Putting up something light to balance out Forsaken, since it's kinda dark and I'm having a hard time writing out the chapter.
Well, this story actually was from April about a week after I saw the movie, but it was a work-in-progress when things came up and all that. I got in a HTTYD mood today, so I decided to finish this. It was enjoyable to write, so it must be enjoyable to read, hopefully. The title was difficult to make up without spoiling anything, so... yeah.
This one-shot does have language (if you consider it language even though when it's used, it's just a word), though not very harsh, and some suggestive... I wouldn't say scenes, but like suggestive explanations or something like that.
This one-shot was inspired by a small scene from the movie, something I felt like it was never answered.
Disclaimer: I do not own How to Train Your Dragon, both the books and the film. The film was created by DreamWorks (and thus hats go off to them) and the books by Cressida Cowell, a series I actually want to find and read.
Toothless had not been feeling well for some-odd weeks.
Like a bolt out of the blue one night, he became sluggish and extremely moody. He refused to go on his daily ride by demand, instead resorting to having Hiccup drag him out of the house by a leash resulting in leaving deep grooves in the floor, but even that didn't change his loath mind. It was only when he felt like hunting would he allow the boy to sit on his back and work the prosthetic tail wing. The Night Fury even developed a ravenous appetite only to automatically lose it later (then again, there were hordes of food everywhere), and got into the habit of making a nest wherever he pleased, peeving off Stoick for leaving numerous scorch marks. There were days his attitude was mild enough for his trainer to rub a hand on the forehead, then shortly afterwards, Toothless snarled every time Hiccup or another person or dragon got within a few feet of him. What was more annoying were his sleep patterns. He chose to either stay up all day and night, even trying to keep his friend awake along with him, or napped up to twenty hours—if he wasn't disturbed—and couldn't be budged by order or physical force.
"Seriously, lad, Toothless needs ta see a healer o' somethin'," Gobber advised one afternoon, fidgeting under the dragon's emerald leer. He had settled himself into a dark corner at the dining hall, head resting on his forearms and staring at the dragon trainers. Occasionally, if a dragon large or small walked by, he snapped at them in warning. They were quick to learn their place, unlike a few Vikings who kept testing his patience playing a game of chicken to see who'd get the closest. The instructor shook his head at the stupidity of the boys and the short temper Toothless had. "He's not actin' hisself."
The scruffy-haired teen rolled his eyes, stabbing the potatoes. "Tell me about it," he grumbled to himself. "This morning, Mr. Sunshine jumped on me to wake me up like normal only to hiss wildly for five minutes or so. I couldn't even make one sound around him without angering him."
"Kinda like between you and Astrid, eh?" Fishlegs snickered, harshly nudging Snotlout's ribs just as he swallowed a morsel. Tuffnut gave a cruel short laugh when the boy of large stature choked.
Hiccup handed him the jug of water, narrowing his eyes and grimacing at the chugging. "Not really, no. Let's just not go there." He stole a frowning glance at the other table where Astrid and Ruffnut sat with other girls, chatting and gossiping away. The golden bangs covered up her left eye and at the angle she sat, her other icy-blue ocular was concealed, but the smile was still there, bubbly laughter present. That was one thing about her he couldn't help but reflect on. No matter what side of her he saw, there was always something lovely visible on her face, a focus just for him. An esoteric that still burned even while they were separate.
And speaking of burning, the boy caught a glimpse of blue flame and turned in time to see his lunch reduce to ashes in seconds on his plate, the fork ablaze. He immediately flung the silverware with a cry of pain—causing his peers who witnessed it to guffaw (even Gobber)—sticking the burnt fingers in his mouth and whipping around to glare at the culprit. A smirk twitched at the corners of Toothless' lips, though the malevolent stare was still unwavering. He shook his head vigorously, flapping his ears and the folds of skin mockingly before stretching. Then he curled up into a large ball, leaving only one glowing eye in sight. Hiccup just sneered, muttering "Useless reptile" and looking up at his joyous lunch-mates clapping each other on the back and praising Toothless. "Come on, it's not that funny," he defended himself, looking down at what remained of his food. The charred bone from the drumstick was all that was identifiable, but it looked too brittle to even be a bone.
"I think Toothless needs to get sick more often," Tuffnut chortled, pounding the table. "He likes to make you miserable the whole time."
Fishlegs and Snotlout abruptly ceased their mirth, frowning at the comment. "Actually, Tuff, that wasn't very funny," admitted the sandy-haired chunky teen, wrinkling his nose. "That's something you would do."
He "tch"ed, leaning back with a proud smile, throwing his arms behind his head. "I know. That's why my days have been going great so far. Ain't that right, Ruff?" he called to his sister. "I like making people miserable, don't I?"
"Hey, what did I say about interrupting me?" she shouted back, pointing fiercely at her twin. "We're in the middle of an A-B-C discussion here, so go take the detour out!" A few girls laughed rather shrilly and high-fived each other across the tabletop. Without a word, Astrid quickly swung herself around off the bench and immediately occupied herself with a small flock of Terrors that were wrestling up by the far wall. Her stroll, though short, captivated Hiccup as he watched her walk to the small dragons, crouching down and scratching at one's up-turned belly.
"Wha-a-at, I'm just asking about whether or not it's true that I like making everyone miserable," the thuggish boy beside him feinted a hurtful tone.
Ruffnut gritted her teeth, eyes narrowing in fury. "I'll give ya miserable, boy," she snarled, standing up to roughly chuck her empty tin cup at him. It made impact with the side of his helmet, the force behind it strong enough to knock him into Hiccup, which in turn tipped him over to the cobblestone floor. Some of the Viking teenagers who witnessed it gasped, though most of them "ooh"ed in interest. Snotlout was the only one who stood up, pumping his fist into the air and hooting. Gobber quickly preoccupied himself in a drink and then in his lunch, scarfing it down.
Any dragon in the room found itself suddenly aroused by the tension building up in the lunch hall, lifting their gazes to the tables and standing humans. They watched as Tuffnut picked up his plate and flung it at his sister. She side-stepped the spinning disk, snatching her fork and knife and flicking them in his direction. He ducked, the silverware jabbing into the floor between Hiccup's legs (he almost fainted at the close-call). "That the best ya got, sis?" he challenged, stomping on a rotten part of the bench, breaking it in half. He tossed that, though Ruffnut rolled to avoid it. The wooden piece of furniture exploded upon smashing into the floor, scattering dragons and their peers to dodge the flying debris.
Gobber found the guts to stand and step up to Tuffnut. "That's enough, lad!" he ordered, lifting him by the scruff of his vest. "Yer gonna 'urt somebody!"
"That's the whole point!" he interjected. "I make people miserable!"
"Or so you think," his twin sniffed, turning up her nose. "But everyone knows it's the woman who decides the misery."
"You damned broad!"
"Oy, I don' like those words comin' outta yer mouth!" the instructor snapped, shaking him before releasing his grip, waving his prosthetic hand in Tuffnut's face. "That outta be the first lesson ye lads learn at this age: always treat women wit' respect. They bear the future! 'N' if they don' like ye, there is no future fer ye, that's the rules."
The teen sneered. "Since when?"
"Since Odin enforced it in the beginnin'. Now I want ye ta look at them girls o'er there 'n' tell 'em yer sorry fer makin' a fool o' yerself."
Tuffnut let out a scoff. "Why? They enjoyed it," he defended, catching their smirks. One quietly laughed.
"Well if not ta them, then ta yer sister."
"Hells no I won't! Not until she apologizes to me!"
Snotlout and Fishlegs were at this time diving underneath the table to laugh, almost crushing some Terrors who were taking cover. Hiccup, leaning on the table recovering from the moment, glanced behind him at Toothless. He had gotten used to the Thorston twins' outbursts enough he learned to ignore them, interfering only when necessary. At the moment, he chose to fall asleep, head tucked in and tail curled around, wings folded over his back like a blanket. Inwardly he groaned; he would have to wait in the cafeteria longer. Toothless had always hated being woken up, and with his unusual attitude, it was almost suicide to dare wake him. And there was no way he was leaving him here when the time came to go home. The two walked together as was the custom ever since he lost most of his left leg. He grew accustomed to it by the passing of their first year, but by then it had already become a habit. They were nearly inseparable, the pride and envy of Berk.
The arguments between Tuffnut and Gobber the Belch became dull enough he tuned them out. It helped that he turned his attention to Astrid sitting cross-legged underneath the open window, surveying the Terrors chasing each other around with a couple curled up in her lap. Her Nadder lay beside her, purposefully tripping up the little dragons with its tail when they got too rowdy. As Hiccup stared, he took notice of dark circles under her eyes, face beginning to show development of stretch marks (though it was probably the lit torch just above her). She looked more solemn than he usually saw her in, a thought lingering in the back of her head. Was she still brooding over what happened some months ago?
