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All in Your Head

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  “Yep, a zippleback saddle coming right up!” shouted Hiccup to the Viking outside. Rushing through the drafting of a saddle, he sketched an outline, occasionally glancing at the actual zippleback outside the forge, and showed the pattern to his customer. With a grunt of approval, the man stomped away, barely catching the call of “come back in two weeks!” sent after him.

  Hiccup collapsed against the forge. Times like these were when he truly appreciated all his father had done. How could he be the chief; how could he ever fill the huge hole Stoick the Vast had left behind? Whenever he thought about it, he ended up feeling completely overwhelmed. “I think I’ll just go flying to relax,” he thought. Chief duties were seemingly unending, but he did try to go flying with Toothless every day. After all, it was his fault that the night fury had ever needed his help to fly, though Toothless was capable of solo flying now.

  Sneaking out the back door, as soon as Hiccup was out of Gobber’s earshot and out of sight of the seemingly endless line of Vikings waiting to give orders, he broke into a run. Gobber would just have to make do without him for the afternoon. Hiccup braked to give a piercing whistle, and a shadow on the grass grew darker. With a lurch, he’d been grabbed by the back of his tunic by aforementioned dragon, and all that was left was tall grass gently swaying in the resulting draft.

  “Toothless! What are you do-Aaaahh!” Hiccup shouted as the dragon tossed him in the air, only to fall neatly onto his saddle. Catching his breath, he groaned, “Don’t DO that! I nearly had a heart attack…Eargh what am I doing? Okay let me start over. Hey bud! I haven’t seen you since this morning, what’ve you been up to?” Toothless made a series of gulping, gurgling, satisfied sounds. Toothless never actually talked back, but Hiccup was an expert at reading the dragon’s little body movements. He just knew that his best friend could understand Viking. Sometimes it seemed like he was on the edge of understanding exactly what Toothless was saying, but complete understanding always seemed to elude him. Hiccup patted his dragon on the neck, and wrenched the control handles on Toothless’s saddle forward. The dragon was happy to be able to fly by himself, but the pair of them was ten times more unified when Hiccup did the steering. Plus, Toothless seemed to enjoy flying with Hiccup much more than flying on his own, if his refusal to use the automatic tail was anything to go by.

  Throwing his arms out, Hiccup whooped as the pair soared and dove, corkscrewing towards the ocean before snapping upwards. This was his favorite part of every day. It was only when he was flying with Toothless that Hiccup felt whole, like he didn’t need his left leg, like dragon master and dragon were one being. His entire body vibrated with joy, and Hiccup impulsively unlocked his leg from the harness, locking the control handles down once again so Toothless could fly independently. “Ok Toothless, ready?”

  Toothless stiffened. Hiccup knew that his solo gliding still made his dragon nervous, even after tens of successful maneuvers. “I got this, bud! How many times have we done this, a hundred? And I’m not dead yet, so stop worrying, you big baby.” One of Toothless’s ears came out of nowhere and whacked Hiccup on the side of his head.

  “Yeah yeah fine I’ll put the helmet on.” Shoving his black helmet over his unruly hair, Hiccup then stood up on the saddle, turned, and ran down Toothless’s back. As he reached the tail, he leaped from his dragon, and for a second his forward momentum carried him forward. Then gravity took over and Hiccup began to fall. Quickly, he slid his arms into loops and snapped his “wings” open, gliding gracefully across the sky. “YeAAAH! No need to be worried bud, what could go wro-“ Suddenly the air currents shifted, and Hiccup abruptly dropped ten feet. “Wha-aaaaH” Thinking fast, he yelled, “Toothless!” Another drop- “Come on bud, we gotta get- hoooome!”

  Toothless dove, and caught his rider just as another patch of turbulence hit. “Ooof” winced Hiccup as he slammed into his saddle. The temperature dropped suddenly, and Hiccup felt his ears pop. He knew what this meant- a massive storm was headed straight towards them. Fun and games were over, things were about to get hairy.

