Two weeks after he'd left, Hiccup was back in Dun'Broch. This was the time frame he'd set up with Elinor before the previous departure. Toothless circled low over the castle so as not to startle the guards. They'd had a few incidents on previous visits. However, one of the men on the perimeter waved them down and they descended into the courtyard. As soon as he had undone the safety line and set foot on the ground he was being tackled and toppling back into his dragon.

Merida clutched Hiccup's collar and looked desperately at him. "Get. Me. Out. Of. Here," she hissed. Hiccup's hands on her waist gently pushed her away. She seemed slightly embarrassed at her less than friendly welcome, but he smiled reassuringly.

"Care to tell me why?" he chuckled.

She opened her mouth to answer him but was interrupted. "Merida?" Elinor called from the castle doors. Her daughter visibly flinched and ducked around Hiccup, shoving him in front of her. "Oh, hello, Hiccup," Elinor greeted the boy. "That wouldn't happen to be my daughter hiding behind you, would it?"

He lifted one arm and glanced back at her. She shook her head vigorously. "Um, no?" he responded, more than slightly confused.

"Honestly, Merida! You're acting like a child. I get better behavior from your brothers," Elinor sighed, striding over to the couple. She pulled the princess out of her inadequate hiding spot by the ear.

Merida swatted at her mother's hand. "I'm getting away from all the planning," she snapped. "Honestly, how long does it take to get one dress to fit? Surely not this long. Surely!"

Elinor ignored her, speaking to Hiccup instead. "Do you have a message from your father, dear?"

"Oh, right!" He stepped back to Toothless and flipped open the saddle bag. He removed a bulky letter addressed to the queen. "Sorry, Dad had a lot to say," he apologized as he delivered it to her.

"No trouble. I expected as much," she said with a small smile. "Thank you. I'll get right to this so you can get my response to him as soon as possible." At that, she returned to the castle, leaving Hiccup and Merida alone.

Without a word, both of them climbed onto Toothless' back. Hiccup didn't even strap them in, they weren't going very far. They simply ascended to the top of the highest tower and dismounted again. Together they sat with their feet dangling over the edge, the Nightfury curled up behind them as a back rest.

"I wasn't kidding, you know," Merida murmured after a long period of comfortable silence.

Hiccup rested his arm across her shoulders and she leaned into him. "About what?" he inquired.

"Getting out of here," she reminded him. She turned her blue eyes up to him. "I need to leave. At least for a little while."

He kissed her forehead. "I'll see what I can do." She grinned and fiddled with one of the braids in his hair. "That reminds me," he said suddenly. "I've got some things for you." He reached behind him, flipped open the saddle bags again and produced a cloth wrapped package. "That's from Ruffnut. I don't know what it is, though, so I'd be careful."

She gave him a sarcastic look and sat forward, setting it in her lap. She unwound the wrappings and revealed two outfits, including the one she'd tried on in Ruff's room. "I'll have to thank her next time I see her," Merida beamed. "This is too nice."

Her fiancé rubbed his neck sheepishly. "Well, that makes my gift look less impressive." He pulled something else out of the saddle bag, this one unwrapped. She accepted the tangle of leather straps and tried to make sense of it, turning it over and over to figure out what it was. "It's a harness," Hiccup explained. He reached around her and held it up the right way.

The harness was similar to his original design. Much simpler than the complicated vest he now wore when riding. It had straps that would go over her shoulders and two that would go around her stomach. One of the belts had a metal ring attached to a tether.

"This," Hiccup elaborated, lifting the cord. "Can clip to the back of my harness or to the main tether. This way we won't have to worry about you being safe so much."

Her lips curled up and she wiped at her eyes. This gift meant more to her than he probably intended it to. On their previous long flights, he'd tied a rope around her waist as a makeshift lifeline. This well-crafted gift was an acknowledgement of the fact that they'd be spending a lot more time flying together in the future. "Thank you," she said earnestly. She stretched up and kissed him quickly. "Would you mind if we gave it a test flight?"

He looked over his shoulder at Toothless, who was passed out in the warmth of the setting sun. "I don't think Toothless is up to it tonight. Tomorrow, though, I promise. Especially if your mom says you can come to Berk with me."


By the time the sun set and Merida and Hiccup were forced to go inside for dinner, Elinor had finished reading and responding to Stoick's letter. She gave an envelope to Hiccup that was addressed to his father in elegant script. The letter was at least as long as the one the queen had received, if not longer.

"So, Mum," Merida said quietly as they ate. "Can I ask you a question?"

