Disclaimer: I do not own How to Train your Dragon.

Chapter One

It all started with his mother's death.

Well, maybe it didn't, but Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third had always thought of his mother's death as the turning point of his life – a turn for the worse. Before the illness took Valhallarama, he had at least been… normal. It was after her death that his apparent un-Vikingness began to show.

He still had vague memories of his childhood during happier times. Games with his cousin Snotlout, and Tuffnut and Fishlegs. Sharing toys with Astrid and Ruffnut. Playing at the forge, fascinated by the metal and weapons and fire. Getting under Gobber's foot.

Then his mother had died. And suddenly he was no longer a child. As he grew, so did the expectations; he was the only son of Stoick the Vast – the best chief the Vikings of Berk could remember ever having. And when the expectations came, the village began to find him wanting.

In all aspects.

So yeah, Hiccup sort of thought if his mother hadn't died, he wouldn't have failed so badly in all his… endeavors.

Most of Hiccup's problems centered on Berk's giant pests – dragons. Of course there was the fact that he was too skinny, too little. But mostly his problems centered on dragons.

Vikings of Berk killed dragons. A person's status, wealth, standing, all depended on killing dragons. The act brought honor and respect and… and everything.

Hiccup never managed to kill any. That was okay, since most teenagers his age hadn't started dragon training yet and had never killed a dragon either. What he did manage was to cause further trouble for his father and his tribe during every dragon heist with his desire to help.

Like now, for example.

He stood and watched the dragons carrying off what appeared to be at least half of the provisions for winter. He could feel his father's glare on his neck, and hear the whispers of the tribe as the warriors started to gather around.

Hiccup the Useless strikes again. He could almost hear it.

'Okay. But I hit a Night Fury,' he managed to get out before his father grabbed him.

'Not like the last few times, Dad! I mean I really actually hit it! You guys were busy and I had a very clear shot…'

Then Stoick began to yell and Hiccup shut up. There was another thing that had changed after Valhallarama's death. Hiccup and Stoick never seemed to be able to communicate well anymore.

He could hear the angry whispers of the crowd, the sniggers; could see the frustrated glares. Could feel the disappointment radiating from his father.

Gobber smacked him on the head.

'I've never seen anyone mess up that badly,' Snotlout said gleefully. 'That helped!'

'Thank you. Thank you. I was trying, so…' he caught sight of Astrid behind the rest of the gang and felt the shame creeping up his neck.

Astrid. Blond, blue-eyed, serious Astrid. She was the most beautiful girl on the island, and the owner of the only non-hideous name Hiccup knew. And it seemed that he had loved her forever.

What she felt for him though, he had no idea. It could be hatred, resentment, resignation, scorn… or all those altogether.

The fact that she never made fun of him like the others didn't exactly cheer him up. It just meant he was beneath her notice.

But he had hit the Night Fury, Hiccup told himself firmly. He would find it, kill it, and bring the evidence back to his father. The whole tribe would honor him then.

Then maybe he would have a chance with Astrid.