This chapter was late because of the following reasons. Number one, I was busy with other stuff. Number two, I got out of the HTTYD mood for a week or two and felt an uncontrollable urge to obsess over something else for a while. Number three, this chapter has two scenes that are nearly impossible to write nicely, and I'm still scared that I didn't do it well enough. But I figure I've made you all wait long enough, and I've done the best I can do.
Also, someone has pointed out to me that I've been spelling Snoggletog wrong, and I apologize for that mistake! I've gone and fixed it up in the previous chapters.
So here we go. Last chapter. I gotta say, the ending of this made me cry. Not my writing (because I don't even know if I did the scene justice), but you know. Incredibly touching and...I'm gonna type a spoiler here if I'm not careful. D: But seriously, those guys have the most deep, wonderful friendship I've ever known of. (sniff)
This is most likely the last y'all will here of me before the holidays, so have a great whatever-you're-celebrating (Christmas for me!) and hope you have fun! Happy Snoggletog! :D
Berk was a mess.
Shards and splinters of wood, metal, and decorations were everywhere. The baby Gronkles had fallen asleep around some of the food supplies and were twitching in their sleep, occasionally rolling over and letting out a squeaky yawn. The Vikings were patching things up the best they could, but it was obvious that it wasn't the sort of thing that could be finished in just one night. There wasn't a single house that wasn't ruined in some way.
Stoick and Gobber, instead of helping to repair the houses, were walking through them and inspecting the damage. Today hadn't been a very good day for Stoick. Hiccup was gone for most of the day, the dragons hadn't come back, and the village had been all but destroyed. "Gobber, this is a disaster," the chief groaned, gingerly stepping through a blackened wooden doorway, followed closely by said friend.
"Ach, it's not so bad," Gobber said, shrugging and trying to look on the bright side even though the entire house was completely black from the fire.
Stoick looked shocked. "Not that bad?" Right now, the bright side was more of a just-barely-enough-light side. He angrily stomped out of the house and into the open. "The village is destroyed, the dragons have gone and left us…let's face it. This holiday is a complete—what are these people looking at?" he grumbled in frustration, noticing for the first time that everybody had stopped cleaning up and was staring fixedly at something up in the sky. Stoick followed their gaze and narrowed his eyes in confusion. "What is that?"
It looked like a big, dark cloud was moving toward them. As it came nearer, the shapes became more defined, and the cloud began to break up into over a hundred silhouettes of flying dragons. Something else was hanging below them, suspended by ropes that were held in the dragons' mouths and talons. It had a sort of dragon-esque shape to it, but as the dragons carried it nearer, it became clear that it was an old Viking ship, probably one of them that had never came back from a quest. Then Stoick got a good look at the Nightmare at the front of the crowd and his face lit up. "It's Hiccup!"
"And our dragons!" Astrid gasped, lowering the hammer she had been using in amazement.
All the Vikings began to cheer and wave their hands to try and attract their dragons. The task of cleaning up was instantly forgotten.
The dragons flew closer and closer to the island, dropping lower and lower until their burden touched ground. The ship crashed about a foot into the ice and skidded to a halt right in front of the crowd of Vikings. The dragons all released their ropes, and the ship tipped to the side and with one large crash, finally lay still. The Vikings watched the ship with anticipation.
Slowly, a baby Nadder emerged, followed by a baby Zippleback. The Vikings began to gasp and squeal with excitement as the rest of the babies began to dismount from their rides, their parents landing beside them. Hookfang dipped his neck down to the ice and Hiccup smoothly jumped off, taking a few steps forward and grinning at the faces on the Vikings. Cries of "Welcome back, laddie!" and "Good job!" were mingled with the happy shouts of the Vikings who were greeting their dragons.
"Yeah!" Snotlout cheered, running up to Hookfang and scratching the dragon behind his horns. Hookfang's eyes lazily drooped half-closed with pleasure.
Up above in the air, Meatlug was skimming over the island, her eyes frantically searching for her own babies who had been left behind. Finally spotting them by the food barrels, she landed, gazed at them all adoringly, and promptly regurgitated a pile of fish for them to eat. As the babies happily scampered towards the food, Fishlegs came flying out of nowhere and tackled his dragon to the ground. "Meatlug!"
Stormfly had spotted Astrid, and she and her babies were trotting up to meet her. "Stormfly!" Astrid wailed happily, throwing her arms around her dragon. "You're back! Ohhh…" She looked at the babies and her eyes lit up. "And there are babies!" she squealed, bending down to pet them.
