Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be.
Hiccup kept his face calm even as he wanted to scream in frustration inside. Since he didn't want to put his inexperienced students on dragons and just hope they didn't fall off, he'd talked to his friends and gotten them to agree to double flights of them and a student. While his own tribe had more or less just gotten on dragons and worked out the kinks of the system while he'd been unconscious from the fight with the Queen, if they'd fallen off it wouldn't have caused a war between tribes. Not to mention the sheer desperation due to the ships having been burned during the fight. With his students he was determined to return them with a minimum of injuries. His friends had been enthusiastic with the idea of helping, the twins and Snotlout seemed a little too eager, but Hiccup had managed to get them to promise no acrobatics at least on the first flight.
He also wanted the flights to be on fairly well behaved dragons who were connected to their riders. None of the students seemed to have formed bonds with any of the unclaimed dragons in the village except Hawkspit, who had Blazingbite of all dragons following him around. Hawkspit was of course thrilled. However Blazingbite was still growing, and Hiccup wasn't about to put somebody on a half grown dragon. A person didn't ride a half grown colt, and Hiccup didn't plan on having people change that for dragons. A bonded dragon paid more attention to their riders than an un-bonded one. Maybe none of them had quite the connection he had with Toothless, but the others were still close. He really didn't want the first flight class a scene with dragons doing whatever they felt and his students not knowing what was going on.
As there were five dragons available (he'd been able to persuade Toothless with a large pile of salmon), but fourteen trainees, he'd organized a drawing to put them in order of their flights. Then he'd had another to see what order of dragons they rode. It had taken a while, and been a bit complex at times to keep overlaps from happening and nobody was completely happy, but nobody was completely furious either so Hiccup counted it as a win.
Hiccup had hoped his first flight he and Toothless had would be somebody he was relatively easy with. Hawkspit would be a good choice, Toothless seemed to like the boy. Thuggory would be fine, the older man's level headedness had made him kind of a spokesperson for the older students and his acceptance of Hiccup had made his job a lot easier. But no. The fates couldn't be so kind. He had Clueless.
The larger, rather hulking teen was at least slightly better than Dogsbreath. Clueless' main fault was that he was more of a follower, as shown by his friendship with Dogsbreath. Hand him a battleaxe and aim him at the enemy, you were good. Ask him to make a decision within three days about what shirt to wear, and you'd be waiting a while. While Hiccup wasn't the best person to criticize someone's leadership abilities (Gods knew he was still bewildered sometimes by the fact that his own people had decided he would turn out well), he'd actually heard rumors that this was Clueless' last chance to prove himself before being passed over for his younger brother. Clueless was a good Viking warrior; broad, sturdy, and powerful, but he was an awful leader.
So while Clueless could've been worse, that wasn't the reason he wanted to scream. The reason was sitting next to him. Looking cute.
Toothless had his most adorable behaviors on display at the moment as he regarded Clueless. His earflaps were perked up, his eyes wide and round with a cheerful encouraging croon emanating from his throat. It was only Hiccup's long experience with his dragon that showed him the pure devil that was hiding in those oh so innocent eyes as they gazed at the other Viking.
"You are a lying liar who lies!" Hiccup hissed out the side of his mouth at the dragon beside him. He knew, just knew the dragon hadn't yet forgiven Clueless or Dogsbreath for their attack on him.
One of Toothless' earflaps twitched, smacking him. Then the devious creature actually had the gall to tilt his head so he looked up appealingly at Clueless and chirped. There was no other way to describe the sweet sound he made invitingly. His wings even fluttered, looking cute.
Clueless on the other hand was showing the first sign of intelligence Hiccup had ever seen, regarding the sweet looking dragon with apprehension.
Unfortunately everybody else was watching as well. Hiccup's "friends" were doing their best to stifle their laughter, knowing that this was far outside of Toothless' normal behavior. Not that the Night Fury couldn't be silly, he just generally only did it around Hiccup, or maybe Astrid. The last time he'd been this ridiculous in front of this many people had involved a whole field of dragon grass. Most of Hiccup's class seemed confused, since to their eyes Toothless simply seemed happy. Deceitful dragon. Astrid's eyes were dancing as she bit her lip to keep from laughing. She knew exactly what the dragon was likely planning, having been on the receiving end of it once. She gave him a sympathetic look though.
