I loved this episode. Especially by the implications - "He's not bringing that lunatic kid of his, is he?" - "Last time he was here, he used me as a knife-throwing target!" - "That kid should be locked in a cage!" "That's what he did to me! He wouldn't let me eat for three days." "Hey! I - I was just thinking about you! Hey, member that - that time we went swimming and you tried to drown me?"

Inspiration abound. :)

Especially Hiccup's resignation - "I'm gonna have to stop him from breaking stuff, aren't I." - meaning he has a bit of experience. And if Stoick really "almost gave up" on him, he can't have really. Who else to keep Dagur under tabs? It's a very important job. Only the trusted are worthy.

Read and review, you know the drill. Get back to me on this one. ;)


Hiccup is one. Until the moment that Osvald's ships appear, the entire village had forgotten about the Berserkers' imminent arrival. Stoick hastily buckles on his ceremonial belt, lingers at the doorway at his tiny son sleeping peacefully in the arms of Valhallarama. "Stay in the house," he says. "I don't want Dagur using this little mite as a punching bag."

Dagur is four.

.

Hiccup is two. He's walking and talking, asking questions incessantly with simple words and pulling anything he can down onto the floor. Valhallarama wants to show him off to the other tribe – he'll be our chief, you wait – but at the sight of Stoick's face, she remembers exactly why she hates the Berserk chieftain bloodline – it breeds madness.

Dagur is five.

.

Hiccup is three. This time, it's Gobber who stays at home with the tyke, keeping him in the little room next to the forge and giving him a charcoal pencil and the mace arm to play with. He watches from the door as the heir to the Berserker throne chases the Thorston girl up the street, caterwauling all the way and swinging a stick.

He shakes his head and turns to see Hiccup's doodles all over the broad iron spikes.

Dagur is six.

.

Hiccup is four. He still doesn't take direction well but can easily obey if he has a mind to. Stoick tells him to stay put as soon as the white sails appear on the horizon, and the order is only minded because Hiccup cannot reach the door handle yet.

Dagur is seven.

.

Hiccup is five. This time, he goes out the back door and climbs up the shingle-ladder he's been designing for days. He crawls along the roof, easily concealed by the rough shape and the wooden Nightmare roosting from the peak. He watches as the ships sail in, heralds announcing things he can't hear from this distance, and sees a boy a few years older than he is peeking out behind the chief's back.

He can't stop shivering.

Dagur is eight.

.

Hiccup is six. Gobber tries to mislead him by giving him far more work than usual to do, but Hiccup still sees Dagur follow the precession to the Great Hall eagerly, swinging his hands in an eerie replication of a sword swing.

Sweating over the hot fire, Hiccup tries to ignore him, but Dagur comes right up to him and gets in his face, leering. It isn't a Snotlout leer, one of false talent and retribution. Hiccup knows Dagur will hurt him. Consequentially, he flinches backward and drops three swords into the fire at the same time, so they throw up sparks.

Later, Hiccup can feverishly agree that Dagur's absence was worth the burns.

.

Hiccup is seven. Wary of last year, he too joins with the procession after a polite and careful inquiry from Osvald as to why he has not met the Hooligan heir. He doesn't follow most of the politics, but spends most of the dinner trying to avoid Dagur.

It doesn't work, and by the end of the night, Hiccup isn't sure he wants to pick his face up from that soup again.

.

Hiccup is eight. Dagur has earned a horrible reputation on Berk, and with a new axe he runs around like a lunatic, swinging it into houses and brandishing it at people who cross his path. Hiccup follows at a distance, wishing his dad was here to see this and wondering if he should do something to stop it.

When Dagur pushes Hiccup down and threatens to lop his head off, Hiccup decides it's not worth the effort.

.

Hiccup is nine. Since the disaster of last year, he's been tasked with keeping an eye on the only Berserker he's actually seen… well, Berserk. He follows him around, keeping one hand on a tiny knife in his belt while Dagur struts around like he owns the place and demands to see places he isn't allowed to.

