This was inspired by Duchess Delanie's most excellently depressing piece "Tracking Moments". She gave me permission to go forth on my inspiration, though, any of you that really know me, realize this was only a matter of time before I did... what I'm about to do... to How To Train Your Dragon. Because I've done it before. But it's to be done, and it's going to cost me lots of research (which is so far a blast), but I hope to have a heck of a lot of fun and I hope I can entertain a few people as well. Enjoy and do not judge me as completely psychotic for what I am about to do.
The grey sea spread itself not far before disappearing into the snowfall, a plane of smoky glass broken up by only the barest waves in the steady roll of water. Rocks plunged upward from it to pierce the white sky and the mist that invariably chose to rise with each snow. A blizzard was, possibly, on the way, but at the time panic seemed best saved for several days, not hours, and the air humbled itself into the stark wintriness that was in fact pleasurable. Though the wind circled through at the high elevations of the sky with a fair amount of chill, the taste was delicious and Hiccup could not believe he had so often before underestimated the wonder of winter. The burden that choked up so much time on the island became much more bearable when one could see it from above as a swirling tunnel of white that at long last melted into the sea.
"Up," he commanded, urging Toothless on with a slide of his hand over the dragon's head. "We'll have this, buddy. We'll be breaking a record."
Thrill evident in his sound, Toothless leaned backwards until Hiccup was nearly vertical against his back. Hiccup laughed and clung tightly, eyes closed against the bits of frost falling into his face. That frost and all the air of the sky seemed wanting to weigh down on him, but Toothless' wings beat proudly and soon the air current was underneath them and Toothless released his body horizontally to glide over it. Hiccup gasped for breath, suddenly dizzy. From pure excitement or lack of air, he couldn't tell. Probably both.
He wasn't supposed to be out. Therein certainly lay the excitement factor. The first snowfall of the season was always a warning to Berk, at least a reminder of all that was not yet prepared for the long cold months. The remainder of crops were yanked from the fields and put to store. Everyone in the village seemed desperate to secure each and every building, running fat and mud through the tiniest of cracks. Stoick, as chief, was a wreck, turning his old overprotective father routine to an act more suitable for bossing around the entire village. Ah, to be chief and have that kind of power. And the forge. Oh, he didn't even want to think about the forge. What was it about winter that made the forge just so vital? Hiccup had yet to see any logical connection.
So he was out instead, taking what he considered to be a well-deserved break. And was he not known for subtly orchestrated sneak-outs? Astrid had begged him to take her along on his next illegal escapade, but she had been slotted to the worst chore that could ever be allotted to her: weaving.
Hiccup didn't mind the thought of her weaving. Wasn't that what girls did? And yes, Astrid was a warrior in training but also most definitely a girl and every other Viking woman in the tribe managed to play all the roles. Why couldn't Astrid?
She had punched him for that.
He opened his eyes against the wind. It stung, certainly, but he didn't mind. First winter from up above and he could hardly stand the thrill. He looked down, the island practically disappearing beneath him in the snow. He remembered when he'd lay out as a child, staring up into the storms before being dragged back inside the house. This was the opposite.
Beneath them the rock formations surrounding the island became dusted in the snow. Many of the rocks were entirely unexplored—apparently accessible only from dragonback or a really small boat. Gobber had once told him, years ago, they were haunted by souls not yet properly released from their corpses. It was an eerie thought, though Hiccup's first response was a question regarding how the ghosts managed to hang out in the water and rocks without drowning like a normal person.
Hiccup and Toothless lowered themselves toward the rocks into a swoop that barely brushed the water, which Hiccup imagined to be freezing. He held his breath for the dive, and released it as they soared under an arch and back into the sky.
The afternoon was waning. The snow and mist had taken care of so much of the light, but somewhere through it all was the faint glow of the sun preparing to set. They probably should be returning home soon. It was freezing, and his winter coat was just not cutting it. Toothless was probably tired and hungry. So was he, for that matter.
Food would be good.
But it was the first snowfall.
Once more they tore upwards for height. He couldn't quite diagnose why he took such a thrill out of heights. But he did. And the snow was falling faster and heavier, thick wet patches covering him. He wondered what it would all look like in true darkness.
Beneath the island shrunk then grew as they went in for another dive, over the trees and cliffs of the back of the island. It was incredible to behold and impossible to explain. Wind rushed into his face as green and grey and the color of the sea rushed past. Then back into the air. He really should have snuck out Astrid.
He slipped. The metal prosthetic that was to fit so neatly into the stirrup. It slipped.
In a brief, critical observation he decided the snow had made it wet. Such things happened. Probably his own fault, not making sure it was tight. But that brief and critical observation was followed by a bad choice to scream and let go. Extremely dumb when one's dragon was practically vertical in the air.
