Soli Deo gloria
DISCLAIMER: I do NOT own How To Train Your Dragon. I thought this would be a nice and sad sort of fic, one mostly on Astrid. I like writing in her point of view.
Astrid didn't remember ever being inside the Chief's house. To her, it was just a house that she passed on her way home every day. It was the tallest, most ornate building in the entire village. With its big robust wood carvings in the front, the large black shingles on the roof and its big hulking size, it was slightly intimidating.
Astrid would never tell anyone this, but she was a little scared when she decided that she'd wait by the bottom of the hill for news of Hiccup. She was scared of what kind of news she might receive. From what she knew, his condition was no different from what Gothi had told her earlier—but still, she could not be certain unless she saw him herself.
His leg was burnt and wounded. That was what the entire village knew. Gothi, Gobber, and Stoick had been in there for hours fixing him up. Astrid herself worried herself sick (quite literally sick, she threw up by the docks) while she and the other four (not five, Astrid couldn't help but think) teens were bringing the dragons in. To her mass relief, Snotlout, of all people, had taken over the people-riding-on-dragons-thing.
With the help of Fishlegs and his great knowledge of dragons, the two were able to convince some people to try riding dragons. Though it was slightly hilarious to watch them fall and curse and have Snot and Fish reprimand them, Astrid could feel the depressed atmosphere of the village.
She herself was no happy camper. Perched on a wooden step, she carefully balanced her axe in her hand. The blade stared back at her, showing her her sad and tired face. She had not slept for two days. She was tired. And cranky. She got cranky when she was tired.
Still, she would not let herself go to sleep, even for a few precious minutes. She sat on the bottom of the hill holding up the Chief's house. Whatever news came out of there, she would know it first.
The axe in her hand did little to comfort her. Usually, her axe was her thing, her best friend. She carried it everywhere (and no, she was not obsessed), but now it just seemed to be a dead weight in her hand. What did it matter that she was one of the best warriors in town? The fight with the dragons was over. Why would she need this weapon?
With an angry grunt, Astrid threw the axe away. It skidded across the pebbles with a crunch. Watching it stop, Astrid grunted again and hugged her knees to herself. She gently started to rock back and forth nervously. The sky before her was a lovely shade of white, with bits of yellow and soft pink, but Astrid didn't even look up.
Oh, what she would give to see the sarcastic one-handed blacksmith race out of the house, screaming news at the tops of his lungs. Gobber was a very good screamer. He was a Berkian. It came with the package of living here.
Oh, what she would give.
Her silent and pleaded prayers must have been heard, for a sound of a door opening made her eagerly turn to the house. Instead of a yelling blacksmith, however, it was a quiet blacksmith, along with the village elder and the strangely sober and quiet Chief.
Astrid immediately scrambled to stand up as one by one, they traversed down the rough stone staircase, Gothi's thin cane and Gobber's peg leg making thump! sounds on the rock. Astrid waited until all three were within earshot before she asked eagerly, "How's he doing?"
Stoick sighed sadly and walked down the rest of the staircase before he looked at her. Astrid could see his eyes were shot, pink veins running across his pupils. His hulking body, usually held with such dignity and ferocity, sagged unashamedly. The Viking girl could tell that the man hadn't slept either. The Chief only sighed gravely at her question.
Gobber sighed and wiped his face with his hand as he half-limped down the rest of the stairs to join them. "Vell, ya see, Astrid, we had ta take his leg below ta knee," Gobber said slowly.
No. She'd caught a glimpse of the wound when they were scurrying around getting back to Berk. It had been mangled, bloody, crusty with burnt flesh and ash. It had looked quite deformed.
Astrid could only look at Gbber with a face filled with horror and shock. "You couldn't save it?" Surely it had been salvageable!
"It was too far gone. If we didn't take it, it itself would have gotten worse and taken his life," Gothi spoke up. Her usual comforting raspy voice did nothing to soothe the tornado inside poor Astrid. She could only look on with astonishment at the Chief. His head was bowed, and Astrid could clearly see the pain in his eyes.
Astrid swallowed the lump in her throat and asked pleadingly, "How did he react?"
Gobber shifted around uncomfortably. "Ya see, Astrid," he said in a solemn and sad voice, "'E 'asn't woken up yet."
"What?" was all that the girl could say. She could feel her breathing starting to sound panicked.
"He hasn't been awake since he was up flying in the sky," Gothi raised her staff to emphasize. Astrid felt her legs slip out from under her and she immediately reached out and grabbed the wooden step. This couldn't be happening. This was just a horrible, maddening, sick nightmare.
Stoick, without another word, started walking toward the Great Hall. No doubt that the man needed some comforting company and a drink. Gobber looked over his shoulder at the house and gave a little sigh, and he turned and followed his friend.
