Mereda's bright red curls blew behind her as she rode. She loved the feeling of the wind on her face as she rode as fast as Angus would run. She and her mother had just had another spat. She was to turn eighteen in a matter of weeks and was still unwed. After Angus had landed from a jump, she let go of the reins and held both of her arms out at her side to feel more like she was flying through the woods. Her woods. Angus leaped over a another tree that had fallen some many months ago and then she took her bow from around her back and unsheathed an arrow, shooting at a couple of the targets she'd put up. No one back home where she went on her rides, for which she was grateful. It was the one place she could get away from it all and just be herself.
Merida's mother, Elinor, was the queen of DunBroch. Her father, Fergus, was the king. She was the first born daughter, making her next in line for the throne. And her mother – though no longer arranging a marriage for her – has been pressuring her relentlessly to settle down with a future king. But Merida had no interest in romance. She was happy with herself, a young and free single girl. Fumes of anger washed away from her as she rode to her favorite place.
When she and Angus reached the river, she turned off of the trail and rode out to where she knew she would find the canyon. She lay in the grass, her horse by her side, and watched the water fall down the side of the cliff. Usually, there were other animals – deer and birds, mostly – that she would be able to watch, but today, it was dead. Not a peep from anywhere in the woods. Until she heard it. A sound that she had never heard in her life.
A high-pitched screech echoed across the valley and she looked up to see what appeared to be a large black bird flying high overhead. It was strange. Nothing she'd ever seen. But it was getting lower and lower, headed back towards the clearing by the river, cawing its strange call across the sky. She hung her bow across her shoulders and hopped on Angus' back again.
"Yeh!" She shouted and Angus took off, weaving through the trees as she tried to keep her eyes on the black mass heading in for a landing. But through the thick leaves, she lost sight of it. She headed to the river bank, as fast as she dared to ride through the thick brush. When they came out at the riverside clearing, she steered Angus away from the castle, eyes searching for the large creature.
Out of nowhere, Angus stopped dead, flinging Merida forward and off of his back. She skidded along the ground, her whole left side scraping to red, but no broken bones. She coughed, trying to catch the breath Angus had knocked out of her, and picked herself up, trying to calm her horse.
The horse was rearing and squealing in terror and Merida didn't dare get too close.
"Angus!" she cried, "What is it, Lamb?"
Then, she heard the sound again from much closer and Angus was gone, running full speed back towards the castle. When she turned to see where the sound had come from, she saw a fully grown, black dragon. It bared its teeth, menacingly, cat-like slits for eyes watching her. She gasped and reached back for her bow but her hands found no arrows in her quiver. They had all spilled onto the ground around her when she fell. She quickly bent to grab one and knock it into place to shoot the beast.
"WAIT!" A voice called to her from somewhere behind the dragon. Out ran a young boy – about Merida's age – with brown, shaggy hair. He was quite scrawny, Merida thought, though he wore a bearskin vest and boots. She knew he was a viking. He was running towards her and her knee jerk reaction was to draw the arrow back to threaten him.
"STOP!" she shouted, but he didn't. The dragon roared and charged to put himself between her and the boy. She turned to shoot it, but before she could react, the boy had reached her and tackled her to the ground. She let the arrow fly, but the boy's interference caused it to careen off into the forest. He ripped the bow from her grasp and threw it back the way Angus had gone before turning to the dragon. Merida tried to recover, but he said, "Stay down!" and she did, knowing she couldn't have gotten to the bow in time.
"It's okay! It's okay!" he said to the beast, holding his hands up, defensively to the dragon. "Toothless, down. I'm okay. 'Atta boy." and then he was actually petting the creature. It pushed its massive face against the scrawny human with cat-like affection.
"What... is that?" Merida asked, horrified, stepping slowly backwards, eyes on the dragon.
The boy stammered awkwardly and incoherently, "Uh, yeah, I am so sorry about that, he's usually quite friendly, I uh, I didn't mean to tackle you... It's just, your bow... it was scaring him..."
"I was scaring him?" Merida asked, confused. The idea of that was preposterous.
