Disclaimer: Not mine, never was. Though I have gotten a hold of a bit of the movie merchandise.
"Why couldn't it have been a competition, a lottery, something, anything other than this?"
Astrid walked up to Hiccup, who was standing next to his dragon Toothless, as the two observed the group of people gathered in the old training arena. They were separated into a few groups. One, a group of young men who were in their twenties or older, they were talking quietly among each other. Another group was of teen boys Hiccup's age or a few years younger, they were busy sizing each other up and occasionally a loud brag from one of them floated up to those above them. There were two people standing on their own. One was a boy who looked about nine and the other was a girl about her age. There seemed to be nothing to unify them…
"And what is this?" She asked as she came up next to the two.
"Astrid! You're back!" Hiccup turned towards her smiling at the sight of her. She had gone with the small fleet who had "escorted" the Dornarans back to their island. "This is the Heirs to the tribes come to learn how to train dragons." He replied with a gesture at the assembled people.
"Ah." She replied noncommittally. That would explain the range of ages she'd seen.
"Yeah, ah." Hiccup grumbled. "I figured they'd send whoever won whatever contest they decided on. I could work with an ordinary warrior who only thinks with their muscles. Um, not to say that all warriors think with their- Ow." He rubbed his arm where Astrid had smacked him. "Anyway this bunch has been raised believing, whether or not it's true, that they are the best of the best of their tribe. Also I think they were sent to offset me." Astrid arched an eyebrow at him. "I mean that by I won't outrank any of them, whatever little advantage that gives me."
"At least you look better." She offered. "More scrawny, less half dead." He had filled out a bit and was looking more like himself.
Hiccup snorted, causing Toothless to crane his head to look at him. "I swear every woman on Berk has been shoving food at me. Every time I turned around there was somebody with a roll, or fish, or something they were putting in my hands. It's been driving me nuts. Maybe you can make them stop?" He asked looking at her hopefully.
She simply glanced at him before turning her attention back to the arena. "That's not all of the tribes heirs, is it?" She asked puzzled. It seemed like there weren't enough people to represent everybody.
"Nah, we only started with fourteen." Hiccup replied. "I guess the others are waiting to see if we actually return this batch before they trust us. That would mostly be among the southernmost tribes, this group is mostly from the northernmost tribes. Or at least the ones with the most trouble with dragons."
Astrid turned back to him, a small frown line drawn between her brows. "But I only count twelve down there," she started, "where's the other two? Are they late?"
"Ah, that… Well this is actually the second class." Hiccup twiddled his fingers nervously. "Yesterday didn't go so well."
"Uh huh, and how did it not go so well?" Astrid asked.
"That whole not outranking thing? Yeah, that came into play." Hiccup leaned against Toothless' side as he looked at her. The dragon automatically shifted to curl slightly around him. Ever since the kidnapping the Night Fury had been far more protective of the young man, becoming hostile to anyone not from Berk and wary even among them to people he didn't know well.
"Two morons who thought more with their muscles, and that's insulting to the concept of thinking, decided to inform me that as a scrawny weakling I didn't deserve such a rare and impressive dragon as a Night Fury." Hiccup explained sardonically.
Astrid winced in sympathy. She was already seeing how this went. "Are they dead?" She asked, and wouldn't that make all of the tribes happy?
"No, Toothless held himself back." Hiccup patted the flank he rested on. "As soon as the first of the pair shoved me he did react. Sent one flying into the wall of the arena with his tail. The other he reared up and smacked in the chest with his front paw. The former woke up after about ten minutes. He seemed a bit rattled in the head, but as stupid as he was to try that in the first place, I don't think it did too much damage. The latter was only scratched, barely bled at all for all he was howling about it. Both of them are working at the tannery to learn how best to treat hides to make it into saddles." Hiccup said. "And trying not to throw up while they do so." He finished grinning.
Astrid snorted. It was a very Hiccup punishment. They might learn something useful, but they would be miserable while they did so. The tannery was a dirty, awful smelling place to be sent to work. It was situated outside the village as far downwind as it could be and not fall into the ocean.
"On the plus side I got the whole 'Once a dragon has chosen a person you don't argue with their choice' speech out of the way already." Hiccup continued. There had been a few problems in Berk due to that fact as the dragons had settled into the village. The worst had been when a Zippleback had one head choose a man and the other head choose a woman. The man had been married to another woman who took a great deal of offense at the dragon choosing the other woman who had been a good friend of the man's when they'd been children. It had almost resulted in bloodshed. The wife had ended up with a very temperamental Monstrous Nightmare. Hiccup knew that that particular family was rather strained still.