Gothi sighed and slowly made her way toward her house. Astrid paid her no mind as thoughts whirled around in her brain. Oh, Hiccup! All those years of shunning and of giving nasty looks toward the poor lad seemed now to be so heartless. He had been such . . . a Hiccup.
He had often gone for long walks in the woods, probably to avoid all of the condescending townspeople. Astrid only groaned when she realized that she herself was one of them. Never being nice to him, taking him for granted as a clumsy, trouble-making fishbone. But what she had seen when she was forced to ride Toothless was that he was none of those things. He was a strong, balanced, thoughtful individual, and if all the people of Berk had stopped being so thick-headed and stubborn and downright stupid, he might have never lost his leg.
Now, it was too late for that. His lower leg was gone. For good. They had just been mean to him because he was different, and now he paid the price. He was in a bed, bruised and battered, leg gone and out cold like a Viking after a drinking contest. At least those who were drunk woke up a few hours later, but for Hiccup, oh no, he wouldn't wake up for days, even weeks or months, or, oh forbid, years.
Astrid was distraught, so terribly distraught. All that she could mutter under her breath was, "I did this." If she, a girl who people listened to, tried to help him more, to understand him more, this never would have happened.
"It's not all your fault, child," a voice said slowly. Astrid sniffed slightly and turned to see Gothi, who had not gone very far.
"It is all of our faults, child. All of us who never listened to the lad. But, my dear, he is stronger than you think. He may be out for days or weeks or months, but he'll wake up. Someday, child, he will," Gothi comforted. With a crooked smile, the old woman slowly made her way down the hill.
Astrid looked after her with a confused look. Turning slowly up to the Chief's house, she acquired the serious look she wore a lot these days. She was going to see him, and the Chief himself would have to drag her out before she didn't.
Straightening her incredibly tired limbs, groaning at the soreness that exerted, she pushed back some of her blonde bangs and picked up her axe. It still was a perfectly good axe, no need to just leave it lying there. With her beloved weapon in hand, Astrid slowly but surely trudged up the steps. With each step upward, a million thoughts ran through her head. How would the other teens react when they found out? Needless to say, throughout the duration of dragon training while she was moping and sulking around, they had hung out with the boy. Hopefully, they had been better friends than she had.
At the top of the stairs, she straightened up to the front door. There was a dragon in there. A big dragon. A black dragon. A protective dragon. A Night Fury. She didn't really know how to act around Toothless. Hiccup was the only thing that they really had in common, and with him in a coma, how would the large dragon react?
Well, they had Hiccup as their mutual friend, so hopefully they would get along.
Astrid set the axe against the house and with a small sigh, carefully opened the door. Peeking her head inside, her eyes saw only black and brown. As her eyes slowly got used to the darkness in the one room (the fire in the fireplace might have helped), she caught sight of a bed in the corner. That was bound to be Hiccup's.
She slowly slipped inside, shutting the door with a slight thud. That thud was enough, however, to make eyes grow on a stretch of blackness. The unholy offspring of lightning and death itself. Toothless. A low growl came from his mouth, which revealed stunningly large teeth for a dragon named Toothless. Hiccup had a weird sense of humor.
"No, Toothless," Astrid whispered. She didn't know why she whispered, but it seemed to be the right thing to do. "It's me, Astrid, the girl who went flying with you and Hiccup!" The fishbone's name must have done the trick, for the dragon's eyes instantly softened, and his teeth were covered by sad black lips.
She gave him a forced smile as she crossed the room over to Hiccup's bed. She looked about and found a wooden chair, the perfect size for the slender teen. She drew it closer and sat down on it, her hands wrapped around her head.
Her eyes immediately fell on the boy's face. The usual thoughtful frown he wore was instead pulled into a small grimace. Astrid cringed at the sight of streaky red blotches that covered his face. His freckles were covered with the red stripes. A large bruise grew just below his ear; the scar he had had for years across his lower right cheek stuck out more on his pale frail face. His breathing was slow, and pained. Astrid couldn't help but let a tear form at the sight of him.
She looked up at Toothless, who was bearing a soft depressed face. The scales surrounding his face were shiny, more shiny than usual, and his dragon lips were pulled into a sad frown.
Turning her gaze back to the boy, Astrid cautiously touched the blanket over his chest. His breathing was slight and steady, which reassured her a little bit. She smiled. She had managed to catch Gobber saying at the dragon's nest, "E'vry bit the boar-headed stubborn Viking ya e'er were!" Gobber was right. Hiccup was stubborn.
Lifting her hand, she let it travel to the end of the bed where the blanket met the board. Looking up at Toothless, who just licked his lips and actually gave her a slight nod, she cautiously threw back the corner of the blanket, revealing Hiccup's iron leg.
