asked.

"…That dragon is freakishly good at climbing stuff now that he's regained apposable thumbs…" Hiccup answered.

"What about you?" Hiccup asked then, popping his knuckles as he lacked anything else to do, "Where's Stormfly?"

Instead of answering, Astrid simply tilted her head up to the ceiling above them, as if looking for something, before gesturing to something at about eleven o'clock. "Right there, taking down the lantern cords."

"No, no! Hookfang, my left not yours! Fanghook, can you unclip that for me? Thanks! We're all good in this corner! Where else do you need us to untangle these things?" The nadder called in both Dragonese and Norse, although Hiccup was the only Viking who understood the first part.

"Just a few more lines over near Bucket and Mulch." Spitelout responded, taking the coil of rope from the nadder as she landed. The blonde nodded and took off again, Hookfang and Fanghook following shortly after. Spitelout marked off something on the list he was holding as the two nightmares and nadder started untangling the last few lines.

Hiccup leaned back, resting his elbows on the table behind him as he looked around and realized just how many dragons were actually in the Great Hall alone. He hadn't realized a lot of them at first because they were in Hybrid Form, but now that he looked around, he realized at least half of the human figures in the hall were dragons—the occasional exotic hair colors, clothing, and dragon features made them easier to spot now that Hiccup was actually paying attention.

They were everywhere: helping with decorations, counting supplies, helping in preparing that night's dinner, Barf and Belch had even enlisted the help of a few terrors to put together a little show to keep the kids entertained as their parents worked.

The auburn-haired teen watched in amusement as the Zippleback twins ran around the little table they were standing on, throwing their hands out in over-animated ways as they told their tale, the terrors acting it out in the air above them. The kids were absolutely entranced as Barf made a shape out of zippleback gas, Belch lighting it shortly after and revealing a creature of some sort.

"It's…weird, right?" Fishlegs asked after a moment, drawing the two other teens' attention away from the show. Hiccup and Astrid shared a look.

"What, you mean seeing Barf and Belch without Ruff and Tuff, or humans and dragons coexisting as we are now?" Astrid asked with slight amusement, causing Hiccup to smile.

"I mean the Dragon-Hybrid Form thing." Fishlegs retaliated, looking around as if he was afraid that he was going to offend anyone, "It's weird that Vikings are so accepting of this, right? I mean, a year ago we would have been flipping tables if they just transformed during a raid…"

"Honestly? I'm more weirded out by the fact that I stopped thinking it was weird three days after it happened." Astrid admitted, crossing her legs and leaning back on the table with Hiccup, reaching over and scratching behind one of his ears in amusement. Hiccup seemed to start to enjoy it for a moment, before slapping her hand away, shrinking instinctively as the blonde held up a warning fist.

"…Yeah, I guess that's how I feel, too." Fishlegs stated.

"Honestly I'm still getting used to it." Hiccup said offhandedly, surprising the two blondes.

"Really?" Astrid asked, genuinely surprised, "I'd think you would be the one to get used to Dragons being able to shapeshift first."

Hiccup looked down at the ground, lips pursing. "Uh, yeah that's…that's what I meant…"

The three were interrupted suddenly by a loud sound coming from the table the play was being held, as Barf and Belch roared, causing their audience to squeal.

"Honestly I find it kind of awesome." Astrid admitted again, "I mean like, we can trade fighting techniques and stories and food and—"

"And like share cultures?" Fishlegs ventured. Astrid nodded.

"Wait, food? I don't think dragons make actual dinners, Astrid, they just eat fish." Hiccup stated. Astrid only responded with a stuttering gasp and threw her hands around, trying to explain something and failing miserably.

"We don't know that! As far as we know they could have better recipes than us! Which, honestly, wouldn't be that surprising anyway but like—they have human forms, I doubt they'd just eat raw fish."

"Yeah I guess you could be right."

"Are you kidding? That would actually be really cool!" Fishlegs agreed, straightening up and shifting his bodyweight to his other foot, "We can expand the Book of Dragons with that stuff, too! Heck, we could even make a whole new book if we wanted!"

"I dunno about that, Fishlegs, you're probably gonna have to teach half of us to read before we agree to let you write that stuff down." Stormfly interrupted, having finished taking down the lantern strings. She landed on the table Astrid and Hiccup were on, causing both to let out surprised noises as their backs were facing her.

"Speaking of, Astrid you said you were going to do that sometime. When is 'sometime' going to be?" The nadder asked, plopping down next to her rider.

Astrid crossed her arms over her chest and shrugged. "Just sometime for now." She responded, causing her dragon to roll her eyes with a grumble of 'fine'.

"But anyway," Continued Fishlegs after Stormfly had settled herself, "I guess it is pretty awesome that Dragons can shapeshift again."

"You're welcome." Hiccup grumbled, causing a semi-uncomfortable silence.

"Ah, yes. Self-depreciating humor at its finest." Stormfly remarked, causing Hiccup to laugh.

"Angsty humor aside, there really is something almost poetic about this." The auburn-haired teen stated, sending a bright smile, "It's heartwarming."

Everyone responded with sounds and words of agreement, and Astrid snuck a hand back up to scratch behind Hiccup's right ear again. The night fury hybrid promptly found himself groaning.

"What is your infatuation with these ears?" He complained, trying to duck away from her touch.

Astrid simply laughed, leaning to keep her hand on Hiccup's head as he continued to try and shake it off. "What can I say? It's cute." She admitted through her smile.

"Great, exactly what I want to be. Cute."

"You are pretty cute, Toothpick." Stormfly interjected, "in the 'hatchling' way though." She added as a second thought, causing Hiccup to send her a glare, but it was only half-hearted as Astrid had persisted in scratching his scalp right behind his ear and it felt uncannily good.

He felt the rumble in his throat for about thirty seconds before Mildew's voice could be heard through the Great Hall's doors as they opened.

"It's a disgrace, Stoick, all of it! Dragons not only infiltrating our home, but now taking the forms of us, too? The devils are looking to take over the island! What's next, are they going to start breeding with us, too? The last thing we need are more things like your son."

The purring that was steadily growing in volume cut off almost as fast as the heartbeat of a dead man.


 

When Snotlout walked into the academy that morning, the last thing he expected to find was Hiccup sprawled in the middle of the arena with Toothless, basking in the late-morning sunlight.

His cousin and his dragon were having a half-conscious conversation, and Snotlout could only understand one half of the conversation because the night fury was in Dragon Form.

"No I'm telling you, trolls steal the left socks!" Hiccup interjected sleepily, never opening his eyes as Toothless growled something in Dragonese back to him. The hybrid's ears twitched as he furrowed his brow, eyes squinting open as he sat up on his elbows and turned his head towards Toothless. He absentmindedly nodded a greeting to Snotlout as he sat down adjacent from his cousin.

"You know, you make a good point…" He trailed off.

Snotlout piped up then, unsarcastically waiting for a lull in the conversation to make himself known. "What's this good point?"

Hiccup turned his attention back to the blue-eyed Viking, resting his hand on his chin as he did so. "Toothless asked if socks even have a designated foot to go on—which is something I never thought about."

Snotlout leaned back on his hands, contemplating on an answer as the twins not-so-carefully ran in, nearly laughing as Hiccup jumped like a cat onto his hands and knees at the sudden commotion. "If they do have a designated foot to go on, I've been putting them on wrong my whole life."

"So I guess then we were both wrong, bud." Hiccup said after a moment, watching as Ruff and Tuff settled themselves down.

"Wait, what?" Ruff asked, having heard the conversation but was confused at the conclusion.

"Obviously if socks have no designated design to determine which one goes on which foot, dear sister, then that means that Hiccup was wrong on the left sock theory." Tuffnut interjected before Hiccup could answer.

"And if Toothless was arguing about right socks, then that also means he was wrong!" Ruffnut joined in, catching on. Snotlout only pointed towards the two with a questioning look, prompting a scoff and eye roll from both Hiccup and Toothless simultaneously.

Astrid and Fishlegs took that time to arrive, along with the rest of the gang's dragons.

"So, what's the plan today?" Astrid asked, rubbing her hands together in anticipation and then proceeding to crack every knuckle in her fingers. Snotlout shuddered.

And then proceeded to try and do that himself.

"Well, since my dad finally revoked the 'stay on the ground' law for me, I say we work on aerial battle strategies—been a long time." Hiccup stated, standing up and brushing off his pants.

Meatlug groaned, slouching. "That means I have to transform…" She pouted, letting her curly-because-she-had-been-too-lazy-to-rebraid-her-hair-that-morning hair fall in her face as she threw her head down.

Fishlegs rubbed her back in humored sympathy, right in between her wings. "Sorry, girl."

The brunette only groaned again before trudging away and bringing out her Dragon Form.

"Why is she so tired?" Snotlout asked, hopping on top of Hookfang as the rest of the team saddled up, confused at the gronkle's reluctance.

"She was up all night reading a screenplay from the mainland. Something called 'Romeo and Juliet'." Fishlegs answered, rubbing a now fully dragon Meatlug on her head.

"Oh, I read that!" Snotlout said, causing Hiccup to choke and give him a flabbergasted look.

"You read?" He asked, causing Snotlout to cross his arms over his chest in offense.

"Yes, I do, for your information!" the raven-haired teen stated, "I do more besides work on these babies." He said, holding his arms up and flexing to show off his muscles, causing all of the girls—dragons and Vikings alike—to roll their eyes.

Hiccup was only smirking with a sense of humor glinting in his eye, causing Snotlout to become confused. "What, you find it amusing that I can read a book as big as the ones you read?" He chastised, causing Hiccup to snort, subconsciously stretching his wings out.

"No, I find it amusing that you would read a Romance."

"It was not a Romance!" Snotlout choked, blushing fiercely.

"Oh, yeah you're right!" Hiccup agreed, causing Snotlout to look at him in anxiety as he paused. "It was a tragedy centered around a romance."

Everyone laughed as Snotlout turned even redder, quickly changing the subject as he quickly babbled something about why they hadn't started lessons yet and streaking out of there on Hookfang, disappearing up into the clouds faster than any of them could say Snoggletog.

"Well, I take it that's our signal to leave, then." Astrid stated, darting off on Stormfly, quickly followed by the twins, Fishlegs, and Hiccup.

All in all, the practice went smoothly—well smoother than Hiccup had expected it to go considering their nearly two-month absence from anything air-combat related. (they really weren't supposed to be practicing any combat really, as Hiccup still got the occasional muscle spasm of pain if he twisted in a position too fast, but the gang wasn't going to deny him a spar if he asked for it so)

They practiced for a few hours—some new flying techniques and battle strategies and target practice—before it all went haywire.

Stormfly and Astrid, while aiming for a target, didn't see Barf and Belch come in from their right, who were working on cutting tight corners with their riders. They plowed right into one another, and because the Zippleback had the greater momentum, it sent them spiraling into Hiccup and Toothless, who were practicing their semi-solo flying technique. (Hiccup didn't use his wings yet—didn't think they were strong enough and was still working on tail coordination anyway) So now the three dragons and four riders were falling in a series of wings and yells, and landed right on top of Snotlout and Fishlegs, who were practicing stealth techniques on the ground on the beach.

The impact sent every rider flying from their dragons and onto the sand a few yards from the flying reptiles, causing two separate piles of limbs.

There was a series of groans as they slowly re-sorted themselves—disoriented and maybe a few future bruises, but okay—and shook the sand out of their hair and clothes.

"That went well." Snotlout remarked, spitting grit from his mouth and huffing as the action only succeeded in getting half of the sand out.

"Really? I could have sworn we did it perfectly." Astrid said sarcastically, pulling her arm out from under Tuffnut, who was straightening his helmet on his head, which was tangled in Ruffnut's own.

"You're laying on my hair, dung for brains!" She complained to her brother, pulling on her left braid as she tried to loosen it from the pile of Vikings.

"Actually, I think we're all laying on it." Hiccup said, shifting as he pulled the end of the blonde's braid from under his back.

"I think that's the worse crash we've had during a practice yet." Fishlegs groaned, tossing his helmet to the sand a few feet away.

"You can say that again." Snotlout mumbled, watching out of the corner of his eye as their dragons screeched and squawked, trying to untangle themselves and failing miserably. Some tried to transform into Hybrid Form to see if it would help, and only ended up complicating things even more.

The Vikings laid there in their pile of limbs for a minute more, trying to catch their breath, before Astrid snorted, which then turned into a giggle, and then a full out laugh as she finally processed what had happened—less mad then she probably would have been considering it was partially her fault, and that they had all managed to be in the right places at the right times for it to have happened.

Soon after, Tuffnut started snickering, then Ruffnut, then Fishlegs and Hiccup and soon Snotlout joined in as they all laughed at the absurdity of the situation.

Everyone laughed, and then continued laughing at the fact that they were laughing for what seemed like forever, until they were just laying there, an occasional snort and chuckle at the aftermath of the situation, stomachs aching and tears in their eyes as endorphins and the quickly-turning-to-evening sun made everyone become too lazy to try and move—or want to move—from their pile in the sand.

There was a contempt sigh that came from somewhere near the top of the pile, and soon, for some reason that was beyond any one of them they found themselves just laying there enjoying one another's company—a completely different story from the jumble of dragons a few yards from them who were still shrieking and cursing profanities at one another.

Somewhere in the midst of that pile, a rumble started up. Everyone seemed to notice as it grew louder and stronger, sending a slight vibration through their bodies. They all knew where it was coming from, and nobody made the attempt to stop it. They found that they didn't want it to stop, either.

Everyone had heard their dragons purr before. It was a sign that they were trusted and loved—something a dragon did when they felt content and secure. Hiccup's purring seemed to bring a sense of unity to the gang in their jumble of limbs ad their mixture of personalities.

"I'm glad we have what we have."

Who said it? The only clue any of them had was that it wasn't Hiccup—for his purring never stopped through that entire time.

It grew louder after that.

Chapter Text

Hiccup woke up that morning extremely hot. And considering the fact that it was autumn in Berk, where the temperature would feel like mid-winter to most other places at that point in the year, he automatically knew something was wrong.

He kicked off the blanket that he and Toothless were sharing with haste, rolling up the sleeves of his sweat-soaked tunic, and panted, fanning himself as the colder air from around him hit his skin.

Normally he wouldn't be opposed to the heat, as it was rare that he got any outside of summertime, but this was like falling-back-into-the-Red-Death-explosion type heat. It was radiating in what seemed to be waves, coming from Hiccup's right.

Said hybrid looked over to what seemed to be the source—Toothless. The night fury was still asleep, having stayed up with Hiccup for a while because of another nightmare. (not as severe but the night fury had insisted on staying with him until he fell asleep again) His eyelids fluttered as he dreamed, and his brow furrowed in his subconscious, peaceful, and relaxed as he stayed in the realm of the dreaming.

Hiccup knew something was wrong as soon as he took in his appearance and scent, though.

Toothless' face was flushed—a sick-looking color that didn't suit him—and sweat matted his hair and dotted his hairline. He had goose-bumps covering his skin, and he was shivering, even though he had immediately grabbed the blanket from Hiccup as soon as his rider had thrown it away, wrapping it around himself and then bringing his knees up to his chest, so he formed a little ball of scales and covers on the bed. He smelled sick—not the nauseating, stinking kind of sick that comes with influenza, but something different that only a dragon could describe.

Hiccup, immediately feeling a knot of concern tie in his gut, leaned over and shook Toothless, trying to get him to wake up. Toothless jolted after a second, instincts reacting to the sudden movement, before letting out a violent shiver and turning over so that his back faced Hiccup, groaning.

"C'mon, Bud." Hiccup said, changing his position so he was kneeling on the bed and shook his dragon more, trying to turn him over at the same time, "Something's wrong, you need to wake up."

Toothless, now half awake, flexed his wings so that they knocked Hiccup's hands off of his shoulder, before promptly folding them back in on himself to prevent any more loss of heat.

"Toothless!" Hiccup asked, annoyance slipping into his voice as he once again put his hands on his dragon, shaking even more vigorously and succeeding in turning him around.

"Hvers vegna er það svo kalt hérna…" Toothless mumbled sleepily in Dragonese, suppressing another shiver and failing miserably.

Hiccup's brow furrowed, and he pressed his lips together in concern. "It's not cold in here, Bud, you're running a fever."

Toothless cracked an eye open at him, and winced, flinching as sunlight hit his eyes and causing them to revert into slits for a moment. "That explains the massive headache I've got, then." He grumbled, sitting up and then promptly coughing, a sickly, wet cough that came from the lungs.

Hiccup set his hands on Toothless' shoulders to help support him, using one hand to bring the end of the blanket that had fallen off of the night fury's shoulder back up, and the other pressed against his forehead, clammy and sweaty.

"You're running a pretty bad one, too…" Hiccup mumbled under his breath, empathy building up as his dragon shivered at his touch, moaning as he pressed a hand to his temple.

The smaller hybrid frowned, trying to come up with something that they had done in the last few days that would have triggered the sickness. Nothing came to mind. "Hey, Toothless, did you do something that would have caused this?"

Toothless only sent a glare, bags under his eyes very prominent. "I haven't done anything that lasted more than ten minutes without you for the past three days—what could I have done?"

Hiccup only hummed, bringing his hand down as Toothless coughed again, getting up and strapping his prosthetic on.

"Where are you going?" Toothless rasped, ears twitching as he watched Hiccup adjust the metal leg.

The auburn-haired Viking waited until he was done to answer. "I'm going to make you some herbal tea, then go get Gothi. You're sick with what I'm assuming is a cold and we need to make sure that's what it is." And that it's not something worse. He added as a thought.

Toothless grumbled and pouted at the thought, and looked like he was about to argue, before he moaned, pressing an hand to his temple.

"…hurry up with that tea." He mumbled, slowly laying back down and curling in on himself. Hiccup only nodded and hustled downstairs, taking a cup of water and setting it over the fireplace with haste as Stoick watched in confusion.

"What are you doing?" He asked, "You never drink tea. Not this early, anyway."

Hiccup grumbled under his breath as he searched through the cabinets for some ginger, Echinacea, or thyme—if that didn't work he could always go out into the forest for some pine-needles, a horrible-tasting alternative but just as abundant in vitamin-C because he totally knows what that is.

"Toothless is sick." He answered, locating some Echinacea with an internal celebration and closing the cabinet, "I'm gonna go get Gothi after I finish up with this—she can help him better than I can."

The chief hummed in concern, glancing up at the loft in empathy as Toothless coughed again. "I can go get Gothi for you if you want. I'm on my way to her part of the village anyway."

Hiccup sent a pleading look to his father as he scooped a ladle of boiling water. "Would you?"

Stoick nodded, placing his helmet on his head and clasping a hand on his son's shoulder. "She may be a while, though." He reminded, "It's the beginning of cold and flu season and she's really busy."

Hiccup sighed, tapping his only foot impatiently. "Yeah, yeah, just make sure she gets here as soon as she can, please." He pleaded, stirring the tea with a spoon and testing it—internally thanking his new biology for the fact that he didn't burn his tongue…that's a first.

"I'll do my best, Hiccup." Stoick said, leaving the house with a wave.

Hiccup waved back until the door closed, before carefully making his way back up the stairs to Toothless, who had given up sleeping and was laying on his back, wings hanging limp and sprawling out over the sides of the bed, not quite hitting the floor. His mouth hung open as he sniffled, glancing over to Hiccup as he walked over with the tea.

"I can't breathe through my nose." He complained in a voice that somehow managed to be even more nasally than his rider's.

Hiccup rolled his eyes, sitting down on the side of the bed and holding out the tea for his dragon to take. "Yeah, Bud, that kinda happens when you get sick." He snarked, watching as Toothless huffed and crossed his arms over his chest from under the blanket.

"That Fjandinn sucks."

"Toothless!"

The night fury didn't acknowledge his rider's scolding, and instead took the tea out of his hands, sipping it and sighing in relief as it settled in his stomach. The two sat for a few minutes as the night fury sipped at his tea, wondering what they were going to do for the rest of the day, and just how long this was going to last.

Gothi ended up arriving three hours later, right around lunchtime. By then Hiccup had managed to get so bored he had found a way to scale the beams keeping the house up, and proceeded to hang like a bat once he had explored every nook and cranny of the roof—his tail being the only thing keeping him attached to the beam and his arms and wings hanging above his head as he watched Toothless nearly have a heart attack.

In hindsight, it probably wasn't the best thing to do to help his dragon get better.

It was admittedly awkward and slightly scary to see Gothi again. The last time Hiccup had seen her she had been poking and prodding at his bloodied back, determining whether he would recover from his…predicament. The memory was hazy and disoriented from both the lack of energy and the trauma from that day, but it was still there nonetheless.

In fact, the one thing he remembered vividly was Gobber reading those four world-shattering words.

Of course, Gothi had come over to give Stoick some pain remedies and ointment every now and then, but Hiccup was always either up in his room or out and about when those times came. Most of the time, Stoick went over to her hut himself to get anything they needed.

Hiccup hadn't even realized he might experience a negative reaction to being with the elder until he opened the door, and was face to face with her.

He took in a quick breath, holding it and allowing himself a second to compose, before nodding to the healer and inviting her in. Gothi hobbled in with a nod of acknowledgement towards the chief's son, and he closed the door behind her as she looked around the house.

"Toothless is upstairs—I'm pretty sure it's just a cold but it's a really bad one." Hiccup explained, "We're concerned because of how bad it is because normally they aren't this severe."

Gothi turned her attention back to Hiccup, gaze raking up and down his body with calculative, observing eyes, making Hiccup feel naked and defenseless. He swallowed and scratched his arm nervously, tail swishing as he jutted a thumb towards the stairs.

"Shall we go?" He suggested, accompanied by a loud series of hacking from upstairs.

Classy.

The healer slowly took her attention off of Hiccup and towards the loft, making her way upstairs with the clicking of her staff. The auburn-haired Viking followed her shortly after, thankful that he wasn't under her gaze anymore.

Toothless looked up as the two entered, and then promptly sneezed, sending a plasma blast towards them and causing Hiccup to shriek and duck, pressing his ears tightly against his head as it whizzed past them and hit the wall with a giant impact—a weaker one than a normal plasma blast but one nonetheless.

The wall smoked with a few flames flickering on the wood, as Hiccup clutched a hand to his chest, giving a few calming breaths as he recomposed himself. Gothi only glanced at the scorched mark for a moment before shuffling over to Toothless, who sniffled and wiped his nose with the back of his sleeve. Hiccup swallowed as Gothi grabbed the night fury's chin in one of her hands, and tilted his head up towards the light, inspecting his complexion.

The auburn-haired teen turned his attention away to grab the remains of the tea that Toothless didn't finish and splashed it on the smoldering mark, just so it wouldn't turn into an all-out house fire.

Toothless let out a few mumbles of protest as Gothi made him open his mouth, sticking a flat stick on his tongue and causing him to gag as she checked his tonsils.

She continued this for a minute or two more before turning back to Hiccup, writing down on a piece of parchment with a pencil that Hiccup provided for her on the diagnosis and the treatments for it. Hiccup was relieved when she said that it was indeed just a cold—a worse than normal one, but not severe.

Yet.

But they had medicine now so it wasn't like it could get any worse.

"Thanks, Gothi." He said as he escorted the elder back down the stairs. She handed him some antidotes and herbs that would move the cold along faster, and he quickly set them on the dinner table to sort out later.

Suddenly there was a hand on his left wing.

Hiccup shrieked and whipped around, nearly tripping over his own tail as he fell onto the table, scattering the ingredients. Gothi didn't seem phased by this—if she was she didn't show much, and only continued to stare with a calculating gaze as a fail hand stayed on his wing, brushing it with a feather-light touch.

The two stayed there, frozen for a second—one in terror the other in contemplation—before Gothi brought the hand up and lightly clasped Hiccup on the shoulder with a knowing look. She left just as Toothless appeared from the top of the staircase, blanket trailing behind him as he looked down with wide eyes.

"What happened?" He asked, worried as he took in Hiccup's body posture, still leaning his back over the tabletop.

Hiccup swallowed and clenched his shaking hands on the side of the table, shivering before straightening up and turning around. "Nothing. Just got startled." He dismissed, working on straightening out the medicines on the table.

