Author's Note: What am I doing, starting a long fic in a new category? I don't even know. Blame the plot bunnies. xD This is my first How to Train Your Dragon fic, obviously, and I warn you now that I'm an infrequent updater, but I post every chapter as I manage to complete it. And no, you're not getting any hints about what might happen later on in this story. It's only the prologue! That said, what hints there are... well, they're in the story itself. And before you say anything, this isn't Toothcup, romance at this point isn't even really a factor in this story, but if there's anything it will be Hiccup/Astrid, canonical pairings only. Hopefully I don't have anyone OOC or anything. Anyway, I hope you enjoy at least somewhat.
Disclaimer: I don't own this wonderful movie. Dreamworks does, and Cressida Cowell owns the rights to the books (which I sadly haven't read). I'm just playing with the characters for a little while.
The firelight danced around the room, casting shadows along the wall and crackling in a peaceful manner, giving the appearance of a quiet, peaceful winter evening in the village of Berk. A pair of large green eyes stared at the fire pit in the middle of the room, a toddler's button-nose almost poking it as the flames threatened to leap out and grab the strands of russet hair that fell around the tiny boy's face. A small hand reached out, cautiously at first, and then, with a determined squint to the green eyes, reached further, and was just about to plunge his tiny hand into the heart of the flame when he was caught and scooped up, pulled into the air and away from the fire that had so attracted his attention.
"Hiccup! Just what were you doing?" Scolded the voice from his captor, who held him by the back of his shirt collar and stared down at him with equally green eyes. The small boy crossed his arms in a pout and looked back at the fire, giving a longing sigh before he reluctantly reached out to his mother, letting her take him up in her arms and move away from the fire, to a chair in the corner of the room, where mother and child sat down with a thump and the creaking sound of the rickety wooden seat. Valhallarama locked eyes with the petulant child she held and asked again, this time in a more coaxing, patient tone. "What were you doing, Hiccup?" This time, there was an answer.
"I just... I wanted to touch the fire, Mom," the boy, who couldn't have been more than four years old, said, his missing front tooth visible as he spoke, and causing him to lisp a little. Having expected an answer like that, the Viking woman nodded and held her child close, as together they listened to the sounds of the night outside: the clash of axes, the clang of shields, battle cries mixed among roars and the bleats of terrified sheep. Berk was yet again under one of its infamous raids by the dragons: just another winter's night, really.
To his credit, Hiccup managed to be still and quiet for almost two minutes before he tugged on his mother's braid to get her attention. "Mom? Mom, why do the dragons attack us? Why do we fight them? Wouldn't it be easier for everyone if we didn't have to?" The innocent and curious question would have sent the boy's father, Stoick the Vast, into a mild seizure at best and a fit of rage liable to tear down the houses at worst. However, Valhallarama was not her husband, and so she simply smiled at her son – a sad smile, with eyes that seemed older than her years, and stroked his hair softly with one of her slender hands.
"Ah, now that is the biggest question of all, isn't it? Your father – and almost everyone else – would say that it's because they're evil, devils sent by Hel herself to try and destroy everything we have," the woman said, gauging her son's reaction carefully, and he nodded as he listened, but just from the look on his face it was obvious that the little boy wasn't satisfied with that answer, and had even more questions to ask of his mother. So, silencing her son's upcoming questions with a hand under his chin, she continued, "That's only what they believe. No one knows what caused the war to start, my son. No Viking remains alive who was here back when it began, and the only ones who remember are the dragons themselves," here she paused and winked, "but until someone learns how to speak dragon, asking them is impossible, isn't it?"
Hiccup bit his lip thoughtfully, then when his mother released his chin he bounced up and down on her lap, determination seeping from every pore of his tiny (even for a toddler) body. "I'll be the first one to find out, Mom! I'll find out why everyone's been fighting, an' I'll stop it! And... and then maybe Dad will love me like you do," he added, enthusiasm trailing down into hurt as his mother grabbed him up into her arms and hugged him close, shushing the little boy almost immediately. Valhallarama sighed softly, sadness filling her green eyes as she rocked her son back and forth.
