NOTE: There will probably be grammar mistakes which I will fix late.
"Hiccup, it's the Greyfurs" Astrid whispered into her boyfriend's ear as they along with the rest of the villagers rushed to the docks. Some Vikings brought their axes and swords with them in case of a surprise attack. The dragons remained hidden behind the houses or the trees, but were ready to defend their riders should the intruders try anything.
"I know," Hiccup whispered back, his eyes never leaving the approaching ships. "Where's Alba?"
"As far as I know, she's still in the guest house," Astrid nodded to the small house on the hill.
"Good. Go check on her, and tell her not to come out until it's safe."
She turned and pushed her way through the crowd to get to the hill, while Hiccup bravely faced the leading ship that was anchored at the dock. A large plank was dropped and Olin made his way down to meet with Hiccup. The Hooligans moved in closer behind their chief protectively, and from the roof of the Great Hall, Toothless watched the stranger's every move, growling deep in his throat. The Grim Gnashers on the ships growled at the hidden dragons, having picked up their scents, but instantly lowered their heads and became quiet when they spotted Toothless, who was now the King of all dragons.
The much older and larger chief humbly got down on one knee and bowed his head in respect. "Hiccup Horrendous of the Hooligans, I am Olin of the Greyfurs. Forgive us for this sudden and unannounced appearance."
Hiccup didn't expect the chief of such a barbaric tribe to be so polite and humble, but having learned much from past experiences, he still kept his guard up and stood at a cautious distance from the other man. "Um, sure. We welcome you to Berk."
Olin smiled as he lifted his head and stood back up. "Thank you. I have heard many great things about you. I offer you my condolences on the death of your father, Stoick. He was a great Viking, and it truly was a tragedy, what happened to him."
Gobber stepped out from the crowd and stood next to Hiccup, glaring distrustfully at Olin. "You talk as though you two were real pals."
"Oh, no," Olin shook his head. "I never met Stoick, but my predecessor, Rok, had clashed with him many times in the past, I regret to say. But he appointed me as the next chief before he died, and I want nothing more than to make peace between our two clans. Hiccup..." He stepped toward the shorter chief and offered him his hand to shake. "...please accept my friendship."
Hiccup only stared down at the calloused, scarred hand skeptically before taking a step back. "Somehow I get the feeling that you're here for something other than peace." Behind him, Gobber nodded his head in agreement, still glaring at the Greyfur chief.
Olin sighed and retracted his hand. "I'm afraid so. I also came to warn you of an impending invasion by an ancient enemy. You are familiar with the Romans, yes?"
At the mention of that name, the other Vikings gasped and murmured amongst themselves. Gobber glanced over at Hiccup, who was biting his lower lip in distress. The young chief quickly regained his composure and cleared his throat. "Yes, I am," he said calmly.
"Well, word has spread that a clan of Vikings kidnapped the wife of the great Roman general Magnus Cassius. What became of the woman, we do not know, but we fear that their actions will bring war, and for one clan to stand up against an entire legion would be suicide. But if more than one were to band together..."
"You're suggesting we go to war with the Romans?" Hiccup asked him with a raised eyebrow.
Olin nodded, a grim expression on his face. "We must be prepared to strike the moment they arrive."
Somewhere in the crowd, the other Riders listened to Olin's story and looked at each other after he was finished.
"You know, come to think of it," Fishlegs whispered, "Alba did mention that she was kidnapped by the Greyfurs. And she is from the Britains."
Tuffnut's eyes widened as his normally slow brain quickly put the pieces together. "Hey, you don't think...?"
Ruffnut had figured it out as well and she nodded as her face became distorted with anger. "I knew something smelled fishy about her," she growled. "She played us for fools!"
Snotlout said nothing and only stared down blankly at his boots, completely and utterly shocked. And a little disheartened. So she was a Roman, and a married one at that. Why couldn't he have more luck with chicks?
Ruffnut continued to grumble. "When I get my hands on that...that no-good scrawny Roman liar, I'm gonna-!"
Tuffnut quickly put his hand over his sister's mouth to shut her up. "Shhhh! Let's hear what Hiccup has to say."
