Come in From the Cold
It had started snowing two weeks and three days after Berk had embraced the dragons. It had come in as it did every year – hard and fast and intent. Most of the dragons were absolutely miserable, keeping to their specially designed village stables or personal shelters depending on whether or not they had a designated 'owner.' The Vikings however, couldn't have been happier. Larders were full, the flock was bigger than it had ever been this time of year, and they now had personal firelighters at close call.
It was with these happy thoughts that Stoic strode home content. The snowflakes were as big fists, and the snow was already up to Stoic's knees; if it continued like this it would be up to his waist by the morning, but that was barely more than a passing concern for the leader of Berk. He was more worried about his son, who had set off on the Night Fury that morning, and hadn't been seen all day. If he had tried to fly back in this blizzard, there was no telling if he'd make it – dragons were not known for flying in snow any more than they would rain.
His first hint that something was amiss was the steps to his home, suspiciously clear of snow. But it wasn't something he thought about too deeply – it could have just been a random Nightmare dragging his tail on the ground. Dragon tails made for excellent ploughs in this weather.
The second hint came when he reached the door, and noticed dozens of tiny claw prints scattered round the front of the house, dotted between those of peg-legged Viking and a Night Fury. It should have let of warning bells, but Stoic was in too good a mood to worry. The recent footprints meant his son was home.
The door was as clear as the steps outside, and Stoic stepped in, faltering when he saw the mess inside. Hiccups bed sheets were on the floor, the pots for the fire were knocked over, shelves dislodged. Had Toothless been trying to fly in his sleep again?"
"Hiccup!" he called. "Are you here?"
Something was moving upstairs, and at his voice he heard a familiar yelp, quickly followed by the sounds of someone falling and the crooning of a Night Fury. "Dad?"
At the reply, Stoic smiled and turned to lock the door.
"Was getting worried about you son!" he called up the stairs. "The snow's getting heavier, wasn't sure you and the beast would make it back."
He heard something else fall over, and a hushed curse from his son, and he glanced at the stairs in worry. Hiccup had been getting better with his leg; surely he shouldn't be this clumsy."
"Hiccup, are you all right?"
"Fine!" Hiccup called, a little too quickly. "Don't come up, I'll be right down!"
Stoic shook his head and locked the door, before lifting up a heavy block of wood from the side and lodging it firmly across the door. That should keep out the storm, though they'd have fun digging themselves out in the morning.
Son home, a warm fire waiting, and no real worries for the first time in many winters, Stoic smiled and turned to head upstairs to greet his son properly...
...and immediately came face to face with a cawing Terrible Terror clinging to the rafter.
In the second level of the house, Hiccup winced, and glared at Toothless.
"Keep them up here, and don't let them out of your sight!"
Toothless crooned and nodded, and Hiccup made for the staircase, taking the first few steps and wincing when he saw his father holding a little green dragon in his fist.
"What is this" Stoic asking, shaking the first slightly as the Terror hissed, "doing in my house?"
Hiccup sighed, and froze as he felt tiny claws on his back. A light blue Terror was soon on his shoulder, rubbing his head against Hiccup's neck, and the boy quickly started his explanation.
"Well, you see, me and Toothless went by the Dragon Nest, for old time's sake? And when we were there, we found..."
He stopped and gestured to the green dragon, which had managed to loosen his way out of Stoics grasp and flapped his way into Hiccups arms, growling at the blue one.
"Well, we found them" Hiccup finished, and Stoic's grip tightened.
Hiccup chose to ignore the question. "I think they were a raiding party or something that was away when we killed the Queen, so when they got back they didn't know what happened. When we found them they looked so lost and they were so cold..."
"Hiccup" Stoic warned, crossing his arms and looking as annoyed as the day he'd found Hiccup sneaking Toothless in the back door after he'd kicked him out. "You cannot take in every injured dragon you find. I let you keep...that"
He gestured upstairs, "Because Odin knows if I don't you'll probably sleep outside with it. But you promised me just him."
"I know, I know!" Hiccup replied. "I brought them back thinking I'd find someone to take them in, and then the storm hit and...It's just for one night Dad, I swear."
Stoic raised an eyebrow, and Hiccup grinned.
"By tomorrow you'll never see them again."
Stoic sighed. "Well, if it's just for one night...I can live with two Terrors, already do after all."
Hiccup gave a nervous laugh. "Um...well...funny story...you see..."
