Title: The Necessary Adjustments
Summary: Hiccup said he might have to tweak his prosthetic a bit. Feeling generous, Gobber decides to help him out. Unfortunately, the results have also created a strange side-effect.
Step. Clunk! Turn. Chitter! Flury! Step. Clunk! Lift. Growl! Chase!
Hiccup sighed in heavy annoyance and glared down at his winged disciples, who were all diligently following his every move. Actually, that wasn't entirely true. They weren't following his every move. Rather, they were following every motion of his left leg, or replacement thereof. He had tried to tie cloth around it to dissuade any reaction from the draconic population of Berk, but to no avail. Day-to-day Viking living was to rigorous, and the cloth was soon torn away. So he was now limping awkwardly through the village with a host of dragons, large and small, tailing after him with remarkable enthusiasm. He huffed up at his bangs to keep them out of his eyes as he looked straight ahead, gaze determinedly set on his house. One shaky, pained step after the other, he hobbled towards the building up on the hill, studiously ignoring the strange looks from the other Vikings and trying desperately to forget the fact that Toothless was also among his crazed followers.
It had all started innocently enough. Just over a week and a half after the battle, after Hiccup didn't show up at the smithy shop one morning, Gobber had decided to drop by and see why his apprentice wasn't at the grindstone. After Gobber reached the Haddock household, Stoick had explained to him how Hiccup was deep in sleep after a rough, agonizing night dealing with lingering pains from his leg. Being a double amputee himself, Gobber understood completely, and couldn't help but feel sympathy for the boy. A strange wave of generosity overcame him, and, after procuring Hiccup's prosthetic, he had decided that, since he had nothing better to do with his time that day, he would make some improvements to the metal leg to make it more comfortable for the young teen. After all, Hiccup himself had said he was going to tweak with it. However, with his leg still tender and raw, his energy at a minimum, and the rest of his time taken up with dragons, Hiccup hardly had time to tinker with his new prosthetic. Therefore, Gobber reasoned, he was doing the boy a favor. After the improvements were finished, a surprised Hiccup was delighted to find that his prosthetic leg was ten times more comfortable than it had been. Gobber had lengthened it just a bit so that it matched his leg length better, the spring mechanism moved more freely and smoothly, and the metal cup that contacted with his leg had a layer of padding now, with soft, clean linen lining. All in all, Hiccup couldn't have asked for more. Well, except for one thing.
Because, by Odin, he would never have asked Gobber to polish the darned thing.
But polished it was, because it was now casting ridiculous reflections all over the place, and dragons everywhere just couldn't wait to lay their paws on the immaterial prey of the light dancing about Hiccup's feet – er, foot.
After the battle, Hiccup had become used to dragons following him around for the sole reason that they liked him – he was the original dragon rider; the boy who had found peace where others saw war; the scrawny little human who had befriended the fiercest dragon in the skies with a tentative hand and an open mind. The Vikings weren't the only ones to respect him for his achievements - word spread quickly among dragons, it seemed, and before two suns had set since he first woke up from the battle, every dragon now residing in Berk wanted to be near the dragon tamer whenever possible. It was heartwarming, really, how the dragons all seemed so enamored with him. After all those years of being an outcast, he had finally found his niche – and what a unique, unexpected niche it was, full of an array of different friends – no friend closer, of course, than the Night Fury who had started it all. He enjoyed the company the dragons offered him. He didn't mind when the Nadders would bump him affectionately from behind; he would laugh when the Terrors flurried behind him expectantly as he carried a basket of fish towards the feeding trays; he definitely didn't mind the constant company that Toothless offered him. He loved dragons, pure and simple.
This, however, was completely different. This, Hiccup was thoroughly convinced, was sheer madness.
Watching one dragon chase a wayward reflection was admittedly funny. Watching two dragons (or a single Zippelback) was even more comical. Three Terrible Terrors could be great fun to tease with dots of light. But honestly, forty-three?! Forty-three dragons? All chasing a reflection - all following him? There were indeed forty-three – oh, make that forty-four - because Hiccup had counted each one as they joined. Most of them were Terrors, but there were also multiple representatives of the other species, as well as Toothless, who was currently bumbling mindlessly after a particularly shiny patch of light, knocking over a few disgruntled Terrors in the process.