He wasn't sure what happened after that. Just bits and pieces. Trying to clamber back onto the saddle, Toothless drawing back in a panic with wings beating at the air without any actual flight.
Small flying accident, nothing more.
The snow made it worse. Thickly falling white stuff, tiring and wet, choking him as he rushed through—he could not be sure of the direction. But something jumped in the way, something so big and hard he tasted blood in his mouth and felt the jolt of the safety line snapping. Toothless shrieked from somewhere close and Hiccup desperately reached, grabbing nothing. Falling into nothing He hit something again—stone? Mountain?
Then something again. And again. And stopped.
He lay on his side and gasped for air. That common action didn't seem to work. He wanted to throw up. Beneath him the ground was wet, freezing, sticky. He dug through the snow with his fingers, hoping… hoping for what? To climb across the ground to stand?
Something snorted near him and pressed a nose against his back. He would have screamed if his voice had worked. He couldn't move. Every part of him hurt.
"Sorry, Toothless," he muttered, turning to touch the dragon. He could barely manage that. The movement shook something through his body, and he tried to scream again.
Something was very wrong. Something wet was sliding into his eyes. Hot, not cold. Blood, not snow. Yes, something was wrong.
Of course something was wrong. He had… he had fallen. He could barely put together the memories. Fallen off Toothless. How far had they been up?
He had fallen off Toothless before…
Not like this.
He rolled onto his back, then tried to turn his head as vomit sprung up from his throat. He choked several times, and wanted to vomit again at the coppery taste. More blood?
Toothless nuzzled his head against him. How was Toothless? Hiccup couldn't even see. He just wanted the dragon to stop touching him.
He tried again for breath. He hated the sound he made and he more hated the fact that he could get so little breath. He also now hated the snow that just kept falling around him.
Toothless tried to slip his head under Hiccup's arm. For the first time Hiccup was able to scream, one that quickly faded by the sharp pain from his lungs. He closed his eyes to the blood and snow, but the burning pain all through him only intensified. He had never been much of a crier—that sort of thing was frowned upon—but now it happened. Mostly just tears.
It hurt so bad.
He didn't lie there very long. Amazing how aware he was of the time passing. He wasn't there very long at all. He just closed his eyes and tried to ignore the panicked sounds of Toothless.
He wasn't going to make it.
The reality hit him harder than crashing to the ground.
That was a stupid thought, he shot back mentally. He was still conscious. Of course he was going to make it.
Was he so sure?
Yes. He'd make it. They would come looking for him. Toothless could certainly bound back to the village via land. He would just have to hold on until then.
He wouldn't last that long. It was freezing.
Toothless would keep him warm.
He couldn't even breathe.
He would make it.
He had fallen off an airborne dragon onto an island. Fallen hard.
Merely another hazard of riding a dragon.
He really, really hurt.
He stopped attempting breathing.
It was an interesting choice to make, though he didn't think it really counted as a choice as much as it did a necessity. One of those things—awful, awful things. But he was there, lying prone on the ground, not even able to gasp for breath and the logical solution was to stop. He was not giving in, just doing what was necessary.
But he felt better afterwards. Much better.
He staggered to his feet from his body. What in Hel's name was he thinking? Dying? Oh, gods, was that what he had just done? Yes, there he was lying on the ground in the oddest angle he had ever imagined a person. His eyes were closed, and over them pooled the blood streaming from his forehead. That was the term: streaming. His good leg no longer claimed the title and lay twisted and snapped underneath him. His chest didn't even look normal.
Hiccup closed his eyes and tried to remember how he had felt. Pain. That was it. Lots and lots of pain. And this before him was clearly why he was in such pain and… panic set in.
Lots and lots of pain to lots and lots and lots of panic. He reeled back, tumbling into the snow. "What did I do?" he demanded. He rose up again, mind spinning.
No one heard him. Of course no one heard him. Had he expected anyone to? The only things present his own dead self and Toothless, lying next to the dead self in the snow, eyes watching that body that was now half-covered in snow.
This wasn't happening. "Toothless," he called.
The dragon didn't move.
Nothing. Of course nothing. What was he expecting?
He sat down in the snow and stared up into the sky, the twilight mix of purple and orange replaced by white sky. Clearly, he should have not snuck out. At least it wasn't cold for him. For crying out loud, what was that supposed to mean?
So he had given up on breathing. So what? He looked back up into the sky and screamed.
And no response. From anyone or anything. Of course.
His legs… he wasn't sure why it was so much on the forefront of his mind, but he found disappointment in the realization his left leg still consisted of that hunk of wood and metal. What was it, some clinging form of his body at death?
Death. He buried his face in his hands. He had just gone and gotten himself killed. There he was, broken form in the snow as the sky darkened around him.
What was everyone going to think?
He felt like he could faint.
Claimer: I will be claiming my own ghost rules for this, to be different than my other ghostly pieces. Just to make this story work out the way I want it to.