AN: Yeah I'm just going to accept that almost nothing I write in this fandom is going to be anything but crossover. I still own nothing but the idea. And maybe this version of Berk, I suppose.
As Viking nations go, Berk has always been just a little different. He is small and tough, which is not unusual for an island nation – and surprisingly strong (to the consternation of his enemies) which is also fairly normal. It is a time of dragons, so he is a dragon killer, and that is no different to any other. He looks, and talks, and fights, like any of his siblings, but neither he nor they can deny that something sets him apart. It might be his intelligence, or his speed, but others are faster or smarter, it might be his size or strength, but others are smaller or stronger. So he shrugs, and ignores it – after all, he has more important things to worry about. For seven generations he grows besides his people and fights to defend his land against the monsters that ravage it. And then one day, a child is born.
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is born with the first light of dawn, and Berk is waiting, as he has waited for every chieftain's son. It is a leap year, and when Valhallarama goes into labour early, the villagers mutter about portents and signs. However it is when it is the village healer who steps outside and hands him the babe that Berk knows that something has gone wrong. The nation is familiar with death, and knows the blow this will deal his Chieftain. Still...looking down into fearless green eyes that haven't quite focused yet, the nation feels the click of recognition. This is one of mine. When grasping hands catch and hold his offered finger, Berk smiles a little, and thinks that this child is perhaps something special (then again, he has thought that about every child). The babe rests easily in his arms, content – so for a little while he resigns himself to playing nursemaid, until Stoick can be his Chief again, and not the grieving husband.
Stoick the Vast loves his tribe, but perhaps he loves his wife more. On the day his son is born, the light goes from his eyes with her last breath. By the time he remembers that she died bringing him a last piece of herself, it is already growing late. When he finally bestirs himself to search for his son, he finds him contentedly sleeping in his nation's arms. Looking at them, Stoick is struck by a sense that his son is destined for something great. It is poor comfort, with his wife lying cold in their bed, but Stoick loves his tribe too. Sadly, that fleeting sense crumbles into ashes all too soon, in the reality of being a single father to a child who is far too different. Wherever he goes, Hiccup brings only trouble – scrawny, he is picked on by the other children, and his brilliant mind races ahead of everyone he knows, leaving only chaos in his wake. Endlessly inquisitive, Hiccup is forever getting into everything, and flits from one idea to the next. If not for Berk's unexpected interest in the child, Hiccup might well have perished or been otherwise maimed on multiple occasions. Stoick wants to love his boy, the last precious piece of his wife, but Hiccup is so very different that often he just doesn't know how (Berk says nothing, but being witness to their increasingly frequent fights, privately he thinks that Hiccup is equally as much like his father as he is different).
It is Berk who suggests that he be apprenticed to Gobber, and it is in the smithy that Hiccup finally begins to find his feet. Gobber is roughly affectionate to the boy, listening to son as he has done for father, and giving direction to Hiccup's wild imagination and ceaseless energy. (Most of the tribe doesn't know it, but many of the tweaks to their anti-dragon weapons came from Hiccup's keen mind.) Berk is pleased to see him beginning to thrive – perhaps it is because he looked after him for so long while Stoick was grieving, but he is especially fond of Hiccup, in a way that he has not been for his other Chieftains and Heirs. Oh, Hiccup still causes trouble (he would not be Hiccup if he did not), but perhaps, everyone hopes, he will settle as he grows. And then one night everything changes.
Hiccup has always been different, from the day he was born. For as far back as he can remember, it has always been just him and his father. He grows up wanting desperately the approval of a father that seems increasingly hard to gain. He is aware, far too early, that he is a disappointment, but as desperately as he tries to change, the more he seems to mess up. He knows his father loves him, but more than anything, he wants to wipe away the despair in Stoick's eyes when he looks at him. As he keeps trying and failing, he gains a reputation for chaos and disaster, and eventually the other children scorn him outright, and even the adults go out of their way to avoid him. Before long, his only allies are Gobber, whose brand of "tough love" is at least honest, and a young Viking whose name he never learns, who chases away his tormentors and pulls him alive from his accidents, berating him harshly but fairly. Occasionally Hiccup will wonder at how the other always knows when he is needed, but it is not until they are formally introduced many, many years later that Hiccup understands why he always felt so comfortable talking to him.
The night he brings down a Night Fury, Hiccup believes that his problems are solved, but finds that his curse has once again created more troubles than it solves. So gradually does the reversal of fortune happen, that Hiccup only realises how drastically things have changed when Astrid finally confronts him. After that, things happen so quickly that he is left reeling, suddenly the Hero of his village (even if he IS down a leg), the first Viking to befriend and ride a dragon, and everything is different. In the initial rush after the death of the Red Death, Hiccup has barely any time to breathe. Everyone wants to know him, suddenly, to ask for his advice or aid as the tribe adjusts to having dragons as neighbours. Astrid and the others prove surprisingly helpful in recognising his need for rest and chasing away the others (Astrid, in particular, does not suffer rivals for his affection or attention other than Toothless) or encouraging Toothless to drag him away to play. It is on one of these escapades that Berk finds him, or rather, that Hiccup finds Berk. Toothless had brought him to the small valley where they had first met, Hiccup's leg aching and his temper at fraying point, only to find a familiar stranger waiting for them.
Berk watches them come in for a cautious landing with one of his small crooked smiles, a dragon egg warming in the coals beside him. The dragons had no nation of their own, but he had found the egg in the cooling shadows of the Queen's body, and known, as all nations know each other. He is waiting for it to hatch. Toothless growls at the stranger-who-smells-familiar, putting himself between his boy and a potential threat, but Hiccup only stares thoughtfully at him. Berk lets them stare, happy to wait for the quicksilver brain that Hiccup hides with sarcasm and wit to put things together. By his feet the egg seems to quiver, slightly.
"You pulled me from the river when I was three."
"I did. You were hunting for trolls."
"And it was you who dragged me out when I sort-of-accidentally-on-purpose set fire to the forge."
"Gave your father a scare, that time."
"And the avalanche when I was eight?"
"Sorry about that. Grandfather Winter can be cruel."
"You left me the notebook after Gobber accidentally knocked my old one into the forge fires."
"You seem to have put it to good use."
"And that time with the dragon, that was you."
"You haven't gotten any older."
"Well. I mean. You look the same."
"That's true. Have you figured it out yet?"
"...Maybe. You come to visit dad, a lot. And he listens to you. I've seen you at the Elder's council, although you look like you're not much older than me. You feel... Safe. Familiar? You aren't human." It isn't a question.
"No." Berk takes pity on the boy. "My name is Berk." And he lets that comment sit for a while, as Hiccup's eyes go wide with realisation, and he slides down to sit beside his dragon. Toothless croons with worry over his boy and snarls at Berk, but it has no bite to it. The dragon, too, understands. At Berk's feet the dragon egg gives a pointed (if small) wobble. It will hatch soon.
They do not talk for long, this first time. Hiccup is tired, and although Berk is happy to take his questions, it is not long before the still-recovering hero starts to flag. Shaking his head, Berk chivvies Hiccup to his feet and back onto his dragon, both of them smiling at the memories the action invokes. Toothless snorts at the Nation, clearly conveying that he trusts him only for Hiccup's sake. As Berk watches them leave, the dragon egg at his feet shudders, cracks, and finally splits apart. Berk looks down to meet the hatchling eyes of the new nation with a welcoming smile.
"I always said that Hiccup was my favourite."
As Viking nations go, Berk has always been a bit different. It takes seven generations of his people, but eventually he works out why. It is a time of dragons, and Berk and his people are the first dragon riders.