"It's a long story..." He said.
"I've got nothing but time." She said. He walked back towards her and offered her his hand.
"Um, I'm Hiccup." She took his hand and he pulled her to her feet.
"Hiccup?" she smiled. What a name.
He shrugged. Hiccup held his hand out to shake again, awkwardly and she took it. Now that she could see them, she noticed he had very beautiful green eyes. Almost as vividly green as the dragon's.
"I'm Merida." she said.
"Uh, Merida. Well, um, that's a really pretty name." She rolled her eyes but her cheeks still flushed red. Hiccup seemed to be unable to speak to her without this awkward hesitation in his voice. As if he were afraid he would say something stupid.
"So what's the story with the eh..." Merida tried to ask.
"Yeah." She said, "That would be what it is, then, I suppose..."
"He's my pet. His name is Toothless. Toothless, Merida. Merida, Toothless."
The dragon made a sort of cooing purr. Merida found it quite adorable, but wasn't going to let anyone know that. She smiled and held up a cautious hand as a hello.
"You want to pet him?"
"Do I want to pet your pet dragon?" She stared at him for a second before adding, "Of course I do." She walked next to Hiccup until they were right in front of Toothless. Her heart was pounding so fast she was afraid the dragon could hear it. What did dragons even eat? She wondered to herself, scaring herself more and more the closer she got to Toothless.
"Nice and easy," Hiccup said, "He doesn't always like new people so just take it slow." Hiccup reached down for Merida's hand. She jumped when he first touched her but then she allowed him to guide her hand up. She watched him, astonished, as he only watched his dragon. Then Hiccup let go of her. "Slowly."
Before Merida's hand could get closer than where Hiccup left it – a good foot from Toothless' face – Toothless moved forward and rubbed his face against her hand. She gasped with surprise, but continued to pet him, a nervous chuckle evolving into a jovial laugh. The dragon purred beneath her hand. She stepped back from Toothless, still laughing as she hopped up and down excitedly.
"He likes you." Hiccup told her.
"He's a beauty." She said, going back to pet Toothless some more. The front of it's face was mostly smooth and very rounded. The dragon greatly resembled a common house cat only much larger and covered with scales. Toothless made that cooing noise again and rubbed his massive head against her left side. She gasped in pain as Toothless touched her fresh scrapes and Hiccup stepped forward to see what was wrong. When he was almost to them, Toothless gave Merida a great nudge and she fell forward towards Hiccup who clumsily caught her in his arms. She clung to his shoulders while she tried to regain her balance and then scrambled upright.
"Sorry." She said, "I don't know what happened..."
"No, it's uh, quite alright. He's just being a little to friendly."
Hiccup narrowed his eyes, glaring at his pet. The dragon made a little grunting noise that – if Merida hadn't known better – would have sounded like laughter. Hiccup rolled his eyes, but he smirked as if at some private joke.
"So wait, how do you have a pet dragon." She asked.
"That's part of the long story." he answered, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly.
"I thought we'd driven all the Dragon's away from here." She explained. "I've heard rumors that they settled in over near Berk but we haven't seen a dragon in DunBroch for years. Generations."
"Yeah, about that..." Hiccup said awkwardly, "See... Toothless and I aren't from DunBroch."
"Well, then, where are you from?"
He hesitated and then said, "Berk."
"So it's true..." she whispered. "But we thought the dragons were pests? Dangerous?"
"So did we." he said, "But it turns out we just never gave them the chance."
"Well then, what are you doing here?"
"That's, uh, another part of the long story..."
Merida stared at the boy for a moment, shaking her head, utterly amazed by him. Then, she looked up to see the sky darkening. "It's almost sunset." she said, "I have to get back..."
Hiccup's face fell, "How far are you from home?" he asked.
"I live eh... in the castle. A few miles that way." She pointed.
"You. Live in castle DunBroch." he clarified.
"I do... I eh, I'm kind of the princess." she said coyly.
His eyes widened. "Odin..." he whispered to himself.
"What was that?"
