Winter is a strange time of year. It is a time of darkness, and a time of light. It is a time when all you want to do is stay indoors near the fire and yet go frolic in the snow to enjoy it before the thaw. It is a time of long, dismal days filled with menial work to pass the time as well as great reward for grinning and bearing through the inevitable cabin fever.
Most of all, it is a time that is supposed to be shared with those you love. It is a time when nature itself forces people to seek the shelter of others. It is a time when people come together to celebrate a year of hard work and to bask in each other's company. It is an occasion to appreciate that small amount of time you have to spend with loved ones before the warm weather comes and everyone needs to get back to their work and duties.
For a chief, weather can be no impediment to your station.
Hiccup's breathing is slow, his stomach begrudgingly accepting a small portion of whisky without any food to compliment it. Toothless lay by his side, keeping his master warm by his presence alone. The thick, nutty taste of the alcohol lingers on his tongue as he leans back against the side of his reptilian friend; asleep for over an hour now as the night gives way to early morning.
Hiccup can't sleep. Not now. He's had far too long a day and has far too long of another one tomorrow to give himself the luxury of rest. At the same time, there's nothing he wants more than to close his eyes and sleep, to forget about the present and dream about the future he is missing.
He had been called down to the Hebrides on urgent business, a distant relative having died and a dispute over estate dragging him away from the comfort of Berk. Taking him away from all the pomp and circumstance of Snoggletog preparations. Taking him away from the place he had spent every holiday, regardless of age or occupation since his birth. Taking him away from Astrid, his wife and love of his life.
And most importantly, taking him away from Ingrid, the beautiful daughter he had created with his beautiful wife.
It had just been a few months prior when after a few hours of abhorrent swearing and screaming on Astrid's part that Ingrid had come into this world. She was strong, healthy and had so far survived every person and dragon Berk could throw her way. She certainly had a knack already of being near disaster whenever it happened. Hiccup managed a small smile at thinking of how she was already taking after her father in that regard, and how it was probably going to drive Astrid even more insane as she got older.
It would be Snoggletog tomorrow. It would be little Ingrid's first Snoggletog. Astrid would wake their perfect little girl up and bring her downstairs to a freshly cleaned house. There, Astrid would have put up a spectacular thatch work of Holley and pine, decorated with small pieces of shining polished glass that would reflect the light of candles set up nearby to light the house in the darkness of early morning.
Beneath this little ornament of nature there would be a helmet. As it was typical for the patriarch of the household to use his own provided there was only one child, Hiccup had left his special flying helmet back home before he set off. Inside this helmet there would a few small toys crafted in the weeks prior. Small cloth dragons, designed by Hiccup, made by Astrid, and as far as children were concerned delivered by Freya herself.
Although given how much of a goddess Astrid was to Hiccup they might as well have been one in the same.
There would be a small black dragon among these cloth dolls. And as Ingrid swatted around her new toys Astrid would hold their special girl on her lap and quietly whisper to her about how this dragon was just like the one her father rode. And she would explain what a nice and noble and upstanding and wonderful man Ingrid's father was.
And, perhaps with a tear in her eye she would explain why her husband and father of her wonderful daughter wasn't there for Snoggletog. She would have to explain to the child-who wouldn't be listening anyways-that sometimes a chief had very important things to do and that these things could take him away from family around Snoggletog time.
Hiccup sighed, putting down and placing the lid on the small jar of whisky his relatives had offered him as a parting gift. He had managed to negotiate a proper deal with his relatives, distributing the land up for grabs in a way that gave fair amounts to all and ensured the clan stayed in good graces for the foreseeable future. Sure everything here had turned out great, but Hiccup wished he hadn't to come all this way to do this great work. He had thought that maybe if he negotiated a deal fast enough he could get back home in time to enjoy little Ingrid's first Snoggletog. Instead, he was stuck on a small piece of rock off the Scottish coast, forced to concede that he simply wasn't going to make it back. It was going to be easily another two days flight, at which point all the celebrations would be over and the island would return to its normal state in the dead of winter.
But he just wanted to be home. To be home and next to Astrid so that they could go and get Ingrid together. To be home and watch the young babe play with the gifts the parents had made and watch his little girl sit on the floor with an innocent smile as she watched Toothless napping in the corner, giggling at the strange relation between one of her new toys and the beast who kept almost as attentive a watch on her cradle as Astrid.
He just wanted to enjoy a day of rest and relaxation inside, away from the bitter cold and snow that would have surely fallen. He wanted to stay near the hearth, giving libation to Freya and kisses to his wife as Ingrid played and Toothless napped. He wanted to be on his island.
He just wanted to be home.
Beside him, Toothless shifted in his sleep. It at least wasn't as cold as it could be on this island, and when embraced in the warmth of the admittedly well made Scottish whisky and sitting next to his best friend; Hiccup could withstand the light cold wind that brushed the island. He knew that no matter how much he wanted it, no matter how hard he pushed Toothless he simply wasn't going to make it home for Snoggletog.
He was stuck here, torn away from his family by some petty land dispute he wanted nothing to do with. He never wanted to leave his wife, his daughter, his island and home to be here. He wanted to be back there, enjoying the time that was supposed to be about being together. A time dedicated to the household, dedicated to Freya and all she did to watch over the family throughout the year. Dedicated to gathering around the hearth with the people that you loved and basking in the warmth of the fire and the feeling of indescribable joy that being around your wife and daughter could give you. Dedicated to the love of a family, and that such a love would continue forever.
Though Hiccup supposed that given how much he loved his wife and how much he loved their daughter, it perhaps wouldn't pain them too much to be separated for these few days.
But it pained him.
It pained him that he couldn't be there for this once in a lifetime opportunity. His daughter's first Snoggletog. It was the first time his daughter would wake up to discover the majesty of this holiday, and he was missing it. He was going to miss it all; the excitement, the joy, the prayers and jubilation and celebration and everything that was great about the holiday. It pained him that it had to be this day, this day out of all others that he had to miss in his daughter's life. That he had to be hundreds of miles and an ocean away from his family and miss what was sure to be one of the single greatest Snoggletogs ever.
He finally decided that he had to get some sleep. The whiskey was doing its work and numbing his muscles, calling him to rest and rejuvenate for a long day of travel tomorrow. He lay down and curled up next to Toothless, embracing the steady pulsations of the dragon's breathing which called him to sleep. Amidst weary eyes and a fading consciousness, Hiccup kept thinking about home. Home, where his wife was hopefully thinking about him; somewhere out in the cold and longing for her company and love. Home, where his daughter slept soundly in her cradle, completely oblivious to the world around her and un-expecting to the gifts that awaited her in the morning. Home, where everything that he loved laid an ocean away and devoid of his presence on what was supposed to be a time of togetherness and love.
His mind drifted, soon falling to sleep against the rhythm of Toothless' breathing and the light crash of ocean waves in the distance. He was determined that some way, somehow, he was going to be home for Snoggletog. he was going to be there with Ingrid and Astrid and bask in their love. He would be there to rejoice in the holiday and revel in his life's contentment. He was, without a doubt going to be home for Snoggletog.
If only in his dreams.
What can I say, Christmas cheer finally hit me. This little idea popped into my head after hearing "I'll be home for Christmas", one of my favorite Christmas songs. There's just something about the sense of longing and melancholy that the song conveys that somehow puts me in the holiday mood. Weird I know, but so aren't the holidays? Anyways, I figured I'd just sit down one night and write this little oneshot to give myself a break from my heavier stuff and instead do something a little different. Hope it turned out alright, and if you have critiques feel free to say so.
Have a Merry Christmas, and of course a Happy Snoggletog.