"Of course, darling."

"We've been working so hard planning for the wedding," she said hesitantly. She stared at a spot above her mother's head as she searched for the words that would help her get what she wanted. "And I think we could both use a little break." Elinor looked up from her plate and her expression did not show agreement. Merida's mind reeled as she scrabbled for another point. "And – I'm going to be living on Berk, but I feel like I hardly know it. I've only been there once. I need to go again before I'm sure I actually want to spend the rest of my life there."

Hiccup choked on his food. "Excuse me?" he coughed and gave her a startled look. She shot one back that told him to shut up.

"Merida, I know what you're trying to do," Elinor said calmly, going back to her meal. "And the answer is no."

"Mum, please," Merida whined. "All I ask is one week. One week and I'll come back and try on that stupid dress as many times as you want. I swear."

Elinor shook her head without even looking up at her daughter. Fergus reached over to her and put his hand on her shoulder. "Elinor, dear, it obviously means a lot to her. Maybe we should let her go. It's only for a week."

The queen pressed her face into her hand, exasperated. "Am I completely alone on this?" She looked up at her family. Merida and Fergus simply looked at her, the triplets nodded, and Hiccup hid a smile behind his hand. "Fine! What do I care! Run off for a vacation while we're planning your wedding. Go for two weeks!"

"Really?" Merida gasped, excited.

"No!" Elinor cried. "One week. I want you back here in one week." She looked directly at Hiccup. "Am I understood?"

"Yes, ma'am." He nodded.

"Alright then," she sighed. "Have fun, come back alive."

"Thank you, Mum," Merida beamed. "I'll try my hardest not to get killed."


Merida awoke on her bedroom floor the next morning.. She groaned at a sharp jab of pain in her hip. Her eyes were cemented closed from sleep but she managed to crack them open. She saw her brothers leaning over the edge of her bed and smirking down at her. Her fiancé was crouched next to her with a similar expression.

"Good morning, sunshine," Hiccup greeted. "Ready to head for Berk?" He leaned down as if to kiss her but she shoved him away. He toppled over onto his back, his legs splaying out in front of him.

"I'd be much happier to see ye if ye hadn't let the terrible terrors push me out of bed," she grumbled. She got up and tossed the three little boys off her bed. "Out, all of ye. I have to get dressed."

The triplets helped Hiccup up and the four boys trooped out, closing the door behind them.

Merida knelt before the chest at the foot of her bed and opened it. She pulled out the clothes Ruffnut had sent for her. She selected the outfit she'd already worn once and put the other in her bag for the trip. It would be good to have it on Berk.

When getting dressed, Merida put on the brown skirt and red shirt, but omitted the cord belt in favor of her new harness. She struggled into it, but once she had figured out how to get it on it fit perfectly. After she was sure it was on correctly she added the fuzzy vest and her Nightfury amulet. She pulled on the boots she'd been given on her last trip to Berk and put her usual shoes and clothes in the bag. She quickly braided her hair and then ran out of her room.

'Please be asleep, please be asleep,' the princess prayed as she crept to the courtyard. She wouldn't hear the end of it if her mother saw her ensemble. She'd made it through the great hall and was almost in the clear. But Elinor was already in the courtyard with Hiccup and the boys.

Hiccup smiled at the sight of Merida. Elinor wasn't nearly as excited. "What are you wearing?" she gasped.

"This is what girls wear on Berk. Better for riding dragons," Merida muttered, pushing a stray curl out of her face. She crammed her bag into one of Toothless' saddlebags and then swung up on his back, carefully not looking at her mother.

"You can't be serious!" the queen laughed, as if her daughter was joking.

"Nope, I'm serious," he daughter assured her. "Quite comfortable actually."

Elinor glared at Hiccup. "Did you bring these clothes for her?" she snapped.

"No, my friend Ruffnut sent them," Hiccup defended. "I had no idea. Honestly, I think Merida looks great." He glanced over his shoulder and caught her blushing.

"Ruffnut?" Elinor questioned. "That's a girl's name?" Hiccup nodded. "Berk is sincerely a strange place. Indecent clothing and such odd names. Are you sure about this, darling?" She looked pleadingly at Merida.

"Yes, Mum, I'm sure," she groaned. "Can we go now please? It's not like I can change their fashions or their names so ye'll have to live with it."

The mother rolled her eyes and strode to the dragon's side. She pulled Merida down and kissed her forehead before righting her again. "Be safe, dear." She gave Hiccup's shoulder a squeeze and then stepped back.