  Looking ahead, Hiccup could see a mountain of slate grey clouds towering miles into the sky.  There was no way he and Toothless could avoid it.  They’d have to land before it hit.  Hiccup twisted around, flipping open his compass to try to figure out what direction Berk was, and had barely glimpsed what looked like land on the horizon when the next second dragon and rider were buffeted to one side.  He felt a twinge in his neck, but there was no time to do a self-evaluation. If they didn’t find somewhere to land soon, Toothless and Hiccup would be driven towards the ocean and possibly drown. Uneven air currents pushed them around and Hiccup could barely hear himself when he shouted, “Come on Toothless!” His breath was practically snatched out of his chest, and he had no idea if his dragon had heard him.

  But Toothless didn’t need to be told to go.  He whipped around before Hiccup was finished speaking, and started flying as fast as he could towards Berk.  As the atmosphere became more and more turbulent, Hiccup urged Toothless lower towards the ocean with the faint hope that the air would be calmer at a lower altitude. He didn’t glance behind him, but he could see the ocean getting darker below him.  And then the skies opened.  Sheets of rain blew across the sea, smacking the pair down as they struggled towards land.

  “This is it. We are going to die,” thought both dragon and rider.  Hiccup could barely see ten feet in front of them, when suddenly the cliffs of Berk rose up in front of them. 

  Toothless was desperately searching for somewhere to take shelter, and had all but blocked out Hiccup’s voice.  He needed to focus on his echolocation, which was difficult in the rain. Finding something, he struggled against the torrential downpour to get higher on the cliffs. Aiming towards a narrow cleft in the cliff face, he hoped that Hiccup was holding on to something. Then the dragon shot through the crack.

  Hiccup hadn’t noticed that they had reached land until Toothless suddenly flew up and forward.  As a result, he was not low on Toothless’s back as the dragon expected, but was sitting straight, head bent to shield one wrist from the rain, desperately trying to read his compass. There was suddenly a dark wall, and then searing pain where his shoulder met his neck as the rock face left a long abrasion on the side of his neck.  Doubling over in pain, but tightly clenching the saddle, Hiccup barely noticed when Toothless landed under an overhang.   Shivering with cold and drenched, he peeled his fingers one at a time off the saddle, where they’d been locked in an iron grip.  He didn’t realize how much he’d been relying on one hand to stay upright until he sat up fully and his vision filled with spots.  Hiccup reached down and clumsily disengaged his prosthetic leg from the saddle. His fingers wouldn’t do what…he wanted what he couldn’t think…Hiccup slid off Toothless, unconscious.

Chapter Text

  Hiccup awoke in pitch darkness.  Blinking, he realized it made no impact on his surroundings.

  “Well at least I’m warm…”  he mumbled as he pushed himself upright.  Or would have, if he hadn’t bumped his hand on whatever he was in.  Suddenly realizing what was going on, Hiccup rolled his eyes.

  “Toothless! Hey bud!  Let me out!” he rasped as he thumped the walls- wings of his “cave.”

  Toothless woke up from a deep sleep to something pounding his side. He looked around on full alert. The area was empty. Suddenly remembering, he peeled one wing off the other.  There was Hiccup-hatchling, safely inside his wings.  Relief flooded the dragon, his rider-friend appeared to be fine.

  Hiccup pushed out of the Toothless wing cave to sit up and stare around. “Toothless, you found this?”

  Toothless bobbed his head and licked his Viking on the ear.

  Hiccup briefly made a ‘bleh’ face, then said softly, “You are the best friend I have ever had.  You saved us, didn’t you?” Rushing forward, he gave the dragon the best hug he could muster.  Unfortunately, due to his until recently unconscious state and his riding prosthetic, this proved too much for the young man, and he slid to the ground again.

  “Hey Toothless!  You have two heads! Whyy didn youuu telllll mmm…” his tongue wasn’t working. “Buuuddd…gods you’re warmmm mmmh…” stay focused! “Gottaaa…geeet meeeuummh hh-hOME!  Uuhh so hot…” and Hiccup groaned and once again slumped on Toothless’s side.