He frowned at the memory. It was an accident, he tried to tell her, but she wouldn't hear of it. Honestly, how was he supposed to know the utilities closet (an extra room that was once filled with weapons and training obstacles used in dragon training) was revamped into a shower hall? A girls' shower hall. There were only a few of them using it at the moment when Hiccup walked in carrying a target board. He spotted the pile of clothes by the wall before someone screamed bloody murder. He quickly looked to see Astrid, her damp hair down and eyes flaming, run up barefoot and punch his nose in, knocking him backward out of the room before slamming the door. Of course, the scream found its way into the ears of anyone else who happened to be nearby, and they arrived to see the teen sprawled on the floor, blood dripping from his swelling nostrils and eyes unblinkingly wide. Though he knew he didn't see anything except the fury on his friend's face—and her wet un-braided hair—the girls accused him of being a creep while the boys praised him. Only Gobber and his father when he heard what happened believed him. Toothless was neutral on the issue. Though informed about personal privacy, the whole subject about it meant nothing to him. He could walk in on Hiccup without finding a problem with it, so a controversy about a teenage boy entering an occupied shower hall didn't bother him.
As far as he knew, anyway.
The faint, echoing blast of a horn sounded outside, signaling the end of lunch break. By this time, Tuffnut had sulked away, their instructor standing in the midst of exiting teenagers looking proud of himself. He glanced behind his shoulder at Hiccup, a toothy grin on his face. "Hiccup, lad! Gonna wake up Toothless?"
Quickly looking at the Night Fury, it was apparent he was going to sleep the rest of the afternoon. "Ehh... I'd better not. Not unless you're willing to make a hook overnight."
Not surprisingly, Gobber nodded in agreement, watching two boys shove each other through the door. He scratched his beefy neck then shrugged. "Ah, well. Let 'im rest. I think he needs a break from all those lads." He then lumbered off, shouting at the small group of boys to behave or go home.
Hiccup trudged behind, his eyes not once averting from the ball of black scales. He didn't want to leave him, what with his unpredictable behavior, but even then, Toothless was becoming a handful and testing everyone's nerves. It would be best if he left him here to sleep it off. He'll come to the courtyard when he is ready.
Gingerly, the teenager hobbled outside after the trainees, arms held out to help keep his balance.
There was going to be rain later in the evening, his leg rig was starting to act up. That, and some of the dragons were growing antsy. As much as they didn't care for the rain, they didn't wish to fly in it. And with the heavy layer of vapor hanging in the air, they chose to purposefully lag in mid-flight, or even refused liftoff entirely. It was frustrating for the Vikings, but not as much as Hiccup. With Toothless taking a break, he had to direct from the ground, which proved more difficult and confusing. The dragons could hear him perfectly from the height they decided to hover at, but the riders kept shouting back demands for him to be louder. Not even Gobber could please them with his booming voice, and it only caused problems when the creatures were becoming dizzy with disorder.
The boy groaned loudly, both from vexation and the cramping in his leg. "Oh-h-h, what's the point? They're not going to listen to the rest of the lesson."
"'N' I don' blame 'em," his former instructor shrugged. "Rain does make one lazy."
"But I thought dragons could fly in any weather."
Gobber threw his shoulders up again. "Eh. Depends on the dragon, I s'pose. Go home 'n' rest, lad, I'll take care o' the rest."
He blinked up at him in surprise. "A-Are you sure, sir?" he asked, mouth agape. "But, how are you sure they'll listen to you?"
He winked down at him. "I got my ways. That, 'n' Astrid will back me up, don'cha worry. Now ye take Toothless 'n' skedaddle."
"And the rain?"
"I'm makin' 'em stay their full hours. Everythin' is under control, lad. Now git."
Patting his arm with a smile, the teen stumbled off, hopping on his good leg most of the way back to the dining hall across the grounds. Upon pushing open the large doors, he saw with relief his Night Fury awake and sitting on his haunches, still in the same place he left him in. But his silent rejoicing subsided when he saw the sulking expression on his face as he stared out the window, not once glimpsing over at the entrance. Just like the other dragons, probably, he thoughtfully sighed, limping over to his friend. He carefully laid a hand against the scaly cheek, and Toothless immediately leaned into his touch, eyes softly closing. "Hey, buddy, ready to go home?" he inquired quietly, his left leg itching in excitement. (He himself couldn't wait to loaf around, to get off his foot for the day.)
The dragon didn't respond, slowly standing and heading for the door, tail dragging. Hiccup leaned against him for support as usual, concern etching onto his face. Normally, Toothless looked forward to returning home despite the weather outside and whatever mood he was in at the moment. There were times the boy had to literally crawl onto his back when he ran with amazing speed for their house on the hill. However, today was abnormal. He wanted to go back home and—of course—sleep, but his spirit wasn't into it. There was something else bothering his friend. "Are you aching, Toothless?" he wondered out-loud. It was possible an old complaint was acting up, but judging by his silence, he either didn't have one, or he was choosing to ignore him at the moment.
Well, as long as he was walking...
The duo made their way through the quiet, darkening village, strangely uninterrupted as the villagers were locked away in their homes if not out on the field riding—trying to anyways—a dragon. There were a few children hanging by the windows who waved to them with muffled shouts of greeting, but it was an otherwise peaceful stroll. Clouds above them were blackening rather quickly, the scent of rain growing heavier every step as temperature dropped. It at least wasn't going to be a terrible storm, Hiccup knew, so the walk uphill wouldn't be too terrible. The winds were on their side today, blowing gently across their backs; it was a good sign.
Too engrossed in the thought of returning home by guidance of the winds, the one-footed boy almost forgot his companion when his strides lengthened. It was suddenly easier to walk alone now without support, he noticed, and looked over his shoulder to see if Toothless was the cause of such an improvement. It was not so. The Night Fury had slumped in place a yard back, wings and ears drooped, and eyes illuminating a melancholy gleam, a rather far-away gaze for a dragon. Turning back around, Hiccup almost tripped over a stray rock making his way back to his friend, the first drops of rain descending from the sky. "Toothless, buddy?" came out a whisper, taking the great head into his hands to tilt the stare down at him. Their eyes didn't fully meet. "Hey, what's wrong?" he asked some more. "Why'd you stop? We're half-way home." He gestured to the hilltop plainly contrasted against the gray clouds.
Toothless let out a sorrowful whine from his throat, his first actual response since morning. He bowed his head lower than he normally held it, almost nosing at the ground, wings feebly raising to spread out, only to twitch. His human friend found himself laying atop his cranium between the eyes in a slope. "Toothless, what's the matter? Are you feeling okay?"
Beneath him, the dragon shook his head once, pressing into his chest. Hiccup carefully bent his disabled leg at the knee to kneel, fingers reaching down to comfortingly scratch his chin while resting his forehead at Toothless' nose bridge. Their gazes at last crossed vision, and the boy could see he was in a depressive state, signs of a sickness developing in the depths. He let out a sigh, "Oh, Toothless..." and he buried his face into him. The Night Fury bucked him up with a pitiful cry, almost an apologetic sound. Nuzzling at the smooth scales, his trainer stood up, lifting up the head with him. Peeking out for a glance, he gave a small tug. "Come on. Let's get you home."
Steadily but surely, Hiccup coaxed his dragon further, the rain falling from a drizzle to a shower within a few minutes of resumed walking. He remained in the front to look Toothless in the eye whenever he began to drag, finding his way around holes, loose rocks, and slippery mud piles. Knowing Berk well enough kept serious harm from coming to him, but with his natural clumsiness, it was even more amazing that not once did the boy drop to his knees or onto his back each time he skidded. Toothless would slant to one side when needed, but most of the time his companion blindly led the way, a small smile on his young freckled face. Then the steepness began, and the support was crucial. A heavy downpour was already beginning, and the dirt liquefied promptly. Without once twisting around to see where he was going, Hiccup tried finding his balance to climb. One wrong step, and he slipped beneath Toothless, arms tightening their clasp around his neck. The dragon snagged his teeth on the collar of the vest and dragged him back to his foot, pushing themselves forward to a more sturdy ledge. Regaining their bearings, the two proceeded the ascension like nothing happened. They stumbled and slid as expected, but their teamwork and dedication to reach the house kept them motivated enough they could care less if they were suffering from head trauma the whole way.
Upon arriving at the doorstep, Hiccup reached behind him to open the door, slowly guiding his dragon friend inside the dark house soaked to the bone. They stopped in front of the empty fireplace where he released Toothless and broke eye contact to throw in the firewood and straw stashed in the corner to help it burn faster. Snatching the flint from the hearth, he swiftly sparked a flame into the pit, burning his fingers doing so. The teen flinched only to waive it off and trip upstairs for his bedroom where he tore off the covers from his bed without a second thought. Tossing it over the banister, Hiccup carefully descended the wooden stairs, jumping the last two steps. A shivering Toothless hooked his tail underneath the blankets to hold them up for his friend, gratefully accepting the rubdown to dry his scales, giving off gurgled purrs.
The smile on the boy's lips broadened. "Glad to know you're feeling better, buddy," he murmured, scrubbing the top of the dragon's head. Toothless licked half of his face in response, bringing out a laugh. "Hey, give me a chance to dry off!"
