Disclaimer: I don't own HTTYD, never have, and most likely never will. Not that I think anyone would believe otherwise.

I edited this chapter's dialog a little to make it more movie-true... thank you, httydluver13!

Hiccup sighed, a shaky sound filled with relief. "I lost dragon training today," he informed Toothless, with relief he most certainly wouldn't have felt before meeting the black dragon. "Astrid will be the one to... show off in front of everyone. My dad's still proud of me... I'm not sure what to think about that," he mumbled the last part, rubbing Toothless behind the ears. Toothless purred and nudged him, eyes huge and interested.

The crowd roared as the Gronkle was released from its cage, buzzing about the arena with heavy, ponderous purpose. Hiccup and Astrid crouched behind one of the wooden things stationed around, listening to the sound of its tiny rapidfire wings; it hadn't seen them yet. Astrid shoved his shield down out of her way, shoving her face in his and hissing angrily under her breath, "Stay out of my way. I'm winning this thing."

"Good! Please! By all means!" he called after her, as she rolled away to another wooden sight-barrier. He stood carefully, peeking around the wood at the dragon, trying to keep out of its sight. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as Astrid readied herself to spring.

The dragon spotted him and turned toward him; hoping now to get the grass or scratches he normally gave it. He ducked and rolled, to another barrier, glancing briefly up at his father; his roll had incidentally put the Gronkle in between Astrid and himself, leaving her wide open to take the dragon down.

He ran forward as Astrid did the same, trying to make it look like he had some slight intention to actually harm the dragon, and managed to time his leap so Astrid got there first. With a sharp blow of her axe, she sent the dragon staggering, falling out of the air with a heavy thump. It reeled, shaking its toothy head, wings beginning to buzz once more... until the axe hit it again. The blades were blunted; the dragon wasn't seriously hurt, but it was knocked back enough to be pronounced defeated. The crowd around the ring went wild, and Hiccup did his level best to pretend to be disappointed, while inside he was all but cartwheeling in relieved victory. He wouldn't have to kill a dragon!

The elder took a very long time to decide; she seemed almost disappointed when she pronounced Astrid the one who would go on to kill the dragon. That seemed odd; Astrid was simply the better fighter, right? Well, Astrid was chosen anyhow... the Elder had done her part.

As Astrid was lifted onto Fishlegs' shoulder, carried around triumphantly, Hiccup stood back a little, smiling despite himself. As they left the arena, his father stumped up behind him. "Great job, Hiccup! Don't worry about not winning, you'll get plenty of chances to kill a dragon." He clapped one meaty hand on Hiccup's shoulder, and only long familiarity kept the boy from pitching face-first into the ground.

That had been earlier. He had slipped away as soon as he felt he could, while the party congratulating Astrid was still in full swing. Celebrating sounded good right now, but not for the reasons everyone else would accept...

He sat quietly beside Toothless, empty basket of fish turned on its side nearby, rubbing the dragon's neck absently. Toothless flared his nostrils at the remaining fishy scent, and lay his head on his front paws, clearly ready to take a nap. The sun was just beginning to rise, casting shadows over dew-dampened grass and reflecting off the lake as shattered beams of diamond-light. He would have to return home soon, or risk a search party being sent out by his dad and his new-found pride...