While Toothless needed him to fly, and yes while technically he could just refuse to adjust the fin and therefore keep the dragon from trying anything, he tried to avoid it. First off he would only throw the dragon's flight off, rather than stop it, which if both were lucky wouldn't involve a crash. Secondly, Toothless could sulk like nothing Hiccup had ever known. If he interrupted the dragon's fun, their next flight together would probably be even more dramatic and acrobatic than if he'd let Toothless do as he please in the first place.
Hiccup sighed, there wasn't really anything he could do, best to get this over with. And hope Toothless didn't wind up scaring the rest of the students out of ever going dragon riding again. He grabbed a hold of the saddle, feeling Toothless automatically shift to make it easier for him to get on. Well, whatever evil the dragon planned, it obviously wasn't directed at him. The dragon didn't move much when Clueless gracelessly clambered on to the saddle and attached his harness to it.
The other four students were on the backs of their respective dragons, with Snotlout, Astrid, and the reast looking to Hiccup for the signal to go in the air. He gave it and the other dragons lifted into the sky, beating their wings steadily as they circled to gain height. Except for Fishlegs' Gronkle, who buzzed about like a drunken bumblebee on takeoffs. Toothless however hadn't left the ground. The Night Fury gave a lazy stretch, shifting the muscles along his shoulders before slowly unfurling his wings. Hiccup felt his stomach drop. Toothless was definitely up to something, he hated letting the other dragons get ahead of him. The rest of the trainees seemed puzzled that the three of them weren't in the air yet.
"What d'you haveta do? Hit it to get it moving?" Clueless grunted mockingly, obviously feeling more confident since nothing had happened. "I thought this thing-"
Whatever he thought about Night Furies was lost as Toothless sprang into the air with a powerful down sweep of his wings. He beat them strongly, seeming to grip the air and climb it with each sweep, as they shot straight up. They passed the other students and riders in seconds, leaving them far behind as Toothless kept up the speed of his ascent. With Night Furies being one of the few dragons capable of flying straight up, none of them had a chance of catching them either. Hiccup could feel Clueless' fingers digging into his shoulder, though he was grateful the other boy trusted his harness enough to not wrap around him the way Astrid had. Granted deep, deep within the recesses of his mind Hiccup would admit he'd enjoyed that contact. Never aloud of course, he wasn't stupid. But every so often it might sneak into a dream of his, and he generally woke up feeling pleased afterward. The same thing with Clueless was the sort of thing that would show up in nightmares you woke screaming from.
Which, speaking of Clueless, he wasn't screaming. Oh no, the high-pitched noise coming from the other teen could only be described as a screech. Toothless finally leveled off, experience of being at heights like this let Hiccup distinguish the moving dots below them as the rest of the class. He tightened his grip on the saddle, knowing that Toothless wasn't just going to bring them up here for a nice view of the island.
When Toothless partially folded one wing, sending them into a steep spinning dive, Hiccup only sighed while Clueless whimpered. Really though, while it was a steep dive, and yes that sudden turn there at the end caused the safety straps to pull at them unnervingly, if he hadn't had Clueless strapped on behind him, apparently trying to break his collarbone with his fingertips as tight as he was holding on, he would've been whooping and urging the dragon on. Toothless abruptly spread his wings, catching a breeze that sent them shooting upwards again.
Hiccup held on tighter as they ascended. It always surprised him how much work it was to ride Toothless, the dragon could and did perform maneuvers that no other species could hope to match. The speed and agility did however put a heck of a lot of strain on him during their normal flights. One like this one, where the dragon was trying to out do himself, would leave him as tired as if he'd run the length of the island of Berk. Without his prosthetic.
He couldn't help the grin though as they did a mid-air flip and seemed to hover in the air for a second before plunging in a dive upside down, as Clueless yelled. He was very glad the other teen couldn't see his face the way he was hunched over the saddle.
However when one dive came awfully close to the cliff-side, to the point Hiccup was surprised the dragon hadn't scraped both of them off, he felt Clueless had been through enough.