The Night Fury wriggled his rump around amusingly, flapping his wings briefly to scatter water droplets. Despite being wet enough to catch his death of cold, he was in a good mood at the moment. Hiccup could only hope it would last throughout the night and possibly into tomorrow in case he was to fall ill if he hadn't already. Either way, he was bringing in the village healer to take a look and diagnose a problem. Dragons were still new to him, but as they could get common sicknesses similar to what the livestock and villagers carry, it wouldn't be very difficult for him to make a diagnosis and begin the treatment almost immediately. Hiccup was hopeful Toothless would be back to normal in a week's time if so.
When it was certain he was completely dried off, the boy laid out the covers and sneezed. He looked down at the sagging clothes, remembering he needed to change out. So he excused himself and went upstairs, grasping the banister for aid. The moment the door closed shut, Toothless hastily picked himself up and entered the small dining room, sniffing the air for any fish that were possibly hidden. In disappointment, he spun around for the front door, ears twitching at the thumping sound in his human's room. Slyly, he wrapped his tail around the knob and twisted it open, peering out at the misty rain. It was coming down in galleons it seemed, making the dragon hesitant to bother sneaking outside. But the scent of wet fish beside the house beckoned to him, so he slithered by the wall to the other side, eyes widening at the hanging catch swaying in the wind. Knowing Hiccup wouldn't be very happy, the Night Fury tore them off with his teeth and hurried back, wiping his feet on the cobblestone. Inside, when the door swung closed courtesy of the wind, he plopped down by the fire and shook himself dry. The flames hissed at the water contact, but remained ablaze if only by half its size. As a precaution, he puffed out a gentle ball of fire, and the color changed into a soft blue as it completely engulfed the original fire. Aw well—the lighting and shadows were at least prettier now. At the creak of the upstairs' door opening, Toothless stuffed over half the food into his mouth, ducking his head to chew unseen. He was satiated for the night.
Hiccup took his time hopping down the stairs wearing his nightclothes—as it deemed unlikely he was going to go anywhere else for the day—the wet garments hanging over his arm. He limped his way in Toothless' direction, hanging the clothes on the hooks jutting out from the mantel, staring at the new fire. His nose wrinkled at the stink of fish and dropped his eyes to the small pile at the dragon's claws. He sighed, putting the two together. "You went outside, didn't you?" It wasn't a question: he himself had hung those fish out.
As innocently as possible, the Night Fury shook his head in a fib, curling his lips into the toothless grin that won their friendship. He nudged a couple in his direction, encouraging him to eat. Disappointed at the theft, the young Viking couldn't help but fall for his version of a smile, and he accepted the offering in forgiveness. He stuck them on a poker and sat cross-legged in front of the fireplace, holding them to the flaming embrace. "Well, thank you for sharing, Toothless," he let out a sigh, reaching over to pat a leg. "I figured you'd have gorged yourself of it all."
The reptile stole a quick side-glance to a dark corner before Hiccup's quiet voice began again. "I wouldn't have blamed you if you did. You haven't eaten properly for a few days now, I'm expecting your feeding frenzies at any given minute. As unnatural as it sounds, that's what has been on everyone's minds for some time. No other dragon has done this that I know of, and most of us are getting worried." He sighed, running his fingers through his drying hair. "I'm bringing in the healer tomorrow for a check-up. I suppose you've been due for one anyway, but just in case you're sick, it wouldn't hurt to go ahead and get it out of the way. Right, bud?"
Toothless leaned over to butt heads, crooning softly in agreement. With a grin, the teenager pulled back the fire hook, a pleasing inspection of the cooked fish. "Exactly what I wanted to hear."
Turning to what was left of the fish, the Night Fury scooped them up in his mouth and walked over to the doorway. Before Hiccup's eyes, he opened the door and dropped the pile off to the side closest to the house and away from the harshness of the rain. Backing into the room and shutting the door closed, he strutted back to his spot by the fireplace, smiling proudly. His human, however, didn't look very happy. "Toothless!" he groaned, standing up and heading for the exit himself, still holding the fire poker. Opening the door, he stared at the pack of Terrors that were attacking and dragging off the fish. He face-palmed with his free hand, feeling the rough tug of his uneaten food being ripped off in one of the small reptiles' mouth. He could care less. "Why didn't you eat that?" he grumbled out-loud, shaking his head.
Toothless felt guilt stirring in his stomach, wishing he could tell him he did eat, and yet regurgitate his mistake all the same. He knew better than to sneak the fish inside, Hiccup would've provided for them both. The slam startled him a little, hearing the dark mutterings as the boy shuffled up to him and roughly pulled off the fish, shoving it into his face. "Take this," was the unhappy sigh, glaring at the floor. "It at least wouldn't make you completely starve."
The dragon shook his head, pushing it back with his tail. It only infuriated Hiccup. "Eat the fish, damn it!" he shouted, snapping his head up. "Why must you be so picky at the moment? It's still fish for Odin's sake, now eat it!"
Ears pressed against his skull with a quiet whine, Toothless hesitantly accepted the cooked fish, slowly chewing it while avoiding his friend's shadowed face. Tossing the rod into a corner, his human huffed away into the kitchen, fists clenched tightly at his side. It was hard to swallow with the self-remorse pressing onto his half-full stomach, the angry words from such a normally-kind voice still echoing clearly in his mind. A sudden wave of sadness brewed up inside, and he curled up, facing the fire. If dragons could cry, he would be bursting into tears. He didn't know why, but despite the natural warmth inside him and from the fire, he shivered.
Hiccup returned with a slice of bread in hand, sitting back down beside his dragon, hunched over in mere disappointment. Staring at the shadows flickering in the firelight, he slowly ate the bread, deep in thought. A painful silence hung over the two, the regretful Night Fury watching his furrowed face worriedly, wanting his harsh expression to change to something less heart-wrenching. He was looking too different, too older to be his Hiccup. It was a breath of relief when he looked away into a dark corner, but the cold shoulder being given couldn't dull the guilt. Toothless ducked his head under his legs, ready to turn to sleep in hopes it would soothe the anger between them, or at least pretend it was a nightmare. But his heavy heart refused to allow him rest, so he lay in silence, brooding over what he could've done instead of following the selfish instinctive gluttony.
Time was meaningless in this position, so the dragon couldn't hypothesize how long they speechlessly sat there by the undying fire. Though judging by his friend's tired, soft voice speaking at last, it was late. "I'm sorry for snapping at you, Toothless," Hiccup barely whispered, a sorrowful sigh sounding out. "I shouldn't have yelled at you like that. I was just upset at what has been happening the past few weeks, what with you switching between eating habits without warning among other things. That, and you giving away your fish. Yes, those were for you." (The guilty lump in Toothless' stomach lightened only a little.) "Dad ended up taking the stash with him for the trade route, so I went ahead and caught some for you. I was going to give them to you when you felt like eating." A quiet laugh. "Guess I underestimated you today."
A hand gently lay between the horns, making the reptile look up at his rider at last. His face was more relaxed now, apologetic and loving as ever. It made Toothless purr in content at the sight, eyes gleaming happily in the firelight. He bumped noses with him, bringing out a brighter smile from the boy to let him know he was forgiven. Lifting a wing and a leg, he invited Hiccup into his embrace, holding him close in a cuddling hug and mussing up his auburn hair with a lick: his good night kiss. The teen jokingly pushed his head away, nose crinkling at the dragon breath—it would be a long time before he would get used to the fish odor. "Aw, I can never stay mad at you, you dope. 'Night, then."
A tender growl rumbled from his throat before laying down around his human for the night. Hiccup nestled up against the shoulder, eyes closed and smiling up at the ceiling. However, the moment all was calm again and sleep ready to overcome them, Toothless' stomach lurched, forcing him to suddenly sit up and vomit up what remained of the fish.
Needless to say, the good night's rest was ruined, much to Hiccup's disgust.
The village healer had come unexpectedly and uninvited early that morning when the fog was still upon the ground. Hiccup was already grumpy enough from taking care of a sick dragon all night, so the knock on the door blew his capillaries. He shouted scattered nonsense at the poor, small man for a minute before his tired mind recognized who he was and quickly apologized, blubbering out the reasons for his outburst. Being an understanding and caring man, he immediately forgave him. "I've had worse," a laugh wheezed out as he hobbled past the boy into the house. He was blown away by the lingering scent of fish, the white hairs on his head and long beard standing on end. "Hoo-o-o, someone's been ill."
"Toothless threw up last night," the boy yawned, limbs cricking when he stretched his arms over his head. "I cleaned up the best I could, but he was still sick all over the place."
Clicking his tongue, the elderly healer shuffled over by the fireplace to pet the weakened Night Fury on the forehead. "Not a good symptom. Poor feller must've caught something in the rain or elsewhere."
"Well, he had fish."
"Always, though he did have a cooked fish last night."
"Probably didn't like the taste."
Hiccup only frowned. "He took it without a complaint, though," he mused, "but then again, I was yelling at him..."
Toothless moaned quietly at his statement, attracting the man's attention to its fullest. He "hmm"ed, propping open his mouth to inspect the teeth and throat. Muttering to himself, he tilted the head down to look him in the eyes, moving his hand in and out of the way to test the pupil's dilation in the morning light. "What has your dragon been doing lately?" he asked out-loud, checking the vision of movement using his staff.
