Weak strength.

Disclaimer: I own nothing really. Sad, isn't it.

This is the first chapter in a series. I'm going to do all the gang but Astrid first.

"Hey Hiccup, come and eat!"

"No thanks Astrid, I had a big breakfast. I'm not hungry."

"Hiccup, you didn't have breakfast. The last time I saw you eat was days ago."

"I've been busy ok? I'm just not hungry. I'll eat later."

"Hiccup..."

"It's fine, Astrid. Leave it."

I sighed. Why wasn't Hiccup eating? He looked dead on his feet but was still refusing food. As I pondered to possibilities, a loud rumble came from the sky.

"Er, is that a Rumblehorn? Dad?!"

The Rumblehorn landed and chief Stoick jumped off it. "Son! Nice to see you!"

Hiccup ran his hand through his hair and Astrid didn't miss the slight flinch when his father moved to put his hand on his shoulder. "Nice to see you too, dad. What brings you here?"

"Just paying a visit. Left Gobber in charge. Being Chief can get very stressful and I needed a break. That food looks great! Come on, son."

"No thanks dad, I just ate."

No you didn't.

"I'm going to do a fly over to make sure the edge is secure. I'm the evening patrol!"

No you're not.

I watched Stoick go up to his room and took a deep breath before knocking on the door.

"Come in! Astrid, what's up las?"

"Stoick, can I talk to you about Hiccup?" He nodded. "I'm really worried about him. He hasn't been eating!"

"Aye, I knew something was off. He looks about as bad as when..." he trailed off and let out a long sigh. "When what?"

He looked at me intensely, studying my features until I felt quite self conscious. He gave another long sigh and moved his stormy grey eyes to meet mine. "I think it's time you know the truth. Before I say this, Astrid, I don't expect you to repeat this conversation to anyone."

"Um, ok. " I was very unnerved by his serious tone.

"5 years ago, when Hiccup was 14, he tried to drown himself in his bathtub." I gasped. Hiccup...suicide? I knew he was insecure, but this!

"We decided to have a full investigation of his room. We found his journal where he wrote about everything. Hiccup has anorexia...and he used to cut himself. "

I felt my body go numb as the realisation sank in. Hot liquid like fire burned its path down my cheeks but I was too numb to feel it. I did this. I did this. Me and my stupid, horrible, hurtful tongue. I felt a warm hand on my shoulder and remembered Hiccup flinching away from his father. "This doesn't explain why he is scared of you, I mean, I'm not scared of my father. I guess he isn't chief..."

"No, Astrid, this is entirely my fault. I wanted him to be strong and tough, like a real Viking and oh Astrid, I was horrible, I, I..." he trailed off and started to sob too. Suddenly, he straightened up and looked more like Chief Stoick again, not heartbroken father Stoick who pushed his tiny, defenceless son to suicide. "Now, as for Hiccups eating problem, I'm going down there right now. I'm sorry to upset you, but Astrid, I know what you did, what you all did. You needed to know." He pulled himself into his usual, intimidating posture and walked downstairs, leaving me crying in his room. This didn't last long because just as I collected myself and prepared to leave, he came back upstairs again, his cloud coloured eyes full of worry. "He's gone."

I wracked my brain for a place he might be and then I remembered, the cove! "Come with me." He nodded and followed.

The sky was fast darkening by the time we reached the cove. A black shape shot past us, so worried he didn't notice the vikings with dragons walking in plain sight. "Toothless?" The black reptile turned to face us and let out a terrified wail that sent shivers through my soul. Soundlessly, it turned and bolted back the way it came, flicking its tail for us to follow. We were both out of breath by the time Toothless stopped, and not at all prepared for the scene that awaited us. A small, auburn haired figure was passed out on the floor, his left arm covered in slashes of bright red and his freckled body grey and cold. "Hiccup! Answer me baby, come on wake up!" He buried his face in his sons chest and let hot tears fall without attempting to stop them. Hiccup opened his eyes and a sound resembling a squeak escaped his lips before his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he fainted once more. Toothless was firing plasma blasts at the sky and frantically circling us, freaking out our dragons who started to circle with him. Stoick picked up his lifeless son and spoke in a hoarse, dry voice. "We need to get him back to Berk...er...the edge."

I nodded at him and rounded up Stormfly.

I took Hiccup to my room and told Stoick to get some bandages. Gently, I cleaned his arm and covered him in warm blankets. I wish I could feed him but he might choke. Stoick arrived with clean, white bandages and I put them on him. I stroked his tousled hair, twisting my fingers around a few strands and subconsciously making a delicate braid. I ran my fingers over his soft face, tracing the contours of his bone which was clearly visible under his pale skin.

