Sorry it's been so long. I've gone through at least two beta readers and been rather busy with...other stuff. ^^; So this is finally updated without being beta'd. Hope you like it.

I've also changed Astrid's Dragon's name to Stormfly like it was in the Short that came out (I LOVED it, btw), but Fireworm is probably going to stay Fireworm instead of Hookfang.

Oh, and from now on, dragon speak is going to be in italics and apostrophes (' ').

Chapter 3

Being a dragon doesn't automatically make you graceful. Look at gronkles. It does, however make you stronger. Well, it made me stronger; it would probably make dad weaker. Most vikings would love the power that comes with being a dragon. As for me, being the king of clumsy, I usually just end up ramming my body into walls, doors, and somehow the ground. Not too different from normal except now I have a lot of power to back it up, and so instead of just me being the only thing hurt like it was when I was a human...well, let's just say that Berk's going to have to go back to rebuilding a lot of houses, part of the great hall and some of the dragon's cage. At least I didn't burn them down.

Hiccup woke up on his second day as a dragon with a brilliant idea. He would write to his father, let him know what happened that way. Most dragons didn't write, so the fact that he could should be proof enough of his story being true. He could scratch it into the dirt with his claws, maybe even get to a point where he could find a way to use his claws to actually write in ink.

Of course that led him to the excellent idea of teaching dragons how to write, and he couldn't contain his excitement. The thought had him on his feet (all four) and pacing before he'd realized he'd done so. His movements dislodged Toothless from where he'd slept at Hiccup's side.

Rubbing his eyes sleepily, the black-haired boy watched from where he sat on the ground.

"Cold," he muttered in what barely passed for dragonese as Hiccup could understand it.

Hiccup stopped his excited pacing and padded up to sit next to the boy again. Toothless curled up beside him, trying to get warm again in the chilled morning air. This brought yet another observation to Hiccup. As a dragon, he hadn't been really cold once. He'd noticed the warmth from the other dragons, but it hadn't really hit him as to just how well he could withstand the cold himself. Was that due to the dragon scales, or something else? He'd almost think it would be the fire they could create, but dragons didn't store fire in their bodies. They stored the gas and then sparked it somehow. Hiccup hadn't quite figured out how yet. The way some dragons breathed fire made him think they set it alight in their mouths, but other times the flow came out so quickly, he couldn't think that their teeth or whatever would be able to create the spark needed. Was there something inside their throat, perhaps? Maybe in their stomach?

And right about there is where his entire thought process stopped, because in through the door, walking with a determined gait and a murderous glint, came Astrid.

She looked around, finally spotting Toothless and Hiccup in the corner. The latter gulped when she turned her far-too-intense gaze on them and came stalking over, eyes narrowed.

"Where is he?" she hissed. Hiccup vaguely wondered as he backed away if he could hear such a quiet sound so well because of his dragon hearing, or because Astrid just had that way of making her thoughts public knowledge. Toothless had noticed her too, and sat up, smiling. Then he noticed the expression on her face and began to look around nervously. He must have noticed Hiccup backing away, because he did so too, taking several steps so he could be by his partner's side.

"Don't you back away from me, coward!" she bellowed.

Even if toothless couldn't understand her words completely, he got her meaning, and immediately dropped into a defensive crouch. Sadly, even Hiccup could see how many openings his stance left, but then, Toothless was trying to translate his movements over to human from a...very different body.

It suddenly struck Hiccup as to how defenseless Toothless was like this. Somehow, he found the courage to step between Astrid and his best friend, even convinced as he was that doing so would be taking his life in his own hands. Astrid didn't always think rationally when she was upset, except when thinking up ways to painfully defeat and/or torture the person who opposed her.

Or in this case, dragon.

She paused as he stepped calmly into her path, watching as her face twisted into confusion. She'd probably expected him to pull a "Toothless" and pounce growling. Hiccup had never been particularly good at growling, so instead he did what he always did when confronting someone; he stood calmly, neck straight and eyes firmly on hers.

"Move, dragon," she growled.