After another yawn, the young Viking replied, "Well... his eating habits keep changing. He'll eat one day, then drop the appetite the other. Same with sleep patterns. He has also unusually been moody and doesn't like being touched a lot unless he wants us to. Well, that's normal, somewhat."
"I see..." Glancing over at the tail-end, he gestured for Hiccup to take his place in front of Toothless while he headed behind him. He disappeared behind the wings (feeling them along the way), then there was a "ha-rup!" and a slight elevation of his friend's haunches, the tail visibly arching.
The boy frowned, brows raising. "Uh... what are you doing?"
"Tell me, lad," came the quiet voice of the old healer, "have you always been at your dragon's side?"
He thoughtfully bit the inside of his cheek, glancing side-ways at Toothless. "Well... now that you mention it... not exactly."
"Gone anywhere recently?"
A sudden snarl curled the Night Fury's lips as he flinched forward, wings spreading, and pupils contracting to slits, claws digging into the floorboards. A gentle scratch under the chin did little to calm him down. "Well, we flew over to another island for a vacation about a couple months or so ago. Camped somewhere in the woods. But as far as I know, Toothless never went anywhere without me. As you can see, he can't fly off very far—"
Hiccup blinked at the sudden correction, mouth frozen open in the middle of his sentence. He tilted his head in confusion. "Uh... she?"
"Oh, absolutely!" The tail was released and the healer came back around into view, a pleasant smile on his face and hands behind his back. "Why do you look so surprised? Haven't you ever checked?"
Face distorting at the question, he shook his head. "No, of course not. I respect privacy, even amongst dragons."
Shrugging, the man looked down at Toothless' belly, exclaiming out in discovery. "Ah, she's pinking! Another obvious sign you've never checked for."
"Pinking what?" Stepping to the healer's side, Hiccup saw the prominent rows of light pink against black on the belly of the Night Fury. Stranger still, the belly was showing signs of a bulge, something he knew wasn't there before. It was fairly obvious now that Toothless was laying more on the side, but even then, the boy couldn't believe what he was seeing. In a short fifteen seconds, the Viking teen was hunching in disbelief, arms hanging limply in the front except for one pointing at the bump, jaw dropping, and eyes twitching. "T-Toothless is... p-p—pregnant?" he sputtered out, feeling uncomfortable saying the word.
Much to his total awe, the elderly man chortled joyously, supporting himself with his staff. "Well, what do you know? What are the odds of that happening?"
"H-He can't be pregnant!" Hiccup continued to stutter, flailing his hands around and pacing the floor awkwardly. "There's no way! Toothless is male, for Thor's sake! That, a-and there are no other Night Furies anywhere near he—ow!"
Rubbing at his head, he glared down at the dwarfed man stamping down his walking stick. "Lad, what more proof do you need that your dragon is a female?" he scolded, beady eyes peering up at him. "Unless you want to check under that tail yourself, this is the proof!" A hand shot out from the long sleeves. "And I wish to congratulate you."
Once more blabbering like an idiot, the boy subconsciously took the hand in a hard handshake, staring almost horrifically at the large belly, hardly feeling Toothless' eyes on him. The healer's voice penetrated him again. "Of course, it's strange how she hasn't laid her eggs yet. She should've done so by this time. That's what the other dragons did."
"Other?" Hiccup squeaked out, unable to break the handshake.
"Oh yes, there have been other dragon pregnancies here," came the unhesitant answer. "Mainly Terrors—breeding like crazy they are. But they all had eggs. It's strange, normally dragons have eggs. Then again, so do fish, but I have seen a few give live birth before."
The healer whirled around to face the terrified Viking, bushy brows raising skeptically and pulling away his hand. "You have a problem with that, Stoick's boy? Haven't you seen enough live births among the livestock in your lifetime?"
"Toothless isn't livestock! He's my fr—!"
"...she's my friend! For the love of Thor, I would never call him—her livestock! Ever!"
"Deep breaths, lad, take deep breaths."
"No-o-o don't touch me!" Hiccup stumbled backward backing away from the man, only to be caught by Toothless' tail from behind. He laid there to regain his bearings and to relax, inhaling deeply like the healer ordered him to do. Steadily, he slid to the wooden floor, closing his eyes to stop the spinning. His mind began putting together the pieces one at a time, starting with the change in his friend's behavior of the sleeping and eating habits to the discovery of the swelling stomach. And whether or not he was accepting that fact, it was making sense. Thinking back to the vacation, he did remember waking up on the last morning to find Toothless missing, only for him—her, it's her now—to show up some few hours later, tired and slightly moody. Actually, no... that was a hard night. He kept hearing distant noises that he thought Toothless or other wild animals were making, but didn't want to wake up to check it out.
A strangled gasp escaped his throat at the memory, eyes snapping open and face distorting in the sickening realization of what went on that night. "Oh... my... gods."
"So you finally believe me," the healer huffed, throwing his free hand up in the air. "About time. Honestly, lad, you're the brightest one of all of us, and you never had a clue." He laughed. "Ah, the irony!"
Hiccup remained flat on the floor, gawking at the ceiling in petrification. Only his lips moved. "How... how long will this take?"
"Well... considering if she doesn't lay eggs and instead gives live birth, possibly in a few months or so," replied the old man, looking down upon the stunned boy. "Of course, that's the least of your concern. You should be thankful I came by so soon. A pregnant queen needs a little more special care than normal until the litter is born."
"That's what a pregnant dragon is called."
"...Why a queen?"
"Because 'bitch' was already taken." The healer shrugged. "I don't make these up. Besides, it makes them feel more important, and a happy queen brings happy, healthy babies."
Rolling his eyes to Toothless, the man shook his head. "Yes, lad, babies. Honestly, you're acting like you're the father."
"I am not!" And Hiccup scrambled to his foot, struggling to find his balance and amusing the on-looking spectators. It became funnier when he accusingly pointed at the healer, and spouted out, "First of all, you come in here uninvited! Secondly, you tell me Toothless is a female AND pregnant! And now you say I'm a dad? What in the name of Odin is going through that head of yours?"
With a quick whack to the boy's head, the man replied curtly, "First off, learn your place and not mouth off to your elders. Now, just for the record, I was asked by someone last night—and that person shall remain nameless by request—to come here in the morning. The time wasn't given, so I figured first thing in the morning." He then sniffed. "And I'm not accusing you of fathering the babies. I'd be very concerned if that was the case."
"It's not!" came the shriek.
"Calm down, boy!" he exclaimed, knocking the staff to his cranium once more. "You hyperventilate again, you'll pass out. Don't want to stress out the queen, do you?"
"Toothless. His name is Toothless."
"Whatever!" Hiccup scoffed, flinging his hands up into the air before pacing and complaining, even talking to himself or the ceiling—rather dramatically. "I don't care! Call Toothless whatever you like, even I'll call him anything—it'll take time, but I'll get used to it—call him a queen, call him livestock, anything—ye-e-es anything, just to get you out—just ple-e-ease hurry up and leave so I can sleep! Oh, Odin, why do you hate me so? Why wasn't I born normal—shouldn't that be one of the jobs of a healer, huh? YE-ES, it should! I'll happily give service hours to healers-in-training to cure abnormalities! But wait? What if I'm a reincarnation of Loki? NO, wrong, Hiccup! Berk would have already exploded by now. Ha, like it hasn't so many times since I've been born. Ha! Healer, tell me! Do pregnant dragons level a village? Mainly girl Night Furies? Oh, this will be history in the making! I don't care if they're called a queen, or Toothless, or a she-male, Toothless is a mother and—Oh-h-h-Odin-Dad-will-be-so-angry-pregnant-animals-make-messes-on-floors-and-everything-is-wooden. WHY ME? Why not somebody ELSE for once?"
All Toothless and the healer could do during Hiccup's hyperventilation was supervise and keep from laughing or even interfering. It was entertaining watching him pace feverishly across the floor, hands gesturing wildly all over the place and face disgruntled in many different forms, eyes twitching every change of thought. It was only when he began to mumble indistinctly that the man clapped his hands together and said as loud as he dared, "Well, it seems everything is taken care of! You know what to do when your Toothless here demands her needs, directly or indirectly, right?"
"Yes, yes, of course," the boy said, waving his hand vigorously in his direction, still pacing in a circle.
"And how about when the day of delivery comes?"
"You have questions or concerns, come see me, okay?"
Still skeptical about the whole ordeal, the healer shrugged and hobbled rickety for the door. Opening it, he added, "This was all free of charge, lad, since it was already taken care of. Your queen needs to rest often, get her necessities such as food and water in proper amounts, don't want her too fat or skinny, and must not fly long distances, okay?"
"Yeah, that sounds right," came more agreeing.
"Oh, and she will be very affectionate for quite some time, up until she has the litter, or eggs. Whichever comes first." He then exited the house, softly closing the door behind him.