"Alright bud, that's enough." He murmured quietly to the humming dragon. He'd felt the vibrations of the dragon's vocalizations during the flight, sounds that generally translated as happy. They turned deeper, more rumblely in discontent, but Toothless did a sharp wing over and headed back to the field where they'd left the rest of the class.
Toothless had gain height on the way back, but Hiccup could see that the others either had landed or were about to. While Toothless had stopped his acrobatics on the way back, he still had enough stubbornness to go into a crazy steep dive for their landing. Hiccup gritted his teeth as the ground came up almost too fast, even for him. The Night Fury flipped his wings out at the last second, beating them furiously to slow himself as he touched down. The speed of the change caused the unprepared Clueless to whiplash bad enough that Hiccup winced in sympathy.
It didn't seem to bother the other teen too much as he rapidly unlatched his harness and slid from the dragon's back looking slightly dazed. Dogsbreath was looking at Hiccup and Toothless with a definite expression of dread. He wasn't next to ride Toothless, according to the schedule he wasn't riding with them until the second the second session tomorrow, but with the way Toothless was watching him Hiccup resigned himself to another crazy ride.
"So, I thought we were taking it easy the first flight?" Tuffnut drawled from where he leaned with his sister against the side of their Zippleback. Ruffnut punched him in the arm.
Snotlout snicked from where he sat, still astride Fireworm. Fishlegs looked worried and Astrid seemed as amused as the rest. The class on the other hand seemed to look at Toothless with extreme trepidation. Especially Rockfall, who was supposed to ride with them next.
"Okay, then. How about we take a short break, get some food, maybe a drink… and so on before the next set?" Hiccup asked, clapping his hands together and gripping them, while smiling at the class as though nothing unusual had happened. Which, given Toothless' moodiness hadn't. Everybody stared back. "Right. Then we'll meet back here shortly after noon."
The students filed off, those who had been airborne chattering about it to those who hadn't. Except Clueless, who still seemed somewhat stunned.
Snotlout and the twins were still snickering.
"So what's up with your Fury, man?" Snotlout asked.
Hiccup looked at his dragon, who seemed back to his even-tempered, or at least relatively so, self. "I don't think he likes Clueless."
Astrid walked over to him, bumping her shoulder against his, before leaning against Toothless beside him. She reached over and scratched the dragon above his eyes, as Toothless hummed. "I take it he and Dogsbreath still haven't apologized for trying to smack you around, huh?" She asked Hiccup even as Toothless' eyes crossed in pleasure from her scratches.
"Seriously? He's still ticked off about that?" Snotlout looked at the dragon warily. "Hey, about all that stuff I did as a kid? FYI, sorry about it."
Hiccup snorted. While he and Snotlout had a rather unpleasant relationship as small children, it had eventually evolved into neutral disinterest as they aged (at least as long as Hiccup hadn't destroyed anything recently), and since Toothless had never seen Snotlout act like, well, a snot around him the dragon didn't seem to have any trouble with him or the twins, Hiccup's other headache growing up.
"Hopefully he's gotten it out of his system." Hiccup continued, giving Toothless a dark look. The dragon flicked one of his ear-flaps idly, looking away. "But, if he hasn't I'm going to need food to keep up my strength to deal with his acrobatics."
Tuffnut actually turned slightly green. "You can eat and then fly like that? Like right after?"
"No kidding." Ruffnut added. " 'Dangerous Weapon' over there can only eat a bit of bread and some water before a long flight. Still amazed I haven't been covered in vomit yet."
"Shut up." Tuffnut shoved at his sister.
"You shut up." She punched him in the gut.
The other teens almost absentmindedly stepped over or around the two as they began to tussle on the ground. It kind of surprised Hiccup. He'd never noticed Tuffnut getting nauseous, but it was something the other teen would probably try to hide. He, rather amazingly, had never been sick while riding Toothless, despite the dragon's tendency to dramatics in the air. Sick with fear yes, during both the fight against the Queen and Dornar. Sick with pain yes, not every test flight had landed in something soft. But never sick to his stomach, though he had heard of the complaint from several of the older warriors.