Hiccup turned away from watching Astrid reunite with her dragon and was immediately caught up in a breath-quenching hug from his father. "Well done, son!"
"Thanks, Dad," gasped Hiccup, clutching his stomach and taking deep breaths.
In a considerably better mood, Stoick spread his arms and yelled, "Everyone, grab your dragons! To the Great Hall! We finally have something to celebrate!"
It was finally time for Snoggletog to begin.
Hiccup strolled through the Great Hall amongst dragons, happy Vikings, and tables laden with food. He had a smile on his face, but inside he was less than happy.
He passed a table with Fishlegs, who had a baby Gronkle in each hand and had reverted to baby talk. "This is the best holiday ever! Who's a baby? Who's a cutie baby?" Beside him, Snotlout was petting one of Hookfang's children, occasionally jerking his hand back as the dragon let out a burst of flame from its mouth. Beside the table, a couple was scratching a Gronkle under the chin. Two children were holding mugs of cocoa, a baby Zippleback between them trying to steal a sip. One small girl was dragging around a grumpy-looking Terrible Terror that was almost as big as she was. Everybody's dragons had come back.
But Toothless was still gone.
He hadn't been at the nesting grounds with the other dragons. That only left one other option. He had taken his freedom and was gone forever. You don't know that for sure, said the little voice in the back of Hiccup's head. Enjoy the celebration. He'll come back. But then another voice would pipe up, Forget it. He's gone, long gone, and you're never going to see him again…
Hiccup felt his eyes grow hot but he managed to keep a few stray tears away. Thankfully, at that moment a distraction arrived in the form of Astrid.
"Hiccup, I know this must be really hard for you," the girl started out nervously. "seeing everyone with their dragons." She took his hand and smiled. "But you really did a wonderful thing. Thank you." She leaned forward and kissed him quickly before pulling him into a tight hug. Hiccup's arms instinctively went around her, and he laid his chin on her shoulder. For a few seconds they just stood like that quietly. Then Hiccup sighed. "Astrid, where did Toothless go?" he said quietly.
Astrid gently shook her head. "I don't know." She sadly looked up, her eyes landing on the door of the Great Hall, and suddenly she knew the answer.
The door to the Great Hall had opened, and Toothless was tentatively sticking his head inside. He stepped in and glanced around the room before spotting Astrid with Hiccup and perking up. He quickly started walking towards them, attracting the attention of quite a few Vikings along the way.
Astrid's mouth fell open and suddenly had an idea. Grinning deviously, she pulled out of the hug and braced her hands on Hiccup's shoulders. "Wow. Man! Wouldn't wanna be you right now. I mean, you brought back everyone's dragon except yours."
Hiccup's face went from confused to annoyed. "Yeah, you know, this is not helping at all," he replied crossly.
Astrid grinned and abruptly shoved Hiccup backward, spinning him 180 degrees around so he came face to face with Toothless running to meet him.
Hiccup's eyes widened and his face split into the biggest smile he had ever donned in his entire life. "TOOTHLESS! Hey, bud!"
Toothless grinned—as well as a dragon could—and eagerly dashed up to the boy, coming to a halt about three feet away where he stood, looking like he wanted to leap on him and smother him in a hug. He also looked nervous, like he was afraid of what Hiccup would say to him after he had been gone without a reason for the past three days.
Hiccup smiled at his best friend and quickly threw his arms around the dragon's neck, hugging him tightly. Toothless looked surprised for a second but didn't pull away.
The Vikings around them, for once, didn't start clapping and cheering. Instead they just watched and smiled as Hiccup opened his eyes and quickly drew away. "Bad dragon! Very bad dragon!" he scolded, pointing at Toothless and waving his finger around in the air. Toothless followed the finger with his eyes. "You scared me to death!" Hiccup went on. "Don't ever stay away that long again and…what is in your mouth?" He hadn't noticed it at first, but after the initial shock of having Toothless come back, it became very obvious that the dragon was holding something big and bulky between his jaws. Hiccup squinted and tried to peer up into the dragon's mouth, but as he did, Toothless immediately opened his mouth and put whatever it was right on Hiccup's head, quite a lot of dragon spit following after.
