Disclaimer: I don't own How To Train Your Dragon. Everything you recognize belongs to Cressida Cowell and Dreamworks.
Summary: See previous Chapters.
Hiccup left leg was heavier than it should be, and he couldn't feel his foot. He ached all over, and several places were tender and raw. Something was nudging his face, crooning softly.
It took more effort than it should have to open his eyes, and once he did, Hiccup wondered if he were not still dreaming. Toothless was leaning over him, and he was in a place he had not really seen in years.
When he came to visit Berk, Hiccup had chosen to sleep at the Forge with Toothless, not wanting to give his father False Hope before he made a decision. Now, he seemed to be lying on his old bed, while Toothless bounded through the rafters. Bracing himself for damage control, Hiccup started to get out of bed, but paused.
That was why his leg was so heavy.
The once skinny-but-healthy leg was gone from below the knee, replaced by a metal contraption that had potential to act like a real leg, once Hiccup had fiddled with it for a bit. Toothless nudged him again, crooning softly. Well, at least now they matched. Hiccup took a deep breath and stood up. So far, so good.
Walking proved a bit more difficult, and Hiccup nearly fell over with a cry of pain before Toothless caught him. He took another breath and tried again, moving slower. He limped to the door, opening it… and promptly slammed it closed again in the face of a Monstrous Nightmare.
Oh, come on! "Toothless, stay here."
He pulled the door open again and stepped outside, blinking in shock as the Nightmare turned out to be ridden by Snotlout, who was leading several older Vikings, also mounted on dragons. "Come on, guys, get ready! Hold tight, here we go!"
Wondering when the world had been turned on its head, Hiccup looked around him.
Dragons were everywhere, perched on every available surface, from rooftops to fences. The huge bowls that were once used as torches in Dragon Raids now bore a scary resemblance to giant bird baths, filled with fish and with dragons perched on the edge. It was surreal, to say the least.
There was the obvious answer, of course. "I knew it; I'm dead!"
Hearty laughter, like he had heard only a few times in his life. "HA! No, but you gave it your best shot. So, what do you think?"
Hiccup was still trying to wrap his mind around the whole thing when some of the other Vikings caught sight of him. "Hey, look, it's Hiccup!"
It wasn't the first time that Hiccup had been surrounded by worked-up Vikings, but it was the first time that it had happened when they had not been furious or at least annoyed with him. The shocks just kept on coming when he realized that Stoik's pride in him seemed both genuine and ongoing. "Turns out all we needed was a bit more of… this."
That was another turn around. "You just gestured to all of me."
Whatever reply Hiccup might have made was cut off by the arrival of the younger Vikings and the re-emergence of Toothless, who had apparently decided that the lack of screaming meant that it was all right to come out, and the Vikings probably needed shaking up anyway.
Grinning at the ingrained reaction of 'Night Fury – get down!' Hiccup noticed that there were a few faces missing, and that they were the ones he had most anticipated. "Where are Thora and Camicazi?"
Fishlegs glanced around, clearly making sure that someone was not nearby. "Thora had to go back to the Meatheads, but Camicazi hasn't stopped yelling at us since we got back to Berk, and no one is willing to go within sword's-reach of her. Ruffnut had to make Astrid and Snotlout distract her while she and Tuffnut jumped her from behind, and no one is going near the training ring unless Camicazi is somewhere else."
Hiccup supposed that it was a very good thing that the bow was the one weapon Camicazi was useless with, and being repeatedly defeated by Thora had been enough to discourage her from leaning to throw knives… all so her cousin could feel the best at something, of course.
Either way, it was rendered a moot point when a blonde whirlwind tackled him. "You're all right! That was actually really heroic – for a boy, of course – but don't ever scare me like that again! I mean, really, Hiccup – "
To the despair of the Barbaric Archipelago, the most effective way of shutting Camicazi up was also one that only Hiccup could employ without getting hospitalized. He kissed her, to the hastily muffled giggles of several other Vikings, who had started to drift away when it was clear the excitement was over. Camicazi briefly contemplated the benefits and drawbacks of continuing her rant. "Oh, all right. But you still can't scare me like that again."