Everyone turned to Hiccup and waited for his response. The young chief and dragon master knew that Olin was leaving out a crucial piece of information: he was the one who kidnapped Alba and therefore put everyone in grave danger. But for Alba's safety, Hiccup pretended not to know this. "Look, we don't go looking for fights," he sternly said. "There's no need for war. If we could just talk to the Romans-"
"Talk?" Olin growled, his lip curled into a snarl. "There's no talking to Romans. They're heartless, greedy beasts who want to destroy us and take our lands. They will come to avenge one of their own, and when they do..."
He took a deep breath and softened his tone. "Hiccup, we both want to protect our people, and if we don't face them together, they will kill everyone we love. Our friends, our dragons..." He reached under his wolfhide and pulled out his small wooden horse. "...and our children," his voice wavered with emotion. "I've seen what they're like on the battlefield, what they're capable of. They don't care who they trample on to get what they want."
Hiccup saw Olin's eyes shine with unshed tears and felt sympathy for him. There's no pain comparable to that of losing a child, an experience that hopefully he, himself, will never have to go through in the near future. But it still didn't excuse what Olin had done, and he even had the nerve to ask the Hooligans to join him in a war that he started.
"You're right, Olin," he said. "A chief must protect his own, and we will be ready to defend our village. But we will not take part in this war."
Olin's eyes widened in shock. "What...but you-!"
"You'll have to find another village that's willing to fight first and talk later. We had nothing to do with what happened to the general's wife, and I'm assuming you weren't involved, either?" he added as he raised an eyebrow.
"No!" Olin quickly lied, although Hiccup knew better. "Of course not! I only want to protect my people from Rome's wrath, and I came to you for help! But you'd rather sit and watch us perish like the bunch of cowards that you are!"
"It's not cowardice," Hiccup calmly told him. "We're not afraid of the Romans, and we'll fight back if we must. But we want to avoid as much bloodshed as possible."
Olin couldn't believe his ears. A Viking who didn't want to fight? It was the ultimate shame and dishonor. Perhaps all those stories about the "great" and "fearless" dragon master of Berk weren't entirely true.
"I came from a tribe that didn't want to fight either," Olin whispered bitterly. "But they didn't show us any mercy. I was the only one to escape slavery and death, and afterwards I became a Greyfur. You are a fool to not join your Viking brothers and stand up against the Roman devils. You will regret this, Hiccup," he hissed before he stomped back up the plank and onto the ship.
"Guess this means we're not friends anymore?" Gobber sarcastically asked the Greyfur chief, who just ignored him.
Hiccup watched as the ships sailed off, relieved that they left but deeply troubled by the news they brought. Alba was telling the truth about her kidnapping, and he understood why she kept her ethnicity a secret, but it was clear that she could not stay on the island.
He turned to his fellow Vikings, who had worried and fearful looks on their faces. He could feel all of their eyes on him and the burden of keeping them safe as their chief felt even heavier on his shoulders.
"Hiccup!" The crowd allowed Astrid through as she ran to him. She grasped his arm as she struggled to catch her breath. "Hiccup," she panted, worry in her blue eyes, "Alba is gone."
Hiccup's green eyes widened. "What?"
"Oh, wonderful," Gobber groaned as he rubbed his temples with his only hand. "Just what we need."
On the other side of the island, Alba pushed her newly built raft into the water. It took her nearly three hours to make the stupid thing, and her hands and fingers stung with blisters and splinters. She never actually did any hard work in her entire life as she was the privileged daughter of a politician and had everything handed to her on a silver platter. But she was quite pleased with her work and eagerly climbed onto it, using her hands as paddles.
She felt bad about leaving Berk without thanking the inhabitants for their hospitality, but now that they knew the truth, she couldn't stay any longer. It was a real shame, though. She would've loved to learn more about their culture and way of life, and it would've been awesome to have a dragon of her own.
But not even a minute after she hopped on and paddled away, the raft began to sink and fall apart. "Awww, crap!"
Grumbling and cursing under her breath, she walked back to the shore and fell onto her back. She sighed in defeat as she looked up at the grey cloudy skies. Then, as if she wasn't wet enough, a couple of raindrops hit her face, and before she knew it, it was pouring down.
This just wasn't her day.