Toothless pushed the thing firmly down on Hiccup's head with his tongue and stood back, proudly surveying the boy. Hiccup, his hair completely soaked, gingerly brushed spit off his face. "Yeah, you found my helmet." He went to wipe his eyes and suddenly froze. "Hey! You found my helmet! That's where you've been?" All this time he had thought Toothless had left for good, and the whole time he had just been trying to retrieve Hiccup's helmet, which must have sank to the bottom of the ocean by the time he found it.
Hiccup grinned and rubbed Toothless's nose, and the dragon purred. Hiccup held Toothless's head in both hands, looked him in the eye, and said sincerely, "Buddy, thank you. You…are amazing."
And then came the inevitable cheering and clapping from the crowd. Hiccup hugged Toothless again and the dragon looked both surprised and pleased. Astrid went up to greet Toothless and grinned. "Happy Snoggletog!"
Finally, Hiccup had something to celebrate. His best friend had come back. Could things get any better than this?
Snoggletog dawned bright and snowy. Hiccup was woken by the house shaking again. No roaring accompanied it, but he instantly knew who it was. Instead of groaning and trying to hide under the covers, he immediately got up, yawned, and jumped out of bed, ready to meet Toothless outside.
At the front door, Hiccup paused to look at the village. It had snowed overnight, and every surface was covered in a thick blanket of whiteness that was about a foot deep. It made the whole village look fresh and new. An impatient roar from behind the house brought Hiccup back to reality. "I'm coming, Toothless!" he called, smiling and hopping down the steps.
"All right bud, come on down," Hiccup said as he rounded the corner. "I was just…" He stopped and stared.
Toothless wasn't on the roof. He was sitting on the ground, staring at Hiccup expectantly. His old saddle and tail fin were spread out in the snow in front of him.
Hiccup had a moment of confusion. "Toothless, what'd you pull this out for?" He shoved the saddle out of the way with his boot. "You don't need this anymore." He walked up to Toothless's side and prepared to mount him. "C'mon, let's get going." But Toothless quickly got up and moved away from him, turning 180 degrees and sitting back down in front of the old riding equipment.
Hiccup shook his head in confusion. What was going on here? "Would you quit fooling around? You have your new tail now," he said, trying to mount Toothless again and failing as Toothless ducked away once more. Hiccup smiled uncertainly. "Toothless!"
Toothless glanced down at the equipment, then slowly hunched down and held up his tail. The new fin slowly fanned out with a soft clicking noise. It was perfect. The measurements weren't off even by a little bit. The material would last for years to come. It wasn't only the gift of a new fin; it was a gift of freedom.
Toothless lifted the tail higher, looked Hiccup in the eye, and without any warning at all, began to whip his tail against the ground, smashing the fin as hard as he could.
Hiccup's eyes widened in shock. "Toothless! Stop! What are you doing?" A dull snap came from the fake fin, and Toothless kept shaking his tail frantically until the fin detached itself and was flung ten feet away into a snowdrift. Hiccup stood there, staring in disbelief. In less than ten seconds, a full night's worth of work had become undone, and Toothless had thrown away the one thing that enabled him to fly freely. Why? Why was he doing this?
Toothless gently took the old saddle in his mouth and tugged it across the snow in front of him. He left go of it, looked up at Hiccup with wide eyes, and patted it with his front paw.
So many things were said with one simple action.
Hiccup just stared, barely daring to believe what Toothless was saying.
And slowly he started to smile.
Winter in Berk lasts most of the year. It hangs on with both hands and won't let go. And the only real comforts against the cold are those you keep close to your heart.
Hiccup and Toothless levelled out in the air, and Hiccup slowly unbuckled himself from the harness. "Okay, bud, you ready?" Toothless confirmed his answer with a growl. Hiccup unhooked his prosthetic from the stirrup, braced himself, and leaped off Toothless's back into the open sky. They both began to free fall through the icy air, head first, side by side.
Hiccup couldn't stop grinning. He glanced at Toothless. The dragon gave him a wide, upside down, toothless smile. He reached out a paw and playfully gave Hiccup a small push, causing the boy to spin around in the air.
As the island rapidly zoomed up to meet them, Toothless quickly spun around and Hiccup grabbed onto the saddle, strapping himself back in and tilting his foot back to make the fake fin snap out to the side. Toothless spread his wings out, and he pulled up and zoomed over the forest, just brushing the tips of the trees and spraying snow in all directions.
Turns out that was the best Snoggletog ever. That year, I gave my best friend a pretty great gift.
He gave me a better one.