Disclaimer: I don't own the How to Train Your Dragon series, whether the books or films. I would very much like to own a Toothless plushy, but at the moment I'm lacking in that department as well.

AN: Here goes my first leap into the HTTYD fandom…Well, the first one that's more than just one- or two-shots anyway. Hope you all enjoy it.

"Astrid, Toothless. Toothless, Astrid." Toothless growled at the Viking that had dared to lay a hand on his human, drawing the young woman's eyes, wild with fear and suspicion. With a disgusted shake of her head, Astrid Hofferson was gone, disappearing into the forest under the guide of the last light of day.

"Da-dada, we're dead." He turned at the sound of the dragon sauntering off behind him, doing a double take at how quick it was moving.

"Whoawhoawhoa, where do you think you're going?" He jogged after Toothless just in time to hear a derisive snort, followed by slap to the back of the head with the one remaining tailfin.

"What was that for?" Another snort, and a nod towards the forest where Astrid had disappeared. Apparently the dragon already knew what he was considering. They had to catch Astrid, had to explain. If she made it back to the village she would tell Stoick, and if Stoick knew then Toothless would be dead, and he'd be lucky if he managed to get off with exile.

"Well yeah we have to stop her! If we don't then they'll find us." For an something that didn't have the same features and expressions as a human, the dragon was doing a remarkable job of looking like Gobber on those rare occasions where Hiccup had tried to explain one of his new inventions during a quiet time rather than the middle of a raid.

"Don't you get it? I could be exiled. Worse, you could be killed! It's not like we can just up and—" But that was the point Toothless was making as it glanced back to the things he'd packed, wasn't it? They could just up and leave. He was planning to do just that before Astrid had confronted him. By Odin, the only reason he'd even stopped before strapping down and flying off had been that very confrontation, that reminder of what he was about to leave behind.

But what was he leaving behind? The village had treated him as less appealing than spoiled meat until he'd shown some talent with the dragons, and they'd realize he was a fake the moment that he didn't have any choice but to kill or reveal the truth. His father finally started to appreciate him, but it was the mighty Dragon Master Hiccup image everyone projected on him after his theatrics in the ring that Stoick was proud of, not his real son. And Astrid…Astrid was the only one who knew the truth, and her reaction would probably be tame in comparison to any of the adults in the village. Still, they could stop her, make her understand, yet…

He didn't doubt that for a second that they would be able to catch her if they tried, even without Toothless he was quick on his feet (Just about the only area of physical skill where he had an advantage over anyone at all), but what then? What did he think would happen when they finally pinned her down? He'd just talk to her? He'd take her for a flight across the sunset on a Night Fury? He'd make her see the error of her ways, and prove beyond a doubt that centuries of deeply-ingrained cultural beliefs were nothing but trash? Vikings defined the very concept of stubbornness, and Astrid was a Viking through and through. Just about the only thing they might be able to do that could truly stop her was impossible He couldn't kill a dragon that he didn't even know, and he adored Astrid, so hurting her was completely out of the question.

Toothless stared at him, patient and relaxed. He wasn't going to force Hiccup to make a decision. The dragon, like no one else in his life, was determined to let his friend decide his own fate. Toothless never tried to make him something he wasn't, never mocked him for his mistakes, never treated him as anything less than an equal. But even when they didn't realize it, the Vikings of Berk were forcing him to chose their way and no other. Toothless would leave with him. Toothless would kill Astrid. Toothless would allow himself to be killed. He only had to look into his friend's eyes and he knew; this dragon would do whatever he asked, no matter the consequences, and it would do so without regret.

Well, if the Berklanders wanted to force him into action, then so be it.

"Let's get going, Toothless." And with no more than a quick jog to retrieve the belongings he'd brought along, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III was gone, disappearing into the skies as the last light faded.

A mere flicker of light remained as Astrid stumbled back into the village, arms lined with cuts and grime from the most desperate run she'd ever made. It was one thing to run from place to place on the island at a steady jog to build stamina, or to test her speed over short distances by taking it at a full sprint, but never had she covered such a large distance without heeding her body's limits. Her chest heaved as she all but knocked the doors to Meade Hall from their hinges and tumbled to her knees, scrambling back to her feet upon catching sight of the chief cheerfully trading banter with Gobber.

"Chief! Chief Stoick, I need to talk to you!" Without giving the slightest attention to the stares she received, she sprinted those last few steps as Stoickk shot to a stand with a look of concern. She brushed aside the instinctive surge of pleasure at the realization that, even falling behind him in training, the adults of the village (and the chief, no less) still took her seriously enough to give her their complete and undivided attention when she seemed troubled by something.