He didn't budge a muscle, staring her down with the same expectant stubbornness he usually showed when doing something stupid, or crazy...like getting between Astrid and her destination.

"I said move!" she threatened.

Hiccup shook his head definitively.

She paused, looking surprised again. "Wait, you can understand me?"

He could have kissed her. He should have known he could count on Astrid! Instead of licking her (the dragon's show of extreme appreciation) though, he nodded, deliberately.

She gasped, backing up. "You can understand everything I'm saying?"

Again, he nodded.

"Then where is Hiccup?"

'Well,' Hiccup thought, 'that shoots that idea down.' And here he thought he'd finally be able to explain this to everyone through Astrid. 'I'm right here,' he muttered

"And who is he?"

'Toothless,' he thought, miserably.

Apparently the dragons had been listening in, because many of them started snickering. Apparently understanding he was the source of their scorn, Toothless tore his gaze away from Astrid just long enough to shoot a glare over at them. It didn't help them want to stop.

Thankfully, Astrid seemed to realize her mistake. "You can't really answer anything but 'yes' or 'no' right now, can you?"

Hiccup looked up again, met her eyes, and shook his head sadly.

"Do you know where Hiccup is?"

He paused for a moment before nodding.

She looked down, biting her lip and playing with some of the bangs that fell down beside her face, thinking.

'Come on, Astrid,' Hiccup thought, looking at her intently, encouraging her silently.

"Can you take me to him?"

Hiccup paused. Well, he couldn't technically because he was right there. So he shook his head.

Her eyes narrowed dangerously as she advanced. "Why not?"

Being a dragon, he probably weighed four times what she did. He could also shoot flame (well, he wasn't a hundred percent sure on that one), fly (well, he had the mechanics to...sort of) and probably chomp her in half if he really felt like it. But at that moment, all he knew was that an angry Astrid was stomping towards him, looking like she'd like to kill him. And she probably could too, despite all of his current "improvements".

'A dozen advantages, and I still can't come close to taking her down,' he thought sarcastically.

'You'd better not,' Stormfly, spoke up. 'She's mine!'

He didn't take his eyes off of her as she fearlessly stalked up to him. "Why can't you take me to him?"

He took another step back, and blinked because she wasn't there anymore. One moment she'd been angrily staring down a dragon several times her size, and the next, he saw a black and pink streak go by, taking her with it.

Worriedly, he whipped his head in the direction the streak had gone, and found himself surprised when Toothless hiss/growled at her where she lay on the dirt looking rather surprised herself. Her shock quickly turned to anger as she looked up at the scrawny boy who had the audacity to sneak up on her.

Now that her focus went to Toothless again, Hiccup knew this wouldn't end well. He could see in her eyes that this time, she was not about to hold back. With an infuriated scream, she launched herself up at the kid, knocking him to the ground and getting ready to pummel him for all he was worth.

Hiccup watched in horror as his girlfriend and his best friend started brawling. All Toothless seemed to know how to do was scratch, bite, and dodge Astrid's fists to some extent, however that wasn't about to win the battle. He seemed confused that nothing he could do would hurt the girl in front of him.

As for Astrid, she had no problem doing everything she could to ram the dark-haired boy's face into the dirt, ignoring the distress growing in the rust-colored dragon behind her.

'Astrid! No! Toothless! Wait! You...' Hiccup continued to watch in horror, eyes going back and forth as one or the other tried to hit their opponent, his frustration at the entire situation growing with every nudge or cry of pain.

Finally, he'd had enough. 'NO!' he screamed in his mind. Aloud, he roared loudly enough to shake the arena.

Both Astrid and Toothless froze, Astrid grabbing his shirt with one hand, and Toothless holding her neck with one of his, and both their other arms poised to punch. They both looked over at Hiccup, who came running up, shoving them away from each other.

Toothless yelped indignantly, while Astrid leapt away with a "Hey!"

'This won't solve anything!' Hiccup said, having forgotten that neither one could understand him. He tried to get his message across with a glare, first at Astrid, and then turning to give the same disappointed expression to Toothless. Realizing once again that his words couldn't reach them, the viking-turned-dragon did the only thing he could think of at the moment and sat down angrily between them. Then he huffed, not wanting to meet either of their eyes and kept his eyes on his clawed hands.