The group passed the harbor. It was busier than usual. While Astrid had arrived a while back, the rest of the fleet she had gone with had just recently arrived as they had trailed behind being loaded down with half of the wealth of Dornar that the other tribe had been forced to forfeit due to their attack of Berk. The sheer amount of it had stunned Hiccup when he had heard. He really hadn't paid much attention to how much there may have been around when he and Toothless had been marched to the Great Hall in chains. He'd heard that the southern tribes were wealthy due to their raiding on the peoples even further south, but until he saw what was considered half their wealth he really hadn't understood. Berk had never been a very wealthy tribe. In a "good" year during the time of the dragon attacks they would trade what wool survived from the remaining sheep along with dragon bones, claws, and scales they'd collected for grain and ore. Now that they were at peace with the dragons there was more wool to be traded, and with the dragons helping with the fishing there was salt fish as well, but in either case they generally managed to get by, if not prosper, and even his father had only one or two pieces made from gold.
Now with the treasures that the ships brought back, even with Stoick claiming a chunk of it due to both his status as chief, and the fact that his bloodline had been the one first wronged, there was still enough to split between all the families on Berk to give everyone a bit of finery. It amazed Hiccup that even all of Berk's wealth gathered up and split in half wouldn't equal a quarter of what had been sent. The idea that Avric had risked all of this, just for the idea of controlling the tribes dumfounded him.
They made their way to the Great Hall of Berk, each grabbing a plate of whatever was being served for the day. Tuffnut glared at Ruffnut as he grabbed an overflowing plate. Hiccup grabbed a plate and headed over to a table that had more or less become theirs, due to the fact that it was close enough to the wall that there wasn't room enough for a table, yet far away enough that Toothless could fit beside it. While most of the dragons didn't enter the hall unless there was a bad storm that sprung up before they could head to the Nest, Toothless tended to ignore such things unless he felt like it. As Hiccup took his seat, with Astrid on one side, Toothless immediately laid his head on the bench on the other side. And looked up soulfully at him.
"You really shouldn't have given him treats y'know.' Astrid commented as the others took their places, the twins opposite with Fishlegs beside, and SNotlout on the other side of Astrid.
"Once! It was once!" Hiccup hissed back to her. "Shoo." He whispered at the dragon, who only sighed. He'd slipped the dragon some of his fish once when he'd still been recovering and hadn't had much of an appetite after he lost his leg, and the damn dragon never forgot.
"So how did your flights go," Hiccup questioned his friends, trying to not pay attention to the dragon who kept scooting closer. Why Toothless thought he could be subtle, as big as he was, went completely over Hiccup's head.
"Eh, not too bad," Ruffnut shrugged, "I think I heard yelling at some point, but that was because trollface here," she shoved her brother as he started to drink from his cup, "decided to try some tricks without telling me, which pissed off my head, Spit, who got into a fight with his, Spat, and we kind of fell for just a little bit. Not really a big deal, but the guy I think was yelling at us." She rolled her eyes. "It was only twenty or so feet, I don't see what his problem was."
Tuffnut scowled, wiping the spilled drink off of his face and flinging droplets of it at her.
"Mine was awesome, of course." Snotlout replied, sitting back and crossing his arms behind his head. "Yeah, me and Fireworm did everything perfect. Okay, so maybe She was a little happy and let loose some fire, but only ahead of us, barely got singed really. It's not like she set herself on fire or anything."
Hiccup had covered his face at the first recitation, and only gave a slight, small sigh at the second.
Fishlegs then piped up "Mine was pretty uneventful, I was telling him how Gronkle's wings allow them to hover in the air and how they have a six shot limit, and how their skin is incredibly dense, and how they lay the smallest eggs of any of the species, and how I'm working on rewriting the Dragon manual with all of this information and he seemed pretty quiet until we landed. Um. I'm not sure he really said anything."
"Well, that's… good." Hiccup said. At least one of his friends managed a take off and landing without singeing or scaring one of his students. He turned to look at Astrid, who blushed, oh that wasn't good.
"Well, everything started good, but well, my student didn't seem to be able to understand that I wasn't interested. I may or may not have planted my elbow in certain sensitive spots, and followed with threat to plant my axe between his eyebrows once we got to the ground." She scowled. "If they're all that obnoxious I'm not guaranteeing no bloodshed by the end of this."