Hiccup obliviously continued nodding. "Yeah... sure thing, sir. Affectionate, right. I'll keep that in mind—what!" Swerving around, he was unexpectedly knocked to the floor by Toothless leaping for him, licking and nuzzling his face and hair more lovingly than it was given before. He struggled under the weight of the dragon, trying to push away the intruding face, but surrendered and allowed her to lay atop of him and groom. There was no way he stood a chance against a pregnant Night Fury with his scrawny physique. His mind was still in shock about the whole discovery, but he supposed he'd get used to calling Toothless a girl. "I guess it's too late to change your name to something more feminine, eh?" he joked, grinning sheepishly.
Toothless only crooned happily, adding another layer of drool onto his face.
The news of Toothless spread throughout Berk rather quickly later on that day, courtesy of Gobber. Hiccup made the mistake of telling him at the workshop, and his exclamation at the announcement attracted a small crowd, who then went to tell their friends and families. By lunch break, nearly all the villagers heard the report about the pregnant Night Fury. The boy couldn't find peace that whole half-hour, what with everyone coming up to congratulate him and asking permission to see Toothless (who remained at home for her rest): such requests he declined. It was only his friends who pestered him enough they got the secret privilege to follow him home after work—not among them was Astrid, who had slipped away into the woods with her Nadder early that morning.
"Remember, try to keep your voices down," he reminded them for the umpteenth time at the doorstep, talking mainly to the twins. "Toothless might still be asleep, and we don't want to wake her up." He cringed a little at the "her" word, but after repeating it over and over to the people, it was beginning to feel natural.
The group fidgeted: Fishlegs chewed on his bottom lip as he jigged a little in place, Snotlout kept twitching and looking over his shoulder, and Ruffnut and Tuffnut shoved each other lightly (the best they could), wanting to be the first inside. Hiccup was already starting to regret inviting them over for a few minutes, thinking he should have asked Toothless first if she wanted to see friends today. With another warning glance, he opened the door and led them in, sending them through single-file. Upon entering the house, however, their excitement couldn't be contained. It started with the Thorstons shouting "Holy Odin!" before arguing who would be the closest. Then Fishlegs began loudly and unceasingly spouting off anything he (supposedly) knew about dragon pregnancies. Snotlout was the only one who lagged behind to slap Hiccup on the back in congratulations.
Taken aback, Toothless stared wide-eyed at the group flooding her personal space until she let out a long warning snarl that silenced them. They shrank back in surprise, unsure what to do in the presence of a territorial, hormonal dragon. Pushing past them, Hiccup came into view, holding out his hands in assurance. "Toothless, it's okay. Calm down, girl. They don't have a clue how to act around expecting mothers." He glared over his shoulder at his friends, who then immediately hung their heads. A frustrated sigh escaped him. "I knew better than to let you guys come."
Murmurs of "sorry" spread among them, meekly glancing up at him for split seconds before averting their eyes to the room. "Nice place you have here," Fishlegs attempted to lighten the mood. (He was the only one who had never been inside Hiccup's house before. Everyone else had visited once or twice.)
Turning to Toothless, the teen bowed his head in apology. "Sorry I didn't warn you about this. It was very sudden. You can thank Gobber for that."
Lifting herself off the floor, Toothless paced over to her human, and rubbed up underneath his chin. He grinned nervously at his gaping friends, sliding his arms around her neck to accept the affection. "Yeah... I could hardly get out the door this morning, she was all over me."
Tuffnut and Snotlout's faces crinkled up; it was obvious they were getting the wrong idea. "That's real nice, Hiccup," the blonde boy muttered, side-glancing at his sister.
She reached over to smack him across the head. "Ya sick dope, not like that!" she snapped. "She's pregnant! This is like an animal's version of being hor—"
"OH, I GET IT NOW!" he quickly interrupted in a raised tone of voice, elbowing Snotlout in the ribs. "RIGHT, BUDDY?"
Hiccup flailed his hands about. "Keep your voice down!" he hissed, sensing the irritation in Toothless. "She's sensitive, for Thor's sake!"
Fishlegs timidly stepped up to the Night Fury, biting his lip. He took a peek at the bloating belly. "H-How far along is she?" he wondered, shivering under the dragon's stare.
"About a few months, most likely. I have that unshakable feeling she isn't going to be laying eggs."
"But dragons lay eggs! They're supposed to!"
"So do fish, but apparently there are some fish that give live birth. It's possibly the same for dragons." He nearly lost his footing when Toothless pressed up against him more, audible purrs sounding from the throat. "Thus why she's very affectionate."
"Yeah, only to you," Snotlout snorted, a hint of a laugh in his voice. "I'd say she has a fetish for you."
"Dragons don't get fetishes," Hiccup frowned, fighting the urge to push away the queen.
"That's what she sa—OW!" Tuffnut cringed from the smack from his twin, rubbing his head. Fishlegs managed a chuckle. He muttered a curse under his breath, fighting the urge to get in a verbal or physical brawl.
The auburn-haired boy shook his head with a disgruntled sigh. "Yeah, sure, they may get over-protective, but that doesn't prove—GAH!" He was knocked to the ground when the Night Fury attempted to jump higher for his face. Pinned by the shoulders, she proceeded to groom his hair.
Everyone barreled over in hearty laughter at the sight, the two thuggish boys high-fiving each other and chanting out, "That's our Toothless!" They soon lost their breath and dropped to the floor, rolling in fits of mirth. Ruffnut hung onto the hearth to keep from collapsing while Fishlegs pointed and guffawed where he stood. Even Toothless was finding it funny, panting out deep chuckles in between licks (which made everyone else laugh harder to the point they cried). Poor Hiccup couldn't bring himself to join in, being the victim underneath a rumbling dragon. To make it worse, she curled up on the floor and held him close like he was her offspring receiving a bath.
Then the door opened, saving Hiccup, but dooming him all the same. "By the Hammer of Thor! What is going on in here?" came the booming, commanding voice of his father.
All laughter immediately ceased, the teenagers standing at attention with straight faces. Toothless quieted down to look at the new-comer, but still resumed grooming her human. Standing at the doorway, Stoick the Vast gawked at the scene occurring in his house, ax in hand and helmet giving off a gleam in the receding sunlight. Never before had he seen or heard of such joyful commotion among a group of teens, particularly the group he was staring at. He was hoping Hiccup wasn't throwing a celebration of sorts despite nearing adulthood, but he knew his son better than that. The lingering smell, however, was saying so otherwise. Walking in boldly, he looked the younger Vikings over before turning to his only child in the clutches of his dragon. He blinked. "What... is this?"
Hiccup freed a hand to humbly wave at him. "Heh... hi, Dad."
"What are you doing, boy?" he asked, the tone of voice growing in strictness. "What's all this about?"
"Uh... Toothless is giving me a bath?"
"It looks like he's ready to eat you!"
Fishlegs bravely stepped in. "Uh, actually, sir... Toothless is a 'she'."
Whirling around to face the large boy (frightening him back in place), Stoick's brow raised incredulously. "'She'?" he echoed. "What do you mean by 'she'?"
Fiddling with his thumbs, the sandy-haired Viking ducked his head shyly. "Uh... how to explain this... Toothless had a case of mistaken... identity, somewhat..."
"Toothless was a female all along... and, uh... sometime a few months ago, she... uh...You know when a boy and a girl get together, and... uh..."
"She got knocked up!" Snotlout blurted out, pointing at the enlarging belly of the Night Fury. "I swear we didn't find out about it until today! Even Hiccup will tell you that!" Fishlegs quickly nodded in agreement, as did everyone else.
The addressed boy narrowed his eyes at the thug, silently saying to him rather sarcastically, "Thanks for the explanation."
Stoick, however, only frowned some more, crossing his arms and looking at Toothless' protruding stomach. He held his mouth open for a moment until he found the words. "So... we have a bitch in the house."
"No, Dad, the proper term is queen!" his son hurriedly corrected, shaking around his hand. "The village healer says it makes them feel good about themselves."
"Why in the world would you bring him here to check up on your dragon?" he scoffed. "He knows nothing about them!"
"I didn't! Okay, well, I did, but someone else got him for me, I don't know who. And he was paid in advance by said-person as well, so... everything turned out great."
"How'd he know Toothless was pregnant?"
Glancing down at the bloated belly, Hiccup lobbed his head in his father's direction with an almost-rhetorical look. "Uh... she's pinking."
He then gestured to himself. "This."
"You're the father?"
The teenagers burst out laughing at the comment just as he defended himself. "Why is everyone saying that? It's not funny! No, I am not the father, that is gross! There was another dragon on that island three months ago, and he's the father, stop laughing," he growled to Toothless. She only licked him in response.
Stoick the Vast wasn't very amused. He inhaled deeply. "He stick his hand underneath the tail?"
The room grew deathly silent at the sentence, eyes widening at the thought. Hiccup reconsidered back to that morning, seeing the backside of his friend go almost over her back, and then the snarl that didn't sound like Toothless. His face scrunched up. "He... did..."
"...And I wish to congratulate you."
