Worst Part

The worst part isn't the weight of his father's disappointment, heavy on his shoulders. It's not the steely, condescending looks the villagers give him. It's not Astrid's guilty, helpless expression.

Their eyes haunt him and Hiccup turns away, readjusting the bag over his shoulder. It's filled with all the belongings and treasures he's collected over the years – his drawings, his research, his weapons. But the thing is, a life can't be put into a bag. A village can't be put into a bag. But it's not that.

It's not the loneliness that settles over him either, as he walks away from his family, his friends, his home. He's been away from the village before, more times than he can count, but this is different. This time, with every step he takes, it feels more final.

After the first few steps, it's too much to bear, and he runs the rest of the way. Somehow, his feet carry him through the forest, through a path well-trodden by now, into the clearing where his life had changed. The clearing is empty, just like how Hiccup is beginning to feel as the sun begins to set and the forest's quiet sets in– until it's interrupted. And then he doesn't feel empty anymore, not even close. He's so full he feels like he'll burst, because the worst part isn't any of that.

The worst part is the sound. Even from here, even this far from the village, he can hear it. Hiccup listens until he can't take it anymore, and then he curls up into a ball, covering his ears. Still, he can hear it in his mind, replaying over and over again in an endless loop.

In the distance a dragon slowly dies, its cries echoing in the night.