Right. I actually wrote this awhile ago and forgot to post it here. I don't like FFN that much anymore. If you want to read stuff from me, you should probably check out me on archive of our own-I've linked to it in my profile.
Aidan woke to Hiccup whispering his name.
Brendan was huddled against his side, deep asleep. Hiccup gestured to keep quiet.
It was late enough in the morning that Stoick was out, as was Toothless. When Hiccup gently tugged on the cloak he wore to come downstairs, it was only with a small spike of nervousness that Aidan followed.
Hiccup sat down in front of the hearth, holding a small bowl of oatmeal.
Hesitating slightly, Aidan glanced around. Everything seemed almost normal. Except for leaving Brendan.
He sat down, angling himself toward the young Northman. Hiccup nodded and handed the bowl to him.
He ate it quickly, but not enough to nearly choke. It was out of the sense that Hiccup wanted something and less out of sheer fear this time.
Aidan was getting better. The smell of smoke and the glimmer of fire didn't always send him reeling back into his own mind and memories, and he was well enough that the sight of their hosts, even if they were Northmen, did nothing more than make his stomach clench. It wasn't perfect, but it was progress.
He was aware of that, and aware of how he had been in the time between Kells and Berk. He was horrifically guilty as well. He'd left Brendan to take care of him and to deal with the terror alone. His fault.
He shook himself out of his thoughts and looked to Hiccup expectantly. Only a second later, there was a loud knock on the door.
Stoick came inside.
All thoughts of progress lost, he wanted to bolt, but Hiccup gently put a hand on his shoulder and gave him a reassuring look.
A woman came in behind Stoick. The great Northman gestured to her with one massive hand.
("This is Gothi, the Elder of Berk. She's come to speak with you, Aidan.")
At the sound of his own name, he stood and took a few shaky steps back. He distantly was aware that he wasn't yet lost inside his memories, but he was still afraid. His eyes began to blur.
("Dad, dad, we-we should go. I'm sure they'll be fine together,") Hiccup said, standing.
Stoick looked to the woman. She nodded.
Wordlessly, and far more quietly than such a great man should have been able to, he left. Hiccup followed, giving Aidan one more reassuring glance before closing the door behind him.
The woman was shorter than even he, but she had a gleam in her eye. He knew she was as dangerous as any Northman. She had to be.
She slowly sat down by the hearth where Hiccup had been. Aidan remained standing and watched her reach her thin old hands out to the fire.
It was several minutes before she spoke.
"Hiccup has been treating you well."
The words were heavily accented, but he understood them. He hadn't heard that language since Iona.
He took in a sharp breath.
"Hospitality is something we Vikings are known for, believe it or not," she continued when he didn't answer. She patted the seat beside her. "Our village is not one of pillaging. You would have heard of Northmen upon dragons before this, correct? Sit."
He sat slowly, feeling his back protest at such movement. Sleeping on the floor for months had done him no favors.
"We...have been doing well here," he replied quietly.
"That is good," she said, nodding. "I must ask you now, where do you come from? I know our dragon trainer found you near the wreckage of a Viking ship. Do you know who took you?" As she spoke, her eyes never left the flames.
Aidan hunched over. "I don't know, I'm afraid. Their language wasn't like the one spoken here. It was...rougher. Different. I couldn't speak it to save my life." He shivered, even though he was quite warm. "Why do you wish to know?"
"They might try to attack us. Hopefully they aren't foolish enough to, now, but..." She lifted a shoulder in a half-shrug. "Fools always exist. They might do some harm. Not too much, we can stop them with our partners." For a moment Aidan was lost, then he realized-the dragons.
He had seen the girl and her dragon-Astrid and Stormfly-fly and burst out flames in the sky more than once. They could reduce a ship to cinders.
"There were only two."
"The ships that raided Kells. And Iona. Where we're from. There were only two." He explained how they had only seen that many when they were taken, and how he had only seen two back when Iona was burnt to the ground.
Gothi turned toward him and listened intently. "They would not bring so few for an attack on another tribe."
"I agree. And there is only one, now. The other was lost, the one we were on. It was a miracle we survived. The Northmen that were on the ship didn't." Aidan and Brendan were fortunate enough that the cargo had cushioned them slightly, just enough to keep them from crashing headfirst onto the stony beach.
She abruptly brought her hands to Aidan's hair and began to tug on the locks.
"I have learned all I need to know. I do not have to go to my home yet." She fell silent and began to untangle the knots within his hair.
It was painful, but the state of his hair was truly horrendous. She pulled a comb from somewhere and began to rake through the strands.
Brendan staggered down the stairs halfway through it. "Brother Aidan?" he said, looking sleepy and confused.
Aidan replied, "I think...I've made myself a friend."
He looked relieved.
"Our people wouldn't have let you live so peacfully here if not for Hiccup," Gothi said eventually. "Our partnership with the dragons changed us all. We are still a firece tribe, but peacefulness helps us. You would not have liked to have met us before."
She went on to tell the tale of the War of Dragons and Vikings, pausing and letting him describe it to Brendan as well. She told them of Hiccup the Useless bringing down and taming the most terrifying dragon they knew of, a Night Fury. She told them of the Island of Dragons. (Brendan looked especially interested in that.) And she told them how Hiccup and Toothless brought down the Death that lived inside the island, that had enslaved the rest of the dragons to do its bidding.
Gothi fell silent, and her hands began to twist the freed locks into a braid. She put the comb away and tied the hair off.
"I am to leave now," she said. "I have many things to work on. But I shall visit you, Aidan, or you could come visit me. It is nice to speak with someone of similar age."
With that, she gracefully left the house.
They liked Berk. They liked all the food it had. They liked having some of their brood near them, and that the humans that rode their young ones played with them, even if they didn't understand, not like their white not-human did.
They visited her fairly often, every few nights. They decided she was their rider, since every other dragon that lived on the island had one, or would have one. Some of the babies chattered about which would be theirs when they grew up, especially the ones that looked as boulders.
I am? She seemed surprised.
Of course she was. She was their favorite, even though they didn't get fish from her. Spark-head liked that she understood their thoughts, and Gas-head liked getting pets from her.
She made a strange sound. She called it laughter.
Did she want to fly? They hadn't in a few days, except to fly to her. They would go high again tonight.
She jumped onto their back and held on, and they were off to touch the clouds.