All of a sudden, she heard someone chuckling from behind her and quickly sat up to turn her head. Snotlout was standing a couple of feet from her, his arms crossed and a smug smile on his face. "I tried that before," he said. "At least yours lasted for more than ten seconds."
"You again?" Alba groaned. "Gods, how do you keep appearing out of nowhere like that? You really are a creep."
The smile on his face dropped into a frown. "Yeah, well, at least I'm not a liar."
Alba's eyes became large and her face blanched. "Um..."
"Why didn't you tell us that you're a Roman? And that you're the wife of a general?"
"Okay, first of all," Alba stood up and brushed the sand off her dress, "I'm not his wife yet. I'm just his fiancé."
Snotlout's face lit up with hope for a brief moment. "Really...?" He cleared his throat and said in a more serious tone, "I mean, really?"
"And second, how could I have known that you wouldn't gut me like a fish after I told you the truth? You Vikings have every right to hate us Romans."
Snotlout nodded. "True, but it's not like you did all those bad things, right? We're not savages, you know. We can be reasonable...mostly."
The rain continued to come down hard upon them, and Alba began to shiver from the cold, hugging herself. He noticed her trembling and reached out to her. "Let's get you out of the rain," he said with a sincere smile.
But she took a couple of steps away from him. "Why?" she softly asked. "So you could take me back to Rome?" She turned back to the sea and sat down on the sand. "I'd rather die than go back."
"Huh?" Snotlout raises an eyebrow. "Okay, now I'm confused. Isn't Rome, like, the greatest place in the world?"
She snorted. "Far from it. It's a hellhole. Everyone pretends to be happy by getting themselves drunk with wine and partying, like, everyday. And the members of the upper class are especially snooty and judgmental."
Snotlout grunted and nodded as he walked over and sat down next to her. "Your Dad the Senator the same way?"
Alba nodded, still looking out into the horizon. "Like every other Roman, he's afraid of people who are...different, like you. If he ever caught me even talking to you, I'm sure he'd have a heart attack. And Cassius would definitely kill you."
"Cassius? Who's that?"
"The guy I'm supposed to marry. He's even worse than my Dad. He's cruel and sadistic and egotistical-"
"And lemme guess, abusive toward you?"
She glanced over at him, and he was looking at her with sympathetic blue eyes. Funny, she never noticed before how beautiful they actually were, their color reminding her of Neptune's majestic sea-
She quickly snapped out of it and cleared her throat. "Yeah, uh, sorta."
"Sorta?" he looked at her confused. "Either he is or he isn't."
"Okay, fine, yeah, he is."
"Then why are you marrying him?"
She sighed again and brushed her went bands away from her face. "I don't want to marry him, and that's why I tried to run away."
"Oh. That must really suck, being forced to marry some jerk you don't even like."
"But you should seriously stick up for yourself and tell them that you don't want to marry him."
"Believe me, I wish I could, but it's not that simple."
There was no sign of the rain letting up, and so Snotlout took his horned helmet off his head and placed it on Alba's to give her some shelter, even if it was minimal. Alba looked at him surprised, touched by this generous gesture.
"Look, if you don't wanna go back, we won't force you," Snotlout told her gently. "I'm sure we could work something out."
"You...you still want to help me?" Alba quietly asked. "Even after I lied to you?"
Snotlout chuckled and winked at her. "Hey, I never deny a lady any help."
"Wow, I...Snotlout, I-I don't know what to say," she smiled gratefully at him.
"How about 'yes'?"
Alba blinked in confusion. "Huh?"
"Will you go out on a date with me?"
"I'm just kiddin'!" he laughed as he stood up. "You need to learn to say 'no'! Sheesh!" He then turned to the woods and whistled loudly. Hookfang leapt out into the open and scurried over to them. Snotlout helped Alba onto his dragon before getting on, himself. They then took off into the grey sky and to the other side of the island.
Most of the oncoming rain hit Snotlout as he was in front, and Alba could see him shivering a bit. Feeling guilty for putting him in this situation in the first place, she wrapped her arms around him to give him some warmth and rested her cheek against his soaking wet fur vest.
The moment he felt her hug him, his heart began to race and he grinned from ear to ear.
Yep, she totally digs me.