AN/ Firstly I owe you guys an explanation and an apology for the lack of updates for this story. The reason why is because I lost interest in it. The reason why I lost interest in it in the first place is a bit more complicated, but it's mostly because I migrated away from HTTYD fics. There are other smaller reasons, but I'm going to leave it at that. I must give my thanks to StoryGirl1997 for pestering me multiple times to continue with this fic and being very encouraging; it is thanks to her that I got off my butt so to speak and wrote this chapter. I haven't made an update schedule because I know I won't be able to stick to it, but I'll try not to do this again.
Now, to other matters. As most of you have noticed I don't have any cover art for this story. It'd be great if any of you would be willing to make some if convenient. PM me if you're interested, no pressure though.
You have waited nine months for this and the fact that this chapter is 1.5x longer than usual doesn't even come close to making up for that, so I shan't keep you from reading it any longer. Enjoy…
An Unexpected Gift
It was evening when I had to say goodbye to Astrid and head to the "training clearing" as I had come to know it. I wasn't entirely sure why Toothless hadn't come looking for me yet. Perhaps he overslept? Unlikely, but it seemed to be the only valid reason I could come up with.
As I walked the relatively short distance to the clearing, I couldn't help but wonder. Would it really be all that bad if I can't turn back? I found that it was surprisingly difficult to find a good way to answer that question with a "yes". It seemed as if the positives balanced out the negatives.
The next question came without my bidding. Do I truly want to turn back? I found, to my distress, that I couldn't answer that one either. Will I find the cure, only to find I don't want it?
I resolved to find answers to all these questions as soon as possible. My thoughts were cut short, however, by seeing Toothless napping on a boulder, trying to absorb the last rays of the dying sun. At least he looked like he was napping, it's always hard to tell with him. In all my years of knowing him I've never found a foolproof way of telling whether he's asleep or simply pretending to be.
His ears twitched in my direction as I approached, indicating that he was awake and had noticed me.
Without opening his eyes, he said "You and Astrid were awfully cute back there. I'm beginning to think that, despite your many statements indicating the contrary, you and her are, in fact, mates."
For some reason, I felt an unexplained anger rise within me. Had it not impaired my reasoning, I would have wondered where it had come from because I'm not one to anger as easily as this without good reason. This anger pushed such questions aside and replaced them with: Has he been spying on me? How has he not gotten it through his thick skull yet that 'mates' are not a thing among humans? Even if it were, it still wouldn't apply to us as I have explained to him a thousand times!
"How could you possibly not have gotten it through your dense lizard skull that we're not mates after the seven-hundred eighty fifth or so time I told you?! Do Night Furies just naturally have terrible memory retention or is it just you? Perhaps your memory is fine, and you're just doing this to spite me? Is that it?! Perhaps now that I healed your stupid tailfin you've realised that you don't need me anymore and are therefore free to show me your true nature? Maybe you orchestrated this whole affair from the start with this exact goal in mind?! I'm certain that you could have caught me with your gums alone and come to think of it, you were a bit sluggish when dodging that hail of arrows! Maybe you were hoping that one of them would hit the tailfin? I have only one question though, why didn't you fly away as soon as you could? Did you stay behind just to gloat, and that opening statement was just you getting started with that?! Well, let me tell you, if that was your plan, then LEAVE!" I shouted furiously, accidentally shooting a plasma ball at Toothless' feet. It exploded with a thunderous noise and split the boulder he had been lying on. Instantly a cloud of dust rose up that took quite some time to settle, allowing me to calm down. By the time it had dissipated I was still furious but not enough to actually kill him. The burning heat I had started feeling along my spine was also gone. Normally I would have wondered why I had felt that to begin with, but I was too far gone at the moment.
When the dust cleared I saw that Toothless had jumped off the boulder and was keeping his body low to the ground in a stance that was submissive and non-threatening yet allowed him to pounce if need be. I was about to resume my anger-fuelled rant but he cut me off before I could start.
"Listen to yourself Hiccup! Don't let your mind be ruled by your body! This is just your instincts trying to drive me off so you can claim this territory as your own! Clear your mind of this daze!" He shouted at me. How dare he… hold on. Oh gods. Oh GODS. Nononono, not this, anything but this! First my body, now my mind? No. This transformation may change what I am, but I refuse to let it change WHO I am! Not gonna happen. Absolutely not, I won't permit it! I'm turning back no matter what. No matter how awesome flying or shooting plasma bolts is, it's not worth it if I'm to lose my mind in the process.