Everyone in the house jumped out of their skins when the disturbed boy screamed in disgust, staggering to his foot and stumbling away from his dragon, running into the wall. "OH MY GODS! I SHOOK HIS HAND!" He shakily raised the hand he knew participated in the handshake. He shrieked even more at realizing he was using that hand all day. "I SHOOK HIS HAND!" came out a few more times, more hysterical than the last until it came out as a squeaky "shook his hand", vision still transfixed in horror at his betraying mitt.
Within thirty seconds, his friends' faces fell at the realization he had been working and even touching with that very hand, including them. Fishlegs' voice squeaked trying to keep back a scream when he loudly proclaimed, "I'm going to be late for supper, bye!" and waddling out the door. Others followed suit with their own excuses, the least-likely one being the twins' baths. Snotlout gave a weak salute to Stoick before slamming the door shut behind him.
It was very quiet in the house for minutes, with the exception of the low croons from Toothless and Hiccup's deep breaths. His father's vision remained locked on the door, his exhales sounding irritated or disappointed. But slowly, everything became calm, and he turned to face his son, leaning his ax against the wall. He looked neither irked or displeased over the situation, but his expression still wasn't a happy one. Sheepishly, Hiccup walked back towards Toothless, allowing himself to be snuggled by her. He cautiously brought back the topic of her unexpected pregnancy. "So... Toothless is going to be needing some extra attention and a little more food. She'll have to stay in the house."
Stoick remained silent, defiantly crossing his arms. Taking a gulp, the teen continued. "Uh... w-we're estimating she has a few months left, maybe, before she gives birth. I've heard there are tell-tale signs she's getting ready, but hopefully the house burning down isn't one of them." He weakly chuckled, rubbing at his head. "If she starts tackling you, it's perfectly normal. It's the hormones, I hear. But it probably won't happen to you, only me."
The captain then said his part, pulling at his beard. "So we have a bitch in the house."
"No, Dad, the proper term is queen!" Hiccup groaned, face-palming.
"'Bitch' is a proper term as well."
"But not for pregnant dragons! It doesn't make them feel important!" Toothless nodded in agreement.
Stoick frowned, tilting his head. "Son... I don't know how to say this, but she still looks like a bitch to me."
The boy dropped his arms. "Please stop saying that."
"Yes, stop saying that!"
"Why? Inferiority complex will pop up?"
"Yes! What? I don't know, I was just told never to say that around a dragon!" With a sign, Hiccup leaned against his Night Fury, gazing up at the ceiling. "It's confusing, Dad, but that's how it goes. A happy mother makes happy babies, I suppose. Or was that queen?"
A moment of awkward silence.
"...She still looks like a bitch to me."
Over the next few months, the village of Berk grew excited for the arrival of Night Fury younglings. It was official that Toothless was not going to be laying eggs, so Hiccup had to prepare a special bed of wool and feathers in a corner for the birth when it came. She stayed in the house while slowly growing accustomed of limited mobility, unable to climb the stairs when the fourth month faded to the fifth. The belly steadily ballooned, stretching the scales to the point one could see the dark fleshy areas if they got close enough. If they had Hiccup's permission, of course. Next to the loving affection, Toothless also developed an attitude depending on the day and how much she ate. Even then, she would snap at any person who dared to touch her stomach with the exception of her human (though he told himself he would never rub her in that area anyway) and his friends. At some time she got large enough to go on bed-rest, patiently awaiting the day.
Stoick was growing weary of the up-coming day, knowing that more dragons meant more mouths to feed. As happy as he was for Toothless, he couldn't wait to count down the days to get them out of the house. (Hiccup wondered if this is how he felt when his mother was pregnant with him.) At first, however, he fussed over how much of a mess she was going to make giving birth, complaining on how the floor would be ruined and stink of afterbirth. One could only imagine his relief and joy when his son put together the nest, though he was still disappointed that it was situated still in the living room. Hiccup's excuse: "I would allow her to stay in my room, but she can barely even move around."
"And I wouldn't have minded the kitchen," his father gave his insight. "At least no guests walk in there, they mainly stay in the front room. Do you have any idea what the sight of a dragon giving birth would be like, especially with guests there to witness it?"
His boy gave a sigh, hunching slightly. "Well, she could have them outside, but it's getting close to winter. Not even the livestock give birth in the winter."
"Why not? Your mother did."
"Yeah, but not outside."
Stoick gave a grin. "You'd be surprised, boy, how many Viking women delivered their child in the snow."
That new perspective made Hiccup more nervous about Toothless. As the first signs of winter brewed in, it became more obvious that they had little to no knowledge about a dragon's natural childbirth, and very few available places to send Toothless to when the time came. She was stuck in the house for the time being while the healer came to inspect her to make sure she was healthy enough for the babies and herself to survive. In the meantime, Stoick the Vast had to go on another trade route, promising to return before the first real snowstorm would hit. For Hiccup, he still had his apprenticeship as a blacksmith (since dragon training semesters ended for the winter), so the Night Fury was mainly left alone in the house for hours on end. And the questions Gobber and other villagers constantly asked him only made him more anxious. He would come home half-expecting Toothless to have given birth while he was away, only to see her sleeping peacefully or fed and happy. Within a week, the teenager was confident she was fine on her own, and he was able to work normally and answer without snapping.
The following week, like always, Hiccup left the house after giving Toothless her amount of fish, arrived and labored at the smith for his full hours, and returned home, whistling and carrying in the firewood. Through the window, he saw the light of fire, concerning him. Upon opening the door, his jaw dropped, releasing the pile at the doorway, startling Toothless and Astrid, who leapt to her feet and attempting to push by him to leave. He caught her by the waist and spun her back inside without any difficulty (surprisingly), shutting the door. "Astrid! What are you doing here?" he gasped, looking her in the eye.
She bit her lip, glancing away in slight embarrassment, rubbing at her arms. "Heard about Toothless, so I came to check up on her."
"Why, is something the matter?" Hiccup tilted his head for a glimpse at his dragon in the corner. She looked fine, lying on her side and resting. The only sound she was making were faint whimpers, her face scrunching up weakly.
"No, not really," the blonde replied, shrugging. "I mean, she's been fine the whole time. I was just... keeping her company."
Feeling suspicious, he turned back to Astrid, folding his arms. "Who told you that Toothless was pregnant, and a girl?"
She scoffed, rolling her eyes. "Everyone knows about it, Hiccup. It doesn't take more than a couple of days for a whole village to figure it out."
"So why are you in my house? Why didn't you come with the others?"
With a huff, she crossed her arms as well, standing straighter in attempt to intimidate him. "I was practicing with my ax and on flying my Nadder, of course." Astrid then cocked an eyebrow, leaning forward with a smirk. "What about you?"
"Wait, so you haven't been learning how to be a woman the whole time?" he wondered, almost wryly.
She punched his shoulder. "None of your business, creep!" she exclaimed, stepping forward to leave.
He snatched her wrist, which she pulled away. "I keep telling you, Astrid, it was an accident! How was I supposed to know it wasn't a closet anymore?"
"It had a sign on the front, moron!" The girl knocked on his head a few times mockingly. "You can read, so what's your excuse for not seeing it?"
"That target board was heavy and bigger than me! I had a hard time reaching the knob, for Thor's sake!"
Astrid let out a sharp breath through her nostrils, and brow still furrowed, spun around for Toothless, kneeling down by her head where a bowl of water sat. She wrung out the washcloth and smoothed it over the scales, rubbing the forehead with her free hand. Hiccup blinked at the sudden change of personality and at how Toothless hadn't snapped at her. Leaving the wood scattered on the floor, he stepped up to them, sitting himself in front of his dragon. She gazed up at him through half-closed lids, a small croon in her throat. He touched her nose, noticing an abnormal warmth. "She's too warm," the girl spoke up, avoiding eye contact. "It's normal for a dragon to have high body temperatures, but being this close to labor, it's dangerous for the babies. I suggest you help keep her cool, unless you want to take care of burn patients."
Springing up, he hobbled for the kitchen, snatching up the closest cloth he saw and hurried back. Astrid pushed the bowl towards him and got up to fetch another. Hiccup opened his mouth to instruct her where the bowls were, but she was back before he knew it. "Yes, Hiccup, I've been coming in while you've been gone," she answered like she knew what he was going to ask. "For about a few months, actually. Your father was happy I was coming by every day or so. Gave him an excuse to leave the house. I didn't mind, just as long as I was bonding with Toothless here." She scratched under the chin, bringing out a small purr.
The boy hung his head slightly. He worried this whole time, not knowing a close friend was taking care of her when she needed it most. What made it more surprising was how it was Toothless allowed another person—Astrid of all people—to get near her without his supervision. Had he been neglecting her this whole time that she got desperate? He hoped to Odin that wasn't the case.
A snap of the fingers brought him out of his thoughts. "Hey! I don't hear any water dripping over there! You want these babies to come out healthy?"
"Y-Yes, ma'am. Er, I mean Astrid," he sputtered, drenching the washcloth and splatting it onto Toothless' backside. His face burned up.
"Not too much water!" came the sharp demand. "You're going to get her scales waterlogged! Gods, do it right!"