  The dragon looked in alarm at Hiccup.  He licked the young viking’s face- it was warm and flushed.  Toothless nosed under Hiccup’s stomach, then jostled him until he was lying across his saddle.  He’d fly extra-steady carefully, so his Hiccup wouldn’t fall.

  All the movement just made Hiccup lift his head weakly. “Good…dragon.” It was an effort to pull the handles back so he wouldn’t have to do anything when Toothless flew back.

  Flapping his wings with huge wooshes of air, Toothless took off.  Instead of flying back to the narrow cliff-face entrance, he flew until he spotted a wider opening overhead, then zoomed upwards, emerging from the ravine.  From the air, it was just a dark crack in the ground.  With a determined look, the Night Fury headed towards home.  It took longer than usual to get back, since Toothless had to be careful not to dislodge his cargo.  Still, it only took a few minutes to get back.  They’d been so close.

  Toothless soared over the brightly painted Viking houses.  Ladders leaned against many of them, with new shingles patching many roofs.  Landing with a thud in front of the Chief’s house, he threw his head back and shot a plasma bolt into the sky.  It exploded overhead, and the black dragon was relived to see the blonde pretty one…Starry? Astro? Rush towards them.

  “Hiccup!” Astrid gasped as she spotted the young dragon rider lying on Toothless like a sack of potatoes.  She quickly evaluated her options for getting him down and made a decision. Pulling him off Toothless, she slung the chief across her shoulders and carried him into the house.

  Valka glanced up from the recipe she was trying to follow.  With one swift glance she took in her unconscious son’s flushed face.  “Astrid, take him to his bed. I’ll mix up something to lower his fever.”  Although Valka was a dangerously bad cook, she was an expert at whipping up medical concoctions, a byproduct of living for 20 years taking care of sick and injured dragons.

  Astrid hurried up the stairs as quickly as she could- at least as quickly as she could while carrying a limp Hiccup with her.  She threw him into bed, and attempted to figure out how in the world to remove Hiccup’s dragon armor.

Chapter Text

Hiccup tossed and turned.  It was hot, so hot. He felt as if flames were licking at his skin.  He opened his eyes. A massive figure stood in front of him. “Dad?  Uhh what’s going- what-” he trailed off.

“Hiccup, I couldn’t ask for a better son.  But ye have to fight, my boy. Yer not ready to be here. Oh, and tell Val- tell her I love her, and I’ll be lookin out for her.”  Stoick began to walk away.

“Wait! Dad!” Hiccup reached for his father, but pain like nothing he’d ever felt made him collapse.

 

Astrid, Valka and Toothless looked on anxiously as Hiccup tossed and turned, mumbling in a fitful sleep.  His armor lay in a heap at the foot of the bed.  His green tunic was damp with sweat as the young chief’s body tried to bring down his temperature.

Toothless peered worriedly at Hiccup.  He was much too hot.  Valka’s sick-medicine wasn’t helping.  Suddenly an idea popped into the dragon’s head.  He was out of the house in a flash, knocking furniture over behind him. Taking off, he raced towards the piles of still frozen chunks of ice at the village edge.  Although it had been months since Drago’s Bewilderbeast had covered the island in ice, there was still a huge amount unmelted. After the Vikings had cleared the ice and hauled it to one location, it had behaved just like a glacier, keeping itself cold and melting slowly. 

Grabbing a chunk in his claws, Toothless zoomed back to the house. When he arrived, Astro and the Dragon-Lady made a big fuss, patting and hugging him after he dropped the ice in Hiccup’s room.  The presence of the ice in the bedroom lowered the air temperature considerably, and finally Hiccup calmed down and cooled down.

Valka had to hide a face-splitting grin.  The bond between her son and the night fury was stronger than anything she’d ever encountered.  “Come get me if he wakes up,” she instructed Toothless.  He gulped in acknowledgement.