Toothless narrowed his eyes, sensing that his rider was leaving something out. "Did Gothi do something? Cuz if she did I'll—"

"She didn't do anything besides catch me off guard, Toothless." Hiccup snapped, popping a cork off a vial in frustration, "I just overreacted because that's all I seem to be able to do these days." He finished off in a growl.

Toothless made his way down the stairs (with a little difficulty) as Hiccup sighed, hunching his shoulders as he hung his head. "Why am I so weak?" He asked, tail swishing in an agitated way as the night fury came up behind him, concealing a cough in the crook of his elbow.

"You're not weak, Hiccup." He scolded, turning the auburn-haired teen around by his shoulder, "You're just—just going through some rough times right now. There's a difference between being weak and having a natural reaction."

Hiccup scoffed as Toothless sniffled, shivering and pulling the blanket closer to him. "You know, I would believe that," The smaller night fury hybrid stated, turning around and presenting the vial in his hand in distain, "if it wasn't for the fact that I haven't been thinking about anything besides that gods-forsaken potion since I saw this thing."

Toothless frowned, looking down at the vial that was similar to the one that held the potion back on Outcast Island. He slowly took it out of Hiccup's hand and corked it, setting it to the side before pulling his rider into a hug.

Hiccup leaned into it sighing and relaxing into the embrace, despite the feeling of agitation eating him alive.

Toothless then coughed wetly again, interrupting the moment and causing Hiccup to grimace and pull away as the night fury wiped his nose, apologizing in a disgruntled manner.

The auburn-haired hybrid only rolled his eyes with a snort, turning around and picking up a container of medicine and handing it to his dragon. "Here, bud. Let's get you on your way to health again."

Toothless did a weird combination of a gag and a sigh of relief as he saw what was supposed to help him.

Suddenly there was a knock on the door, and the two figurative brothers stared at it in confusion, glancing back to each other for a moment. Hiccup quirked an eyebrow at Toothless in a silent question, and the night fury only made an 'I dunno' sound accompanied with a shrug.

"Uh…come in?" Hiccup called in a questioning tone.

The door was opened to reveal Snotlout, Astrid, Fishlegs, Barf, and Stormfly, who all greeted the two with a bunch of smiles and bearing gifts of well-being.

"What's all of this?" Hiccup asked as they bustled in, setting an assortment of soups, teas, and other indoor-activity games on the stairs or table.

"Your dad told us that Toothless was sick, and we decided to bring you some games and stuff to help pass the time!" Astrid explained, presenting a Maces and Talons game board with a goofy grin plastered on her face.

"Yeah, the twins and Belch are sick, too." Snotlout explained, picking up a container of stuff that Gothi had left, "Meatlug and Hookfang stayed with them to keep them company since they're also sick. It's great." He finished sarcastically.

Hiccup raised his eyebrows and looked over to Barf, who had his arms crossed and looked to be very uncomfortable without the presence of his Twin with him.

"You doing okay?" He asked the predominately green-haired teen, who rolled his eyes with a huff as a response.

Astrid sent both a harsh and sentimental glare towards the Zippleback, before answering Hiccup's question. "Gothi told him to stay away from Belch until he was better—apparently dragons in Human Form are a lot more likely to catch a cold because their immune systems aren't built for it?" She ended the last part like a question, obviously still confused by it.

Hiccup hummed in sympathy before asking another question. "And…why isn't he talking?"

"Because he keeps on forgetting to finish his sentences." Snotlout answered in a half-laugh, accidentally inhaling a bit of the medicine he was still holding, causing him to cough and pinch his nose in disgust. "Oh, man that's so bad."

Toothless snorted from behind Hiccup which then promptly turned into a coughing fit that made it sound like his lungs were trying to get rid of the entire ocean from them.

"You do know that stuff's for you, right, Bud?" Hiccup deadpanned, glancing over his shoulder as his dragon visibly paled, ears pressing firmly to his hairline as he gulped.

"So!" Stormfly interrupted, clasping her hands together as she sat down in a chair, catching everyone's attention as she pulled out a Chess board, "Who wants to teach me how to play this game?"

"Ooh, ooh! If we're playing it I call the being the horses!" Snotlout called, putting his hand up in the air and jumping up and down on his tip-toes.

Hiccup stared at his cousin with a look that asked 'are you serious?', before shaking his head. "Okay—that's not even…nevermind." He stopped himself before he got into another useless conversation. He sat down adjacent to Stormfly, setting up the pieces so they could start the game.

Everyone crowded around them as Hiccup slowly explained the basics, Stormfly looking at the board intently as he did so. They played one game in which Hiccup beat the nadder pretty easily, but the blonde proved to be a fast learner, because by the middle of their second game, Hiccup found her to be one of the best strategists he had played against. Which honestly wasn't that big of a surprise—the only real challenging opponents he had played against were Fishlegs and his dad.

The latter was surprisingly good at it because of his having to plan ahead for battles should the time come, and held the only record for actually being able to beat Hiccup. The auburn-haired teen didn't like to play as often with his dad though because, well, the man was a very competitive person, to say the least.

That and the fact that he always mentioned that Hiccup's mom was a natural at chess, too, and Hiccup would begin to feel sad at the fact that he would never be able to play with her.

But after the second game ended, (in which Hiccup inevitably won after a long struggle) Snotlout and Astrid sat down and played, and Hiccup was thankful that the raven-haired teen had picked up on the rules of the game enough to have a pretty exciting game with Astrid.

They continued playing long into the evening, and it got to the point that Stoick had to finally tell the ones that didn't live in the house to get out before they completely emptied out his kitchen.

Toothless, who had perked up a bit at the company and games they had played, had an energy crash as soon as the gang had left, immediately heading back upstairs and falling asleep—not after Hiccup had to literally sit on him and force the medicine down his throat, though.

Hiccup and Stoick ate some dinner—leftover soup that hadn't gotten eaten—before turning in themselves a few hours later, just as the moon peaked above the horizon from outside.

And so the next day passed the same way. Toothless was still sick, although admittedly a lot better than he had been the day before. Stoick recommended that he stay inside for one more day, just so he wasn't exposed to anything more, or infect any of the other people on the island.

He was they chief after all, he had to look after everyone.

So when the third day rolled around and Toothless found that he had the energy to actually do productive things, it was a total deed of fate that his productivity would be used to take care of his rider, as Hiccup had caught his dragon's cold out of pure chance.

Toothless stifled a cough in his tunic as he scooped a ladle of soup into a bowl, 'accidentally' pouring the portion of medicine that was supposed to be for him into it to mask the flavor. That stuff is nasty, he doesn't know how humans survive being sick if that's the stuff they take to get better. He may file a complaint with Gothi about it, he never really liked her, anyway. She freaked him out.

Of course, the medicine was working, if he was honest with himself…

There was a sniffle from upstairs, followed by a cough, and then a groan.

But anyway.

He trudged back upstairs and handed Hiccup his soup, who immediately started scarfing it down without cooling it down. He drank the broth straight out of the bowl afterwards, not even bothering to take the spoon out of it.

"Jeez, slow down Green Death, you'll get a stomach ache."

"I didn't eat dinner last night and it soothes my throat, let me have this one thing, Toothless." Hiccup rasped, sending a glare at his dragon as he set down the bowl.

Toothless held up his hands in surrender, hunching his shoulders and leaning away slightly. "Okay, okay, sorry." He sniggered.

Hiccup cracked his knuckles and ran a hand through his hair, grimacing when he caught his fingers on tangles in the auburn strands. "We've been in the house for three days, I'm starting to feel like I'm back to the month after the accident." He joked.

Toothless rolled his eyes and scoffed, moving over to the window, which had curtains put on it to block out the cold of the upcoming winter. "Maybe some sunlight will brighten things up a bit." He said, pulling the sheets back with a little difficulty.

Hiccup groaned with a facepalm, wincing as his head spun a bit more with the slap. "Really? Now? I'm already sick enough, I don't need to be nauseated by your p-p—" Hiccup stopped abruptly as his nose scrunched up, before he sneezed.

And, like a certain half-dead 14-year-old a thousand years in the future's ghost sense, a tiny, dancing, swirling, trail of purplish-blue flame flickered from Hiccup's mouth and nose, swirling up and extinguishing before it reached the ceiling.

There was silence as the two night fury hybrids stared at the air where the flame once was, before Toothless spoke.

"Holy Odin that was adorable."

"NO IT WASN'T."

"OH SHUT UP, YES IT WAS."

The whole island was talking about Hiccup's baby plasma blast by the end of the day. Who let it slip? That was between a certain night fury and shield maiden.

Chapter Text

The first snow of the season came with a big gust of wind, six inches of snow, a person washed up on the shores of Berk, and negative-number temperatures.

Oh wait, that third one. Went over that too fast. Right.

Uh, let's start from about eleven in the morning, then. The gang was doing hand to hand combat training as a request by Astrid. They had shoveled the snow in the Academy to the sides to make an easy place to practice.

"Crap!"

"That was your fault."

"You elbowed me in the ribs and then basically dislocated my shoulder, Astrid! Not cool…"

"Which is why I suggested combat. You're getting sloppy."

"Am not!"

"Tell that to your shoulder."

Astrid chuckled and held out a hand for Ruffnut to take, hoisting the other blonde to her feet and allowing her to brush herself off. They were in the middle of a sparring match, winner against winner until one remained.

Fishlegs had been the first one out—although he had the strength to throw someone halfway across the arena, he wasn't as quick on his feet as the others in the gang. He was soon followed by Snotlout, who was beaten by a lucky swipe from Hiccup, and now Ruffnut. Tuffnut was still riding out the last symptoms of his cold and got winded easily, so he was keeping score and narrating the fights overexcitedly.

Fishlegs was holding the scoreboard, and the two were bickering over possible foul play in Astrid and Ruffnut's spar. Astrid turned to Hiccup, who was watching the gang's dragons scale the chain netting above them with half lidded eyes and a bored posture, which was quite surprising considering Hookfang had literally tried to shove Toothless off a few seconds prior. And Meatlug and Stormfly only laughed at it.

"Hey." She said, bumping into his shoulder, crossing her arms, "You ready to get your butt kicked?"

Hiccup laughed, pushing her off of him. "You wish."

"I'll take that as a challenge, then." Astrid smirked as Tuffnut stood up on a pile of compressed snow and called out in a dramatic announcer voice.

"The final battle is about to start! Our two remaining competitors will now fight to the death to determine who will reign victorious!" The Thorston exclaimed, throwing his hands up and giving a slight sniffle.

"For the last time, it's not a fight to the dea—" Fishlegs was shushed by a finger to the mouth by the male twin.

"Shush, ghost. Go to Valhalla. Be at peace."

"Why do I even try." Sighed Fishlegs, walking over to Ruffnut and Snotlout, who were in the middle of building a snowman. The two stopped briefly and looked over to Tuffnut as he continued his speech.

"In this corner,"

"—this is a circular arena there aren't any—"

"We have: The fierce and fearless Astrid Hofferson of the…Hofferson clan!" Tuffnut turned dramatically, gesturing to Astrid, who only rolled her eyes.

"and in this corner:"—he coughed— "We have the son of the chief, dragon whisperer, and part lightning and death itself, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third!"

"Oh my gods…" Hiccup grumbled, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his thumb and pointer finger.

The two braced themselves for the spar as Tuffnut stated his last words.

"On your mark!"

He raised a makeshift flag in the air.

"Get set!"

Hiccup and Astrid both narrowed their eyes in a determined way.

"Go—hey!"

Hiccup and Astrid started performing hand to hand combat just as Ruffnut snatched the makeshift flag out of her brother's hand to use it as a scarf for the snowman.

Hiccup threw a punch that Astrid blocked, she tried to kick him in the side. He twisted out of the way just in time and used the momentum from his movement to throw Astrid off.

She did a summersault to regain her balance, landing on her feet and turning just in time to deliver a blow to Hiccup's ribs, causing him to stagger back. He retaliated, she fought back again, and so on.

"Go Hiccup!" came from up above them, where the dragons were now sitting on the very top of the chain netting.

Astrid took the distraction to kick Hiccup's legs out from under him, successfully dislodging his prosthetic from its usual position, and causing him to fall.

He let out a surprised yelp as Astrid went to pin him, and whipped around to his stomach last minute, using his good leg to spin around. His tail then took Astrid by surprise, completely swiping her feet out from under her and causing her to land with a resounding 'oof!' on the snow-spotted ground.

Hiccup then promptly sat up, stretched his good leg outwards, and pinned her to the ground in a lazy way, laying his boot-clad foot on her stomach as she tried to get air back into her lungs.

"And the Hiccup wins the tournament!" Tuffnut shouted after counting three seconds, jumping up and throwing the scoreboard away.

Astrid shoved Hiccup's boot off of her and sat up, resting her forearms above her head to get air back into her lungs. Hiccup sat up and repositioned his leg as Toothless cheered from up above.

"Yeah! I taught him that!" He said in a proud way, crossing his arms and leaning back, and, forgetting that there wasn't anything to support him, almost fell.

Once he regained his balance, he turned to Hiccup, who was standing up and brushing himself off. "And you thought it was stupid." The night fury sneered in an 'I told you so' kind of way.

Hiccup rolled his eyes, and helped Astrid to her feet. "Yes, thank you Toothless, for reminding me of the importance of a type of martial art that you've only taught me one move from."

"You're welcome." Toothless responded, refusing to acknowledge the sarcasm in his rider's tone.

"I'll admit, it was impressive." Astrid said, having regained her breath. "I didn't see it coming."

Hiccup chuckled awkwardly, brushing a hand through his hair, ears twitching a bit. "Yeah uh, thanks." He mumbled, still not comfortable with the subject.

"Didn't see it coming?" Stormfly repeated, grabbing one of the chains and swinging below it, as if to get closer to her rider. "Sweetheart, you need to pay more attention to our battles, then. One of our main fighting techniques is tail fighting!"

"Whatever!" The shield maiden yelled back up to the Nadder, who stuck her tongue out in response.

Suddenly Hookfang looked out to the distance, squinting his eyes as if he was trying to see what he was looking at better. But it probably wasn't that because he had vision three times stronger than a human's in the form he was in so it was most likely—

"Hey I-I think there's something going on in the village." He announced, standing up.

Confusion. Yep. Because it appeared on everybody else's faces and ignited in their thoughts.

"That's strange, what do you think is happening?" Hiccup asked as Barf climbed on top of Belch to get a closer look.

"It looks like—"

"—some sort of conflict."

Snotlout glanced around with a devious smile on his face, rubbing his hands together in ambition. "Ohohoho man, if it's a fight, I don't wanna miss it." He said, and the twins agreed.

Astrid and Hiccup shared a glance at one another, curious and wary simultaneously. Village fights can get pretty…intense sometimes.

Hiccup gave a 'should we?' look towards the blonde. She gave an 'I don't see why not' look back, honestly wanting to see what was going on herself.

"…It couldn't hurt to check." Shrugged Hiccup. The dragons snapped their wings open and glided to the ground—Toothless a bit rougher considering he didn't have his prosthetic on.

"Let's go, then!" Hookfang said, transforming and allowing Snotlout to hop onto his saddle. He was followed by the rest of the gang, and they took off on their way towards the commotion.

After, of course, Hiccup hooked up Toothless' prosthetic.


 

The Zippleback was right in thinking it was a fight of some sort. No, there were no clashing weapons or punches being thrown, but there were mad and confused yells and the occasional curse thrown in. From both humans and dragons, too.

The gang landed off to the side, slipping off their dragons and skirting the crowd over to the steps leading to the great hall, where a very annoyed and frazzled Stoick was trying to calm the crowd down.

"What are we going to do?"

"We're not going to let her stay, are we?"

"She must be persecuted!"

Astrid stared at the crowd in confusion, spotting her parents among them and catching their eye, sending them a silent question. They only shook their heads in a 'don't get involved' way, and turned back to their chief.

Hiccup ascended the steps towards his dad, followed by Toothless, who growled at the loud and, frankly annoying, crowd. "Dad, what's going on?"

Stoick turned towards his son, concern and exhaustion plastered on his face. "Hiccup, I want you to go to the house."

Hiccup's brow furrowed in confusion, and he side-glanced, as if he wasn't sure if his dad was serious or not. "Why? What's going on?"

Astrid continued to hear the exclamations of the village, seemingly growing louder with every minute.

"She can't stay here, Stoick! Especially not as a prisoner! She's a danger to this entire island even while she's unconscious!" Rang Mildew's annoying voice through the murmur of the crowd, causing them to quiet down as he hobbled his way through to the front. "That monster should be killed before she has the chance to wake up!"

The last thing Astrid expected was the crowd—especially the dragons—to agree with the old coop, nodding their heads and humming in agreement.

The chief sighed, pulling Hiccup closer to him with a hand clasped on his shoulders. "For once, Mildew, I agree with you."

"Wh-what? Dad, seriously, what's going on. Who's a danger to Berk?" Hiccup said again, a bit of fear climbing its way up his throat.

Mildew sneered, walking up a few steps to get closer to the night fury hybrid. Toothless stood protectively in front of him, growling a warning. The farmer only looked at the dragon with distain, before turning back to Hiccup.

"The one," He started, ironically being the only one to answer Hiccup's question, "that turned you into the freak you are." Stated Mildew, jabbing a bony finger at the auburn-haired teen, who promptly recoiled. Stoick let out an angry noise towards Mildew.

"What?" The word came out of Hiccup's mouth for the hundredth time in the two minutes they were there, this time laced with panic, "Dagur's here?" He wavered slightly, turning his attention towards the chief, leaning away from his grasp. Astrid felt her body go rigid.

No. Not Dagur. The pronouns everybody was using were female.

"No. Someone else." Stoick was sending a death glare to Mildew. He never broke it as he commanded Toothless to take Hiccup to his house, knowing that his son wouldn't go on his own.

It was the witch. The witch that made the potion that allowed any of this to even happen. Astrid felt a scowl twist its way onto her face at the thought of her.

Said night fury glanced uncertainly between Stoick and Mildew, before slowly taking Hiccup's left wing in his mouth, forcing the small Viking, who seemed to be in some stage of shock as he wouldn't stop staring at some invisible something on the ground, to follow lest he got a painful wave across his shoulder blades.

Astrid had half a mind to follow him, but was quickly grabbed by the arm by Snotlout, who pulled her back with the rest of the gang as Stoick and the crowd continued to address the problem.

"What are you doing?" She hissed, yanking her arm away from the Jorgenson, who had a devious smile on his face.

"We're going up to Gothi's to see the witch." Said the blue-eyed teen, gesturing to an anxious set of twins and a reluctant Fishlegs, who had also already caught on to who the crowd was talking about.

Astrid stared at him as if he was crazy. "Why? Why would you even—They'll kill us if they catch us up there, you know. Plus, how do you know she's even at Gothi's?"

"Hey, I don't have time for all of these ridiculing questions. Don't you want to get revenge on the person that put Hiccup in that position before the rest of Berk does?" Snotlout snarked, stepping back. "Cuz I mean, if you don't that's fine, gives us more time to ourselves…"

He trailed off in a suggestive way, mounting Hookfang and leaving Astrid to decide herself whether she was going or not.

Of course, the answer was inevitably yes.

"Stormfly!"

"Hah! Told you she would come!"

"Shut up."


 

They arrived at Gothi's hut a few minutes later, hopping off their dragons, who were keeping lookout in case someone came by, and entering after a polite knock or two on the door.

The elder must have been gone, for it was completely quiet in the room—not that her being there would have made much of a difference. It was more…still, Astrid corrected. Lacking the presence of a person.

Make that, lacking the presence of a person able to move around.

The witch was there, resting on the bed wrapped in a mountain of blankets. Her brown hair was down, tangled, and had the slightest halo of frizz surrounding her head. Her lips were blue, and her brown eyes were dull and hostile, staring accusingly at the gang as they stood in the doorway. Her green amulet was missing, probably having been confiscated by Gothi.

"So this is the troop Stoick the Vast managed to group up to torture me? You scrawny little kids from Outcast Island? Cute." She snarked, grabbing the tea on the bedside and sipping it. "Very cute."

"Our chief didn't send us." Astrid said, brows lowering angrily, "We came by ourselves."

The witch gasped overdramatically, clapping sarcastically. "Oh, even better!" Please, tell me what you're going to do! I hope you're going to do something that those bastards on Outcast haven't already done."

The gang blinked, not knowing how to respond to the 30-something's attitude.

Snotlout shook his head, puffing up his chest and pointing accusingly at her. "Okay, witch," He attempted to sneer, but because of his nerves it just looked like an awkward grimace. "Tell us why you did what you did to Hiccup, and we may consider letting your execution be humane."

"We're executing her? I didn't know that."

"Shut up, Tuffnut!"

"If you are going to execute me, can you do the Blood Eagle? That's probably the one thing that hasn't been attempted on me yet in all of my years of living."

Astrid facepalmed, already annoyed with the witch's sarcasm. It was almost worse than Hiccup's.

"Are you asking to be killed?" She asked. The witch stared at her.

"That's…literally exactly what I just…good gods, kid, you're lucky you're pretty and athletic."

Astrid scowled and clenched her fists, ready to punch the brunette in the bed, but she continued. "But yeah. Blood Eagle would be the ideal way to go out. The pain would be just like the one your Hiccup went through. Except, of course, his was about…oh I'd say ten times more excruciating."

Astrid went blind with rage then, and lunged at the witch before she even knew what she was doing, pushing her down on the bed harshly and shaking her, yelling profanities she had only heard come off of a severely drunken and pissed off viking's tongue.

Hiccup's screaming from back then was suddenly crystal clear in her ears again.

Fishlegs and Ruffnut pulled her off after a few seconds, yelling that she was just trying to get in their heads. But Astrid wasn't listening. Amidst the sea of blood red rage, she had noticed something about the witch. Something…eerily familiar, and sickening. She was staring bewildered at the things that dotted the witches skin. And her left eye, which had turned distinctly reptilian-like in fear when she had attacked her.

"What is wrong with you?" She whispered dangerously, still semi-struggling against her friends as the rage bubbled in her stomach.

The witch scoffed, sitting up and rubbing her arms in a deliberate way that said 'ow' mockingly.

"What you mean in my mind? Or what your little friends did to me?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Your little buddy, Dagur. He forced me to drink that gods-damned potion as punishment for my 'betrayal'." She added air quotes with the last word. There was silence as the gang processed. "It was supposed to kill me."

More silence.

"Luckily this isn't my first rodeo, I was able to reroute the majority of the magic but," She pulled down the cloth on her neck to show the night fury scales that dotted her shoulders and collar bone, smaller and less abundant than the ones Hiccup had, but still there nonetheless. "Still didn't escape without a few little buddies and this thing." She jabbed her left eye, which had resumed normal pupil shape.

"You'd think it'd be cool having one eye with the eyesight of a dragon. Really though, it just makes your regular eye seem like it has cataracts." She deadpanned.

"Wow." Snotlout said quietly. Then immediately blurted "Sucks for you!"

The witch sent him a glare, before shivering and grabbing her tea again. "Considering they threw me into the ocean during early winter and left me for dead, you could say that, yes."

"Serves you right." Astrid mumbled, "You shouldn't have made that potion in the first place."

The witch laughed, a short, bark of a laugh that was as cruel as the memories from nearly three months ago. "You think I wanted to make that potion?" She asked. Astrid crossed her arms and tilted her head to the side, a silent 'I dare you to try and justify yourself' flying across the room from her vision.

The witch rolled her eyes in disgust. "See, this is why I hate teenagers. You all think you know the full story before you even hear all sides if it. And even then, you refuse to acknowledge you're wrong."

Snotlout opened his mouth to argue, but the witch continued before he could. "You want to know how I ended up on that island with you all that day? I was captured. I was sailing to the Mediterranean, and my boat was stalled, robbed of all possessions, and then burned as I was dragged to that hellhole of an island, and forced to bend to those monster's wills as I gave them power they couldn't begin to comprehend, and made a potion that got a boy killed."

"Wait, what?" Ruffnut asked, confused. "Who died?"

Snotlout made an 'I dunno' sound. Astrid shrugged, genuinely confused, and Fishlegs set his hand on his chin, deep in thought.