Claws. He had been planning on writing to his father. For now, he could test it out on Astrid. At least it might get her to stop trying to attack Toothless. Glancing over at her, he saw her glaring at them, realizing that Hiccup wouldn't let her near Toothless. In contrast, the dragon-turned-human appeared to be perfectly happy to keep away from her.

Sighing, Hiccup began to dig his claw into the ground. Both Astrid and Toothless' expressions melted to surprise and confusion as they came warily over and looked at the dirt in front of Hiccup.

"Dragons can write?" the blond gasped to herself, although Hiccup heard it as plainly as if she'd yelled.

I can't take you to Hiccup because I'm right here, Astrid. He scratched the runes in as hard as he could, but the packed dirt made it difficult. When he was done, he stood back and gestured for Astrid to read.

She seemed to have a little bit of a problem at first, recognizing the runes, but having difficult discerning the writing in the baked dirt.

"I can't...t-take," she squinted, trying to make out the words, "you to...Hiccup because..." her eyes widened, and she read the rest of the sentence in silence. Then she looked over her shoulder, slowly, eyes wide.

"H-hiccup?"

'YES!' he grinned in triumph, nodding sagely.

"Really? You're Hiccup?" He nodded again.

She walked forward, holding a hand out, eyes wide with hope and realization. Oh yes, he knew what was coming next, and braced himself for it. Surely enough, the broad side of an ax smacked him across his jaw, causing Toothless to hiss again and causing Hiccup's eyes to water. Pushing aside the realization that dragons could cry for later contemplation, Hiccup just turned to look back at Astrid.

"That's for leaving without telling anyone!"

'Alright, alright,' he said mostly out of habit. 'I get it! I've learned my-'

"And this is for being alright," she said softly, running forward and throwing her arms around his neck. In that moment, Hiccup felt all the confusion and fear he'd been feeling and ignoring for the last few days melt away. They'd come back later, he knew, but just sitting there with Astrid seemed to renew the hope in him that they'd get this all worked out somehow.

Across the arena, Stormfly rose to her feet, bellowing and startling Toothless, Astrid and Hiccup.

'I say she belongs to me!' she bellowed in dragonese.

"Stormfly?" Astrid asked, turning around and looking at the approaching nadder.

'It's not like that!' Hiccup said hurriedly. 'She's my girlfriend!'

That stopped the Nadder in his tracks, although she still did not look happy. 'Your what?'

'My girlfriend. My significant other. The girl I'm courting! My...' He wracked his brain for another description, but nothing came.

'Mate?' Fireworm suggested with all to evil of a note in her tone. If Hiccup could have blushed, he would have.

'Uh, so to speak,' he muttered, glad that Astrid couldn't hear.

Stormfly eyed them suspiciously for several more seconds before turning around. 'I see,' she said. 'I watch you though! No funny flying!'

Hiccup blinked at the phrase. Had that been what she'd meant to say? Did dragons have idioms and metaphors and the like?

"Hiccup, I'll be right back," Astrid said, sounding heart broken and like she didn't want to leave at all. The next minute had her standing next to Stormfly, scratching her and muttering soft words.

It took her a few minutes to calm the nadder down, but when she did, she came directly back to a rather amused Hiccup. She scowled at him, and then set a venomous glare to Toothless, and froze in her tracks.

"Wait, if you're Hiccup, then who're..." she paused, finger pointed at the dark-haired boy. "Wait, Toothless?"

That settled it. He had the most gorgeous, the strongest and the smartest girl in the whole world for a girlfriend! How had she put that together? Seriously?

Still watching her warily, Toothless nodded. Astrid blinked between the two of them for several seconds while the objects of her scrutiny waited for her reaction. Finally she closed her eyes and let out a breath, smile forming on her lips. An immense weight visibly seemed to lift from her shoulders.

"Oh Toothless," she said, walking up to him and holding her hands out placatingly, "I'm sorry. Of course you'd attack me if I were hurting or scaring Hiccup."