 

Nightmare after nightmare washed over Hiccup.  His father disowned him again, after finding out he’d been feeding Toothless eels and in the Great Hall, he called for the village to see the spectacle…but they never came and Stoick left and he was alone in the dark hall, and then the Red Death burst through the floor, roaring and spitting fire. He jumped on Toothless, screamed to get out of the hall.  They flew higher and higher, but the ceiling was too high, and it was getting hotter and hotter and they were going to burn, when the huge tail of the dragon filled his vision and he was falling into fire…but where was Toothless…pain lanced up his neck, but that wasn’t right, his leg…the fire was consuming him, eating his body like acid.

Hiccup’s eyes snapped open, heart hammering- and had to bite back a yell when he came face to face with two lime green, glowing eyes staring at him. “Toothless!  You scared me half to death!  How many times do I have to tell you-”  Well serves you right, sneaking out without checking the storm-skies… Said a voice in the back of his head.  “Hey I didn’t know that the…and now I’m talking to myself.  Great.”  He berated himself. The back of his neck burned like hot coals, and he couldn’t help it- he scratched.  Aahhh that relieved the pain.  But…instead of smooth skin or a scab, his fingers encountered a bumpy surface across his shoulder and neck.  What the…he’d need to see this.  “Hey bud, could you get my metal-foot?”  Metal-foot?  Where had that come from?  Get it yourself! Said that pesky voice in his head.  “Fine,” Hiccup grumped, “Well, lazy dragon, if you won’t get it yourself, you’re going to have to help me up so I can get it.” 

Toothless looked startled, but obligingly lent his head to his rider, so Hiccup could hop along to the far side of the room, where his mechanical foot was lying. He hurt all over, like he’d been one of the sheep in a dragon race.  Strapping his leg on was painful enough, so he skipped the next step in his routine and left his armor lying by the bed.  “Come on bud, let’s go downstairs.”

Toothless suddenly sat down with a thump, eyes wide and dilated.  Then he frantically nosed Hiccup back into bed and wriggled out the door and down the stairs.  Valka sat stirring a pot of broth.  Toothless looked at her, tongue sticking out of his mouth.  He attempted a happy-face.  Valka must have understood him, because she dropped her spoon, pouring broth into a bowl and hurrying up the stairs after the dragon, who had already squeezed back into Hiccup’s room.

Hiccup sat up.  “Hey Mom!” he said, “Is that broth for me?”

“Gracious, ye don’t need to talk if yer voice is hoarse, Hiccup!” Valka exclaimed. Her son sounded as if he’d swallowed a handful of gravel!

Hiccup, who had been slurping down the broth, looked up in surprise. He hadn’t realized anything was different.

“We were prayin you two would come back safe and sound; that storm kept anyone indoors for days, and I just- ” Valka blinked rapidly, “I was hopin ye’d found somewhere safe, and I knew that Toothless wouldn’t let anything happen to ye. I was just worried.”

“Wait, what? Mom, the storm started yesterday afternoon, and by morning it was gone! You can’t  have been inside for days. Did you hit your head, is everything okay?”  Maybe his mom had just been so worried that it had felt like days.

“Hiccup. You were gone for three days, and sleeping for another day.”

“What? Three days? How am I…”

Valka’s eyes suddenly filled.  “We didn’t know…what had happened.”  She abruptly swept her son up in a crushing hug.  Hiccup let out a hiss of pain- his skin felt super sensitized all over. Valka unwillingly let him go. Toothless suddenly snaked around to stare at Hiccup.  His yellow-green eyes seemed surprised.

“Uh mom, I’m just going to get dressed.  Maybe with a different shirt?  Yeah. Soooo…that’s what I’m gonna do. Right.  So, getting dressed.”

Oh goodness, Hiccup why didn’ ye say so!  I have to say, ye smell a little ripe.  Ye only have the one tunic, just pull on one of- one of Stoick’s.” Valka trailed off. Visibly shaking herself, she said, “Anyway, I’ll be downstairs.”  Valka hurried out the door.