The witch's brow shot up in a mixture of curiosity and dread, leaning closer to the teens. "You…can't possibly tell me he's…still alive?" She asked with what Astrid refused to believe was actual worry in her voice.

Snotlout let out a snort, shifting his weight to his right foot. "Who, Hiccup? Yeah, he's still alive. A broken husk of his old self thanks to…whatever that potion you made was. Honestly he's taking it a lot harder than I would have if I—"

Astrid elbowed Snotlout very harshly in the ribs then, knowing he was only saying those things to seem like a better warrior in front of the witch, and wanting to just deck him then and there.

"Oh my gods…" The which whispered, setting a hand on her stomach as if she was going to be sick. "That poor boy…" Astrid felt some reminder in the back of her mind mention that this woman had actually been in the room Hiccup was when he went through that terrible night. She had probably watched the whole thing.

Astrid was beginning to wonder if it was out of horror instead of ambition or indifference. The latter seemed to be the witch's default mood.

The shield maiden watched the brunette's brow furrow into sorrowful anger for a minute as she leaned back against the headboard, shivering. "Gods, I wish I was gonna get off this island alive so I could rip both of those bastard's heads off and shove them into that cauldron—which I never got back, by the way!"

There was a mutter from Fishlegs as the witch continued. "Or, better yet, make them drink whatever was left in that thing, make them go through the crap me and that kid went through, and then, only when they've begged for death and screamed until their vocal chords gave out, may I rip their heads off and chuck them into the nearest volcano!"

"Holy shit!"

"Snotlout!"

"You really aren't evil, are you?"

"I like how that sentence, out of all the others I've said, made you realize that." The witch deadpanned.

"But, Mrs. Witch—or is it Ms. Witch? Professor Witch? Doctor Witch? Witch Doctor?!" Tuffnut cackled at his own joke, and the witch let out a large sigh.

"My name is Magie. Use it, kid. And please, never use a joke like that again." Tuffnut instantly sobered up, and cleared his throat, letting out a sniffle as his mood suddenly changed. Astrid saw something flash in his eyes, but she couldn't make out what it was.

"Erm, Magie," He emphasized the name as if it was weird to process that the woman had a name, "Aren't all witches, y'know, evil?"

The witch—Magie—dang that was weird to think about. Astrid agreed with Tuffnut for once. Wow.—scoffed, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Well kid, I ain't good, I'll tell you that. But I'm not bad, either."

That was a contradictory statement. Astrid opened her mouth to call her out for it, but was interrupted when the witch held up a finger in the universal 'I'm not done talking yet' motion.

Astrid wouldn't admit that she jumped back a bit in fear that she would get blasted by a—whatever the witch could do.

"Hold up, girlie. You think of things as either black or white. I can tell. You ever heard of a 'grey character'? Or perhaps an 'indifferent character'?" Astrid nodded reluctantly. A grey character. One that melded in to the faint barrier between white and black—good and evil. Not inherently good, but not bad, either. These characters usually do the things that benefit them and only them. Selfish people, in Astrid's eyes.

The witch clicked her tongue, obviously seeing Astrid's reluctant understanding. "That would be me."

There was silence while the conversation died, finding nothing left to say.

"Gods, out of all the islands I could have washed up on…"

Silence.

"Guess it's just karma."

More silence. A sigh.

"Hey, don't look down, I can say this was the loveliest torture I've ever been through."

"Ugh, screw it." Magie may be a selfish, grey character, but she didn't deserve to suffer someone else's death sentence. Astrid ran over and opened the door, quickly asking Stormfly if anybody was coming.

The Nadder, still in dragon form, looked down a few steps at Hookfang, who glanced over to the village below, and shook his head.

Nobody coming, but guards had been positioned at the bottom of the stair steps leading up to Gothi's hut while they had been inside.

Why they hadn't come up to the hut itself, Astrid didn't know. Maybe they thought Magie might jump and kill herself before they did.

The shield maiden cursed under her breath, and slipped back in. Sneaking her out wasn't an option.

"Astrid, what are you doing?" Fishlegs asked nervously. Astrid snapped at him to shut up, and started pacing back and forth, rubbing her temples as she tried to formulate a plan.

"Are you going to break her out?" Ruffnut asked, fidgeting with excitement. Astrid huffed, and nodded in an annoyed way.

They can testify their reason to not execute her—no, there's no trial. And even if there was, they weren't old enough to participate. They could try and reason with the chief personally…but Stoick won't budge if they don't have Hiccup's help—

Hiccup.

"That's it!" Astrid exclaimed, throwing her hands off her temples and almost jumping for joy. "We gotta get Hiccup!" She said, grabbing Snotlout by his arms and shaking him excitedly.

"W-what? Astrid, did you see the way Toothless took him to his house? He's in no shape for—whatever plan you have in that beautiful head of yours."

Astrid was too distracted to glare at the raven-haired teen for his statement, going back to pacing. She felt distinctly Hiccup-like in that moment as a plan formed in her head bit by bit, flowing together like the last three pieces of a puzzle after an hour-long struggle.

"Plus, there's no telling Hiccup would even want to talk his dad out of executing the witch—"

"I'm right here, you know."

True. Astrid's plan was weak, a hit or miss shot, almost as pointless as the one that Hiccup fired during that raid half a year ago.

…the odds were in his favor, then. Let's hope they were in her favor now.

"He has to. We'll persuade him."

"But what if we ca—"

"We will!"

She turned to Magie, nodding her head in affirmation. "We will."

The witch nodded, showing she trusted the shield maiden. Not that she had a choice, anyway. They were basically her last shot.

"…then, let's head to Hiccup's house, then." Fishlegs said, and the gang started out the door.

"I still think this is a bad idea!" Snotlout said, but mounted Hookfang nonetheless.

They had to take off in the opposite direction of the village and double back around, just so that they didn't draw attention to the fact that they were at the healer's house.


 

Astrid quietly slipped through the door, followed by Fishlegs, Ruff, Tuff, and Snotlout bringing up the back. Hiccup wasn't downstairs, Astrid noticed. The only sign of life was the flickering tongues of the fireplace. He must have been in his room, she decided then.

"Hiccup?" The shield maiden called out, holding her hand out to stop the others from waltzing right up the steps. She was answered with a yelp followed by some unintelligible sounds from the loft. There was some hushed and frantic whispering that Astrid had some trouble making out, before Toothless' voice called out.

"Uh… hey now's not—not the best time? Would you mind coming back…later, Astrid?"

"We don't have until later." Astrid protested urgently, "Someone's life may be at stake here!"

There were some more scared near-animalistic sounds—Astrid was pained when she realized they were Hiccup's—and then a long, agitated sigh. Toothless' head popped out from over the edge of the loft, looking down at the gang with a 'this better be really important' face.

"We need to talk to you." She urged again, glancing behind Toothless' shoulder as if she could actually see anything besides roof and the very top of Hiccup's bookshelf behind it, "…Both of you."

Toothless was hesitant, shifting back and forth in an antsy way, and making a few glances from Astrid to Hiccup to the gang behind her and back around again, before he rubbed his neck. "Um, fine just—give us a minute." He resigned, realizing that it was probably a serious thing.

He then disappeared into the loft again and there were more murmurs of a conversation just out of earshot—a few high-pitched ones that indicated tension. Astrid felt guilt stab at her, but reminded herself that there was no other way and such little time to save the witch—not without Hiccup's influence, at least.

There was a distinct cry from upstairs, one that Astrid had heard the first time her friend had had a panic attack.

She sent a prayer to the gods that they could convince him.

Toothless popped his head back out and quietly waved with his hand in the universal 'come on' gesture, prompting the gang to head up the stairs into Hiccup's room.

He was sitting there on his bed, head resting in-between his knees and torso, curled up in a fetal position. His ears were pressed flat against his hairline and he was shaking like there was no tomorrow. There were labored breaths as his wings shook, and Hiccup's tail seemed to coil around him like Toothless usually did in dragon form when he didn't trust somebody around his rider.

Said night fury was leaning against Hiccup, rubbing his shoulder gently with a look in his eyes that said he had seen Hiccup like this way too many times than he cared to.

"Hey, Bud. The gang needs to talk to us. You think you're up for it?"

Hiccup only whimpered, and leaned into Toothless until his head fell onto his lap, prompting the night fury to lean forward so the other teen's neck wasn't craning as awkwardly.

"I'll take that as a no, then." He whispered, reaching to run a hand through his rider's locks. Hiccup sighed an affirmative, still curled in the fetal position but now with a warm hand running through his hair and another rubbing a joint on his wing, causing him to relax visibly.

Toothless looked up at the gang, who all had slightly different looks of sadness on their faces. "I told you this was a bad time, he's still freaked out from the thing out there today."

"Dagur's here." Hiccup muttered, adding on to the conversation. His voice was muffled because of the ball he had formed himself into, and sounded like he was choking on tears.

Toothless' brow furrowed and he looked down at the auburn-haired teen sadly. "No, Bud, Dagur's not here…"

"Yes he is!" Hiccup wailed, "H-he's gonna…drag me away a-and finish me off a-and, and, a—"

"And even if he was here, I would never let him get his hands on you again." Toothless said again. Astrid felt a wave of warmth flood throughout her body as she mumbled an agreement to that statement, and so did the rest of the gang.

Hiccup didn't say anything or make any noises, just continued to shake and breathe deep, but too thoughtful-looking breaths, obviously trying to prevent from hyperventilating. Toothless looked at him for a second or two, before turning back to the gang.

"What is it you needed?" He asked, keeping his voice low in volume as to not stress Hiccup out further.

Astrid opened her mouth to answer, but Snotlout answered before she could. "The witch! She's not evil at all! Well, she's not good, and she has an attitude that rivals Mildew's, but at least she actually has feelings."

Astrid stomped on his foot, causing the raven-haired teen to let out a squawk of pain, and sent a death glare his way before turning back to Toothless, who had his eyes squinted and his head tilted in skepticism.

"Believe it or not, he's actually right. The witch—Magie—she's just as much of a victim as we are!"

Toothless stopped looking at Astrid as if she was insane for a second, instead, looking up, trying to recall something. "I do remember vaguely her saying something about how she was supposed to be on the mainland…"

Hiccup peeked an eye out from his little ball, looking up at Toothless in curiosity and annoyance. The night fury glanced down, before resuming his combing of Hiccup's hair. The smaller night fury hybrid lost the agitation in his gaze.

"Oh, yeah, T." Tuffnut said, "She like literally had her ship pillaged and burned. It would have been so great to watch!"

Astrid shrugged, silently saying 'yeah, that's essentially what happened'. "She also basically drove Alvin off the edge of the earth with the fight, but Dagur…" There was a silence, and Hiccup flinched at the name.

"…he forced her to drink that potion, too. As punishment."

Hiccup, who had been gaining slight interest from the conversation, recoiled violently at the sentence, choking, and turned around so that his face was buried in Toothless' stomach. The night fury curled up and hugged his rider as he let out a strangled cry. It didn't last long as he then promptly sat up, with a hand wavering in front of his mouth.

"I think I'm gonna be sick." He gagged. Fishlegs grabbed the water bucket in the corner with lightning speed just as Hiccup retched, spilling out anything he had eaten that day into the pail—which wasn't a lot because it was only around two in the afternoon and he had been too anxious to eat lunch.

Snotlout turned and puked out the window because of his inability to stand the look or sounds of someone throwing up without getting sick himself, so the two cousins were painfully dry-heaving for a good minute or two before the conversation started back up again.

"I-it's not as bad as it could have been…" Astrid tried to comfort as Hiccup wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve, "She's just got some scales and a dragon eye—"

"Which looks, totally awesome, by the way." Ruffnut butted in, and Tuffnut agreed. The two Thorstons headbutted one another as Snotlout came back upstairs with two glasses of water, taking a swig out of one and then spitting the water out the window before handing the second one to Hiccup.

"Can we get to the point, please?" Toothless asked, agitated, watching as his rider took the cup out of Snotlout's hand blankly, taking a sip and completely missing the whole point of the water.

"Yeah, yeah. Well, the thing is, Berk wants to…execute Magie—that's her name by the way I don't know if we iterated that—for something she didn't even want to do! Dagur and Alvin forced her to do it! It's literally another 'Heather' incident!"

Toothless still seemed skeptical. Believing, sure, but unsure if Astrid's analysis was 100 percent accurate.

"Maybe we should—Hiccup what are you doing?"

The auburn-haired teen was pulling on his boot and strapping his prosthetic to his leg, a determined look on his face. "I'm going to help."

Astrid felt butterflies of hope flutter in her stomach as Hiccup stood. Toothless widened his eyes in worry and disbelief. "What? A-are you sure?"

"Yes." The night fury hybrid stood up straight, letting out a nervous sigh and straightening his tunic out. "I'm not willing to have an innocent person die because of what someone else did to me."

There was silence. The kind the gang only gets into when they're about to go on another adventure.

"What do we need to do?"

Chapter Text

Hiccup was a pacifist. He would openly admit that.

It was a strange thing to be, when you were born and raised in an archipelago full of blood-thirsty Vikings. Hel, the rite of passage in his society was to kill a dragon half a year ago.

His dad said he got it from his mother, much like most of his attributes. She never liked conflict either. Some people say that's what got her killed.

Still, fighting was a last resort for Hiccup. And even then, it would only be if a human or dragon's life was in danger.

Or in this case, a witch's.

Old habits die hard, I guess.

Or is it the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, in this case?

Maybe both.

Anyways…

They had been back outside of Gothi's hut within fifteen minutes. Astrid had hopped off Stormfly before the Nadder had even stopped, immediately rushing to the door and yanking it open.

Hiccup had only seen her this determined a few times before. The shield maiden was a big advocate for reasonable and just punishments, and always wanted to get to the truth before any major decisions were made.

And now that she knew the truth, and the punishment Magie would unjustly suffer from it, she was determined to help.

Hiccup swung his legs over Toothless and hopped off, scampering after Astrid as she quickly glanced in and then opened the door.

The witch glanced up as the gang walked in again. She looked slightly better—or so Hiccup imagined she did. Her lips had faded to a chalky white color and she had some color back in her skin.

It was only a matter of time before she set her eyes on him. Hiccup was expecting the three most typical looks he had gotten the past months: shock, sympathy, and horror.

Instead she looked...impressed. Awed. Like she was gazing upon some...war hero.

"You're strong kid. You've got a will of steel." She stated, gazing him up and down, "I thought you died six months ago." She stated matter-of-factly.

Hiccup didn't really know how to react. If anything the woman could have said, he wasn't expecting her to compliment him, of all things.

He cleared his throat, ears twitching self-consciously. "Uh...thanks, I guess." He stuttered. Then he continued, ever so hesitantly. He wasn't going to, but he had a hunch. And if he was right, it would be a major refresher to his current state of mind.

"You don't...seem too freaked out by me." He ventured, his eyes doing a weird dance of trying to catch her eye and then immediately glancing away once he did. "...why?"

It seemed Magie was more shocked that he was alive than that he was now a dragon-human hybrid. He could smell slight guilt on her figure, but most of it was overtaken by indifference and, surprisingly, relief. How he knew what each emotion was specifically, he'd never know.

The witch shrugged, sitting forward in the bed and tugging the blanket back onto her shoulders. "I'm 227 years old, kid. I've faced demons and other creatures that are way weirder than you. Definitely more terrifying." She explained, adding a bit of humor to the last sentence.

"Besides…" She once again pulled the side of her shirt down to show the trail of scales so much like his, "I wouldn't have any room to judge."

Hiccup felt a weird rush of comfort from her words. He also felt a strange and scary rush of relief, seeing someone like him. Sure, the dragons who were in Hybrid Form were nearly identical to him...but the scales and wings were normal for them. It was...selfish, but relieving at the same time to know that someone else was like him—even if it had only resulted in a few scales and a dragon eye.

Meanwhile, Snotlout choked on air as Magie's words registered.

"You're 227 years old?!" He exclaimed, eyes bulging as he looked her up and down, "you look like you're 34! Or maybe 35? 34 or 35."

Magie sent the Jorgensen a glare as he continued to stare. "My age should be the less pressing matter right now, Kid. I would like to get off this island and be able to live a few more centuries if you could manage to pull your heads out of your—"

"Okay!" Hiccup interrupted. He sent an equal glare towards his cousin, ears flattening against his head in irritation. "Magie's right, we don't need to be dwelling on unimportant facts."

Snotlout rolled his eyes, grumbling and crossing his arms over his chest. "...fine."

Astrid then piped up, walking up next to Hiccup. "Okay, anyways. What we're going to do is have Hiccup talk to his dad about Magie's situation, and convince him—"

"Uh, Kid, I'm sorry but I doubt that will work." Magie interrupted, brushing a strand of hair out of her face, "your chief is pretty narrow-minded and stubborn. I only met with him for a few minutes and he was practically radiating it. Besides, aren't you like—fourteen?"

"Sixteen, actually."

"Same thing."

"No it's no—!"

"Listen." Magie silenced, holding a hand up, "I appreciate the effort, even though that plan will probably never work. I would much rather just have you all sneak me down to one of your ships and let me get away. It would be a lot less work and might actually have a chance at succeeding."

Astrid, never one to take insults well, was scowling at the witch. Hiccup hesitantly set a hand on her shoulder, afraid the blonde would deck him.

He sighed. "She does have a point, Astrid. My dad does have a superiority complex. And in my state—" he clenched his teeth. "Look, e-even I know I'm not in the same mind state I was six months ago. My dad has been highlighting it since I was able to walk again, for Odin's sake. I doubt he would listen to me."

"B-but going behind his back and helping a convicted criminal steal a boat? Hiccup, that's treason!" Fishlegs squeaked, ringing his hands together nervously.

The night fury hybrid sighed, biting his lip. "I know."

Astrid let out a giant huff, glancing between the witch and Hiccup over and over again as she thought, a battle between her conscience and her morality clashing in her head.

Her morality won in 47 seconds.

"I—fine." She resigned, not believing what she was agreeing to.

Hiccup sent her an understanding smile, and the witch clasped her hands together.

"Great! Let's get my pendant and get me on a boat!" She said with newfound energy in her voice.

Suddenly Hiccup turned to her again. "Wh—what do you mean we're getting your pendant?"

"What do you mean by that sudden surprise in your voice?" Magie retaliated, a slight undertone of aggression slipping into her voice. "I'm not leaving without it. That thing's the source of most of my power."

"We don't even know where it is!" Astrid argued, the same tone slipping into her voice. Hiccup assumed she must be really regretting deciding to help this woman. "And besides, it's too much work. You said you wanted to use the least amount of energy as possible in doing this, right?"

Magie narrowed her eyes. "When it comes to that gem, there is no such thing as too much energy. I'll go get it myself if I have to. If that gets into the wrong hands, this entire archipelago could shrivel into nothing."

"I'm wondering if it was ever in the right hands to begin with." Astrid hissed.

"What did you say to me, you little—"

"Okay that's enough!" Hiccup yelled, facing both of them. "Both if you need to calm down. Astrid, you're the one that wanted to help her, and Magie, if it wasn't for Astrid you would still be preparing to get killed!"

Both girls rolled their eyes simultaneously, scoffing and then muttering varying sentences about how they didn't need each other.

Hiccup caught a snort from Tuffnut as he leaned over to Snotlout. "They're so alike that they disgust one another."

Hiccup couldn't help the smile the crept up onto his face.

Astrid had more morals than Magie, but they certainly did act almost identically.

"Okay, Magie." Hiccup said after the bout of silence had turned from hostile to indifferent, "We'll help you get your pendant. My guess is that it will most likely be with Gothi. She's the only one my dad would trust with an artifact like that."

"I think she's in the Great Hall with everyone else right now." Snotlout added, attempting to help.

Hiccup nodded. "That seems like the most logical explanation."

Magie then swung her legs over the side of the bed, standing to her feet. She stumbled a bit as her legs took on the weight of her body, but she didn't fall.

She walked over to the fire pit, grabbing her boots that were drying near it. She pulled them on, grumbling a few cuss words under her breath as the fur lining inside them was still damp.

"Uh, are you gonna bring the blanket?" Tuffnut asked, pointing at the fur cloth draped over her shoulders like a cape.

Magie glanced at the male twin for a few moments, as if contemplating whether or not he deserved an answer.

"Yes." She said, straightening up and yanking the blanket closer around her. "I'm taking a souvenir with me so that I can remember this near death experience and remember to never come here again."

Tuffnut shrugged. "Fair enough."


 

Why Toothless agreed to this, he didn't know.

Gods-damnit, Hiccup could pull a really persuasive puppy dog face.

His figurative brother had come out of the hut with the witch and the rest of the gang in tow. He immediately asked Toothless to do a very, very stupid thing.

But Hiccup always came up with stupid ideas anyways, so he wasn't expecting any different.

So there he was, outside the Great Hall, trying to grow the balls he needed to walk in and literally steal from Gothi.

Apparently, he was the ideal person—er, Dragon—for the job, because his species was stealth based, and he could blend into shadows better than anyone else.

His shift was difficult and slightly more painful than usual. Usually the process left him slightly sore, like muscles after a workout, but this one felt more like a cramp. It was the last one for the next day or two.

The things he does for that Viking.

He popped his now human knuckles, glancing around for any passerby's.

"Toothless, just go already!" He heard his rider hiss from a cluster of rocks and bushes nearby. He wouldn't have heard it if he didn't have the hearing abilities of a Night Fury.

The raven haired boy turned towards the other teen, baring his teeth and scowling. "You're the one that asked me to do this so you'll just have to go at the pace I'm comfortable with." He growled.

Hiccup rolled his eyes. "Oh, grow up big baby-boo. All you need to do is go in, grab the pendant, and get back out."

"Oh is that all?" He mocked, "Why don't I grab a few pieces of gold from Berk's safe, too! Or even better yet, I'll grab Stoick's helmet! Yeah! I'll just march right in there and snatch your mountain-of-a-Dad's prized possession right off his—heyyyyyyy, Gobber!"

The blacksmith had come out of the Great Hall while Toothless was ranting, and was now staring at him as if he was insane.

"...Hello?"

There was a pregnant pause, and Toothless blushed slightly. He could hear his rider do a mixture between a facepalm and a snort from his hiding place.

"What are ye doing, lad?"

Toothless side-glanced nervously. He wasn't a good liar, and this human body make ticks and non-verbal motions that he couldn't control.

"I'm just catching some fresh air. The sun is very nice today."

Gobber glanced up to the sun. Or, where the sun would be if the sky wasn't overcast and grey.

"Yeah okay." The blacksmith paused a bit before continuing, "How's Hiccup doing?"

"O-oh he's...sleeping." Toothless managed, snatching onto the change of topic gladly. "Yeah he didn't get good sleep last night so he's just...sleeping. Yeah."

Gobber nodded, glancing at the chief's house as if he could see Hiccup in his bed. "I don't blame him. It's probably best if he sleeps while the witch is here. It will take his mind off her. Speaking of, I'm heading to get her right now, and I could need some help. Would you like to come?"

Toothless let an ear twitch. The tip of his tail flicked nervously. Crap. He didn't have a lot of time to do this. Once Gobber got to Gothi's hut and realized Magie was missing, all Hel would break loose.

"Uhm, I'm actually pretty tired myself. A-and I need to go back and check up on Hiccup anyways so…"

Gobber seemed to deflate a bit at Toothless' decline. "Ah fine." He then hesitated, "don't get into too much trouble, Toothless."

The night fury smiled nervously, clasping his hands behind his back. "Of course not!"

Toothless waited till Gobber has hobbled out of sight before letting out the breath he was holding. "Okay. I guess I'm going to have to make this quick."

"Uh, yeah. You are."

"Uh, yeah, you are!" Toothless mimicked, flailing his arms slightly as he used his foot to push the doors open just enough to slip in.

"If I'm not back in ten minutes, I'm probably dead so be prepared to be haunted for the rest of your life." He advised, before disappearing behind the crack.

There was a blast of heat as he closed the door. It was quite welcomed considering that there was about six inches of snow outside.

The second thing he noticed was that there were a multitude of people in there. The amount of dragons took him by surprise, but considering Magie was forced to use dragon magic—his magic, precisely—he really should have been expecting it.

Everyone was talking, much like the scene from this morning. The noise died down every time Stoick or some other member of the council made a good point.