He perked up at that, although the disdainful look never quite left his eyes. When she reached him, she paused again probably unsure of what else to do to someone she normally scratched. Finally, she just patted him on the head, and slumped down next to him, leaning her back against Hiccup.

"So what on Earth happened to you two?" Hiccup was just considering how to answer her when she shot up. "Oh! I've got to go tell your dad! He's been worried sick about you, Hiccup! We all have!"

'What else is new?' he muttered in his mind, partially amused and pleased that people cared about him that much, partially annoyed that people still worried over him like mother geese. I'll be right back, I promise!"

With that, she shot to her feet, grabbed Hiccup's head and planted a kiss on his cheek, then ruffled Toothless' hair as she walked by (much to his annoyance).

'Well,' Hiccup thought as they watched her go, 'that went better than I thought it would.'

xXx

Hiccup and Toothless exchanged glances when Astrid came back not 20 minutes later, kicking the door as she came in and looking absolutely murderous. She stalked over to them, completely ignoring every other dragon (much to the reptiles' relief), and thumped down next to Toothless, who inched away.

"Your father," she said through grit teeth, "is the biggest, most pig-headed, stubborn son of a jackel besides you that I've ever met!"

'Thanks', Hiccup muttered, relieved that her temper wasn't directed at him or his former dragon. He couldn't keep the amused thought of, 'Tell me something I don't know,' out of his head. What could he say? Stubbornness ran in the family.

"And now he thinks I'm crazy," she lamented, half in embarrassment, half in pure anger.

He couldn't help himself. Stretching out his arm, he scratched into the dirt in front of her, you told him I was a dragon, didn't you.

It took her a minute to read it (it really wasn't as easy to write with a claw as it was with a quill or pencil), and when she finished she brought her knees up and rested her hand on her arms after she'd folded them across the top. "When you put it like that it does sound a little crazy."

Maybe we can get Toothless to tell them he's Toothless.

Astrid blinked at that, turning a questioning look up at him. "How?"

Teach him how to say his name.

She drew her eyebrows together skeptically, raising one of them as she looked over her shoulder at him. "You think that'll work?"

Hiccup nodded. She paused for a moment and then thought about it. If she could get him to tell them he's Toothless, even if it were only that one word and a bunch of gesturing, it might be enough to convince them.

"Alright," she said with an exaggerated sigh, turning to face Toothless. "Toothless, say 'Toothless'."

xXx

"No! Toothless! Toothless! Why can't you just say it?"

'Well,' Hiccup thought as they began to enter their second hour, 'cross "teaching" off of Astrid's "when I grow up" list.'

"Toofus," Toothless said, looking almost as frustrated as Astrid did at this point.

"Ugh! I give up!" She said for about the 30th time, slouching back against Hiccup's side, growling to herself under her breath. From the look he gave her, Toothless didn't much care for whatever she said, and seemed to want to ignore that he only had one working leg at the moment and try to jump her. Of course, he seemed to be having a somewhat difficult time shifting his weight to do so, as he had been sitting down all day.

'Definitely time to intervene,' Hiccup muttered in thought speak, and reached out to a fairly empty spot to scratch in some writing. It was amazing how much room a single sentence could take up when scratched in by a dragon's claw, and he'd already run out of room in front of Astrid. She noticed his movement and reluctantly crawled over to look.

"He doesn't have...to say...it perfectly," she read, following his claw marks, then paused for a moment, taking it in.

"Oh," she finally said, sitting back on her haunches. "So you think this will be good enough?"

He began to write again. "Looks...like we're...going to...find...out." She paused again, looking at the sentence and reading it again. Behind them, Toothless crawled forward, coming up next to her and regarding the marks on the ground with a curious cock of his head. The motion was so...Toothless that Hiccup had to laugh out loud, the stadium filling with a rumbling.

"What do you mean?" Astrid asked. "And what's so funny?"

Hiccup nodded towards something behind them. Astrid turned to look, and seeing her movement, Toothless followed suit. Hiccup's father and uncle were walking towards them, looking none too happy.