"Yes'm," he muttered, wringing it out over the bowl and trying again. He mentally slapped himself. Dear Odin, he did it again.
She let out a disgruntled sigh, shaking her head. Hiccup heard a quiet, "Stupid boy," before it was quiet with the exception of Toothless' labored breathing and small growls. Concern etched his face at how tense she was feeling, and at the spasms beneath the cloth. The thoughts running through his head made him wonder if she was feeling well and if it was really affecting the unborn dragons. Upon wetting down the scales by the tail, he noticed her artificial tail fin was gone, something he swore he had never touched it since he made improvements.
Toothless started to sound off pitiful cries, thumping her tail and twitching her wings. "Easy, girl, it's okay," Astrid cooed, caressing the cheek. "It's normal, everything's okay."
"What's wrong?" Hiccup inquired, quickly returning to his duty.
"She started her contractions about a couple hours ago. She's nearing six minutes between."
"W-Wait, what's a contraction?"
She slapped her forehead. "Oh, Hiccup. Have you never aided in the delivery of an ewe before?"
"Dad never trusted me around newborns."
An awkward silence followed. "Oh, right," Astrid muttered, blowing the bangs out of her eye. "Well, contractions are the beginnings of labor, or in her case, she's whelping if that's the correct term for dragons. They will continue until she's ready to deliver. Speaking of which, check under her tail and tell me how dilated she is."
Hiccup sat there dumbly, understanding not a word she said. The thought of looking under the tail, however, did not appeal very well to him. "Um... what do you mean 'dilated'? What am I supposed to look for?"
"You need to check how wide her vag—oh fine." Clutching the washcloth in her fist, she scooted over and lifted up Toothless' tail for a peek. "Six inches. We're almost there, girl."
"What were you going to say, Astrid?" her friend piped up, coming over to look.
She pushed him away. "Never mind, Hiccup, get back to cooling her down. Honestly, I feel bad for the girl you'll be marrying, not knowing the basic steps."
"No, really, what were you about to say?"
Her icy glare frightened him back in place, and he kept his mouth shut while he continued to wet down her side. Astrid instead crawled over to be in Toothless' vision, softly talking to her and petting her in the areas that only Hiccup knew where to scratch. It was truly an amazing sight to see two beings who were enemies at first sight get along and to have another human besides himself know how to calm her down. He couldn't help but watch them, he never saw it coming. The two cursed each other even after dragons were welcome in Berk, not allowing themselves to even get within a few feet of one another. They were self-proclaimed rivals, fighting for Hiccup's attention. As much as he could dream of the day Astrid would fly his dragon without him, in reality it would never happen. But to see them enjoy the other's company without ire was a miracle. Maybe they had a chance after all.
Toothless suddenly gave an agonized howl, curling up and trembling. Astrid quickly took her place at the tail-end and looked again. Her eyes widened. "By the hammer of Thor..."
"What's with Toothless?"
"She's already crowning! I could have sworn..."
"Astrid, I'm not a genius when it comes to pregnancies, but apparently you are. Because you're a girl." She glanced up at him, a brow arching. Hiccup cleared his throat. "So, uh... what does 'crowning' mean, exactly?"
"Toothless is giving birth," came the short, simple response.
He relaxed. "Oh, good. I thought something had gone wrong."
The blonde Viking stared at him with a look that told him "What is going on through that head of yours?" Instead, she said, "'Oh good'? What is that supposed to mean?"
Her question caught him off-guard, and he slumped. "What, isn't that what you wanted to hear?"
"No, I was half-expecting you to faint." Hiccup shrugged and gave a slight nod of agreement. "Or even better, you could have said 'Gee, Astrid, what do you want me to aid with?', and I'd say 'Take my place and help deliver the babies.'"
"NO, YOU PIG-HEADED IDIOT!" she hollered, and he shrunk back. "I wanted you to jump to your feet and sit here and deliver without question! Now repeat back what I said!"
In a meek voice, the boy whispered, "You said you were basically expecting me to hop up and sit at Toothless' tail and deliver the babies."
"I didn't say 'basically expecting'! I only expected! Now sit your sorry butt down there and deliver those dragons! NOW!" She snatched up a blanket from inside the nest and chucked it at him.
The best he could, Hiccup scurried over, spilling the bowl doing so, and knelt down in her place, nervously watching the tail swing and thump around as his dragon squealed in pain. Astrid was at the head, both arms around the neck to help comfort her. "Now move her tail out of the way, hold out the blanket, and as gently as you can guide them through," she instructed, though not as harsh as before. "And please, Hiccup, for the love of Odin, don't drop them."
His mind immediately fretted that since she mentioned it, he was going to automatically drop them.
Taking a deep breath, and listening to the coaxing words of Astrid, he lifted the tail out of the way. Immediately, his face grimaced in disgust, and he groaned loudly, pulling away. "Oh, gods! Disgusting!"
"Hiccup, that's life. Now get back into position!"
"Astrid, you take over!" he howled, shielding his eyes. "You're a girl!"
"Damn it, Hiccup, this is your dragon! You deliver her children like the good Viking you are!"
"But Astrid, it's so gross! I can't get it out of my head, now!"
"I'll give you something even worse to think of if you don't stop your moaning and deliver!" came the threat.
"But what can be worse than this?"
Tempted to cry, he finally resumed position, craning his neck away and trying his hardest not to look. He pleadingly gazed at Astrid to silently convince her to take his place, but she only pointed and made gestures to reach and grab the head. The cries of his Night Fury were heartbreaking to hear, telling him it was more painful than what he was going through. He mustered up some courage by sucking in another deep breath, and did what he could through squinted eyes. From what he could see contrasted on the bedding, it was a small version of Toothless, but without the shine of scales. He reached out and caught the rest of the squirming body in the blanket, the youngling whining in his hold. Holding it up, he opened his eyes fully for a better look.
Despite being covered in a slimy substance, it was cute. The flaps were flat against its stretched head, its wet wings unfolding to half-way. Curled around the body was its tail, its fins slowly stretching out. There were small bumps down its back to suggest they would grow into horns later in life, the feet with buds of claws at the toes. Its eyes were closed, the mouth toothless. The sight brought a sting of tears to his eyes, and Hiccup felt he should indeed cry that moment.
Astrid came to his side, smiling. She reached out and gently took it from him, nodding. "You did good, Hiccup," she uttered softly. "For being a blacksmith, you have gentle hands."
A dopey smile of his own spread on his face. "I do... don't I?"
A rare giggle was let out of her throat. "Now, you going to finish the job? There's still more coming."
His face fell. "More?"
"Of course there's more. Toothless is a dragon. I suspect she has a few more to push out."
"Yes, Hiccup. That's life."
He found himself unable to say more when another blanket was placed in his still out-stretched arms. As though it was extra weight he couldn't bear, he fainted onto the floorboards. Astrid huffed, shaking her head. "I really feel bad for the girl he'll marry."
When Hiccup came to, the house was silent and dark. He rolled over, awake enough to catch himself from falling off the bed. Sitting up, he recognized the messy desk, and knew he was in his room. Touching his left leg, it was a relief to know his rig was still on, like it was expected he'd wake up later that night. He slid off and limped for the door, bumping his good knee against the frame. His sudden hisses of curses were silenced by Astrid's voice downstairs calling up a "Keep it down!"
"You're still here?" he groaned, hobbling for the staircase.
She stood there with hands on her hips, brow raised. "I don't like that tone of voice. You should be sounding more grateful. Had I not been here, Toothless wouldn't have made it through."
His mind snapped back into function, and he paused on a step. "How many did she have?"
"Three. Would have been two and no mother had I not actually reached in," she emphasized her point, "and pulled her out."
Hiccup's face slightly grimaced, and he continued his descent. "What went wrong there?"
Astrid sighed. "Well, she wouldn't turn, and it was getting rather stressful on Toothless' part, so I had to reach in, much to both of our humiliations." A smug smile then spread on her face. "Now aren't you glad Odin blessed you with a weak stomach?"
He brought himself to chuckle, walking up to her for a hug. "Oh, aren't I ever?"
She returned it with equal ferocity, even lifting him off his foot, making him squeak. He was dropped immediately, and she lightly smacked him on the mouth. "Quiet, Hiccup! You'll wake them up!" A gesture to the corner, and she pushed him in the direction.
Regaining his balance, he shuffled forward, seeing in the dim firelight the three younglings huddled against their mother. Toothless was sleeping in almost a full circle, the tail curled around them in protection, her head resting on her forearms, facing her children. Though hours old, they were grunting and rolling over in their sleep, their flaps unstuck from their skin. It was unknown how long it took for them to open their eyes, but Hiccup knew it would be weeks before the scales would come in, then even longer for them to stretch their wings and fly. Mother dragons taught their young to fly, and with Toothless' disability, it meant he'd be there firsthand to experience the first flight, and the first hunt.
The thought excited him, before the village came to mind. Night Furies were classified as the rarest of all dragons. The fact they couldn't wait for the babies to be born, it would only be a matter of time before they'd want to see them. Toothless, according to Astrid, was stressed out from the birth. He heard stories of animals killing their own young when things got difficult for them. It doesn't give dragons the exception alongside humans. He spoke out his mind when his friend stepped up beside him. "Astrid, please don't go telling the village about this. Not yet, anyway."