Although he's drop-dead terrified, Hiccup moves his vest to show his weapon and stands his ground, suggesting they go to the forge instead, a place where Hiccup is fairly sure he can keep him under control.

Three long scorch marks on the wall and a broken table later, Hiccup is more than ready to admit defeat.

.

Hiccup is ten. For her birthday, Astrid had gotten her mother's heirloom axe, and can't stop touching it. Hiccup can't stop watching her. She's not very steady with it, and she keeps bringing it to Gobber and demanding it re-sharpened, but Hiccup doesn't care. She has good coordination and she'll get better with time.

In fact, Hiccup's watching her swing at a tree when someone chortles behind him and holds a sword to his throat. There's only one person who can laugh like that, and he's actually not surprised that Dagur somehow snuck up on him.

What he is surprised at is Astrid's readiness to test her new axe, judging by the display they made when she tackled him in the village square. The fight is bloody – he pulls her hair, she bites his wrist, and he laughs the whole time, acting crazy.

After nodding politely to Astrid for saving his life, Hiccup abandons post and high-tails it home.

.

Hiccup is eleven. Dagur wants to go swimming. Reluctant to do anything that makes him happy, Hiccup goes along with it tentatively. He knows, somehow, that this is a bad idea, but if it tires him out it shouldn't be too bad. Hiccup plans to stay in the surf and let the other swim in the deep water, but his plans are shot to Hel when Dagur drags him, kicking and throwing sand, straight into the water and tows him out to sea.

It's only a very well-placed rock and the luck of the gods that keeps him from drowning. To make matters worse, by the time Hiccup makes it back to shore, his quarry has disappeared. Soggy and spitting salt water, Hiccup is too tired to care.

.

Hiccup is twelve. He loses Dagur for a few minutes and when he returns, he acts shiftily and disappears for long stretches of time. When Hiccup finally catches him days later, it's to find a horrible, horrible scene – a huge cage constructed in their ship-building-house with Fishlegs inside, looking weak and extremely relieved to see Hiccup, retching onto the floor. Dagur jiggles a spoon in a wooden bucket of what seems to be rotted fish heads, then dumps it on top of him.

Hiccup can't stand the lunacy anymore, and grabs the other by the wrist, pushing him out of the house and bolting the door behind him, pushing his back up against it to prevent entry by force.

Now left in siege with a very, very sick Fishlegs, Hiccup can do nothing except let the other out of his cage and instruct him to drink water very slowly, hoping either his father or Dagur's will come and end this, the sooner, the better. He's not sure how much longer the door is going to hold up, even with both him and Fishlegs sitting against it.

.

Hiccup is thirteen. Hyperaware of anything Dagur might try, he doesn't take his eyes off him. He decides to take him to the woods, hoping that whatever he has up his sleeve won't affect the whole village. This proves almost immediately to be a mistake – pinning Hiccup to a tree by his sleeves, Dagur spends an inordinate amount of time working on his aim.

This is the moment Hiccup knows knife-throwing will never be for him. Eventually they find him, half asleep and sagging, begging not to be saddled with Dagur ever again.

.

Hiccup is fourteen. He's reasonably confident about this year – maybe even a little bit smug. He isn't afraid of what Dagur can do to him anymore, that's for sure.

But when his dad tells him his job for this year – hiding their dragons to prevent war with the Berserkers (made worse by that poor Thorston Zippleback) – his fear comes back, full force. He's not directly afraid of bodily harm, but he's afraid of what the Berserker chief can do to his village, and his dragons.

This year turns out to be almost worse than the Fishlegs-cod-head-year, or even the tried-to-drown-him year. The almost-beheaded year, the Dagur-Astrid-fight-year and the sword-forge-lunatic-year have paled significantly by comparison.

But Hiccup has to admit it's fun to use the old Viking fallback and send him running.