Suddenly, the house shook, and father and son jerked their heads upwards to watch three more Terrors scrabble and roll down the stairs, a large and clearly agitated Night Fury right on their tails. Toothless spread his wings and jumped, forcing Hiccup and Stoic to duck as he landed in front of the three, baring his teeth and trying to back them back up the stairs. At the top step, two more were chirping in laughter at their three pack mate's mistake.
Hiccup closed his eyes; he could already feel his father's burning into his back.
"Hiccup...how many Terrors are in a them?"
Twelve. Hiccup had brought home twelve of the little devils. Twelve snapping, biting, chirping, growling, bottomless pits that refused to stay in one place for any length of time. The second they'd felt warmth from the fire they'd gone from chilly and sleepy to bundles of energy that one boy and a dragon couldn't hope to contain. They'd all but demolished the ground floor trying to round them up, and eventually cornered most of them upstairs. The head count had been interrupted by Stoic, who had discovered one of the two missing. Number twelve had been found sleeping underneath one of the upturned pots by the fire after its pack mates flew down the stairs. Now Hiccup was attempting to lure them all to his bed, using a good portion of Toothless's fish supply to do it, much to the Night Fury's obvious irritation.
Stoic could only shake his head at the sight. Hiccup, cross-legged and holding out a fish to the four still not on the bed, while five more curled up on his lap and shoulders. The last three were just lying on the bed, in a staring contest with Toothless whose glare lost none of its power even upside down from his rafter.
Hiccup did just have a way with dragons. It wasn't just experience – there was something about him that just drew the beasts to him. The general consensus in the village was that by killing their former 'Queen,' Toothless and Hiccup had unofficially become the new leaders of the dragons, and as such had a status other humans didn't. But these Terrors weren't meant to know that. Wouldn't have had any friendly human contact until now. They just...trusted Hiccup.
The final three finally jumped onto the bed and fought over the fish, before Hiccup pulled two more out from wherever he'd been hiding them, and moved slowly as to not dislodge his sleepers too much, to lay down to sleep. The Terrors who hadn't already found a spot on the boy quickly curled up by his body, purring from the heat he gave.
"Hiccup?" Stoic asked after a few minutes, only hearing a mild snore in reply. The boy was dead to the world, surrounded by a warm scaly blanket. Still, he'd catch his death of cold if he didn't use the blanket underneath.
Quickly and quietly, Stoic unclasped his furry cape from his shoulders, carefully draping it off Hiccup, with care not to disturb his visitors. A few eyes opened, but didn't move when the added heat joined their pile.
The Viking chuckled to himself, and looked over at Toothless, who looked as amused as he was.
"Wouldn't change him for the gods themselves, but if you aren't both going to send me to an early grave with all this."
The dragon gave a deep croon, a sound Stoic was quickly coming to recognise as sympathetic, and Stoic nodded in goodbye before heading upstairs to his own room, uncomfortably quiet when he realised downstairs was now filled with a solid, satisfied purring that didn't quite reach this far.
The next morning, Hiccup woke up more warm and refreshed than he could ever remember being in winter, and Toothless purred when he saw the teen smile at the heavy fur draped on top of him.
"Hey buddy. Just give me a sec to get out of here without waking them and we'll go eat" Hiccup promised, throwing the fur off and doing a quick headcount. He blanched and counted again, and Toothless dropped down, eyes flickering across the bed in confusion.
"Buddy...I'm counting nine. You?"
Toothless growled, sniffing the air, and looked up the stairs. Hiccup paled.
"Oh no. No, no, no, no, no..."
He tiptoed towards them, and gingerly crept up, closely followed by Toothless, and both peeked into the room, where both their jaws dropped.
Hiccups father was still deep in sleep, snoring loudly. Curled into the curve of his neck and shoulder was one Terror, with another huddled into the blankets around his chest. But the third was wrapped in one of the Viking leader's arms like a scaly teddy bear, lying on its back in apparent bliss.
Hiccup swallowed, and walked back down the stairs.
"You know bud; I don't think we should wake them just yet."
Toothless nodded furiously in agreement.
The dragon nodded again.
"Breakfast it is."
As much as I love Toothless, I think the Terror is probably my favourite dragon of all. They're a cross between a toy dog and a seagull, which kind of makes them the dragon of my city, where every dog is either a Chihuahua or a pug, and the sky is full of food raiding seagulls (and do I have the scratches and missing McDonald's/Subways sandwiches to prove it).
And yes, I know Vikings wouldn't have had 'teddy bears' but technically they didn't wear those horned helmets either so it's not the first inaccurate addition. It was too cute to leave out too.