This made us pretty easy for Toothless to sneak his way around. He stuck to the wall, and had to take it all the way around. It wasn't the ideal way to get there, but it was certainly the safest and most discreet.

However, actually getting close enough to snag the pendant was another story.

Gothi was up there right next to Stoick, Spitelout, and a couple other Vikings that apparently had some important part in their decision-making process.

Toothless could see the pendant glistening from the strap of Gothi's medical bag. He couldn't miss that iridescent green. After all, he had been subject to its power.

He'd need a distraction, plain and simple. But what?

The night fury looked around the room in hopes of spotting anything that could serve as one. Normally he would use Barf and Belch, or even the twins, but it would take him too long to get them. Gobber was probably nearing the long flight of stairs the lead to Gothi's hut at that moment, anyways.

Maybe he could use...aha!

A few meters in front of him stood two Viking siblings. He had seen them around a few times, but never knew their names. They did however have a reputation for being the next Thornton Twins. Albeit it would always be because of their arguments, they wrecked havoc almost as much as the twins did.

If he could cause them to blow up on one another, it might cause just a big enough distraction so that he could sneak by, grab the pendant, and get out unnoticed.

Toothless did the first thing that came to mind. He went up, and knocked the older sibling on the back of the head fairly hard.

And that was all he had to do, thank the gods.

The boy immediately turned to his younger brother, yelling at him. The younger one yelled back. And they got louder and louder until the younger one literally threw himself at the older one, sending them tussling into the crowd.

And it worked just like Toothless anticipated, the crowd turned towards the two as they bit and scratched at one another like a couple of feral terrors.

Stoick stood up, coming around the table he was at to intervene, and that's when Toothless seized his chance.

He quickly scampered up, grabbed the pendant, pulled it off Gothi's belt, and stuffed it up his sleeve without stopping.

He couldn't get out of that place fast enough. He bolted out of the Great Hall with nervous energy, immediately beelining over to where Hiccup had been hiding.

"You got it?" He asked, a nervous hope seeping through his teeth.

Toothless nodded, smile plastering onto his face despite the way his gut twisted. He continued walking towards the docks, prompting Hiccup to get up and follow him.

He pulled the pendant out of his sleeve once he thought they were a safe enough distance away. It was the first time either of them had actually studied it.

It was a simple black chord, with a type of circular metal cage attached to it. It had three thicker strands of metal—one on the top, connecting it to the chord, one around the middle to as reinforcement, and one at the bottom to keep it all together. These strips had magical-looking runes on them, and Toothless could only imagine their purpose. The emerald inside literally levitated, touching nothing as though a pair of invisible nails were keeping it in place.

Even if it wasn't glowing at the moment, it was still mesmerizing to watch.

"Don't try and touch it." Hiccup advised, catching Toothless' curiosity. "Magie said it will kill anything that does."

Toothless' eyes immediately bulged, and he held the necklace as far from him as possible. "That would have been nice to know before I handled it!"

Hiccup shrugged, hopping down the last stretch of dock and reuniting with the gang.

Magie, blanket still dawned on her shoulders, all but snatched the pendant from Toothless' hands. The night fury huffed, offended by the rudeness.

She slipped the necklace over her head, and held it in her hand for a moment, gazing at it in a relieved way.

Astrid then appeared from below deck with Ruffnut and Snotlout. "Okay, you've got enough food and water to get you to the Mediterranean. After that, you're on your own."

Magie nodded a thanks to her, before glancing up at the mast, which Tuffnut and Fishlegs were inspecting. "Hey kids, it don't gotta be perfect, I just need to get out of this hellhole of an archipelago."

"How bold of you to assume we were fixing it!" Tuffnut cackled, holding up a spear head with a devious grin.

Magie smirked, crossing her arms. "I like your sense of humor, kid."

"Thank you, Witch Doctor."

"Nevermind."

Magie promptly snapped her fingers. The pendant lit up, and there was a bright green flash. Tuffnut and Fishlegs suddenly appeared next to the others on the docks.

"What was that?!" Fishlegs exclaimed in some mixture of fear and excitement.

The witch jumped up onto the ship, laughing under her breath. "A wormhole." She said simply, looking to unhook the boat.

Suddenly, a spear sunk its way right through her sleeve, and a part of her arm, nailing both her and the rope attached to the dock to the boat.

Magie screamed a string of curses that shouldn't be recorded on the internet. She attempted to rip the spear from her arm, but it was lodged too far into the wood of the boat.

Hiccup immediately turned to where the spear had come from, a coal of dread settling in his stomach. His ears flattened against his hairline as he recognized his dad's silhouette marching down the dock.

"Oh no." He deadpanned.

"Hiccup Horendous Haddock the Third!"

The boy cringed. "Ohhhhhhhhhhh no…"

They were caught. This was it. Magie was going to die.

And it was all his fault.

Someone should have gone to help Magie get the spear unlodged—it was the only thing keeping her from sailing away. But they were all frozen in fear as their livid chief marched up to them, sword clenched in his hand.

"Why in Thor's name are you conversing and helping this monster?"

"I—we uh…"

Hiccup was at a loss for words. He had to will the rising panic attack in his chest down.

"Of all the irresponsible things you could have done, Boy!" Stoick growled, gesturing angrily with his sword.

"Dad if you would just let us explain…"

"It better be a damn good explanation." Stoick said, glancing around the group of teens. Gobber came up behind him, followed by Spitelout and a couple other Vikings.

Hiccup clenched his jaw, looking straight into his father's eyes. "I don't blame Magie for what happened to me."

Stoick didn't react right away. It was probably because Hiccup had used her name, and he didn't know it. However, the context in which the words were spoken let him connect the dots pretty quickly.

He chief shook his head, rubbing his face with his free hand. "Hiccup, you're being irrational. You're not in the right state of mind—"

"No!" Hiccup yelled, interrupting his dad, a rivaling amount of anger boiling in his gut now. "Dad, I'm not insane, I grew some extra limbs! I know I act a bit different now, but what did you expect?!"

He ran a hand through his hair as he glanced behind him at Magie, who was still working at the spear. He could smell her blood slightly as she struggled.

"I'm telling you. I don't blame her. Dagur was the one that forced her into it. He burned her ship and forced her to do the part of his plan that he couldn't." He turned back to Stoick, who seemed to have deflated ever so slightly. The man's blue eyes flickered between his son and the witch for a few seconds.

"Dad, please." Hiccup pleaded, lowering his dad's sword for him, "Don't kill her for something she didn't want to do. It won't change…"

Hiccup swallowed the lump in his throat, wings twitching slightly. "It won't change anything." He finished.

Stoick stayed, well, stoic for a full minute. He took a few deep breaths as he took in the situation fully.

Hiccup had deliberately disobeyed orders by leaving the house, and had effectively committed treason by helping a convicted criminal escape; and steal both a piece of evidence and a boat from their fleet.

But so did the rest of his friends.

And if they all believed that this witch was truly innocent, then they had to be somewhat right.

How could he say no when his son was doing the exact same thing Valka had done. The exact same thing that had made him fall for her in the first place?

He sighed, and sheathed his sword, and set his hand in his son's right shoulder. He nodded gently, and Hiccup visibly sighed in relief.

The attention was turned back to Magie as she let out a pained grunt, finally ripping the spear out of the wood. She tossed it overboard, and then pressed her injured forearm against her chest in an attempt to stop the blood flow. The wound wasn't too deep—a few stitches might be needed, but other than that the injury soured her mood more than anything.

"Well isn't this touching." She sneered, clutching her pendant posessively, "glad to know you aren't all brainless morons."

Astrid made a huff that was a mixture of humor and offense. "Watch it, Magie. We still got, like, twenty weapons on us."

The witch glanced around apprehensively. "Fair enough. Now if you'll excuse me I'd like to get out of this hellhole, so—"

"Not so fast, Witch."

"You've literally heard my name like three times now just use it, for the love of—"

"We won't be killing you, but the doesn't mean you still won't be punished." Stoick told her sternly, using a tone that implied there was no arguing his statement.

Magie became livid, brown eyes radiating fury as she gaped. "You're shitting me, right? You can't make me do crap, Stoick the Fat!" She seethed.

Ruff and Tuff openly cackled at the nickname, and Stoick only furrowed his brow further.

"You attempted to steal one of our ships and a month's worth of provisions." He said, pointing to each of the evidences as he listed them. "And it's the first snow of the year—which means that sailing is all but impossible until June. You couldn't get out even if you tried. You will be doing some community service here until then as punishment."

"Your little brats helped me! I wouldn't have been able to do it without them!" She exclaimed, jabbing her good arm at the gang. Her hair was practically standing on end in anger.

"Hey!" Tuffnut yelled, and he was followed by similar exclamations from the other teens.

"I'm not sorry." Magie snarled plainly, "if I'm going down, you all are coming down with me."

"Yes, thank you for bringing that up." Stoick said matter-of-factly, turning to the six teens and one night fury on the docks. "You seven will be joining the witch in community service for two months."

Every teen did their own groan of apprehension, save for Hiccup, who was still psyched that he had gotten his dad to change Magie's sentence. He simply shrugged.

"That's fair." He turned to the others. "You can't deny that that's fair."

There were a series of grumbles. "That doesn't mean it's enjoyable." Astrid pouted.


 

And that's how, a week later, eight people were out after a blizzard, shoveling the streets free of the six feet of snow that had accumulated during the storm.

Hiccup was suddenly nailed in the head with a snowball.

...let's make that, eight people in a free-for-all snowball fight in which a certain witch came out victorious with her certain 'no mercy' tactic.

Chapter Text

Hiccup woke up with a jolt, followed by a groan. Toothless, on the other hand, was too busy squealing with excitement to realize he was the reason Hiccup had woken up that way.

"Hiccup! Hiccup, look!" The night fury squealed like a child, "It's snowing!"

Said red-head stared at his dragon through squinted eyes as the other boy stared out the window, leaning so far he almost fell out of it.

"Toothless you're acting like you've never seen snow before."

Toothless reached his hand out and caught a few snowflakes, bringing them close to his face to examine them. He waited until they reduced to nothing but water droplets in his palm, before brushing them on his pants. "I grew up in a volcano, for your information. The only time I've interacted with snow was during raids.

"There was last Snoggletog, too…"

"No, I spent all that time looking for your helmet, remember?"

Hiccup sighed and stretched. "I guess…but you still saw it."

"But I didn't play in it!" Toothless squealed again as a snowflake fluttered and landed on his nose.

Hiccup grumbled and flicked his ear plates in annoyance, rolling back over and pulling the covers up over his head. "You're too excited for this…"

"I'm just the right amount of excited for someone of my situation!" He heard Toothless' protest from under the wool. The dragon opened his mouth to let out another comment, but was distracted by the laughter of kids from outside.

The raven-haired teen turned back to the window to watch a group of Viking children run through the white powder, followed by two or three dragon hatchlings—Toothless guessed they were terrible terrors.

Green orbs glued onto the adolescents as they kneeled down and clumped the snow together, as if testing something. There were multiple sounds of delight before the kids started pushing the snow, now in the form of balls, around the ground. Toothless watched as the accumulated snow got bigger and bigger and bigger…

"Ooh! Ooh! Hiccup, what are they doing?"

Hiccup, who had almost gotten back to sleep in Toothless' silence, huffed. "What are who doing, Toothless?"

"The Viking hatchlings!"

"I dunno…" Hiccup grumbled, curling and bringing his tail up to cover his legs, "they're probably making snow dragons…they do it every year…"

"That sounds fun!"

"I guess…"

Toothless leaned out the window and flexed his wings, letting the cool air hit them as he watched the kids. "Did you ever build snowdragons?"

"I did a long time ago."

"Why not now?"

Hiccup buried his head into his pillow, and let out a long, tired sigh. "I dunno, Toothless, it's not something I find the time to do anymore."

There was a pause. Hiccup thought that the answer had finally satisfied Toothless.

"Can we go make snowdragons?"

He was wrong.

"Toothless its—" Hiccup snapped his heads out of the covers, and glanced up at the brightness from outside, "six-something o'clock. I'm tired. Let me sleep."

Toothless pouted, turning and jumping on the foot of Hiccup's bed. "C'mon! I'll transform and pose and you can like, sculpt me! Will you sculpt me?"

Hiccup looked Toothless directly in the eyes, picked up his pillow, put it over his head, and plopped back down.

Toothless stared for a moment at the lump that was his rider in the bed. "Rude."

"Toothless, if you're going to keep making that noise, I suggest you go outside before I KICK you out!" Stoick called from downstairs, having been woken up by the night fury's noise.

There was a satisfied snort from Hiccup, muffled by the pillow. "You heard dad. Scoot, you overgrown toddler."

"You humans and your love of sleep during the nighttime!" He exclaimed, standing up and slipping on his boots, "You should sleep during the day more! That way you can wake up and be not-so-grumpy!"

"TOOTHLESS!" Came from Stoick and Hiccup alike, and Hiccup's pillow was chucked at the night fury as he scrambled down the stairs. The raven-haired teen bolted to the door, and opened it, using it as a shield from Hiccup.

"haha, missed me—" he was cut off by another pillow to the stomach, thrown so hard that he fell out of the door and directly into the snow out front. He wheezed as the breath was knocked out of him.

He picked Stoick's pillow up from off his chest and sat up, sticking his tongue out at the now closed door. Toothless picked himself up, and then promptly threw the pillow on the roof of the house in revenge.

The night fury quickly turned away from the house, and over to the kids, who were struggling to push the ball of snow (now probably as big as themselves) on top of the base they had started.

"Hey, Mr. Toothless! Would you mind helping us out?" Asked one of the hatchlings, noticing his presence.

Toothless smiled brightly, trudging through the snow and over to them. "I'd be honored!" He said, bending down and helping the three kids manning the giant ball push it up with success.

"We're making a Gronkle!" Said one of the Viking hatchlings with blonde hair, scooping up two rocks that were roughly the size and shape of two Gronkle eyes.

There was a tug on the Night Fury's sleeve as another Viking hatchling, this one with brown hair, caught his attention. "Do you want to help us find sticks for the wings?" She asked. Toothless nodded enthusiastically, and they headed off to the forest.

It was nine o' clock by the time Hiccup arrived in the Great Hall, fully awake and ready to start the day. Toothless had run off with the kids and he couldn't find him, but he wasn't really bothered with his dragon's absence at the moment.

Astrid and Fishlegs walked in right behind him, banging their boots on the ground to get rid of the snow that clung to them. The three walked over to the fire pit in the middle to warm up a bit.

Astrid held her hands up to the fire, shivering as Hiccup shook the snowflakes out of his hair. Fishlegs slipped on the melted snow on the stone floor and almost face planted, but he caught himself last minute.

"Stupid winter." The teen muttered under his breath. Hiccup sighed and leaned on the ledge of the fireplace.

"How does Toothless like this weather?" He asked to no one in particular. Astrid rolled her eyes.

"I bet you he'll be crawling back indoors within the hour. That's what I used to do as a kid."

"I think that's what everyone did as a kid." Hiccup deadpanned.

Astrid tilted her head to the side. "True."

The trio looked around at the Great Hall, full of villagers who were taking advantage of the warmth of the place and doing nothing in particular.

"Can we just like…camp out in here today?" Fishlegs asked. Astrid agreed with him by giving a pleading look to Hiccup.

"Well considering it's Snotlout and the Twins day to do early morning patrol, I don't see why not…"

The auburn-haired hybrid was met with giant sighs of relief on either side of him. They sunk into a drowsy silence as the fire behind them melted the snow off their bodies.

The first snow of the year was always the hardest to adapt to, it seemed. At least, for Hiccup it was. By the second time snow fell from the clouds, he would be fine, but there was always something about that first round of whiteness that shut his body down and caused him to shiver to no end.

The trio stayed like that for an hour, listening to the quiet hum of the hall mixed with the crackles of the fire, lulling them into that rainy-day sense of mind that just made one want to curl into bed and doze, before Snotlout and the Twins came in through the door.

Snotlout looked around the hall, before spotting the three and rushing over to them.

"Oh, thank the gods!" He wheezed, leaping over Fishlegs and landing right in between the blond and his cousin, grabbing Hiccup by his shoulders as if he was afraid he was going to run off.

Hiccup quickly leaned away from the blue-eyed teen, repulsed by the cold air he emitted. "What?" He asked, pushing Snotlout's equally as cold hands off his arms.

Snotlout leaned closer to the fire, trying to stop shivering. "I thought y-you might have g-gone off w-with Hookfang and St-Stormfly and them-mm." He stuttered, teeth chattering.

Hiccup drew a blank. A complete and utter blank.

"…What?"

There was an awkward pause as Snotlout tried to word his next sentence as calmly as possible. "You know…Snoggletog…dragon mating season…the island you were at last year…the whole ordeal…"

Hiccup's ears twitched in a disturbed way. He took a giant breath through his nose, before letting it out in one, giant, more done than ever before, sigh. Astrid groaned and buried her head in her hands. Fishlegs blushed as red as a tomato.

"…did you really just ask me if I was…I…did you really just imply tha…" Hiccup stuttered and couldn't find the right wording to respond to Snotlout, who, by the way, was blushing just as much as Fishlegs.

"No! I was just..." Snotlout started nervously laughing, and fidgeting with his hands. "okay maybe I worded that…weirdly."

"How could you have worded that any better, Snotlout?" Astrid squeaked in a way that Hiccup was convinced it came from Fishlegs for a moment.

"I don't know!" Snotlout blushed even more, before grabbing Hiccup by his arms again. "If you have the urge to do anything, even kissing, resist!"

"Oh, my gods."

"I'm giving it to you straight!"

"This conversation has officially passed to rated R. I'm a mere sixteen-year-old. This is underage stuff. I'm leaving. Bye." Hiccup immediately and stiffly walked out of the hall, and beelined to his house.

The gang watched him leave, before Astrid slowly turned back to Snotlout, who was still stuttering. From the cold or embarrassment nobody knew.

"I have…no words." She said. Snotlout just groaned.

An hour after Hiccup left, Stormfly and Meatlug came into the Great Hall to say goodbye to their riders for a couple days as they traveled to the island. There was a moment before Astrid came to a realization.

"Holy sh—" she jumped up and grabbed Stormfly by her arms, shaking her. "You have kids!" She exclaimed, turning to Meatlug, who was staring at the blonde in bewilderment.

"Both of you are mothers!"

"…Yeah? Actually, I think Toothless, and Barf and Belch are the only ones without hatchlings." Stormfly answered in bewilderment. Astrid gaped. Snotlout gulped.

"But…you're like…eighteen? Nineteen? You're nineteen with kids?"

Stormfly blinked, amber orbs staring at her rider. "It may surprise you to know that we are two completely different species with different ways of doing things." She said sarcastically, taking a glance at Snotlout, who had gone deathly pale. Why was the concept of dragons mating weirding him out so much?

"Besides, in reality you should already be married with a kid in this time. It's what, the eleventh century? We're all technically middle aged."

There was a pregnant pause, pun intended, before Stormfly shrugged it off, hugged her rider, and was off. Meatlug followed shortly after.

Astrid blinked a few times, in a daze, before getting up slowly and saying she had to go help her father with decorations. She walked out in what seemed to be a daze.

Fishlegs, Snotlout, and the Twins stayed in the hall for a few more hours before Fishlegs had to leave, leaving Snotlout and the Twins alone.

And as we all know, nothing good can come of that.

Snotlout was still stuttering, traumatized by the conversations earlier. The twins shared a look. A devious look. A 'we're-going-to-mess-with-Snotlout's-mind-and-make-him-paranoid' look.

"So, Snotlout." Tuffnut said, leaning in to the other male teen, "Do you really think Sir Hiccup might be tempted to do you-know-what?"

Snotlout squeaked in a way that could have tricked anyone to believe Fishlegs was in his place. "Tuff, I don't need this right now."

Ruffnut held back a smile and joined her brother in the tormenting the raven-haired teen. "No no, dear Snotty, you were just looking out for your baby cousin, weren't you? Concerned for his innocence, hmm?"

"Hiccup's—Hiccup's older than me, guys, he—"

"Was born prematurely which was the only reason he's older than you and also, off topic." Tuffnut finished the sentence for Snotlout, who groaned.

"But not to worry, dear Snotty, even if Hiccup wanted to engage in such majestic actions in the circle of life, he couldn't! Toothless is the only other Night Fury on this island." The male twin continued; Ruffnut picked up the charade.

"But, dear brother, you're forgetting. Dragons may not live in the heteronormative society us humans do! Remember what Stormfly said? That dragons have different morals and views of life than we?" She ignored Snotlout's remark of 'hetero-what?', and instead trailed off suggestively. The twins let the words sink into Snotlout's brain for a few seconds, before hopping off the bench they were on and walking to the door.

"Have a good day, Snotlout!"

Their goodbye was only followed by a twitch of an eyelid from a sick Snotlout.

"Oh, Gods…"

Thirty minutes later, Hiccup and Toothless were given heart attacks when a certain cousin of Hiccup's kicked open their front door.

"I knew you two were doing it!" he shrieked, looking upon…Hiccup and Toothless on completely opposite sides of the room, looking at him like two deer in headlights.

There was a minute of silence.

Another minute.

Toothless finally turned to Hiccup, journal in his lap lowering ever so slightly.

"We were? Hiccup, why didn't you tell me? I would have put your journal down."

Chapter Text

Hiccup gulped.

He looked down.

He gulped again.

He had been up in the air hundreds of times. He had fallen through the air tens of times before as well. This really shouldn't be that big of a deal. He had no fear of heights, nor did he have any doubts that Toothless would catch him if something happened

But this? This was intense.

"Yyyou know what, Toothless? I think I'm good today. Maybe we can try tomorrow, o-or we can—we can try the day after! Or a month from now! Yeah…"

He could hear Toothless' groan over the whipping of the wind.

"C'mon, Hiccup. You've been procrastinating this for days now!"

"I know that! But I uh, I'm just not—not ready yet." The hybrid giggled nervously

Toothless rolled his eyes, grumbling under his breath as his rider continued to radiate enough nervousness to be considered a biohazard.

"Okay. I'll strike you a deal." The night fury said with a pang of mischief in his voice, giving his wings a few pumps and drifting up a meter or two. He ignored his rider's groan of 'oh no' with a smirk. "I'll land, but only if you try one flight."

Hiccup wrinkled his freckled nose at the response, shifting in his saddle. "How about instead I just maneuver your tail and force you to go back to Berk?

Toothless snorted. An actual snort that made Hiccup slap him. "Okay, uno: my tailfin has never worked that way, and dos: you replaced it with the automatic one from last Snoggletog that you fixed, remember? I'm flyin' on my own, baby!"

Toothless did a quick barrel roll to emphasize his point. It caught Hiccup a bit off-guard, but because he and his dragon were so in sync it didn't really bother him. Any annoyance the auburn had was dismissed with a giant huff.

"...you're mean."

"I try."

Hiccup looked over his left side again, hands clutching the handles on his saddle a bit harder.

He focused on breathing for a bit.

In, out. In, out.

It's just flying, right? Just—pumping your wings in a circular motion...and moving your tail fins...and a bunch of other...complicated stuff…

Gods, how did Toothless make this look so easy?

"Okay—okay so...what do I start with?"

Toothless smiled, tilting his head back as if to look at his rider.

"Well," The night fury looked up, trying to pull a memory from the back of his mind. "When I was a hatchling, the first thing I was taught was to get used to the feeling of air under your wings."

Hiccup quirked an eyebrow at his dragon. "Are you serious?"

Toothless nodded. Hiccup blinked a few times.

"Uh...okay?"

The Viking had to coax his brain to move the wings. The organ was still getting used to the two appendages on his back and forgot that it could control them at times. Once he did a few experimental twitches, he opened them up.

The wind instantly latched onto them like a dragon to a sheep during a raid, yanking Hiccup back with a neck-wrenching force. The commotion caused Toothless to yelp as well, and he wobbled for quite a few moments before regaining his balance.

"Sorry! Sorry, my bad! I-I didn't realize that it would be so—"

Hiccup was interrupted by a slap from one of Toothless' ear plates, silencing him almost instantly. The hybrid pressed his own ear plates flat against his head in a mixture of fear and annoyance

"Stop apologizing you hatchling, that was my fault, too. I forgot to tell you that you had to do it a little bit at a time."