"I knew my mind would be somewhat affected by this change, but never like this. This has made me see once again that I must change back as soon as possible, lest this transformation destroy my life. I had started thinking that this Night Fury business may not actually be that bad, but now that I know it may drive us apart, I realise that it's worse than I ever imagined. I must reach the Bewilderbeast as soon as possible. Now, I believe you were about to teach me how to fly." I said after half a minute's worth of thought. I must return to my true form to make sure something like this never happens again.
After seeing Astrid and Hiccup snuggling so adorably, I decided to wait for him at the clearing. I landed on the boulder, curled up as comfortably as possible, and promptly fell asleep. Some time later, I was awoken by the sound of footsteps approaching. Probably just Hiccup returning. Took him long enough. I swiveled my ears in his direction to hear him better to confirm that it was indeed him. After a brief moment, my suspicions were confirmed; the sound of his gait was unmistakable in its clumsiness. I could have just opened my eyes and looked at him, but that would have involved moving my head from its oh-so-comfortable position, which I was too lazy to do. Instead, I opted for a little light teasing instead.
"You and Astrid were awfully cute back there. I'm beginning to think that, despite your many statements indicating the contrary, you and her are, in fact, mates." I said nonchalantly. To say he overreacted was an understatement akin to saying that Terrors are on the smaller side compared to Nightmares.
"How could you possibly not have gotten it through your dense lizard skull that we're not mates after the seven-hundred eighty fifth or so time I told you?! Do Night Furies just naturally have terrible memory retention or is it just you? Perhaps your memory is fine, and you're just doing this to spite me? Is that it?! Perhaps now that I healed your stupid tailfin you've realised that you don't need me anymore and are therefore free to show me your true nature as an asshole? Maybe you orchestrated this whole affair from the start with this exact goal in mind?! I'm certain that you could have caught me with your gums alone and come to think of it, you were a bit sluggish when dodging that hail of arrows! Maybe you were hoping that one of them would hit the tailfin? I have only one question though, why didn't you fly away as soon as you could? Did you stay behind just to gloat, and that opening statement was just you getting started with that?! Well, let me tell you, if that was your plan, then LEAVE!" He shouted at me, completely unprovoked. While he was ranting, his eyes turned to slits and his spine started to glow blue. I barely managed to dodge the plasma ball he shot my way to drive his point home. Good thing too, because it shattered the boulder I had been standing on milliseconds prior. It threw up a huge dust cloud, which gave me time to think.
What made him lose it so completely? Something's clearly affecting him, the Hiccup I know would never blow up like that because of a mere tease. If what he says of his childhood is true, he would never have made it past age five with a temper like that. No, something is definitely to blame, but what? I need to find out fast; this dust cloud won't last forever and flying away in self-defence would just make the situation worse. OK, what's changed in Hiccup's life recently that could cause this? The only thing that comes to mind is his transformation, so let's start there. Didn't he mention something about us being territorial? I have been feeling little spouts of unexplained annoyance, even anger, towards him lately; perhaps what he's feeling is just an extreme form of that? Of course he's not used to the instincts that come with being a Night Fury so he has no experience resisting them or even being aware of them, which would explain why they're almost in complete control of him right now. I could be completely wrong, but it's the only thing I have for now and the dust cloud is almost gone so I don't have time for another theory.
"Listen to yourself Hiccup! Don't let your mind be ruled by your body! This is just your instincts trying to drive me off so you can claim this territory as your own! Clear your mind of this daze!" I shouted back at him. I hope this gets through to you, if not I may have to take more drastic measures to make you see reason. I decided to assume a low stance that looked submissive which would help calm him but would also allow me to tackle him quickly if need be.
For a second it looked like he was about to continue his aggression which made me tense up, ready to pounce, but then something in him seemed to click. His wings, which had been raised to make him look bigger, sagged. His whole body twitched and his eyes widened in horror. His head and body lowered and his eyes, which had been firmly locked on me, seemed to focus on some point inside the ground. He stayed like that for about thirty seconds, until he snapped out of it.
"I knew my mind would be somewhat affected by this change, but never like this. This has made me see once again that I must change back as soon as possible, lest this transformation destroy my life. I had started thinking that this Night Fury business may not actually be that bad, but now that I know it may drive us apart, I realise that it's worse than I ever imagined. I must reach the Bewilderbeast as soon as possible. Now, I believe you were about to teach me how to fly." He said at last, looking filled with purpose.