As soon as she had disappeared, Hiccup yanked off his shirt and grabbed a polished helmet. He struggled to see his back in the distorted surface.  Finally angling the headgear just right, he almost dropped it again.  The entire back of this neck and shoulder were covered in rough, bumpy, angry welts.  “Holy Thor and Odin…ah great!  I wake up from horrible nightmares with, Tada! a horrible rash,” he snarked to Toothless. Well you were wearing armor for three days, said that voice in the back of his mind.

Chapter Text

  Hiccup was behaving oddly.  And this was Hiccup she was talking about, who behaved strangely as part of his normal everyday life. Astrid was determined to get to the bottom of it, because a) She was worried about him, and b) She hadn’t gotten so much as a kiss in a week and a half, and that was a problem in her book.  It was like he was avoiding her.  Come to think of it, dragon rider and dragon had been gone most of the day, every day, for the entire week.  She would have to figure out how to ambush him and beet the answers out of her boyfriend, if she had to!

  Astrid decided the forge would be a good place to hold a stakeout.  Soon enough, in walked Hiccup.

  “I’m just going to grab some stuff bud, meet you back at the house!” Hiccup called over his shoulder.  “Gods, I’m exhaus- uh hi Astrid.  Hey, Astrid! How’s it going? Well, I’ve just got to grab this awl, as you can see I have now done so, sorry let me just get out of your ha- hey!” Astrid threw a dagger past Hiccup’s retreating form, and Hiccup practically jumped out of his skin.  It whizzed by his ear and imbedded itself in the wall a foot away from his head.

  “So.” Astrid said as she stalked over to him. “What have you been…up to lately?” She leaned past him, grabbed her dagger and started twirling it through her fingers.

  “Astrid, you know you haven’t intimidated me since we were fourteen,” said Hiccup with a grin.

  Astrid changed tactics.  “Well.” She slid her hand up his arm and across his shoulder.  He winced slightly. She ignored it. “I have other ways of making you talk, you know,” she murmured.  Hiccup now had a glazed look on his face.  She leaned forward and kissed him on the mouth.  Hiccup stood completely rigid, as though frozen.  Fed up, Astrid stepped away and proceeded to smack her boyfriend across the face.  “What is wrong with you?  Hiccup! Are you even listening?”

  That seemed to do it.  Hiccup rubbed his jaw ruefully, where a red spot was already forming.  “Um sorry, I was thinking about…I’m trying to figure some things out. About the storm. I’ll be fine, probably. I’m so sorry Astrid, I’m always gone, I can’t imagine what you’ve been thinking about me, I’ll make it up to you? Go on a date with me tomorrow?”

  Astrid asked the foremost question on her mind, “Are you mad at me about something?”

  “What? No!  This has nothing to do with you.  See you tomorrow?”

  “Sure, bye!” Astrid chirped brightly. Hiccup was visibly startled at her rapid change in attitude.  She turned and skipped out the door, but as soon as she got out of view, she ran back to a window and peeked into the blacksmiths.  Hiccup was bent over a worktable, leaning on his elbows, coughing a lung up.  Heaving a few uninterrupted breaths, the young man straightened up, and tripped over some equipment before tiredly walking out the door. 

  As soon as he was gone, Astrid hurried into the workshop and over to the table. Leaning over, she examined the surface. It appeared fairly ordinary, with the normal amount of scraps, dents, scrapes, and one black burn mark. “What’s going on, Hiccup?” she muttered.

 

  Valka was pulling a pot of hot soup off the fire when Hiccup walked in. “Did Toothless come in a few minutes ago?” he rasped.  Valka nodded absentmindedly. Stew was the one thing she could cook reliably, and she was proud about how this one turned out. She poured the soup into two bowls, then turned to move the pot.  When she turned back, Hiccup was enthusiastically slurping up her mutton vegetable stew.