"So what's your plan for today?" She asked.
"Today we try to have everybody interact with a dragon without it attacking them." He replied as he leaned down and scooped a basket off of the ground.
"What's that? Fish or Dragon Grass?" Astrid asked, peering at the basket. She assumed he'd start with a Gronkle. They were the most laid back among the breeds. Nadders sometimes got wound up about something and would be prickly and fussy until you figured out what was bothering them. Zipplebacks preferred two riders, so it wouldn't be a good idea for the students to work with as if one became attached it would be difficult when the heirs split up to go back to their tribes. Nightmares were extremely high maintenance, with the added fun of setting themselves on fire when they were upset, stressed, or simply feeling pissy at the world.
"Neither." Hiccup answered as he opened the basket. Inside was the fattest Terrible Terror she'd ever seen. "This is Flit." He told her. "Though now he looks more like a Flop," he added as he looked at the small dragon critically. The rotund little creature was lying on several leather cushions within the basket. The sudden removal of the lid had caused him to jerk his head up. The Terror yawned, showing its toothless beaked mouth. That beak could sever the unwary finger right off, even if it wasn't as terrifying visually as a Nightmare's jagged fangs. It flicked its tongue out, around its mouth and over one eye as it cocked its head, studying the two humans. It was a fairly pretty marked Terror. Its body was a slightly-darker-than-grass green, shifting to a deep red along its spinal ridges. Those ridges had a faint bit of yellow on the tips and along the edges, looking like gilding. Deciding that neither human was going to scratch him, or better yet give him food, the Terror laid its head back down, curling up in the basket. "This is Elder Gosti's Terror." He explained to her.
Astrid nodded. While most homes had taken in a Terrible Terror or two, whether they wanted to or not, the elders had been the happiest to take them. Too old to really enjoy flying, none of them had really seen the point of one of the larger breeds. However, a small creature that could ensure a fire was always lit and wanted to lay in your lap, keeping old bones warm? Most of the elders had been thrilled. A few bits of fish and all of them had a friend who kept them warm and comfortable through the winter months. Of course they wound up spoiling the small dragons thoroughly, which was why Flit was more of a spherical shape than a lizard one.
"He's the laziest dragon in the village, and the most relaxed among new people." Hiccup continued on, "after the rather dramatic actions of yesterday," here he looked hard at Toothless, who returned the stare innocently, "I wanted something a little easier to handle for today." He reached in the basket and gave Flit a quick scratch under the chin. The Terror gave a purr, leaning into the touch. Hiccup removed his hand and placed the cover back on the basket, before turning to Astrid again.
"So how did the return go?" He asked as he turned to the entrance of the arena.
"Not too bad. We got to Dornar, unloaded the captives and had all of the people left behind gather in the Hall and told them of what the rest of the Chiefs had decided. They weren't thrilled, especially about the foreign tribes sending people to watch them, but it wasn't like there was anything they could do about it. Since Prettyscale went with me this time I was mostly a messenger for the tribes. We may not be as quick as you," she said smiling at Toothless and Hiccup, "but we're faster than a boat."
"Were the people okay?" Hiccup asked.
"I don't know how many were there before winter," Astrid said with a shrug, "but there seemed to be a good number of women and children there. Oh, one named Hilde said to say thank you." She eyed him.
Hiccup held his hands up. "She just helped me when Dirk beat me. That's all." Astrid looked unconvinced, but shrugged again.
She snorted then, a short sound. "Speaking of that waste of air, he disappeared. The morning I was going to fly back a small fishing boat was found gone. A quick check found that Dirk was gone too. Wasn't too hard to put two and two together. I ended up staying an extra day doing patrols on Prettyscale to try and find him, but no luck. The council decided to declare him Outcast.
Hiccup grimaced. Dirk running around was not a good thing. "Can't say I'm surprised. At least he probably won't show up on a dragon. All of them seem to hate him on sight."
He then shifted the basket he was carrying. "Well, time to face my students. Again." The young man headed to the ramp, Toothless walking easily beside him on his left. Astrid fell into step beside him on the other side.
"Mind if I come along?" she asked.
"Not at all. I can use all the support I can get." Hiccup replied cheerfully as they walked down to the arena.
First part of what I thought was an epilogue/one shot. Not so much as it seems. It wants to be longer. Hope you like.