She placed a hand on his shoulder. "I wasn't going to anyway," she pointed out, "but I'm glad you mentioned it. I was getting worried you'd wanted to spread the word."
"I'm not that excited." When her quiet laughter subsided, he added, "What are their genders?"
"Two boys, one girl."
"When do they open their eyes?"
"Not for a few days, at least. They'll be teething in a few weeks, though."
"Around the same time. They'll be walking around by then."
She bumped him in the shoulder. "I'm not a genius on dragons, but apparently you are. Because you're a boy."
He shook his head, holding back his laughter. She continued pushing him on. "Keep this up, Hiccup, and I'll become just like you."
"Oh, like that will be the day."
"Exactly, because I'll never be like you."
"I wonder why," Hiccup sarcastically mused, rolling his eyes.
Astrid punched his shoulder. "I'm serious, Hiccup. There's just something about you that I know that no matter how hard I try, I could never be like you. It's like... I don't know, just some ethereal quality that a Viking just doesn't develop. And with me being a Viking, it can't fit with my personality." She sighed, hooking her arm around his and leaning against him. "You must have been special enough that Odin gave you this gift none of us can't decipher."
"You're special too, Astrid."
"But not like you are. Sure, I may be tough and all, but everyone has that."
With a scoff and a nod, she corrected, "Except you, of course. You're the wimpiest Viking that has ever existed. And yet..." Her hand curled around his. "...you're the bravest Viking that has ever existed."
He threw his arm around her shoulder, awkwardly hugging her. "You're brave as well. Just like everyone else."
Astrid smiled. "If I hadn't known better, Hiccup, I'd say you got your father's courage in a fight."
"Oh, shoot, now that you mention it, Dad will be home at any time." He released her and scrambled for the stairs.
"What about him?"
"He wasn't very thrilled with Toothless being pregnant, and he's been out on a trade route. And he tends to barge in and make himself known." He was half-way up when Astrid calmly walked over to the door, clearing her throat. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw her hold up a handmade sign reading "ENTER WITH CAUTION" in which she stepped outside and hooked it over a nail she had added some time prior to the birth (suggesting it was before he came home). A smile broadened, and he turned around to hop down. "You're good."
She only stuck out her tongue, waving good-bye and closing the door behind her. Hiccup stood at the foot of the stairs for a while, staring at the door as though expecting her or his father to walk in. He noticed the firewood had been neatly stacked beside the hearth, and any mess that he or Toothless made was gone, the floors burnished. It was astonishing to see that a girl who was tougher than anyone in Berk twofold could clean up a house. Her parents must be very proud.
Looking over at Toothless, he spotted the emerald glint in the shadows, gazing intently at him. Gingerly, he made he was over, reverently dropping to his knees before his dragon. Toothless tilted her head and him, a hint of relief and pride within the orbs. He reached out to touch her nose, bringing out a quiet purr from her. "You did well, Toothless," he murmured, brushing his fingers up to her forehead. "They're beautiful."
Leaning forward so she wouldn't have to, Hiccup accepted a lick from her, not minding the smell.
Astrid had kept her word, and people kept asking or telling Hiccup how far along Toothless was. He played along, not yet ready to announce the news, not until they were mobile and when the mother recovered enough. Besides them, only the village healer knew about the delivery, and he was sworn to secrecy if he was to be allowed to tend to them. Until Stoick returned (Hiccup also made him swear not to tell), it was only the three who saw the younglings. Astrid's sudden return to sunlight—the joke that nearly got Snotlout's jaw shattered—alerted the group of friends that something had happened that they wanted in. They strongly refused, not trusting them to keep their mouths shut and hands to themselves.
Toothless recovered within a few days she then could move around, but had to wait another week before she could go out with Hiccup and gather up food for her family. The babies were growing fast, and becoming vocal, which became a problem when it came to sleeping and roaming around. Their eyes opened a few days after birth, revealing the idea of who their father might have been. Except for the oldest, they all had light blue eyes, though the girl had an outline of green. Every time they spotted Hiccup, Astrid, or Stoick walking by, they yipped for attention or food. The chief had a problem with it. "They may be cute, but they're annoying the Hells out of me," he once complained at dinner. "Can't they move up in your room or maybe into the den that Toothless should have stayed in?"
"Dad, they can't walk well for one thing," his son noted. "Another is that it's winter. Until they develop their inner fire and get some scales, they're not leaving the house."
He accepted that fact slowly, but eventually he learned to ignore them, or roared at them himself if his patience grew too thin. Unfortunately, his yelling may have sounded like a dragon to them, for once they began to walk the second week, they followed him around the house, pouncing on his furs and, on occasion, gnawing on his boots. He came into Hiccup's room after the third day with baby Night Furies clinging on to him and demanding he take them outside for recreational use. "I could care less for scales, boy, it's the teeth and fire I'm concerned about!" he had shouted about when the boy tried to reason with him.
So he had no choice but to let them roam out the house, revealing the secret. As predicted, the babies scurried in opposite directions when a crowd came stampeding over for a look, and Toothless couldn't call them back. In a short hour, with help from his friends, they caught them in Gobber's smith attracted to the metal. ("I don' mind 'em stayin'," he insisted when they carried them out. "They seemed interested.") Stoick then had to hold a conference with the village about what the expectations were to be for the next few months. As disappointed as they were, they kept their distance and needed Hiccup's and Toothless' permission to even pet them.
Once their teeth and scales grew in, they were nearly ready for their first test-flight. Hiccup and Toothless, when they had time or decided to land his father with the younglings, practiced their flying, having been grounded for months caring for the babies. It felt nice to fly again, the legendary duo reliving the good times all around the island and at sea. Together, they went over the steps and moves to prepare for the first flying lesson. Even Astrid and her Nadder joined in, showing off what they had learned in their own spare time. Hiccup enjoyed watching them fly, knowing that one of these days the two would be evenly matched, and also just to see her hair go wild. It gave her a warrior's feel to her countenance, which added another item of his list as reasons for him falling in love with her over and over again.
At long last, the day finally came. When the weather was nice enough, they chose to bring the younglings to the cove. It felt appropriate to teach them in the same area Hiccup re-taught Toothless. The young Night Furies curiously looked over, their focus on the river below where the fish swam obliviously. One attempted to jump down, until Toothless let out a warning growl. Astrid and her Nadder kept their distance where she gave the thumbs-up. With a nod, he turned to his dragon. "Ready, Toothless? Just like how we routined."
She grunted in agreement, then crooned to her children. They turned their attention to her, watching as she demonstrated the wing exercise. She gave an encouraging roar, and the three, hesitantly, flexed their wings. The girl Night Fury stood on her hind legs to catch her brother's wing to chew on, and a bark from Toothless returned her to the warm-up. Once their wings were fully out-stretched, Toothless glanced up at her rider. Hiccup grinned, and opened the flap. With a small grunt, she leapt over the edge and glided around the cove, dipping and ascending. As uncertain as the children were, the oldest took his chances, spread open his wings, and followed suit. His first attempt to swoop up was rocky, almost colliding with the boulder underneath when he succeeded, evening out alongside his mother. A proud smile spread, and they looked up at the others. They hopped down together, but tangled and they crash-landed on the grass. The girl snapped at her brother and crawled up the boulder to try again. She couldn't get elevation, but her second try was her proudest and circled the middle youngling, almost taunting him. He growled, swiping for her, even giving chase when she glided further on. On the cliff-side, Astrid laughed.
Feeling a need to try again, Toothless scooped up the youngest boy with her teeth, and allowed the others to grab onto her tail. She, with Hiccup's aid, returned back to upper ground, dropped them there, then spun back around for another glide. The oldest immediately jumped and leveled with his mother, and his siblings followed. Their cooperation allowed them to complete the first part of their lesson, the other being their ascension. On the second try, the family could safely land on the cliff-side. However, the middle youngling lost his balance and fell back into the cove, tumbling down the side to the grassy patch below. Hiccup and Astrid gasped, even though he stood back up unharmed, but dizzy. Falling back on his rump, he gave a small hiccup, releasing a sudden fireball. It impacted with the boulder, causing it to rupture.
While Hiccup gawked, his friend burst out laughing. "Well, what do you know? We have a little Hiccup Junior on our hands!"
He weakly laughed himself, catching the humored glance of Toothless. "That's great," he agreed, rubbing at his head. Another hiccup, and the young dragon exploded another large rock. "That's just great," he amended to himself.
He silently prayed to Odin that Berk was still prepared for disasters of every kind and every size.
A/N: Had I actually finished this by Mother's Day, it would have been up.
This story was inspired by the little scene where Toothless mournfully looks up at a bird's nest with eggs. I actually believed Toothless was a girl and was going to lay eggs. That idea still stuck even after the Dragon's Den scene, though I feel that the Green Death prevented the dragons from procreating.
Also, you get a cookie if you can guess the reference of the "I shook his hand" phrase.