It was all so aggravating, Hiccup thought. After all, he couldn't very well yell at Gobber for improving his metal foot, for it was indeed much, much more comfortable than it had been, but at the same time, he so wanted to go ask the blacksmith what in Thor's name he was thinking when he started polishing the prosthetic. After seeing the effect that the smooth, shiny metal had on dragons, Gobber had explained that he thought that Hiccup would appreciate the look of better-quality work, and had left it at that. Hiccup could see so little thought and foresight in this explanation that, as the dragons flocked around him like a bunch of entranced lunatics, he came close to pulling his hair out. He had tried to scuff up the metal as best he could to dull the flawless finish, but this only worked to make the reflections bounce off in more interesting patterns in different directions. He tried painting it with some crude black pigment, but for however much the substance liked to stick to his skin, the color just didn't adhere to the metal of his prosthetic. He tried using a handful of sand to grind down the finish – this only improved the sheen. He tried tying thick pieces of leather and cloth around the metal to block any reflections, but these fell off. He even tried wearing a pair of long trousers over his prosthetic, but he tripped over them so much he couldn't even get out of the door.
At long last, Hiccup had reached his final straw. As the forty-fifth dragon joined in the chase (Frankly, Hiccup wasn't even aware there were fourty-five dragons in Berk) Hiccup gave a frustrated yell and abruptly changed directions. Shoving a distracted Monsterous Nightmare out of his way, the incensed Viking limped determinedly towards the forge.
BANG! BANG! BANG Clink! BANG! BANG! Clink clink! BANG! BANG BANG!
Gobber peered curiously into his blacksmith shop, ogling at the Nightmare outside the window and wondering how on earth a Nadder had squeezed itself into the room.
"What in the name of Thor…" Tripping over multiple Terrors, he made his way to the back, where he found his apprentice banging furiously away at something atop the anvil.
"By Odin, why is there a nest of dragons in my shop?!" He asked loudly over the clamor.
"They – BANG! – Followed – BANG! – Me here. – BANG!" Hiccup didn't look up, but instead glared harder down at the metal he was pounding away on with his hammer.
Gobber looked down at the small dragons at his feet, which now included a Gronckle, and shrugged. It was all right, he reasoned, so long as they didn't break anything. The Terrors were making strange noises as they tripped over each other, almost as if they were fighting over something. Gobber's eyes landed on a small pack of the beasts gathered intently around a shimmering patch of light, before it disappeared and they all let out surprised yelps of dismay. Gobber looked back up to see what Hiccup was doing, and noticed that where the boy's prosthetic normally would be, a crate and a bucket stacked on top of one another supported his upper leg. The mangled piece of metal on the receiving end of Hiccup's wrath, he realized, was his prosthetic.
"Is that your leg you've got on there, lad?" He asked, slightly surprised.
Hiccup paused in his hammering just a moment to say: "Yes." Before he resumed his work.
"And what do you think you're doing with it?"
Hiccup paused and looked up this time, swiping his sweaty brow with the back of his hands. "Making the necessary adjustments." He said, eyes burning with something akin to rage. Then, without even looking, he brought the hammer back down to create an ear-splitting CLANG! More Terrors yapped pitifully as another reflection was knocked into oblivion by Hiccup's hammer. The apprentice turned his eyes back to his work and resumed his rhythm of fierce hammering.
In all honesty, Gobber couldn't have cared less that Hiccup was currently ruining his handiwork on the anvil. For all he cared, the boy could have melted it down and started from scratch – frankly, he was just glad he had his apprentice back. Running a blacksmith shop one-handed (literally) in a Viking village was by no means an easy job, and Hiccup's improving skill with the hammer was becoming a valuable asset to him. Still… He wasn't quite sure why the lad beat at the metal with such ferocity, or why he glared at the Terrors so angrily when they cried over their lost reflections. But, he supposed, that was Hiccup. Strange, unusual, with an odd knack for dragons.
Gobber shrugged. "Suit yourself."