"Goodbye, Mum, I love you. Tell Dad I love him, too." Merida scooted backwards so Hiccup could climb on.

He twisted around and grabbed the tether on the front of her harness and clipped it to the back of his. He gave it an experimental tug and asked, "Ready to go?"

"Please," she sighed into his ear, slipping her arms under his and holding on.

"Let's go, Bud," Hiccup urged Toothless. The dragon took a few running steps and then leapt into the air.

Merida unwrapped one arm from his chest to wave to her mom and brothers. When the castle had faded from view she raised both above her head and shouted, "FREEDOM!"

Hiccup laughed out loud, turning back to look at her. "She's just looking out for you, you know. Your mom," he said when she had calmed down. "She's just worried about you leaving."

"She's smothering me," Merida complained. "I'm not a child. She doesn't need to watch my every move."

He shrugged, bouncing her head on his shoulder. "I don't know. It might be nice to have someone looking after you like that. My mom never got the chance."

She looked at him silently for a moment and then pecked him on the cheek. "She's proud of you, Hic. I know it," she assured him.

He smiled slightly. "I guess. Just, don't be so hard on you mom, is all I'm saying. She'd doing what she thinks is best for you."

"I'll try," she promised. "I mean, I did swear to try on that dress as many times as she wants."

"What's the dress look like anyway?" he questioned.

"Can't tell you," she answered. "It's bad luck to know what the bride is going to look like before the wedding."

"Aw, come on," he whined. "It's not like seeing you in the dress. Just tell me what it looks like."

She sighed dramatically and said, "If you insist."


A few hours later…

"Hey, Mer? You wanna try something?"

She leaned over Hiccup's shoulder, giving him a suspicious look. "I don't trust that tone. You're up to something."

He quirked an eyebrow. "Come on, it'll be fun." With that he unclipped his tether from saddle and hers from his back. He secured her to the saddle, clicked Toothless' tailfin into a different position, and raised himself up on his knees. "Scoot forward here. Put your hands… yeah that's it."

Merida's fists locked where Hiccup had placed them. He crawled around so he was sitting behind her. He pushed her foot forward so she could control the tailfin. "Hiccup, I've got no idea what I'm doin' here."

"You're fine, just do what I tell you." He put his hands on hers. "Click the tailfin up one notch and pull to your right." He guided her hands on the reins and Toothless banked gently to the right. "There you go."

With Hiccup's guidance, Merida managed to fly Toothless for a good fifteen minutes. He told her how to encourage the dragon into a climb and they flew up above the clouds. The whiteness spread out below them for miles.

"Looks like Dun'Broch in winter," Merida said. "Only better."

"Try going down," Hiccup commanded. "Just the opposite of what you did to come up."

A bit too eagerly, Merida directed Toothless to dive. He went down sharply and she cried out, startled. They burst through the other side of the clouds to find towers of rocks looming up below them. She panicked and snatched her foot back from the controls.

"Whoa, whoa!" Hiccup snapped his prosthetic back on the control and clicked the tailfin into position. He pushed Merida's hands out of the way and yanked up, moving them back to safety.

"I'm sorry!" Merida cried.

Hiccup laughed. "It's fine, Mer! I've gotten myself into much worse situations than that. There wasn't really a problem."

"Even so, you should be in control," she insisted. She started unclipping herself so he could get in front again, but he stilled her hand with his own.

"I can fly fine from back here." He settled his arms around her to make his point apparent.

She smiled and leaned back into him. "If you say so."


That night, Merida was settling in for bed when there was a knock from the staircase. "Can I come up?" Hiccup called to her.

"'Course," she called and he came the rest of his way up. "It's your room after all." She perched on the edge of the bed and folded her legs in front of her. "Thanks for lettin' me use it, by the way."

"Hey, no problem," Hiccup said. He came and stopped next to her. He leaned across the bed and grabbed a pencil out of his nightstand. "Just needed one of these." He tapped her on the nose with it and set it in her lap before leaning over again. He pulled out the same candle he'd produced last time she was there, and actually managed to light it himself this time.

"No nightmares," Merida said, pointing at the candle. "I still think that dragon should do the trick, though."

"You do what you've gotta do," Hiccup shrugged and grinned at her. He rose back to his full height and took his pencil. "Good night, princess. Love you."

She rose up on her knees and kissed him, then collapsed back onto the bed. Her arms flopped on either side of her and her hair floofed out in a bushy cloud around her. "G'night. Love ya too, Viking."