"What's wrong, trainee?" Though still calm and controlled as always, there was a hint of anxiety in their leader's voice. No doubt his first instinct was to assume that anyone running to him in a panic meant that Hiccup had done something stupid or dangerous, even with his supposed competence in the ring.

"Hic-Dragon-Fury!" She gasped it out between pants, cursing her lack of breath. She needed to get this out! The dragon could be gone if she took too long, but damned if she hadn't nearly exhausted herself with the breakneck pace needed to get back before sunset.

"What!" There was no hiding the urgency in Stoick's voice at the implication of her words, nor the crash as the wooden table shattered under his fist. For a brief moment, she was almost afraid to continue. An angry Stoick the Vast was one of the most terrifying things she'd ever seen, and if his reaction to the thought of his son being attacked by a Night Fury was this bad, it was hard to imagine what his response to the full story would be.

"Astrid," Gobber looked on the edge of panic himself, but refrained from the outward violence of his long-time friend "Just calm down. Tell us what's happened."

"Hiccup." She took a deep, steadying breath. "Down in Raven's Point. There was a dragon."

"He's been attacked?" She shook her head, and Stoick relaxed by a barely noticeable margin.

"No. He was—" A slight gulp as she prepared for disbelief to assault her ears. "He was friends with it."

The silence in the hall was painful. The raucous laughter when that split second of silence ended was unbearable. Yet for all the blustering from the other Vikings around the hall, Stoick showed no signs of humorous dismissal. And with a single, steady word, the hall went silent once again.


"I—I went down there, because I was angry, because…" She looked away, cheeks flushed, mortified to speak the words in front of anyone at all, much less this man. "Because I was jealous. Of how he'd been doing in the ring."

When she dared to glance up at the chief he merely nodded.

"He was wearing some weird vest, and was carrying a pack around, and mumbling some nonsense about a vacation." She closed her eyes, mind wandered back to the cove, trying to pick out every last detail now that she knew Stoick would listen. He wasn't just brushing off her opinion as that of an envious second-best trainee. If she wanted to make sure he understood, it would be best to put as much detail as possible into her recounting.

"I started asking him about how he got so good. Why he suddenly knew so much about them and how to bring them down. Then there was this strange noise, and when I tried to check it out he started talking about how he'd been making outfits," Surely even Hiccup had realized what a pathetic excuse that was "and how I should go ahead and bring him back to tell everyone his secret. Then I saw this…this…thing."

Stoick's eyes narrowed at her involuntary shudder, but she continued, almost as if she wasn't even aware that she'd done so.

"I've never seen a dragon like it. I shoved him down and it came at us, but Hiccup shoved me away and just—He just started talking to the thing, like I was the one in the wrong place or something! He said that I was a friend, that I'd just scared him. I didn't stick around long enough to hear anything else and, well…" She gestured to around the hall.

"That's…quite a tale. One I'm having a hard time believing." Her heart dropped. Stoick's eyes were furious, probably at her badmouthing his suddenly amazing son that he was no doubt proud of for his incredible feats as of late.

"I can show you! If you'd just come down to the cove I can—" She stopped as he raised a hand, looking to the floor.

"Show me."

And so she did. An entire party of armed Vikings went to the cove, most of them more in amusement, a few even looking at her with disappointment (She wasn't lying, Odin damn them!), but a few with grim expressions matching the chief's. A few seemed to realize that if she was telling the truth, Hiccup had essentially jumped into bed with the greatest enemies that Berk had ever known—that Vikings as an entire people had ever known. It was dark when they arrived, but torchlight provided more than enough for them to identify the tracks. Hiccup's prints and her own small footsteps were clear, as were the signs of a small struggle and the place where the boy had set his belongings, both pieces of evidence supporting her story. And the few who weren't coming to the realization that she was telling the truth were more than convinced at the final, most incriminating sign found yet.

Hiccup's footprints leading up to those of an unidentified beast, clearly dragon in origin, and both facing the same direction until the human's suddenly disappeared.

"Stoick?" Gobber spoke up from beside the Chief of Berk, deadly still, yet with fury palpable in the air. "What're we going to do? Your son's gone—"

"Son?" His voice didn't display the open rage that she'd expected. There was no fiery storm, no devilish outburst, no animalistic rampage. Just a cold, quiet condemnation, and words that she still found somehow chilling, even with all she'd learned of Hiccup's actions.

"I have no son."

AN: Well, there it goes! As with all of my stories, between life and my own in-progress novel it's been difficult to just say "The next chapter will come out on this date" when it comes to fanfics. This was just a plot bunny that's been driving me crazy as of late, and I felt compelled to start on it. I'll try to update soon, but they can come quicker or slower depending on how crazy things get. Anyway, hope you enjoyed!