Knowing that the discussion was effectively over, I told him to find a boulder that was reasonably tall and not shattered and jump on it, which he did. I then told him to start like before, but this time to try to flap his wings three times once in the air without crashing. He made a few practise-flaps while still on the ground and then jumped. His start was fine, as it should have been after all that practising. The flap, not so much. His left wing flapped much more powerfully than his right, causing him to roll clockwise and crash-land on his right side. Hiccup picked himself up and ran back to the boulder to try again, his eyes gleaming with determination. His drive never ceases to amaze me when he sets himself a goal he cares about.
His second attempt was better, but he still crashed. This time his right wing flapped slightly too hard, but not nearly as much as his left had on the first attempt. This imbalance caused him to bank a little to the left, which wouldn't have been a problem had he known how to correct for it, which he did not. First he tried to ride it out and do nothing to try to correct him, which, as expected, did nothing. As the situation started to become dangerously unstable, he flapped his left wing in a desperate attempt to correct himself. A good idea in theory, but he overcompensated, sending him into a brief spin and then the ground.
He tried three more times before he was successful in flapping correctly. It wasn't powerful, efficient or elegant at all, but it worked. Surprisingly, he nailed the second flap as well and almost managed the third one. He almost recovered from it as well but didn't have enough time to. He was learning much faster than I expected.
A few hours later, after raising the target number of flaps per flight quite a few times, I thought he was good enough to start learning to turn in the air.
"The basic idea is to tilt in the direction you want to turn." I said. "So if you want to turn left, you roll counter-clockwise a bit and if you want to go right, you roll clockwise. There are a number of ways you can do this. One is to just flap one wing more than the other but that's not really ideal for you because it's difficult to do this just enough to turn but not so much that you spin out of control. The second is to use your tail but you're having enough trouble already just using it to stay stable so I don't recommend that either. The third is to use the fins behind your wings to rotate yourself. That method is probably the easiest so you're going to be using that one for now. If you want to roll counter-clockwise, you simply angle the left fin up and the right one down and vice versa for clockwise. It may sound complicated but it really isn't once you wrap your mind around it." He took a moment to think about my instructions, and then nodded and hopped over to the boulder.
He ascended with a few half-decent flaps of his wings and then glided for a moment. He started rotating counter-clockwise, but seemed to have a bit of trouble stopping. Once he was almost rotated 70° he flapped his left wing a bit which seemed to do the trick. This allowed him to be in a stable left turn for about two seconds before he was forced to land. I realised at that moment that I had forgotten to give him an objective.
"Now try to fly to the other side of the clearing and back again without crashing" I ordered him. All I got back was a curt nod as he was getting tired from all the flying. I was amazed that he hadn't asked me for a break yet. Having his mind effectively hijacked must have really got to him.
It only took him three more tries to be able to do that. I wasn't surprised though. The fact he could now ascend as high as he wanted gave him much more time to correct the mistakes he made. That meant that the only errors that could ruin an attempt were ones like accidentally turning upside-down mid-flight or somehow tangling your tail in your hind legs. Hiccup may have changed in many ways, but one thing that would always remain constant was his clumsiness.
"You're almost done learning the basics and I only have one more challenge until you've learnt to fly. There's still a whole lot left to learn before you can do it with any sort of elegance, but it's enough to get by. Fly from here to the cove and back again ten times in a row without crashing and I'll consider you good enough to start looking for the Bewilderbeast." I told him. "But for now you deserve a break." The poor dragon looked ready to collapse at any moment out of exhaustion.
"No, I can rest later when I go to sleep. It is of utmost importance that I can start the search as soon as possible. I need to do whatever I can to minimise the risk of me blowing up again." He stated, already walking to the launching boulder. Oh yeah, I need to teach him how to take off from flat ground. It should take barely any time at all though. He kinda already does it from time to time.
It took him the rest of the day to complete my final challenge and it turned out I didn't even need to teach him how to take off. He learnt to do that all by himself. He just skipped going to the boulder after a particularly tiresome attempt and simply took off as if he had been doing that all along. By the time he was done he was completely drained. He was so tired that he barely managed to walk back home and grab a few fish to eat before collapsing inside his room, immediately falling fast asleep.