Before dawn the next morning, Merida was being gently shaken awake. Her eyes cracked open to see Hiccup above her yet again. "See," she sighed, "this is much more pleasant than being shoved out of bed." She attempted to smile at her fiancé, but it was ruined by a yawn. "What time even is it?"

"You don't have to get up yet," Hiccup assured her. "But there's a dragon related problem that my dad and I have to take care of. We might be gone all day. I just wanted to tell you."

"Gotcha," she nodded. "Thanks for lettin' me know. Now, shoo. I want to get back to sleeeep!"

Hiccup chuckled softly and stroked her bangs back from her forehead. "Alright. Go find Gobber when you're up. I'll tell him you're coming. Love you."

She waved a hand and pressed her face into the pillow. "Yeah, yeah, love ya, too."


Merida grabbed an apple off the table as she left Hiccup's house. Wearing one of the Berkian outfits Ruffnut had sent for her, she half skipped down the hill, hoping she remembered where Gobber's forge was. She got into the central part of town and turned in a slow circle, looking around. As she wandered off in what she guessed was the right direction, she was aware of several people watching her. She tugged at her Night Fury pendant self-consciously.

Sticking her head through the front window of a shop, Merida shouted, "Gobber?"

"Merida!" Gobber cheered from inside. He came lumbering up to the front, beaming at her. "Hiccup told me you were coming! Come on in!" He ushered her into the shop and gestured around. "Spending the day with the dragon dentist, this should be fun!"

As the dragons and their owners/riders started arriving, Merida got a crash course in species identification and tooth making. The busier it got, the more Gobber needed her help.

Dashing inside to Gobber, Merida shouted, "We've got a Zippleback and a Gronckle." She walked over to see what the Viking needed from her, tying her hair back to keep it more off her sweaty neck.

"Grab me my tongs, will ya?" Gobber requested. Merida grabbed the hand attachment off the rack and switched it in for him. "Thank ya. Watch yer back!" She ducked as he swung over her head.

It continued on like that for a while. Merida did her best to identify what each dragon needed and run the requests in to Gobber. She fetched tools for him and kept the forge going when he had to install a tooth.

During a lull in activity, Gobber was grinding a tooth while Merida sat on a bench and watched him. "Who helps you most days?" she asked curiously.

"Eh, Hiccup's in here doing his saddles," Gobber explained. He gestured to the other half of the shop, which was filled with leather and wood and hadn't been touched all day. "He steps in when I need him. I trained him, ya know. Before he was a big, mighty dragon trainer, he was my apprentice. Wasn't very good at it, little twig of a thing, but he had the determination and the smarts to get the job done."

"You did a fine job of it, Gobber." Merida grinned at the ring that glittered on her finger.

There was a commotion outside that made Merida jump. "Go see what it is," Gobber commanded, waving his hand towards the door. She hopped off the counter and walked out the door.

Barf and Belch were weaving their way through the center of town with the twins on board. They slithered to a halt in front of the forge and the Thorstons hopped off.

"Someone said you were back!" Ruffnut said in way of greeting. She marched over and slugged Merida on the shoulder. "I new you couldn't stay away."

"My mum's going crazy with the wedding plans, I needed a break," Merida explained.

Tuffnut looked around. "Hey, where's Hiccup?"

"Some sort of dragon problem," Merida shrugged. "I've been helping Gobber all day."

"That's lame!" Ruffnut shouted. "You should come with us, have some fun!"

Glancing over her shoulder, Merida said, "Actually I was hoping to see you. I'd sort of like someone to teach me how to fly a dragon."

"You came to the right place!" Tuffnut declared. "We're the best teachers you could ask for!" He stepped past Merida and into the shop. "Gobber we're taking Merida!" he shouted. He grabbed the Scot by her arm and dragged her towards the Zippleback. "Come on, you can ride with me!"

Ruffnut intercepted them. "Not a chance, idiot." She swung up onto Barf's neck and held her hand out for Merida. "Let's go!"

As they flew off over the forest, a shout sounded from behind them, "Guys, wait up!" Fishlegs and Meatlug flew up on Merida and Ruffnut's side. "Where are you- Oh, hi, Merida!"

"Hello!" She lifted one of her hands from Ruffnut's shoulder to wave.

"Get lost, Fishlegs!" Tuffnut shouted. "We're going to teach her how to fly, we don't need you around messing things up."

Frowning, Fishlegs said, "But shouldn't she learn how to fly solo? It's not like she'll have someone to ride a Zippleback with."