"Sir!" Astrid said, standing up quickly as she could, showing respect to the clan leader.

"Alright, Astrid," he said, sounding much like he normally did when addressing Hiccup for one of his more hair-brained plans or schemes, "you said you found a clue to where Hiccup is?"

Her eyes lit up, realizing they'd come to hear her out. Of course, why they had to bring Spitelout was anyone's guess.

"Yes, sir! And Toothless!"

Spitelout raised his eyebrows, surprised, while Stoick looked...well, as stoic as ever.

He opened his mouth to say something, but was interrupted by a young man's voice speaking up. "Toofus!"

Both men turned their attention to the black-haired, green-eyed boy. "What?" Stoick asked.

Making an effort, Toothess pushed against Hiccup's side, trying to get up on one still wobbly leg and equally unstable peg. "Toofus!" he said, pointing to himself. "Toofus!"

Stoick sighed, putting a hand to his forehead, rubbing it. "Astrid, just because the boy says 'Toothless' doesn't mean that's what he is. He's obviously just picked it up from one of us saying it."

For once Hiccup stared at his father, stunned. His argument sounded...logical for once.

"But sir," she started, but he held up his hand. Not one to consider herself suicidal, Astrid stopped talking, although her fists clenched.

"Astrid, we want to find Hiccup as much as you do. This isn't helping."

"But look what he wrote!" she pointed down to the ground, only to see she stood in most of what Hiccup had scratched into the top layer of dirt, and most of it no longer showed. "Show them, Hiccup!"

Hiccup nodded and began scratching, but Stoick just shook his head and began walking away. "Whatever you say, Astrid." Spitelout shot a suspicious glance at all three of them before following.

"She's obviously been spending too much time with Hiccup," they heard one of the two men mutter. Astrid watched them go, looking between the two of them with an expression that bordered on disbelief and anger.

"Gobber!" Stoick called out to the top of the walk surrounding the Dragon pit. "See you in the hall for mead tonight?"

Astrid, Hiccup and Toothless looked up at the old viking standing and leaning on a part of the old cage that served as a railing. "I'll beat ya there, like always!" he yelled back down. Stoick and Spitelout left, shaking their heads.

"But...but did you just...did he just...?" Astrid started spouting, face going red in fury. After a few seconds of saying the same thing, looking between the gate where Stoick had left, and up at Gobber who had returned his attention to the pen, she finally decided she needed to release her frustration, pulled the ax that normally hung at her side out, and threw it at the wall, where it stuck. Hiccup couldn't help his jaw dropping. Toothless also looked on, impressed, and then startled when Astrid rounded on them. The sudden movement caused him to be thrown him off balance, and he tumbled to the dirt, hands waving frantically.

Hiccup raised his tail, and barely caught him with his tail before the dragon-turned-human landed rather painfully on his tailless rump.

"Did you see that?" she hissed. Hiccup looked between the the ax and where his father had disappeared wondering which of the two 'thats' she was referring to. "He just blew me off! Like...like I was you!" She gestured to him.

'Thank you, for summing that up.' Hiccup thought dully, giving her a rather displeased glare. 'And that's my father for you. He's like that. Get used to it.'

"HA! HA! HA!" laughter resounded down to them from Gobber, who regarded them with a glint in his eye. "Ye seem to have landed yerself in a bit of a pickle there, Hiccup," he said with a grin, showing off the large rock he'd placed in a missing slot of a tooth.

Hiccup's eyes went wide as Astrid's narrowed.

"Wait," she said, "you knew? You knew this whole time and didn't say anything?"

"O' course I knew! Or I believed ya," he continued to grin down at them, gesturing to Hiccup. "That one dinna act like a dragon at all. Not that difficult to believe. But if ye want to convince everyone that that's really Hiccup and Toothless, then yer gonna have ta do better than that."

Astrid eyed him warily. "What do you mean?" she asked at the same time Hiccup thought it.

"Ye've gotta do somthin' much bigger than getting that pipsqueak to say his name."

"Like what?"

Suddnely his grin changed, and Hiccup got a rather uneasy feeling.