Astrid let her hand fly to her mouth, and her tear fall. From his knee on down, it was handmade, by Gobber most likely. It was a piece of thick wood with half of the top part of the wood gone. Below it, a metal circle was attached to it, holding onto what looked like a bent fish hook. Leave it to Gobber to make a fake leg not look like a fake leg, but, as Astrid gingerly bent and touched it, it seemed to make sense.
Hiccup's saddle on Toothless had a hold for his feet to go through. Maybe his new foot was designed to work like a real foot and hook up like his real foot would have. It was a brilliant design, really, but still the thought that this could have been avoided hung in Astrid's mind.
Without a word, she drew back the blanket to just the way it was. Looking at Hiccup's face, she sniffled. She spied his left hand lying limply on the blanket, small and freckled. Her hand found its way onto his, gently squeezing it. Her other hand hugged it, both hands clasping it tightly, and never wanting to let it go.
She looked up at his face; he let out a very quiet moan. Astrid let a smile appear on her face. There was life in him. There was still fight in him.
She sighed softly and whispered in a pleading tone, "Hiccup, I don't know if you can hear me, but I'll keep talking anyway. I never really knew you growing up. You were sort of quiet and I really ignored you, which I am so sorry for doing. We all ignored you. We never should have. You're the kindest, most thoughtful and non-traditional Viking there is. If we had listened to you, that dragon could have been stopped, and you wouldn't have to be in so much pain. It was because you were different that us ignored you. That, and your natural ability to make trouble." Astrid softly laughed.
She sighed and continued, "We were afraid of change, because we're all so set in our ways. Hiccup, I want you to know: we need you, to help us with the dragons, and for advice that we so badly need. The whole village needs you. Your dad needs you. Toothless needs you." She let one of her hands let go of his and wipe at her eye. Smiling sadly, she gently grabbed his hand again and whispered, "I need you."
She slowly leaned back, her breathing quiet, her hands still holding his small hand tightly. She shifted her gaze over to Toothless. The big dragon had settled down into a lying down position, his tail curved around and his wings flattened against his body. His eyes, however, never diverted from Hiccup.
Astrid smiled. That Night Fury, the unholy offspring of lightning and death itself, was the boy's only true friend. All those years, the Vikings had never been his friends. They had never given him a chance. I mean, who would want to be friends with the clumsiest boy on Berk?
Toothless. Toothless wanted to. He was his friend. He was the only one who understood him and deeply, deeply cared about him. And he was Berk's enemy. Hiccup had been able to befriend Berk's enemy.
Toothless was there for him when they weren't.
"Toothless?" Astrid called softly over to him. The Night Fury's big eyes slowly turned from Hiccup to the blonde girl's face. His big eyes seemed to pierce into Astrid's soul. He wanted to know what this girl who had attacked him earlier that week wanted to say.
With a slight smile on her face, she said softly, "Thank you."
That was not what Toothless expected. He used his big front paws to sit up straighter, looking at Astrid the entire time. This girl had earlier that week tried to kill him with her big axe, and now she was thanking him? The dragon let out a loud and confused gurgle in response.
"Toothless, without you, we never would have found the dragon's nest. Hiccup would have still been a nobody, someone everyone else ignored. Without you, Hiccup wouldn't be here. You saved him from a fire-filled pit of dragon. Toothless," Astrid said solemnly, "you saved his life."
Her words perked Toothless' ears up. He knew that he had saved the boy's life, of course. The boy was his only friend, but to have someone that wasn't him thank him like that? To say the least, it touched his dragon heart. The first time was by the fiery bearded one, the one who took care of Hiccup (under his supervision, of course) along with the two other Vikings. They had been nice to him. Now her as well.
His boy had been right. There had been no reason to fight.
The dragon and Viking girl exchanged one look into each other's eyes, and somehow, they understood. What's done is done. They both decided to put their past behind them, for the good of the other dragons and Vikings. And for Hiccup.
Astrid smiled and let her gaze fall back on Hiccup. She let a yawn escape her as she leaned against the chair's back, her hands still clasped tightly around his.
"Don't leave us, Hiccup. We need you." And with that, the young girl closed her eyes.
That night when Stoick arrived back at the house (completely sober, something that never happened when he came home from the Great Hall), he couldn't help but smile at the sight he saw. His son was still sleeping on his bed, but beside him on the chair was the Hofferson girl, eyes closed and her hands surrounding his. On the other side of the bed, the Night Fury was purring softly, his breathing slow and steady.
When the Chief closed the door and made his way to the stairs, Toothless slowly turned his head to face the man. Stoick paused mid-step and merely said softly, "Good night, devil."
Toothless nodded softly as the Chief continued his way up the stairs. The Night Fury let his head fall onto his folded paws sleepily. Glancing one last time at the two sleeping humans, he let his eyes close.
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