I couldn't sleep and neither could Stoick knowing the person we most cared about was close to death so we stayed up, side by side and watched Hiccup as he slept. About 3 in the morning, a large black head forced its way between us and a worried rumble escaped his throat. "Hey Toothless" he let out an indignant noise that we left him behind but his huge green eyes showed nothing but concern.

We waited another few hours in silence, then Hiccup shuffled uncomfortably and blinked, taking in his new surroundings with a look of confusion. He let out a gasp of fear when he saw his father and struggled in his tight blankets. "Hiccup, it's ok. You're safe now." He gave another pained gasp and pulled down the blankets to look at his arm, the wild fear returning to his eyes as he saw the bandage. Stoick scooped up his son with one arm and pressed him close to his chest, running his huge fingers through his sons hair and mumbling his name. Toothless joined in, nuzzling the boy's side. He put out a shaky hand and laid it on Toothless's head, making the dragon purr.

"What..." he began, but stopped and closed his eyes, his chest heaving as he fought for air. "We'll talk about that later. Eat, Hiccup." Hiccup looked up at him with pleading eyes, an expression I remembered the twins using when I gave them a punishment.

A punishment? Eating was not a punishment! Reluctantly, Hiccup took the roll from his father and nibbled at the edges.

Stoick gave a soft sigh and cradled Hiccups small figure. He stopped at his ribs and meaningfully ran his huge hand over them, looking Hiccup in the eye. Hiccup dropped his gaze and played with a loose strand on his trouser leg. Stoick caught hold of his sons chin and made him look at him. "Eat, Hiccup." Hiccup looked at the almost whole roll in his hand and gave it another tiny nibble.

I could hardly believe this defeated, sulky boy was the same man who risked his life every day to save dragons he just met and led the dragon riders to almost certain victory. Stoick raised his hand to Hiccups face and he automatically raised his arms to block the blow, falling out of his fathers arms and curling up on the floor, sobbing and crying "please don't "

"Hiccup..."

"Please...don't...hurt...me..."

A sob caught in my throat as I imagined Stoick coldly raining his huge fist down on his sons fragile body, heartless and immune to his pleas. But that didn't happen. Instead, he picked up Hiccup, who was still sobbing and whispering "no...please..." and cradled him lovingly, kissing his hair and rubbing soothing circles on his back. A growl from behind me brought me to my senses. Toothless was staring at Stoick with undisguised hatred, clearly having the same horrid visions I was. I put my hand on his nose to quiet him, stroking his face. He calmed a bit as Hiccup's sobs died down.

He seemed completely oblivious to my presence, and a small part of my thought I should leave. However, I was too shocked and tired to move. So I sat there, watching Stoick comfort his son, vainly trying to erase the pain so deeply engraved in his son's mind. Finally, he put Hiccup down and left the room with his head bowed low, violent memories flickering in his eyes, each one bringing forth a new burning tear. The two most powerful men in the village, defeated by themselves and trying to fix the impossible.

I pushed Hiccup's legs and arms down, trying to uncurl him from his defensive ball so I could talk to him and get him to eat. He whimpered and then his eyes flew open wide as he noticed me. He sat up and ran his hand through his hair.

"Hey Astrid."

"Hey Hiccup"

"So...um..."

"Yeah."

"I...er.."

"You need to eat."

Smiling his characteristic lopsided grin, he took the bread from me and finished it in a matter of seconds. A black head bumped past me and pushed itself onto Hiccup's stomach.

"Oof. Hey bud." He rubbed his hands over Toothless's head, chuckling as the dragon purred and licked him. "Toothless! You know that doesn't wash out!" Laughing, he fell back on the bed in defeat. "Come on Hiccup. We need our fearless leader back!" He laughed and jumped out of bed to find a shirt. He stopped when his eyes flickered to the bandage. "Did you..."

"Oh, Hiccup!" Man, he had a lot of scars. They covered his chest and arms and sides. They were clearly deep but most of them were white and faded. I can only imagine his legs look the same. Alarmingly, I felt tears burn in my eyes and find their usual path down my cheeks. I put my hand up to wipe them away but I felt two strong arms around me and a warm chest against mine. Hiccup pushed his fingers through my messy braid and traced invisible swirls on my back. His heart beat in time with mine, and I felt time slow to a halt, just us wrapped in our cocoon of bliss. Finally he pulled away to find something to wear, and I saw streaks of red lining my pale arm. Hiccup's blood.

I remembered him crying on the floor, scared of his own father and him stepping in front of a skrill, valuing its life over his own, and lastly, how safe I felt in his arms, his strong, warm arms. Hiccup may be weak, but inside he is the strongest of them all.

I quickly redid my braid and washed my face, before stepping out to see Hiccup and the other dragon riders standing in a circle, talking battle tactics as if last night didn't happen.