Sorry for the delay. I was unable to get onto the Internet for a week, but now I can update once again!
Chapter 5: New Tail
With nighttime coming, the trainees and teacher sit around a blazing fire, everyone listening to Gobber's tale, except for Hiccup.
"And with one twist, it took my hand and swallowed it whole. And I saw the look in its eye. I was delicious. It wasn't a month later before another one came and took my leg."
Everyone awes at his story, and Fishlegs says while swinging around two cooked legs, "Isn't it weird to think that your hand is inside a dragon, like your mind was still in control of it? You could've killed the dragon by crushing his heart or something."
"I swear I'm so angry right now." Snotlout sneers, gripping harder on his chicken cooking stick. "I'll avenge your beautiful hand and your beautiful foot. I'll chop off the legs of every dragon I fight. With my face."
"Mm-mm-mm." the blacksmith disagrees, pulling a cooked wing off of his turkey. "It's the wings and the tail you really want. If it can't fly, it can't get away."
The words echo in Hiccup's head, finding the answer. "A downed dragon is a dead one."
Gobber gets up and yawns, saying, "Alright, I'm off to bed. You should be, too. Tomorrow we get to the big boys. Slowly, but surely, work your way to the Monstrous Nightmare. But who will win the honor of killing it?"
Everyone gets excited about the thought of fighting the tougher dragons. Tuffnut puts down his ckicken and gloats, "It's gonna be me. It's my destiny, see?"
Kristal then notices the cooked fish on the chair without Hiccup as the twin lifts up his shirt to reveal a mark. Fishlegs gasps and asks, "Your mom let you have a tattoo?"
"It's not a tattoo. It's a birthmark."
Ruffnut says, "Uh, I've been stuck with you since birth, and I have never seen that."
"Yes I did. You just never saw me from this side before."
The brunette walks over to the stairs and has just enough time to see an auburn head moving down just before it vanishes. She raises an eyebrow, wondering why the weird boy is getting weirder.
Once everyone has headed home, Hiccup runs to the blacksmith and gets out his notebook, turning to the portrait and redraws the missing fin on Astrid's tail. He then gets to work.
After creating some plans and blueprints, the auburn first starts with heating the rods up and hammering them into shape. When that's done, he dumps it into a barrel of water to cool the metal, then repeats the process four more times. He sets the rods to the side and grabs a shield, using the pliers to rip the metal bolts off and heats them up to shape them to spheres, then weighing them. The teen attaches the spheres to connectors, attaching the rods to a base, then slices and stitches leather to a tailfin shape. Hiccup slides the rods through the gaps in the strong fabric, and ends all of his hard work with sphere attaching at the ends of the rod, so the leather doesn't slide off.
When he's done, the boy admires his handiwork and folds it up before running back home for rest.
Next morning, Hiccup filled a basket with different types of fish and an eel and throws it on his back before getting the invention he made last night. The teen then sneaks through the village and walks through the forest. In no time, he made it to the stone basin and walks through the opening, finding Astrid the dragon sitting on a rock, combing her hair with her hands. As the auburn walks closer, Astrid sniffs the air and turns around.
"Hey there, Astrid."
"Hi, Hiccup." she says, looking at the basket on the boy's back. The boy catches her look and says, "Oh, I've brought some breakfast for you." He drops the bag and places his foot on the top, tipping it over and spilling out the fish, the sloshing slightly nauseating. "I don't know how much hybrid dragons eat."
The dragon teen licks her lips in hunger and crawls to it, still sniffing. As she looks through the fish, Hiccup continues, "There are salmon, some nice Icelandic cod, and a whole smoked eel."
Astrid stops sniffing the fish and backs ups, growling at the pile with slit eyes. Hiccup looks between the two then reaches in the fish, taking out and lifting the black and yellow eel. Astrid widen her eyes and quickly backs up, shrieking in fright, but Hiccup quickly says, "No no no no!" before throwing it away. As he wipes the slime off his hand, he reassures, "It's alright. I didn't mean to scare you with the eel. I don't really like eel much either."
The girl looks at him with an annoyed and angry look but slowly crawls back to the fish. Upon sniffing, she doesn't smell any more eels and gladly grabs a cod from the pile, ripping the meat right off its bone. She's soon done and goes on to a second fish while Hiccup takes a seat on a boulder. "Wow. You're hungrier than I thought."