The twins were going to object and start insulting the boy again, but Merida cut in, "He has a point. Maybe you could all work together?" She looked pleadingly at her companions.

"Fine," Ruffnut grumbled and Fishlegs cheered quietly.

The two dragons touched down in a clearing in the trees. Ruffnut dismounted and let her brother fly Barf and Belch with Merida sitting by herself. It was quite a different experience from flying with someone else, even when Hiccup had put her in control. Mostly she just held on as tight as possible and tried not to panic. The Zippleback was much less well behaved than Toothless, and Barf's long, snake-like neck nearly slithered her off on several occasions. Eventually, they landed again. The dragon-riders urged Merida onto Meatlug's back. The slow-moving, docile Gronckle was a good starter dragon for the princess to learn on.

Merida cautiously guided Meatlug in slow circles around the clearing while the twins and Fishlegs yelled instructions at her. She tuned them out and focused on the task of flying. In her head she ran through the differences between flying a dragon and riding Angus. Flying was much less stable, but giving the directions was essentially the same, with the added difficulty of up and down. But all in all, most of the basic skills held over, so she worked on adapting and applying them.

"Let's try for a little more speed, shall we, beastie?" Merida whispered to the dragon. Meatlug gave her a dubious look, but her tiny wings flapped faster. There was a burst of speed, and the onlookers cried out in alarm.

"Meatlug, slow down!" Fishlegs shouted.

Merida leaned forward over the Gronckle's head. "Don't listen to him. Let's have some fun!" She pulled up and they climbed above the tree line.

"Your spaz dragon is going to kill Hiccup's girlfriend!" Tuffnut snapped. He and his sister made for their own dragon to go and "save" Merida.

"Fiancé," Fishlegs corrected timidly.

Glancing over her shoulder, Merida saw the twins starting after her. "Faster," she urged Meatlug. "I can handle it, let's go!"

Higher and faster they climbed. After a distance, Merida wrenched the reins around sending them into a dive. She could feel panic at the base of her skull, but squashed it down. Now was not the time! She and the twins hurtled past each other. One of them screamed her name, but she couldn't tell who. The wind was whistling in her ears, her hair was flying behind her. This was like riding a horse but (please forgive her, Angus) better!

"Alright, that's enough!" Merida and Meatlug pulled out of their dive. The princess raised her arms above her head and whooped in delight. She yanked a hand through her tangled curls and looked up towards Ruff and Tuff, who were peering down at her. She smirked and saluted smugly. Nobody rescued her. She could handle herself.

And in that moment, a blue blur shot by inches away from Meatlug's nose, startling the dragon backwards. Merida, who hadn't been holding on, was pitched backwards and into the open air. She screamed as she fell, but all she could think was, Whoever has to tell Hiccup I'm dead will be joining me in the afterlife.

Then, she was bent backwards over something completely solid. She groaned and rolled over onto her stomach. Meatlug was what had got her. She patted the dragon on the head and hauled herself back into a sitting position. "Thanks, beastie. Should've brought my harness with me. Wasn't thinking."

"What're you doing?" Fishlegs shrieked from the ground. Merida was going to respond when she realized he wasn't speaking to her.

"Sorry, I thought she was you." Stormfly hovered a few yards above Merida's head, Astrid reclining on the dragon's back.

Still hunched over from her aching back, Merida scowled. "I look nothing like him!" she shouted, lifting a strand of her hair.

Astrid shrugged. "Sorry, just saw a Gronckle. Fishlegs would've handled that situation much better."

With a huff, Merida carefully brought Meatlug back to the ground. Fishlegs offered his hand to help her down but she leapt off herself. The twins followed suit, as well as Astrid.

"I was looking for you guys," Astrid said. She flipped her braid over her shoulder as she gracefully dismounted. "Also avoiding Snotlout, but looking for you."

The five of them stood in a circle with the three dragons ringed around them. As the teens conversed, the dragons became gradually tenser. Fishlegs noticed first, seeing Stormfly's readied tail over Astrid's shoulder. "Something's wrong with Stormfly," he said worriedly.

As Astrid moved to tend to her dragon, the other riders noted the unease of their own companions. They hurried off to see what was the matter, leaving Merida alone in the center. Because she didn't have a dragon to look after, she was the first to spot the dark, vaguely human-shaped movement in the shadows of the trees.

First instinct was to reach for her bow, which had been – unfortunately – left behind in Hiccup's house. Since she didn't know what else to do, she said, "Did anyone else see that?" and raised her hand to point at what she'd seen.