  “Hiccup! What are ye doing? That was boiling a minute ago!” she exclaimed.

  Eyes wide, Hiccup dropped the bowl onto the table with a clatter, then started frantically blowing on the soup.  “Man, that’s hot soup!” he rushed.

  Valka sat down across from Hiccup and studied her son.  “Is there anything ye’d like to tell me?” she asked.

  Hiccup looked determinedly puzzled.  “Nope! I don’t think so.” Finishing his now cooled soup, he hurriedly cleaned up and practically fled to his room. Valka was left to confusedly eat her soup.

 

  Hiccup sat on his bed, squishing his head between his arms.  “Toothless,” he groaned, “What are we going to do?” Hiccup gestured wildly, “How am I going to explain this when I don’t even know what this is?”

  Toothless rolled his eyes, then laid his head down on his forelimbs. Stop whining.

  “Yeah well you should talk. This is your fault to let’s-go with! To start with.  Great, no wonder Astrid thinks I’m off my rocker, I can’t even talk right!”

Chapter Text

knock…knock knock

Astrid groaned and turned over in her bed.

Knock knock knockknockknock

Her eyes flew open. Oh no! What time was it?  She was going on her date flying with Hiccup today!  Astrid leapt out of bed, threw her outerwear on and braided her hair, fingers flying.  “Coming!” she shouted.  Grabbing her hood, Astrid whistled for Stormfly, then yanked open the door. Hiccup, who had been leaning on said door, tumbled backward and fell flat on his back across her entry rug.

“Well that’s one way to greet me, milady,” smiled Hiccup good-naturedly, getting up from his position lying on the floor.

“Oh gods I’m sorry!” Astrid managed.  She thought she might have cracked a rib from trying not to bust up laughing.

Hiccup scrambled to his feet.  “No problem!” Spotting Stormfly peering around the door, he added, “I thought we could both ride on Toothless?”

Ten minutes later, they were on their way to… wherever they were headed. Hiccup had a determined expression on his face, usually the expression that preceded a foolhardy and brave move on his part.  “First I want to show you something, then I’ll tell you what’s been going on, and why I’ve been gone. I guess this isn’t exactly a date, but…” Hiccup trailed off.

Soon they were swooping along a wall of cliffs.  “Hold on!” Hiccup warned, just in time as they fell into a steep dive. It seemed like they were going to hit the ground.

“Hiiiiiiiicccccuuuuupppp!” Astrid screamed, squeezing her eyes shut.  This was the end.  Then they shot into a narrow ravine in the ground.  She wouldn’t have noticed it in a million years, and the part of her that wasn’t recovering from panic wondered idly how Hiccup and Toothless had found the ravine.  Toothless swooped towards the floor of the ravine, and landed.  This part had a slight overhang.  It was also freezing.  Astrid doubted that sunlight ever reached down here.  “Hiccup, mind explaining yourself?  Where are we?”

Hopping off Toothless, Hiccup spread his arms and said, “This is where I was during the storm.”

Astrid saw the overhang in a new light.  “But didn’t you get hungry?  Toothless couldn’t have gotten out of here, the wind was too strong.”

“I didn’t.”

“Huh?” said Astrid, confused.

“I didn’t. Eat. Or drink, or do anything. I was unconscious, or in a coma or something, in this cave for three days, and Toothless never left to get anything because I’m pretty sure I would have frozen to death if he had.”

“But how…”

Hiccup hopped back on the saddle.  “It’ll all make sense in a bit.  Let’s go somewhere more enjoyable.  I mean, unless you like dark, cold caves. Which is fine, if you do, no worries, we can stay here! And…I’ll shut up now.”

They flew to the cove.  After the three of them landed, Hiccup pulled a basket of food out of nowhere.  “Do you want to sit down?”  He scratched his head, “There’s grass, rocks, uh I guess that’s it.”

Astrid sat down and pulled a sandwich out of the bag.  Holding it delicately, she said, “I uh, didn’t know your mother could bake!”

