The attack came before dawn. Was there ever a worse time for dragons to come poking their ugly snouts about? Evening was acceptable, as was the midnight area, but that awkward pre-dawn time meant a village mostly deep asleep and completely unprepared for dealing with dragons. It meant people to rouse, if they had not already been awakened by the noise, chaos, and confusion of the raid—not to mention their homes burning down right around them.
It was not as if Berk could simply choose when the awful devils made their way over. Was there supposed to be a good time for these raids? Did Berk ask for the winged monsters to dive down and destroy everything for which the village had worked? Had the village ever wanted competition for precious resources? Was it an ideal life to constantly fend off dragons until ever single solitary soul in Berk was near-obsessed with their destruction?
Sometimes Stoick felt he was, and that infuriated him all the more. Why should the beasts have such a hold on him? He would like nothing more than to never see a dragon again, never have to have one cross his mind, never deal with the sight of them, the stench of them, the way the constant battle with them showed itself in every other statue and carving in Berk. Dragons defined Berk's entire culture. How disheartening was that? Be known as the tribe that glorified a war they could never win?
Well, they would have to eventually win it. Beat the dragons back, claim their place as victors, and move on with life to build something truly magnificent.
It was that thought, that goal, that kept him from going mad with the constant dragon threats. It was that thought that made him repeat the same violent-yet-tiring task of having to throw everything else aside to fight back the dragons that destroyed everything they had to toss aside in order to fight the dragons. It was a vicious and unending cycle, and Stoick just wanted it over, whatever it took.
So there he was, wide awake with the first signs of dawn piercing the horizon as dragons flew over the sky in the first signs of attacks. The sheep were baaing in the fields, terrified but notifying all the dragons of their presence. Stupid sheep. Sheep were truly the stupidest creatures alive and the darn animals had to be protected if anyone wanted any wool and meat come winter. They needed to be herded up, kept safe, kept from being carried off. Above the dragons were practically drooling, several already swooping in close for attacks. All around the village was fortunately prepared, towers going up, catapults ready as every warrior had been trained for years.
It should have been as exciting as all the teenagers thought it was, but to Stoick it was dull and tiring. They should not have to be doing this. What they needed was one good attack, nothing defensive, but something offensive to get rid of the dragons once and for all, the awful creatures that had caused nothing but misery to the village for centuries.
It needed to end.
But that morning it was a conglomerate, all those common species that seemed to consider Berk a favorite haunt and dinner spot. Gronckles buzzing around like overgrown insects, Hideous Zipplebacks setting everything in the vicinity on fire, and even a report of that fierce Monstrous Nightmare. All they needed was a Night Fury or two to show up and it would just be one grand party. Said so in sarcasm, of course.
At least the village was active. Every warrior conscious and ready and working, the kids working hard to combat the fires no matter how fruitless the task. And Hiccup… well, to be honest, Stoick had no idea where his son was. Hopefully in the shop with Gobber actually helping out or maybe safe at home ensuring the safety and peace of the entire village. Either location would be a blessing.
For Stoick's own pride, he preferred the first idea. How fine would it be to have a son who could boast of being the finest swordsmith around, or something equally useful and grand. For his own peace of mind, he preferred the latter.
Stoick did not prefer the kid to be running around in the middle of the madness. At least Hiccup could manage to stay out of Stoick's sight. He was disgusted when he had to grab Hiccup by the collar and yell at him to get back inside.
Hiccup had a death wish, that much was for sure. For a boy who had grown up in Berk, had way too many encounters with dragons, and who was so eager to face them still, Hiccup had no respect for the beasts whatsoever. What did he think it was? A game? Some big drama that he could win and become the hero of? Like fighting a dragon was something someone should actually want? It was one thing to face them out of necessity and conquer, but it was quite another to seek it out. Foolhardy and just plain idiotic. No matter what Stoick said, Hiccup did not seem to get it. Every time even of a rumor of a dragon came through the village, Stoick was struck by the same nightmare that Hiccup would rush straight into a dragon's clutches and die a horrible death.
Which he probably would deserve, but justice like that was hard to appreciate when one was the father.
Hiccup would go inside. Maybe. Home. The forge. Somewhere safe or useful. At least Stoick no longer saw him around.
Wherever Hiccup was, Stoick just hoped he had the good sense to stay there.
But Stoick needed to stop having such hopes. In the middle of a productive move of gathering up some sheep for safety from a few meddling dragons, Stoick heard an all-too-familiar scream that sent a stab of terror into his heart.
On the ridge above was the profile of a scrawny teenager running pell-mell from a Monstrous Nightmare.
Stoick sighed and ordered something to his men about taking over whatever he had just been doing before his senseless son had decided to throw himself in harm's way. Again.
Had he not just told the boy to get back inside?
The next few minutes were ones that barely registered in Stoick's mind. Maybe they were all too repeated and familiar. Hiccup cowering behind something in safety, a Monstrous Nightmare happily lighting itself up. The thrill of the fight that Stoick knew he should not like but he still did.
And all of this followed by a burning, falling brazier, screams, and the destruction of docks while Stoick stared down at his guilty son.
The boy was impossible.
Stoick tried to think of something to say, but he couldn't think of anything good enough.
Hiccup tried to make everything better. "Okay, but I shot down a Night Fury."
That was it. Hiccup's weird excuses should have disappeared years ago, back with stories about trolls and night hawks confused as dragons and every other childish behavior. Not now, not when he should be acting like a real Viking. He should have been good, at least decent. He was admittedly small, but he was smart and quick and a boy like that should have better things to do than making up stories about Night Furies while threatening the winter survival of the entire village!
Stoick grabbed his son by the shoulder and tried to drag him away from the gathering glowering crowd. All Hiccup did was blather on about the same Night Fury story. Like such imaginative excuses had ever worked.
Stoick responded, of course. Hiccup expected responses, even though Stoick knew Hiccup probably wouldn't like what he had to say and would quip back with the same sarcastic remarks he had for years.
Well, that was Hiccup. He had been this way for years. Smart, bright, and completely impossible.
Stoick had no idea what to do with him.
Author's Note: Well, that's it! I know some of you wanted to see this through the movie and beyond, which I seriously might do, but probably as a separate story. I think I always planned on taking this just to the movie, and here I am! I wanted this to be about their pre-movie relationship, and I think the movie itself takes care of the rest. Thanks for reading and for all your great comments!