Hiccup grinned. "Wouldn't dream of it, Sunshine." He eyed what looked like a new tailfin leaning against the door. "Do you think you can spring me long enough to go for a fly?"
Camicazi's spirits returned in an instant. "Easy-peasy."
Hiccup quietly strapped the new tailfin to Toothless as Camicazi started to draw her sword, making all the Hooligans draw back just far enough for Toothless to have a clear path as Hiccup swung on and grabbed Camicazi, taking off in a second. Stormfly appeared only seconds after that, and Camicazi abandoned Hiccup and Toothless for her own dragon. Astrid, Snotlout, Fishlegs and the twins joined them moments after that, and Hiccup lost himself in the freedom of the skies.
Hiccup tentatively opened the door to Stoik the Vast's council chamber, bracing himself for one of, if not probably the hardest conversations he would have in his life. "Dad? I need to talk to you."
Stoik the Vast looked up from a conversation/debate with Gobber the Belch. "I need to speak with you too, son."
Gobber may not be the smartest of individuals, but he was perceptive. He quickly excused himself as Hiccup took a deep breath and just blurted it out. "I'm not staying Berk. I've built a life for myself with the Bog-Burglars, where I can just be Hiccup. I'm not leaving it behind for somewhere that we both know I'll never really fit in."
Stoik scowled, and Hiccup thanked Odin that he had been on the receiving end of both enough times to tell the difference between an angry scowl and a startled/thoughtful one. Logical thinking had never been his father's strong point. "Is this about your leg? There's no shame in it, you know. Plenty of other Vikings have lost limbs in battle. Just look at Gobber!"
It was nice to see Stoik actually listening to him for a change. "The leg might take some getting used to, but I can handle it. I never fit in on Berk, Dad, and I've made a life for myself and a serious promise to Camicazi. I can't just forget that."
It was very unlike Vikings to just give up without a long (and preferably bloody) fight, but even Stoik could spot an already-lost argument. There had been plenty of them with Valhallarama. "You won't just disappear again, will you? I lost you once, and it won't happen again.
Hiccup, who had envisioned this discussion to involve a lot more shouting, gave his father an achingly familiar wry half-grin. "I ride a Night Fury. I can beat a messenger bird back to Berk in a heartbeat. I'll visit, I promise."
Stoik wasn't happy about Hiccup's decision, but for the moment, he was too relieved that his son was still alive to yell about it. He hadn't been joking when he told Hiccup that he wouldn't lose him again. He didn't like that his son had found a home somewhere else, but he could live with it, especially as he was only an hour or two away, as the Night Fury flies. He could rant about it to Gobber later, at least.
Camicazi had gone ahead to collect Thora, and to let Hiccup say his goodbyes in private (and to avoid open warfare with Astrid, who had figured out that of all the boys her age on Berk, Hiccup was probably the best, and was actually a nice guy, prompting her pursuit).
For the first time in… well, probably ever, Hiccup hugged his father, and mounted Toothless. The other young Vikings formed an honour guard as they took off, and Hiccup took a moment to think of all the what-ifs, before deciding that it didn't matter. What was, was. He was Hiccup the Useful , Slayer of the Purple Death and the first Dragon Rider of Berk.
He was at peace with his past, and how he soared toward A New Beginning.
A/N: I know that some people will be annoyed with Hiccup losing his leg, since I was aiming for a mix of the books and the movie, but I liked the symmetry of both Hiccup and Toothless relying on each other in place of a missing limb.
Final chapter is done and the story is COMPLETE! There will not be a sequel, but if anyone feels like continuing it, tell me first and feel free! (I'm not trying to be arrogant, but I've had similar requests for a few of my other stories, so I thought I'd say it straight.)