Hiccup waved his hand, “I go them from Gobber.  He’s surprisingly adept at making- it’s not important.” He sat on a rock across from her. Astrid had never seen her boyfriend so fidgety in her life.  She started in on the sandwich.

“So…Toothless has been sick.  He appeared to come down with it right after I got back.  He’s had uncontrolled fire, slept a ton and barely eaten.” In response to a worried glance from Astrid, he rushed, “but he’s fine now!  I don’t think it’s a big deal, I talked to my mom about it. It was a dragon cold or something.”

“Okay, so your dragon has been sick.  That explains why you’ve been gone so much; if Stormfly were sick, I’d drop everything to take care of her!  But that doesn’t explain everything.” Astrid commented puzzeledly.

Hiccup looked uncomfortable.  “Yeah so you know how people can catch a disease from someone before they show any symptoms?”

“Well sure!”

Well I apparently caught Toothless’s cold.”

“That shouldn’t be possible!  You’re a Viking and he’s a dragon.”  Astrid felt like she was stating the obvious.

“Exactly. I don’t know how it happened. It might have something to do with the fact I’ve been with Toothless more than regular people since I was fourteen.” Hiccup looked sheepish.  “I must have caught it when we were stuck in that cave.  Toothless kept me warm by wrapping me against his body with his wings, plenty of time for me to catch his cold.” Hiccup appeared to be reaching his point, as he had been getting increasingly quiet. “And yeah, it shouldn’t be possible, and…I don’t think people really react very well to dragon diseases.” He finished at nearly a whisper, worry evident in his eyes.  He began unbuckling his armor, first the arms, then the rest, and slid it off until he was just in his tunic and pants.  Toothless, who had previously been attempting to catch fish in the water, stalked over, almost like he was protecting Hiccup.  He lay down curled around the Viking.  “Thanks, bud,” Hiccup mumbled.  “Okay, now don’t…freak out.”

Hiccup started pulling off his shirt.  Astrid’s jaw dropped.  “If this is you trying to- trying to seduce me, it’s not working, Hiccup!  Gods, you scared me half to death!”

“Mmhhh mmmt nnrrryyng thhhhm mmhmmmmhh mmmh!”  came Hiccup’s voice as he struggled to take the shirt off. He was stuck.  “Hmmmhh mmmhhhh!”

Laughing, Astrid tugged his shirt off, turning it completely inside out in the process. “Really, Hiccup.” She tossed the shirt on the ground and reached to lace her fingers around his neck.  She touched- she yanked her hands back in a flash. “Hiccup, there is something on your neck,” she hissed.

Sighing, Hiccup slowly turned around.  Along one shoulder and up the back of his neck, instead of skin, there was an uneven patch of black.  It almost looked like…

“Dragon skin. Or something like it, I don’t know. Like I said, I don’t think this is supposed to happen,” Hiccup bit out.  “So I don’t have something on the back of my neck, haha ha ha haaaaaa okay I’m done.”

Astrid ran her fingers over his neck.  Hiccup shivered.  “It doesn’t seem to be spreading.  I got a really bad scrape on the way into that ravine; the entrance is really narrow. I guess my body got confused, because that’s exactly the area it was.  Then it was all red and blister-y, then I thought it was a scab or something, but no. It had to be weird dragon skin.”  Hiccup remarked, turning his head to gauge her reaction. Astrid was still kneeling behind him, eyes wide and fingers still touching his back.  She didn’t know how she was supposed to react to this revelation. It wasn’t exactly a normal situation.

Hiccup suddenly grabbed his tunic and quickly shoved it over his head. Standing up and turning to face her, he said, “So that’s what’s been going on.”  He awkwardly shrugged his shoulders, “And if that’s too weird I can take you home now, gods it’s too weird isn’t it,” Hiccup was rushing, “or if you’re okay, that’s the weirdest bit, but there’s more.”  He ran around Astrid, scooping up his armor in his arms. “Other…” he sniffed, “side effects.”