Potentially life-ending fiasco over, Hiccup took a deep breath, pressing a hand against his pounding heart.

Usually it would be pounding from excitement, not fright…

No. Bad. Don't think like that. You're emotions are valid. Stop thinking like that.

His wings were plastered to his back again. He was scared to move them, or maybe they were scared to move themselves. They were shaking like an infant during their first blizzard, using Hiccup's back as protection.

"Just try again whenever you're ready, Hiccup." Toothless said again, banking left and circling around a cloud.

The sun was setting in the west, spraying the horizon with an abundance of warm hues. Hiccup took in the view as he built up the nerve to try again. His tail flicked apprehensively as the time passed.

They drifted in silence for a few minutes before Hiccup tried again. Toothless only knew he was doing it because he felt the tug of extra wind resistance as the Viking did so.

Hiccup couldn't help but watch the appendages as he slowly extended them. Having calmed down, the shaking seemed to cease, instead replaced by the irregular vibrations of wind currents catching under the appendages and whisking around them.

Hiccup didn't know what he expected, to be honest. He had had contemplations, slight daydreams or musings about what flying might feel like, but to actually experience it was a whole other thing.

For a lack of better representation, it felt like...swimming in water with the swimming prosthetic he had made a while back. The air worked in sync with the wings in a very contrasting pattern. He pushed down, and the wind would push back up at him. If he pulled his wings forward, the air would whisk by him like a river when it came to a breaching rock.

It was almost...soothing. Hiccup could see why so many dragons loved to fly.

The teen suddenly realized he had his wings extended all the way. He must have been doing it subconsciously—or by instinct. The cool evening air engulfed the appendages and swirled around his shoulder blades and up and down his spine in a way that sent goosebumps up his arms and made him shiver.

It was a good shiver.

"I...I like this. A lot." Hiccup said, a giddy edge seeping into his voice. Toothless hummed in agreement.

"Flying is the best part about being a dragon to me. Everything else is pretty mundane but...when I'm up here, there's no barriers. I can do whatever I want and be whoever I want to be." Toothless tilted his head to glance at his rider, who still had his wings outspread. His eyes were closed, and his head tilted towards Valhalla as he enjoyed the feeling of the atmosphere on his scales.

"Mmm. That's poetic." The boy mumbled with slight sarcasm. He was enjoying the sensation too much to actually put any effort into it.

Hiccup looked so peaceful. It was adorable.

So naturally, Toothless flipped upside down and let his rider succumb to gravity.

Aw don't worry. Toothless has this 1000 percent under control. This is how most dragons teach their hatchlings to fly, anyways.

"TOOTHLESS, YOU SHADY SON OF A—"

"Language, Hiccup!"

"OH, SORRY, IM JUST FALLING TO MY DEATH RIGHT NOW. DON'T MIND ME." Hiccup screeched, tumbling in the air. As he tried to comprehend anything.

Oh gods. This was it. He was gonna die. He survived the Red Death and a painful, deadly transformation just to be killed by gravity and his dragon's stupidity. He was going to haunt Toothless for the rest of his miserable life.

"Hiccup, seriously, just use your wings and tail. It's not that hard!" Toothless yelled, following after Hiccup in a parallel path. "I'll catch you if we get too close to the ocean, but at least try."

Hiccup, despite his predicament of literally falling through the air, managed an annoyed huff of breath. He trusted Toothless enough to know that he would catch him if anything happened, but what he didn't trust was that tailfin of his.

Sure, he crafted it himself and put all the pieces back together again, but what if it broke at the worst possible time, like Hiccup was mostly accustomed to? What if it locked up and he and Toothless fell into the ocean and drowned? What if—

Nope. Don't think about it just—just work on this.

It took a few seconds for Hiccup to manage to get his wings under control, but once he did, he snapped them open immediately. He swayed and dipped dangerously for a few meters—but eventually his decent turned into a juvenile glide.

Toothless, proud of his rider's accomplishment, pulled up alongside him, inspecting his form with a weird gush of approval and critique.

"Straighten your tail out. Not too much, but definitely more than you have it right now."

Hiccup did so. He attempted an experimental flap. He wobbled, and let out a gasp, but managed to gain a few feet in altitude and straighten out.

His heart was pounding. Every muscle in his body was clenched. He was absolutely terrified.

...and he loved it.

He had his arms stretched out by instinct. It wasn't helping his downstrokes—tiny and timid as they were but still there nonetheless—but he was afraid to put his arms at his side. In fact, he was really at a loss at what to do with them in general.

Should he put them in front of him like some sort of Super-man? Should he have them pressed to his sides? He honestly didn't know.

He decided to keep them where they were for now. Mostly because he felt like he would lose balance if he shifted them.

Turning. He could do it in theory. He didn't have to learn the positions or anything on account of his flying with Toothless, but for now he was fine with flying straight.

Flying. He was flying. Without Toothless. He was using his own wings. All those dreams where he was drifting through the clouds or all those rides with Toothless and the rest of the gang or the musings he had in trying to come up with the concept of a possible suit that could allow a human to fly—didn't compare to this. It was...amazing. Breathtaking. Beyond words.

The two flew for thirty minutes after that. The sky had turned from the bright, warm, bleeding oranges and reds to pinks and eventually purples.

Hiccup, when he was brave enough, actually did manage a few wide turns that brought him in a sort of circular path, but he eventually found his muscles aching and his energy drained.

Flying was breathtaking both metaphorically and physically, apparently.

Toothless managed to come up from below him, and Hiccup landed on the saddle with an exhausted demeanor. Exhausted, but the good kind of exhausted.

The two entered the house ten minutes later, and crashed near the fireplace, the entreating warmth of the flames flickering and lulling them to sleep after their eventful day.

Stoick walked in to see Hiccup curled against Toothless, the dragon encircling him. Both were purring. A dull, quiet sound that seemed to be more of a vibrating sensation in the head than an actual noise. The chief grabbed a blanket, and draped it over the two. both of their ear plates flicked at the disturbance, but neither drifted from the realm of unconsciousness.

Stoick felt a wave of affection towards his son and his best friend. The man made a quick mug of tea, before heading off to bed.

He cursed that blasted blanket when he woke up at 11 p.m. to Hiccup and Toothless bickering over it.

"For the love of Odin, you two! There's more than one blanket in the house!"

"Yeah, Toothless! Get your own blanket!"

"Excuse me?!"

"Uhm, who's the one that had me free falling from three thousand feet today?"

"What!?"

"Oh no."

Chapter Text

Sometimes it would hit Hiccup it of nowhere.

Not in a sense that he didn’t know, he did. After all, it had been two years since Toothless was capable of human speech and, subsequently, talking about his past. It’s just that the fact has never been, well, relevant.

There were certain ticks Toothless gave off that would indicate it. Hiccup never really paid much attention to them because, well, they were part of his best friend’s personality. It was all he had ever known.

The night fury would stare at families a lot. Not in a particularly weird way, but in a sense of...reminisce. Hiccup would find him staring awkwardly at the wall or radiating the scent of Melancholy whenever Stoick showed fatherly affection towards Hiccup.

It was also natural for Toothless to be very kid-friendly. In fact, the dragon loved children. He was annoyed when they invaded his personal space without permission, but as long as they respect his boundaries, he could humor the adolescents for hours.

He was especially fond of the four children on Berk who’s birth parents were in Valhalla.

The parents had parted from them in fairly common ways—childbirth, battle, and sickness. Hiccup never knew the exact stories, as he was anywhere between five and eleven when the incidents happened, but he could recognize the four in question.

Of course, they were all in well-and-loving homes by now—adopted and accepted into the new families with no question— but no matter how much time had passed, Hiccup would always associate the children with untimely deaths.

And every time he saw Toothless with them, the fact hit him full-force again.

Toothless was an orphan. He had nothing but hazy, time-twisted images in his head that linked him to the dragons he should be closest to.

Hiccup never asked what had happened to them. He didn’t want Toothless to become upset or—gods forbid—mad at him for bringing up the subject.

The night fury avoided the subject as much as possible. He’d shrug his shoulders and mumble whenever it was brought up, and change the topic of conversation before the other person could process the action.

Hiccup could empathize—he had no memory of his mom before she was taken away. And although he didn’t have any true reason to have an emotional attachment to her because of that, he still missed her.

Dearly.

There would be nights when he was younger when he would clutch the stuffed Nadder she had made for him and weep for her. Some twisted part of him would hope she would hear his silent cries from up in Valhalla, so that she could suffer from the grief he didn’t deserve as well.

And then without fail, as soon as that thought would cross his mind, he would remind himself that it wasn’t her fault.

He would then apologize silently, and cry some more.

At least Hiccup still had his father, though.

Toothless had nobody. Well—he had Hookfang’s mom, apparently, but from what Hiccup could gather, their relationship seemed more like a slightly more affectionate landlord-renter situation.

Hiccup would sometimes just...look at his best friend at times as his mind processed in depth just how much of Toothless’ personality revolved around the fact that he was an orphan.

The biggest thing, Hiccup noticed, was Toothless’ absolute hate for adults mistreating children. And, on occasion, vice versa, but that was only if the kid did it frequently.

Hiccup could only understand. After all, he had been in a situation like that with Stoick for years.

No, no, Stoick never beat him, it was more of a neglectant abuse. From the ages of six to fifteen, Hiccup was more or less left to fend for himself. After Stoick realized that Hiccup and his personalities clashed, he reduced their interactions as much as possible. This in turn led Hiccup to develop nothing less than an obsession to make his father proud—a constant uphill battle that he could never win.

Until he met Toothless.

The night fury knew of the Haddock’s unhealthy relationship in the past, and was visibly angry with Stoick the first few months they lived under the same roof. Even Hiccup had to admit that there were still times when he would feel a sudden surge of pent up anger towards his father out of nowhere.

However, it was getting better. With the realization that Stoick deeply regretted his decisions in the past, the three in the Haddock household grew closer. And with time, Hiccup had restored the father-son relationship with Stoick to its full glory.

Toothless and Stoick had also grown a sense of mutual respect, and eventually trust between them as well.

Well, maybe it wasn’t so much the “abusive” aspect that upset Toothless—although, yes, that is an unforgivable offense that is not in the slightest bit justified—but the fact that both sides of the family can take the other for granted.

The quips teenagers made, or parents said, or children grumbled under their breath. The ‘I hate my parents’ or ‘I swear that kid disappoints me every day’ or ‘my family hates me’ statements. The ones that everyone says, but never means.

Toothless just couldn’t wrap his head around the idea that people—especially humans—could take something as precious as family for granted. The night fury would give anything to talk to his parents for five more minutes—or even his sister, even if he was only slightly sure he had even had one. Just long enough to learn their interests, and to catch the slightest glimpse of their personalities.

Who would spend so much time birthing, feeding, raising, and taking care of a precious life just to treat them like garbage? Or even, be given the world by the people that brought you into it, just to spit the husk of the planet back in their faces in disgust?

So the day it was revealed that one of the mothers in the village had abused and neglected her child to almost-fatal consequences, Hiccup was only slightly surprised when Toothless flipped absolute shit.

When Hiccup heard about the situation, Toothless was right next to him.

They had just travelled from the Edge and were somewhat exhausted from the trip. As much as Hiccup hated to admit it, when he learned what had happened to the child, the initial lurch in his stomach wasn’t of disgust towards the mother, but rather of concern for Toothless.

The Night Fury was in Dragon Form so it was difficult to determine what he was thinking. Acid-colored eyes remained emotionless and scaled face remained stone as Gobber rambled about the situation.

Maybe—just maybe—everything would have been fine if mentions of the crime and its impending trail stayed just within Gobber’s greeting to the two.

But this rarely happened. People were furious. Berk was shell-shocked. The perpetrator was well-known, and quite frankly, well-liked.To find out what she did behind closed doors was riot-inducing. It was all anyone talked about, and it took up the majority of Stoick’s time to not only keep the island in order, but keep the woman safe from the townsfolk long enough to reach the trial.

Hiccup tried to use his father’s absence to his advantage.

A nervous flick of a tail and twitch of an ear accompanied the night fury hybrid’s suggestion to head back to the edge. The two had traveled back to Berk to get some advice on how to anticipate Viggo’s next move, but hadn’t been able to for obvious reasons. Toothless only rolled his eyes at Hiccup’s suggestion and rolled over, whatever emotional response he had hidden by scales and the guise of sleep.

But Hiccup could smell it.

His sense of smell was weaker than a dragon’s. He couldn’t detect everything a dragon could, and emotions were still things he was getting used to smelling because it was more of a concept than a definite scent to him, but it was there.

The only thing is, Hiccup didn’t know what emotion Toothless was feeling, only that it was bad.

Toothless didn’t like having human features at times. The body let out little ticks and movements that were second nature to other humans but nearly impossible to decipher for dragons, and he hated the idea of others reading him like a book.
So when something was bothering him, he kept his scales.

And he hadn’t lost them in the three days they had been home.

Hiccup tried to determine what Toothless was feeling. He really did, and even as he looked back on it, hoping to find some sort of hint that he missed—as if hindsight would allow him to travel through time and stop it from happening—he couldn’t find anything.

Anger was sharp. Anxiety was humid. Annoyance was...salty, oddly.

This was a new scent. Hiccup didn’t know what it was, and Toothless was a master at masking emotions just as his scales camouflaged him in the night.

The trial rolled around and ended almost as fast. Hiccup didn’t attend—nor did he have the interest to attend. He hadn’t seen the woman during the entire visit and he didn’t intend to see her ever again.

So of course, with Hiccup’s luck, it was only natural that both he and Toothless would run straight into the crowd of people that were escorting her to what Hiccup assumed as an exile boat.

He didn’t say anything. What could he say? He didn’t feel anything but utter disgust for the woman in front of him. Instead his body made up for his lack of words—Hiccup’s tail flicked in hostility and his face screwed up as if he had smelled rotting flesh. A growl sounded in the back of his throat. A low, guttural, dragonic noise that was only loud enough for him to hear in his own head as it rung through his body.

Hiccup only heard Toothless’ similar growl when he came up next to him. He didn’t recognize the Night Fury at first because he suddenly had transformed—his scales melted away just as quickly as his control, and before Hiccup even blinked Toothless had all but lunged at the woman, a furiously angry yell ripping its way from his throat.

There were a few surprises noises from the escort group, and a similar sound escaped Hiccups throat as Toothless knocked the woman over. The force of the fall cut off her scared yell before it even came out, and was instead replaced by the sickening thud of a punch being thrown.

Hiccup called out Toothless’ name in alarm again and again, but Toothless was screaming nonsense and his pleads fell on deaf ears. Hoarse cries of complete and utter fury pierced the cold morning air. Hiccup had never heard it from his brother before, and it was almost foreign to hear because normally when the Night Fury was overcome with emotion he reverted back into his native tongue.

But there he was, beating the ever-living shit out of the woman and forcing himself to use Norse, because every syllable was so painfully carefully articulated that it felt like Hiccup was being slashed by them.

It was all a mixture of cursing and insults and words that had obviously been sitting on Toothless’ tongue for days. There was no possible way he was able to focus on saying those things while blocking the attempted self-defense from the woman with the clarity he did unless they had been repeating religiously in his head.

Different, soul-shredding, and very human remarks of ‘he’s a child!’ and ‘you were supposed to be his mother!’ and ‘he didn’t ask for you to be his!’ ripped from his mouth and were articulated by very not human blows to the woman’s body.

Toothless never looked so animalistic in human skin.

The escort didn’t do much besides watch. It was probably out of fear of getting in the way of a furious Night Fury, but Hiccup could catch the ever so slight glint of apathy in their gazes as the scuffle continued.

And Hiccup should have moved. He wanted to, but it was as if Toothless’ anguish had manifested into a force that kept his feet welded to the ground and his eyes glued to the scene. It wasn’t until Toothless started drawing blood on his own knuckles that Hiccup’s stomach lurched, and the spell broke. He rushed forward to try and pull the raven-haired teen off of the woman, arms wrapping around his upper torso. Toothless yelled, wings thrashing in self defense, trying to knock Hiccup off.

Hiccup grunted at the action, but held steady—well, as steady as he could while the person he was trying to restrain was wailing on another person who was struggling just as much. Toothless yanked his elbow back, hitting Hiccup in his shoulder as gently as he could muster in his anger in an attempt to get loose.

“No, Hiccup—I need I-I...just let me—“ Toothless pleaded, broken words wheezing out of his lungs and dripping off his tongue due to the physical and mental torment he was putting himself through.

Hiccup couldn’t bring himself to say anything back, or more rather, he couldn’t force his ears to focus on what his lips were mouthing. He assumed it was something along the lines of ‘stop’ because that was the only logical thing he could think would need to be said in that situation.

When his attempted pleading and thrashing didn’t work, Toothless all but growled, frustrated, and pushed back into Hiccup’s chest. The Night Fury hybrid wasn’t expecting the sudden weight change, and stumbled back, breaking his hold on Toothless, who immediately snapped back into his attack.

Hiccup almost fell. Almost. He was caught by large arms and his wings hit the torso of a warm body.

Stoick gently helped his son back to his feet, a mixture of stone-cold anger and melancholy disappointment plastered on his face as he watched Toothless take another swing at the woman.

Toothless was the last one to notice the arrival of the chief. His back was facing him, and his vision was too blurry and focused on the woman below him to notice the sudden change of atmosphere around him.

The escort group members parted like smoke to let Stoick pass, and it wasn’t until his shadow overtook Toothless that the night fury realized that the approaching person smelled just a bit too human to be Hiccup.

Toothless let out an animalistic mixture between a roar and a scream as Stoick picked him up by the scruff of his shirt, all but plucking him off of the woman and into the air.

“No! No, let me go! Let me go!” He yelled, twisting and attempting to wriggle out of his shirt only to have Stoick replace the fabric with his torso, leaving the tunic twisted in a strange way as Toothless struggled against the man’s grip.

You can’t do this!—þú skilur ekki, láttu mig fara!” He screamed, brain short-circuiting as his emotional state set it back to default mode. Wings and arms and legs and tail were thrashing wildly and his arms were reaching back as if he could still reach the woman if he tried hard enough.

But to no avail. Toothless may have been able to beat Stoick easily in Dragon Form, but he was utterly, utterly human, and utterly, utterly exhausted.

He gradually quieted down once he realized he wasn’t getting out of the man’s grip on his own accord. His hands dropped and his wings trembled in fury and exhaustion as he seethed—acid eyes burning holes into the ground over Stoick’s shoulder as they walked towards the Haddock household.

Hiccup followed at a bit of a distance, concern screaming in his body posture.

As soon as the front door closed, Stoick’s grip loosened and Toothless all but shoved his way out of his arms, stalking towards the opposite side of the room. Hiccup took a cautious seat on the steps leading up to his room, tail swishing to the side and flickering nervously.

“Toothless, what in the Hel were you thinking?” Stoick asked, quiet anger sending a shockwave through the room.

“I don’t have to answer to you.” Toothless scowled, pacing back and forth and looking everywhere but at Stoick and Hiccup.

“You just attacked a convicted criminal on Berk territory. As chief of Berk you are legally obligated to answer.” The man said again, a dangerous calm in his voice that Hiccup had never heard before.

Toothless didn’t answer that time, clenching his shaking fists till they turned white as a substitute.

“Toothless, answer me.” Stoick demanded, eyes boring into the raven-haired teenager.

The Night Fury still didn’t answer. Stoick gave him a few minutes of silent, angry pacing to recompose himself before he asked again.

“Tooth—“

“You aren’t my fucking dad!” He screamed, rounding on the man and angrily snapping his wings out, “You aren’t my chief, either! Stop trying to control me!”

“I know damn well I am nothing of the sort; do not interrupt me.” Stoick warned, voice raising in volume, “I give you shelter and you are Hiccup’s right hand man. Anything you do is associated not only with the Haddock household, but with the dragon community on this island, and I will not have you taint either name because you cannot control your anger!”

Toothless let out a frustrated scream then, picking up the nearest object and chucking it at the wall. Hiccup jumped as it broke and crashed to the floor, but Stoick remained as still as his name suggested.

“I understand you are upset—this entire island is revolted at what she did, but that is why she is to be exiled and the boy’s father has gained full custody of him.” Stoick reasoned sternly, “You had no right to attack her like that, especially after she was already convicted and sentenced.”

“She deserved it!” Toothless yelled, a singular angry tear slipping down his cheek. He scrubbed it away harshly, leaving a bit of blood from his knuckles in its place.

“I am not denying that.” Stoick replied, “But that doesn’t mean you weren’t in the wrong with your actions, either. Do you understand the trouble you could have gotten in if you had given her any serious injuries?”

Toothless’ ears drooped and his wings pressed against his back, head jutting angrily to the side as he couldn’t think of a reasonable argument to counter Stoick’s statement.

The man’s icy gaze locked onto Toothless as the teen continued to pace, visual anger slowly releasing to frustration.

Stoick recognized the emotion the night fury was feeling a second before Hiccup did.

He looked like a little kid. A lost child who was scared with no one to guide them. Or a spouse who no longer had anyone to ride the waves of life with anymore. He looked like a parent whose child had just died in front of them even though he was so, so young.

He looked like grief.

The chief sighed, and ran a hand over his face. He watched Toothless’ pacing wean to walking and eventually trudging as the fight ran out of his eyes and his pain overtook him.

“Toothless.”

The boy tensed, but didn’t particularly flinch.

“Toothless, look at me.”

He didn’t respond right away—some internal turmoil was taking up most of his concentration, and Hiccup almost wondered if Toothless had even heard Stoick at first.

But then, slowly, Toothless cut his gaze from the floorboards and dragged it in the man’s general direction. The acid gaze landed somewhere between Stoick’s shoes and the wall behind them.

“What’s going on, Lad?” Stoick asked, a quiet compassion enveloping the room. Hiccup caught Toothless’ bottom lip tremble at the question.

His human body had a lot of tells.

Toothless bit it, clamping down as he inhaled sharply through his nose, grasping onto the breath like a lifeline.

“...I don’t know.” The night fury finally choked out, the rest of the air in his lungs escaping in a shaky breath.

“This is about more than the woman, isn’t it, Toothless.” Stoick asked, except it was more of a knowing statement than a question from the way the tone rang in the air. It was almost as if the man had been expecting this to happen, which would explain why he was so patient because if Hiccup had been the one in Toothless’ shoes he would have gotten his ass chewed out.

Toothless flinched in the way that only Toothless flinched. His shoulders shrugged defensively and his wings flared and he stilled as if he could disappear from view if he stayed like that long enough.

Hiccup hesitated, tugging against the red fabric of his tunic in contemplation, but against his better judgement he spoke up.

“This is about your parents, isn’t it.”

Toothless shot him a harsh glance, pupils slit. “Can we not talk about this now, please?” He pleaded, and pain radiating through him.

But it wasn’t betrayal pain, it was a pleading pain that begged someone to come help no matter how much the source denied they needed it.

Hiccup gave a sigh. “Toothless, I…” he cut off, trying to phrase his next statement as carefully as possible. “You...need to talk to somebody. I-I don’t care who it is, it doesn’t even have to be me or Dad, but holding it in until you lash out harshly isn’t healthy or safe.

Toothless remained quiet. Hiccup glanced at Stoick, who gave him the slightest nod of approval. “Listen, Dad and I—we know how you feel. I’ve never known what it’s like to have a mother, but at least I talk about it—I…” He trailed off, finding he didn’t have any more words at his disposal to describe his emotions.

There was a limbo of silence for a minute or two as his words hung in the air. Hiccup’s gaze wavered on the floor as he tried to convey his thoughts into speakable words. Toothless had sunk into a chair, bringing his knees up to his chest and wrapping his tail around his feet, forming a bubble of protection.

There were tears swimming in his eyes that Hiccup only noticed because Toothless looked at him trying to communicate in the nonverbal way he did when human words wouldn’t work.

And Hiccup always knew what his nonverbal language meant.

The auburn-haired hybrid stood up, striding over to his brother and kneeling down in front of the chair he had pushed himself into. Toothless’ gaze followed brokenly.