In about five minutes, the basket is halfway empty when she finally looks up at Hiccup. Astrid raises a fish to him, but he declines, "No thanks. I already had fish earlier."
Soon, the basket has only a few salmon in it and the teen dragon walks to the clear pond, taking a couple licks to wash down the fish, finally relaxed with a full stomach. She gets on her feet when she's done and turns around to Hiccup, asking, "So, what's the…thingy in your arms?"
"Oh!" He picks up his contraption and unfolds it, showing her the makeshift tail. "I want to apologize for ruining your tail,"
She growls quietly and moves her tail away from the boy.
"And so, to make it up, I made you a new one." Astrid examines the device with interest and awe. She snaps out of her reverie and says, "Well, that's…really nice of you. But does it work?"
"There's only one way to find out." Hiccup says with a smirk.
Groaning, the hybrid moves her tail to her hands and asks, "You're not going to rip my last tailfin, are you?"
"I promise I won't."
She shifts her eyes to the lake and looks back at her reflection, feeling truly unsure. She still doesn't trust the boy, at least fully, but he had gone through the trouble to get some food for her when she couldn't, and he did make a new tail to try and help her. And yet, this could all be a plot to get close to her then kill her, like the barbarians did to her mother. Astrid closes her eyes, feeling the tears coming again.
Hiccup sees her sad look and says, "Of course, if you don't want to, I understand. I mean, you obviously are having trouble trusting me. Why don't I just go and come back later?" He gets up and starts walking to the opening, head down, when something grabs his hand. Confused and kind of shocked, the auburn looks down and sees clawed fingers gripping his, and looks up to find Astrid's warming smile. With a grin, he asks, "So you want to try it?"
"Mm-hmm." She murmurs, nodding. The teen dragon swings her tail up to Hiccup, who leans down and unlatches the tail. Astrid sits on a rock and places her tail near the boy. He then starts working on attaching his creation so it's symmetrical with hers. After the belts have been tightened, Hiccup unfurls the makeshift tail and steps back to look at his success. "There. Perfect size."
Astrid raises her tail and inspects her tail, flinging, folding, and twisting it around. "It's good, but it won't work."
"What?" he asks, losing the smile. "Why not?"
"Well, the two tails have to move alike. That's how I'm able to fly."
The auburn clasps his hands together and places them on his mouth. "So the two tails have to align together in order to fly. Okay, but I don't know how long it'll take me to come up with a design and then be able to make it. The best I think is either a few weeks or a month or two, tops."
"Oh." The dragon teen moves her head down, her hope of flying again slowly reducing. A tweet catches her ears and she looks up to find a bird soaring. The sight of freedom starts to bring tears to her eyes, so she closes her eyes and turns away from the boy.
Hiccup starts rubbing the back of his head and turns away too, the guilt and sadness returning to his heart again. "But I'll try to make it as fast as I can. I'll stay up all night, if I have to, to try and complete your tail. For you."
The girl looks up with slightly bloodshot eyes and asks, "Really?"
"Really." He assures, smiling. The next thing he knows is Astrid's giving him a friendly hug, tears freely falling down her face. "Thank you."
Hiccup is caught off-guard. A girl is giving him a hug out of her own free will. That has never happened to the auburn before, and he is unsure on what to do next. He starts patting the girls back with hesitant hands and saying, "You're welcome."
The boy doesn't know how long he was hugging Astrid, whether mere seconds or hours, but he moves the blonde girl away and says, "I should get back. The others will soon start wondering where I am." Hiccup walks to the gap of the basin, stopping to get the Smoked Eel, when Astrid calls, "Hiccup? Will you come back tomorrow?"
Hiccup turns back and, with a grin, answers, "Everyday."
The dragon teen smiles. The boy returns it and heads back to his village toward the arena.
"Today is about teamwork." Gobber says, unlocking large double doors. Instantly, they burst open and let's green smokes billow out with low growling. The teens slowly back up from the smoke, all holding buckets of water. "Now, a wet dragon head can't light its fire. The Hideous Zippleback is extra tricky. One head breathe smoke. The other one lights it. Your job is to find which is which."