Astrid looked first. She, too, saw what Merida had seen and drew her ax from Stormfly's saddle. "Who's there?" she shouted. The other teens spun, drawing their own weapons.

The moving shadows multiplied, and Merida snatched up the biggest rock she could find close to her. She really wished she had her bow.

Out of the forest emerged a herd of unfamiliar Vikings. The figure Merida had seen first revealed itself to be a hulking man with a matted black beard and spiked armor.

"Alvin," Astrid growled.

"Hello again," the man replied. "We've come to congratulate the Dragon Conqueror, but he doesn't seem to be around. However, I suppose this must be the bride to be." He extended one enormous hand to Merida. "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, princess."

Astrid stood closest to Alvin, Stormfly at her side. Merida took a few steps forward as well. "How do you know who I am?" she questioned. Astrid glared at her but she shot a look right back. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed Fishlegs beckoning her over so they could make a quick escape on dragon back if need be. Merida ignored him.

Alvin shrugged casually. "I have my sources."

Merida and Astrid stood side by side, the Viking with her giant ax and the Scot clutching her rock. "What do you want and how quickly can I get you off my island?"

"Oh, I just came to pick up a few things." The outcast sneered. "Boys!"

Astrid leapt for Stormfly, grabbing Merida's wrist and yanking her along. Before they could climb on the Deadly Nadder's back, a net was thrown over her. Astrid pulled a knife and began sawing at the ropes, releasing Merida's wrist to do so. As she knelt, Merida was yanked backwards by her hair.

"Hey!" The princess screamed. She tried to turn around and swing out with her rock, but just got a face full of her own curls. A slender hand grabbed her shoulder and whirled back to face the way she had been. She caught a glimpse of Astrid as the girl ducked around her. Merida was still straining against the grip on her hair, and then suddenly she was free and stumbling forward. Her head felt much light than it should be. She turned to see Astrid whacking a large man with the flat side of her ax. A large man who had a wad of red hair clutched in his hand.

Before she could completely process what had just happened, Merida was being seized again, this time around the waist. Her captor's hold granted her enough freedom to nail him in the side of the head with her rock. She dropped back to her feet and started running to see what she could do to help Stormfly, but something slammed into the back of her. She hurtled towards the ground, but was unable to get her hands under her in time. Merida's head impacted with the dirt and the world went dark.


Alvin beamed as he knocked Astrid backward into the princess. The redhead hit her head on the ground and was knocked unconscious. The blonde leapt to her feet again and tried to haul the other girl with her, but the princess' limp body was hard to lift. Around them, the other Outcasts were battling the teens and their dragons.

"Let them all live," Alvin called to his men. "We need someone to deliver our message to the Dragon Conqueror. But give us some time to escape."

The twins and Fishlegs went down and their dragons were easily tranquilized. Still the leader loomed over Astrid, who stood in front of the princess. She was outnumbered, had no backup, and had three fallen friends, three dragons, and a friend's fiancé to protect. Her hands shifted on the handle of her weapon as she tried to think of a scenario that ended with her winning.

There didn't seem to be one.

"We'll take this one, too," Alvin said. "She might be of some use."


Snotlout had been looking for Astrid for the better part of an hour. She'd ditched him in town and he'd been searching the usual hiding places ever since. He was grumbling to himself as he flew over the forest. At this point, he'd be satisfied to find anyone as long as he wasn't flying around miserable anymore.

Below him was a clearing in the trees, and laying in the grass were Tuffnut, Ruffnut, Fishlegs, Meatlug, Barf and Belch, and Stormfly. Astrid was nowhere to be seen. Even so, Hookfang came down in the clearing.

As they landed, Snotlout saw the tranquilizer darts stuck in the dragons' necks. His friends were all lying unconscious. Stormfly was trapped in a net. Astrid's ax laid abandoned. And a few feet away, was a mess of severed red curls.

"Dear gods," Snotlout sighed. "Hiccup is going to lose it."

Ayo people, guess who's still not dead? Hard to believe, I know. I'm really sorry. There's absolutely no excuse and I hope you can forgive me.

I saw HTTYD2 twice last week. The second time was mostly spent thinking about where this story is going. And sobbing uncontrollably. But mostly thinking. So ANYWAY, I've decided (based on recent developments) this story in this universe is between HTTYD 1 and 2. The second movie would take place in two years. Everything would happen exactly the same plot wise, 'cept Hic and Mer would be married. In case you care.

So, thank you for not giving up on me after all of this torture.

PS- If you want to flip over HTTYD2 and would like to PM me, please feel free.