“I know it will hurt to talk about it. It will always hurt. But that’s why you need to let it out. You need to let others help you carry this burden, you can’t keep it all on your shoulders.

Toothless finally made eye contact with Hiccup he glanced around the room and made eye contact with Stoick as well as if asking permission. The man simply nodded in affirmation.

“There was a storm.”

The night fury took a shaky breath and straightened out ever so slightly, stretching and releasing some tension in his body.

“The queen was hungry. She ordered a raid and the Knights tried to reason with her because it was so strong but she wouldn’t listen. My mom and dad they—they were ordered to go to make the raid faster and I’m positive I had a sister that went too but no one will tell me anything about her.” He emphasized the last phrase with venom; hatred towards gods’-know-who slashing the atmosphere.

“There was this...passage. I...don’t know where it is. No one does. The Queen wiped its location from our minds so we couldn’t use it again. It was dangerous and unstable but it was a shortcut that would have cut the travel time in half so they were stupid and took it anyways.”

His face screwed up. Hiccup watched as a few lonely tears trickled down Toothless’ face and his heart hurt for him in a way it had never hurt for anyone before because he was normally the one to be comforted when it came to grief because he had been surrounded by it since birth.

“I don’t know if it was the wind or rain or a mixture of both but for some reason there was a rockslide and it…” He choked and cursed under his breath, slamming his fist against his knee in frustrated grief.

“Most of the raid was killed. It came down too fast and most died instantly and I…” He shuddered, eyes gazing but not seeing as he pictured his imagination-induced version of that night in his head.

“I hate her for it. She didn’t even attempt to recover the bodies for a proper burial she just--she left them there to rot as if their sacrifice meant nothing to her!” He exclaimed, bitter, tired rage taking over the main presence in his voice.

“I’m just so..I wan—I...fuck, I just…” His stuttering broke down to quiet, tiny sobs, and Toothless buried his head into his arms so neither Haddock could see his tears.

Hiccup stood up from his position and sat on the arm of his brother’s chair, wordlessly wrapping an arm around his shoulders as they shook. Stoick stood at a distance, arms crossed and quiet empathy radiating from his side of the room.

Toothless caved into the touch, weight leaning ever-so-slightly into Hiccup as he continued to heave with concealed sobs. He twisted and laid his head onto Hiccup’s lap, burying his face into the fabric.

“It’s so unfair!” he all but yelled, voice muffled by his arms and Hiccup’s body. Hiccup moved a hand to the night fury’s hair, gently combing through the raven locks.

“I know, Bud. I know.” His fingers twirled around a perfect little curly cue in his hair. Toothless always had one or two at any given time and Hiccup always loved to mess with them before they eventually got messed up.

“I don’t deserve this bullshit.” Toothless choked, grabbing a fistful of Hiccup’s tunic and holding onto it for dear life.

Hiccup’s wings opened. He closed Toothless into a dark haven, leaning down and pressing his forehead against the back of his dragon’s head. He took in the night fury’s scent. Toothless sniffled and cried some more.

“I know, Bud.”

I know.

Chapter Text

Okay, if there’s one surprising fact about Toothless that anyone at any given point wanted to know about him, it’s that he could sing.

Like…sing sing.

The first time Hiccup heard him do it, he had caught him off-guard. The Viking Hybrid had left Toothless at home as he went out to run an errand for Stoick. It had gotten done a lot quicker than expected, and he was back within twenty minutes of closing the front door behind him.

But a lot can change within twenty minutes—especially if you are Toothless.

So Hiccup really could only muster to stare in a mixture of shock and amusement as the Night Fury danced awkwardly around the house in Hybrid Form, singing with a voice that was the exact opposite of his absolutely terrible dance moves.

Toothless managed to notice Hiccup mid-belt, and paused only for a second. A slight flick of a tail tip and twitch of an ear followed as he processed what to do next.

Toothless was not a very bashful person, so it was no surprise to either of them that the Night Fury promptly spun on his heels and pointed at Hiccup, resuming his song and wordlessly gesturing for Hiccup to join him.

Now Hiccup, on the other foot (or prosthetic, depending on which leg you picture), was the exact opposite. He was very bashful, and while he didn’t have a bad singing voice, it wasn’t something he found a hobby in doing.

But Toothless brought out that fun little kid in him, so the Auburn-haired teen set down the bundle of things his dad needed, made sure the door was closed behind him, and joined his dragon in his weird, amusing antics that, quite frankly, lasted longer than they expected.

But here’s the thing.

Toothless only liked to sing at times where singing was...not needed.

And while this in itself can be fun and entertaining at times, he has some trouble dictating on which situations need background music and which don’t need it.

Like in the middle of a battle, or during a very pain-staking part of replicating the Dragon Eye, for example.

But besides the point.

Toothless had talent, and he knew it. He wasn’t gonna let it go to waste, and Hiccup had no intention of stopping him, especially if he was bored.

But he did however kick him out of his hut whenever it got too distracting to concentrate.

Toothless didn’t mind—Hiccup was eccentric at times when it came to machinery, and when he got into his Inventing Mode, nothing else mattered. So he would normally go off and find another audience—sentient or not.

Which is how he found out, by some absolute miracle, that Snotlout had the singing voice of an actual angel.

Toothless had heard a few Vikings sing before. It was a somewhat rare occasion outside of the merry chortling that came with one too many mugs of mead, but there was a considerable community of humans on Berk who had good singing voices.

But Toothless had never heard anything notable.

So he was understandably in a strange trance of awe, confusion and fury as he watched the raven-haired teen from the tree line, wondering why Snotlout had never mentioned his talent before.

“Are you actually serious?” Toothless exclaimed, more or less announcing his presence to Snotlout, who shrieked mid-verse and spun around to face the Night Fury.

“You could sing this entire time?!” Toothless said, giddiness slowly ebbing his annoyance away. Snotlout flushed in a very not-Snotlout-like way, and he spent a good thirty seconds just sputtering intelligently.

The first words Toothless managed to understand were something along the lines of “I-you-I wasn’t—si…were you spying on me?”

Toothless shrugged. “I’m not a spy as much as a passerby who got curious—dude, you got talent.”

Snotlout rolled his eyes and pressed his lips into a thin line. “Wow. Not creepy at all, Toothless, not creepy at all…”

The Night fury walked up to the nineteen year old. “Hey, a compliment is a compliment! I’m just surprised it’s not something you boast about.”

“Ugh. Boast Schmoast, just whatever you do, please don’t tell anybody.”

Toothless paused, almost as if he was scared he misheard something.

“I-I’m sorry, did you just say…don’t go out and tell everybody that you can sing?”

Snotlout sent the night fury a glare that said ‘yes, and you’d better not do the exact opposite if you want to live’. Toothless couldn’t help but gape at the viking.

“Wha...dude—why don’t you want people to know?!”

Snotlout sighed, and turned around, reluctant to continue the conversation but unwilling to leave Toothless to mettle in his own mind and come up with a crazy idea—Hiccup was rubbing off on him too much…

“Look, between you and me, my dad’s not the most...understanding of fathers. He’d rather I break my foot fighting Viggo off than win a million bucks singing, so if you must know, singing is a solitary hobby of mine because I want it to be kept a secret, understood?”

“So in other words, your dad is the literal definition of Toxic Masculinity.”

“What?”

“What?”

The two raven-haired teens stared at each other for a good minute, before Snotlout blinked and shook his head. “Whatever just—Toothless, you gotta promise you won’t tell anybody about this. Especially my dad.”

“Snotlout, I have talked to your dad a total of like...two times.”

“I mean, true, but—”

“Like seriously, dude. No offense, but your dad’s actually one of the most condescending people I know. I don’t like talking to him.”

“Woah, what?”

“Really like—what kind of dad makes his son hide a hobby from him? That’s a small warning sign if I’ve ever seen one—“

“Freya, Toothless, he’s still my dad!” Snotlout warned, the serious tone slipped past his lips in a manner that seemed foreign in the air. Hiccup’s cousin was not normally one to become so serious. Toothless blinked, before giving the Viking an apologetic look.

“Sorry. I went a bit too far, didn’t I?”

Snotlout scoffed and crossed his arms over his chest—a nervous habit he emitted that Toothless only recently started paying attention to.

“It’s whatever.”

Toothless’ gaze flickered. “You sure?”

Snotlout had already turned away, walking back over to the other side of the clearing.

“Yeah. It’s fine. I mean, it’s not like you got far enough with whatever you were gonna say to actually offend me…”

Toothless side glanced. He was never one to understand parental affection. The closest thing he had experienced to it was from Stoick—or he at least assumed that’s what it was supposed to be. He really didn’t have anything to compare it to to be sure.

But Snotlout’s attempts to interact towards Spitelout seemed to be very one-sided and based on an obsession to impress his father. They obviously weren’t very close, and Toothless assumed that the teenager wouldn’t mind hearing his opinions.

Apparently he was wrong.

Toothless sucked in a fast breath, opening his mouth and holding it in for a second, before speaking again.

“Hey, uh, I-I won’t tell anybody about you singing.” He resigned, gesturing awkwardly in Snotlout’s general direction. Said Viking seemed slightly skeptical, but otherwise relieved.

“Cool. Thanks—“

“On one condition.”

“Oh, gods…”

Toothless let a sly grin slide onto his features. He felt his wings flare in a mischievous way.

“You gotta at least sing a duet with me one day. Not today, not tomorrow, not even a day I have in mind yet, but someday in the future.”

Snotlout opened his mouth, closed it, and then repeated the process for a few minutes. Finally, he spoke.

“Seriously? That’s it?”

At Toothless’ very vigorous nod, he let out a small laugh. “I-I was honestly expecting something way worse, but sure. I’ll sing with you someday. As long as it’s far away from everybody else.”

The night fury sighed. “Listen, I’ll respect that, but why do you have to be self-conscious about it? You have talent, and I really don’t want you to let it go to waste, Okay?”

Snotlout was taken aback. He was never one to receive straightforward compliments, and now that he had been given one—about singing nonetheless—he didn’t know how to respond.

All he could manage was to send a timid smile.

“Okay.”

Chapter Text

If there’s one surprising fact about Toothless that a few of his closer friends wanted to know about him, it’s that he craved physical contact.

Hiccup knew it immediately. Back on Berk, Toothless loved to snuggle up against him when he had his human skin and were sleeping. Hiccup didn’t mind, as it was just an extra sensation of warmth during cold Berkian nights, so he always ended up purring in his half-asleep haze and pressed into him just as much.

But now that the gang was on the Edge, with enough space to provide a separate, human bed for all of their dragons should they spend the night in human form, Toothless’ affections became more noticeable.

Hiccup can’t count the amount of times his dragon would plop his head on his shoulder, or sling his arms around him, or brush his wings against his own. There was also a considerable amount of instances where Toothless would ambush Hiccup from behind with a hollar, hopping onto his back and wrapping his limbs around him like a koala and then proceed to hang there for quite a few minutes.

Hiccup honestly enjoyed it. Humans weren’t as physically affectionate as dragons, but with the slow integration of their cultures, platonic displays of affection were becoming more and more normal—especially among the younger generations, who only remember a time that involved sentient dragons and wouldn’t find inherently ‘dragonic’ traits weird should they come from a human form.

Hiccup was extremely grateful for that sense of normalcy now.

Another aggressive crack of thunder boomed through the clubhouse. Hiccup jumped, and pressed into Toothless a bit more.

PTSD was a bitch.

Toothless only hummed, and traced a joint in Hiccup’s right wing—they had found that the sensation was calming to the hybrid early on, and today was no exception.

The other members of the gang were minding their own business. It was raining cats and dogs outside, and it was nearly impossible to leave the building, so they were stuck indoors until the storm let up.

Hiccup was shivering. His ears were pressed flat against his hairline because Gods thunder was so loud now. His tail was curled tightly around his legs.

He could practically feel the lightning-shaped scar that ran down his left side burn just as it had in the months before he got his wings.

Toothless had slung his right arm around his shoulders and used his wings as a makeshift blanket to shield the Viking from the outside.
A gentle purr had started in the back of his throat quite a few minutes ago and it definitely wasn’t going to end any time soon.

Everyone was in their own boredom-induced musings. Stormfly was braiding Astrid’s hair, who was braiding Meatlug’s hair. Fishlegs was writing down what was probably a to-do list once the storm cleared.

Ruff and Tuff weren’t fighting for once, and were instead discussing why Chicken needed to have her own bed instead of sleeping in Tuffnut’s. Barf and Belch were sleeping—curled up around their riders so that the two could use their respective necks as backrests.

Snotlout had been rubbing at a spot on his helmet religiously for the past two hours, brow furrowed in an annoyed way. Hookfang was playing a game of Maces and Talons with himself, flipping the game board around whenever he had to make the next move.

Then the lightning flashed and thunder roared through the clubhouse in such a violent way that it made the foundation shudder, and caused everyone to jump and let out a shriek.

Hiccup whimpered, pressing his face into Toothless’ shoulder. The night fury only pressed his cheek against the top of his brother’s head and held him tighter.

“That sounded super close…” Snotlout quipped, an anxious undertone slipping through. No one could really blame him.

No sooner than a minute after he had said that, Smidvarg came rushing to the entrance of the clubhouse, followed closely by two more Night Terrors.

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but one of your nests have been struck by lightning and has been set ablaze.” He quickly stated in Dragonese, “my colony is not fit to handle a fire as big as this. We find it best to inform you instead so you may handle it before it grows beyond control.”

Astrid took a while to respond. Dragonese was still slightly foreign on the gang’s tongues and to their ears, but the humans were able to understand it and communicate if spoken slowly.

“Okay. Thank you for warning us.” She said, a slight accent dripping on her tongue, “We are on it.”

Smidvarg nodded, and flew off. Astrid threw her half-finished braid up into a quick ponytail, and turned on her ‘leader’ voice.

“Okay you heard the dragon. We’ve got a fire on the island. Ruff, Tuff, you take Barf and Belch and get some water buckets filled. Fishlegs, you and Meatlug go to the fire and start removing any flammable objects in the immediate area. Stormfly, Hookfang, Snotlout and I will work on keeping the flames from spreading, and Toothless will fly stay up on high ground to look for more lightning, as his body is the only one that’s made to channel it. Hiccup will—” she hesitated, glancing at the hybrid for a second, and finding a shivering mass in his place. “Uh...on second thought, Toothless maybe you should stay here. Keep Hiccup calm.”

There was a slightly sorrowful silence that Hiccup all-but ignored, instead choosing to clutch to Toothless with more desperation, as the night fury had started to move with the rest of the group once Astrid had addressed him.

“Are you sure you won’t nee—“

“I can stay.”

Snotlout interrupted in a surprisingly quiet voice. Astrid squinted at him in wariness. “Oh please, you just wanna stay out of the rain.”

“Well, duh.” Snotlout scoffed, nodding behind Astrid to the downpour behind her, “it’s raining like Hel out there. I don’t need to get soaked, or get sick for that matter.”

At Astrid’s eye roll, he continued. “But on a more serious note, Toothless needs to be there. He’s the only one who can detect and survive lightning strikes, and if lightning has already struck there once, that means it’s an optimal place for it to strike again. Besides, Hookfang would actually do a better job containing the fire on his own than he would with me. I’m not fireproof. I’ll stay here and help keep Hiccup’s head on his shoulders while you guys go out there. Seem fair enough?”

Astrid stared quizzically at him. “I—that’s actually...really smart. Are you sure you came up with that?”

This time it was Snotlout that rolled his eyes. “Har har har. Go off, you have a fire to put out.”

Astrid glanced behind her to find that the other members had already taken off towards the blaze. Toothless had managed to pry Hiccup off of him, and was now standing at Astrid’s side, strapping an automatic tailfin to his tail.

“I…” she glanced at Hiccup, who was watching Toothless with a longing, feverish look. Her heart leapt in her chest. “You’d better promise you’re gonna take care of him, Snotlout.” She warned, “otherwise I will have your head on a platter.”

“Geez!” Snotlout exclaimed, throwing his hands up. His eyes flashed behind Astrid as another distant flash of lightning lit up the sky, “I’m not gonna throw him out to Viggo, Astrid. I’ll just distract him from the rain so that you guys can put the fire out and get back. Now go. You’re wasting time.”

Astrid wanted to argue some more, but Toothless’s transformation distracted her, and she instead turned and purposeful adrenaline set in.

Snotlout closed the door behind her.

The raven haired Viking then turned to his cousin, who was fiddling with the end of his shirt in a nervous fit.

“Hey, uh… have you—“ Snotlout was interrupted by another harsh crack of thunder, and he instinctively leapt away from the doorframe, not-so-gracefully skipping over to Hiccup.

“Good Thor, I hate storms so much.” Snotlout said through gritted teeth, shoulders hunched as he tried to regain composure.

Hiccup glanced at Snotlout quizzically as he sat down next to him, slit pupils darting over his cousin’s features in a studying manner amidst his panic.

Snotlout did not like this.

“What?” He asked defensively, crossing his arms over his chest. “You’re not the only one here who’s been struck by lightning, you know.”

Hiccup’s ear flaps perked up then as a memory was pulled from the back of his mind.

That...was right. Snotlout had been struck by lightning. Multiple times, if he remembered correctly…

And as soon as he recalled that, the smell of fear was clear in his mind.

“You’re scared.” He whispered in a somewhat astonished tone. Snotlout visibly recoiled at the phrase.

“I am not! I’m just—“

Another violent crack of thunder sounded. Both cousins shrieked and grabbed onto one another. Hiccup couldn’t tell if it was he who was shaking or Snotlout.

He didn’t really care. All he knew was that his cousin was warm and familiar and safer than the outside and he found his forehead pressed against Snotlout’s neck before the next roll of thunder even ended.

Snotlout only wrapped his arms around Hiccup absent-mindedly, staring in the direction of the closed door with blank fear.

Hiccup only noticed because the Viking’s fingers were dancing on his spine and wings in a nervous manner—a pattern that suggested it was an anxious habit that he didn’t realize he was doing.

They stayed like that for quite a few minutes. Hiccup tried to focus on something other than the storm, and normally to do that he would try and match his breathing to Toothless’ and listen to his dragon’s heartbeat.

But Snotlout’s breathing was short and fast and his heartbeat was erratic and it was obvious that he was just as scared as Hiccup. So that wasn’t going to work.

What was next?

Talking. Talking? That provided sound. To substitute a heartbeat and drown out the thunder. It also provided a distraction. A way to put the storm into the background instead of the foreground.

Yeah. Talking sounded good.

“You haven’t really been struck by lightning twelve times, have you?” He ventured, head lifting off of his cousins shoulder to glance up at him. Snotlout looked down for a second with a quizzical expression.

“....No.” He eventually answered, “I don’t know where Tuff came up with that number. It might have been because the first time I told him we were both twelve.”

Hiccup let out a slight snort. “So what’s the actual number, then?”

Snotlout huffed, and his brow furrowed. He counted on his fingers.

“Uh...I think it’s four. Yeah. Four.”

Hiccup carefully lifted his head off his cousin’s shoulder, ear plates flicking incredulously. “You’ve been struck by lightning four times?” His slightly less-slit gaze flickered to the side as he tried to conceal a snigger. “How—how does that even happen?”

Snotlout gave Hiccup a stern glare. Hiccup dropped the smile that was forming.

“My uh...dad started teaching me how to hunt and fish pretty young. We liked hunting in the rain. Makes it more of a challenge and uh, well…” He glanced up at his helmet, brushing the ridge of it. “We know that metal attracts lightning now, thanks to you.”

“...oh.”

“Yeah.”

“...do you have a scar?”

Snotlout shrugged. “Yeah. It’s pretty nasty. I don’t see it much though—it’s on my back.”

Hiccup rubbed the palm of his hand as he thought.

“Does yours...hurt?”

Snotlout shot a glance down at his cousin in a look of empathy. “It did...Dad wasn’t sure if it was something like phantom pains or just a mental thing but he did his best to stop it.”

Hiccup hummed. Bringing a hand down to trace his left leg. The phantom pains weren’t bad today, thank the gods.

“Yeah…” Snotlout continued, taking Hiccup’s hum as one of agreement. “Hookfang helped better with the last two strikes than my dad did...found that his body heat was really soothing. Stopped whatever pain I was feeling.”

Hiccup hummed again. “That’s nice.”

His tail curled just a bit tighter around himself.

“Are you getting tired?” Snotlout asked in an almost amused way. Hiccup nodded without opening his eyes.

Snotlout only scoffed and rolled his eyes. “Of course you are. You really are like a dragon, you know that?”

Hiccup slapped him lightly with his left wing in an ‘I should hope so’ manner, before folding it back against his back again.

The raven haired Viking opened his mouth to let out a noise of complaint, but it never came out.

They were left in nothing but the sound of rain for a while. The thunder grew distant and both cousins eventually let their anxieties come to a rest.

“...Hey, Hiccup?”

“Hmm?”

The dragon hybrid didn’t bother to open his eyes. His ear plates perked to show he was listening, and that was enough for Snotlout.

“You won’t tell anyone about this, will you?”

Hiccup hummed again. “About which part? You only being struck by lightning four times, or your fear of it?”

“...neither.”

“Well then, what do you not want me to talk about?”

“The um…” he clenched his jaw. “My coping mechanisms. I’ve only recently started dealing with it in a healthy way and it’s...not something I want spoken of out loud.”

Hiccup reached up and patted Snotlout on the shoulder, fumbling around clumsily as he still refused to open his eyes in his state of tiredness.

“Your secret’s safe with me, Snotlout.”

The viking sighed. He brought a hand and side-hugged his cousin, who started purring sometime after his last statement.

“Okay.”

Chapter Text

If there’s one surprising fact about Toothless that only the closest of people would know about him, it’s that he was Asexual.

Only three people knew. Those were Hiccup, Stoick, and Stormfly.

And now, Snotlout.

Toothless had suspected for a while. The way Snotlout had swooned over Thor Bonecrusher had only been the final factor that lead him to the conclusion.

But he never made to confront Snotlout about his sexuality. He knew what being closeted meant. Although Toothless was raised in a society where LGBTQ+ individuals were widely accepted, the night fury knew how humans felt towards those who felt an attraction to the same gender, and if Snotlout’s upbringing was anything to go by…

The night fury wouldn’t be surprised if Snotlout was refusing to accept it himself.

Toothless had been in the same boat.

He had known early on. Once puberty hit and all of his friends started commenting on how cute the other dragons were, he started getting a suspicion. He joined in on the conversations—the dragons his friends were ogling over were pleasing to the eye, yes, and he assumed that’s what his friends meant. But as they got older and his friends started mating and talking about how sexy their mates were, Toothless realized that...sexual attraction was foreign to him. He just didn’t understand it.

And it scared him.

Was he broken? Was there something wrong with him? What if he was one of the last night furies on earth, like the Queen had been suspecting? Would he cause his species to go extinct because he couldn’t find a mate he would take to bed?

Stormfly was the first person he told. It was hard to explain and to put into words but she understood what he meant and supported him through and through.

Once hybrid forms were reintroduced, it became much easier to explain. Hiccup was the second person he told, and once he caught on, he said the sentence that Toothless started using from then on to explain his sexuality.

“So if someone were to undress in front of you, you wouldn’t want to have sex with them—you would rather use them as a model to draw.”

“You know very well that I am a terrible artist.”

“Did I stutter?”

Stoick was never told straight-up. He just caught on through conversations Hiccup and Toothless would have, and asked the occasional question if he didn’t understand something.

And now Toothless was debating on how to tell Snotlout, because something had happened in the five minutes before he had entered the premises and he had just enough time to see the Viking storm out of the academy and into the nearest tree line, quickly followed by Spitelout, who headed out in the opposite direction.

One look at the astonished and uncomfortable faces of the gang resulted in a similar, knowing glance between Toothless and Hiccup—the latter only flexed his wings and nodded in the direction Snotlout had gone in a silent indication to go after him.

So Toothless did just that.

It didn’t take long to find him. The teen left a trail of broken branches and torn leaves in what Toothless assumed were angry lashings at whatever was in range. It lead him to a small grove where the raven haired Viking was pacing. He had grabbed a sizable stick and was beating it against whatever surface that would leave a satisfying whack.