Hiccup covered a laugh with a cough, as Snotlout who had been leaning forward, ostensibly to pay attention but obviously to stare at Astrid, jerked back and adopted a more serious expression. He slumped down, stirring at the stew that was on his plate, before jerking up and glaring at Toothless, who had moved close enough that the dragon was trying to put his head in his lap and had almost knocked him off the bench. How something that big could move so quietly both confused and annoyed him. He shoved at the dragon's snout, before gulping down some food.
"Okay, so let's see if we can't make the next session a bit less… Eventful." Hiccup stated, as he swung his legs over the bench. The others shrugged and looked at each other.
Hiccup now sat on Toothless with the rather worried Rockfall behind him. Astrid had Hawkspit, who looked excited to finally be on a dragon. Snotlout had one of the other teens, Crabsplat was what Hiccup thought his name was. One of the older men, Strikestone, was with the twins, looking disapproving, but the two were trying to see who could punch the other the hardest, so they weren't exactly the most serious looking of the riders. Thuggory was with Fishlegs and actually seemed interested in the continuous stream of information coming from the large teen.
Toothless seemed fine, and Hiccup hoped the dragon would behave himself this time. Hiccup gave the signal this time to go into the air, and this time Toothless was one of the first to leap upwards. The dragon ascended quickly, but definitely not the crazed race to the clouds of the first flight. Rockfall had yelped at first at the takeoff, but quickly began to look around once they were flying smoothly. Hiccup was pleased to see that Toothless was staying in range of the rest, and he was better able to keep and eye on the rest of the gang. The twins were behaving a bit better, apparently Spit and Spat had decided to ignore them and both heads were staying far enough apart that they weren't dragged into the sibling's fight. Astrid was actually pointing things out to Hawkspit as they took an easy graceful turn. Crabsplat seemed to be urging Snotlout into more daring flights, hopefully Snotlout wouldn't try to imitate Hiccup and Toothless' flight as that would only irritate Fireworm.
Toothless performed a shallow dive and Hiccup heard Rockfall actually laugh. He twisted his head to see the huge grin on the other's face. It struck him that Rockfall was only about two years younger than him. Rockfall grinned back, yelling in his ear "C'mon, I know your dragon can do more than this!"
Hiccup grinned back before leaning down to Toothless. "Okay bud, let's go." He felt the dragon, whose rumbles had been rather discontented, he never liked holding back, change to purrs of happiness as he angled his wings to cut into the air and send them soaring upwards at a fast speed. Toothless beat his wings , before suddenly folding them and sending them into a dive. He pulled upwards right above the ocean, close enough for both teens to feel the spray. This ride was more exciting than the tame flapping about, but nowhere near as jerky and focused on flinging the riders around as the first. Hiccup actually relaxed as he heard Rockfall calling for more, sounding as excited as he usually was when Toothless decided to really let go.
"WHOOP!" He heard Rockfall yell as they found themselves curving back among the others in the air. They sped past Fishlegs and Snotlout, Toothless going on his side as he shot between Horrorcow and Fireworm. Crabsplat was yelling at Snotlout to go after them, and before he knew it the rest of his friends and their dragons were chasing after them, trainees cheering at the speed.
Maybe the rest of his students would feel the excitement that Rockfall and the rest were feeling now. He hoped so, it was one of the main joys of dragon riding he'd wanted to show them.
A/N: Tuffnut's sickness occurred to me when I was watching how the teens rode their different dragons. Hiccup is perched on the neck/shoulders of Toothless, ditto Snotlout and Astrid on their dragons. Fishlegs is kinda sorta farther back, mostly because Gronkles don't really have a neck. But the Twins are right behind their respective heads of their Zippleback. At the end of very long neck. With each head operating individually. I picture this kind of like being on a carnival ride from hell, every time that head wants to look around, you're getting flung about. In addition to the movement of the body as a whole. Seriously, I think I'd be sick, and I like the rides my parents referred to as Spin-and-Pukes
I also wanted to thank everybody who's reviewed so far, and everybody who's favorited this story or added it to their alerts! I'm still working on the next chapter of The Past is the Present as well.
Also, FF . net, stop messing about with my hit registry pleaseandthankyou. The whole nothing for seven days and the updating slowly? Really tiresome.