"Your father does love you, Hiccup – he's just not very good at showing it," she said, but knew that no amount of words would convince her tiny son that his father believed in him, not when the other children his age were play fighting with wooden swords and practicing how to defend themselves with their own small weapons – weapons that the auburn-haired boy couldn't even lift, let alone swing effectively. No, Hiccup was already proving to be exactly the kind of child his father didn't want. What Valhallarama said was true; Stoick did love his only child, but he wasn't sure how to go about loving a son that took so strongly after his mother – it would have been all well and good if Hiccup had been born a girl-child, then such a likeness would have been forgivable, but the son of the chief taking after his mother's blood instead of his father's? Stoick had no idea how to deal with such a son.
Mother and son's simple embrace was ended when a green smoke began to flood the house, and Valhallarama's eyes widened. Not even stopping to grab her weapons, she bolted for the door with her son in her arms, making it out just in time to see the second head of the Hideous Zippleback light the fumes that erupted their home into flames. Hiccup shrieked against his mother as the Zippleback, realizing the humans who had been in the house were now outside, approached with its two heads writhing under and over one another lazily. "Stay behind me, Hiccup," the woman said, taking the risk of dropping her small son to the ground behind her as she faced down the two-headed dragon.
Hiccup crouched behind his mother's shins, his arms over his head like she had taught him while the dragon drew ever closer to them both. He was given only a vague impression of the dragon's outline as he peeked around one of his sheltering arms, the form of the creature only a silhouette against the flames of his home, but he saw it rear back its heads as if to strike, and heard a low, menacing growl that sounded anything but human, so of course he attributed it to the Zippleback; it was only natural, despite the fact that it was Valhallarama who had made the sound.
Startled, the dragon backed off, and uncurling from his protective crouch, Hiccup saw his father below him, down by the docks, and took off at a dead run for him. He was outside now, because inside wasn't there any more, and maybe he could help the bigger Vikings and make his Dad proud! "Dad! Dad!" he shouted, running pell-mell down the hill, dodging the odd Gronkle, Deadly Nadder, or weapon-bearing Viking. Back at the house, his mother muttered a curse under her breath, rolled her eyes and murmured, "I'm getting too old for this," before taking off after her son, catching him just before he could dive over the hill between him and his father and be caught in the claws of the Monstrous Nightmare that was now approaching them.
The large dragon has already set itself ablaze, and was approaching the pair with deadly intent in its eyes. Valhallarama took one look at it and set her son down, dropping her breastplate over top of him with a near-silent don't move as she stared down at the flaming beast before her. If anyone had been close enough to witness the events of that night, they would have sworn that the chief's wife's eyes seemed to glow in the light of the flames the Nightmare gave off, and that her pupils seemed to be nearly slits, her teeth eerily sharp as she went into combat to protect her only child.
However, no-one actually saw what happened, not even Hiccup, who was found after the raid ended, still hidden under his mother's breastplate with the corpse of a Monstrous Nightmare lying near him, the flames on its body dying out at last. There was absolutely no sign of the boy's mother aside from the breastplate that had sheltered her son, and the small, oddly engraved dagger that she carried with her everywhere. There was no body, but it was quickly decided that she was dead, killed by the Nightmare that she had somehow managed to hold off from hurting her only child, and the tales of her heroic death were spread around for ages, later with an accompanying note of disappointment that such a great warrior would sacrifice herself for such a pathetic example of a Viking.
Hiccup grew up hearing these words, but without memory of that night. However, the past forgotten always finds a way to bring itself up again, and in the strangest of ways. The mystery of what happened to the chief's wife would one day be brought up again, and her son would be caught up in the middle of it, as was usual for Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III. For one such as him, life was never going to bear any resemblance to normality.
=To Be Continued=