“Hiccup, sit down.  I’m not about to go running for the hills,” Astrid remarked, rolling her eyes.

“Okay. Well then.” Hiccup sat down. “I’m also constantly running a temperature.  Like, a ridiculously high one.  Let me show you.” He searched around, picking up a dead leaf.  Holding it close to his mouth, he blew, as if he were fogging up a pane of glass.  A thin wisp of smoke rose from the edge of the leaf for a second, then dissipated.  Hiccup appeared slightly frustrated.  “Huh. Well I can usually get it to ignite, let me try again-“

Astrid swatted his hand away from his face.  “Hiccup, you don’t need to light a leaf on fire, I believe you!”

“Oh! No it was just interesting, let me make a note of that, hang on!”  Hiccup pulled out his notebook and scribbled something down.  “Okay, anyway, the last thing…” he sniffed, shrugged his shoulders, looked as nervous as possible, “it’s the strangest.”

Chapter Text

Toothless abruptly woke up from his nap.  Hiccup was talking to Astro-star-girl.  Mneh mneh mneh… he normally tuned out two-leg conversations. Mneh mneh dragons mn dragons? Better noise-listen now.

“…running a temperature.  Like, a ridiculously high one.  Let me…”

Hiccup was telling the starry-kiss kiss-girl about his dragon-hot temperature. Now he was talking about…Toothless?

“Hiccup” the dragon pressed his thoughts towards the boy-man.  “What are you talk-telling…”  he was fully alert now.  “Telling starry-one about us.”  His young Viking winced as he got more annoying. “Stop STOP  It’s SECRET  Danger-tell stop STOP

 

“Ever since I woke up, something- sometimes I- it’s like I’m tuning in or something and I can…get the gist of what Toothless is-“  Hiccup pressed his eyes closed and cringed.  The feeling he now recognized as Toothless’s voice was pushing at him, louder and louder, to shut up, not tell.  He attempted to continue, “Uh what Toothless is saeahhh”  He couldn’t concentrate, and Astrid was sitting there looking worried, and he really needed to tell her.  Standing up and whipping around to face his dragon, he shouted, “I have to!” 

Hiccup sat back down, breathing hard.  He took a deep breath and shot, “Sometimes I understand what Toothless is saying.”

When he glanced at Astrid, she was sitting on her rock, jaw dropped.  Great.  Even his girlfriend was freaked out.  How was he supposed to run a village if the person closest to him couldn’t even-

 

“Okay, so what are you going to do about it?” Astrid interrupted Hiccup’s inner monologue mid-stream.

Hiccup shrugged, then scratched the back of his neck.  “I hadn’t really…Gods I’m sorry Astrid.  I’ve been horrible, really touchy, I know.”

“Hey,” Astrid said softly, “If this was happening to me?  I’d be a lot more touchy.” She paused, positive Hiccup wouldn’t want to talk about what she was about to bring up.  “Have you uh- talked to your mother?”  Astrid was still leery to the whole boyfriend’s-mom-is-a dragon-lady thing.

“No.  Of course not!  What am I supposed to say?  ‘Hey Mom, guess what? I have some weird dragon infection! So do you have any secret remedies for that?’ Anyway, I’m usually gone most of the day, and I don’t think she’s noticed anything different about me.  She’s not exactly used to human behavior interpretation.”

Astrid smacked Hiccup on the side of the head.  He yelped, “What was that for?”

“For not talking to your mother, stupid.  She lived with dragons for twenty years, I think she might know something about it!”

“Fine, I will.” If Hiccup was totally honest with himself, he loved his mother, but he didn’t really know her. Hence he hadn’t asked her about his…problem. “Now I actually did mean to take you on a date, so let’s have something other than sandwiches.”  Hiccup unbuckled a basket from his saddle, and tossed Toothless a mackerel from it before coming back to Astrid, who glanced at her half eaten sandwich lying on the ground.