"Nothing..." he shook his head to clear it, stammering awkwardly again, "Did you, um, your horse... ran off. It, uh, will probably take you hours to get back on foot."
"Its... dangerous in the woods at night. And you won't be able to get back before dark."
"I know that." She said, somewhat indignantly.
"Well, I mean, you said yourself... you are a princess... you should definitely not be stranded out here all alone..." She fought a smile, seeing his cheeks redden.
"Well, what would you suggest then?" she asked, amused. He looked at Toothless conspiratorially. The dragon cooed again and he looked like he was actually smiling. And suddenly she knew what he was thinking. "No. No way..."
"Aw, come on... It'll be fun!" Hiccup argued.
Merida thought about it for a moment and what a story that would be. Or rather, what a memory since she could never tell anyone about today. The day she consorted with a peasant from The Isle of Berk – much less rode on a dragon with him. Her sense of adventure was getting the better of her.
"Please, Merida?" he pouted, acting hurt if she were to say no.
"You're sure its safe?" She asked, lips pursed.
"I designed this old thing myself. Built it myself too." he said, showing off the saddle he'd made that wrapped around the creatures torso and down to his tale for steering purposes.
"One condition then, Hiccup." she said.
"You name it." he said, instantly. Now it was her turn to hesitate.
Finally, she said, "I want to see you again. Another day."
Her words had to sink in, and when they did, a massive grin spread across his face. He nodded.
"I think that can be arranged..." he said. Toothless made a noise of agreement.
Merida's heart was pounding again for many reasons. She wasn't afraid of much. She didn't fear heights or animals. She was cautious about the both of them, but not afraid. But she was relinquishing all control she had to this boy she'd just met and his pet dragon. Hiccup helped her pick up all of her arrows and she slipped the bow back over her shoulders. Finally, Toothless sank low to the ground and Hiccup hopped up, easily, knowing exactly where to find his footing. Merida was an experienced climber, so she didn't expect to have much difficulty. But when she was at the dragons side, her shoes kept slipping on the dragon's smooth scales and she couldn't get up on upper body strength alone. Hiccup leaned down and offered her a hand. She took it, ignoring the strange jump in her stomach when he touched her, and he helped lift her up onto the giant animal.
"I really hope you know what you're doing..." Merida said, wrapping her arms around Hiccup's waist. She looked around the clearing, trying not to be scared.
"Trust me." Hiccup said. And for some reason, she did. "Ready, bud?" He said to the dragon. Toothless cooed and Merida buried her face in Hiccup's back, waiting for the take off. And it arrived, a sharp thrust, leaving her stomach on the ground as they rose, incredibly fast into the air. She could hardly catch her breath as they kept rising and rising.
"You okay?" Hiccup called back to her. She shook her head into his back, not daring to look, "Hey just a few more feet and it'll smooth out, hang in there." he said.
And sure enough, a few seconds later the sharp sensation of falling was gone and then they were gliding. Merida felt the difference, but it was Hiccup's voice when he said "Open your eyes, Merida." that made her finally peek.
The were hundreds of feet up, they could see everything from here. The castle looked tinier than her dollhouse she'd had since she was six. They were just below the clouds, and Merida stretched up to touch one, the mist turning to dew drops as they condensed on her fingertips.
"Hiccup..." She sighed, in awe. "This is so..." she was at a loss for words. When he was sure she couldn't come up with an appropriate adjective, he responded.
She let go of Hiccup and held her arms out like she did so often on Angus, finally flying. She could actually touch the sky. And then she was laughing a manic, joyous laughter that built until Hiccup was laughing with her.
"Woo!" She screamed against the wind, her voice echoing across the sky. Toothless made the screeching sound that Merida had heard when she first spotted them. A happy, Hiccup shook with laughter and picked up speed a bit, blowing her hair back the way she liked.
"Hang on," Hiccup said, "I want to show you something."
She wrapped her arms tightly around Hiccup's torso and then the dragon was in a tailspin. She shouted with glee, all fear gone now that she knew what to expect, and laughed as the dragon performed his tricks. After a couple of spins, dips and flips, the ride evened out again. They had a clear view of the sun on the horizon, the golden-red colors falling over the water.