Toothless only watched from a distance—Snotlout got worked up quite easily and it was easier to let himself burn out before you try and talk to him.

So Snotlout continued swinging the branch around until it let out a crack, and finally split in half and sent the broken-off end flying in the night fury’s direction.

The dragon shrieked and ducked out of the way, which wasn’t the way he wanted to announce his presence but it was done and now Snotlout’s glare was directed towards him with a bout of alarm.

The two raven-haired boys stared at each other for a few seconds before Snotlout all but growled at Toothless.

“I swear to Thor, if you ask me to sing with you I will beat the ever living shit out of you.”

“I’d like to see you try.” Toothless automatically responded, disinterested disgust ringing a bit too harshly in the air than he meant it to. He quickly followed it up by, “I just came to see if you were all good.”

Snotlout grazed him up and down in a disbelieving manner. “Why?”

“Okay. Let me rephrase. Hiccup asked me to check up on you and see if you were all good.”

The human scoffed as soon as the night fury said ‘Hiccup’.

“Of course he did. He probably wants me to be back in time for today’s training because he has to have everything be perfect.”

“Hiccup would never make you do anything you didn’t want to if it wasn’t important. And he would be the first to admit that he’s far from perfect.”

“You don’t think I know that?!” Snotlout snapped. Toothless leaned his head back in slight annoyance. This didn’t deter Snotlout, who only continued on his rant. “Try hearing that every day from your own father. Try being told that you’re inferior to the half-dragon freak of a cousin you’re related to all because you—“ he choked. His voice cracked on ‘freak’ and Toothless emitted a low growl in the back of his throat.

Snotlout had frozen. He stared at the ground icily but the grass wouldn’t freeze over because it wasn’t the ground he was focused on.

That’s when the dragon noticed the tears threatening to spill over.

Snotlout was not one to cry easily.

At all.

But the Viking crumpled to the ground and tore at his wrist guards and coughed.

“I tried to stop it.” He choked again. He didn’t break eye contact with the ground. “I really, really did but I just…”

Toothless glanced the Viking up and down.

“...Tried to stop what, Snotlout?”

The young man froze—well as much as he could amidst his angry sniffling. He probably hadn’t realized he was speaking out loud.

Toothless pressed on.

“Snotlout…”

“Shut up.”

“I’m just—“

“Gods, shut up!” Snotlout yelled angrily, chucking a rock at Toothless, “I don’t need you telling me I’m a disappointment, I don’t need you to tell me that I’m keeping lessons on hold, and I certainly don’t need you telling me that everything’s going to be okay because it’s not! I can’t fix this! No one can, so just leave me the fuck alone.”

Toothless just glared. His pupils slit and he just stared menacingly at Snotlout before he spoke through bared teeth.

“You know, I was going to say that I understand exactly what you’re going through, but whatever. You want to be alone? Fine.”

So in a bout of malicious compliance, the night fury turned and stalked away.

He would be back. He made himself make that promise, but tensions were high between the two.

And he needed to find some people first.

He came back thirty minutes later with two other people trailing behind him. A chubby Gronkle girl with a similar build to Meatlug and a Nadder male with silver scales and a concerned glint in his eye.

Snotlout was not pleased with Toothless’ entourage. Especially since he didn’t recognize the two in question.

He pressed slightly back against the tree he had leaned against, eyes looking as though he wanted to murder Toothless then and there.

“Before you even say anything, just hear me out.” Toothless spoke, wanting to gain the upper hand in the conversation.

Snotlout ignored his question and opened his mouth. He hesitated and his gaze flickered over the three dragons in the clearing.

“What did you mean by you knew how I felt...?” He eventually settled on.

There was fear. And anger and...hope in his gaze. Toothless only breathed out through his nose, and looked over his shoulder to gesture for the two to follow.

He sat down respectfully in front of Snotlout, wrapping his tail around his feet. The other two followed suit.

He waited a bit, trying to find the words. He had already talked this over with the other two, but to put it into words for the human was...more difficult.

He gestured to his left, to the girl. “This is Horrorcow.” He began, the gronkle in question nodded in greeting towards Snotlout, who nervously greeted her with a small wave back, “She...was born in the wrong body.”

At Snotlout’s confused glance, Horrorcow elaborated.

“I was hatched a male.” She said bluntly, flashing a shy smile.

Snotlout sideglanced, a somewhat unbelieving look in his eye.

“Oh.”

The nadder then spoke up, causing the attention to be directed to him.

“My name is Windwalker. I’ve been mated to my husband for seven years.”

Snotlout seemed to catch on at this point. He turned a shaky gaze to Toothless. Who smiled and nodded.

“My name is Toothless, and I thought for the longest time that I was...broken—that my brain was malfunctioning, or something.” The night fury fidgeted with the sleeve of his shirt. “But I was lucky enough to have friends and denmates who were able to help me figure out that I‘m Asexual. And I…”

Toothless cut off, hesitating. He glanced up at Snotlout, whom’s eyes had glazed over but was obviously still listening.

“I want to be to you what quite a few of my friends were to me. I believe you are Bisexual, and I want to help you realize that it’s a completely natural thing.” The night fury said, a low gentle voice standing in the air.

Snotlout stayed quiet for quite a few minutes. He opened and closed his mouth but nothing came out, and he ended up just staring at the ground in deep thought.

“...are you okay?”

The Viking shot his gaze up towards Toothless, eyes misty.

“I...didn’t know there was a word for it.”

Toothless’ breath caught in his throat. He held it, before letting it out with an almost whisper.

“Yeah. There is.”

There was another silence. It was solemn and uncomfortable, but Toothless wasn’t going to rush anything lest he’d have to start back at square one.

Snotlout needed time to process, and the night fury was going to give him all the time he needed.

It was about ten minutes of silence. Ten minutes of thought and breath and the occasional chirp of a bird, and it went from awkward to peaceful quicker than expected.

Finally Snotlout shifted. His shoulders slumped and he straightened out in a calmer manner.

He met Toothless’ gaze without grief for the first time that day.

“Tell me more. Please. I…”

Toothless let out a tiny fanged smile. Snotlout’s unfinished sentence left a void for his own words to fit in to.

“Okay.”

Chapter Text

“WHAT.” Toothless screeched in Dragonese, mind completely short-circuiting in shock as he stared at Hiccup.

If the dragon hybrid’s half-lidded eyes weren’t evident enough to his exasperation, his twitching ears definitely gave away his annoyance.

“You’re overreacting.”

Toothless promptly transformed, stood up with his hands stretched out at his sides, and crouched comically while spinning towards the other humans in the room.

“What do you mean Hiccup is only four and a half years old???” He yelled in an over dramatic fashion that was usually reserved for Snotlout.

Astrid held back a snort, and Hiccup shot her a glare that said ‘don’t humor him’.

“Like your dear older brother said, Toothless, his birthday is February 29th.”

The night fury’s mouth dropped open in utter shock, and he stuttered. “That’s not even a real date what are you guys talking about?

Hiccup sighed, which prompted Toothless to turn back to him in a confused frenzy.

“No, it’s a very real date—remember the year we had our first Snoggletog together?” At his dragon’s nod, the night fury hybrid continued. “That was a leap year. Dad only got me one or two things because he was saving up stuff for my sixteenth birthday. He always makes those birthdays a bit more special since we can actually celebrate on the actual day I was born.”

“A what year? I thought you were born on March 1st?” Toothless’ voice cracked so much the statement was almost a whisper. Astrid couldn’t help but laugh that time.

“That’s when we usually celebrate it—that way I’m actually the age I’m celebrating turning. A year isn’t exactly 365 days it’s like—365 and 1⁄4 of one so humans add an extra day at the end of February every four years so we don’t lose track of the seasons.”

“And 18 divided by four is 4.5 so...hence the fact that he’s only a toddler by definition.” Fishlegs added.

Toothless’ mouth was still hanging open, and he stayed frozen in one place for such a long time that Hiccup eventually scampered up to him and brought his hands up to Toothless’ chin to manually close his mouth. There were a couple flies buzzing around, and he would rather not have the night fury swallow one lest he make even more of a scene.

The dragon swatted his rider’s hands away from his face and clamped his jaw shut so fast that it made an audible click.

“I can’t believe you never told me your birthday was February 29th. You let me believe that you were actually older than me, you lying heathen.”

“I don’t really tell anyone because it leads to this exact conversation every time. Also that’s...because I—I am older than you, Toothless. By like—three months.”

“Invalidated statement!” Toothless exclaimed in a way that made Hiccup think that Tuffnut had come back from patrol. “You cannot tell me that you are only four and a half as a way to humor yourself with my reaction and then still claim to be older than me! That’s not how this works.”

The night fury finished by crossing his arms and planting his feet on the ground in a very deliberate manner, and Hiccup gazed him up in down in slight humor before answering.

“Wow, those are some big words there, Toothless. I’m surprised you know them as you are, in fact, younger than me. Because you were hatched after me chronologically. Which by definition, makes me older than you. Because I am.” Hiccup drawled in the over-sarcastic tone that was exclusive to his speech pattern.

Toothless’ ears dropped to his hairline dramatically, and he pouted. Hiccup could hear Astrid laughing in the background again.

Snotlout had walked into the clubhouse in the middle of Toothless’ rant, and had caught on to what the dragon was complaining about. He added his two cents as he fixed himself a helping of lunch.

“Trust me, Toothless, I’ve been pulling the same card since I could talk. It only works in making other people annoyed.”

“Yeah.” Hiccup more or less agreed, tail swishing to keep his balance as he leaned to the side to gain an unobstructed view of his cousin.

“Thanks for that, by the way, I’m definitely not scarred and absolutely infuriated by that joke because of you.” He added with more sarcasm dripping off his tongue.

Snotlout gave the night fury hybrid a snarky grin, before stuffing his face with chicken and giving him a thumbs up in a way that said ‘you’re welcome’.

Toothless looked between the two cousins for a few seconds, facial features betraying the existential crisis he was experiencing.

“So are you gonna…stop being overdramatic and have lunch with us, or are you gonna continue to pout?” Hiccup eventually asked, flexing his wings and strolling over to the table to snatch himself a helping.

Toothless stared at the meal for a bit longer, as if debating if the chicken was worth his dignity.

...Fish was his favorite, anyways.

“Humans are weird and I am older than Hiccup and that’s final.” He stated to no one in particular, but made sure that it was loud enough for everyone to hear.

Hiccup rolled his eyes as Toothless started to walk away. “Good luck with that logic, Bud. Everyone will totally believe you.”

The night fury let out a groan in substitution for what would have definitely been a stuck-out tongue (or middle finger) had he still been in sight.

“I’m going to write to Stoick, because he would never lie to me over the fact that I am older than you!” He yelled.

Hiccup joined Astrid in the sniggering that time, and they shoved each other back and forth as Hiccup called back out.

“Go ahead, I’m sure he’ll totally back you up with that, Baby Boo.”

“Bet.” Toothless hollered back, and the distant pounding of feet against wood suggested that he had taken off at a sprint towards Hiccup’s hut.


 

A few days later, Hiccup received a letter that only read “...Toothless, weren’t you born in May?” in Stoick’s scribbled handwriting, and the hybrid could only burst out laughing before passing it to Astrid.

Chapter Text

Hiccup always thought that he would give anything to be completely human again.

For the first year he could barely recognize himself in the mirror. There were times when he would wake up in the middle of the night for no particular reason and startle himself when he walked by a reflective surface.

The scales were foreign and the wings were intimidating, and it was strange to suddenly be stuck with them for the rest of his life, especially since this form was just as new to others.

People knew humans. People knew dragons. People didn’t know both in the same body when he was transformed.

But as time progressed and hybrid forms became second nature to Berk, and Hiccup’s wounds healed enough to leave scars that could go unnoticed on most days, he slowly came to realize that what Dagur had forced him through had turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to him.

If only his dad would realize the same thing.

“You’re kidding, right?” Hiccup asked, an almost unreasonable amount of anger boiling in his gut as he clutched the material in his hands.

Stoick sighed, and pinched the bridge of his nose, exasperation evident in his stance. “Trust me, Hiccup, I don’t like this any more than you do, but you need to remember that Berk happens to be the only island in the archipelago that has made full peace with dragon’s—including letting them live among us in human form.”

The eighteen year old huffed angrily. “No, Dad, I get that, what I don’t get is why you’re making me wear…” he trailed off, before presenting the fur cloak to the chief as if it was the man’s first time seeing it.

“...this.”

“I mean, I find it quite fashionable, if I do say so myself.” Toothless piped up from his chair. Stoick and Hiccup turned to him simultaneously.

“I don’t need your sarcasm, Toothless.” Father and son said at the exact same time. They only glanced at each other briefly as an acknowledgement to their jinx.

The night fury sniggered a bit. Hiccup turned back to Stoick as the man pressed on.

“You’re wearing it because I’ve finally convinced a couple tribes to visit, and they’re wanting to know why it’s been a few years since they’ve last seen you.”

Stoick had more or less made Hiccup stay home during diplomatic meetings for the past few years—not that the hybrid minded whatsoever, he disliked the events at best because he was always tossed around by the other heirs, but he was beginning to get frustrated with how his dad was handling the situation.

There were rumors, of course—that the dragon whisperer was part dragon himself, now. It had been floating around the archipelago for quite a few years, and had only gained ground now that the Berkian gang had settled on the Edge and have been traveling and engaging with more islands than usual.

Maybe it was because he was agitated that Stoick was suddenly throwing these meetings back into his life without warning, because Hiccup couldn’t help but retort in frustration.

“Okay, but you do know that I’m gonna have these wings for the rest of my life, right? You can’t exactly hide them forever.”

“Hiccup, don’t start now.” Stoick warned, head turning slightly in agitation.

But the hybrid ignored him, setting down the cape and running his hands through his hair, tugging slightly at his ears.

“Seriously, you called me back from the Edge just for this? I understand hiding this from, you know, Viggo, because he’s evil, but these are our allies, Dad. They’re just going to get suspicious if you keep on attempting to hide this from them.”

“I also don’t want to lose allies because of this.” Stoick stated, hands gesturing to Hiccup’s wings, which were somewhat flared in his state of agitation.

The hybrid side-glanced his wings incredulously, before locking eyes with his Dad in a mixture of betrayed realization.

“Why? Because they’ll be scared of me?” He all but hissed.

Stoick sighed in what was unwilling resignation. “Hiccup, you know what I mean.”

Hiccup scoffed and rolled his eyes, and locked gazes with Toothless, who had shrunk down in his chair and looked very uncomfortable with the situation before him.

“I’m your dad first, Son. I will always be, but I also have a responsibility for your tribe. I need to make sure that their lifestyle is as safe as possible, even if that means keeping some information confidential from our allies.”

Hiccup had crossed his arms over his chest, and his gaze rested on the ground at Stoick’s left. A deep scowl was evident on his face, but at least it meant he was listening.

“Berk is very accepting of you, Son. Others may not be. I’m not going to risk your life or the lives of Berk because our allies are too intimidated.”

The night fury hybrid didn’t answer. Stoick continued with some information that he hoped would sway his son.

“I’ve already asked all of the dragons to remain in dragon form for this visit. They were all very agreeable to this plan.”

Hiccup shot an almost-glare to Toothless at this, who’s eyes went wide like a sheep in a dragon’s sight.

“You agreed to this?” He asked.

“Yes? Any opportunity to not interact with strangers is a good one, Hiccup. Please don’t bring me into this kerfuffle you two are having.”

Toothless’ indifference seemed to be the last straw for Hiccup. The hybrid only clenched his jaw, and straightened his back in a very dignifying way. He took a breath to regain his composure, tension leaving his body.

Hiccup made eye contact with his father, slit pupils giving away the anger broiling beneath.

“Fine.” He said, perfectly calmly. “I’ll wear the Thor-Forsaken cape.”

And with that, he stalked past Stoick and up the stairs.

The chief shared a glance with Toothless, before he walked out the door.


When the day came, Hiccup woke up earlier than Toothless.

It was strange to the dragon, because he was normally the one to drag the Viking out of bed to go and stretch their wings, but when Toothless opened his eyes that morning, it was because Hiccup was shaking him.

“Toothless—Bud, wake up, I need your help.”

The night fury grumbled, and his face scrunched up as he stretched.

Hiccup didn’t wait to watch, and instead turned back to bustling around his room.

Toothless smacked his lips a few times and ran his hand through his hair before he cracked an eye open. He probably would have gone back to sleep if he didn’t and he promised Stoick he would be on his best behavior today.

“What d’ya need help wi—what are you doing?”

Half-asleep acid eyes fell upon the Viking hybrid as he attempted to wrap a bandage around his torso, dressed in nothing but a pair of undershorts.

Hiccup simply shrugged. “Dad wants a normal, human heir, so he’s gonna get one.” He said in a too-nonchalant tone for the Night Fury’s liking.

Toothless sat up warily, a small sense of anxiety building in his gut. “Oh?” He said before his brain processed the action. The word sounded concerned and apprehensive, and he expected Hiccup to immediately defend himself.

But the hybrid seemed oblivious to (or quite possibly expecting and already moved on from) the reaction, and instead turned to gaze at his side profile in the mirror.

“Yeah, I just need you to help me wrap up my wings.” He said, wiggling what parts of the appendages he could move since a lot of them were already wrapped up. “I can’t get into the right angle to wrap them well near the top.”

Toothless stood up and walked over to his figurative brother, lips pressing together. “Are you—are you sure this is a good idea, Hiccup?” He asked, coming to a stop right behind the hybrid, “I mean, you could hurt yourself…”

The auburn-haired teen’s ears dropped to his hairline, and half-lidded eyes sent a deadpan glare to his dragon through the mirror that indicated that he was not going to argue. “Just help me wrap these up.”

Toothless hesitated, but he figured that he would lose an argument against the other hybrid, should he start one--especially since he woke up no less than three minutes ago.

Hiccup had spent years learning to love himself again—to be able to look in the mirror and not see an unnatural monster. Toothless had to agree that Stoick was being harsh, but he also understood where the chief was coming from.

He just hoped this wouldn’t erase all of Hiccup's progress. It wasn't the first time he had questioned his future.

Toothless sighed, and his tail swished in apprehension. “Just promise me you won’t push yourself too hard today if I do this, okay?”

Hiccup was stubborn and spiteful, and he would put his well-being in the background to prove someone wrong in a heartbeat. Toothless knew that.

A promise graced past a genuine grin as Hiccup agreed, but green eyes quickly darted away from the other pair.

Toothless clenched his jaw as he grabbed the bandages out of Hiccup’s grasp, and tentatively circled the cloth around the auburn-haired teen.

He didn't know much about medical practices, but he was worried that blood circulation would be cut off. Hiccup kept asking him to wrap it tighter and tighter until eventually Toothless was positive that he couldn’t even breathe.

But Hiccup showed no signs of discomfort once the bandage was set, and the viking took a big breath and rolled his shoulders to make sure it was secure.

He seemed to study himself in the mirror again, turning and watching himself intently, before nodding in approval.

“Cool, thanks, Bud.”

The dragon in question didn’t answer back, and instead watched as Hiccup grabbed the tunic he tended to use for fancier events and slipped it on.

“So what exactly is your plan?” Toothless blurted, catching Hiccup’s attention.

The hybrid’s ears perked, and he turned to look at the other boy. A silent indication to specify filled the air, and Toothless did just that.

“So you’ve wrapped your wings. What else are you planning on doing? And how exactly are you going to pull this off?" He couldn't help the slight agitation that seeped in the last few words.

Hiccup spun and grabbed another bandage before he began to speak, choosing to ignore it.

“Well,” he began, “I figured I could use my helmet to hide my ears, that’s probably the easiest part of this. As for the tail,” The viking swished the appendage back and forth a few times in emphasis before he stretched out the bandage and bent backwards. “I figure I can bind most of it to my leg. My boot and the cape should hide anything too suspicious, and if anyone asks, I’ll just say that my left leg had lasting effects from the Green Death and it makes my other leg look bigger by comparison.”

The hybrid began wrapping his right leg up, leaving a small gap in the knee so that it could bend. Toothless could only watch in some weird mixture of impressed dread as he did so.

He had clearly planned this out, but at what cost?

By the time Hiccup had gotten completely dressed, Toothless had gone down and grabbed a bit of breakfast for the both of them.

He was dressed in a traditional semi-formal armoured style—what Toothless assumed was expected of viking royalty. The cape draped from his shoulders in substitute for the wings hidden beneath, and the night fury was subtly thankful for the space being used. He wasn’t sure he could get used to Hiccup’s back looking bare.

Hiccup’s head tilted up as Toothless entered the room, and he smiled as he straightened his helmet.

“So, how do I look? Do I pass as a completely human person?”

The night fury let out an almost-snort through his nose, nodding enthusiastically. “Scarily so. I wouldn’t even be able to tell you were part dragon.”

That seemed to be what Hiccup wanted to hear, because his eyes lit up in a slightly spiteful manner that Toothless wouldn’t have caught onto if he hadn’t witnessed the argument from last night.

“Good, now all I need to do is play the part, which shouldn’t be so hard.”

As soon as he said that, Hiccup immediately lost his balance and almost face planted into the floorboards, now that his tail wasn’t there to counteract it.

Toothless let out a nervous laugh. Hiccup sent him a good-natured glare. “I still got this.”

“Yes, of course you do.” the night fury replied sarcastically as the viking straightened himself out. A more serious tone slipped over him as he watched the other eighteen year old brush off his chest.

“Hiccup?”

“Yeah?”

“Please just—seriously, don’t push yourself today.”

A twinge of agitation spiked through the air, and then quickly dissipated.

“Toothless, seriously, I’m going to be fine. I promise if I start to feel any pain I’ll take a break. You don’t need to worry about me.”

But the night fury still did.

He stayed silent for a moment, before letting out a huff in resignation.

“Okay. Let’s go then.”


Toothless didn’t know if Stoick’s reaction was one of anger or surprise.

Probably both, but the chief couldn’t exactly voice his opinion out loud because he was accompanied by a few chiefs that Toothless vaguely recognized, but never really got to know for obvious reasons.

Hiccup hopped off his back—they had flown in to make up time since they were already a bit late, despite the ungodly hour—and Toothless could feel the defiant glare his rider sent his father.

The night fury stalked close to Hiccup, wrapping his body around him in a somewhat possessive manner, eyes studying the visitors in front of them with distrust.

Logically, he knew that these were allies. They considered themselves to be friends, good acquaintances at least, but the night fury couldn’t help the protective surge that came over him at the sight.

Hiccup reached down and stroked his head, a silent indication that he was okay, and that Toothless didn’t need to be so concerned.

It wasn’t a request.

Toothless’ nose scrunched up against his will and he took a step back, but he didn’t back off.

The other heirs were staring at him with varying degrees of awe and fear, and he would be lying if it didn’t make him feel good.

“Woah…” a muscled blonde whispered, accompanied by a boy with a similar build who was punching his arm excitedly.

“Dude, it’s a Night Fury!”

“Yeah, muttonhead, I can see that.”

Stoick chose to ignore the exchange. “Hiccup,” he exclaimed, an undertone of exasperation seeping in, “glad you and Toothless could join us.”

Toothless chose to ignore the hand that landed on Hiccup’s back, lingering maybe just a bit too long as the man pushed his son forward to introduce him.

It was firm and searching, palm trying to find his son’s wings beneath to assure himself that Hiccup wasn’t hurting himself.

The hybrid quickly ducked out of his dad’s reach, stumbling forward a bit too eagerly to shake the visitors’ hands.

“Welcome back to Berk,” he started, quickly making his way across the group, “Stoick and I are very pleased to see you here.” He stared with the diplomatic posture Toothless had only seen him use with Mala very early on in their allyship.

“So the rumors are true then, Dragon Whisperer!” Said the blonde heir that Toothless was beginning to see was...excitable at the least.

Hiccup had a small rush of blood come to his face in embarrassment, but he quickly pushed it down. “Yeah, uh,” he turned to indicate to Toothless, who puffed up slightly as his rider addressed him.

“This is Toothless, he—“

The blonde interrupted with an arm slung around Hiccup’s shoulder, obviously deciding that the hybrid was his new best friend. “So what awesome stories do you have to tell us, Hiccup?”