The group splits as the smoke surrounds them: Kristal with Ruffnut, Tuffnut with Snotlout, and Hiccup with Fishlegs.
Hiccup's mind wasn't in the training, though. It was focused on all the possible designs to make the tail work. Meanwhile, annoying him the most, the chubby boy glances around with terror written all over his face, muttering, "Razor-sharp serrated teeth that inject venom for pre-digestion. Prefers ambush attack, crushing its victims to-"
"Will you please stop that!" the auburn growls.
Snotlout and Tuffnut scour the green mist for any head. Snotlout has fear riddling up his spine, but he hides it under his tough man act, "If that dragon, show either of its faces, I'm gonna…" He sees horns in the smoke and quickly says, "There!" Both Lout and Tuff throw their water at the horns, and girl shrieks meet their ears. The smoke clears the reveal Kristal and Ruffnut. "Hey, it's us, idiots."
"Your butts are getting bigger. We thought you were a dragon." Tuff says with a chuckle.
Snotlout still tries to impress Kristal by saying, "Not that there's anything wrong with a dragoness figure." but he gets a fist on his nose, knocking him down. Ruffnut throws her bucket at her twin and knocking him down. He raises his head to reveal groggy eyes when suddenly he's taken into the smoke. Yells and growls are heard in the smoke and the twin was about to enter it when the burnette stops her. "Wait." She picks up her bucket, but a double tail swings out and trips them both, making the water splash behind Kristal. Tuffnut runs out and clampers over his twin, yelling, "Oh, I'm hurt! I am very much hurt!"
Fishlegs and Hiccup watches the twin run away, and the Legs says dreadfully, "Chances of surviving are dwindling into single digits now."
A green, roundish head slithers out of the green smoke and starts twitching at the brains. Thinking it's the spark head, he throws the water on it, but the Zippleback lets out more of its green smoke, now annoyed.
"Oops. Heh heh. Wrong head."
The dragon lets out a stream of its weapon, scaring the chubby boy beyond. Gobber yells, "Fishlegs!"
The auburn watches the brains run and turns to find the other head sending sparks out.
He throws the last bucket of water to the head, but it falls short. "Aw, come on."
The two heads of the Hideous Zippleback slither toward the unarmed boy, growling at him. The blacksmith was about to run and save him when a shocking sight appears before him. The Zippleback backs away from Hiccup, who just waves his hands at it. "Back. Back. Back! Now don't you make me say it again!" He forces the dragon back into its lockup, still talking, "Back into your cage." The boy then moves his vest a little and takes out the Smoked Eel he snuck in. "Now think about what you've done." After throwing the eel in the cage, the Hideous Zippleback quickly retreats up onto the wall, trying to keep away from the awful sea snake. Hiccup closes the large doors and wipes the slime off his hands, when he notices everyone gawking at him. "Okay, well is that all? Because I have things I need to…yep." He leaves the arena, and Kristal watches him with perplexity. What is up with him now?
Hiccup paces in his office, his desk covered with sketches of a prosthetic tail and drawings of Astrid, as he thinks of a way to make two things move identically. He thought of springs, ropes, gears, pulleys, and other means, but none work the way he wants them. "Oh man, this is gonna take me forever to just get the basic. I mean, it'll be easier for me to ride her if she was bigger, but that'll be really uncomfortable as well as really awkward." The auburn sits on his chair and thinks of more ideas, not seeing a person walk in. "So how'd you do it?"
The boy jumps in surprise and turns to see Kristal. "How'd I do what?"
"You know what. How did you get the Zippleback back in its cage?"
Hiccup starts to get nervous but says, "Oh, you know. Using my Viking demeanor on it. I mean, that dragon can sense all the Vikingness inside, so he was frightened."
"I highly doubt that."
"What else could it be, Kristal?"
She examines the boy then catches some of the drawings on his desk, seeing one design that looks suspiciously like a tail. The brunette turns back to Hiccup and says, "I'm watching you." She leaves, and Hiccup sighs in relief, saying, "That was close." He notices the time outside and makes a mental note to return this his project tomorrow. After putting all the drawings in a secret storage, the auburn returns home and collapse onto his bed with his mind still thinking of different blueprints, when an idea strikes his mind.