The flames tingled and tickled, and Hiccup could feel it all as if he were the body in the fire instead of a spectator. Though it was him, wasn't it? Even if he were in the strange position of watching his own funeral it was certainly himself there. Every lick of the fire sent a shudder through him, and at times it became so intense that he wanted to gasp at the burning.
All around the darkness gathered, so quickly that it was soon impossible to read the faces. Not that Hiccup wanted to. He had seen enough. He had seen his dad, he had seen Astrid, he had seen everyone who had ever mattered to him.
That thought nearly strangled him. This was it. This was truly it. But it couldn't be. He hadn't managed to say anything audible to his father and he had completely blown it with Astrid.
He lifted his eyes to the night sky. The first stars were appearing, but the light was faded from the pyre. Still he did not lower his eyes. He just stared into the night and felt dizzy, like he could fall right off the earth. The only thing that kept him grounded was how he felt.
He felt like he would split into pieces.
The thread around his wrist hurt the worst. It seemed to be tightening, cutting right into his skin. He thought of the Norns and all they had said. The three spinning women at the base of the Tree. No. No, this could not be it.
He turned from the pyre. Moving was suddenly difficult. The fluid sensations he had felt since death were stiffening, and it seemed he was forcing himself through water. His vision grew cloudy and if it were possible to feel sick he did. Yes, he felt very sick indeed. He stumbled a few times, and the flames consuming his body were felt stronger and stronger.
The Norns. He had to speak to the Norns. He still had the thread, his heroic golden life thread. They had to be able to fix it.
And then what? Restore his body from ashes?
"Hiccup!" The skeletal hand of Disa grabbed his shoulder, though the sensation was barely noticeable from that of being in the middle of a fire.
Hiccup turned to look at her. He could barely make out her face. "Enjoying the site?" he muttered.
Disa's gruesome face twisted into her usual smile. "It's great to watch. You, the dead-looking you. On fire. I never thought watching things burn could be so much fun."
He felt too week to be offended. "I was sort of thinking I had more time."
Disa laughed and ran a hand gently over his face. "I'm sure I'll be thinking the same thing was the last of me has rotted away. I suppose everyone will want more time."
She just didn't get it. He closed his eyes and once more tried to think of the Norns.
"You're lucky," she continued. "I'm still stuck here. As much as fun as it is, I'm still stuck."
Did he want to be stuck, too?
He opened his eyes. He felt like he would faint at any moment. And when he fainted, what would that mean? What would happen after that? He had to keep his eyes open. "I thought I was ready. I…" The obvious struck him. "I shouldn't have brought my body back. After I rescued Astrid."
"Yet you did."
And why had he done that? The answer came almost immediately, forcing its way into his head. Because he couldn't have scared Astrid. He couldn't have upset his father. Loki had sad it. What was done was done.
He smiled. "Yeah, I guess I did."
Disa gazed back at the fire, now the only thing visible in the night. "Well, I hope you get some place good. It was nice to have met you, soul boy."
Hiccup couldn't stand anymore. He felt like he was fire, and the flames were eating into his mind. "Nice to have met you."
And then he was out.
Waking up felt strange. Was he supposed to wake up? Somehow he felt he could get in trouble for doing so. But awake he was, blinking back a dark fogginess and staring up into the sky.
It was still night. A complex map of stars stretched above him, and the moon was bigger and yellower than he had ever seen it.
"Disa?" he managed to say.
There was no response.
It did not take long at all for his eyes to adjust to the dark. The vision trouble he had just experienced was gone; rather, his vision was sharper than even after his death. He lay on the ground, on the shore of what he assumed to be Berk. At least, it looked Berk-ish, though even with the ability to discern the patterns in the bark of distant trees he really did not recognize a single thing. A few feet away the water lapped at the shore. It was water unlike any he had ever seen. It seemed to glow.
Near the shore bobbed a boat. For a confused moment he thought it was Od's rowboat, but its' fashioning was much cleaner.
He tried to stand up, but immediately fell over. His balance was off. Just like when…
He ran his fingers over his foot. His left foot, comfortably hidden in a boot which he pulled off in order to see his toes wiggle. He laughed, and the sound of his voice echoed over the trees. His foot was one thing he had thought he would never see again. Again he stood up, letting the familiar balance of so many years regain control.
There seemed to be nothing but shore. Shore and water and the boat, which he stared at.
So was he supposed to get in it? He stared at it for a long while. Well, apparently he was dead. Completely dead. There was nothing else to be done but see what would happen if he climbed into the boat.
Suddenly it seemed the most exciting thing he could do. A game of sorts. What would happen? And he rather liked the idea of a boat.
He couldn't go back. He saw that now, clearly. He had no idea how to go back.
And that was okay.
He hopped into the boat. It shook underneath him, and, just like Od's boat, it set off.
The strange Berk-ish shore was behind when Hiccup dared to think of where he might be going.
The weird thing was that he didn't particular care. Wherever he wound up, that place would be lucky to have him.
It was a very nice thought.
Other thoughts then replaced that, namely a total horror of what was going on, what had happened. He was dead. Toothless, his dad, Astrid… they were all back at Berk, all alive, and he was sitting in a boat on the way to eternity.
He was going to miss them so much. He had no idea how much he missed them until that very moment.
The thread from the Norns was still at his wrist. He plucked at it, and it snapped between his fingers. In the night it didn't look all that golden. He looked at it for a while, then let it fall into the water.
Nice to know he had led a heroic life.
And as the thread floated away, something on the horizon gleamed. A wall of light surrounding an island. With a sudden thrill through him Hiccup stood up, the boat rocking slightly beneath him.
It was going to be okay.