Hiccup flinched under the contact for a split second, shoulders hunching, and he stuttered despite his obvious attempt to be as diplomatic as possible.

“I, uh, well—“

Stoick was not having it, and he nonchalantly walked up and pulled his son back towards him, out of the grasp of what’s-his-face, who Toothless was starting to determine that he didn’t exactly like.

A low, dragonic growl sounded in Hiccup’s throat as a spike of annoyance ignited, before it was quickly sniffed out with a clamp of his jaw. He pushed away from Stoick in a not-so-smooth motion, obviously finding trouble compensating for his lack of a tail.

Toothless circled around him once as he straightened his helmet, pressing into his rider’s side slightly to try and get him to calm down.

Hiccup’s jaw was still clenched tightly, and he brought his hand up to his dragon’s head again as he regained his composure. His eyes were flickering as he tried to control his anger, and Toothless quickly sat up to plant a dragon kiss to the side of his head. (It was more to block the visitors’ views from Hiccup, but he wasn’t going to admit that).

The hybrid looked at Toothless for a second, and the night fury spoke to him quietly, the growl was low and concerned and anxious. “Don’t push yourself.”

Hiccup did nothing but swallow, and squeezed his eyes shut for a couple seconds, before popping them back open to reveal his pupils had dilated to normal size. He nodded a thanks to his dragon, and resumed back into the conversation that Stoick had continued without him.

And so the long day started.

And it should have gone longer, except Hiccup was an idiot as always.

He’d promised. He’d promised Toothless he wouldn’t push himself, and Toothless should have known better than to trust him but he wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt because damn it, he didn’t want to escalate the situation.

Toothless could admit that he was on edge; he was hyper fixated on everything that happened. The way the heirs tossed Hiccup around, even if it was in good nature for once. The questions asked that were maybe just a bit too prying. Hell, even an offhand glance that seemed just a bit too wrong was enough to make his scales crawl in protective anger.

He knew he was overreacting, but Stoick’s actions—or rather, lack of action against his hostility—wasn’t helping him come up with reasonable second thoughts. Toothless wasn’t about to put Hiccup into more danger than he was already in if the group started suspecting something, and for the first time, he and Stoick seemed to work as seamlessly as he and Hiccup did.

But he had been so focused on their guests, that he didn’t notice that Hiccup’s poker face was too good to be true.

The meeting was coming to an end with a lunch break, which would be followed by some treaty signing to Toothless’ knowledge. The night fury was begrudgingly eating nearby, an eye trained on the group as he ate.

He noticed Hiccup get up and excuse himself, before heading towards the Great Hall entrance. He was already up and heading after him before Stoick had even sent him a pointed look.

He couldn’t help an excitable sort of trot the last few meters to the door, not wanting to lose his rider too far ahead of him, and a villager held the door open for him as he passed.

Toothless thanked them with a brief head nod - as subtle as he could to make it look natural in his Dragon form—before immediately searching for Hiccup.

It didn't take long. His rider was still in sight, leaning against one of the statues that decorated the entrance and obviously trying his hardest to look okay.

He was flushed, and he was obviously dizzy. Toothless was quick to rush over to him out of fear that he would fall.

Hiccup gasped slightly, voice strained as he brought his hands up to Toothless' head.

"You hurt yourself." The night fury said, disdain ringing.

Hiccup almost protested. He opened his mouth and anger flared in the air, but he couldn't get any words out and his hand flew to the topmost buckle on his chest.

His nose crinkled in anger and he blinked maybe a bit too hard, and he grabbed Toothless' neck as he settled himself down to the ground..

"Yeah. Yeah, I did." He eventually said, breath coming out in resignation.

"You idiot."

"I know."

Toothless swallowed, gut twisting because he wasn't used to Hiccup not arguing with him why wasn't he standing his ground?

The hybrid's eyes were staring at the ground, empty and emotionless. Toothless walked up and took the helmet off his rider's head as gracefully as he could without hands.

It fell to the ground, and Hiccup's ears bounced slightly as the pressure was released, but they were still pressed against his rider's head like they always did when he was upset.

Hiccup glanced at the helmet for a split second, but Toothless wasn't going to dwell on that.

"Take off your vest."

The smallest of huffs left the hybrid, and it was quickly followed by a pained grunt as he sat up, and began undoing the clasps.

His hands were shaky and his actions were sluggish, and Toothless genuinely wondered if he would need to transform to help him, but he also knew he needed to get Stoick. And he couldn't do that with human skin.

But luckily, Hiccup managed. Toothless knew he had been through much worse physically, but his rider had a knack for letting his hybrid-related injuries affect his mental state...

The wrap was easier to undo, thank the gods. The adhesive peeled off and it unraveled like it had been wanting to the entire time.

Toothless didn't want to dwell on the angry red indentions the material left in its wake, but he couldn't help himself.

Humans had the phrase 'licking the wound' for whatever reason, and he wanted nothing more than to do that right now.

He paced in front of Hiccup a couple times, sniffing around him like a worried mother, before grumbling and nudging a wing.

"You can feel that, right?"

Hiccup flinched when Toothless the appendage moved at the force, and the night fury felt a horrible sense of relief when that happened because at least he could feel it.

His rider swallowed and nodded even though he didn't have to, and Toothless pushed some air out of his nose.

That being said, he was still in pain.

"I'm gonna go get your dad…" he trailed off, half wondering how he was going to do that without letting the others know. The other half was still filled with a mixture of annoyance and worry at Hiccup and himself.

He should have been paying closer attention.

But he also...shouldn't have had to.

Toothless knew the blame wasn't just on one person, and he knew he shouldn't be as mad as he was, but he, well, was.

He was mad at Stoick for the secrecy. He was mad at Hiccup for his gods damned stubbornness, and he was mad at himself for—for what, exactly? Caring too much? Having emotions?

Being proud of what he was?

The night fury hadn't realized he had frozen. It was a subconscious action, and it had obviously caused Hiccup to grow concerned. The hybrid sat up and reached a hand out to rest on Toothless' side, pulling his attention over to him.

Hiccup's skin was gaining color again—the red marks were beginning to fade and even out the tone as the blood flow started back up, unrestricted.

His wings were shaking, but they looked...fuller? Toothless didn't quite know how to describe it, but they were definitely better than they were a few minutes ago.

It didn't look good; Toothless had to remind himself that Hiccup's tail was still bound to his leg. But at least it was better.

He found himself moving, and he didn't bother to answer Hiccup's questions as he stalked away and pushed open the door with his nose.

Stoick had obviously been burning holes into the wood with his gaze, because he met Toothless’ gaze before he could even fully poke his head out from behind the door.

Toothless sent him a knowing and desperate look, and the chief’s jaw clenched as a grave expression set onto his face. The man quickly excused himself from the table and was quick to make his way out of the Hall, wordlessly night fury over to where Hiccup was resting, tail now unbound.

Stoick didn’t need to look too long. The marks were angry and red and, though they were better, they were painfully visible.

“Odin, Hiccup, I told you to cover up, I didn’t tell you to break your skin!” The man reprimanded, stalking over and leaning down to his son. His hand reached out to brush against his forehead, giving away concern beneath the frustration.

Hiccup scowled, but didn’t move away from the touch like he normally would have.

His fight was still gone.

“What are we even doing?” He asked, and it took Toothless by surprise because he had barely spoken the entire time.

Stoick’s jaw was still clenched, and his hand moved away, somehow satisfied with whatever it found. “You know exactly what we’re doing, Hiccup.”

A rough breath left the hybrid, and his hands clenched against the ground, tearing at the grass. “I mean why are we doing this? What is the point?” He said, angry and remorseful and…

Quiet.

When Hiccup got upset, he got loud. He had to, as he didn’t exactly match up to the body type of the rest of the Vikings surrounding him and he needed to compensate for power somehow.

This was...a different type of upset that Toothless hadn’t seen in years.

He was defeated.

“Hiccup—“

“No, Dad, listen to me.” The hybrid seethed, voice sharp, but never gaining volume. He pressed against the statue he was leaning on, and used it as a crutch to get to his feet. “I have been hiding for years. Years, Dad. Do you know what that does to a person?”

Stoick didn’t answer, but Toothless knew it wasn’t because he couldn’t.

“I’m sick of it.” Hiccup continued, voice cracking. He brought his hands up to his hair and tugged. “I hate it, and I used to hate myself for it. I’ve been invisible my whole life, and it was never because I wanted to be!”

He was growling, and the faintest of glows was beginning in the back of his throat, and he blinked angry tears away.

“I just—I don’t understand how I’m going to be chief if…” his eyes glazed over and fell to the ground, suddenly distant.

“Berk can’t have a half-dragon leader.” He whispered, seemingly to himself. “No matter how much we accept dragons, others won’t—we’d be accused of witchcraft and…”

Berk wouldn’t be safe anymore.

Silence followed as Hiccup’s words stopped, and Stoick waited until he was sure the hybrid was done before he spoke.

“You are my heir, Hiccup.” He stated sternly, voice rigid. “You are my son.”

Hiccup glanced up at Stoick briefly, not quite meeting his eyes.

“You are going to be chief one day. A great one, at that. And part of being chief is making hard decisions.”

Toothless sat down against his better judgement, teeth sheathing and unsheathing anxiously.

“I was being selfish, Son.” Stoick continued, voice turning soft as he set a gentle hand on Hiccup’s left shoulder. Hiccup still shook considerably under the weight, but that was expected. “Of course I’ve considered your future as chief—I just thought I would have come up with a solution sooner than this.”

Hiccup’s head shot up at that, obviously not expecting that answer.

“What do you mean?”

Stoick’s body swayed as he shifted his weight in a slightly guilty manner.

“I’ve been buying myself time, Hiccup. Trying to strengthen our relationships with our allies as I try to figure out what to do with you.” He admitted, “I just didn’t consider how my actions were affecting you.”

The man turned suddenly, as though the thought had just dawned on him as well. “You and the rest of the dragon population here.” He added, sending a nod towards Toothless that was one of respect and apology.

Toothless’ gaze hesitated, but he felt a rush of gratefulness fill him and he sent a quick nod back.

A quick pause followed as Hiccup turned his head slightly to the right, eyes suddenly finding the back of the statue vaguely interesting. His tail was shaking.

“I’m not ashamed of you, Hiccup. I never have been. I’ve been trying to ease our allies into this, but I’m coming to realize that...some of our strongest friends have come through you.”

A deep breath followed, before Stoick nodded his head and gestures towards Hiccup. “All of you.”

Hiccup’s hands had found their way to his sides, rubbing the angry marks tentatively. He was still staring at the statue, but his eyebrows had become slightly less tethered together.

“Grab your tunic.” Stoick said, nodding to the garment that was lying on the grass. Both Toothless and Hiccup’s gazes darted towards it and then Stoick in surprise.

He had started moving, walking back to the door.

“Stay out here for as long as you need, but I want you there when we sign the treaties. Every part of you.” He emphasized, eyes darting towards his son’s wings as he said it.

Hiccup didn’t answer, and the bobbing of his Adam’s Apple suggested he was getting choked up.

He nodded vigorously when the message seemed to finally settle in, and Toothless felt a growing sense of happiness settle in his chest. He found himself moving over to Hiccup with a smile.

“It’s time our allies know what they really have on their side.” Stoick resolved, glancing between the two before closing the door behind him.

Hiccup’s lip quivered as he broke into a smile, and his legs gave out from under him in a mixture of relief and fatigue.

Toothless was quick to rush to catch him, but stopped short when his rider turned to him with that same smile, any negative emotion in his posture overshadowed with relieved joy.

And it was the first time in a long time, Toothless realized, that Hiccup wasn't terrified about his future.

Chapter Text

Wingnut was...cute. Ruffnut would admit to that.

She wasn't normally one to particularly like children — anything considered 'feminine', really, was off-putting to her. But as much as she hated to admit, the little guy was growing on her.

Even though he turned a deaf ear to her most of the time, the hard work, dare she say, gave her a sense of accomplishment. Even if Tuffnut was doing most of the mothering, Atali's talk about patience and bonding helped Ruffnut find the...apprenticeship? Was that the word she was looking for? Whatever. Anyways, the talk last night had given her a glimpse into the reward of it. The feeling wasn't something she was used to experiencing and she...enjoyed it.

Just don't tell Hiccup that.

He was currently sitting on the saddle in front of her — a bit less tense, admittedly, but he had wings that he knew would work for him if he lost his balance.

The hybrid had them spread in a way that he had only been able to in the past months — what with Johann's betrayal practically blowing his secret out of the water, he found that keeping his hybrid status on the D.L. was unproductive at best.

The chief's son had his head tilted back, ears perked as he let the sun hit his face. The wind billowed beneath his wings as Toothless glided; he did it often when the gang were travelling on the jet streams, too high in the air for anyone below to make out anything other than amorphous blobs against the endless blue.

Ruffnut could feel Wingnut testing the air as well — there was a slight pull on her body as the air snatched his wings, causing her to lean backwards slightly in retaliation.

The hatchling wasn't even able to shift yet; and one of very few words. Probably because he was, you know, a hatchling, but Ruffnut was still fairly uncertain with Dragonese herself, and her ears may just not have registered some things he said.

Either way, the fact that the Wing Maidens had even decided to try and use the baby dragons as their own personal sets of wings was nothing short of mad. And Ruffnut loved mad; worshipped it, even, but having a responsibility behind it was something she was apprehensive of.

“Are you ready to try this, Ruffnut?” Hiccup said in his ‘teacher tone’ that she really hadn’t heard him use since they were new to riding on dragon back.

The blonde choked down her doubt, and it manifested as an eye roll and a hand shifting to her hip. “Uh, I don't know, Hiccup. Like I said. I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid."

The hybrid's shoulders bounced in a silent laugh, and he shook his head slightly before Toothless let out a vulgar question in dragonese.

There was a commotion up near the night fury’s head, and Ruffnut had the displeasure of not being able to see over the (admittedly) taller hybrid as he straightened up in surprise.

Though, her confusion didn’t last long when the slightly annoyed question of "Tuffnut?" escaped Hiccup’s mouth because of course he would follow them. The auburn stared at the male twin as he claimed up over Toothless' front shoulder, and Ruffnut rolled her eyes as her brother came into view.

The night fury, for whatever reason, seemed to think that he could pretend that he didn’t know Tuffnut had hitched a ride. The female twin had to assume her brother had clung to the dragon’s legs like some kind of bat, so there was no way that Toothless hadn’t known. That much was obvious even to her. Hiccup shared a glance with her that read annoyance as Toothless continued to mumble some things that Ruffnut couldn't quite catch due to the wind, but the parts she could hear sounded like feigned surprise at best.

“What are you doing here, Tuff?” Hiccup sighed, leaning to his left as the male twin hauled himself further up onto Toothless. The hybrid snapped his right wing closed as Tuffnut maneuvered around the saddle, aware of their annoyance but pretending not to notice.

"I'm here for moral support, of course!" He chimed, plopping down behind Ruffnut.

The girl found herself rolling her eyes. "I don't need moral support?" She stated, and Tuffnut immediately scoffed.

"Not you," he continued, shaking his head as though his intentions were as clear as air, leaning down to her back, "for Wingnut. Isn't that right, little man?" He cooed, and Ruffnut could feel the dragon on her back brushing against her brother's hand like a cat.

Hiccup seemed more resigned than surprised. "I — okay, whatever. Just don't mess anything up, Tuffnut. And Toothless, you have severely damaged my trust." He added in a weird mixture of sarcasm and disappointment, leaning forward in the saddle to be closer to his dragon's face.

"Whaaat….oh no….this is tragic…." The dragon responded in a voice that Ruff could actually hear. She couldn't help but snort.

Hiccup lightly cuffed one of Toothless' ear plates, before turning back to Ruff.

"Are you ready?" He asked, unhooking his prosthetic with a nearly instinctual pull of his leg and switching Toothless' tail to the automatic setting. The night fury did a few test swerves to make sure it worked, and although they weren't nearly hard enough banks to throw any of them off, Ruffnut found herself clutching onto the saddle until her knuckles turned white.

"I mean, not really, but it's whatever, right?" She tried to push aside her anxiety as Hiccup promptly stood up on Toothless' back like it was nothing. His tail stiffened to keep his balance, but other than that his body showed no visual sign of tension. The heir was at home in the air, and he moved like he was on solid ground. And sure, Ruffnut trusted Barf with her life, and barely feared heights to begin with, but the air was never something she felt totally at home in.

When the hybrid turned and held a hand out to Ruff, she didn't hesitate to take it. She trusted Hiccup, there was no question there. That's why she'd asked him to teach her to fly.

He hauled her to her feet, and he found her balance as easily as if she was on the ground. Wingnut reacted to the movement, and Ruffnut could feel the pull of his wings once again and his tail tighten around her waist.

A hand flew to her back, and she found the underbelly of the hatchling near the small of it. Her fingertips brushed over the softer scales, and she scratched them in a soothing manner. Wingnut let out a reptilian pur, and his head nestled in the crook of her neck as a thanks.

Hiccup directed her to Toothless' right shoulder. He stopped her right behind the dragon’s wing joint. The night fury’s body was wider there, and they were able to talk easier if they were side-by-side. Tuff scooted closer onto the saddle, considering half his butt was hanging off beforehand.

"Okay, so usually the first thing you'll want to know is wing movement, but considering Wingnut will be doing most of the work, you just have to worry about balance." The hybrid explained, looking down to his feet and shifting his weight experimentally. Ruff found her eyes and body doing the same thing.

"It's all in the hips, okay?" Hiccup stated, head turning to look at Ruff, who was quick to make eye contact.

"Yeah, sure." She said maybe a bit too aggressively, though Hiccup didn't seem to mind.

The hybrid then proceeded to bend his knees and lean forward slightly, presenting his forearm for Ruff to grasp, which she did after a split second's hesitation.

Sometimes it was like jumping into cold water. You needed a friend to drag you in with them.

"Just keep your hips level, Ruff. You’ll be fine. I’m sure of it.” He reassured, his grip giving her a squeeze that, frankly, did make her feel slightly better. “You ready?" Hiccup asked as his wings spread out, nearly hitting her. Ruffnut ducked down slightly, though he had adjusted the limbs in the last second so it was unnecessary either way.

"Yup." Nope.

And they jumped, though Ruffnut could have sworn she felt a feather's touch of Tuff's hand attempting to push them.

Hiccup was the one to catch the wind first, and Ruffnut felt an almost-painful jerk in her shoulder as he drifted up.

She thought for a split second that maybe Wingnut wouldn’t catch on. That perhaps, in the thousands of years of dragon ancestry that ran through him, he happened to be missing the instinct that allowed him to fly immediately after birth. Because that would absolutely be her luck.

But miraculously, Wingnut’s wings snapped open a fraction of a second later - she more heard them, really, those little scales were new but they still sliced through air like any good knife - and Ruffnut found herself uplifting until her body was somewhat parallel to Hiccup’s.

She really only had one task, to keep her hips level, and she knew that, but it was one thing to have a dragon below you. Because then at least you still have a little bit of solid-something. It was a completely different thing to be under the dragon.

Ruffnut tilted dangerously quite a few times - Hiccup’s grip was probably the only thing keeping her from jackknifing and getting a faceful of ocean. The procedure repeated for a few seconds. She’d start to fall, then she’d over correct as a reaction and start falling the other way, causing Wingnut to lose his rhythm in turn.

Ruffnut gasped, and a curse nearly left her lips, but some...dared she say...motherly...part of her didn’t want Wingnut to hear any adult language quite yet, so she bit her tongue. The actions seemed very over-exaggerated in her mind, though they probably looked like faint movements from Hiccup’s point of view.

“You good?” The hybrid asked, voice raised so that it wouldn’t be swept away by the wind. Ruffnut nodded vigorously, and it wasn’t a lie - she was having fun, or at the very least she knew she wasn’t in any life-threatening danger. Those tended to be mutually exclusive for her, but at the moment learning was taking up the majority of her thought, and she was never one to take to new information easily.

“Remember, keep your hips leveled, Wingnut will do the rest!” Hiccup said reassuringly, glancing behind them briefly to Toothless and Tuffnut, who were a few meters behind them. The male twin gave them both an overenthusiastic thumbs up, and the night fury’s gaze remained trained on the two in front of him, muscles bunched and ready to dive at any moment.

“That’s a lot easier said than done, Hiccup!” Ruffnut couldn’t help but snap, though once again Hiccup seemed to be understanding of her tension and opted to brush it off.

“You tighten your core when you ride Barf, right?” He ventured, head swiveling over the horizon as he spoke. His wings stroked a bit faster, and they rose a few feet.

“If you mean I have abs of gronkle iron so I don’t slip off, then yes.” she replied.

“Okay, this is really similar to that.” Hiccup replied, jumping onto the opportunity like any good teacher would. Ruffnut found her gaze looking down at the ocean, a few hundred feet below them, as she thought about what he said. Her body swayed again, and she gasped, but didn’t jerk as hard as the previous times. Associating flying to riding Barf was something she’d considered, but she didn’t have the capacity to determine why it was so similar.

But now that Hiccup had said that…

She found it. It wasn’t an immediate click, like the switch of a blade, but it was a gradual thing that happened in a manner of seconds. Her gut tightened, and the air evened out around her body, and the wind went from whipping against her to gliding around her in that familiar sensation she liked.

Wingnut noticed the change, too. Or at least, he must have, because his wing beats became like a rhythm. They were more frequent than Hiccup’s, though Ruffnut guessed it was because the Razorwhip’s were much smaller than his -- like how Meatlug’s wings beat like a honey bee’s.

“I got it!” bubbled out of Ruffnut’s mouth before she even knew what she’d said, and a smile crept onto her face almost at the same time.

A proud laugh escaped Hiccup’s lips, and the blonde turned to make eye contact with the hybrid. He was beaming at her, ear plates perked and eyes shining. Were the tears from the wind? They had to be, right?

Maybe the idea of one of his human friends experiencing flight on their own was overwhelming. She certainly knew she was in that moment.

Ruffnut felt her arm being bent backwards as Hiccup gained altitude. He moved slowly, careful not to whisk the wind too hard with his wings as he flew over her and Wingnut. He eventually had to let go of her left hand before coming down on their right side, and she immediately grasped for a stronghold once he was in reach again.

“Is this really what it’s like for you?” She asked, watching as Hiccup’s chin tilted up so the sun could hit his cheeks. He took a deep breath.

“More or less.” He started, and Ruffnut mimicked his action, “It’s...tiring. But I’m sure you already know that.” He joked as the shield maiden nodded her head.

Yeah. no hollow bones and all -- that was a thing that dragons needed. The gang had guessed that Hiccup's probably weren't, because he didn’t try to fly for longer than fifteen minutes at a time. Not that they wanted to test that theory anyways.

“I’m so jealous.” Ruffnut snorted, opting to push the somewhat angsty musings of broken bones out of her mind. She made a quick adjustment, feeling her hips fall out of alignment during the time she hadn’t been focusing.

“I’m just glad you’re able to experience it.” Hiccup admitted, and his gaze darted to the ground far below, “It’s freeing, isn’t it?”

She nodded, and went to squeeze her friend’s hand, only to realize that there was nothing there to grab.

He’d let go. She and Wingnut were flying on their own.

Ruffnut snapped her head over to Hiccup in surprise mixed with excitement, her gut twisting as both emotions tangoed. The hybrid was still smiling with pride, and he banked to the right so that his chest was facing her.

“Are you up for a race?”

“You mean you want me, an ameture wing maiden with a two-day-old hatchling on my back, to race you, a hybrid of one of the fastest dragons on earth who’s been flying for three years?”

“Scared?” He taunted, fins flicking harmlessly. He wavered because of the action, but he recovered expertly.

“Oh, I’m so gonna kick your butt.” Ruffnut bantered, and her hands fell to her sides as she found she had the confidence to do so.

Hiccup rolled his eyes good-naturedly. “Oh, I’m sure of it.” He quipped in his telltale sarcasm, though there was a tenderness in it that the girl didn’t recognize.

“Wingnut!” she called, pointing haphazardly towards the horizon, “Full speed ahead! Don’t you bring dishonor on us, little dude.”

Even if he wasn’t fast enough, Ruffnut had a feeling that Hiccup would let them win anyways.