"Hiccup... this is amazing. You. Toothless is amazing..."
"Thank you. I- Toothless appreciates that."
Merida rested her chin on Hiccup's shoulder as they made their way back towards the woods.
"Okay," Merida said, "You need to drop me off a ways into the woods. And when you leave again, Hiccup... Don't. Be. Seen."
"I will. I mean, I won't... I mean... affirmative." he sighed. And Merida snorted a laugh and then covered her mouth in horror. But Hiccup just looked at her over his shoulder with a small smile, as if his thoughts were miles away.
When they landed a couple yards in from the edge of the woods, Hiccup and Merida both slid off of the dragon's back. Hiccup just stared at Merida for a moment before he said, "Well, uh, I hope you enjoyed the ride."
"I'd say so." she smiled. "So when will I be seeing you?"
"Well, I've got to go back home for a bit. How about I meet you by the river again in three days. At noon." Hiccup proposed.
"Sounds perfect." She said, smirking. "Maybe you can tell me that long story."
"Maybe I can." he said.
"Thank you for the ride." she added.
"Of course. I'll, uh, see you later... Princess." He bowed.
"Oh, please. I get enough of that at home." she said. Then she smiled, "Goodbye, Hiccup."
"Bye..." he said as she headed out of sight through a tunnel of brush that led out to the castle's courtyard. "Merida..." he sighed, knowing she couldn't hear him. He stared silently at the spot in the brush where she'd disappeared. Toothless nudged him with a gurgling chirp. Hiccup punched him lovingly back in the shoulder and hopped back up into the saddle.
Merida emerged from the brush, a bit away from the trail she had started on. Brambles tangling in her teal dress. Her hair, more of a mess than normal from the wind for starters, was full of twigs and leaves from wrestling her way through the bushes and trees. Her cheek had a scrape she hadn't noticed when she fell and most of her left side being covered in dirt from the fall. She looked a mess. And her mother had been looking for her. Well, she had the guards out looking for her. Her mother waited in the yard at the mouth of the trail, waiting for answers.
"Oy! Mum!" she called the several yards to her mother. When she saw Merida, her hand went over her heart and she gasped, running towards her.
"Oh, darlin'!" She breathed, pulling her into her arms, "What happened? I didn't know where you where or when you'd be back... I thought maybe you..."
"I'm fine, Mum." Merida promised, "Angus threw me, but I'm not hurt. Did he come back here?" The queen nodded.
"That's why I've been so worried, dear. I knew you'd been out riding, but I didn't know where... And all alone! I've sent half the guards out looking."
"Wait," Merida gasped, "Mum, guards? In the woods?"
"Everywhere. They're meant to be looking for you. Haven't you been listening?" Merida was suddenly worried for Hiccup and Toothless. That the guards would find them before they could get away. "What's the matter, dear? You look like you've seen a ghost?"
"Nothing, Mum." But she took off running towards the castle. When she got to the door, she took the stairs up to the second level on the outside patio and searched the skies, hoping for a sign. Finally, she heard it. The gleeful cawing sound Toothless made, echoing through the air. Through the clouds she could vaguely make out the dragon's wings. But from here, he could have easily been a bird.
The queen caught up with her then.
"Just what's gotten into you?" She asked, curious, a confused smile on her face.
"I, eh, just thought I could get a better look from up here." Merida replied.
"Better look at what?"
The queen laughed.
"Honestly, Merida. I don't know what goes on in that pretty little head of yours."
Merida smiled, but stared up at the clouds again. The dark wings nowhere to be found.
AN - Okay, so this is my first ever fanfic, so sorry if it is unbearably cheesy. I am writing it because Mericcup is my OTP and the feels have become to much to manage so I'm trying this out. I hope you like it. I'm trying to keep them in character and to include little easter-egg lines and stuff from the movies. I have a lot planned out for this story so please leave constructive criticism, tell your friends and try to take it easy on me. Haha. If you actually read it all and like it, bless your heart. Let me know and I'll upload chapter two, or "dó"